I have started many RPGs in my time, but I have yet to finish a single one.
Games I have started, but not finished, and probably will not finish in a timely manner, despite their goodness:
* Lost Odyssey
* Fallout 3
* Final Fantasy IV (DS)
* Chrono Trigger
* Company of Heroes
* Empire: Total War
* Civilization IV
* Titan Quest
* Research and Development
* Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
* Sam & Max Episodes
* Little Big Planet
* So Blonde
* Far Cry 2
The Army Experience Center (AEC) is a recruiting station for the US Army located in a mall in Philadelphia. The center—unlike the depressing and drab storefront recruiting stations often found in suburban strip malls—is shiny, comfy, and filled with Xbox 360s and gaming PCs.
Frontline also focused on the pickets against the AEC, under the mantra "War is not a game". Protesters interviewed accused the Army of using violent video games to deceive teenagers into thinking war is fun.
Now, I have my own bones to pick with Army recruitment practices, but I want to talk about why the protesters are wrong. I think they are simply making video games the scapegoat, once again.
Also, war IS most certainly a game. That's why it translates so well into video games. Let's look at the roster of video games that the AEC offers:
Call of Duty 4
Call of Duty 5
Gears of War 2
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2
Madden NFL '09
World of Warcraft
All of these are war games. Yes, even Madden. Football is a war simulator. Most of these are ESRB "Mature" titles, i.e. 17+ years of age, but the Frontline video shows 14 year olds playing CoD, so whatever.
An Army recruitment center isn't going to put a veteran missing a limb manning a recruitment center. Taco Bell isn't going to show a depressed fat guy sadly snarfing 7-layer burritos. Microsoft isn't going to report the real statistics about Xbox 360 repair rates. This is marketing. Marketing is an industry of lies.
But what's most important is that these games are popular and free to play at the AEC. They get kids in the door and keep them coming back. Video games are fun. That's why the protesters want the place shut down. They think their kids are too stupid to not realize what being in the Army really means. What they don't realize is that if their kids are that stupid, they're doomed anyway.
I think it's summed up well by Maj. Larry F. Dillard, Jr. at the end of the clip: "I think [the protesters] are terrified that it'll work."
(A picture of my cat teabagging my roommate's cat)
Instead of working, I decided to redo my Steam userpic to duplicate the style of the in-game NPC portraits in Left 4 Dead. You can also see it as my D-toid icon. Here's how I did it. I don't have numbers or anything, I just needed something to do to take my mind off work for a while, so I just twiddled the sliders until it looked right.
I took a side-lit portrait in my macbook's Photobooth and pulled it into Photoshop.
I cropped to a square image with similar proportions to the L4D portraits.
Then converted it to grayscale, then converted it back to RGB (so I could apply filters).
Adjusted brightness/contrast to wash it out a bit and then enhance the shadows.
I copied the original layer twice, for the filters.
Applied the Poster Edges filter to one layer to outline the shadows and contours.
Then applied the Watercolor filter to the other layer to flatten out the skin tones.
Adjusted the opacity of the filtered layers until it looked right.
Made a new layer to create the vignetting effect with a black feathered brush, sized to about 10% of the width of the image.
Applied the photo filter (Image -> Adjustments) to adjust the overall color to approximate the greenish-sepia tint to the original L4D portraits.
Finally, reduce the image size to about 120x120 (the actual portrait is about 80x80), and Steam/L4D will resize it once you set it as your Steam userpic.
So I got my 360 back yesterday. It looks like they're repairing them now instead of just sending out another console.
Because Microsoft completely ignored my first repair service call to them and their website was broken, they actually sent me a coffin via UPS next day air, and all subsequent ships were also next-day air. So while it took a week for me to get MS to actually acknowledge my repair request, it only took a week to send the console out and get it back.
It took me 20 seconds to put some pants on to answer the door, and by that time, the UPS driver had already written out the "We Missed You" infonotice, stuck it to my front door, and was walking down the stoop. I managed to call him back. At least this time I didn't have to chase the dude around the block to his next delivery to get my Xbox back.
First thing I notice: the 360 is so loud compared to the PS3 Slim.
Then began the arduous task of redownloading all my DLC so I can assign the licenses to the new console ID.
I wish Microsoft would fucking own up to the fact that every pre-Jasper 360 is going to fucking fail and streamline this process. There is no god damn reason I should have to sit there for half an hour and INDIVIDUALLY REDOWNLOAD MY 200 OR SO PIECES OF DLC. Those menus are so goddamn slow and I kept accidentally selecting "cancel". Why isn't there a "redownload all of your content in one go because we make shitty hardware" option?
I also came to the realization that I've spent several hundred dollars on DLC alone. Half of that for Rock Band.
Since my Xbox 360 is currently being resurrected in Pharr, Texas, I've been playing a lot more Playstation 3. I've been discovering things.
1. There's no way to have more than one PSN ID logged into a single console at once. So, if you want to play co-op Critter Crunch with your real-life friend on the second controller, only one of you gets trophies and in-game progress.
One of the central features of the Xbox is being able to have as many Live accounts signed in as controllers. Achievements pop for everyone. Why the hell Sony decided that this wasn't a good idea is beyond me.
2. It's easy to move save games from one PS3 to another. You just copy it onto a USB enabled storage device and plug it into the next console. That's fucking great.
3. Some games, like Demon's Souls, lock save games from being copied. They also lock save games to the HARDWARE, not the PSN ID. WTF. If your console dies, so do all of those saves.
4. Uncharted is just like the late-generation Tomb Raider games, except cleverer, but without real platforming.
5. Folding@home on Life w/ PS is pretty cool.
6. The PS3 locks up like a champion. Total and complete. On the Slim, your only recourse is to disconnect it from the power because there's no master switch at the back anymore.
7. The Ex-Ross Media Bar is a piece of shit and whoever had the idea should be crucified on a Xross.
8. The DualShock is an awful controller, ergonomically. The analog sticks are too close together, and the L2 and R2 buttons are heinous. The L3 and R3 buttons are far too easy to accidentally press, and the Start and Select buttons feel gross, since they're the only rubberized buttons on the controller. The only thing that the DualShock does right is the D-pad. That motherfucker is a joy and makes the 360 D-pad cry in shame.
9. Seriously, whoever designed those triggers should be crucified on the other side of the Xross. I used to wonder why all the games I played defaulted the "FIRE" button to R1, but after playing Killzone 2 with the trigger assigned to R2 for five minutes, I figured it out.
10. Speaking of Killzone 2: why do people think this game is worth arguing over whether it gets a 9 or a 10 from a review site? It's nothing special.