Monday, September 27, 2010

Hydrophobia Review

Despite all the advances in gaming technology, from advanced graphics to ever-improving physics and game engines, videogames have continually struggled to realistically represent water. Too often in games, water seems to have no mass, and walking through it produces no slowing effect on the character. Even while under water and swimming, most characters don’t seem to find the experience too difficult. Dark Energy Digital aims to bring water effects to unseen levels of realism through their HydroEngine, and in the regard, Hydrophobia succeeded beyond all my expectations. Unfortunately, the rest of the game’s design dulled the euphoria of the HydroEngine’s spectacular capabilities.

Hydrophobia takes place during the mid 21st century aboard a city-sized luxury vessel known as the Queen of the World. Earth’s population has exploded to the point that the demand for food outpaces agricultural production, and thus competition is fierce for what food remains. While the corporate entities who built the Queen of the World live like kings, the desperate global conditions have given rise to a terrorist organization known as the Malthusians, who intend to right the global balance by killing most of the world’s human population. The tension is set early on, as protagonist Kate Wilson finds herself escaping from an elevator after an explosion within the first few minutes of the game. Soon after, she comes across electronic signs flashing the slogan, “Save the World, Kill Yourself.”

Most of Hydrophobia’s storytelling is handled through collecting documents scattered throughout the game, meaning how much players glean of the story and background depends entirely on how much effort they’re willing to put in searching for it. Without collecting documents, Hydrophobia’s plot follows a depressingly “go here, do that” formula, with Kate going from one place to the next, crippling systems to disrupt the terrorists, and interesting plot developments are few and far between. Then there’s Scoot, the only character in recent memory to give Jar Jar Binks a run for his money in a “Most Annoying Character Ever” competition. Scoot is a treasure trove of terrible jokes and bad one-liners wrapped in a grating accent, that come across as both shockingly immature and impossible to believe in the context. The ship has been attacked by terrorists, people have been killed, and Scoot’s going on and on about how he hopes Kate makes the chief look bad... what? Are you five?

Little hope can be found in Hydrophobia’s ending either, which severely disappoints. I get that Hydrophobia is part one of an episodic game, but this is the wrong way to deliver episodic content. Instead of releasing a game with it’s own episode story arc tying into a larger whole, or at least some sense of conclusion, Hydrophobia’s ending comes completely by surprise, slapping a “To Be Continued...” across the screen when I thought I was in the middle of a mission! That’s an extremely unsatisfying way to leave fans waiting for what’s going to come next, which will likely make gamers feel like they bought one-third of a game, and not a complete stand-alone experience.

Exciting combat could have saved Hydrophobia, but that can’t deliver to its potential either. Use of the environment to kill enemies through fire, water, electricity, or gas had potential, but combat often boils down to waiting for an enemy to wander too close to that cliche red barrel and then pulling the trigger. Players will find multiple different types of ammo throughout the game, including some regular ammunition that turns Hydrophobia (briefly) into an ordinary third-person shooter. For every sublime moment like attaching a sticky gel round to an enemy’s back and detonating it when he gets too close to another enemy, there’s a dozen moments of waiting for an enemy to obligingly wander near a trap. Rather than making players feel like they’re being inventive with their use of the environment, combat quickly becomes a slog, which the level design does not alleviate, as each corridor looks a little too much like the last, with not enough differentiation to make different parts of the ship distinct from each other.

Hydrophobia’s water effects are outstanding, with waves rolling across the ship like an ocean in a bottle, and Kate gets tossed around by them realistically. Unfortunately, the game’s fascinating core concept gets wasted in poor storytelling through bland (and in Scoot’s case, obnoxious) characters, and gets married to a combat system that feels dated rather than innovating. Episode 2 has a lot of work to do to atone for the opening act’s failings and unsatisfactory conclusion.

Overall: 6 (out of 10)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Nice Return to Magic: The Gathering

Note: The following post is all about the card game Magic: The Gathering. If you don't play it, you probably won't card about this post.

So, one of my coworkers has been successfully working on getting me back into MTG again, and I agreed to drive over to Glencoe and participate in a prerelease tournament for the new Scars of Mirrodin expansion. If you want to see the cards, you can find the full spoiler here.

The format was Sealed, with everyone getting 6 boosters for their $25 admission fee. Everyone opens their packs at the same time, and whatever you got is what you have to build a deck from. It's probably the "fairest" format out there, as everyone has the same chance as everyone else to get great cards and build a deck, so your deckbuilding smarts trump the $$$ factor of people spending a lot of money in the singles market for killer decks. Sealed is my favorite format for competitive play, as really anything can happen.

Like the original Mirrodin block, this set is mostly artifacts. I read all the cards as I opened each pack, then sorted them by color and a pile for the artifacts. Everything Black looked horrible, so I rejected that color out of hand. Red and Blue offered some interesting cards, but I didn't have much of either color, so I was forced to build around White and Green, which consitituted almost 2/3 of my colored cards. Thankfully, I was able to use 4 of my 6 rares in the deck.

At its evil heart, I based everything on those 4 cards. Tempered Steel costs 1WW and gives all my artifact creatures +2/+2. Steel Hellkite is a 5/5 Flying Artifact Dragon, with one bitch of an ability. If it deals combat damage, you can pay X to destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost X to the player who got hurt. Chimeric Mass has power and toughness equal to the X cost you pay to send it out. Lastly, Argentum Armor gives a creature +6/+6 and every time the creature with it attacks, you get to destroy a target permanent.

I included every single white and green creature I got, some of the artifact creatures, then added in a selection of equipments and white and green control. Arrest and Revoke Existence saved my ass in half the games I played.

The first match I played was horrible. Despite never having more than 4 lands, I got the gal I played down to 4 life before she finally overwhelmed me with more creatures than I could counter. The second match was even worse, as I was so land-jacked, I never had more than 3 mana to use... and I mullied twice before that game started.

I didn't freak out, since I knew my deck was decent, I just had to hope I didn't get land-jacked again. My second match was annoying as hell, as I got paired up against this 10 year old who I swear to god played every third card wrong. Thank god the judge was nearby the whole time, because the kid kept thinking I was wrong whenever I corrected him. I won game 1 easily. Since the kid took forever to make his incorrect plays, the match ended before I could kill him again (I was on the warpath but couldn't do it in 5 turns), so that match ended for me 1 win, 0 losses, 1 tie. LAME, but better than it was still a match won.

Round 3 was almost as aggrivating. This time I'm playing a 7 year old kid whose dad was also in the tournament. At least this kid as a much better grasp of the rules than the one I just beat. Problem is he's easily distracted by the Furutama episodes playing on the TV behind us. He had a pretty decent deck too (my evil side really thinks his dad built it), but little grasp of strategy despite his knowledge of the rules, which saved my life a couple times when I honestly should have lost. He kept attacking with weak stuff I could easily kill, and eat minimal damage each turn, so I quickly picked off his army then turned to the offensive. My Steel Hellkite saved me the first game, as he hit me with 9 poison counters (10 poison counters kills you, regardless of your life), but I was able to use the Hellkite's ability to kill his poison creature and from there it became a stealroll. I won 2-0.

I went into the last round against another person with a 2-1 match record. The first game was a war, as most of the game was a Mexican Standoff of creatures until come of my endgame cards hit the table, I was able to exile or destroy a few of his key artifacts, and then it turned into a whipping. He ended up land-jacked the second game, while I was a flush with mana as I'd been the whole tournament, so I steamrolled him easily for another 2-0 match win, for a final record of 3-1.

The sum of my match points earned me 4th place in a field of 18 players, which meant I won an additional 3 booster packs. One of the booster packs contained a Mox Opal, which is one of the top 3 or 4 most expensive singles of the upcoming set, with online sites trending it in the $30 to $40 range. That card alone just paid for my whole tournament, if I sold it! The real question I face is, do I want to become a tournament player in constructed Standard? If so, the card is insanely useful to have. (0 cost artifact, if you have 3 or more artifacts, you can tap it for one mana of any color) It's quick mana generation, and opens the door to sneak in an off-color card or two into a deck, if you plan it right.

Of course, I have a tentative trade with my coworker where I'd trade him the Mox Opal, and he buys me the card's value worth of new, sealed Scars of Mirrodin product. One very rare Mox Opal, or something like 8-12 booster packs? That's a trade I may very well make.

While I didn't enjoy playing against the young kids so much, it was still a very fun afternoon and a good introduction back into the world of current MTG. As I said, it's been 4 years since I participated in a tournament of any kind.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fatal Gaming Overload

I don't think I've ever thrown so many games on my plate to try to play through at once. It's to the point where when I have some free time, if I ask myself the question, "What do you want to play today?" I nearly curl into the fetal position and rock back and forth in a catatonic state from considering all the choices. I'm trying to play through a lot of games, all of which I simultaneously feel like I want to play right the heck now. Don't believe me? Here's the list of games I'd honestly say are ones I'm currently playing:

1. Starcraft II
2. Final Fantasy XIV (I got the collector's edition, thus early access)
3. Hydrophobia (Yes, it's not released until the 29th. I'm working on a prerelease review)
4. Halo Reach
5. Deus Ex
6. Vampire: The Mascarade: Bloodlines
7. Quantum of Solace

Then there's the additional "background" games:

1. Dawn of War II
2. Bayonetta (from Gamefly)
3. Magic: The Gathering
4. Red Dead Redemption

Final Fantasy XIV is an MMO. The playtime potential there is near limitless. Starcraft II has hundreds, if not thousands of hours worth of replayability, as does Halo Reach. I guess this is a good place to be in my official "now that I have FFXIV, I'm not buying any more retail games for the forseeable future" mode. I don't need more games when I have so much I'm working on, and Gamefly to sprinkle in some new content if things ever grow stale.

If you're planning to get Final Fantasy XIV (or even just considering it right now) write this down: My character is named Winter Nightblade, and I'm on the Saronia server. Also, I started in Gridania, which probably won't matter to you later in the game, but is important to know if you're looking for me early in your adventures. Look me up if you want to play together.

After installing FFXIV, I immediately had to lower the settings, as the game can do far more than my new laptop can handle. That's what I get for being economical and not spending for a high range gaming rig. Once I found the acceptable sweet-spot between graphics and performance, I've spent most of my day playing the game, if I'm not playing Hydrophobia. I'd love to talk about that XBLA title, but don't want to do anything to violate the embargo on it. So for now, all I can say is I'm playing it. See the achievements on my tag.

Final Fantasy XIV has been great thus far. I feel completely, utterly lost, but I love it. The feeling of being dropped into a massive world and having to learn the ropes is fantastic. Thankfully, I've found tutorial missions pretty well paced, and there's plenty of help here, without the game totally holding your hand. I like that this game has an actual storyline that's front-and-center (unlike Everquest 2, which had no central narriative and was only so-so at best with storytelling). I'm a huge fan of the fact that the guildleve quests scale based on how many people are in you party, meaning you can treat any quest like a solo challenge or a full-blown raid if you have enough people. I LOVE that versatility.

What I'm not so much a fan of is the fact that there doesn't seem to be a guild system, making maintaining longer-term gaming relationships with some of the same players tougher. It's also harder to see what other people have equipped, or could trade (opposed to EQ2), and the stat-tracking in this game isn't nearly as extensive as my former MMO. Despite those drawbacks, the fights are more engaging and I love that the game is more balanced for solo and group content.

On the Halo front, I'm pretty close to the end of the game, so the next time I sit down to spend some time with it, I should be able to reach the end credits. I've liked this campaign more than Halo 3's, and a lot more than ODST's. Well done Bungie. Now, if you could just learn what the worlds character development mean (something they've had 5 Halo games to imrpove on and have sucked at every single time), the Halo campaigns would be near-perfection. Oh well, maybe Halo's next developer can figure that out, since Bungie already did the matchmaking, stat tracking, and whole gameplay formula thing...

I will be taking a break from gaming long enough to participate in a pre-release tournament for the newest expansion to the Magic: The Gathering card game. It's been eons since I purchased new cards for the game or was involved in that scene, but since it's a sealed deck format, I'm in. The sealed format means everyone gets the same amount of package cards, you open what you got, and have to make a deck out of it for play. It's as "fair" a format as there can be, since everyone has the same number of cards, and everyone has to figure out what the cards do at the same time everyone else does, taking $$$ (some people spend an insane amount to get good decks) and prior knowledge of the whole set out of the equation. I'll post up how I do for my only reader who knows Magic: The Gathering and might remotely care (my brother) =)

That's enough from me for now. Time to get back to FFXIV!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Next Week is "Top 5" Week

So, if you haven't seen my last post, I am looking for feedback on what you'd like to see more of in this blog. So far DarkTharen is the only one to offer an answer, and that aspect of the blog definitely isn't going anywhere. EDIT: Just saw JJB's xbox live messages with similar sentiments. I will keep those comments in mind as I write more of my general gaming posts. Still, I want to go back to doing more with this blog than recounting what I'm playing and my thoughts, so next week is going to be "Top 5 Week," where, like it or not, I get my listmaking on.

Before you start groaning, I assure you these will not be yet another person's "5 best 360 FPS games" types list. No sir, I intent to get quite creative and random with these =) See the subjects listed below. I've tried to come up with lists I haven't seen in other places before. I shall be busily writing my next rotation off so I can get these posted daily.

Monday: Obsurd Game Mash-ups (proposed, not actual)

Tuesday: IPs that need to become games, or game IPs that need to branch to other media.

Wednesday: Awesome sequels that will never happen.

Thursday: Day OFF

Friday: Worst game ideas I could actually see someone making.

Saturday: REAL places that would make GREAT game levels

Sunday: Top 5 Dumbest gaming decisions I've ever made. Yes, I'll be giving you the chance to laugh with me... or at me. Your choice.

How does this list look? Who is excited for next week?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Callout to the Audience

All of us find ourselves in a rut sometimes. I can be from exhaustion, disinterest, indecision, and number of things. I feel like I'm in a bit of a rut with this blog, and and calling out to you, oh faithful readers, for some advice. Or just a strong kick in the ass, your pick =)

This blog isn't going away. It'd keep going even if nobody read it, which is a statement I've made multiple times and stand behind, so don't think for a second I'm considering hanging up the blog. Won't happen.

When this blog started, it was just a personal outlet to discuss what gaming shenanigams I've been up to, and who I'm playing with. While I have no problem with people in the industry gazing upon this blog (with the understanding that it's an "off-the-clock" personal blog and I represent only myself here), I've never aggressively used it as an outlet to "advertise" myself to those people. I've written special topics, some fun things like my dream videogame, or various predictions of the future (which I intend to eventually revisit and see how they turned out). I've made some great posts and built a fair following, and I'm happy about that.

But let's not kid ourselves, little of any real importance has been said on this blog in the last three months. I know, I checked. I could have looked farther back, but I honestly cringe to do so. I'll be completely honest so you all don't have to say it: For the vast part of 2010, ThrawnOmega's Blog on the Gaming Life has been... mediocre.

So, oh faithful readers, my question for you is, as I look to invest more energy into this blog and reestablish it as a proud example of my writing, what would you like me to focus on the most? I offer here some suggestions and thoughs, but you may offer any advice or ideas you thing of.

Note that I have no interest in becoming your personal source of news on all things in the gaming industry. There's a thousand sites offering info on every new release, every trailer that's posted, every preview snippet, every list of what X games are being released released in Y month... I won't waste your time copy/pasting info you already saw elsewhere, unless I have some substantial commentary to add to it, where the news is really just there to provide context to what I want to say.

I have a decent catalogue of game reviews. Do you want to see me focus more strongly on game reviews?

Do I devote more time into interesting and/or random special topics? If you've followed most of this blog's history, you'll know this means general randomness and expanded opinions on a topic, not to be confused with serious editorials. Special features are meant to entertain, not really inform.

Do I become more serious and offer you my serious thoughts through insightful editorials on the gaming industry? These would be researched, thoughtful articles, but you're going to see less posts due to the time involved in making them.

Do I pursue relationships with other bloggers towards possible guest posting arrangements, where I post for their blog and/or someone else drops into mine?

SHould I stick my heels in deep and write this blog as if I was someone working professionally in the industry, and move this blog much more in the direction of a marketing tool for careers in the industry?

Some combination of all of the above?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. I've never been to proud to solicit outside feedback and use it to improve my work. For now, I'm keeping my own leaning of each of the offered ideas to myself for the most part, as I don't want to bias your thinking... except for that first item. I will not to "hard news." I won't churn out what other people are posting everywhere else around the internet, so if I can't make something uniquely mine, I'm not writing it. (No smart-a**es looking through the archives for any contradictions to this LOL)

Be vocal! Let your thoughts be heard!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blacklight: Tango Down for $3.75

Blacklight: Tango Down is the PC deal of the week, so if you're looking to pick up a decent FPS for the PC, and you want to have 200 potential achievements to add to your gamercard, now is the time to do it. This DOTW expires pretty soon here. I've taken the plunge, and now own both the PC and 360 versions, for a possible 400 points (the games stack). Xylofreak also has the game, so I'm sure we'll be looking for people to play and boost with. Despite some issues I've had with the game in the past, it's still worth $4 to get for the PC. I just hope enough people have the game to make it possible to get into matches regularly.

If you decide to get the game, send me a message to let me know!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Abandoned on Reach

You know, I'm feeling like the kid who always gets picked last for dodgeball here, and it's rather stupid. I, like pretty much everyone else on the planet with an xbox 360 and $60 to spare ($40 really if you buy from Walmart), picked up my copy of Halo Reach on Launch day.

I've currently spent more time in the multiplayer than the campaign. What? Seriously, I'm enjoying Halo's multiplayer. That's NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. There's something different about this one, and now the admiration I've always had for Bungie's stat tracking and how they keep things interesting for their community is actually grafted on to a game I have been having fun playing online.

Except that I'm the last kid picked for dodgeball. All of my friends are in full parties or in coop games with other people. Except for some limited time with Bishop, I've been playing solo (extended an offer to Xylo, who passed). I tried to join my brother for some Halo antics tonight. The kid should have been elated. When was the last time I VOLUNTEERED to play Halo? I'll give the audience a hint: I've never been to one to extend invitations or ask if I could join a game of Halo. Pretty positive tonight was the first time.

"Am I cool enough to join this party?" I asked jokingly.

"I don't know," My brother says, "I'll put it to a vote."

There's a moment of silence, then someone says "Nope, I don't think so." Silence. No confirming or denying response from the bro.

"Well fine then." I leave the party, figuring it's a joke and my brother would invite me back in and we'd game. There was no invite. There wasn't a message suggesting when would be a good time. Hell, he was even cooping with someone else last night, no invite or word of explanation. What the hell? I've been intentionally holding off on the campaign because I thought we were cooping it. That's what we've done for every single other Halo game (except Halo Wars... that one I just did with DarkTharen since I don't think my bro was ready or interested in diving back into it).

Am I being a drama queen and blowing things out of proportion? Probably. I mean, Halo Reach has only been out for just TWO DAYS. Still, playing solo with a bunch of silent idiots, or loudmouth assholes, just doesn't stay fun for very long. I'm sure I'm getting all male-PMS-y about it, but that rejection to join pissed me off.

If I can find a posse of people who want to play online and have fun, where we actually chat and play like a team, I'll be logging a good amount of hours into Reach. If not, I'll probably say f*** it as soon as I've squeezed the gamerscore out of it and go back to Starcraft II. Maybe sooner. I've enjoyed the game so far, but not nearly enough to spend time shopping Bungie's forums for people that I'd enjoy playing with.

So, who's in for some REACH?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Interesting Statistic

I was randomly thinking about the videogames I've played, and wondered which game I've spend more time in than any other. Perhaps I was curious since Raptr is now logging all my game time. It didn't take me long to realize that Everquest II is hands down the game I've logged more hours in than any other.

Yes, there was a stint back in my college days, mostly before I had a 360, where I was an EverCrack "addict." While I no longer play, Sony Online Entertainemnt keeps that data saved, no matter how long you're gone, so you can return to that character should you ever come back. (It's been over 3 years, I don't see that happening) So, I was able to look up my main character to see his play stats (would have added in my alts too, but I can't remember any of them).

Between October 6th of 2005 (3-4 months after I graduated high school) and February 1, 2007 (my sophomore year of college), I racked up 34 days, 4 hours, and 55 minutes on my main character. Doing the math, that averages out to about 48 hours a month of EverCrack, or 1.6 hours a day. Damn that's a lot of playtime. Of course, any WoW player will probably look at that and go "pfft, that's nothing!"

I enjoyed my time in EQ2 and met some good people there, but the game was far too group-centric at the higher levels, and when it got to the point that you needed 6 people and 4+ hours to feel like you'd accomplished anything, I knew it was time to walk away.

At the end of this month, I'll be picking up Final Fantasy 14, which has me intrigued with its much more solo-friendly and casual-OK game style. I want to play an MMO where I can quest and progress on my own, but have a lot of other people around to game with when the mood strikes me. I don't want to feel obligated to party up to play 90% of the game (which is EQ2 after level 40), and I think this is the game to do that. No worries folks, I have too much going on to let it consume all my time, and I'll still be gaming on the Xbox and padding my Gamerscore.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Birthday Time!

Yes, it's September 12, my birthday. I don't make this statement in a bid for attention, I've just been thinking on the topic a bit lately. Really, this is the least interesting birthday I can recall ever having (granted, I'm only 5 minutes into it at this point), but it's arrived with no fanfare. I have no social plans. I'll probably spend my day leisurely cleaning up my apartment from the mess vacation packing created, watch some NFL football, go see Resident Evil: Afterlife, and play a shit-ton of Starcraft 2. Oh, I do need to finish my Hydrophobia preview, so there will be a small amount of "work" in my day, but I intend to relax and enjoy the fact that I don't have to work. I guess that ain't so bad, right?

x360a's GSL Season 9 has started, and I'm on the perfect team, i.e. the one that couldn't care less about posting big scores or winning. If I drop 5k over the course of the competition I'd be amazed. I'm just in it for the chance to party chat and hang out with a few new folks, and hopefully expand my gamer clique a little bit. My opening "salvo" of achievement points will come from Aliens vs Predator and Beyonetta, which I have from Gamefly. There may also be some Bioshock achievements in there and a sprinkling of other stuff (plus Halo Reach on Tues.) if I can tear myself away from Starcraft long enough to score anything. Seriously, Starcraft 2 kicks ass. Easily worth every penny of my $60, and I'm likely to long hundreds of hours in this bad-boy before all is said and done.

I need games with such vast replayability, as I'm making an announcement: Until further notice, I am not buying ANY new retail games.* (DLC and XBLA titles do not apply. The other exception is Final Fantasy XIV which was pre-planned, and marks the cutoff). Within the last month, I've purchased a camcorder, new laptop, and $140 worth of new PC games. My "fun money" is tapped out for a while, and I'm limiting my entertainment budget to Netflix (3 discs + Bluray), Gamefly (2 games) and FFXIV's $13 a month subscription fee. When you think about it, that's still a hell of a lot of entertainment for about the price of ONE new retail game every month. I may be slimming down my budget (to pay off said big purchases and start saving up cash again) but I don't feel like I'm really giving up anything in this arrangement. I still have a steady pipeline of fresh games and movies.

If there's any other Starcraft 2 players who read this blog, search my character, conveniently named ThrawnOmega. I'd love to have some people to play with online.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To My Brother

This post is in response to his comment. How much did that computer cost? I got my model for under $850. I didn't want to break the bank, but I'm thinking my weaker processor will limit how long I'm able to use this computer as a modern gaming platform.

I have an i5 processor at 2.4 GHz, 4GB ram, 64-bit operating system, 500GB harddrive, NVIDIA GeForce 310M graphics card, 1080p LED backlight screen. It will run Starcraft 2 no worries, and can handle Final Fantasy 14 (though not at highest settings). I'll have to wait and see how it handles FireFall next year.

As to convincing you to get Starcraft 2 or Dawn of War 2, it boils down to how much you like RTS games on the PC, where the controls aren't an issue. STarcraft 2 has a long, 29 mission campaign, in-game achievements, and robust multiplayer and social networking obtions, making it totally worth the $60. Just try not to think of all the beatings I dealt you in Starcraft 64 when you make that purchase. You'll be happy to know that when you cry uncle from losing on multiplayer, there's plenty of coop action to be had, so we could play that way.

Dawn of War 2 I have barely played yet, so I can't offer a compelling argument there. You can find the base game and expansion for $40 or less.

Thrawn's Desertion

First off, let me apologize that getting up the Youtube videos of PAX items is taking Sooooo long. I keep forgetting I need to chop the important ones into less than 15 minute pieces, and I have not yet figured out how to do it yet on my brand new laptop. Right now, the most realistic timeline is sometime between Sunday and Tuesday of next week. Sorry for the delay. Over the next few days I'll be hanging out with my friend Stefan, and I have some writing left to do for x360a, so those items take priority over wrangling with Youtube.

My first PAX preview, for Portal 2's coop, is done and will be posted after it's been reviewed and any necessary revisions have been made. Tomorrow I aim to finish Comic Jumper before heading off to Wisconsin. Stefan is on notice though that we'll have to take some breaks in our chilling so I can spend some time writing features. Since he has nursing liscensing exams to study for, it'll just be like the old college days when we both had homework.

I finally bit the bullet and purchased a new computer, and this is the first post to come from it. This computer is about 100,000x faster than by dying Gateway. I got 5 years out of that machine, so it had a good life, but it's performance was beyond slow, and I don't think any amount of tinkering would fix it. Plus, I really wanted a rig that could run Starcraft 2 and Final Fantasy XIV anyway, so I'm trading up. I still need to extract valuable data from the old computer, so it's not gone yet.

While typing up the Portal feature, I was installing the initial complement of games for my new PC, and updating Raptr with my new accounts. For some reason though, my PC hours are coming up as raptrguest6553209 for the profile, and not ThrawnOmega. Is there any way to fix this?

I now have the following games for my PC:

Starcraft 2: I LOVED the original, despite constantly losing online. The sequal has some amazing social options, looks to have a robust multiplayer (haven't tried it yet), and has about a billion achievements. Sure, they won't pad my gamertag, but achievements are achievements. I'll eventually go for them, but for now I'm just starting to enjoy the campaign, as I'm a fan of Starcraft's story.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II (Gold Edition): I got the game with its expansion, for a potential 2,000 achievement points that WILL show on my gamercard. I'm going to dig into the RTS genre more as I enjoy them, but not on consoles (exception Halo Wars).

Sins of a Solar Empire: I hear great things about this RTS and its epic scale. It's a steal at $20.

Quantum of Solace: I got this as PAX swag, and it's 1000 achievement points, and can stack with the 360 version. So, if people need to do the MP for the PC version, I'm an eligible candidate.

Sword of the Stars: Ultimate Edition: Got a code to download this game for FREE as more PAX swag. Haven't tried it yet. It's another RTS.

Deus Ex & Deus Ex: Invisible War: I downloaded these two titles off of Steam for a total of $20. The first is perhaps my favorite game ever and I've never yet had the chance to play the second. Despite not getting achievements for them (yes I'm actually gaming without any regard for getting gamerscore!), I hope to have both completed before Human Revolution releases. Deus Ex is pretty fugly by modern standards, but the gameplay is as solid as ever.

Vampire: The Mascarade: Bloodlines: I loved this vampire-themed RPG, and have played it several times, though never quite got to the end. It always chugged alon on my older computers, but now I have a rig that can run it easily. This time I should get to see how it ends. GREAT storytelling, and how quests and the story turned out depend on the choices you make. Looking forward to diving back into this one as well.

SO, I forsee a lot of PC gaming in the near future. Of course, I won't be completely abandoning my 360. I just rejoined Gamefly in an effort to reduce my game spending in the long-term (by renting instead of buying as much), so I'll have games to play from them, plus there's arcade games like Comic Jumper and Hydrophobia to look forward to. Oh, and that Halo game that's coming next week...

Over the next month, it'll be interesting to see how my gaming trends change, add in the fact that I'm going to get more forceful (as in trying a lot harder, not being a pushy douche) in my efforts to break into the game industry, and I have no idea how my gaming time is going to be effected. Expect to watch my completion percentage drop even further into the toilet (not that I care very much) as I just jump from game to game, playing whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

In other words, I'm about to turn into Silva...