Video Thing

I know many of you have seen this, but for those who haven't -- please take two minutes and watch this video. The sense of humor is, I think, one of the things that attracts so many people here, and why the staff have such a following. I'm certainly no staff fanboy, and I don't even watch most of the videos they release, but this one is absolutely hilarious.
 
 

  
 That video is quite possibly the greatest video ever made in the history of greatest videos ever made. 
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Lack of Communication (Back Off)

Yes, that's 80's hair metal lyrics. Yes, I'm that old.

Due to an as-of-yet undiscovered allergy, I've been struck with laryngitis. I can talk, but just barely, so I'm not. I did a test trip to the grocery store, and only had to resort to my "Laryngitis - Can't Talk" flip card twice. Everything was head/hand motions, mouthing words, and a couple of quick notes. It's turned me into a bit of a monk it seems. All my snarky and wise ass comments, gone. This vow of silence is kind of a bitch.

Going to work tomorrow should be interesting. I'm sure I'll receive no end of jokes and intentional long-winded questions. Hell, that's what I'd do if it was one of my coworkers. You have to get your ribbing while it's good. But as long as I can type, I can still return fire. The graces of technology. Meanwhile, I now have an excuse to sit in front of the Xbox and play Oblivion all day, again. Good, I was looking for one.

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Quests I'll Never Get

Being an age-old RPG-er, I love the quest system. Thus it irritates me to no end that there are some quests I just won't be able to do. They are testaments to my failure as a completionist, and so of course I'm listing them here for all to see.
 

  • AV Club > Secret Quest - I have to say, the idea of setting up automatic RSS feed notification has crossed my mind. And I haven't ruled it out just yet...
  • Secret Society -- Seriously? Moderator only quests? Harumph.
  • Under Review - I'll probably get Critic of Critics at some point, but not the rest of them. Writing reviews is just not something I care that much about.
 
I'm sure there will be more as new quests are released.
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Punching Crabs

So I'm playing Oblivion again, for the third time. Not that I ever finished it mind you. I spent all my time before doing the guild quests instead of the main storyline, and never got around to "finishing" the game. I'm playing on the Xbox this time, so I'll have to finish it now -- achievement whore, that is me.
 
It's been several years since I played it the last time, and it's surprising how much I remember. I'm playing as a thief/assassin again so there's not really anything new so far. It's like watching a movie you've seen several times already -- good, but not as good as the first time. I'm really looking forward to the thief and, in particular, assassin guild quest lines. Those are some of the most well written quest lines I've ever done, and I've been playing RPGs for a long time. Emil really knew his stuff. Shame he didn't transfer much of that to the Fallout 3 story. There are some very sore thumbs that stick out, however -- the same five voice actors, sparsely populate cities, and of course: the leveling system.
 
The leveling in Oblivion out right sucks. To be fair, it's not actually the leveling -- I actually prefer a by-use system instead of experience point system -- it's the fact that the whole world levels when you do. And if you aren't careful, they will level better than you do. I learned that a very hard way the first time I played. I got to level 10 or so and was getting routinely owned by wildlife just walking down the road. On the PC, this is somewhat easily remedied. There are numerous useful mods you can download to change the game experience -- saddle bags, flower picking, etc -- but none is more useful than Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul. Yes, the leveling is so broken that someone else had to make a 400Mb overhaul to the game to make it work the way it should have from the beginning.
 
But alas, on the Xbox I have no such luxury. What this means for me is that I spend half my play time running around trying to level up minor skills so I can get +5 on my necessary attributes when I level. Which means I end up running around doing things like punching crabs. And my entire play time is spent with notepad at hand, ticking off marks every time an important skill increases, so I'll know when it's time to punch crabs.
 
Nonetheless, it's still a fun game overall, even if the luster is well worn. Something has to pass the time until Red Dead Redemption anyway. And if I'm going to get all the achievements (and how can I not?) I'll get to see new quests at some point, to keep the game interesting. For now though, it's all about stealing and assassination. Again.

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Dunjonquest

Today's tackling of the "Catch and Release" quest (#7 to finish!) uncovered some old dusty memories of my earliest gaming days. I knew everyone would be scrambling to create releases for their favorite games to finish the quest, so there was no way I was going to bother with newer games. For my experience, the best way to get points -- and now quests -- on the site is to fill out old games. Those are shamefully neglected on this site, but I've done what I can for the old time classics like  Bard's Tale and the  Ultimas. And when I looked, it was indeed true that many of the old games from my youth did not have releases. So after adding them for games like  Wizard's Crown  and  Adventure Construction Set, I thought of my very first RPG experience --  Temple of Apshai.

I still remember back in the day, sitting at my friend's Commodore 64 waiting for Temple of Apshai to load off tape (yes I'm that old) just so I could play it. It took around a half hour, and sometimes wouldn't even load and you' have to start over. But that was it, my very first RPG experience. That was what hooked me. I think it used to annoy my friend at how much I wanted to play, and when I finally got my own C64, I borrowed it religiously.

And today, in doing this release quest, I discovered that Temple of Apshai -- or rather Dunjonquest -- is an entire franchise of games. Temple of Apshai was repackaged at least once, and had two different "expansion modules". Who knew that games in 1982 had expansions? As I was researching these and filling in their release dates, I saw references to a game called Hellfire Warrior. Giant Bomb didn't have mention of it, and surprisingly neither did Moby Games. Digging around a little more, not only did I find that it was a sequel to Temple of Apshai that had two of its own expansion modules, but I found box covers for all of them. Score!

So there it is, my first time actually adding a game to the site -- three of them in fact. I've expanded the Giant Bomb universe just a little bit. Shame there's not a quest for it.

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Questing

As a staff member's re-tweet said -- Giant Bomb has turned browsing the web into a video game. Bravo, good sirs. Bravo. I can't think of a more fitting place for such an incarnation. I must say, I am rather enjoying this questing thing. And while I do agree somewhat with the local curmudgeons in that perhaps the broken parts of the site should be fixed before new features are added, I'm totally giving a pass this time.
 
I reached level 12 once the S-Rank quests registered, although I'm not sure what accolades exactly level 12 grants me. Being a die hard RPG aficionado, I do take great pride in completing the amazingly difficult Monster Mash quest. I have to say in my own defense, that the description was rather deceptive. Cliches in RPGs would most certainly include monsters that were not on the list -- most notably, undead -- and some things on the list were not cliches in the least, at least not in the last 20 years of gaming. They may have been cliches in the pen and paper world of 2nd generation D&D, but no longer. Still, now that I have completed it, I feel I can retain my RPG credentials with some modicum of dignity.

I do have many quests yet to complete, and some of them have me absolutely baffled, even with the deluge of hints in the forums. As it turns out, it seems I'm not very good at riddles. More's the pity. I do still need some of the more mundane quests as well, like posting and blogging. Yet as much as I like seeing the little XP bar fill up and the number beside it increase, I refuse the urge to post rubbish just to do so. Those will come in good time.

In the meantime, I think I might have some ideas for future quests that I'd like to flush out, particularly in the RPG arena. I'll continue to churn on those as I quest. Given history, I fully expect Giant Bomb to open up for quest submissions in the future. I hope to make Dave proud.

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Sacred 2 Bumped Again

Dammit. The Xbox release of Sacred 2 has been bumped again, now to March 24. It was originally supposed to come out in November with the PC version, then it got bumped to February, and now March. C'mon, Ascaron! Your fans are waiting here! Where else am I going to get a good hack and/or slash loot-fest these days? There's very few games keeping the genre alive, and I can't very well pin my hopes on Diablo III, considering how Diablo II turned out, can I? Particularly since it's not even slated for the Xbox. Bah!

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Saints Row 2

The worst game I played in 2008 was probably Saints Row 2, but it wasn't a bad game per se. It was just more of the same. I like that they've taken a different path than the GTA series, particularly since they've focused on the activities of the urban predator genre, like the hitman and chop shop missions. But the new activities (like the septic truck) were just lame (although throwing people into walls was pretty fun). Ultimately, it just became an extension of the first game, which had already grown tired. They're going to have to innovate and find more interesting activities if they are going to be a viable franchise IMO.

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FPS @ XBOX

I've been a PC gamer nearly as long as there have been PC games (yes, I'm old), and while I've never had a problem with gaming consoles, I've never really cared much for what I've called "console-y" games. You know they type -- very linear, lots of mini-bosses, and a finally big boss at the end, usually with some trick you have to figure out to defeat. And of course, the "feature" of only being able to save at a specific savepoint, forcing you to play large sections of the game over and over and over and over again until you get it just right. Forced replayability by game mechanics is the cheap way out, and not at all fun in the least for me. I do realize that early on much of this was forced by the limited power of the console, but as they've grown in power to rival and even surpass the PC in some aspects, some game developers seem to still be stuck in the mindset. I'm just not interested in that type of game. Fortunately, there are numerous games on the console these days that are basically PC games in concept and playability, like Fallout 3.

I've pretty much given up PC gaming finally, now that I have an Xbox 360 and a large TV, but I still have concerns about playing first person shooters on a console. I've yet to see a console controller configuration that rivals mouselook for fast-paced action. Some first person games have avoided it by having either target locking (GTA IV) or their own specific mechanism (VATS in Fallout 3). Now that I'm in a gaming lull, having finished Fable II and waiting for Sacred 2, I've been entertaining the idea of playing Half-Life 2 again (actually, Orange Box) and maybe actually finishing it this time. But the FPS/console thing has me concerned. I wasn't particularly good at what little first person shooting I did in Fallout 3, but I was pretty reliant on VATS. I don't really want to dish out money for a game I don't want to play, so I borrowed effjay's copy of Bioshock to give it a spin on the console. I finished it on the PC, so this will be a good test of PC vs console for FPS controls. So far it hasn't been bad at all. I'm just as bad at aiming as on the PC -- but no worse. The truth will come when I need headshots.

If I can get over this last hurdle, I can get out of the PC video card arms race and stop spending the equivalent of a new console system just to play a game every year. I really hope so.

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