Friday, February 13, 2009

It's a play date.

From's Community Calendar:

Play the geezers from the Geezer Gamers website as they play the Xbox LIVE® community in Halo Wars™ on March 8. GeezerGamers is a community built for and by men and women in their thirties and beyond, who take great pleasure in playing video games. This is the generation (or the parents of the generation) that grew up playing Atari 2600, Intellivision, and the Commodore 64. Geezer Gamers is for all those with spouses/exes, kids, mortgages, who are gaining weight and medications, or losing hair and sanity. The overall mission is simple: "We want to provide a safe haven for gamers in their thirties and above to connect with other 'mature' gamers and get the most fun out of the Xbox LIVE experience."

Geezer Gamers will be online Sunday, March 8 from 8:00 – 11:00 P.M. ET (5:00 – 8:00 P.M. PT) playing Halo Wars.

I've been playing the Halo Wars demo since it released last week. I'm loving it. Even if I didn't have this commitment to buy the game, this would likely be a day one buy for me. (But it's nice to have an excuse.) It takes me back to the many hours I spent playing Warlords Battlecry and Star Trek Armada on the PC. Hopefully, my playing style won't limit me to playing only one or two games in the three-hour period — although, as far as the game is concerned, I'm already taking too long. The campaign awards you a medal based on your performance in the level, and one of the criteria is time to complete. My "build to excess" compulsion has thus far prevented me from earning a time bonus on the second mission. (The first mission has no building.)

Not that I mind, really. (Except I'd bet there's going to be an achievement or two buried in there somewhere.) Considering I'm having fun playing the game and spending as much time as possible with it, I think it's a good thing.

Is the game as complex as a PC-based RTS? Not by a long shot. There are things you can do on a PC that are hard to impossible on a console. But Ensemble did a pretty decent job in putting the essentials of a RTS on a console, and making it accessible.

I'm really looking forward to this game, not just playing it with the community, but playing the campaign beyond the first two demo levels. I can't wait for March.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

True Achievements

Making the news lately is a site called True Achievements. It's a neat idea. Basically, they are building a database from people who sign up through their site, of what games people have played and what achievements from those games they've earned. They then apply some calculations to assign a value to each achievement, based on how many people have played the game vs. how many have earned said achievement.

The theory goes, if a lot of people play a certain game but only a few earn achievement X, then that achievement must be hard to get, so achievement X gets a high point value. Conversely, if almost everyone who plays the game gets achievement Y, then achievement Y must be pretty easy, and so it gets a low value.

So, your "true achievement" score is a measure of how many achievements you get that are actually hard to get (or, more accurately, how many you get that are rare to get). It's much like the "Effort" or "Overachievement" score, but down to the achievement level.

The site was relatively small, so when some of the bigger gaming sites linked to them this week, the influx of new registrations kind of overwhelmed them to the point where they had to impose a moratorium on new registrations until they got caught up with demand. I was fortunately able to sign up before this, and my score has just been calculated.

To be honest, I'm a little surprised and somewhat disappointed with how it turned out. Some of the achievements that are among my most proud, such as Call of Duty 4's Mile High Club, ended up getting a much lower adjustment ratio than I expected, despite how hard I had to work at them. Conversely, some of the achievements that took nothing but time got some of the higher ratios. And even with the adjustments, Avatar and NBA 2k6 are in my top scoring achievement list. (The reason is, applies a ratio of 1.00 or greater. Even with an extremely low ratio, the Avatar achievement "One with Combat", starting at 300 gamerscore, stands at 302; a 50-point achievement would need a ratio of 6.00 to equal it, and the highest ratio in my bank is only 5.71 [not counting a 9.81 ratio on a zero-point achievement from Kameo].) It's not quite the "equalizer" I hoped for.

Still, it's interesting to see how rare or common some of these achievements are. I have to admit, I wasn't too surprised to see how few people were actually willing to suffer through Sneak King, though.

The site has some nice features, too, in addition to the "true achievement score" calculation. You can track your friends and their achievements as they earn them, set "to-do" lists of achievements, post solutions and reviews for achievements and games, and search for "easy" achievements (achievements you haven't earned in games you've played with low ratios).

It's a pretty neat site. Hopefully they'll be able to get all their bugs worked out and get some more servers online to catch up with demand, 'cause it's one I'd like to see stick around.