Gaming in the Heat

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As a resident of upstate New York State, I'm used to odd weather patterns. If you wake up to a clear, sunny day, it can come as no surprise­ that the ground could be covered in snow before dark. Any weather that occurs in the range from 30-70 F should be expected. We barely ever have extreme temperatures under 10 F or greater than 80 F. I myself consider myself pretty acclimatized, as any temperature in the typical range doesn't faze me. I love decent snow in the winter and warm breezes in the summer.

Hey, this happened a few times last week. It only took me an hour longer to get home though.

I have my PC's and a console side by side in the upstairs, north-west corner of the house. I live a few miles outside town, with a few acres of property, and with considerable variation in the weather. I've seen a lot of things. I've worn gloves while playing on the PC, pilled blankets and sweatshirts on top of me and my controller. I've donned headphones when the wind picks up and the thunderstorms roar (that is when the power doesn't go out, which happens on a monthly basis). I love where I live, and I like living isolated. I can stand loud weather and cold nights without power, but there is one thing I can't stand. It's the heat.

With two rigs, a console, a router and other assorted gear turned on, that room can cook. When the temperature goes above 90, I lose my mind. I've always said that you can get warm by moving around or adding more layers. There is no effective way to get cool when the air conditioner is on, fans are blazing, and I'm in my undergarments. I try not to keep the air conditioner on too often, but the thermostat isn't in the hottest room either.

I'm looking for answers, and where else could I turn too than those who blog at Gamespot. Here are my meager attempts:

  1. Strip down to only the essential garments. You're not using video chat so who gives a crap.
  2. Get multiple fans. Don't limit your options here. I've a USB fan, a desk-mounted fan and an oscillator going at the same time.
  3. Minimize your devices. If you're not on Steam or Xbox Live, shut off the router. Anyone have a relatively cool running model?
  4. Stay hydrated, but avoid tall glasses. The end game is when you spill the nectar of sustenance.
  5. Take a break. I've had to get up and move around somewhere else for a while.
  6. The washcloth has multiple functions. Keep a moist one on your head to prevent overheating.

Have you heard of China? They make great cheap stuff.

I've been way more successfully at playing in the cold. Here are some tips for winter gaming:

  1. They make thin pairs of gloves and fingerless gloves. They could be a good investment.
  2. Fleece blankets are cheap. My grandma visited a fabric store and bought a ton where you don't even need to stick up the edges. You can even use a wireless controller from under them.
  3. If you're desperate or really cheap (like me), look at a portable space heater. My mom loves that thing.
  4. It's proven that most of your body heat escapes from your heat. Wear a hat.
  5. Again, take a break. Walking around for a minute gets the bold flowing.

Orange isn't really my color, but there are many choices.

If you have something to add or comment on, please leave advice below! I'm not exactly a pathological gamer or an addicted to gaming. As a full-time college student studying Engineering and a full-time position for the summer and other breaks I've got to make efficient use of time and money.

When I have limited time to game, I'm gaming regardless of weather. I'll be here in my boxer's finishing off Dragon Age II before I slowly melt.

All but a Blight-Queller: Of Bioware and Ferelden

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As my journey with Dragon Age: Origins comes to a close, I and filled with…sadness. Yes…sadness would be the right word. I invested a lot of time an effort into this game and all its numerous pieces of DLC over the past two months and I'm a bit depressed that it's all over. Over those two months, I spent only an hour or two on week days and around 10 hours on weekends playing, and I got into a good rhythm. Dragon Age: Origins became a habit; not an addiction but a part of life. After my late clas*ses this semester and polishing off homework, I really enjoyed kicking back for an hour or so every night exploring another great Bioware clas*ic. To pay my respects, I thought I'd right down my impressions for each part of the journey as much to share my impressions with others as to take a nostalgic trip down memory myself. Please leave me comments! [I refer to the Main Game as "Origins," so don't be confused!] There are really no spoilers here, just suggestions you could ignore at your own peril!

Origins Main Game: This was a long game. There was a lot to do and see, and I did everything. Bioware certainly pulled off another clas*ic. The best part of the game for me was the origin stories themselves. They all end with Ostagar and aren't too long, but each was written quite well. I thought the human noble was the best by far, giving you access to your dog 2 minutes into the game, and providing the only exclusive areas in the game (as in the Cousland Castle is not accessible for any other origin character, not the case with any other environments). The side quests were great, the plot kept you going, but the characters stole the show. [My Rating: 9]

-On Warden's Peak: Interesting side quest, and provides some of the best items in the game. Also let's you store items, but be warned that those stored won't carry on to the expansion and DLC's (neither will the best items). [My Rating: 6]

-On Return to Ostagar: An opportunity to see what's left of Ostagar. It's nostalgic, but there's not much to do here, with only 1 or 2 worthwhile items. I'd recommend bringing Alistar and Wynne for conversation's sake. [My Rating: 5]

-On Feastday Gifts and Pranks: Essential if you screw up some characters' approval. The pranks are…interesting, but will only destroy relationships. [My Rating: 7 (ignore the pranks)]

Darkspawn Chronicles: A great idea, but poorly executed. The DLC seemed glitchy to me, and it's kind of boring. You'll just play through the major areas of Denerim and fight the Warden's. It's pretty hard too. I died 4 times trying to kill Stenn and his army of golems. The "side quests" don't even work sometimes. The only pro of this adventure is the weapon you get for Origins and Awakening when you finish it. The ending is the only interesting part. [My Rating: 5.5]

Leliana's Song: I had a good time with this one. We see how Leliana went from assassin to a life in the Chantry (she's not actually that crazy!). This adventure was lighthearted and has a few twists. It wasn't too deep, but I did feel invested in the characters by the end (it's deeper if you actually talk to the other party members). I don't know why this gets such a bad rap among fans. You can also get a decent item that transfers over to Origins and Awakening. [My Rating: 8]

Awakening Expansion: The only reason this is an expansion is because of its length. Awakening had the potential to be a sequel if Bioware wished it, if not for the exact same mechanics as Origins and the relatively short length. Don't let the length fool you, there's still plenty to do. The conversation system with you party members is disappointing, but I did like how examining object in the environment sparks unique conversions with you party members. As a suggestion, I'd go to the marshes last if you want to get all the companion quests. When you complete the last main quest, in whatever order you choose, you won't be able to have new members complete The Joining which will prevent you from getting some companion quests. There are a few neat secrets here if you pay attention to your codex entries and the doors at Vigil's Keep…hint hint. [My Rating: 9]

Golems of Amgarrak: Wow, as if I haven't seen enough of the Deep Roads. Bioware beat a dead horse many times over with recycled tunnel environments. The only reason I finished this was to get the achievements, and that was pretty difficult. If you don't have a warrior who wields a shield, you'll have a hard time defeating the final boss on higher difficulties. I am so sick of dwarves, roads that are deep, and dwarven politics. [My Rating: 4.5]

Witch Hunt: I really don't see why so many peopled disliked this adventure. It's called "Witch Hunt," not "Afternoon Tea with Morrigan." When you find the witch, the hunt is over, what did people expect? This adventure has what I thought were good characters, who actually talk to each other a quite lot while you travel. I also had a chance to use Rufus (my dog), and realized he's actually a really good character. Morrigan may have only a brief appearance, but if her appearance was any longer if would defeat purpose of the outcome of the Origins main game. Witch Hunt is one of the only parts of Dragon Age, besides Origins, that has much closure, and it wrapped things up pretty well. Best boss fight included. [My Rating: 8]

-Organized Closing Rants-

For Origins, the sum of its parts is better than any individual game or DLC. I'd give my entire adventure a 10 out of 10. It didn't really strike me as how much I enjoyed the game until I was part way through Awakening. I realized just how…big…the experience was.

A brief point on Dragon Age II: I'm always wary when a title gets a number tacked on the end, but it worked for Mass Effect 2. I thought the graphics and art was a major improvement when I played the demo, but they may have taken the combat system in the wrong direction. I will say that any Bioware game makes just about all other games pale in comparison, and I firmly refute anyone's claim that Bioware is falling from glory. Again though, my impressions are solely based off the demo.

A word to the wise: If you interested at all at Dragon Age: Origins, go right to the Ultimate Edition. Even if you think you're getting just the main game at a bargain, you're not. Remember to take the DLC for what it is, overpriced but fun content that's best experienced when packaged with the main game if possible. [Also: don't play a dwarven origins story unless you are really committed to having a dwarf character; the locations you visit will be seen many times over. If you think you want to be a tank, go for a shield-using human noble. Deep Roads are so…meh…]

All that's left for me is the Blight-Queller Achievement, as the title suggests, and two others. If anyone has tips or personal experiences with this achievement, please let me know as I start a second playthrough. This is the only non-downloadable game I have a chance at getting 100% on, and I feel I owe it to Bioware.

Activision: A New Standard Oil

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Activision Blizzard is a pretty big company. Over the years the company has grown profits and bought out a number of developers. This in itself is not a bad thing, if management keeps their heads on straight. This is not the case with Activision. In the industry, Activision is becoming gaming's Standard Oil, and the only way for others to survive is to grow into similar giants. I know I may take some flak for what my opinions, but I'm taking a stand.

Before we dive into what Activision is doing to destroy the industry, let's take a quick look at their history. Activision was one of the first third party software companies for the Atari system back in the 1980's. The company created games for other system, suffered through some heavy lawsuits, but forged ahead under the leadership of Robert Kotick. Activision later merged with Vivendi Games forming the new Activision Blizzard. Today, Activision has over 16 partnerships/acquisitions, specifically since the late 1990's.

It would seem that Activision has done quite well in a turbulent environment. Very well, in fact. As with any growing business form, it can become blotted. Activision how has significant weight to throw around in the gaming industry, and it doesn't mind menacingly flexing its' muscles.

Though I've had a few quarrels with Activision, some recent news prompted me to write these thoughts. There are two stories that cemented by dislike of this software company: canceling the Guitar Hero franchise and that Activision is seeking to purchase Take-Two. These two pieces of news are not initially shocking until we examine them more closely.

Guitar Hero is slain: By canceling Guitar Hero, Activision also killed DJ Hero. Two great IP's that may not be making a ton of money, but launched a genre. Rock Band will still be around though Rock Band developer Harmonix is facing their own troubles. No competition is bad; there is no impetus for a good game if there is no alternative to said game. Rhythm games will suffer for this, when all that was required was change to the overflowed genre. Overflow was worse than cancellation.(http://www.gamespot.com/news/6298334.html)

I'll miss you Guitar Hero, RIP...

Take-Two buyout: Take-Two games have had some successful IP's, IP's that are going fine on their own. As soon as Activision follows the money trail, a buyout is soon to follow. Take-Two also includes Rockstar Games, so this could be bad for many genres and IP. They are fine on their own, and oversight from Activision could alter a formula that works. Activision is power-hungry, so they want a piece of Rockstar and Take-Two's profits.(http://www.gamespot.com/news/6298567.html)

A formula done right.

Why we should be worried: In a genre flooded with IP's, Activision has still struck gold with Call of Duty. There are many FPS games, despite vast differences. My prediction: Activision will continue to print money with Call of Duty, and the IP will suffer once it slowly suffocates the competition.

What I fear is a market where gamers have two options, EA products vs. Activision products. So far I've been able to convince myself that EA has allowed their acquisitions to flourish like Bioware with Mass Effect 2 and Visceral Games with Dead Space 2 (even if they do plug the crap out of sequels, at least they pick good IP's). EA Partners is looking like a promising and fruitful program too, something apprently Activision hasn't picked up on. I'm aware that could easily change, but my fingers are crossed.

VS.

Good times...ahead...?

I've also been able to console myself that good FPS games aren't impossible to find even if Call of Duty dominates the entire gaming market (I'll admit I was peer pressured into getting Black Ops, but was disappointed). Activision, and EA, have also been pushing multiplayer options too, which isn't right for every game.

Multiplayer overload...and over bloated.

In the meantime, I'll show my support with my wallet. Dragon Origins just came in, and I'll be finishing up Red Dead in the next few weeks (Winter Recess, OH YEAH!).

At least if Activision continues their trend, I'll be able to avoid all the new crap and start crossing off items on my gaming backlist (http://www.gamespot.com/users/smithboy1177/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25898546&tag=all-about%3Bblog2)

Gamers, you should be worried. We'll all need to keep an eye out for giants so we don't get stepped on; and don't neglect those Indie Games. Check out this Gamespot's podcast this week, they offer some great commentary on the Activision dilemma (http://www.gamespot.com/pages/features/hotspot/index.php). Please leave comments below!

For more of my words on Black Ops: http://www.gamespot.com/users/smithboy1177/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25887596

A [Dead] Business Model Rising?

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Game demos are a common thing. Some gaming services offer many game demos for both upcoming releases and even for old games of long past. This is undisputedly a good thing. Who doesn't like a free sample?

This guy is psyched for free cheese

Free samples are common in many retail businesses. Take the supermarket or grocery store. Every once in while, a food-related store will offer a sample of a new product to customers. This was definitely a highlight of my childhood. I was dragged to the grocery store plenty of times. It would be easier to stomach if there was a free sample offer (see what I did there...). The best thing ever would be a free pastry sample at BJ's after an afternoon in the car. A brief, but effective, moment of bliss…

I feel the same way about gaming. The pinnacle of the wait for a game is the release of the demo. Not every game has an available demo. Unfortunately, some PC users get stiffed, and some recent demos have been XBOX Live and PSN exclusives. It still must be a time-consuming process for a developer to release a demo. They essentially release a self contained beta of a game, which must be more work for games released through physical discs. They need to make a small, self contained game available generally through downloadable means.

Still, a game demo seems like a great way to market a game. I rarely, if ever, purchase a game without knowing what I'm getting. I check the reviews, follow pre-release news/videos, and I'm skeptical to pre-order. A game demo is the perfect means for me to see if I should buy a game.

However, game demos can hurt the sale of a game. If a demo is poorly constructed or buggy, undoubtedly some who playit will not purchase the game. This goesthe same way for people who just plain dislike the demo altogether. If these people would have bought the game (and the demo convinces them not too), the developer would sell fewer copies. I consider it a great opportunity and gift from a developer to release a demo at all.

This brings me to Dead Rising 2: Case Zero.

Dead Rising 2 has no demo. It does have a prologue. This prologue has a trial, or demo. One can download the trial for Case Zero for free (an XBOX live exclusive). This is an entirely new business model. A self-contained game, with an available trial, that is completely separate from the Dead Rising 2 game. The game costs 400 MS points ($5), and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. This in itself is a great deal. There are many downloadable games and DLC priced higher that take roughly the same time to complete (besides the fact the Case Zero has incredible replay value).

Chuck is psyched about this $5 adventure. And chainsaws...

I loved Case Zero, and plan on purchasing Dead Rising 2 soon. Blue Castle Games and Capcom (the developers) have most likely sold more copies due to this fact (they do have all their bases covered, with a prologue and the Case West epilogue for Dead Rising 2). I don't actually know what the numbers are, or if you could correlate Case Zero sales to Dead Rising 2 sales, but this brings up an interesting point.

Should the demo model be replaced with essentially DLC? If we could get more of a game, but sooner, would we buy it. Some gamers are angered when within 24 hours a game's release, the developers release a statement about upcoming DLC. What if that DLC was offered sooner, as a demo of the game's mechanics and gameplay (as a stand-alone game, for a price).

This new business model could be revolutionary. Few people would pay for a demo, but for a prologue game itself (and for only $5!)?

Bringing in 2011...With Games: A Resolution...of Sorts

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More important than my top games of 2010 are the games I missed out on. I say this because I believe that what I miss out on is quite important. It's kind of like the saying "better to let a guilty man go free than put an innocent man behind bars." Get it? Everyone can dispute their favorites all year, but unless we all played the same things, or everything, no one will be on an equal playing field anyway. Besides, Mass Effect 2 is hands down the best game of 2010. FACT.

So, this list is of games I wish to play in 2011 that where released in 2010 (excluding DLC released since then). I bought an XBOX in October after a lifetime of handheld, PC, and Ninendo exclusive (Wii and all handheld lines) gaming and I'm a bit behind.

A bit of an aside, I'm truly grateful for my friends. The day they learned I bought my XBOX, many guys let me borrow games. I've only bought 2 games for the console to date. I consider myself truly gifted to have a group of people who will let me borrow multiple $60 items indefinitely, and on such short notice. This is the main reason I haven't gotten around to playing some the acclaimed games this past year.

In loose order of priority:

-Red Dead Redemption: I planned on buying this game at the same time as I bought my XBOX. Mass Effect 2 was simply cheaper. I consider it a great twist of fate, as Mass Effect 2 was the most enjoyable game I think I've ever played. I haven't, however, forgotten about Red Dead. I can't believe I never got around to playing it, being a huge fan of old spaghetti western movies (the fact that I know what a spaghetti western is is a testament to that). Even if it didn't get the hype it got, I truly planned on getting this game. (If you really liked it, check out the movies "3:10 to Yuma" and the new "True Grit,"two great modern westerns.)

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-Mass Effect 2: Overlord: I've played Lair of the Shadow Broker and I was pretty much blown away. If there is any hint that Overlord might be similar I'd easily spend 800 points on it. I want to play Mass Effect 2 all the way through again completely to max out my stats for two playthroughs to transfer into Mass Effect 3, and more DLC is an easy excuse to do so.

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-Dragon Age: Origins: Even though this gamecame out in December of 2009, I've got to play it. Bioware can do no wrong, not after Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect series (I know they didn't do KotOR II, for the record). A medieval world is something I can easily get into, and I plan on it. I'd like to get the game with the Awakening expansion, the duo pack, after they drop the price a bit. I'm not dropping $60 on an older game, even if it includes the expansion (if you haven't noticed, I'm kind of cheap).

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-Fallout 3/New Vegas: Haven't played either, and I've heard so much about them. I actually own Fallout 3 after I traded for it with a friend for homework (a lot of it...in college). I've heard a lot about how they compare to each other, and the controversy interests me. I haven't even opened Fallout 3...

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-Vanquish: I played them demo and liked the mechanics. One problem; I suck at games. I died a lot. I'm the guy who plays on "easy" or "casual" because I think its way more fun to "own" a game. My kill-death ratio for multiplayer on all games is always between 0.74-0.98. I got frustrated a couple of times after dyingWITH THE DEMO. However, I am again interested enough to try the full game, but I probably won't buy it.

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-Deathspank/Costume Quest: Equally cool looking games that aren't too long or expensive, both of which I enjoyed demos for as well. I see arcade games as games just as worth playing as typical games, that are just a bit cheaper and a bit shorter. Deathspank seemed pretty funny, and I love the art. Costume Quest looks like a neat RPG, similar to handheld ones I enjoyed as a kid. I love the idea, and simplicity doesn't bother me if the game has charm, the same goes for Deathspank. I may get Costume Quest next Octoberand play the whole thing through on Halloween night...

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-Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: If the game is said to have a good plot, then I'm totally game. The combat in the demo wasn't groundbreaking and I'm not a big fan of platformers, but the mix of both was pretty neat. The visuals and the setting looked great too. Another one I want to play, but perhaps not buy.

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-Professor Layton and the Unwound Future: I loved the Diabolical Box, much more than the first game in the series. I'm sure the third installment of the series (at least the 3rd released in the US) will re-kindle my love for British themed games and puzzles. Seriously, I've got me be handicapped with word searches and Sudoku's to name a few. As soon as I finish the new Golden Sun, I'll pick this up.

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-The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest: I'm a fan of LotR, and I really meant to check this game out. I guess it just fell through the cracks, and I've been meaning to get back to try out some stuff on the Wii. So, I definitely plan on returning to Middle Earth just to wield the weapons of Aragron.

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-Bayonetta: To be nominated for game of the year awards, this game must stand out from other button mashers andit looks similar too. God of War's combat doesn't really interest me, there's no strategy to mashing even if the results look good. If Bayonetta has mechanics that aren't repetitive it looks like a good game.

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-XMEN Arcade Game: I played this old 1992 game in an arcade with two of my cousins for 4 hours straight back when I when I was younger. I spent a lot of change. I really want to give this game a go again, but 10 bucks is a bit steep for a 1992 game. I'm afraid that I'll buy it and the experience will taint my memories. The jury is out on this one...

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-Assassins Creed II/Brotherhood: Like Fallout, I have not played any games in the Assassins Creed series. This will soon be an item I'll probably borrow from a friend and I think the series deserves a look, at least for all the hype. This one isn't really a priority though.

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-Fable II/III: Another series I have yet to try. I hear the choices you make don't really effect the gameplay, so I might just start with Fable II. For the hype alone I guess it's worth a try, but not a priority.

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The Sad Truth:

There's no way I'll get to try all these games. I don't really play a lot, what with working fulltime over the holidays and then Winter Break ends with January. I haven't finished the stuff I'm currently playing, including multiplayer stuff I have yet to really explore. Hopefully by making the list I'll at least be able to pay tribute to the game that could be great. I'll never know...

Recommendations would be appreciated!

I have played most popular handheld and Wii games, Mass Effect 2, Halo: Reach, Final Fantasy XIII, and CoD: Black Ops [which was a bit dissappointing].

Scavenger Hunt 2010

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I realized I was at Gamespot UK for a while, so many entries do have the uk address, while others have the regular one:

Clue 1: Van Nguyen http://uk.gamespot.com/users/Van/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893598

Clue 2: Jody Robinson http://uk.gamespot.com/users/JodyR/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893594&tag=tracked-blogs%3Bbloglink1

Clue 3: Guy Cocker http://uk.gamespot.com/users/guy_cocker/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893558

Clue 4: Matthew Gravish http://uk.gamespot.com/users/mgravish/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893574&tag=all-about%3Bblog1

Clue 5: Chris Watters http://www.gamespot.com/users/Chris_Watters/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893547&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 6: Kevin VanOrd http://www.gamespot.com/users/Kevin-V/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893569&tag=tracked-blogs;bloglink3

Clue 7: Aaron Sampson http://www.gamespot.com/users/AirDog80/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893530&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 8: Alex Sassoon Coby http://www.gamespot.com/users/sebFlyte/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893542&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 9: Wernher Goff http://uk.gamespot.com/users/wornstar/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893595

Clue 10: Jan Heir http://uk.gamespot.com/users/Jan_Meja_Heir/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893561

Clue 11: Randolph Ramsey http://www.gamespot.com/users/RandolphRam/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893577&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 12: Andrew Park http://www.gamespot.com/users/AndrewP/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893543&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 13: Mark Walton http://www.gamespot.com/users/markypants/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893573&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 14: Justin Calver thttp://www.gamespot.com/users/JusticeCovert/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893566&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 15: Sophia Tonghttp://www.gamespot.com/users/Sophia/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893585&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 16: Kurtis Seid http://uk.gamespot.com/users/Yarvem/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893570

Clue 17: Giancarlo Varanini http://www.gamespot.com/users/Giancarlo/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893556&tag=all-about;blog1

CLUE 18: Justin Porter http://uk.gamespot.com/users/jporter313/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893567

Clue 19: Ryan MacDonald http://www.gamespot.com/users/RyanM/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893611&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 20: Tyler Winegarner http://uk.gamespot.com/users/TylerW/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893599

Clue 21: Maxwell Mcgeehttp://www.gamespot.com/users/Maxwell/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893575&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 22: James Kozanecki http://uk.gamespot.com/users/kozanecki/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893560

Clue 23: Frank Adams http://uk.gamespot.com/users/frank7731/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893551

Clue 24: Sarju Shahhttp://www.gamespot.com/users/SarjuS/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893581&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 25: Sean McInnishttp://www.gamespot.com/users/Kevin-V/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893569&tag=tracked-blogs;bloglink3

Clue 26: Ricardo Torreshttp://www.gamespot.com/users/RicardoT/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893579&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 27: Tom Magrino http://uk.gamespot.com/users/TomM_GScom/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893588

Clue 28: Dan Chiappini http://uk.gamespot.com/users/Chippa7/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893548

Clue 29: Homer Rabara http://uk.gamespot.com/users/gshomer/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893559

Clue 30: Takeshi Hiraoka http://uk.gamespot.com/users/Takeshi-GS/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893587

Clue 31: Tor Thorsen http://uk.gamespot.com/users/thorsen-ink/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893591

Clue 32: Jim Maybury http://uk.gamespot.com/users/jmaybury/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893564

Clue 33: Carolyn Petithttp://www.gamespot.com/users/carolynmichelle/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893546&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 34: Tom McSheahttp://www.gamespot.com/users/TomMcShea/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893589&tag=tracked-blogs;bloglink1

Clue 35: Dan Mihoerck http://uk.gamespot.com/users/neur0sis/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893549

Clue 36: Jane Douglashttp://www.gamespot.com/users/janedouglas/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893563&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 37: Brendan Sinclairhttp://www.gamespot.com/users/Polybren/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893544&tag=all-about;blog1

Clue 38: Laura Parkerhttp://uk.gamespot.com/users/Lozzica/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25893571

Black Ops and Perfection?: Muliplayer in the Modern Age

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Recently my friends successfully peer pressured me into buying Call of Duty: Black Ops. The Call of Duty IP has no doubt received its share of publicity, so it seemed obvious that with a few good reviews backing my decision I should try it. I had tried Modern Warfare 2 with some friends and played some local games and some zombies in World at War, and it was pretty fun.

Now I am currently a college student paying for my education entirely on my own, but making an "investment" in Black Ops would surely pay off with hours upon hours of entertainment. I had never really gotten into multiplayer on any game because my old man never let me through the firewall on our PC (that changed when I bought a console). Upon making my purchase, I did feel like I had to cut off and sacrifice an organ or finger just to pay for this game (a lump sum of $64+), but still peer pressure and hype fueled me on.

I decided that in order to be good enough to play online I had to play the campaign first, all the way through, on at least normal difficulty. I have to admit the campaign was pretty well written, for a game not known or remembered for plot. Again, the missions were pretty good, and fighting through Khe Sanh was one of the best FPS moments I can remember (despite enemies spawning in front of me on occasion).

I've played through my fare share of shooters for the PC, and plenty of other genres, and I seen great bounds and leaps made in the gaming industry. This is not what I saw in Black Ops.

What I saw was the typical run and gun typical to just about every game in the FPS "genre," as I now call it. There was nothing, and has not been anything, groundbreaking in these run of mill shooters for at least the last 5 years. Leveling up, earning an in-game currency, and purchasing upgrades is absolutely nothing new. Sure, the graphics have been improved but that is to be expected...no, demanded; improved graphics are no achievement but sure as hell better be improved after a few years of development.

I am disappointed that the masses purchased so many copies of "COD: BlOps" and many are not even a little unsatisfied with what Activision delivered.

I feel like I am missing out on something, there must be some point or activity I haven't seen or missed with this game. I need help comprehending just why this game even deserves to me mentioned or discussed beyond its above average campaign and its single plot twist.

I gaming,consumers need to demand improvement, new ideas and new concepts. With no motivation to change, companies like Activision and EA will continue to do what is profitable. What is profitable is not always the best for consumers. Every time someone brings up the argument that games should be ignored as art they fail to mention the truly innovative aspect of the industry, citing the most popular and mostly violent side of what games have to offer.

I need help: Please, help me understand what I am missing with Black Ops. There has got to be something I have overlooked. Editor Chris Watters gave this game and "Editor's Choice" rating, and I've watched the review numerous times looking for something of interest or innovation. I've found none.

We need more independent publishers, more Bioware dialog or Bethesda options. I crave something new. Many believe that motion sensing will not satisfy this craving. So we must look onward, to the future.

If Black Ops is perfection, then I think we need to discuss definitions of perfection. Here the one I use:

Definition of PERFECTION

the quality or state of being perfect, freedom from fault or defect, the quality or state of being saintly, an exemplification of supreme excellence, an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence

[Source:http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perfection?show=0&t=1290880044]

The nature of perfection is nearly impossible. That would mean that a game, or any other noun for that matter, would have NO flaws. I have never played a game where I haven't thought to myself "Gee, I wish that wasn't the case" or "If only this one thing could be changed." Now, no, I don't make my own games, but perfection is a goal or a tool for comparison. I can't think of anything perfect; that state of being is beyond my grasp.

Before we describe something as "perfect," we need to take a much closer look. This isn't a word we should just throw around, but use as a means to move forward or make improvement.

The "Coward's way out": More of the same, courtesy of Activision.

Handheld Games: Think of the Children

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I think I'm finally coming to terms with the death of the GameBoy. My first vessel into the world of gaming has finally flat-lined. I'm sure that most people already realized the GameBoy was a goner about a year ago, but still seeing a kiosk section at department stores with GBA games gave me hope that it could make it.

Why? Whats the big deal? Handheld games have come a long way in the last few years. The best they had to offer previously was a few long, detailed RPG's. Damn good RPG's at that. The PSP is practically a PS2 (even though its treated as inferior) and the DS has like a million b rated games (but plenty of awesome titles too). The gamer on the go is not uncommon and few travel with their console (I'm sure some do though). The 3DS could revolutionize 3D gaming and give us another taste of great IPs. What's not to like?

I still can't wait for the next Golden Sun!

I know everyone is into these 'console' games and all their 'fancy' hardware, but handheld games still fill an important role. A role no console games can every touch. Think of the kids.

To everyone born in the 90's, video games were not anything new. The 80's introduced us to the concept and it was here to stay. The lives of parents and grandparents changed in a fundamental way however. A new method arrived to keep your kid quiet: THE GAMEBOY!

From the house to the car to the destination, the a young child could be kept quiet and occupied if one was given a portable gaming device. Nothing too fancy, some Pokemon will do. I remember many doctor's visits and appointments I spent in solitude with Blue Version.

Every time I see a kid in public walking around with a PSP or DS I'm taken back to the good old days. Summer vacations spent primarily in the car, trading with friends, the faint buzz in the background of someone attempting to communicate with me while I was in the zone...

Even with the laptop and cell phones, handheld devices will still rule with kids. Kids aren't responsible enough for wireless communication, and texting cannot entertain the really young anyway. Who gives their 3 year old a laptop either?

The games have to stay under 30 bucks. Affordability correlates to longevity. Nintendo has this figured out with the DS and the Grandparent Effect (I'll get to that in a moment). Hopefully Sony can get their act together and give us a few more hits like Resistance Retribution and Peace Walker before PSP takes a dive. The device can be pricey but no one sane will fork over more than 40 bucks for 10 hour playthrough.

Grandparents buck the trend. They WILL spend the money to keep Joey and Suzy happy. They are also the biggest consumers of b rated games...

It's true that some handheld games get a fractured plot, maybe a filler for a sequel or a prequel or something in between. They don't have the best sound, or gaming mechanics can seem broken. All this means is that developers need to spend a bit more time in production.

Nintendo understands the trend. I've seen more DS's in kids hands than any other device. Produce a huge volume of games and there are sure to be great ones and ones for the Grandparents. Even throw in some wifi access for older users. The DS has obviously worked, like the Gameboy before it. Our evidence is the 3DS. We'll see what the future brings there.

Sony has a bit more trouble. The PSP Go is underselling and consumers have some popular IP's, but broken ones. I'll never jump for a downloadable game over a hard copy if everything is for the same price, but Sony seems to think we'll all go get the expensive MemoryStick Duo's for all our games. They're launching their huge 'Marcus' advertising campaign when they could direct funds at actual games or fixing the buggy PSN for the PSP. I keep getting errors when I try to download demos...

Microsoft has totally dropped the ball in this category, so no comments there.

I truly hope that handhelds can stay. I've spend plenty of hours leveling up my party and collecting rare items in my youth to see something simple and entertaining bit the dust. There is great potential in the market of young kids, and Saturday morning advertising works. I've begged my parents for tons of crap I saw on TV. So Nintendo, keep up the good work. Sony, you've got to fix your ad campaign and stop watching Mad Men. Microsoft, try something new and good luck with your Kinect (we don't really know what it does).

Thoughts? Please leave comments and call me out if I'm wrong. I'd appreciate feedback!

Why Are Older Games Better? [Response]

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The simple answer: nostalgia.

We remember our first games more because of the way they shaped us. The first video game I ever played was Pokemon: Blue Version. That game was the most mind blowing thing ever. It's really no surprise, every kid who grew up in the 90's remembers Pokemon. I was the right age and it was the right time; that's kind of like the definition of a fade.

However, any Pokemon game that comes out since then is substandard. No, I haven't played every version since, but I just know. This may sound like prejudice and I guess it is a bit. Improvements in games tend to steamroll over the old. Sure there are games that need improvements and got them, but they were never the same as the old tried an true. This is essentially the same as your grandparents saying "Back when I was your age..." or something to that effect.

The key point here: We wouldn't typically play a sequel if we didn't like the original, or hear about the hype.

Hype is a big factor. It's human nature to want to check out what's popular, so we see if we enjoy riding on the proverbial bandwagon. I missed Mass Effect 1, but when I heard about the awesomeness I tried it.

Every try a sequel before the original? Then try the original after? It's not the same, we've been spoiled. We'lldefinitely check out the 3rd in the series, assuming we liked it at all.

Disagree? Think I'm out in left field? Please, let me know what you think. I'm getting bored here, and where my KoTOR 3?

PC Longevity

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Why buy PC games? Simple answer: Longevity. Consoles will come and go, but Personal Computers aren't going anywhere. Sure, you may have to wait for a console version to be ported but you won't have to worry about planned obsolecense. Cutomize your PC and you just need to replace maybe a component a year for the price of game.