Monthly Archives: January 2008

Dead Rising – Xbox360

I have slowly been accumulating some games for my Xbox360. My first batch was Perfect Dark Zero (a serviceable shooter with some co-op stuff which sold me on it), Shadowrun (which is very fun, and I am very bad at it, but the fun makes up for it), and Crackdown (which is fun, but incomplete in a _lot_ of ways). Fargo picked up Chrome Hounds (which is his sort of game to a T, lots of fiddling around with mech configs, and then slowly hammering a landscape flat with insanely powerful weapons). There were a few missing games I had initially scoped out that turned me over to buying the 360, notably the yet-to-be-released GTA IV, Burnout Paradise (released not too long ago), and Dead Rising. I was having all kinds of trouble finding a copy for myself. EBGames online wasn’t carrying it new or used, I wasn’t hot to spend $30 for a copy at Wal-Mart, so I was just kind of dragging my feet. I went over to the Gamestop looking for Tomb Raider: Legend (don’t judge me), and lo, there were four copies of Dead Rising. Eureka, I thought. This is it! All those videos showing me a sandbox world filled with zombies, oh, goodness. I was imagining the joy of jumpkicking a zombie in half and then filling a room with lead, smearing gore from ceiling to floor, then casually mucking through to uproot some survivors. How much fun it would be!

Then I got home.
And put the disk in.
And started what I shall call “The Cut Scene Zone 1:1”.
We start off with a CUTSCENE – Fourth grade vocabulary photojournalist Frank whogivesafuck is flying with Generic Burnout Pilot 3, and we are playing Pokemon Snap! but with human tragedy (10,000 points to catch the woman as she falls off the building) instead of colorful animals who can only say their own names. Scary helicopters show up, but don’t shoot you down, in a CUTSCENE. We land on the roof, and in a CUTSCENE overdramatic Mexican Mariachi/Super-Mercenary 1 lets us know that we have “entered hell”.

You head down stairs, check out a basically worthless store room, and eventually, you hit the right combination of doors to enter the Mall. A fat man tells you that you need to go get some stuff to shore up this door (despite there being plenty of room in the well secured area you just left to take all these people and more), so you head off. Taking pictures all the while, of people bitching about things, or holding baseball bats. Just as soon as you get back to the pile of crap, you hit ANOTHER CUTSCENE.

Vaguely spooky old guy points cane at you. Woo woo. You go to grab a pile of stuff, and we’re into a(nother) CUTSCENE. One of the various characters you walked past, never mentioning the essentially bunker like security area you start the game in, decides that her poodle is worth the lives of everyone in the room, and despite being an elderly woman, nobody is capable of holding her back from opening the door to a flood of zombies. Now your job is to get to the stairs, and save anyone you can from this front area. Attempting to save anyone will invariably lead to your death. Attempting to fight will invariably lead to your death. Doing anything but a broken field run directly from where you start to the stairwell is certain death. If you manage to get to the stairs, you enter a CUTSCENE. If you don’t, you fade out and then wake up into a CUTSCENE. These CUTSCENES feature an anatomically improbable woman who fiddles with your camera for a while and then walks off, a janitor who borders on dottering, and a black man with a death wish who immediately heads into the ventilation system to seek his path off this mortal coil.

The janitor hands you a TRANSCEIVER and a BIZARRELY DETAILED MAP of the mall. At this point, you are essentially done with anything you really need to do. If you just wait in here for however long, and then go up onto the roof, the helicopter will presumably come get you. If you, instead, choose to go out into the mall and do any missions, you will invariably die.

Here’s the “brilliant” bit. This is… intended. Yes. According to every fucking thing I’ve read, apparently the goal of this game is to die, several times, until you’ve levelled up enough to actually do stuff. I (with Fargo’s help) died at various stages of my awkward career as asshole photojournalist/captain-save-a-ho/serial shoplifter enough times to get to level 10, all without finishing a single mission. This is largely due to the fact that the game has no learning curve whatsoever. It also has something to do with the fact that Frank moves like a simian, there’s no real indicators of victory conditions for missions, the weapons all have significant drawbacks, plus they degrade RAPIDLY, anybody you’re trying to escort has a death wish and will head into the middle of whatever group of zombies currently looks hungriest, and Otis (the janitor) will call, just to chat, twelve times a minute to let you know that he found a mouse that he thinks looks like you, or that he just wanted to hear your voice again. This has all, undoubtedly, been covered in every review of the game ever. But, my biggest issue is none of the above.

It’s the fact that EVERY TIME you start over, you do EVERY CUTSCENE, and EVERY INSTRUCTIONAL POPUP, EVERY TIME. You have to fucking go through every step of this bullshit, every time, even though it’s an acknowledged fact that you are intended to go through this ten (forty, a hundred) times, you are expected, every time, to need the same instructions about how to pick shit up, how to take pictures, when to take pictures, etc, etc, etc. It’s lazy. Lazy fucking programming. I don’t care what your savegame model is, you can fucking put in there “Hey, I bet this dude knows how to aim a fucking gun now”=1 or “Let’s not worry too much about showing him the old guy for the zillionth time”=true.

I wish I could say I stuck it out and finished the game, and it was outstanding. But I didn’t and it isn’t. It’s going back to the store, and Lara Croft will come to me with it’s predictable, linear gameplay.

I CAN REMEMBER

The Sesame Street Video Workshop is fantastic. If you search for “I can remember”, you can watch one of THE formative videos of my childhood (no direct linking… not sure why). I haven’t the slightest clue why it stuck with me, but whenever I’m making a shopping list in my head, it always ends with “a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter”. It put a HUGE smile on my face to watch it.

Fatulence

Wow has this month jumped right up and kicked my ass. We came out of our holiday change freeze and every single project wanted to be completed NOW or YESTERDAY. Short version: I am tired as hell.

I did get to go down to San Diego and visit Jason Watkins, my college roommate. It was surprisingly fun, considering that we haven’t talked in like ten years. He’s got a very interesting life now, and even though he ended up working two days that I was down there, there is a kind of leisure in being involved in a different life. Whereas he might have been bored of doing white level calibration and setting up soft boxes for pictures, it was entertaining for me. I got to hold reflectors and move lights. A very different life than mine, and one I don’t think I could necessarily live every day. It was fun for a weekend though.

Next stop, headed back to HQ for my review second week of Feb, and then gotta figure out when I’m going to Phoenix to visit (I want to go in March, but I’m kind of depending on what my folks want to do). Busy busy busy.

Also, my 401k is raping me inside out. That is all.

El Tacoriendo/Whatever on Sandy and 114th Ave

Went to work on my dad’s computer earlier, and my dreams of baked potatoes with all of the fixings seemed to be a little long on the prep side once I was done. I had seen El Tacoriendo (this is what it says on the front. There’s a sign on the side that has a different name) from the street a couple times, it’s got a very happy looking bipedal taco on the sign, if I’m not mistaken, firing his guns into the air in celebration of his taco victory. Pulled in to one of the three parking spaces on the side, got the “Taco Trinity” (stolen shamelessly from Pollo Elastico‘s idea bag), a carne asada, a carnitas, and a pastor ($1.50 apiece). It’s interestingly laid out, when you’re at the counter you can see directly onto the grill, so I got to see what the cook was making. Paying attention to this was a mistake.

He reached into a stand up freezer and grabbed a fist full of meat, threw it on the grill, attempted to break it up a little with his griddle scraper. Once it thawed down a little and he broke a piece off, he decided he had taken too much out and scooped a third of the meat back onto the spatula, and flung it into the freezer tray again. I resolved to not look back at what he was doing again.

Fargo ordered a machaca burrito and we got a beans and rice ($1.25 per side) to share. The food came out fast, the carnitas was not very good, it had an OK flavor, but it was a little old, felt like it was nuked maybe. The carne asada was heavy on the crispy, light on the flavor, which was odd. The pastor was easily the best taco there, but it had a strange flavor, not exactly what I associate with pastor. It was very sweet, a little like barbeque sauce, but nicely cooked and flavorful. Carnitas came with onions, no cilantro, others had heavy cilantro. Sauces at the table were standard issue red and green, red was hotter than I have come to expect, green was mostly flavorless (or was overpowered by the cilantro, not sure). Didn’t get a lime wedge to squeeze on them, which disappointed me.

Fargo’s burrito didn’t interest me much, looked like pretty standard “let’s smear a whole can of refried beans and an inch of rice and then try to wrap it up” burrito fare. He finished it, but he didn’t seem to relish the task.

The beans were from a can, or no better than from a can, and the rice was meh. The total came to $14.00 with the drinks, so it wasn’t a very good value either. With De Leon only a couple blocks away and serving MUCH better grub, and Muchas Gracias serving up prime crap about half as far, this will be reserved for drunken staggers only. Seeing him dump the steaming hot meat back into the freezer tray, I will firmly say, no seafood. Ever.

Novacaine

Continued from Nebulizer:

I made the bus with time to spare, not bad for a chubby little thing like me. The driver gives me a smile and I decide to sit up front so we can gossip a little. There’s almost nobody on the bus in the afternoons and I know she gets lonely.

Maybe I could ask her for help.

We chat a little about the weather, the traffic, the smelly bum who gets on at fourth and rides until his transfer is up. She looks over and asks me if I’m working out. I tell her just in the kitchen, and we laugh about it a little.

She has that look in her eye that fucking look don’t just fucking look sad help me HELP ME

I give her a little hug when it’s time to head into Albertsons, and head in to get some dinner and take care of some girl stuff at the pharmacy.

Cunt pharmacy bitch slut just fucking admit it’s wrong

The meat all looks a little old, and it makes me a little sick to smell. I think we’ll have breakfast for dinner! Some bacon and some eggs, a potato to make hash browns. A twelve pack of Icehouse, some sandwich fixings for lunch tomorrow.

Finally it’s time to head for the Pharmacy bitch to see about another just one more please a real one this time. She sees me coming and she dials something on the phone. I walk up and try to just keep calm, no problems here. Nothing big. Just need another test, the last one was tampered with. We can’t go off half cocked here, can we? We have to have accurate data.

dickheadmanagercomeswalkinguplikei’mgoingtomakeascenefuckingsmallpeckershithead

No, there’s no problem here at all, you just need to give me a new test, because this one was wrong, it was bad, it wasn’t real it was tampered with. He’s giving me some ma’am-don’t-make-a-scene line like I’m at fault here! Don’t tell me who needs to go see a doctor, you’re just a cashier who puts pills in a bottle, you silly little thing. No I wasn’t threatening, no, I’m calm, everything is fine, nothing is the matter. It’s fine, I don’t even need a refund, I’ll pay for the new one it won’t be a problem. I just need a new one and no I just want to explain it to her closer, just between us girls and no don’t pull me out of the window we’re just going to get to talk between the two of us. Let go of my bag, I will call the police if you don’t let me go I have something I need to do and I don’t care how many I’ve bought over the past week because who fucking cares you fucking WHORE WHORE WHORE WHORE WHORE YOU FUCKING WHORE I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU JUST SAY IT’S NOT FUCKING POSITIVE. IT’S MY MONEY AND I KNOW MY RIGHTS YOU FUCKING WHORE I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU KILL YOU

Please kill me

And for a while, it all goes black.

Maybe I should just have gotten the pork roast

When I come back around, here we sit, with the manager and the security guard on my arms, watching the eggs drip out of the cart and onto the floor, and nobody listens when I say they should mop it up. I don’t want to just wait for the police to get here, there’s no sense in it. There could be salmonella out there! A kid could get sick! a baby a baby And the silly thing is the mop is just right there, if they’d just let me go I could go grab it and maybe they could get some Pinesol and it’d all be fine.

And then the crew cut policeman walks in and smiles at everybody and asks what the problem is. Everybody is mad, but he’s just so smooth and seems so bright and happy that it makes me laugh. I feel them loosen the grips on my arms and everything is gonna be just fine.

As long as they get the eggs mopped up

Winter Gear Tracking: January 7

This morning was incredibly mild and wind free, which is both bizarre and pleasing. I managed to only sweat a little this morning, largely helmet sweat from my waterproof lid thingy. I believe some fangle is going to be required to get that to stop, probably just taping over some vents and dealing with the fact that sometimes my head will be wet. This goretex may be the best, most breathable watertight fabric in the world, but man does it make my noggin sweat.

This morning it was (according to the Google) 36 and calm, 93% humidity. I wore my granny panties (underarmor long johns) and my shorts (plain ass cargo shorts) along with the Burley jacket over a t-shirt and undershirt. More would have been overkill. Could have used less head heat, and undone some of the zips on the jacket.

Toys for Pele.

So an increasingly common desktop crash (might be some add on for Firefox? Not sure) smoked a long, semi-weepy post, retrospectively talking about 2007 and what I got done in that nut-grinder of a year. Maybe if I’m feeling maudlin again I’ll go back and do it over again. Short version? Lot of shit done, lots of people to thank for being my friend. I love you all dearly and it swells my heart when I think of you. But now we’re firmly in 2008, and despite getting off to an icy and wet start, I have some goals I want to lay down for the year.

1. I want to be under 200 pounds by this time in 2009. This will involve dieting, exercising, and lots of discipline.

2. I want to be at minimum a MCP by this time in 2009. Preferrably most of the way to an MCSE. This will involve buckling down and finally taking some fucking initiative in my career. I work plenty hard, but I tend to imagine that somehow the power of my charisma alone will allow me to advance my career, or will save me from the unthinkable (being laid off, etc).

3. I want to contribute to a Roth IRA this year. I am not going to say a maximum contribution, because I think it makes more sense to apply the maximum to my car loan.

4. I want to ride over 2500 miles this year. Commuting every day that I’m not on call will take care of probably half of this goal. This basically means that I’d like to enforce some recreational riding this year. One 30 mile ride per week, plus the commuting, will send me sailing past this goal nicely.

5. I want to decaffeinate. I have been drinking a press pot of coffee two or three times a week at work, and routinely drink sodas from the afternoon onwards. I am suffering from some eye twitches and muscular soreness that is related to the dehydration and overcaffeination that this leads to, not to mention the weird sleep patterns, and not feeling very rested. Water, water, water. This will be the drink for 2008.

6. Declutter. My house is full of crap. Not junk. Crap. It’s not worthless, it’s just not really that useful to me. Every horizontal surface is overflowing with strange, single purpose devices and things that no longer interest me. My bedroom is filled with boxes that haven’t been opened in months. This will end.

That’s it. These are ambitious goals, I know, but I think they’re worth the effort. Hope everyone else out there had as much good in their 2007 as I did.