Monday, April 18, 2011

The Blog Has MOVED!!!

The blogger chapter of ThrawnOmega's blog has come to a close, but the good times are far from over. This blog is pulling up stakes and going over to Wordpress. I'm doing this for a few reasons:

1. Easier to customize the look and more options.
2. Can set up auto-tweets for when I post (need to do that yet).
3. Easier to add media (pics, video, etc) to posts.
4. Better dashboard.
5. I like the stats page better.

Please update your subscriptions, bookmarks, feeds, etc. as needed. The new site is easy enough to remember... as it's Seriously, you can't mess that up.

Best of all, NOTHING will be lost in translation (except maybe my hit counter). All 300+ posts have been ported over, so you can continue to read or reread favorite posts, or anything in the back catalogue. As always, thanks for sticking around and enjoying games as much as I do. Plenty more to come!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It'll Be A Grind! Surprise?

I've heard a lot of good things about Dynasty Warriors 7, so I took the plunge and picked it up, despite nightmares of Orochi 2 grinding and the fact that I didn't really like DW6, despite the fact that I'm a big fan of the series.

DW7 is, thankfully, far better than the last installment. The gameplay feels more old-school, along the lines of DW4 or 5. I like that characters can use two different weapons, as this has allowed me to use alternatives for characters whose main weapons I don't like (like the fan). The new story mode structure is a welcome change, though Conquest mode has held almost all of my attention so far. It's cool to choose the order you do battles as you progress across a sprawling map of China.

The one thing that hasn't changed, however, is how time-consuming the achievements are. With the new uber-easy "Beginner" difficulty, 1k-ing this game looks to be utterly simplicity, if you're willing to invest the time. (Note: I'm not stooping to playing on Beginner until it's hyper grinding time)

What makes this game take so long? Well, you have to beat every character's legendary battles in conquest mode to unlock them as a playable character, and unlock one of their wallpapers. That's not so bad since you need to clear every stage for another achievement anyway. However, you must also make every character your sworn ally, which involves helping them across a few missions before they'll join you. With that done, you then have to max out their bond with you for an achievement and some of their voice data for another. That means using each officer again for multiple battles (I did find a level that can be consistently done in under 1 minute, which will speed along THAT grinding session).

The last voice data comes from unlocking all the skills for a character, and this has to be done with every character. This can only be done by playing as that character and killing officers. WHile there are skills that can speed this along, and it could be combined with leveling up someone's bond, I'm projecting this game in the 60-80 hour completion time range right now. I'm going to do what I can to minimize the grinding time,but we'll see. I love you Dynasty Warriors, but make your achievements more organic and less of a grind...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thrawn vs. Xylo: March 2011

Another month gone, and time for another update in the score war. And hey, I actually scored some points this month. Here's how things looked at my last update, on March 1st:

Raw Gamerscore:
Thrawn: 149,254
Xylo: 146,349
Lead: Thrawn by 2,905

TA Totals:
Thrawn: 208,427
Xylo: 215,190
Lead: Xylo by 6,763

And now, for your March 31st standings, as of 5:18pm

Xylo: 148,704
Lead: Thrawn by 3,646.
Change: Thrawn +741

Really, considering I broke out Backyard Football '10 for a cheap 1,000 points, I have to call Xylo the winner for the month for keeping his lost progress under 1,000 points.

TrueAchievement Numbers:
Thrawn: 212,961 (off 151,960 score)
Xylo: 219,637 (148,704) <-- Xylo's is still accurate
Lead: Xylo by 6,676
Change: Xylo -87

Xylo did lose a little ground in the TA war, but not much. Sad day that I only ate 87 points out of that lead, but oh well. I'm sitting at 940 in Mafia 2, with just 3 achievements left to get until I have the original 1000, and then I'll download and complete one DLC pack at a time to finish the game. It was an interesting month!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


It feels SO nice to have a day off. Since Saturday, I've worked 47 hours, and I have just today and tomorrow off before I return for another 36 over three days. Not trolling for sympathy here, just stating a fact.

When I have off, I've heaped too many projects upon myself. I'm attempting (not very well) to make a gaming website, I want to launch a podcast, I've resumed working on my novel (which is currently in the planning stages), and two other projects I'm not going to discuss over the internet. I've put too much on myself, and made my back catalogue ever-larger over the last few months.

It's time to refocus.

My novel and the podcast are going to take priority over the site, and I'll fit work into that in when I can. There's only so many hours in a day, unfortunately. Story writing has been my passion since grade school, and I'm determined to get my novel done to prove to myself I can. Right now, I'm using three programs to make it happen: PersonalBrain for universe building and mind-mapping, SplashNotes for plot outlining and structuring, and yWriter5 for the actual composition. I recommend writers check out each of those programs. Together, they've been a big help so far.

One the gaming front, I'm going to attempt something that goes against the grain of my famous game ADD. I'm going to try to buckle down and plow through one or two games at a time until they're maxed out, then continue on. As always, my unfinished back catalogue is frighteningly large, and I want to try to put a dent in that. It's good for my wallet and my completion percentage. I'm playing some Assassin's Creed II now because I rented it, but after that, the first two targets of this focus are going to be Homefront and Mafia II.

With Mafia, the struggle is going to get through how terrible Chapter 14 is. SPOILER ALERT: They make you earn a shit-ton of money to pay off a debt, and there's no fun way to do this. Either rob stores or steal a ton of cars. Both options get boring quickly. Thankfully, Within Temptation released a new album this week, and I plan on using the custom soundtrack feature to listen to it while I grind through this ill-concieved slog.

If you've never heard of Within Temptation, that's too bad for you. Their music is EPIC. Here's a few YouTube links to go educate yourself with, which showcase two of the first three tracks off their new album, The Unforgiving. =) If nothing else, I think my bro will like them, though Within Temptation is MAINSTREAM compared to the stuff he listens to these days. I mean, I purchased my copy from WALMART, who don't have a reputation for the obscure.

Shot In The Dark

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'll admit that I'm one of those people who sometimes wants to be the first to complete a game. Most of the time I don't care, but every once in a while I'll get it in my head to chase being the first to complete a game. Now, being listed first on x360a does not necessarily mean I was the first to do so, simply that I was the first to do so and post to the completion club that I had. So, I was the first person who cared enough to finish and be listed in the completion club. For laughs and giggles, I thought I'd showcase my few completion club highlights:

1st to 200 Battle: LA on XBLA
I'll admit, I wanted this 1st, once I saw how easy the achievements were. Completed everything but the last 1/3 of the game on normal. Went to see the movie. Came back and finished the game. Posted for credit.

1st to 1000 Darkest of Days
Aided by a free review copy and the fact nobody cares about this game. I even had to play through twice because I was stupid and still was the first to do it, when others figured out you only needed to play through once, and be smart with saves.

1st to 1000 Jurassic: The Hunted
I love me my dinosaurs, what can I say. My Family Video had this game on release day (to my surprise) and I quickly beasted it out. Again, not a game many people care about.

1 of only 4 to finish Deadly Premonition
I wasn't first or 2nd, but only 4 people have come forward to claim completion in the clubs. Probably because of the suffering involved in completing this wonderfully quirky but mechanically shitty game.

2nd to 1000 Rogue Warrior
Review copy + lack of public interest. See a pattern here? Horrible game. Glad to have the 1k over with.

2nd (of only 7) to 1000 Warriors Orochi 2
Longtime readers may remember my ranting and raving about how much grinding is needed for this 1k. There's a reason only 7 people on x360a have done it.

2nd for the Original 200 in The Maw, and the River Redirect DLC for it
Downloaded the game early on release day morning and plowed through. I think Hayden beat me because I was also writing the achievement guide while I played =)

So, I have 3 x360a firsts under my belt, and 3 seconds. I'm pretty satisfied with that. I don't know when (or if) there will ever be another. I don't look at a game in advance and say "I will be the first to complete it," rather it's just a sudden impulse with some games to see how fast I can chow down on the points. I usually only care about firsts on obscure games or games I don't like. I'd never chase first on a game like Deus Ex when that comes out, as those games I want to take my time with and enjoy the hell out of 'em.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gaming Overload. Again.

I've enjoyed the first two of my three days off playing a good amount of video games. In fact, I so over-indulged the last few days that today is the day I now have to get all that "responsible adult" stuff knocked out of the way, unfortunately. On the bright side, it's given me plenty of material for a long-overdue update.

Work has progressed on my gaming site, While it's not a beauty to look at yet, the site is fully functional and has some content on it, at least. If you haven't already seen the review for Battle: Los Angeles, check it out. I also got the forum set up, at No site gets large (or even medium-sized) overnight, but these moves are steps in the right direction. Bishop has posting access, so future content will be coming from him, as well. Besides cranking out reviews for the games I play, and periodic new pieces, my next major project is to get the Podcast up and running. On the content front, I can't promise new content daily yet, as it's still 99.5% a one-man operation right now.

I've acquired so many games post-tax return, that I could forgo any further purchases for quite a while and still be entertained. For the PS3 I have Killzone 3, Demons's Souls, Cross Edge, Ratchet and Clank, and Resistance. I've recently picked up Mafia II, Torchlight, and Beyond Good and Evil for the 360. Add to this I'm still working Divinity II towards my first RPG completion of 2011, and Bulletstorm, and I have plenty of options to choose from, without dipping into the back-catalouge,which is as large as ever.

Progress is great in Divinity II, but I have to advise anyone playing the game to SAVE OFTEN. I lost 40 minutes of progress yesterday when I got over-confident and then the game surprised me with a tough confrontation. I've logged close to 20 hours in the game thus far, and I earned the "You're Going to Die, Charlie" achievement that's worth a whopping 1 point. It's nice to have a gamerscore that ends in a "normal" 5 or 0 again, so I plan to enjoy it while it lasts. Once I complete the game, my numbers will be broken again. I blame Infinite Undiscovery...

Divinity II's character system is pretty nice. You can pick any ability you want from four different trees (priest, mage, ranger, and warrior), with the only requirement being that you have to meet the base level requirement for an ability to pick it up. My character is primarily a ranger, relying on bow and arrow to take out enemies. I have an explosive arrow ability that can significantly damage or kill whole groups of enemies. From the Warrior tree, I have Reflect, and ability that at is current level reflects back 44% of damage dealt to me back at the enemy, too. From the Mage line I took a powerful fireball spell, and the ability to charm enemies I got from the priest line. I love being able to mix elements from each class archetype.

After breezing through Battle: LA in one afternoon, the supreme easy of that 200 gamerscore awakened in me a need to bust out some easy points. I found a used copy of Backyard Football '10. I completed it in 40 minutes, which I hear is pretty slow on my part. Now I plan to return the game later today. I realize I just "wasted" an acheivement gem for score contests, but I'm pretty retired from that scene. I play the game I want to play now, and go for all the points I can, except for my periodic dips into "easy score land." With those two completions done, I stand at a whopping 2 points thus far in my annual completion challenge. Hardly impressive, but at least they're points on the board.

With all the stuff I have to do today, I probably won't get to working on my overdue Bulletstorm review, so that's likely a project for Thursday. Reviews are also plannet for Torchlight, Beyond Good and Evil, Killzone 3, and Homefront, so content is coming... I just need to sit down and write it all. Can't announce what Bishop's working on yet... mostly cause I don't know. Bishop, join the forum, and I can give you access to the staff board so we can talk shop =)

Okay, enough rambling for one day. Going to watch Netflix for a bit, then dive into the day's work. I really shouldn't save it all for my last day off...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Anarchy Master Made Easy

Has that achievement for getting 50,000 points in one wave of Anarchy got you down? Well, my brother, Bionik Kommando, and I have discovered an easy way for a 2-person team to reach the gamerscore promised land. And no, it won't have you reviving each other over and over again.

Set up your match for the Grand Central Station map. In the middle of this map is an electrified fountain that awards the "Make a Wish" skill shot. If one player kicks/slides/leashes an enemy into the air, and the other player uses their leash to pull the enemy into the fountain, both players will get the Team Shocker, Team Yoink, and Team Make a Wish skillshots, for a grand total of 425 points PER KILL, times the two of you = 950 points per kill. While this is less than the amount advertised in this guide, this method requires no guns to be purchased, and you don't have to worry about ammo. It's important, of course, to stay on opposite sides of the well, so you can pull enemies across and into the water. Upgrading your leash reuse ability as fast as possible will make this even easier. Combine Whiplashed and Bossed together for a regular 600 points per miniboss. With these two tactics together, and completing the team challenges as they arise, it's quite easy to get 50,000 points on Wave 20.

This may also be the best way to grind experience, as by the end of our run (in which we never failed a wave), Bionik Kommando and I both gained over 200,000 experience. This is a more fun and easy way to get Anarchy Master than relying on the 50 points per revive, so I recommend giving it a shot.

Oh, and give us a shot when the ease of it blows your mind =)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thrawn vs. Xylo: March 2011

As I started last month, I shall continue the monthly trend of examining the status of the only fun and currently competitive achievement rivalry I have, that with Xylofreak03. Here were February's numbers:

ThrawnOmega: 147764
Xylofreak03: 144164

Lead: Thrawn by 3,600

Now, let's take a look at the standings for March 1st (8:45am Central):

Thrawn: 149,254
Xylo: 146,349

Lead: Thrawn by 2,905

It was a good month for Xylo, as he shaved nearly 700 points off of my lead. I've decided to also take a look at our comparative True Achievement scores, and that result is more depressing (for me).

TA Totals:
Thrawn: 208,427
Xylo: 215,190
Lead: Xylo by 6,763

So, despite leading by about 3k "real" score, Xylo has almost 7k on me in TA score. While raw score is the official metric I'm using for our rivalry, I'll continue to report the TA score as well, because I know a lot of achievement junkies out there (myself too) find it an interesting statistic. So yes, Xylo, your score has more "nerd cred" lol.

Battle plan for March:
I'm working on finishing Divinity II before the remastered version, with the expansion, comes out. I'm looking at 50+ hours for my remaining 760 or so points, which is hardly lucrative from a score or TA standpoint, but plays into my goal to complete several RPGs this year. Most of my other points will come from Bulletstorm, the PC version of RE5, or Test Drive Unlimited 2, once the patch goes Live (should fix the notorious corrupt save issue). TDU2 is a good game to play to narrow the TA gap, as it's currently worth over 8,000 TA points! I'm planning to get Beyond Good and Evil HD, so there's a possible 200 points there too.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Life After MGC

With the sad demise of, I find myself wondering if there are any other places out there on the web that offer services similar. Where can I go to replace my now-broken gamercard link on this blog? Where do I find out how I'm doing in the RPG or Shooter genres? It'd be rather hard now to strike up an RPG genre rivalry with DarkTharen, without easy means to track our progress. I'll admit I took MGC for granted, and now that it's gone, I'm not sure how I'll find all that achievement info I loved to look at, or if it's even possible.

I happened to notice that Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga finally has a release date for the 360. With that in mind, I've started over on the original version, aiming to have the game complete before the remastered version's April 12th release.

I'm also kicking around thoughts on if I want to attempt another lockdown on buying games until I've finished more of my stuff. I have Dead Space 2 unfinished, Test Drive 2 unfinished (and I won't play it again until the patch lands... my save corrupted and I don't want to risk that again). Plus, who can forget my already massive back catalogue? With Dragon Age 2, Homefront, Crysis 2, and Divinity II: DKS all on the horizon, it'll be hard to say no. But with 1-2 games (minimun) per month coming out that I'd like to buy and often a few more in the want to rent column, I'm going to have to learn to.

Another idea I've had but not committed to is (yet again) trying the Rule of Four.Perhaps tying it into a "no buying" lockdown by saying that if I can complete a set of 4, I can get 1 new game, and then create a new set of 4 to tackle.

For laughs and giggles, we'll call this the "Theoretical Four"
1 - Divinity II
2- Bulletstorm
3- Test Drive Unlimited 2
4- Dead Space 2

Or perhaps I go for a 2-for-1, where I get a new game when I complete to. This mixes things up more, but still slowly shrinks my back catalogue.

Knowimg me, am I likely to actually run with any of these and stick with them? LOL probably not...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Hail of Bullets

Tuesday marked the release date of People Can Fly's new game, Bulletstorm. What an awesome day it was. With the exception of some necessary breaks from the game, I played it nearly all day. Here's the skinny so far for those of you who haven't played it much yet.

The campaign does a good job of mixing up the environments, keeping gameplay fresh, which is nice, as the "kill with skill" system can start to feel repetitive in places, so the change in scenery helps. The story is the definition of meh, but I highly doubt anyone plans to pick the game up for the story anyway. As much as the story underwhelms, I do enjoy the banter between characters. Bulletstorm may steal away Rogue Warrior's title for Most Profanities Ever in a game (it'll be close) but at least here they feel natural to the characters, and can be rather amusing.

In the evening, I had the opportunity to play some Anarchy mode with Xylofreak, Sabre, and Bishop. Since success in Anarchy depends so much on teamwork and communication, I'm glad I could play with 3 of the 6 people I game with most on Live (Silva, Bionik Kommanda, and DarkTharen being the other three). We're able to coordinate what we're doing, call out who will do what skill shot, and make sure we're setting things up as a team. Of course, if we're faced with setbacks, we're able to carry on without playing petty blame games or getting frustrated, which can ruin other teams. As a group, we were able to clear all 20 waves, though our 40,500 score on the final wave wasn't good enough for the "Anarchy Master" achievement. We'll get it.

In general, scoring for each wave went in the following order:
1. Bishop
2. Thrawn
3. Sabre
4. Xylo

I may have progressed farthest in the campaign, but Bishop had me beat on point scoring nearly every time, though we were often close. Xylo, despite regularly scoring near the bottom, was a strong team contributor. First off, he'd never played the game before we started Anarchy, nor had he tried the demo. So, he had to pick up everything on the fly, and successfully learned a lot of skill shots quickly. Xylo also had a role in the completion of many of the Team Challenges as we went, so scoring 4th isn't really significant.

I think most of the fun in Anarchy is in how if FORCES teams to communicate and cooperate to succeed. Firefight or Horde can be successfully achieved with much less communication, if everyone knows their roles. Not so in Anarchy. I might use my leash to fling an enemy closer to a man-eating plant, then call out Xlyo to kick or fling him the rest of the way there for the Team Feeder skill shot. We laughed or cheered virtually every time we set up the team Nom Nom Nom skillshot for feeding an enemy to our level's skull dinosaur. It's hard NOT to cheer or laugh when your team succeeds in executing over-the-top kills, and that's the heart of what makes Anarchy fun.

While I don't want leveling to 65 in Anarchy to take forever, I do hope the journey is long enough to provide us plenty of entertainment along the way, and possibly that we'll keep playing it even after we've gotten there. Bishop, Sabre, and Xylo, I had an absolute blast playing with you guys, and hope we're able to do that again soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

25x a Nerd

I've decided to have a little fun with tonight's blog post, and do something totally random... list every single reason I can think of that I'm a nerd. The list is going to be extensive, no doubt, and probably make me undatable except for the rarest and most special brand of women out there; the ones who appreciate my off-beat sense of self-depricating humor.

How am I a nerd? Let me count the ways:

1. I'm writing a blog about videogames...
2. My gamerscore is astronomical, and in the top 1,500 in the US, according to MyGamerCard.
3. I have played games like Hannah Montana and My Horse and Me 2 to inflate that gamerscore.
4. I have participated in Gamerscore Leagues, competitions between nerds trying to tack up more video game points than other nerds.
5. For extra bonus points, I once captained a team in such a competition.
6. I was up til 3am on a Saturday night once, boosting the online achievements in Viva Pinata Party Animals... with three other grown men.
7. I have an anime poster in my living room, and an (AWESOME) Aqua Teen Hunger Force rug over my TV.
8. I play World of Warcraft.
9. I did university research about World of Warcraft.
10.I preordered Record of Agarest War.

11. I often play PC games by hooking my laptop up via HDMI to my surround sound system, so I can play games in HD on my TV with great audio. Easy and awesome, but also nerdy.
12. I have a Barnes and Noble membership card.
13. I have read 83 Star Wars novels, and have 2 more waiting to be read. Yes, I took the time to actually count.
14. I have watched every episode (over 200) of Stargate SG-1 and all five seasons of Stargate Atlantis. I own both SG-1 movies.
15. I repurchased both SG-1 movies when Blu-ray versions were cheap enough.
16. I can name every bounty hunter sent after Han Solo in "Empire Strikes Back."
17. I picked up Avatar on Bluray the day it came out... and then later picked up the 3-disc extended version too.
18. I use an iPod Touch as a productivity tool at work. I genuinely appreciate my boss being OK with that.
19. I've read books based on the games Mass Effect, Gears of War, Halo, Resident Evil, Starcraft, Magic: The Gathering, and Splinter Cell. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six does not count, as the book came before the games.
20. I know what an Otaku is.

21. I've attended a video game convention (PAX rules).
22. My ipod contains more J-punk than probably anyone else in Minnesota. Worst case scenario, I'm top 10.Do yourself a favor and search Garlic Boys on YouTube.
23. I've watched more Dragonball Z than is probably healthy.
24. On the same vein, I've watched every episode of Ah My Goddess and Tenchi Muyo. Oh, and I own all their movies.
25. I co-hosted a gaming podcast, and I'm looking to start another

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Podcast Reboot

Before I get into the meat of this post, let me just announce quick that I've upgraded to a Windows Phone 7 and can now check Live from anywhere... oh, and grab those nifty things called achievements. Still waiting for my phone number to port over, and I haven't been able to get the app marketplace to open up (no idea why), but I was able to watch and episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer via Netflix on my phone, and that was pretty awesome.

IF I can find a solid group of people to work with, I want to start up a podcast again. There are numerous factors that contributed to the short lifespan of the Hand of Thrawn Podcast, and I aim to learn from those mistakes.

What I seek to create is a podcast that has a vibe matching the last section of this blog's title: "The Gaming Life." Games of all genres and platforms are open for discussion. Non-gaming activities that gamers would find interesting are a go. I don't want to box us into the niche of achievement junkies, though of course that will be a part of the show too. And I have some ideas on how to spice things up to make this show different from the other gaming podcasts I've been listening to.

I say IF I can find a group of solid people because, honestly, this won't work as a solo venture, or if I have to do 90% of the work. I need to find people as enthusiastic as I am about the project, willing to put in some hours, and want to make a kick-ass show. These individuals will be valued for their creativity, as well as their ability to accept direction and feedback to keep our show hovering around my overall vision.

What I'm looking for (someone could fill multiple roles, I'm sure I'll be filling some of them as well)

1-2 Charismatic Co-Hosts Talking to myself for an hour or more would make for one boring show. I want 1-2 others who are gamers with a wide range of interests and gaming experiences, who are able to hold a conversation. One of the things that bogged down the HoT Podcast was too many lapses into long silence, where nobody said anything. No offense to anyone, but it made editing a chore, as I'm sure Bishop can attest. We as a group need to be able to keep a conversation flowing for the length of the show, and keep it interesting.

A Sound Guy/Gal Someone able to ensure quality of audio recording, and responsible for necessary editing of podcast, as well as creation of segment soundbites and working on the faux-mercials (explained below)

Website Guru Responsible for creation of website and forum, giving us a platform to interact with our fanbase and provide content beyond just the podcast. We'd work together to flesh out our vision for the site.

Co-Content Creator / Research Monkey Probably a role assigned to one of the co-hosts. Responsible for coming up with content for our regular segments, and keeping up on the happenings of the gaming industry and other areas of interest so we have ample material for discussion.

What's in the show? Well, here's my rough first rendition of some of the features you might see. You'll notice I'm going for a mix of the serious and the random. Not necessarily in order:

1. What we're playing - Pretty standard. Everyone does it. Good conversation starter and no reason NOT to include it.

2. News of the Week - Telling news from the assumption most people have already heard it elsewhere. We're not providing the news, rather commenting upon it.

3. Podcast Reviews, demo impressions, etc.

4. Faux-mercials - Fake commercials indended for humor, sacrasm, or parody. Will take the creative efforts of all of us plus a good sound person to pull these off. I'd like 2-3 per show.

5. The Chrystal Ball - Similar to "Top Analyst" in the CAG-cast, we make predictions for the future, and track how we do.

6. Mailbag - Once we actually have listeners, read out listener mail and answer any questions.

7. Random Nonsense: Any random gaming topic of conversation we come up with. Who would win in a fight between Bowser and Ganondorf? What's the dumbest thing you've seen while playing WoW? Has a game ever made you cry? We'll come up with and discuss random topics that don't fit into the other categories.

Of course, I'm open to other ideas as well.

Interested in helping to build the show? Contact me via email at ntg_to @ (without the spaces), or via xbox live. Let me know what position you're looking for, and how you think you can contribute. We'll go from there. Hopefully, through working my contacts, I can get the right people together to start the new show.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The D20 of FATE

I hate my game ADD. I really, really do. How I have managed to (barely) keep my completion percentage over 50% I don't know. I marvel at my ability to play and love a game for 10 hours, then suddenly lose interest once the next "Oooh Shiny!" game comes along.

In the last 30 days, I've picked up Dead Space 2, Venetica, Kingdom Under Fire: COD, Test Drive: Unlimited 2 (I need at least 1 good racer in my collection even if I don't usually play the genre) and Stacking off of XBLA. Good news is I'm more balanced now between my MMO play and console gaming. Bad news is I'm not finishing anything. Halfway through Feb almost and I'm not even close to having a completion. Oh, and did I mention I have Bulletstorm pre-ordered?

What I'd ideally like to do is rip through several games in by back catalogue, to build up my "trade in" pile. Then, next time Gamestop is offering sufficient bonus credit, I trade the whole stash to get something else. Say what you will about trading in to Gamestop, they're far more convenient than Ebaying games, and frankly most of the time I haven't observed the pay to be dramatically different (though selling Deadly Premonition used for $18.50 on Ebay was brilliant).

So, in since I have such a huge backlog of games and recent additions, I've come up with one of the craziest means of picking what I play next: random chance. This is not a long-term committment type system, just a way to decide what I'm playing when I don't have a pre-planned gaming session, or don't feel passionately about what I play. I will roll a 20-sided die (D20) and play the game matching the number I've assigned to it. Note that since I'm not intending to actually juggle 20 games at once, I have assigned games multiple numbers in line with how much I want to work on them.

1. World of Warcraft
2. Dead Space 2
3. Venetica
4. Stacking
5. Test Drive Unlimited 2
6. WoW
7. DS2
8. Venetica
9. TDU2
10. WoW
11. Fallout: New Vegas
12. DS2
13. Venetica
14. TDU2
15. WoW
16. Enslaved
17. Sacred 2
18. Dead Space 2
19. TDU2
20. WoW

Any game finished gets removed from the roll. I reserve the right to change the numbers and games whenever. Again, this is only to get me to pop something in the tray (or log into a game on the PC) if I can't make up my mind what I'm playing on any given night. Yes, I really have a 25% chance of rolling WoW.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Score War: Thrawn vs. Xylo

Decided I'd take steps with this blog to make the rivalry between myself and my friend Xylo (Xylofreak03) more interesting. The plan is to make it one of the few (if only) documented achievement rivalries in the blogosphere, just for trash talking fun and random shenanigans.

Each month (more often if there are sudden interesting changes of fortune) I will have a Score War post, detailing the situation between myself and Xylo. Future posts will show the change in the lead over the previous month.
Every Score War post will begin with an objective statement of facts. My score. His score. The change in the point gap between us. Where the major points came from.

After that comes the opinionated commentary. I'll discuss what I was playing over the month, and my overall "strategy." I'll lay down some smack talk for laughs and giggles. If Xylo wants in on the commentary, I'd be happy to post up his monthly commentary on how things have gone, so the readers can hear from both of us. Hopefully this will evolve into an amusing periodic feature. Who knows... more rivals could be added over time if I pick up any, but for now it's Thrawn vs. Xylo.

As of 4pm on 02/03/2011

ThrawnOmega: 147764
Xylofreak03: 144164

Lead: Thrawn by 3,600

Despite spending most of January in MMOs, I don't believe I've lost much ground on Xylo. Recent points have come from Borderlands, Venetica, Dead Space 2, and Kingdom Under Fire. All gains combine are under 1,000 points. When I've seen Xylo gaming, it's been Texas Hold 'Em, and he'll never catch me that way. =)

Game on, amigo! Let's make our rivalry more interesting, shall we?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mega Game Day

This being my Golden Weekend - the one weekend in six my work rotation gives my Friday through Sunday off - I have largely thrown responsibility to the wind on this off-stretch and tried to have some gaming fun. I'll start with my video gaming exploits, and then conclude with my Magic: The Gathering event, even though that was chronologically first. That way, those of you who don't care about MTG can punch out after I'm done talking video games.

I've started coming down from my MMO obsession, to the point where I think I'll begin to see a fair balance between EQ2 and WoW and the rest of my gaming. It only took a combines 120 hours or so LOL. In the theme of working on RPG completions this year, I picked up obscure RPG Venetica, and have been working on that. Mediocre is the word I'd use to describe it. It's not a bad game, and the mechanics work just fine, though it's marred by some translation issues with the subtitles and speech. The gameplay is fine, but the story hasn't "wowed" me thus far, and the action-RPG combat system feels pretty generic and too simple. Since it's a Western RPG, I'll probably finish it, as my track record with western RPGs is OK... it's the JRPGs that murder me.

My brother and I have also run through the Robot Revolution DLC for Borderlands. With the levels and quests were entertaining enough, and I liked the return of old bosses, the DLC was far too easy, as nothing scaled to our levels. Since we had already hit the old level cap of 61 in the Knoxx DLC, we were overleveled for Robot Revolution, which seens odd, considering RR is newer DLC. Now, I'll just need to farm for the stupid collectable achievements, and my Bro and I have some unfinished business in the Knoxx DLC. Looking forward to 1750 on that game.

Adding to the game list, I recently picked up Dead Space 2. I had $40 in Best Buy reward zone cash sitting around, and with Deus Ex delayed, I needed something to use it on before it expired. Dead Space won over waiting for Dragon Age II. As amazing as I'm sure that game will be, I have enough other RPGs to try to wrap up at the moment, and I just picked up Venetica. I'm still in Chapter 1 on Dead Space, so I can't say too much about the game yet. Only had about 30 minutes in it before setting it aside to run Borderlands with the bro.

The day's gaming started with a prerelease tournament for the newest Magic: The Gathering set, Mirrodin Besieged. The format was sealed, with 3 boosters Scars of Mirrodin, 3 Mirrodin Besieged. I pretty much only play limited at this point, as I have no interest in spending the obsurd amounts of money needed to build a tournament-winning calibur deck. If I play competitively, I'll stick to limited, where the financial investment is the same for all, and deckbuilding and strategy skills become more critical that spending a lot of money to build the decklist you found on the internet.

With Mirrodin Besieged, the booster packs are actually split between the set's two warring factions, the Mirrans and the Phyrexians. Each booster has cards specifically to that faction's playstyle. I went Mirran (the good guys) and I'm glad I did.

Part of the fun of prereleases is that the cards aren't "out in the wild" yet. Power levels are mostly unknown, and everyone is discovering new combos as they go. My sealed pool presented me virtually no black, blue, or green, but more than enough white and red to run with it.

I had a few cards that became keys to victory. Prototype Portal lets you copy an artifact and keep putting copies into play (play the converted mana cost of the artifact and tat the portal). Pairing it with a Shriekhorn is a devastating milling attack in sealed. (Shriekhorn costs 1 to play. Comes into play with 3 charges on it. Remove a charge and tap to mill opponent top 2 cards of their deck.) Potential 6 card per turn mill attack that way. I could pair the Mirror with Tumble Magnets for an unending ability to tap my enemy's creatures, or keep pumping out copies of an artifact creature.

Thopter Assembly is so good it's broken. For 6 mana, it's a 5/5 flying creature with the ability: "At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control no Thopters other than Thopter Assembly, return Thopter Assembly to its owner's hand and put five 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature tokens with flying onto the battlefield." Basically, throw him out, and at the beginning of your next turn, he bounces back and you have 5 flyers. Twin this ability with a creature or two with Battle Cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until EOT) and the results are crippling. I also got three Koth's Courier, a 2/3 creature with Forestwalk. This was a blessing, as 3 of my 4 apponents were playing green.

As a matter of fact, 3 of my 4 opponents were playing Black/Green decks, primarily based on Infect. The lack of variety bored me, but my deck beat 2 of those 3, so it's all good.

My first match was against someone who was coming back to the game after not playing for a long time. I stomped him without much difficulty, despite being severly land-jacked in game 2. That game, I never had more than 4 lands, and only drew my first mountain two turns before the end of the game. Yes folks, I won a tournament game on 3 white mana. My deck relied on cheap cards and removal spells, with a splash of expensive cards to break any stalemates. His deck was far too expensive, allowing me to build up a lot before much of his stuff hit the table. No idea what his deck was trying to achieve. I killed him too fast to see.

Round two I got rick-rolled by another Green/Black infect deck. Since the guy finished in the top 3, I don't feel too bad about it. Seriously. I. Got. Destroyed.

In round 3, I was paired against one of the co-owners of the card store where I played. He was my only opponent not playing Green/Black, inspead rolling black/blue. The first game was almost comical, as we both had land-flush hands, and then kept drawing nothing but land. After we each had seven turns, we both only had one nonland permanent in play, and we were STILL playing land from our hands. Once the action really started, I was able to build up a creature army and utilize removal as needed before rolling him over. Game two turned out to be even easier, as he had no counters to what I played.

The final round was (yawn) black/green again. I won it in three games. I finished the tournament with an overall 3-1 record, 6-3 for games. That put me at 5th place overall in a field of 22 players, which felt like a pretty good achievement to me, especially since I hadn't at first thought my sealed pool was very good. The 5th place finish won me an additional 3 boosters.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty awesome day of gaming.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The RPG Master List

Borrowed off of x360a the complete list of RPGs (retail) for the 360. I will be updating this post over time to add in new ones, and insert in my progress in each game. For now, if the title is bold I have completed it. If it is in italics, I have completed the storyline, but not yet every achievement. I've done a little duplication for multiple stacking versions of a game, but only if I'm currently able to stack them, so not all possibilities are listed.

Let me know if you see any titles missing from this list.

Alpha Protocol
Arcania: Gothic 4
Blue Dragon
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements
Divinity 2: Ego Draconis
Dragon Age: Origins
Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
Enchanted Arms
Eternal Sonata
Fable 2
Fable 3
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout 3 (360)
Fallout 3 (PC)
Final Fantasy XI <--- Not going to ever bother Final Fantasy XIII Infinite Undiscovery
Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom
Last Remnant
Lost Odyssey
Magna Carta 2
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2
Mass Effect
Mass Effect 2
Phantasy Star Universe
Resonance of Fate
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Spectral Force 3
Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Tales of Vesperia
Two Worlds
Two Worlds II

Spectral Force 3
Operation Darkness
Record of Agarest War
Zoids Assault

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Enjoy the Silence

I said in prior posts that 2011 would be the year of the RPG, and it absolutely has been... just not in the way I originally thought it would be. The RPG playing has been of the Massively Multiplayer variety, as I crossed 100 hours total playtime in World of Warcraft, and have now added Everquest 2 to the mix as well. I don't know why I do this to myself, when the Old Republic is coming down the line. How can I say no to a Bioware Starwars MMO? But I can't afford 3 MMOs (cost plus time committment) so we'll see how that ends up.


After an overdose of MMO play, I might be inching back towards what will become an balance point between that and console play. I love the variety of things that can be done in an MMO, and the sense of having a vast world to explore. It's possible to solo if you just want to play alone, but there are always people to ask questions or group with on a whim. The random shenanigans and unscripted adventures MMOs can provide are fantastic. However, after all that play, something has dawned on me:


I'm not talking about audio volume here, but rather the feeling of being bombarded by information. In terms of gameplay, there's a quest log full of things to do, abilities to learn, enemy info to assess, and much more. Look at screenshots from WoW and you can see how much information people try to pack onto their screens. Then there's other players flying around, combat text, guild message scrolling across the screen, General channels... WoW is actually QUIET compared to EQ2, as WoW gives each zone its own channel. EQ2 has channels for level ranges, which the community has used to turn the level 1-9 channel into the de-facto server-wide chat channel. And it's one damn noise channel if you don't opt out of it. Guarantee less than 1% of it has anything to do with the level 1-9 game.

The realization of how noisy MMOs are didn't come to me while I was playing them, but rather, once I had my hands on an Xbox controller again. It was refreshing while playing some Operation Flashpoint with my brother (that game may be the first to push us on our coop skills) or enjoying Venetica on my own, it felt nice to play a game and not get bombarded with a constant stream of information. When not playing MMOs, I do intend to keep chipping away at my console RPG goals, and Venetica is a start to that. I was in the mood for an RPG that I could pick up and start fresh, not delving back into a game I'd already logged more than 50 hours into (which will be the case when I return to New Vegas, Lost Odyssey, Eternal Sonata, and Dragon Age), or restarting a game from scratch (Divinity II, possibly FFXIII).

Will share more thoughts on Venetica, possibly in the form of a review, as I get farther into it. For now, let me just say I'm enjoying some gaming in a "quieter" atmosphere.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where's the Motivation?

On the Xbox front, it's been a silent year so far. This blog has seen little love, though I have done a little writing on Unending in Azeroth. It's January 17th, and I have yet to load up my xbox to do anything other than play a DVD or watch Netflix. What gives?

There are numerous reasons for the absense. One of them would be some real life things that are going on. Too early to share on those, but if anything develops for real, I'll let the audience know. Let's just say for now my attention has been elsewhere.

My collection of games hasn't inspired me to pick up the controller, either. Even with my goal to do better in RPGs this year, like finishing New Vegas, I've had no interest in playing any game I own. Believe me... I flipped through my collection for almost 20 minutes today waiting for any game to inspire me to want to play it. No success.

Right now, World of Warcraft is pushing all my buttons for what I want in a game. There's tons of quests. I can be social or a lone ranger as I choose. There's a million things to do. Heaven help me, I even signed up for another Everquest 2 account, on that game's free-to-play model. It's a great game, though I found it lacking in solo content at the higher levels. Totally worth getting back into for no charge. So, we'll see how I juggle two MMO games.

Does this mean I'm hanging up the controller? Retiring from Gamerscore? Not at all. I'm just in a gaming place right now where I want those massive game worlds, sprawling with an insane amount of things to do. After I've logged more hours in these games, perhaps my console titles will regain their appeal again. I know I want to get Bulletstorm, Gears 3, Mass Effect 3, Deus Ex, and Dragon Age 2 this year, so you can count on me still being online, though it may be a while before I wane on the MMO desire and the balance shifts towards more console gaming.