Happy Thanksgiving – 300!

November 24, 2006

Mood: Great!
Music: Q-Unit…y’all need to download this.
Game: A Beta, Gears of War, Battlefield 2142.
Book: Gai-Jin, James Clavell.
Watching: Battlestar Galactica, Season 2.5
Weather: Cool, Cloudy.

So, let’s start by saying Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and I hope y’all are eating leftovers today, and generally chillaxing.

This is also my 300th post! I started years ago…and now I’ve posted 300 times. It’s a lot of complaining, laughing, revealing, venting, and generally enjoying writing. It definitely helps at times, and I’ve had periods of writing every day, every other day, and now, every few weeks. Truthfully, it’s interesting going back and reading what I was thinking and doing years ago. I’m clearly happier now than I was when I first started writing.

And to that point, I feel obliged to point out how my day went last Sunday, because, frankly, days don’t get much better than that.

Last Saturday, Chelsea decided that I needed a Nintendo Wii. I was debating whether or not to get one on launch day, which was last Sunday. We decided that we would get up earlyish, head over to Southcenter and see if we could dig one up at Target, Circuit City, or Best Buy, something like that. On launch day, with no prep, it is what it is. You take your chances. My luck has traditionally been good, but we’ll see.

We got up and left the house around 7:30am. It was raining, but that probably was a good thing, because it meant that the casual gamers would stay home. We shot over to the Target near our house, but there was a line there, and they had already given out tickets for all the Wiis they had. The folks on line let us know right away, so we didn’t even have to get out of the car, and we shot off to Southcenter.

We got to Southcenter a little after 8am, and the tickets were given out at Best Buy, and I was starting to give up on the idea of getting one that day. Not horrible…although it would pretty much destroy my streak of getting any game system I wanted day of launch. Truthfully, moving from NY to Seattle basically destroyed my network of gaming suppliers, and with Lik Sang out of business, I was pretty much playing it by ear.

We left Best Buy, and Chelsea said “You know what? Let’s go to Toys R Us…no self-respecting gamer would think of Toys R Us for a launch.” Toys R Us opens at 10am on Sunday, so we’d be there early enough…why not?

We get there, there’s like 20 people on line…we figured they’ve given out tickets, and the place got an underdelivery, which seems to have happened all over the place. Nothing unusual at a launch. But when I got over to the line, and asked, they said “Nope. We’re waiting to see what happens. We know they have some.”

So I got in line in the rain. We hung out as people cautiously came over to Toys R Us after all the units at the other electronics places disappeared…but I was number 21. The line slowly grew to over 80 people in bits and pieces. No work from the folks inside the place, lots of conversation and speculation as to the number of units they had inside. Around 9:30am, after about an hour in the rain, the manager comes out and mentions that they will be giving out tickets. We get through asking that Toys R Us policy was going to be just open the door, and first come first served…which is moronic, but the manager, obviously learning her lesson from the PS3 launch and newspapers decided to be smart about it. Bless her.

In a few minutes, the manager comes out and has an assistant hand out tickets. Sure enough, I’m standing in line with Chelsea, soaking wet, but holding a ticket for a launch Wii. All of a sudden, the wet part didn’t seem so bad.

I feel obliged to point out something here. Ahead of us in line were three people, two guys and a girl…all about 25 or so, friends standing in line for Wiis. They get their two tickets (apparently one of the guys and the girl were a couple or something, and were there for one Wii.) Their all pretty happy, and apparently, the assistant has run out of tickets and folks at the end of the line who didn’t get one are dejected and walking off into the parking lot in the rain…including a father of three kids who are all with him. He’s carrying one, and the two kids are holding his hand. The guy in front of me takes off and runs to the father, and hands him his ticket. The father thanks him profusely, not sure what to make of it, and they all head back into line, with the guy joining his friends. The lady directly in front of me, a mother of two kids who she’s surprising for Christmas, tells him that it was the best thing she’s ever seen, and the guy mumbles thanks. His two friends tell him he’s awesome, to which he responds “I’ll get one…don’t need it today.” Definitely a huge karma move. I hope he gets his Wii at some ridiculous discount.

Anyway, at 10am, Chelsea and I went in, and we picked up a Wii and 3 additional controllers. They didn’t have many games, and no Zelda at all, so we figured we’d pick it up some other time. We did get a copy of Super Monkey Ball, which is fabulous by the way. We got the hard part out of the way in any case.

We went and grabbed some brunch (Got our brunch on, as Chelsea would say…) and then Chelsea said “We’re going to Circuit City to get a new TV, right?” We had been discussing getting a new TV. My widescreen from Hong Kong wasn’t HD, was getting a touch fuzzy, and frankly, was overdominating the living room, because it was ridiculously deep. I had done some research on Consumer Reports and found the model I thought I wanted, which was a Panasonic 42″ 720p HDTV Plasma.

We head to Circuit City, and sure enough, they have the model I wanted, and the image was great, looked good dimensionwise, and after talking to the salesman who asked what I was using it for said “Panasonic…definitely.” So we decide to pull the trigger. It’s 1499 on the price tag, which is about a hundred bucks less than I had intended on spending, so we’re all good there. We get to the register, and the salesman says “Hey…this one’s on an unannounced sale. It’s $1199.” Well, that doesn’t suck…at all. We ask for delivery options…he says “How’s free work out for you?” Which worked out fine for me. Then I say “OK, when can we get it?” He checks with his manager and comes back and says “Will you be home at 4pm today?” I double take and say “Um, yeah.”

He sees the bag with the Wii in my hand, and asks where we got it, we tell him, and he says “Yeah…it’s where I got mine this morning.” I grin, and he says “We have a sale on Wii games today…buy two, and get a gift card for Circuit City.” So I go check out their games, and manage to grab the last copy of Zelda they have, and a copy of Red Steel. He rings us up and we head home.

I set up the Wii on the old TV…it’s fabulous. Just way too much fun. Chelsea and I mess about with Wii Sports for a while. She kicks my ass at Tennis, and I punch her in the face repeatedly in Boxing. She owns me at Bowling. I was entertained by the fact that I had the exact same problem in the videogame as I do in real life bowling…I twist my wrist on release, which results in a nasty spin on the ball. The exact same thing was happening in the game…hysterical.

Sure enough, at around 4:30pm, Circuit City shows up, unpacks the thing, assembles the stand, plugs it in, I connect the X360, put on Gears of War, and god DAMN. Amazing picture/sound. The guys thank me, congratulate me on my purchase. I spend the rest of the night in awe of the image, playing X360 and Wii, watching HD Cable, and generally grinning my ass off.

All of that seems like a pretty good setup for a 4 day weekend, right?

Anyway, that was my Sunday…and my Thanksgiving right now is a lot of gaming new games in HD, eating awesome food, and chilling. I’m pretty happy right about now.

By the way, if you haven’t checked out the trailer for “300,” do it, on your X360, or anywhere you usually check for movie trailers. “We will fire so many arrows at you, it will blot out the sun!” “Then we will fight in the shade.” Brilliant. Thermopylae and Frank Miller. Check it out.


“Well…GOSH…Kind of a lot’s happened since then…”

November 11, 2006

Mood: Headache, but not in a bad mood.
Music: Q-Unit.
Game: A Beta, Gears of War, Battlefield 2142.
Book: Gai-Jin, James Clavell.
Watching: Battlestar Galactica, Season 2.
Weather: Cold, Rainy.

OK…so much for trying to write a few sentences every day.

Anyway, since I’ve written, a lot’s happened.

First, I went to visit my nephew, who turned 3, and who is the coolest kid ever. I also visited my new niece, who is still in the hospital…but I visited her, and I got to hold her itty-bitty hand, and she has a good grip, and she’s cute, and looks a lot like my brother, which isn’t surprising.

When I got back, I got hired full time at work, which pretty much rocks. I feel pretty good about being a part of the team there, and I really like the job.

My fiancee’s other grandmother died, so now she’s in Chicago at the memorial service. Losing two grandmothers in about 6 weeks? Not great.

I am fiercely debating the whole Wii/PS3 thing. I think I’ve come down like this: If I can get a Wii with not a lot of hassle, I will. I will NOT get a PS3 until either the price comes down, or there’s a killer gotta-have-it title…neither of which I see coming in the near future. If I get a Wii, I will get Zelda, of course, and maybe a few other games like Monkey Ball. The truth is that I like my 360 a great deal. While there aren’t a whole mess of games that I want to run right out and buy, Xbox Live Arcade keeps me entertained for hours when I feel like vegging on the couch. This is the reason why I think the Wii will rock…all the Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and N64 games online for downloading? Crunchy goodness!

And, in smoove news, because I worked on pre-launch marketing, the Xbox team gave me a copy of Gears of War, a snifty t-shirt, and renewed my Xbox Live Gold account…all fer free. Frankly, that’s a perk I can stand. RAWK. Gears of War is a nice blend of tactical shooter and run and gun. It’s third person, which, once you get used to it, is pretty cool…the whole game is gorgeous and VERY theatrical. Simple to dive behind cover, look like you know what you’re doing. The AI is great, both friend and foe, and it’s a blast to play single player…which I didn’t really expect.

I’m also playing Battlefield 2142. Now THAT’S a first-person shooter with tactics. It’s like all the other BF games, except this one is actually pretty balanced. Yeah, there’s a few quirks with the netcode, not the least of which is that if you’re running through a firewall, it can (and will) drop you at random from the server you’re playing on. You can avoid it by not USING a firewall, but whatever. Once you sort that out, it’s largely bug and lag free. Love the unlock system, love the squad/command system. Overall, a fun pickup.

I’ve been busy writing a section of a guide for an unnamed upcoming MMORPG…but I still think we’re going about it entirely the wrong way. Whatever, I’m having fun playing the game, so it’s not all bad…but still. It’s frustrating dealing with the Guild sometimes, because there’s a thin layer of people in charge, and they largely don’t listen to people. They sort out what needs to be done amongst themselves, and sort of lay it down take it or leave it style. I imagine with a guild that size, you kinda need to do that…but it’s still frustrating to deal with sometimes.

And now, I think I will veg out on the couch, maybe watch a movie, maybe take a nap…you know…because naps at 5pm are a good idea.