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  • Depressing

    Posted on December 29th, 2006 Finster No comments

    As a PHP Developer in Orem, UT, I sometimes feel overworked and underpaid…

    Well… looks like PHP Developers in SOUTH DAKOTA make more than I do. :(

    I used’s salary comparison tool to put this together.

  • My New Year’s Gaming Resolutions

    Posted on December 28th, 2006 Finster No comments

    It’s been a crazy holiday season for me, between visiting parents and having to unexpectedly pick up and move. I’ve finally had a few moments to mull over some things I’d like to accomplish gaming-wise in 2007. I know, pretty ambitious, eh?

    First, I’d like to finally finish the main storyline for Oblivion. I’ve put a TON of hours into the side quests and guild quests, but still have not finished the main storyline. I really need to do that.

    Second, I’m going to give my Dreamcast more love. My favorite console didn’t see much action in 2006. Most of the time will be dedicated to Grandia II and hopefully Skies of Arcadia (if I can ever find a copy). Ikaruga is always fun to go back to now and again. And if I feel like getting my butt kicked I’ll invite my friend over for some Marvel vs. Capcom, which I will attempt to pay back via Soul Calibur.

    Third, I’ll have Halo 3 at midnight on release day. This is just a reminder that for me, the video game year will revolve primarily around Halo 3. If it gets pushed back to 2008, I WILL shed tears. Tears of pain…

    Fourth, I resolve to play through the entire game ofBioshock without crapping my pants, having a heart attack, or pissing myself. If the creators of System Shock 2 do as well at making Bioshock fearsome as they did on System Shock 2, this one’s going to be a tough resolution to keep.

    Fifth, I’m going to finish Planescape: Torment, Baldur’s Gate (w/ expansion), or Baldur’s Gate II (w/ expansion). I’ve had these games sitting around for YEARS. I’ve played through significant portions of all of them, but never finished them. That’s going to change in 2007!

    Sixth, I need to play more Half-Life 2/Source mods. There’s a lot of good ones out there, now, but I just haven’t sat down and dedicated any time to them.

    Well, that pretty much sums it up. A lot of RPG’s up in 2007, hopefully. I find these are the easiest games to let sit, because they require such a huge investment of time and energy as opposed to a few quick pick-up games of my favorite shooter of the moment.

  • Ultimate Xbox 360 Library

    Posted on December 7th, 2006 Finster No comments

    The Xbox 360 has been out for a year now, and I’ve played a lot of games at this point. I thought I’d lay out some of the titles I think are the must-own games for this platform. These are the games that you’ll want to buy if you’re thinking about picking one up for Christmas.

    Games that don’t require Xbox Live

    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (94 on gamerankings) – this is easily the best (and one of the only) single-player RPG’s on the platform. It does have its flaws, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find them without spending hundreds of hours on the game or being a hardcore RPG aficianado. There is plenty to do and many different ways to enjoy this masterpiece.
    • Marvel Ultimate Alliance (84 on gamerankings) – More RPG goodness, this time in a more Diablo-like form. You control a stable of Marvel heroes from the awesome (Iron Man) to the obscure (Moon Knight), including a few of your favorite X-men. The character management and powering up is quite fun, as you can select several different ways of leveling up each character. You can also create and name your own super-team and gather in-game resources to trade-in for special team bonuses. Fun on many levels.
    • Splinter Cell: Double Agent (85 on gamerankings) – It may not be the best in the series, but it’s certainly much better than Pandora Tomorrow. For 3rd-person stealth action, Splinter Cell can’t be beat. The multiplayer is not terribly satisfying in this version, but the single-player is pretty dang fun, with a fairly good degree of replayability.
    • Condemned: Criminal Origins (83 on gamerankings) – This ones probably a little on the violent side, but if that doesn’t bother you, this has a great story and some interesting gameplay mechanics.
    • Viva Piñata (86 on gamerankings) – If you have kids, getting this game is the biggest no-brainer in the history of the world. It’s casual, easy-going gameplay is perfect for children. Also, you can pick up a 2nd controller and control the game in case your kid gets stuck and needs a little help. This way, he won’t have to give up the controller. It’s also good if your wife is playing and you want to annoy the crap out of her. . . . What?

    Games that DO require Xbox Live

    • Gears of War (94 on gamerankings) – The multiplayer on this game is an unstoppable tour de force of chainsaws, grenades, and head stomping. The matchmaking can be somewhat shaky at times, but the gameplay makes it more than worth it. Easily the best looking and best playing game of the next generation, so far.
    • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (91 on gamerankings) – This was one of the first quality shooters for the 360, and a recent update to the multiplayer lobby system has improved the online elements tremendously. The single-player and co-op missions are also a huge blast and offer pretty good replayability as there are usually several ways of attacking or defending various objectives.
    • Call of Duty 2 (90 on gamerankings) – Another game that has great single-player campaigns. The multiplayer system is great for picking up a game here or there very quickly. Graphics are pretty good. Not the best of the next gen games, but not horrible. Overall this is probably one of the best WWII shooters.
    • Xbox Live Arcade (various) – There are a TON of great titles on the Xbox Live Arcade. You can get your old school fighter games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat or get your REALLY old school on with hits like Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga. There are also some great indie titles like Small Arms and Cloning Clyde. Seriously, if you bought no other games for your Xbox 360 and played only Xbox Live Arcade titles, you’d have a lot of fun for quite some time. Just beware of the over-priced turd that is Lumines II.

    On the Horizon, there are still a pretty good mix of titles in the bullpen. Stranglehold, Mass Effect, and of course, Halo 3, all look to continue the trend of great titles.

  • Halo 3 Hype: Meh

    Posted on December 5th, 2006 Finster No comments

    Halo 3 Meh

    When Microsoft released the TV ad for Gears of War, the marketing push (at least just for the commercial itself) felt like a kind of, “We think this ad is kinda good and we hope you like it.” It didn’t feel like it was supposed to be this grand thing, and it kind of took on a life of its own. It was really good.

    But I get a little irked when Bungie says stuff like this:

    We just saw one of Digital Domain’s final submissions before the [1st Halo 3 commercial] gets finished and has Mart-Music added to it, and I have to say, jaws were dropped. I am not going to overpromise to you guys, but the Bungie folks who saw it were very, very impressed. And there are a surprising number of clues and glimpses into the finished game, although it contains not a lick of gameplay in it.

    As far as commercials go for a First-Person Shooter, it might as well have been a Call of Duty ad, or one of those fake gameplay videos for Battlefield umpteen42 that EA craps out of their marketing department every 6 months or so.

    It certainly wasn’t the worst CG ad I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t give a lot of insight into the Halo universe (as Bungie has claimed). And the music might have been great, but honestly, I couldn’t hear it over the rest of the audio. I don’t mind hype if the game is actually going to be that good, like Gears of War. But one has to wonder if Bungie isn’t getting a little antsy after the great reception that Gears of War has received. It’s almost as if Bungie is trying TOO hard to be cool. Like that kid you know that has two clown syndrome. That can be the only explanation as to why Bungie is publishing such inane weekly updates.

    Seriously, TRYING to produce hype about a commercial is just lame. Please stop. Let the ad speak for itself. That’s what a good ad is supposed to do anyway.

  • Kutaragi Watch: PS3 failure = Promoted!

    Posted on December 3rd, 2006 Finster 1 comment

    Kutaragi Watch

    I generally loathe, but for once they actually had an interesting post. By now, everyone has heard about Kaz Hirai taking over Kutaragi’s position at Sony. Well, apparently Kutaragi is being maneuvered into an even higher position. Brian over at kotaku has noticed a trend which he dubs the “volcano school of management.”

    Heat from bad decisions and poor management builds until a key person involved in the decision-making process is pushed up and up and up and finally ejected entirely from the company.

    Hmm, sounds like Brian could be on to something, here. I’ve seen this kind of thing before. It’s sometimes easier to promote someone to higher and higher positions than to fire them, especially with high-level executive positions. Just ask Steve Ballmer.

    Anyway, with the PSP just getting into its death throes and the PS3 launch being less than impressive, I can’t imagine why a failure like Kutaragi would get promoted, but Brian’s Volcano School of Management explains things pretty well, I think. It’s kind of like how bad game developers at Microsoft get “promoted” to manage things like Database Interoperability in Microsoft Excel.

  • Nintendo DS: I finally have one

    Posted on December 2nd, 2006 Finster No comments

    I know, I know. It’s probably a little late to be jumping onto the Nintendo DS bandwagon, but I am no longer one of the unwashed masses. I picked up a DS Lite (Onyx, if you’re wondering) a few days ago along with Metroid Prime: Hunters and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both games, so far. And whenever I’m monopolizing audio/video resources with Gears of War, the wife has been having a lot of fun with Phoenix Wright. It, like many of the DS games I suppose, is intrinsically accessible. Anyone could pick up Phoenix Wright and start playing.

    Metroid Prime: Hunters, on the other hand, is an almost complete foil to the “casual-ness” of Phoenix Wright. In fact, that’s what I love about it. It’s like Halo: Portable Ops. Great matchmaking and online (even though I totally suck right now), deep and interesting story-line (so far), and the Rival Radar make this one of the funnest games I’ve played on a portable platform.

    Hmm, what to play next…

    There’s a lot of choices for the DS. I really need to find Trauma Center. Meteos, Final Fantasy III, and Mario Kart DS are all definitely on my list, as well. I know there’s a bunch more hot DS games that I’m missing. Now, if only I could watch UMD movies on it…