Thursday, April 28, 2011

Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers

Sports games. Not my forte. But it is my 185th completed game. On with the analysis.

Game speed completion: I'll have to take everyone else's word that it took them 5-8 hours. It took me 12-15. It probably is easier than I made it out to be. I had chosen to avoid the story mode and artificially made the game completion longer. The game has a story mode worth 320 points when completed. If a player decides to play the story mode first, all other supplemental achievements could have potentially been unlocked throughout the duration of the story mode, reducing any achievement cleanup for full game completion.

GSL Potential: The GSL potential is high for this game. The game has already been recognized as a quick 1000 point retail game. Because it is such a high visibility game, what particpants will be looking for is if other competitors have this game on thier game lists to predict fast point potential. Because there is no game save capabilities, there is no way to stack points in this game.

What the guides don't tell you: Play the story mode first. Then clean up whatever achievements you did not unlock after the story is completed with the unlocked teams. The provided guide and roadmap in x360a will successfully walk the player through the story mode in the most efficient way. Expect the game to start difficult but get progressively easier as you add team captains to your own teams you beat them.

The guides tell the player to use directional up and the A button to hit the ball. Rather than that, use B instead for consistently better results.

What I found is that games go faster for me was if I could simply build the 10 point gap within the first or second inning. This was done after the second win and gaining two five star batters. If the game did drag into a third inning, I would quit and retry. But for story mode, the game was set to nine innings because you will need the extra innings to meet mercy rule requirements with the weaker team.

GSL Resource Article: Dealing with your game genre weaknesses

This was originally going to be added as the introduction of the next GSL game analysis, but it got long enough to just separate itself into its own post.

An analytical writer prides oneself on the objectivity of their writing, with the ability to put aside one's personal feelings about a subject in order to produce an informational, unbiased product. If I was unable to do so, this article would be written more like the stuff that you would see from your 13 year old siblings tumblr account, screaming beautiful poetic rants of anguish and emotion of my absolute hatred of sports games. Luckily I'm objective enough to realize that even though it isn't easy for me, it might be for someone else. I just finished playing Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers, which was an easy game for everyone else other than me. With my group of friends, I was the first to start, and the last to finish six months later due to my personal feelings of sports games.

Yeah... Sports games are my videogame Kryptonite.

Lessons can be learned from this. For GSLs, the motivation to play certain genres of games can dramatically affect achievement point earning efficiency. Sports games is my weak genre; so playing sports games will take more time and motivation than any other genre available. For others, it may be first person shooters, platformers, or even the inability to tolerate Japanese visual novels that will handicap a person from finishing a game as fast as the rest of the competition. Knowing what your teammates will and will not do is key to team managers who usually dictate who gets what games at particular points of a GSL schedule.

Participants playing games they may not like is a normal occurrence in any GSL. Find me any GSL discussion and I could quickly point out people complaining about what they're playing with very little effort. But just because it is a necessary evil does not mean it would be wise to grind out your weak genre until you're ready to gouge out your eyeballs. In short, two tidbits of information to consider.

1. A GSL participant can earn points more efficiently playing games in their strong genre. Although I personally had tons of point potential in the sports category, the most efficient use of my time came from platformers and first person shooters, in which my strengths are. On top of that, I actually enjoyed what I was playing, so motivation was high.

2. If a GSL participant must earn points in their weak genre don't stay with the genre for too long and break it up with games that you may like. I made the mistake in my final GSL to complete seven basketball games in one stretch. Doing so killed my motivation to revisit the genre for a short period until it became a point necessity for individual placement. If you're not motivated, you're not scoring points. Toss yourself a bone and play something you like in-between personal grinds.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Assault Heroes

The best stuff to write about is the information that is still fresh. This arcade game is far from it and has probably been out since the launch of Xbox 360. Three years later, as I overcome procrastination, this game finally gives me the bittersweet satisfaction of another game completion. This excuse of, "I can always do it later" is going to stop sooner or later, otherwise the backlog may as well turn into a collection of wasted potential, digital or otherwise.

Game speed completion: Realistically, 8-10 hours. For the dedicated person who did their homework and also has a skilled co-op partner? 2-3 hours. A player can finish a full game in an 1 to 1.5 hours, and the difficulty can be further handicapped by playing on easy with a co-op partner. If was was more motivated, I could have gotten 150 points in one playthrough, but for the sake of focusing on certain achievements, slow is fast is the best advice for this game and it would be wise to simply complete the game to unlock everything in stage select, then cherry pick the remaining achievements. Survivor, Peace Maker and Sharpshooter requires you to play under unusual circumstances, but only under one zone so it might be more efficient to run Zone 2 a few times, focusing on the requirements of one particular achievement at a time.

GSL Potential: Despite my own personal experiences with the game, it has fairly high point-to-time-ratio. Play with a decent partner for potentially 130-140 points for one playthrough. If both players are fairly cautious and skilled, The, "Lair Slayer" achievement, which is the most difficult (i.e. controller throwing) achievement of the game, can also be taken cared of as well. After the fast points, It would be up the the player's discretion if they really want to top of the 200. Assault Heroes does have the potential of being fast, but the game does have that "unfun" vibe that would make going for the final few achievements a chore. (especially if the sole reason you're playing this game was for points.) It may become detrimental if time is a concern. Game visibility is also low, since there is no way to stack points in this game, so it can remain hidden away in your game library until needed.

What the guides don't tell you: The guides and achievements say "Zones", but the game chapter select says "Areas". It may have been common sense and I may have missed it, but the two are not the same thing. Zones are divided into several Areas and Zone Two does not actually start until AREA 5. If you read around, there are tons of people still having issues telling the difference.

This is why this information is important. The, "Survivor" achievement has ongoing issues being unlocked in Zone 1. I was one of them, and despite reading and re-reading all available guides, the achievement did not properly unlock until I took some other advice and earned it in Zone 2 instead of Zone 1. Popping that one was three years in the making, since I started the game in July of 2008.

Lair Slayer can be done solo, but it is not recommended at all. Things to know about this achievement is that all four underground lairs must be done in one game. If one of you dies, you must restart the game. You can start in Area 3 and you both can die all you want when you're not in the underground lairs. The game always starts both of you with 10 grenades and 3 nukes every zone so just use em if you got em. The camera will move but you can move at your own pace to recover health whenever you get damaged, and the players shouldn't take chances with their health when you only got one shot at it. Have the more confident player take lead while the second player focuses from behind. Blow up all barrels from a distance. Save yourself some grief on Lair 3 and sparingly use your nukes in the open circular arenas.

Two things will catch you off guard when you're going for this achievement. The camera WILL get you killed by the lasers if the angle changes. I was standing a fair distance away from one recovering my health when the camera moved forward and caused me to die, despite not changing my own position. Give the laser its due respect and give it some real space.

At the end of the final lair, there will be two turrets. You and your partner will most likely retreat back a little to avoid being hit, but the game spawns enemies from the hidden lower doors when you do, putting you in a great position to die, fail and restart the entire process. Whenever you come across an reverse L shaped intersection in Lair 4, have your backup watch the lower wall for incoming enemies. Failure this far along would be a waste of the other 30 minutes you spent doing the other three lairs.

Rocket Riot

When considering games for GSL, it would be foolish to rule out any game, regardless of how small the point potential can be. GSL rounds have been won and lost by double point margins when the competitive format was designed around three day weekends rather than the current marathon runs that are trending nowadays.

Game speed completion: 9-10 hours of game time. Fifty single player levels will take 6 to 7 hours solo, and expect controller throwing moments during every boss round, which occurs every 10 rounds. Endurance mode can be solo played with a minimum of 2.5 hours. The methods I used to complete the game as fast as possible will be explained below.

GSL Potential:  Fair, for an arcade game. Game is designed for achievement progression through normal play, so in the hour of gameplay, the player can potentially gain 90 points if they can find someone to play a single online game with. The rest of the achievements can't be expected to be unlocked until all 80 single player rounds are completed and endurance mode is done up until level 50, which is 5-6 hours later. Rocket Riot can be hidden from the gamecard until ready to play since all the initial achievements expected to pop all come from the first hour of gameplay.

If the game is in a player's backlog, it might be useful for a quick 90 point punch in the gut when the game stack is running low. If your teammate has a completionist complex, they'll have to get over their hangups and come back to the game later.

What the guides don't tell you: The boss fights can be hard, but it's even harder when they don't give you any particular way to fight them. Strangely enough, the same strategy can be used on all bosses, with a little variance to cater to the particular boss.

When fighting bosses, the ideal powerups are Ghost, Homing, Rapid and Triple Rocket. The ghost powerup actually creates a land barrier that spaces the player away from not only the boss, but the projectiles and any surrounding minions. They can't shoot through terrain, but you can with the power up. Flying and attacking while you're hidden within the game terrain helps preserve your life while keeping you within firing distance to properly attack the boss, who generally cant reach you until he shoots through the pixels. I have used this to safely whittle away at the health of the boss until getting more direct damage powerups.

Still. Expect to die. The game likes to tease you, then remind you of this gameplay mechanic called, "Replay value" in which you die and get to enjoy the level again.

Although it has been mentioned in other guides out there, a fast way to get through elimination and endurance stages is to blow out a corner, (I preferred the upper left.) and shoot out towards all incoming enemies which will all come towards you. It's not a totally foolproof plan, but it's consistent enough to be relied on to speed up the completion process.

And for the sake of completion, the player is probably going to be missing one person for, "The things I've seen" achievement. He'll be on level 8, called "That's no cannonball."

Also, shoutout to Stoph for following along. Also a writer, he maintains his own blog at Go check it out. StophJ was ranked 13th in the US for Gamerscore according to the late and now is a team member of, which tracks the progress of the current world record holder Stallion83.  Although I'm plugging his buddy, the shoutout is for Stoph. "I think StophJ is a pretty cool guy. eh gets gamerscorez and doesnt afraid of anything."

Thanks Stoph.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lord of the Rings Battle for Mid-Earth 2

This game put me as #1 in California for strategy games according to as of April 25, 2011.

Game speed completion: 20 hrs for single player. may have been harder for me than others because I was so dead set on getting it done as fast as possible that I rushed and made mistakes, resulting in sitting in the load screen more than I would have liked to. Multiplayer is now unobtainable due to the closure of the game servers in 2010. (Reference No longer a fully completable game.

GSL material: Although not completable, potential point stacking can include the completion of both good and evil campaigns and one skirmish game for a total of 275 points. To ensure that full point stacking potential is achieved, the player has to ensure that they did not lose any heroes during the campaign. Hero deaths will be announced by the game, and what isn't mentioned is that summoned creatures are also included as heroes, such as Eagles and Wyrmriders. Not a game to be played during a GSL, but has stacking potential for a participant for someone who doesn't care about their completion percentage. Game visibility can go in two directions: it will be pretty obvious a player is stacking if both campaigns were completed up until campaign seven, unless they purposely did not complete all bonus objectives in the first seven. In that case, the entire game can be removed from the playlist if the player does not pop the "Istari Power" achievement and be a hidden 280 point boost for GSL purposes. (An additional 5 points for the "Istari Power" achievement.)

What the guides don't tell you: Save yourself lots of grief in Evil campaigns 3, 7 and 8 by setting up tons on towers and upgrading them with fire arrows before triggering particular events. 

Wyrmtounge spawns after the last house of power is destroyed in the southeast. If everything is cleared out prior, the player has time to set up heavy fire arrow tower defenses all along where they enter the map, wiping them out and saving the player the trouble of even defending against them when the final house is destroyed.

Setting up sets of five towers around three choke points on the seventh evil campaign will keep the constant flow of bad guys away as you build your army. But leave behind two battle trolls to counter-attack against the "surprise enforcements" of dwarf towers that will appear when you are attacking within the fortress.

In the final evil campaign, set up heavy tower defenses in the right side of your starting point and across the bridge off on the west side of the map. To the right is where the brotherhood will spawn and with at least 6-7 towers it will save you the trouble of running your army back to save your camp. The first tower setup that will be built across the bridge will assist in killing the elf queen and all the eagles that will come shortly after, saving your wyrmriders from having to fight at all and leaving them at full health. (You can't let them die because they are also considered hero material.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Game: Endwar
Faction: USA

Battles won:
Assault in Capathia: 3+ min
Assault in USS Regan SeaBase: 3+ min
Assault in Albyn: 3+ min

Total Observed Battles: 6
Observed battle type for current war:
Assault: 3

Someone posted an interesting thought the other day on the Ubisoft forums...

My guess, is that when UBI modified the Victory Conditions inf the Theater Of War(no more 3 capitals at once), its Unlikely, that they changed them in the Trophy Criteria. (Referenced April 23, 2011)

This change did happen after the first or second war. The criteria for victory was once 3 capitols instead of 2. So when UbiShanghai changed prerequisites, the achievement may have been affected adversely by it as well.

I see this as very possible. But I'll continue testing my final theory until I can disprove it as impossible.

I'm going to assume that this is a new war since it's on turn 52.

No Achievements.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gamer Analysis revisit and redesign.

Supposedly when you add a new Label, it gives you a new option to start a new tab on the blogger. I need a new tab. Lets give it a try.

No whammies no whammies no whammies..... Stop.

Well, I figured it out, and it wasn't exactly how I expected it to be, but the problem solver in me got from point A to point B as always. I used this reference to create the categories for direct linking the tabs to my labels. I actually used the information on the comments to get the results I wanted. If you like the design, check it out.

With the time I currently have on my hands, I think it's time to start developing my skills on web presence. It has never been in my personality to announce anything at all, but my ability for creative writing needs an outlet. And if there is anything I learned from my experience from my Master's Degree capstone, it is if you have an idea of what you'll be doing for your doctoral dissertation, I better start building my portfolio now.

What's my idea? The dedicated collection of academic level writing focused on the social, philosophical, economical and technological aspects within the gaming industry. Just starting with my own writing for now, but if I can become a truly legit accredited source for video game academic writing, then I've found my niche in the market.

My gamerscore was always a testament to myself and nothing else. An establishment of the tenacity and dedication to the metagame of minor accomplishments for the bigger picture. Along the way I've had the privilege to play and meet some excellent people, gamers and otherwise. So it would be a waste if I was to keep all that experience to myself, would it not?

I have to give my respects to those who write; to the ones who dare to put their soul on display for others to criticize and condemn. But in order to teach, you have to express your opinion, which I usually keep to myself. Mastering the sweet science of communication nowadays is what will separate the supposed men from the boys, and now I have to learn a whole new electronic language in which people who shouldn't have the ability to express themselves do on a regular basis and make the collective world look worse off than it actually is. I don't want to be one of those people, and I have no intentions to be.

There's probably more to say, but I'll save that for some other time. I'm actually making some decent progress on the redesign. Shout out to MajinFro for the little tidbits of advice that got the ball rolling on this thing again. Follow him on Twitter. Shoot, follow ME on twitter. Don't worry, I like to think that I limit my messages to worthwhile, meaningful messages. If there is one thing that I do, it's show appreciation to those who support me. I swear, appreciation is a lost art in this day and age of entitlement. I don't promise much, but I do promise to always give credit when credit is due. You got video game blogs and you write? I'll follow you. Just let me know.

This blog will integrate my original, "1 Million Soft Blocks Bombed and Other Monotonous Tasks," Blog under, The Crucibles. This tab will follow all the tedious games that I am willing to tackle on my own and includes Tom Clancy's End War, Bomberman Retail and Armored Core: For Answer. Although there are people who have completed the games, there isn't anyone that has documented the effort required to achieve those goals. I will probably add Rumble Roses XX to the list sooner or later. I guess that's my small contribution I will make to the gaming community.

In addition to the academic analysis's I will be writing, I will also be adding my personal gaming experiences, which will include my thoughts on gamerscore earning potential for played games, (which may become useful reference material for future Gamerscore League Participants.) With my background in operations, finding the most efficient way to complete a game is just as important to me as enjoying it. The gamerscore metagame has always been the most important to me as an Xbox gamer, so thats where my gaming discipline will focus. So my reviews will be coming from a very different angle; catering to a very different type of gamer. It hasn't been done yet; it should be a fresh angle.

I knew 2011 would be a year of change, and so far, some of it has been PRETTY UNCOMFORTABLE. But you know what? There is nothing a little analysis couldn't solve. The site is still a work in progress, so expect changes and updates as time passes and writing is completed. But thanks to you who took the time to get this far. I might even move to my own domain as well and all this writing would have been for nothing. Screw it. Pursue it. For me, actions always speak louder than words. It shows in my gamertag, it shows in my efforts in my final GSL performance. And as I now apply it to the real life endeavors, it's time to bare my soul and show it here as well.