Thursday, May 29, 2008

The devil's axe is not golden

So there's been some research various sites have done to figure out which Arcade games might be getting the axe when Microsoft starts "delisting". There are three criteria that's going to be used: 1) a Metacritic score of 65 or less, 2) released over 6 months ago, and 3) a demo to full version conversion rate less than 6%. Of those three things the first two are easy to find out. The last one? Only Microsoft knows.

I went to the Metacritic website and found that I had 41 Arcade games that fell under that magic number rating of 65. I also had 6 demos that haven't made the mark. Some of the games I'm not surprised about. Yaris had the lowest rating of 17. One of my favorite games, Boogie Bunnies had a rating of 54. Some of them I'm really surprised about. Aegis Wings seems a very popular game but only got a rating of 58. Frogger and Pac Man only got 62. Texas Hold 'em got a 63. Since the metacritic number is based off of reviews given to games I guess it all comes down to just a couple of people's opinions about a game.

I read several gaming magazines, in print and on line. Some of them say they pick someone to review a game that isn't a fan of the series or game so that an unbiased opinion can be generated. Unbiased? If they don't like the game to begin with do you really think minor flaws (and every game has them) aren't going to pointed out and nit-picked on? If there's something wrong with a game (like sticking to walls in Gears of War) that reviewer is going to use that to give the game a lower score because it's just going to be one more reason why they don't like the game in the first place. Yes, I know some games might be good enough to win people over, but that's less likely to happen.

Some magazines say they have fans of a game/series review it because they'll know what really works for the game and what true fans will be disappointed about. This too can have a negative effect as the hype of a game can generate such a great expectation that can exceed what a developer can actually deliver. Just look at Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 as an example of that. Yes, I know journalists are suppose to be fair and unbiased about their subjects, but can you honestly say that's how you want your reviews of games to be handled? Don't we all enjoy it when we get recommendations from friends about games, try them out and like them? We want to know why they liked the game not just that it had good graphics or a great physics engine.

I found another website that listed the games that had a metacritic score less than 65 and had been out for over 6 months. Now if a game meets ALL three criteria it's not automatically going to be delisted but will be eligible for delisting. Since we don't have the ability to measure the last criteria, just based on the first two the following games just might get the axe: Crystal Quest, Texas Hold 'em, Hearts, Contra, Pac Man, Frogger, Root Beer Tapper, Double Dragon, Asteroids and Centipede/Millipede just to name a few. While everyone who's downloaded them previously will still have access to them through their "download history" option on the dashboard (at least that's what they're saying) what about new first time buyers of an Xbox 360? Just because they come late to the game why should they be prevented from taking advantage of some of the great games out there?

I really wish we could find out what the conversion rate is for games. I know I've purchased games without having first downloaded the demo. Do you really think I need to play the demo of Pac Man before I decide to buy it? I know that game. I've played it in the Arcades. On real game cabinets not game consoles. And yes, I've downloaded game demos that I've tried but not purchased. Even though I didn't like the game some other people might so let them have a chance to experience it too.

One of the reasons Microsoft says they're doing this to stream line and clean up the Arcade Marketplace because it's too confusing. I don't think that has anything to do with the games on the Marketplace but the interface you created to list and display them. You don't throw out the furniture just because you built a house that doesn't have any stairs to the second floor. It doesn't make any sense. And am I the only one who's noticed that the number are 6 month, 6% conversion and 65 metascore. 666. The devil's axe isn't gold after all. It's Microsoft green. At least Golden Axe, the arcade game, is safe for awhile. Its score is 68.

A picture is worth a thousand words

There are just some creatures that make you smile: Pikmin, Mendokans, Chocobos, Moogles and Raving Rabbids. You'll have to click on the link to see the picture since I couldn't resize it small enough without distorting the image.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

So here's some news for you; some of it good, some of it bad and some of it could just be down right ugly. We'll have to see how things play out.

1) The Good

Some people say you should start with the bad news and end with the good news. Sometimes the bad news is so bad you can't really enjoy the good news when you finally hear it. I like to start with the good news that way if you don't want to know the bad news you can stop reading and then you won't get mad at me for ruining your day. There will be a return to the brilliant world of gaming better known as Oddworld. The Oddworld games are the only games that I know of where farting and belching are integral in the gameplay and not just what you hear over an open mic in online play. I remember the very first time I played Abe's Oddysee and learned which buttons farted and which ones belched. I found it totally funny to walk up to a Mendokan and fart right next to them. I think I spent more time laughing than playing the game that first day. This was also the first platform puzzle game that I played where I actually had to think sometimes to figure out the puzzle and what I needed to do. It was funny, it challenged me and I've enjoyed every minute I've played all those Oddworld games. I'm glad they're coming back to that world. There are some worlds that just shouldn't be left dormat for long.

2. The bad

Back in March I called Xbox Live Support to report that I had 3 Arcade games that I had purchased but I was unable to play the full game. Every time I booted up the game it would revert it to a trial version. For the last couple of days they've left a message on my phone saying I needed to call them back and check on the status of my original call. So I finally got around to calling them last night to see what's going on (they originally said things would be fixed in 30 days and that was back in March). I had to call them twice last night. The first time I got stuck in the automatic transfer purgatory (for 10 minutes) so I hung up and redialed hoping for the best the second time. The second time I got someone who barely spoke English and obviously didn't know what the Xbox Live Arcade was at all. Even though I gave them the reference number for the situation I still had to explain the whole thing to them all over again.

After going back and forth with that person for 45 minutes she finally transferred me to "the correct department" so I could go over it was them. That person also didn't speak English very well and they spoke awfully fast which made it that much more difficult to understand. I explained everything again a couple of times before that person put me on hold. When he came back he said that my original request should have been completed by now and that I had been requested to call back in so they could tell me that it wasn't. Well duh! I could have told them that just by trying to play one of those games. They said they would escalate the matter and I should hear back from someone within 24-48 hours. Yeah right! After 1 hour I was finally able to hang up and all I learned is that my games still weren't fixed.

3. The Ugly . . . maybe

There's not going to be a major Spring dashboard release instead they've been working on other things. One of those things is work on the infrastructure for Xbox Live. That's actually a good thing if you ever tried to play during the 2007 holiday season. One other thing they've been working on a tool to help with the DRM problems some people have had. That's also a good thing so why am I listing it here?

Because of another item that was mentioned in the article. Microsoft is now going to start "delisting" poorly reviewed and poorly utilized Xbox Live Arcade games. What does that mean? That means they're going to take them off the Marketplace so you won't be able to download them. Why could that be ugly? Because if you ever run into a problem where "delisted" games are deleted from your hard drive or if you ever run into DRM problems (like I have) those games won't be available for redownload. That means a game you've paid for someone else is going to take away so you can't play them anymore. At least that's how I read the article. Maybe those games will still be available on the servers they just won't list on the Marketplace. How you're suppose to find them again to redownload them then I don't know. I'm sure we'll hear more about this process in the future.

This DRM license tool might be helpful for unlocking these Xbox Live Arcade games and since it's suppose to make it so you don't have to be connected to Xbox Live to play the games I'm hoping it's everything they say it's going to be. But "delisting" Arcade games seems like a really bad move. If you lose one you could be screwed. I'm tempted to go out and get another hard drive and redownload all my Arcade games to that drive and then just store it. That way if I ever lose a game I'll still have a back up somewhere. I don't know if that will work but it's better than losing something completely that I've paid for. If I'm done with a game let me decide when I don't want to play it anymore not someone else deciding for me.

So did I ruin your day? Did I tell you anything you didn't already know? Do you think I'm over reacting about the "delisting"? Maybe . . . maybe not. There is one more good thing out there. I just got a new CD from Amazon. ANThology by Alien Ant Farm. I got the album for one track: Smooth Criminal. I was listening to that album while I typed all the bad news but after listening to that song now it doesn't seem so bad after all. Maybe music can heal all wounds. If so then Microsoft needs to stop playing Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" as their theme song. If you've ever heard it you know how annoying it can be.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chromehounds Clan Night

My clan in Chromehounds is trying to get everyone together tomorrow night to play some free battle or maybe a mission or two. I think we might have a full clan; twelve people. I'm not sure.

You see it's been awhile since I played that game. I did put it in a week ago but after dain and I finished our first mission when we were going back to the lobby area my screen went black. Nothing happened and I was completely locked up so I had to power down. Once I turned the console back on and put the game in it said it couldn't read the disk. I thought it might be scratched a little bit (this is my second copy of the game since dain scratched my first copy) but unfortunately for me it wasn't scratched but cracked. Twice. There were two cracks radiating out from the center hole of the disk.

I'm sure I could pick up this game used and cheap, but part of me wants to see if I could get a new copy so I wouldn't have to deal with someone's used game. Who knows what condition the disk will be in. Another part of me says "why bother getting the game again at all?"

In Chromehounds a gamerscore of 720 is probably considered complete. There are just too many achievements that are way too hard to get in that game. You either have to play the game every waking moment of every day to get top honors in a war or you have to boost to get them. And there's a lot of clans that boost making it almost impossible for honest clans to have a chance at the Gold achievements. And the Valor achievements for maxing out hound types are some others that will consume your whole life if you try for them.

But the hardest achievement to get in Chromehounds (in my opinion) is the one for defeating a country's super weapon. Why is it so hard? Because the weapon won't come out unless certain criteria are met within a given war. The problem with that is everyone is playing in the war so while one squad might be trying to control one map as a criteria for bringing the super weapon out another squad might be doing the exact opposite. And since there are several battles going on at the same time it's hard to tell exactly when the weapon will come out. And when it does you have to be affiliated with the right country and pick the right map to fight on in order to battle it. If you're lucky. And if you're lucky and get into the battle with the super weapon you've got to make sure you've got the right hound equipped to bring that weapon down. In other words there's just too many conditional "if" that have to be met exactly before you even have the chance to get the achievement. And don't get me started on the fact that you get a lot less points battling bots than you do humans which makes meeting those criteria for the super weapon that much harder . . . and longer to get.

Once my disk was cracked I just figured I would borrow dain's game to pick up those few single player achievements that I'm missing. A couple of days later I got a message of clan night this Thursday. I miss playing with some of those guys so I really want to play, but I'll have to get another copy of the game in order to do so. I once considered taking a couple of days off at the beginning of a war and do nothing but play that game. I kind of want to see how high on the leader boards I can get. The problem is I'm not that good of a player. I haven't built the perfect hound yet. If I play with a hound that has fire power I get beat by someone with speed and vice versa.

Maybe I'll go out today after work and see if I can pick up a copy of the game. Or maybe I'll do it tomorrow. Or maybe not at all. Chromehounds is a game that I didn't think I'd like when I first got it. But after playing it for awhile I really did start to like it. Unfortunately the gaming community that plays Chromehounds makes the game more frustrating than trying to find a house to buy. And you don't want to get me started on that. At least not until the ulcer I'm developing as I look at houses has healed. My HMO will thank you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Poll - Which BioShock plasmid do you want?

Okay, can you tell what game I'm thinking about right now? Yep! BioShock. So that's what the next poll is going to be all about. Maybe I can finish the game before the poll runs out. What do you think? Vote for which plasmid you would want if you were a citizen of Rapture.

Kenny Rogers was a genius

There's a reason why I don't play poker in the real world. I never know when to call it a night. With the way my luck is going play Texas Hold 'Em on my Xbox 360 I should have learned my lesson by now. I even changed my motto to "no poker with friends" but I didn't heed my own advice.

I've had a couple of nights where I was up anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 chips from my buy in and I should have walked away. Instead I end up losing it all . . . including my buy in. I finish the night negative instead of positive. But there's just something about the game that keeps me coming back for more when I'm not in a killing mood.

That nonkilling mood suited me just fine last night but once again it didn't pan out. I joined my first tournament and had to wait about two minutes before the table filled up. Once it did and the high card was dealt I got the message "the host has ended the match" message that I just love so much. I've waited longer to fill a table so I don't think that was the host's issue. And if you know you're going to leave then why play a game, or even start one for that matter, that might take awhile? Personally I think the host was doing that disconnect/reconnect the ethernet cable that boots everyone from the game and they end up winning. You have to do that little trick after the high card is dealt to see who gets the dealer button but before all the cards are dealt for the first round. I should have quit right then.

But I didn't.

I joined another game and this time we got started playing just fine. But things went downhill from there. On the second hand in one player was able to knock out three other players. Except the game screen froze after the last player bowed out. Nobody could do anything except talk to each other. Someone suggested we just bow out ourselves and I was considering it, but then I had a stroke of genius. If everyone else bowed out then I would win the match and that would be the easiest $2,000 I've won in a long time. Heck, I wouldn't have even played a hand (I folded the first two hands). One by one people started quiting the game. Once the player who won the big hand quit, the game unlocked and there was me and someone else left to play.

Our chip counts were pretty even (I had $4 more because of the blinds) so we started to play. After about 10 hands I went all in before the river on a gutsy play. My options were a straight, a flush or nothing at all. I got the flush and the win to finish the game but the other player backed out as soon as the cards were revealed and just when my winning music started to play. I was just starting to think the other player might have been a sore loser when the message popped up saying I've leaving the game in 8th place. What?

I was stunned and speechless and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. But that's Texas Hold 'Em for ya. At least when I'm playing with friends I should know when to walk away, but when you're getting screwed by the system either by manipulation or just plain wackiness it's not fair. Despite all my problems connecting to an online game with Catan at my apartment, but not having any problems while at my parent's house, Texas Hold 'Em has got to be the glitchiest game out there. It's too bad too because I like the game. I just don't like losing this way.

So Kenny Rogers got it right when he sings The Gambler. You DO gotta know when to fold 'em; know when to hold 'em; know when to walk away; and know when to run. And right now I think I'll be running as fast as I can to something else. Something where glitches and glitchers won't take my money. And where I won't be supply the bankroll to my friends to feed their gambling habits.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Anti-social gamers

To all my friends on Xbox Live I'm sorry I haven't played with you since . . . well Saturday. It's not that I don't want to play with you, it's just that . . . well I don't want to play with anyone. Don't take it personal. There's sometimes when I'm just not in the mood for some of the shenanigans that happen online when multiple people are playing a game together, friends or strangers. You see, when I get stressed I like to keep things calm and peaceful so I don't blow a gasket. And I've been extremely stressed lately. I guess deciding to buy a house will do that you. But we've got a weekend coming up so maybe I'll let all hell break lose and I'll see ya in the virtual world. And if I kill you, don't take that personal either . . . it's just therapy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Brother is alive and well in Microsoft

People assume the concept of Big Brother is some government organization spying on you. It's not. Come on people, you've been watching too much X-Files shows. Big Brother is Microsoft. And I've got the proof.

I own a lot of arcade games. I like the variety of choices I have when I try to pick the game that best suits my mood. Sometimes I want a sidescroller, sometimes a tactical RPG or a puzzle based game. But not all of the time that I play the arcade games I'm hooked up to the internet. When I take my system over to my parent's house to meet up with dain for some co-op play we don't always have the luxury of hooking our console up to my parent's internet. For some reason they don't like having a long ethernet cable running from one room of the house to another just so we can play on the big TV and be connected with our friends. So we play offline.

The problem with playing Arcade games offline is that you only get to play the trial version of the game. Yep, that's right. Even if you've paid for the whole kit and kaboodle you're left with just a level or two of a trail game. If you want to play the whole things (and have access to earning achievements) you've got to be plugged in to the internet so Big Brother . . . I mean Microsoft can watch everything you do.

It's bad enough that I purchased three games (Double Dragon, Sonic the Hedgehog and Golden Axe) but I can't access the full game, whether I'm connected to the internet of not, since the winter dashboard update. I still haven't heard back from Microsoft as to when these are going to get fixed. They said 30 days. It's now been about 50 days.

So why is is that I have to be connected and logged into someone's service (Microsoft) to play a game that I've downloaded to my machine? Why can't the full version of the game be available for play when I'm off line? If the games are tied to our profiles and I'm logged into mine why shouldn't I have access to everything associated with that profile? Microsoft doesn't seem to see things that way. To them if you want to play the full version of games that you've bought and downloaded you've got to log into their service first. Which I guess, to Microsoft's perspective, offline gaming doesn't happen at all. Maybe they figure that the only way, time, or place someone wants to play a video games is when they can get online and play with someone else. Well I've got news for Big Brother: SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO PLAY OFFLINE TOO!

And don't get me started on the time when I was playing Bejeweled 2 and up to level 37 or something when I got the "disconnected from Xbox Live" pop up message. I continued playing the level only to find out that when I reached the next level I got the message that I needed to unlock the full game before I could continue on. And to top it all off I lost all my progress up to that point. Way to go Microsoft.

I find it greatly annoying and a little bit creepy that Microsoft is watching what I play. I seriously don't think there's a person sitting at a computer that says "oh look, Pengwenn just logged in and she's playing Puzzle Quest . . . again". I know they're keeping track via an automated process, but in some respects that's more creepy. Am I a person or an IP address to Microsoft? With some of the customer service problems some people have had I'm beginning to wonder about that.

I remember when the year was 1984 and everyone was wondering how close our society was compared to the one in the book of the same name. They worried that our big government had turned into Big Brother and was watching our every move. A generation has passed since then (24 years) but instead of Big Brother as a government entity it's now moved to the private sector and a corporation named Microsoft. Now you can say I volunteered to be watched by getting an online account and playing on their system. But that doesn't make things any less creepy or annoying when I want to play a full game without having to string a cable across two rooms of a house. Maybe instead of background checks the government runs potential employers could just send a request to Microsoft. With their Xbox 360s and their PC products they've probably got a file on just about everyone. I wonder what it says about me. Or what it says about you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Identity crisis en masse

I'm so confused.

My friends are all having identity crises. I log in on Monday and three of my friends have changed their names. I know one of them has been talking about it for awhile but I was never sure if he would ever do it. Another one mentioned it in passing one day and the last one just came out of the blue. At least they had the courtesy to send a message to everyone letting their friends know who that strange name was that just seems to sudden;y appear on their list.

But what do I call them?

I've played with these guys for years under one name and now they've changed it. It's like having a kid and naming them Johnny except when they reach five years old you decide they look more like a Chris than a Johnny. I haven't played with them yet but I know when I do as soon as I hear their voice I'll call them by their old name and not the new one. Maybe if we're playing in a room full of friends they'll know how I'm talking about but if there's some strangers there they're not going to have a clue. And quite frankly I probably won't either.

I think until I get use to their new names I'm going to have to keep a play sheet taped up to the TV. Kind of like a baseball manager has for his team. Except instead of stating the batting order and what side they hit from it'll tell me who they were and what name they're going by now. It'll take some getting use to since one of them use to be at the top of my friends list is now towards the bottom; one at the bottom has now moved up to the top; and one dropped from the middle to the bottom. It's just enough to make my head spin.

I don't know who anyone is anymore. So if you're on my friends list and I accidentally delete you, please don't take offense. Just send me a note reminding me of who you are . . . I mean were . . . and I'll accept your friends request or send one of my own. I'm sure you're got your reasons for changing your name but some of us gamers are starting to get old and our memories aren't what they use to be. Besides it's so much more fun taunting you if I know what to call you.

And just because you took the "evil" out of your name doesn't make you any less so. Just thought you should know.

Poll Results - What game are you looking forward to?

Okay here are the results of the latest poll:

What game are you most looking forward to?

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed = 1
Gears of War 2 = 3
Fable 2 = 1
Final Fantasy XIII = 1
Other = 1

Okay someone wasn't able to vote for Final Fantasy while the poll was still open but they left me a comment saying they would so I'm counting that. Do you want to know what I voted for? My vote was for Other. Why? Because I want them all.

I've been anxiously awaiting all of those games. I want them all and I want them now. Okay maybe not now because I don't have the spare money to buy all of them right now. But I will get them all. Every time I heard SW: TFU was getting pushed back I'd get upset. When I heard Fable was going to have a dog as a companion I was excited. When I saw some of the first screen shots of Gears of War 2 I got excited. And I've been dying for the next Final Fantasy game to come out since . . . well forever. When it does I will be getting a PS3 even if I have to eat Ramen noodles for months in order to afford it.

I don't know if there's any other games out there that I'm even interested in getting between now and the end of the year. I'm sure there's got to be something but right now those games are the only ones I'm looking forward to. But don't tell me anything about them. I don't want to know. Why? Because I get too excited and then there's never going to be a way those games can live up to my expectations after all the hype. Kind of like when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out. I had gotten so excited I had to shut down all communication from the outside world for the two weeks prior to the book's release because I was drooling with the anticipation and I didn't think I could take any more.

Dain on the other hand is going out of his way to find every little scrap of information on the next Gears game . . . and then he tells me about it. And he tries to show me what he's found too. The more I see this stuff the more excited I'll get and then I'll just turn into a piddling puppy who gets overexcited when his dinner is finally served. I did download the game play footage trailer that was available on the Xbox Live Marketplace today. Once I watch it that's going to be it. I'm going to try and hold off all the excitement and teasers as long as I can. But if you happen to come over to my place just after some new awesome game play footage comes out for any of those games and the carpet is a little wet, don't blame me, blame the marketing (and probably dain).

Day of Gaming was a blast

So my Day of Gaming was a blast. I had some peace and quiet at my apartment and I was able to play BioShock for several hours and I have to tell you that game is getting good. I raked in a lot of achievements over that long weekend (and this last one two). It's nice to see my gamerscore jump higher. Sometimes I don't feel like a serious gamer when I have such a pitiful gamerscore.

I tried to do another Day of Gaming just this last Monday but things kind of got in the way. The first things was I had an appointment to look at a house for sale. It was a really nicely updated house where I wouldn't have to do anything if I moved in. But it didn't have any cable outlets and since my internet is cable that's an important thing that would need to be taken care of right away. But that's not why I'm not going to make an offer on the place. The house just wasn't right. It's not big enough for what I want and it's just way too early right now. The lease on my apartment isn't up until the end of October and there's a pretty hefty penalty for breaking it. So I wait. In a couple of months I'll start seriously looking and maybe I'll have a place all my own.

Another reason why I didn't game as much as I would have liked on Monday was because the circus was in town. I'm not talking elephants and tigers. I'm talking a niece and a couple of nephews. Their just as cute and adorable as baby tigers or elephants but they're ever so much more exhausting. I once had my 2 year old nephew go tell his parents "Aunt Pengwenn says I'm birth control". They are. But I still love them even if they can be a bit much to handle for us single people.

So as long as the circumstances allow me to every (other) Monday is going to be a Day of Gaming. If you see me online feel free to send me an invite. I might send a note back saying I want to crank the single player stuff out while everyone else is slaving away at thier jobs, but then again I might just be a little lonely and want someone to play with. As long as you're over the age of 2 anyway.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My best effort . . . and my worst

I found a site a couple of months ago when I was looking for a way to put my Xbox Live profile graphic on this blog. I still haven't made up my mind about that because I do play other systems besides the Xbox 360. No, really I do.

The site is and it has a really cool feature that I use often. After you sign up you can view a list of all the games you've played. It will show a progress bar for the gamerscore and number of achievements you've earned in that game. It lists your games by "last played" by default (although it might be slow to update some times) but you can switch that to alphabetical A-Z or Z-A. It also has a sorting option to display your games in order of the effort you've put in to them compared to the rest of the registered users of the site. You can sort by Best to Worst or Worst to Best effort.

For instance, if you look at my profile my 'best effort' game is Chromehounds. My gamerscore of 580 out of 1,000 is a 349.06% overachievement above the sites average score of 129.16. Considering how hard this game is to get some of the achievements I can believe that. A score of 720 in Chromehounds is the equivalent of 1,000 in any other game.

Now, let's look at my score in Uno. I've finished the game so I have 200/200 points. But that score is only a 54.97% overachievement above the average (129.06). When they released this option on the site they explained that "finishing" Avatar: Burning Earth and getting those 1,000 gamer points will only give you a 3.75% overachievement score. Why is that? Because everyone is playing that game and getting those easy achievements. Not much effort there.

Hopefully you'll have more games listed with a positive or overachievement rating than games with a negative or underachievement rating. But if you're like me you've dabbled a little bit in a lot of games. I've played a lot of Puzzle Quest recently but my gamerscore of 70 in that game is below the 81.34 average so I have an underachievement rating of 13.94%. And then there's Yaris. A game I've only played 2 or 3 times (hey, it was free) and my gamerscore of 10 points is only just short of the 19.79 average (a 49.47% underachievement).

I do have a lot of games with an underachievement rating of 100% because I haven't scored any achievements in them yet. I've played Bejeweled 2 many times, for long hours, but I still haven't heard that little bleep and seen an achievement pop up. But while my gamerscore of 0 has an underachievement rating of 100% it's not that far below the average score of 25.38.

And then there's Tempest. Based on the fact that no one on the leaderboards has received all the achievements for this game so you can bet this is one game that's hard to get achievements in (whether through gameplay or tough achievements). If you couple the leaderboards with the fact that the average gamerscore for this game from people on the site is only 3.73 points any achievement earned in this game is going to be an overachievement. My score is currently 0 so even if I get just one little 5 point achievement in this game I'll go from 100% underachiever to a 1.34% overachiever. It's not much but my number will go from in the red (underachievement) to green (overachievement).

It's really cool to see what games I'm underachieving in but within an achievement or two or the site's average and then try to play that game in order to get those achievements. I'm only a 1.56% underachiever in Luxor 2 by only .95 gamerpoints. Any achievement there will turn things around. Some of my other marginally underachieving games are Gauntlet, Boom Boom Rocket, Zuma, Joust, Word Puzzle, Tetris Splash, Poker Smash, Ikaruga, and Gears of War. An achievement or two in any of those games would put me on the plus side.

There's a leaderboard where you can look at the leaders overall, by a specific game or by gamerzone (i.e. Pro, recreation, etc.) or other options. You can also check out other people's scores and progress and see what games they've underachieved in and then point that out to them when they start bragging about their game prowess. There's a forum (the only video game forum I can access while at work) and a LiveTracker that lets you see which games registered site users are in at that time. Right now there's 27 in Call of Duty 4, 13 in Gears of War, and 198 in Grand Theft Auto 4 (that's down from the near 400 usually) and a lot of other games.

I picked up 15 points in Solitaire last night and that jumped my overachievement rating from 120.89% to 159.07%. Now you might think I'm crazy and obsessed with achievements or gamerscores . . . okay maybe I am just a little . . . but it's nice to know how my game playing stacks up with everyone else. It use to be the mark of your game playing skills and effort was getting to put three letters in next to your high score at the arcade. Now, it's achievements and gamerscores. And if I'm hoping to break the 10,000 gamerscore point barrier this year knowing where my best efforts are being made is nice. Besides all those negative ratings just make me want to take a day off and turn those negatives into positives. Oh wait, I'm already taking Monday off to play games. Too bad my job can't get me this motivated and productive. Maybe if my job had achievements too.


Achievement Unlocked.
Arrived to work on time 5 points

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Some days you just need to kill

Some days or weeks can be bad. Some can be good too. But those ones usually fly by so fast we hardly even know they're there. The bad ones tend to hang around a bit and remind you of their vileness. So what do you do?

Well, if you own a video game console, or have a roll of quarters and an arcade near by, you probably play a video game and kill people. It's all legal of course. That is unless you've modded your system or rigged the arcade game. And it's very therapeutic. And for 99.9% of us gamers we get it out of our system while we play so when we power things off we're back to our more normal, non-violent selves. And that's the way it should be.

I don't think video games cause all the violence that the media claims it does. There's a lot to be said about the psychological make up of the person playing the games in the first place. But when you've had a bad day and feel like punching someone or something (although you know this isn't going to solve the problem) it's nice to have an avenue to vent that pent up emotion into something more productive. And it saves having to repair holes in your walls or pay hospital bills than hitting things.

So when a friends says they'd rather play a game like Gears of War instead of Texas Hold 'Em that's okay. Go out and kill all the locust you need to in order to feel better. I'm sure we'll play together some other day. Believe it or not, there's going to be some days when you DON'T want to kill anything (usually those bright and happy days) and that's okay too. Or you'll have days when you'd rather race a Grand Prix, or swing a sword, or solve a puzzle than do anything else. That's okay too.

For me, when I have a bad day, I like to clean. I take all my frustration out on mildew and soap scum. Expending that energy feels good and I have a clean bathroom when I'm done. Of course, after being on my hands and knees scrubbing the toilets, sinks and showers (oh my!) then I'm really in a bad mood. And THAT'S when I need to kill something. The happier I am, the dirtier my bathroom gets. But at least after I've blown off some steam I've got a bathroom I wouldn't be embarrassed to show my mother AND you won't be seeing me on the evening news.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Day of Gaming

Sunday's usually a "day of rest". And I'm here to let you know that Monday will be a Day of Gaming. Feel free to join me.

You see, at the first of the year I changed my work schedule around. I have to work an extra 52 minutes every day so I can get every other Monday off. I really can't stand the longer hours but having that day off to sit at home and play games without having to dip into my vacation time seemed worth it. Unfortunately so far this year I haven't really had the opportunity to take full advantage of playing video games on that day off.

We had weeks where we were back on the shorter schedule due to a holiday or a big work function. But the Mondays I did have off seemed to be commandeered by other things. I had errands to run, doctors appointments, family obligations. You name it and it was something I had to do on my extra day off. Well no more.

This Monday I have nothing planned except sleeping in and playing video games. It will be nice to sit and play BioShock or Lost Odyssey for an extended period of time without feeling guilty because I'm not responding to the game invites my friends keep sending. Don't get me wrong, I like knowing someone out there wants to play with me it's just sometimes I want to play something by myself. No offense.

Maybe I'll focus on Enchanted Arms and Lost Planet and make up my mind whether I'm going to keep them or trade them in for something else. I don't know what that something would be since I'm very content with the games and systems I have now. Oh sure, there's other games and systems I'd like to have but nothing so great that it says "if the world ended tomorrow you'll regret not owning me" type of thing.

So if you see me on in the middle of the day on Monday no, I haven't lost my job or quit (although that idea sounds attractive) or have gravely injured myself so I can't work. I'm just relaxing, playing around and having fun. Feel free to join me in the debauchery (maybe I should play Armed & Dangerous or Bard's Tale).

I hereby declare this Monday a Day of Gaming. Besides, if this Monday doesn't pan out I'm taking the next Monday off (vacation time) to make up for it. Maybe every Monday should be a Day of Gaming. And if we can make it a national holiday we'd never have to work another Monday again. Now that's a campaign promise I can vote for.