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Destiny Diary: How much do I need that Icebreaker?

By January 20, 2015 Gaming

It’s a story as old as time itself. A lone guardian spends a week dashing around amongst the wreckage and shattered remains of mankind. His entire week is spent playing grab-ass on Earth patrols and performing reckless Sparrow stunts on Mars. Friday morning his world comes crashing down around him when he learns that Xur is selling Icebreaker, and he probably should have been saving up for it. Granted, this is like a thousand years in the future so he wouldn’t have heard the old parable about the lazy squirrel who didn’t collect enough nuts for winter.

Wait. What am I talking about?
Oh yeah, buying Icebreaker.

I jump into the Destiny app and do a quick scan of my inventory, noting that I only have 13 – of the required 17 – coins needed to purchase the Icebreaker from Xur. Shouldn’t be too hard to get, right? The easiest way to earn coins is by running the weekly Nightfall strike, which I already completed, earning nine coins. That’s the hands-down easiest way, and I already exhausted it. It turned out that I was going to have to work for it. I mean really work for it, considering that I was taking the kids to Disneyland all weekend, leaving me with just a few hours accomplish this task. Read More

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Five reasons why I’ll always suck at MW2

By June 22, 2010 Gaming

This past weekend, I packed up my Xbox 360 and an LCD monitor, and cruised over to a coworkers house for a night of playing Modern Warfare 2 with “the guys”. (I don’t really have my own “the guys” but for the sake of this post, we’ll sort of pretend that I do.) I learned two harsh realities that evening, the first being that you can’t system link Call of Duty for a house full of dudes, as the game only permits single player xbox link-ups. Lame.

I suck at Modern Warfare 2

The second thing I learned was that I’ll probably always be a noob when it comes to playing MW2 and online first-person shooters. These are the main five reasons:

1.I don’t spend enough time practicing online. Seems rather obvious, right? My problem: I had to get over the reasoning that simply because I played a lot of first-person shooter games, I should be good at any of them, in any setting. It’s sorta like a bunch of nerds playing D&D or World of Warcraft and assuming they’d have have a chance against an Orc, if they were to suddenly face one in real life. That’s not to say that all of my single player skills are wasted, at the very least they taught me how to move and aim.

2.Simply moving and aiming is not good enough. To survive in the fast-paced world on online warfare you need to MOVE! and AIM! But, you also need to know when to stay put and wait. My problem: I’m always in one place too long, or not long enough. And I really don’t have the finesse that it takes to be a killing machine. When watching the playback of my murder on the killcam, I’m amazed at the twitchy and jerky movement of my opponents. They move like a brutal, killing insect while I seem to really take my time aiming and lining up the shot. Much like my golf swing, I’ve been practicing mostly bad habits.

3.This isn’t my story and I’m not the hero. The problem with playing so many co-op or single player campaigns is that you tend to believe that you’re special. Enemy troops always rush at you from convenient locations in a perfectly timed rhythm. You should know your objectives and which way you should be moving on the map. This is all flipped upside-down in multiplayer. The maps are closed and death is your only exit. Players don’t come at you in a linear way, but punish you sideways with all sorts of inventive maneuvering. My problem: I tend to be to too cinematic. I picture myself running about, taking down enemies with the help of my friendly comrades and everything I do is part of some sort of blockbuster action sequence. When in reality, the better players aren’t even thinking, but rather moving, shooting, moving, grenade, explode, die, respawn, moving, shooting…

4.I don’t know the maps. And to be honest, I’ll never know the maps. I just know the places that I always die on the maps. My friends try to show me the prime spots to hang out and snipe at people, but when I finally get up into the roost someone is already there, ready to rock my face with a shotgun. My most successful moments are when I find a decent location, and can keep dropping enemies as they come through my bottlenecked area until I get stabbed in the back by a ninja person or humped by a guy holding a riot shield.

5.I’m a bit of a carebear. That’s gamerspeak for, “pussy”. Although if you play shooters on Xbox Live for any amount of time, you’ll realize that is one of the milder terms of endearment. My problem: I just like having fun, casually shooting at people. I don’t have the heart (nor skill) to constantly be at the enemy spawn point machine-gun raping the same guy over and over again. (Because usually, I’m the guy respawning.) I suppose that’s why I’m making this list. Not to make excuses, but rather to embrace my noobness and try learn from it…one horrible agonizing death at a time.

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Beam me up, y’all!

By March 17, 2010 Gaming

It's like the Alamo! This time with the Borg.



Here’s a hurried screenshot I snapped from my away team adventure in Star Trek Online, moments before I was overrun by Borg invaders from south of the neutral zone. I tell ya, they never let a fella just take vanity photos of himself. My character is a rough-n-tumble guy named Captain Dallas Austin Houston, which is quite convenient since I just landed the command position of the U.S.S. San Antonio. I have an annoying way of talking like a hick Southern gentleman on open comm channels, yet I’m always willing to help take care of a Klingon stampede when those fancy Starfleet cityfolk need a hand.

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I’ve spent real life money to buy virtual cash

By March 18, 2009 Gaming

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I’m going to come right out and say this: I’ve spent real life money to buy virtual cash. That’s something that many MMO gamers will undoubtedly frown upon, yet I have no problem openly admitting to my sudden infusion of “dirty gold” several years ago.

Now, I understand all of the arguments against buying virtual currency. How it inflates the fragile in-game economy, or that players are profiting from something for which they don’t own the intellectual property rights. There’s the issue of Chinese workers earning pennies a day playing World of Warcraft, so that fat, American gamers can buy virtual gold pieces from their tyrannical employers. I’m quite familiar with those arguments, though the line I most commonly hear from people opposed to the gold trade is, “I’d rather earn my rewards than spending money to get ahead.”

Luckily, I’m absolved of some guilt by the fact that when I bought my money, the practice was still relatively new. Foreign competitors hadn’t yet jumped into the game, and I ended up striking a deal with a nineteen year-old kid from Eastern Oregon who was paying his way through college. Also, the economy on my EverQuest server (Saryrn) was wrecked well before I got greedy and decided I wanted a fancy, new sword to hang from my belt.

That’s what it came down to, really: I wanted a new sword – one that didn’t always, tragically suck – and I didn’t want to have to run around skinning virtual rats to earn it. You tell me what’s worse. Is it spending hours online in a game, but rather than doing fun stuff like killing unicorns with friends, you’re knitting magical pants or collecting skeleton bones to make a living? Or is it working at a real job all day, earning real money, from which you take a very small fraction to buy gold pieces with? Okay, they both sound kind of ridiculous when you think about it.

I didn’t have the Wurmslayer sword, but I did have the mighty Paypal account. All it took was a few minutes to purchase the gold off an auction site, and then make arrangements to meet my supplier in a dark, Norrathian alley somewhere. Actually, we ended up meeting in a crowded bank. Apparently, 5000 platinum pieces weighs more than a character can physically carry, so we did our exchange, right out in the open. I nervously tried to make small talk as he offloaded the dirty money, but he (in the form of a red haired Barbarian warrior) would have none of it. Moments later, I bought my ridiculous sword (and later a fancy helmet) and went on with my lives, both online and off.

It was probably wrong, but I don’t care. It helped me get more quality time in the game with my friends, while showing-off a shiny, new weapon that I had no reasonable excuse for suddenly owning. Heck, for all I know I helped some poor dude unload some overpriced cutlery he had been trying to auction for months. And with that sword, my young, Half-Elf Bard was able to have numerous heroic adventures, vanquishing the scourge of evil from the land and saving countless virtual lives along the way.

I’ve decided to do a weekly column “MMOmance”, uncovering all the screwed-up things I’ve done while playing these MMORPG games that I’m so infatuated with. Next week’s MMOmance:” I pretended to be a girl in real life.”

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Not the Red Rings of Death

By March 6, 2009 Gaming

My Xbox isn’t dead, but its usefulness is now only limited to being a nifty webcam or streaming Netflix movies. I’ve fallen victim to the other, less talked about but equally common failure, the DVD drive getting fried. Here’s how it went down, and I guess I wouldn’t have had it any other way:

I had just found super-cheap Guitar Hero bundles at the Circuit City closeout sale, and purchased two GH games, both with wireless guitars. When I got home I downloaded all the free content for Guitar Hero 3, and then unlocked the quickplay songs, so I could just rock out with a freform set list. I had only played two songs before tragedy struck, the first one being “Slow Ride” by Foghat. My daughter was in her high chair, eating Teddy Grahams and I decided it was time for her to “see Daddy rock the F out”, and I loaded up the theme to Top Gun and cranked up the volume to 11 (which would seem impressive on a guitar amp, but our HDTV works on a scale of 100). If Eliza had a cigarette lighter – which she won’t be allowed to play with until she’s at least five – she would have been gently waving it in the air as I scorched through soaring guitar riffs to a majestic melody which I feel should have been changed to our national anthem years ago.

But I didn’t get a round of applause, or even get to do an encore performance. Instead, my Xbox started screaming in agony and I was forced to shut it down. The concert was over, and my faux music career is now on hold until I figure what to do. I can send the box in and pay Microsoft for a repair, or just get a new or used replacement for slightly more money. The timing couldn’t be worse, as I’ve been eyeing the ‘blood splatter red’ Resident Evil 5 Limited Edition Xbox 360 Elite – unfortuantely it comes with the game RE5 which made Hasser and I both want to smash our controllers, rather than play through another level of the game demo.

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