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 My coping with post-accident trauma has had good days, bad days, and really effing awfully horrible days over the past few years. Ebbing and flowing around the wholly separate calendar of physical pain I have the delight of experiencing, the mental strain has been... Well... It's been an interesting experience. Where I could almost assuredly roll over any social situation, manhandle any decision, and be assertive in all things, now I have moments (sometimes days) where I'm just experiencing crippling despair and/or terrible panic. It's been hard not only for being difficult feelings to manage but also just for the fact that I feel lesser. I am unable to fight where I was once so strong. I've changed. That's not to say I won't get better, because that's where all the struggle I've been engaging with fits in, but I will likely never be quite the same again. Therefore I need to figure out how to take the pieces in my daily puzzle and rearrange them to fit again.

Now let's talk about video games. They're a thing that I do. One might call them a hobby. Turns out they also fill me with a great deal of stress. I have spent the larger part of the past few years fairly active with Xbox stuff. I got involved in the Ambassador program, did some light tech support and enforcement, got pretty deep into the community, and played a ton of hot current gen games... And finished almost none of them. One game I got super deep into was Destiny. I came off of over a decade of MMO obsession and Destiny really filled a niche for a style of interaction that I craved paired with a really fun action loop. Destiny, too, pulled me into social groups with the hope of coordinating with others to tackle challenging cooperative... er... challenges. 

I basically ended up doing none of that. While I actually, honestly did have fun playing the game, I was constantly pressuring myself, subtly, to hook up with hopefully cool strangers to do this hard group content. It eventually got to a point where I would just... Be afraid to get online because I needed the situation to be just right mentally for me to play with others with that much commitment. In the rare case where someone summoned me to participate, chances are I was not feeling up to it. This constant cycle of being the girl eager to date but constantly staying home to do my hair just created this ball of bad that grew inside me. It eventually swelled... Swole? Swull? to swallow everything about gaming on that particular platform. I just... Kinda got sick of it all. Games weren't fun anymore. They were all big sweeping epic commitments with deep, intriguing stories or deep progression hooks. I wanted them all but could barely handle committing to one.

I had to get out of it. So I did. As part of my healing process I uninstalled Destiny, put it all back into it's box, and placed the seal over the Xbox. I used the shinto paper strip thing and everything. It now sits to the side of my desk, available for my husband to use, waiting only for the final episode of Life Is Strange for us both to enjoy, and to be used as a media input for my laptop. The game device I have turned to for healing has been the Wii U.

Simple, fun, cheery. It's a toy for children and man-children. It doesn't have a mountain of games I crave but it has just enough of that first party magic that brings me this eternal, dependable comfort. Having Mario, Yoshi, and Peach right there is just this warm, soft blanket I can wrap around myself. It's cathartic, soothing, and still fun. It's engaging for me to play Mario Maker or Splatoon but it still feels like a safe place. Even competitive games like Splatoon and Smash Bros. still give me the safe place bubble while putting a little something on the line. 

There have been many times in my life, even leading up to the accident, where I'd explored new things, sometimes to no avail. Now, however, I find that the familiar is more necessary than ever. The Nintendo Wii U is not a strong competitor to the PS4 or Xbox. I may occasionally feel jealousy for things on those platforms but the Wii U has become a safe dollhouse I can shrink into and live. Nintendo gives me all the happy feels. Mario and Isabelle are always my friends and when I need to wrap myself away from everything they're there for me now. It's a wonderful, weird thing and I'm glad I made the switch to doing what makes me feel comfortable and safe from what was potentially exciting but was smothered in a hot coat of obligation and uneasiness.

I'm done risking my comfort for the sake of some perceived personal fantasy. I'm taking the sure thing from now on. My play is for me now and that's okay. It's perfectly okay.
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 Nothing really to report this evening. I'm basically taking a day of rest before my appointment tomorrow and my check-in with work on Friday. I'll have some more fun stuff to talk about tomorrow hopefully.

Bloop Bloop Rawr
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Picked up a sikk leopard print tee today. I think it really synergizes with my hot purple kix.


Check out my Miiverse page!
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 Well today was mostly consumed by cleaning up my corner of the house. It was exhausting and gross but I made a whole bunch of room and removed some things that were causing me stress on an every day basis. Maybe this therapy thing is actually alright!

A video game thing that I actually DID do, however, was build a Maker course. My creation for today was my first underwater stage. Feedback from players seems to suggest it's on the harder side of sane but I'm still doing my best to not make nightmare courses, as that seems to be the standard for most players out there. I titled it "Queen Cheep's Treasure Trove" and it's available to play on your Wii U via the course code:


It was super fun to puzzle out how to make an interesting and challenging water level. It made me really hope that someday we can tile in water to a ground level and mix and match the terrain like in SMB 3.

I may play a handful of Splatoon rounds before bed but I think I'm pretty much tapped out for the evening. I have a few more days of rest before I head back to work though. Should probably try to just chill out tomorrow.

P.S. I got an Amiibo today. It was Luigi. He's my first. THE YEAR OF LUIGI NEVER ENDS.

P.P.S. This totally made my night... Charles Martinet played Super Mario Maker.
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No Mario Maker post today. I did play a few levels but I mostly spent my morning playing the Nintendo made courses. They were designed to act as templates and inspiration for your own creations and while many of them are incredibly short and focused around a single gimmick, some are actually pretty rad. There are also way more than I thought there were. I had assumed that after the first run of stages that would be it, but it immediately prompted me that there will be new stages every time I complete a series. Now I wonder how many there will be in total!

Most of my game playing today was done with Splatoon. What a heck of a game that is! When I first saw the original promo material I was incredibly curious about it. Splatoon had a striking art style and a competitive concept that appealed strongly to me. Just the idea of Nintendo making a competitive shooting game was incredibly exciting. It came out earlier this year to glowing reviews but I was unable to play it at the time. Finally, months later, my time has come to be a kid now and also a squid now.

My first impression? Incredibly positive. I've played my share of competitive shooters and, honestly, I've never been all that great at them. The one recent title that I felt any amount of skill at was Titanfall, particularly because you could be a positive force for your team even if you didn't (or were largely unable to) shoot enemy players. Splatoon is very much like that to me. I seem to have great success playing smartly and being aware of my surroundings, focusing on making sure that our team's half of the map remains thoroughly inked in our colors and ambushing/cleaning up after invaders. Combine this style of play with three minute rounds and a really fantastic hip-hop style and you've got a game that I am excited to play every day.

They made some smart thinking in regards to the scope of this game. Matches are short, they accommodate a total of eight players, and they limit map selection to two every day. For some players this is probably a disappointment but I think it helps focus the player base in a way that engages the entire community together and it potentially helps to future proof the game for when people start to fall off in time. 

Splatoon is incredibly smart and fun and I really, really look forward to seeing what comes from this franchise in the future. It has proven to be incredibly popular so hopefully we'll see a ton of content and a big sequel in the future!
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Another day, another round of bricks and mushrooms.

My three favorite courses of the day were:

Chomps Ahoy! Mr.Mario by
Reddit Thread
A stage featuring some great jumping, hidden away blocks, and (of course) plenty of Chain Chomps!

Bowser jr's Air Fleet by
Reddit Thread
You guessed it. Another fantastic airship stage. I love these things and this one is particularly good. It's got multiple sections, great layout, some cannonball jumps that are optional but satisfying to peg, and a boss battle to top it all off.

Agressive Airship by
Reddit Thread
Yup! I managed to fit in two airship levels. Must be my lucky day! This one was easily the hardest of my daily runs. It has some very specific platforming, a few deceptive tricks, and a section that absolutely requires Yoshi. You lose Yosh, you start over. Despite all that I had a ton of fun with it and it never felt completely unfair. I died several times but pushed through to see the end. The latter half was as tense as the first, but in a whole different way, and I loved every dang second of it.

In other news I started playing Splatoon today. That game is really fantastic. More on that next time, though!
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Super Mario Maker is the latest Thing I Gotta Do Every Day. It's become both a satisfying creative outlet and an entertaining community activity. Between Giant Bomb peeps frothing over the software and super talented folks on Reddit sharing creations I am awash in completely excellent side scrolling action.

Today was my very first day with the program so my palette was (mercifully) limited. Still though, I made a level that I call "Infiltrate Apook Brick & Coin!" where Mario must sneak into a secret underground coin dredging facility filled with angry minions and dangerous pitfalls! It's a relatively simple stage with some alternate progression but I'm rather happy with it considering all I had was the basic blocks and just a few enemies.

If you'd like to check it out, the level code is 1E73-0000-0099-1837

After I had uploaded (and then edited slightly thanks to player feedback) my level I hopped into the Reddit level exchange for the day and picked three levels to play near the top of the chronological feed. These levels are my recommendations for October 9th, 2015.

"Airship Assault" by Yokuo
Reddit Thread Here
This is a very clever airship stage with multiple paths that feel solid and organic. Some of the obstacles are quite surprising and it culminates with an interesting final boss encounter with a clever twist. Yokuo had me at airship stage, honestly.

"Goomba Hive" by Rob

This stage was referred directly to me in response to my submitted level. At first it seems like a pretty straightforward underground action stage, but some hidden treasure and surprise peril ups the ante until you reach a climax that made me literally jump out of my seat.

"Destroy Bowser's Factory!" by Hooyah
Reddit Thread Here
Fresh out of Sweden comes this incredible stage that uses plenty of rails and clockwork without being too automatic or gimmicky. Utilizing a few smart puzzles involving POW blocks and P-Switches, Hooyah brings you a level that is just long enough to be a trial but doesn't overstay it's welcome. This one is hard, but you'll know what you did wrong every single time. That's the sort of difficulty I really relish.

Well that's it for today! Be sure to check out these courses too and throw those folks a Star and a Yeah! for their hard work and creativity.
Now to see what everyone can make of tomorrow!
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I woke up this morning with a groan. The week and a half preceding my one day off for the weekend had finally caught up with me. A week and a half of cramped flights and an unusual amount of stress for what one would otherwise call a "holiday". I had merely worked two eight hour shifts prior but it may has well have been a week for how exhausted and sore I was.

No matter, though! It was September 20th! It was Skylanders day! This had been a day long awaited. Since I first delved into the infant toys-to-life phenomenon back in 2011 I have had an obsession with video games that are also toys that also do stuff in video games. It's a whole thing. First Skylanders, then Disney Infinity, now soon Lego Dimensions. There's that Amiibo thing all the kids are hot for but those are just little toys. Pfft I say.

At any rate, Skylanders are totes rad.

So I get up, wash and dress, stuff some toast in my craw, and head out into the triple digit autumn breeze. The latter half of last Friday's Giant Beastcast started to trickle into my ears, Dr. Video Games PhD keeping my head busy while I waited for the bus to arrive. At my local Best Buy I disembarked and entered the mercifully well air-conditioned building to acquire the pre-order I had placed at some point earlier this year.

"Hello!" I said to the kind young lady at the customer service desk. "I have a pre-order I would like to pick up. It is a video game for children that I am totally buying for my son and not at all for myself, a 32 year old man. It is merely for my youth's amusement, not to satisfy a persistent desire to live as a giant amongst a realm of happy faerie folk."

I said that last bit in my head, but the way her eyebrows waggled I fully suspect she was a level three telepath.

After clickety-clacking away at her keyboard for a moment she grinned again and disappeared like a Batman azure-clad. I hung my cane over the lip of the counter and waited. Several minutes passed. Then some more minutes rolled blissfully by. Several people started queuing behind me, holding things presumably for return or exchange. There was no help for them. The guard had left her post on errand for the Lord High King of the Calico Critters.

At this point I believe ten minutes had passed. I had flipped between headlines on my phone and responding to text messages from el husband and back again several times. The mumbling swarm behind me eventually generated enough atmospheric disturbance to materialize a secondary sentry whom began processing their specific transactions. Skylanders Superchargers was still nowhere to be seen.

At this point I suspected just walking towards the video game section and taking a box off the shelf might be the way to go here but I wanted to respect the process, such as it was, and I remained. My hesitation to stay did tempt fate into thwarting me as it might in an airport bathroom, summoning the young lady in blue to reappear clutching a large box under her arm. A quite large and long box. Too large and long to resemble my quarry. She had, in fact, returned to me with the Dark Edition box. I allowed her to key it in, briefly contemplating the possibility of taking the 'upgraded' edition home with me and just as quickly dismissing that notion on the grounds that it was $25 more and I found the alternate paint job on Spitfire and his packaged posse to be incredibly lackluster. Seriously! They ruined Spit's beautiful flame wings with opaque black! Barf!

The poor young lady apologized and placed the box up on the center island away from grabby hands and radioed her boy wonder 'in the back'. An exchange of SKU's UPC's and TL:DR's took place and she bowed away once more. Some ten or more minutes passed, each second grinding away like an anchor dredged through a pit of gravel. I found the cool air of the retailer strangely turning hot around me as my frustration ricocheted off the face of my timepiece and back into my quickly darkening eyes. This was absolutely ridiculous. I had been in this store for literally half of an hour in order to pick up something that I actually went out of my way to pre-order.

Over the following fifteen minutes I received not one but two assurances from two wholly different employees that they were still looking for it. It slowly dawned on me what was going on and I could not help but laugh through a jaw set with exhaustion. My box was 'in the back' because it was still in a shipping box. They had failed to put out or prepare any product for the launch of this game even almost two hours past the store being open to the public. I understand that Sunday launches are unusual, but they always had a fairly sizable Skylanders display maintained at their location... So what gives?

After almost a full hour (and her swinging by one more time with the Wii U version which, thankfully, was actually a pre-order for another customer and not a second failed attempt to serve me) the proper box came 'round the corner. Had it not been for the fact that I had a mountain of rewards credit to whittle this purchase down to a tenner I would probably have left long ago. What was supposed to be an hour tops to get out and back turned out to be almost twice as long. So long, in fact, that I was well starving by the time I stepped back out into the ungodly heat.

A brief McDonalds trip and bus ride later I had arrived safely home with a bag of unfinished fries and the latest addition to my Skylanders addiction. I'll save my full impressions for a separate post but so far I'm really liking it. Skylanders has no reason at all to be as good as it is year after year but this game impresses very early on to be sure. From what I'm hearing around the internet this is the best Skylanders to date with some features that give it some nice longevity even after the credits roll.

A Skylanders with a robust post-game you say? Well now you've got me very curious...

Now Feral sleeps.
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