Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Possibly PAX?

I'm trying not to get my hopes up lest cruel reality crushes my dreams, but early September could be the best opening to a month EVER lol. Here's the scoop: In mid-June, I'm going to hit my 1-year anniversary with Walmart, and have my first week of paid vacation. If no other assistant has already claimed the week of September 4-10 off (Walmart weeks run Saturday to Friday) or I can convince them to switch, that will be my week of vacation.

Should this almost-perfect scenario come to pass, I work Friday, drive straight to Minneapolis after work, and catch a late night flight to Seattle. Check in, crash for a few hours, then hit the ground running for Saturday and Sunday of the Penny Arcade Expo.

Now, if my partner Chris (who works when I have my days off) agrees to work that Friday shift for me in exchange for me working one of his shifts sometime, I would essentially have an 11-day vacation (Aug.31 through Sept. 10). In this ultimate scenario, I crash at my parent's house on Wednesday night, and catch a Thursday morning flight to Seattle. This would give me some time in the afternoon to get my bearings before meeting up with people for the Pre-PAX festivities, and I'd be on hand for all three days of the expo.

If I can do this, it would rock on so many levels (in no order):

1. The chance to meet in person some of the site staff I've been working with so long.
2. Rumor has it Bishop is going, so I'd have the opportunity to meet another member of the Hand of Thrawn... and FINALLY meet someone (in-person) with a higher gamerscore than mine.
3. Assuming I can go, I can get in as press, and I'll be writing as many articles as I possibly can for x360a (none of you have any idea what I'm capable of when I go into one of my Super Saiyan manic writing sprees). Plus, I'll have at least a week's worth of blog and podcast material out of it all.
4. Writing those articles would allow me to continue honing the skills I need to find paying work in the gaming industry, and covering PAX is as directly related a work experience as I could ask for.
5. The chance to meet and network with people in the industry, learn from them, and maybe even pass out a few resumes if opportunity knocks.
6. Memories that would last forever.

After the expo ends, I'd still have five days of vacation left work on churning out articles, and possibly spend some extra time in Seattle if I can afford to and found things I wanted to do there.

As you can see, being able to go to PAX would be an incredible experience for me. So, I'm fully read to beg, plead, bribe, and trade days so I work on holidays if I had to to make going to PAX a reality. Since I am slated to work September 3-5 (all three days of the Expo), getting vacation that week is my only shot.

Here's to hoping I can make the stars align when I go into work next. If not, I'll try not to be too crushed, and set my sights instead on E3 2011 or some other gaming conference, where I have enough lead time to make sure I can get that week off. Plus, I'll actually have a hell of a lot easier time getting off for PAX 2011, so all is not lost if I can't do it this time acround. I will let you all know when things are official one way or the other.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Countdown is Over, and Empire Rises

That funky countdown clock on the right of the blog has hit zero, and with it, the official unveiling of the Hand of Thrawn Podcast. You can check out our forum at Right at the top of the page, you will see a button to click to launch the first episode of our podcast.

This is the start of something that will hopefully grow ever more awesome. Of course, this is our first episode ever, so things won't be perfect, but we'll improve with time. We've got the skill sets, we've got the planning down. Now we're just going to get better and build our audience.

Oh, and be warned: Episode 1 contains explicit language. Silva only got beeped out about 60-70% of the time. Again, practise makes perfect LOL.

Enjoy the show, and feel free to give us feedback. We'll be back again next week =P

P.S. forgive the messed up blog format. I've been trying to tweak it so I have two columns, but I don't like the current look. Once I'm off from work again, I'll be tweaking it some more.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Plagarism is the Highest Form of Flattery

I'm absolutely livid about this, and yet at the same time, I find it incredibly hilarious. How do you know your writing is good? Someone else want to rip it off and try to pass it off as their own. I have now been the victim of plagarism three times over, by one complete moron.

Name and Shame time: The idiot in question is Xenoz I. I've conveniently linked to his profile here so you can send him whatever messages you deem appropriate.

What did he steal? From me, he took my Metro 2033, Modern Warfare 2, and Mass Effect 2 reviews. From Webb, he stole FFXIII and Just Cause 2. From jackanape, Bioshock 2. Those are just the ones I know about. Apparently, this dude posted up a LOT of reviews, so we probably had even more stolen than that. The site they appeared on is Their community manager send me a friend request on Live and we discussed the situation over a party chat.

I was able to confirm for him (Everyone send SourNotHardcore thank you letters LOL) that those were our reviews from x360a. It wasn't hard... THEY WERE DIRECT COPY/PASTE JOBS (epic, epic fail), down to the exact same pictures and captions. Though he actually changed my scores! Metro went from a 76/100 to an 8.5/10 LMFAO.

It's not hard to check for Copy/Paste plagarism. Copy just ONE sentence of any of my reviews into Google. If it links you to anywhere but X360a, someone jacked my review. With the amount of time I put into those, it's not like I'm going to forget my words.

The stolen content has already been taken down, and that moron has lost his rights to "write" reviews... and hopefully will get worse to boot. Apparently, he even claimed he was me. Oh no you didn't! Kudos to ReadyUpLive's staff for being proactive about looking into this and resolving the situation. I respect and appreciate that.

What's the silver lining in this? If my reviews sucked, nobody would want to steal them, so I must be decent, at least =)

Bioshock Research Sorrow

So, I've been going through Bioshock 2 again to mop up the last three achievements I need, only only when I hit Outer Percephone did I realize, to my horror, that I screwed up research (again) and will now have to do about 90% of a third playthrough. I had everything good, except I need just a tiny sliver more experience to finish of the Bid Daddies. Well, there are no more Big Daddies this far in the game, which means I'm completely screwed. My last save --- is from Ryan Amusements!

I'm furious at myself for not making multiple saves in case something like this happened. Now I have to finish up this play to get Brass Balls and all weapon upgrades, then reload my Ryan Amusements save and start again. The only good thing is that I won't have to see that play to the end, and can turn Vita Chambers back on to play as recklessly as I want. Simply blow through the story, research enemies, and call it quits.

Bioshock 2 is a great game, for sure, but there's no replay value in it for me. I want to be done with it and throwing my copy up on Ebay. If 2k actually does release single player DLC down the line, I can always rent a copy from Family Video or borrow my brother's disc if he'll let me. I'm trying to get into the habit of selling off games I know I won't be playing again for a long time (if ever) earlier, while they still have a higher value, to help reduce the cost of other game purchases.

Sigh. Well, I'm going to go out for a bike ride to enjoy the fine spring weather, and then I'll be back to an evening of Bioshock.

There's just under 4 hours left on my ebay auctions as of the time I type this. All are selling for more than Gamestop would give me, which is nice. Check yesterday's post if you're interested in what they are, and bidding.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Four Easy 1000s for Sale

I'm auctioning off 4 easy 1000 point games. Click the name of the game below to go to the auction. They're running for just 24 hours, so hurry!

All auctions start at just .99 cents, $3 to ship. USA shipping only. All games come with case and manual.

Night at the Museum

Deadly Premonition

Cars (New and sealed)

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blacksite, Construction, and and Ebay City

I've been busy these last few days, and not just with work. On Monday night, I stayed up late with Xylo, Sabre, and Bishop to finish off Blacksite boosting, and just earlier today unlocked "look Upon My Works and Despair" to finish off the full 1000. That makes for completion number 6 this year.

I'm still plugging away at Bioshock 2's multiplayer, and I'm up to rank 36, with about 20,000 adam left before I reach rank 40.

The most time consuming project is the site construction work I've been doing over the last few days. At this point, I think very few people know exactly what it is (though I'm bad at keeping secrets), and I'm hoping it stays that way for about another week. At that point, we should be ready to start advertising it in earnest. It won't change the internet,but for those of us working on it, it's the start of something exciting.

(Note the new countdown timer on the right, it's there for a reason)

While I'm here, I thought I'd let everyone know I'm putting a few games (and possibly some other stuff) up on Ebay tomorrow as part of my desire to do a little spring cleaning and line my pockets while I do it. I'll post the links when the auctions are up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

When Titans Fall

Sabre is be beneficiary of what can be best described as gross overconfidence on my part. In our Survivor competition over on x360a, there were two people below me in points going into the last day. One of them was Sabre, the other a guy across the sea. Surely I was going to best one of them, right?

So, like the Rabbit in the famous "Tortise and the Hare," I took a nap, working on getting to rank 40 in Bioshock 2 instead of trying to grab some points. Had I spent that time working Avatar, I would have outscored Sabre's 170 points, and lived. While I was hardly trying to win, it would have been nice to have lasted longer. See, children's fables DO have real world parallels.

And you know what? I was cheering Sabre on to survive that round, so our friendly rivalry would last longer. Let me cite some examples:

Originally Posted by ThrawnOmega
Sabre had to go out of town for the weekend, and won't be back until Monday. So, unfortunately, if anyone is on the hotseat for elimination, it's my boosting hombre. I hope he can squeeze in enough points to survive, as I don't want our friendly rivalry to end so soon

Originally Posted by ThrawnOmega
I probably don't need to, but I'm going to try to put down a few additional points today, since the next elimination will probably happen while I'm still at work tomorrow.

Come on Sabre! Hope you're able to pop a 'cheevo or two early Monday.

How does he repay me? Making a blog post to rub in my face. So, my counter campaign is to make him feel like an asshole =) Is it working? Of course, I'm only half serious about it LOL.

It just goes to prove that, contrary to popular opition, I AM mortal, and CAN be defeated... just don't get it in your head that it happend often =)

But, since I'm the bigger man, I will continue to support Sabre for as long as he remains in the competition. Thrawn is a gracious winner and not a sore loser. Guilt thick enough? =P

Since I'm no longer in the running, it's back to business as usual, as I am boosting Blacksite with the HOTBA, and I'm about 25k adam from rank 40 in Bioshock 2. FFXIII is a slow work in progress, and of course I have plenty of other distractions.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Superfantastic Weekend

Yes, "Superfantastic" is a word. So I have said, and so it shall be. The weather has been in the mid sixties and sunny, with a light breeze. It's the kind of weather that can tear even a diehard achievement junkie like me away from the console to get outside.

On Friday, I had a FFXIII marathon, advancing the story by at least one full chapter. I played a little Avatar in there as a break. Friday night, my friends Ricky and Michelle came over (they're still here, as a matter of fact) and we've been having a great time. I helped Ricky powerlevel one of his characters in Borderlands, and managed to get the achievement for hitting level 61 in the process. I've also advanced to rank 31 in Bioshock 2's multiplayer... just 37,000 adam to go!

With a little practise, I got the last achievement in New Rally-X for earning 100,000 points. With that game completed, I'm up to 5 completions for the year. The full 200 fell for me in 60-90 minutes.

As is tradition, when I have guests stay over for the night, in the morning we have pancakes and find the shittiest movie on Netflix to watch. It has to be the type of movie that is so horrible that we can mock it from beginning to end. This time, the movie was called "Pervert" and is, quite fankly, too hilariously bad for words (and for the record, Michelle is the one who picked it).

I defy you to read this tiny synopsis of the film without laughing or saying WTF?:

When a chronic masterbator returns to his fathers ranch for the summer, in order to learn how to become a man, but women all around him start dying. Mr. Masterbator had a Voodoo spell placed on him that was supposed to make him sexually irresistable to women, but instead it has turned his penis into a creature that detaches itself from its owner's body and goes around killing people.

I shit you not, that's the plot of the movie. Definitely the type of super-bad trash worthy of our pancake tradition.

For a while, we spent some time in the park tossing a frisbee around, and walked the trail along the river. Dinner was pizza hut pizza, while we watched "Repo: The Genetic Opera." Ricky and Michelle were the only two in my tight circle of friends who hadn't seen it, and that mistake has been corrected.

Tomorrow will be another fun day as I'm challenging them both to Sonic speedrun competitions (we have 2 xboxes hooked up and 2 copies of the Sega collection so we can play simultaneously). May the best hedgehog win. There'll probably also be some bowling. When I only get one Friday-Sunday off stretch every six weeks, I have to make the most of it, and that's definitely been the case this weekend.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Making the Hole Deeper

I can't help it... I'm a sucker for cheap prices. I've purchased games for what seemed like a steal, and over a year later I still haven't played them (Deadliest Catch, Incredible Hulk). I picked up Last Remnant and some Need for Speed new for $20 each. Both are still sealed.

Now, I picked up Cameron's Avatar for $18.99, and Divinity II: Ego Draconis for $29.99. Both are now on my tag with achievements attached, so there's no looking back.

So, there's now Blacksite to grind out, Bioshock 2 to finish, Avatar, Divinity II, and FFXIII to work on. Don't forget Borderlands, Turning Point, Fracture, Metro 2033, Mass Effect 2, and several other recent games that have fallen on the backburner. Then of course there's my massive back catalogue of partially completed games (not only in terms of gamerscore, but games I couldn't complete 1 full playthrough of).

I'm not setting myself up for a good May. Record of Agarest War comes out near the end of April, and I'll be all over that uber-niche bit of SRPG goodness. Then in May, there is Alan Wake, Red Dead Redemption, and Lost Planet 2 all tugging at my wallet. I need to go into a gaming overdrive to finish a few things if I want to keep the back cat. from growing. Oh, and let's not forget the inevitable HOTBA new game every month (May is SOF Payback).

At times like this I know the agony of the hardcore gamer. There are so, so many games I want to play, and not just for the points. Between a job and doing other things with my life, there isn't nearly enough time to play them all. Hell, even if I could afford to do nothing but play video games 24/7/365, I STILL would not be able to play every game I want to and get through my back catalogue.

I need to start learning to be more selective, buying fewer games at full retail and instead waiting for price cuts.

So, here's how I'll play it, when I'm not socializing with friends (or partaking in my other hobbies, like golf, biking, reading, and writing):

Day off #1: FFXIII marathon.
Day off #2: Avatar marathon
Day off #3: Divinity II marathon
Monday and Thursday nights: Blacksite boosting
All other nights: Bioshock 2 multiplayer.

I'm going to challenge myself to a 90-day NO GAME BUYING stint for June, July, and August. If I need to review something, I'll rent where needed. I shouldn't have trouble snagging a game for review if necessary, but I'm hoping this will do two things for me:

1. Give me time to nibble away a small portion of my back catalogue before the fall rush completely erases my progress.
2. Give me time to decide more which games I really need to put down $59.99 for and which ones I don't.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

16,000 Microsoft Points

I thought I'd make a posting of this as not everyone who reads this blog is also on my Xbox Live friends list, where I messaged most of this info out earlier today. If you go shopping on, you will see that they're selling 4000 point cards for $41.54 (usually $49.99). If you have the order sent to your local Walmart via the Site-to-Store option, you won't pay shipping. The only downside to that is it takes 7-10 business days to arrive, so you'll have to be somewhat patient. Of course, I had my employee 10% discount on top of that, so I got my cards for about $37 each. Of course I had it shipped to my store since I'm kind of there half the days of the year. It worked out to four 4000 point cards for the price of three. Hurray for $50 of free points! I shall now be set for DLC and arcade games for the rest of 2010, at least.

I'll just add 1 card's worth at a time, and enter the next one as my balance runs low. I don't know how long that price online will last, so now is the time to stock up if you were needing points. 1600 point cards were also on sale, but I cannot recall the price.

Tomorrow I drive my brother back to Eau Claire, then haul myself back to Hutchinson to try to unwind and boost BlackSite with the Scooby Gang before confronting three more long days of work.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

HOTBA has One Million Gamerscore, for REAL

I don't normally post more than once in a day, but I thought this was interesting enough to merit its own posting. I decided to go to and tweak my private leaderboard, switching it from a Silent Assassins leaderboard to a leaderboard of the members of the Hand of Thrawn Boosting Alliance (minus Blind, whose attendance is... problematic)

You can find the official leaderboard HERE Between the 8 of us, we can a collective Gamerscore of approx. 1,006,000. I'm even going to include it below my tag on the right of this blog. Solid work gentlemen.

The Price of 3D

For a long time, I've been wanting to upgrade my TV. My 36'' 1080i Olevia was the talk of the dorms when I bought it 4 years ago, and was by far the best TV I could afford on my limited college budget, but now I can afford, if I'm willing to part with the $$$, something a lot more impressive. The next few years is really the time to buy my dream TV too, as the number of expenses I have on a monthly basis aren't all that high.

Supposing I were to upgrade, I want a TV that is capable of 3D, but I have to wonder how big is 3D going to be? Very few games currently use it, though it's becoming increasingly common in Hollywood to have movies with 3D. Will TV networks be releasing 3D shows? I don't forsee much of that happening for a while, as watching TV in high def is still a long way from the standard for most people, so why jump again to 3D?. Networks won't want to pay the cost for to reach a currently niche audience. 3D just doesn't have much mass presence yet.

Then there's the cost. The Samsung model I've been eyeing up (55'',1080p, 240 Hz) is right around $3,000, which is hardly pocked change. Hell, that's more than Silva makes in a year. Add in that 3D glasses are around $200 each, minimum $100 for a good HDMI cable, and your Bluray player, and you're staring at $4000 investment for 3D functionality that is still years away from becoming mainstream (if it ever happens). My spider sense tells me early adopting on 3D really isn't a good idea. The current cost to amount of content ratio is horrible.

As much as I look forward to someday watching Avatar in 3D at home, and the possibility of 3D gaming excites me, it's too expensive to be worth forking over the cash now. My Olevia still has years left on it, so for now, I'm just saving away money for when that perfect 3D TV arrives.

Of course, if I'm OK living without 3D this baby is the way to go.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Decompression Time

This has been an exceptionally crappy week (disasterous may be the right word). Virtually all of that is work related, which I don't want to get into here, as I'd relive it in my mind with the retelling, and I'm writing as an escape hatch to get away from that.

Honestly, I'm lucky if I've slept 12 hours over the last four days. I get 3-4 hours of very poor sleep, then spend the rest of the night tossing and turning. Not good. It started seeping through the cracks a little during HOTBA's first BlackSite boosting session. I think I was rougher on Silva than his tardiness {work related} and inattentiveness merited (Normally Silva is a rock star in any boosting group, so I can't give him too much crap for one bad night). Our session went very well despite a few hiccups, with us finishing right where I wanted us to after the first session. Now, we just need flag captures and ranked wins, plus a few matches to retread for Silva.

Thankfully, I have the next three days off to clear my head and refocus myself, because my next three work days could actually be even worse. We'll see.

On Saturday, I need to take care of some things around the apartment, then I plan on settling in to a LONG gaming marathon of FFXIII. Late afternoon, I'll pack up and drive back to the parent's house, as I'll be with them for Easter on Sunday (you will not see me on Live that day). Monday, I'll be up early (no problem if I keep sleeping so poorly), driving my brother back to Eau Claire for college classes. From there, I return to Hutchinson. Total drive time: approx. 6 hours. I'll have enough time when I get back to chill for a little while, and lead session #2 of BlackSite before going to bed and seeing what fate awaits me at work on Tuesday.

In lighter news, Bishop and I are now friends for REAL. You see, we are now friends on Facebook (yes I have Facebook, but shun Twitter. Is that in any way hypocritical?). Everyone knows if you're not friends with someone on Facebook, you're not friends at all. It's like you practically don't even know each other... (that was sarcasm, just in case) The most interesting thing for me was to finally see pictures of the person behind the tag. A face to match up with the voice in party chats. How often we use Facebook as a means of communication is yet to be seen.

This means that Silva is the only member of the elite GSL 7 Champion (in our own minds) Hand of Thrawn team that I've never seen a picture of. Wait, I lied. I've never seen a pic of Derek either. Dark and Sabre both have theirs within their blogs. I've posted pics to this blog plus the video episodes. Now, I think Bishop has access to over 300 pictures of me on Facebook (361 now that I checked), it may be a good time to prune some of those. I'm already too easy to e-stalk LOL. Silva is NOT allowed to see the pictures of me and my college roommate Stefan. I'd be hearing crap from him in every boosting session until December.

Sabre and I are competing in Season 2 of "Survior: Achievement Edition" in the x360a forums. I'm not taking it seriously at all, I just though it would be fun. Any chance to prove to Sabre I'm the superior gamer. My e-penis (gamerscore) is more than twice the size of his, so this should be cake. I could use a little fun achievement rivalry. My former friendly rival, Ducky Dan, has fallen off the face of the Earth. Where we once were constantly within a few thousand of each other, I'm now stomping on his MIA tag with a lead of nearly 40k. I need to find someone with a similar score who comparing myself to would be interesting enough to spark a little rivalry.

Want another index of if you have a high gamerscore? If you've never met a person with a higher score, your score is high. Period. Ever since I passed 10k, I have never met a person with a higher gamerscore than mine. Yes, I have friends on live with superior numbers, but I'm talking strictly face-to-face meeting. It has never happened. Considering I'm ranked 8th in Minnesota on XboxAmerica, and within the top 1,000 in the US on MyGamercard, the odds of me running across someone with a higher gamerscore in normal day-to-day living are very slim. Frankly, the only way I see this statement ever becoming false is if I have the opportunity to meet up with Bishop or Silva (or jackanape if I have the opportunity to cross the pond for some gaming event).

Well, enough rambling for one night. I feel a little bit better now.