Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thank you Weasel

Sometimes a girl can get a little gloomy. It just happens. But I'm glad I have Hell Weasel to cheer me up. The picture you sent was wonderful. And now I have incriminating evidence for blackmail . . . I mean fond memories to last a lifetime. Yeah, that's it. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The key to any great relationship is . . .

The key to any great relationship is . . . communication. Or so I'm told. And finally last night I saw some communication while playing video games.

We had a full team of 6 players for Team Deathmatch in Modern Warfare 2 when a couple more friends jumped online. Normally there are several people who would rather stick needles in their eyes than play a Domination match but last night they bit the bullet, stayed in the group and we got a full team of 9 players for Ground War. That's when the fun began.

I don't have any problem playing Domination. I like having an objective and a purpose to all that running around and killing (or in my case, dying). It gives me an area to concentrate on. A place to defend and wait for the enemy to show up in. It gives me determination to take a particularly difficult flag from the enemy. I'm kind of stubborn like that. Tell me it can't be done and I'll show you how to do it. But not all my friends feel that way.

There were a lot of moaning and groaning when the first Domination match started. And we feel behind rather quickly. But we persevered and eventually won the match . . . once we all started talking to each other. And I don't mean the "soap on a rope" talk that usually prevails with my friends (not that I'm complaining). We finally started to communicate enemy positions, our strategies and team goals. Once we got to the point where we knew where everyone (enemy and friendly) were going we had a handle on the situation and we never lost a Domination match that whole night. Team Deathmatch matches were another story.

When the map options showed Team Deathmatch we reverted back to our individual play styles and the communication dropped off. People were off on their own looking for the enemy wherever they wanted to go with no regards for what the rest of the team was doing. If we had a bit more of a game plan for those Deathmatch games we might have won a few more of them. And we also wonder and complain when the other teams travels in packs or small groups where we kill the first guy we see only to be gunned down by his buddy. Jeez.

I think we all realized our communication style was changing when we started to point out the things we use to say. Like "you bastard" (when spoken towards the enemy) which meant the enemy was coming at us from behind. Or "they're over here" which meant we didn't have a clue where the enemy was. Especially when the person who just died couldn't define where "here" actually was. And "they're coming across" means they were doing a center, direct line assault on our position. Or "I can't find anyone" meant we were being flanked. It all seemed so funny when we realized we were talking to our teammates, but we weren't really saying anything to them. Kind of like an old married couple, I guess.

Maybe this one night of insights into how we communicate will change things going forward. Maybe we won't be a rag tag bunch of "lone wolf" types who do their own things but a more cohesive group of killing machines. We worked together when we played Gears of War so there's hope for us working together now. Or maybe we'll just start some marriage counseling. So tell me . . . how does that make you feel? I'm listening.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Poll - What game are you most excited for?

Okay, so most of you didn't vote in the last poll so I'm going to make this one easier. I hope.

What game are you most excited for?

Mas Effect 2
BioShock 2

They both come out relatively soon so I know you've got one (or maybe both of them) on your radar. If you could pick only one which would it be?

Poll Results - Best game of 2009

Okay, either my polls suck or you guys have gotten bored reading my blog. Either way I lose. Here are the (pathetic) results from the last poll:

What was the best game of 2009?

Assassin's Creed 2 = 2 votes
Halo 3:ODST = 0 votes
Modern Warfare 2 = 1 vote
Left 4 Dead 2 = 0 votes
Dragon Age Origin = 0 votes
Borderlands = 0 votes
New Super Mario Bros. Wii = 0 votes
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 = 0 votes

Maybe the reason why some of you didn't vote was because of the economy and you couldn't afford to get some of the latest games. Maybe you just don't care anymore about what the latest/greatest game is. Or, like I said, maybe I'm getting boring in my old age.

I was just getting into Dragon Age when I was robbed so I don't know if the rest of the game is just as exciting as the first part. And while I owned (past tense, another victim of the robbery) Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 I hadn't played it yet (because I hadn't finished the first game). I played the demo for Left 4 Dead 2 and realized that it would be nearly impossible to play single player. That's a game best played with friends. Borderlands is a cool game but I haven't come across anything in the game that says "Whoa! this is unlike anything I've seen before". Maybe that's just me. I'd love to play Halo 3:ODST but I didn't have the money to buy it when it came out AND I wouldn't play it until I had played the earlier games AND those earlier games got stolen so I just don't see the point of buying it now to see what it's like. And seriously Nintendo? How many times are you going to "port" your original Mario Bros. game and call it "super" or "new" or both? As for Modern Warfare 2 it's got some problems.

I hate the fact that you can't jump into your friends party lobby. No can do. You've got to wait for an invite if you want to play with friends. And if your friend is already in the middle of a match you've got to send him a message saying you want in. If he stops to read it he might get killed. And do you want that on your conscience? And what happens if your party jumps out of a pre-game lobby to pick up a friend only to find out they want to play something else? Do you know how many "easy" rooms we've left only to find ourselves in those rooms where nothing goes right and everybody on the other team is glitching?

So that leaves Assassin's Creed 2. And that's the one I voted for. Even though I haven't played it (haven't finished the first game - another robbery victim). So how can I know it's the best game of 2009 if I haven't played it? I've read a lot about this game. And I've listened to what my friends have been saying. It's the game that the first one promised to be. It's the game that changes how you move and play through a game. It's also the game that opens up the game industry to approach their games differently than a standard hack-n-slash or FPS. Much like what BioShock did when it came out. And since I love BioShock why wouldn't I love Assassin's Creed 2 even if I haven't played it?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

American Idol duets?

American Idol is back on the TV again. When it first started I watched the show. And just like everyone else I found the terrible auditions too grossly fascinating to turn away from. Even Simon Cowell's retorts were entertaining. But that gets old rather fast. There just so much of a train wreck you can watch before it doesn't effect you any more. And besides, they make everyone sing as a solo artist.

What about those people that are already in a band but want to try out? Ditch the band. They don't want them. Why not an American Idol duets show? There have been lots of musical duos and trios through out history. Simon and Garfunkel, Hall & Oats, Captain and Tennille, Sony and Cher and don't forget c5ride and El Sand Dog. What you haven't heard of them?

As far as I know they've only had one very limited performance and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. Allow me to set the scene.

We were infiltrating (or was that defending?) the Sub Base in Modern Warfare 2. c5ride took exception to some of the opposing teams performances and proceeded to voice his frustrations so loudly that I think Russia put their finger to the button until they figured out what was going on. Once all negative emotions were purged from his system c5ride got really quiet. That usually means he's going to jump out as soon as the game is over, whether the rest of the party does or not. In the silence that followed Sand Dog yelled for one of us on the team to turn around. That's not unusual, but what followed was.

Very softly, in a quiet but controlled voice, with just the right amount of emotional angst, we heard someone sing "every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you're never coming around". Someone picked up on the line and said "Turn around" again. At which point we heard "Every now and then I get a little bit terrified but then I see the look in your eyes". By then Sand Dog picked up on it and kept repeating "turn around" to which the rest of the time we would hear another verse.

It took me a while before I realized that it was c5ride singing the verses to Total Eclipse of the Heart. It just seemed so unlike him. But his quiet voice with Sand Dog's deep part made a perfect performance in my ears. Of course I laughed so hard that I died three times in a row, which didn't help our cause (a losing one, by the way) at all. After c5ride's eruption something like this was so far from what I expected. I mean, who knew he had it in him? I laughed so hard I thought I was going to hyperventilate. If it's possible to have an enjoyable loss this would be a perfect example.

It's also one of those memories that has been cemented in my brain and will stay there until the day I die. I might even be on my death bed and a grieving family member might innocently tell me to "turn around" from the light. The smile that will grace my lips won't be because of the peace and love that white light might bring, but this single memory of c5ride and Sand Dog's one night only performance. And if that's the case, than my last memory would be a very happy one.

So if American Idol ever does decide to have a duets competition I'd willing to contribute funds or services to get c5ride and Sand Dog back together for an audition. I know they'd do well. And I'm sure their performance wouldn't be the train wrecks we've all come to enjoy. But then again, maybe their sound is an acquired taste. Either way I'd buy one of their albums. I wonder what song they'll sing tonight. And do they take requests? I can't wait to find out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gamer's alter egos and hidden identities

Super heroes have alter egos and hidden identities. So why can't gamers? Superman hides behind glasses and the name of Clark Kent. Spiderman is know by Peter Parker. Even Dr. Jekyll had a Mr. Hyde. Okay, not quite the same but you get the idea. If you spend any time playing online games with an open microphone you know that sometimes gamers have alter egos and hidden identities too. And we're not just talking about descriptive gamertags.

There are mild mannered, polite husbands and fathers who turn into raving mad men when something sets them off. It could be snipers and knifers and glitchers oh, my! It could be friends jumping out of a game just before the last kill because they don't want to take a particularly bad loss. At those times that sweet, polite, considerate, jolly good, well mannered individual becomes a raving, slobbering, ranting, poo-flinging lunatic. And that might be a mild case.

And what do I do when grown men de-evolve to poo-flinging monkeys?

I laugh.

I'm sorry, I can't help it. Every time I experience the transformation to Mr. Hyde from someone's previous Dr. Jekyll I'm reminded of the song "One Week" by Bare Naked Ladies. The line in particular is "I can't help it if I think you're funny when you're mad". That just sums it up right there. They rant and snarl and nash teeth. I laugh like a hyena. Hopefully with my mic muted.

I'm not an angry person. And I'm about as patient a person as you can find (sometimes I think that's a fault and not a virtue). But yes, sometimes I get pissed off while playing video games. I express my displeasure with a carefully chosen word or two and then the moment has passed and I've put it all behind me. Listening to my friends erupt in a fiery bit of verbal diarrhea strikes me as totally hilarious when it comes from those mild mannered friends. And from those that constantly spew their eternal dislike and hatred towards a game or player don't stay on my friends list for long.

I've had players direct some of their venom towards me. Friends and strangers alike. Strangers do it because they're ignorant assholes. My friends have done it out of frustration. Do I hate them for it. No. It just makes me uncomfortable and self-conscious, but I know it's based on something I should have done, or something I shouldn't have done. I usually deserve it. But all eruptions directed towards me are mild little bubbles compared to other Mr. Hyde appearances.

Do I wish we could all just along? Sure. But then where would I get my nightly entertainment when Mount Saint MadMax erupts? I know my friends are not Mr. Hydes in real life. And as long as they continue to be Dr. Jekyll they'll stay on my friends list. Remember, "I can't help it if I think you're funny when you're mad". Just don't be offended (and start yelling at me) if I start laughing when you start slinging poo around. And maybe one day you'll see what form my alter ego/hidden identity takes on. I just might surprise you.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Poll - Best game of 2009 was . . .

Here's a new poll for you. I've limited the choices to those games that are playable on systems I owned . . . or use to own. That leaves any PS3 and Nintendo DS games out.

Best game of 2009 was . . .

Assassin's Creed II
Halo 3: ODST
Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 2
Left 4 Dead 2
Dragon Age: Origin
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

Vote for your favorite and feel free to tell me what you think in the comments section. Especially if your favorite isn't on my list.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year - New Gaming Goals?

I'm not specifically setting "New Years Resolutions" as I've mentioned before but this time of year has made me look at what some of my Gaming Goals are . . . I mean were. Since the burglary 5 out of my 10 Gaming Goals are now unobtainable. Isn't that nice.

Those goals were 1) finish Final Fantasy VII, 2) All achievements in both Lego Star Wars games, 3) Finish Lost Odyssey, 4) Finish Insane mode with Evil Ric on Gears of War (he sold his game back - how rude) and 5) play Final Fantasy X-2 along with metallicorphan (is he even playing it?). I can't do anything about working on those goals because I don't have the games or systems to play them on. And who knows when that problem will be fixed.

One of those goals on my list was achieved and replaced by a similar goal. I achieved a gamer score of 11,111 and replaced that goal with a new goal to achieve a gamer score of 12,345. Unfortunately I got to a point where I needed an achievement ending in either a 3 or an 8 to get my number just right. The only achievement I had available to me to do that was the "Dupliclone Dash" in Cloning Clyde. It is worth 18 points. The achievement is to finish levels 1-24 and 10 challenge levels under the goal time. Yeah right.

While I think that game is hilarious and fun to play there is no way I was going to be able to get that achievement without going over the goal of 12,345 while playing other games. I have problems with sheep. They're not meant to be ridden. And you're not meant to turn into one. Maybe, eventually, I'll figure out how to play those levels but I realized, with 48 more points to go, that getting my gamer score to exactly 12,345 wasn't going to happen. I put that in my rear view mirror and played on. You live and learn.

There was one goal on my list that I achieved thanks to Kralon. It was to get one of your bankrolls up to $100,000 in Texas Hold 'em. I was almost there a long time ago before they reset the leaderboards and thus your multiplayer bankrolls. I think I was somewhere around $80-90,000. So close and yet so far. When I got that goal I totally forgot it was on my list so I never got around to crossing it off and replacing it was something else.

Some goals are still currently obtainable. And those that are currently on "hiatus" I'm going to have to think long and hard about putting them back on the list when I get my insurance claim straightened out. Games like the two Lego Star Wars. In order for me to get all the achievements I'm going to have to go back and replay all story levels, free play levels, and most of the challenge levels (I was up to RotJ ewok level minus all flight levels). In addition to unlocking all characters, ships, extras and hints. And then I could finish the challenge levels I hadn't done the first time and those special extra levels for each movie and the Lego City and battle arenas. I was so close to finishing the game that I'm not sure I want to put all that time and effort into it again just to get to where I was before I lost my game save.

And then there was Lost Odyssey. If you ever hear me talking about "the one that got away" it will be this game. I've lamented in the past about how many times I've restarted games even when I didn't have to. Lost Odyssey would have been the first game (of any genre) that I started AND finished all in one play through. No restarting for this one. Until the burglary. I was on disk 4 when I lost the game. All areas were open to me and I think I only had one more door/magic seal for Tolten to touch to restore his royal heritage or whatever. After making it through the temple (with your party split in two) I was spending my time going back through older areas to finish side quests and find missing dreams. I had just over 100 hours in that game. Now it is all gone. Do I really want to play those 100 hours all over again just to get to where I left off? Is it worth it when there are so many other new games out there that I would love to try out? I just don't know any more.

I will keep my Gaming Goal to finish Final Fantasy VII. I kind of have to even though I don't have the game anymore. I have a pact with dain about that one (not that I think he's working on his game at the moment). But Evil no longer owns Gears of War and we were half way through the game on insane, do we really want to replay all those earlier levels just to get back to where we left off (even if he is willing to rent it one weekend to play with me)? And I haven't checked in with mettalicorphan on his progress in FF X-2. I just don't see the point any more.

And that's what I hate most about the burglary.

It's not the smashed door. That was fixed. Or the lost items. Those will be replaced . . . eventually. It's all those game saves I lost. All that time and effort for nothing. It wasn't wasted at the time, but now it seems like it was. I have glorious memories of finally beating a tough boss in a fight after trying 6 or 7 times. Or a touching moment in a game when something critical was reveal and a piece of the puzzle fell into place. Game save gone. Memory useless.

If I replay those battles or moments in the story it just won't be the same. I want to pick up where I left off not have to drudge through battles and cut scenes I've already seen or played. And I had so many games that I was in the middle of playing that there was never going to be enough time to play what I already had, let alone work on the games I owned that I hadn't yet played. Especially with great new games coming out.

Maybe when/if I ever get things settled with the insurance company I'll take a week off of work and do nothing but play video games. Will I be caught up then? Not a chance. And that's no even addressing the decision of which game do I start playing first. Right now I want to play them all. At the same time. I miss my games.

Until I know what is happening with my claim I don't think I'll be making any more new Gaming Goals, even to replace the ones I've already finished. But there is one I can keep working on no matter how many (or how few) systems and games I actually own and/or play. That is to post a new blog entry three times a week. I'll really work on that one going forward. Even if I don't have any games to talk about. After all it is "Life of a Gamer Girl" and there's more to life than video games.

Ha Ha!

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Poll Results - 2 for the price of 1

Okay, here are the poll results:

If all of your gaming equipment was stolen what would you do with your new free time?

Buy all new equipment/games immediately and keep playing = 4 votes
Curl up in the fetal position and cry like a baby = 1 vote
Knit all my friends beanie hats = 0 votes
Learn to read a book again = 0 votes
Reintroduce myself to my family = 2 votes
Investigate this thing they call sunshine = 0 votes

What is the best multiplayer game(s) ever?
Halo = 1 vote
Star Wars Battlefront = 4 votes
Call of Duty series = 1 vote
Gears of War series = 0 votes
Counter Strike = 0 votes

And the winner is . . .

Actually I don't think there's any clear cut winner. For either question. But let's start with the first one, shall we?

Some @#$% idiots broke into my house and stold all my gaming equipment I had out. System's gone. Games gone. Controllers gone. Memory cards gone. As much as I wanted to immediately go out and rebuy everything I'm not made of money and it doesn't grow on trees. I would need to wait until the insurance company comes through. And unfortunately I'm still waiting. If anyone wants to be my Sugar Daddy to help with this I'd make it very worth it to you. *wink wink* Needless to say I didn't vote for the spending spree.

I didn't vote for knitting, reading, family or sunshine either. I don't know how to knit, but I do know how to crochet. I already know how to read (although I haven't been doing much of that in the last two years). I use to read 24-36 books a year. Now I'm lucky if I read 10. I already spend a lot of time with family. Sometimes it feels like too much. They just wear me out. Kids'll do it. And sunshine? Where I live there's sunshine 330+ days a year. I could do with a few clouds and doom and gloom every now and then.

I did vote for curling up in the fetal position and crying like a baby. Did I actually do that? No. I've only cried twice over this whole fiasco. Once when I first got home (after having thrown up at the grocery store on the way home from work) and I was on the phone with my dad. I think 5 or 6 tears fell. I cried again later that night (much later) while the glass guy was repairing the door. I was tired. I was sick. And all I wanted to do when I got home was take a nap on the couch for a couple of hours. Instead I had to go through all that mess. I hadn't eaten anything all day. I was exhausted. And people were parading through my house like it was a circus. Some invited. Others not. I laid on the couch and used my remaining strength not to break down into hysterical sobbing. Every now and then a tear slipped through. Another 5 or 6 perhaps. Once the glass guy and my dad left at 11:30pm I finally had some peace and quiet . . . and a dog who was wound up from all the excitement and unhappy that she had been locked away in a room while everyone came and went.

Now for the second poll.

I didn't vote in this one.


My first instinct was to vote for Battlefront. I'm a huge Star Wars fan and Battlefront is also the first online game I played. Much like Zak and Halo. But I didn't want my unbridled passion for anything Star Wars to influence my decision so I wanted to think on the matter a couple of days before voting. And then time ran out.

I looked at the influence Halo has had over online gaming. Good and bad. I looked at the staying power of the Call of Duty series and the fact that 2 separate developers are keeping that series alive and kicking . . . or sometimes a more rambling, lurching walk of the dead. But if any game or series would make he question Battlefront for content it would be Gears of War. That game is second only to Battlefront in how many hours/days/months/years of sleepless nights I put in playing it. While some will quibble over some of the technical aspects of the game I still like it. Always have. Always will. End of discussion. But I couldn't forget the splash Counter Strike and the various clones of the game and the effect that had on multiplayer mash-ups. So many good choices . . . no more time to vote.

If I had it open for one more day to vote I would have picked Battlefront. Even though the sequel wasn't as fun as the first one I can't think of an older game that has carried on in the multiplayer online gaming world as Star Wars Battlefront has. And I think it might have the most anticipated sequel known to man . . . Battlefront 3 if/when it ever gets made. One can dream, right?