Monthly Archives: January 2013

Why Square and I Broke Up

Often I will be asked about video games, what I am playing, what my favorite games are, how long I have been playing, and I really could (and have) spend hours talking about gaming.  I want to spend a little bit of time today talking about a very painful break up from one of my favorite companies, Square Enix.

Dear Square Enix,

Yes, Square, I remember you when you were Square, Squaresoft, and now Square Enix.  I played Rad Racer, but most importantly you introduced me with what have been the most influential game in my gaming career to date, Final Fantasy.  With this game, you opened up a world, which led to many worlds, to my young impressionable mind.  The destiny of the world was in my hands.  It lead to other games, other worlds, all of which needed saving.  I saved them all and felt a sense of accomplishment when it was over.

They were all grand, with solid stories, and characters I can care about.  I was the hero in Secret of Mana, finding out his mom was a tree and really wanting to reunite the girl with her boyfriend.  I stood with Crono, Marle, and Lucca and went through time in Chrono Trigger.  I played all the Final Fantasy games as I was able to, and though I wasn’t pleased with 8, I still beat it.  Then came the highlight of our entire relationship.

Final Fantasy 10.

Oh, how I loved that game.  I loved the game play, the graphics, and my goodness, the story.  Could it get any more perfect for a girl who loves love?  Quite a few of my favorite video game moments come from this game.  It made me cry, and quite possibly was the first video game to break my heart so completely.

I forgave you for breaking my heart then because the story was so beautiful, the ending so unexpected.  You gave me 80+ hours of enjoyment, and one that I replayed over and over. I could forgive you, because I loved with Tidus and Yuna.  I looked forward to the next instalment of the FF series (and no, not X-2, which I beat at 100%, and yes, I used a strategy guide after playing through it once).

You gave me 11.  An MMO.  What?  That isn’t Final Fantasy?  Where is my story line?  My ending?  My hours of playing to save the world?  I forgave you for this, but I am not gonna lie, it angered me.  Not enough to kick you out, but enough to start to want to check your pockets after you came in late.

Then you gave me 12.  I couldn’t even play past 10 hours.  It felt…wrong.  It felt like it had been influenced by an MMO, which you had.  The combat felt wrong, the story felt wrong, everything just felt wrong.  I tried, really I did.  I took time off work, sat down and excitedly put it in.  I wanted to like it, wanted to connect, but I just couldn’t.  Again, I forgave you.  I mean, we all have our weak moments, right?  We can’t be perfect all the time, and I knew you would fix it with FF13.  Right, Square?  Right?!?!?!

No.  I am sad to say, no.  I pre-ordered my copy, took two days off from work, settled in for some redemption.  Graphically, I couldn’t complain, I mean it was gorgeous.  When it started I thought, “Here it is!  Here is what I have been waiting for!”  Then the main character had the personality of a paper bag; I was disappointed again.  I put in over 20 hours and I still couldn’t care.  I will admit the chocobo coming out of the afro was good.

So this is where we parted ways.  I couldn’t take the putting an MMO as a numbered game in the series, the disappointment in 12, the waiting for 13 only to be disappointed there as well.  Fourteen was an MMO, and they just keep making sequels to it.  It hurt, to lose my faith in something that I had invested so much time and love into.

I want to try again.  I feel like I want to give 13 a try, like that feeling you get a few months after the break up when you forget why you broke up to begin with.  You just remember the good memories, the hours I spent that could be measured in days with the characters.  I don’t know if I will be able to trust you again, but I may pick up the controller and try to open my heart one more time.


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Tricksey DM…..

Welcome, fair traveller, welcome to our performance!  I bid you good health, and a loose purse for the evening!  I promise to entertain with tales of great adventure, filled with new friends and dangerous foes, and a night watch that could possibly spell doom for yours truly.  How can I be here entertaining you, good town folk, if I can be in the danger of doom?  Open your ears, your heart, and your eyes, while I tell you our tale.

I will take this time to introduce us.  I am Grace, of the Falconsflight clan, and to the right of me tuning her lute is Glamorith the Bard.  As I can do feats in the air and on the ground in such a way no mere human can have a right to do, she can entice and fascinate you with her lute, singing songs of love, lust, and friendship.

We met in a small town, not unlike the one we are in now.  I wandered in, as that is what I do, to perform my acrobatic feats for the town.  I was raised in a travelling troupe, and have taken my show on the road.  I walked into the local tavern and was seated next to an elven lady, who was polishing her lute.  I convinced her to play for me, and offered her myself as a companion since I felt we could be great partners.  I tumble, she plays, perfect!  She agreed and we were talking to get to know each other when in wandered Valarya the Fighter and Conan the Barbarian.  Somehow, I felt like I have heard of this barbarian before.  Before long, we were joined by Wrath (pronounced Rafe) who wanted to tell us about the town and it’s people.  I won’t share their stories because it isn’t my own (and trust me, mine is much more entertaining).  Before long we were summoned by the portly baron, who I swear had chicken in his beard, who offered us a task if we chose to accept it.  We listened to his tale of the mage who lived in a keep who every 5 years would call for an apprentice.  After another 5 years would pass, the old apprentice would come to the town and choose a new, unless the mage had died, in which case a new one would not be chosen.  This year marked the end of the 5 year run, and at the Fire Festival, the town waited in anticipation for the apprentice to come, but he never did.  We were to go to the keep and see what was going on, see if the mage was alive or dead.

With the reward of 1000 gold pieces, and a week of performances in the town, I agreed, as did my new travelling companions.  We also worked out a night of free room and drinks, and headed on our way.

Glamorith and I met some… interesting gentlemen, who were willing to entertain us for some time before we set off.  In the morning, freshly rested and excited for the day, we set off.  It started off easy enough, you know if three giant spiders falling right into your path is easy enough.  We made quick work of the spiders, I tumbling around, flanking and stabbing before they knew what hit them.  I guess the others did things as well, and Glam played a mean lute song.  She plays so well, I am quite sure I was inspired.  After that, we travelled on and found a nice spot to camp.

It was a warm fire, a nice meal, and good conversation (except for Conan.  I know he seemed very excited about a kraken, but I don’t know how much he has going on up there).   Watches were set, and I settled in to what ended up being a very interesting night.

I was awaken by Glam, who told me it was time for my watch.  I like having the last watch, seeing the sunrise in the morning, feeling the forest wake up around me.  I was sharpening my throwing daggers when I heard a rustle around me.  I waited a moment, stopping all movement.  I wasn’t very worried, I mean, I am an acrobat and getting out of things is a speciality of mine.  I decided after the second rustle, and the general uneasy feeling that was growing inside me, to wake up the group.  As soon as my voice was out of my mouth, a wolf charged from behind the trees!  Before the group was fully up and ready to go I am afraid I was bit, right on my forearm.  I fought back and soon everyone was there, lending their weapons (and lute) while I tumbled out of the wolf’s front and into the back.

I wish this was the end of my tale, a simple bite from a forest wolf.  I wish I could say we defeated him and I took his hide for a new cloak.  Upon defeat, before our very eyes, the wolf changed into a man.  A now very dead man.  Our wolf was no mere wolf, but one who changes shape with the full moon, and I was bitten.  Now instead of travelling for just performing, I travel now for a cure, as it has not yet been the time of the round moon, my first transformation not yet complete.  I am afraid of what will come when this happens, of changing and not knowing my human side, possibly attacking my friends.  I cringe at my new senses I feel growing, my sense of smell becoming more defined.  I hope I can find my way to a cure, so charging out of woods upon fellow travellers, does not become my fate.

Glam is the only one who knows of my ordeal, well and you, good townfolk.  Do not look on me with fear yet, as I am still as human as you.  I hope you can open your purse to us, so when we find a cure it is not out of our price.  I shall remember you kindly if you do, and if not, well, let’s just say I could be back here on one of the three nights of the full moon.


So that was our first adventure last night.  It was K’s first go, and I was looking forward to introducing her to D&D.  She had spent a lot of time making her character, reading the Player’s Handbook, studying on the Bard class.  She learned what it mean to be an elf, and how to apply it while travelling.  We showed up at our lovely DM’s house and I did the mental checklist to make sure we were prepared.  This mental checklist consisted of looking for two things:

Mountain Dew

Ruffles potato chips and french onion dip (Lay’s Wavy can work in a pinch, but it has to be the dry Liptons soup package and sour cream).

These two things are vital for the D&D gaming night.  I had never played where children were not present and playing, so it was a nice change to be able to play with adults.  I had prepared two characters, a Paladin (go go Lawful Good babysitter!) and a Chaotic Neutral rogue.  I decided I would roll when I got there and however the dice fell is what I would play. Grace was chosen, so off we went.

It really was as explained above.  I was pretty excited, went up for my watch and then BAM!  Werewolf.  Wait, what?  Girls hate body hair!  This can’t happen to me!  I hate shaving in winter, and that’s just the normal shaving!  Why couldn’t it be a were-wolverine?  Ah well, I am sure that we will move forward and as all things go, let the cards fall where they may.  I was joking with my Decider of Fate and told her she was tricksey.  Karma really is a bitch…

Until next time!

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I Can’t Change the World

But I can make it prettier for someone.

Let me start off by saying I will write something more lighthearted tomorrow.  I even already know (mostly) what it will be about, as my girl K is taking her first walk into Nerdvana and playing D&D.  How can you not document someone taking that first walk and saying, “Yes, I am a Nerd.  Yes, I own my own set of polyhedral dice and I know how to use them!”  So fear not, my dearest friend, I have something fun planned for tomorrow (or Monday – I may be playing Mass Effect 2 tomorrow.  My girl Shep is heartbroken and on a Collector ship.  I can’t just leave her there!)

Yesterday I had what I like to call a “moment of clarity” day.  I have these from time to time, a minute, an hour, a day, sometimes longer, where I just feel inspired to do something.  In those moments I feel like the world is a big place and it would be nice to do something, well, nice.  This stemmed from a conversation on Facebook posts and how when people post things, like pictures with quotes, or some inspirational thing, FFAC felt that the novelty wears off if you do it all the time.  I see what he is saying, but I don’t agree.  I think people just have their own moments of clarity, and want to spread it around.

Let me tell you a truth about me.  I am not always nice.  I am not happy all of the time, or even put together.  Most days are a great success if I manage to get out of the house on time with my hair brushed and clothes fully on.  I am on point if I don’t forget a child on my way out of the door, and sometimes I have felt too tired to get Girl2 out of bed when she refuses.  I will put things down and forget about them for weeks, and then freak out when I can’t find them.  Honestly, peeps, I am a mess.  Most of the time.

Sometimes though, out of the chaos, will come forth this put together alter-ego.  She tells me that it’s ok to be a mess, and maybe, just maybe, we can do something nice today for someone.  Maybe someone is having my normal, crazy, unkempt hair day and buying them a cup of coffee will make them smile.  Maybe it’s just opening a door and holding it for someone as they are hurrying around the parking lot.  I’ll smile and tell them to take their time, I’m not rushing them, but we can go in together.  It’s human condition.

I can’t be like this all the time.  It’s exhausting, and unrealistic.  I don’t think I am the only one to get wrapped up in my life and to go through my days at 90 mph.  I think those moments of clarity happen, and it is my choice to do what I will with them.  FFAC had mentioned that it takes a tragedy to make people want to do things, and on some level, he is right.  People, as a whole, tend to act after a tragedy.  We are usually compassionate, and want to help in whatever ways we can.  My answer to this is, “What if we stopped just acting after tragedies and just acted?”  What if it became just something that is done?

I want to leave that example for my kids.  My children who pretty much usually think of themselves (because to them their world really does revolve around them).  I want them to find the joy of giving back, or learning how to be the recipient of a random act of kindness.  I want to teach them about giving and receiving, both hard things to learn.  Maybe I can just advise them of moments of clarity and hope that they will be inspired on what to do with them.

I can’t change the world.  I am way too logical and realistic to think I can.  Maybe, through my random acts in my moment of clarity, I can make it better for one person.  One person’s world may be a little better for a day.  In turn, that person may choose to do their own act, ala pay it forward, or they may not.  It doesn’t matter, really.  In the end, for me, it really is about going to bed and knowing I did something to make the world a little bit better than it was when I woke up.

For the record, today is a barely hair brushed kind of day.  As I write this, Girl2 is running around naked, singing loudly and climbing on me like a jungle gym.  I want the words Mom/Mommy/Mother banned from the English language (though I have a feeling that she would just learn it in another language, so let’s strip it all together).  If I hear one more stomping footstep, I may scream.   So, no, I am definitely not perfect.  After I post something, I usually read it over and will find some typos, but I don’t fix them.  I’m not perfect, and I love it.  Come have some coffee with me, and let’s just strive to get through.

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Load Last Save

I am going to borrow this blog title from FFAC, as I sent it to him as an email subject.  I decided that I wanted to use it for a blog post title, so here we are.

I changed my hours at work to give me an extra day off during the week.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it still is, but working from 9:30 AM – 8 PM 4 days a week can take it’s toll.  Especially after very busy weekends, where Monday comes too fast and you are sitting there pretty early in the morning in your adult footy fox pajamas wondering where the weekend went.  Load last save.

Any RPG gamer knows what I am talking about when I say that.  It’s that moment that maybe you and your crew expired and you have the opportunity to do it again.  Or maybe, just maybe, you made a really bad decision at some point that is wrecking havoc now.  Load last save.  It brings you right back to where you were before bad decisions, or life threatening battles.  Hopefully even a little smarter (maybe – I have tried the same tactic multiple times thinking that somehow this time would end up different.  It usually isn’t.  You know what I am doing then?  Load last save).

Sometimes I think life needs a load last save option.

I had a conversation with my girl K at some point this weekend, or it could have been this last week, about how sometimes we just blindly walk into the same traps.  Sometimes we know something is so bad, yet, we are powerless to fight it because we make excuses.  At some point we will make our choices, good or bad, and soldier on.

I remember when playing through Mass Effect 3 for the first time I made a huge mistake.  Some wrong choices, skipping over a mission by accident and one of my most favorite characters died.  It was heart wrenching for me.  I wanted to do it, to stop the game and just go back to where I can choose differently, but I didn’t.  I had made a choice, and I needed to stick with it.  That’s what life is, making bad choices and remembering for your next play through, maybe you should stop trying to speed the dialog because you read faster then they speak.  Maybe you should take your time and make sure you do all the missions, so you don’t end up in a situation where you lose someone important to you.

Art imitates life though, and occasionally there can be a load last save option.  It doesn’t appear always when you want it to, and maybe that is just life telling you that loading everything you want to do over just isn’t a good idea.  I was pretty proud of Girl 1 the other day.  She had a falling out with someone over the summer that she cut off ties with.  She had messaged me on Facebook Friday telling me she was reaching out to the person, and I questioned her judgment.  I remember a little bit about the incident, and that this person really had bothered her.

Me: Do you think that’s a good idea?

Girl 1: Yeah, I’m sure it is, because I feel like hating her would be a waste, and that if I have to go through life dealing with people I would want to at least forgive the one that never gave up on trying to make things right.  I didn’t want to be her friend, but I figured the past is the past and in life you have to have patience.

Me: Fair enough, that is pretty mature thinking.  Protip though: Some people we just aren’t meant to get along with.

Girl 1: I understand that some people just can’t get along, and I respect that some people just don’t mix well.  Kinda like chemicals. But I also realize that I left her out and I didn’t react nicely when she would tell me that I hurt her feelings.  Now I realize that people have feelings, and not all of them do it just for attention, and that some people just need someone to talk to.  I want to be the one that says, “Hey let’s catch up” instead of the one that sits here regretting not pressing send.

I was floored.  I don’t see this level of thinking on some adults that I know, never mind a 14 year old girl.  I was proud of her for not just saying, “I chose forgiveness” but also, “Some of the blame is my own.”

I also have experienced that fear of regretting not hitting the send button.  I am learning how to try and not let fear dictate my actions, and it is a hard road.  It is also an exciting road as well as an amazing road.  I thought I was on it by myself, but as always, the horde of offspring continue to amaze me.  Even when I think I am alone, they prove to be right there with me, sometimes behind, sometimes ahead, and sometimes right next to me holding my hand.  I’ll do that for you as well, I promise.

Lesson for today, dearest friend, is that life does come equipped with a load last save option.  Use it wisely.

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Conventional Parenting…I don’t have it

It’s D&D Saturday!  I am so excited, as I love D&D days.  Up at 7:30, trying to get things ready for everyone, playing with my new lb of dice (really, is there anything more exciting?) and listening to some Pandora.  It’s a good morning in the household.

Last night was pretty amusing.  I realized how different my parenting style may be from what is deemed normal.  I got home from work and decided we were going to have an impromptu dance party.  I do this from time to time, just put music on and dance around.  I had all the offspring, my girl K, and some music.  The Boy is trying to save up money for Farcry 3, so he danced for dollars (he does an amazing Shepard dance – anyone who has played Mass Effect would know what that is – I’m looking at you lovely DM, play the damn game) and we all got into a dance circle.  Then things got crazy.

My youngest, Girl 2, hates clothes.  When she is home, so likes to be naked.  I think she should embrace it, because as women, we tend to be ashamed of ourselves and our bodies.  After about 20 minutes she ripped off her shirt and I decided to join suit.  Next thing you know I was standing in the kitchen, in my bra, and just dancing.  Girl 2 followed suit.  The three of us threw caution to the wind and just danced around in our bras, and it felt wonderful.  I can say that I did think for a moment and wondered if teaching my daughters to dance around in various stages of undress may not be a good thing, but then I said of course it is!  Why shouldn’t they feel comfortable enough to dance?  With reckless abandon we danced around my kitchen, no shirts, and all love.

I think as women we should stop.  Stop judging, stop being afraid, and be proud of who we are.  Our bodies are temples, they don’t all look the same, all of our scars have stories.  I may not be conventional, but I will not teach my children to be ashamed.  I want them to never feel that fear.  Chances are they will when they get older, because that is what society and others can teach you, but they won’t learn it from me in my kitchen.  I won’t tell Girl 2 to put her clothes on, she can when she is ready.  I won’t tell Girl 1 to match her clothes, she can express herself at will.

I encourage my children to dance without clothes in the confines of their home, I encourage them to play video games (even those with guns and swords), I play D&D with them and we go on adventures.  I will continue to have random dance parties and tell them about the things from my past, from a time before they existed.  Even the bad things.  We are a close, unconventional family.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Boy’s Adventures in D&D

It’s been a while since I have spoken about our D&D adventures, but with the holidays and all, it hasn’t been as plentiful as we would have liked it to be.  Alas, our poor travelers have been left for long stretches of time, surrounded by stone walls, having a very long rest.  I’m actually a little envious of them.  I mean sure, they have to fight magical undead creatures, evil clerics, and the occasional dragon, but they do about 4 hours of work and then get to sleep for like 2+ weeks!  Plus, they seem to have a limitless supply of beef jerky, and that just sounds delicious.

Today I think I am going to focus on The Boy, and his journey through the D&D universe.  I realized I lack stories of The Boy on here and I must move to rectify this posthaste.  He really is quite the character, as most who know him will tell you.  So without further ado, meet The Boy.


Outside of D&D The Boy loves all things video games.  He loves talking video games, playing video games, and watching Youtube videos of other people playing video games.  He will play almost any video game, but complete only a few.  At the age of 12, he still hasn’t mastered a fork, but he will tell you his destiny is to save the world.  I’m super serial right now.


You can’t tell from this photo, but he has Dorito powder all over his face.

You see, about two, maybe three years ago, he quite seriously told me that his destiny is to save the world.  He has his name picked out (I’m not at liberty to tell you what that would be, because then you would know who he was).  He was going to start training (still waiting for that to happen and Tae Kwon Do lessons didn’t go very far).  He at the age of 15, he was start shouldering the responsibility of the world.  Unless he plans on using a controller or a computer keyboard as his weapon, I hope he starts practicing with something else soon.  I’m still working on the fork.  He also can bust out some dance moves like I have never seen before.  The Boy = love.


He’s also not afraid to ride a tricycle!

Now in D&D, he is a rogue with a past.  A very vague past, but still a past.  When our group of brave adventurers first started our travels together he was asked where he was from.  His answer?  “Burned Down Town”.  He also liked to waltz into everyone saying he was a smooth talking ladies man, who happened to be an assassin.  I adore the idea of a town name just being “Burned DownTown”.  If I ever win the lotto (it’s gonna happen one day!) I want to buy land and try to create “Burned Down Town”, you know, without all the burning though.  Here are some of The Boy’s greatest lines while playing D&D:

  • While speaking Draconic to a very angry dragon – “Don’t eat me, eat the Cleric.”  I am the Cleric, by the way.
  • “Oh, let’s just kill her.” About the Bard, played by Girl 1
  • “I’ll step on it again!” About an alter, in an incredibly evil room, after he stepped on it once and it started to disappear.

Every group has that one person who just makes you laugh by opening their mouth.  In our group, it is The Boy.  Every time we play he does something that makes us all crack up for quite a few minutes and talk about it the next time after.  He keeps it light hearted and amusing.  I remember when we first created characters, he was going to be Neutral Good, but now he has fallen to Chaotic Neutral.  He is just chaos, so this is a much better fit, even if he doesn’t like the idea of being tied up every night because none of us trust him.


How can you not trust this face?  When he tells dragons to eat you, that’s when!

After the last play session, I decided The Boy and I were going to work on his back-story.  Not that “Burned Down Town” wasn’t one of the greatest places ever (and we kept that), but to help him find his character and give him some depth.  We are going to be making a push at role-playing it out a bit more and I figured it may help him to create something more than just “Assassin”.  We had a great time bouncing ideas off each other and in the end created what I think is a fabulous story.  He is really excited to start role-playing it out and I really enjoyed the one on one time just working with him.

I will conclude, my friend, by reminding you not to worry.  In just shy of three years, we will have The Boy protecting us and saving the world from all of the greatest evils.  Let’s just hope he isn’t in his super hero costume and eating spaghetti at the same time.


Can you see the food on his face?  I love him so much.


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Mass Effect, oh Mass Effect

Today I think I am going to bring it back to gaming.  It’s been a while since I have really talked about anything gaming related but I haven’t felt that inspired or felt I have anything of interest to discuss.

Today, I was finally able to finish the first game in the Mass Effect trilogy.  I don’t know if you have ever played them, but if not, go get them now.  All three are on the PS3 (my gaming console of choice) so there is no excuses!  If you don’t you are really missing out on one of the best stories of all time.

I love Bioware.  They are masters at storytelling and have someone managed to produce two of my top three favorite story lines of all time.  OF ALL TIME!  You can really tell the love and thought they have put into those games (and for those that have a problem with the ending of ME3, stop.  Please.) and it is evident even in the first one.  Different planets, all carefully explained down to the tiniest details, different races, all with their own cultures.  And you, Commander Shepard, at the heart of it all.

What Bioware does, and does well, is recognize that people like to customize their character.  They let you choose your face and your class, but they also let you put a little bit of depth to your character by choosing their backstory.  You could have been an orphan or a military brat, you could have been heroic (or done some questionable things) in your military career.  They fully voice your character (Fem Shep all the way!) and you can choose responses to the situations at hand, whether good or bad.  Then they give you…

ROMANCE!  Yes, you can choose your romantic partner.  This made my girly heart sing, and I am not the girliest of girls.  I adore the romance options in the Mass Effect universe and the depth of them as well.  It doesn’t seem forced (unless you romance Jacob in the second one) and it seems really special.  I haven’t been this connected to a romance story in a video game since Tidus and Yuna (well, that and Alistair from Bioware’s other game, Dragon Age).

The fact that it spans over three games really makes you feel like you are in the story.  You spend a lot of time with these characters, getting to know them and seeing what makes them tick.  When you get an order to go somewhere in the game, you feel the urgency.  While finishing the first one today, I had to hijack my ship and even though I had things to turn in for other people, I went straight for the ship.  It truly felt like I had limited time, and couldn’t waste it on telling someone about their dead sister.  You may think that’s heartless, but damn it, I had to save the galaxy!

It’s a little hard playing the game after already playing 2 and 3.  I know the ending, and it isn’t hard because I feel like it is spoiled.  It’s hard because I know where this goes and I love them all so much.  Now that 1 is released for the PS3 I can finally do what I have not been able to do before, and that is start my campaign as Shepard and bring that same character through all three games.  It will be epic, and there will be heartbreak and love, reunions and loss.  Thank you to Bioware for giving me the opportunity to start at the beginning and providing me with a series of games that I have played through over and over.  Oh, and for reals, if you haven’t played them, get on it.  You can thank me later.

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