Sunday, April 19, 2015

Phase Two has now begun.

Phase 2 has now begun.  Yep, I'm finally ready to introduce you to phase 2 of my world domination plan.  I mean gaming plan.  World domination is phase 3.

I now have a YouTube channel and I've posted my first video up on the site and you can go watch it and leave nasty comments  Hey, it's the internet, isn't that what people do nowadays.  

It's just an introduction video where I tell a little bit about myself and how I started gaming.  For those of you who already know me it's just a rehash of what you probably already know.  But if anyone new comes along I wanted them to get a sense of who I was.  Hopefully they'll like me anyway.

Getting this intro vid finished and up was a pain in the but.  The first one I captured didn't have the audio.  I tried doing a voice over after the fact but somehow that didn't work out right and got out of sync when I edited it.  The third attempt got the audio and video together but I accidentally had the game audio turned up and the chat audio turned down so you couldn't hear me say anything.  I muted the game audio and did a voice over recording on that vid and you can check out my channel to see how bad a job I did.

I don't have anyone to help me do this, or more importantly tell me what I'm doing wrong.  So it's me fumbling around trying to figure things out on my own.  I'm hoping I get better the more I do this.  I don't think I could get any worse.

I'll be putting up videos for the Xbox 360, PS3 and maybe some PC games.  I'm hoping to get an Xbox One sometime this summer.  I will definitely have one before Star Wars Battlefront comes out even if I have to start selling my internal organs to do so.

You can find my YouTube channel under Pengwenn.  My user name is Pengwenn . . . for everything.  Well, almost everything.  My Xbox, PSN, Steam, YouTube and Twitch (more on that later) user name is Pengwenn.  My twitter name is @PengwennGamer because someone had already taken Pengwenn.  How rude.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Phase One complete (sort of)

I have a two phase plan of what I want my gaming life to be.  I've been window shopping for just the right equipment for phase one and I've finally done something about it.

So I took my tax refund money and bought a laptop and TV this weekend (along with another item which you'll find out about later).  I was able to walk out with the laptop but I had to order the TV.  It should come in on Thursday.  I'm thinking of taking Friday off so I can stay home and play games on the new TV to see if it makes a difference.

While I know I could have probably gotten a better desktop computer for the same price as my laptop it would actually cost more in the end because I would have to buy a new monitor as well.  I'm still using a 17" fat monitor for my current system.  At least with buying a laptop the "monitor" is included.

I ended up getting a Lenovo i7 processor with 8GB RAM + 2GB video memory and 1T hd.  I know there's better laptops out there, but that was the best I could afford.  It's also a touch screen and the screen can flip around too, but I don't think I'll use that function.  I got a 55" Vizio smart TV which I can't wait to get.  I could hook up my laptop to the TV and play PC games on a very big screen.  I can't wait to give it a shot.

It's Windows 8.1 and it's taken some getting use to it.  I'm still having problems trying to find everything I'm looking for but I'm learning.  I didn't have any problems getting it connected to my home network but I had big problems getting it connected to the internet.  I was almost about to give up and call my brother dain to come over and help, but I thought I would give it one more try.  I got everything to work and I was able to get the virus software and Office 365 installed.  I then spent a lot of time remove programs that it came with that I don't want.  You would not believe all the stuff that was one there.

I really wish I could tell you about the other thing that I bought, but unfortunately I want to have a big reveal with that one and I'm not quite ready to say anything on that just yet.  Maybe by this weekend.

Even though I know I didn't get the best or latest stuff I do still feel like I've taken a huge step forward in joining the modern world.  So, I didn't get a 4k TV or a supped up computer.  At least I no longer have to use a computer that can barely run Windows XP (which is no longer supported) or take up to 30 minutes to boot up and start everything.  I'm not late to the game because I've been nostalgic for the good old days of cassette tapes and VHS movies.  I'm late because I haven't had the money to join the 21st century of electronics.  Now if only I had the money to do something about my phone.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

More Achievements for me

So I pulled Borderlands 2 out of the tub on Monday and picked up an achievement.  I even played it Tuesday as well, just for fun.  But I wasn’t really in the mood so I didn’t keep it up. 

On Wednesday I decided to pull another game out of the tub and this time I picked Scene It? Box Office Smash!  I was okay with that choice as long as I could find where I put the special controllers for the game.  Yes, I know I could use the standard Xbox controller but those special controllers make it more fun.  It took awhile before I found them and then I figured I should probably get some batteries because who knows how long ago I used them and if the batteries were still good.   Turns out they were.

I had to disconnect my Xbox controller and just use the game controller otherwise it was thinking there were 2 players in the game.  I wasn’t sure if I could navigate the menus with the special controllers but it wasn’t that bad.  I wondered if there was a way to play a regular game with those controllers.  I figure it would have to be a platformer or puzzle type game.  There just isn’t any fine tuning to the movement with those buzzers.

After I got the controller issue figure out, I started a game.  Just a short game; nothing too fancy.  And at the end of the game I got an achievement.  Whoo Hoo!!!  I played another short game and picked up 3 more achievements.  So . . . I played a third game, but sadly I didn’t get any more achievements.  I think I was close to getting one but just missed out on it.

I tired finding an online match but nobody seemed to be playing this game besides me.  Oh well.  I didn’t think I would get those online achievements anyway.

Well, so far I’m 2 for 2 in playing games out of the tub and getting achievements for them.  I’ve picked up almost 100 gamer score in 3 days so getting to 30,000 is very doable.  I’m sitting at 27,662 right now so I only have to get 2,338 more.  I’m sure if I keep this up I might cross 30,000 long before the end of the year.

I figure this success rate isn’t going to last.  I’m going to run in to a game that’s going to take a lot more work to unlock an achievement than what these last two games have done.  Like, I’m on disk 2 for Blue Dragon but I haven’t unlocked an achievement in a very long time.  Maybe that means I’m close, but I really don’t think so.  Most of the achievements in that game seem to be for completing things or maxing things out.  I figure those achievements will pop up closer to the end of the game.

Instead of dipping in to the tub again today I might try playing some Gears of War Judgment.  It’s the free Games with Gold for the first part of April and I downloaded to the game last night.  My Gears of War games are some of my most completed games for achievements.  I’ve got 77%, 93%, 81% and 35% in them (in release order).  Judgment is the lone 35% completion in that group.  I should really try to make that more acceptable since I love the Gears of War franchise, even if I didn’t like how Judgment told its story.  So maybe I’ll stick with that game for awhile and see what achievements I can earn there.

I also added Terraria to my list of Xbox Live Arcade titles.  It was also a Games with Gold freebie.  I had the trail version and played it briefly.  It’s one that I considered buying if/when I had the money and/or time to play it.  At least now I didn’t have to buy it and I can spend my money on other things.  I wonder how easy it is to get achievements in that game.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Watch me pull an achievement out of a hat . . . and other news

Watch me pull an achievement out of a hat.  Well, it’s not actually a hat.  It’s a plastic container with a lid.  And I did pull an achievement out.  Sort of.

I seemed to have lost a lot of my motivation when it comes to prolonged playing of video games.  I like getting on for an hour or so, but then I just start loosing interest and would rather do anything else.  Like watching paint dry or counting the bumps on my popcorn ceiling.  It’s weird for me to feel that way and I’ve been trying to think of something to do to get myself out of this funk.  And I came to a solution.

I printed out a list of all the Xbox 360 games I own, cut them up into little stripes with one name per slip and put them all into a plastic container.  My plan is to pull a game out at least once a week and play in that game until I’ve at least earned an achievement and/or hopefully find renewed interest in playing video games for longer periods of time.  Who knows.  I might find that one game that gets me out of my funk and start playing games for hours on end every night.  At worse I play something until I get an achievement and then put it aside for something else.  At least my gamer score would be going up.  I had a new year's resolution to hit 30,000 last year, but I didn’t make it and I won’t let that happen again.

So after I finished cutting everything up, I shock it around and pulled a game out.  The first one I pulled was Rock Band 2.  At first I was okay with that, but then I realized that I had just played a lot of Rock Band Blitz (and picked up a bunch of achievements – see the sidebar) and wasn’t even remotely in the mood to play another music game.  Plus, I’m not sure if my guitars even work anymore.  I put the game back in the tub and spent the weekend thinking about what an idiot I am.

Today though, I decided to give it another go.  This time I pulled out Borderlands 2.  That’s a game I’ve played and had 165 points in so far.  I stopped playing the game because there’s one side mission that I can’t seem to do fast enough and it was really annoying me, so I quit.  Plus I’m having a hard time with the fact that you can’t carry health vials with you when you get hurt.  I always forget to keep an eye on my health so I die a lot.  I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get another achievement in that game but this time I was going to make the effort to play it and see what happens.

At lunch I put the game in and started to play.  There was a side mission right where I was located so I didn’t have to go far.  It was to Assassinate the Assassins so I jumped in and started playing.  I remembered I had a gun turret as my special and I should try to use that more often to help me fight a lot of enemies while I take cover while my shield recharges my health.  So I threw the turret out for fun while I figured out all the controls again, and after 2 kills (puppy skags, no less) the achievement for getting 100 kills with the turret pops up.  I got 20 gamer score points for that in less than 2 minutes in the game.  I could have quit and done something else (taking a nap before going back to work sounded like a good idea) but I stuck around and completed the mission and turned it in.

It was nice playing that game (even without health vials to use) but I was so rusty with the controls and how to find things in the menus.  I got better by the end of my lunch and I just might try some more missions after work.  I put a tick mark on the slip of paper for Borderlands 2 and put it back in the tub.  This way I’ll know I’ve played it and gotten an achievement if I happen to pull it out again later.

I did include sequels in the tub even if I haven’t played the first game in a series.  Who knows, I might find playing Halo 3 more engaging than playing the first Halo even if I don’t know what’s going on in that world.  I just want to get back in to the habit of playing video games like I use to.

And speaking of playing video games, I’m seriously looking in to getting an Xbox One.  The only problem is I have to get a new TV if I want to play it.  My current TV is a big 32” CRT monstrosity of a TV.  It doesn’t have any HDMI connections, although it does have component video.  The X1 seems to only be an HDMI connection so it won’t do me any good to buy one if I don’t have a TV to play it on.  I’m hoping to take care of the TV part by next weekend.  The X1 might have to come a little later because I have some other plans I’m trying figure out that will definitely put a crimp in my finances. 

Specifically I’m trying to find and buy a new computer.  I would love a laptop, but realized that I could get something cheaper if I got a desktop instead.  I want it to be a gaming PC so that I can get back to gaming on the PC which is something I haven’t done in a VERY long time (X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter anyone?).  Depending on how much I spend for the computer depends on how much I have left over for the X1 system.  Plus there’s other things factoring in to my decision but I can’t divulge those plans just yet.  You’ll just have to stay tuned and see what happens next.

So, I consider my drawing plan to be a success.  I played a game and got an achievement.  It don't know if it is enough to get me out of the funk, but it's a start.  Hopefully I'll re-find that gaming spark and pull myself out of this funk when I pick a game.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Man, I've got a lot of games

I did a count of how many video games I own a while ago and I was a little bit shocked.  These are only console and hand-held systems.  I don't have my PC games counted because my current PC sucks and can't play them.  I'm hoping to fix that sometime in the next couple of weeks.  More to come on that . . . I hope.

My game counts by system are:

Playstation: 60
Playstation 2: 129
Playstation 3: 13
Xbox: 41
Xbox 360: 138
Xbox Arcade: 189
Game Cube: 25
Wii: 11
PSP: 21
SNES: 23
N64: 12
DSLite: 14
GameBoy: 10
GameBoy Color: 6
GameBoy Advance: 44

If you've done the math right, that's 736 total games.  No wonder why I can't finish a game because I've got so many to play.

My latest acquisitions were Dark Souls II, Metal Gear Rising Revenge, Serious Sam Collection, Sacred 3, Blades of Time and Thief.  All for the Xbox 360.  What can say?  Amazon was having a sale.  Most of those were new copies for less than $8 each. 

I guess I should mention that Thief was the free game on PS3 last month.  I downloaded it and played it for awhile but as I was doing so I realized that I would rather play it on the Xbox than on the Playstation.  Don't know why, just felt like it.

Also, I own all the Arcade Serious Sam games but I got the Serious Sam Collection anyway.  I was hoping that the Arcade games would be a separate set of achievements from the retail copy, but that's not the case.  When I put the disk in and started The First Encounter my achievements for the Arcade title came up.  Oh well, at least now I can delete the Arcade games from my system and just play them off of the disk.

And boy do I need to delete them. 

I got down to 0.69 GP left on my Xbox 360 hard drive.  I have a bunch of the Games with Gold free games, even if I own the disk copy.  Why?  Just in case something happens to the disk, or I get robbed again I can still play the game.  I also have a bunch of games installed on my hard drive.  And, of course A LOT of arcade titles.  I've previously moved some of the Arcade titles to a thumb drive for storage but I was still out of room.  Plus there's all those DLC add-ons for all my games.  And some music videos I've downloaded.  Now, you can see why I was running out of space.

I had to do something drastic . . . and soon.  I went through my storage and started deleting things.  Anything I didn't think I would need and/or use anytime soon.  I deleted DLC add-ons for games that I won't play yet because they're sequels and I haven't played the original games yet (I'll just download them again when I do play the game).  I deleted game update files.  I figure those will be re-installed if/when I play that game again.  And I deleted other stuff I didn't really want any more.  I was able to free up just over 30GB of space on my hard drive which allowed me to download the patches (about 2.9GB worth) for Defiance, which allowed me to finally play the game.  Whoo Hoo!

I have wonder if I should get rid of some of my older games and/or systems.  But I just can't do it.  Partly for sentimental reasons but also because I have a hard time giving up on a game once I start it and like it.  I just don't want to leave anything unfinished.  I'm just having a hard time finding the time to play anything. 

I have been playing games, as you can see from my list of recent achievements on the side panel.  I've received all of those within the last week or so.  I think I've made some nice progress in my gamer score . . . even if it's not a whole lot of progress in a single game.  But if I have 736 games to get through I should find time to play games more often.  Sleep is overrated, right?  Man, I've got a lot of games.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Trophies vs. Achievements

So I've had my PS3 for awhile and even picked up a few more games (Journey, Flower, Flow (?), Resistance 1, 2 & 3, Little Big Planet, and Overlord: Raising Hell).  I've even finished (play to credits) Journey and got a lot of the achievements . . . I mean trophies for that game.

It took me a while to get comfortable with calling something trophies instead of achievements but I don't get hung up on it as much any more.  That doesn't mean I like it though.

There's only 3 levels of trophies to get.  Bronze, Silver and Gold.  There is a Platinum level but so far those trophies are only for getting every other trophy in a game.  How lame is that?  I'm assuming the Bronze trophies are easy-peasy ones to get.  The Silver will take a little bit more moderate work to get.  And the Gold are ones you might have to plan out and carefully do something to unlock those.  I don't know because I don't have any Gold trophies.

The biggest problem I have with trophies is that I don't really think of them as a reward for doing something (unless it's Gold).  I've been in enough dance competitions in my life to know and associate a Bronze trophy with being a loser.  A Silver trophy with being the first loser.  They're consolation prizes as far as I'm concerned.  If you get a Bronze trophy that just means that there are 2 other people who did the same thing, but better than you.

I know that's not how the trophies are created and assigned to tasks in video games.  But that's how they are associated in my mind.  Since the Bronze trophies are the easiest things to get they fall under the impression that anyone can do that.  If so, what's so special about a trophy for that?

Now achievements for Xbox are assigned a point value.  They could be 5 points, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 or even 100 points or more.  The value of the points does have some correlating relevance to how difficult it might be to get a particular achievement.  If you're gunning for a 100 point whopper you can expect to have to spend a good deal of time working towards that achievement before you unlock it.  Also, there are some 5 point achievements that you might not get because you made a choice in the game that steered you away from that particular achievement.

There's an individual value to each achievement earned.  You and a friend could have played the same game but have different achievements and also a total different gamer score in the game.  You can compare your 675 with their 550 and know who's probably played more and invested more in the game.

With trophies all you get is a number.  Ten trophies earned: 7 Bronze, 2 Silver and 1 Gold.  Your friend might also have ten trophies but they could have 9 Bronze and 1 Silver.  You both have ten trophies, so how can you tell how much one has played the game more than another?

And what does the levels mean?  I was just barely level 2 and I earned a Bronze trophy and my percentage went up 6 percentage points.  After my next Bronze trophy my level percentage only went up 3 percentage points.  What gives with that.  I just don't understand how one Bronze trophy could be weighted more than another Bronze trophy when they are exactly the same thing.  If you're only giving Bronze, Silver and Gold trophies you can't have one Bronze trophy counting for more than another Bronze trophy without telling me how or why.  Seems a bit suspect to me.

As for the Platinum trophies, I don't get it.  It's like "here have another one because you got all the others".  I think the satisfaction you get with earning trophies or achievements should be for those individual tasks.  Passing out another trophy just because you got all the others is stupid and has no value.  Getting the last trophy (not counting Platinums) or achievement in a game should be all the reward you need for having "completed" a game.  But getting these "finishing" Platinum trophies is like going to a dance competition and winning all the awards that they have categories for, but then having the judges say "here's one more for winning them all".  There's nothing tied to the trophy.  Your 100% completion for trophies and achievements could already been seen on your list without getting another one just to say "way to go".

I understand that Playstation was trying to duplicate and "improve" on Xbox's achievements, but doing things in their own way.  I just don't get it.  I feel less impressed and motivated with trying to get trophies because there are only 3 levels of skill and work involved in getting them.  And don't get me started on the lame notification pop-up that shows when you get one.

Trophies also feel vague and tacked on to activities without any thought on how a game is played or the challenges at certain points in the game play.  "Oh, this looks like a good spot to earn a trophy".  They seem to highlight some of the "not that exciting moments" in the gameplay.  Sometimes if feels very anti-climatic when you do unlock a trophy.

In Final Fantasy X HD remastered there's an achievement for winning your first Blitzball game.  The first game you play you really haven't learned how to play that much.  But winning or losing will generate a different outcome after the match.  So why not have a different trophy (or harder trophy) to earn if you can win the first match the very first time you get to play Blitzball.

When I played FFX on the PS2 I didn't win my first time.  Or my second or third time trying that first game.  I think it took my 5 or 6 tries and reloading the save before I understood enough about Blitzball to win that first match and get Wakka the trophy.

That's a challenge for a gamer and what we thrive on.  We play and replay games to try something new or earn achievements/trophies for doing different things.  If we're going to have these challenges, the least thing they can do is reward us for completing them comparative to the effort we put in to achieve them.  But please, just not with a Platinum trophy.

I blogged a LONG time ago that I wanted my gamer score on my tombstone when I died.  Unfortunately I can't say the same thing about my count of PS3 trophies.  They'll just have to collect dust in my PSN account and no one will ever know.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Last of Me and going back to an old friend

So of my PS3 games, I've been playing The Last of Us.  Well, actually I've been trying to play that game.  I've got it on easy, but I keep dying. 

Every time I get in an area that explains a new thing to me, like clickers, or crafting Molotov's, I get stuck because I keep dying.  My first time running through those sections are usually my best.  Each time after that I get worse and worse. 

I even had to call my brother for advise because after dying 7 or 8 times I was ready to throw the game in the pool.  He explained to me what to do but I just couldn't see it in my head how I was suppose to make it work.  I got on Twitch and watch someone struggle in the same area.  He was using my brother's strategy of trying to confront the runners one at a time.  He died several times but eventually made it through.  When I went back to the game and tried it I was able to make it through on the first attempt.  But I think I got lucky.

Now, I'm stuck again.  This time I have at least 3 clickers and about 6-8 runners in one area and I can't seem to make it through.  It's right after you learn how to make Molotov cocktails.  On my first attempt I threw the Molotov too soon but was able to get several of the infected to run in to the flames before they went out.  But then I died.  After several attempts I can no longer get out of the starting area before dying.  What is wrong with me?

I was getting so frustrated that I stopped playing the game.  I thought about playing Uncharted but I was afraid that I would end up with the same problem.  I was beginning to think that buying a PS3 was a mistake.  I needed to do something before I totally regretted my decision and returned the system and games.

I went back to Game Stop and bough another game.  An old friend.  One I've played and finished.  One of the few games I've finished.  I have spent several hundreds of hours playing, and loving, this game, and it's sequel.  I bought Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD remastered.

I've finished FFX and I started playing it again before I got robbed.  Just recently I started it again on my PS2 because I was looking for something to get me back in the mood for gaming.  I had played FFX-2 for quite awhile before the break in, and only recently restarted that one making sure I played everything just right in order to get 100% completion in the game.  I'm currently stuck in that game in one area but the game lets you move to other places when you want.

I consider FFX a old friend.  I could spend all day playing that game and it would only feel like a few minutes because the time spent is so enjoyable.  And that's not counting playing Blitzball.  I could play that all day and do nothing in the story and have an even better time.  I don't know why. 

The pace of the game is just right.  The characters endearing.  The action exciting and manageable.  The combat controllable.  The story touching and very emotional at times.  I just watched one of the most beautiful cut scenes in the game last night.  It's beautiful to look at but gut wrenching when you think about what is happening and why.  And even more so if you've finished the game and you know how everything turns out.  It's just one of those games that I think hits all the right notes.  I like this Final Fantasy game better than FFVII and I think FFIX is a close 2nd.

I see 2 problems with the HD remastered edition.  1) I don't have an HD TV.  I still have an old, fat CRT TV and while I can see a slight improvement in the graphics I'm sure I could see more if I had a newer HD flat screen TV.  The font size is smaller, but still readable for the most part.  2) It seems to take a little longer to load things including the end of battle screens.  There's slight pause/delay before everything loads up.  I think it's because it's taking more time to load those new fangled graphics that I can't see on my old TV.  It doesn't effect the overall game play except that it make everything seem to take longer.

After playing the game for a couple of nights, my old friend has restored my faith in my PS3.  I won't be chucking it, or The Last of Us, into my pool.  I will probably play FFX some more before I take another swipe at The Last of Us.  But I think I'll need to watch some more Twitch before I do.