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Ovirew Blog

Never Pleased and a Great Year for Gaming

I just stayed up most of the night, starting a new save file on Dragon Age Inquisition. Everything was going pretty well, up until I realized all of the little things that were bothering me about my character this time around. Most notably, my nose was wayyyyy too high up on my face, something I hadn't realized on the character creation screen. I also think other feature choices failed to make him look enough like an elf.

Suffice it to say... I already want to start DAI over, AGAIN. ARRRGH!!

In the meantime, I'm debating it maybe I need another break from this game, so I might use the time to work on Halo some more. I've been in a multiplayer sort of mood. I actually saw where the Halo 5 multiplayer beta began 10 days early for XBox program members who have access to stuff early. I'm kind of jealous. But I'll get my turn, come December 29th. In the meantime, it doesn't really matter to me which Halo game's multiplayer I work on - I'm really just down for some Halo multiplayer, period.

Strangely, I just don't feel up to working on Sunset Overdrive again yet. I like the game, but I guess HMCC and DAI are such bigger games that they have both stolen my attention for now. Even DR3, which was a great distraction for me a few months ago, is just kind of sitting on the sidelines. I expect both of those games to sit there for a while longer.

A lot of people on the forums say they don't think 2014 was a good year for games. I disagree, I think it's actually been a pretty damn good year for gaming. I have 10 games to play on my XBO, and with the exception of Crimson Dragon, I really like all of them. And most of them were released this year.

I think this afternoon, I'm gonna sit down and have another gaming session. And hopefully this time, I won't put it to waste like I did with tonight's work...

I'sa suchha masochist.

~ Ovirew

General Update - 12/15/14

Gamespot blogging has become more of a therapeutic outlet for me this year, than in previous ones. It's been, what, about 15 months or so since the big website 'upgrade', and since then I haven't managed to replenish the followers I had prior. I simply don't care - I'm just along for this ride with myself, and I'll continue chronicling my thoughts on gaming and life as I feel the need or desire to. Even still, I do sort of miss those five years where I actually interacted with people outside of the forums on Gamespot. It just isn't the same anymore, too difficult to keep track of individuals now.

As the last month of 2014 continues to dwindle down, I keep wanting to reflect on the year and question how I can improve for 2015. I've never really done resolutions before, so I don't know if I'm talking about that, but it would be nice to do things smarter this time 'round. I think one of my bigger regrets of the year, aside from my usual human outbursts, is all of the spending that went on. I kept talking before about how I wanted to pay my debts, but this year I've just been too foolish with my money. Hopefully one thing I can be next year is a more frugal 'Rew.

Tonight was fun, I went to a Christmas party that I'd been looking forward to. But to be honest, I guess it was just sort of okay. Ever find yourself getting excited about some upcoming event, and you keep looking forward to it for weeks... And then the day arrives and it flies by, and you feel like you didn't accomplish everything you wanted to? I guess that's sort of how I felt about the party. I enjoyed it, it was a fantastic outing - especially for some outsider who just went as a guest. But I guess I would've liked to stay longer, and do more there. I didn't get to play any air hockey with my fiancee either, and part of the reason why I was excited about going in the first place was the potential to make more great memories. But you know, not gonna let that ruin the fact that I had fun, bowled a game (even if I scored the lowest...), ate some food and had a few drinks, and that made for a pretty cool Sunday.

I've really been enjoying Dragon Age: Inquisition over the past week. As of a little bit ago, I now have over 13 hours into the game! I'm hoping to work on the game a lot more over Winter Break, and also some of my other games. I'm still not really sure how I want to plan my combat tree, though I was thinking of compromising most of my points between storm and ice. Of course, I can't even really factor in specializations yet. Or expansions and add-on content. I'll just play it by ear, and hopefully things will turn out alright. I'm looking forward to meeting other party members, but I can honestly say that you start the game with some of my favorites already. It seemed fitting to find out that Varric is a writer, I didn't know that. Solas and I get along well, and he is the only one who agrees with 80% of my good ideas that everyone else seems nonchalant about. Still, it's kind of scary that he goes to monster-filled temples and just.... Falls asleep there, to go to the Fade. I'm also really happy that Leliana is still around, even if she isn't a party member. Her tarot card is pretty cool.

Well, I guess there's only 10 days left til Christmas now. Still have some things I'd like to buy for people, but the more I think about it that may be more a matter of finishing touches, than anything. Some of my money is going to have to go to bills, gasoline and groceries. Groceries, I've been avoiding that for too many weeks now. I can't remember the last date when I sat down and had a bowl of cereal, since I haven't bought milk in a long time, possibly months now. There has been some talk at work of a bonus, which may or may not be on this paycheck. I'm keeping my fingers crossed - that might help out immensely.

I'm not going to try to predict if and how things are going to change after the Holidays. Okay, maybe I'm doing it a little already. I think what it all boils down to is that I need some upcoming goal or event to look forward to. Some things I'm wondering about is how work will change when our manager retires; if some of my associates will quit after the new year; ...and of course, whether this semester of college will be easy and straight-forward, or quickly descend into a sad state of affairs. Not all of it is bad, though - there is the wedding, which inches closer with the passing of each month. It actually just hit me that there won't be another Autumn between now and the wedding day. Shit just got real!

I wonder if Elven Apostate Mages get married in the Fade? I think that would make for one pretty epic wedding day.

~ Ovirew

Stressful Plates

Black Friday may be behind us, but the Holidays still aren't. Work has been making this fact abundantly clear to me lately. After two days off, I'm already kind of aggravated after just two days back. While things could have been miles worse than they actually were, the elevated stress is beginning to take a bit of a toll.

Wednesday went really well. But yesterday, Thursday, we were really just bogged down by all of the freight coming in. Most of it was my stuff. But idk, there really seems to be a major difference between days when everything goes smoothly and days when things are disjointed and we just plain have a lot to do.

I know it's kind of cliche, but I feel like sometimes my life is represented by balancing spinning plates, and when things aren't going well I'm struggling to keep everything going normally and maybe I've already dropped a plate or two.

I get that some days are busier, some days we have more freight. That's just one plate. But if other stuff's going on, that's other plates to maintain.

I've been talking to my supervisors for a while now and trying to get it into their heads that my new semester of school has started. They still don't seem to get it. The whole point of me going to college is to try to learn something worthwhile, something I can use to get a job that doesn't suck. My hopes are that if I can get through college and learn something, that I can earn the right to something better than what I am doing now.

But people still want me to stay late, and come in early. I don't mind it on certain days, but I do mind it whenever I have school the next morning, and need some time between the end of class and the beginning of work. School is more important. And I'm tired of busting ass for this job and causing myself more problems in the process, especially when I want to do something better all along.

I'm also tired of people making me feel guilty, whether intentional or not. But that's probably a topic for another discussion.

Tomorrow is supposed to be very busy at work, but it's also my next day of class. I am not particularly looking forward to any of it. I keep telling myself that if I can get through Friday and Saturday, that I have a potentially great Sunday off to look forward to. But as things stand, I'm feeling like the recent stresses at work are making college more challenging for me, and vice-versa.

I changed this blog a few times while writing it. I really just need to finish up and get to sleep. I guess I got things off of my chest a little. It's just kind of stressful when things start piling up, especially when things aren't looking good from the start. Tonight I'm already worried about doing well in class and work tomorrow. I'm worried about all of the cuts and open sores on my hands and how irritating they are when I'm trying to work. I get irritated about lots of things.

And, I really need to get laid again.

~ Ovirew

Early Loot

The gift-giving season started a bit early for me this year, and I decided to use some of my gift money to buy some of those games I'd really been itching to purchase for a while now.

First on the list was Costume Quest 2. My fiancee and I were big fans of the original, and I was pretty anxious to play the sequel since it came out for consoles on Halloween day. A little over a month after the fact, and I finally had a total CQ2 play session for a few hours last night.

I'm still pretty early in the game though. I have four costumes, including the Candy Corn, so not a whole lot of variety yet... But I freaking LOVE the clown costume. Story is pretty cool and is living up to the tone and continuity of the original and then some.

This game actually has a never-ending supply of monsters you can fight, it would seem. I keep fighting random minions over and over again to get the candy to purchase new costume upgrades and creepy treat cards. There's some things I like more about the original, and some things I like more about this game, but they are so similar that it's hardly an issue.

Glad I made the purchase on XBox One. Gotta let Double-Fine know that they have die-hard fans on Microsoft's console too, even if the Playstation version got extra content in the form of a Sackboy costume. Yeah, wasn't really a game-changer for me, personally. (Don't like LBP...)

My second purchase was the XBox One version of Minecraft, which came out a few months ago now. There's a number of smaller reasons why I decided to buy the game. The largest one is that my computer is simply not fast enough to play the PC version in all of its glory, even though I liked the original crafting system better than the console one.

I also got it because of the awesome 'Halo Edition' texture pack and character skins. And the simple fact that I could never fucking set up a working server for the game in the PC version if my life depended on it. Lastly, I guess I felt it was my duty as an XBox console owner to support the game since Microsoft has purchased the IP and is going to support it.

I think Minecraft is a game that I will still get a lot of playtime out of on the console, though I think I have to be in a certain kind of mood or mindset to do that. Sometimes I feel like building forts and digging for ore, sometimes I wanna play an FPS, and sometimes I want to go on an epic adventure. Minecraft is there when I want it.

After downloading those two games, I picked up one month of XBox LIVE. I'm not sure why I did this right now really - maybe I figured I will be able to get in a lot of Halo matches during college break over the Holidays?

I used the opportunity to download my games with gold again, though I don't really care for any of the present offerings. Volgarr the Viking seems somewhat fun, but is really just a hellish pain in the ass because I am constantly dying and starting the level over. My older games with gold don't seem to load - perhaps I have to install them again? Not really a big deal, no time for it right now, anyways.

There's a lot I could use my Live time for, but more than anything, I'm really just itching to play some of those old Halo 3 maps again sometime. I think that would be a good starting place, since I haven't been into multiplayer for a few years now. I just want to play some relaxing, low-stress multiplayer this month. At some point.

But my major purchase was Dragon Age: Inquisition. My fiancee has had the game for a few weeks now on PS4, but I was anxious to start my own adventure on my own terms. This was the main thing I really wanted to buy with the money - the rest I simply got because I had the money to do it now.

DAI is already really awesome. I still haven't completed DAO, or even played DA2, but I was anxious to play this latest entry which is the most impressive one yet. Today I put over 4 hours into the game since buying it, and I still have a lot to learn in my fledgling adventure.

Character creation was pretty deep, in fact it was so deep that I was content with a character I made using some but not all of the modification tools. The graphics are captivating. The story and choices are enveloping. And it looks to be the start of one of my most fulfilling gaming experiences.

This time around I decided to make my mage an elf instead of a human. I even kept the default name of Mahanon because dammit, I liked it. So far I'm really growing to like Dragon Age's elves. Their history as outcasts in Thedas makes conversations different, as does their differing beliefs and their connections to magic lore. I think it's a good fit for me.

So as of now this is my current XBox One collection:

Dead Rising 3, Sunset Overdrive, Halo: Master Chief Collection, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Halo: Spartan Assault, Crimson Dragon, Super Time Force Ultra, Minecraft: XBox One Edition, Costume Quest 2, D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die - and of course the games with gold stuff I may or may not touch again. So I'm at least 10 titles strong! Some might remember that I used to own Plants VS. Zombies: Garden Warfare as well, but I moved on from that when I purchased MCC.

Not a bad haul for 2014, especially since in the middle of the year when I got my XBO there weren't too many games I was interested in. The discovery of DR3 really helped get me through that drought!

On a side note, I still do want to get Geometry Wars 3 at some future date... But there's no rush. I would also love to get a Kinect 2.0 sometime, but that time is not now. I would probably mostly use it as a microphone anyway, and until I have people on my friends list who I play games with, that isn't too practical.

Later this month the Halo 5 multiplayer beta is scheduled. As is the Fable Legends beta, I think. Would love to try these, hoping I'll get to. Hopefully the remainder of this month is pretty mellow, to put a cap on this accelerated year.

I definitely have some options on my XBO now!

~ Ovirew

In a Good Place

Times have been, with all things considered, going pretty well for me lately.

I think a large part of the reason for that is that I haven't been stressing out about things like I had been. A little time away from school certainly helped me to unwind, but a return to feeling happy and excited about my relationship and where it's going with marriage has cheered me up over the past few days. Looking at old photos and remembering times you spent with someone can really rekindle those feelings inside. Not that those feelings necessarily died, but it's easy to forget about them when other things clog your mind.

I also think the shifts and changes at my workplace have naturally led to things going better there, as well. I became friends with a guy who got hired on several months ago, and now maybe I could move towards having an actual friendship with him outside of work, and having a great friend to hang out with. A lot of the people who were hired on over the past couple of months have slowly come into their own, to the point where the guy who I once thought was the most worthless worker has become fantastic at getting trucks thrown quickly. The Black Friday event was a breeze. For the most part, things have been going smoothly on the work front.

That said, I don't want to ruin this. Things are feeling better than they have in a while, I'm in a good place right this moment, and I don't want to go back to feeling crappy and conflicted. So I'm gonna try to stay positive here.

I realize how easy it would be for me to become depressed again, by focusing on what's missing instead of what I already have. By thinking about how badly I've been slacking with keeping the house clean and organized, or thinking about how much work I have to do to make a real dent in my credit card debt... By thinking about loves that could have been, or opportunities that I didn't pursue... I realize I can't keep all of that stuff out of my head, and be aloof to it, and I don't want to, but... I really just can't handle that right now. I feel too fragile to all of that, too easily shaken by my own insecurities in myself. I've just gotta put all of that stuff on the shelf and focus on this life right now.

This week school starts all over again. While I have no idea how this third quarter will go, what I do know is that school is enough added stress on top of impending marriage and daily life. I don't need to add to it further. And maybe if I approach things with the right mindset, this quarter could even turn out better than the last?

It's important for me to remember that everything I have in my life now, I have because I took a big chance. I owe a lot to my fiancee for taking me in and putting up with me as I transitioned into independence. And I owe it to her to make improvements and to try my best to deal with my own issues.

~ Ovirew

2014 - part 12 of 12!

This morning I feel like talking about this year. Just because.

So here we are, a few days into December, approaching Christmas and the end of 2014.

Whenever I think about this year, 2014, it seems like time has moved faster since somewhere in the middle of the year, or slightly after. In those early months it seemed like there was more time for things, but as the year progressed it seemed like things became busier and the time just went by more quickly.

Going into 2014, I wanted to take steps to make improvements in my life. And in some ways I've succeeded in that. But I'm not sure if it's a bigger success that I started college and got engaged, or that I stayed with the job I had and turned it into something I feel somewhat proud of - and even managed to make a friend. Maybe both things count as a success in their own ways, and I should look at the bigger picture rather than at each thing individually.

Last Thanksgiving I started the new position at my workplace, and I imagined at the time I would eventually find something else and move on like I always have. But here I am, two years with the company - I think the longest amount of time I've stayed with any one company for. Those early months were rough, it took a lot of willpower and learning for me to put up with my coworkers.

I've put up with a lot of crap, and sometimes I feel like I'm about to reach my breaking point. But so far, I'm still putting up with it. And I still have plenty of good days, and lots to be fortunate for at this job. I think it's gotten easier working there since I stopped trying to bother 'hiding' from people. They don't let you keep to yourself, if you do that they will just target you. If you can relax a bit, and find some people to talk to, then they will be more accepting. I think it helps that they hired another friendly, down-to-Earth person that is actually reliable over the Summer.

Much of what made January, February, March, April, May and June so great were the possibilities. When you have a lot of time left, it's hard to tell how things will go down for the rest of the year. Who's to say you won't take some awesome vacation in June when it's February? You can't tell for sure how it will be until you're closer to the date. As my luck would have it, I didn't do anything really amazing in the Spring or Summer. But, I still had some good times. Especially all of those times when my fiancee and I went out and had a couple of drinks and walked around the mall. It was the closest we'd been to the previous years when we used to spend much more time together.

The Summer was, in retrospect, probably a pretty easy time for me this year. Starting college was a cakewalk - it didn't get difficult until the Fall. I didn't do much in the Summer, but I got my XBox One and that was good enough for me.

A memorable moment from the Summer was when I watched both Anchorman movies for the first time and laughed my ass off. I also really enjoyed watching Halt and Catch Fire every week. And watching the Olympics with my fiancee at a bar was kind of fun.

But I didn't make the most of the Summer, I didn't do a lot of things I probably should have done. I should have made at least one more trip, if even just for a day. I should have walked more, and encouraged my fiancee to go on those walks with me.

Maybe I tried, maybe my schedule just makes it too difficult to do a lot of things I want to do. Or maybe I just didn't realize it. Idk. Hopefully I learned something from the Summer.

As the year went on, I continued growing my music collection. I sold all of my CDs in 2013, and sometime this year decided to start anew, by buying all of my music digitally. Surprisingly most of my purchases have been of albums I've never owned and musicians I never got around to buying before. And it hasn't disappointed.

My life saw new beginnings with the engagement, and final moments in the death of a loved one's parent. I saw a friendship revived, and also impacted by marital problems and cancer. There was a family member's diagnosis with a rare and complicated medical disease, and shortly after a pretty impressive recovery. The Spring and Summer were home to many highs and lows.

Honestly, September, October and November have been a blur. That's thanks not only to college getting more involved, but also to work getting busier as the Holidays grew nearer. I should feel fortunate that things have gone as well as they have this year, especially during those difficult months. I am thankful. But now I realize that I do have a breaking point, and once I hit the bottom it's hard for me to resurface.

The later months of this year have shown me that I'm still a pretty uncertain guy, and I still don't know what I want for sure. I guess if I was paying attention, I would have noticed that when I bought and sold all of those game systems over the last couple of years like crazy. But perhaps things only go stale because I live in staleness, rarely going out much or seeking those new experiences that enrich and renew one's life.

The year has taught me many things, things I didn't expect to learn this year. Hopefully I stop trying to expect or hope for amazing things to happen next year, and instead focus on just makin great experiences happen within reason. I think, all things considered, I really could have made 2014 more amazing than it was. I didn't because I thought I'd get fired for asking for a weekend or day off here and there, or I thought I'd use my money for something more important, but probably didn't. 2014 wasn't bad, but 2015 could be better.

Life is full of possibilities, and time continues to dwindle. It is a lot of pressure to ask myself those hard questions, to determine what I truly want. Maybe all you really can do is go with the flow and see how things work, and if they don't, try something else. I've gotten at least one gift over the past 5 years that is actually pretty handy - impatience. And maybe I need that, since I would just think my life away otherwise.

The year is not over yet. There's one more level before we finish this fight. You know the one. Jump in a warthog and speed toward your ticket off of the Halo ring, as the time ticks away. There's gifts to buy, things to do, and maybe even some places to go before the year's out. And then, there is a New Year's Celebration to enjoy, to say goodbye to this year, and hello to the next. And a new year that has possibilities early on, that maybe I can push in my favor if I don't waste too much time...

~ Ovirew

Relishing in the Moment

Once again in a better mood since my last entry. Today I'm happy since it's my day off! And, quite fortunately, the last two days or so have gone very well for me.

Tonight I finished up my first playthrough of Halo CE Anniversary, on The Master Chief Collection. I don't know how many times I've completed CE, but I reckon it's only been 2 or 3 times now.

I guess one thing I didn't remember about the game from before was how involved the NPC character Foehammer was in the entire story. Here's this brave lady following Chief and Cortana around on Alpha Halo, flying this Pelican around that makes for a gigantic target. She survives throughout damn near the entire game... Only to crash to pieces within the last 6 minutes of the game. It was kinda sad, and now I won't forget about Echo 419 and the role its pilot played in destroying the first Halo ring.

I also thought the game was much longer than it is. That's because on my first play through of CE I was new to Halo and sucked at it, and the last time I had Anniversaryon 360 I jumped right into Legendary and squirmed. Really, the game flows along at a pretty reasonable pace. However, there are a lot of repetitive moments and moments that tend to drag along. Notching up the difficulty only elongates things big-time.

That means next time I fire up my One, hopefully later tomorrow, I'll get to experience Halo 2 for the very first time - with anniversary treatment! I'm pretty excited about it, since it's a big chunk of the Halo story and experience that I've been missing for years now. I'm debating whether or not to activate my Bandana skull, which gives me infinite grenades and ammo for the entire campaign.

My focus right now is on finding useful and thoughtful gifts for the people in my life. As soon as my next paycheck goes through, I want to play it careful with my money so that I can get the most out of it. But I honestly don't know what to do for anyone else yet. What I do know is that I need some work done on my car, and I guess that'll have to come before everything else for the sake of safety.

All in all things haven't been too bad, but I guess they are what I make them. Since I have a little bit of downtime from school right now, I will try to soak in this moment and enjoy it while I can - Semester 3 is coming right up...

~ Ovirew

What I Want...

This has been a rough month in terms of personal struggles. As much as I'd like to say things are back to normal and everything is on the right path, I feel like everything has just gotten more muddled since the other week. As much as I'd like to blame the new things in my life for my recent problems, the fact of the matter is that going to college and getting engaged didn't create those problems - they just brought them to the forefront a lot sooner.

I'm still pretty much in the same place as I was two blogs ago. There are many different paths to happiness, but I'm still not sure which is for me. Do I stay the path I've been on? Do I try to change things up a little? Or do I make a massive, life-changing decision? It's really difficult to say what the right answer is. Either way, I really don't want to hurt people I care about, or even myself.

All I know is, right now, something seems amiss. There's communication problems, we can't discuss things at any old time. I am too complacent, and I don't feel challenged in this relationship. And I am not sure if I do or don't want the same things as this person. I don't know if I have an extreme case of wedding jitters, or if I have valid reasons for being so uncertain.

I also wish I could have more control over my life, be more independent. Right now, I feel like I don't have much control over the wedding. And I'm worried that I won't ever have that control in my life again - that her and her family will call all of the shots. I won't be able to fix problems or save the day for us - it will always be the repair man, or a family member who come and say "Oh, this is what you have to do!" It scares me, I feel like I'm making a big mistake. That isn't what I wanted.

I love her, but this isn't what I had in mind. And when her sister gave me a time limit to find a best man, or someone to stand for me, I really didn't like that. This one thing alone makes me want to call everything off. Why would any man want to just sit there while every last bit of his masculinity is taken from him?

I guess my internal war with myself rages on, as I mull over my current path in life.

~ Ovirew

Doctor Who - Series 8 Thoughts

Tonight I wanted to do something a little different, and actually talk about something rather than abstract stuff as I have frequently.

As fate would have it, the past week has given me some time to let the recent finale of Doctor Who's 8th (rebooted) season sink in.

The 13th Doctor

I came back to Doctor Who after a pretty lengthy absence. Somewhere in the midst of season 7's first half (in 2012), I'd lost interest and stopped keeping up with things - and by that point I was already forcing myself to sit through some of the episodes just to see Rory die again and again or Matt Smith's Doctor find a new way to reset everything again and again.

The premise of a new Doctor sounded like great news to me, and rekindled my interest. And, simultaneously as I started the new series, I decided to go back and watch all of those episodes I hadn't yet seen.

Funnily enough, these turned out to be some of the best damn episodes of Doctor Who I'd seen in years. Matt Smith made a complete switch for me, from being an okay Doctor to a very memorable and likable one. The stories got better, to the point that nearly every episode in season 7's second half was interesting to me.

It occurred to me that this is a trend with Doctor Who, with every new Doctor. It's true of David Tennant just as much as it is Matt Smith: Things get better in the later seasons.

I'm not sure why this is exactly, but it just is. Maybe it takes a while for each Doctor to really come into their own. Maybe it's the companions become more interesting later on - not saying I didn't like Rose or Amy, I did, but their characters and stories did become kind of repetitive after a short while. Or maybe, everything just gets more exciting when each Doctor has a few seasons of continuity under their belts which can be drawn from.

I kept this thought in mind, as I watched most of 13th Doctor Peter Capaldi's premiere season unfold.

1. Deep Breath

In my opinion, the season premiere was easily one of the best episodes of this season. Deep Breath was an elongated episode, and aside from introducing Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, it gave us the chance to see how confusing it can be for a companion when their warm and friendly Doctor suddenly dies and is reborn as a colder and more detached version of himself.

The episode saw the return of the Paternoster Gang, following up on the events of the last season finale and specials, and featured an alien menace that killed beings for individual body parts to build organic bodies for its people. There was also a dinosaur, just because.

The thing I thought was cool, was that the antagonist was the Clockworks, a Steven Moffat-created villain from back during David Tennant's run. Originally robots from the future, these more modern Clockworks have grown to become more human and less robotic. Even still, it couldn't prevent them from being evil monsters.

Deep Breath had many memorable scenes, and is one of the best introductory episodes of Doctor Who I've ever seen - right up there with Eccleston meeting Piper and yelling, "Run!", and Smith having fish sticks and custard with a young Amy Pond. It served as a nice opener to the series, and introduced a strange new character that could meet with people who crossed paths with the Doctor after they died.

2. Into the Dalek

...And this was actually probably my least-favorite episode of the season. Into the Dalek, it seems, was there just for the sake of giving us a new Dalek episode for a new Doctor. The Doctor meets up with some people who are trying to fix a broken Dalek, and to do so, they get hit by a shrink ray and go inside of the Dalek's body.

Some things about the episode were cool, such as the way the Daleks are shown to have a system of nano-antibodies that swarm through its body and kill intruders who draw attention to themselves. Or the way comparisons were drawn between the Doctor and the Daleks, with the Dalek in question telling the Doctor that he would make a good Dalek.

But I can't help but become annoyed by some of these military episodes of DW, where 'soldiers' are played by scrawny young men and women. I get that this is the future and all, and maybe any old person can be trained as a soldier... But there's no muscle, no intensity there... And it almost feels like the casting people pick any old person off of the street or go to fan conventions to select the folks for these roles.

Likewise, the episode just felt like filler. It didn't feel like the Dalek-introduction episode that Capaldi's Doctor deserved. But, I am almost certain there will be more chances for him to do battle with the show's most iconic villains. As it stands, certainly not the worst episode of DW ever, though.

3. Robots of Sherwood

I know I'm gonna catch some flak for this, but gosh-dernitt, I kind of liked this episode. I wouldn't say it was a stand-out episode of the season, but it wasn't bad. At least the actors they chose really looked the part - for Robin Hood, his Merry Men, and the Sheriff of Nottingham - and that's more than I can say for the people who were in the previous episode.

It was cheesy and weird, but I liked that about it. Watching an iconic character like Robin Hood match wits with the Doctor and seeing their different approaches to situations was comical. And I liked that the show took liberties with history by suggesting that maybe Robin Hood really did exist, but someone wrote the book about him.

Not true at all, but a novel idea nonetheless - this could open the door to making other fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real in the DW Universe. Do I smell a Sherlock-Doctor Who cross-over?

4. Listen

This was another really stand-out episode from the season, right up there with Deep Breath. Listen will likely see its events revisited later on since much in the episode was never completely addressed, as with many other episodes of this season, but I think this was one of the first episodes of the season that felt like it could really stand strong on its own without serving as part of an arc.

The episode began with The Doctor spending a lot of time alone in the TARDIS thinking, while Clara began dating her co-worker Danny. The Doctor comes to the conclusion that there is someone or something watching him whenever he is alone, and that he needs to listen for it and find out what it is.

The Doctor uses Clara's direct mental input to the TARDIS to lock-in on a memory and take the TARDIS to the time and place of the memory, resulting in them landing in the childhood of Danny instead of Clara since she was thinking about him. Another attempt takes them to the far future, where they meet a man who looks oddly similar to Danny and may be a descendant of his.

But the real kicker of the episode is when we get a glimpse into The Doctor's personal childhood, as a loner on Gallifrey. Clara is the first companion who the Doctor technically meets, hidden under his bed when a group of adults come to check up on him overnight. Clara reassures the Doctor, and helps contribute to shaping him into the man who he eventually becomes. The episode concludes that there never really was anything there when the Doctor was alone, except for maybe his childhood fears.

5. Time Heist

Time Heist was kind of a cool episode this season, one of the better ones. The way it was structured was different, and it made me feel like this was Doctor Who-meets-Ocean's Eleven.

The Doctor, Clara, and two other people wake up in a room with a briefcase, their memories erased - by the memory worms from the Snowmen special! They are given an objective - to break into a secure bank and steal something. But the bank is guarded by a powerful monster who can use psychic powers to liquify the brains of dishonest bank patrons.

I liked the guest characters in the episode - Psi and Saibra. Psi is an expert hacker with a computer database built into his brain, and Saibra has the ability to transform to look like whomever she touches. They use their abilities to help the Doctor and Clara on their mission, so Psi can recover the memories he deleted and Saibra can get an antidote to do away with her powers and be able to touch people without changing.

It's kind of disappointing that Saibra lost her powers, since they could come in handy like they did during the episode. Both she and Psi would have made some interesting future companions for the Doctor.

The Doctor ultimately went to the bank to help the monster, whose mate is locked away within the bank. Another happy ending!

6. The Caretaker

I think by episode 6, halfway through the season, I had come to a realization: Peter Capaldi's Doctor was not really all that dark and mysterious as had been advertised. Cold, maybe. Unsure of himself, yes. But one thing he was for certain, was funny as hell.

The Caretaker was one of my less-favorite episodes of the season, but it still had its moments. I guess I would rate it somewhere alongside Robots of Sherwood. From a series arc perspective, the episode was important in showing the progression of Danny as a main character, and his interaction with the Doctor. It also had the Doctor doing some new things, more so than many of the other episodes of the season.

Most of the episode focused on the Doctor taking a job as a custodian at Clara and Danny's elementary school - primarily to use the opportunity to stop an alien living under the school, but also to be obnoxious and snoop in on Clara's personal life.

Something that was funny and at the same time reflective was the way in which the Doctor hoped and assumed Clara was interested in the scholarly man who looked somewhat like the 12th Doctor, and completely shrugged off someone different for her like Danny. In a way, it made me not so certain that the Doctor didn't want Clara to have feelings for him after all, though maybe he really did just want to make sure she found someone good for herself.

One thing I liked about this episode was that The Doctor used a lot of different kinds of tools and inventions that he'd never used before. He made several tracking devices and placed them around the school, he made a device for teleporting the monster somewhere else, and he whipped up a fancy James Bond-esque watch that lets him turn invisible. If nothing else, this episode certainly serves as a reference point for showing that this new Doctor is quite an engineer and likes using more gizmos than the usual sonic screwdriver and psychic paper.

Seeing the Doctor take on the role of a reluctant caretaker to rebellious children was also fun. While I look forward to seeing Capaldi's Doctor in more serious situations, these lighthearted encounters will be memorable ones.

7. Kill the Moon

I've read that a lot of people really didn't like this episode, with some calling it the worst of this season. I don't really agree. I don't think it's nearly as bad as Into the Dalek, and there were some things I really enjoyed about the episode. Mostly, that ending.

Okay, so the thing that really did bother me about the episode was the way the answer to everything was to do nothing. And the Doctor was going to leave an important decision in the hands of Clara, and ultimately she was about to make the wrong choice until he intervened. It was a good setup for showing that Clara is a bit of an uncertain person, and it gave her good reason to be mad at the Doctor for being so detached and thoughtless of her feelings.

I wasn't bothered by the show taking liberties with the moon being not really a moon at all, but an egg waiting to hatch into an awesome space-dragon. I thought that was the coolest part! Before the show actually confirmed this information, the thought had crossed my mind - so I guess I liked that the writers' heads were in the same place as mine. It also would be cool to see this creature again, sometime during Capaldi's run. It calls to mind the Star Whale, the creature who the 12th Doctor saved in episode 2 of his run.

The spiders being not spiders at all, but germ organisms was also cool. Seeing the girl kill one with disinfectant was kind of like seeing Mickey kill the Slitheen with salt. I don't think it was necessarily a stand-out title from the season, but it was a decent one.

8. Mummy on the Orient Express

This was a stand-out episode of the series, in my honest opinion. I really ended up liking Mummy on the Orient Express, it was a clever little episode. It felt kind of like a strong solo episode, and I didn't predict anything that was going on so it was kind of surprising. It also gets a thumbs-up for Clara lookin' mighty-fine!

So basically in this episode Clara is about to leave, but comes with the Doctor for one last hurrah. They go to the Orient Express for a relaxing final outing, on a train that travels through space. Of course, the train just so happens to have a monster aboard - a mummy that appears every couple of hours to kill someone, and can only be seen by the person who it is about to kill.

Several people die until it's realized that most of the passengers and boxcars on the train are computer simulations, and a computer program named Gus is challenging a group of the most intelligent people in the galaxy to figure out how to stop the mummy. The Doctor discovers that the mummy was a soldier, and stops it by surrendering to it, freeing the soldier from its endless mission and using its cloaking technology to teleport the passengers safely off of the train.

Clara can't get over the thrill of traveling with the Doctor and decides to stick around.

9. Flatline

So far a lot of cool new villains have been introduced this season. Dalek anti-bodies, the Doctor's fears, a monster that can turn your brains to soup, a space dragon and a soldier in futuristic gear that looks like a mummy. Flatline introduced another really strong contender with a creature that can bend the dimensions, turning fat, 2-dimensional objects into 3D ones, and vice-versa.

The monster does this by blending in with its surroundings, and creating murals and paintings, then swallowing up its victims and turning them into a background decoy to prevent suspicion. It saps the energy of the TARDIS to gain this power, in the process causing the TARDIS to become physically smaller on the outside, and draining its shields. In this episode we get to see the TARDIS in its basic form!

Clara takes on the role of the Doctor for most of the episode, while the Doctor acts as her guide and pocket companion. Seeing Capaldi's face peeking out of a tiny TARDIS doorway was comedy gold, and really gave us more insight into the technical details of the TARDIS and how it works. At the end of the episode little is learned about the new dimensional enemy, and the Doctor has no choice but to angrily banish them away with force, unable to communicate effectively with them.

Flatline was another really cool, kind of creepy episode from this season. I'd rank it up there with Mummy on the Orient Express and Time Heist, at least.

10. In the Forest of the Night

This was really one of my least-favorite episodes of the entire season. I didn't dislike it as much as Into the Dalek... Maybe I actually liked it about as much as Kill the Moon? I don't know. The thing is, it felt like this episode had some serious loose ends.

Things I did like about this episode... Okay, there were a few. Danny being very heroic was probably pretty high up there. I think by this point, I'd grown to really like his character. Tigers are no joke, and that seemed like a smart way of fending one off. Not an animal expert or anything, but still.

I liked that trees are shown to have many more important roles according to DW, as a powerful shield that can grow to massive heights and pump the atmosphere with oxygen, to protect it from destructive cosmic forces. It sounds crazy, but then there is much we don't know about life and the universe, so it's another embellishment I liked - maybe as much as the moon being an egg that a dragon hatches from.

Most importantly, I liked how this episode showed Clara and Danny in a different light. Clara was shown to be more irresponsible and thoughtless, while Danny was shown to be very protective of the kids and mature in his relationship with Clara. By the end of the episode, I think I was convinced that Danny is capable of being a good man for Clara. I was also convinced that there is more going on with Clara than meets the eye.

I didn't like how, for the second time this season, the answer to the problems was just to do nothing. Cutting the trees down was the problem, do nothing and let the planet handle it. Destroying the moon isn't the answer, let it hatch first to see that the shell will harmlessly break apart and the dragon will fly away withing ravaging the planet. I think it is in mankind's nature to do something, to be part of our lives and our fate. One episode where nothing was the answer was okay, but two so closely together? It just seems like too much of the same idea all at once.

What I liked least was, ironically, the thing I liked most about Kill the Moon. That ending. The episode has a little girl with problems seeing and interacting with strange forest faeries, and at the end of it all, her long-lost sister turns up inside of a bush. I'm all for happy endings, but I felt like there was no real rhyme or reason there. Hopefully there is more to that, but if there isn't, I'm okay with just moving along and forgetting that part of the episode... Much in the same way humanity will probably forget about those trees ever magically sprouting.

11. Dark Water

The first part of the series finale. Okay, the finale was pretty good, actually there were things I liked about both parts of the final episode. I don't think either episode was really the best that the season had to offer, however. But as far as dark and sad, I think these were two of the darker, sadder episodes of the season.

Dark Water begins with something rather unexpected. Clara calls Danny, Clara finally professes her love for Danny, Danny crosses the street, Danny is struck and killed by a motor vehicle. Ouch. Clara yet again experiences a drastic change in personality this season.

This leads into an epic scene of betrayl - Clara blackmails the Doctor into throwing away all of his TARDIS keys if he won't take her to the afterlife to bring Danny back from the dead. This turns out to be a test of the Doctor's, a hologram he created to see how Clara would react, and she failed. It was a bit disappointing, but you've gotta admit - throwing away TARDIS keys can't keep the Doctor out of his TARDIS - especially when he can open the door with the snap of his fingers!

The Doctor agrees to go to the afterlife to get Danny back, however, forgiving Clara for her outburst. The Clara-Doctor friendship rekindled, the two travel to the site of Danny's afterlife using the TARDIS memory link from Listen. There they find the deceased relaxing underwater in the seated position, and the mysterious Missy character from throughout the season introduces herself as a robot guide for the afterlife... Only to confirm it's a ruse shortly afterward.

An afterlife worker explains that the deceased are placed in something called dark water, through which only organic material appears. A short while later, it's revealed that the bodies of the deceased are actually turned into Cybermen, and the dark water is used to hide that little piece of information. Honestly, that was a freaky part of the episode - didn't expect the dead people to be Cybermen!

Missy shows up and kills one of her assistants on the spot, and then releases the Cybermen outside of the building. When the Doctor and Missy step outside, he finds himself in London. Missy then reveals that she is his old nemesis, The Master. How? What? I don't know. Last time we saw the Master, he died. Then he was brought back to life by a cult, and then became a power-hungry zombie that needed to kill people and absorb their energy to continue living. And then, he sacrificed himself to save the Doctor from Rassilon. And was apparently trapped with Gallifrey in time-lock.

12. Death in Heaven

The final episode of the season. It was, again, a pretty good episode, though probably not the best episode of the season. It was really a mixed bag - a lot happened, much of it which we have yet to see explained.

The episode begins with a wild and, to some extent, not fully-clarified opening wherein Clara announces that she is the Doctor, and Clara Oswald never existed. Though she later writes this off as a lie, many other oddities surrounding Clara have yet to be cleared up - I'll come back to that in a few moments.

Meanwhile the Mistress causes rainstorms to appear over graveyards and mortuaries, causing the dead who come in contact with it to turn into Cybermen. An army of Cybermen begin to overtake Earth, outnumbering the living.

Danny ultimately became a cyberman, regardless of whatever decision he made to be cremated or not, though a part of him hasn't been activated yet which stops him from feeling anything. Danny rescues Clara from other Cybermen and tasks her with activating the switch and putting him out of his misery.

The episode marked the return of UNIT, taking both the Doctor and the Mistress into custody. The Doctor is informed that he is now the President of Earth, a title created specially for him when the world is faced with dire circumstances. The Mistress taunts the Doctor by telling him she knows where Gallifrey is, but won't tell him. She eventually frees herself and kills most of the crew members by summoning Cybermen to blast holes in the plane.

Clara convinces the Doctor to help her turn Danny into a full Cyberman. The Mistress then gives the Doctor a bracelet to have control over the Cybermen, so he can have his own army. The Doctor, reflecting on the type of man he is, determines that he isn't a good man or a bad man, but an idiot with a box. He decides to give the bracelet to Danny, since he is keeping his promise to protect Clara even in death, and Danny leads the Cybermen to fly into the atmosphere and self-destruct.

The Mistress gives the Doctor the coordinates to Gallifrey, telling him it's in the original place it had been. After this, she is abruptly killed by a lone Cyberman. The head of UNIT, who is found alive, recognizes the Cyberman as her father, the deceased Brigadier-General from the original series of Doctor Who. He, too, heads off to self-destruct.

The episode ends with Danny getting a chance to come back to life, but using the opportunity to revive the young civilian boy he killed in the war. Clara hides her unhappiness and lies to the Doctor, telling him Danny is alive and they are well. The Doctor lies and says he found Gallifrey, when in actuality the Mistress seems to have lied yet again about the coordinates. The Doctor and Clara part ways, and the Doctor is abruptly stopped by Santa Claus (played by Nick Frost), who confronts the Doctor and realizes that he and Clara aren't truly happy.

Other Thoughts on Season 8...

Peter Capaldi's first tenure as The Doctor was a very different kind of trip. While there were similarities to previous seasons, it felt wholly less warm and fuzzy than the Tennant and Smith years. And yet, at the same time, perhaps the Doctor doesn't seem nearly as different as I had thought he would be. He isn't a completely stern and rude Doctor. And despite his insistence that he is not in a relationship with Clara, he still seems to hint at the idea of wanting one from time to time. There is much to like about the 13th Doctor, and yet, it feels like we've barely scratched the surface of this man's range as the Doctor. Let's not forget, this was only his first tenure - if history has proven anything, it's that season 9, 10, and beyond will likely be even better.

Clara, too, has been a surprisingly pleasing companion in her second full season. I know not everyone would agree with me on that point, but it seems like there is a lot to her character. In fact, I feel like we still have a lot of mysteries to solve involving the 'Impossible Girl'. Firstly, she has been all over the Doctor's time-stream, and she has visited him in his childhood - right now she has had a greater impact on The Doctor's life than any other single companion. Secondly, we still don't know why River Song was able to communicate with Clara last season despite being dead. And, perhaps lastly, we still don't know entirely why The Mistress went to elaborate lengths to introduce The Doctor to Clara. There is more than meets the eye to Clara. Also, proclaiming she is the Doctor? That was still kind of weird. Definitely see the show needing more time with Clara, at some point or another.

A lot has to be explained about The Mistress, for example how he became a she, or how he is even still alive. Wouldn't Rassilon have dealt with him? A lot remains unclear there. And I think it goes without saying that we haven't seen the last of Missy. It almost feels like the Master will be part of a longer plot with Capaldi's Doctor, much in the same way the original Master bumped heads with Tom Baker's Doctor at key points in his run. So for now, maybe we shouldn't think too much about those gaping plot-holes, because they are likely this Doctor's 'cracks in the wall' which will take some time to explain.

Much of this season was also meant to reflect on older episodes, as I understand it. A lot of this stuff goes right over my head, mostly because I'm unfamiliar with the original series, and also because I try to just focus on the present. It's hard to tell what piece of information will come up again at some later point in this show.

I think looking forward, there is a lot to expect from season 9. New companions, new monsters, the return of more classic enemies, another seasonal arc, and hopefully some other surprises. Speaking of this season's arc, I guess a lot still remains to be explained about the place where souls were being stored in the afterlife. A lot will have to be addressed.

One thing's for sure, Series 8 went by way too fast. But at least we'll have the Christmas special to look forward to soon!

~ Ovirew

The Many Paths to Happiness

Sometimes my daily horoscopes surprise me with how accurate they seem to be. That's why I take the time to read up on them now and again, for that bit of insight that I can reflect upon when making choices. Today's forecast is yet another one that seems to be right on the money. It essentially said that there are many paths to finding happiness, and that I've got to choose my direction there... But I have to show that I can put my fears aside and take responsibility for my happiness first.

This past week or so has been kind of a rough one to manage. I think I'm over the worst part of my cold, though I'm still somewhat sick and I'm still having ear problems. I've had trouble understanding a lot of the things we've learned in school this semester, but lately I'm falling behind more. And a lot of my issues with happiness and uncertainty have been rising to the forefront.

When the year began, I had other things in mind. I never knew what would happen, but I never suspected I would further my education yet, and I never thought that my current job would become my longest-serving job thus far. I didn't think I'd still be working this same shift. Or maybe, I just expected that my life would move along and change in some other way. I'm not 100% certain. At any rate, I wasn't thinking specifically about New Year's 2015 during New Year's 2014 - I was thinking about 2014 and the year ahead, and the possibilities it could represent for me.

The year went by fast, and decisions were made much quicker than I'd imagined they would be. I decided to keep putting up with work even though my coworkers were less than ideal, because it was better than dealing with other things I used to deal with. I decided I didn't need anybody else's approval to take the plunge and get engaged. I decided to sign up for college because I didn't have any better plans. I decided to give up on Sony and Nintendo again because Microsoft was the only company making games that resonated with me. I made the decision to do and say the things I did this year - not unlike the decisions I made to love this particular woman and to move here and start a new life with her.

I don't know if I made the right decisions, and I don't know if I gave all of them enough thought or had enough information beforehand, but I made them.

I never knew exactly what to do with my life, and I still don't know if I do. What do I want? I don't know. Well, maybe I do - the problem is that I don't know how anything will turn out.

Ten years ago I wanted to move to Japan, and make video games, and have a Japanese wife. About 14 or 15 years ago, I still wanted to make cartoons, and I wanted a French wife. The thing I didn't know when I was a kid is that drawing is hard, and there are lots of different kinds of artists, and making it through art in high school is boring, and you will meet lots of different kinds of people who are more dedicated and more talented at drawing than you are. When I was in high school, I didn't realize how unrealistic my expectations of the real world were.

Those couple of years after I graduated, those depressing back-and-forth 3 or 4 years, I started to learn that I couldn't expect much of people at all. Of course I wouldn't realize that after all of those failed friendships in school, no, I had to keep hoping that this ideal world awaited me somewhere.

Last year I wanted a PS4. Last Holiday I wanted a 3DS. How could I ever predict that 6 months later I'd want an XBox One?

If my life here were to fall apart, I have no idea where I would go. I don't necessarily think my life would end, but I have no idea what new path of happiness I would seek in life. There's so many different places, so many different kinds of women, and a few different ways to start over.

I don't know if I can handle going through so much depression anymore. If this life doesn't work, I'm not so sure I will continue to live my life the way I have been. Maybe I get sick of feeling stuck in life, and I really just want to do what I want to do and the fuck with everyone else? There's lots of things I've wanted throughout my life, and maybe I can have a bunch of them, if I'm willing to sacrifice a lot of other things.

But I'm not so sure I want to think about that right now. I've put so much into this life, and there are a lot of good things despite some bad things. The problem is that when you make a decision, sometimes you lose out on those other options - permanently.

I have to make decisions, tough ones. I don't want to. But the result will determine what I can and can't do with the rest of my life. And I'm not sure I can handle that much pressure, that much restriction. I'm not sure if it is or isn't what I want. Maybe I feel disappointed that it can't be everything I want. Maybe I feel cheated and ripped off because of that, because there is no such thing as true happiness in this world.

For now, I guess there's a lot to think about. And I'm afraid that I could lose no matter what.

~ Ovirew