Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back in the Gaming Habit Again

Okay I'm gaming again . . . finally.

I got the coffin for my Xbox 360 on Thursday of last week. I immediately packed it up and shipped it off that same night. I then went straight to Game Stop and bought an Xbox 360 Arcade system. I wanted to find a Core system but couldn't. Besides this was a better deal. A used refurbished console was $250 and I got a new one (with HDMI connection) for $280.

So I go home and hook everything up. Yeah I'm gaming again! Except I've got to download everything before I play anything. Same hard drive but I guess since I have a different console it thinks I need to unlock everything again. Fine. Whatever. Just let me play some games.

I did. But not for long.

I was still having connection issues and getting dumped from games. I'm about ready to pull my hair out and give up gaming all together. I cool down and plug my PS2 back in for some nice relaxing Final Fantasy VII. I took Friday off from work to just play around and have fun and I did.

I met up with my brother over the weekend and after a lot of trial and error and a trip to Fry's Electronics I found myself the proud owner of a new router and a stable connection to the internet. Bring on the games.

The only problem was when I put in Chromehounds to play it wouldn't work. The last time I played it I asked my brother to put a tray under my Xbox 360 so it wouldn't be directly on the carpet. I had just put the disk in when he moved the system. A loud grinding noise could be heard and the disk was scratched. We cleaned it up as best we could and it worked later that night but it wouldn't work Sunday night.

I traded in a couple of games for store credit and bought another copy of Chromehounds and still had store credit left over. I also had to exchange the controller that came with the new system because the headset port kept registering my headset as active even when it was on mute. Depending on the game or situation you heard either static or me talking. I found that out the hard way in a game of Texas Hold 'Em. It's kind of hard to bluff when everyone can hear you on mute.

So outside of a few hiccups and hang ups I'm finally gaming again on my Xbox 360. And after all that I'm starting to wonder if it's all worth it. I remember when I played games without achievements. The thrill of the game was the discovery and plot twists or beating a tough boss after 4 or 5 attempts. It didn't come from a little pop out message saying I just picked up a skull or I just made X amount of kills with a particular weapon. I played and I explored just for the fun of it instead of looking for that hidden room or treasure for 20 gamer points.

I'll still play video games. I'm too much of an addict to stop now . . . or ever. I just need to find that magic tingling feeling you get when you really get absorbed in a good game. Maybe I'll put in Bioshock tonight. Or maybe I'll just take this little breather until I can play Call of Duty 4, Assassin's Creed, and Mass Effect. If those games don't do it for me than nothing will.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Xbox 360 Arcade console

Okay I'm really thinking about getting a backup Xbox 360. I can use it now and when (notice I didn't say IF) my brother's system crashes I'll let him borrow my backup as his back up. Isn't it just swell that we like each other?

I considered getting a Core system but I can't find any new. Then Xbox announced a new system. They call it the Xbox 360 Arcade console. At $280 it's still more than I want to pay for just a backup but I think I can live with that if it means I can play games.

It's essentially a Core with HDMI connection, 5 arcade games, a memory card, wireless controller and headset. It doesn't come with a hard drive but I haven't filled mine up yet. I would like a larger one but I can buy that separately when I get to the point when I need to. If I can find an Xbox Arcade console in the stores I might just pick one up today or tomorrow. My brother offered to let me use his system this weekend. That might be enough to tide me over for awhile but that won't last long.

I called and started my repair ticket last Thursday, but I still haven't received my coffin yet. Due to the fires in California if it's shipping that way it might take a little longer to get here (and longer to get sent back). Yet another reason to get a backup system. Maybe there's hope of me playing agian soon afterall.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A backup Xbox 360 or a new PS3?

Okay I'm trying to decide on whether I should get a backup Xbox 360 since mine has died or a new PS3.

There isn't a whole lot of games out there for the PS3 that I'm interested in right now. That will change I'm sure, but can I justify the cost of the system and a game or two if that's all I have to play on it? A couple of months ago this might not have been such an issue but after looking through how many games I bought for the Game Cube, N64 and Super Nintendo I want to make sure the system is going to be worth it for a long time. Especially at Sony's current price points.

On the other hand I hate the fact that I'm considering buying a backup Xbox 360. One system should be plenty. Two just seems like a waste of money. I bought my original Xbox as a factory refurbished and I haven't had any problems with it for years. So you would think that after I get my Xbox 360 back I should be good to go. Unfortunately I have friends that are on their 6th Xbox 360. Not very promising.

I could just bag both of them and get a Nintendo Wii but does it have enough game play for a single player? I don't know. Sometimes I just need to play a game alone. I don't want a whole system that I only bring out when I have friends or family over. I know I'd get Twilight Princess and Rayman Raving Rabbids (although I have it for the Xbox 360) but what else?

And what's going to happen in a couple of years when they announce the consoles for the next generation? I thought the original Xbox still had some life in it's legs before Microsoft cut them off at the knees. And the Playstation 2 outsold the Playstation 3 last month. Not bad for a system that's 7 years old. I know the "old" generation can't render graphics as well as the new generation of consoles but I'll take a good story and great game play over graphics any day.

I'm just a gamer with some money to spend, but I want to make sure it's worth it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Revoking my Star Wars fan license

I'm a self proclaimed Star Wars fan. I saw The Phantom Menace more than 32 times in the theatre. How do I know? I stopped saving the ticket stubs when I got up to 32. Yet I goofed with a reference to Star Wars in an earlier post.

It's not Sabacc.

It's Pazaak.

An honest mistake to be sure. Especially since I hadn't played Knights of the Old Republic for at least a year. But can you blame me? They even sound the same.

I know Sabacc is the card game that Lando lost the Millennium Falcon to Han Solo in. I know that the cards in Sabacc can change value. It's very similar to Pazaak. And since Pazaak is a game during Knights of the Old Republic it's quite possible that Pazaak is a precursor to Sabacc of Han Solo's era.

I played Knights tonight and my error was pointed out to me. Both games deal with playing cards. Both games become important to the story in some small way. Both have cards that can change value. Some Pazaak cards can be positive or negative. Can you blame me if I got those two games mixed up?

I hope my Star Wars fan license doesn't get revoked over this. It's just a minor issue right? Then again since when is something concerning the lore of Star Wars ever minor. Not to this fan anyway.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My heart's just not in it

I miss my Xbox 360. I know it's only been 2 days and I went longer than that on my self imposed hiatus, but this time it's different. This time I CAN'T play no matter how much I want to.

Last time I'd look at the white box sitting quiet and peaceful and say "nope I'm not going to play today." This time I look at the white box sitting quiet and peaceful and say "still dead." I almost can't wait until I can ship it off so I don't have to look at it any more.

Off and on I've been considering buying a new Xbox 360 so I always have a backup but that's an awfully expensive backup. I've looked through Craig's List and ebay but I'm a little leery of buying used. How do I know what those machines have gone through? With a console that has a proven history of problems I don't want to be taking on someone else's headache. If I could find a new Core system I think I would get it that way I could swap my hard drive between the consoles and it would be cheaper.

But right now my heart just isn't into gaming. I'm trying to get caught up in Final Fantasy VII. I had played quite a bit (got my characters up to level 48 or something) when I realized I sold a one-of-a-kind Materia when I was hard up for cash. No big deal, right? I read in the back of the book that there is another "Master" Materia you can pick up that you have to master all the other Materia of the same color in order to use. Unfortunately from everything I could find in the book I wasn't going to be able to get another copy of this Materia so my choices were to continue on or restart and pick it up (and keep it). I decided to restart. Now I'm finally back to the Gold Saucer area (way behind where I was before) but I just can't seem to play.

I miss playing with my friends. I miss the thrill of killing them and the agony of getting killed. I miss slow playing someone into going "all in" and knocking them out of the tournament. I miss watching my rank go up (but not it going down) when I play ranked matches. I miss changing my gamer picture to suit my mood (doing it through xbox.com just doesn't offer as many choices). I miss rubbing it in when I've unlocked an achievement that I know a friend has been working on for awhile. I miss my Xbox 360.

I know I've got a long ways to go before I can play it again (unless I break down and buy another one). And I know that after a few days I'll be back in the swing of gaming on my PS2, Game Cube or whatever. Right now it just doesn't seem worth it. My heart's just not in it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Red Ring of Death

Well, it finally happened. After two weeks of trying to fight it off my Xbox 360 succumbed to the Red Ring of Death. What I thought was just a router issue has turned into something worse.

I'm sure after the sadness has passed I'll look at what good might come out of this. Now I'll have more time to play some long forgotten original Xbox games along with my Playstation games. I might even have time for the Game Cube and other systems.

Only just a couple of days ago I had started to consider buying a 2nd Xbox 360 for just this situation. I'll have to think a lot more about that. Unfortunately this comes at the same time as a discussion about a PS3 game. Folklore. From what I've heard it's a really good game. Enough to buy a PS3? I don't know. But I do know I can't buy both a PS3 and a replacement. And that's not counting the DS Lite and Wii that I had planned on buying before the end of the year.

I have decisions to make. But first I must deal with my grief.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Out of sight, out of mind

I've been having a whole lot of problems with my connection to Xbox Live lately. I keep losing it. I log in. Things seem fine. Then BAM!!! Or should I say bleep. That little pop up comes up saying I'm "disconnected from Xbox Live." Oh really!

I've been playing a lot of Catan ranked matches and that is the worse time to be getting that message. You're blown out of the game so you don't even get credit for playing and everyone sends you bad feedback for "quiting early." Once I started having this problem I had to make sure I only played free tournaments in Texas Hold 'Em. I wouldn't want to lose my buy in because I lagged out. (Especially when I'll probably lose my bankroll when they reset the boards to get rid of cheaters again.)

My brother and I ran some tests and different set ups and it looks like it might be a router issue. I've currently got my Xbox 360 connected directly to my modem and last night it worked fine. There's only one problem with this set up; my computer is not connected to my modem when I do this.

My route is at least four years old but since it sits behind my TV I never really see it. So I never really think about it. Out of sight, out of mind. I should have figured that it might start to go south on me after all it is a piece of electronic equipment. And related to computers as well. We all know how long computer equipment lasts before it's outdated. I'm sure I'll have to replace it and hopefully that will fix the problem completely.

I was ready to give up my Xbox 360 for good. Pack it away so it never sees the light of day again. But then I remembered that Assassin's Creed comes out November 13th and I can't wait to play that game. If I packed it away I'd have to pull it out then and still have to deal with the problem. I think it's best to figure it out now so I can enjoy the game then. I'm even considering taking a day off of work to stay home and just play the game when it comes out. Maybe I'll take a day off next week just to play games.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What I learned when I reconnected

Three Days.

That's as long as I could last. Not long for a self-imposed hiatus, don't you think? I just had to reconnect my Xbox 360 last night and play some games. And after just a few minutes I learned a few things.

First, I don't even have to look in my CD case to get overwhelmed with what game I'm going to play next. All I have to do is look at my list of Arcade games. I picked the games I thought I could unlock achievements in.

Second, I could be working on a particular achievement for days and after a brief break I can load up the game again and get the achievement in the first game without even trying. I picked up a couple of new achievements last night. I wasn't working towards them but I got them anyway. The achievements I WAS working on last night I didn't get. Couldn't even come close. I don't know if getting the achievements is because of the break and that I can look at the game with fresh eyes or that playing the game and not worrying about them means I subconsciously do the things I need to do to get the achievement that I couldn't do if I was thinking about it. Make sense? I didn't think so.

Third, free tournaments in Texas Hold 'Em are boring. They might as well just had their money over to me at the start of the game. I played a really smart game last night. Betting when I knew I would win so I'd get people to play hands they should have folded. Laying off hands that might look good but knew I wouldn't be able to do anything with them. I knew I would win the game from the very first hand . . . and I folded that one. I just hated sitting around waiting for everyone to give me their chips. I'm not as confident when I play the $4,000 buy in tournaments. There's a little more at stake for players in those games. I'm confident I'll be in the money and win something, but just not to win the whole thing. Maybe in time.

Fourth, friends will send you invites to games when they know you don't want to get out of the game you're currently in. Like in the middle of a Texas Hold 'Em tournament. Or a ranked match of Catan. By the time you finish your game their room is full or they've moved on to something else.

Fifth, there's always someone on your friends list who will have the latest game as soon as it comes out. And they'll be playing it. It doesn't matter how much it costs or how many new good games come out, they'll have them. You'll be jealous and spend your time checking up on the achievements for the game to help you get a feel for the game play.

Sixth, there's always someone on your friends list whose gamer score will keep going up and up faster than you can say "what's your gamer score?" How do they do it? Do they not have a job to go to? Do they not have a life? Are they sharing their account with someone else? Is that why it appears that they're online all the time?

Seventh, those little pop ups of who's online and such are annoying. I hate it when you know there's an update for a game that everyone seems to play. Every time someone loads that game they get disconnect from Xbox Live then a few moments later you'll get the pop-up that they're on again. I know you can turn that function off but I like getting the pop up message when I unlock an achievement and I do want to know which friends as just getting online, but not all night long.

Eighth, I think my problem with staying connected to ranked games in Catan might be my connection. It happened again last night. I don't know why this is an issue because it doesn't happen in any other online game or even in player matches of Catan. How on earth am I suppose to get 500 or 1,000 Victory points in ranked matches if I keep lagging out and don't get credit for the game? Can I still get credit for the points? I don't know.

And lastly, I should never go that long without playing my Xbox 360 again. I'll just have to figure out some time sharing plan between all my systems. Or maybe I should take a day off from work just to play video games. Hmmm.....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When the Mini Games take over

There are some games that I will probably never finish or even get out of the first level. Why? Because they have mini games.

I remember when I first played Blitzball in Final Fantasy X. I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I think my first win was more accident than skill. But I was hooked. When I lost the tournament and Wakka had to leave the sport as a loser I was devastated. I just had to win that trophy. I restarted from my last save and played through 3 or 4 times before I was finally good enough to win. I was thrilled. Every chance I got I played a Blitzball game. Or a tournament. I traded players that weren't working for me as I tried to put the best team together. (And yet I don't understand why people play fantasy sports leagues.)

When I started to play Knights of the Old Republic I became giddy with excitement when I found myself learning how to play Sabacc. Now here's a great game. Easy to master but hard to play against the right opponent. I think I had 20+ hours of game time but only 1-2 hours of actual game play in the story. I had a Sabacc habit and I couldn't stop.

And even though I still don't fully understand how all the numbers on the cards work in Tetra Master (Final Fantasy IX) I love that game. I want every card. I'll play anyone to get them. I've logged countless hours just wandering around villages looking for someone to play with me. Can't a girl get some game around here?

And games that have mini games as part of the way you play the game (Party Game)? Just let me play the mini games and I'm fine. I'd rather spend a hour or two playing several games of Too Cool (the ice cubes) or Speed Bingo in Muppet's Party Cruise than play an actual cruise length game. And my brothers and I always want to play the Waterfall mini game in Fuzion Frenzy instead of a tournament. And Monkey Target and Monkey Bowling (Super Monkey Ball 2) are so much more fun than those mazes (especially when you're stuck getting past one like I am). Even things you wouldn't normally think of as "mini games" like Terrorist Hunt in Rainbow 6: Vegas have been taking up all my time instead of playing the story mode.

When I find these little gems in the story or a side menu I can't help but play them. And when I play them, I fall in love with them. So much so that my progression in the story comes to a screeching halt as I plug in for another mini game playing session. It took a lot of effort to go back to the story in Final Fantasy X and finish it. I still have a previous save ready so I can go back and pick up a game of Blitzball if I feel like it.

So there's going to be a lot of games that I won't get very far in or even have the chance to finish. But that's what happens when the mini games take over.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The first step of recovery . . .

. . . in breaking my Xbox Live addiction is to unplug my Xbox 360. I finally did that last night. Unplugged it. Disconnected all cables. And buried it in the bottom of my TV stand (next to my original Xbox and Game Cube).

Currently the only game system still connected to my big TV is my PS2. My Super Nintendo is still connected to my smaller TV in the bedroom. It's just to much of a hassle to disconnect that one when I'm not playing.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up playing video games. I don't think I could ever do that. I just need to play something else. My Playstation games are getting so lonely. Besides I miss playing my PS2.

There was a time when that was all I played. Even after I got my Xbox and Game Cube I always found myself playing Playstation games. I put a lot of time and effort, but especially a lot of time, into Playstation games but I only finished 2 of them (Legend of Dragoon and Final Fantasy X). I have more games for the Playstation 2 than any other system I own. And if you throw the original Playstation games into the mix, well . . . let's just say I have a lot. (PS=59, PS2=125, PSP=12, Xbox=42, Xbox 360=23, GC=24, N64=12(if I don't find the ones I think I'm missing), Super Nintendo=23, Gameboy=63(all types).)

I've been playing the Xbox 360 so long now that the Playstation dual shock controller feels strange in my hands. It didn't use to be that way. The dual shock controller use to feel like it fit in my hands. The N64 controller felt awkward. The Xbox controller felt fat and heavy. The Dreamcast (my brother's system) felt weird and unbalanced. After moving up from the simplicity of the controller for the Super Nintendo the dual shock felt like what a controller should feel like. I miss playing with that controller.

So after I rearranged my electronics it was late and I probably should have gone to bed. But I just couldn't resist playing just a little bit on my PS2. After all, why did I dismantle my Xbox 360 to have more time to play my PS2 if I wasn't going to play it? And I learned something last night. It doesn't matter if I'm playing on Xbox Live or my PS2 I'm still going to stay up playing video games much longer than I should. Oh well.

Besides, who needs sleep anyway when you have an addiction to feed.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Good news . . . and better news.

I've got good news. I finally beat 3 AI opponents on hard in Catan. I thought I had done it the game before I actually got the achievement, but I realized once again I accidentally hit the button to switch the difficulty back to easy. Oh well. I played one more game and finally did it. Now if I could just get credit for playing a ranked match of Catan I'd be happy. I don't care about the wins I just want to start accumulating victory points.

And on to better news. I was in Game Stop over the weekend and noticed pre-order displays for Assassin's Creed. I'm sure you could pre-order the game long before now but after my experience with my pre-order for Final Fantasy XII I've decided to wait to put in my pre-orders until as close to the date the game is actually coming out. I'll never pre-order something more than a year out again. I can't take the anticipation.

So what if the displays were out, right? Well that means the game will be coming out soon. November. I've read some previews that have made me a little nervous to see if the developers can actually pull this game off. Right now though, I'm still excited. My brother has had his eye on Mass Effect (November release) for some time, but for me it's been Assassin's Creed. I couldn't tell you specifically why, but maybe because I'm a sucker for a mysterious guy in a cowl.

Friday, October 5, 2007

My Favorites Games - Game Cube

Okay, you'll still have to wait on the my favorite games for the N64. I know I've got more games stashed somewhere I just haven't found them yet. So I'm moving on to the Game Cube.

My brother and I both had a Playstation 2 and would meet up every Saturday at my parents house to do laundry. We'd play games all day long. I remember when the Xbox and Game Cube came out. Neither one of use was making enough money to get both systems so we came up with a plan. He would get the Xbox and I would get the Game Cube (he was making more money than me at the time). When we'd meet up on laundry days we'd bring those systems and share. (See mom and dad we can share our toys.) The only problem was the games.

We both wanted to play games from the other system at other times of the week. I wanted to play Hunter the Reckoning to blow off some heads. And He wanted to play some Pikmin to throw little leafy head creatures around. Within a month or two we both broke down and bought the other system. And while that put us both on a very tight budget for awhile neither one of us are sorry we did it.

Here are my favorite games for the Game Cube:

#1 Pikmin 1 & 2
How could you possibly NOT love this game? I knew practically nothing about it when I bought it. It looked bright and comical so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm so glad I did. I've played this game through to the end 3 times but have never gotten past the last boss. I keep restarting it trying out a different strategy. And I don't regret any minute of doing that. When Pikmin 2 came out I was excited . . . but also a little intimidated. Now you have 2 pilots to control and 2 groups of Pikmin to order about. It's been twice the fun . . . and twice the frustrations sometimes but completely worth it.

#2 Super Monkey Ball 1 & 2
Monkey Target is a blast. Monkey Bowling is a hoot. And Monkey Baseball can get really hilarious. And that's not even getting into the mazes that will open up all those mini-games. Most of the can be down right frustrating until you discover the secret to getting through them alive. Once you figure that out it can be a little disappointing on some of the level but there's always more that will make you say "yeah right. How am I suppose to get through that?"

#3 Ikaruga
This was another game I knew very little about but could get cheap. I'm all for cheap game as long as they're good. And Ikaruga is good. In an old school kind of way. You fly a ship in a vertical scroller firing at things along the way. You have the ability to switch between a light and a dark ship that fires corresponding missiles at the enemy. Based on your ship color and the enemies bullets depends on how much damage (or health) you'll take. Figuring the whole thing out is half the fun. Can you do it?

#4 Mario Cart: Double Dash
I love cart racing games. And this time you can love it twice as much. You're not the only one racing to win the game. You've now got a passenger your opponents will have to deal with. You can mix and match who you place in the cart (and even mix and match your cart to your people) and each person has a different quality and ability they'll add tot he game. Do you want to toss a giant banana behind you as a special attack? They you better pick Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong as one of your players in your cart. And since your players can swap out between driving and throwing red koupa shells around there must be hundred of ways to tailor the perfect driving experience.

#5 Super Mario Sunshine
This is the Game Cube game I'm suppose to be finishing along with my brother. I have to admit I haven't played it much but I still like the game. Who knew cleaning graffiti off of the town walls could be so much fun. Or cleaning up what appears to be oil slicks. Have you ever wanted to fly or propel yourself forward with the power of water? Well now you can. I still have a ways to go in the game but I think my brother made a good choice when he put it on our "must finish" list. May only compliant is why does Nintendo still insist on putting the word "Super" in all their game titles (at least at the time this game came out)?

Honorable Mentions:
Mystic Heroes, Crystal Chronicles, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, Evolution Worlds

The Gods of Catan don't like me

I figured the best way to get all the achievements in an Arcade game was to stop trying to play them all and just focus on one or two. Currently I'm focusing on Texas Hold 'Em and Catan. And I'm not having much luck in either one of them. My Texas Hold 'Em bankroll got wiped out awhile back so now I have to start from scratch. And Catan has been even tougher on me.

For the life of me I simply can not beat 3 AIs on hard. It seems I'll never get that achievement. I've been close . . . but no cigar. I've tried focusing on upgrading my settlements to cities as soon as possible. I've tried getting the longest road as soon as possible. The largest army. The most settlements. I just can't seem to pull it off in the end. I've even tried just buying development cards the whole game. That was a bust.

I tried varying my placements at the beginning of the game. I've tried monopolizing a particular resource. And trying to get a little bit of everything. I've tried uses my cards as soon as possible. And tried to hold on to them as long as possible. When I do that someone always rolls a 7 and I lose almost everything I have. I've even tried swapping out the AIs I play against. I still can't find a way to win the game on hard.

To get my achievement for Builder of Catan (for the longest road 10x) I had to go back and play a few games on easy. On hard someone always stole those points from me just in time win the game. And if you're trying to get the Knight of Catan (largest army 10x) achievement make sure Elizabeth isn't in your party. I've learned that the hard way. I guess I'll have to play some easy games again to finish out that achievement.

And playing a ranked game is impossible. I've joined 4 ranked games, but I've never gotten credit for any of them. My ranked matches show as zero wins/zero losses. Every time I get into a ranked game someone either drops out or lags out leaving 3 human players behind. I don't know if those games would still count because a little while later I'll look up and see all AI gamer pictures staring back at me. Everyone's gone.

At first I thought everyone else dropped out so I kept playing the game. I'd get the credit right? Wrong. After the second time this happened I looked at my recent player's list and found that at least 2 of the other players would be playing a match and have exactly the same victory points as they had in the game with me. Does that mean everyone is lagging out? Why can't I stay in a nice 4 human ranked match? I've played a couple of player matches and haven't had a problem.

I just think the Gods of Catan don't like me.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I hate sniper rifles

I hate sniper rifles.

I just had to say that. Because I really do hate them. Hate being killed by them. Hate using them. I've never seemed to master the techniques needed to become proficient using that weapon.

I don't know why but I can't seem to lead someone right when using those long range weapons. I either shoot way behind them or way in front. When I use other weapons (and thus have to get closer to my target) I can lead someone pretty well. But the further away I get the poorer my shots become.

I first started trying to use sniper rifles when I was playing Star Wars Battlefront. On the right map there's plenty of opportunity . . . and safety to just sit there trying to shoot people's heads off. Kashyyyk's docks is a really good map for that. But I couldn't get people to hold still long enough to shoot them. And the lag made people jump around so much you never knew where they were going to be. I much prefer a good blaster at my side, or a rocket launcher for those pesky vehicles.

Since Gears of War has a specific achievement for the Long Shot I thought maybe I should try practicing with it. While I kind of got the hang of it I found that I ended up with tunnel vision. I could never see anyone coming up around me. My friends all thought this was funny so they'd walk up to me and tap me on the shoulder (or bump into me) to get my attention before they'd put a bullet through my head. Geez, thanks guys.

And last night I played some Halo 3 and they swapped out the weapons to only snipers and shot guns. Our starting weapon was the sniper and I had a hard time finding another weapon to swap it out for. I couldn't hit anyone and I always had a hard time getting out of the scope's zoom when I needed to. (Apparently when I get startled I flinch and click on the zoom unintentionally.) I think I died 9 times before I found where I could swap a weapon out. But it wasn't always there when I needed it.

There's only one game that I've learned how to use a sniper rifle (and a sniper cannon) in. And that's Chromehounds. I don't know why but I can lead it so the enemy hound walks right into the shot. I can also still keep a good eye to what's happening around me so no one can sneak up on me. I don't know if it's the view looking through the scope or what but I don't have too many problems in Chromehounds. I just have to build a hound fast enough (and strong enough to carry the load) to get to the good snipping positions on the map.

I hate getting killed by the sniper rifle as well. I prefer a straight face to face fight. No sitting back on the other side of the map just waiting for me to walk into your sites. Come out and fight you little cowards! I'm sure that has something to do with my initiation to fighting with the melee fighting in the Hunter The Reckoning games. I might die a lot but give me close range fighting any day.

I guess it's just a long range thing for me because I don't like bow type weapons either (though not as much as sniper rifles). I just really do hate those sniper rifles.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Old friends and good memories

So I decided to kick it old school last night. Okay, Star Wars Battlefront isn't exactly old enough to be old school but it's close enough. It brought back a lot of memories.

I was a little intimidated when I first got Battlefront and saw my brother playing it online. It looked there were too many things to be aware of that I wouldn't enjoy the game. But is was Star Wars so how could I NOT at least try to play it?

I joined a couple of rooms and quietly got my ass kicked. I almost gave up, but I'm too stubborn for that. After a lot of play time I finally got to the point where I had more kills than deaths. I then came up with a plan. I'd pick someone on my team who was better than me and just follow them around, watch what they did and learn from it. I picked Killafoola and set my plan in motion. Even if we weren't on the same team I'd still try to find him and hang back far enough not to get killed but close enough to watch.

After a couple of weeks I found my skills greatly improving. I was now able to get the better of Killafoola every now and then when we were on opposite sides. I was feeling pretty confident in not looking like a fool while I played. This was about the time I started talking during games. Several people were surprised I was a girl but most of them accepted me and have since become good friends.

I did find out however, that I wasn't the best player out there. Far from it actually. Since my strategy worked before I decided to apply it to another regular player in the game. Evil Ric became my next target . . . I mean mentor. And to be honest he still is today. But once I learned all I could from him I moved on to the next one. Big Gamer67 (or is it 69?) and MasvHdWndHarry (or spelled something like that), Sdlkal (who we used to call sol-cal because of the way the fonts looked like in the game), Brno32 and HarleyRacer, Kralon and CleeLost, El Sand Dog and DewBird. Devo and Snakes Venon. And all the other regulars I played with and learned from.

But there's one player I always wanted to learn from and although I'd tried my best I was never able to beat him . . . and never will. Ice008. If you've played the game you know the name. Cool as a cucumber, quiet and reserved but with the deadliest skills I had ever seen. And although he doesn't play the game as much as he used to his skills are not as rusty as anyone else's. He's a guy that knows how to play the game. And it's always a challenge going up against him. If you kill him it should count as 2 kills because, more often than not, it will be you who does the dying.

So when I jumped in to a game last night and it was like no time had passed at all. We laughed. We cursed. We killed. We died. We took it personal when we lost. We gloated when we won. We had fun. Some of those guys have moved on, like myself, to the Xbox 360. The new system and newer games take up a lot of our time. But every now and then you can find a bunch of us still kicking it old school. With old friends and good memories.

Monday, October 1, 2007

How cheaters wiped out my bankroll

I love to play Texas Hold 'Em. I use to play it every night on Xbox Live. It's important that you know that especially when I say I could care less if I ever played it again . . . almost. And it's all because of the cheaters.

It seems there's a glitch in the game that allows players to accumulate large amounts of money for their Competitive bank rolls. It has something to do with giggling your internet cable or pushing your standby button on your modem. Whatever it is you have to do you lose connection with the game (or I should say everyone else at the table loses connection with you) so the system thinks they all dropped out which makes you the winner of $2,000 chips (for the free tournament) without playing a hand. Since it only takes a couple of minutes to get a full table and just a couple of seconds to giggle your cable you can rake in a lot of dough in a very short amount of time.

If you ever looked at the leaderboards for the game you'll see a lot of people with large amounts of money with a small amount of hands played. They're either very lucky or very sneaky. Not everyone on the leaderboards are cheaters but it makes it very hard for legitimate players to get there.

So what does Microsoft or Tik Games decide to do about it? They decide to come out with an update for the game that will reset the leaderboards, stop the glitch to prevent cheaters and reset everyone's Competitive bankroll back to the default. Finally someone being proactive about cleaning up a game run by cheaters. It just would have been nice if they would have informed everyone about it before they implemented it.

I've been slowly working towards an achievement in the game to get one of your bankrolls up to $100,000. Since I didn't like battling on player tables where people can just keep buying more chips and I can't bluff the AI in a single player game I figured my best bet would be to work with my Competitive bankroll. I was getting up there too. I had $83,200 before I logged in to play. I got the usual "there is a new update for this game" window and didn't think anything about it.

That was until I tried to find a Competitive Tournament to join and noticed my bankroll. $2,000? WTF? My single player and player match bankrolls were the same but what happened to my Competitive bankroll? I went on line to bitch and moan about this on Xbox's forums when I saw a thread talking about the update. I read it and then I knew what happened.

Now I'm all for resetting the leaderboards and eliminating cheating but why couldn't they have told us about the update before hand? I would have played a few more games the night before to get that $100,000 achievement instead of going to bed. Now all that hard work it gone and for what? Nothing.

Cleaning out the leaderboards and bankrolls of cheaters is a good thing but why does honest players such as myself have to suffer as well? I don't know how you could legitimately tell who was cheating and who wasn't so you could subjectively reset their bankrolls but I have 2,500+ hands and my highest bankroll is (was) only $83,200. I don't think I look like a cheater. Now if this solved the problem so no one could cheat again then fine, I accept this set back for the good of the game. But it didn't.

Within 24 hours of the reset there was already someone in the top spot on the leaderboards with over $104 million dollars. Now I know once you get to the higher buy in tables you can really win a lot of chips but that amount seems a little unrealistic in such a short time. No matter how mad I am at the game I still like playing so I tried my hand at a couple of games and guess what? People were still glitching. Giggling their cables, pressing standby or whatever before the first cards are dealt. In two seconds they win and move on to their next cheat. Things are just as they always were. And things will probably be reset again later. So why bother playing if my bankroll is going to keep getting wiped out?

There will always be cheaters. That's just a fact of playing games, whether that's online or sitting at home with friends. I accept that. I also accept the fact that I will never see my gamer ID on the leaderboards. The only way that will happen is if no one else is playing the game and I played it enough to knock everyone else off the leaderboard who's already on it. And that's no going to happen. I just wish my bankroll hadn't been wiped out because of cheaters.