Thursday, March 26, 2009

I took a hit . . . but I didn't inhale

When I got on to play Gears of War 2 last night I already had a room full of friends playing. Thankfully another group of friends got together and we started up another room (twice, thank you very much Max). It was a nice casual, laid back room and we were having fun. Until we started one match.

We knew there would be trouble right from the get go when the option to vote for the game type (warzone or execution) didn't even display on most of our screens until after the voting had ended. Most of us did get a chance to vote on the map. We picked Jacinto. And then the lagging started.

It was very hard to run anywhere because while your screen would show you in an open place your character would act like he's stuck behind a wall. It took three attempts for me to be able to pick up some more ammo during one of the matches. And forget about trying to shoot anyone. I put a whole clip and a half from my lancer into someone who was standing still on my screen, but I never downed him. One second later he was crouched behind a block and firing at me . . . through a tree!

But what put me over the edge was when I died by mortar fire when on my screen the guy hadn't even fired it yet. It wasn't until just before I switch to the ghost cam that I saw the mortar shells fire towards my position. You can't play a game like that. It's impossible. So I quit.

Yes, I know with the new ranking system I was going to take a hit on my total experience points and I possibly lost a rank because of that (I was only rank 2 or 3 going into the match), but I didn't care. I can't be expected to stay in a game and "play" when shooting someone has no effect and I die before someone on the other team fires their weapon. It was a much better decision to take the 1,000 point hit for quiting (or whatever it is) then to stay in that game. My teammates, on the other hand, stayed in and tried to get a win.

Since I was still in the party I sat back and listened to what they were going through while I waited for them to finish their game. Apparently the only way one person on the other team could be killed was with grenades. Since those only come up every other round it made for a long match. After twenty minutes of listening to my friends struggle with the laggy game I pulled the disk out and shut down for the night (sort of). I turned on the TV and mindlessly watched a little bit of all 70+ channels before I had to turn my 360 back on and play something productive.

I set my preference to "off-line" because I knew my friends were still playing and I wasn't really in the mood to go back to Gears, and I put in Fable II. After chopping wood for 30-40 minutes I felt better (and I got an achievement for the effort as well) and THEN I called it a night.

I don't know what my total experience was prior to quiting the match so I'm not sure I can tell exactly how much I was penalized. When I log on tonight I just might see my rank a little lower. But for me it was all worth it. I took a hit for quiting . . . but I didn't inhale. And my night was better for it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Poll - What do you think of new ranking system in GoW2?

My latest poll:

What do you think of the new ranking system in Gears of War 2?

Love it!
It's okay
Hate it!
I don't play that game any more

You have until next Wednesday to vote and feel free to leave a comment about the reasons why you voted the way you did. We're all dying to know. But you'll have to wait until the poll closes before you find out what I think. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Poll Results - Website for the real you?

Here are the latest poll results:

Do you have a website for the real life you?

No = 5 votes
More than 1 = 2 votes
Facebook = 1 vote
MySpace = 1 vote
Personal website = 0 votes
All of the above = 0 votes

I voted "no". I think my sister started a Face Book page but when I tried to view it it said I needed to be a member first. I don't really like sites like which require people to register just to see their content.

On the other hand I've been considering getting a website for myself and I can't make up my mind how to do it. MySpace seems so last year and for little kids (sorry Sand Dog), but I don't like requiring people to register just to get to my site (Face Book).

On the other hand I don't know how to design a web site. That is way over my head. Eventually I'd like to take this blog to it's own site (if I ever get more than 10 readers, maybe) but then I'd have to design one, or have somebody do it for me. Then there's the whole question about maintenance and what do I do if something goes wrong. And if I'm fiddling with things there's bound to be something that goes wrong.

If you put aside where you've got a personal page then you have to answer the question: do I want my personal information out there? Yes, I have a blog and talk about things in my personal life, but if you passed me on the street you wouldn't know who I was. I kind of like that. My online persona is Pengwenn and while it is the real me it's also a shield I can hide behind if I don't want to get to personal. So, at the same time it's the real me even when it's not.

I can be frustrated and pissed off (and maybe even drop a swear word or two) without having to worry about people looking at me and judging me for not being "lady-like". I can flirt and tease my fellow gamers, putting all kinds of fantasies in their heads about me, without having them "hurl their cookies" when they find out what the real me looks like. It's all innocent fun and nobody gets hurts. They go to bed with their fantasies and I go to bed with my anonymity still intact. It works for me.

Getting a website for the real me would destroy all of that. I don't think it's a bad thing for people; I just don't know if it's a good thing for me. As a girl I was taught to protect myself and there are a lot of predators on the net. I've had a couple of people on my friends list that I've deleted because they were starting to creep me out. Having a website would be like opening my front door and inviting all the weirdos over. The only weirdos I want to meet are the ones I can kill . . . or at least mute.

Now I do have an email address that I'm willing to share (just not out here in the open) so if anyone wants to get past the "Pengwenn shield" (to a more personal me) just drop me a comment or a PM on Xbox. If I know you (and like ya) I'll let you know what it is. If not . . . well then I guess you'll have to play some arcade games with me until I DO like you. Oh, and it helps if I win. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I think I've found my calling in shoot 'em up video games. I am a Medic!

I seem to play better when I can hang back a little bit and take time to survey the action before rushing in. Then if anyone falls I can rush to their aide and revive them. It seemed to work well last night while playing Call of Duty: World at War on the co-op story mode with kaiakapero and Pogue Moran.

There was one mission where I didn't get shot down ending up in last stand at all. And I think two others where I was only downed once. I let Pogue charge straight ahead. I kept kaiakapero ahead of me, but always in my sights. And I just picked off anyone they missed and tried to revive them whenever they fell. Of course a lot of times it was kai reviving Pogue and me reviving kai. Still, I think it worked out pretty well.

I use to love running right into the action, especially in Star Wars Battlefront. I wanted to get in there and start fighting. I did find that while playing that game it was to my advantage to take a moment to look over the map or area to see where people were at before deciding which direction I was going to run. Maybe it was just having an overhead map that helped. I don't know.

I struggle sometimes in Gears because I don't have an overhead map and so you never know where the enemies are going to come at you from. You have to rely on your teammates to give you a heads up, but by then it might be to late to help them. Since there's no respawning in Gears (unless you play Guardian or the "territory" game types) it's very easy for half your team to rush into an ambush and get wiped out. When that happens pretty soon you find yourself alone and having to take on the whole team. Now you know why I like Guardian. I get to respawn.

When I've played Gears and hung back a little bit, getting a good look around before charging off somewhere, I seem to play much better. And if I'm the last one left alive (a rare feat at that) I find it easier to play when I can pick my ground and plan for the enemies attacks. Of course it helps to have some well placed grenades too.

I don't have the patience to play as a sniper in the Call of Duty games. And I get tunnel vision too easily that I forget to keep checking around me for incoming enemies. There's just been too many times I've been stabbed in the back while snipping. My brother kai on the other hand loves to snipe. He made a point of telling me about it last night before we got online to play. If you can do it, all the more power to you. It's just not my thing.

The movie Saving Private Ryan was on this past weekend and I was watching the final battle sequence. The interrupter they brought along was in charge of running ammo refills back and forth between the positions. Throw a medic's bag over that guys shoulder and that would be me. Except for the fear, sniveling, crying, "what have I gotten myself into" bit, of course. Because I'm a medic that can shoot. But only when I have to. And I might even hit something . . . eventually.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Video gaming therapy

So, I've been getting very frustrated while playing video games recently as I'm sure you're all aware of (and which sometimes I'm sorry I brought it up) and I didn't really know how to get that excitement back. I think I've finally figured it out and I can sum it up in two words.


On Tuesday, after a long day at work, I finally decided I needed to connect my DVD player and PS2 up in my new house. I wasn't going to watch a movie and by the time I got around to getting everything connected I hadn't planned on playing a game. But I did. I put in Final Fantasy X-2 again and after about 30 minutes things started to feel right with the world again.

Of course things didn't feel all that "right" in my hands at first. Holding my Dualshock 2 PS2 controller felt weird. It felt too light, insubstantial and cramped. While the controller looks symmetrical the stick placements seemed off. My wrists felt awkwardly bent and I was afraid my thumbs would trip over themselves while I played. And then I remembered when holding a PS2 controller didn't feel that way.

I remember going from the flat, oval controllers for my SNES to the dual stick controllers for the PlayStation. It felt awkward at first, but after awhile it felt completely natural. It felt like this was the only way to hold a controller and play a game. For years I lived that way, first with my PlayStation, then with my PS2. Sure, there was s GameCube thrown in there but 99% of my game time was spent with a DualShock controller in hand.

I remember when the original Xbox came out and I hefted their original controller (the big black hamburger) it felt awkward. The sticks were not symmetrical, the buttons at an odd angle and way too close together. How could anyone play I game using this controller? I eventually moved to the "S" model of the controller which fit better in my hands and wasn't quite so bulky. When I got my Xbox 360 I went through a similar situation, but it was easier to get use to the new controller.

It was probably easier because there were move games I wanted to play consistently with my 360 that I didn't really have with the the original Xbox. While I was playing the original Xbox I was still playing my PS2 for the majority of my time. The PS2 controller was the one that felt the most natural and comfortable in my hands. But unfortunately I haven't played my PS2 for at least 5 months, maybe more.

So even though it was very late when I finally got my DVD and PS2 hooked up I decided I wanted to put something in and see if the machine still worked. I put in Final Fantasy X-2. It worked. When I looked at my save file the last time I saved the game was in May of 2005. The other game I considered playing was Final Fantasy IX and that save files was from April of 2003. I couldn't believe it had been that long since I've played that game. I guess if I would have thought about it I should have realized it HAD been that long.

I remember when my PS2 had been my life. Now it seems that is true of my Xbox 360. Don't get me wrong, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It's just that I think there are more FPS games for the 360 than there are for the PS2. Maybe it has something to do with the "typical gamer" for that system, or maybe it's just a trend that has recently just surfaced. I'm a RPG gamer at heart as I've said before so there is only so much FPS action I can take before I start to lose it. And recently I think I've been losing it.

So when I restarted FFX-2 again for what was probably the third of fourth time I felt like I was finally coming home. My mind and body could give a sigh of relief and some much needed RPG therapy could begin. And as much as I wanted to go to bed I stayed up and played for about a half an hour before calling it a night. And yesterday I went back for some more therapy.

Does that mean that I'm done playing FPS like Gears of War, Halo, or Call of Duty? Absolutely not. As much as I liked playing FFX-2 it was kind of lonely with no one to talk to. For now I'm content to play some Final Fantasy and remember why I liked playing video games in the first place. I'm sure the controller will feel natural in my hands again too. I've just got to figure out how to balance my RPG and FPS desires so I don't get burned out on one or feel lonely on the other.

I think everyone should experience some video game therapy every now and then. There's nothing worse than a gamer who puts the games away because they've forgotten why they love playing video games in the first place. And besides, even with the cost of high speed internet and video games it's still cheaper than laying on a couch talking to a shrink. And blowing up things or cutting enemies down with a sword is so much more cathartic, don't you think? That's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Poll - Real Life website?

So here's my latest poll:

Do you have a website for the real life you?

Yes, Face Book
Yes, MySpace
Yes, personal website
Yes, more than 1 above
Yes, all of the above

Vote in the poll then be sure to come back here and leave me a comment about which option you picked. If you want you can even leave your Face Book/MySpace/website address in the comment so I can stalk . . . I mean check out the real you.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gaming Goal completion/addition

Since I finally found my Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game I can cross that off my list of things I want to accomplish. Yeah me! I think what I'll add in it's place is this one:

10. Play Final Fantasy X-2 along with metallicorphen.

I think he's still planning on playing this game. If so I'd be happy to play along and commiserate about how tings are going. Or not. It's really up to him. But I want to make sure orphie has COMPLETELY finished FFX first. Yes, some of the end battles are a pain, but trust me they're worth it.

It's been so long since I've played this game that I think I'll have to start over. I can't remember where I was in the story for the life of me. And I think I got distracted by some mini-games and spent more time playing those instead of the main story. But that's a Final Fantasy game for ya.

If anyone has a game they think I should play while they play along in it too (and maybe even do some co-cop campaigning if it's in the game) let me know. If I've got (and got the time to play it) I wouldn't mind a little friendly banter as we level up.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Poll Results - How stupid am I?

Okay, here's the results from my latest poll:

How stupid do you think I am?

I'm surprised you know your own name = 1 vote
It's a good thing breathing is automatic = 4 votes
Stupid is as stupid does = 4 votes
You're not stupid . . . you're just dumb = 0 votes

I know you were all reluctant to vote but you should be thankful I didn't put another option in that I was considering. It would have been "all of the above".

The reason I started this poll, which was all in good fun, was one of my Gaming Goals was to find my Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game. I got this game before I moved but I hadn't seen it since then. The way I keep all of my games is that I have a large binder with who knows how many pages that can hold 4 disks to a side, eight to a page. That case has been full for some time so as I bought new games they were left in the case piled up next to the TV. In my many attempts to pack boxes and consolidate items I took some games out of their cases and put them into other cases that could hold more. Like Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. Those games are multi-disk so I could put 3 or 4 disks in one case. Then I packed up.

Since I've moved I've unpacked all of my boxes that held video game equipment. I never even knew I was missing the game until I saw Pogue playing it the other day and I suddenly got the urge to play it myself. When I couldn't find the game I panicked. I'm not missing a video game! And a Star Wars one at that. I looked through my case very carefully (even saying the name of each game out loud just to make sure it wasn't the right game) and I still couldn't find it. I even unpacked and opened up each game case to see which ones might still have a disk in it. Several days went by before I tried one last act of desperation.

Next to my recliner in the family room I have a plastic tub that is partially filled with audio books that I haven't put on my book cases yet. I've been using the tub as a side table to hold my phone, remote and any beverages I might be consuming while playing. After searching everywhere else I thought I would just open it up just to make sure it's audio books only. Apparently it wasn't. I had about 6 or 7 game cases in there and guess what? One of them (Lost Odyssey) had not only my Star Wars disk but disk 2 of Lost Odyssey. I didn't even know I was missing that disk. I felt completely stupid in that the game was sitting right next to me every time I played a game or watched TV. And the fact that the tub is clear and I could have seen into it without even opening it up to know that there were game cases inside makes me feel even more stupid.

I know you all think I'm probably crazy. You're thinking "that's it?" That's what makes you think you're stupid? That's just one example of my stupidity. When I go to take my allergy medicine I walk all the way to the kitchen to get something to drink in order to take the meds when I realize I left the medicine back in my bathroom. The kitchen and my bathroom are about as far away from each other as you can get in my house. So I take a glass of milk or water all the way back to my bathroom to take my medicine only to have to walk all the way back to the kitchen in order to take care of my dirty glass. Stupid. Now, you're probably thinking, you're not stupid . . . just lazy. But there's more.

Today I brought 2 pairs of old glasses that I was going to put in the donation box we have here at work. The donation box is on the other side of the building right on the way to the cafe. I went over there once this morning for a meeting and once again this afternoon to get lunch. Did I bring the glasses with me to put in the donation box either time? Nope. See, stupid. I have lots of moments like that that just annoy the crap out of me. And the older I get the more prevalent these moments seem to get.

You combine those moments with how I've been feeling lately about things (game related and not) and I just feel stupid all the time. For instance I know someone from my writer's website that I'm a moderator on. He was able to get admitted into Orson Scott Card's week long writer's boot camp a couple of years ago. I was only able to get into the open 2 day course (which anyone could attend) because my story was not good enough to be accepted. He recently had his first novel published in January and it's already on it's third printing (which is huge for a first time novelist) and at last glance it was number 30 on the New York Time's Bestseller List (the book is titled Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet). I think there's a fine line between being really excited for someone and being total jealous of them. With Jamie I crossed that line recently and it's made me feel really stupid that he's doing all these great things with his life (things that I've always wanted to do, but haven't) and I haven't even finish a novel myself. Stupid.

Then, gaming related, I've felt really stupid because my game play has sucked even more so than usually for the last little while. It's hard sometimes to play with people that are raking up 10+ kills in a 5 game match when I'm over the moon just getting 2 kills or maybe just not dying 5 times. When I compare my numbers to theirs it's pathetic and as much as I like playing with them I wonder why, no matter what I do, I just can't seem to get any better. Stupid.

You know that fine line between being excited for someone and jealous of them? Well, I'm starting to teeter over that line occasionally with my friends and when I do teeter over I don't enjoy playing the game as much as I use to. No matter how much I like my friends.

Is this something that my friends are making me feel? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! This is something that, for some reason, I'm putting on myself. Every time I get reminded of the stupid things I do in life (or what I'm not doing) I become more aware of the stupid things I do in video games. Stupid things, like not knowing how to fix my computer = poor game play. Not knowing what type of new computer to get = stupid game play. Not dropping off old glasses = stupid game play. Not writing my New York Times Bestselling novel = stupid game play. Not killing anyone and/or dying instantly in games = stupid game play. I even feel stupid for bringing the matter up because I think it's effected some of my friends and maybe damaged some of my friendships. Stupid.

I want my friends to know that I am still happy and excited for you when you play really well in a match, but for now I'm still going to be hard on myself about how I play. That doesn't mean you should change how you play the game, or the over abundant excitement (i.e. yelling) that you might experience while playing the game with me. I told you in my comments to my Ugh! post that I don't take it personally, it's just a stupid things I'm going through right now. And despite how stupidly I play I hope you're still willing to play with me. Or at least send me an invite if you're desperate enough to get a full team. I might be stupid, but I still understand desperation for a full team (more on that in another post).

Besides, like popcorn and oatmeal, this too shall pass (however unpleasantly). But until then, stupid is as stupid does. So now you know how I voted and why.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Surround sound with Dead Space?

So, I've owned a copy of Dead Space for a while now but never got around to putting it in the machine and firing it up. I finally did that this weekend. I never knew it came with surround sound. Or did it?

I didn't get very far in the game before I turned it off but not because I was jumping at every little noise and shadow I saw. I just wanted to play something else a little less . . . intense.

The game really started to freak me out when after your main character goes down the elevator and steps out into the first room. There's a message on the wall that says something about taking their limbs off. Okay, I get the hint. Except I kept hearing a noise that always seemed to be behind my character. After spending about 10 minutes doing pirouettes trying to make sure something isn't going to sneak up on me I finally figured out what the noise was.

It was my dog snoring.

My dog Zoe was sitting on the chair behind me and she's never really snored before so I didn't associate the sound with her. It wasn't a log splitting, rumble down the mountain kind of snore either. Just something soft and maybe a little pleasant sounding except for the fact that I thought it was coming from the game and I couldn't get rid of it. The game was generating moans and creeks so why not something like a snore . . . especially if it didn't really sound like a snore. More like heavy, deep breathing. It fit well within the game and helped in the "let's creep Pengwenn out as much as we can" department.

So yeah, I'm stupid. My dog was snoring and it was creeping me out. See, that's the kind of stupid I'm talking about people. Now, if you were playing a scary game with someone breathing deeply right behind you I think you'd be creeped out to. Or maybe you'd think you suddenly got a surround sound system. Yeah, I know, stupid. So I don't want it hear about it.