Sunday, August 30, 2015

Digital or Disk?

So I perfected Lego Star Wars and bought my Xbox One.  And I'm loving it.  I'm having a blast in Titanfall and Destiny and recently Gears of War Ultimate Edition (of whatever it is called).  But all this excitement has me thinking.  And that's a scary thing.

I have a shelf full of game cases for all my systems going back to the PlayStation.  I'm running out of room to put new game cases.  I can't image what it will be like a year or two from now.  So I've been thinking about going all digital vs. buying disks.

I probably wouldn't have even considered this a couple of years ago but having the Games with Gold option every month it's nice to get a full game and not clutter up a shelf with a case that will never be used.  Plus I don't have to flip around a big CD case looking for a game disk of what I want to play.  I know the Arcade titles have always been digital but in the past I've preferred to buy a disk when I wanted a retail game.  Now I'm rethinking that.

I don't store my disks in the case they came in.  Instead I put them in to a very big CD folder (which I'm running out of room in between my PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games).  Those game cases are now just decoration . . . and clutter in my living room.  I guess I could always pull a case out and look through the insert manual for help in playing the game.  But wait, games aren't coming with inserts anymore.  And there's no organization to my shelves at all.

So why not digital?

That's what I've been asking myself for the last couple of months.  When I started to budget for getting an Xbox One and heard the announcement of a 1TB system I knew I had to get that larger hard drive space . . . especially if I wanted to get all digital.  On my 250GB hard drive on my Xbox 360, I've run out of space several times.  All of my Arcade titles are now stored on a thumb drive and I've deleted all the extra stuff for games that I probably won't play for awhile.  I figure I'll just re-download them if/when I play that game again.  File management has been a bitch.

A 1TB hard drive should be big enough, right?  If not I guess I'll have to look in to some external storage for my XBO.  I like not having to flip through a case but instead flip through a couple of titles on my screen.  And there isn't the hassle of having to get up to change disks whenever I want to change games.  I can see the beauty in going all digital.  But it doesn't feel like I "own" anything when I purchase a digital game.

I love to read but I have no interest in going to a digital platform for books.  My tablet is a Nook from Barnes & Noble but I have no interest in reading a book on it.  I prefer the paper and glue method of delivery that I've used for years.  I feel like I "own" those books , , , even if I've only just checked it out of the library.  There is something about holding something in your hand and saying "this is mine" that is very satisfying to me.  That's why I've been buying disk copies of games.

And it always seems to me that I can find cheaper copies of the game if I buy the disk than if I buy a digital copy.  Recently I've been looking for a copy of the game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for Xbox 360.  I saw that GameStop had a used copy for $3, but in the game store on my Xbox a digital copy was still going for $15.  Now why would I want to spend $15 on a game when I could get the same game for $3 somewhere else?  (In fact I got the game for $1.50 somewhere else so I saved even more money.)  For less than $60 I was able to pick up 5 games only one of which was new (Gears of War Ultimate Edition $40).  For less than $20 I was able to pick up 4 more games that I wouldn't have been able to if I had purchased the digital version of Enslaved.

Until digital pricing goes down on older games I'm not so sure that I want to spend more money than I have to for older games.  That doesn't mean I won't buy digital at all (and I won't stop getting Games with Gold games for free if I like them).  But maybe I only pay full price on new games.  You know, when the digital copy is the same price as a disk copy.

Yeah, I won't have any little inserts or "24 hours free Xbox Live Gold membership" cards in a case.  But I also won't have a case cluttering up the space in my living room.  I'm running out of shelf space as it is.  And with digital some games have the option to pre-purchase and pre-download so you're ready to play the game from minute one on the day it comes out.  I like that.  But whether it is digital space or shelf space I don't see myself stopping to buy video games anytime soon.  New or used.  I only see more video games in my future . . . especially this holiday season.  Lots more games.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Xbox One is in the house

Since I finally perfected an Xbox 360 game I got the reward of treating myself to a new Xbox One system and games.  I was so excited when I opened it up and hooked everything up.  There were a lot of downloading and updating to do so I didn't get the chance to play on Friday.

I did get the chance to look at my friend's list and finally see what my friends were playing.  It was so annoying on the Xbox 360 so see my friends playing "Xbox One" and not know what game it was.  Now and I could see.  And what were they playing?  YouTube.  TV.  And "watching a video".  Really?  That's what you were doing?

After all the grief I had been getting for the last couple of years of not upgrading, yet when I finally do that's what everyone was using their system for?  What about games?  Do my friends still play those?  Maybe this is just the void before the storm as there are lots of great games that are coming out this holiday season.  Let's hope so.

But when I was finally able to get online and play, my friends online were still only watching TV or videos and not playing games.  I was starting to get sad.  Then I put in Titanfall.  And then I felt better.  It would have been great to play with friends, but it was still nice to play a game that I had waited a long time to play.

You see, there were several games that came out that when they did so they were for both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.  Of those games, I decided to wait to get them for the Xbox One instead of the Xbox 360.  That meant I wasn't playing Titanfall, Destiny and Shadow of Mordor.  I could have, but it was my choice to wait until I could get the newer system.  I think the only exception to that was Thief.  I just couldn't wait to get that game on an Xbox One.

I don't know how many of the great games that will be coming out this year I'll be able to afford.  I hope my friends that do have some of the games that I do have will play with me like they use to in the old days.  I guess we could always watch TV or YouTube videos together too.  It's just not the same.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I finally achieved perfection!

Well, I finally did it.  I perfected an Xbox 360 retail game.  Now, I've perfected several Arcade titles, but those games don't usually require the time and effort commitment to getting all the achievements that a full retail game does.  Retail games are also a lot more gamerscore than Arcade titles (at least they were).  It's so much more fulfilling to see 1,000 in gamerscore next to a game instead of 200.

Now, technically I've "finished" several retail titles.  Meaning I've finished the story and gotten to the end credits.  But I've never perfected the achievements in a retail game before.  Now, I did it in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.  And it's the third time I've played the game.

The first time I played that game I completed it with my brother, dain bramage, in co-op on the Playstation 2.  We completed all the Lego Star Wars games together on the PS2 and when we found out those games were out for the Xbox 360 we doubled up and got those games again for the achievements.  We knew what we were in for since we had already played the game and thought it would be a piece of cake to play those games again and get that allusive 1,000 perfect gamerscore.

So, for a second time I started playing the game.  This time we were working mostly on our own.  We did get together to play the arcade mini-game so we could get that achievement.  Other than that I've been playing the game alone.  And I don't remember it being that hard to complete.  Unfortunately some jackass(es) broke in to my house about 6 years ago and stole all my games . . . and more importantly my game saves and memory cards.  They stole a lot of items, but they also stole hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of my life in game saves.

At the time I was robbed I only had 2 achievements left to earn.  The one for collecting all Gold Bricks and the one for completing the game to 100%.  The last achievement I had earned was to get all the Mini-kits, which I had earned about a month or so before I was robbed.  I was that close to finishing the game.  But once I got all my stuff back, I had to decide if I was going to start the game over for a third time just for those last 2 achievements.  I had to make that decision for several games (Lost Odyssey being one I was about 4 hours away from finishing based on friend's estimates).

I didn't make that decision right away because just the thought of it overwhelmed me.  All those game saves lost.  Pieces of time ripped right out of my life with no hope of ever getting those moments back.  Did I want to do it all over again?  For every game?  Was it worth it?

I've always wanted to perfect a game and I figured that Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga would probably be my best bet.  So I restarted the game . . . for a third time.  I would play the game when I was interested so there were times when I didn't pick up the game for months.  When I finally get all my shit together to start recording gameplay and posting to YouTube I made a decision that I would use that medium to motivate me to finish the game and finally perfect it.  It worked.

Even when I didn't want to play the game anymore I knew I had to make a video to post online.  So I took out the game and played it.  There are times in the videos that you can probably tell how frustrated I was getting with the game.  A lot of that came from the fact that I was replaying it for the 3rd time and I thought it would be easier.  It wasn't sometimes.  And that made it more frustrating for me.  But on Sunday night I finally finished the last missions and the game showed me 100% completion.  Except the achievement didn't pop right away.

The same thing happened when I "earned" the achievement for getting all the Gold Bricks.  The game showed I had all the Gold Bricks (160 of them) and it let me build the fountain, but didn't give me the achievement.  I had to go in and complete a level before the achievement would pop.  The 100% achievement did the same thing.  Can I tell you how anti-climatic that is?  You work really hard and play the game for over 60 hours (for a third time), finally earn the final achievement but the game doesn't give it to you unless you do something else instead.  And you couldn't just jump in a level and jump out.  No. You had to play and complete the level.  Just give me my damn achievement!  I earned it.

I played the extra level and finally got the achievement to pop.  Woohoo!!!  I did it.  I perfected the game.  Below is a breakout of the levels you have to play to complete the game.  Since I didn't do very well in some of the levels I had to replay some of them multiple times.  That hellish Into the Deathstar blue barrels flight mission was the worst.  I think I played that level more than 20 times before I could get all the barrels in the time limit.

36 Story based levels (6 per movie)
36 Freeplay based levels (6 per movie)
36 blue barrel levels (6 per movie)
12 extra movie based levels (2 per movie)
36 "Super Story" based levels
6 extra game based levels (including revised levels, Lego City and New Town)

That's a total of 162 unique levels to play.  You can't say the game doesn't offer up enough content.  Even if it's the same 36 levels over and over and over and over again.  But at least it's done.  In the Lego Star Wars II game the only achievements I haven't earned are to play the vehicle missions without dying (and you can't have any extras turned on).  I think I'll wait on working on those achievements until sometime later.  I'm a little burned out on Lego Star Wars right now.  (But if any of my friends would like to jump in to my game save and see if all my achievements will pop up for them in their game, let me know.  It will cost you an hour of multiplayer game play in a game of your choosing [provided that I own that game]).

The closer I got to finishing the game the more I decided to set myself a goal and reward.  I would finish the game by the end of July (actually finished it August 2nd) and reward myself with finally buying an Xbox One.  I refused to buy and Xbox One until I had completed, or perfected, a game on the Xbox 360.  Now that I've accomplished that, I can finally get my XBO.  I get paid on Friday so look for me online this weekend on my new system.  I earned it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga = the game from hell

So I've been focusing on finishing up Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga because I'm so close to the end.  I've even put Dark Souls on hold until I can finish Lego SW.  After this last week I was beginning to think that would never happen.

For some reason I had a lot of problem collecting all the blue barrels in Jabba's Palace.  Not all of my failed attempts were due to my stupidity.  Three times my game glitched on me and I got stuck in a room with no way out except a Jawa door that wouldn't let me through.  It was really frustrating to spend four and half minutes just trying to get through a door when I only have 10 minutes to play the level and my game is going "uh oh, not for you".  It's frustrating.  Almost enough to quit the game no matter how close I was to finishing.

But that level has nothing on Into the Deathstar.  That level is a BITCH FROM HELL level!!!!!  I think I tried that level more than 20 times before I even started to get close to finishing it.  The first couple of times I spent 8 out of my 10 minutes just clearing the first area of the 4 Star Destroyers.  It's kind of hard to find and pick up 8 more blue barrels in only 2 minutes.  Impossible is more like it. 

I even got desperate enough to send a message to all my friends that I thought might have the game and be willing to help me out.  I told them I was desperate.  I was hoping that they would come to the aid of a damsel in distress.  While I was waiting for them to respond I opened up my game to strangers.  Big mistake!  I had a someone jump in and he spent the whole time just switching ships.  He never fired his gun.  He never collected a blue barrel.  He did absolutely nothing.  Well . . . not exactly nothing.  He did change his ship every second or two and then tried to fly in whatever opposite direction I was trying to fly in.  Since you share the screen (even over Xbox Live) you can image how well that got along.  I think I had to kick him out of the game 4 or 5 times before I finished the level.  Well, actually I ran out of time to be honest.

After that disastrous experience I changed my settings to set my game to invite only and thought I would give it one more try before giving up on the game entirely.  It turns out I'm glad I gave it another shot.  I was able to finish the level and ended up with just over 2 minutes to spare before time ran out.  I was completely shocked, stunned and utterly bewildered, befuddled and confused.  But also extremely ecstatic and thrilled.  I couldn't believe how close I was to giving up and crying myself to sleep and never playing this game again when the very next play through I beat it with time to spare.  I haven't listened to the audio for that level yet so I hope I don't sound like a complete idiot.  It's just that I've been working on trying to finish that level for almost 2 weeks and I finally did it.  It will be awhile before that video is posted, just don't judge me to badly for my reaction.

Now that my blue barrels were all collected I could focus on the remaining 4 gold bricks I needed in order to get all 160 gold bricks.  I had to do the original Gunship Calvary level, the alternate New Hope level and the Lego City and New Town levels.  I've tried Lego City and New Town before but could never get all 1,000,000 studs before giving up.  It took a couple of attempts for Lego City and I had to pause my own recording of New Town to watch a video online to find out what I was forgetting to do before I could finish New Town.  But all of those are now done.  Unfortunately I'm not done with the game like I thought I would be.

When I got the last gold brick I waited patiently for the achievement to pop up.  It didn't.  I couldn't figure out what I needed to do to get it to pop.  I even went outside the Cantina and built that gold fountain with all the gold bricks.  Nothing.  After the Deathstar blue barrel fiasco I was so furious that my anger went immediately to a cold blue fire.  Bypass the yellow, red and white hot stuff.  I was glowing blue.  If it wasn't so late at night I probably would have gone nuclear too.

I was able to calm down enough to go online and see if anyone else had problems with getting the gold brick achievement to pop.  Turns out lots of people got all gold bricks but didn't have the achievement pop.  Even back to 2011.  I read several posts that said you need to go in to a level and play it with all your 'super Jedi powers' and then the achievement will unlock.  Eh?  The achievement isn't for playing a level (all or which you've already completed in order to get the 160 gold bricks) after you've got all the bricks.  It's for getting all the gold bricks.  Period.  End of achievement.  If you want someone to play with all those 'super Jedi powers' make that a separate achievement, or put it in the description of the achievement that we're required to do.  It's bullshit and it makes no sense.

I haven't gone back in to a level and played it to unlock it because I realized that I'm not actually done with the game like I thought I would be after I got those last 4 gold bricks.  It turns out I forgot about the "Super Story" levels in each movie.  That means I have to play all those levels all over again and finish each move in less than an hour and I think I have to get 100,000 studs as well.  Yeah me!  My completion percentage is somewhere at 97.6% or something and I still have to play through all levels, all movies, all over again.  Someone shot me now.

I don't remember the game being this torturous on the Playstation 2.  My brother and I played and completed both Lego Star Wars games to 100% but I don't remember it being anything like this.  Since we completed this game on PS2 and I had almost completed this game before my stuff got robbed, once I do complete the game it will be for the third time.  And I will never play it again.  If any of my friends want help picking up achievements or collectibles they are going to have to pay up big to get me help them.  Sorry guys.  That's just the way it has to be for me. 

Right now I've got 6 more levels to play and film and then I'm done.  So at least 6 more hours in hell.  Let's hope that it only takes one run through for each of the super stories.  With my luck this hell will keep me sucked in for an additional 6 hours on top of that.  How many levels are there in Dante's Inferno (the book, not the game).  I'm sure Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga has got to be one of them.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A little less Dark Souls . . . for now

So I've noticed something when I play Dark Souls.  I get a headache.  A very bad headache.  I don't know if it's because the game stresses me out.  Or I just get too mad and frustrated with myself when I play it that my brain cramps up on me.  What I've also noticed is that I also get a headache when I edit my gameplay footage of Dark Souls.  This is not good.

I don't exactly know what to do about that.  I want to keep playing the game.  When I'm not dying I'm actually enjoying myself.  The problem is I'm dying a lot.  And over stupid stuff that shouldn't get me.  But it does.  And now that I've noticed that it is effecting my editing I'm at a loss of what to do.
I don't know if it's because I know I would rather play other games that I'm less terrible at or not.  I mean I like Rayman Origins.  And I die A LOT more in that game.  But it doesn't frustrate me as much as Dark Souls does.  And I don't get headaches editing the gameplay. 

I've been trying to figure out what to do and so I've been focusing on finishing up Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.  I'm almost done too.  I've only got one level for the blue barrels left (a stupid vehicles mission) and just 4 gold bricks left to do and then I'm done with the game.  I can't wait to earn all achievements in that game.  Every chance I get to film some gameplay has been in that game.  I've got about 9 videos filmed but not edited yet so I'm debating about making all of the videos I post for the next little while Lego games so I can finally be done with the game.

My reward for finishing the Lego Star Wars achievements and getting 100% in the game is to buy myself an Xbox One system.  I can't wait, but I promised myself that I would until I finished at least one retail game on the Xbox 360.  I've completed several arcade titles but I haven't finished the achievements in a full retail game and I would feel guilty about moving on to a new system without having done that.

I've been asking all of my friends what XBO games to get since my budget will be limited.  Of course that means I'll still have time and games to play on my 360.  Which means I will finish Dark Souls . . . it just might not be for awhile.  Does that make me a bad gamer?  I hope not.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Permanent delete is actually . . . permanent

So if you ever get the message "do you want to permanently delete this" you better be sure that's what you actually want to do.  Who knew "permanent" actually mean gone forever.  What's the point of a recycle bin if you don't throw files in it?

Here's what happened.  I was cleaning out some folders on my laptop and I accidentally had a folder called "synced-needs edits" checked off.  This is a folder where after I've synced up my audio and video files I dump them there until I can have the time to edit them.  I had 15 files in the folder.  When I hit the delete button I got a pop up message saying something about the files being too large to fit in the recycle bin so do I want to delete them permanently.  I clicked yes because I was cleaning out my folders and I would have emptied the recycle bin before logging off anyway.  Big mistake.

I didn't realize that my synced-needs edit folder was one of those files.  For some reason when I hover over a folder for too long my system thinks I want to select it.  No, I don't want to do that laptop!!!  But I hadn't realized this is what had happened until I went looking for some videos to edit.  At least not until I tried to find it and open up a file to edit a video.  The problem was I couldn't find the folder.  And that's when it hit me.  I had deleted the folder . . . permanently.  I guess that's what I get for not paying attention.

So, now my folder is gone and all my synced videos are gone.  So I spent most of Sunday and all of Monday night resyncing my videos.  It's a good thing I hadn't deleted the raw videos and audio files when I was cleaning house.  That's 15+ videos that I've got to process, sync and then save.  And to top it off I deleted part 3 of 5 in a new game that I haven't posted about yet.  Luckily I still had the Elgato footage and could piece that together and reprocess before I could then resync.  It's been really frustrating the last couple of days.

Every now and then I have those moments when I don't pay attention to what I'm doing and then end up doing something completely stupid.  Thankfully with this little boo-boo the problem is recoverable, albeit time consuming.  I had some plans that I wanted to put in to place this week but those are now on hold while I try to get caught up on editing.  Maybe in the next week or so.  Barring any other disasters I should be able to put everything in to play by the first week of August.  I'm really excited about those things.  I can't tell you about them now, but I hope you'll be excited to see what I've got planned.  If not . . . it's okay to pretend you're excited.  I won't mind.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The deaths that keep on coming

So, I thought playing Dark Souls would be hard.  I was right.  But there's another game out there that I'm playing that's even harder.  In a way.

Before I even started playing Dark Souls everyone told me how hard the game was and that I should be prepared to die a lot.  Since I usually die a lot anyway, I figured it would be 10x worse than normal for me.  Sure enough, when I started that game I started to see how brutal it can be.  It took awhile before I got my first death, but after that they came along at a steady pace.

It's not just the deaths that are bad.  It's how tough the game is to play, survive and manage your attacks and defense.  It's one thing to die a lot, but another to be aware of when you've lost stamina and need to back out of a fight for awhile to regroup and recharge. 

And then there's the blocking.  It's one thing to hold a shield up and just wait around until the enemy starts hacking at you.  You're protected and you don't take the damage you know is coming.  In Dark Souls, blocking doesn't work that way.  You have to time your parry skill at just the right moment.  If you're too early, or too late, you're going to take a lot of damage.  And there's nothing you can do about that.  Each enemy has a different attacking style and sometimes several variations of moves.  It's not always easy to figure out the best time to activate your parry skill.  It ends up being a lot of trail and error.  With error usually leading to death.

But while I'm finding Dark Souls tough to play, and I'm dying a lot, I think there's another game that I'm having more of a problem in right now.  What game could that be?  Rayman Origins.


I know that sounds weird because Rayman Origins doesn't come across as a brutal or unforgiving game like Dark Souls does.  But apparently I die a lot more in that game than I have so far in Dark Souls.  In the video that I editing last night, and should go up this week, I had 25 deaths alone in about 23 minutes of game play.  That's not good odds if you ask me.  And what's funny is that I wasn't keeping track of my deaths while I was playing.  But at the end of the video I make a side comment that "I must have died 25 times".  Turns out I was spot on.  Who know.

Some of those deaths were stupid on my part.  Either because I wasn't paying attention or because I had trouble doing something right.  Other deaths were because the game made getting something, or going somewhere almost impossible to do unless you do it perfectly.  So I guess the game can be unforgiving.  But it's not known to be like that.  Dark Souls, on the other hand, has that for a reputation.  You know what you're getting in to when you play that game.

I thought Rayman Origins would be a fun, light, easy game to play that would break up the brutal nature of Dark Souls.  Turns out Dark Souls might be the game that breaks up the frustrations and agony of playing Rayman Origins.  I still like the game and will continue to play it.  I just hope things get easier.  But so far, it doesn't look like it's going to turn out that way.  No matter what game I play, the deaths are just going to keep on coming for me.  Over and Over again.