Friday, February 1, 2013

. . . finishing a pile of video games?

Mieux vaut faire, et se repentir, que se repentir, et rien faire...

This morning is one of those rare occasions when circumstances have forced me into a temporary pause as I wait for what amounts to a significant set of technical difficulties to be resolved before I can resume my normal frantic work load...  

This really is an unusual situation; made even more so due to the pressures that are on right now to turn out product such that any delay at all that can be removed generally is, and quite rapidly, but there you have it.

In the midst of experiencing this unexpected down-time I discovered that my thoughts have naturally turned towards other unrelated subjects -- actually it would be more accurate to characterize those thoughts -- such as they are -- with a flavoring of unguided randomness.  That is fair enough I suppose, and it does describe what is happening -- as things I could be doing to fill in the time constructively flit past among other seemingly random thoughts and observations, and then my eyes seem to naturally stray towards the game shelves that line the far wall in the room that I like to think of as "The Place it All Happens!"

OK that is more than a little gratuitous and self-serving, and more than a bit on the misleading side as well...  Obviously the room of which I speak cannot be The Place that it All Happens, because if it were, so much would be going on there that no work would get done.  But it is the place where most of my work these days actually does happen; the place were my computers and video game consoles are; the place where writing happens, where game play happens, and where wit abounds.

It is a well-organized place, though that was not always the case.  In fact if we hop into the Tardis and jump back to September 2012 you would be seeing a very different room indeed, one that was largely equipped with a mixture of cast-off office furniture and makeshift shelving and that -- I can say this now -- largely was a depressing sight.  

Artists imagination of what the place it all happened in previously looked like but not really...
You see in September of 2012 my wife decided that the time had come to organize my world, and what that translated to was (A) lots of drawn plans on legal pads with fabric samples stapled to them even though no fabric was actually involved in the remodeling, and the floating of various proposals regarding what the modern and well organized games journo needed in their modern and well organized life; and (B) what *I* might consider desirable (the latter, it should be noted, being strictly an optional element to this process).

Decisions were made; IKEA was consulted; and in the dark of night on a cold and rainy weekend in early October of 2012 a crack team of Ninja infiltrated my workspace and, in practically the blink of a mortal eye, packed everything into boxes and moved those boxes into an adjacent room.  Ninja can operate like that, it is part of their Ninja magic.

This particular group of Ninja Warriors was lead by a Ninja who looked suspiciously like my wife, only you know, my wife in a Ninja costume, which really was kind of sexy in a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sort of way... 

The leader of the Ninja was assisted by a team of other Ninja who I suspect were wearing cleverly constructed costume disguises that had a remarkable almost surreal appearance of my two children; in fact these disguises were so good that they actually fooled my two dogs! 

Now granted, fooling Charlie is not all that hard; he is a Beagle-Husky mixed breed who is about as smart as a bag of hammers...  But fooling Calvin?  That is saying something!  

Actually I should probably make some effort to explain why that is so, since you, lacking any context here, are forced to simply take my word for it.  Well, there is the exclamation point, that probably helps a little...  I could also add some emoticons to help communicate disbelief and shock?  Let's try some...

There are a number of blah run-of-the-mill generic emoticons we can use I suppose, you know the ones that everyone uses when they want to insert easier to grasp emotion to an idea or situation (hence the "Emote" part of Emoticon part) such as  >:O stunned shock, or good old :-O regular shocked, but those do not really feel like they add the right, um, je ne sais quoi...

Do not panic, we still have options available... Let's see...

Horizontal Shock - oh, I rather like that one!

 The equivalent of Horizontal Shock in Japan

 Well d'accord, take your pick from the last two above as those really work...  So you need to decide which one you like best or feel is the most expressive of the idea that having a subtle mastery of the art of disguise that is so far advanced as to fool my dog Calvin warrants one of these, either or both of these actually... 

It might help for us to begin at the beginning with respect to Calvin, who is technically a Dachshund.  That breed was famously described by H. L. Mencken as "a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long," being the equivalent of a fusion of the dog version of a Ninja combined with a Samurai in the Canine world; though oddly shaped they are also brave, bold, fierce, and often reckless, being not only instantly willing and ready to take on badgers of any sort, size, or disposition, but to follow said badgers into their underground lairs if that is what it takes to assist the wily and dangerous beasts in completing the sense of destiny that requires meeting its maker! 

Ballads have been written about these dogs; legends abound; and all the cool kids are friends with one.

The important point here is that in general Dachshunds are always alert, have perfect night vision, and can smell a fart in the sealed and pressurized cabin of an airplane 30,000 feet above them while standing in the mixing room of a perfume factory AND tell you what the person committing that felonious act of aerial flatulence ate for breakfast!

To say that the typical Dachshund makes for a superb watchdog is to dally in gross understatement, and this particular Dachshund, in addition to being a certified Teckel, also has somehow become convinced that he is a Pitt Bull in a Dachshund suit! 

This is all very important for you to know so that you understand just how skilled and clever these Ninja were to have fooled Calvin into believing that they were in fact my children and therefore entities to whom he feels a familial obligation not to rip their limbs off and eat them – they being members of his immediate pack as far as Calvin is concerned -- or at least the clever Ninja somehow managed to convince Calvin that this was so after he encountered them in the Restricted Zone.... 

I am utterly convinced that this must have been a crack team of Ninja – perhaps even the greatest Shinobi to ever emerge form the best Ninja University of Japan, because they simply could not have actually been my children – hell we cannot get them to wash dishes or make a sandwich for themselves, there is no way they were convinced to dedicate an entire weekend to secretly redecorating my man cave! I am just saying...

Ninja Team responsible for the redecoration you see behind them... Pictured are, from left to right, Ninja disguised as my son Peter, Ninja disguised as my daughter Autumn, Ninja disguised as my wife Yvonne, and totally fooled Dachshund Calvin, who is wearing his favorite costume from his favorite video game, and looking good doing it!
Bearing in mind that this crack team of Ninja interior designers somehow managed to pack up my entire work area, move the boxes into another room, paint all four walls, construct and deploy a rather attractive set of organizational structure in the form of IKEA's Expedit series of Entertainment Center organizational units, install all of the various and sundry audio/video kit along with the various gaming systems that includes an Xbox 360 slim, PS3, PS2, SNES, N64, GameCube, Wii, and populate the shelves with the wide selection of video games that makes up my game library, as well as the various items that I seriously consider my memorabilia collection but everyone else insists upon calling PEZ Dispensers...

 To accomplish this, in addition to packing everything up they somehow managed to destroy my old desk (they could not Ninja it out through the door without dismantling it since it was put together in the room after its much smaller boxes were carried through that door) -- along with the ancient and mismatched el-cheapo fiberboard shelves -- and remove them from the premises without tipping me off to their actions.  

OK, not tipping me off was probably the easiest part of this well-executed and super-secret plan to deliver on the promised Father's Day, Birthday, and Christmas gift all rolled up into one...  But still.

Where was I?

Oh yeah!  In the midst of experiencing this unexpected down-time I discovered that my thoughts naturally turned towards this very large selection of video games that I played in order to review them but that, naturally enough, I was not able to play completely or complete to my satisfaction due to the pressures of the sacred schedule...   I know this due to the fact that the games occupy a special shelf among the many shelves that make up my personal game library, a shelf that is theoretically designated the "I have not played that title fully to my satisfaction just yet which is why it is on this special shelf rather than being alphabetically filed among the rest of the games...  

Not only are these games physically separated from the other games, but I need only glance at the official Games Played List via Xbox LIVE and note the titles that have gaps in their Achievements unlocked listing to know which is which...  Oh come on!?  I cannot be the only one who judges game play completion based upon Achievements, right?  Right?!

I bet you have a list of games of that sort -- or if not a real list, properly written down, than at least a mental list, right?  Mind you my list goes back to 2008...  But here now enshrined for all to see (and constantly to shame me into doing something about it!) is my list of games that I need to finish playing:

    • Alan Wake (Last Played Jul '10 / 48 of 67 Ach)
    • Assassin's Creed (Last Played Jun '12 / 36 of 44 )
    • Assassin's Creed II (Last Played Jan '10 / 48 of 50 Ach)
    • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Last Played Dec '10 / 36 of 60 Ach)
    • Assassin's Creed: Revelations (Last Played Jan '12 / 45 of 69 Ach)
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum (Last Played Oct '09 / 31 of 47 Ach)
    • Batman: Arkham City (Last Played Dec '11 / 43 of 70 Ach)
    • BioShock (Last Played Sep '08 / 49 of 51 Ach)
    • BioShock 2 (Last Played Mar '10 / 31 of 68 Ach)
    • Bully: Scholarship Edition (Last Played Apr '08 / 36 of 38 Ach)
    • Call of Duty 4 (Last Played Jun '08 / 31 of 37 Ach)
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Last Played Aug '12 / 34 of 76 Ach)
    • Call of Juarez: The Cartel (Last Played Aug '11 / 42 of 50 Ach)
    • Civilization: Revolution (Last Played Nov '08 / 47 of 50 Ach)
    • Dead Island (Last Played Jul '12 / 41 of 58 Ach)
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Last Played Sep '11 / 46 of 59 Ach)
    • Fallout: New Vegas (Last Played Oct '11 / 74 of 75 Ach)
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Last Played Apr '12 / 27 of 31 Ach)
    • Forza Motorsport 2 (Last Played Nov '08 / 38 of 44 Ach)
    • Forza Motorsport 3 (Last Played Jun '12 / 48 of 50 Ach)
    • Forza Motorsport 4 (Last Played Aug '12 / 53 of 58 Ach)
    • The Godfather (Last Played Sep '08 / 56 of 58 Ach)
    • The Godfather II (Last Played Apr '09 / 40 of 41 Ach)
    • Grand Theft Auto IV (Last Played Nov '09 / 46 of 65 Ach)
    • Halo: CE Anniversary (Last Played Jan '12 / 36 of 55 Ach)
    • Halo 2 PC (Last Played Dec '11 / 1 of 41 Ach)*
    • LA Noire (Last Played Jul '11 / 59 of 60 Ach)
    • LotR: War in the North (Last Played Dec '11 / 25 of 46 Ach)
    • Mafia II (Last Played Aug '11 / 57 of 67 Ach)
    • Naughty Bear (Last Played Aug '11 / 13 of 66 Ach)**
    • The Orange Box (Last Played Jun '09 / 9 of 99 Ach)
    • Red Faction: Guerrilla (Last Played Oct '09 / 11 of 60 Ach)**
    • Risen 2 (Last Played Oct '12 / 53 of 56 Ach)
    • The Sims 3 (Last Played Jun '11 / 15 of 50 Ach)**
    • Skyrim (Last Played Jul '12 / 60 of 75 Ach)
    • The Witcher II (Last Played May '12 / 48 of 50 Ach)
      As a general rule these games can be neatly divided into two basic settings: titles with just a small handful of Achievements yet to be unlocked that require a complete second play-through at the highest difficulty setting or whose remaining Achievements are very complex and complicated and  require some dedicated game play, or are games that for whatever reason you did not have the chance to complete.  Either way each type requires significant time in play :)

      The games coded in green are of the former (being fully played titles with just a handful of Achievements remaining), and those coded in red being of the latter -- which is to say a game that was started but that, for a number of reasons had to be abandoned -- so resuming play will be almost like discovering them for the very first time!  Titles coded in Purple represent games that have received a significant amount of DLC expansion content since the game was played/finished and so have some newness to them to be discovered.

      The list and the color-coding  is mostly for my own reference, but I would be interested in hearing about your list of similar games and how many of the Green Coded titles you and I share...  Leave a comment listing which, right?

      Now if I use my free time wisely I should be able to knock one or two of these off of the list every month, right?  Of course that only helps if the Video Games industry stops making new games... But hey, one battle at a time!

      * This title was purchased purely for enjoyment / it is not a review or guide candidate.
      ** Title was originally played for review purposes on a different platform.

      No comments: