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Malik (1/7/08)

Off and on, over the last couple of weeks, XBox Live has been having some problems and Microsoft wants to correct this via the easiest way possible; a free Arcade game. That's all well and good except for the fact that this problem is deeper than just least to this gamer.

Yes, paying for online and seeing it go to shit is not a good thing. In fact, if I pay for something, I would rather see a refund of my money than to get a game that I WOULD NOT normally have purchased. Considering that it would probably be something like how Carcassonne was free right around Thanksgiving, I don't like the idea of a set game being given for free when Microsoft makes good on their attempt at forgiveness. They lucked out when the free Thanksgiving game was one I'd actually consider fun, but I don't see them satisfying all Live members who got shafted with one set game.

While I don't think a lawsuit is the right answer, I do see the point of view of the people bringing about such a lawsuit. Microsoft should take it upon themselves to show the Live community why we pay for online capabilities while other consoles are giving users free online. Afterall, one of the key reasons that Live should be a pay service is that it should be more planned out (how could Microsoft not see server flooding after the busiest console purchasing time of the year?) and far more stable.

What gets me the most is that a failure of Live goes deeper than just for people playing online. For example, do you know what happens when Live is disconnected during an offline game of Rock Band? I do...the game freezes for a few the middle of a song...looking like a console freeze. If online and offline are going to be so damned integrated, then the online better freakin' work. It's like how Internet Explorer is so integrated in to Windows. If IE hits a buggy web site, then you may find all instances of similar applications (including network drive access, file transfers, My Computer (Computer in Vista), and so forth all failing at the same time.

So, what do I think Microsoft should do? First of all, don't give a set game. You cannot please everyone with such an offering. Instead, offer either a refund of service prices for that time period that faced outages, and also offer some sort of more universal peace offering to show that you still want our business. A good example would be offering the amount of Microsoft Points equal to the price of a free Arcade game. This would be a good offering to show that Microsoft gives a damn while still not alienating anyone who may not like the free game idea...afterall, I sure as hell know that whatever they offer will probably be another game I never touch...and I bet I'm not alone in this feeling.

On to better things (unless you like in DC)...

It was a bit of touch and go for a while, but the Seahawks are once again progressing to the second round of the playoffs. While the game did show everything that could go wrong while still showing the good outcome, I am at least happy to see that the Seahawks can pull out some good maneuvers.

In particular, the defense was looking pretty good when the shit hit the fan. There were some damned nice interceptions when it mattered, and some nice scoring and setting up for scoring while on the D.

The one thing that needs to change during this week is that the Seahawks need to get their total package together before they face a truly powerful opponent in the Packers. The offense looked good at times, but there was too much not going right. Only one side of the offense could seem to work at a time. Either Hasselbeck would get some protection at the line or the receivers would be ready to make a catch, or Hasselbeck would be able to pick a worthy place to throw the ball. Not once did it seem like all three of these elements were flowing in tandem...maybe two would be working together, but never did all three parts of this package.

You'll notice that I said nothing about the rushing game. There's a good reason. The rushing game forgot to show up on Saturday. Actually, I think that's not 100% true. It's more that the rushing game was relied upon at all the wrong times. Holmgren would call for the rush when it was the most obvious call...setting up Washington's defense to tear Alexander (or rarely Morris) into shreds. The other problem is that Alexander was still given too much playing time and too many attempts. He made 15 attempts and only moved the ball 46 yards. That is not the numbers, especially in the post-season, that a starter should be showing. Meanwhile Morris only got a couple of attempts. It is now, or never, for Holmgren to put Morris in the starting position and let Alexander think about what he needs to do (get into game shape or get the hell out).

Most of all, it's time for Holmgren to live up to something he started to plan for a few months ago. Frye was brought in as the third string QB so that Seneca Wallace (who, last I saw of him, could run like the mother f#$%ing wind) could be used more in real game situations. Why not let Wallace have a few runs to remind Alexander of how it's done, and to throw the Packer's defense into some confusion. It's already safe to say that Green Bay is waiting for Alexander to step onto the field and already have a good plan in mind to stop him; just let Alexander run into a defensive player in his usual stupor.

The key differences that need to be done before Saturday are too damned simple. Holmgren needs to make some calls that are not obvious (at least they were obvious to three guys sitting on a couch stuffing their faces with chips, as my friends and I predicted each play, in anger, before they came to life) and can actually throw the defense into confusion. Alexander needs to be the second string back to make way for Morris...or better yet, third string so that Wallace can get something accomplished on the ground. Also, Seattle needs to stop needing to rely on luck to get the job done (like with the two minutes that came between Washington recovering their own kick off and then flubbing one hell of an easy and short field goal attempt).

Seattle can win this game. It will not be easy, but it's possible. Unfortunately, the biggest factor in this game will be which QBs show up. Both Hasselbeck and Favre have their evil twins who like to play goofy and confusingly. As long as the logical and calm Hasselbeck shows up, Seattle has a chance...of course if both QBs show up in their sillier mind sets, it would make for one fun to watch game (at least it would be fun until half time).

Plus, if Seattle can pull out the win, then another home game can be in their works. I mean it's not like Dallas has been all that impressive in the post-season as of late. I could easily see the final round being either Seattle or Green Bay taking on the road plagued Giants...with the final AFC championship game being New England versus the Colts, in a rematch of the Colts loss from earlier this season.

Also, on the Rock Band front...tomorrow will see some Iron Maiden, a little bit of The Hives, and most importantly...Interstate Love Song!


Malik (1/9/08)

I couldn't find the will to post yesterday. It was just a day that would not be conductive to me getting any words out that wouldn't look like "F$#@!!!!". Between working about 3-4 hours extra (for no overtime pay) at my day job and putting up with commutes filled with bad weather...well, it was a bad day. Toss in how my work is trying to screw me out of a much delayed raise that has been promised to me for the last nine months and...well..."F#@$!!!".

However, that did not stop me from trying out the new DLC for Rock Band yesterday evening. As soon as I found myself back in the comfort of my home, I started the downloads and waited for the confirmation that it was time to rock.

I don't know what to say about The Hive's download. I don't know their music and only downloaded it to see what it was like. It didn't hurt that I got a 1600 point card for my birthday and this would be a good start for using it. It's not a bad song, in terms of the guitar note chart. I honestly didn't listen to how it sounds since I was too involved in beating the note chart in front of me.

On the other hand, The Number of the Beast is just that...a beast. Considering it's a cover, it sounds pretty good. No matter how much a fan of a band wants to tear apart any cover as being inferior to the original, you have to hand it to Harmonix for finding pretty good cover bands to handle this duty...this always thankless duty.

Anyway, on the guitar, this song is a real beast. I'm still working my way through expert (with Flirting With Disaster and Green Grass and the High Tides skipped on hard...just too damned hard). I made two attempts at the new Iron Maiden cover, once on hard and then once on expert. I think this song ranks up there with the other two bitch songs of hard. On hard, I got about 9% through (not bad for the first sight read of this beast of a song and my first attempt at Rock Band since last Friday), and I scored about 47% on expert. I think this is a song that will bring fear to my heart forever more when I select a random set list on Band World Tour.

As for the last song...I saved the best for last. Interstate Love Song sounds good (it is a master track, so it should sound good), and is fun on both hard and expert guitar. Hard may be a little too easy, but expert throws the perfect level of challenge (not impossible, but enough action to make you work for the fun). I think this may go down as one of my new favorite songs to play. Even if you're not a Stone Temple Pilots fan (and I know some of you do sad, sad people...and I mean old STP before Sour Girl came along), this is a song that transcends musical tastes. A perfect full band song and a great solo song.

Now I just want to see Harmonix continue to deliver more great tracks. In particular, like I've said many times before, we need some Social Distortion and Avenged Sevenfold. I could live without AS, but we need some Social D...and we need it as soon as humanly possible.

On a different note, I'm glad to see that Lode Runner is alive and well. First this classic saw a couple of incarnations on the Wii Shop Channel. Now it's going to make it's way to XBL Arcade. I could use an actual release date (not just the year of 2008), but just knowing that it's coming back is awesome.

If you own a Wii and don't know this classic franchise (one that claimed many of my hours as a youth), you owe it to yourself to check out one of the Virtual Console versions. There's Lode Runner and Battle Lode Runner both on the shop and they are both worth consideration.

If you don't know the games, then I'll just say it's a nice blend of strategy and action. A blend that just doesn't seem to be successfully pulled off anymore.

On a final note before I leave for the day...just 37 more work days left (not counting holidays) until I finally move on to better things during the day. Add in my time off that I need to take, and I'm looking at 27 or fewer feels good to have a light at the end of this tunnel.


Malik (1/10/08)

Assuming you can get through the massive flood to their servers, Valve is offering some free stuff. There is a have to be sporting some Nvidia hardware. However, if you are packing a nice Nvidia GPU, then you can get Portal: The First Slice (it's like the first 1/3 of the actual Portal game), Peggle Extreme, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, and The Lost Coast for free right now. Since I haven't obtained Portal yet, I figured this was a nice way for me to finally try out the game (and I'm always down for a little casual gaming, like with Peggle Extreme).

The downside of all of this is that Steam's servers are being flooded right now. If you're anything like myself or my brother (who also is trying to get these), then you'll get one or two of these things downloaded before the server just blocks you out...asking you to try again in "a few minutes". At least it's not like I need these games right now...but it would be nice if the servers could handle this massive flood of downloads...especially since I imagine this is flooding more than just this download request and might be stalling all of Steam's downloads...including paid ones.

Anyway, I've been a bit subdued in my gaming lately. With having the real world force me into a game called "using Photoshop for work", I've been locked down to maybe a little Picross DS (which had more new puzzles released shortly after 2008 started). I don't even have the patience to sit through booting up my 360. Hell, if it wasn't for sleep mode, I would play the DS since starting any system right now seems like too big of a time kill.

At least all of this "real life" shit should be done when tomorrow afternoon rolls around. It also helps to have some Rock Band lined up with one of my "bands" for tomorrow evening. It also helps to have the Seahawks playing on Saturday to get me back into the lazy geek type of mindset.


Malik (1/11/08)

After playing Peggle Extreme I came to two realizations. For one, I found another game that I would normally not admit to being addicted to. The game was too much for me to turn down. I think I spent about 4 hours on the damned Peggle world last night.

My other realization was that I am sick of people giving demos names like they are full games. What's the difference between Peggle Deluxe and Peggle Extreme? I thought it was that they were two different games within the same family of puzzle games...but I was wrong. Peggle Extreme is just another way of saying "Peggle: The Demo".

It doesn't matter much since it was only $9.99 for the full games (that would be Peggle Deluxe). I had to buy it. It's rare for me to be so enamored with a casual puzzle game, but sometimes even my Rock Band loving, RPG addicted, and platformer obsessed mind needs a fix from a more universal of games.

Anyway, I played through all of the "adventure" mode. That's to say that I played each puzzle through to completion. I am spent a good amount of time with the challenge mode (sort of the same, but with harder goals than just finishing the levels before running out of lives). I think, with how much I have left and how much time it has taken already that $9.99 is a very reasonable price of admission.

Anyway, I don't have much else to say today...well, it's more that I don't have the time. Between having a seminar to present and having Rock Band in the evening, I just have to put the old Geek-Asylum as a lower priority for today. However, I should have plenty to say it about the Seahawks having an awesome game or...I won't say the other part. Out of sight, out of mind...for now.


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