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?