Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thrawn Shoots the Tweety Bird

SCAVENGER HUNT: You have found my rant about twitter, the site/service I said I totally hate, and am not a mamber of. Worse, I'm running a contest through it to gain more follows. Irony. Your final prize number is 0.

CONGRATS! If you've now found all six prize numbers, send them to @ThrawnOmega via a Twitter DIRECT MESSAGE for your shot at 4,000 microsoft points!

Yes, it's real. Sorry Silva, I had to finish this and get it out. I'll post yours as soon as I see it.

WARNING: Thrawn HATES Twitter with a burning, zealous passion. Twitter makes Thrawn want to punch babies. If profanity offends you, don't read this post! (This may be the only time you read Thrawn swearing up a storm... Thrawn wants to HULK SMASH Twitter) Twitter is so evil, it makes Thrawn write warnings in which he writes about himself in third person! THE HORROR! THE HORROR!!!

Thrawn on Twitter: Twitter is, frankly, the dumbest fucking idea I've ever heard of. The obsession with which some people participate in "tweeting" boggles my mind, and every time I hear an established entity like CNN calling us a "Twitter-based society" or asking us to follow them on Twitter, I break out in sudden, explosive projectile vomiting. My brother won't sit across the dinner table from me any more, as he's often the victim of such attacks. As an English major, and a lifelong writer, Twitter is anathema to everything that I stand for.

Twitter, for the three people in the world who haven't heard of it (GOD BLESS YOU!) is a website where you can send out short text messages (under 150-160 characters or something like that) to let your friends, family, or 1,000,000 anonymous strangers know what you're doing RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

To answer the question of why the hell anyone would want to use Twitter, I turn to the site's own language:

Why? Because even basic updates are meaningful to family members, friends, or colleagues—especially when they’re timely.

* Eating soup? Research shows that moms want to know.
* Running late to a meeting? Your co–workers might find that useful.
* Partying? Your friends may want to join you. (from Twitter)

Let me take these point by point:

1. If you mom cares about what you're eating, she should come down to the basement and check. Your mom doesn't care! Stop wasting your time Tweeting about soup and eat your soup!

2. Running late to a meeting? In these situations, isn't it polite to actually CALL your coworkers to let them know you're late? Do you really want to let everyone who 'follows' you to know you can't make it to a meeting on time? What will really happen is coworkers will see that you 'Tweeted' you status and think "Oh, that fucker's tardy AND too lazy to call."

3. Nothing good can come from this. Maybe I'm crazy, but I like actually knowing and having some control over how comes to my parties.

Now, let's take a look at what Twitter says about HOW to use it:

With Twitter, you can stay hyper–connected to your friends and always know what they’re doing. Or, you can stop following them any time. You can even set quiet times on Twitter so you’re not interrupted.

Twitter puts you in control and becomes a modern antidote to information overload. (from Twitter)

When I read the second bolded statement to Silva over a party chat, he laughed out loud. He gets it. The irony is thick and pretty damn obvious. Do I even need to explain it? Really? Okay, for the two people who missed the irony:

TWITTER IS THE SOURCE OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD! The idea that Twitter's bombardment of asinine text messages is a cure for information overload is like trying to cure a cancer patient by giving them AIDS. You're spinning the poison as the cure, and I'm laughing my ass off.

Now, let's talk about this idea of being hyper-connected to your friends. I really can't think of anything worse. What about some privacy? Would your friends really care that you took an epic shit this morning? Does anyone care that the line you're in for a latte seems never-ending? I don't want my friends to always know what I'm doing, and I don't want to know what they are doing. If I do, that's what phone calls, emails, or physically meeting with people are for. Are Twitter text messages even personal? Really? It seems to me more like a way to "keep in touch" with friends without actually... you know... keeping in touch.

Why is Twitter so popular? I think it has everything to do with obsessive cravings for immediate gratification, and it banks on people's self-centeredness. "I Tweet, therefore someone cares." It's natural to want attention, but Twitter isn't the way to go about getting some, as it's short-lived and without substance. So you cat jumped in your lap... big freaking deal. I just sneezed... I'm not going to "Tweet" it to the world. Twitter is the favored tool of talentless has-beens like Aston Kutcher, or generic manufactured pop stars (Miley Cyrus) who know their days in the limelight are numbered, and thus they use Twitter to try to cling to every last shred of cultural relevance for as long as they possibly can. And millions of people let them do it... We even have people who "tweet" on behalf of their cats, or as fictional characters... come on!

Nothing of importance has ever been said via Twitter. I abso-fucking-lutely guarantee that. Twitter is a haven for lazy people who can't write but like to pretend that they can, and people who enjoy pretensions of literacy. Seriously... if something is worth saying, take the time to SAY it. And the laziness is spreading to people who should really know better... I mean, Twitter is being used a a source of "legitimate" hard news now.


I'm too lazy to do a search for examples (and I dread the results), but you've all seen it. Something breaks on Twitter, and then its all over the news. Shit on sports stars, Sarah Palin endured a Twitter induced flak storm during the last campaign, and lately we've seen game companies using Twitter to get news out to the idiot masses faster. Apparently, press releases, interviews, and the like are too time consuming. Yes, I realize how effective this is. I just gag at the idea of people needing to be spoon-fed info. I still go to news sites, and developer pages for my info. Twitter can go drink some lead-based paint.

There have been times where I've considered creating a Twitter account just to be ironic, and fill it with stupid bullshit, but every time I've tried my nose has started bleeding and dripping all over the keyboard. When anyone asks whose blood it is, I just say I caught Sabre (or my friend Tim "Helen" Keller... I know where you work buddy) using Twitter on my PC (you didn't think I'd spare you, did you? =P)

If I can be a grammar Nazi for a minute, nobody who uses twitter can type. They really can't. I've seen such poor grammar and typing on Twitter its amazing anyone who uses it actually got through first grade. Three cheers for social promotion, right? I'm no language purist by any means, I often make up words for fun, but I fear for us all when we let "tweeting" become a fucking verb. Another similar example, "Facebooking" is already a verb in too-common usage.


A: "What are you doing?"
B. "I'm Facebooking."

A. "When is the party?"
B. "I'll Facebook you the info."

Add to this that "w00t" is in the dictionary (yes, they even put in the fucking zeros), and I'd say the damage is already irreparable. We're one generation from regressing to the point that our children merely grunt and fling shit at each other with one hand while tweeting from their cell phones on the other. May God have mercy on us all.

What can you do if you use Twitter? Like recovering from substance abuse, addictions, or pyromania, the first step is to admit you have a problem, and seek help. English teachers seem to be the best therapists right now, as right now there is no Twitter Addicts Anonymous. Recovery consists of a steady diet of reading books, and writing at least one page a day (on any subject) using complete sentences and proper grammar, until recovery has been reached. Remember, like with alcoholism, it may be hard to stay on the wagon, but it's necessary for your long-term mental health.

Monday, June 29, 2009

WHAT? No Gaming Night?

I know, it sounds insane, but today is the first day in at least 250 days I haven't fired up the Xbox at all, and I'm not going to. There's simply nothing I want to play. I finished up Point Lookout yesterday, then decided to watch Repo: The Genetic Opera with my parents. I love that movie/play, but my parents weren't as impressed.

I'm at the Holiday Inn for another week of Walmart training, this time with a roommate (one of the other trainees). Went for a 4 mile run after a brutally long training day, and I've spent most of my time since trolling the internet and reading Star Wars. Isn't this an exciting life I lead? I've got income, stock options, and health insurance, so I can't really complain too much. Just missing the blonde supermodel is all LOL.

Tomorrow I'll try to get started on writing the Tiger '10 review. I know I've been at this for a while, but I had to get Ghostbusters and Point Lookout done first, and Tiger is a stretch for me, as I've never reviewed a sports game before (Stoked doesn't count). Those are my excuses; you can decide how legitimate they are or aren't.

If I was rooming alone, I'd probably fire up Shrek or some other garbage I need to finish for the sake of completion, but I can't be seen playing that crap before a witness, which means I'm more likely to play Magic: The Gathering to unlock more cards, or maybe Prince of Persia (via Gamefly) just for fun. If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll load up Fallout and try to get all those steel ingots, but thats not likely. Maybe I'll just read Star Wars again all night, or write up a special topic. I have no idea.

That seems to be the theme lately.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Night of a Thousand A**holes

Ok, I don't normally double post in one day, but I need to blow off a little steam. Tonight's gaming sessions certainly weren't what I needed to get back into gaming. Point Lookout was excellent, but every single time I stepped onto Live today, I ran into assholes. I mean every single time!

Of course, there are jerks on Live, but what are the odds of running into all of them in one night?

It began in Tiger '10, where I was trying to earnestly go about my business playing in online games with other people to get a feel for it. Right off the bat I right into some dick who keeps giving me crap about how low my character's stats are. Excuse me for not playing the game constantly to get my stats up totally, and wanting to play with a WIP character. I didn't know that's illegal. So, of course he starts bitching to someone next to him that he's going to have to "carry the team" until he realizes we're not on the same team. He makes racist remarks about the two players who aren't talking. He asks me why I'm such a "Star Wars fag," and is a genuine, all-around human sack of shit who has to ruin the fun for everyone else. I last 2 holes before muting the bastard. Then the host quits and the game ends... and I'm in no mood to try playing with anyone else after that.

So, I figure I'll cool my jets with a friendly game or two of Magic: The Gathering online. My first game is a 4-player game where everyone singled me out for elimination... then the host quit when I started to be able to hold my own in a 3 on 1, and push them back (I'm Thrawn. I will do that to you.).

Next game, my opponent doesn't like his hand, so he takes a mulligan, and another, and another, until he has no cards left in his hand. He quits before the match even starts.

For the Third game, I have terrible hands, and I'm getting no lands. My opponent should steamroll me. Then it says the host quit. I definitely DID NOT quit the game, as I joined up with him. It's possible there was a disconnect, but it was certainly nothing intentional on my part. I'm man enough to take a loss. The asshole send me this message:

DON TOP SHOTTA: You are a disgrace.

I sent him a reply telling him to chill. I don't know what happened, but I certainly didn't quit on purpose. He replies:

DON TOP SHOTTA: liar you should NEVER represent xbox in any way, shape or form. DISGRACEFUL GAMING. due rep sent.

Due rep? LMFAO dude. Yes, I have nothing to do with my life but scheme to quit games I'm going to lose and then lie about quitting because I live in fear of your righteous indignation. You know what's disgraceful? Your attitude, and your need to harass me about a disconnect I had no control over. Really? Grow up.

So, after going several hours without a single positive thing happening on Live, I gave that up to go mess around in Point Lookout some more. Great expansion. Now I'm just stepping away from the xbox all together for the night. Tomorrow will be more online testing of Tiger, and possibly the start of writing the draft. Thrawn writing a review for a sports game... that should be interesting.

OK, I've had my vent. I feel better now. Seriously, what possesses people to be so rude?

x360a Owns My Soul (this month)

So, Point Lookout's review should be up in the near future, leaving Tiger '10 as the only hurdle left this month. That's fine by me, as I'm in the mood to go back and finish some games, instead of focusing so intently on just one at a time. Tiger '10 is great, but it sure won't be an easy 1k due to some of those online achievements. I still only have 30 points in the game, despite all my play time. It's a game I love in 45-90 minute pieces, but I'm getting burned out by the amount I've put into it for review.

Today's plan is to play a little more Tiger Woods, to keep testing out the online while I'm home and able to connect to Xbox Live. However, I really need to take a break from it, so I'll probably try to play some Ghostbusters online, Fallout 3, or Magic: The Gathering, which seem to be my games of choice lately. (When I feel like playing, that is. I feel like I'm still combatting General Gaming Burnout to some extent)

Next week I'm going to try to get the Twitter rant up. Silva, you're on notice. If you want yours to go up with mine, you might want to do it in the next 3-5 days =)

For next week's job training, I have Friday off, so I'll be going to Eau Claire for a 3-day weekend to hang out with some of my college friends. Man, I really miss them already. I hope you all have some fun July 4th plans lined up!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Merry Apartment Tidings

NJC Omega says: "Enjoy the luxuries while you can. MWHAHAHAHAAHAHA.......I dunno why the evil laugh but it just can't be that good without a snag ;)."

There is a catch: Once this training ends, I'm actually going to have to WORK lol. I think it'll be challenging but rewarding work, and I gravitate toward leadership roles anyway, so it should be great, though it'll take a while to adjust to the lifestyle changes. For example, classes run from 7:30am to 4:30-5:00pm every day. That requires a big sleep schedule change for someone who loathes waking up before 9am.

Courtesy notice to my regular readership (all you awesome people): My gaming time is going to be significantly reduced for the next several weeks, as it, like everything else, is in a state of flux as I get used to my changes in lifestyle and schedule. So, most posts may be more about what I'm doing from day to day than what I'm playing. Gaming will remain important, as it's my #1 hobby after all, but its my blog and I'll write on what I feel like writing on, which will most often be what I'm up to (in so much more detail than what Twitter would ever give you). Some of my friends will care, and some of you won't be interested, which is understandable and fine. I aim to continue special topics (when I'm not working on 2 reviews at once), so check back as often as you like.

Also, Ghostbuster review is up (linked on the right), and Sacred 2 will be up tomorrow!!!

Today's Major Content:

I hate math. I loath it almost as much as I despise Twitter. There are only two times I ever enjoy math. The first is when we're talking about Gamerscore, the second is when I'm looking at my finances (and finding good things, not bad).

So, one of my main objectives, naturally, is to get an apartment of my own, and move out of my parents house. Independence is nice, and so will not having to spend 3 hours a day in communte (90 min each way), especially if I work morning shifts. I came to the amazing realization today that this dream can be realized much sooner than I had anticipated (assuming, of course, I find a satisfactory place.)

Now, I'm an open guy, but not so open I'm going to share my finances with the world, but let me give you a general outline at least. To be able to move out, I need a nest egg of cash, to be able to afford furnishings, rent, and be able to sustain myself (food, gas, all the bills). I need starter money. The epiphany was (and I should have thought of this sooner) that everything I'm making during this 8-week training IS my starter money. Walmart is paying for everything. My hotel. My travel (gas) expenses (I'm getting paid hourly for the drive time too). I got a food stipend. Basically, thanks to their generosity, my cost of living expences for the next 2 months amount to a grand total of $0. So, every dime I make in the next 2 months can be directly saved up for moving out.

As previously mentioned, I have a meal stipend. I did some grocery shopping at Walmart (I know, I don't think groceries when I think Walmart either, but 90% of their stuff is the same as what you'd get at Cub or anywhere else), and I realized I can feed myself pretty well for under $8 a day. Remember I have only a fridge and a microwave in my hotel room to work with, but I'll be eating much better than ramen noodles, trust me. So, most of my meal stipend is also starter money. I can be moved out and living on my own by my 23rd birthday. Isn't life grand?

I spent most of my day learning more about how to be an effective leader, and teaching and improving others. It's all good stuff to know, and I'm getting to know my fellow new Assistant Managers, and they're all great people. We'll all be moving on to different stores, but it's nice to start building that professional network. Tonight I need to find the hotel's workout room and run (I'm not going out in this heat... I don't want to die), hit the water park, and play a little Tiger 10. Later folks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ooooo... This is NICE

Well folks, I am able to get my PC into the internet at the Holiday Inn, which is my home for most of the next 8 weeks (that wasn't hard). Wal-mart has really been quite generous with us new managers. They're footing the hotel bill. They gave me an incredibly generous check to cover meal expenses over the next 8 weeks... like I seriously doubt I'll spend half of it on food, but it's mine to keep. Did I mention I'm staying, ALONE, in a nice sized room with TWO queen sized beds? I think I'll sleep on them on alternating nights ROFL. Oh yeah, and it's 90 Degrees out (literally), but that's OK, since this Holiday in has a HUGE indoor water park. It's also right across the street from a Chinese buffet. The housing could not possibly be better, unless it included a blond Swedish supermodel to give me messages. It doesn't, but I love it anyway.

Yes, I'm here to learn about how to be an excellent manager, and there is a lot of work and learning in what I'm undertaking here, which I'll be approaching with all due seriousness, but I'm impressed with how nice they're making it for me. Everyone I've met thus far has been extremely helpful, too.

The TV here has AV plugs in the front, so I can still play Xbox, though I'll probably be spending most of the night in the water park. I brought my swimsuit in case they had a pool... I wasn't expecting a freaking PARK. According to the fine print, I'm actually contractually obligated to spend time in the water park, so that is where I'll be. This means I'm full speed ahead to start Tiger Woods 10 for review this week, and will wrap the online portions over the weekend.

Also over the weekend, I'll have to beast out the review for Fallout 3s Point Lookout. Nobody in this hotel knows how to connect an Xbox to Live here, and I've been trying to troubleshoot it myself for well over an hour, and I've just given up. I can connect to the network, but not the internet. So, I physically can't download and start Point Lookout any sooner than Friday night. Sorry folks.

What an insane month this is... job training and 4 reviews... I've never written so many in one month, and remember this is work I do on the side of everything else... and this is June... it's not like we're talking about the holiday season. I'm expecting to end up doing 4-6 reviews a month in Nov and Dec, but not this early. It's all good. I truly enjoy the work, it just makes playing other games somewhat tougher.

So, I'm alive, and this blog will continue, though you won't see me on LIVE until Friday night.

P.S. Ghostbusters review should be posted soon. Sacred 2 is growing mold in the draft board, so you'll have to be patient on that one. It's done, but you'll see it when you see it. I'm off to eat Chinese, swim, and play some Tiger Woods. Have a goon one everybody! =P

Sunday, June 21, 2009

May be gone for a while...

The good news (for you) is the Ghostbusters review is finished, after a whirlwind 3 days of playing/writing, and will hopefully be posted in the next couple days. The game is very, very good.

Now, in terms of both this blog and my presence on Live, you may not see much of me for the next 6-8 weeks. The reason for this is Walmart training starts on Monday. The training location is about an hour and a half away from where I live. In order to spare me 3 hours of commuting time every day, they're picking up the tab to house me in a hotel Monday-Thursday nights, then I come home for the weekend. I'll be bringing my Xbox (and keeping it in the trunk of my car) but there are several variables I don't know the answer to yet:
  1. I don't know if I'll even be able to hook my 360 up to the room TV.
  2. If I could, I still may not be able to connect to Live.
  3. I may be busy with "homework" from the job trainings, or doing a little professional networking with my fellow managers, so there's no guarantees on how much free time I'll have during the week.
So, if it seems like I've dropped off the face of the earth during the weekdays, this is the reason. After this training ends, I should settle into a more predictable routine. This first week, I'm only taking Tiger Woods 10 and Ghostbusters with me (I need to get to work on Tiger 10 review next), and I'm not bringing my headset, as the wires are too cumbersome, so I'm out for party chats during the week, even if I am on. Sorry folks.

My PC will be going with me, and I'll probably have a much easier time getting the internet with this, so there may still be some blog posts, about what I'm doing, or some special topics. Maybe I can finish the Twitter rant, or finish reading Jurassic Park and Lost World so I can go back and finish the Jurassic Park post. For now, everything's in the "we'll wait and see" department.

Just thought I should give you all a heads up.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Once and Done vs. Replay Value

This post is a direct response to a post by Steven O'Dell from Raptured Reality (which is worth checking out). Steven asks, "Should we play through games multiple times, in order to fully understand the experience and points they are trying to convey?" I'm not going to paraphase everything he says, click the link and check it out for yourself.

As a reviewer, I've really trained myself to cast a critical eye over a game on the first pass, so I feel your idea of needing to replay a game to get the deepest sense of a game isn't necessary, if you're critical from the start. I realize most people don't start up a game with this review mentality, so the first play could be "enjoying the ride" and then going back to see how things worked. I don't operate that way, but there's nothing wrong with people who do.

"Would playing through games more than once allow us to justify our opinions through a deeper understanding of an intended experience? And if yes, should we then play through more than once in order to critically evaluate it properly?"

Again, I could be in the minority, but for me a higher number of plays does not equal increased understanding, and most games really don't need to be replayed to truly comprehend them. Your framework I do agree with for sandbox games and games that offer a lot of choice, like Mass Effect or Fallout 3. Those games really do change every time you play them. Gears 2's campaign isn't going to change no matter how many times I play it, so besides an additional challenge or achievement points, there's no reason for me to come back.

I've learned to get over the pressure of feeling obligated to be in on the current game everyone's talking about, unless I really want to play it. There's better uses of money than spending $60 for the "in" game every week. Don't let the throw-away nature of the masses get in the way of your gaming. If I let the masses dictate my entertainment, I'd have a Twitter account (cringe).

Rarely do I replay games, but the reason for that isn't because I want to be part of the 'In' crowd.

I won't play games with no replay value for the sake of replaying them. I'm not dismissing the idea of going back to a beloved game (after a few years), but right now I don't replay a game unless its achievement list makes me. Games have to EARN their replays by being truly exceptional, possessing tons of content, or at least offering a higher level of challenge. Too often I get coerced into replays of mediocre games that don't deserve my time because I'm rather addicted to achievements.

If I can't play at a higher difficulty, I won't replay a game. The game's mechanics don't change, so for most games, one play is exactly like the next, with nothing new to offer. If a subsequent play isn't going to challenge me, why should I bother doing the same thing over again? Only a rare few games can offer a replay experience that is equally as compelling as moving on to something else, and I have no problem saying "The times I spent in that game were good" and moving on.

In the replay department, games and book are alike for me. If you just finished reading Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" are you REALLY going to start reading it over again so you can talk about it more critically (or hope you gain insights)? Sane people would step away, at least for a while.

I understand where you're coming from on wanting to see more games fully experienced and enjoyed, but I just don't think replays are needed for that. I agree that the throw-away, flavor-of-the-week attitude that dominates the mainstream (and which I'm sure I've been guilty of before) is annoying and over the top, but I felt the tone of your post went a bit too far in the other direction, suggesting trouble letting go of a game and moving on (that may not have been the intent, but I had that rough interpretation)

And this will conclude my semi-articulate ramblings for the evening. Articulate writing gets tough for me at nearly 11pm. Not trying to flame your point, just offering a counter opinion.

Boosters Wanted!

I thought I'd take a look through my game collection to see what games I have where I need to boost achievements, and throw down a list. As I aim to try to complete a few more games, or at least get what I have closer to completion, hopefully throwing down this list will generate some leads on who can help knock these achievements out. If you're interested in boosting something here, let me know, and maybe we can organize something.

(I figure reaching out to friends and my readership first is better than looking in a ton of different places for randoms)

Halo 3 (Everything but Mythic... Not getting that til ODST)
Shadowrun (most of it)
Rainbox 6 Vegas (T-Hunt group for elite, Master of Ceremonies)
Resident Evil 5
Orange Box (Friends achievement and 5 people on fire)
Banjo Nuts and Bolts (DLC)
L4D (Expert group, and a few others)
Lego Star Wars: TCS (co-op buddy for a level)
Command and Conquer 3 (100 hours)
All Pro Football 2k8 (almost all online achievements)
Guitar Hero 3
Soul Calibur 4
Deadliest Catch
Timeshift (Fury Kill ONLY. Please help!!)
Sega Superstars Tennis (Ranked wins)
The Darkness
Lost Planet (original)
Dark Sector
Viva Pinata Party Animals (just 1-2 achievements, but would help if it meant getting this done)
Perfect Dark Zero (*cough* Silva *cough*)
Army of Two (all MP)

Puzzle Quest Gallactrix
Lost Cities
Sonic 2 (xbox Live Racer)
Undertow (Online ranked achievements)
Brain Challenge (10 and 100 online wins)
Assault Heroes (co-op)
Switchball (races and co-op)
TMNT 1989 Arcade

WOuld consider renting/buying if I had a trusted, GUARANTEED group:
TNA Impact!
MOH Airborne
Brothers in Arms: HH (0 pointers for completion's sake)
Scene It: Box Office Smash (please have the DLC too)
Stranglehold (I would consider getting DLC too)
Hour of Victory (Need 6... this game is awful...)
F.E.A.R. (everything. This game is a bitch, so reliability is a MUST)
Call of Duty 3 (need a lot of MP total points)
Saint's Row
NBA Street Homecourt (consecutive online wins only)
Dead or Alive 4

Anybody want in for any of this? I warn you now I may not be able to arrange anything for a while, but I would like to at least know who wants to do what, so I have partners, if not set times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Ghosts of GSLs Past

Well, despite Xbox Live being down for the day, I hopped on to get a little gaming done in the vein of "I'm going to put whatever I want into the disc tray and we'll see what happens." It's funny that I felt like playing 2 crappy games, but some good things ended up happening.

Before starting the crappy games, I loaded up Wolfenstein 3D, and finally finished that off for the full 200.

With that completion under my belt, I popped in X-men: The Official Game, which has sat on my card incomplete through BOTH GSLs I participated in. I knew to finish it, I had to beat the game's final boss and one other Wolverine level on Hard. I didn't think things would go well, since Sabertooth has kicked my ass dozens of times before, and he did again... for a while. And then finally, FINALLY, I figured out the super easy way to beat him. I memorized his attack patterns, took advantage of the fact that he rarely accacks first and waits for you to come to him, and timing when to roll away from the last attack in his attack chain to utterly tool him. With that out of the way, the earlier level was a total breeze, since I was totally upgraded.

Since I just completed two games, I feel I can add a new one without guilt, which I'm going to say is Ghostbusters, since that will hopefully arrive tomorrow, so I can get cranking on the review.

I started thumbing through my discs again, and decided to pop in Shrek the Third. I must have really been in a mood to punish myself tonight. All I have left to do in this game is finish it on Grimm difficulty. I succeeded in advancing myself three levels deeper into the game before getting sick of it and saying that was enough of that for now.

So, I spend my day with Live down playing a couple of remnants of past GSLs. (Actually, both games sat unfinished through both GSLs) The thing I miss most about live is always the party chats. I would have been nice to let out a "Yippie kai yay mother f***er" or two with the usual party members as Wolfenstein and X-men met completion.

I really want to pick up Magic: The Gathering off XBLA tomorrow (I'm a nerd, I know) but I'm restraining myself... at least until I'm through the 3 reviews I still have to write this month...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rule of Four Put to Pasture... For Now

The Rule of Four was designed to keep me bouncing between games so I didn't grow bored or frustrated, and would successfully complete more games, and yet here I am, bored and frustrated. Let's take a look at the current four:

1. Sacred 2 (100+ hour project, need a break from)
2. Infinite Undiscovery (100+ hour project, STILL on break from)
3. Wallace and Gromit (which I don't really want to play TBH)
4. Wolfenstein 3D (almost complete)

Having two 100 hour projects running at the same time probably wasn't a good idea, but as it stands, Wolfenstein is the only game I feel motivated to play. The fact that Ghostbusters and Tiger Woods 10 are coming this week doesn't work well with this system, but Review Team needs come first.

I've though of simply giving up on completion percentage, but my inner perfectionist won't allow it. The quest for 75% or better can't be stopped, and thus I feel I'm the Frustrated Completionist. Always seeking to improve my percentage, yet any progress comes very slowly (I'm still over 25,000 points shy of 75%...)

So, here I am with yet another post on how I'm going to try to change the system, and hoping that maybe things will work this time. I like the idea of the rule of four, but for now I'm making it more of a 'suggestion' than a 'rule.' I remember I made great progress in January on Operation Jedi by bouncing around between my games however I wanted, and trying to make some progress in the game I felt like playing. Until my general gaming burnout recedes, that's exactly what I need to get back to, to keep gaming fun, and not feeling like a second job.

In an earnest effort to get my completion up, I'm going to try to hold to at least two completions per new game added to the card (games for review are exemptions, and the ever-present wild card to my completion ambitions), and I'll be using gamefly mostly for clean-up purposes for the next couple months. Hey, I'm getting Prince of Persia from them, so that clean-up is actually going to be fun. Once I've made some progress through bouncing around, then I may pick up some new titles.

Hopefully (I know I've said this 100x before) this new approach works. It did back in January, so as long as I don't go crazy putting new games on my card, I have fair reason to expect it to again...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Silva on Damnation

So, in my last episode of ThrawnOmega predicts the future, I made a remark about how badly I hate Twitter, and that it was the subject for a future rant. Silva send me a message saying he had the idea to rant on it too. So, over a party chat, I got to thinking, why don't we tag-team to rip Twitter asunder with the power of the written word? (It's something most Twitter users aren't familiar with.) It will be an event so epic, it's being split into two days. I'll be leading off with a series of kidney punches, and Silva will follow to deliver the knockout blow. This will be your rare opportunity to see a bona-fide Thrawn rant, as few things in this world irritate me as much as Twitter.

By slaughtering Twitter, we're doing our small part to make the world a better place for everyone. Stay tuned for this next week.

In the meantime, I give you Silva on Damnation:

DISCLAIMER: Ask Silva posts contain high levels of profanity and some sexual content. If such language offends you, please refrain from reading the 'Ask Silva' posts. You have been warned. For the rest of you, enjoy!


Here’s an added little freebie for this week since I’m in such a pissy little mood due in part….No fuck that due FULLY to Codemaster’s Damnation. Oh my Jesus what a horrible little turd that game is. I was way beyond upset when I pressed the on screen prompt for the RB button which in turn unlocked the first collectible….along with an achievement….

As I sat motionless staring at my screen, 1 million and 3 different scenarios ran thru my mind as to how to handle this. The first was to calmly continue playing this fucknut and see if I could find some good in it; you know, just man up and casually play the game. Fuck that, I’m furious and I refuse to be subjugated by something that was inferior to Terminator Salvation, yes I’d rather buy the limited collector’s edition of Terminator Salvation than play Damnation. TermSalv was not as much of a pain in my dick as this latest shovelware from Codemasters and I refuse to spin this horseshit any longer, I’m just going to boost it with the friend it was intended for then launch that shit back to Gamefly.

The second was to rage out and snap the fucking disc clean in half then scold Gamefly for even including such a rancid piece of anus-blow in their collection and demand a refund for my 4 game plan and give me 8 games out for the month.

The third was to take it to the source, go to the store and purchase a pre paid long distance card, hop on the tele and phone away to Codemasters’ HQ in the UK and politely inquire as to why I was cheated out of a que space.

I ended up doing none of the preconceived actions because of the laziness bestowed upon me by the great Don Miguel’s Grande Breakfast Buritto. I instead chose to go in to a Tourette-esque rage out and spew multiple obscenities so loud that the people down the street could hear me roar as I bellowed FUUUUUUCK as loud as I could; for my gamercard had just been raped and tainted once again by a dirty whore and this time her name was Damnation. This situation was similar to getting the fat, drunken chick at the bar pregnant and she’s discussing with you about where you two would like to raise the family. In this instance I’d rather bang the fat chick 3 times over than 1k Damnation, shit I’d even let the offspring we produce do bible study at Mel Gibsons house then go to Michael Jacksons residence for a sleepover before I finish this turd.

In conclusion, my rant is simply to warn you kiddies to save your rubles, pesos, pounds, yen (lol 1,000,000 yen = $5 USD, yen yen money make Silva laugh it so funny haha), marks, francs, dinars, Ozzie Bucks (I think they’re called Schillings), rupees (not from Zelda the ones from India), euros and Nade Dollars (Canadan currency), because this game will make you cry blood from your anus.

was chopped into paragraphs to make it a little easier to read --Thrawn)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ask Silva: Random Friend Requests

I'm off on the first of 4 days in a row of working the IMAX, the summer job I've had for the last 3 summers. I'm now filling in on an "as needed" basis, with the ability to accept or turn down shifts as I see fit, which is kinda cool, actually. I'm like an IMAX mercenary. Anyway, it's a couple hundred extra bucks that's too easy to turn down, and Walmart training is over a week away anyway.

Tonight, I'll be playing more Wolfenstein (I'm in the final chapter) and maybe watching the original Ghostbusters movie. If possible, I want to rewatch both of them to get in the mood for reviewing the Ghostbusters game.

Ok, enough from me. Take it away Silva!

DISCLAIMER: Ask Silva posts contain high levels of profanity and some sexual content. If such language offends you, please refrain from reading the 'Ask Silva' posts. You have been warned. For the rest of you, enjoy!

ThrawnOmega asks: Word on the street is you're pretty popular, with many random friend requests, and people constantly inviting you to parties. How does this make you feel? Do you do anything about it? Why are you so damn popular? =P

Silva says: This is a two parter; I get spammed with random friend requests along with random messages, dumbass ones at that, for example: “are you really BL4CK? lol” to which I respond “will your mom let me jizz on her lips?” I do know that this happens to nearly everyone who is a score whore and once they break 50k or so they get nerd cred and the random requests and inbox rape begins to ensue. I don’t want to come off douchebagish and put a disclaimer in my profile like many do saying “Don’t add me if you don’t know me” because the Live community is a place or folks to congregate, meet new gamers and enjoy yourself but let us compare this random requests/messages to real life. [Scratch that, I would like to come off douchebagish, hopefully that will deter many of the cunt-buckets from requesting me and asking me dumbass questions] Would you walk up to me in Applebees and say “Hey dude do you want to be my friend? I saw you eating wings with a friend of mine the other day, do you think maybe we can hang out like that too some time huh huh huh can we huh?!” It’s just really annoying when you get a message from johnforjews1995 saying why did you decline my friend request. I denied you because I’ve never fucking played with you and I can’t babysit a party with you and your rowdy ass sugared up 12 year old butt pirate friends who constantly throw around words like ‘nig’ and ‘kike’ and ‘spic’ like you have no home training or manners. I’m definitely no prude, and am generally very loose when it comes to profanitized audibles (THRAWN edit: We know =P), but I draw the line when it starts to get offensive and/or racist towards any group of people.

Yea games get people riled up and frustrated and you want to yell and curse but there’s no calling for a 12 year old to be playing Left 4 Dead and say “these zombies are swarming me, fucking burn those Jews.” I’m of African American decent and took offence to that even more so than when the word ‘nig’ is tossed around like how some of these kids baby sisters will be once they reach college age and become little floozies. I can care less what these people do with their dirty little mouths, they can do that shit on their own time in their own party, but I will not be subjected to loud, obnoxious, pre-pubescent squeals of hyper active uncontrollable bellowing from a friend of a friend that wants to be my friend. Sorry fucknut, you are getting muted end of story and your friend that is on my list just might find himself being purged from the ranks soon after….guilty by association, and that’s all she wrote. Oh and im generally a nice guy I make friends with everyone but if you’re some little douchebag who’se loud and obnoxious and just wants to fit in with “the in crown” and try to add me or send me stupid ass msgs, you will FAIL.

Friday, June 12, 2009

ThrawnOmega Predicts the Future: The Next Xbox

It's my turn to write something again before Silva gets his hands all over the blog for the weekend, and I thought I'd bring out my crystal ball to gaze at what the future holds for the next Xbox. My crystal ball assures me it's taking the job seriously this time, unlike when if forecasted Onechanbara as Game of the Year.

First, I have a brief announcement about upcoming reviews. It seems when it rains, it pours, so I'm going to be more busy this June than I had previously anticipated. Here's a more accurate picture of what you can expect from me this month:

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel (review is done, merely awaits posting)
Ghostbusters (will probably need an online co-op buddy)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (My 1st Sports Game review)
Fallout 3: Point Lookout

So, with 2 new games about to be introduced to my card, I'll be making a scramble over the weekend to clear room in "The Four" for them by completing Wolfenstein 3D and Wallace and Gromit. I haven't had much success working on my backlog lately LOL. (Every game in the current 4 has been purchased in the last month...)

ThrawnOmega Predicts the Future: Episode III: The Next Xbox

Idle speculation can be fun, so I'm going to throw down a few predictions on what Xbox Next (or XBN as I'm calling it, because 720 is stupid) will offer.

1. All XBN units will come with harddrives. Like the 360, these harddrives will be removable and come in different sizes. Microsoft will have learned from developers and the gaming public that shipping a unit w/o a harddrive was a stupid idea, and caused more trouble than it was worth. I forsee all XBN units coming with an 80gb harddrive on the cheapest model, 250gb as standard, and 500gb for Elite, if Microsoft goes with a 3-variant plan again. With the popularity of installing games on harddrives, XBLA, videos, demos, DLC, and all of that, I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft eventually rolls out a 1tb hard drive to be sold seperately. People with 360s will be able to transfer everything on a 360s hard drive to the XBN's hard drive.

2. XBN will be 100% backwards compatable. I think the 360 has been successful enough, and the gaming public unhappy enough about how the first Xbox ended, that Microsoft will make the XBN backwards compatable to keep making money off the older system for as long as possible.

3. The XBN will NOT suffer the hardware problems that have been the bane of the 360s existence. Call me an optimist, but I don't think Microsoft wants to spend the kind of money they did on warranties and repairs for the 360 ever again. Since they have a larger market share now, and beating out Sony to have a system out first isn't such a priority, they'll take the time to make sure the next system doesn't fail constantly.

4. XBN will be the cause of stampedes in Walmart during the 2012 holiday season. I will be taking its release week on vacation, out of fear for my life =P (and because I plan on being an early adopter this time around... I waited a year to see if the PS3 would suck as bad as I thought... it did {and that comes from a die-hard PS2 lover}.)

5. XBN will continue to feature Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix support, but there will be more. I find it amusing that a company that used "we're focusing on the games" as an excuse for not making a 360 Blue-Ray player has been making a lot of business moves that have absolutely nothing to do with games... What's the next major partnership? GAMEFLY. I'm sure you'll be able to organize your queue right on your 360, and Tweet all about what you're getting while you're at it. (BTW I absolutely abhor Twitter, but that's a rant for another day...)

6. Project Natal, or an upgraded version of it, will be built into XBN, and be available from day 1, in a further bid to siphon off some of the Wii crowd. The demo looked interesting, but I'm not convinced yet that Natal is anything more than a gimmick... we'll see if it can offer meaningful additions to games, or provide some great games of its own, and not be a door for Wii-esque shovelware.

7. Microsoft is going to steal the idea of Home from Sony and make something similar to it... I'm just waiting for "Avatar Town"...

8. XBN will be a Bluray player. GUARANTEED.

9. Microsoft Points will go the way of the dinosaurs, with transactions going directly to your credit card. Here's to hoping!

10. Direct-download retail titles will become a bigger deal, and more contoversial. Xbox Originals didn't sell well, but Microsoft is trying again with 360 titles. The advantage? Not having to wait so long to get your game. Disadvantages? Huge space requirements on hard drive, no physical copy, can't "shop around" for the best price. I don't see this significantly cutting into retail sales, but it'll be sticking around. I wouldn't be surprised if most of XBN's launch line-up is available to direct-download from Day 1. I have a crazier idea though...

11. XBN will feature direct-download game RENTALS. Right now, movies downloaded off the marketplace act like rentals, as they automatically delete after a certain amount of time. Imagine if you had the ability to download a new retail game the day it released for a fraction of the full cost, on the condition that it would automatically delete after 5 or 7 days and you'd have to re-rent (and redownload) it? Profits made from this would go to Microsoft, the publisher, and the developers, so companies like EPIC couldn't while so much about rentals hurting their profitability. Of course, the new whining would be that everyone is digitally renting and retail sales could possibly slump.

12. Say goodbye to the file-size limit for XBLA games. There won't be one.

13. Video party chats.

That'll cover me for today. As I spend more time thinking about it, there may be more XBN predictions in the future. Enjoy your weekends!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ask Silva: Gears of War 2

SCAVENGER HUNT: Silva's appearance on the blog was brief, but we all love him anyway. Your fifth prize number is 8.

CLUE #6: I've been getting grief lately over the post your next number resides in. The post you're looking for is a rant about a website / service I wasn't particularly fond of at the time. You know what that site is, even if you don't realize it right now.

Today is Silva's debut, and it's a good one. Before we get to that, however, a have a few small announcements, most importantly: I HAVE A JOB! I HAVE A JOB! I HAVE A JOB!!!!! Walmart has extended me a job offer to be an Assistant Store Manager, which I've gladly accepted. The job's right up my alley with my leadership skills, and being able to work with people. The benefits are fantastic, and I'll be making significantly more than I expected to straight out of college (no I won't say how much). Training begins June 22nd, and I'll have more info on that at the day draws near. Employed in less than a month after graduation! Awesome! They interviewed dozens of people, and told me I was one of the 2-3 candidates that really stood out. I'm excited for this opportunity.

I'll be working several IMAX shifts over the weekend to rake in a little extra cash, which means I'll be mostly stepping back from this blog for a few days, but fear not, as Silva is covering for me =) Here's a look at the weekend:

Today: Silva on Gears 2
Friday: ThrawnOmega Predicts the Future: The Next Xbox
Saturday: Silva on Random Friend Requests
Sunday: Silva on Damnation

If you have any questions you'd like to ask Silva, feel free to leave them in the comments of any Ask Silva post.

DISCLAIMER: Ask Silva posts contain high levels of profanity and some sexual content. If such language offends you, please refrain from reading the 'Ask Silva' posts. You have been warned. For the rest of you, enjoy!

ThrawnOmega asks: What are your feelings on the Gears of War 2 multiplayer experience and what Cliffy B has done for the franchise? Will you be going for the elite rank of 100?

Silva says: Good evening Ladies, Gents, Gentiles, Jews, Jesus lovers and Jews for Jesus. Silva here with a weekly gamer rant and we are going to try and keep the profanity to a maximum. From Cliffy 'Butthole' B's Gears of War 2 glitchy gameplay to random friend requests and weird arse inquiries, I'm going to try and entertain all 5 readers of this blog whilst attempting not to veer too far off topic or tap too deep in to my huge ass girthy vocabulary and confuse you fuckers too much.....Sooooo without further adieeuuu herrrre weeee gooooo!

Hmm, I don’t even know where to begin. I will try to mix it up with a little bit of the good, a smidgen of the bad, and a metric asston of the fucking RETARDED things about the new Gears 2 multiplayer experience. Ok so we begin with my personal admiration for Gears of War 2 and what makes it such a great game. I really enjoyed the single player campaign very much so that I stood by and let myself be coerced into playing multiplayer by Thrawn and his bro. I had always been opposed to GOW multiplayer since the original because the first game type I played was Execution and I was the first person to die. As I stared at the screen wide mouthed, enlarged eyes and a beguiling look on my face I was clearly in dismay and could not fathom why people would enjoy “watching” Gears of War rather than getting a respawn and kicking some ass. I accepted my loss then tried again…I get t-bagged, 1-shotted, called a noob and my corpse gangbanged, so it’s safe to say that I was not very happy with my introduction to the GOW lifestyle or “COGin’ It” like some of these fucking nerdy pimple faced pre-pube Gears Gods call it. I accepted the fact that this was an incredible single player game and maybe I just sucked at the multiplayer, I put it on my game shelf then went on about my life.

Gears 2 comes out and I’m pumped to play it. I unwrap that fucker from the cool ass steel limited edition case and lookie here, some goodies drop out. ‘Oh shit’ a golden Hammerburst?! ‘Oh shit’ a golden Lancer?! Gears 2 multiplayer must have something going for it if Cliffy Butthole B is supplying me and all the other Limited Edition suckers with all this bling, the shit was all shimmering like pling plow like all the rappers in the videos. I hop in party chat with Thrawn, his bro, Dirty Derek and a few of the other fellas and they are all like yea jump in this Horde party, I say cool lets fuck shit up. I join in on Horde and I’m immediately smitten; I’m fucking floored, this Horde mode is like virtual heroin and I was undeniably its best customer. It was like I had just found out that the librarian was really a hot piece of ass when she lets her hair down and takes off her glasses then in the bookmarked page of the Guinness Book of World Records that I’m taking out, she’s slipped her phone number and an exclusive invite to Threesome Thursdays at her place. DING! DING! DING! I’m saying to myself; JACKPOT!, and BOOM goes the dynamite. After a week or so of Horde someone suggests we take our party to multiplayer; I’m psyched, all ready to go with my blinged the fuck out Lancer and Hammerburst and im thinking if Horde is this fun then multiplayer should be 10 times better and I get to show off my gun jewelry….Neg I get snipered, sucked in to chainsaws left and right, rodey run to shotgun splattered, double melee’d and all around just passed around like a freshman virgin cheerleader at the hockey house on a Friday night. I’m looking at the television almost in tears like “Ok wtf just happened do I suck or are these people just godly?” We’re all in the party laughing having a good time but then I start to complain, “fuck this game I hate this shit” yet I was still intrigued by the games mechanics and the competitive nature of it all. I continue player Gears2 multi for another few weeks…then it happens….the Snowblind map pack and the new gay ass road to 100.

Cliffy B, I used to think you were brilliant but no you definitely used my 800 M$ points to purchase your new venires and gym membership and forget about the gamers. EPIC begins to reset peoples gamerscores for glitching to 100 and I start to think ok wtf people wouldn’t glitch this shit if you didn’t make it almost impossible to reach 9 billion XP in a game that constantly lags, glitches like losing the gun in your hand, and chainsaw backfiring occur on a more than occasional basis. I just saw it as a bullshit diversion to reset glitching gamers when they couldn’t even rectify the issue of legitimate ranks and achievement progress getting reset (Thrawn). I guess the solution for that was “Hey we’ve got another map pack coming out soon maybe we’ll fix the old issues after you give us some more money and just make newer more severe problems yay!” I just find it really lame how a game I hated in multiplayer became so addicting, then as I continued to play, the quality of it just got worse and worse. CB complains about piracy and game rentals but if you let problems like this persist then I along with many others will be renting Gears of War 3 (which comes out 2 months after the new map pack if no one knew).

As for the question of if I will be going for rank 100, the answer is maybe….. Peer pressure is a mother fucker and if I see everyone on my list playing Gears2, I am going to want in on that. 50 is my goal, and if 100 comes it comes, but I can tell you this; Horde is going to be my bitch since it will soon give xp =)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

...And the Motivation Suddenly Died

Yesterday was a busy day, as I went in for my second interview with Walmart for a management position (as a department manager). It was me across the table from three store managers, which could have been intimidating, but I wasn't too worried about it. I did the best I could, and learned more about the nature of the job. Now, it'll be about a week to a week and a half to find out if I'm hired. In the mean time, I need to keep shooting out resumes and trying to get some other leads going. As they say, hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. (On that note, I recieved a letter from a newspaper I'd applied to saying the position was filled. Bummer, but life goes on.)

Last night, I was trying to make some progress in Sacred 2, after spending a decent part of the day finishing the review (which now merely awaits posting). After playing for about and hour and getting my evil Shadow Warrior to level 13, I suddenly felt overwhelmed by a sense of "Why am I doing this?" I couldn't stand playing another minute of Sacred 2. I thought maybe that meant I just needed a break from the game, as it's easy to get burned out when working on two 100+ hour games at the same time. So, I looked through every other game I own, and couldn't find a single game I wanted to play. Even after the GSLs I wasn't this burned out.

I think the burnout isn't so much that I need a break from games, but that I've been too one-dimensional since I graduated from college. Every day has been
  1. Wake Up
  2. Hunt for jobs
  3. Go for a workout
  4. Dinner
  5. Video games
My high school buddies are out of town working or in grad school, and most of my college friends are in Wisconsin, and I haven't been able to organize anything with them yet. It basically dawned on me that, except for a couple nights out with friends, I've forgotten to have a social life. I also realized how neglected my bookshelf looks, with 5-6 novels waiting to be read, 4 volumes of Osamu Tezuka's amazing manga series Black Jack, and I want to eventually re-read Jurassic Park and The Lost World...

I'm thinking I need to scale the gaming back a bit and get back to being a more well-rounded person, particularly on the weekends, which have been gaming marathons these last few weeks. Having some IMAX shifts to bring in some cash will help. I should be able to hang out with friends every once in a while, but it's not nearly as easy to get something going as it was in college... we're not all within a mile of each other anymore...

Instead of having progress updates, I'm going to try to mix things up with at least 1 special topic.

TOMORROW will be the premiere of Ask Silva (if he's ready to roll) or a brand spanking new episode of ThrawnOmega Predicts the Future, where I thrown down some predictions about the next generation Xbox. I'll give you an early low-hanging freebie: it'll come out during the holiday season of 2012.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Blog Feature Coming: Ask Silva!

I had a recent flash of inspiration last night, which my friend Silva was quite happy to go along with (which is good, since he'll be doing most of the work), and thus, a unique new feature will be coming to this blog soon.

BL4CK SiLv4 is frequently the life of the Xbox Live Party, and doesn't hold back on sounding off on the things that irritate, infuriate, and annoy him, and the ensuing rants are frequently hilarious. "Ask Silva" will be modeled after the advice columns we've all seen in newspapers. Silva will be asked an open-ended question, and he'll have the opportunity to ramble and rant to his heart's content. Eventually, Silva may take questions from the audience, but to get things started, I'll be asking the first few questions.

Look for "Ask Silva" to be a weekly or bi-weekly part of this blog, depending on how he takes to it. We're still getting this segment rolling.

The first segment of "Ask Silva" will debut as soon as I hear back from Silva. He has a pair of questions to work with, but I can't get replies until x360a is back up. The first question is about the Gears 2 multiplayer experience... enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Random Stats Blowout!

I'll admit that I'm a fan of stupid, pointless data. I know it doesn't really matter for anything, but I like looking at it anyway, which is why I love games that feature stat tracking. Halo 3's stat tracking is awesome (I hate the MP, but I love my stats), Gears of War 2, or even Sacred 2 feature some stats on your characters. Looking at a data representation of my progress brings me too much "nerd joy" LOL. So, today I thought I would take a gander around the web to look as some of MY useless stats. I enjoy knowing where I stand, though I don't often do anything to try to change them.

Gamerscore: 103,439
True Achievements score: 146,171

Best True Achievements game: Virtua Fighter 5 (2,751 points)
Best TA single Achievement: 30 Years of Franchise, Madden 06 (482 points... LAME!)

Completion Percentage: 63.09% (Says TA) *Goal is eventual 75%+


True Achievements: 672 of 36,335
x360a: 112th of 1,125

7th in Minnesota (Xbox America)

USA Rank: 848
World Rank: 1,990 (both from MGC)

Current Mega-Projects:

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Time played: 37 hours 39 minutes
Points earned: 410 points
Estimated total time: 160-200 hours

Infinite Undiscovery
Time played: Approx. 35 hours
Points earned: 669 points
Estimated total time: 120-150 hours

Gamerscore Leagues Participated in: 2 (Won 1)
Points gained in GSL play: Over 50,000
Best 7-day period: 7,750 points

The Hand of Thrawn may be back in late 2010 (I'm letting the easy stuff pile up again)

Number of times I've been called fat or told I have no life: 12
x360a threads questioning the quality of my reviews: 1 (for Onechanbara.... lmfao)
People expressing thanks/support for a good review: Two dozen or more (THANK YOU!!!)
Games played before worldwide release: 2 (Deadspace, Super Mario Galaxy demo in Osaka more than a year before its release)
Random FRs w/o a message since October 2008: 70-80

There's your innundation of random data for the day. Cheers!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A *TENTATIVE* look at Achievement Blogging

As promised, I've been around the web looking for blogs primarily about achievement points, which is surly a small niche of the game blogging population. I didn't approach this with the same rigor I did my MMO work (I was getting paid and getting credits for that, where this way just a casual interest), but I found what I could. The challenge is there are many sites that offer blogging within that site (1-up and Gamespot as examples), and I haven't thought of an efficient way to sift through those blogs to see if any are primarily about this hobby or not. So, all the blogs here are affiliated with with Blogger, which is a dedicated blogging site, and much easier to track.

I make no claim that I found every achievement blog out there. I'm certain I didn't, which is why I call all opinions here tentative and should be taken with a grain of salt. (And I apologize if any of the numbers are a little off, or I fudge up the title of someone's blog a little bit)

Blogs will be looked at by the order they established themselves, number of followers, and number of posts, then I'll make some general comments.

First, to give a rough timeline for the growth of this niche hobby, I'll present the list of blogs I looked at in the order they appeared (first post)

Blogs by Appearance Date

2008BoldThe Mind of Marx0r June 30th
Fro's Awesome Sauce** July 26th
1 Million Gamerscore September 29th
Follow My Game (Apple x360a) November 30th
Birk-a-Blog December 2nd
The Realm of Endar December 4th
360 Gamerscore (Xylofreak) December 15th
ThrawnOmega's Blog... December 21st
Fro's Awesome Sauce** December 31st

JJB's Gaming Habits Blog Januray 1st
Hammer's Blog on Gaming January 3rd
Sabre x360a Military Gamer January 19th
Crubie January 19th
Bishop's Gaming World March 2nd
Jackanape's Blog* April 29th
DarkTharen's Gaming Life* May 28th
The Irish Dream (NJC Omega) June 2nd

* These blogs existed before the indicated date, but this begins the day I'm counting. DarkTharen had one on 1-up that I didn't look at extensively (but I'm now following on Blogger), and Jackanape has posts from years back that don't relate to achievements.

** Why is Fro listed twice? The first entry marks his original posts, the second marks when I feel he began posting again in ernest (there were several dead months inbetween).

was surprised to see Stallion wasn't the first achievement blogger out there, as I had previously assumed. So far, it looks like it's Marx0r (I'm sure that'll make his ego happy ^-^) As you can see, there was quite an increase in blogs from November through January.

Blogs by number of followers (estimated readership)
ote: This isn't a great indicator of readership, but it's the only thing I could think of, so take it for what it's worth. For example, I have 27 followers and 2 feed subscribers, but I average 40-50 hits every day. Stallion has 127 followers, but his blog probably gets 10x that much traffic)

Million Gamerscore 127
ThrawnOmega 27
ollow My Game 23
Crubie 23
Mind of Marx0r 21
Fro's Awesome Sauce 21
Hammer's Blog 20
Sabre x360a 16
Birk-a-Blog 14
Bishop's Gaming World 8
JJB's Gaming Habits 7
360 Gamerscore (Xylofreak) 7
Jackanape 7 (follow this blog!!!) {Lets see if you get a 'Thrawn Bump'}
ealm of Endar 5
The Irish Dream 4
DarkTharen 1 (Me!)

Again, take these numbers for what they are worth. Some of these blogs are dead, others get more traffic than their number of followers indicated.

chievement blogs by total posts (Who is the most prolific?)

ThrawnOmega 113 (Includes this post)
1 Million Gamerscore 88
ind of Marx0r 44
JJB's Gaming Habits 38
Hammer's Blog on Gaming 36
Follow My Game 29
Jackanape 26
Fro's Awesome Sauce 26
Sabre x360a 21
360 Gamerscore 20
Crubie 18
The Realm of Endar 17
Bishop's Gaming World 14
DarkTharen 5 (since converting to Blogger)
Birk-a-Blog 3
The Irish Dream 2 (It's brand-new)

here you have it folks, I appear to be the most prolific achievement blogger out there. Exactly how many of those posts were worth reading is a matter of personal opinion ^-^


s can be expected, not everyone who starts a blog really has what it takes to be a successful blogger, or they decide after a while that blogging just isn't their thing, which is why several of the blogs on this list are dead, with no new posts having arrived in over a month. I'll file Hammer under 'MIA' as I'm hoping he'll get back into it (it's been 5 weeks since his last post).

There are several different approaches to achievement blogging. Some writers are focusing mainly on documenting their progress, while some expand on that to include commentary on the games that've played. While some bloggers are comfortable going off-topic to talk about real-life events, some blogs have never ventured off-topic. I personally like the blogs that are the most well-rounded, including achievement info, game commentary, some personal information (to get a better sense of the writer), and an occasional special topic for variety.

The problem with mining too much from my observations is that I quickly noticed that, generally speaking, everyone is following everyone else's blogs. Virtually everyone I looked at is a member of x360a, and of course, this is only one blogging site of many. So, if there are blogs from achievement fans of other sites, or using other blogging tools, I don't currently know about them. Thus, this is a general look at a particular segment/clique of the achievement blogging population. However, I did do extensive google searching, and wasn't able to find much, so it's quite possible this is a large percentage of the achievement bloggers out there, who knows?

One claim I'm ready to make with certainty is that achievement bloggers are a far, far smaller group of people than those who blog about World of Warcraft, and writers about that game a MUCH more prolific (in terms of number of posts, length of posts, amount of content, everything). If I wanted to do research on achievement fans, I couldn't use blogs as a tool, becuase there isn't nearly enough data for it.

It'll be interesting to see where achievment blogging (and blogging about games in general) goes in the future, and to see how many members may be joining our ranks through the rest of 2009.

If you want to know more about any of the blogs seen here, and you can't find them on your own, let me know. I'll post links as necessary.

One more thing, if you enjoy my blog, you'll probably like jackanape's as well. A fellow member of the review team for x360a, he's been getting into the swing of achievement blogging, and is pretty regular with updates. I expect him to eventually reach #2 most prolific if he keeps going strong. He's expressed an interest in doing some special topics of his own, so it'll be interesting to see what he does over the coming months. You can check out his blog HERE. His blog is too good to have a mere 7 followers ^-^

There you go Lee. Let me know when you've PayPal-ed me the sum we agreed upon =P

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wolfenstein 3D is BRILLIANT Marketing

I've been taking a mini-break from the RPG action lately to get down and dirty with id's classic FPS title, Wolfenstein 3D, which was released earlier with week on XBLA for a mere 400 Microsoft Points, which is a heck of a deal. How often do we see 400 point games these days? Even cash-strapped, unemployed recent college graduates like me can afford the $5 to download this icon of gaming history.

I'm surprised to find that I've ben enjoying this title a lot more than DOOM, and I like DOOM. What bothered me about that game though was the fact that you could only aim left or right, yet you could be shooting at enemies at your level or above you. It didn't make sense to me, and made me really wish for Y-axis aiming. With Wolfenstein, everything I've encountered so far it at the same level as the player, which has spared me this confusion, and made it more fun for me. Wolfenstein 3D is a game I can enjoy in 30 minute increments, as a fun way to destress and enjoy a classic game I hadn't had the opportunity to play until now.

Of course, the release of Wolfenstein 3D in this fashion is also a brilliant marketing strategy. Gamers are getting a great game at a great price, which of course makes the fan base happy. Now build on that with the fact that playing through this game will unlock rewards in the upcoming Wolfenstein game, and players become more interested in checking out the new game. And, of course, why not seal the deal by including a trailor for the new Wolfenstein as a required part of the download? (Truthfully, the Wolfenstein trailor probably constitutes 50% or more of the game's total file size) It's a 1-2-3 combo to raise interest and awareness of an upcoming product, and I think more companies should try something like this, where that can. I mean, I got a fun game, and (eventually) 200 achievement points, and they got the word out about Wolfenstein in a way that didn't feel at all intrusive.

Who else could profit from this same marketing tactic? SEGA has already re-released the majority of their back-catalogue, so I don't think they could, but I'd be happy to download Road Rash as a promo for some new racing game. {EDIT: I'm not sure who actually own Road Rash these days, I think it might be EA, not Sega...} Square-Enix has been busy re-releasing their old games by every means but direct-download. How great would it be to see XBLA ports of the early Final Fantasy classics to stir the waters before FFXIII releases?

Of course, re-releasing games would cost money, as they'd have to be reworked for the arcade, but if you offer a known quality game at a reasonable price, people will surely download it, and depending on the game and development costs, companies could be making good money on these re-releases, while getting "free" advertising for their upcoming products, and the gaming public has little to no problem with it, since we're getting a pretty good deal.

Activision's release of Wolfenstein 3D is brilliant marketing, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if other companies try similar tactics in the future. If the results continue to work out this well, will any of us mind?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Month in Review: May 09

What a crazy month it was, with a relationship break-up (which I'm quite happy about), my graduation from college, the return to my parents house, initiation of The Job Hunt (which may be nearing an end already if Walmart wants me in management), and so much more. Things are starting to get into a more comfortable routine, which is nice. Besides the Job Hunt, I've begun working on a couple personal goals, which I'll reveal and discuss more once they come closer to completion. All I will say so far is that progress is good.

In the midst of all this craziness, special topics fell to the wayside, despite my intentions to return to them. To those who lamented the no-show of the Jurassic Park post, fear not! It's coming! I wrote three pages of it yesterday, but I have some things I need to do, so it'll be a few days before it's ready to post. Be ready for a long (but hopefully entertaining) read.

On the gaming front, I suffered the misfortune of losing over 400,000 XP in Gears of War 2, and all my interest in the game vanished with it. I've been on an RPG fling, spending lots of time in Infinite Undiscovery and Sacred 2, though I have taken a little time off to work on some arcade titles.

Looking ahead, I expect June to be a month of mostly RPG work, but I may need to branch out a bit and hit other corners of my back catalogue. Valleyfair is looking to bring me back to fill in at the IMAX for a couple weeks, so I should have some extra cash coming in (and a little variety to my days) which will be nice, and I'm going to try to get out and be social. I'm one of those people who swings from not wanting to hang out with anyone for a couple weeks, to wanting to hang out a bunch for a couple weeks, and back and forth.

Reviews Written:
allout 3: Broken Steel
Velvet Assassin

Reviews coming in June:
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Fallout 3: Point Lookout

Blog Special Topics:
Superhumans in the Real World, Part I: A God Among Mortals
Meaningful and Most Wanted 1000s

COmpleted Games:
Penny Arcade Episode 2

Gamerscore Progression:
May start score: 100,120
May End score: 103,015
Change: 2,895

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Win?

I realize I should have a month in review for May... Maybe I'll tackle that tomorrow.

Today is another day of musings, as I'm too fried (physically and mentally) to write anything particularly educated.

NJC, I'll take a look at your blog on Saturday, as it happens that I'm planning on writing a special topic on the state of "achievement blogging" and thus want to look over every one I can find. I hope to report some interesting findings. My prior experience scouring in internet for blogs will be helpful here, as will the skills I developed in analyzing them. So, stay tuned for Saturday. (See what I did there? Comment reply with self-promotion FTW ^-^)

If anyone knows of any blogs I should check out, let me know. (This includes your own! For some reason, I'm having trouble getting the blogs of people I KNOW have one through blogger profiles, so a link in the comments doesn't hurt)

On the gaming front, I found out yesterday that I won a challenge on 360voice! ...I didn't even know I was in one! Auto challenges are currently turned on so I just keep joining challenges, and maybe win a few, but I really haven't been keeping track of them. Apparently, I won a challenge scoring 480 points in 5 days, including an epic come-from-behind win on the last day. Considering pretty much all I've played the last two weeks is Infinite Undiscovery and Sacred 2, 480 points is pretty sweet, and actually winning a challenge on that is a barrel of LOLs.

I've put close to 30 hours into Sacred 2, and will hopefully be able to start writing the draft soon.

E3? I have no idea what is going on right now. I've been so incredibly busy trying to find work, I keep missing the news. It's all too much, too fast, and every fiber of my being wishes I was one of the people on the floor writing about everything that is happening (or making the presentations!), instead of trying to glean nuggets of info from the outside. Maybe someday...

This morning, I drove to the Minneapolis Convention Center, where there was a job fair. Many of the jobs involved sales, accounting/finance, or technical scientific knowledge, which aren't my cups of tea, but the day did produce some benefits. I talked with three different people from Walmart (I kept getting passed up the ladder) until I had a full 1-on-1 interview about possibly taking a management position. I already have 3 years of management under my belt from prior work, so I know 100% this is something I could do. I also got a lead on a professional networking group for people seeking creative work (like me!), so I want to go check them out sometime to. The decision point on both of these leads in Friday, so we'll see how things go.