Still Defiant

I'm still playing Defiance. Not only am I still enjoying it, but now I'd say I actually love it. Not as much as Skyrim or Dragon Age, but yeah, it's on the Games I Love list. Still can't play it for longer than an hour or two at a time though, because it does stress me out and frustrate me. Often. LOL!

Currently, I'm at EGO level 869, which is about 15-20% of the level cap. Still fairly puny. The game is decent at balancing multiplayer conflict zones, but even with the level boost I get when the big boys show up, I'm still at a decided disadvantage. After all, my weapons, shields, and skill perks are still low level. But at least I don't die every two minutes anymore. I just have to be quick on my feet and muster up a little bravery in the bigger battles. And … dying isn't all that bad anyway. Mostly it's just annoying.

A few exciting things did happen in game this week!

I finally have my very own Dodge Charger, so now I don't have to drive one of the crappy ATVs around anymore. Ok, the ATVs aren't crappy, but they are slow and fragile. The car isn't great at cross country driving, but at least it doesn't explode the first time it hits something larger than a human, and roadside enemies can't shoot it out from under me as I drive by. Huzzah! I'd have been happier if it wasn't orange, but beggars can't be choosers. It's a car, and that's what matters.

Also, I have gone from not placing on the leaderboard during major arkfalls to placing in the top ten regularly (quite often in the top five). This happened overnight. I made some changes to my weapons and gained a couple new skills I started using, and BAM … I started doing much better. I'm super excited about this, because I was still too new at the game during the Halloween event to place at all and so I didn't get any really awesome rewards from all those arkfalls I did. I will do much better during the upcoming Thanksgiving event, and I can't wait to see what kinds of awesome weapons I acquire.

Now about the game itself. Well, there are bugs and glitches and some of them are really, REALLY bothersome. But they aren't bothersome all the time, and usually by the time I am being bothered by enemies being invisible (and not meant to be) or other glitchiness happening, I've already been playing long enough that just turning off the game and doing something else for a while is a good idea anyway. I have to quit and restart a number of games on the PS3 for many of the same reasons, so it's not really a problem necessarily inherent in Defiance. The lag and whatnot though are exacerbated due to it being an MMO. This is my first ever MMO, so I don't know if it's common across the spectrum of the genre or if Defiance is just worse. The development team seems to be on the ball though, so yay for that.

The chat system though is a piece of shit. There's really no polite way to put it either. It really is just a steaming pile of crap. I could overlook the text chat system being the opposite of user friendly if the voice chat system worked at all, but wow, it's even worse. I could overlook a lot of bugs and other glitchiness in the game if they would just redo the entire chat system. It's flat out awful, and in a social type game, the chat has got to work at least somewhat. Please, Trion … do something to fix chat!

One last thing I want to mention is that I have been reading forums and other message board type things where users of Defiance congregate to get some tips on weapon modding and skill perk choices. I've learned a lot this way, and the number one thing I have learned is that it continues to be true that whenever there is more than one human involved in an endeavor there will be drama. Oh, will there be drama. Anyone who says women are the cause of all drama has never spent any time on a message board populated by middle aged men.

Let me give you an example…

I haven't tried player-vs-player events yet, because I'd don't think I'll like it or be good at it, but I have been reading about it for two reasons: I might want to try it in the future, and tactics used in PVP are also good for player-vs-environment (PVE) play, especially if one finds oneself doing something all by oneself and thus having to play very defensively. Anyway, I searched on Google for a very specific set of words, and the first result looked promising. I click the link and find myself in drama hell.

The whole forum thread was people calling each other cheaters and users of cheap tactics who lack the “skills” to properly play the game. By the time I finished reading the whole poo flinging flame war, all that was clear to me was that the people they insisted were cheating were merely using combinations of weapons and skill perks that everyone can and mostly do have in their own arsenal of choices. They just aren't using them. No cheating involved. Not even a glitch or loophole. Someone figured out a tactic that works, and other people don't like it.

Now when I read that using a one shot weapon with the skill perk that extends your current EGO power on reload while using the cloak skill can let you maintain invisibility for 90% of a PVP event, my first thought was not “Awful cheating cheaters! Foul cheap tactic users! You should be banned!” Nope. That wasn't my first thought at all. My first thought was “Dammit! I just sold all my one shot weapons!!!” This was followed by me thinking I need to make sure to get that skill perk and get a new sawed off shotgun with a one bullet magazine. That's not cheating. That's cleverly using the tools provided. And there are ways to negate the advantage it provides, but the complainers don't want to use them, because apparently using BMGs and Infectors is also a “cheap tactic” and “requires no skill”. It all sounds like a bunch of sour grapes to me.

Do you want to play and win the game that exists in reality? Or do you want to play the perfect vision you have of the game that exists only in your head? The programming is what it is, and the weapon and skill options are what they are. If you want to play a game where the actual physical skill of being able to use a game controller perfectly at all times is what wins and there are no weapons, shields, or skill tree perks that assist in gameplay (and winning) by providing clever ways to be sneaky, you need to find some other game to play, because Defiance is not that game. It's a run and gun kind of game that you can use precise shooting skills in if you want to do so … and in which knowing how to be sneaky can be a benefit.

And stop acting like three year old kids. Jeezle pete, grow the hell up. It's a GAME.

In closing, here's what my character looks like these days.

I had a couple bucks burning a hole in my PSN account, so I spent them on a new outfit. I went into the store and sorted the outfits by top selling and scrolled to the bottom of the list. There I found this delightful chartreuse tank top, hip hugger blue jeans, and combat boot set that I had already had my eye on. How could I resist? It's like it came from my own closet! The fact no one else seems to want to wear it was just a bonus situation. I hate looking like everyone else.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go sort through my inventory and start making room for all the awesome loot I'll be getting when the Thanksgiving event starts this coming week. I've been holding on to too many guns, and it's not like I won't get more. Like every day. So many guns. LOL!

Dear Winter

I know you have a schedule you are forced to abide by and that there isn't much you can do to not arrive at least somewhat on time, but … couldn't you have worked up to the sub-freezing temperatures from frozen-over hell? Did you have to pull that out of your bag for your first big trip to Texas this year? If you open with your big number, you'll have nothing new and exciting for the encore!

Had you built up to this madness slowly, over time, as you usually do, it's possible I might not have minded your arrival so much. I might have been been able to overlook or even maybe enjoy it. I don't really hate you, I just hate some of the things you do. But this …

What the hell, Winter?! Can't you see how wrong this is?! Now I not only thoroughly hate you, I am terrified about what you'll be doing for the next couple of months! Don't you ever think about anyone but yourself?

Please change your methods immediately. If you do, we can pretend this week didn't happen and go on being uneasy friends. Otherwise, we're done forever.

Your Frozen Friend in Texas,

Orb

Thank You, South Park

Recently, my DVR went insane and started downloading every episode of South Park as it aired. Since there was a South Park marathon of some sort going on, it was basically just sitting there recording South Park for hours and hours, which caused some things I hadn't yet watched to be erased from my DVR's hard drive. When I finally wondered what the hell was recording during the late afternoon, the damage had been done, as it had been recording ALL NIGHT LONG and ALL DAY. Thankfully, I caught it before it deleted The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which I've really been looking forward to watching. But still, things were lost, and I was aggravated.

I assure you, neither myself nor my husband did or would ever set the thing to record any South Park episodes. We have never watched South Park. Oh sure, sometimes when there's nothing else on or we are waiting for something we want to watch to start, it might end up on the TV, but no … it's not the sort of show we would ever record. Not one episode, and certainly not many, many episodes. I have no idea what gave the DVR the idea we wanted a full hard drive of South Park. After I made it stop relentlessly recording South Park, I turned on the Playstation and went about my usual late afternoon TV activities of checking Netflix for new things to watch and playing Defiance.

When I was done playing my game, I switched back to the TV, and because the cable box had ended up on the Comedy Channel while I was sorting out what the hell was happening, I was greeted by South Park. I left it on while I did the dishes and washed my hair, because there wasn't anything on and it's funny in small doses. But this episode caught my attention. I actually sat down on the couch and rewound it to watch it from the beginning. It was titled “Freemium Isn't Free” and the subject at hand was the Skinner Box addiction-feeding nature of “free-to-play” or “freemium” mobile games.

“No, see If something's addictive because it's FUN, that's one thing, but this is just blatant Skinner Box manipulation.” –Satan

I've been playing one of these games for two years. It's called Game of War. I knew going in there wasn't much of a game there and that at some point, it would begin using every tactic possible to extract as much cash from me as it could. When I started, I only intended to play until it got boring (and these games do get boring at some point if you aren't paying to speed things up or otherwise make the game more fun), but then I made friends in the game. This made the game quite a bit less boring and more fun, and eventually, I did spend some cash. Not much. About as much as I'd have spent buying a game for the Playstation. Over the course of the two years I've been playing, it works out to about one coffee or fancy pastry a month. Not an unreasonable sum, and I don't regret spending the money. But, I knew eventually the game would really put the screws to me to get much more money out of my wallet.

That began to happen about a month ago. I finally got my stronghold upgraded to the highest level, and now, in order to train the highest level troops, I have to build all these other buildings to level 21, and get a whole lot of research to level 10, and then I have to research said troops, and then finally train them. Each of these things that need to be done now takes many weeks and in some cases many months to complete (and untold amounts of nonexistent wood, ore, food, stone, and silver) unless … I'm willing to toss some cash at it to speed it along. Meanwhile, there are people who have and continue to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on said game who do their very best to make my game as miserable as possible (and take my wood, ore, etc.). Also, in order to keep my stuff safe from these asses, I have to either buy shields (with in game currency that costs cash money) or set “rallies” every 8 or so hours. It's more than a bit tedious.

Now I have done the math. There is a general sum of money that would be required to make all these things happen in a timely manner in order for my empire to be powerful enough to actually be able to go to war and have any kind of fun with the game (which hasn't been fun at all for quite some time). It's enough money to buy all new furniture for my house. It's almost enough for a new roof. Its enough money to buy a used car. It's quite a lot of money. It's far more money than I would ever spend on a game or any other intangible thing (other than maybe a vacation of a lifetime).

I have also done the math for how long it would take me to do it all without spending any more cash on it (which isn't entirely possible really), and it could take another two years to build and research all the things, and then … I'd finally be building those awesome Tier Four troops. While I am busy trying to get all that done, they'll probably come out with all new Tier Five troops, and yet again I will not be powerful enough to compete against the asses making my gameplay annoying and requiring me to spend yet more time and/or more money trying to be strong enough to actually play the game. Meanwhile, the game will be pestering and nagging and pointing out how if I'd just buy some gold, everything would instantly be awesome. I too could be powerful and mighty and defeat my foes!

Yeah, well … I'm not doing it. I'm not going to spend the money, and I'm not going to spend two more years logging in every 8 or so hours “playing” this non-game Skinner Box in the hopes that at the end of that two years I might get to be powerful enough to actually PLAY the game part of the game. You know, the warring part. The thing I haven't been able to do for a full year now, because of all the other people who have gladly paid thousands of dollars to be the biggest “whales” in the kingdom. I can't even begin to compete against them. It's not possible to compete against a bottomless credit card.

So accidentally catching that episode of South Park was timely. I was already not happy playing Game of War, and I already knew it wasn't so much a game as it was a way to part people with their cash, but I couldn't quite find the words to sort it in my head. South Park hit all the points. All the things that have made me angry with Game of War all along. It's an excellent episode, and I not only highly recommend you watch it, but if you have teenagers in your life (and younger kids too, if South Park is a thing you'd let them watch), you should have them watch it too. I'm not at all a fan of South Park, but every so often they knock one out of the ballpark and point a critical finger at some aspect of our culture that really needs to be pointed at critically. This is one of those times.

And if you don't believe me? Well read this excellent commentary on both the show and the whole “freemium” game thing. But really, you should just watch the damn episode. I swear, it's worth it, especially if you or someone you know plays any of these so-called games. Even if you never give them a dime of real money, just playing them supports them, because without the free players, most of these games wouldn't last long. They need a constant flow of free people playing to make it fun for the spendy, spendy whales.

As for me and Game of War, I'll be ending my tenure in the kingdom of Xana will be coming to an end soon. I haven't decided how I will end it yet. Will I pass my accounts on to someone else? Do I just never log in again? Do I announce that I am leaving the game? Do I just go quietly away and leave people wondering? The only reason leaving is hard is because there are people involved. People I will miss chatting with regularly. That's another way these games suck you in and keep you clicking buttons, and I'm just going to have to figure out how best to say goodbye to the game and the people.

I'm done being a rat in a box.

I guess I should thank my crazy DVR for causing me all that grief by recording a bazillion episodes of South Park. If it hadn't done that, I might have been months working up the nerve to walk away from Game of War. Now I see even more clearly than a did before what a pointless waste of time and energy it is. I'll probably be extracting myself within a week or two. Maybe sooner. Game over.

Futility, Part Two

Meant to get back to this sooner, but when I have had an hour or two to sit on the couch and have some coffee, I'd much rather turn on the Playstation than write about politics. Or read a book. Or anything, really. Writing about politics in America is stress producing. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes… gerrymandering.

That's a map of Travis County (i.e. Austin, Texas). All those oddly shaped pastel colored areas are the various and sundry congressional districts that have had bits of Austin added to them. One city … five districts … five different congressional representatives. One democrat amongst them. One democrat, and four very right wing Republicans represent the most liberal city in Texas. I live in District 35 in that little bit that snakes up into the blue at the most northern point. I am thankfully represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett. I feel incredibly lucky.

Here is an image that shows you where some of these districts go outside of Travis County. Pay particular attention to District 35. Notice how it's a long, skinny snake of a thing. On its southern end, about 80 miles away, you'll find San Antonio. District 21 is another I am familiar with. It's comprised mostly of the very staunch Republican hill country area with just a little bit of Austin added in. If I could be bothered to go find a map that is zoomed even further out, you would see that the remaining three districts that represent Austin all stretch out to distant locations except for their tiny little bits of Austin, but I think you can see the pattern. Take a district with lots of Republicans and carve a path to Austin so a smidgen of it can be added and thus dilute the liberal votes of that area and leave them represented by people who don't represent their interests.

Gerrymandering happens everywhere and not just in Central Texas or even just in Texas. Everywhere. In Texas, it's Republicans. Maybe somewhere the Democrats are in power, and they do it. The people in power rewrite the borders of the districts in ways that guarantee they will remain in power by carving up areas of potential opposition (i.e. voters unlikely to vote for them) and stick them with large blocks of voters who will vote for them. Before the most recent redrawing of the lines, I was in a district that ran from my house all the way down to the outskirts of Houston 140 miles away. And before we moved across town to the house, my district ran from south Austin all the way down to the Mexican border. It hasn't always been this way.

The crazy gerrymandering in Texas started becoming a problem in 2003. The Republicans in our statehouse decided they couldn't wait five more years to move all the lines and did a mid-decade redistricting, and boy did they go crazy with yhe lines. They got in trouble for it, and eventually they were told to do it again. The end result of all that line redrawing is the mess we have today. A mess that benefits only one party.

So when I say my vote and the vote of so many others is worthless. I actually mean they are worthless. The districts have been designed to make some people's votes worthless. Prior to my home being moved into Lloyd Doggett's district (or him being moved into my district, however that happened), it wouldn't have mattered who I voted for, or if I even voted at all, the outcome was that the Republican candidate would win. It was the same in all Republican stronghold districts. It was designed to be that way. Any block of voters who might vote differently were split up amongst these districts, and their votes no longer mattered. Well and truly would never make any difference at all, and possibly even worse, their representation wasn't ever going to represent their interests (or even listen to them, don't ask me how I know that).

So more people started feeling hopeless and like their voice didn't matter, and they stopped going to the polls. In some cases the entrenched power was so assured of victory the other parties didn't even bother running candidates. For six years, I was represented by someone who ran for office completely unopposed. Talk about not having a reason to go vote! I still did, but I did often wonder why. And this low turnout at elections continues to expand as more and more people feel like their votes don't matter, or find it more difficult to vote as states work to inhibit open and easy voting through shorter early voting periods, fewer voting locations, and excessive identification requirements … all done in the name of solving an illegal voting problem that no one can find proof of existing.

And you know what really gets my goat? The fact that due to the slicing and dicing of the voting population into districts that benefit the Republicans, Texas appears to be a state that is exclusively a Red State. If you look at our elected officials, it does appear that eveyone but a tiny minority of people support the Republican Party, but that simply isn't true. At each election, somewhere between 40 and 45 percent of Texans vote for Democratic candidates. Seems to me, that makes Texas pretty darn purple. Keep that in mind the next time you feel the urge to point at laugh at Texas and say we are getting the representation we deserve. We aren't. We are getting the representation we are allowed to have thanks to a system designed to work against anyone who doesn't swallow the current party's platform line hook, line, and sinker.

When the system is designed to work against fair and equal representation, what's a voter to do? Well, they can keep futilely voting and making no difference, or they can just stop voting. Obviously, the solution to the problem is to fix the actual problem (bizarre voting districts), but how the hell do we get that done when the only people who can fix it are the people in power, and they are not at all likely to do so. People in power don't want to give it up or share it. It's a problem I don't know how we will fix. Maybe it can't be fixed, so futilely voting and making no difference or not voting at all, I guess it doesn't actually much matter. Things will stay the same either way.

I'm going to apologize for this post for being somewhat disjointed. I've been sickish, thanks to seasonal allergies, and even on a good day, I have trouble lately giving much of a damn about politics. I could probably spend another day editing and rewriting, but I just want to get this done and up so I can move on to the next topic, which is the one I really want to talk about.

Next up … the continued shifting of the American political landscape rightward. I don't mean more people are voting rightwing. I mean everything in the political spectrum from the far right to the far left has been moving ideologically further to the right. For example, Obama is a classic centrist Republican, but in today's current political atmosphere, he's seen as being liberal. I promise, Futility, Part Three will be a better post, because I'm more excited about writing it. Though I suspect it will take me a while to write it, because I really want to get it right.

Futility, Part One

As many of you know, yesterday the USA had elections. Here in Austin, we now have all our elections on the federal timeline, so I got to vote for things in Washington, Texas, and Austin. It was a really long ballot. Well, if it had been printed on paper so a proper recount could be done in the event of a problem, it would have been a long ballot. Since it's just a box with electronics in it doing who knows what to my selections, it was many pages of choices and a lot of button clicking. I assume it accurately counted things, but who would know? Anyway…

I've voted in every federal and state election and very nearly every local election since I turned eighteen. My dad was an editorial cartoonist, so I grew up surrounded by politics and political discussions, and I was one of those kids who eagerly looked forward to being able to finally vote. And once I had that right, I became an adult who would panic about not being able to get to the polls if something unforeseen happened. Truly, the thought of not voting causes me stress. That's how deeply ingrained into my psyche the idea that voting is our most fundamental right is. Voting is as important as breathing.

I have historically also always been very politically active as well. Protests, letter writing, visiting offices of elected officials, reading and watching all the political news I could get my hands on, reading bills and laws and rules and regulations, and as many of you may remember, lengthy rants about politics right here on Just Orb. But a few years ago, I took a step back and had a good hard look at all the time and energy I had been putting into being “political” and I weighed it against what it had gotten me. What good had come of it for myself or anyone else?

Nothing. That's what. As far as I can tell, my voice and expended energy all those decades resulted in nothing at all. Not for me. Not for anyone else.

So I stopped consuming all the political news, doing hours of research on bills and laws, stopped writing letters and visiting elected officials, stopped standing in the rain shouting and carrying signs bearing correctly spelled political slogans, and I stopped ranting about it all on my blog. Have you ever stopped doing something you've done your whole life? It'll leave you off kilter. But what started as a break from it all has now just become the new normal, and I don't miss it.

I just don't pay much attention at all to the political world unless it trickles up to my eyeballs on my Twitter and Facebook timelines or is mentioned on the local news (which I still watch a bit of every day). The end result is that I still generally know what's going on, but I am happier, less angry and stressed out about the state of the state, and I have more room in my brain for other thoughts and more energy to get other things done. All in all, flipping off the world of politics and walking away has been a positive event in my life. I probably should have done it sooner.

But I still vote, and in the run up to an election day, I research the issues and people on the ballot to pick which things and people to say “yes” to, and then I get excited about going to vote. That was working well for me the last few years, but this year, things changed. In the past, I used to feel like my voting made a difference, but these days, I've begun to question even that. I'd be crazy not to question it. I go, I vote, and the outcome almost never matches what I want. In fact, the outcome is obvious even before the first eaky vote is cast. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result isn't it?

There was nothing on yesterday's ballot I was excited to vote FOR except for my congressman Lloyd Doggett (who I adore and respect). All the other candidates in all the other races? I was there to vote against the person I already knew would win. There wasn't anyone other than Doggett I was voting FOR because I liked them or felt excited about them or thought they would be the best person for the job. They were just people who were not the person I didn't want to win. They were a “no” vote for the top dog and not a “yes” vote for them. In most cases, they were my “none of the above” vote. Voting as passive protest.

It was while I was pressing those buttons to vote for people I really didn't care about (or even really agree with) and who I knew weren't going to win anyway that I seriously began to question the futility of voting at all. Why was I even there? It was pointless. It was going to make no difference at all to anyone or anything. I might as well have not bothered.

A lot of Americans don't bother to vote, and the number of them that don't bother to vote gets larger and larger every year. These people used to make me angry, but now in 21st century America, I understand why so many people throw their hands in the air and say to hell with it. Things have changed, votes used to make a difference and matter, but now our votes aren't worth the pixels used to darken a spot on an electronic voting machine. Elections are just a pantomime those in power have to take part in so we can all pretend we still live in a functioning democracy.

I could babble for a many thousand more words, but this is getting lengthy (and I have other things to do), so I think I'll call it a day on this post. But I'm not done talking about this yet. I've cut and pasted the rest into a new draft post, and I will continue at a later date, because I do want to point out and explain the reasons someone who used to be excited to go vote and had a healthy and active political life has, over the course of a few years, come to the conclusion that it's all a huge waste of time and energy, because there are actual reasons. Valid reasons. None of them can be summed up briefly though, so it's probably better I break them out into their own blog posts.

So, expect some more politics on Just Orb soon. Next topic of political ranting will be … gerrymandering, or as I call it the death of true democracy. You'll just have to sit on the edge of your seats until I get that rant fully out of my system and into coherent words. It should be a good one. LOL!

Enter the Noob

A little over a week ago I started playing the game Defiance. Yes, the one that's tied in with the SyFy Channel show that I sort of stopped watching at some point. Well, it went free to play in July (on the PS3), and I really need some other game to play than the ones I have been playing. All my other PS3 games and iPad games are boring the hell out of me. A few of them I have been hate-playing. Really, I hate them, and yet I keep playing them. I needed something new, and well, free is good.

Below you will find all the babbling I did on Facebook and Twitter during my first few days of playing Defiance. I really should be babbling about it over here and not tormenting my Facebook friends with endless yapping about the new game I am playing on their Facebook feeds. I thought I should post all the stuff I posted there here, so everyone would be up to speed. Tomorrow, the real babbling begins.

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Ok then. Have created a character in Defiance and dipped my toes into an actual shooty MMO. I don't hate it, but I'm not sure I like it either. Anyway, died, doesn't seem a big deal to die, will play again when I have time. Maybe I'll eventually get thorough the tutorial.

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I have read player guides for Defiance. I think I know what all the controller buttons do (which I will forget as soon as something exciting happens), and how gameplay works. I think I'll go wander around the tutorial area again until I feel I've got the controls down. I only have one more mission to do before I get dumped into the actual game, a moment I find myself dreading just a bit.

Luckily for me, PVP is opt in, so at least I don't have to worry about asses killing me all the time until I figure out how to play.

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Ok, I'm in what appears to be not a tutorial area, but not quite the game yet. I also seem to be the only female character anywhere.

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On Defiance (the game):

It's not a game I will lose myself in for hours (or days) at a time. It sort of gives me a stress headache. Maybe once I'm better at the controls and know what I am doing 100% it'll be more fun. Not that it isn't fun, it's just not FUN fun.

I've encountered about 100 other players. I have seen no other woman characters. Nothing but big burly dude types. I have also not seen any other snipers. Just big burly dude types running right into the heat of things. I don't even know if they saw me helping. I was tucked away in a corner popping bad guys in the head from a SAFE distance. Duh.

The big burly dudes ran away immediately after we cleared the area, leaving behind other big burly dudes who were wanting to be revived. I revived them, because duh. No one thanked me. You're welcome, big burly dudes who died in combat!

Have only encountered one actual ass so far. As soon as I popped into the real game, he started trying to beat me up. I, of course, do not in any way have PVP enabled, so he wasn't hurting me. I stared at him a moment and then went on my way. What a dick.

All in all, it's not an awful game, and it's free, so I'll keep plugging away at it bit by bit until I get tired of it. It's not really my kind of game, but I'm not totally sucking at it, so maybe it'll grow on me.

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I went back into Defiance this morning. I spawned right outside the last mission I did, even though that wasn't where I left off. No big deal, except I spawned inside the conflict zone, thus setting off the event again. But what the hell I thought, there's no one else here, it's a chance to check out my weapons and skills and see how they all work without anyone staring at the stupid noob. So I did the mission again all by myself. I died twice, but I got through it and learned a few things. It was a great confidence booster!

High on victory, I decided to do the next mission. Yup, I was right. One mission a play session is really all I enjoy. Didn't help that this one was looong with three parts and ATV driving involved. There were three of us online and in the area, and it was tough, but we got through it, and guess what? It was fun. Actual FUN! Not enough fun to keep me from returning to base camp and logging off immediately though. Seriously, an hour is enough.

Though I may log in again later and play another hour.

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Yup, one hour of Defiance is my limit. At exactly one hour, I start getting frustrated and stressed out. I did get an awesome shotgun today though, which might make close range combat go better then it has been.

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Today's Defiance tale: Logged in at 5pm, which is my daily afternoon coffee/game playing period. Decided to hop on my ATV and just drive around the map. Whenever I saw something interesting going down where there were other players taking part, I hopped off, found some high ground with good cover, and did my sniper thing. When it was over, I'd gather my loot, and zoom off into the sunset looking for more action. It's a pretty fun way to play the game!

Eventually, I ran out of ammo for my favorite gun, so I fast traveled to a depot to repair my stuff and load up my ammo stocks. Well, there was a pack of big burly dudes there doing the same thing. I totally ignored them and went about my business, but … earlier I'd unmuted voice chat. I got to listen to these dudes being all dude bro. Ugh. The macho, it was painful.

Then, they noticed there was a female among them (me). They commented among themselves about the rare creature they spotted. Nothing awful, and I was ignoring it. I summoned my ATV and got ready to drive off when one of them said, out loud with his own voice “Hey, you should join our group. We could use a cunt that can shoot.” I didn't even bother driving off. I fast traveled to base camp. As I vanished I could hear him saying “Hey, I was only joking!” Yeah, funny joke dude bro! And YOU are now on my list.

I'll either be turning off the voice chat again or sorting my mic problems out so I can dish out some verbal retribution, which I am totally capable of dishing out. Turning it off is probably the wiser choice.

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Wow. I just played two hours in Defiance. I meant to just log in and pick up my daily bonus thing, but then I thought I'd see what this one mission was, and it didn't sound too hard, so I went for it, and that lead to having to drive a few kilometers, and one thing lead to another, and bam … two hours passed.

Scored some new weapons (a machine gun, woo hoo!) and grenades (yippee!) that I'll have to check out when I log in again. Still not sure I would describe the game as fun. I mean, I guess if you like third person shooters, it's probably pretty damn fun, but it still stresses me out. Maybe later I'll do some cross country travel and take part in one of the arkfall things. I'm betting that will make my head explode properly.

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At midnight, I set an alarm to remind me to log into my war game [note: an iPad game which I have been playing for two years religiously] in an hour and reset my three day shield. It's super duper important my city not be sitting around unshielded, because hello … WAR. I have a ton of resources, and my troops and hero would be sitting ducks ripe for the killing without that shield.

While I waited for the hour to pass, I decided to log into Defiance and just drive around and explore the map. You know, not actually DO anything. Just some Sunday driving to see what's in the areas I haven't been to yet. Uh huh. Famous last words! I found a farm overrun with Hellbugs, and I hopped off my ATV to check it out.

An hour into a hellish battle, that alarm went off. I turned it off. An hour and a half later, I was gathering the loot after killing 83 freaking monster bugs and remembered that I hadn't reset my shield in Game of War. OMG!!! I quickly logged in, and lucky me, everything was still okay. Truly, I got lucky. I can't believe how lucky I got.

But this little experience made something clear to me. I was annoyed when that alarm went off, and I didn't want to stop playing Defiance. Even if it meant my troops and hero were all slain. In fact, I think I sort of wanted it to happen, so I'd have a reason to rage quit that game. I'd really rather not be logging into that damn game every 8 hours anymore. I've been doing it for two years. I think that's long enough for one damn game. I'd rather be spending my game time blowing away mutants and Hellbugs in Defiance.

Also, woo hoo!!! I did that mission all by myself, and I'm still a little puny noob! Of course, after I was done I watched a video on youtube of someone with far better weapons and skills than me do the same thing in ten minutes, but who cares how long it took me. I got it done! Alone! Yippee!

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This morning, while I waited for the first load of laundry to get dry, I logged into Defiance (of course). A minor Ark Fall, one of the Halloween event ones, popped up right nearby, so I hustled over there and took part with a couple other folks. Got some of the fancy special weapons! A nifty shotgun and an awesome machine gun!

Then a major Halloween event Ark Fall popped up near a fast travel point, so I headed that way and got there just in time to take part in the last third of it. It was my first big one, so I'm kind of glad I missed the first two thirds. WOW, lots of players and lots of monsters. There was no high ground, no crouching behind a tree carefully aiming. There was me running and rolling like a crazy person while being chased by a ten foot tall robotic thing capable of taking me out with one attack. When it was over, I scored big money and big prizes. I like it! Then I logged off, because that was enough stress for one day.

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Next up, I tell you how I spent nearly an entire day playing the game. Yup, so much for that “one hour is enough” I kept saying. Lies, damn lies! LOL!