Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Poll - How many Xbox Live Arcade games do you own?

Okay, so there's a new poll up. "How many Xbox Live Arcade games do you own?" We're talking full versions here. No demos. They don't count. Why? Because you can't earn achievement points playing the demos. Yes, I'm being picky about this, but it's my blog so I've got the right to. Maybe I'll poll the number of demos later.

Anyway, I haven't voted yet. I'm not sure I will until the very end. When I blog about the results you'll know why. Feel free to vote yourself. And if you want to leave a comment on your favorite Arcade game go ahead. You have until Valentine's Day to vote.

(That will give me something to look forward to on that day.)

(Yes, I sound a little bitter.)

(I should probably eat more of those cutesy little candy hearts with those stupid little messages.)

("I LUV U" my ass.)

(Okay, maybe bitter isn't a strong enough word.)

Just vote, will ya?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Poll Results - Favorite Game Genre

So the voting has ended and the scores are like this:

RPG = 2 votes
Shooter - 8 votes
Everything else = 0 votes

I'm a little surprised that hack and slash, racing and platforms didn't get any notes. I guess I shouldn't be since I'm pretty sure only my friends voted in the poll and we play a shooter game every night.

I voted for RPG. And if I hadn't have voted for RPG I would have voted for hack and slash. Why?

As much as I like to play a shooter game like Star Wars Battlefront or Call of Duty 4 someone is always going to be better than me. Sometimes it's not always fun to see your name at the bottom on the list all the time. And it doesn't seem to matter what I do to get better because it doesn't work. When I was level 50+ in Call of Duty 4 and my friends were starting over in another level of Prestige with just the basic weapons they were still getting more points than me in each round. I don't have a High Def TV so I don't have as clear a picture as others and I have issues with my eyes, but that's a post for some other time.

My first foray into "action" (or as some people like to call it "violent") games was through the hack and slash genre. Hunter the Reckoning and Serious Sam to name a few. I liked the running in with sword flailing and see who's still standing in the end. It suited my style. Other hack and slash (or button mashers) like God of War and Conan are great for releasing stress on inanimate objects (instead of co-workers).

But although my very first time with a video game was Tetris and the second time was Mario Bros. I really fell in love with games while playing an RPG. The game was Legend of Dragoon. There was just so much to do and see and collect and master that I spent hours on end playing that game. And when it was done and the credits were rolling I felt sad. Sad that I wasn't playing it anymore. I gave myself time to grieve (play the game and you'll know) and then I immediately wanted to start playing it again. I cared about the characters. They meant something to me. Games could have a human touch instead of mindless button mashing. I missed that game. Could I pick up everything and master everything and finish the game in a shorter amount of time? I certainly wanted to try.

For racing games I'm more inclined to like kart racing games than "real life" racing games. If I wanted to see that kind of racing I'll take the freeway, thank you very much. Besides, you have to agree that there's something about dropping a banana peal behind you and watching someone close on your tail wipe out. It's hilarious

As far was platform gaming is concerned it's all about the timing. Once you learned the timing (admittedly through trail and error) it seems to take the fun out of the game. It seems the game is programmed so that there is only one way to make it through the level. Which to me means I have to play the game the way the developer wanted me to play it. Don't tell me how to play a game. I want to play a game they way *I* want to.

I guess you could say my mind is with the hack and slash type of games, but my heart is with the RPGs. It doesn't really matter too much because I love playing video games and I'll play anything I want.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Level One Prestige

Okay, I wanted to make level one Prestige before my friend Kralon finished his Prestige but that didn't quite happen. Being sick and hurt sucked.

I did finally roll over to Prestige last Thursday night (I think). And boy was that a shock. All my weapons were gone, all my challenges were gone, everything. I had to learn how to play the game all over again. I knew that would happen but it was still a shock. Weapons I haven't used in weeks and maybe in months I now had to figure out how long their reload was, how much recoil they had, what was their clip size and firing range. Things that I hadn't thought about in a while because I had been using weapons that I had finished and liked.

As much as I hated using Last Stand during my first run through the levels I found I really liked it this time. It was an extra chance to kill someone and get some points. I also found I was much better at it this time around. I think I had one map where I got more kills through Last Stand then I did with my primary weapons while I was still alive. And seeing the "+20" flash on the screen for a Last Stand kill instead of the usual "+10" was great. I think I might actually be looking forward to unlocking martyrdom as well.

I don't know if I'm going to go through ALL levels of Prestige. Considering how long it took me to get to the first level I think it'll take 2 years to complete them all. Another reason why I might not do them all is that there are more games to play and more will be coming out soon. Hopefully I can level up quicker this time. I might just pick whatever icon for a Prestige level I like the most and go through until I get that one. Level 2 or 4 look pretty good to me.

Thanks Harlster!

Okay being sick got me a little behind on my posting here so I've got some catching up to do. I'm going to post everything I've been keeping notes on from the last two weeks in separate posts so be sure to read them all.

This post if for a special thanks to Harlster. I was working on the bounty Hunter Missions in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga and I had two missions I just couldn't seem to complete. Sometime I hate asking for help online because invariably there is going to be someone who makes you look like an idiot for not being able to figure it out on your own in the first place.

But I had done everything I could think of and I still couldn't find the guys I was after. I started a thread on's forums and Harlster provided the necessary information. And yes, after I learned where those people were I did feel a little stupid for not being able to figure it out on my own. But Harlster didn't make me feel that way . . . I did.

Thanks for the help Harlster!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Voting has been extended

I forgot to tell everyone (see what happens when you get sick) but I extended the deadline to vote in the poll until Monday, January 21st. That's a holiday and time off work or school for most people so I'm sure you'll all be gaming. But don't forget to vote. If you've voted already leave a comment and tell me why you picked what you did. I have my own reasons, but they may not be yours.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Coughing up a lung: 0 Achievement points

Sneezing out the contents of your brain: 0 Achievement points

Breaking out in a sweat when bundled under the covers: 0 Achievement points

Finally figuring out how to sit up without passing out so you can play video games since you called in sick to work: 40 Achievement points

Now, time for a nap.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bathroom Epiphanies

Why is it that my most brilliant moments of thought come while I'm in the bathroom? What is it about sitting on a porcelain bowl with your butt checks spread, listening to the sound of urine tinkle in the water below that lends itself to deep meaningful thought? (Taking a dump doesn't seem to generate brilliant moments of thought if you're worried about a back splash.)

And why does the act of wadding up toilet paper, wiping your ass, pulling up your pants and washing your hands make 99% of those brilliant thoughts vanish? What's with that whole process? It has to be done, but it's so counter-productive to the "eureka" moment you had while sitting on the toilet.

I know this has absolutely nothing to do with gaming, but it's my life and I want answers. If you know of any medical studies where this phenomenon has been studies I'd like to know . . . on second thought maybe not. I'd just thought I'd ask.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Lowered expectations

The world is a cruel place. And after last night I don't expect much more out of it. What happened? I lost rank in Call of Duty 4.

I put the disk in and was "downloading gamer profile" or whatever that message reads when it's loading up your rank. I waiting for awhile and it didn't seem to go away and I was getting invites from friends to join them so I did. As soon as I joined their party we jumped into a game and that started up almost immediately. I started to play and after I got my first kill I noticed the "Congratulations New Rank Brigadier General I". What?

I found the closest hiding place and pulled up the player's list. There I was listed as level 43. I should have been 3/4 the way through level 47. I looked at my weapon and noticed I had the P90 and no Red Dot Sight. I don't even remember selecting that weapon type. And I haven't played with the P90 in well . . . 4 ranks.

And losing rank wasn't the only thing wacky last night either. My system showed the Scorpion as my primary weapon for both my Assault rifle and Sub machine gun classes. I finished the map and did some more investigating in the Barracks. I found I had lost a bunch of completed challenges and some that I had been working on were now locked.

My teammates told me when things like this happen you're suppose to get off Xbox Live completely and get back on WITHOUT PLAYING. Hello! I think it was a little late for that.

So now I'm just over the threshold at the lower rank of 43 and any interest in playing the game has been killed. Don't they know that losing 4 ranks is over a week's worth of daily playing for me? yes, it takes me that long to level up.

I was starting to get excited about getting to the Prestige option at level 55. Getting to level 48 is so much closer to that than level 43. Now I have to do that all over again. I have a friends that's said this has happened to him several times. Now he refuses to play until they get the whole thing worked out.

I've been a pretty patient gamer during all the connection issues but this just takes the cake for me. In addition to the dip in my rank my expectations have been lowered as well. If it can happen once, it can happen again. Maybe it's time to start looking at PS3s.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Are you always on the bottom?"

Usually if one of the guys I play with on regular basis said that to me it would be loaded with sexual connotations. And no matter what my answer would have been they would have made that sexual too.

But last night I was playing with a friend that I only play with occasionally, and only in Call of Duty 4. After the match was over when both sides were sitting in the game lobby waiting for the next match to start he asked "Pengwenn are you always on the bottom?"

A had a moment of stunned silence, but before I could say anything the game lobby closed and we were all back in the party lobby. I thought for sure he'd bring it up again especially since it was just friends in the room now, but he didn't. I asked him to repeat himself but other friends piped in and started talking about other things. I don't know if they were doing it to spare my feelings or they just didn't hear. With how much talking and taunting that sometimes goes on in game lobbies with this group of guys I'm pretty sure they heard.

It doesn't bother me that he asked if I always place last in the rankings because I do. What bothers me is that I always place last in the rankings. If I can score 50+ points a match that's pretty good. It bothers me that no matter how I play (cautious or running and gunning) I always finish last on our team and either last or next to last overall. It bothers me that both of my brothers consistently do better than me. It bothers me that I love the game but I don't know how to play it to the best of my advantage.

There's a card game my family likes to play. It's called Scum. There's a President, Vice President and the middle class. After the middle class you have "next to scum" and scum. Obviously those players are the worst ones in the game. After every hand you'll move your position depending on how you played the game. A scum could become President. A President could become scum. I do better playing that game than I do Call of Duty 4.

So to answer that question, Yes, I'm always last. How long my friends continue to play with me when they realize I'm always last I don't know. Somebody's always going to be last. But with me in the game everyone else could only do as bad as "next to scum".

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Good things don't go unpunished?

I did a good thing. But now I'm not sure why.

My youngest brother is currently borrowing one of my Xbox 360s. I got him an original Xbox and some games for his birthday last June and he's loved playing but has had a hard time finding good matches with those old games. Once my other brother and I got our systems repaired and sorted out I told him he could use the extra one to play on. I did that because he played Gears a long time ago and loved it. And played Call of Duty 4 and couldn't get enough of it.

So here's the good thing. I wasn't going to let him borrow my CoD4 disk because I was still playing it. So I went out and bought him a new one. But I told him it would be on a "rent-to-own" deal. He had to give me $5 every month until his birthday in June for a total of $30. If he still wanted the game by then he could have it otherwise I get it to sell it back for another game.

But here's the bad part (for me anyway). He's only been playing the game for a couple of days and he's better than me. He consistently scores higher than I do. He's ranking up faster than I am. He gets more kills too. About the only thing I do better than him in the game is die. A lot of good that does me . . . and my team.

He's making me look bad to all my friends. I even changed my Clan Tag to [dud] to show my frustration. After an unusually good match for me I changed my tag to [WOW!] but that turned out to be a disaster. I immediately switched back to my [dud]; it seems to suit me.

I know I did a good thing but my competitive nature kicked in and now I feel like I'm being punished.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I hate it when I'm right

Well, I was right. With all of Xbox Live's issues there was bound to be someone to make a stink about it. Three people in Texas filed a class action lawsuit against Microsoft for not being able to connect to Live in December (and after last night you could extend that into January).

They supposedly asked for $5,000,000 for the pain and suffering the lost service caused them. What they don't know is that with a class action lawsuit that $5,000,000 judgement (if awarded) would be split between all the Xbox Live users. Since there are 6,000,000 users on Live we each would get about $.83 cents from the lawsuit. It doesn't sound like much but since a Gold membership is only $.13 cents per day that sounds about right, don't you think?

Besides if you read the papers filed these three individuals are suppose to "act on other plaintiff's behalf and in their best interest" or some other such wording. Who are these people to say what's in my best interest? They don't know me. And they probably don't know the whole story.

I've had a few friends put away Call of Duty 4 because of the terrible hassles you have to go through to get a match started. They haven't stopped playing altogether either. They just went back to older games. Gears of War and Rainbow 6: Vegas have been dusted off. They say they haven't had any problems getting into matches with those games. They still have occasional issues with getting connected to Live but once that happens everything is fine.

Reading around with some of the stories that have come out about this I found it funny that one story "uncovered" that in the licensing agreement we all had to agree to before activating our membership stated that there is no guarantee of uninterrupted service. If they had read their licensing agreed before checking the box maybe they would have know that. But be honest, how many of use have actually read the licensing agreement? I didn't.

I'm a very patient person. I don't mind waiting to get a game started. What bothers me the most about what's going on is that whole parties dissolve when a game match crashes. When that happens you have to spend the next 5 minutes getting everyone back into your party. Some people might not be on everyone's friends list, others might be booted completely to the main menu. By the time you get everyone back into the party it's time to find another match to get into. And then the problems start all over again.

One thing our party did last night was to start looking for matches other than Team Deathmatch. It seems everyone want to play that and the servers can't handle all of the requests. But other match types like Ground War, Headquarters, Sabotage, etc. are much easier to get into. You still get experience points and can complete challenges (those matches even have their own special challenges) so why doesn't everyone start playing them more often?

I just think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion. And gamers are going to feel the heat for it. Yes, we'll get a new Arcade game out of this as Microsoft's way of apology but what's going to happen to the online experience? And who are these idiots in Texas to say what I really want out of my gaming experience? And when I play Halo 2 or 3 can I sue Microsoft for a sexual harassment from the traumatic gaming experience of someone tea bagging me? What other lawsuits are gamers going to raise because they're not happy with their gaming experience? 'Cause let's face it, Microsoft (and the rest of the world for that matter) are just here to please us, right?

Man, I hate it when I'm right.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Compensation for your troubles

Well, it looks like we might be receiving some compensation for the troubles everyone was having on Xbox Live over the holidays. What that amounts to is still pretty vague. All I can say is that it better be a new game that isn't already available because I probably already have it. And it better be something I'll like. But I'm sure everyone is saying that. Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Free Money

I played a Tournament game of Texas Hold 'Em last night and won some free money . . . after I folded.

It was the first hand of the game and the person just before me went all in pre-flop. It was a free tournament so I don't mind that very much but with a 6 and a 3 off suit I wasn't about to call. So I folded.

I stuck around to see who would call the guy when the person two seats behind him call and they were the only ones playing the hand. At that point I switched over to watch some TV (picture in picture is such a wonderful thing). When I saw the river card come out I flipped back to the game to see who won. The guy next to me who went all in did pull off the win and the pot as $1,006. I started tapping the green button to get rid of that "winner" pop up as I moved to get up and get something to drink. All of a sudden I hear "Pengwenn got all his money."


When I turned back to the TV screen sure enough it said that I had won $1,006. The two players involved in the hand finished in 7th and 8th place. Everyone started talking and I thought I was going to get nailed for cheating. Some of the guys laughed and started talking about all the other glitches that have been happening lately in the game.

I decided that I was going to blow that extra $1,000 on the next couple of hands so I wouldn't feel as guilty or anyone accuses me for cheating. But the interesting thing was my chip total said I had $1,006 when it should have registered as $1,506. I blew the extra $500 dollars and people were joking that it wasn't really my money in the first place. I closely watched my Rep totals but nothing changed. I could have gone to town and won the tournament (I came in 4th) but I've got a conscience so I didn't. Maybe Texas Hold 'Em isn't the game for me after all.

Gaming New Year Resolutions?

I made New Year Resolutions in other areas of my life but I haven't made any as far as gaming is concerned. Should I?

I started this blog because I needed a kick in the pants about a deal my brother and I worked out for finishing games. It's been a year and a half since then and we haven't finished any of the ones we chose. Should I make a New Year Resolution to finish a game?

How about ranking up in matches? Should I make A resolution to reach and finish a level or two of prestige in Call of Duty 4 before the year is out? Or to reach the highest rank in Chromehounds?

What about earning achievements and raising my gamer score? What would be a good resolution? Raise it 1,000 points this year? 2,000? My achievement and gamer score points come in fits and spurts. I might only get 20 points for a couple of months but then rake in 200 points in the space of a couple of weeks. And that doesn't have anything to do with playing a new game and getting all those "easy" points. I think I'm around 700 points or so from crossing the 5,000 point barrier so that would be a reasonable achievement, don't you think?

I'm just thinking as I type here and I just might have my resolutions. Feel free to hold me to them . . . or make it frustrating difficult to achieve them.

My New Year's (Gaming) Resolutions:
1. Finish Final Fantasy VII.
2. Reach rank #55 and complete one level of Prestige in Call of Duty 4.
3. Raise my gamer score to 5,500 or more.

I have until December 31st, 2008 to accomplish them. Do you think I can do it? What else do you think I should set as a goal this year? What are yours?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Game of the Year Poll results

Okay the Game of the Year poll has closed and here are the results:

Mass Effect 0 votes
BioShock 4 votes
Assassin's Creed 0 votes
Call of Duty 4 2 votes
Halo 3 1 vote
Mario Galaxy 0 votes

I voted for BioShock but the whole time the poll was open I wondered if I should have voted fro Call of duty 4 instead. The fact that Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed didn't get any votes surprises me. But here's my take on things:

Mass Effect: This game has a great story going for it. I have friends that have played this game completely 4 times and they still want to go back and play it some more. The visuals are stunning and the action is great. What this game lacks is multiplayer. How you could fit that into the game world (like multiplayer for Gears of War) I don't know. But multiplayer isn't everything.

BioShock: This game revolutionized the gaming community. It will impact the gaming community for a long time. Visually it's gorgeous. The story is a morally wrenching dilemma. And the game play is fantastic. The biggest compliant is the game is too short (and no multiplayer). I think we're going to see lot more games with a very distinct visual style to them and more gut twisting decisions gamers are going to have to make in order to progress through the story.

Assassin's Creed: The game mechanics of this game are great . . . once you get the hang of them. I laughed so hard when I watched my brother try to shove someone aside but instead pulled out his knife and killed an innocent bystander. He had to spend the next ten minutes making sure he didn't get caught. It was hilarious. While some of the moves and controls are great some are a little bothersome. Add to the fact that it's a fantasy type game in a science fiction type world and I can see why gamers are little bit hesitate towards naming it Game of the Year.

Call of Duty 4: I love this game. But I've only played half of it. All my time spent in this game has been on the multiplayer side. What you can do in multipayer is fantastic. The Prestige levels alone are superb. The fact that veteran players must start again at level one gives those genuine noobies a chance instead of being fodder and every one's favorite target. The customization of Perks and weapons makes this a multiplayer game that you'll never get bored with. Why I couldn't vote for it as Game of the Year is because I haven't played the single player game. Maybe it'll suck. But even if it does the multiplayer side of the game is enough for it to be a contender for Game of the Year honors in my book.

Halo 3: I played Halo 3 when it came out and while I like the game (the jumping ability has saved my ass a few times) I don't see what's so different or special about this Halo compared to Halo 2. Maybe I haven't played Halo 2 enough to see the difference besides better graphics. Being able to use more vehicles is a plus, but I don't think that's enough. It might be that everyone got so excited about it's release that when the game finally came out all the excitement waned and you weren't interested in it any more. Besides this is the only game on my list that has franchise to fall back on. Call of Duty 4 as the CoD name but since the game was placed in "Modern Warfare" it doesn't have that Word War II vibe to build off of.

Mario Galaxy: I've only seen demos and people playing this game in Game Stop so I don't have personal experience with it. But with what I've seen I have to ask: What's the big deal? Every console release Nintendo has their Mario game. And if you wait a few more months you'll have all the other Mario games available to play on the new console. All this game has seemed to do is take Mario into a true 3-dimensional world of game play. Other games have done that. So what makes this one so special? I don't know. I do own a Wii and eventually I will be getting this game, but it's not one that I must have right now.

I agree that BioShock won. It's a game that had an impact on the community not just from the game play alone but also the word of mouth the game generated. It was a great year of gaming so here's to hoping that 2008 will just as good, if not better.