It's beginning to look a lot like...

...I actually know what to do with a kitchen of my own. Also, Christmas, of course. xD

The past few days I've been on kind of a baking kick--here we have the latest results:

On the left, we have a variation on my dad's ohmygoshsoyummy chocolate chip cookies--I think the recipe he sent me called for a little too much molasses, and I only made things worse by melting the butter so I could stir it in more easily. To make up for the horrific gooeyness, I ended up adding a whole extra cup of flour, and then an extra quarter cup of sugar to sweeten it. The end result was a cookie with a much milder flavor and firmer texture than my dad's, but pretty tasty nonetheless. It was also a little less greasy than usual, and I think it will hold up pretty well in Jon's lunch today--we'll have to see. ;)

The chocolate chips were Hershey's Special Dark, and I had trouble not just eating them out of the bag... yummy!

On the right, we have the remains of a small batch of cornbread muffins I made to go with dinner last night--I had a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix sitting around, so I used that, but I added an extra quarter cup of sugar to get the sweet crust on top (noticing a trend here? hehe) and followed the suggestion on the box to let them sit for four minutes so the muffins would puff up nicely. I think they turned out pretty well--they were sweet enough that we skipped the honey and just put butter on them.

As for Christmas-y stuff, here's a picture of our tree. It's the same artificial we used last year, minus about half the ornaments so it doesn't look quite as overloaded, and I found a tree topper that doesn't make it bend over! It's an oven mitt type thing shaped like a gingerbread girl, which I think goes pretty well with our "peppermint" theme.

I can't wait til Jon's mother gets back from Utah, I have a feeling baking cookies with her is going to be really fun this year. :)

Allods online, a new world!

I take it upon myself to write this post, as every time Kate tried to she'd log on to get a nice screenshot and realize there was a quest or two nearby she wanted to do, and five or six quests later just shrug and forget about the blog post.

The TL:DR version; play the game already, geez.

So, here we are. To give you an idea of how the game looks, here are a few screenshots.

The top picture is of the Empire Capital, the character in the foreground is an Arisen Savant. Cyborg undead. Coolest. Thing. Ever. When you use the /sleep emote on an Arisen character, they get a pneumatic, powered coffin that closes around them. Everybody else just lays down. I have provided a picture of Isyris, Kate's Arisen Heretic, inside her coffin, down below.

It's a Russian game, here is a picture of some of the Russian that appears, as it's still in closed beta they probably haven't translated everything perfectly over yet.

This picture here is of the League starting area, an island you are transported to after a demonic attack on the magic tower where you start the game. It's quite idyllic, actually, except for the shipwrecks of mutineers and necromancers.

This shot is as you are being transported off the island, rescued from marooning, really, the elf in the picture is Kate's Elven Priest, by the name of Rue. And below Rue are my three little Gibberling Seers (from bottom to top) Viskar, Suzie and Hobbes, shaking their stuff with a /flex emote.

So, the pictures are to capture some interest in the game visually, now I'll discuss how it plays. Quite well, actually. It's easy to transition from WoW to this game as there are similarities in the interface; many emotes are the same, key bindings, menu layouts are similar in many ways.

The gameplay is smooth and less fast-paced and intense than WoW; there are some bugs in the system, but once again, a game that's in closed beta is that way for a reason.

Kate and I both like it because it integrates things we like in World of Warcraft, namely ease of communication with fellow characters, and an emphasis on party and group dynamics while still allowing a character alone to accomplish things, but it also has some things in it that WoW lacks, like a more relaxed battle system and more customizability in characters (the creation options are much more varied than WoW).

We recommend this game for people who are looking to get into online gaming, as it's got a nice solo introduction into the game but leaves you feeling like you are accomplishing something with every quest. In WoW, the quest to kill 10 boars in the beginning is basically "because there's too many of them," while in Allods the quest to kill 10 rats for the Empire is so that you can test the effect of the stress that battle has to find out why you weren't ripped to shreds by a teleporter.

Oh yes, did I forget to mention that? The storytelling in allods is actually quite impeccable, they put emotion and feeling into the quests by giving each non-player character (NPC) personality and interesting dialogue. A quest that comes easily to mind is a quest in which an innkeeper's husband has died and she asks you to talk to potential suitors to see if they are interested. Instead of going the grieving widow route, the game takes the route of "okay, who can I get hitched to that'll be good for the inn." She's looking for a sugar daddy, and many of the "potential suitors" respond in ways ranging from mild disgust to amusement.

So in conclusion, download the game and play it if you can, for heaven's sakes, and if you wanna find out how to download it, ask Kate or I, the thing's gonna be free to play anyway.
Here's a link to the website to get a beta key: Allods Online w/the Zam Network