Monday, December 20, 2010

New Poll - What do you want most for Christmas?

Here's my Holiday poll:

What do you want most for Christmas?

the latest game
any game
a job
world peace
a date with Pengwenn

Vote now. Be honest.

Missed it by that much

So for the last couple of months I've been working my way through the story of Gears of War 2 on Hardcore . . . and in Co-op. I've had several of my friends help me out with this. It started with Kralon, then Weasell and Evil helped out.

There were a few times when I played the game that none of my friends were available to help. For those times I started my game as "public" and waited until someone joined before I did anything. If that person left I would stop until someone else joined my room. Some nights it was frustrating, especially when the same person jumped in and out of my room multiple times. Because I was being careful I thought I wouldn't have any problems getting credit for those rare public co-op sessions. I was wrong.

Weasell and I finally got to the end of the game and I was richly rewarded for the achievements for casual, normal and hardcore, but I didn't get the achievement for playing the entire game in co-op. After trying to remember which chapters I played on my own, Weasell and I loaded a couple of them up and played through them. After 4 or 5 levels the achievement still didn't pop up.

Now I still have to get the achievement for Insane so Weasell and I talked about playing it through that way and the achievement would eventually pop up. I guess that will work but I thought I had kept track of everything. I guess I was off a little bit.

And that time hasn't been the only time I've been robbed of an achievement by one little mistake. There is an achievement in Fable III for playing the entire game without being knocked out in battle. I was doing really well in the game and then I jumped in with Genghis. We were playing in his game but during a battle I got knocked down. At first I was bummed but then realized it was his game so it shouldn't matter in my game.

A couple of days later I was playing in my game and I wasn't paying too much attention to what was going on. I got trapped in an area and before I could get myself out I was taking a lot of damage. Unfortunately I didn't have any healing potions or food on me. Before I knew it I was knocked out. I realized I messed up and I thought the only way to correct it was to get myself out of there. So I went back to the sanctuary. Unfortunately as soon as I did that I regretted my decision.

When you travel back to the sanctuary the game saves your progress. In my attempt to get out of a sticky situation I only made it worse. I had briefly considered getting out of the game completely by going back to the dashboard but I wasn't sure when the last time my game was saved and I didn't want to loose anything. It wasn't until I hopped into the sanctuary and saw that spinning wheel with the chicken that I knew I was screwed. Now the only way for me to get the achievement for not being knocked out in battle is to start the game all over again.

One brief moment of inattention in two different games and I'm out of a couple of achievements.

I will play Gears again to get that Insane achievement but I wasn't planing on doing that anytime soon. As for Fable III, that's also a game I'll put aside for awhile after I've finished it. I've got a lot of other games that I want to play and friends that want to talk about games without having to put out a spoiler warning first because I'm in the room. If I'm still playing "already finished" games then I won't be making any progress on "as yet to be played" games. At this rate I won't be done playing 2007 games until 2012.

The good news is I FINISHED GEARS OF WAR 2. Now all my friends can talk about everything in the game without me having to turn my mic off. The bad news is not many of my friends are playing, or talking about, Gears of War 2. I might have missed out on a couple of achievements by that much, but I've missed out on talking about a great game with friends by so much more.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Real Gamers Do Cry


I got Evil to play the Gears of War 2 campaign with me last night. I was still replaying the game up to where I'd previously gotten in the story so I knew everything that was going to happen. And I still cried.

Yes, I'm talking about when Dom finds Maria. The first time you see this scene you don't know what to expect. Yeah, he found her! She looks pretty good. Oh wait. Oh no. I feel so sorry for Dom. Dom don't do it. Dom! Noooooooooooo! Okay, now lets go kill some Locust.

It's a sucker punch to the gut when you see what's happening. Dom becomes a real person with real emotions and you feel sorry for him. He's no longer the minority sidekick to Marcus Fenix. You start to see the price COGs have paid in this war. And if you're any kind of gamer you shed a tear or two. Or, if you're with friends you blame that something got in your eye . . . both of them.

The second time playing through the game you know what's coming up. The scene of loss becomes palatable the closer you get to it. As you get closer and closer to that moment you start to feel it weigh heavy on you. At least I did. I knew the spot. I knew what to expect. And I still cried. I probably cried more this time than last time. Last time I was too shocked to cry much. This time the water works started to flow. Last time it was the punch in the gut surprise. This time it was the emotional connection.

Maybe I got more emotional this time because things in my life have changed since the last time. Someone broke in and robbed me and left feelings of being violated. Friends have come and gone to war. I'm watching as my friend's love lives are struggling or crumbling apart and I'm left thinking about my own barren love life. Is there anyone out there that would love me enough to come looking for me? Would he forgo saving the world if it meant he could save me? Would someone think I'm beautiful even when I'm not? And if things were really bad would he save me by killing me? If I was kidnapped by the Locust I think I would live the rest of my life filled with nothing but work, torture and hours trapped standing up in pods. The world will have moved on from Pengwenn and I would not have a knight in shiny armor (or COG armor) to rescue me.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't sit at home every night and lament about the nonexistent status of my love life. I'm an independent person and I've enjoyed living on my own. And the thought of being a "damsel in distress" bothers me. If need be I'll rescue myself but sometimes I want someone to rescue me. Sometimes I wish I had someone in life to share things with. Someone to save me. When thieves break in. Or when Locust start kidnapping people and sinking cities. It would be nice to know that someone cares enough to look for/after me.

Yes, I know Gears is just a game. But it's a game with real life emotional context. And when gamers experience that they might get a little teary eyed. Now, if you'll excuse me, my eyes are getting a little misty just writing about this. But if anyone here at work comes by in the next little while I'll just tell them it's allergies, or I got something in my eye . . . both of them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bah Humbug to the Christmas Spirit!

I spent over 10 and 1/2 hours trapped in the the back seat of a pickup truck, feeling sick and listening to nothing but Christmas music on our drive home after Thanksgiving. Needless to say I was done with Christmas long before I finished digesting Thanksgiving dinner. Well, almost. I was a little sick.

Sense then I've tried to get into the Christmas spirit but a single note of a holiday jingle gives me the heaves. People laughing and joyous while I'm struggling to find a parking spot even remotely close to the store I want to go to makes me want to buy a baseball bat and take some practice swings out in the parking lot. I'm already tired of trying to find a specific gift for someone and having to go to six different stores looking for it. Six months ago I could have found that gift anywhere. And don't get me started on wrapping presents. I hate it. I spent a night doing nothing but that and by the end I wanted to step outside my front door and toss those gifts in the general direction of their intended recipients. If they don't make it all the way there? So what. Broken? Who cares. I'm done.

I'm trying hard not to let that Bah Humbug attitude get in the way of anything else, but it's hard. I'm irritable and crabby by the time I come home and no, it's not because it's that time of the month. When I sit down to play video games I don't have the energy or concentration to do anything. If the slightest error/cheap kill/problem comes up I'm out of there. I even pulled a "Pogue" the other night . . . and I was hosting the party. Sorry. I've tried playing several games. Gears 2, Mass Effect, Puzzle Quest 2, Harm's Way, Fable III, the new Doritos game, you name it, I've tried it. I just can't seem to get invested in anything.

It doesn't help my frustration when all I want to do is kill people online and none of my friends are playing. I've tried playing along but it's just not the same . . . and definitely not for someone who's already pissed off. There are too many pricks online who don't care about helping you out or playing like a team. They're only in it for themselves. At least when my friends play that way we all know about it and can compensate as a team for their Rambo style of play. Besides, I miss my friends.

I know it's the holiday seasons and I'm sure there are Christmas parties, family parties and other general meet-and-greets that might be going on that they are participating in. But that doesn't mean I still can't miss them. I also miss my friends who don't have the same games as I do (or vice versa). Some try a game out and don't like, others don't even try. It's hard when the usual group of friends played every night together are now slightly going their own separate ways because of changing tastes in their gaming habits. At least when Star Wars Battlefront was still around we could always go back to a classic. I miss that game.

So I guess if you play with me for the next couple of weeks and I seems a little more pissy than usual, it's just me in the holiday spirit. Don't let that stop you from playing with me (and I'll try not letting that stop me from playing with you). Maybe if some friends played a couple of games with me along with some of our highly entertaining bantar it just might be what I need to get out of my funk and back into the holiday spirit. Or at least a gaming spirit.

Monday, December 6, 2010

For the Love of the Game(r)

I took a trip to see my sister's for Thanksgiving. For five days I was off line in my gaming and I realized something. It wasn't the games I missed, but the gamers.

That might have been because I took my DSLite and PSP with me. Whenever the itch to play something came on me I pulled one of those out. I played for a little bit but eventually put the system up and turned to something else. It was nice to play games that I hadn't played in a really long time. Unfortunately they didn't hold my interest for very long. I felt like they were missing something.

I realized what they were missing early on in my vacation: my friends. I missed playing with people. I missed the camaraderie, support and direction in the game itself, but also the friendship and bizarre conversations my friends and I usually have. I miss finding out how their days were going and what plans they have for the weekend. And with the holiday weekend there were more friends available online than usual. And I missed out on most of it.

Now this is not to say that I sat around with a bunch of strangers and didn't talk to anyone. I was with family and had some good times. But I could have done without the 10 1/2 hours straight of nothing but Christmas music on the ride home. There is just so many time a person can hear "Do you hear what I hear?" without turning into a slobbing, axe-wielding psychopath. I think I was 10 minutes away from that transformation.

I did borrow dain's laptop to jump online and check out what my friends were playing, but that made me miss them even more. To have a group of friends in your life almost every night then to suddenly be without them for 5 whole days is very shocking to the system. Yes, I know, I should probably get out more often. But I like my life and see no real reason to change it (with a few exceptions). Even playing with Pogue and his lag and echo is more appealing than playing alone. Of course, after an hour or two with that whining and echoing buzzing in my ear playing alone sounds pretty good.

I remember when it was all about the game for me. I wanted to own every system so I could get whatever games I wanted and wouldn't worry about where to play them. But lately I've felt less and less like buying a PS3 and taping into that game market. Why? Because I wouldn't want to miss out on a night playing with my friends.

I tried to explain this concept to my mother a while ago. She seems to think that you can't really be friends with someone you haven't met. I totally disagree. I've spent more time with my "online" friends than I ever would if we had met in real life. And I spend more time with them than my mother spends with her friends. Plus I KNOW things about them that I'm sure my mother would never find out similar things about her friends.

Maybe it's a generational thing. Maybe it's a gamer thing. It doesn't matter to me because I've come to realize I play for the love of my gamer friends no matter the game or the system.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A lament for a missing gamer

(Sung to the tune of "Oh Where, Oh Where has my little dog gone")

Oh where, oh where has our Genghis Khan gone
Oh where, oh where can he be?
With his 360 dead and his Gears game broke
Oh where, oh where can he be?

You've all been wondering. Now we know, a little bit anyway. Genghis is still alive . . . but his Xbox 360 is not. Nor is his Gears of War 2 game disk. He popped on to someone's computer last night and sent me a quick message to say he was still alive but that his 360 crashed and ate up his Gears 2 disk in the process. (And I thought the stuffed suits at Microsoft were the only hungry bastards in the company.) I don't know any more than that, so don't ask.

Once he can find a lending/buying solution to his Xbox 360 woes he'll be back. Don't know when. Don't know with what games (if any) either. If there ever was a time to pass around a collection plate, now would be the time. I'm thinking about it, but I'll let you know.

So, let us all bow our heads at the passing of yet another Xbox 360. I don't know how much the rights are to the song, but I think Microsoft needs to hire Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" song as their anthem. I think these parts are particularly poignant:

There are plenty of ways you can hurt a man
And bring him to the ground
You can beat him
You can cheat him
You can treat him bad and leave him
When he's down


Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Investing in the life span of Fruit Flies

So, let me sum up my gaming experience for the past 12 months:

a) got all my game stuff stolen (Nov)
b) replaced my 360 with an elite (Nov)
c) sent my elite back for repairs for not reading disks (Feb)
d) received a brand new replacement elite (March)
e) sent new replacement in for repairs for not reading disks (June)
f) bought a new backup Arcade while waiting for my replacement (June)
g) received a new replacement elite straight from the manufacturing plant (June)
h) gave my backup Arcade to dain so he could play (June)
i) sent my new new replacement elite in for repairs for not reading disks (Oct)
j) borrowed back my new Arcade from dain (Oct/Nov)
k) while waiting for my new, new, new replacement console to be shipped back started having problems with my Arcade not reading disks (Nov)
l) will make arrangements to send my new backup Arcade in for repairs once my new, new, new elite replacement arrives (Nov)

Notice a pattern?

Since when does Xbox 360s have a 3-4 month life span? I think this is just ridiculous. If the place I worked had such a low standard for the products we put out we would be out of business within a year. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to be above all that. "If you want to play our games you'll just buy another system" seems to be their company motto. Over the course of my Xbox 360 playing days I've purchased 4 separate 360s (including replacing what got stolen). In that same amount of time and longer I've used the same refurbished original Xbox, GameCube and Super Nintendo. I did have to replace my fat PS2 with a slim PS2 after the break in. My Super Nintendo is still going strong today. Why can't Microsoft make a product that last half as long as that?

When I bought the backup Arcade console this past summer I swore that that would be the last time I bought a system in this generation. That was before the new "slim" versions came out and I was tempted. But I figured Microsoft has received enough of my money for the last 5-6 years that I wouldn't be feeding the hog anymore. Unfortunately I'm tempted again to look into getting a "slim". If it was a guarantee that I wouldn't have any of the problems I've been having I would do it in a heart beat, but it's Microsoft and the only guarantee from them is that they think their customers are suckers.

I use to think that it was great that certain games were exclusive to one system or another. I had all the systems so it didn't matter to me. Besides, it was nice rubbing it into the faces of my friends that I owned a game that they didn't just because they didn't have the system for it. When Final Fantasy XIII was first announced it was only going to be for the PS3. Dain and I both said we wouldn't get a PS3 until then. When the announcement was made that Final Fantasy XIII was going to be released on the 360 at the same time (instead of months or years later) I had no real reason to go out and get the system (other than the fact that I just wanted it).

Microsoft seems to think that gamers are so hooked into playing the games that they can only get on their system that if those systems fail those gamers will not wait for repairs and go out and buy another one. Red Ring of Death? Buy a replacement. E4 error? Replacement. Failure to read disks? Replacement. You want to play games like Halo, Fable and Gears right? Well there's only one console to play those on and if it breaks, oh well. Buy another one.

I remember when the RRoD was in full swing. A couple of kids from Texas started a class action suit against Microsoft because of the problem. I don't think the lawsuit is over yet but if/when it is it won't mean much to everybody. So Microsoft gets fined? So what? They've got money coming out of their asses. I was angry then because a couple of punk kids could have really messed things up for the rest of us (and I don't like someone else telling me how to feel about something). If that all happened now with the way that I feel I would say "burn them all to the ground". I'm tired of being used, mistreated and cheated. This debacle of a manufacturing and quality assurance system has got to change. If it doesn't then I might have to.

And I don't want to.

Xbox Live did one thing right. It helped me meet some great friends. If I walked away from my 360 and said "never again" I would be walking away from people I've come to know and love (or at least pleasantly tolerate). Maybe some of my friendships would still survive if one or both of us give up the 360 habit and turned to other forms or entertainment. I suspect most of them wouldn't. And that makes me sad. As great as those friendships are they might not last as long as the life span my 360 seem to have lately. But then again, it might get to the point were fruit flies live longer than 360 consoles. I just hope I'm not still buying them then.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wham Bam! Thank you ma'am

So yesterday I got this message on Xbox Live:

"Do you want to get married in Fable III and have a kid?"

With a romantic proposition like that how could a girl refuse? If it would have come from a stranger I would have deleted it right away. But it came from a friend. They also mentioned that 2 achievements were involved just in case I didn't know.

Even before Fable III came out, as soon as I learned that you could marry/have sex/have a child with your friends (and I guess total strangers) on Xbox Live I wondered when someone would ask me. And I also wondered how you started that conversation. I also wondered who the first person would be to proposition me.

The first person to mention anything was Pogue who promptly put a question up on Facebook about what the first person gets for sleeping with me. I didn't want to encourage him (give Pogue and inch and he will go a mile) so I let his comment slide.

I thought for sure that some of my friends would try to marry others and leave me out of it, but apparently there are no gay marriages in the land of Albion. So I wasn't surprised at who sent the message (I'll call him ALPHA to protect his [somewhat] innocence). And I wasn't surprised at someone else who wanted to "marry" me first (I'll call him BRAVO).

When I turned on my 360 last night it was, once again, having problems reading disks. This would be the fourth machine (3 elites, 1 arcade) that is having the same problem ALL WITHIN A YEAR. (I'll say more on that in a later post.) I called dain over to see if we can figure out why all my systems are failing with the same problem. This led to a lot of log in/log out moments for me. BRAVO sent me a message asking if I wanted to play Fable III. No proposal. No proposition. Just a simple message for a game invite. I explained to him that I was having problems and that I'd let him know when I was able to play.

About 45 minutes later I finally was able to get online and play. I jumped in a party with ALPHA and gave him a hard time about his message. What? No wining or dining? At least he could play a song on the Lute for me first. The funny part was Evil jumped into our party in the middle of our conversation and heard ALPHA say "we'll have sex and have a child, what do you say to that?" Evil's response was a befuddled "um, okay there". I left ALPHA to explain to him what was going on and I jumped into a party with BRAVO to tell him I was ready to play. A little while later ALPHA jumped in with us and all hell broke loss.

ALPHA thought he was going to wed and bed me first, but I had promised BRAVO over an hour ago that I'd play with him (although no mention of marriage was involved). ALPHA made a comment about "sloppy seconds" that almost jeopardized his chance of getting lucky at all that night. (Who you calling sloppy?) But in the end we worked it out. I invited BRAVO in, we got married, had sex, and had a child. Then he stepped out of my game and I invited ALPHA in. That's when the groping began.

Yes, Fable has expressions where you can hug, kiss and dance with someone, among other things. I guess it was ALPHA's form of foreplay, and sometimes "thanks" afterwards. But come on. A girl's got a game to play. ALPHA and I eventually got married, had sex, had a child, then some more groping before I finally took him around the town so he could buy legendary weapons from my game. We joined in a partnership and he bought a few property then finally left my game (after another round of horizontal hokey-pokey).

BRAVO came back into my game and we spent the rest of the night playing some side missions, shopping for property/weapons and shooting gnomes. The villager that I created online finally showed up in the game so I introduced the two. We rolled around in the sack a couple more times before we finally went to bed . . . in the real world.

As an added treat for both guys before each wedding I went back to my sanctuary and took off all my clothes . . . at least the ones the game lets me. I think they really enjoyed that (BRAVO had seen me 'naked' before). I guess I'll have to do the same thing for any other friend that wants to marry me and have a kid in the game for a couple of achievements. It would have been funny if gay marriage was allowed. Then ALPHA and BRAVO would have invited me to their wedding as a guest and not a participant. Which would have been interesting if you could get an orgy going with your friends. (I don't think my friends would let me play anything else if that was the case.)

After a stressful, frustrating beginning to the night trying to get my 360 working properly it was a great relief and one hell of a good time to play with, marry, have sex with, have a child with a couple of friends in Fable III. I needed that, in more ways than one. I just hope I don't become a two-bit floozy with them thinking they can meet me any time for a booty call in the game. I'll be happy to oblige, but I don't want to be yelled at for not finishing another game because my friends won't let me out of the bedroom.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Poll Results - Tell me what to play

When I did my blog post for this poll I said if I don't get more than 6 votes I had the right to throw the results out the window and do my own thing . . . unfortunately for me I voted at the last minute and that put the total to 7 votes. So, yes master, I will get to playing the winner, master. Don't beat me master.

And the winner is.....

Which game should I play so I can play the sequel?

Assassin's Creed = 1 vote
Dead Space = 1 vote
Fallout 3 = 1 vote
Mass Effect = 3 votes
Force Unleashed = 1 vote
Marvel Ultimate Alliance = 0 votes
Dragon Age: Origins = 0 votes

Okay, my vote was for Dead Space. That is a sleeper hit that I don't think gets enough attention. When I was checking the poll and found no one voted for it I was sad, so I voted for it. And that is why I have to do your bidding for awhile. What I've played of this game I really like. It scares the hell out of me, but that's a good thing. I can't tell you how many times I've come across a dead body on the floor and spent some time pummeling it into mince meat even long after there was any possibility of the corpse rising up and attacking me. Better to be safe than sorry in that game.

I'm not surprised Marvel and Dragon Age didn't get any votes based on the competition. I'm a little surprised that some of you didn't consider Marvel. I don't know much but I think the story in the second one is a continuation of the first. So if you haven't played the first you won't really understand what's going on in the second. All the more reason to play the first one if you ask me. But I understand the popularity of the other games and I know my friends are tired of not talking about them in front of me.

I do know about the story in Force Unleashed and that it's best to play the first one before playing the sequel. But I guess that game didn't get more votes because the sequel wasn't out until recently so no one knew if it was worth playing. Of course that didn't stop me from buying the sequel. I'll just have to wait to play it until I've played the first one.

I also thought Assassin's Creed would get more votes partly because everyone says the second one is better than the first one. But on the other hand, as far as I know, you don't really need to play through the first one to fully understand what is going on in the second one. Sure, it might help, but it's not necessary.

I expected it to be a dead heat between Fallout 3 and Mass Effect. I know how much time my friends invested in those games so I know they really liked them. I also know that those two games are the ones that they're dying to talk about but I won't let them. I don't mind hearing little things like "you'll have to go to this place and do that" type of stuff. What I don't like is someone blurting out that "your dog dies" in Fable 2. That's a major spoiler to the story. And a central point in your progression of your character. Don't give that information away to someone who hasn't played the game.

There's been too many times when I've been asked to turn down my headset or unplug my mic so my friends can talk about a game. Just last night, while in a room with some friends all playing Fable 3, one of them said I could be in the room if I wanted to but I would probably hear things I wouldn't want to because they were not going to be quiet about it. I stayed and whenever things started to go in the direction of what might be spoilers I just tuned them out and concentrated more on my game than to what they were saying. I was surprised at how well that turned out. I heard some things but since I was concentrating on my game at the moment what they said didn't really sink in. I'm sure when I get to those points in the story things might come back to me but until then I'm safe.

I'm really not surprised Mass Effect got most of the votes. Since you can import your character from the first game into the second one it makes sense that the first one should be played, well, first. You don't have to do that. I know some people, that once they finished the first game they deleted their game save to make room for other games. I also know people that went back and played the first game (for the fourth or fifth time) just so they could have a game save to carry over to the sequel. And the same thing will apply when Mass Effect 3 comes out.

So, since the majority voted for Mass Effect that will be the game that I'll be playing when I'm not getting some multiplayer action with my friends. I have to say I'm not sorry it's that game even though I am daunted by the scope of the game. I know how long it took some of them to play it. And I'll want to play it good. Then I'll want to play it bad. Then I'll want to play it to save this person. Then that person. Make out with this person. Then that person. You get the idea. Now you know why some people have played it multiple times. And that's not counting any difficulty changes.

Now that you've told me what to play, I'm wondering when I get to tell YOU what to play. I've got a new whip that I can't wait to start cracking. Any volunteers?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rock on! I'm starting a band.

Just a reminder that there is only 4 days left to vote in my latest poll so you can tell me what to play. And remember if I don't get 6 votes or more then I'm throwing the whole thing out the window and I won't listen to what you have to say. We're getting close (5 votes last time I checked) so tell your friends or vote from multiple computers. This is your time to boss me around and I know some of you have been waiting for this day for a long time. Here ends the public service announcement.

Flick your lighter on, make devil horns with your fingers and raise your hands in the air and rock on dudes! No, I haven't raided anyone's weed stash. I've just been feeling very rock and roll lately.

Last week was a very hard week at work. I was fed up dealing with morons, idiots, incompetents and lazy-ass folk at the office. On my way home I stopped off at GameStop to put a pre-order on Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. I also picked up Warriors of Rock bundle.

I checked the price online prior to leaving the office and found it was in my budget for the month but when I got to the store the price was different. The price online was for just a guitar bundle. The box I picked up was for the whole band bundle. I asked if the equipment was compatible with the Rock Band 2 stuff (which I already had) and they said yes, but they weren't very confident or convincing about it. I could have switched to the guitar bundle but I previously purchased a game that "would be compatible" with RB2 stuff, but wasn't. I wasn't going to go through all that again so I got the whole thing.

Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to play that game yet. I've been battling a stuffy head with some aching and coughing for the last couple of days and I didn't feel up to playing guitar, drums or singing. By Sunday night I was feeling a little bit better, but instead of getting everything out of the box and wasting time to set it all up I decided to pull out RB2 and play around on that game first.

It took a while before my fingers didn't hurt while playing. It's been a very long time since I played that game. I played a few tour dates, played and unlocked a lot of challenges and had a great time. Unfortunately I still can't figure out why some of the songs that I downloaded from the marketplace are not appearing on my song list. Someday I will look into that.

One of my friends offered to play some sets with me that night but I was still just trying to limber up my fingers (I'm still only playing on the easy level). I would love to play in a full band with friends online. As long as there wasn't any lag issues that would be total awesome. I would also like to get the drums out of the box and give those a try someday too.

Maybe it's just the young teenager inside of me who always associates rock and roll with rebellion and "fighting back against the man" whomever that might be. But letting off some steam through rock and roll on RB2 was very therapeutic. I just wish I had had the stamina to do it sooner so I could have enjoyed the rest of the weekend playing something else.

By the end of last night's performance I had changed my character to a more rocked out, hard playing, guitar grinding, rock goddess. She frightens me. Where once my character was what I would want to look like if I was rocking in a band, now she's a rocker chick that you could find playing for Franz Ferdinand, No Doubt or some other band. She doesn't look like me. She doesn't act like me. She isn't really me. But man, what I wouldn't do to really be her for one night on stage. Maybe I'll post an advertisement for band members in my bio on Xbox Live. Anyone interested?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Poll - Tell me what to play

Normally I don't like it when someone tells me what to do. When that happens I usually do the opposite or nothing at all. You're not the boss of me, okay! Well, now I am making you the boss and I WANT you to tell me what to do. (Or course if I don't get more than 6 total votes then I reserve the right to do whatever I want anyway so tell your friends to vote.)

So tell me which game I should be playing so that I can play the sequel. The added benefit of playing whichever game is chosen means you can actually talk about the game in front of me and I won't yell at your for spoiling things for me.

Which game should I play so I can play the sequel?

Assassin's Creed
Dead Space
Fallout 3
Mass Effect
Star Wars The Force Unleashed
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Dragon Age: Origins

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don't punish me, I didn't do it!

You know, I'm bound to do dumb, wrong or stupid things in my life. And when I do, I take ownership of those dumb, wrong or stupid things. After all, those dumb, wrong or stupid things might be the only things I do right. But it doesn't matter whether I do dumb, wrong or stupid things, just don't blame me or punish me for something someone else did that was dumb, wrong or stupid.

I've experienced something like that recently with someone on my friends list on Xbox Live (and Facebook). At least he was on my friends list until recently. Now he's not and I'm being punished for something I didn't do.

The short version is his wife's jealous and doesn't want her husband to have any contact with single females on Xbox Live or Facebook. The long version is one of his female friends said some things to him that his wife found out about and now he's banned from single members of the fairer sex.

Do I think that's fair? No. Do I think he did anything to encourage or warrant this behavior from the harlot in question? No. He's a good guy and I would never think he'd do or encourage anything like that. But his wife does. So when I pulled up my friends list and found this guy wasn't there I thought I might have done something to piss him off. When I went to Facebook to ask how I could make amends, he wasn't on that list either. I eventually got to play with him through a mutual friend and we talked and I found out why he had to drop me.

So even though this guy is a great guy and I have no interest in him whatsoever, other than to play games with a great guy who doesn't go all ape-shit on me because I'm a girl playing video games, I'm now banned from playing with him because of what some strumpet said to him. And yes, I know who that was. And yes, I told him I have no interest in him except as noted above.

I know we have stereotypes of guys who play video games. They're loners who still live in their parents basements and haven't ever touched a girl let alone gone out with one. And probably haven't graduated high school (or if in college they never attend classes). But I guess there's stereotypes for those females gamers out there. We're all harlots, whore and strumpets. Apparently we're all out to steal women's husbands who play video games.

Yes, there are douche bags and losers out there. And harlots and whores. But we're not all like that. I've had some pretty bad relationships with men in the past and I was beginning to think that all men were scumbags. But after meeting the guys on my friends list (and weeding out the bad ones) I started to have faith in the male species again. Does that mean I want to ravage their bodies and do things to them that would make the devil blush? No (with a few possible exceptions [wink wink]). And it doesn't mean I'll get all crazy psycho on them either . . . unless they want that.

But that's the thing. I have different boundaries with different guys. Some I know I can tease and flirt with and know nothing will ever happen. While with others I keep our friendship more along the lines of a fellow gamer, platonic type of relationship. I might have crossed the line a couple of times in something I've said, but I always count on my guy friends to say "whoa there Pengwenn" and put me in my place. And I don't mind it if they do. Once that line is drawn in the sand, I won't cross it. Just let me know where it is and I'm happy to dance around naked from the other side. [Just kidding.]

We're all adults here (at least on my friends list) so I don't think this would be a problem. If you don't want me to get all freaky on ya, then tell me. If you do . . . I'm sure we can work something out. [wink wink] But please, don't punish me for something I didn't do. And wives, if you can't trust your husband, trust me. Punish me for the things that I actually do. And if the punishment is losing the chance to play with a good friend I'll make sure you never have to punish me at all. That's my line in the sand. Trust me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm sooooo old

I was reading on's gaming blog that the Super Mario Bros. games is 25 years old. Huh? How did that happen?

That's a whole generation of college graduates that have never lived in a world without Mario, Bowser or Princess Peach. I remember playing that game when it came out. I loved that game. That game, plus Tetris on the Nintendo Entertainment system that my brother-in-law had, was my first real induction into at home gaming. My world has never been the same since.

I asked for a NES for Christmas one year and I had to say I cried when I opened my present. I didn't get it and what I got wasn't what I wanted. Instead I got a Super Nintendo System. I was upset. I thought I would never get to play Super Mario Bros., or Tetris again. I guess I was wrong.

As much fun as it was to think back to my memories of playing that game when it came out it sure did make me feel old. I feel like I should be shaking my cane at some young hooligans. Or maybe I should just yell at them. How old were you when Super Mario Bros. came out? Or what is your first gaming memory? And if you can't remember anything prior to the PS2 or GameCube than "GET OFF MY LAWN YOU YOUNG WHIPPERSNAPPERS."

Killing time

Sometimes I'm just killing time on my Xbox 360. No, that's not a new game that I've got. But wouldn't it be funny if it was. I can just picture little clock characters running around the screen screaming as I blow them up with my shotgun. There would be some of those old fashion pocket watches, wrist watches and mantle clocks. Boss battles would consist of a hard fought battle with a Grandfather clock. And when you get to the end of the game and beat the last clock it resets time and your back at the beginning again. Wouldn't that be great? But I digress.

When I say I'm killing time on my Xbox 360 it usually means I'm playing an Arcade game. I play them when I know my friends are about to get online and I don't want to get too involved in a big game like Mass Effect or Fallout 3. I want something simple and easy that I can jump out of in the middle of a game and not feel bad about finishing it. Quick little Arcade games are perfect for that. And chopping wood or forging swords in Fable II is just the same as an Arcade game.

I also kill time and use Arcade games to wind down after some intense online multiplayer action. Whether we end up having a great night or a terrible one, some times I'm too pumped up to quietly lay down and go to sleep right away. A couple games of Hardwood Hearts lowers my blood pressure and ten to fifteen minutes later I can now start getting ready for bed.

Sometimes when I'm killing time with Arcade games is because I don't have the brain power or attention span to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. When you play an online multiplayer shooter in that frame of mind you're going to get killed . . . a lot. Sometimes these "brain farts" last awhile and sometimes only a few minutes. Either way, I prefer to play one of the Fable Pub games or Gin Rummy, or Backgammon instead of having my head blown off every few seconds. Maybe that's just me.

So if you ever see me online and I'm playing an Arcade game I'm usually just waiting for friends to come online, winding down after an intense gaming session or I just don't have the brain power to play anything too intense. Just because I'm playing one of those games doesn't mean I wouldn't be happy to accept a game invite from a friend to play something else (even an Arcade game). On the rare occasion when an Arcade game catches my fancy and I want to play it as much as I want to play a disk game, I'll let you know. Maybe I'll change my status to "Busy" or I'll go into hiding.

So if you see me online and I'm playing Hearts or Spades or whatnot hit me up with a game invite if you want me to join. Who knows, maybe someday we can kill time together. Watch out for those "3 o'clock" monsters though. They're down right mean.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My friends are a good influence on me

With all the holiday games coming out this season I don't think I know of any friends that can afford them all. And nobody likes buying a game because of the hype only to find it's a dud once they start playing it. That's why some of my friends have been talking about one of them buying a game, playing it, and then letting everyone else know 1) whether it's worth the full price as new, 2) wait until it's cheaper, 3) rent it, or 4) stay as far away from it as you can get. This process only works as long as you trust your friends and have the same taste in game. Or, if not, know what your tastes are and how those differ from your friends. And that got me thinking about the games I've picked up from the influence of my friends.

There are a lot of games that I picked up because of my brother dain bramage. But those games, and the "why"'s of how I got them I'll save for a later post. This will be about my friends online so all of these games will be "newer" compared to what dain influenced me with.

The first game my friends influenced me to get was Gears of War. I can't tell you how many times I was playing Star Wars Battlefront on my original Xbox when Cleelost and eventually El Sand Dog would send me invites to play that game. It was one I considered getting but it would require me to buy an Xbox 360 and I wanted to wait as long as I could before I did that. I eventually caved and bought the game and system and the rest, they say, is history.

I watched dain play Chromehounds many times with CyberWrat and Zenra Nukenin and while I enjoyed watching I never thought I would play it because it was so far out of my comfort zone. One day, for some reason, dain had me sit in for him while he did something else. I didn't know what I was doing but Cyber, Zenra and everyone else in the squad didn't mind. They were nice, courteous, and very understanding of a noobie that not only didn't know how to play the game but wasn't all that interested in playing it either. That soon changed.

I found a cheap copy of the game and joined the squad myself. I had a steep learning curve but they never minded when I couldn't help or contribute to the team. They constantly offered advice and parts and helped me build a hound that would fit my style of game play. Because of that I learned to like the game (I wouldn't go so far as to say I love it) and I made some great friends and strengthened the bonds with existing ones.

When it comes to racing games I prefer cart racing to realistic racing. If I want to see/do that I could just go out on the freeway. Cyber recommended Burnout Revenge as a realistic type game with some cart racing type elements to it. I saw him play the game many times and when I found a cheap copy I bought it. Instead of just trying to race, the game offers the chance and reward of hitting people or doing spectacular jumps and crashes. Not very realistic, but also not very cart racing style either. I liked the game and I still enjoy playing it today. Unfortunately I lost all my saves and rankings when my stuff got stolen so now I'm starting from scratch again.

I can't tell you how many days I saw Quality JimBeam and Genghis Khan and c5ride playing Fallout 3. I heard about the game but since I haven't done well in open world games in the past I wasn't itching to play this game. After countless hours of listening to them harp about the game's virtues I decided to get it myself. While I didn't get far in the game outside the vault (another stolen casualty) I really did like the time I spent playing it so much so that I pre-ordered Fallout: New Vegas. It takes a lot of me to play a game very little but like it enough to pre-order the sequel. I'm looking forward to F:NV now if I could just find the time to finish the first one.

I also remember when Marvel Ultimate Alliance came out. All my friends were excited about getting to play their favorite comic book heroes. I have comic books, but they're all Star Wars ones. I've never been into the other comic book heroes. Although I do remember watching a cartoon on TV with the Wonder Kids ("wonder twin powers activate") but I don't remember what show that was. I had several friends get that game and play it a lot. I wasn't really going to get it but Hell Weasell and G Sneaka wouldn't take no for an answer. They kept telling me about the game, comparing it to other games I might have played, and I think they might even have guaranteed I would like it. So I bought it.

By the time I got around to buying it most of my friends have moved on from that game. But Weasell and Sneaka have played with me while I work my way through the game. And they were right. I do like the game.

One game I knew nothing about before it came out, and very little about once it did, was Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. I saw Genghis play this for hours on end. He said he's probably played it for 100 hours yet still hasn't advanced the main story line. He was doing nothing but side quests. When I asked him about it he said it's like an open world Balder's Gate style game. Different, but close enough for my understanding. He said you'd put in hours and hours in the game and it would well worth the price. And I'm for getting my money worth on a game. He also warned me that I would need to spend large chunks of time playing it instead of short 10-15 sessions I usually get in games.

This was one of the hardest games for me to find, but when I did, it was a reasonable price so I got it. It took some times getting familiar with the menu system and map settings but I was just starting to like the game when it was stolen. One day I'm going to make sure I don't have anything to do and I'm just going to sit down and play this game. I'm sure I won't get far in the story with all those side quest, but I know I'll love every minute of it.

The hardest game for me to find, once I decided to get it, was also the game that took the most convincing and the longest time before I got it. That was Civilization Revolution.

I remember playing the demo when the game first came out but I just couldn't get a handle on the game. I deleted the demo and never thought about the game again. That was until QJB started playing it constantly not too long ago. When I asked him about the game what he told me about it didn't match up with the demo I had played many months (or years?) earlier so I didn't put the two ideas together. Based on his comments I decided to download the demo and found out I had already done so, but still didn't connect the dots. Once the game started however, I realized this was the one that I felt was trying to show me the game in gibberish. My first playthrough of my second download of this demo didn't go so well. I talked to QJB about it and he gave me pointers and tips about the game. I tried the demo again and things started to make sense. I think I played through the demo several times each time wanting to play a little bit more than what the demo offered because I was getting interested in the game. So I decided to buy it.

Unfortunately this was the hardest game to find. I did find it once but when I opened the case there was no booklet inside. I've implemented a policy that I won't buy a used game unless the booklet is included. I just like having a layout of the button/controls just in case I forget. I know I can find that information in the game but it's easier to read sometimes from the booklet. I think it took me two months to find a copy of this game (booklet included) after going into every GameStop between work and home several times a week (there are 6 stores nearby my house or on the way home from work).

Even after I got the game and started to play the full version I realized there was still a lot of stuff I didn't understand about the game. Thankfully QJB provided great "after purchase customer service" and walked me through a lot of the game. This turned out to be a game that sucked several hours out of my game time without me even noticing. I was warned about that, but I didn't believe it. Now I know better.

In addition to disk games there have been a few Arcade games that I've picked up from the recommendations of friends.

Death Spank is one of them. Sneaka said the humor in it was twisted and wrong . . . and that I would love it. How could you pass up something like that. Although I've had some problems in the game, he was right about the humor. And all my other friends who played it said it matches Sneaka's sense of humor . . . and they were right too.

I also picked up Monday Night Combat because of Sneaka. I'm not very good at it and I only know how to play the assault character type but it's the camaraderie of playing with friends that I like the most of that game. And the times when I get sneaky and kill someone. I am getting better at that.

I picked up Battlefield 1943 based on a suggestion from Evil Ric. I had been getting burned out on Call of Duty games but he said this game was different. It was and it wasn't. I never played it as much as my other friends so now I've left alone to get that "play 100 games" achievements which is actually harder now because the game has gotten so laggy.

I picked up Gin Rummy to play with Zenra and because I'm a huge gin rummy fan. It's nice to sit and play a game and have a civil and polite conversation with someone. I wished more of my friends had a copy of that game so we could all play it like we all played Uno back in the day.

I also picked up SpyGlass Board Games based on some conversations with Kralon. I like playing chess, checkers and othello (reversi in that game) but I wasn't sure if the price was worth it. It has been, except for the fact that I can't seem to beat the AI in checkers so I can get that last achievement.

I might not like my friends talking about games I have and spoiling the plot for me but I do listen to them when they talk about the games I don't have. Sometimes I pick them up and sometimes I don't. I think Red Dead Redemption is a game I never will get because of what my friends said about it and the fact my friends now know what types of games I like and don't like. They said I wouldn't like the open world aspect of it.

I consider all of this advise and influence good on me and my gaming. I've picked up games I probably wouldn't have paid attention to otherwise. Unfortunately my friend's advice is a bad influence on my bank account. Maybe I should start sending them the bill when I pick up a game they recommend. I wonder if they would stop recommending games if I did that. I wonder what hidden gems I would miss out because of that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I accomplished a lot this weekend

With having a full time job during the week sometimes big tasks get pushed to the weekend when I can spend more time on them. You know, like pulling weeds, chopping grass, beating a boss to get the tuna inside him, driving a vehicle up a snow covered mountain to Peak 15. You know, the usual.

This weekend I accomplished a lot. No, I didn't pull weeds or chop grass, but I did get that pesky tuna and made it to the top of Peak 15. Better still was that by finally being able to do those two things I got myself unstuck in a couple of games.

My tuna problem was in Death Spank. It's a new arcade game that several of my friends recommended and I'm glad they did. One of the missions is for a lazy fisherman who wants you to beat a mini-boss and cut the tuna out of his stomach. I couldn't ever seem to beat the boss. If I took a lot of damage and had to run away to heal when I would get back the boss would be back to full strength. That's when I went online and figured out what to do.

Apparently there are turnips of something that the boss will eat to restore his health if he's left alone for too long. Destroy the turnips . . . destroy the boss. I made one attempt many weeks ago to do just that but failed. I tired to destroy the turnips too close to the boss and we engaged in combat before I could finish. He beat me. I died. Game over. Moving on. This time I made sure to only go after the turnips while the boss was somewhere else. It worked and in no time at all I beat him, had the tuna in my inventory and was heading back to the lazy fisherman. My reward? He instantly healed me. Unfortunately I had used up some items to heal myself before I got back there. All for nothing. Except that now I'm no longer stuck in that game.

The other game I got unstuck in this weekend (I have many more I need to work on) was Mass Effect. I've seen a couple of my friends playing the first and second one and I thought I'd give it another try. I was at the point in the story when you first get a chance to drive a vehicle. You have to make it up to the top of Peak 15 to find out what's going on and to look for someone. No matter how many times I tried I kept dying at the first tunnel. That's when I put the game away and got some advice from friends.

One person advised to stay in the car the whole time. Another advised to get out and fight when I saw people. He figured a three member party would have better control and firepower to go after individual attackers instead of using just the vehicle. On my first play through yesterday I stayed in the car . . . and discovered I could repair some of the damage the car took. Yeah! On that attempt I made it through the tunnel but then promptly died on the other side.

On my next attempt I drove up to the people, got out of the car and tried to attach, using the car as coverage. Unfortunately the enemy kept shooting at the car, so even though I wasn't in it, it was still taking damage. After clearing out all the enemies in the front of the tunnel I drove in. I died before I could make it to the other end.

The next time I left the vehicle around a corner and walked up to the enemy. I cleared out the whole tunnel and then hoofed it back to the car. There were only a few shields I had to take out to get through the tunnel but it was so much easier. Once I got to the end of the tunnel I got out and repeated the process. After a couple more times there were only turrets to deal with and those I could take out with the rockets (which I had just learned I had). After I got all the way up to the top I couldn't believe how easy it was to do so. It made me wonder why I hadn't thought about that tactic. I guess that's why I'll never make a good general.

Now, some would say that my weekend wasn't very productive at all. Especially my mother. I still have weeds and grass in my backyard that need to be taken care of. But for me I think it was a very productive weekend after all. Because I'm unstuck in Mass Effect I can now play through to the end, start the sequel AND talk to my friends about the game without avoiding spoilers. With Death Spank I can now go back to enjoying a game that was driving me nuts. I loved the humor but when you can't get past what seems a simple task even that humor turns sour in your ears.

Maybe I should spend every weekend working on the games that I'm stuck in. I have enough that I could probably go a whole year without duplication. And if the weeds and grass get high enough I can always call a landscaper. That way the yard looks nice and I don't have to miss any game time. Sounds like a plan to me. Does anyone know a cheap, but good, landscaper?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poll Results - Are you getting Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach is the big game to get right now. I also think it's the harbinger of the holiday season of new game releases. I know, I've already got several games on pre-order. But Halo: Reach is out now and I wanted to know if you were going to get it. At least for the three people who voted in this poll besides me.

Are you getting Halo: Reach?

Yes, on release date = 1 votes
Yes, eventually = 2 votes
Maybe, if all my friends get it first = 0 votes
NO! = 1 vote

Okay, lets get into the voting. And I promise no "Reach around" jokes. I already used up my allotment of one.

I voted "Yes, eventually". Because I put three games on pre-order a while ago that will be released in October I thought I'd wait to get this game for several reasons. 1) I haven't even finished the first Halo game, 2) outside of a few die hard fanboys I don't have too many people on my friends list that would like to play this game 3) I haven't even put in my pre-orders on the games that come out in November or December yet and I'm not made of money.

I will get this game eventually because I have all the other Halo games (with the exception of Halo Wars). If I didn't get this game it would be like buying a chess set one piece at a time but then not buying the pawns. Sure, you might throw them away willy-nilly in a chess game thinking they're worthless, but you're not going to win without them. If Halo: Reach helps to tell the full story of that game world I'm all for it. But until I play (or finish) more of those other Halo games the game is pretty much worthless to me. I think I'll wait until either 1) the price comes down, 2) there are no other games out there I want to have more, or 3) I win the lottery and have oodles of money to spend on things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of life. Like Halo games.

I don't have a problem with the gameplay, environments, or story in a Halo game. It's when I go online and play with teabagging idiots that annoys me. For some of my friends it's the "Halo jump" that annoys them. Either way, the game is great....the people you play it with not necessarily so.

So what games do I have on pre-order that are pushing Halo: Reach to the back of my budget? Dance Dance Revolution, Fallout New Vegas, and Fable III. Games that are further out that I want to pick up are: Call of Duty: Black Ops, Gears of War 3, Dead Space 2, The Force Unleashed 2 and a whole lot more. I might be treating myself a lot this Christmas season so any gifts I give might be a little skimpy. But I'm not complaining. :) What games are on your radar this holiday season?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Decline of RPGs

The first video games I played were Tetris and Mario Bros. A puzzle and platform game respectively. But my love of video games in general came with RPGs. Those Role Playing Games that allow you to customize your character's strengths and weaknesses and battle enemy foes using physical attacks and magic. There was strategy involved but you were not scripted to playing the game a set way.

If any series cemented what RPGs were all about it was Final Fantasy. Although there were RPGs before the first Final Fantasy game was released no other series has done it better than developer's Square's (whether they were Square Soft, Square Enix or just Square) long loved series. But I'm beginning to wonder about the health of RPGs in today's gaming environment and whether or not Square has given into the pressure of making the games more action oriented and faster paced.

In order to see the decline of the RPGs, let's start at the beginning. Most of the very first RPGs had a similar system of battle. You had three or four characters standing in a line facing any number of foes (also standing in a line) and you each took turns in the battle. A menu would pop up of available moves and the player entered whatever commands they wanted to see their characters preform. Playable characters also had designated jobs or job skills and no matter how much you wanted that magic user to use a sword they were never going to be very good at it. Your warrior would always be your muscle man. Your healer would always be a girl. Your black mage would always be the shy dorky one.

One problem with early RPGs was that you wouldn't always know when your characters would take their turn. There was nothing more frustrating than having a character with low hit points get killed off before one of your other characters could heal them and all because of their turn order. That curative spell now gets redirected to a character that doesn't really need it and it's a waste of magic points.

Then along came "attack gauges" or "turn order line ups". These allowed you to see when in the order of battle which characters would act first. If you notice that all the enemy are going to strike before you even get a turn then there's no point in trying to save a teammate if they're going to get struck down before you get a chance to heal them. You turn(s) would be better served striking at the enemy with the characters you do have or shoring them up for the next turn. It was a balancing act of attack and defend. There was strategy involved and the player had to think ahead in order to survive some tough boss battles.

So now players had "turn order" displays to better help them battle enemies, but characters where still standing in a straight line at the start of battle. In the 'guise of making RPGs better, developers now instituted what I call a "roaming" nature to the battle. Instead of drawing a line in the sand of where each team would stand and fight from,characters now roamed about the battle field. But enemies roamed around as well. At the start of a battle a character might be in front of the enemy but later on they could isolated and surrounded by the enemy. While this did make the battle systems more "active" and faster paced because you not only had to keep track of commands issued and the order they would be performed you had to keep an eye out for enemy movement so no one character gets in trouble. The problem with all this movement was that a lot of information was being displayed on the screen and a battle could get very distracting to a player if they paid attention to every blip and dot that showed on the TV.

Some time after "roaming" was introduced to RPGs developers decided that it was just too much for games to handle so they started to create games where the computer controlled the movements and commands of some of your party members. No longer would players have to concentrate on keeping three or four characters alive and active on the field. Now they only had to concentrate on one. Those characters that were previously designated as "healers" "warriors" or "magi" were now locked into those roles and that was the only thing they could do. The gamer had one character they could customize and grow however they wanted to. Everyone else's destiny was written in the programming code.

You would think that RPGs could go no further in eliminating the human player from the game, but they have. Final Fantasy XIII is a perfect example of that. When a battle starts there is an "auto battle" option available. What this command option does, is have the computer pick the best attack options and programs them in for you. One click of a button and your character will execute three preprogrammed commands. And your other characters are left to whatever commands the games programmed them for. But there's a twist. If you team is in need of healing, you either have to use potions yourself or you have to switch your whole team to a different "paradigm" in order for one of the AI controlled characters to heal you.

What a "paradigm shift" is, is a pre-programmed set of class skills for your party. Unfortunately, you might be in a position to want to throw a lot more fire power at an enemy at the same time you might need someone to heal the group. Having a paradigm shift that gives you both is impossible. Instead of three strong attackers you now might have one attacker, one support person and one healer.

For me, all of these changes have created a disconnect with RPGs and the characters that inhabit them. I don't care as much about Lightning or Hope as I did about Cloud or Vivi. Vanille is more annoying than Rikku ever was. And I don't care if Snow gets to save Sara as much as I cared if Tidus got to save Yuna. The games are still RPGs. You can still customize your characters (albeit down a very limited, straight forward path).

RPGs were like Chess games for gamers. There was thought and planning involved. They took hours to play and had a story line that merited the time invested in the game. Now a days is seems it's all about throwing the player right in and GIVE THEM ACTION ACTION ACTION!!!!

Maybe you don't think RPGs have changed. Maybe you're right. Maybe it's me that has changed. I'm older. I've got more things and responsibilities going on in my life so my expectations for RPGs might naturally have changed. But there's one problem with that. I've finished Final Fantasy X but I still love to go back and play it. It stills brings the same emotions and excitement out in me as when I played it the first time. Now some scenes in the beginning are more poignant than they were the first time around because I know what's going to happen. With newer RPGs I'm just not feeling that. It's like developers are saying "we've got to hook 'em first with action and make the game easier to play to they'll stick with it". To be honest that's not usually why gamers get involved with RPGs.

I will probably always love RPGs. They haven't messed them up enough where I'm turned off the genre as a whole. I have learned to be more cautious with my expectations and purchases for games in that genre. That didn't use to be the case. I would buy any and every RPG I could find. The first game I finished to the end credits was Legend of Dragoon. That is an RPG worthy of (and set up for) a sequel. I have since gone back and restarted that game as well because I miss it.

There is a saying that "if it's not broke, don't fix it". I wish developers would have listened to that as they have evolved the RPG style of game. While, attack gauges and turn orders are nice they still keep the integrity of the RPG experience intact. When the game starts to control more characters than the human playing it, I think they've gone to far. Hopefully this is only a trend and this "decline of RPGs" is only a pothole on the road to some great RPG games to come out in the future. Long live Vivi!

New Poll: Are you getting Halo: Reach?

There's a little game coming out next week that you might not have heard about. It's called Halo: Reach. What? You have heard about it? Well then, vote in this poll. Please!

Are you getting Halo: Reach?

Yes, I'm getting it at release
Yes, eventually
Maybe, if all my friends get it first

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Old....but still true

I've just been flipping back through older enteries seeing if my style has changed and if I'm actually getting better as a writer when I came across this one:

How hard is it to finish a game?

I was sitting around with nothing better to do (obviously I was at work) when I had an epiphany. I own a lot of video games, but I haven't finished very many of them. Okay, I had only finished 3 (Legend of Dragoon, Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance). And I wondered why I hadn't finished more. I sat and stared out into space, pondering this dilemma when I had another epiphany. I'm a video game addict.

I play video games a lot. And I own a lot of video games. But there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to play them all . . . especially when new ones keep being released. I'd buy a game, play it for several hours, then have to put it aside so I could play the next great game I just bought. When I finally make it back to that first game I'm so lost I don't have a clue what to do next so I just start the game over. I've probably played the first 5-10 hours of ALL my games at least twice. And some of them more than halfway through.

It's great to have a lot of games. I enjoy them all. But I want to enjoy the fact that I've finished them. Not finishing some games meant I couldn't talk to some of my friends because THEY'VE finished the game and they don't want to spoil anything for me. It's annoying when you're not in on the secrets. So I devised a plan:

Pick one game for each console and don't play anything else until you've finished those games.

Since I own several systems (SNES, N64, GameCube, PS, PS2, Xbox, GBA SP, PSP and a PC of course) I figured I could pick several different types of games to play to suit my every changing mood (I am a girl after all). But how was I to "stay on target"? I could enlist my gaming brother. After all, he's the "dealer" that got me hooked on video games.

When I told him of my plan, he liked it, since he's having the same problem as me (with a lot more games to agonize over). He wanted in. We put our heads together and made a list of games that we both own (for the same console). We'd be each other's support system and help network when we got stuck in a game and can't find that damn hidden treasure. ARGH! Since it was my idea, I let him pick the games. He picked: Final Fantasy VII (PS), Summoner (PS2), Star Wars: Jedi Knight II Jedi Outcast (Xbox) and Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube).

I had dabbled in all of them (had 10+ hours in FF7) but I was ready to start over and play them to the end. We started out with a bang, all gung-ho and everything, but that didn't last long for either of us. I found out I have another video game addiction. Xbox Live. There's something about beating another player and knowing their human and not AI (though for some it's hard to tell the difference). I laugh gleefully (some call it a cackle) but I enjoy myself. Especially when they find out they've been beaten by a girl. Then my gaming brother opened the flood gates and got me hooked on something else. Xbox 360.

We both exercise a lot of restraint not buying new console when they first come out. Let other players work out all the bugs and kinks in the new systems, we'll wait for a later release. But my brother couldn't wait anymore. He bought a 360 before Christmas. We met up each week and I had to sit there and drool while he played Gears of War and played around on the dashboard. I couldn't take it anymore. I caved. I bought a 360 in an after Christmas sale. And now I'm hooked. Achievements? I'm all for them. Gamerscore? I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Now it's not just another new game that I want to play, but a whole new system.

It's been 6 months since we started our little pact. Neither one of us have finished a game he picked out. We're getting closer, but at this rate it'll take us 3 years to finish them all. And think of all the games we're NOT playing (or trying not to play) during that time. On second thought, I don't think I want to.

I laughed at out loud at the last paragraph. It's been more than three years since then and I don't think neither dain or I are any closer to finishing those games than we were back in March of 2007 when I posted this. I have an excuse . . . my game saves were robbed. I don't know what dain's excuse is other than the fact that there are so many more games out there that he owns but hasn't played. Oh wait, that's my excuse too.

Poll Results - How badly did I mess up?

I was so anxious to get this poll over with I actually shortened it one day just so we could all more on. Besides, nobody was voting any way. I'll have to come up with something good for the next poll. Anyway, here are the results:

In my "Done with Online Gaming" post did I...?

kick an ant hill = 1 vote
whacked a hornet's nest = 0 votes
stuck my foot in my mouth = 0 votes
stepped in shit = 0 votes
all of the above = 2 votes

I don't think it's any surprise that I voted for "all of the above" (I just hope I stuck my foot in my mouth BEFORE I stepped in shit). And while I've already explained to some friends my thoughts behind that post in question I think I should it explain it to everyone so we're all on the same page.

When some people get frustrated they vent right away. There's nothing wrong with that. For me I blow off a little steam but then keep most of it inside and try to analyze it and process it until it finally comes out in a blog post here. Sometimes I just don't care and that frustration melts away. Other times I've already got so much frustrations from work that playing games online only makes things so much worse. That's when I say I've had enough. And that's where I was mentally when I wrote that piece.

There was so much more in that post that I took out because I realized that I was whining about whiners and I thought that made me feel foolish and made things a bit ironic.

One of the examples I left out was when I was playing on my own (without my friends) and we were playing Security. I was in the front and ran to the frag grenades and picked them up. I guess my teammate behind me wanted the frags themselves so he spent that whole run firing at me and trying to push me aside to pick them up himself. He didn't get them. He then spent the rest of that round following me around and shooting at me. When I got in a battle with someone on the other team he just stood there and didn't help out even when I moved the enemy around so he could shoot him in the back. He waited until after I was dead before he engaged.

The next time frags came up I went there again. The same thing happened. This time the enemy came right over and downed me right away while I still had the grenades in my hand. I had tossed one grenade that killed the enemy but he had downed me before he died. My team mate stood and watched, never bothering to help me up. When I died he grabbed my grenades and ran off . . . only to be immediately killed by someone else.

Then there was a match on Ruins (once again I was by myself) where my own team mate pushed me out of the way when I was going for the frags under the bridge. He immediately ran to our torque corner and pushed two other players out of the way to grab torque. He then stepped in front of our cubby and had his head blown off. So he grabbed both power weapons, but didn't get a chance to use them. Guess what he did next? He quit. Unfortunately he was host and we were all booted from the game.

I give my friends a hard time sometimes when I tease them that nobody gets a chance to get the power weapons except them. But sometimes I struggle with that. I WANT a chance to use the weapons and get good with them, but I also WANT our team to win. If having the power weapons in an experienced player's hands vs. a complete and utter bumbling noob I would rather have the pro use it than me. Maybe if our team was slaughtering the enemy I might ask to use a power weapon on a round or two. If we are getting slaughtered I still think we can have a chance to win even down 4 to nothing.

I want to use the power weapons because I don't want my experience in Gears to be what it was like in Star Wars Battlefront. When I first started playing I could never get into a vehicle because everybody else would take them. It took years before I could get my hands on a land based transport (tank, speeder, etc) and then I couldn't do very much with it before I was killed. I just didn't have the practice with those options to be effective. And don't get me started on flying vehicles. I still can't use them.

I don't want to finish my game play in Gears and say I never really learned how to use the torque bow or sniper rifle. It's a part of the game and I would really like to have a go at it. Besides, I think it will help my kill/death ratio.

I don't really care so much about my kill/death ratio. I care more about getting a win . . . or a loss. But I've noticed a trend in Gears. Those that use the long distance power weapons (sniper and torque) have a higher kill/death ratio than those that don't. It's hard for me sometimes to listen to my friends and teammates berate the opposing team for having a low kill/death ratio. It's common to hear "you have a .5 kill/death ratio dude, you suck". Dude, that's what I have. I must suck.

It's not like I don't try. Some might even say I try too much ("Pengwenn what were you thinking?"). It's just that in order for me to get a kill without a power weapon I need to get closer to the enemy. Unfortunately that means I'll probably die more often than I kill them. It would be nice sometime to sit back in friendly territory and yet still have the firepower to knock out the enemy one by one. But when I do get the opportunity to use the power weapons I'm more likely to shoot myself in the foot due to my inexperience.

I wish I could tell you all the frustrations that lead up to why I wrote that post. But if I did you would complain that I'm being a whiner too. And I've probably bored you enough already. I just really want to enjoy playing games with my friends. I love winning. Hate losing. Everything else is whipped cream to me. And if I get a chance to use a power weapon and it helps my team that would be the cherry on the top. Let's just hope the host doesn't quit before the match is over.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Poll: Tell me how I did

Okay, a post to express my frustration on what seems to be the norm in online gaming (glitchers, cheaters, quitters and whiners, oh my!) I seem to have ruffled some feathers of friends. It wasn't my intention. I was just venting. It's the only way I know how. My big "you" paragraph was meant as the general population "you" instead of the specific friend "you" that it might have come across as. So now I have a new poll. Here it is.

In my "Done with Online Gaming" post I....?

kicked an ant hill
whacked a hornet's nest
stuck my foot in my mouth
stepped in shit
all of the above

"Remember, this is for posterity so be honest." -Prince Bride

Monday, August 23, 2010

Done with online gaming

Okay, I think I'm done with online gaming. Yep, you read that right. I'm done with all the host quiting because they're going to lose. I'm done with teammates, and opposing teams, whining about who got host. I'm done with glitches and cheaters as well. Do you want to know what put me over the edge?


Yep, that favorite game that requires you to roll 5 dice and try to make sets or runs depending on what you need on your score card. I'm sure you've all played it in real life at some point. Now it's one of the games you can play in Family Game Night.

I was eating dinner last night and wanted to play something mindless and easy while I got my daily nutritional intact out of the way. What a better time than to play a game of Yahtzee. Now normally I would play single player by myself, but I was feeling adventurous and jumped into an online game. We had three players and the game sets up the turn orders randomly at the start of the game. Our lovely host was player number one. I was player number three.

For most of the game the host was leading the scoring. A couple rounds towards the end I was able to eek a little ahead of the host in overall scoring. On the last roll of the dice the host only had the Yahtzee score blank, but failed to get one so they had to take a zero. As the scores stood then (even without me having my final turn) I won the match. While the second player was taking their turn I got the "host left the match" message and I was back to my lobby. Come on. Really?

You're going to quit a game of Yahtzee because you didn't win? Is winning that important to you that you can't play fair if you don't win? I was fuming by the time I put in my Gears of War 2 disk to play with friends. I asked if we could do an "open mic night" so I could vent my frustrations out on the other team (instead of my teammates). Unfortunately they weren't in the mood until one team decided to be dicks about the last kill. We opened up the mics then but after the match was over we went back into a party.

But even though killing the enemies in Gears helped my mood, listening to teammates whine about the game didn't. I'm tired of hearing about someone's connection being host. At one point someone on my team started to bitch about someone on the other team being host and getting the advantage. I had to tell them I was host, but that didn't seem to matter. The response I got was "then he must be in your f*cking living room". Come on. Really?

Just because everything doesn't go your way in a match doesn't mean it's because someone else on the other team has a host advantage over you. Some times there are people just better than you. Or maybe more focused on the game they you were at that time. Or maybe they have a better game plan with their whole team. Whenever we start to go our own way we lose more rounds than we win. You should know that. And you should also know that the whole team isn't there to support just you. Other people can pick up the grenades. Other people can get the power weapon. And just because they do doesn't mean they're going to cost us the game because they did. I'm tired of all the whining.

I'm tired of all the glitching and cheating too. I've played some matches recently where the other team found a way to hide inside a wall so we couldn't see them but they could see us and shoot us while still being protected themselves. I've also played matches where there was some definite lag switching going on. One moment my gun is using bullets and I'm shooting someone, the next minute they are behind me and my gun isn't using any ammo. Come on. Really? Is that the only way you know how to win?

I'm just tired of it all. There's no fun and joy playing with whiners, glitches, cheaters and quitters. A loss is just a loss. It's a game. Getting one more loss isn't going to prevent you from getting a loan on a new car. Or getting that big promotion you want. A win, also, isn't going to get you money to buy groceries. It isn't going to pay your mortgage or buy you clothes for the new school year. It's just a number. Winning and losing.

The point of playing games is to have fun. Enjoy the story. Marvel at the realistic graphics if you like. But don't be a dick about an obsessive need to win all the time. If there were more games that got people to play together off of a server instead of a host console I'd be more inclined to play those. Or if there has to be a host console could they at least design a host migration tool into the game so if the host does leave the match can go on. Granted that might mean the next host has a lousy connection for everyone else but at least the match still goes on.

Will I play games online tonight? I don't know. Right not; not likely. That's not going to stop some of my friends from begging, pleading and bargaining with me to join them I'm sure. Will I give in to their demands? I hope not. A night or two of single player gaming might be just what I need to make me want to come back and play games online. Otherwise, I just might be done with online gaming for good.

Poll Results - What's more embarrassing?

So here are the poll results. Only two people voted, besides me. How embarrassing is that?

What's more embarrassing?

getting out of a public swimming pool without your swimsuit on = 1 vote
getting beat by a full team of bots in Gears of War = 2 votes

I voted for the pool. Come on people. There's nothing more embarrassing or humiliating than putting your goods on display, unknowingly, for everyone to see. I guess you guys think you're hot stuff and aren't afraid to show the world the way God made you. If that's the case then I would like some visual proof of your confident manliness. Just tell me who voted and I'll send you my email address.

Getting beaten by bots is not embarrassing. They've got the advantage in more ways than one. They don't have to deal with lag issues. They automatically know where you are without having to looking for you. And their aiming has pin-point accuracy even while running and firing blind. If you can beat a bot that's something to celebrate. But getting beat by them isn't something to be ashamed about.

What made it hard, the night in question, was that we had already beaten a team of bots on a different map. For some reason when we played that night we could never seem to get a full team of players on the other side. Sometimes when they were short handed they would stick around. Other times (twice to be exact) the whole team would drop out before the match started.

The first time we beat them easily. The second time we were playing on War Machine. It's a map we haven't played in a very long time. Besides the sniper rifle we couldn't remember what weapons spanned where or when during the match. Instead of working as a well oiled machine we were all over the place. We had no direction and we definitely didn't stick together. It didn't help when the bots started picking us off one by one that all we could do was laugh. If we had put our whole effort into the match (and knew where to go for the good weapons) I'm sure we could have won against them for a second time.

When it was all over two comments were made. 1) "lets never talk about this night again" and 2) "who's going to blog about it first". I guess I win. Although I'm sure there might be some counterpoints raised by my fellow bloggers that were playing that night.

So losing to bots in Gears of War 2 is like losing at the poker table when the cards are stacked against you. The game is stacked against you. It's cheating. And nothing to be ashamed, embarrassed or humiliated about. You try. You get killed. That's life. Now, walking around like a nudist at a public swimming pool without intending to IS something to be embarrassed about . . . unless your body is "cheating" too. And then I'll have to launch and investigation. Prepare to be thoroughly examined.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rock music isn't for everyone

Sometimes it feels like a game is out to get you. Like playing through the Dark Carnival campaign in Left 4 Dead 2 four times before I finally got the achievement after the rock concert. Or Genghis's multiple attempts to fire up a clown only to have the clown be the one to run through the flames and not burn. These moments make you want to put down a game and never play it again.

Then there are other moments, like last night, that make all the frustration worth it. Moments like Sneaka's obsessive cuddling of Gnome Chompski. I think he would have thrown his own children under the bus if it would have saved Gnome. And don't get me started on the bad 'gnome' puns he started to come up with.

But there was one moment that trumped everything else. A moment that left me laughing for a good 10 minutes after the game. So much so that I had to leave my mic on mute and I was afraid I would never breathe again. What happened, you ask? Well, I'll tell ya.

We were on our second or third time through on the rock concert chapter of Dark Carnival. Sneaka was bonding with his gnome and the rest of us were just trying to get out of there alive.

Apparently we weren't the only ones.

When the helicopter finally came down to the bleachers guess who was the first person on board? Not Rochelle. Not Coach. Not Ellis. And definitely not Nick. We all gave ourselves a shot of adrenaline and made a beeline for the safety of the helicopter's skids when as soon as we get there a Tank jumps up into the stands . . . AND JUMPS UP ON THE HELICOPTER SKIDS! Our mode of escape is now blocked by the very worse possible zombie you could find.

While this image was funny in and of itself there were three other things that started my giggle fit. One was the that I was first to the copter and I got to watch the copter tilt and sway as the Tank tried to climb in. For some reason the Tank tried to climb in twice. Each time the copter dipped and swayed with the weight of the Tank. All I could think of was "I'm not getting on that thing" and not because of the Tank would have pummeled me to bits before the copter got out of there. But because I wasn't sure what the weight limit would be on that thing. If you're escaping a horde of zombies the last thing you want to do is get on a copter that may not make it off the ground.

The other thing that made me giggle like a school girl who just got all the Jonas Brothers to autograph her TrapperKeeper was the squeals of disbelief from my friends when they saw their exit blocked by the Tank. The first moment of their "oh sh#t what do we do now" screams were priceless. The next few moments of game play consisted of us running around trying to lure the Tank away from the helicopter without having the enormous horde of the undead overwhelm us mere feet from our rescue.

The last thing that happened that put the whole incident over the edge for me was when Sneaka took his beloved Gnome, still cradled lovingly in his arms, and tried to jump into the helicopter. Apparently the Tank wanted the helicopter all to himself . . . or maybe just Sneaka . . . because he knocked the gnome out of Sneaka's hands and finally the Tank got out of the helicopter. Because of the hordes of zombies now all around us nobody could find where good old Chompski went. I finally found him at the base of the stands and had to fight my way to save him. Sneaka's wails of separation from his beloved were filled with untold anguish and pain. And the whole time I was laughing my ass off.

We eventually all got on the helicopter, including Gnome Chompski, and made it out of there alive. For almost the whole credit roll and for several minutes afterwards in the lobby all I could do was sit there and laugh. It was the funniest moment of my gaming life. I wish there had been some kind of way to record it and save it for posterity. It would have been a hit on YouTube.

After I stopped laughing I took a second look at the upcoming Zombie Armageddon. If you're not infected and can't get out of there alive, but the zombies want to escape, let them have the damn helicopter. They can fly off to whatever human free zone they call paradise and be undead happily ever after. No more car alarms to rile them up anymore. Maybe then us humans can enjoy a full rock concert in peace. Minus the Spitters, Smokers, Jockeys and Tanks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The gratitude of friendship

While life might not always be Fillet Mignon and bon-bons, sometimes it shows you who your true friends are. I experienced that last week.

To my friend who called . . . repeatedly . . . to check on me when I didn't show up online: You are kind. While it really is okay to take a day off from gaming now and then it's nice to know that I am missed when I am away. I hope what triggered my absence never happens again, but if it does I will warn you next time so you don't worry.

To my friends who jumped into my game uninvited, when I did come back online: Thank you. A simple act of kindness that said "I want to play with you" made a big difference between current feelings of frustration and despair and a new found sense of peace and contentment. It was nice to feel wanted and uplifting to know there will always be people there for me. Even if just online.

To my friend who led an incompetent noob through a rough patch in a game while they received little to no reward for doing all the work: You have my undying gratitude and unwavering friendship. I play games until I get stuck or frustrated. Sometimes that does not take much in a game. And sometimes that means I don't get very far. I've lamented the fact that everyone else seems to finish those games whereas I languish in troublesome areas. You were my knight in shining armor even though I hate to be the weak damsel in distress. Your selfless sacrifice was duly noted and I hope to return the favor sometime.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Poll - What's more embarassing?

So my new poll is simple, really. And here it is. You have one week to vote. Tell your friends to vote too. Thanks.

What's more embarassing?

getting out of a public swimming pool without your swimsuit on

getting beat by a full team of bots in Gears of War

The poll is now open.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Survival Guide for Zombie Armageddon

I've been thinking and I know how humanity is going to end. Zombies. Something will infect the population and most of us are going to turn into flesh eating, feral, undead creatures. Kind of like what some of you already are before your morning coffee. But this time the ugliness would be permanent. The Zombie Armageddon is coming, are you ready? If not, I've compiled some helpful hints to help you make it through the hordes of the undead as they come to devour your brains. (For some of you that would only be a light snack.)

Tip #1:
YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW HOW TO FIRE A GUN. Once the apocalypse is here you'll be an excellent marksman even if you've never picked up a gun before. And if you don't want to use a gun that chainsaw your neighbor has been hiding for years (even though he doesn't have any trees) is the preferred method of fighting zombies. If your neighbor is still alive now might be the time to make friends. If he's a zombie use his own tool to kill him.

Tip #2:
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SURVIVE ON YOUR OWN! Nothing ever good can come out of fighting off zombies all by your self. The preferred method of survival actually consists of a team of four people. Preferably not family. Sorry. If you want to survive with your family they you can only do so with two others. Preferably one you really like and one you can live without because one of them isn't going to make it. Let's up it's the one you can live without.

If you want to ensure your greatest chance of survival then your party of four must consist of the following types of people:

a) The Authority Figure. This could be an ex-soldier, a football coach or maybe a seasoned teacher. They are responsible for keeping the group organized and their preferred method of communication is the pep talk. They also must have a nick-name, like 'Sarge', 'Coach', or 'Teach'. If a suitable nick-name can not be agreed upon then they should be addressed with respect like 'Mr. Smith', etc.

b) The Narcissistic A-hole. While you might very well like to avoid this character at all costs he's vital to the survival of the group. While he will bitch and complain the whole time about the waves of zombie attackers you'll have to fight through to make your escape, he'll fight right along beside you. And while most of his suggestions will be pointless and waste time during those rare planning moments he will make one suggestion that will save your life. Of course that one suggestion will be so far fetched that it couldn't possibly work, but it will save your ass at a critical point. Be on the look out for that suggestion. It always comes right when the guy starts to get tolerable and he realizes he CAN live without hair gel and designer suits if he makes it out of [insert city name] alive. Of course now that his suggestion actually worked to save everyone he's going to be more intolerable than before.

c) The Young Punk. This is the young kid who shows no interest in the world around even if that world starts throwing undead killers at him. He'll be closed off and probably carry around a hand-held gaming system for those "down times". He'll have the quickest reflexes, greatest accuracy and you'll thank your lucky stars the kid learned it all from video games. He'll also be a virgin, but if your team survives intact the next person can take care of that.

d) The Hot Chick. This is the girl that wouldn't mop the floor because she'd probably break a nail but suddenly she's tough as nails and not afraid to get dirty. She's also got to be able to handle three guys all at once. That's not easy if they think she's the last female on the planet. Mr. Narcissistic Man will flirt with her unceasingly to the point of nausea. The Young Punk will have a secret crush on her. And the Authority Figure will look at her like he's own daughter. In the darkest hour when all hope is lost she might grant one "death wish" from the Young Punk and de-virginize him, but if she ever sleeps with the self-obsessed pretty boy it will be the biggest mistake of her life.

Tip #3:
GUN SHOPS WILL ALWAYS BE FULLY STOCKED when you're on the move. It doesn't matter where you go there will be a gun shop and it will be the one place that hasn't been looted yet. Why? Maybe because everybody around has been turned into zombies. If that's the case grab everything you can carry and run like hell to get out of there. That will be the one place the zombies will be waiting for you.

Tip #4:
TAKE DOWN THE BIGGER ZOMBIES FIRST. Don't be fooled by those scrawny ones that run up to you really fast and barely have the strength to attack you. You can survive those guys for a minute or two while you concentrate your fire on those hugely deformed ones that lumber at you slowly. You'll know they're around because you can feel the ground shake or there will be a strange music/squeal like sound just before they make their appearance. Those guys can do damage so take them out as quickly as possible.

Tip #5:
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SAFE HOUSE! It doesn't matter how far you run from a populated city or if you eliminated all opposition in a building. If you close that door and stay there to rest, they will find you. But that doesn't mean you have to constantly move all the time. You're only human (so far anyway) so you'll need to get some sleep and heal yourself. Do it in teams. Two people heal and rest while the other two stand guard. When you get to the next 'safe house' let the other pair rest while you stand guard. It's not a glamorous job but somebody's got to do it if you want to get out of there alive.

Tip #6:
THE GOVERNEMENT IS YOUR ONLY CHOICE FOR SURVIVAL. If you do manage to get out of there alive it will, no doubt, mean you're left to live on a government controlled plot of land somewhere. Government rules. Government food. And government healthcare. Yes, life sucks . . . but at least you're alive.

Tip #7:
GET YOURSELF A GUN. If you are unable to abide by these tips then the best thing to do once the zombies start taking over is to put a gun to your head and blow your brains out. You do not want to be one of the walking dead. It wrecks havoc on your complexion.

There you have it. You have now all been warned about the end of days and instructed on how to survive the zombie apocalypse that is surely coming. I've been practicing for it now on my Xbox 360 to keep my skills honed just nicely enough to survive. Does anyone want to be in my group of four? If, in the event that you become a zombie I'll do a later post about tips for you. But seriously, do you think zombies are on the internet?