Seeking the Odd & Creative!

I created a Facebook Group!

CreativeArray

For a long time, I’ve wanted an accepting space on the internet where I could post the geeky, quirky, creative things that I love without uncomfortably about sharing it with all of my Facebook friends/family/coworkers. Sure, some of us don’t have a ton of friends on Facebook. But– Some of us do! If you’re like me, you also have a few of those unfiltered friends and family that can’t relate and often drop comments on the post that hang a dark cloud over it.

That’s where The Creative Array comes into play. It’s a group meant for all of the artsy, oddball, crafty, creative, geeky, philosophical, nerdy posts to go that you may not share with on your personal News Feed.

This is that place that you can post that weird thought that popped into your head, or that theory you had about life. It’s the place to let your creativity and mind run free. Did you sketch or paint something that you want to share with like-minded people? This where you do that. Want critique or advice on a project that you’ve wanted to/already started? Ask it here.

I really like to think of it as a sanctuary for oddballs to gather together and embrace all the things that make us odd and different while celebrating creativity.

There isn’t judgement here. Only perfectly honest eccentricity.

Even if you’re hesitant, I encourage everyone to visit our page and see for yourselves:

The Creative Array

~

 

My Gaming Nostalgia

Ever really think about what it was in your life that really shaped you into the gamer that you are today? Can you remember the moment? I was recently asked these questions, and it really got me thinking.

I have to admit that it’s very difficult for me to remember one specific instance that really shaped me into the gamer that I am today. If I had to choose, there are two periods of my life that stand out.

First let me say that I’ve played video games since before I can remember, and before that I was an infant lying on the floor watching my older brother play them. (Trust me, there are home videos.) You might think that this makes it hard for me to pinpoint a time that changed me as a gamer, but it really isn’t. You see, I was always Player 2 early on. My parents decided video games were my brother’s thing. He received the systems and games as gifts, and since they were his I was only allowed to play when he wanted me to.

A big turning point for me as a gamer was when I received a Gameboy Color and Pokémon Blue for Christmas. I didn’t realize until much later that the Gameboy was my first game system, and that Pokémon was my first truly solo gaming experience. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. I was too engrossed with actually playing Pokémon. There is even a picture of me at about seven years old curled in my dad’s old grey lounger with my head hung over my new Gameboy. I’m sure my family didn’t get to visit much with me during the time I spent adventuring through Pokémon.

Everyone might be surprised that the most influential moment of my early gaming life was a time that I wasn’t even playing the game 90% of the time. I was watching my brother play through a specific game, and he would let me play the mini-games or do miscellaneous things in the game but never the story. That game was Final Fantasy VII.  I’ll never forget the summer that he got that game. I don’t even think that we really knew how popular the game was, but we literally spent the entire summer playing it. I say we because I was so engrossed by it. The story, the graphics, the gameplay; I always wanted to play, but I settled for the mostly watching. I couldn’t get enough.

This was the summer that we snacked instead of really eating. My diet consisted of nachos, Pizza Rolls, Bagel Bites, and delicious popsicles. I can honestly say that this was when we starting choosing what we now call gamer food. That is, the food that is chosen for ease and convenience. I’m also pretty sure we never changed out of our pajama’s either.

I digress. Final Fantasy VII wasn’t the first in the Final Fantasy series that I had seen, but it was the first that I got to experience more. It was the game that got me hooked on the series, and since I’ve become quite an avid fan. That game, easy snacks, and comfy clothes made up a summer that shaped me the most as a gamer. I found my niche and my passion within the gaming world, and I haven’t turned back since.

It’s nice to look back on those moments, and it was even nicer to share them with everyone. It really makes you think about the things that make you feel nostalgic. I can’t take the credit though. A representative from a company called Man Crates sent me a request to see if I was interested in writing about those key ingredients that shaped me as a gamer.

For those of you that don’t know what Man Crates are, you should — Shame on you. Haha, I’m just kidding. They’re essentially crates that contain a bundle of quality goods for any man in your life. I’m not talking about cheap colognes, ties, socks, and boxers. They also have a new offering where they cover a gift card in concrete to be smashed open by your man — No, I’m not kidding. This company really represents Go Big or Go Home, in my opinion.

Did I mention that all the macho goods come in a wooden crate? Yes, you have to use a crowbar to get these bad boys open. I feel like that’s a manly gift in itself. Give him a wooden crate, a crow bar, and watch as he gets to show off his strength by opening it.

So if that sounds like something you would gift to someone, click their logo below!

 

Man Crates Store

D.I.Y. Magical Wand Tutorial

I might have moved under a rock for the past month or so, but I promise that it’s not because I didn’t want to write! Life has been hectic, especially when October rolled around. There were several events taking place at my workplace, Halloween, and my boyfriend’s Birthday on Halloween. Add my Barcelona trip planning on top of that, and I was/am a very busy lady. (More on that Barcelona Trip soon!)

So for Halloween, I decided to finally attempt to make my very own magical wand. As you may or may not know, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I was planning on using it to go with my HP witch costume for Halloween, but I actually didn’t end up attending that party at all. Even so, I am very proud of the wands I made, and I plan to make more in the future.

In honor of the upcoming movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, here is a simple tutorial on how to make magical wands!

Supplies

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  • Wooden Dowels or Large Chopsticks – Wooden dowels are easier to find and cheaper, but you will have to use sandpaper to round out the end and taper the ends. Large chopsticks are harder to find unless you order them online. Wands are generally 9 to 14 inches in length although they can be as short as 7 inches and as long as 18 inches.)
  • Sandpaper – I used general purpose so it took a while to taper the ends, so I recommend getting a rougher grade.
  • Acrylic Paint – I chose a variety of browns.
  • Clear Multi-Surface Sealer – The Krylon sealer that I bought actually took the natural paint gloss away and gave my wands a more matted look. If you want a glossy finish, I’d suggest either looking for a glossy sealer or buy a separate gloss to apply after your sealer.
  • Glue Gun & Glue Sticks – For giving your wand that rugged wood look.
  • *** Optional Marbles/Gems – To press into your wand’s handle. I didn’t do this, but I will share how to add them.

Step #1: Sand it Down

(If you went with chopsticks, skip to Step #2)

First things first, you need to choose the thickness of your wand. A lot of wooden dowels will come in variety packs. For mine, I went with the medium size thickness since I’m a woman. Men with larger hands may want to use the thicker wands. A good way to determine which you prefer is by holding it in your hand. Does it look too thin? Too large? Also, is it comfortable to hold?

Once you’ve got that figured out, get your sandpaper out. I suggest putting down a tarp or something to catch the wood shavings if you do this inside. You’ll be using the sandpaper to thin down one end of the dowel so that it tapers toward one side and rounding out the tip so that it’s not blunt. To taper it down, place the sandpaper on your hand and then wrap your hand (and sandpaper) in a tight clenched fist around the one end while holding the opposite end with your other hand. Now twist your clenched hand to scrape away. Keep in mind that your hand may get tired and you may need to take a break or switch hands. Also, be sure to rotate the dowel in circles to make sure you are sanding evenly all the way around.

Rounding the tip is a little more difficult. You can do one of two things. Lay the sandpaper on your hand, cup your hand, and press and rotate the tip into the cupped sandpaper. This can quickly get tiring so I improved. I sat in a chair sitting with my legs together, placed the sandpaper in the crevice formed by pressing my legs together, and used both hands to quickly rotate the dowel while pushing it down into the sandpaper. Imagine trying to start a fire with wood and you have the right idea; only I was doing this in my lap.

Step #2: Hot Glue Handle/Designs

Glue time! I was most nervous about this part. I really thought it was going to be hard to make the glue look like natural wood. Ladies and gents, it’s not! I suggest looking at pictures of wands online to get an idea of how you would like your wand to look. You can do rugged, detailed, ringed, ect.

Firstly you’ll want to take up your wand in your hand like you’re about to cast a spell. Hold it comfortably and look at where your hand/fingers end. Give yourself another half inch or so beyond that and mark it lightly with a pencil. This will be where you glue handle/design ends. Unless, of course, you want the design all the way up the wand.

* Tip: Have 2 small glue sticks worth of glue ready if you want to do a full handle.

To start off, apply a larger bulbous glob of glue on the end to form the rounded tip for the handle. You’ll want to do this on any design since the dowel’s (or chopstick’s) other end is still flat. While holding the tapered side in one hand, rotate the dowel in circles applying generous lines of glue on the wood. If you want the natural wood look, apply the glue against the lines you already have, but don’t try to cover all the wood with glue. This creates the natural looking curves, bends, and nooks you would expect from actual wood. You’ll continue this until you reach the point your marked with pencil. At this point, I chose to add another circle of glue to sort of show where the handle ends more prominently.

* Tip: Try to avoid pulling your glue gun away from the wood too far or not at all until your design is finished if at all possible as this causes those little wispy strings of glue. Not only are they a pain for you, but they could stick to the rest of the glue and wispy bits aren’t very wood like or smooth!

The end result will look awkward, unfinished, and ugly even. No worries. That’s what the paint is for.

Note: Some prefer to wait until the glue is just about dry to roll it about in their hands to create that rolling crevice wood look, but I was impatient about waiting for the glue to reach this point to try it and so thus scared I was going to touch the glue while it was hot and burn myself. #wuss

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On the second wand, I did a ringed design. You start again with the bulb on the the flat end, and then do your first and thickest ring where you marked for your “handle” (design) to end. For evenly spaced rings, do your next ring right in between the two end points. The last two rings were then placed between the other points. Ta-da!

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Did I mention that a near essential ingredient to crafting is a deliciously spiked beverage? (For those of you that might have noticed the glass.) — For adults only, of course!

 *** If you wish to use gemstones or marbles on your handle, you’ll want to apply the glue and wait at least a minute or so before carefully pressing your goodies into the glue. That way the glue will still be warm and malleable to situate your shiny just the way you want.

Step #3: Paint Away

This is when your wand starts looking like a wand! Choose your preferred color and paint away. I bought 4 varying shades of brown for my wands. I even swirled some light and darker colors to get that inconsistent color actual wood might be for my first wand. The second I painted fawn per my best friend as it is a gift.

I really love the way my first wand turned out with all the natural looking crevices. The second turned out very pretty too!

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Step #4: Seal and/or Gloss

Time to seal all this awesomeness up so that it doesn’t get damaged. I highly recommend doing this outside due to the fumes and risk of getting sealer on your furniture, belongings, ect. Either way, you’ll need to put down something to set your wands on. I chose foil since I was doing it on my patio.

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Now follow the directions on your sealer! I applied several coats of sealer on mine because I am a tad overprotective. What can I say?

Step #5: Begin Casting!

If you are as impressed and infatuated with your wand as I was with mine, you may walk with it for a while practicing your “Swish and Flick” and annoying your significant other by waving it at them while rattling off every spell you know. I really couldn’t keep my hands off of it for the first few hours! Call me a geek and see if I care!

As you can see from comparing, the finished product is more matte and a bit lighter than the ones pictured above on the foil pre-sealer. I’m toying with the idea of leaving them as is or buying a gloss to put on them. Thoughts?

Med

Again, everyone, I’m disappeared without a trace there for a while. I will continue to try to make time for these posts.

I hope you liked it!

PS: Click on the pictures to enlarge them for a better view!

PC to Console: Pt. 2

It’s been about a month since I purchased my Playstation 4 in order to play a (MMORPG) game that I originally played on the PC. That game is FFXIV: A Realm Reborn.

Long-story-short for those who don’t know: My PC’s graphics card died on me last year, and so I decided to take the other route with gaming.

Let’s forward to the present where I’ve played on the PS4, controller, and FFXIV for a month, and talk about the pros and cons I’ve discovered. These are purely my opinions and are more in relation to FFXIV gameplay than general MMORPG gameplay.

thumbup  Pros   

  • You have the versatility to sit how/where you want. Couch, Bed, Chair? Sure! I personally game at a desk, but I’m almost always leaning back into my comfy computer chair unless I’m typing. This allows me to game for longer periods of time without getting that tell-tale ache in my neck and shoulders that I used to get from playing on my desktop PC. (My boyfriend might argue that this is a con, haha)
  • Great for hand-eye coordinated folks. This is an obvious one. If you are great at console games, you’ll likely prefer to play an MMORPG on a console. Why? You have 16 buttons on a controller and it’s quite easy to memorize where they are and what they do even when considering combinations. Not to mention, these buttons are all within easy reach without moving your hands/fingers into unnatural positions. The average keyboard has 104 keys alone, and for an MMO you tack on an additional 20+ combinations for Ctrl #1-0 and Alt #1-0. You may not use all 104 keys, but it can be cumbersome to press combinations. I always hated the Ctrl #1-0 and Alt #1-0 combination for actions as you often used your left hand to press these but also needed your lefty for character movement (WASD).
  • It hones your ability to prioritize actions and unclutters your screen. On the PS4, you have what’s called “Cross Bars”. You have 8 separate bars that hold 16 actions each, with an optional +16. That’s 128 actions (+16). However, you can’t see these all at once nor would you want to fill all your space. You have to press certain combinations of buttons (I.E.: L1 and Triangle) to access each bar. When you’re in a pinch, you want to be able to quickly access those actions most needed. That’s when you begin customizing your bars so that have to press less combinations (using less bars) to access those actions. Controller usage, in this way, forces you to become a quicker more efficient player. PC users have the option of putting nearly every action on screen, but that can become cluttered and inefficient. If you have to glance over extra icons that you rarely use, it may take longer to locate that one that you do!

thumbdown  Cons

  • You have to purchase and attach a separate USB keyboard to chat. It’s a minor con, but a con nonetheless. It’s an extra purchase first off, and can be an annoyance if you choose to game away from a flat surface. When I gamed at my couch in the living room it was a pain to balance it in my lap and type, and then move it off my lap when I wanted to sink into my couch; rinse and repeat. Some people don’t mind this, but if you ever gamed on a PC (desktop) it will drive you nuts.
  • You can’t see/access every action as easily on screen. On PC, you are able to set up bars to put practically every action on screen easily seen and accessed. Simply drag mouse pointer and click. On PS4, you can’t. This requires a bit of memorization on your part as a gamer to remember where you put that certain ability and what combination of buttons access it. It also requires some time put into customization and prioritizing to be as efficient as you can with the room given to you. You may find that you don’t truly know what needs to be where until you’re smack dab in the middle of a hectic battle and need it ASAP. If you’re a healer (*ahem* me) then that can be particularly problematic.
  • You are limited to voice chat with other PS4 users. MMORPG’s are a great way to socialize with other players, and nothing beats voice chatting away while you run amuck. Unfortunately, I think there are more PC users than PS4 users. That means that most players utilize programs like Ventrillo and TeamSpeak to voice chat and thus leave the PS4 users in silence. This isn’t too big of a deal if you’re near a table or desk as you can set up via a laptop or similar device, but if you’re a couch or bed gamer it can become pretty inconvenient.

  

Just to name a few! I honestly enjoyed gaming on PC as well, and I’m not one to take one side over the other. They both have their good and bad points, of course, and it all boils down to a matter of preference over facts. I’m still withholding my judgement until after I am drowning in end-game content.

When I get to that point, I will post a final decision!

I play as Ceren Alstrahl on the Sargatanas server for anyone that’s interested!

cho-g1

Classic Game Fest 2015 – Austin, TX

For those of you who don’t yet know what Classic Game Fest is, it is one of the largest retro gaming conventions in the country!  It’s a 2-day celebration featuring classic video games, retro game tournaments, costume contests, live video game music, and tons of video game/ merchandise vendors.

I’d like to start off by mentioning what happened as my boyfriend and I were walking to the convention hall. On our way to the front doors, we walked past a lot of people who were leaving for the day. One father with his little son was passing us when he stopped and asked if we had preordered our wristbands. We hadn’t, and so he pulled off his wrist band and gave it to us!

Now, these wristbands were only $20 for two days, but it made me super happy nonetheless! That meant we only had to pay for my boyfriend’s wristband and we were in.

Once inside, I had the attention span of a fly. Everywhere you looked there was something to grab your attention. I was pulled this way to look at t-shirts, and that way to look at handmade creations. All of these were video game related, of course! Oh, the money I could’ve spent at this place, haha.

I did purchase a couple of things from vendors inside.

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This adorable Navi!

Created by: The Gnarly Garden.

Chelsea Powers creates custom sculpture and ceramic art, so go buy something gnarly!

Here are other goodies of hers:

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This original art of Zelda!

Purchased from: Shark Robot.

They have original geek art on t-shirts, posters, bags, ect.

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My convention goodies!

PS: I purchased an 2XL in a woman’s t-shirt and it barely fits. Really, CGF, really?

You can find all sorts of geekery at this convention. Just take a look at these other Vendors!

Vendors weren’t the only great thing about CGF. They had several different Classic Video Games available to play, and they had a few tournaments going on. Super Smash Bro’s, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instincts were among those tournaments, and they projected these up on the walls for everyone to watch.

Of course, there was a Costume Contest!

What was my favorite thing about CGF? The live Video Game Musicians that played on the stage!

Unfortunately, I only saw two. The first was when we first got there and was Descendents of Eldrick. They played rock versions of different video game songs, and they were awesome. We listened to a few songs at the stage and then jammed out as we walked around checking out all the vendors.

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The second artist was David Erick Ramos, a youtuber who plays ocarinas. We actually hung around and grabbed seats to hear him perform. I’m definitely glad I did! He is very talented, and plays everything from video game music to his own original pieces. It was really mesmerizing to listen to.

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Here is his YouTube channel: David Erick Ramos

I have to give major kudos to my boyfriend who isn’t into video games but went with me anyway. He survived 4 hours in an overcrowded convention where his girlfriend dragged him here and there due to her temporary overexcited ADD. He also didn’t make fun of me as I talked to him about things that sounded like they were in a different language. Gamer lingo, FTW!

Needless to say, Classic Game Fest was a blast! If you have a chance to go, then go. You won’t regret it!

cho-g1

The Real Unicorns: Gamer Girls w/ Non-Gamer Guys

It’s crazy stupid that guys who play video games still have this misconception that girls who play are rare; that they are “unicorns”. That’s definitely being debunked in this day and age. Gamer girls are here. We’ve always been here, and we’re growing in numbers! <insert maniacal laugh>

Anyway, I’m here to reassign the title of “Unicorns”.  That’s a title that should firmly belong to “gamer girls that date non-gamer guys”.

Let that sink in. That’s right; it happens. I know this because I fall into that category. I am in a relationship with a non-gamer guy. At the beginning of the relationship, our work schedules weren’t in sync and so I had plenty of alone time to game. Now with two new jobs, they do sync up. I’m happy for more time with him, but I am also figuring out that he didn’t really have to deal with the fact that I’m a gamer until now. Now I want to game and he’s there. Now it conflicts with “us” time because we’re always together when we get home from work. This is a dynamic that crops up with any gamer dating a non-gamer, of course, but it’s usually smoothed out much earlier in a relationship.

I’ve tried talking it through with him, but there are just some things that non-gamers don’t understand. I thought we’d arrived at a compromise but when I mentioned that I wanted to game I heard that tell-tale sigh. Desperate for some sort of insight, I do what any geek would do: I hit up the internet.

Anyone else notice how many articles there are on advising gamer guys on how to handle being with a non-gamer girl? It’s damn ridiculous, I tell you! The net is overflowing with them.

  • “How to Survive Dating a Gamer”
  • “10 Things you Should Know About Dating a Gamer”
  • “Scared to Date a Gamer?”
  • “The Perfect Non-Gamer Girl”

You would think that at least a few of these would detail what it would be like for a gamer girl to date a non-gamer guy, right?  — Nope! It feels like every conversation and article written is geared towards gamer guys and their issues or lack of issues with their non-gamer girlfriends.

But what if you’re the unicorn? What if you’re the gamer girl who dates the non-gamer guy? Some people might reply, “Well then you’d just take the advice and flip-flop it!” That makes sense right? I thought so too until I googled it and began reading. I wanted to see how I could apply all this advice to my own relationship.

 *Ahem.

I saw a lot of this: “When my girlfriend does her girly things, I use that as a chance to game.”

Girls do have a lot of time consuming girly hobbies that are mostly solo activities. We do our nails, read books, watch reality t.v., binge on Netflix, do arts and crafts, and the list goes on. A lot of the time these are things that guys aren’t interested in so it works out.

So what happens when the tides are turned? Let’s put this into perspective.

Most gamer girls are a tomboy on some level. We tend to enjoy the same things that guys enjoy and our S/O’s know this. The options for what my non-gamer boyfriend does that’s either a solo activity or something I don’t want to do is depressingly scarce. It’s just not the same!

I’m certain that everything will work itself out. The dynamic of the relationship will have to change now that my gaming actually affects our time together, and I sense that he’s alright with that. However, I just wonder where all the advice is for the unicorns of the geek world.

Non-gamer guys: Do you have a girl that games? How did you adjust?

Gamer girls: Do you date a non-gamer? How does that work?

Gamer guys: Help.

cho-g1

PC to Console: Pt. 1

I mentioned in a previous post that I was sold on buying a Playstation 4.

Here’s that post: Has the Playstation 4 Finally Done it?

Well, I did just that. I purchased a bundled PS4 via QVC.com, believe it or not. I really wanted to get the console as soon as I could without paying the full price. Instead of making my wallet cry, I’ll be making 5 payments of $115.70 for the 5 months. Pretty affordable that way, if you ask me!

It took about a week to get to me, and it was worth the wait to unbox a brand new console.

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I was beyond giddy just to open it! It felt like Christmas to me. After all, It has been about 5 ½ years since I’ve bought a new console. If you’re a gamer, you know how tragic that is! Hence why I was like an overexcited child when opening my new PS4. It was awesome-sauce.

So after 5-6 years of mouse and keyboard gaming, I’m holding a controller again. It’s weird and a little awkward, but so far I love it. I didn’t realize how much I missed the feeling of holding a controller in my hands! I could easily compare this to going from reading a hard copy book to an e-reader. The feel of it just isn’t the same, especially if you started old school.

And can we just take a moment to revel in how much more comfortable the modern day controller is to the original?

  

Ok, let me get something straight. I have played on a PS4 sparingly; courtesy of having an older brother who can keep up with the times. The games we played were mostly multiplayers. We’re talking Mortal Kombat, Little Big Planet, and others that I can’t recall the names of.

I guess if you’ve gamed long enough, you never really lose the ability to pick up a controller and play decently with it. That was the case when I gamed with my brother. The big challenge now is acclimating myself with a console controller with more depth than just the occasional multiplayer game.

This acclimation is occurring now as I begin to play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on the PS4. It’s sort of a sink or swim situation as you really have to utilize every button and combination of buttons on the controller to access everything there is in FFXIV. The idea of using those methods made this PC online gamer pretty nervous.

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My thought: How in world do you access it all via controller?

At first, I was gimped by the controller. I immediately wanted the security blanket that was my mouse and keyboard. I did give in to that a bit. I purchased a USB keyboard in order to chat on the game, but I found myself regularly setting down the controller and opting for the touch pad on the keyboard. Shame, shame, I know!

Everyone kept telling me that I can just hook up a USB mouse and play it like it was PC. But where is the fun in that? Where is the challenge in that? I wanted to give the controller a real chance at winning me over.

Within two hours of gameplay, I was intrigued. I was relieved at how easy it can be to access everything once you get the gist of how it’s all done.  It took me about an hour to learn how the Hotbar Sets work and then to set them up. After that, I jumped right in two dungeons to see how everything flowed. It went surprisingly well.

I think that the more time you spend acclimating yourself to the controller’s handling, the more comfortable and better off you’ll be. I’m even tempted to say that it could be quicker than PC, but I’ll hold off on concreting that until I get more game time under my belt.

My Verdict: I’m digging it!

I will continue to play FFXIV: ARR with the controller until I either love it or hate it! We shall see and I will update everyone on the results in a few weeks.

Do any of you play a PC game with a controller? How do you like it?

Has anyone gone from long-time PC to Console or vice versa? How was that?

cho-g1