Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Don't Wanna Stop

First of all, let me share with you an AWESOME bit of news. As part of upcoming changes to the management structure with Wal-mart, everyone will be shifting departments we're over, and that includes me. I got shifted away from Hardlines areas (Toys, sporting goods, hardware, automotive) to be hand-picked to be our ELECTRONICS ASSISTANT MANAGER. I now get to work with a fantastic HDTV wall and game case on a daily basis. Naturally, it's my favorite area of the store, I've spoken with many of the people who work there already, and I'm really looking forward to it.

The major thought for this post is all the "Gamerscore retirements" I've heard about over the last several months. Hayden, Hammer, Fro... I'm quite certain the list is longer, and includes individuals with less gargantuan gamerscores, but they're the first three I remember. What promps this? For everyone it is different. I think Hammer felt pressured to stay high in the rankings and wanted to get away from that. Fro didn't see any point to it any more (based on his most recent blog post). After you've walked away from a hobby (I won't call it obsession LOL) that has eaten up so much time and money, are there regrets? Does the gamerscore itch go away? What comes next?

When the hobby becomes a second job is where the burnout and retirement seems to happen. Feeling compelled to be near the top of a leaderboard, that you must always whip through one game to get started on the next, keep a near-perfect completion percentage, or any number of things could possibly cause people to think it's no longer worth doing. Frankly, I'm actually surprised I haven't heard about MORE retirements. Players get burned out on MMOs wike World of Warcraft all the time, and that has a strong community aspect that keeps players into the game at a level the (relatively) solitary affair of achievement whoring can't match. Sure, there are forums and game discussions, and score leagues and challenges, but the level of interaction isn't even close. So, I would have anticipated more 100k+ gamers in particular calling it quits. Maybe they have and I'm just not hearing it.

One thing I can tell you for sure is that the only way I'll retire from gamerscore is if the system is discontinued. I've never had any desire for a perfect completion percentage (though I'd still like 75%), I don't care if I'm the world's best, or in the first 30 to cross whatever multiple of 100k club (seems like after 30-50, that clique thinks "everyone's done it"). I simply want to play games, even the crappy ones from time to time, and get all the points I can. I'm in no hurry about it. Being the first to complete a game means nothing to me. While looking at leaderboards can be fun, keeping up with the joneses something I care about. Day in and day out, I'll keep plugging away at the pace that feels fun, and will allow me to still have a life. (Life > GS) There will be no "Retiring" messages from me.

I don't wanna stop.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Heart of the Empire

Fellow x360a review team member Waggly Bean brought it to my attention that point cards are region locked, so overseas people could not receive the prive for winning the banner contest. Thankfully, I realized I have a new, sealed, PAL copy of Sacred 2 to give away, so that will be the prize if the winner is from PAL territories.

Also note on banners that any colors are OK. I'll change the background of this blog to work with quality banners. I haven't seen any submissions yet, but the deadline isn't until September 4th, so there's still plenty of time.

I've basically completed my move to my new apartment, though I'll still be making trips back home for a while to grab more stuff. My power is set up, I've got renters insurance, and all that necessary but unexciting business. Unfortunately, I'm not able to get cable/internet in my place until September 4th, so I won't be on Live until then (though I can still get on the internet from the main office building). By Friday, I'm really going to be missing the party chats. I'll have some pictures of the place up when its in a more finished state.

When I'm not at work, I've been working like a demon to get Wolfenstein done so I can write the review, but I don't see it being done until next week due to work obligations. Thankfully, since my move is now complete, and I'm settling into a routine, this is the last time a review turnaround will be this slow on my end. It chafes my work ethic to take so long, but I just can't go faster right now.

That will due for an update for today. Blog posts will probably be infrequent until 9/4, when I hope to "relaunch" the blog and get back into things full-bore at last. This "transition period" is mostly over!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Want to Win some Microsoft Points?

You could win 1600 microsoft points!

See, I need a sexier header graphic for this blog. Silva's header for his new blog is way sexier than mine (in his case, literally). Raptured Reality has a nice one. Majinfro's banner is, well... awesomesause. No false advertising in that banner. Mine looks like it was made by someone with absolutely no photo editing/Photoshop skills (it was). I'd like to retire it for something more styling. I want you to make me a banner! Here's the rules on how to win 1600 Microsoft points.

  1. Must include an image of Grand Admiral Thrawn (try google image search or Wookieepedia, or any other source you can think of)
  2. Must include full name of this blog (ThrawnOmega's Blog on the Gaming Life). You can be creative on fonts and text size. The whole title does not have to be the same size.
  3. Please include the established date (12/21/08) somewhere on the banner.
  4. This is probably obvious, but I'm looking for Star Wars themes.
  5. Artistic use of the Imperial logo for the "o" in ThrawnOmega is encouraged, but not required.
  6. You can give yourself named credit on the banner in an unobtrusive way.


  1. Deadline is NOON of Friday, September 4th.
  2. You may submit up to three (3) banners for consideration. Note that any banners submitted (including non-winners) can be used as the blog's banner from time to time, with the creator credited.
  3. ALL entries will be featured in a future post, so everyone's creativity can be showcased (unless I recieve inappropriate submissions, which would be excluded).
  4. On Saturday the 5th, I'll name the winner, and notify them via xbox live and email (please include your GT in submissions)
  5. Winner can have their 1600 points card mailed to them, or receive activation code over Live.
  6. Email entries to gillicnt {at} uwec {dot} edu, with "Banner Contest" as the subject.

Feel free to message me any questions. If the talent pool is really good, I may throw in some bonus prizes. Have fun and let that creativity flow!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Week I

Yes, I'm still alive, but damn have I been busy. This is my first week in my store for real, so I've been attaching myself to fellow assistant managers to learn everything I can from them, as no serious responsibility has been placed on my shoulders... YET. In addition to the hours I'm putting in there, I've been getting ready for my big move out to my new apartment, which will happen on Sunday and Monday. It'll take a few weeks for me to get settled into the new flow of things, but the end of this 3-4 month transition phase is finall in sight.

In gaming news, I picked up Wolfenstein, which I'm trying to get a review done for in the midst of everything else I have going on right now. It'll be a challenge. I'm off now to eat and then play the multiplayer aspect of the game while I still have reliable internet.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Seeking Game Case Art. Ideas?

So, I'll be moving into my shiny new apartment in under two weeks, and I'm super excited to be packing up and moving out to a place of my own. I'm also excited that it will be the LAST time I have to move all my shit for the forseeable future. For the last 4 years, I've basically had to move everything I own every 3-4 months, and that gets old in a hurry.

The only thing I don't like about my apartment is that the walls are painted white, and I can't repaint them something else (sky blue would have been nice). So, I'm in some serious need of wall art to make the place look less sterile and boring. I have dozens of movie posters from when I worked in a movie theater, as well as a few anime or game posters, so I COULD have more than enough if I wanted to. Thing is, I want my apartment to express my (admittedly nerdy) tastes without coming across as totally "40 Year Old Virgin" calibur dorkdom. So, everything that goes up on the walls is going to be FRAMED, and I'm not going to overload the walls with stuff.

One area where I need suggestions from you all is on one idea a had for making a really simple collage to frame up on the wall. My idea is to take a poster board (as a thick backing) and carefully glue to it the front case art for every game I've 1k'ed. I haven't decided yet what to do for Arcade titles, or if they should just be left off. Suggestions on how to incorporate those would be appreciated. Once I fill the posterboard to the size of the frame, that one would be framed up and placed on the wall. I'm sure this is nerdy as hell, but I think it's a nice physical symbol of progress, and many games have some great case art. I can keep making these, as eventually (when I own a house) I'm going to have one room that's the "Nerd Room" for stuff like this anyway (just one room, not the whole house).

My major problem is I don't have the case art for every retail game I've completed, due to renting the game, or selling it once I finished it. I really don't want to have to rebuy games I've completed just to get their case art, so I'm seeking suggestions. What can I do? Of course, donations would be welcomed if you don't mind sending me the case liner for games I don't have. Here's what I KNOW I'm currently missing:

Silent Hill Homecoming
My Horse and Me 2
Rapala Fishing Frenzy
Warriors Orochi
Warriors Orochi 2
Condemned 2
Disney's Bolt
Dead Space
Frontlines Fuel of War
College Hoops 2k6
Fusion Frenzy 2
Madden 06
NBA 2k6
CSI Hard Evidence
Cars Mater National
Lost Via Domus
Golden Compass
Fantastic Four: ROTSS
Fight Night Round 3
King Kong
Enchanted Arms

Possibly Need (have to check when I have time):
X-Men The official Game
Sonic's UGC
Rainbow 6 Vegas 2
Alone in the Dark
Spiderman FoF
Open Season

Any help or suggestions on how to go about this project in the best and least expensive manner would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

31:21 Later, Achievement Unlocked At Last!

Lost Odyssey is one of the best RPGs on a system that is, thankfully, continuing to see some great support for the genre. The problem for me as an achievement whore, and one who had already played through most of the game before starting over, was just how long I've had to go without seeing any points for my efforts.

Over the last several weeks, I've been chipping away at this game, and I'm now exactly at the point where I stopped playing last time. This time, I have the advantage of stronger characters, better knowledge of the game, and a stronger desire to see the end of the story. I'm into disc 4, with most of the misc. side quests in the cities completed. I'm now grinding up my characters in Gongora's mansion, with the goal of getting them all close to or over level 52 (where the Mortals learn their last skills). At that point, I'm going to advance the story to just before the final boss, then go take out the side bosses and dungeons. The original goal was to have LO completed by Tuesday when Wolfenstein comes out, but I now realize that timeline was far too ambitious, and that completing this game is still probably going to take another 3-4 weeks minimum (considering my schedule and the need to play other things too).

Today, 31 hours and 21 minutes into my play of the game, I finally unlocked a new achievement for aceing the first class of Backyard battles. It was my first achievement in LO in nearly 18 months... That's a pretty decent delay!

Tomorrow, I have my FINAL day of job training, which is really just the graduation ceremony, so it's not like I'll be working all that much. I'm going to put my feet up when I get home, relax, and then go out and see District 9 tomorrow night. I really, really want to see that movie. I want to see that movie like seemingly every chic I know fawns over Twilight... MUST. SEE. NOW.

Saturday, I should be signing the lease on my apartment, and on Monday work begins for real in my Walmart. Interesting time are ahead folks!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Glitches Can't Keep Me Down

Last night's goal of completing Fallout 3 was accomplished, though not without turmoil. The original plan was to blast through the Steelyard collecting my remaining ingots (turns out I needed 31) using video guides. Because YouTube was taking a century to load them, the plan had to change to the photo guide linked in x360a's achievement guide. At first, I wrote that guide off, as a quick glance at it led me to believe the pics and descriptions attached to them weren't sufficient to lead me around to get anything. I was totally wrong. That guide is really quite efficient, and I found everything no problem.

However, once it came time to go for the highest ingots, I ran into a problem. A roof that should have been solid would vanish under my feel, causing my character to fall to his death. I lost 20 minutes of progress when this first happened to me. Since I had figured out the ones I needed to get, I quickly regained my progress, and saved before the roof in question. Again, I fell to my death. Loading older saves didn't help, and neither did reloading the game or restarting my Xbox. I had very nearly thrown in the towel for the night when I decided to stop being stupid and check the incredible resource that is x360a to see if anyone else had ever seen this glitch. With issues of this magnitude, it's a safe bet that someone else has seen it before.

Apparently, my problem is a glitch others are experiencing as well, and seems to be caused by Point Lookout. How PL breaks rooftops in The Pitt I can't comprehend (I'm no code monkey), but several posters confirmed deleting PL fixes the issue. I didn't want to delete the content, but I can always redownload it later, and I'm not sure how much play Fallout will be getting after 1550 anyway. As advertised, deleting PL worked, and I was able to go my merry way getting the rest of the ingots, my well-deserved 20 points, and another completion for the big board. As my first completion in roughly two months, it felt like sweet victory.

In general, I'm having more fun with my gaming if I set specific goals for what I want to accomplish each night. If I hit that goal, then I get a sense of accomplishment, like unlocking an achievement without actually gaining points. For games like Lost Odyssey, where I'm over 27 hours in without unlocking a new achievement yet, that sense of progress and accomplishment is highly important. There will still be nights where I sit down and just play whatever, with no real direction, but I'm probably going to shift to more goal-driven gaming sessions. The "do whatever" nights will most likely be online multiplayer nights, where I'm just on to have fun (I'm always on the have fun, I mean I don't really expect to accomplish anything), or chasing general goals (like lvl 50 in Gears) in a very casual way.

Tonight's goal is to complete Disc 3 of Lost Odyssey. With the amount of time left in the day, that should be an extremely achievable goal. Once that's done, I'll see what time it is, and possibly do some skill grinding in LO, or try to unlock a few more cards in Magic: The Gathering. I'm still roughly 55 wins from having every card (and the unlock 100% achievement).

The Mothership Zeta Review has been posted, so go check it out! It's unfortunate that Fallout 3's 'final' DLC pack is also one of the least entertaining. I guess we were spoiled by Broken Steel and Point Lookout.

Hey, look at that! A full gaming update on a day I worked!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ThrawnOmega: Ingot Hunter

My hatred for collectables is well publicised and extensively documented, but it's time I sucked it up and went hunting for some stupid metal bars. As you can see from one of the info boxes on the right column of this blog, I haven't completed a game in almost two months, and I'm not happy about that at all. With Batman and Wolfenstein out this month, my back catalogue could grow even more enormous if I don't step it up. So, in anticipation of those two games, I'm going to do my best to finish Fallout 3, Lost Odyssey, and possibly one more title before Wolfenstein releases.

Tonight's mission is Steel ingots in Fallout 3. Collecting them will give me the final 20 points I need to get the game to 1550, and give me my first completion in nearly two months. As I type this, I have a couple HD video guides loading up from YouTube, so I can efficiently run through it. Since these videos are taking a while to load, I'll probably eat dinner and play some 'Splosion Man or something while I wait. I also need to finish my share of a speech I'm delivering for my Walmart training graduation ceremony on Friday, so that will eat up a couple hours of my night.

Hopefully, the next time you hear from me, it will be with the happy news that Fallout 3's worst achievement has been put to pasture, and that I've succeeded in tacking another completion up on the board.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Review Snapshots (Coming Soon)

I know I've been AWOL a few days. Part of it was work, part of it was being out of town hanging out with friends. Now that I'm back, I though I'd announce a new feature I'm going to try rolling out, starting with my next review. It was actually supposed to start with Mothership Zeta, but Blogger decided to delete everything (and then instantly autosave so everything was gone). So, due to the nature of Review Snapshots, I couldn't honestly reconstruct it.

Review Snapshots are meant to give a play-by-play of my thought process and reactions as I move through the review process for a game. I'll have both off the cuff remarks on the game, as well as details on my review work. Since most of my notes are usually no more than 2-3 word fragments, I'll be expanding things to full sentences for the benefit of everyone who isn't me.

Review Snapshots will be poster AFTER a review has gone live, not before. The comments in them are off-the cuff comments before full consideration has been given, and the final review written. Therefore, there may be issues raised in the comments that are not included in the final review, or praise withheld, or any of 100 other things.

My hope is that this feature will provide some tiny insight into how a review process COULD work (I'm my method, but there others), add a little backstory to some reviews, and show just how hard I actually WORK to get those shiny reviews written. For example, Mothership Zeta took just over 7 hours to do (that includes everything... playing, writing, editing, coding, etc.). That's just for a DLC review you can read in all of 5 minutes.

For this feature to be successful, I will need your feedback. Let me know if notes are still to fragmentary (but know I'm only writing brief sentances at a time here, not paragraphs... these are NOTES). If you have things you'd like included in the snapshot features, let me know. If these end up boring you to tears and I shouldn't waste my time, let me know.

So, there was supposed to be one for Mothership Zeta, but rewriting "off the cuff" comments after the considered review is done would be cheating and inaccurate, so I can't do it. I have a feeling I'll be reviewing at least one more game before August is out, possibly Wolfenstein (since I'm buying it). I'd do Batman too, but I don't want to be a hog, and Jackanape is picking it up too. We all know that man can also write an excellent review.

Look for the Review Snapshot experiment to begin soon!

As for this blog, I have more ideas than I have time to implement them. Good things are coming. I promise. It may take another month for things to fully shake out and I have enough free time to implement them though. Stay tuned, my faithful readers! =P

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Puke in a Vending Machine (Seriously)

The Gears 2 double XP weekend has come and gone, and it was reasonably productive. I went from level 16 to 28, picking up somewhere around 100,000XP (can't remember exactly how much). Sadly, I'm still not even to half the XP I had when my rank reset, so the journey to return towards level 50 still has quite a ways to go. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the Dark Corners map pack. It's nice to have War Machine back, and Nowhere and Memorial are sweet. Highway is actually pretty cool, as you have to play tactical on it, and move around. I'm really not a fan of Allfathers Garden, and Way Station & Sanctuary are just so-so.

I've been busy as usual with work so far this week, with a major management meeting in Monday in Alexandria, then it was back to Elk River for more training here. Basically, I've put down 250 miles on my car for travel, but we get paid for travel time and miles, so it's all good.

I had the most random disgusting thing happen earlier today. I can't even make this up. I was getting the munchies, so I went to my floor's vending machine to get some pretzels. When I pulled them out of the machine, I noticed something one them... I kid you not, there was puke on my bag of pretzels. Someone physically got on their knees, opened up the bottom flap of the vending machine, and puked in the area where your food drops down. Why the f*** would someone do that? Carefully, I brought the pretzels to my room, washed off the bag, washed my hands, then yes, I ate the pretzels when I was sure everything was puke-free. That was seriously the dumbest thing ever.

With what free time I've had, I've been watching a fair amount of Dragonball GT, which I'm trying to finally see now that Funimation has released the series, like DBZ, in a more convenient Season format than the dumb old Saga format, where it was a pain in the ass to figure out which episodes come before or after others.

Since I have no Live access, I can't get cracking on reviewing Mothership Zeta for Fallout 3 until friday, but know that I'll be on that as soon as I possibly can. Lost Odyssey has had my attention again, as I try to work through disc 3. I forgot the love/hate relationship I have with disc 3. While a lot of cool and important things happen in the story during this disc, I don't like the dungeons, and I don't like that the characters are split up for the bulk of the disc. I'm looking forward to getting to the open-ended sections of disc 4 so I can get cranking on the achievements in earnest.

That's the story of the last few days. Have fun y'all!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Month in Review: July 2009

It's been a long time since I had a month where I played so little. Due to the demands of job training, and being away at a Holiday Inn where I couldn't get on Live, I wasn't commonly seen on Xbox Live that month. I also spent a fair portion of the month combating a general gaming burnout, which I'm happy to say I'm over.

Due to work demands, gaming burnout, and technical difficulties, there wasn't much of note going on in this blog, either. I'll try to get a little more going on this month, but the blog won't be fully on track until the middle of september, when my 3-on, 3-off scheduling starts, and I have a lot more time to both game and write. In the mean time, I shall make every effort to preserve the quality you've come to expect here.

Reviews Written:
Tiger Woods '10

Blog Special Topics:
Tough Critic or a Softie?

Games Completed:
None.... =(

Gamerscore Progression:
July Start Score: 104,624
July End Score: 105,264
Change: 640 (that's actually not too bad considering how much time I spent playing Lost Odyssey)

So yeah, it wasn't an extremely impressive month, but settling into post-college life was naturally a nigher priority. This month promises to be more interesting, and I'm looking forward to the releases of Batman and Wolfenstein. Hopefully both will be excellent.