Me vs. Call of Duty: Black Ops (and Treyarch)

I recently purchased CoDBlOps on Steam because I had a coupon from the Holiday sale for %50 off of it. So, as someone who played a ton of CoD4 and MW2, I felt that $20 was finally cheap enough that I felt justified in getting the game. It has been a while, and I am a different person than I once was. I haven't touched the single player yet as that is being saved for another day, but I have played a few games of multiplayer and I have some thoughts to express on this.

Dedicated Servers

What is the big deal with wanting these things? I get wanting to be able to control your world and play the game you want to play, but having only dedicated servers makes me unable to play the game that I want to play. Every single map is a Nuketown only server. Yes, that is sarcastic, but it isn't that far off. There are a good handful of maps in this game, but if I want to see them all I have to play against the shoddy AI. People know every millimeter of the map in Nuketown, and I kind of hate that map for it.

Also, I loved how CoD4 and MW2 would put you into maps that you might not like because they make you play outside of your comfort zone, but it made me experiment with different play styles. As someone who preferred a sniper rifle in most games, CoD4 game me respect for the SMG and close quarters stuff because of maps like Vacant, which were smaller maps where only crazies would try to snipe. Dedicated servers eliminate this exploration of playstyles in a way that I just don't like.

I don't want to be kicked off of a server because someone else with a reserved slot logs on either. Sure, he likes that, but here I am trying to play CoD for a bit and the game is almost done. Then I lose my match bonus because I've been kicked. It didn't tell me that that was the reason, but I can only imagine that that is the case when I was playing normally and then the server was full when I tried to reconnect. Either way, that never happened to me on the 360.

I also hate being stuck with the same jerks because my ping is not the best on some servers. Here I am stuck on a Nuketown only server with the same 3 jerks who have mastered the art of covering the one house that they always need to control. Heck, I played a game with the same guys who sucked it up for a while while they tried to control their favorite house. A game shouldn't go from 3000 to 2900 to ending at 10000 to 4200 because they finally kicked us out of the house they have mastered.

Maybe they let players kick out the ten year old cuss dumpsters, but whatever really. I just speed mute them anyways. I'm not too worried about it, and CoD is tough to grief in anyways. I have barely ever had to leave a server because someone was being a jerk. Muted, ignored, done.

I don't mind dedicated servers when I am not forced to play on them. If you want to have them, they should be private only. Have separate rank-ups for private matches, then play to your hearts content. Don't make me, the guy who wants to push "Go" and play a random game of TDM, suffer because the quick match button put me in a game that is always crouch, no running. That is not fun. Yuck.

Downloadable Content Handled Like Crap

I shouldn't have to have your DLC to be able to play the game online, Treyarch. You did this to me with WaW recently. I tried to revisit that and the game would match me up with people who had the maps but then would kick me out because I didn't have them. Why they heck does it even do that? Black Ops does it too, which almost makes the Nuketown servers into a favorable experience for me. I won't get kicked out of those because a map switched over to a DLC map. I entered a wager match earlier today, trying to play for some points. Why not? After the game almost had the people it needed to pay the buy in, the map changed. I got kicked out of a game that I had waited four minutes to start, just because the map changed to one I don't have.

I played a lot of MW2 back in the day, and I NEVER had this problem with DLC maps. I don't own them, and don't need them. Heck, back in CoD4, I played with friends who didn't have them and it never screwed them over either. Why is Treyarch bad at this fundamental issue? Is it because someone at Activision is telling them that an error that says "Give us money to not see this error anymore" works on more people than it should? I see those messages as "Screw you, you shouldn't even be playing this game. You have a stack of other games that are so much better. Hey look! It is Skyrim! Baldurs Gate! CoD4! I went back and played MW2 and CoD4 not long ago to see if those are decrepit wastelands of errors and sadness. They aren't. They work great.

I can't wait until later this year when "Call of Duty: Black Ops Give Us Some Money for Zombies and Two Maps" comes out. Don't care anymore.

No, I don't have MW3 either. I'm pretty much done with these things. Aside from the $2 redbox got from my MW3 rental, I'm done with CoD after MW2.


Steam Treasure Hunt makes me hate Shatter.

So, the Steam Treasure Hunt is pretty awesome. They get you buying games and playing them for just a bit to make you like them, ad give you contest entries for it. I have loved it thus far, but today's Shatter challenge has me angry. So, I'm supposed to get 11.2 million points in Bonus Mode. That seems reasonable given how the contest has worked so far. I had to play the first 3 worlds in Story Mode to open up Bonus Mode, and that was tons of fun. But where I've fallen off the bandwagon is in bonus mode itself. 
I have played Bonus Mode for over 3 hours now, and I can't get that score. That alone isn't the reason I am mad, it is that Bonus Mode simply is not fun (especially for 3 hours straight). I also believe that Bonus Mode (and possibly Shatter as a whole) is broken in how the collisions are programmed. So many times in Bonus Mode, have I had the ball fly right through my paddle, giving me the points for the hit, but still causing me to lose that ball. When I say this, I mean through the center of my paddle. I'm not barely missing here, I am clearly not missing, but the game says I am.  
Here comes my programming complaint. This issue where the balls pass right through my paddle makes me believe that the game judges collisions based on when a frame is rendered showing the ball touching my paddle (or another ball or a wall), but since my game is running at about 25-30 frames per second, when the balls really get going (in Bonus Mode specifically) they skip through my paddle. So I think that for one frame, my ball is barely away from the paddle, and in the next frame of animation it is behind my paddle and is then hit downward. 
Sure, that 11.2 million points is asking a lot of players as well, but it has made me see the flaws in Shatter's design. I like that game, but this would be like me telling you to do the broken parts of other great games. I hate Bonus Mode now. It is the evil blue men from UC2 of Shatter. The game would be better without it, and I wouldn't know how they programmed the game if Steam hadn't told me to get such a high score on it. So I have given up.
Anyone from Giantbomb here having this issue? Or is it just me and my computer? If you have any tips, maybe I will still try to get this done, but I doubt it. I would rather play something I enjoy than continue to bash my head against this wall for a contest I know I won't win.


Wiki-Edits. The End of me.

So, I just started really going on Wiki edits here on the site. I got a bag of old instruction booklets and stuff from my parents' house and I wanted to do my part to fill out some of the more obscure stuff on the site. I love finding some really nice pages. Seeing that people loved an old game is really awesome, but damn. Filling out some of these sets of credits is going to be the death of me. It feels like it takes forever, but it is nice that somebody put most of the person pages in. 
How do you do it? Those of you who love the wiki editing, do you sit down with a game and an instruction booklet (moreso on older games) and fill out what you can?  
Maybe doing credits is a bit unnecessary, but I like the idea of filling out credit history if only to retroactively fill out person history on the site.


First Thoughts on Kinect.

  (Note: Please excuse the shoddy picture quality. I had to use my iPhone 3G to take these pictures. Motion and iPhones don't get along.)
 I got to play the Kinect at the Mall of America today. They have a nice booth set up there with plenty of games to try and plenty of fun to be had. They have four Xbox Consoles set up each playing a different Kinect game.   All in all, they have Kinect Advenures (namely just the Ricochet game from it), Kinect Sports (Bowling is all I saw, but the worker we talked to said Tennis as well), Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, and Harmonix's Dance Central. Here's a picture of Sharky, the Mall of America's Shark mascot for Underwater World, dancing along to Poker Face. 

 Sharky (Underwater World mascot) Dancing to lady Gaga's "Poker Face"

I only played Your Shape and Kinect Adventures, as I didn't feel stupid enough to dance around to Poker Face in front of so many people. Especially since some of the people doing it looked like they knew what was up. I didn't feel like I did, but I didn't get to try. Also, the longer songs lead to a longer wait and we were pressed for time. 
Your Shape was pretty neat. All I did was some kickboxing. It popped up bricks for me to punch, and I punched them. Seriously that is it for what I played. Notably though, Your Shape doesn't hide what the camera is seeing. You show up as a sweet blob creature while you play. I grabbed my foot during this and the game didn't care at all. (Note: I grabbed my foot because Jeff mentioned Kinect didn't like that.) The Kickboxing was plenty fun, but I must be pretty stupid as I always kicked with the wrong foot, and never punched with the wrong hand. I don't know what that was, but whatever. 
Your Shape kickboxing has you punch bricks at various positions. It only accepts cross body punches. For example, if the box is high and right, you punch with your left hand to your upper right. It worked really well. When a box is low and left, you kick with your right foot across your body. Same concept, but I couldn't do it right for the life of me. Whatever. There are pictures at the bottom of the thread.  

Me, about to punch some blocks. 

Your Shape yoga looked simple enough. My girlfriend played it, so I don't have too much to tell you. It tells you the criteria that each pose or stance is looking for in the top right, then it outlines your skeletal structure or the points that Kinect perceives to be your joints and you can use that to see what you are doing wrong (if that is the case). Yoga was calm, but at the same time it seemed very responsive and interesting. 
 Kinect Adventures (Ricochet) was plenty of fun as well. My girlfriend and I stepped up and swatted some balls at imaginary bricks in the distance. We had some technical issues here, but that might have been because there were a lot of people behind us as Sharky had just finished his dance routine, which effectively doubled the crowd there. Ricochet was quite fun, for what it is worth. It is a simple game, but it is fun. However, the slight natural lag of Kinect becomes pretty apparent when you are starting to deliberately swing early so as to actually hit the ball that is flying at you.   

 Two random dudes slapping some balls around. 

To further my "must grab foot to make Kinect sad" adventure, I grabbed my ankle during Kinect Adventures. My avatar on screen freaked out when the hand got close to the foot. So my guy just jerked around as if Kinect was unsure if that one point it saw there was my foot, my hand, or both. That, among other things, is fun to do when you have a representation on the screen that is not just a blob version of you. 
I didn't touch Kinect's Bowling game because, yo, it's bowling. 
Dance Central was drawing the most people, for good reasons. It looks great and it looks fun. I'm going to wait to play that one some other time, when there aren't a ton of people wondering what the hell these people are dancing for. Most people there seem scared of the thought that you don't touch anything to play the games. 
Overall, Kinect seems kind of cool. Yeah, you expected this, but I have to admit I am interested now. It seems half stupid and yet half awesome, all at the same time. The awesome part though is more of a "if they use this power for good" type thing. If they make crap for it for the next year, Kinect will be the thing that wasted out time and killed all controllerless gaming for the future. Alternatively, if they can put out a few interesting things, and promise more and more, Kinect might be the next big thing. 
I am certainly excited to see a bit more of the Kinect. After playing it, it is about what I expected, but that doesn't mean that it isn't cool.   

After the crowd Sharky drew there, Microsoft should just pay him to dance all day. 

 P.S. No, I didn't see Sharky play any other Kinect games. I would have loved to see Your Shape measure him and put his blob person on the screen. Some other day maybe.    

Gonna go play with Kinect at the Mall of America.

So, my girlfriend played Kinect (specifically Ubisoft's Your Shape) at the Mall of America yesterday and she really liked it. She said she might invest in the Kinect stuff, which excites me as I won't have to buy one then. :) 
So, I'm gonna head to the Mall of America today to get some hands on time with the Kinect and see how it feels. My girlfriend and I agree that the prospect of Kinect bringing fitness videos into games in a way that you can't cheat is a pretty neat feature. I cheated like hell when I played WiiFit, so I'm hoping I have fun with Kinect. 
Anyways, GB, the part you care about is that if you are in the Minneapolis area you can totally mess around with the Kinect, as my girlfriend said the lines weren't that long.  
Ask questions and I'll answer them when I get back. Note: apparently they only have Your Shape, so that's all Ill be able to answer for.


Bioshock Infinite.

So Bioshock Infinite looks completely awesome. Whatever that game is or becomes is beside the point right now. All that matters is that that trailer makes me want to play that game. It reminds me of Bioshock's trailer back in the day. 
For the record, I thought Bioshock 2 was pretty good. Its focus was different than Bioshock (1), but it was a pretty darn good game. If Infinite has the playability and fun of Bioshock 2, while having the story of Bioshock 1, I am totally pumped.


Gaming without achievements.

Achievements have done a lot of good for video games in the last few years. I know some people would disagree with that, but I guess I'll argue both ways real fast. 
For achievements, I like having them on my games as it gives me something to shoot for. I have squeezed more life out of games than I probably would otherwise because of achievements. I love's averaging system so that I can easily go into my list and say "Wow, I barely played UFC Undisputed 2009" but then realize that I got that at a garage sale, so I don't care too much. It helps me find what I maybe should try a bit more.  
Farther in the opposite direction though, achievements are tools for me to identify games that I just plain don't like. Dark Sector has something like 250GS just sitting there waiting for me to finish the game, but nope. I'm not doing it. Farcry 2 is another in that league. I have found that those games are not for me. 
With my disappointment at the lack of GB trophy support, and my enjoyment of achievements in 360, Steam, and blizzard games, it becomes completely surprising when a game gets my undivided attention without achievements in it for me. 
Recent games that have done this for me are Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Picross 3D, Mario and Luigi: Bowser's inside story, and a whole mess of Telltale games on Steam. 
I find it particularly odd that some of those games still have me going for 100% completion even when I really don't have anything to show for it. Sure I have very little to show in any of my gaming achievements (save maybe someone noticing a particularly rare one or something), but with Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Ep. 1, no one will ever know that I have all that stuff done. 
I really respect any game that can get my attention like that. I'll put up reviews of some of those eventually. The DS is the most obvious leader in my category here. For some reason I've been playing that a lot. 
Next: My building a computer adventure! (I hope I can do that one soon.)


Back from Morocco

I'm back from Africa now, and I might be moving into an apartment soon... That was kind of expected, but not really. I need to make a list of games I should play in the stead of buying all these new ones.  
Maybe soon. 
Sad that SC2's Beta is winding down, that is what I'll be doing on Monday when I get back from the field. 



Playing Starcraft 2 last night was not a good night. I lost about 20 ranks in my silver tier. I have some replays to watch. 
Aside from that, WET is an alright game, but I just got stuck somewhere and gave up when my 5th attempt ended with my xbox freezing. 
Today I get the new Deftones album, and Picross 3D. That is my plan for today.