Anybody else bonking?

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Still not sure if it's just my computer or the site. I've been getting lots of bonking errors, pretty much everytime I post in OT or other forums. Also posts seem to take a long time to register. Hard to surf through threads and the like. Is it just me or are you guys/gals having similar issues?

Mean spirited, cynical olympic blog

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Just read an article about PED - performance enhancing drugs. One exec. from a company that used to produce them states they are virtually undetectable and that the "heavy testing" performed at the olympics and other venues would not be able to detect them. They predict that as many as 50% of the athletes competing may be doping. No one nation is worse or better, they're all doing it according to those sources.

As much as I hate to say it, it makes sense. If you look at pictures of our modern athletes and compare them to athtletes from eras where PEDs weren't available, the contrast is staggering. Certainly, some people can be freaks of nature and just big. but these modern athletes are just so massive and looks so big. Some of the females look like men and seem to be showing signs of androgenization. Some of the men look like comic book superheroes.

I'm sure that training methods are better, but I doubt those alone could account for all the incredible record breaking and increased performances being done. Call me cynical or skeptical, but I'm beginning to assume that a lot of these guys and gals are doping. A shame.

Aargh!

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My goal is to run in the Detroit marathon this october. I've run a couple of half marathons, but I've never done a full one. Been training since June. Well, been doing this online running program since june - tells you what distances to run and how hard. Just went out for a long run yesterday - 16 miles. Went well until the last 2 miles. Felt like I pulled a muscle in my hip and its killing me. Hope this doesn't derail my marathon. Feels ok today, but still can tell there is some kind of injury or strain. I have today off from running, so I guess we will see tomorrow. I can run through pain, but I just dont want to injure myself. Would really stink if I had to stop, though, because I'm so close.

Despite Bioware's Blunders, I'm still a Fan

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Some developers seem to always strike gold. Their brand signifies excellence and quality. You feel confident that whatever game they put out, you're going to enjoy it. There exist a handful of gaming developers that I would put in that category of distinction, and Bioware was one of them.

Starting in the late 90's I fell in love with them. Baldur's Gate was their first major foray into the gaming world, and it was a brillant game. Just like Half Life helped to breath life into the first person shooter genre, Baldur's Gate was a revitalizing shot in the arm to the stagnant western RPG market. It was fresh, innovative, and just plain fun. Strategic and polished gameplay blended with a captivating story. Everything just seemed to fall into place and the game received rave reviews from players and critics. I was officially a fan.

It seemed that topping that experience would be quite a feat. Yet, the much anticipated Baldur's Gate 2 did more than just that, it blew it out of the water. To this date, BG2 remains one of the best games I have ever played; and I've played alotof games. It had incredible replay value and captivating story arcs. The characters you could create were so diverse that it felt like you were playing a game in every play through. Much like their later games, the player had some significant input into how the game played out. Romances, alliances, moral and ethical choices all were available in this game. It's scope was incredible as your party transistioned from diverse realms and regions throughout the forgotten realms universe. At this point, Bioware was two for two. Their name became associated with repeatable excellence for me.

A few years later we saw the increasing emergence of the console market. Lots of PC game developers were jumping ship, and Bioware followed suit. Their first major project in console gaming gave us Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR). Xbox gamers were blown away and this game instantly became one of the highest rated and enjoyed titles on that platform. While many people consider this to be their best, I did not. The game certainly did deliver an intriguing and well thought out story, but I felt that the polished and developed gameplay of its predecessors was lacking. KOTOR seemed to focus more on its story and less on gameplay. However, when your story was as good as KOTOR's, the step back in gameplay really wasn't that much of an issue. While I didn't enjoy this title as much as their previous ones, it was still very good. I was still a fan.

After handing the reins of KOTOR over to Obsidian, Bioware developed their next title, Jade Empire. This asian themed game followed the same pattern as KOTOR: excellent and well developed story, decent but not superb gameplay. But honestly, who cared if the gameplay was a little less than overwhelming? Bioware could tell a good story and that always captivated me. Once again, I found myself thoroughly enjoying their product.

The release of the next gen consoles, saw Bioware deliver, perhaps, its greatest franchise: Mass Effect. The first game just blew me away. It's hard to put into words exactly what features of the game were its strong points. All I can tell you is I loved the game. I suppose it was the incredible story that it told. You felt like you were a part of this new and interesting universe. As the story progressed and events unfolded, you were literally sitting on the edge of your seat. Almost like a great movie, except you were a part of it. The only thing I didnt like about Mass Effect was that it had to end. At this point, I was already a die hard fan of the franchise. The characters, the lore, the universe, everything.

It seemed like an eternity, but finally Mass Effect 2 came out. Hell, I took the week off from work for it. Hadn't been this excited for the release of a game since I was a kid. I wanted more mass effect and needed more mass effect. The game delivered. It continued a great storyline, brought back some old and loved characters, and added some new faces. Fantastic! They continued to develop both the universe and the villains. The villains were ominous and threatening. It seemed almost like you were fighting against this inevitable tide of destruction and finality, but their was still hope. Everything up to this point seemed to point to some epic confrontation that would occur in the next game. I was hooked. My biggest fear at that time was that I'd be killed in some freak accident and never get to see the end of the franchise. Lol, silly thoughts, but I was hooked.

Mass Effect 3 came out this year. Just like with Mass Effect 2 - I took the week off of work. Call that pathetic, call me lame, but I was excited to play this game. I had come to love the characters, the lore, and pretty much everything about the mass effect universe. I needed my fix and I needed my closure. Well, unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, you've probably heard about the controversy that ensued. Mass Effect 3 seemed to deliver on all fronts. Exciting gameplay, exceptional story, varied and intriguing settings. It had me on cloud nine - until the very end. After finishing the game, I didnt quite understand what had happened. What does this mean? Did I do something wrong and get a different ending? After a little downtime, I jumped online to see if I had missed something or gotten a lesser ending. That's when I saw a firestorm. Literally thousands of posts crying in outrage. At that point, I realized that I hadn't overlooked anything. Hard to fathom, but Bioware had let me down. Always the master storyteller, they fumbled the ball on the one yard line.

I dont think I've ever been that disappointed about a game, which in a sense is a credit to Bioware. The prior games had been so great that they set me up for this big fall. Had they not crafted such a great story and characters, I would have had less emotionally invested. Had they not set the bar so high, I wouldn't have seen it come crashing down so hard. It's hard to fathom how they could have ended the game the way they did. Not every story will have a happy ending. I get that. In fact, there are lots of movies and games that I've thoroughly enjoyed that had dark endings. That wasn't the problem. The issue was that the ending seemed disjointed, rushed, and of poor quality. Almost as if they had hastely tacked it on at the end to avoid some deadline. Instead of providing closure or resolution, the ending was incredibly anticlimactic and confusing. In a franchise that depended so heavily on its story, they blundered its ending. They had taken this richly crafted universe and dumped all over it at the end. You were robbed of the villains and left with hundreds of questions. What happened to your characters? What happens to the universe? What the hell just happened to my main character? Who is this little glowing kid that pops up for the first time in the last minute of the game?

I usually consider myself pretty low maintenance when it comes to things like this. I like lots of movies and games that get panned by the critics, but even I was at a loss here. The ending of this epic franchise was just plain lousy.

Since then, Bioware has gone back and released additional scenes and story to try and shore up the holes it left. I suppose that's nice, but it seems to further underline the point that they dropped the ball. Had they thought things through in the first place, they wouldnt need to have done that. It almost feels like an admission on their point that the ending was bad. "We fully support our writers and the artistic direction of the ending, here is a new ending". Those two things dont jibe. If you are happy with what you did and how things played out, then critics be damned. You stick by your work. But in this case, I think even Bioware knew they fumbled this one and that's why they released more content. However, the trouble with that is that the deed is done. You only get one chance to make that first impression. I've gone back and looked at the new footage on youtube - it's decent and does explain some of the huge inconsistencies the original ending left you with. Unfortunately, it just seems too late. You can't go back in time and play the game for a first time again with the new footage. That experience is forever tarnished.

But as I said earlier, the only reason so many people were upset is because they had so much invested in the series. Bioware made an exceptional franchise with Mass Effect. No one cares that Mercs 2 had a bad ending, because no one cares about the mercs series. But Mass Effect spoke to so many of us. Had they not done such an incredible job with it, then they wouldn't have let so many of us down. That's the downside of setting the bar so high.

But Bioware, I forgive you. You've been on a little bit of a losing streak lately (Star wars MMOs and Dragon Age 2), but I know you'll get your mojo back. Lots of people blame EA instead of you, but let's face it, ME3's ending was your fault not theirs. But hey, not everyone can hit the ball out of the park with every swing. Sometimes we slip up and show that we're human. I can live with that. Your games have given me countless hours of enjoyment and lots to think about. Keep it up.

Amazing Spiderman Reboot.

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I'll try to limit the spoilers as best I can, but reader beware. Just saw the film a couple of days ago. I give it a solid C. Not sure why, but it just didnt seem that appealing to me. The acting was decent - especially Emma Stone who did a wonderful job as Gwen Stacy. Unfortunately, the plot and overall feeling of the movie was just incredibly underwhelming. Maybe I'm starting to tire of the superhero genre, but there just didnt seem to be anything in the film that really excited me. They certainly took liberties with the story of spiderman, but many films do that. It just seemed very slow to develop and disjointed at times. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I came out a little disappointed. A lot of the critics praised Garfield as Peter Parker, but I just had a tough time with him in the lead role. Can't quite put my finger on it, but he didnt jibe with the persona of Peter Parker. Not a bad movie, just not the blockbuster I had hoped.

Co-op is better

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At least for me. When it comes down to it, I'd rather play MP games where your goal is not to fight it out amongst the other players. Rather you work together for survival. Be it Horde mode on Gears, Firefight in Halo, or mass effect 3's MP, it's just plain fun. Hopefully more games will implement this feature in the futre. It certainly works and extends the lifespan of a game immeasurably. Kudos to cooperation!

8 years and 50k posts

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Hard to believe it has been that long. 2004 just seemed like yesterday. I still remember joining the forums back then and spending most of my time as a jackass in SW. Lol. Good times. Most of the guys/gals I knew back then are long since gone, but I guess it's hard for people to remain interested over long periods of time. Fortunately with my addictive personality, I keep coming back for more.

I believe I first started hitting gamespot back in the late 90's. Back then, they had some kind of association with G4?tv maybe. I remem ber seeing a show that mentioned GS and then googling it. I used to use this site for Daggerfall hints. lol. Good game. Didnt know or look into the forums until much later however. Glad I did, though. It's been fun.

Been more into OT over the last several years. Not sure when I made the jump, maybe 2006? But I figured if I stayed in SW, my account would have a short lifespan. That place was like a minefield back then. Glad, I left. Besides, the conversations in OT are generally better and more interesting.

Controversy over proposed Mass Effect 3 changes

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Note : I tried to avoid any major spoilers, so this should be safe to read for those who have not finished the game.

If you're the least bit into gaming, you've heard of the firestorm surrounding the ending of mass effect 3. Bioware was heavily criticized by its fanbase for a subpar ending to a very popular series. Now, they're being criticized for considering a change to that ending. Sounds like trouble, however, some of this controversy may be overblown. As far as I know, Bioware is not changing the ending of Mass Effect 3. The controversy is really over whether or not they will add additional content to further explain how things played out. Not as big of a deal.

Since everyone else has given their opinion, I figured it would be time to throw in my two cents. Let me be frank. I hated the ending/endings of mass effect 3. Some people may have liked them, but I found them extremely unfulfilling and confusing. I'd get into it further, but that's a whole other blog full of massive spoilers. That being said, I'm not lobbying for any change. I enjoyed the ride, but it's time to move on. Sure, the ending ruined a lot of that ride, but what's done is done. Changing something now would just seem artificial to me. However, that doesn't mean that they can't add content or alternative endings. It's their property and they can do what they want with it.

I've seen a lot of people stating that changing anything would be a colossal mistake. That this is art and the artist shouldnt change their work based on the reaction of their fans. That doing so would be setting a terrible precedent that would lead down the path to the dark side. Well, they're wrong.

Unlike Roger Ebert, I do consider video games to be a form of art. However, it is both an interactive and dynamic form of art and media. It's not like a painting. Video games are not static, they change. You can interact with them and often have an impact on how things play out. While mass effect 3 may be done, further content and DLC can always add and expound upon that prior game. What's wrong with that? Art changes. Games change. But somehow the thought of that occuring in mass effect is sacriligous to some.

As far as setting a precedent, it's too late. Back in the 1800's, Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes. He and Moriarity went over the falls, andthey were dead as dead could be. Yet, we all know how this played out. Holmes still had mysteries to solve and returned. Despite this change, art still survived and the books are still classics. The dark side did not triumph. Anyone play fallout 3? How did that end? Did you play any of the expansions? Maybe you'll notice something there. Art still survived, game still a classic. How many times has your favorite superhero died in the comics? Batman, captain america, and superman have all been written off at some point. Yet, they returned in later issues. Did their revival suddenly cheapen the past work of the series? I dont think it did.

Honestly, I dont think that Bioware is considering an addendum to their game because of the fan reaction. The fact that they are considering adding or expanding on their story, is probably a sign that they, themselves, are not content with the story. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a consideration. If you were perfectly content with your work, you'd be incredibly stubborn to ever change it. I know I would.

Harry Potter as told by Bioware

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In the final confrontation, Harry learns that Voldemort isnt evil. Instead he is just an instrument of a greater power in the wizarding world designed to prevent the overgrowth of the wizarding world. If left to their own means,wizards and witches would destroy the world. Though no explanation is given for this. Voldemort is the force that culls their numbers. Thus all the other novels leading to some final climatic end are invalidated. Instead of fighting Voldemort in a final confrontational battle,Harry simply snaps the elder wand. This creates a chain reaction. No more magic in the world. Oh, and Ron and Hermione suddenly find themselves out of the fight but alive in an alternative universe somewhere else. No explanation given. The End.