Gonna clean up my reviews sometime

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This is just to tell you I'm going to update some of my reviews for some games, more specifically I'm going to delete the review for Civ IV Beyond the Sword (didn't like my review) and edit my review for Halo 3 (good game, not the best ever).

I'll also probably have a review for Portal, Team Fortress 2, and Half-Life 2 sometime.

Got an actual avatar

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I've been thinking about this for a while, and I think now is the time to get a real avatar.

So I found a nice picture of Buckethead's hand puppet, Herbie.

go comment

On Halo 3's user-friendlyness

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I personally find its user-friendliness to be both a blessing and a curse, and from what I've seen, more of a curse. True, in Forge, you can make some great map edits, but all I've seen people doing is deleting all the objects on Sandtrap and replacing them with, like, three scenery objects and a bunch of weapons scrunched together. I especially hate it when users crowd two equipment pieces together, as when I try to pick up one, I actually pick up something that I don't want. On the plus side, I've seen some great Foundry edits played on the wrong gametype (which is almost always Infection on some map in which if a few of the players go to this "safe zone" which is unreachable unless you go to a teleporter which, if you actually reach it, you're just going to wind up getting killed because the players at the top just point their guns towards the teleporter and kill you instantly.)

Now onto custom games. Most people just play a modified infection on a Sandtrap or Foundry edit, which is generally pretty fun when played on the right map edit. But there is this gametype called "Cops and Robbers" which is driving me insane. Basically, it's an Infection gametype in which there are two 50/50 teams with no lives. The "Cops" have to capture the "Robbers" without killing them, which makes no sense, as there is no bonus for capturing the robbers. In fact, the only way to win is by constantly being the Last Man Standing on the robbers team.

Writing this has just encouraged me to make a custom Slayer gametype.

Best Halo game?

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If you know me well, you probably know that I am a fan of the Halo series. I have logged in over 900 matches total in Halo 2 and Halo 3 combined and have spent some time messing around with the Forge editor (most of the time, unsuccessfully). But when asked my favorite Halo game, I can't really give a good answer. I like all three games, but I like them in different ways.

In terms of the overall package I like Halo 3 the most. Even though the campaign had some difficulty curve issues and Forge could use less restrictions and more options, it feels to me like the most feature-rich version with multiplayer maps that were fun to play on, some great user-friendly features (Forge and Custom games, anyone?), and a campaign with some memorable levels and moments.

But in terms of an artistic approach, I like Halo 1 and 2 better. With Halo 1, it's the music; from the melancholy menu theme to the memorable background music. Halo 2's music was less memorable, but it was still superb. Halo 3 still had the same great menu theme, but its music seemed to be lacking something. I don't know why, it just... did. The music was still good, but I greatly favor the sound of the first two games.

In terms of graphics, I actually like Halo 2 the best, particularly along the lines of the multiplayer maps. To me they had an ambient look to them that the maps in Halo 3 didn't have. Because of this I had more fun playing on them. With Halo 2, almost every map was a masterpiece. In Halo 3, only a few maps so far are memorable (the remake of Zanzibar and High Ground come to mind), and though the maps were still fun to play on, I would have preferred a remake of the Halo 2 maps than the new Halo 3 maps. I found all three of the new maps memorable when Bungie released them, so that's a good sign for the future.

A Three-Step System to Improve the Quality of Games

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People have been complaining about the recent drop in the quality of games, with many highly anticipated titles turning out to be not as good as speculated (recent examples: Hellgate: London; Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games). Ever since GameSpot changed their review system, their seems to be a pattern in the demerit system: games that get in the range of 6.0-7.0 often get one of three common demerits. Sometimes they get two of the three and sometimes they get all three. Nevertheless, many games seem to get three common demerits, and developers seem to fail to recognize them. So using the three most common demerits, I will now take a stab at writing a simple three-step guide for developers on how to make a working game a better one.

Step 1: Make your games longer

Short

"Short" is arguably the most common demerit earned on Gamespot. Call of Duty 4 earned it, both GRAW 2 and Lost Planet would have earned it, and many games that get 6.0s and 7.0s (Transformers, etc.) earn it. The message is very simple: make your games longer. Add a few levels to the game if your game lacks a story. Or, if your game has a story that you wouldn't want to mess up, make your levels longer. Just try to make your single player campaign longer. You might also want to add additional difficulty levels to give the player incentive to play the game again.

Step 2: Give your games more depth

Shallow

"Shallow" is also one of the most common demerits games reviewed by Gamespot earn. Basically, the message here is to make the player do something more than just destroying the same enemy over and over again with the exact same weapon over and over again. The first, most obvious step is to give the player more enemies to battle and more weapons to fight them with. But make it so that the player needs to make a decision on what weapon to use in a certain situation. In other words, make the player use different strategies in order to beat the game. A game in which a player can win with the same strategy over and over again isn't fun. A game in which a player has to use different strategies to win is. Again; different difficulty levels is a great way to add depth to a game.

Step 3: Try to avoid copying

Many games reviewed by GameSpot earn the "Derivative" demerit. And the reason games earn it is simple: they copy the same gameplay mechanics from another game. So the message here is: avoid shamelessly copying the gameplay from another game. Though you can get away with it if the game you're copying from garnered a large amount of praise from critics, it's still a good idea to add some fun new mechanic to the core gameplay. If creating a derivative adventure is unavoidable, try to mirror the quality of the game you're copying from, or make the quality better.

And that's that. Hopefully developers have already learned from GameSpot's new review system and will continue to learn how to make great games with it. If they are truly learning, then in years to come we might start to see more great games.

The day the logic died.

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So I just got my high school's paper. Once again, our teachers are rewriting the attendance policy. And parts of it are perfectly reasonable, but the majority of the new policy displays no logic whatsoever.

Basically, the New Attendance policy is like this: The number of unexcused absences allowed is 20 per year instead of 12 per semester (basically, 4 days have been cut off). This makes perfect sense because the previous amount of allowed days was a bit much. Here's the part that makes no sense whatsoever:

What counts as an excused abscence:
- You're absent for religious reasons.

What's not excused:
- You're sick.
- You're taking your driving test.
- You're at guidance or the nurse.
- You're on a field trip.
- You're taking a vacation. (this makes sense to some extent)
- You're in court.
- You're visiting a college.
- You're out of a period for a performance. (Gamespot for some reason won't allow me towrite the letters c, l, a, s, and s together)
- You're absent because a family member died or is sick.

Almost all of these are pretty logical reasons to miss a day of school. So that is where logic dies. I can see this new policy is going to work out just fine. :p

Why I've been off of Xbox Live

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If you are on my Xbox Live friends list, the reason why I've been off of Xbox Live is because my 360 got the three red lights about two weeks ago. How? Apparently, the power source overheated and I couldn't get it to power back up again. So my conclusion is that the power supply is dead. I know this is a pretty generic blog post, but it gives me something to talk about.

Profile View Peak

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Looking at my Profile View counter, I see that I have accumulated 322 profile views in a rather short period of time. Now what is the cause of this sudden peak, I wonder? Is it beacuse of my sig?

Multiplayer: all or part of the game?

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The question is easy to understand. Basically, is playing with friends/people onlinean absolute essential in a game or just the icing on the cake?

Take both Halo and Halo 2, for example. Many people argue that Halo 2 is only a multiplayer game, pointing to the fact that so many people play Halo 2 over three years after the game's release. They seem to forget that millions of people bought an Xbox just for Halo's single player campaign.

The thing is, I think it really depends on the type of game you're playing. If you're playing an RPG, you can be totally satisfied by playing alone. If you're playing an FPS, something feels missing after you've cleared the singleplayer game if no multiplayer is available.

But that's just my humble opinion.

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