Welcome. Welcome to City 17.

“You have chosen, or been chosen, to relocate to one of our finest remaining urban centers.”  Were the slightly haunting first words as the pictures appeared on the screen.  You appeared to be on a train but you didn’t know where you were going until you heard Dr. Breen’s voice.

It’s been 10 years – 10 years today – since Half-Life 2 was released.  One of the best games in video gaming history and it feels as though it has stood up to the test of time.

When you start the game you’re dropped into this dystopian world of City 17 where people live effectively as slaves of the Combine.  All of this is the fall out from the original Half-Life, which you as the lead character Gordon Freeman, are effectively part responsible for.  Now you’re doing your best to survive and find the handful of other people left over from Black Mesa.  It’s never simple though, is it?  You have to battle all sorts of aliens, people, headcrabs, machines and radiation.

At Christmas in 2004 I purchased Half-Life 2 for someone and sat and watched them play it.  I wasn’t particularly au fait with games in general.  I was in a relationship with someone who was an IT worker and they played a lot of games.  My PC gaming experience extended to Driver, Midtown Madness and The Sims.  I wasn’t wholly sure how I would handle a first or third person shooter, so I was a little reluctant to play them.  I was encouraged to play Max Payne.  I’m so glad I did.  Max Payne is a fantastic game.  It will look rather dated now, but it was the game that brought the world bullet time, and the gameplay was punctuated with stylised comic strips.  Once you could get past the constantly constipated look on Max Payne’s face, you were hooked.

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Having completed Max Payne, and subsequently Max Payne 2, I decided to play the first Half-Life.  Now that is a game that does not stand the test of time.  It looks terrible now, but just remind yourself that it was released in 1998.  That’s 16 years ago.  Half-Life completed and I moved on to Half-Life 2.

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I’ve actually forgotten how many times I’ve played the game through.  It takes forever, and is far more difficult on the xBox 360 than it is on the PC, but it never gets old.  It doesn’t even really look old.  Sure, the rendering is a bit slow, and games no longer do the wonderful “LOADING” thing in the middle of a sequence, making you wait forever.  Half-Life 2 spawned so much from Day of Defeat: Source (which wouldn’t have been possible without the Source engine that HL2 was built on) to Team Fortress 2, and Portal.

HL2 was what turned me into a hardcore gamer.  I racked up thousands of hours on Day of Defeat: Source and Team Fortress 2.  I was a highly ranked medic on TF2.  Eventually life got too busy and I just don’t have time for it much anymore, but do like to pop up on European TF2 servers occasionally.  (Drop me comment if you want to hook up on Steam, and I’ll see what I can do.)

I wasn’t mesmerised by the graphics of HL2 or how realistic the weapons were.  Nah.  Sure, it did and still does look good, and any weapons that are based on real ones I guess are pretty accurate.  For me, it was the story.  It’s the fact that Gordon Freeman never speaks.  He is a silent participant in a dystopian world that he never wanted any part of.  There are no cutscenes to disturb the flow, try to make up time or used as a patch over a hole in the story.  What would people like Ubisoft do without cutscenes now?

The fact that Gordon Freeman didn’t speak means that you are wholly in control of his emotions.  He’s not putting words in your mouth, he’s not influencing how you make decisions or how you feel about your decisions.  All of that is your own and you make those decisions based on your experiences in life and in the game.  That’s powerful.  So many games now manipulate your emotions and decisions using dialogue.  HL2 doesn’t do this.  You are Gordon Freeman and Gordon Freeman is you.

The setting is so bleak that even years later it all stays with you.  I remember going to Frankfurt a good few years after it came out and getting the feeling that I was in City 17 by the way it looked.  I hate the Ravenholm level, and anyone who has played the game will agree it’s a creepy place.  The line spoken in the game “We don’t go to Ravenholm” should have been heeded.  It’s creepy as you like, especially if you’re playing with headphones.  It sticks with you.  Leaper zombies will haunt your dreams after the first time you play it.  The black headcrabs that lurk around each corner will have you on tenterhooks.  And Fr. Grigory?  Well, I never figured if he was truly a friend.

If you’ve never played HL2, please do.  You can buy the game here, or just watch a video of gameplay for a bit of nostalgia.

The game is still relevant today.  As a global society everything is actually quite fragile and I don’t doubt that there are a few world leaders out there who would like to create a dystopia for their own gain.  Half-Life 2 was almost a painting of what widespread Communism could have looked like.  The only people who benefit in those socities are those who are in charge.

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Remember, “The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world.”

Welcome Back

It’s been a while since I did a post relating to The Sims, right?  A very long time.

Life get in the way, and by life I actually mean work mainly.  I just don’t have time to play for the most part.  And then, last month, my PC died.  Totally died.  Died to the point that I had to decide what to sacrifice from it – did I want to keep my 50,000+ photographs, or did I want to keep The Sims?  I chose the photographs.  So on my PC my last set of Sims are no more.  Shame, they were a funny bunch.

I might just go back to The Sims at some point, if I happen to get an excess of time.  But for now, I’ve moved on to something a little bit exciting…

SIMCITY!

Death and destruction at the Ugleh household

Ugleh066I shit you not.  Those fucking idiots managed to set fire to their own house during their toddler’s birthday party.  How?!  With the bloody birthday cake.

Ugleh067Once the sexy fireman had been and put the flames out, everyone carried on like nothing had happened.  What’shisname didn’t even have a tiny bit of soot on his lovely white jacket.

Ugleh068At least she’s excited her kid has grown up, he doesn’t look too enamoured.

Ugleh069Meanwhile, Vereh’s other son is outside murdering her army of snowmen.

Ugleh070What?  I don’t…I just don’t even.  The game decided pretty quickly that these kids were going to become toddlers.  Fair enough, but she apparently has to get into the cot to help this.  Or is she hindering this?

Ugleh071The first one, whose name I cannot remember (I’m not good with names) grew up.  They’ve got really camp names, one of them is Orlando, and the other is…Piers I think.

Ugleh072Both blonde I see.  Just another 80 days of being toddlers, or something that painfully long.  Bring it on, let us see if they are as weird as their older brothers.  Maybe one day she’ll even have a girl!

The Ugleh Children grow up!

Ugleh058Imagine my surprise when she comes out of the damn hospital with twins.  This was a moment of revelation when I recalled that I did actually purchase the fertility treatment thing for both of them.  I was obviously having a dumb week when I did all of this.

Ugleh059Then shit started to go funny again.  My game was running very slow.  Just before this, she was stuck knee deep in the floor of her dining room so I had to reset her, and this is what happened.  I kid you not.  The case of Vereh Ugleh and her very floaty baby.  What’shisname obviously wonders what’s going down.  Oh wait no…he doesn’t, just before they did the midnight flit to have the kid in hospital, he dumped that toddler he’s holding in the snow outside.  Even the babysitter left the little shit out there until they came back.

Ugleh060Yep, she is bench pressing her newborn baby.

Ugleh061Whatever disease it is that one of them had is now spreading.

Ugleh062For a while their lives went on as normal so this is the next big milestone.  Their toddler were (finally) becoming children.  Vereh thought it would be nice to throw a formal party.  Looking at that picture, all is going well.  People are wishing they’d come in disguise, some are being ignored, others are wishing the little shit bags would shut up, and Vereh is trying to endear herself to her ‘step-son’ which she didn’t even know existed.

Ugleh063While one kid gets the party started, the other sits in the background looked stoned out of their head.

Ugleh064Got his father’s face and body, but he’s working on his mother’s eyebrows.  Damn, dey some gooooooooood brow.  Just wait until he’s a teenager, will they get big enough to take over the world?

Ugleh065And now for the second twin.  It appears that not only is there an adult playing with a kid’s toy, but also someone has got naked and left the  clothes in the kitchen and that kid is still stoned out of their skull.

I’m actually going to leave this one right there.  You have to wait for the next installment to find out what happens.  You can probably guess, it’s not…normal.

The Sims 3: Enough with all the weird shit!

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And, so we’re back with the ever charming Ugleh family.  I’ve been having some issues with my game, particularly since installing Seasons (no, don’t blame my PC, I’m yet to meet anyone else who has a six core processor and 8GB RAM).  Some of my problems (read: most) are like the one above.  That kid has issues.

Ugleh051I made my sim’s winter last the full 28 days.  I’ve been playing for a good couple of hours per day by the time I’ve put these images up, and it’s still bloody winter.  So what’s the head of the household going to do?  Go outside and make some hot dogs.  Well done, you’re only knee deep in snow.

Ugleh052This guy loves his kids so much he actually wears gloves to pick them up.

Ugleh053One day I was playing and noticed that their relationship wasn’t looking too hot, so I got them a bit friendly again.  I also completely forgot that choosing “Try for a baby” would mean she’d probably end up up the duff again, which was what I didn’t want.  I went with it any way.  Let’s see how she copes.

Ugleh054Oh yeah.  Shock of my playing this particular day!  The door bell rang…I sent what’shisname to answer it.  Only bloody turns out the person at the door is his son.  I didn’t even know he had a son.

Ugleh055Some shit did actually go wrong with my game in that it wouldn’t save when I tried to exit, so she ended up showing she was pregnant twice.  However many times, this kid can only shudder and think “Dat ass.”

Ugleh056Heavily up the duff?  Why don’t you go and throw yourself on to the ground in freezing weather!  Nothing like a bit of livener!

Ugleh057She rolled this want to make an army of snowmen.  So in the middle of making her army of snowmen she decided it was time to drop a sprog.  Right now, she doesn’t look too bothered by it, but What’shisname does.  I really wanted her to drop the sprog outside in the snow, but she insisted on going to hospital.

What’s next for the Ugleh Family?  How many more kids will she manage to have?!

The Ugleh Children find their true colours

So last time I had managed to pretty much ruin their lives.  Nah, it was only a day where they had to go to work knackered.  Not so bad in the grand scheme of things.  They were miserable for a few days though.  Miserable bastards.

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So the maid is leaving with an umbrella but it isn’t raining.  Vereh’s got fat again and that dressing gown really isn’t flattering.  It appears that Julian there on the left has just found something up his nose and wonders why his father doesn’t want to taste it.

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This is what I mean about the children discovering their true colours.  This was the first time that either Vereh or What’shisname, her Husband, had touched each other in days, weeks even.  Julian notices this and shoots them the most evil look I’ve ever seen a sim child give anyone.  I swear he’s on this sim earth to destroy his parents’ relationship, or there’s simply something very wrong with him.  Watch out for that one.

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I had to build them an upstairs in the end because downstairs wasn’t big enough to have a crapper and a kitchen.  It also meant they didn’t have to listen to their two shit bags scream all night.  I put the TV upstairs to stop the kids watching it.  Then one day I saw something by the TV and it was that fucking gnome.  Watching NFL.

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Vereh appears to have a black seagull on her face.  She also does not look good in a leather catsuit.

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When I reviewed this picture just before uploading it I wondered why she was squatting for a piss in her own garden.  Then I realised that she was weeding a dormant tree.

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Then one day she came back wearing an astronaut costume.  I hope the klepto in her came out and she freaking stole it.

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See that puddle?  Yeah, that’s the overflow from a potty What’shisname, her Husband, couldn’t be arsed to empty before making both of his kids use it.  That potty isn’t even in shot, it’s on the other side of the room.

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I said there was something the hell wrong with that kid.

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Now someone tell me that they think this kid is normal?

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Finally winter came.  I’ve set it as the longest season of all four, based on the fact that our winter in Britain was soul destroying, went on for about six months and caused me a huge amount of personal bother.  This is how winter was heralded to The Sims…the postman turning up in shirt sleeves.  Congratulations.

I hope this family manage to survive winter.

The Ugleh Family become social climbers

So she’s popped out two sprogs.  That’s nice huh?  What else is happening in the world of the very Ugleh family?

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As I said before, the next time he sat on this deck chair it wasn’t so hot.  It was actually summer, but much like a British summer it rained.  This isn’t just rain though, this is hail.  It hailed more than once during their summer.

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It’s clear that Vereh doesn’t care about the weather, or what people might think about her body, the weight of which has been up and down like a whore’s drawers.

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I’m not sure whether I took this picture more for the fact that their treadmill got struck by lightning or because their mysterious gnome is floating over the scene.

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I damn well know why I took this picture.  I sent her outside to tend to her garden, it was only drizzling a bit.  Even Mother Nature thinks she’s such an ugly bastard that she was struck by lightning before she got to bottom of the stairs.

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What’shisname, her Husband, thought it was time to hire a maid.  They had been going through a dry spell since Vereh had the second kid.  Bear in mind that their life spans are set to “Epic” so the helpless baby period lasts for something like a month.  It’s one of the most tedious things I’ve ever done.  I actually got so bored of them being babies I changed the length of their lives just so that I could age up the kids and then changed them back to Epic.

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Yep, that crotch nugget right there, called Julian for the record because it was the campest name I could think of at the time, has crossed eyes.  Epic win.

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So does his camp little brother Vincent.  Just what I was hoping for.  As they both aged up on the same day they’re more like twins which I wasn’t really aiming for, but sure makes things easier when each stage of their life takes longer than a human life span.

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As the kids were now old enough to look after themselves the happily married couple ventured out for Spooky Day.  I don’t really think they’re old enough to look after themselves, and I’m sure their mother doesn’t either, they did actually hire a babysitter.  Vereh looks intrigued by the haunted house.  I sent her in, unfortunately she didn’t wet herself in fear.

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What’shisname, her Husband, showing off the latest trend in body art, right there.

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This image just about epitomises their life.  This was the day after Spooky Day.  They decided to stay out until 2am and were utterly wrecked.  Their kids had been with the babysitter all night, they hardly had any sleep.  The kids were hungry and had shit themselves, all everyone did that day was bitch and moan about stuff they could have prevented by being responsible adults and actually staying at home.

Oh, who am I kidding.  I kept them out half the night to ruin their day!

The Ugleh family just can’t stop popping them out

Previously, having not learned from popping some horrible crotch nugget out it appears that Vereh is feeling under the weather.Ugleh021

Sad times.  I’m actually sad that she decided to wreck that decking instead of puking in the bathroom.  By the way, that’s outside her house on the porch.  I have no idea why she was outside in her dressing gown yet again.

Ugleh022Oh here we go.  It’s like those stupid women on the trains who wear the “Baby on Board” badges when they are three minutes pregnant.  So Vereh, you’ve managed to lose a fuckton of weight for your job, now you’re going to pile it all back on because you spread your legs.  Congratulations.

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“My life sucks.  I’m fat, ugleh, pregnant again and my monobrow makes people stare.  Why can’t I be…a…baby mobile?”

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“HOW FUCKING DARE SHE DISTURB MY GNUBB GAME TO POP OUT YET ANOTHER SPROG?”

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“What are you looking at you skinny cow?  Are you jealous of my uber-baby?”  *Whisper* “She’s reading a book…she doesn’t even know you’re there.”

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I am not entirely sure why I included this post.  He just looks like he’s busting some moves, or doing a bit of trustepping while making dinner.  I still can’t remember his name.

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With two kids now being the bane of her life she couldn’t wait to get back to work.  It was perfect really, being a crim she only worked at night, her husband being some kind of soulless corporate drone only worked during the day.  Perfecto.  So here she is getting busted by the feds while out on a mission one night.  She spent the rest of the night in jail.  I don’t think anyone would have abused her.  They were likely scared of catching the ugly.

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So it’s some kind of summer festival.  He decides to set off some fireworks.  Pretty and everything, but why the hell, in a public park is there a line of fireworks that anyone can go up to and set off?!  Where’s the health and safety guys?!  Where’s his hi-viz?!

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I took this picture mainly because that snowcone thing makes amazing rainbow snowcones despite all the ‘snow’ there being completely white.  +1 for reality.  Also, the woman behind him who looks like a bee the did its makeup while drunk.

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This is the only time he’s been able to get some peace.  I was actually trying to give him a heatstroke but it wasn’t working, he just laid there.  I think he popped the moodlet that he was getting hot but that was all.  The next time he was on this deck chair it wasn’t such an awesome time for him.

What’s up next for the Ugleh family?  Will there be any more kids?  Will I mysteriously remember the fat bastard’s name?  All coming up next week!

The Ugleh Family gets bigger

So last time we saw our beloved Vereh Ugleh meet someone in a bar, eventually.  They were getting on so well that she even went out naked with him.  I call that a result.

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After complaints at work she put her clothes back on and became a normal member of society again.  Apart from not cleaning her sink.  Dirty girl.  She had what’shisname round and he stayed the night.  I guess.  He’s got no shirt on, so I assume that’s the case.

Ugleh!He spent a fair amount of time outside playing with the gnubb set, or whateverthefuck that thing is called.  She obviously likes this quality in a man so much that she asked him to marry her.  He, for some reason, said yes.

Ugleh!Upon accepting a proposal, most people have a kiss and cuddle and maybe open some champagne.  This pair got straight down to being jiggy…fully dressed.  So the fat one has gone from going out nekkid at all times of day and night, to having a shag with all of her clothes on.  Well done.  She sure has life figured out.  I’m beginning to wonder if rather than full sentences she’s like Hodor from Game of Thrones, and just says “Ugleh!  UGLEH!”

Ugleh!In Vereh Ugleh’s world having dry sex seems to lead to bebehs!  Yers, yers.  Very good.  The first generation of ugliness.

Ugleh!At least what’shisname is fairly pleased by this.  She’ll have to stop nicking things for a bit as she can’t work.  Still, he works in big business, and despite the fact that he has the personality trait “Loser”, he still brings in a fair wage.

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Yip yip.  He’s a traditionalist, he didn’t want his kid being born out of wedlock.  In truth, he hadn’t told her how old he was, and this was something I hadn’t looked at.  He’s gonna be knocking on the door of being an elder soon, so he had to get hitched to stop his friends and family thinking he was an EPIC loser.

Ugleh!This picture has no place in the story because I have better birth ones, it’s mainly her face that gets me.  Yep, she’s still as sexy as ever.  He’s paying about as much attention to her popping out a sprog as I do rugby.  And no, I don’t know where all of their books from the bookcase have gone.

Ugleh!I get the impression he wants her to stop?

Ugleh!HOLY FUCK WHAT IS THIS THING I’M CARRYING THAT JUST CAME OUT OF MY WHOOHAA?

Ugleh!“Remember that thing we used to do before we had that kid thing?  Yeah…let’s buy a new bed and do it some more.”

The Sims 3 Seasons: The Ugleh Family

Now that I have The Sims 3 Seasons, I wish to introduce to you a family I created so that I could try out all sorts of things within Seasons.  I’ve named this family “Ugleh”, mainly because I wanted to do the Ugly Challenge and see how many generations her ugliness would last through.

Let me introduce you to someone that I very cleverly named “Vereh”, so she’s called “Vereh Ugleh”.Ugleh!

I’m not entirely sure what I’ve gone for here, but she dresses very conservatively, bordering on Amish.  She ain’t a looker, with thick glasses, an exceptionally fat arse, a huge mouth, and under that bandana who the hell knows what is going on with the hair.  She’s also a “Young Adult”.  She looks like she’s knocking on the wrong side of 40, but she really is just started the adult life.

Once she’s got herself a house and eventually a job (she’s a criminal, for the record.  At the time, I didn’t know if this was a good or bad idea.) I sent her out on the prowl for a bit of lovin’.  The first person she showed an interest in at one of the local ‘hotspots’ (I say hotspots, but it seems to be the same place every day in the paper and it’s almost always empty), was a man helping his daughter with her homework, and he seemingly doesn’t give a damn that Vereh has just moved into a new house.Ugleh!

She’s not great socially.  Oh, she’s got a plait.  I’ve just seen that.  Shows how much attention I paid to her looks after the bandana went on.  This guy was actually quite rude to her, but then who wouldn’t be if you were interrupted by some fat cow while trying to help your teenage daughter with her homework.  Of course, taking your kid out at midnight to a bar to get some homework done is grade A parenting.

Our little Vereh decided to move on to another unsuspecting victim, sorry, gentleman.
Ugleh!This looked a little more promising.  Right up until the point that she thought his job was wrapping snakes around a pole.  She’ll tell everyone that he didn’t have enough hair for her, so he was probably too old.  Despite his lack of hair, she actually looks older than him.

Ugleh!This looks a little more promising.  This hotspot was so banging that by this point the only other person in the bar was reading a book.  Vereh found a man who was interested in her…a bit.  She threw this moodlet, something about being near someone that was attractive.  Thing is…I’ve actually forgotten his name.  They got on well enough to exchange numbers, so I guess he has a sight problem to go along with his inability to do his shirt up.

This pair spoke to each other a few times and seemed to be getting on well.  Part of her job as a criminal was to get fitter, so she did.  She actually lost a fair bit of weight.  Though, I think the job might have been getting to her, because one night she went to work butt freaking nekkid.Ugleh!

Yep.  That’s right.  She’s staying real classy.  No-one at work seemed to notice.  Though, gotta say she’s looking pretty good now.  Shame she doesn’t have any nipples.  And man, that mouth is almost as wide as her monobrow.

Ugleh!No rest for the wicked.  What am I saying?  She’s a criminal, that’s her choice.  I think I’m more disturbed about the fact that once she’s done slicing stuff, she’s going to get a pan out and put it on the cooker.  If the spurting fat hits her she’s seriously going to notice.  That might put her off becoming a naturist.

On one of her nights off, she invites her guy out for a date.  You know, I almost had his name then.  I think it’s something like Arthur, or Darren.Ugleh!She still seemed to be going through this nekkid phase.  Everything she did she was nekkid, including this date…to the library.  Hell, at least none of her clothes will make a noise amongst the books.  I sure hope…what’shisname likes books.

Ugleh!Looks like he does have an interest in books, or just nekkid ladies.  I assume she’s been scared by a spider.

Ugleh!“Thanks for scaring off that spider for me.  When you’re nekkid, it’s so much harder to deal with these things.”

Ugleh!The next night at work came.  I always send her for a nap before work so that she doesn’t keel over while she’s out stealing stuff.  She’s also a klepto, to add a bit of fun to the dynamic.  That night, she got out of bed, put a dressing gown off, and trotted off to work.  No word of a lie…she put clothes on.  Holy shit.  It must be getting cold or something.

What will Vereh do next?  Will this be true love?  Has she found the man of her dreams?  Will she get nekkid again?  All this, and more coming up in the next installment of the “Ugleh Family!”

On a side note: I don’t have any mods installed that take away the blurring.  When I was playing this part I didn’t have Seasons installed, so my game hadn’t changed.  The fact that she suddenly got naked was rather a surprise to me.