To make it break: Use It


I'm afraid I have a bit of a vice: I quite enjoy electronic gaming.  I put it on my list of vices right after pistachios and bacon.  The difference between this third place vice and the two of higher rankings is that I don't try to curb my intake of video games.

I have always preferred interactive entertainment to the passive kind.  I do not believe I'm alone in this, since some video games have generated more revenues than a lot of movies.  The challenge of these games continue to entrance me.  Sometimes a piece of software woven by a dedicated producer will keep me entranced day after day.  If you do not believe me, you can always ask my Xbox.

Today, that all changed.  My Xbox has been on the edge lately; during a recent game, it decided to give me a bit of attitude and locked up.  A few power cycles and it appeared to be good to continue fulfilling its purpose.  I even spent some time testing it the next day, thinking I was ensuring the continuation of my video entertainment experience.  After work today I thought I would spend some time wacking people with a lightsaber when the console decided to stop processing instructions.

At first I thought I was only a power cycle away from getting back into the action, although when I fulfilled my part of the bargin, the xbox decided to kick it up a notch and show me the dreaded RROD.  This is not unfamiliar territory for me, as I've already burned out my first console.

I readied myself for Microsoft Support, and sent myself into their portal.   After some time dealing with the Terminator of support websites, I managed to get to a point where I could troubleshoot my console.  The instructions were easy to follow, and led to absolutely nowhere.  The end of my online experience was a page that told me that my warranty was expired; a simple form into which I could place my credit card was displayed to me.

Phone Wes transcended the cage into which I put him and dialed customer support.  The poor indian call center employee did not know what hit him.  The other end of the phone seemed to be equipped with every answer and a plethora of questions.  Phone Wes was curious how a console manufactured less than two years ago could already be outside the 3 year manufacturer's warranty.  The unfortunate part is that Phone Wes is a bit of a prick, and can be rather aggressive towards the wrong target.

About half way through the conversation, I started to feel bad for 'Neil' as he didn't seem to have any of the answers, although he was more than willing to help.  After a severe beating, it was agreed that the big corporation would pay for the repairs.  A tentative peace was formed, and relavent details exchanged.  Very soon, I can get back to my electronic distraction from Pistachios and Bacon


Gamerscore vs Achievements

Sniper in the TreeHouse

I like video games. I've been a PC gamers for years, and in the effort to simplify my life, I moved over to the console side to spend more time playing video games and less time fixing my gaming rig. After dabbling in the area for a while, I found one of the most addicting positive feedback re-enforcements that have ever been placed into electronic gaming: Achievements.

The basic premise is that game developers set up milestones, and when you reach said milestone you have earned the Achievement. The achievement is slotted onto your online profile, and the alloted points for the achievement is added onto your GamerScore. Your friends, your enemies and random people from the internet can view the achievements you have, your total GamerScore, and compare it to their own profile. Very quickly you will find people making the illogical leap, that if a person has a higher GamerScore than you, they are a better gamer.

This is not the case.

Digging deeper you will find out that having a higher GamerScore means you probably have played more games. A person playing 10 games earning 100 points in each will have the exact same GamerScore as someone who squeezed all 1000 points (the maximum for a retail game without an expansion) out of their game. Some of the people with the massive 10k+ GamerScores have reached them by renting (or perhaps purchasing, I don't know) every game they can get their hands on and superficially playing to unlock a few achievements. Through the law of high numbers, they are able to push their GamerScore to the atmosphere. This is the reason that comparing GamerScores is relatively futile.

On the other hand, if you compare, per game, achievements you can get a much better understanding of a person's ability within that game. Take, for instance, the '7 day survivor' achievement for Dead Rising. An individual who has this achievement has to have completed the 72 Hour Mode with the best possible ending, then went on to wrap Over Time mode, finally unlocking Infinite Mode and playing Infinite Mode for a whopping 7 in game days (14 hours). At this point, I believe this person has a good solid grasp on Dead Rising, but the fruits of his labour yielded him only 20 GamerPoints. Compare this achievement to some that can be found in other games, such as COD2's achievement for finishing basic training (25 points). Congratulations, you've made it though a tutorial, good job!

This reasoning is why GamerScore has taken a back seat in my world to the basic list of achievements you have acquired. You may only have a 1000 GamerScore, but if the only game you have played is Oblivion and you have every one of the 50 original achievements, my hat is off to you.

Now, it's time to get some more achievements.



Sniper on the Roof

So after precisely fourteen days of absence, I received a newer Xbox 360 back from Microsoft. They didn't send me a brand new one, as the one I have is obviously a refurbished model. But it runs, so I'm more than happy.

I didn't even manage to get it set up and play it, on the night I got it back, but the next evening, I was sure to enjoy some electronic goodness. The first order of business was finishing up Lumines. I got down to business and obtained the last two achievements I was missing. Although my achievements tell me that there is no higher to go, I know that Jerry has a higher 60 second time attack score, so I know I'm not done yet.

The real blessing of the return was being able to enjoy the launch of Crackdown. After the demo I was pretty excited to get my hands on the game for periods longer than 30 minutes, and when I got the retail version, I definitely was not disappointed.

In a nutshell, you play a genetically modified human that 'evolves' at a heightened rate and you work for the Agency, attempting to stamp out crime.. Right from the onset of the game, you can jump higher, lift more and punch harder than the common scum on the street, but as you play, the actions you take boost your skills in certain areas. Already my crime fighting avatar can leap two storeys up, throws cars, and has a never ending arsenal of guns.

The game satisfies some long lost video game needs. The leaping is just great fun, and you don't have any problems getting around. There is something about leaping rooftop to rooftop while avoiding fire, that just! Thus far the only drawback I can see is that the game is quite short on story. I've only played it for two evenings and already I've destroyed over 15 of the 21 gang leaders that you need to 'complete' the game. I'm sure there is some re-playability in the time trials, but for $60 I was hoping for a bit more to be there.


if (Xbox 360 == Toast) :

Three Lights of Death

My electronics weren't very happy with me this weekend. First my computer decided that my processor wasn't what it claimed, and then my X-Box decided that it wasn't going to work any more either.

The PC was easy enough to get going, I simply underclocked it to a point that it started working again. It's limping along for the time being, but unfortunately the final repair is going to be far reaching, as I don't believe you can even buy processors for that motherboard anymore. If I want the speed again, I'm going to have to upgrade.

The X-box died shortly after finishing a movie and when I threw Burnout back into the unit, I was confronted with the Red LEDs of Death. I went through the online support, and once everything was finished it told me: Yes, there is something wrong with your X-Box. Actually, their wording was closer to: "possibly a dashboard update error, there is no solution at present the console must be sent back to MS for repair".

Without either PC or X-Box my electronic entertainment has been downgraded to PopCap on my mini.


“Wes’s Brain”.thoughts do { |t| << t.dump }


As more and more snow can be found on the ground, I find that more and more things are in my schedule, and time is moving faster and faster. I've pretty much tied up all time from now to the new year, and already the weekends on the other calendar are starting to pack up.

A quick rundown of what's been going on:

  • Last week work was having it's annual United Way campaign. I took some pictures at the obstacle course event, you can see them in this flickr set
  • I attended the two day seminar that Blair Singer put on in Calgary regarding his team building, leadership and sales techniques. It was a great learning experience, he is an excellent teacher, if at times way over the top.
  • Went to the Art and Craft sale at the Telus convention center. It was packed full of really nice items, although; I'd need another full time job just to pay for some of the items that were being sold there. A lot of really nice one of a kind gifts are available there, if you've got more money than ideas.
  • Helped Sonja move. That was a day packed full of picking up, putting down, cleaning, packing, steaming, and re-wiring.
  • I went over to Jeff's place to play on his newly purchased Wii. Initial impressions are very good, but I won't be getting one anytime soon, as the X-box I have is way more machine. The Wii will probably be in my house someday, just to enjoy a Nintendo only title, but from the initial release lineup, there wasn't anything overly cool.
  • Went to watch The Flames beat Chicago 4-1 last night

This weekend Sonja managed to get a weekend at the resort out in Fairmont. It's going to be a nice relaxing weekend.