Returning to Eorzea

As I write this it had been approximately two years since I’d last visited Final Fantasy XIV (and perhaps longer than that even) and to be completely honest I had stopped because I didn’t have the time nor the money to commit to another MMO. Fast forward to Christmas of 2019 and when asked what I wanted as a present one of the first things that leapt to mind was a time card so that I could come back and I will be completely honest, I’m happy on many levels that I asked and received exactly what I asked for.

So just a little background I suppose, up until I tried World of Warcraft around the time of the Burning Crusade expansion, I had never played an MMO before. At the very least I had never played one seriously before WoW took hold that’s for sure. I dabbled with Final Fantasy XI and it was most definitely beyond my skill set so I never truly felt a desire to go back up until I heard of FFXIV.

We all know the problems with the original release, or at least most of us do, broken and almost completely unplayable on so many levels to the point that Square-Enix made a rather bold decision in not only pulling the plug but also rebuilding the game from the ground up delivering us “A Realm Reborn”. Now when I first ventured into the rebuilt game I was amazed at what I saw, I had no idea what I was doing and was completely confused but I loved it, it felt like a Final Fantasy game should in an online world and I was most definitely not disappointed.

Now since the relaunch of FFXIV I haven’t been able to play it much if at all, my current state of existence doesn’t leave much extra room for a monthly subscription to MMOs so I’m a bit restricted to time cards when I’m able to get them and like I said thanks to receiving one recently for Christmas I was ecstatic to jump back in. I’ve missed the thrill that an MMO can provide though granted I never truly missed playing alongside other people, but I’ll get to that later. The world looks amazing and the gameplay feels just right, not too terribly confusing though it does have it’s moments, and it’s been easy (for good or bad) to slip into some old habits of playing far longer than I should and I have absolutely no regrets about that.

Now before you think that I’m some super fanboy of the game let me reassure you that as much as I enjoy it, and as amazing of a feeling that I get when it do, it’s not without its faults. Now while I applaud the fact that Square-Enix have tried to create a way of helping players by way of an online resource it can sometimes be confusing and feel incomplete, in addition some of the things that you can do in game do carry with them certain requirements which the game itself makes no mention of (riding mounts for instance leaps to mind). All of that aside though there is one thing that I really do dislike, there are often times when you are forced to group up for a quest to advance the story, including getting a mount if I understand things correctly.

Hold your tongues for a moment, I know a lot of people are thinking “but it’s an MMO the whole point is to play with other people!!!!!” you sir or madame, are completely correct however let me explain myself if I may. Over the years the one thing that I’ve always loved about MMOs is that you can play them your way, how you choose to do so and while I understand and accept the fact that these quests are done intentionally to foster a sense of teamwork and community, when you’re a massive introvert even in the online world those quests can actually induce a level of anxiety.

I’m not even joking when I say that having to group up with people in an MMO messes with me in the worst of ways, I’m terrified on so many levels. I know I don’t know the dungeon or whatever we may be doing, I’m not always completely confident that I know how to play my character, I’m constantly feeling judged because we may be struggling and I’m fairly certain that it’s my fault. In short I understand why it’s done in MMOs to a point, I just wish that in this instance it wasn’t necessary just to get to something so necessary, having to complete a few dungeons in a row just to continue on to the point of being able to get a mount to travel around easier. Now I could be wrong that I need to complete these dungeons to get to the quest I need, but every bit of info I’ve seen says I have to so it’s delayed me advancing by a lot, though that’s not to say I stopped playing, if anything there are plenty of things to do in the meantime.

One of the one things that I actually love (as a result of being terrified to group up) is the fact that you are not bound to just one class, you can explore every class and every profession with one character, eliminating the need for multiples characters which is something I can greatly appreciate for sure. So while I manage to get through being forced to group up with people I’ve never met and in some cases really do not want to, I can spend my time perfecting a multitude of crafts. Really though, in the end, and even forced grouping aside, I love it. I’ve gotten more enjoyment in a few weeks of being back than I have in years of other MMO. So long as I’m able to get a time card here and there I’ll be back again and again.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Revisiting the God of War

We all know that God of War has been a staple series for Sony since its introduction in 2005 on the PS2 and since then it’s enjoyed several successful sequels. From my own personal standpoint I’ve not played many of them, I played the original and could never beat it but always loved it because it was something new and fresh (though all those damn quick time events thoroughly pissed me off to no end), and I played the second for sure, possibly the third, and definitely a little of the PSP version and while not all of them really excited me I could always appreciate the series for what it was…plus the whole mythology aspect was awesome as well.

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When I first heard about the latest installment at first I wasn’t sure how to take it, I mean it made sense branching out to a different mythological set and I’ve always loved Norse mythology slightly more than Greek or Roman if I’m being completely honest, but on the flip-side it felt weird that it was leaving behind its roots as well. While I was unsure as to whether or not I’d like the new direction I knew I still wanted to try it and now that I’ve finally had the chance to do so I can say that I both love this installment, and dislike it at the same time (notice, however, I did not say I hated it…that’s very important here).

I will say this, it’s an incredibly beautiful game, no question there at all, and I really love the open world aspect to it but that’s one of the biggest things I dislike about it as well. Now to be fair I always have a hard time finishing open world games of any variety because it’s far too easy to get distracted and I end up never finishing the game, but the reason I dislike the open world aspect is that because of those distractions I end up getting myself in trouble, I’ll explain. I don’t know if it’s because the world opens up to you a little too early (at least in my opinion) because it seems any time I want to explore and try to do extra things I’m always met with monsters that are far higher in level than I am and the breaking point was being stuck having just hit an autosave point in an area with too high level monsters and constantly taken out almost instantly. In that case I stepped back from the game for a bit and game back and was lucky enough that there was a save just far enough back that I didn’t have to do a lot of backtracking but it was also disappointing because it was a reminder that I was nowhere near ready to explore this amazing landscape and completely frustrating as well.

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I will say this though, as frustrating as this game can be I still love it, and ended up loving it far more than I thought I would, the battles are challenging, the setting is magical, the story is not only impressive, but gets progressively more intense the more you follow it. Quite honestly, and despite my early misgivings, I can’t imagine not playing this game several times over. If nothing else God of War illustrates with epic clarity that story driven games are still loved and enjoyed and are a style that should never truly go away because as much fun as it may be to destroy your friends in an online match, nothing will compare with taking an active role in a story as it’s protagonist and seeing it through to the end. Fighting through the frustration and challenges makes even the smallest accomplishments seem epic and it’s one of the things that make gaming so inspiring for me personally, as someone that over the years has constantly let themselves down, being the hero in a game can give that feeling of accomplishment but also inspire the desire to be greater than a one already is and that’s why I’ll always come back to gaming and God of War was a great reminder of what made me fall in love with gaming in the first place.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Rough Start to 2020

So as of this writing, or at least the beginning of this writing because I know it will take me a few days to finish it, I’m already behind on my 2020 plans though to be fair not completely my fault either. So, leading up to today (12/28), I’ve had the craziness of Christmas coupled with a nasty cold which has severely slowed down anything I wanted to work on, heck I haven’t even had time to play any games.

I had hoped that by now I would have at least a couple of reviews done and I was on track with finishing God of War but then things ground to a halt so I’ll have to find a way to catch up and get ahead. Under normal circumstances I would already give up for the year, but I’m still determined to make 2020 a turning point in every way so really, I just have to power through this cold and get back on track. I do have a few games to play that I’d like to talk about it’s just finding the time and the energy. Also coming up in four days I’ll be hitting my 38th year of existence on this floating orb so that will slow me down a little too what with celebrating and everything.

Another thing I’ve started, apparently I already had a GoodReads account and completely forgot about it, but I’d like to read and talk about more books so I set myself a challenge to read 5 books in 2020. Now I know that doesn’t sound like much but finding time to read is a challenge for me so it’s a reasonable goal in my opinion. Obviously, I want to read more than that but it’s a start.

Speaking of challenges, and getting back to my Steam list, which is every growing, I’m setting the same goal of five games to finish by the end of the year. Now just like the books there is a strong chance I can go past that, so I’ll update my goals as necessary but for right now it’s a good starting point.

Looking back I suppose I’m not truly as far behind as I thought I was, yes I had hoped to have a second review ready to give me a little more time but that’s alright. Now while this is up here and now on the first of the year there won’t be one this weekend as I’m counting this for this weeks post and it’ll still give me a little more time to get ahead, also, I got a new sketchbook finally so I’m going to be drawing again and this time really working at it.

That’s all for now folks, I know it isn’t a grand opening to the new year thanks to this cold but it’s a start and my hopes are still high that things will be just fine.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Farewell to 2019, Plus Other Things

 

It’s still roughly the beginning of December but I’m jumping on finishing off 2019 so that I can take the time to enjoy the season as well as to finish planning for 2020…the year, not the show, just in case I had to clear that up. I’m not gonna lie, I’m disappointed in myself as far as what I’ve accomplished for the year. I had big plans, or at least big ideas but I really didn’t make any of it happen and a lot of that is simply because life would get hectic and I never made the time which is a big thing that I want to change in the coming year and I’ll address everything else in turn down below I promise. Before I get in to things though I want to share what I’ve learned over the year and the biggest thing that I learned is that to be a success at something you love you can’t wait for time to open up to follow your dreams, you have to make the time, nothing gets handed to you (that part I knew already though) and any dream worth following requires time and effort to make it happen. A lot of my time is partially spent on procrastinating and other parts are simply me trying to find ways to unwind from work and putting off what I want to do until the last minute so in the coming year (actually years I suppose), while taking time for me is just as important as anything else but I need to balance that with following my passions as well and on that note, I’m going to start rambling some more about what’s going to be happening.

The Blog

A large part of this has gone from wanting to talk about new games, to reviewing random games (usually older games), to a bizarre mixture of review/diary of sorts. Now taking that all in, it’s not to say the journey has been bad and I’m not going to sit here and say “I need to focus” or “I’m going in one direction” because the truth of the matter is, part of this has been fun where I’m essentially just writing what I love or what I love to write about and I actually don’t plan on changing much of that.

I’m still going to talk about the things I love but the biggest difference when it comes to my writing will be that I want to get ahead of the game, I want to make sure I not only have the article ready long before I plan on posting it, but I also plan on having at least a couple of weeks out so I don’t have to worry about any surprises disrupting my post schedule, plus having that buffer will give me more time to focus on other projects as well.

Speaking of schedule I plan on keeping to where I’m at, once a week and the only thing I can’t decide is if I want to post on Saturday or Sunday as both options are good but sometimes I just want to publish it so people can see it…so that part is still up in the air though I’m leaning towards Saturday mornings that way people can enjoy my nonsense over the entire weekend. As for topics, I know what I want to do and I also don’t know what I want to do (totally confusing I know, let me clear it up). So here’s how I see it, I like doing my own thing when it comes to reviews and I plan on keeping those for sure only I may refine how I write them but that’s going to be the surprise for the coming year, for both you and me if I can actually figure it out. In addition to my own reviews I plan on keeping up with the “Gaming Memories” topics for as long as I can remember my own gaming past and the reason being is it lets me relive my memories as well as share something of myself. Now that I think about it and taking another look at the blog in general, I think a lot of what’s there I’m going to keep doing, talking about books and movies as well as other random topics as I find the inspiration to write them.

Part of this, I suppose, is about refocusing but in large part it’s more of just creating a plan and one that I plan on sticking to. Sure, I may have to adjust and alter the plan over time, but this gives me a good starting point.

Extra-Life

If you’ve been following along you’ve probably missed that I stream, even more so you’ve probably missed that I stream for Extra-Life and you would be completely forgiven for missing that because I’m terrible at what I do. Okay joking aside, I’ve done Extra-Life for several years and failed (in my eyes) year after year and a large part of that is because I fail to advertise that I’m doing it at all let alone on the yearly game day and that is a huge thing I want to fix. Now I don’t plan on spamming everything I do with the fact that I’m doing charity streams, but I do plan on making it more visible than I do now.

On that note, I’ve bounced around numbers each year, I’ve tried raising $1,000 and I’ve tried raising $500, and in both cases it’s because I think I’m better than I am so next year the goal will be much lower and realistic, plus if I surpass the goal even better. I do plan on being more vocal about it so that I can do better and there are still things to work through as far as how to do that, but that’s part of why this is the last post of the year so that I can take the time to plan things out.

Streaming

Now part of this goes along with Extra Life up there but there’s more to it than just that. First off, streaming was never meant to make me any money (which is good cause I’d be on the streets right about now if it was), however I won’t lie that it would have been awesome. Realistically that isn’t the goal though, I enjoy streaming, I enjoy playing games and sharing the ones I love but we all know how easy it is to get lost in a sea of thousands of hopefuls wanting to make it their full time job. In general, I stream because it’s fun and I plan on keeping to that ideology to be honest. I want to stream games that aren’t the normal “mainstream” games that everyone else is streaming, it’s already easy to get lost in that sea so there’s no point in making things even harder on myself. To be honest I’ve streamed a few games that had gotten a good reception because they are interesting and quirky or just plain different in general so you can expect that in the future more often, and I’ve also been told by a good friend that I’m good when I talk, easy to listen to and fun to watch and that alone gives me reason to stream more if I can brighten someone’s day even a little.

That being said, I do still plan on bringing bigger games to my stream as well but there are hundreds of others doing it much better than I and I’m not going to really try to grab that attention from them…mostly cause I know I can’t, plus I can’t afford to keep buying new games like I used to.

Patreon/Ko-Fi

This is the last subject I want to talk about for now, gotta save something for later after all. I know up above I said that I didn’t stream as a source of income and that is still very true (how could it not be, it was like…a paragraph and a half ago), but I do have a lot of things I want to work on and if I can do well enough that anyone would like to donate then even better. To be honest the real, or rather biggest, reason I’ve been looking into both of these (and trying Ko-Fi for a bit) is that I love to both draw and write and I like doing both the old-fashioned way with pen and paper so any and all money I get from either source would go mainly to that as well as towards newer games to stream and/or review, but mainly supplies. Of all the things I want to do this upcoming year, this will be the hardest to figure out so that is definitely not something that is going to happen January 1, no it’s more like a spring thing that I’ll finally introduce it properly and even then it’s only if I get the feeling there is any interest, I hope there is, but we’ll see about that one.

In Closing

There you have it folks, it’s not everything and actually the list is pretty long of all the things I want to accomplish but these are the three big ones to start with (and lead in to in the case of Patreon and Ko-Fi). I will say that as I finish this up I’ve been going through a bit of a depression, honestly I’ve been feeling as low as I’ve felt in a very long time in that it feels like my life is going no where and that is a scary thought when your in your late 30s and you feel you haven’t accomplished anything. If I had my way, I would make a living writing and drawing, drawing (realistically) isn’t going to happen, but writing always could and it’s a goal I work towards and want to work towards until it happens. My biggest concern is like many people I wake up, go to work, come home, and go to bed…rinse, wash, and repeat and I don’t want that to be the remainder of my existence on this rock, I want to be able to enjoy life without constantly worrying about if I have enough to pay the bills, I want to experience life and be in life not just watching it happen to others and I’ve declared in a way that 2020 will be the year that changes everything and that change will, and even has to, start with me. Thank you for sticking around for this and I hope to see you in the months and years to come.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

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In closing, I offer little miss Mia, making herself at home on my desk…and notebook.

 

Gaming Memories: Castlevania Symphony of the Night

The Playstation, an iconic system, one launching a brand-new style of console war and one that decimated the competition on so many levels. Now don’t get me wrong, by the time the Playstation was released I was a dedicated Nintendo fanboy, in fact I knew next to nothing about the new system from Sony and one day (while mom and dad were on vacation as this is usually when my brother or I would spend more money than we should) my older brother convinced me to go out to SEARS of all stores and pick up the system. I’m not even sure how he knew about it to be honest because he wasn’t a huge gamer though him and I did play a lot when we were younger (for reference, my brother is about twelve years older than me so when the PS1 was released he was 25 and I was 13), anyway, I digress.

Where was I, oh yes, we’re at SEARS and we picked up this new fangled system and we were going to get a game but SEARS didn’t have anything worthwhile so we went to Best Buy and they were having a deal of sorts where you bought “x” amount of games and got like two free or something along those lines. I don’t remember the exact deal or how many games we bought but I know that both Descent, Wing Commander 3, and Rise 2 Revolution were among the games we bought, though I should point out we didn’t get the system day one…which is why there were probably deals on older games at the time.

Anyway, I’m getting away from my point, what’s my point you ask? Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, that’s my point, mostly this was all a set-up to get here, to talk about one of my top three PS1 games, if not my all-time favorite for the system overall. Now prior to playing this installment of the famous series I hadn’t really played anything more than a little bit of the original and didn’t understand it, so I didn’t exactly get deep into it. To be perfectly frank I don’t remember why I picked this game to rent one night at Hollywood Video, it could be that everything else I wanted to play was already rented, or that I looked at it and it seemed good so thought I’d give it a try I mean come on, that artwork is pretty damn impressive. Regardless of what the reason was, that was the game of choice…for the next several weekends, no joke it pulled me in almost instantly and I rented weekend after weekend for several weeks before finally convincing my mom to finally buy it when we saw it cheap not long before it went to the “Greatest Hits” green label.

Now like I said, I’d played this for weeks in a row but what I didn’t mention was that I had yet to beat it so what happened right after my mom bought it for me? I beat it. That’s right, all that money down the tubes by renting it for weeks on end only to beat it within the first hour of actually owning it but what stands out more than anything else is the fact that I managed to beat it in a way that unlocked the inverted castle without ever knowing it existed. I know it seems strange, but I had gotten in the habit of using my weapon when jumping over enemies and it just so happened, I hit the invisible orb floating above Richter by complete accident and was paying enough attention to keep trying. The next thing I know Richter is screaming and a replica of Dracula’s castle is popping out of the sky faster than a space shuttle on reentry. I can’t even describe how excited I was, first off, I thought I found an awesome secret which I guess technically I did, but more than that is the fact that I had another castle to explore and that was way more important. Naturally after I found the second castle I ended up getting the strategy guide (both that and my black label copy of the game are now gone sadly, borrowed by a friend and never returned and every time I think I’ve found the guide on Ebay it turns out to just be a PDF) and realized how I could unlock the inverted castle every time without relying on dumb luck as well as a wealth of other secrets to try out.

I’ve said that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of my top three favorite PS1 games but, truth be told, it’s one of my all-time favorite games period. Everything about this game is just pure perfection to me, from the soundtrack to the graphics, yes even some of the cheesy lines (but to me the voice acting was still awesome, I’ll take that Alucard voice any day of the week). Even beyond all of that, just the way the game played was perfect to me, everything flowed so well and when played just right Alucard almost danced in his movements as he explored both castles, it was magical in a way and still to this day I get lost in the game and nearly always transported back to high school, I get that same feeling, that tingle of excitement every time I play it now.

Another wonderful memory in the books, now if you’ll excuse me, I really should start a new game of Castlevania, all this talk has me excited to explore the drafty castle again.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Gaming Memories: The Manual

I suppose this is just a little random, but it definitely does involve gaming memories and I’ve seen it every now and again pop up on Twitter. A random thought, a mention of missing those little pamphlets that used to be packaged along with some of our favorite games. I’ll be honest, it’s one of the things I miss most about modern gaming.

Now to be fair, I completely understand why we don’t have them anymore, between cost and wanting to reduce waste it makes sense to phase out the practice, though to be completely honest that doesn’t mean I like the fact that manuals are a thing of the past. Some of my greatest memories were looking through a game manual and not just from console games, PC games back in the day had some weighty manuals themselves. Speaking of PC manuals, at one point in my life my bookshelves were filled with them in a bizarre library of sorts; Sim Tower, Sim Ant, Nox, C&C, and a long list of other’s filled the shelves as easily as my Forgotten Realms novels…ah those were the days.

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Now we’re lucky if we get anything at all, and in a gaming world where things are inching their way more and more towards digital the lack of any real sense of ownership is fleeting. Realistically, game manuals can make a strong comeback especially since there are so many ways to make paper products out of recycled materials but in that instance it comes down to cost and let’s face it, why spend more money on a manual when you can charge $100, $200, or more, for a collector’s edition that has a lot of extra “digital” content and maybe a statue, or something else. To be honest I’d gladly trade CE’s just to have game manuals back, they were a great resource for extra info, story, item info, and so much more, I mean come on later on manuals became a way to advertise other games from a developer or publisher and you had a lot better shot of someone seeing that ad than you do now with ad blockers and phasing out of print media.

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Sure this is a little bit of a rant, but it’s one born of fond memories of reading through these tiny treasure troves of information, nostalgic for sure but for me personally, as I get older, I constantly find myself looking back with a smile at the memories I was able to make all because of a simple, little, booklet.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Extra note: This is much shorter than the usual post, I haven’t been feeling well but I didn’t want to miss another post, hopefully next week’s will be back up to my usually abnormally high standards.

Halloween Favorites

It’s that time of year again, one of my favorites I must admit and amidst everything going on in life at the moment I want to slow down for a second and talk about spooky movies. I suppose more specifically I want to talk about three movies I try to always make a point to watch every year around this time. I say there are three specific movies I try to watch mostly because I don’t have the time or opportunity to watch all the movies I would like to, so I at least try to watch my favorites and, on that note,, let’s dive right in.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

No, not for “reasons”, in reality I’ve always loved the corny and cheesy side of a lot of things and Elvira plays directly into that love. Overall an homage to classic horror movies but in general it comes off as completely cheesy but over all it’s just plain fun if you ask me. So, if you’ve been under a rock, or more likely you’ve never bothered to watch it, the plot is pretty simple. Elvira is hosting her tv show when the new station manager makes a pass at her and she quits (yeah that’s the short boring version cause it’s more enjoyable to watch and I don’t wanna spoil anything from an incredibly old movie). Once she realizes that was a terrible idea and she won’t be able to put money up for her Vegas show she tries to find another way to make the money when her Aunt dies leaving her a home in your classic bible belt style town where she obviously sticks out like a sore thumb. After turning the town upside down and a little supernatural battle, not to mention being accused of being a witch and burned at the stake, she lands on her feet and gets her Vegas show and the town learns a little something about tolerance.

Like I said, overall, it’s cheesy and corny, the acting is moderately good from everyone involved but to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way and it’s one of the reasons I try to watch it every Halloween.

Scary Godmother: Halloween Spooktacular

In the realm of budget animation, nothing exemplifies this more to me than this movie and its sequel. Based on the books by Jill Thompson this particular hour-long movie (approximately at least) centers on a little girl named Hannah Marie who gets locked in a spook house by her cousin Jimmy and his friends in an attempt to scare the “baby” on Halloween night. The result? Hannah meets her Scary Godmother and is taken to the “Fright Side” to see that monsters aren’t bad at all by inviting her to an annual Halloween party. Budget is an understatement when you look at the animation and style, but to be honest I love the story and even the acting and all of it combined makes it a treasure of a movie to watch. Sure, the overall premise of Halloween is to be spooky and scary but I always make time to watch this little joy and if there’s time I throw in the sequel as well.

Army of Darkness

I’m hoping I don’t have to explain this one, especially since it requires setting up two movies prior (technically) but the long and short of it is that this is the third movie coming in after both Evil Dead 1 & 2 and takes a very different turn than the Evil Dead series. In the set-up Ash is basically transported back in time in a way (back to 1300 A.D. to be somewhat more specific) and while he’s there his only goal is to get home, which requires the Necronomicon, which involves fighting Deadites and an army of the dead. With a mix of comedy and horror it’s a classic movie without question but there is another reason I make a point to try to watch it every October (besides being an awesome movie on its own that is). One other reason why I always try to watch Army of Darkness goes way back to my high school art class, before my teacher pulled a asshat move and made me hate art for the longest time, but she insisted we watch this because of the fact there is a stop motion animated army of skeletons fighting and the second I saw it I fell in love with this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Evil Dead and its sequel but this one is without question my favorite of the three. There’s never really a wrong time to watch it in my opinion but Halloween time is definitely the perfect time to watch.

Well folks, there you have it, even though I have a lot of movies that are either horror or Halloween related, as I grow older and my life becomes a bit more busy I have less time to watch the movies in my collection that I love to watch. All that being said though, these three are movies I always do my best to try to watch each and every year. If you haven’t seen any of them then I suggest checking them out at least once, and if you have seen them and love them as much as I do then you know exactly why too.

This also wraps up Halloween time and moves us in to winter, I’m considering trying to theme the coming weeks around winter and Christmas, or the holidays in general, not sure, felt cute, might delete later and all that jazz. Either way, stay tuned and I’ll see ya next time folks.

~Fallyn Aingeal~