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4:57 PM on 12.31.2009

Love/Hate: Used Gaming

For the record, all of the consoles I own are used, aside from my wii. I have a launch 360 which I picked up for ninety bucks and an rrod fix, a psp with many scratches in the screen, a ds with a failing L button that seems to act up a few days after cleaning the button contact, an xbox which seems to wheeze just trying to read discs, a ps2 that won't read correctly half of the time, and many others. Yet in sacrificing some cosmetic aspects of these consoles, I could afford to own them all. As an estimate, 90% of the games that I own are used, and very few of the titles I had bought new were at regular price. This could be a result of having a family that isn't exactly well off, but it is likely to have more to do with my current gaming habits. I play games a lot, and almost never one at a time; which is likely the explanation as to why I seldom rent. Used games are an answer to my gaming habits, and for that I love them. Rather dropping fifty/sixty bucks on a new game, I'd much rather spend twenty on three different games. Rather than owning a shiny new 360, I can get a ps2, Gamecube, and a used 360 for around the same price. It's almost an addiction, I spend about half the time looking for good deals, the other half playing the games.

However, something changed last year in how I perceived these deals; I started feeling more and more like a leech. I would always go the used option, even if the new game was only a couple of bucks more, and half the time I would get a wrecked manual or the game sans packaging. I would look for these deals, putting money into the hands of the people reselling them, rather than the developers that had actually created the game. I saw developers closing their doors, never creating another game quite like the one I had purchased used a few weeks ago. I felt more and more guilty, almost ashamed that I and others like me could have caused people to lose their jobs. I thought, I'm against piracy, yet I feel giving money to a person for someone else's work is perfectly fine?

Recently, I've strayed from this line of thinking, as I'll still buy a lot of games used, just to offset the other purchases. It's almost feeling like I'm buying two used, one new at this point, which is a much better ratio than what I previously was at. I certainly don't think lowly of other people who buy games used at this point either. (Annoyingly, a problem I used to have.)

I now have a steady part-time job (rather than shoveling sidewalks and the like), so purchasing games is much easier, I'm a teen with very few financial obligations. I'm more likely to splurge on a new game rather than buy it used depending on the game. I still feel no remorse when picking up used copies of say, Modern Warfare 2, or when picking up previous-gen games, but I still feel a pang of remorse when buying it used from a lesser known developer. I feel that I might be causing some of their financial troubles, however silly the idea may sound. It is strange, or hypocritical, of me to think this as well; I have no qualms buying other media used such as music, movies, or manufactured goods.

So I still love the used games. Despite their ability to hurt a developer, it's still my preferred method of buying games (and consoles). It would seem that there are few ways to solve the problem, as I know almost any person who loves a certain media will buy things used to satiate their want for it, or to soften the blow coming from their next bills. For gaming however, there is what seems to be a solution.

Steam. It's a lovely platform, despite my inability to play anything newer than Half Life 1. It has sales often, and will lower the price of older games all the while advertising these changes in price. Rather than simply being marked down at a store, steam takes these to be an event of sorts, which revitalizes the sales of otherwise stagnant games. It's seemingly a solution to my problems other than the problems found within digital distribution itself (ie, no trading or selling, games can go away with no way to transfer rights to other people leaving some who will not be able to play it, etc.), and they seem to be fairly liberal with their sales. At the moment, steam is a great platform, and I hope it stays that way while I build a gaming capable PC.

So used gaming is a good, and bad thing. There are developers (Strangely, they are often the ones that are not hurting in sales like activision and co.) which will kick and scream to get rid of used gaming as a whole, but it allows a lot of people to experience a lot of games they never would have had the chance to if they had to pay for each game at new price. This could lead them to buy more niche titles direct from the developers, which is certainly not a bad thing. Maybe consoles wouldn't be quite as plagued by the problems of used games if their companies took a model similar to steam. And no Sony, the pspgo's business model doesn't count.   read

10:23 AM on 10.17.2009

A short little story.

Let's imagine, for a little bit, that you decide to go and check ebay for a new set of legos. You already have legos, but you don't own enough legos for what you are trying to build. You're trying to enter a tournament, you need many more legos than you own now. You see an incredible deal on ebay, a 6000 piece lego set for 50$! Usually, this goes for 70-100$. Normally, you would jump on this deal before anyone else can get their grubby hands on it , but you notice that the seller is Chinese, and their store looks a little shady. After a little bit of snooping, you see that their customers are generally happy about shipping time and the quality of the product. So, you decide to buy it. You pay for it, and wait.

A couple of weeks later, it arrives in the mail! You go ahead, open it up, and each lego piece works perfectly! No scratches, no breaks, nothing that would affect their usability. You leave positive feedback, and get started on your project. You're done with the project and enter it in the tournament, when you hear that the legos corporation (Yes, they are the lego[b]s[/s] corp.) will no longer accept unauthorized lego blocks, and will be creating legos in the future that will not work with the "unauthorized" legos. There are two possible scenarios that can happen now, they will either take your legos away, effectively wasting all of the time that you spent on the project; or (if they are feeling incredibly generous) they will recreate your project with the authorized legos as long as you buy the 100$ worth of legos from them. Neither of the situations seem exactly fair, do they?

What does this have to do with video games, much less the 360, you ask?

I think you can figure it out.   read

1:11 PM on 07.30.2009

Monster Hunter (tri) initial shipment exceeds one million units

Oh my. I knew monster hunter was popular, but this is insane. Hopefully, the quality of the game matches sales. >_>   read

10:14 PM on 06.27.2009

Black Clouds and SIlver Linings

Starting off, I know I'm late to the party when it comes to black clouds and silver linings, but I just feel I need to express my disappointment. It's kinda long, and probably not very well written, so feel free to gloss over it and keep on your merry way.

I've been a fan of Dream Theater for a long time. I own all of their albums (except for scenes from new york) , and own many of the side bands (Liquid Tension Experiment, Jordan rudess's solo albums, etc.) albums. I love(ed?) their music, and I appreciate how much effort they put into their music. I didn't enjoy their first album, or Systematic Chaos, but their other music managed to make me smile, to make me feel apathetic, to feel hate, and Space Dye Vest even managed to make me cry. The band members are virtuosos at their respective instruments, and manage to create music that reflects that. Long intro aside, I like their music. I do not however, like their newest album, Black Clouds and Silver Linings.

My initial thoughts? This is the most generic sounding Dream theater album to date. Horrible lyrics with largely face value meaning (The count was easily the worst in this respect), cheesy guitar rhythm, and very little venture into time other than standard. Wither was a cheesy track through and through, and seemed to only serve as a track to break into mainstream music.

About halfway through the album:
Trudging through the first few songs of the album, a track suddenly caught my attention. That was shattered fortress. Initial glee from hearing this track quickly wore off and other than petruccis incredible solo, the outstanding parts of the track seemed to be the recycled/improved riffs. This song is followed by The best of times, a song safely in DT territory. Petrucci's solos are less fret-wankish here! Could this be the Dream Theater I know and love? Then, the count starts playing. The previous question is answered with a resounding "no". An incredibly predictable song, trying to be much more than it is. I've already mentioned the lyrics, so I won't venture there. Petrucci manages to keep his solo work excellent though. Labrie also is incredibly consistent with which notes he hits, and this is probably one of his better albums.

I was wanting this to be incredible. I wanted it to match and exceed their earlier albums in terms of musicianship, not speed. Maybe I was expecting too much, maybe this album isn't all that bad compared to their other albums. It may be the band is burned out, or that Mikes fathers death affected him too much. Maybe the new label (roadrunnner) is causing them to feel pressured to sell their albums, Heck, it could be that I'm looking for and drawing notions of depth not present in their earlier albums. After the disappointment that was systematic chaos, maybe I was expecting an album that would completely blow me out of the water, one that would get the band out of the slump they have been in.

Whatever. This is getting too long.

I don't like their album much. [/rant]   read

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