Marino's PAX Guide v3.0

Welcome to Crokinole Con 2013!

A couple years ago, I posted a guide of sorts for PAX first timers. I've updated a little for each PAX since, and now it's time for PAX East 2013. Why do I take the time to do this? Well, there's a lot of information I can provide in terms of maximizing your time at a gaming convention. What makes me qualified to do this? Well, here's my resume of shows I've attended:

E3PAX
Atlanta 19972008 (Seattle)
Atlanta 19982009 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 1999East 2010 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2000Prime 2010 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2001East 2011 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2002Prime 2011 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2003East 2012 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2004Prime 2012 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2005East 2013 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2006

Come to PAX. Get groped by British people.

As you can see, I have quite a bit of experience in attending gaming conventions, making the most of the time available, and generally surviving four days on little to no sleep. While a lot of this info is targetted at those who have never experienced PAX, I believe it is also helpful to those who have.

If you've seen my previous guides, there's admittedly not a ton of new information here. This is just a revision of the previous versions. Over the last couple years of doing this, I think I have most of the important things covered.

Before we proceed, go ahead and follow these Twitter accounts:

  • @official_pax - All news, updates, changes.
  • @pax_lines - Keep track of panel lines as they fill up to max capacity.
  • @rkhoo - The man.
  • @pax_tourney - What tournaments are going on and where?
  • @paxparties (unofficial) - Parties, meet-ups, tweet-ups, tabletop all-nighters, and bar crawls.

Now, let's do this!

Wheaton's Law: Don't Be a Dick

PAX East '10 Keynote - Wil Wheaton

I once wrote a blog about what I called The PAX Vibe. In it, I tried to describe the most indelible thing about PAX. The experience is as though you've come to some sort of reunion with tens of thousands friends you never knew you had. Whether it's an attendee, enforcer, exhibitor, panelist, or D-list Internet celebrity, virtually everyone has a permanent smile affixed to their face for three days. Wil Wheaton, said it best...

All of the things that make us weird and strange in the real world.
Those things that people tease us for loving.
Those things that we seem to care about more than anyone else at work and school.
Those things make us who we are.
And when we are at PAX, we don’t have to hide them, or explain them, or justify them to anyone.
We have come here this weekend because just playing games isn’t nearly as fun as playing them together, surrounded by thousands of people who love them just as much as we do.

Personal Hygiene

Bean bags are petri dishes of diseases. (PAX East 2010)

First of all, for the sake of everyone at the show, please shower. Yes, every day. And use deoderant. It's not difficult. You're going to be doing more walking than you're probably used to doing. Aside from that, why is this so high on the list of tips? Well, after PAX Prime 2010, there was a confirmed case of H1N1 on my flight home. So, use the hand sanitizer whenever you can. There are generally dispensers set up all around the convention center and especially right outside the bathrooms. Or better yet, bring your own. You're going to be touching controllers that have been touched by people of varying degrees of sickness from all over the world. Be smart, and don't spend the week after PAX in misery.

Enforcers Are Awesome

This red shirt will not help you find the League of Legends tournament. (PAX Prime 2011)

The Enforcers are the incredible army of red shirts that volunteer their time in order to make sure that PAX is an enjoyable experience for everyone. Can't find the right panel room? Look for a red shirt. Need medical attention after experiencing the Mega64 panel? Look for a red shirt. Can't figure out where John Drake is handing out Dance Central slap bracelets? Look for a red shirt. These guys and girls are stationed everywhere. If they ask you to do something, listen up. Respect them. Appreciate them. Buy them cookies.

Do Your Homework

PAX East 2012 Entrance

The schedule is avaiable right now online, but you should really download the app. It's called Guidebook, and it's the best. Either way you choose, skim through it, look at the presenters of every panel, and make a rough draft of what you'd like to see. Compare with your friends, look for overlaps, and start the excruciating process of deciding how to cut the least awesome things from your to-do list.

Planning ahead is a must. If you walk into Boston completely unprepared, you're going to either be a deer in headlights or a wandering madman. It's overwhelming. The key to planning ahead is to be flexible. Inevitably something will come up and you'll want to rearrange your plans. I'm going to tell you right now that you're simply not going to be able to do everything you want to do/see. Don't stress out about it. Stick to your plan as best you can, but have fun above all else.

Rhythm-Based Entertainment

Video Game Orchestra (PAX East 2010)

A common misconception is that PAX is just like E3 in terms of being a giant expo hall of developers and publishers demoing their games. While that is a big part of PAX, there's so much more. The expo hall closes at 6 PM each day anyway, and the party certainly doesn't shut down at six. The concerts are an excellent way to spend your evening, whether you know the artists or not. In 2008, I only vaguely knew of Jonathan Coulton. I knew he did "Still Alive" for Portal, but that was about it. After that night, I was instantly a fan. The same could be said for Freezepop after that night as well.

This year's line-up includes the Protomen, Sam Hart, Video Game Orchestra, Those Who Fight, Paul & Storm, Jonathan Coulton, and MC Frontalot. For the uninitiated, Paul & Storm typically steal the show with their comedy stylings and a 15 minute song about pirates that you'll never forget. Generally, these concerts go pretty late. Sometimes well into the following morning. But, sometimes they are strictly told by the venue to be out by 1 AM. Dejected ARRR!

The Omegathon: Final Round

Omegathon Finals (PAX East 2010)

The Omegathon is a three day tournament between attendees that were randomly selected weeks ahead of time by Penny Arcade's staff. If the trend continues, the PAX East version consists of two-person teams. You'll see that each round is on the schedule if you want to see a particular game they're playing, but the important one is the final round. The final round's game is always kept a closely guarded secret until just moments before the contestants are set to play it. Have you ever imagined being in the crowd for the final showdown in The Wizard? Well, this is it. Literally thousands of people cheering for a few of their peers as they battle head-to-head in Pong, Contra, Skeeball, Ikaruga, or whatever they come up with this year. It can't be weirder than Crokinole, right? Right?!

And it's all hosted by Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade. This is the perfect closing ceremony, and you should be there to experience it.

Hurry Up and Wait

PAX East 2012 Queue Room

As the years have gone by, attendance at PAX has only increased. The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is indeed massive, but you will inevitably be waiting in line for many things you intend to see and do. I've waited over an hour to see/play things like Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3, Skate 3, The Last of Us, and others at E3. On the most popular panels (i.e. the Keynote, Giant Bomb, Mega64, BioWare, Gearbox, and anything associated with Penny Arcade), you should arrive at least an hour ahead to guarantee yourself a good seat.

So, be prepared. Bring your 3DS, Vita, Game Boy micro, or whatever it is you like. If you're a 3DS fan, you will get literally hundreds of StreetPasses over the weekend. And regardless of your handheld gaming option of choice, you'll likely never find a better place in the world to jump into random multiplayer games. I once used Pictochat on my DS to solicit people to come play me in Hot Shots Golf on PSP...and it worked!

Do yourself a favor and avoid the line waiting for a while and check out all the indie games at the show, because that's some of the best stuff you'll find at PAX.

Backpacking Through New England

PAX East 2011 SWAG

Many convention rookies make a mistake as soon as they leave their house. You simply must have a backpack of some kind. If you show up to PAX empty-handed, you'll be hurting and feeling like an idiot by 2 PM. Some think you can just pick up one of those big, fold-out, paper bags from a booth, but there's no guarantee any booths are doing that. Plus, they're cumbersome, you'll be hitting people with it constantly as you squeeze through crowds, and you need to keep your hands free.

So, be smart. Bring your favorite backpack or messenger bag to throw all of your swag into. Your shoulders are going to be killing you by Sunday afternoon, but it's your best option.

Expo Hall: It's a Trap!

@Matt & @Sweep enjoying some of that fuckin' Pooyan.

The expo hall is where all the developers and publishers have booths set up to show off their upcoming games. You get to play stuff that's not out yet and typically talk to the people that are making them. It's awesome. But don't get stuck in there. Make sure to make your rounds through the convention center. Go upstairs and check out the PC Freeplay area. It's a massive farm of PC's unlike anything you've ever seen (unless you've been to QuakeCon). Hit up the Console Freeplay room and take your shot at some of the best fighting game players around. Think you're good enough? Enter one of the nearby tournaments (check the schedule). Need to take a break? Crash in the Handheld Lounge and rack up some StreetPasses and Near stuff. Head up to the Classic Console room for a bit and take a look at the massive library of gaming's past, pick out something you loved and play it with some people. And don't forget to hang out in the Classic Arcade for some fuckin' Pooyan. No quarters or tokens necessary, but please respect the cabinets. There's just so much more than just the expo hall that you need to see and do to get the full PAX experience.

The Dangers of SWAG: Don't Be That Guy

PAX 09: I have never, nor will I ever, wear this.

Free stuff is great. I know. But, listen to me for a second. Don't spend the majority of your time trying to get inflatable swords, funny hats, and Gunnar Optiks t-shirts. You're going to get free stuff without trying. Not all of it, sure, but plenty. The vast majority of free stuff you get, you will eventually throw away or, if you're like me, going to pile into boxes in a closet. At PAX East 2010, there were people that waited well over an hour to play APB for 15 minutes and get a t-shirt. How do you think those people feel about that decision now? Just be smart, people.

Pack Light and Carry-On a Big Bag

PAX Merch (PAX East 2012)

For those of you flying to Boston, you're likely going to pay at least $25 to check a bag on the plane, so you might as well get your money's worth. Even if you're only packing three Internet meme t-shirts and three sets of socks and underwear, bring a big suitcase. The extra space is going to be great for any swag you obtain as well as any stuff you end up buying inside or outside of PAX. At PAX 2009, I bought a 'Splosion Man statue from Twisted Pixel's booth. It came in a block of styrofoam, and I was still able to safely fit it into my luggage on the way home. At PAX Prime 2010, my friend (Washa Endrya) bought a fight stick from Capcom and was able to get it home easily as well.

Also, if you have one, bring a cardboard tube in your suitcase. You are likely to be handed posters at the show, and there's really no other way to get those home without folding or crushing them. One more tip from the experienced in packing for a con. Throw an empty trash bag in with your stuff. You can use that as a dirty laundry bag, which will allow you to quarantine your sweaty socks from all the cool stuff you accumulated at the show on your way home.

Do You Like Sleep? TOO BAD!

PAX East 2011: After Hours

Sleep deprivation is a major side effect of the PAX experience. You can sleep on Monday or on your flight home. But, there are official and unofficial PAX events going on virtually 24 hours a day beginning Thursday night. The concerts Friday and Saturday typically go til at least 1 AM, and you're going to be in downtown Boston, which has countless bars to hit. In the grand scheme of things, your time at PAX is very limited even if you can be there all three days. You may not realize this now or even during the show, but come Monday, you'll know what I'm talking about. So, if you get four to five hours of sleep, you're doing great. Make the most of the time you have.

Microsoft Space Bucks Don't Work Here

PAX East 2011: Band Land

If you've got a debit or credit card, you're mostly okay. Any food places in the area, including the food court in the convention center, are going to take your card just fine. Most booths in the expo hall will take it as well when purchasing their wares. But, it may be a good idea to carry at least a little old-fashioned paper money. Cash can be good especially if you're going out to the bars at night. If you know you're going to need cash, there are several ATM's at the convention center, but you should hit them early because I've seen them run out of cash to dispense. And there's nothing worse than knowing you can afford that one of a kind Cammy drawing by Long Vo, but being unable to retrieve the funds to buy it.

Eat Something!

Boston Convention Center - Nowhere Near Anything

This may sound ridiculous at first, but once you're in the thick of PAX, you may forget to eat or drink. And considering that you normally don't walk around for 10-14 hours a day, you're going to need to hydrate. Stopping for 30 minutes to eat may not sound enticing either depending on your schedule, but you've gotta. Unfortunately, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is kind of in the middle of nowhere if you ever could be in a major city. There's not a lot of food options in the vicinity without going back into downtown, which is going to take even more time. So, your best bet is really the food court in the convention center. Yes, it's overpriced. Yes, it's crowded. But, just bite the bullet, get in, and get out. Otherwise, you could toss a few Clif bars in your bag and just eat on the go.

Don't Let PAX Ruin Your PAX

Who invited you?

This is something I've learned over the last couple PAX's. Whether it's Rock Band Night, a Giant Bomb meet-up, the Pokemon League, the Westin Waterfront Gaming Night, or one of the countless other unofficial PAX festivities, make an effort to do stuff after show hours. Honestly, it doesn't even have to be PAX related. Chances are, if you head out to the bars and restaurants in downtown Boston, you're going to run into other PAX goers. We generally take over the city.

What I'm getting at is that being in line at the Queue Room of the convention center at 8 AM (2 hours prior to show open) isn't worth missing out on the great stuff that's going on at night. Now, if there's a game that you HAVE to see and you know the line during the day is super long, go ahead and get to the convention center early one day and run for it when the doors open. But, just make sure you spend some time outside of the convention center and your hotel room.

It's All That You Can Do

Be yourself, but also be open to meeting new people. I know your mom told you not to talk to strangers, but I'm telling you that's a bunch of crap. It's unlikely that you're ever going to be around more people like yourself than you will at PAX. Above everything else, including all the tips I've given you here, have fun. You're about to have an experience that you'll never forget.

Hopefully, I'll run into some of you all there. Actually, hopefully I'll be seeing some of you at Rock Band Night on Thursday night. Last year is going to be pretty tough to beat. If you want to relive last year's RBN, let me help you out.

Let the chaos begin.

64 Comments

Persona 4: The Virgin

The following may contain minor spoilers for those who have never played Persona 4 or intend on playing Persona 4 Golden, but I don't go into detail about major plot points.

I have a confession to make. I don't know anything about Megami Tensei games. That is until 96 hours and 26 minutes ago. Aside from a few, totally forgotten hours of Revelations: Persona on the PlayStation fifteen years ago, I'd never even played one. Not only that, but I have not watched the Endurance Run……*ducks*……I KNOW! How could a moderator of this site have avoided it this long? "Blasphemous" is probably an accurate exclamation to shout at me right now. Please, put your pitchfork down and let me explain.

Like many people (I assume), Final Fantasy VII was the first RPG that I sunk a ton of time into. For several years after that, I fell in love with the genre and played a ton of stuff. Then this thing called EverQuest happened. Being neck deep in EQ for a number of years doesn't allow for investing 100 hours a pop into RPGs. That, combined with some other factors, means that I have a ridiculously long Shamefully Shameful Pile of Shame, which unfortunately needs to be updated. In my warped sense of reality, I still believe I'll get around to playing these games. So, when presented with the idea of watching two dudes play through one of the most acclaimed RPGs of all time, I avoided it like the plague because I wanted to experience it for myself first. Four years later, I finally got around to Persona 4 thanks to the added convenience of playing it on my Vita. Miraculously, I made it without having any of the major plot points spoiled for me.

It took me a dozen hours or so before I got past that "am I doing this right?" phase, but that was to be expected. At one point, I looked at a Social Link guide and just decided I wasn't going to worry about it. Go with the flow and whatnot. The only thing I "cheated" on was making sure I made the right dialogue decisions on 12/3 to get the opportunity to experience the "true" ending. I'd like to thank for his spoiler free guide in helping do that without totally ruining the twists and turns in the story.

Concert at Junes. Wait...who's that guy?

I'm not here to review the game, though. Chances are, if you're reading this, you already know how great it is. I guess I'm partially here to say that I get it now. I understand the hype, obsession, and love shown for this game. It's still too raw in my mind to responsibly say it's one of my favorite games of all time, but it's definitely up there. More importantly for now, I also feel that my experience with Persona 4 is somewhat rare considering I came into the "Golden" version of the game knowing virtually nothing about the original. In a way, I feel like it must be similar to Brad's experience with Mass Effect 3. Looking at the excellent breakdown of what's new in Golden on its wiki page, it seems like there's a significant amount of new stuff that I got to experience as if it was always included. Many of the new additions are gameplay mechanics that streamline the experience. Some of the more notable additions are fan service such as the group concert with Rise at Junes. It seamlessly fits into the story, but it's not all that important. But, then there are the additions that I can't imagine playing through the game without. The best example of this is Marie.

Marie. If that is her real name.

I knew ahead of time that Marie was new of course. What I didn't know was how she would be integral to the backbone of the entire game. I feel like an asshole for just assuming she'd just be a somewhat throwaway Social Link character. I don't want to spoil anything for those intending on playing Golden, but Marie is of the utmost importance to the entire mythology under the surface of the game. Her involvement adds a whole extra layer of emotional impact as well as providing (in the true ending) a better understanding of the world of Persona 4 as a whole. I promise that I'm not exaggerating here.

It may sound like a dick thing to say, but I almost feel bad and/or sad for fans of Persona 4 who have not and will not experience the "Golden" version.

To iterate what I said before, I get it now. Consider me on the bandwagon even if it's a few years late. In the end, especially with the additional epilogue that's new to Golden, a sense of sadness equalled, if not outweighed, the sense of joy and accomplishment I had in just finishing a game. After leaving all of your friends behind, the new epilogue brings Yu back to Inaba the following Summer for a visit. In this extra ending scene, everyone looks different. It's at this point that it really hit me that all these friends I'd made were growing up without me. The sense of sadness and nostalgia I felt in this scene was probably amplified by my own life experiences, but it speaks to how good of a job the game did making me care about everyone in it.

Part of me wants to dive back in with New Game+ and see the stuff that I didn't get to see. Hit the Social Links that I skipped and/or paid less attention to and whatnot. But, I don't think I will. Not because I don't want to invest the time again, but because I don't want to taint the experience I had. The benefits earned by the decisions I made in terms of who to spend my time with should also have the consequences of missing out on whatever else there was that I didn't get to see. What I got is what I got. Am I crazy for thinking that way?

So…now what? Arena? Yeah, soon. But, right now? Well, I guess I better get started on this Endurance Run thing. I've heard it's pretty good.

72 Comments

By the Numbers: Data Dump 2012 Final Mix #Reload

Welcome to 2013. The 20Doz is gone forever. And soon the Data Dump will be as well. Unfortunately, the metrics that I use to grab all these charts from are not built into the new site yet, which means that this is the last edition of the Data Dump at least for a long while. Rather than just doing a post based on December data, let's just wrap it up by looking at 2012 as a whole and look at who were some of the top users and pages on the site for the year.

Letters & Numbers

Here's some totals from the year.

  • 592 Articles
  • 953 Videos
  • 33,000+ Forum Topics Created
  • 374,000+ Comments
  • 3000+ User Reviews
  • 8000+ Blogs
  • 140,000+ Wiki Submissions

Blogs

By almost reaching the century mark, truly was the king of the blogs in 2012.

Forums

had nearly twice as many posts as anyone else in 2012. That's...probably not healthy. , , and also broke the 1000 landmark in terms of comments.

Clearly, videos get the most activity in terms of comments. actually created more new topics than Patrick did, which is kind of crazy. Unsurprisingly, Mass Effect 3 was the most active game forum. I wouldn't have guessed Guild Wars 2 would be #2 though. And the wrestling thread was far and away the most active topic of the year nearly doubling that of the anime thread. Giant Bomb is your go-to source for all things Antonio Cesaro.

Quests

Okay, you know we haven't had any new quests since Christmas 2011, but I had to post this chart because seriously...what the fuck happened in March?

Reviews

No real surprises in the top ten most user reviewed games. The only 2011 release on the list is Skyrim at #10. And the only console exclusives on the list are Halo 4 and Journey.

The Giant Bomb community's favorite number seems to be 8 (or 4 stars). And left everyone in the dust in terms of the number of user reviews posted..

Video

The #1 most watched video on Giant Bomb in 2012 was... The SSX Quick Look? Really? I mean...I love SSX more than most, but...huh. The only explanation here is the powerful influence of the man known as .

I don't know why is listed twice on the top video commenters chart, but I think it's safe to say he got the #1 spot. Clearly Alex posted the most videos to the site in 2012, but I think something's wrong with that tracker. It says that I uploaded 69 videos, but I remember counting close to 100 or maybe a little over that when I was uploading them during E3 2012. Who knows. I'll take credit for that massive spike in June, though!

Wiki

Unfortunately, the metric for wiki points seems to be broken. So, the only means I have of determining the top wiki editors in 2012 is based on number of edits made. It's probably not the fairest way to do it, but I figure is deserving anyway.

ZombiePie has been watching the wiki queue like a hawk all year. Someone out there has been doing the dirty work of adding Release data to the site. So much so that there were more new Release pages than any other type of page on the site. On the submissions chart, you can see that the moderators are still doing about 20% of the approvals of wiki edits. And it's no surprise that game pages are far and away the most edited page type.

These are the top 10 9 most active wiki pages in terms of number of edits made. What's that one at the end?

The End

It's no secret at this point that I'm a stats junkie. Hell, I even admitted it over three years ago. So, I've had fun doing this stuff for the last six months or so. Maybe it'll return one day, but I hope some of you have enjoyed looking at some dumb bar graphs once a month.

37 Comments

By the Numbers: Xbox 360 vs Giant Bomb 2012

Happy New Year, duders. It's time once again for a data dump based on achievements. Just like last year, this data is based upon Xbox 360 achievements earned in games released in 2012. It'd be easy to just tell you what the most played and least played games were. But, let's take it a step or two further. What if you wanted to know what the least played game that got a 5-star review? I can tell you that. What if you wanted to know the games that had the highest average number of achievements earned? I can tell you that too. Or what about the most played multiplayer games that never got treated to a TNT? Okay...we're getting a little obscure here, but I can still totally tell you that one.

By my count, there were about 250 Xbox 360 and XBLA games released this year. To create an accurate list of releases, I mainly used Xbox360Achievements.org and added a game to the list whenever they did. I would not be surprised if I missed a few stragglers, so let me know if I did. There's also a few games that never had their achievements integrated into the site here, so I took them out of the data for now.

After last year, some people asked about doing Steam and PSN achievements. I still haven't done it because it would basically triple the amount of work involved, and while I enjoy doing these, that's a little too crazy for one guy. I kind of wish I had though since the achievement tracker is going away with the new site. So, this may be the very last time you see achievement data like this at least for a long time.

Onto the numbers!

Top 20 Most Played Games (Overall)

Shepard.

No separation between retail, XBLA, or Kinect here. Mash all that green, orange, and purple together! This is just straight up the most played games on Xbox 360 in terms of unique users. This is also the only list with more than 10 entries, just because I though 11-20 were pretty interesting.

  1. Mass Effect 3 -- 11,523
  2. Halo 4 -- 10,038
  3. Fez -- 7960
  4. Borderlands 2 -- 7174
  5. Trials Evolution -- 7144
  6. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition -- 5430
  7. Assassin's Creed III -- 5225
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops II -- 5069
  9. Max Payne 3 -- 4923
  10. The Walking Dead -- 4918
  11. Dishonored -- 3582
  12. SSX -- 3442
  13. Mark of the Ninja -- 3434
  14. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning -- 2982
  15. Dust: An Elysian Tail -- 2858
  16. Sleeping Dogs -- 2837
  17. Spelunky -- 2836
  18. Syndicate -- 2695
  19. Forza Horizon -- 2686
  20. XCOM: Enemy Unknown -- 2617

Top 10 Least Played Games (Overall)

Root what now?

This category is a little skewed because a few of these never came out in North America. But, hey, they're in the tracker and we've got a sizable amount of non-North Americans on the site anyway. Also, no separation between retail, XBLA, or Kinect here. These are simply the most neglected games of the year on Xbox 360 by the Giant Bomb community.

  1. Root Double: Before Crime * After Days -- 0
  2. Phantom of Inferno -- 0
  3. Hunter's Trophy 2: Europa -- 0
  4. Top Hand Rodeo Tour -- 1
  5. Snipers -- 2
  6. Phantom Breaker -- 2
  7. Harley Pasternak's Hollywood Workout -- 4
  8. Wipeout 3 -- 4
  9. Crash Time 5: Undercover -- 4
  10. Nickelodeon Dance 2 -- 4

Top 10 Most Played XBLA Games

Giant Bomb's #4 GOTY

Downloadable games are holding their own these days, but I still felt like it's a little unfair to not give them their own lists.

  1. Fez -- 7960
  2. Trials Evolution -- 7144
  3. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition -- 5430
  4. The Walking Dead -- 4918
  5. Mark of the Ninja -- 3442
  6. Dust: An Elysian Tail -- 2982
  7. Spelunky -- 2837
  8. Rock Band Blitz -- 2348
  9. Happy Wars -- 2228
  10. Alan Wake's American Nightmare -- 1880

Top 10 Least Played XBLA Games

This zombie shit's gotta stop soon, right?

I bet you didn't even know some of these existed.

  1. Darts vs. Zombies -- 8
  2. Planets Under Attack -- 10
  3. Red Bull Crashed Ice -- 11
  4. Home Run Stars -- 12
  5. Ski Race -- 13
  6. American Mensa Academy -- 13
  7. Dogfight 1942 -- 18
  8. Jam Live Music Arcade -- 19
  9. 3 Point Contest -- 20
  10. Bellator: MMA Onslaught -- 24

Top 10 Most Played Kinect Games

Kinect done right.

Did you realize there were more than ten Kinect games that came out this year?

  1. Double Fine Happy Action Theater -- 1594
  2. Wreckateer -- 1036
  3. Kinect Party -- 910
  4. Kinect Playfit -- 698
  5. Kinect Fun Labs: Mars Rover Landing -- 636
  6. Dance Central 3 -- 530
  7. Haunt -- 462
  8. Kinect Star Wars -- 453
  9. Karaoke -- 383
  10. Kinect Sesame Street TV -- 252

Top 10 Least Played Kinect Games

I don't even.

That's one lonely cowboy.

  1. Top Hand Rodeo Tour -- 1
  2. Harley Pasternak's Hollywood Workout -- 4
  3. Wipeout 3 -- 4
  4. Let's Dance -- 6
  5. Country Dance All-Stars -- 7
  6. The Hip Hop Dance Experience -- 7
  7. Darts vs. Zombies -- 8
  8. miCoach by adidas -- 10
  9. Red Bull Crashed Ice -- 11
  10. Home Run Stars -- 12

Top 10 Most Completed Retail Games

100% of the time, it works every time.

This one is based on the percentage of achievements unlocked in the game. Are they just easy achievements? Or really good games that people are dedicated to? You decide.

  1. Nickelodeon Dance 2 -- 100%
  2. Toy Story Mania! -- 73.4%
  3. Ben 10: Omniverse -- 64.4%
  4. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes -- 59.7%
  5. Men in Black: Alien Crisis -- 57.5%
  6. Battleship -- 57.0%
  7. Prototype 2 -- 56.0%
  8. Brave: The Video Game -- 54.7%
  9. Spec Ops: The Line -- 54.4%
  10. Rise of the Guardians -- 52.3%

Top 10 Least Completed Retail Games

Deer have taken over Europe and something must be done!

And are these hard achievements to earn? Or just terrible games that no one spent time on?

  1. Root Double: Before Crime * After Days -- 0.0%
  2. Phantom of Inferno -- 0.0%
  3. Hunter's Trophy 2: Europa -- 0.0%
  4. Snipers -- 1.5%
  5. Le Tour de France 2012 -- 2.0%
  6. Kinect Nat Geo TV -- 2.2%
  7. Top Hand Rodeo Tour -- 2.5%
  8. Carrier Command: Gaea Mission -- 2.7%
  9. Let's Dance -- 3.7%
  10. miCoach by adidas -- 4.3%

Top 10 Most Completed XBLA Games

If it's an old Sega game, it's probably on or soon to be on Xbox Live Arcade.

It's probably not fair to lump these games in with the retail games since they have fewer achievements.

  1. Sonic the Fighters -- 90.9%
  2. Virtua Fighter 2 -- 79.7%
  3. Fighting Vipers -- 76.5%
  4. Kinect Fun Labs: Junk Fu -- 75.8%
  5. Kinect Fun Labs: Rush Snapshot -- 73.6%
  6. Jeremy McGrath's Offroad -- 71.5%
  7. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown -- 67.8%
  8. Zuma's Revenge -- 65.3%
  9. Kinect Fun Labs: I Am Super! -- 63.5%
  10. The Walking Dead -- 58.1%

Top 10 Least Completed XBLA Games

2012's Best Bow

Seems that players didn't make it too far after entering The Lang Zone.

  1. Wreckateer -- 4.1%
  2. Black Knight Sword -- 4.8%
  3. Sine Mora -- 5.4%
  4. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD -- 6.0%
  5. Karaoke -- 6.4%
  6. Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World -- 6.8%
  7. Kinect PlayFit -- 7.1%
  8. Red Bull Crashed Ice -- 7.8%
  9. NFL Blitz -- 8.1%
  10. Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus -- 9.8%

Highest Average Number of Achievements (Retail)

Typically, this category is full of licensed movie-type games.

No percentages here. Just strictly how many achievements unlocked per game per user.

  1. Mass Effect 3 -- 37.4
  2. Toy Story Mania! -- 36.1
  3. Ben 10: Omniverse -- 33.1
  4. Spec Ops: The Line -- 30.4
  5. Brave: The Video Game -- 27.7
  6. Borderlands 2 -- 26.7
  7. Prototype 2 -- 26.2
  8. Rise of the Guardians -- 25.8
  9. The Darkness II -- 25.5
  10. Sleeping Dogs -- 24.0

Lowest Average Number of Achievements (Retail)

We don't even have Xbox 360 box art for this game.

A frightening look at the bottom of the barrel.

  1. Root Double: Before Crime * After Days -- 0.0
  2. Phantom of Inferno -- 0.0
  3. Hunter's Trophy 2: Europa -- 0.0
  4. Snipers -- 1.0
  5. Le Tour de France 2012 -- 1.3
  6. Kinect Nat Geo TV -- 1.7
  7. miCoach by adidas -- 2.5
  8. Let's Dance -- 2.7
  9. Country Dance All-Stars -- 3.1
  10. Carrier Command: Gaea Mission -- 3.8

Highest Average Number of Achievements (XBLA)

Look out behind you!

The Walking Dead should be higher if it weren't for a database problem that didn't register players' achievements who played episode 4 within the first day it was out.

  1. The Walking Dead -- 23.4
  2. Deadlight -- 19.2
  3. Rock Band Blitz -- 16.3
  4. Dust: An Elysian Tail -- 15.3
  5. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition -- 14.0
  6. Fable Heroes -- 13.7
  7. Zuma's Revenge -- 13.1
  8. Mark of the Ninja -- 12.6
  9. Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 -- 12.3
  10. Guardians of Middle-earth -- 12.2

Lowest Average Number of Achievements (XBLA)

Nostalgic for these games? No? Oh...okay.

Were these games difficult or were you just disappointed and only played it once?

  1. Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World -- 1.0
  2. Skullgirls -- 1.1
  3. Haunt -- 1.3
  4. Puddle -- 1.4
  5. Sine Mora -- 1.7
  6. Black Knight Sword -- 1.7
  7. Choplifter HD -- 1.7
  8. Kinect PlayFit -- 1.7
  9. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc -- 1.8
  10. Warp -- 1.9

Most Played Games Not Reviewed by Giant Bomb

Finally on consoles.

I have to assume Vinny would've been the best person to review The Witcher 2. I miss Vinny's reviews...

  1. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings -- 2617
  2. Happy Wars -- 2228
  3. Lollipop Chainsaw -- 1856
  4. Soulcalibur V -- 1854
  5. Double Fine Happy Action Theater -- 1594
  6. Final Fantasy XIII-2 -- 1354
  7. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City -- 1350
  8. FIFA 13 -- 1293
  9. Binary Domain -- 1286
  10. The Amazing Spider-Man -- 1067

Least Played Games Reviewed by Giant Bomb

No, thanks.

Presented by Alex Navarro.

  1. The Expendables 2 -- 51
  2. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor -- 77
  3. Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse -- 86
  4. Fable: The Journey -- 117
  5. Fire Pro Wrestling -- 136
  6. Grand Slam Tennis 2 -- 147
  7. 007 Legends -- 152
  8. Bloodforge -- 156
  9. The Splatters -- 194
  10. Game of Thrones -- 227

Most Played Games That Did Not Get a Quick Look

Free-to-play is here to stay, y'all.

Ever wonder if Quick Looks have an effect on sales numbers? Well, I can't really answer that, but see if you can decipher anything from this info.

  1. Happy Wars -- 2228
  2. Kinect PlayFit -- 698
  3. Kinect Fun Labs: Mars Rover Landing -- 636
  4. Devil May Cry HD Collection -- 632
  5. Karaoke -- 383
  6. FIFA Street -- 364
  7. Sonic Adventure 2 -- 355
  8. NeverDead -- 328
  9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations -- 294
  10. Armored Core V -- 287

Least Played Games That Got a Quick Look

That bear seems upset.

This speaks to how many Quick Looks the guys actually churn out.

  1. Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 -- 12
  2. Carrier Command: Gaea Mission -- 13
  3. Of Orcs and Men -- 17
  4. Harry Potter for Kinect -- 19
  5. NBA Baller Beats -- 19
  6. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line -- 22
  7. Bellator: MMA Onslaught -- 24
  8. Dragon Ball Z for Kinect -- 28
  9. Kung-Fu Strike: The Warrior's Rise -- 45
  10. Karateka -- 45

Most Played Multiplayer Games That Did Not Get a TNT

So close, yet so far away.

SSX is #1, but "real" multiplayer didn't get added into that game til much later after release.

  1. SSX -- 3582
  2. Happy Wars -- 2228
  3. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier -- 2204
  4. Resident Evil 6 -- 1948
  5. Soulcalibur V -- 1854
  6. Spec Ops: The Line -- 1722
  7. Street Fighter X Tekken -- 1694
  8. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City -- 1350
  9. FIFA 13 -- 1293
  10. Binary Domain -- 1286

Least Played Multiplayer Games That Did Get a TNT

Possibly the goofiest subtitle of 2012.

Sad in a way, but the chances of you playing against the staff in these games were pretty high.

  1. Ridge Racer Unbounded -- 314
  2. Hybrid -- 423
  3. Awesomenauts -- 472
  4. Dead or Alive 5 -- 765
  5. NFL Blitz -- 765
  6. Persona 4 Arena -- 1001
  7. Gotham City Impostors -- 1204
  8. Need for Speed: Most Wanted -- 1384
  9. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD -- 1730
  10. The Darkness II -- 2406

Community All-Stars

The best...around.

While combing through achievement pages, I began to realize there's a ton of registered users that seemingly only registered to track their achievements. Many have no posts or wiki points. So, while looking at some the rarest achievements earned in 2012, I plucked out some active (or at least semi-active) users to highlight for their feats of greatness.

Miscellaneous Other Nonsense

CategoryGameStats
Average Players per Game-775.53
Average Completion Percentage per Game-26.85%
Average Number of Achievements Earned per Game-10.21
Least Played 5-Star ReviewFar Cry 3 (Brad)2586
Most Played 1-Star ReviewSouth Park: Tenorman's Revenge (Alex)254
Most Played Game Reviewed by AlexThe Walking Dead4918
Least Played Game Reviewed by AlexThe Expendables 251
Most Played Game Reviewed by BradTrials Evolution7144
Least Played Game Reviewed by BradSteel Battalion: Heavy Armor77
Most Played Game Reviewed by JeffMass Effect 311,523
Least Played Game Reviewed by JeffTekken Tag Tournament 2598
Most Played Game Reveiewed by PatrickDishonored3632
Least Played Game Reviewed by PatrickAlan Wake's American Nightmare1880
Most Played Game Reviewed by RyanAssassin's Creed III5225
Least Played Game Reviewed by RyanGrand Slam Tennis 2147

Random Observations Made While Tabulating Data

  • Seven games got TWO Quick Looks: Borderlands 2, Mark of the Ninja, Pid, Sleeping Dogs, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Trials Evolution, and XCOM Enemy Unknown.
  • Two games got two TNT's: Syndicate and Trials Evolution.
  • One person bought all the items in Scarygirl.
  • Two people earned all the medals in Puddle.
  • 21.68% of those who played Soulcalibur V never cleared Episode 1 in the story mode.
  • 414 people (3.6%) who started Mass Effect 3 never returned to active duty (the first achievement). Guess they can't complain about the ending.
  • Over 1000 people (8.9%) have endured Mass Effect 3 on Insanity.
  • Only 6 people have S-Ranked Street Fighter X Tekken.
  • 3.4% of Shoot Many Robots players never killed 100 robots. Way to follow directions, guys.
  • Armored Core V has eight different versions you could S-Rank.
  • 1.3% of people are good at blowing up dogs.
  • Somehow, three whole people S-Ranked the atrocity known as South Park: Tenorman's Revenge.
  • 234 people never found a single cube shard in Fez.
  • Trials Evolution is quite intimidating. But, did you know 137 people couldn't even pass their first license test.
  • Based on achievements, less people completed Episode 4 than did Episode 5 of The Walking Dead. This was due to a Xbox Live database error that didn't register achievements earned by players within the first 24 hours or so of Episode 4's release.
  • Roughly 20 people who played it S-Ranked Men in Black: Alien Crisis. What the hell…
  • There are eleven achievements in Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor that no one has unlocked. Is the game so broken that you can't actually get them?
  • Five masochistic individuals have completed Spelunky without collecting any treasures.
  • Sixteen people started Quantum Conundrum but never actually picked up the IDS device. Puzzles are hard, duders.
  • Over 1000 people entered The Lang Zone and nearly half of them never earned a medal to show for it.
  • Wolfenstein has more players than this years' Madden.
  • 144 people have played more than 300 different songs in Rock Band Blitz.
  • We have 227 True Ninjas on Giant Bomb.
  • CheapAssGamer's is the second best NBA Baller Beats player…in the world?
  • No hockey this year means no one has the will to S-Rank NHL 13.
  • Everyone that started Double Dragon Neon got cursed with a 1-point achievement, but only 87 were able to get the 19-point achievement to get back to some semblance of normalcy.
  • 9.8% of Borderlands 2 players "Did It All" by completing every side mission in the game.
  • No one has S-Ranked Kinect Sesame Street TV and it's all because of Smart Glass.
  • Over 2000 people have played the free-to-play XBLA game known as Happy Wars. But only 32 of them completed every story mission. I wonder if Johnny V is still playing.
  • Only nine people have scored 50,000 points while DJ'ing in Intel Discovered.
  • The Super Turbo Turkey Puncher achievement is the most common in Doom 3 BFG Edition.
  • 52 people never even made it to the festival in Forza Horizon. Another 20 never finished a race.
  • 77.17% of Mass Effect 3 players finished the game, which is extremely high compared to other games.
  • Barely a quarter of the people who played Assassin's Creed III got a double assassination with a musket.
  • Over a third of Halo 4 players completed the campaign on Heroic or harder.
  • There are no achievements involving sharks in Far Cry 3. What's even the point?

The Impossibilities Are Endless

Here are some of the hardest and/or rarest achievements from 2012. No one has earned any of these yet.

GameAchievementDescription
Country Dance All-StarsCountry Dance ChampionEarn scores of 500,000 or more on 30 different songs in any score game mode.
Dead or Alive 5Anybody, Anytime, AnywhereFight 50 people through invitations.
DishonoredVoid StarComplete all Normal and Expert challenges with a 3-Stars rating.
F1 Race StarsShortcut ExpertTake every shortcut in the game.
Fable: The JourneyMedal Gear SolidEarn a Gold Medal in every Arcade Mode challenge.
Grand Slam Tennis 2The LegendCareer - Finish ranked #1.
Madden NFL 13Shannon Sharpe AwardAs a created TE, surpass Shannon Sharpe on Legacy Score in Connected Careers.
NHL 13LegendaryRetire as a Legend in Be A Pro with a Created Pro.
Of Orcs and MenBloodjawFinish Of Orcs and Men at the highest difficulty level.
Persona 4 ArenaCombo CrazyComplete every characters' challenges.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing TransformedTeam SonicFinish 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th with local friends in a 10 player race.
The SplattersThe Combonator!Earn three stars in each "Combo-Nation" level.
Top Gun: Hard LockGive 'em HellFire every weapon in the game at least once.
Trials EvolutionWail of the BansheeZero fault the Hard as Nails tournament using the Banshee.
Wheel of Fortune: Big MoneyFashionistaAcquire all contestant clothes and logos.
WWE '13King of the WorldAchieve the maximum rank on Xbox Live.
77 Comments

Tales from Norrath: Solstices, Pottery, Collusion, and Gnomes

Today is the Winter Solstice, which reminds me of a tale from the Summer Solstice of 2002. Trade skills were always important in EverQuest, but never more so than they were for about a month that Summer. A quest was introduced that required the highest skilled craftsmen of every kind to complete. It was called the Earring of the Solstice and it was part of a quest known as Protection of the Cabbage. Players coveted this earring primarily because it had an effect called Flowing Thought that increased mana regeneration, but even melee classes tried to get one simply for the stats on it, which were fairly good at the time.

Back then, a player could only specialize in one specific trade skill. Whichever skill a player leveled up to 201 first, could then go up to 250 while all other skills were then capped at 200. This quest required the crafting of nine different items, most of which required skill of over 200. Crafting, like almost everything else in EverQuest, is very time consuming. Many players ignored it completely while those who had the patience often made a decent amount of platinum from it.

For me, I never got into crafting for the money. I had invested a decent amount of time in the rogue-only skill of Poisoncraft, which led me to learning Pottery so that I could craft my own vials required for higher level poisons. I got sort of carried away with it and pottery led me to Jewelry, which I needed in order to lacquer gems for high-level, encrusted pottery items. It was entirely a waste of time and platinum. Until the Summer of 2002.

Items Required to Obtain an Earring of the Solstice

That pottery wheel over on the left probably an imprint of my ass worn into it.

Here's the list along with what type of trade skill was required to make each item. The number indicates the level at which crafting the item becomes trivial, meaning that you would not fail when attempting it. Since the cap was 250, you can see that some of these items were never trivial (until later expansions increased the cap).

  • Blessed Fishing Rod - Fishing (202)
  • Ceremonial Solstice Robe - Tailoring (252)
  • Demi-Sec Champagne - Brewing (250)
  • Golden Idol of Tunare - Pottery (242)
  • Lotus Pie - Baking (236)
  • Lucky Cabbage - Baking (182)
  • Mistletoe Cutting Sickle - Smithing (250)
  • Misty Thicket Picnic - Baking (335)
  • Star Ruby Encrusted Stein - Pottery (335)

As you can see above, two of the items required for the quest called for high level potters. Now, as you may expect, pottery was pretty far down the list of popular trade skills. Turns out, I was one of three people on the entire server that had the ability to make these things when the quest was first discovered. And one of those three people was Korean, so she wasn't online most of the time that I was. Even so, and with limited communication ability, the three of us realized this quite quickly and came up with set prices on these items and agreed not to undercut each other. OH, COLLUSION! We weren't price gouging really. It was simply a textbook case of supply and demand, so we charged what we could and probably could've charged more. We were each making tens of thousands of platinum per day.

The Halfling Cleric Faithstone

On top of the whole Solstice thing, other trade skill quests were discovered during that time. The most important to me and potters were faithstones. Faithstones were ceramic idols of gods that had the ability to teleport its holder to the church in their starting city. There was a specific idol that could be crafted for every race/class combination of clerics and shaman. Since neither clerics nor shaman had the ability to teleport, faithstones became a highly coveted item. Clerics especially would often get stuck in the middle of nowhere since they would often bind themselves close to their grind/raid spot in case things went poorly.

Between faithstones and steins, I had my own little factory set up in Shadow Haven. I had a level 8 high elf enchanter that I made simply to enchant clay. I had my level 20 wood elf ranger running all over the globe foraging and fishing for the items that were the variable in the recipe that determined which god the faithstone was for. For example, to create a faithstone for a dark elf cleric, I had to forage a rare item in Nektulos Forest, which entailed sitting there and hitting my "forage" key every 30 seconds or so hoping I would get it instead of some roots, water, or grubs. And I'm sure the sight of a big, dumb, barbarian rogue crafting jewelry was a rare sight. I couldn't create them fast enough though. Word got out, and soon I was getting requests/orders from players from rival guilds that would otherwise have never spoke to me. In the course of a few weeks, I had brewed, lacquered, jeweled, foraged, fished, molded, enchanted, and fired my way to over half a million platinum.

Here's my screen right before I went and dumped 250k on a dumb mask.

I, along with the other two master potters on the Rodcet Nife server, were rich beyond our wildest dreams. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot to spend that kind of money on for max level players. Any new loot you would want was no-drop. So, I spent it on toys. Well, one toy to be specific. A Mask of Tinkering. This was one of the rarest items in the game and still is to this very day. That's because it was a loot item from one of the four warders in Sleeper's Tomb before Kerafyrm was released. There were only five or six of them on the server before Avatars of Discord awoke the Sleeper and, even in 2002, a couple of them were gone forever having been on players who quit the game. But, I found a guy with one and gave him 250,000 platinum for it. Why did I want it? Well, there were (at that point) about seven masks that rogues and bards could use to temporarily disguise themselves as a different race. The Mask of Tinkering was more commonly referred to as "the gnome mask."

So, whenever I hear any mention of the Solstice, I will always think of gnomes.

Grizzled.

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2012: A Year in Reviews

Considering the world is ending on Friday, I figured I should go ahead and post this data that I've been compiling all year. Well, at least the reviews data. I'll have a slew of user-related data in a couple weeks...if we're still alive.

As you're all aware, it's been a crazy year on Giant Bomb. Despite this, the guys churned out nearly 100 reviews. For a crew that is primarily just three dudes doing reviews, almost two per week seems like a lot. There's not a whole lot of analysis with the data I'm presenting here, admittedly, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. It's basically just a bunch of colorful wedges, pies, and bars. Feel free to embiggen them as well.

I've livened things up a bit by including some of the best user-created art from this year. If you love the Persona style renditions of each staff member, send all of your thanks to . And if you love the pixelated stuff at the end, you can send your praise to .

2012 is the first year that someone wrote more reviews than Jeff. With everything that went on this year, it's pretty amazing that there were only 5 fewer reviews on the site in 2012 than there were in 2011.
The 2012 Reviews MVP. You may think Alex hates everything, but he dished out more 5-Star reviews than anyone.
Brad knocked out 26 reviews this year (22 last year). He seems to have been more conflicted this year compared to 2011 considering 77% of his 2011 reviews were 4's & 5's, while this year his 4's & 5's consisted of less than half of his total.
Looks like Jeff liked most of the games he reviewed this year. That one 1-Star review? Black Ops Declassified on Vita.
If you want to know about flashlights, dragons, pomeranians, blinking, and zombie survival, then Patrick is your guy.
And if you're into tennis, pills, lane changing, alien autopsies, and stabbin' fools, then Ryan is your go to guy.
Has anyone seen these guys lately? They must be busy doing something. Something important I would guess.
The breakdown of stars is actually quite similar to 2011. Cool Baby approves.
Strangely enough, 36% of the games reviewed in 2011 were Xbox 360 games as well. Keep in mind that there's some overlap on this one. For example, Gotham City Imposters counts towards XBLA, PSN, and PC based on which releases Brad played for his review.
Oh, you don't like pie charts. Well, here's the same data in bar graph form.
I'd bet money you would not have guessed that February would've had the most reviews in 2012. A bunch of stuff came out in February, but the release of the Vita is what really pushed that number up above every other month.
Lastly, here's a look at reviews per year since the site launched.

The Raw Data

GameForScoreByDate
All Zombies Must DiePS3N XBLA3Brad1/12
Saints Row: The Third - GenkiBowl VIIX3602Jeff1/24
NeverDeadX3602Alex2/2
Kingdoms of Amalur: ReckoningPS3 X3604Jeff2/7
Darkness II, TheX3604Alex2/7
Resident Evil: Revelations3DS3Brad2/8
Gotham City ImpostersPS3N XBLA PC4Brad2/11
Super Stardust DeltaPSVN4Jeff2/13
Uncharted: Golden AbyssPSV3Jeff2/13
Lumines: Electronic SymphonyPSV4Jeff2/16
Wipeout 2048PSV3Jeff2/16
Rayman: OriginsPSV5Alex2/16
WarpPS3N XBLA3Brad2/17
Escape PlanPSVN3Alex2/17
SyndicatePS3 X3605Jeff2/21
Touch My KatamariPSV3Alex2/21
Grand Slam Tennis 2PS3 X3603Ryan2/22
Alan Wake's American NightmareXBLA3Patrick2/22
Rhythm Heaven FeverWii5Alex2/22
Asura's WrathX3604Brad2/25
SSXPS3 X3604Alex2/28
Mass Effect 3PS3 X3604Jeff3/6
JourneyPS3N5Alex3/13
I Am AliveXBLA2Brad3/14
Street Fighter X TekkenPS3 X3603Jeff3/19
Ninja Gaiden 3X3602Alex3/23
Ridge RacerPSV2Jeff3/27
Sine MoraXBLA3Brad3/28
South Park: Tenorman's RevengeXBLA1Alex4/4
Kinect Star WarsX3602Brad4/5
Splatters, TheXBLA3Alex4/13
FezXBLA4Jeff4/16
Trials EvolutionXBLA5Brad4/19
Pinball Arcade, TheXBLA iOS4Jeff4/20
BloodforgeXBLA2Alex4/25
Mortal KombatPSV5Jeff5/1
Minecraft: Xbox 360 EditionXBLA4Brad5/9
Max Payne 3X3604Ryan5/14
Prototype 2PS3 X3603Jeff5/18
Diablo IIIPC5Brad5/22
Game of ThronesX3602Alex5/23
Dragon's DogmaPS3 X3603Patrick5/24
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future SoldierX3603Jeff5/30
Gravity RushPSV3Alex6/11
Civilization V: Gods & GeneralsPC4Alex6/18
Steel Battalion: Heavy ArmorX3601Brad6/20
Spec Ops: The LineX3603Jeff6/29
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super HeroesX3603Brad6/29
SpelunkyXBLA4Alex7/3
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy3DS4Brad7/5
Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard, TheX3604Brad7/10
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HDXBLA3Jeff7/18
DeadlightXBLA3Brad7/31
Expendables 2, ThePS3N2Alex8/3
Persona 4 ArenaPS3 X3604Jeff8/7
Sound ShapesPS3N PSVN5Alex8/9
Darksiders IIPS3 X360 PC4Jeff8/14
Sleeping DogsX360 PC4Alex8/14
Papo & YoPS3N3Alex8/17
Dust: An Elysian TailXBLA5Brad8/20
Transformers: Fall of CybertronPS3 X3603Jeff8/21
HybridXBLA4Brad8/23
Rock Band BlitzXBLA4Ryan8/27
Madden NFL 13X3603Alex8/27
Tekken Tag Tournament 2PS3 X3604Jeff9/11
NHL 13X3604Alex9/12
Borderlands 2PS3 X360 PC4Jeff9/18
Mark of the NinjaXBLA5Brad9/21
Fire Pro WrestlingXBLA2Alex9/26
Tokyo JunglePS3N4Patrick10/1
Resident Evil 6X3602Brad10/3
DishonoredPS3 X3604Patrick10/8
NBA 2K13X3604Alex10/8
Fable: The JourneyX3603Brad10/9
Forza HorizonX3605Jeff10/12
XCOM: Enemy UnknownPS3 X360 PC5Ryan10/16
007 LegendsX3602Alex10/18
Doom 3: BFG EditionPS3 X3603Brad10/22
Medal of Honor: WarfighterX3603Brad10/27
Need for Speed: Most WantedX3604Jeff10/30
WWE '13PS3 X3604Alex10/30
Halo 4X3604Jeff11/1
Assassin's Creed III: LiberationPSV3Alex11/2
Hotline MiamiPC5Alex11/5
Assassin's Creed IIIPS3 X3604Ryan11/6
Call of Duty: Black Ops IIX3604Jeff11/13
Call of Duty: Black Ops DeclassifiedPSV1Jeff11/14
New Super Mario Bros. UWiiU3Brad11/18
Nintendo LandWiiU4Brad11/18
Hitman: AbsolutionX3604Alex11/19
ZombiUWiiU4Patrick11/20
Walking Dead, ThePS3 X360 PC5Alex11/26
PlayStation All-Stars: Battle RoyalePS3 PSV3Jeff11/27
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!3DS3Alex11/29
Far Cry 3PS3 X360 PC5Brad12/4
Family Guy: Back to the MultiverseX3601Alex12/4
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By the Numbers: Data Dump - November 2012

Welcome to December, duders. You survived the Fall games blitz. You survived the launch of a new console. You survived Black Friday. Did you survive the finale of The Walking Dead? Well, either way, your reward is to now debate the merits of your Game of the Year nominees with the rest of the community. Try to keep it civil. Not everyone is going to agree with you that Kinect Fun Labs: I Am Super! is the greatest thing ever made. I'm sorry. But, before you get too deep into the GOTY discussions, how about taking a look back at what happened on the site during the busy month of November.

Blogs

Looks like we've got some new names in the top five bloggers this month. Who are these people you ask? Spammers. Unfortunately, there's no way to remove them from the data. So, is the real #1 blogger of November.

Forums

As most of you are probably aware, 's article on the #1reasonwhy movement garnered a lot of responses, but just look at that spike in comments. Just so you know, the grayed out categories on this first chart all have very low numbers, so I removed them to make the other lines more clear.

In other news, the wrestling thread is still reigning supreme as the most active thread in the forums. Will it get past a TLC match in December to be the top thread of 2012? We shall see. Also, somehow and tied for the most topics created in the forums. And while and were busy fighting it out over who would have the most posts in November, snuck in there and stole the belt.

Notifications

This is a combination of every type of notification on the site including @ replies, friend requests, guide edits, review/list recommendations, wall posts, and wiki approvals/rejections. Once again, you can see the effect of Patrick's article here.

Reviews

It should come as no surprise that Halo 4 and Assassin's Creed III were the most reviewed game of November. They were far and away the top two. The rest of the top ten have no real surprises either though. And ran away with the most reviews as he's been converting his short reviews from Gamespot over to the site here.

Videos

The Quick Look for Far Cry 3 was uploaded on November 28. In less than three days, it became the most watched video on the month! That's some good news for Ubisoft, I'd say. Did you know that people finish watching Feature videos more than any other type? Or that TANG videos are the third most completed? And look at that huge cliff where video views died during the Thanksgiving break.

Wiki

Number of edits made on a page may not be the best way to determine the most active wiki pages, but it's no surprise that Black Ops II would be at the top in November. But, would you expect Fist of the North Star to be in the top 3? Or Dick Tracy and Alpha Protocol to be in the top 10? And then there's that Funky Barn.

retains his top spot as making the most edits of anyone. I can only assume he's still on a crazy quest of adding release data to the site. Someone's gotta do it. easily took the top spot in terms of points. And and are leading the way on Wiki Tasks. Speaking of which, you should check out the Wiki Tasks if you haven't recently.

I'm hoping to have some year-end data on reviews and achievements like I did last year since a lot of people seemed to enjoy that. See y'all then.

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Tales from Norrath: Death of an Emperor

This past Tuesday, Sony Online Entertainment launched EverQuest's nineteenth expansion, The Rain of Fear. I haven't played in many years, but the day of a new expansion was always exciting. That got me to thinking about some of the launch days that I was present for. Taking that rickety gnome ship to Velious for the first time was simply wondrous. Teleporting to the moon of Luclin and seeing how all your friends looked with new character models was interesting to say the least. But, the first one that came to mind for me was the launch of The Planes of Power. Ironically, the reason I remember it has nothing to do with the content in that expansion at all.

The Shadows of Luclin

At the time, October 2002, the guild/alliance I was in (Dol Amroth & Echoes in Eternity) was probably the third most powerful guild on the Rodcet Nife server. The days leading up to the release of The Planes of Power were spent trying to finish up the end-game encounters of The Shadows of Luclin expansion. We already knew that the level cap was increasing from 60 to 65 in PoP, so we wanted to complete this high-end content in Luclin before then to prove that we could do it without anyone being over level 60. With only a few days left, there was only one target left…Emperor Ssraeshza.

History of the Shissar

Shissar

The Shissar are a race of highly intelligent, snake-like people. As a creation of Cazic-Thule, the god of fear, they are a ruthless race of people who rely on fear in their dominance over others. The Shissar were once the dominant race on the continent of Kunark, rivaled only by the dragons of the Ring of Scale.

The Shissar had established several cities, most notably their capital, Chelsith. They spread fear and dread throughout the continent and enslaved the Iksar, a race of lizard people also created by The Faceless. Their quick rise to power drew the attention and interest of the dragons. The Shissar smartly learned everything they could from the ancient wurms, and used it to their advantage. Combining the newly discovered magic from the dragons with their own aptitude for necromancy, the Shissar created the world's first liches and blood golems. With their increased might, they struck fear in the dragons, driving them back to a solitary corner of the continent. After establishing their dominance of Kunark, the Shissar Empire sailed north in search of new lands to conquer.

Cazic-Thule the Faceless

When Emperor Ssraeshza and his army reached southern Tunaria (Antonica), they were met by the Rallosian Empire led by the legendary ogre known as Murdunk. Surprisingly, Murdunk and Ssraeshza formed a truce. Rather than go to war with each other, they decided to attempt the impossible. With all of the known world already conquered by the two empires, they set their eyes on the planes of the gods. The Shissar laid waste to many of the lesser planes, which were inhabited by now forgotten demigods. The Rallosian army went straight to the top, the elemental planes, specifically the Plane of Earth. Their assault on The Rathe was eventually unsuccessful, even with the help of Rallos Zek himself. As a result, Zek's creations (ogres, giants, orcs, etc.) were stricken with a curse of unintelligence. The Shissar were punished by their own creator, Cazic-Thule, for he was angered by their arrogance. The Faceless granted the Iksar an ultimate weapon to rise up and defeat their masters. Known as Greenmist, the airborne plague disintegrated any Shissar who inhaled it and trapped their souls in the Plane of Fear where they would be tormented for eternity. Emperor Ssraeshza and the other high ranking Shissar escaped, as their great pyramid was summoned into the sky, presumably never to be heard from again.

The Grey

The truth was the Shissar had escaped to the hidden moon of Luclin by the will of the Mistress of Shadow herself. The pyramid landed in a region known as the Scarlet Desert, but it was soon altered by the frightened Shissar. They successfully created a vacuum within the desert which they called The Grey, thus killing all wildlife in the region, and therefore protecting them from invasion of any native creatures or from the Greenmist if the Iksar should ever discover a means of finding them. Soon after their arrival on the moon, an uprising occured. It was the belief of Vzyh'dra and her followers that Ssraeshza should be held accountable for their fates. She was a powerful wizard who proved herself to be an excellent general in the empire's army, thus many followed her in rebellion. Ssraeshza acted swiftly by slaughtering the rebels, then reanimated them in undeath to patrol the sands of The Grey for eternity. As for Vzyh'dra, he sealed her in an unknown plane of existence through a portal he created in the basement of the pyramid. Ssraeshza successfully convinced the rest of the Shissar that their survival and escape was made possible only by his leadership.

Your God Has Found You Lacking

Emperor Ssraeshza

Emperor Ssraeshza is/was the most difficult raid boss in the entire Shadows of Luclin expansion outside of Vex Thal. As if fighting your way through the labyrinth of their pyramid wasn't enough, normal weapons don't even hurt the Emperor. All melee players are basically required to spend hours in the mines beneath pyramid farming items in order to create bane weapons. On top of that, the Emperor has an ability called Rage of Ssraeshza that lowers the attack speed of his target by 90% (among other debuffs). This makes managing aggro quite difficult. We had attempted this encounter at least twice already and failed one way or another. So, the night before the new expansion, we were determined to end it. We made the trek to the top of the pyramid, about 50-strong ready to slay this guy. We had our strategy down to a T. Everyone was in the right place. And we totally…failed. Our main tank fell really early, and we never recovered. It was devastating. But, it was late and we had to give up.

Here's some images of our failed attempts. Check out the "Melee" feed on my UI. That's a lot of people dying...

The good news was that with a server reset in the morning, due to the new expansion launching, we knew he would be up again whether or not anyone came in behind us in the night to kill him. Normally, he would only spawn once a week. So, we made plans to skip playing around in the new expansion and get the job done. By the time we had enough people online to attempt it, a few of us had already leveled up to 61. This time, we slaughtered that fool. Everything went flawlessly for the most part. Now, would we have beat him without a handful of people being 61? We'll never know. But, that didn't really bother us. A few months of hard work getting everyone equipped with bane weapons and unlocking the path to the top of the pyramid had finally paid off. Forty of us that attended now had the last piece required for a key to Vex Thal. Old school EQ players likely know what that means, but that's the subject of another story.

And here's a look at the dead mother fucker in the corner. Plus a shameless loot screenshot.

Torque of the Wyrmlord

What really cemented the memory of Ssraeshza being slain for me was that I got our guild's first piece of loot off of him. We had just recently started using a DKP system, and somehow I was at the top of the heap when the guild officially started using the points we had accrued. So, I took a Torque of the Wyrmlord from his corpse with great excitement. At the time, the torque was one of the best items in the game. It had amazing stats, a self buff spell built in, and it could be equipped in multiple slots. I wore that thing in one spot or another until the last day I played. Little did I know that that would be the only one we would ever see him drop after numerous kills.

It's funny how particular raids from over a decade ago still evoke such vivid memories. It's part of EverQuest that I both love and hate. I love the times I had in that game and the people I came to know. There's a handful that I still keep in touch with. But, I hate the fact that I'll never be able to capture that lightning in a bottle ever again. EverQuest is the most fun I've ever had playing a game, and likely, for better or worse, always will be.

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By the Numbers: Data Dump - October 2012

Welcome to November, duders. This is a little late because I've been busy stabbin' fools in the neck and crashing through 's billboards. Site traffic in October was fairly interesting as you'll see below. Obviously, lots of big games were released in the last few weeks, which has kept both the forums and the wiki quite active. And it's not slowing down any time soon with Halo 4 this week, then the Wii U launch in a couple weeks. A couple weeks?! That's crazy. Do we even know how the online stuff works yet? And don't forget about Black Friday. Oh...sweet, sweet Black Friday. The deal hunting threads will be running rampant I'm sure. But, before we get too caught up in what's coming in November, let's take a look back at October.

Blogs

is way ahead of everyone thanks to his Art of Video Games series of blogs. If you haven't checked those out yet, you should.

Forums

The wrestling discussion thread has successfully defended its championship as the most popular thread for another month. Will it be the sole survivor after November? We shall see. But, what's up with the anime crew? Your thread fell to third place? C'mon, guys.

I find it kind of interesting how forum traffic basically tanks on the weekend. I would've thought that's when people have more free time, but I guess not. Check out the traffic on the 30th, which is the day Assassin's Creed III and Most Wanted came out. I expect we'll see that sort of spike with Halo and later on with the Wii U. The top 3 posters are the same as last month, but and swapped places between 1st and 3rd.

Notifications

This is a combination of every type of notification on the site including @ replies, friend requests, guide edits, review/list recommendations, wall posts, and wiki approvals/rejections. See how it just tanks on the weekend? That's still weird to me.

Reviews

takes the top spot on user reviews this month thanks to a slew of classic game reviews. No real surprises on the top 10 most reviewed games. Dark Souls may seem kind of odd, but didn't it just come out on PC?

Videos

All Quick Looks, all the time. Traffic is up as well, as the top video this month has about 8000 more views than the top video in August.

Wiki

In October, became the third user to reach the 200,000 points mark. So, it's no surprise that he was the top user (based on points) last month as well.

I'm trying to figure out if approved a wiki edit or if the chart is required to have six people on it. XCOM was the most edited page of the month, while Praxis' work on the Heroes of Might & Magic franchise took the top two spots on most points earned. Look at all the work people are doing on Release data! It brings a tear to my eye. And some guy named Jeff is the #8 most active user in terms of number of edits made. Go figure.

See y'all in December!

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By the Numbers: Data Dump - September 2012

Welcome to Q4, everybody! We've made it. It's finally that time of year when all (most) of those big games you heard about during E3 and saw/played at PAX are finally hitting store shelves. I took a couple hours away from Borderlands 2 to put together this month's edition of blue lines and bars, so I hope it was worth it. Hey, it could be worse. You could be playing Resident Evil 6 right now, I guess.

Blogs

These are the most active bloggers in the community for last month. All but three of them are new to the list compared to August.

Forums

No matter what forum you put it in, there ain't no stoppin' the wrestling discussion thread on Giant Bomb. And then we've got the usual cast of characters (for the most part) as the top posters of the month.

Reviews

No big surprises in terms of the top ten most reviewed games by users this month. But, then there's this guy named putting everyone to shame on the number of reviews written.

Videos

Clearly, Borderlands 2 is the most popular thing on the site right now. Also, do you ever wonder how much of the site's viewers are lurkers? Well, check out that first thumbnail. Anyone know what's up with this guy? He must be commenting twice on every video. Points for enthusiasm, I guess. Also, what the hell happened on September 26th to cause the spike?

Wiki

Looks about even in terms of familiar faces and new ones on the most points earned in September. Keep it up, duders. Some unfortunate souls continue to do the dirty work of adding release info to the site. Despite "having a job," ZombiePie has reclaimed the top spot on the moderator chart. Aside from Borderlands 2, the most edited page on the site in September was...War of the Roses? Both and broke the 500 edits mark. And there's some weird stuff on the chart for pages with the most points increase.

Considering I'm going to be neck deep in Assassin's Creed III and Need for Speed Most Wanted at the end of this month, the October chart might be a little bit late.

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