Thursday, November 27, 2008

Game giggles with The Guild

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

To celebrate, I recommend you try watching "The Guild," which is a comedy series about gamers available now on Xbox Live. Fortiscule and I discovered it in the video Marketplace last night. We kept downloading and watching one episode after another until we'd watched all of them. It's free on Xbox Live, and the second season is even available in HD. Or, you can watch it on the Web if you don't have Xbox Live.

The creator and star of the show, Felicia Day, is a gamer herself and writes all the episodes. I discovered just now while looking at her bio that she was born in Huntsville, Alabama. So was I! Perhaps that partially explains her brilliance.

We'll be following the show, and I recommend it highly.

Aspiring to Achieve

By Fartknocckker
Sythbane Squadron contributor

Having recently completed Call of Duty: World at War on veteran difficulty and gaining all 1,000 gamerscore points, I had a feeling of deja vu. It wasn't because I felt like I had played the game before, but the sense that I had just completed another game that got the achievements right.

So many times achievements simply do not match the game or require you to search around for hours looking for this do-dad or other. From a designer's point of view, these collection quests are a way of persuading the player to look at the world that they have created a little closer, and is understandable, but is sometimes downright tedious. Achievements that are difficult because they are based on the player's skill are much more rewarding and really give you a sense of accomplishment.

Other games are laughable when they clearly are not triple-A titles but require the player to get a ridiculous number of kills online, or play a certain number of online matches. Sometimes these achievements are nearly impossible to acquire simply for the fact that nobody is playing the game online. Did the developers really think their game was so good that people would play thousands of online matches? Have they played Call of Duty, Gears of War or Halo?

The redeeming quality about achievements is that if you want to unlock them from a particular title, you are forced to play the game differently (except for story progression achievements, of course). This adds a lot more value and replayability, because unless a game has multiplayer, you can drop 60 bucks and finish the main story out in two days. Even if you rent, rushing through a game in order to meet a return date offers no value.

There was a time when accomplishing something in a game was known only to yourself or maybe your little brother. Achievements not only offer a recorded recognition but add another aspect to the gaming community. Discussing strategy or offering tips to your buddies about achievements encourages friendship through something in common.

Now, some people couldn't care less about these little notifications of specific tasks performed in games. Other people will cheat, glitch and have somebody else play under their accounts to have these puppies pop and increase there gamerscore for bragging rights. I personally find the latter to be obsessive and not very healthy. I would be lying if I said no part of earning achievements, for me, was for bragging rights because that is a small percentage. I look at them as enhancements to a game that can build confidence and add value to entertainment.

I recommend at least trying Call of Duty titles on veteran difficulty. Even though, at times, you will want to throw your controller through your T.V. and the wall behind it, it is a very satisfying set of achievements.

Editor's note: The other night I joined a co-op party led by Ogre through the last level of Call of Duty: World at War. During the mayhem, Ogre mentioned that Fartknocckker had completed the game solo on veteran difficulty -- a feat which, he noted with awe, is insane. We all had to agree. Fartknocckker is the Man. He probably gives gaming tips to Chuck Norris.
-- Sythbane

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Age of the Avatari

So here's my new Xbox Live avatar. My brother jRySix says it looks like me, and his looks like him, too.

I'm frustrated that there are no cowboy boots and banjos, but perhaps that will come later. They're likely to start nickle-and-diming us for clothes and gadgets for our little people.

I hope that at least we can get the advertising stuff for free. I'm expecting we'll see avatar T-shirts and trucker hats pushing new movies, soft drinks, cars and other stuff. Maybe rock bands, too. That would be neat.

So what happened to all those gamer pictures we've downloaded -- and paid for some of them?

I like the avatars, though, and I'm eager to see what all my friends look like when you've converted yourselves into avatari. (I just made up the word "avatari" as a plural for avatar, so we'll see if it catches on. It has sort of a Tolkienish ring to it, don't you think? Remember you read it here first.)

Below is an avatari portrait of a Sythbane Squadron trio: me, Sythbane, with my son Fortiscule and brother jRySix.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A boy and his dog in Fable II

My review of Fable II ran last week in the newspaper. I've seen some of my friends roaming around Albion. I've moved on to other games in this seasonal glut, but I'll be coming back to Fable II.

This week I've mostly been playing the multiplayer in Quantum of Solace, which is excellent.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Force is strong in this one (that's what SHE said)

I know it must be The Dark Side in me talking, but I find this incredibly hot. Any of my fellow geeks feeling the Sith love, too?

Luke, I am your mother.
(from CollegeHumor)