Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Umm.....Sextuple Entendre

Probably very old, but I just saw this today. Maybe they are just talking about....umm preserving life..

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The New Microsoft Wii

So I logged in and took a look at the NXE (New Xbox Experience) that Microsoft launched yesterday. Things didn't start out so nicely as the very first time that I logged in after the update, it crashed my Xbox and I had to restart it. After the restart though, things were pretty cool. The main thing I noticed was how MS totally ripped off the whole Mii thing done on the Wii. You can create these "Avatars" that look suspiciously like Miis. Of course, it has a lot more detail and you can add accessories like changing their clothing/jewelry/hats/etc.

Too bad you can't play as your Avatar in games, that would rock for stuff like GoW2. Who the hell is this dude in glasses and a T-shirt chainsawing the drones?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

L4D initial impressions

Was able to try out a little of Left 4 Dead last night with PSPmator. All I can say is this game is incredibly intense and addictive. After a little trouble figuring out the friends system on Steam, I found it really easy to create a game with just friends. Just add the Steam ID to friends list, then when you start the game, the options to play with friends is available. The other friends then can then either be invited or they can just click on a friend's name and select join game.

We played the first campaign (escape to some hospital). Initially, I had read the difficulty of this game on normal wasn't too challenging and that most people liked playing it on Expert for maximum enjoyment. Since this was our first time playing, I decided to tick it up to the 3rd difficulty setting, right below Expert. This turned out to be a good idea as I think this difficulty was just right for the level of experience we had with the game. Several observations of the game:

1. It's dark, very dark. While some areas are fairly lighted, most of the level was very dark and all you have to light the way is a little flashlight attached to the end of your gun. It's a bit disorienting at first, but soon adds to the creepiness of the experience.

2. The gameplay is intense. It's almost nonstop action from the get go. There are some safehouses where you can restock on ammo and such, but once you get out there it's just frenetic action. Infected hordes coming from all directions, random team members getting assaulted by the various special infected so you have to save them. It was just insane. It almost feels like Serious Sam with the number of enemies on the screen at one time.

3. Speaking of Special infected, There are 5 kinds of special infected: Boomer, Smoker, Hunter, Tank, and Witch. Boomers are slow, and explode when shot, but can vomit on you which causes additional hordes of infected to show up and rush you. Smokers can use their tongues to lash out and grab a player and drag them away to be killed. Hunters are super agile and can pounce on a player, immobilizing and doing continuous damage. Tanks seriously suck...they have massive life and do great amounts of damage per hit. The witches are non-hostile at first but if you hit them for whatever reason, it basically means instant death for you. They are faster than hunters and do absolutely zomgwtfbbqpizza damage.

4. The weapons all feel pretty good. Only had access to shotgun, SMG, assault rifle, and hunting rifle so far but the guns feel powerful without becoming unbalancing to the game. My favorite weapon has to be the pipe bomb though. It's basically a grenade, but when you throw it, it emits this beeping sound that actually attracts infected to it. One of the best moments was when I threw one of these into the middle of a horde assault and killed over 20 infected at once.

5. This game feels really polished and stable. Even with the humongous amounts of enemies on the screen at once, I never experienced any kind of FPS drop. There are so many ways to get through the same level that even after playing the third stage of the 1st campaign multiple times (kept dying...), it still felt fresh and new.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Popular with the Cats upstairs

Because of the trip back to China, I was late on completing the Ethics and Compliance course that was required of all employees. I hadn't thought it as too serious of an offense because I was only 1 business day late and had been in China, but apparently I was wrong. I was alerted that I was the ONLY person who was late on it in the entire company and was even mentioned in a board meeting today....Talk about the wrong way to get noticed.....

In The Future....

Fallout 3 has been an amazing experience so far. It's pretty awesome the amount of detail they put into the game. The entire Washington DC area is done very well in a post-apocalyptic state. I happened upon the White House in my explorations and it was pretty amusing. This got me to thinking though, if sometime in the future, humanity is indeed wiped out to only be rediscovered eons later by some other curious sentient race, how much of it would be left? Would they see ruins of great cities or more likely, find little to no traces of our legacy? This site has a few insights and links into such a possibility and I found it a pretty interesting read.

One of the most interesting things it mentions is how can mankind protect these future discoverers from our mistakes such as radioactive materials? If you were an archaeologist in the future and you learn of this great (hopefully) previous civilization who had all this technology and you find out the burial site of extremely deadly radioactive waste, what kind of warning signs could possibly dissuade you from going inside to your doom? This D&D metaphor the link provides is particularly illuminating on this subject:

"GM: Having climbed for days, your party reaches a summit in the Sierra Nevadas. There is a clearing here, with a raised dais adorned with engravings depicting horrible, ritualistic deaths. Many of them feature people touching barrels and being smote with disease and suffering. A heavy metal door hangs ajar, but it is surrounded by the contorted corpses of other mountaineers.
D&D Player: There must be phat loot in here! "

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stupid Fish

BitterPotatoe (not a typo) and I have been playing through GoW2's cooperative multiplayer lately and so far, there have been some mixed reactions. While the main shooting portions of the game are awesome, the "platforming" elements and vehicle portions really really put a damper on the overall enjoyment. Putting teeth/acid/poison gas/maze/outrageous amount of blood coupled with sluggish controls into one level is just trying to do too much. Perhaps it's because this was at 4 am in the morning, but the level was overly frustrating and felt like it was just beating your head against the wall until the wall broke or your head fell off.

The most frustrating experience so far has been a semi-boss fight against a stupid fish. Without spoiling any parts of it, let's just say we spent an hour alone on this ridiculous boss encompassing about 15-20 restarts. The instructions on this boss are entirely unclear and even then, the controls really really make it annoying. The whole encounter just feels like they used boxes/bad controls and ambiguous directions to artificially increase the difficulty.

These annoyances aside, the shooting portions of the game are done awesomely. The story is written decently well, and a lot of the sequences have a cinematic feel. Lemon with 2 buddies, BitterPotatoe, and I played the horde option and it was a blast. While not entirely original (copied from survival mode in UT2003), the mode was an awesome adrenaline ride and totally gives you that "starship troppers" feel.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Death by Wasabi Peanuts Part II.

The party on Saturday was really fun. We had about 10-12 people arrive in costume. Some were more extravagant and some had more effort put into them, but everyone had that Halloween spirit!

The first event of the party was supposed to be pumpkin carving. Everyone was to bring their own pumpkin and we would have a contest to see who can carve the best pumpkin. Sadly, the pumpkins I ordered could not be delivered in time so we had no pumpkins to carve. The punishment for not bringing a pumpkin was to eat 5 Wasabi Peanuts at once. These things are sooo strong, but sooo good. I am getting tears in my eyes from eating them, but I want more because they are so good.

Instead of pumpkin carving, we played some Rock Band 2 instead. After a good hour or so of playing, most of the guests had arrived and we went outside for some pumpkin bowling. We half-filled 10 water bottles and used those for pins. The BluPnutMM couple brought two roughly circular medium-sized pumpkins that we were to use as bowling balls. While setting up the bowling, we took a whole bunch of pictures outside with our costumes. The weather wasn't very cooperative however as it was super hot and humid that afternoon and everyone was dying because of the costumes. We quickly abandoned the bowling and decided to play some Mafia instead.

Generally, our mafia games last way too long. This is because everyone gets to talk and the day rounds last forever because of voting deadlock, changing nominations, and endless deliberations. We adopted a new set of rules that PP uses to play with her friends and this caused the games to go by much faster and smoother. Everyone had a lot of fun with the new rules. BluPnutMM also had the most memorable defense ever.

We split up into two groups afterwards. The larger group headed to Du(2) Yi(1) Chu(4) to have Peking duck, while the smaller group stayed at my house to watch the Texas/Texas Tech game while ordering some Papa Johns. I went with the Peking Duck group and our dinner was awesome. We were all starving from being out in the sun and not really eating anything all day long. I had ordered 2 ducks in preparation for the party and we ordered some vegetables thinking this was way too much food. What actually happened was a feeding frenzy of epic proportions. The first duck had JUST arrived and we devoured the thing in about 5 seconds. I even had to ask the waitress to bring the second duck out as soon as possible. We ate everything there and the meal was practically over in about 30 minutes leaving nothing but barren plates on the table. The management must have thought we were freaks...

After dinner, we went back, played a bit more RB2 and then went to sing karaoke. Two more friends that couldn't join us for the main party joined for karaoke and we had a good time singing until our voices gave out.

Death by Wasabi Peanuts Part I.

Busy Halloween weekend for by PP and I. Thursday, I had my company Halloween celebration as mentioned in the previous post. Friday, was PP's business school party in CS. Before the party, we first had a surprise party for one of PP's best friends in the school (Let's call her CC).

CC was turning 30 and was feeling a bit depressed about the passing time, however, because the party was supposed to be a surprise party, everyone had to sort of avoid talking to CC. This led to CC feeling unappreciated and forgotten. The party though went off like a charm, CC had no idea her friends were planning this. We hid in the bedroom of a friend's house, and the friend used "borrowing chairs" as an excuse to get CC over. We all jumped out of the room and totally surprised her. CC was so happy she had tears in her eyes!

After the surprise party, PP and I dressed up and headed to her business school Halloween party. There were all kinds of interesting costumes there because the costume party there had cash prizes. We went around for a long while taking lots of pictures of people in costume and chatting with her classmates. First place in the contest went to the Joker, second place was to a Palin/Dead Deer combination, and third was to a Vegas cocktail waitress. I finished in 4th.