Video Games
The Gaming Update
As I've stated before, I got to be in the last few rounds of beta testing for the Burning Crusade. I'm not sure I've ever explain what that means for the general populate who have no idea what beta testing is. The beta version of a game is basically an incomplete and bug filled version of the game. It's the "not ready for primetime" version. So the company has a bunch of people, some volunteers and some employees, that play the game and send in error reports when something is broken. The interesting thing is that you get to see things before they are done. Sometimes this is frustrating, like when a quest is bugged and you can't complete it, and sometime is just plain cool, like when they haven't put the texture map on a character yet and he's just this green wireframe with no skin. In any case it's an interesting look at the evolution of a game through the development process.

But as I've also stated, the beta is over and it's all for keeps now. The Burning Crusade is here and it's awesome. First the new dungeons, at least the ones I've been in, are wonderfully designed. Plus they are a realistic size, which is much appreciated. Anyone who has run Black Rock Depths knows what I'm talking about. The only issue that I've come across in dungeons so far is that the second boss in The Underbog requires a mage or a warlock in the group to kill him. Otherwise it takes too long and your healers run out of mana. Hedana is doing well. She's up to level xx and has replaced most of her gear. She's been respec'd to Retribution and some Holy. I love the changes they made to retribution. I don't think that it made the Paladin class overpowered but I do keep pulling aggro off the main tank when we're running dungeons. Blizzard has created a new site called the Armory. You can look up stats on any guild or character in there. Click here to see Hedana's page.

Sadly, there where some losses to the Burning Crusade. I'm afraid that in order to make room for my new Blood Elf Mage and Draenei Shaman, I had to say goodbye to my Undead Warlock, Mortir, and Tauren Shaman, Munaki. They went honorably though, donating their money and bags to Maychen the Blood Elf Mage. Similarly, Munachi the Draenei Shaman what greeted by his Alliance siblings with open arms and wallets.

I won't go into too much detail here but basically the new starting areas contain two major areas, basically the equivalent of Northshire Abby and Goldshire for humans. I've played through all of the quests for the Draenei starting area and is ready to move on to one of the continents. She's at level 21, so I'm thinking she'll move to Lakeshire since I hate the Night Elf quest series. That's one of the reasons I love the Draenei starting area, the quest series is well done and flows together nicely. Maychen is only at level 6 so far, but from what I've played so far, both in the release and in the beta, the same can be said for the Blood Elf quest series.

Okay so that's enough World of WarCraft for now. Time to move on to some other game reviews.

First up, I recently tried the demo version of Tortuga Two Treasures and I have mixed feelings about it. It's a bit of a mixed game in that it is both a 3rd person, sword-in-hand game and a seafaring, blowup other boats game. It's strength is in the seafaring aspect. Although it is a bit simplistic and the boats turn slowly like real boats. But overall it's fairly enjoyable in short bursts. The trouble comes in when you hit the 3rd person part of the game. That part of the game is horrendous. The play control is just terrible. If you've read my past review then you know that play control on one o my highest priorities. Apparently, the same cannot be said for the developers. There were some cute parts of the 3rd person game, such as the crotch-kick attack. But overall, I couldn't uninstall the demo fast enough. If you want a pirate game, keep looking.

Next up is a game called Stoked Rider. It's a snowboarding game. I have no idea what possessed me to install it and try it, but it too couldn't uninstall fast enough. Again I'm going to site play control or rather the lack thereof as the source of my disdain for this game. If you want a snowboarding game again look elsewhere.

A while back I also tried a demo of F.E.A.R: Extraction Point. It's an expansion pack for F.E.A.R. and while I've never played the original, the expansion makes a good case for picking up the original. It's one of those spooky 1st person shooter games. But I didn't feel claustrophobic playing it like I do when I play DOOM3. Hallways are decent sized and there are far less spawn monsters. Most are there when you walk into the room. If you like FPS and were disappointed by DOOM3 (and really who wasn't?) then I recommend picking up a copy of this game.

I picked up a copy of God of War 2 the other day and for some reason it hasn't managed to find its what into the PS2 yet. But I'm sure it will by the next update. If it's half as good as the first one, it will be spectacular.

Finally, I'm sad to report that the CompUSA in Woodbury is closing. This is a personal tragedy for me as it was my source for cheap DVD-R discs and computer parts. But there is a silver-lining to every cloud and in this case it came in the form of a clearance sale. I picked up a cheap copy of Star Wars The Best Of PC. Basically it's a 5 in 1 game. It comes with copies of Empire at War, Battlefront, Knight of the Old Republic, Republic Commando and Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. Plus a 14 day trial of Star Wars Galaxies. Do people still play that game? I though everyone played WoW, Everquest, or Warhammer these days. Oh well couldn't hurt to try.

Well until next update, may the light of the naruu shine upon you or something like that.
Let the Closed Beta Begin
The Closed Beta of the Burning Crusade has begun and is awesome. I've poster a bunch (about 100) screenshots in the pictures section. I decided to start a new page for Burning Crusade Screen shots.

I'll post more later and give a better account of my impressions of the game so far later.

I've also been try to climb the PvP ladder in WoW. I've been managing to gain a rank a week and I should hit Sergaent Major on Tuesday. My new Ice Barb Spear is very helpful towards that end, as is the AV battleground weekend. Noting like picking up 20,000 honor from 1 AV. I actually managed to finish 9th on the Alliance side the other night. Defense really is the way to go for HKs and honor. I had 15 killing blows. Not bad for a Paladin.
Madden 07
I picked up Madden 2007 for the PS2 the other day. I've discovered it's not as hard as I thought it would be to tune Madden out. I've actually been having a lot of fun with this game. For some reason, I haven't purchased a football game since Tecmo Super Bowl for the original NES. So i figured it was about time. Plus I've heard good things about Madden 07.

I'm happy to report that it is a very good game. Play control isn't half as bad as I was imagining, although it can be a little temperamental in some of the mini-games. The only issue I've experienced is that the game "pauses" during some of the cut scenes after plays. One of my coworkers has the game for PS2 also and she has the same issue, so i know it's not my system. Oh well as long as it isn't during play it's only a minor irritation.

So far I've just been playing exhibition games. As I wasn't sure how quickly I'd pick up the controls, I've been playing the Packers vs the lowest rated team in the game. I won the first game 70-3 and the second game 97-0. i think it's time to try a harder opponent.

I also picked up a copy of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of memories for the Gameboy Advanced, but I've only just gone through the basics and explored a couple of rooms. Nothing to really report yet.

I believe that about it. I posted a couple of newer WoW screenshots, but I haven't actually played in just about a month. I'm amazed I'm not shaking in withdrawal.
More WoW than you can shake a stick at
Well I've been making a push to spend a bit more time in game during the week. I missed out on last night's Black Rock Depths (BRD) group last night. Oh well. I do need to make a few runs through there though. I'm slowly but surely getting around to doing my Molten Core (MC) attunement. Not that our guild is prepared for that yet. We have a had time getting enough people online for a 5 man group to BRD. But our numbers are growing and so are their levels.

Speaking of which, Gnick finally hit level 40 the other day. Thanks to a generous donation from his big sister, Hedana, he is the proud new owner of a red mechanostrider. While it is nice that he doesn't have to walk and blink everywhere now, I must say the thing is quite annoying. I really don't know how to describe it. Let's just say that I'm almost revered with Stormwind and I might work towards getting exalted just so he can have a horse. I've also decided it was time for Gnick to leave his guild, Conquerors of Armageddon. They were a great group, it just didn't end up working out.

I've posted a bunch of screenshots to the WoW page in the Pictures section. It's been a while so there is everything from an ill-fated solo run in the Sunken Temple (ST) to the Scourge Invasion. I submitted one of the shots to Blizzard to be considered for Screenshot of the Day on their site. As I look back there are a couple others that I should submit too.

No other gaming news. I still haven't gotten around to trying the new Tomb Raider demo. I've seen a couple other games out there that I may need to test drive and I'm still waiting for a couple to drop in price before I pick them up.

One final note, I've added a new section to the website called My WOW Roster. Basically it's a list of all my characters, their armor, abilities, etc... It uses an addon called Character Profiler and a php/mysql interface called WoW Roster. Very nice and very helpful for keeping track of who has what gear.
Games Games Games
Ah where to begin.....

Well how about with WoW. Hedana of course has been at level 60 for quite some time now. I recently switched her professions though. She is now working her way up the levels with her Herbalism and Alchemy skills. I'm still working on getting her into a guild that does some scheduled raiding. Although I'd settle for a guild that does some regular trips through Stratholme and Scholomance or even BRD so I can finish my MC attunement and the quests I have there.

Gnick in the mean time has made some serious progress. For those who don't remember, Gnick is my Gnomish mage. He's up to level 38 now. I'm currently torn between my desire to get his mount so I don't have to run everywhere and the idea of keeping him under level 40 for a while and grind away on battlegrounds to get him up to sergeant. I suppose I could keep him at level 38 for a while, at least until Hedana can make him some money for his mount. You have to love older siblings.

I'll just highlight some other games I've played recently. God of War for the PS2 rocks. That's all that needs to be said. Go buy it.

There are some pictures of my new PC in the Misc picture page. It's a dual core AMD. I wanted to upgrade the video card. This also required upgrading the power supply. So there are some before and after shots of the interior. I was thinking about adding another exhaust fan too, but so far it's been running fairly cool so I don't think I need to.

I've got a couple of demos that I need to try too, so i'll let you know how that goes.

Finally, since it's E3 week I thought I'd chime in on the next generation consoles. Personally I'm cheering for the PS3 for a few reasons.

First, I have a PS2 so the backwards compatibility appeals to me.

Second, the Xbox 360 is retarded. Limited backwards compatibility, no built in high definition DVD player and a reliance on Live titles. Don't get me wrong, I think the system will do ok. But I think they've backed the wrong horse in the HD-DVD vs Blueray battle and they will eventually have to concede and release an external Blueray player.

Third, the Nintendo Wii. All the jokes have been done about the name. It's great that they got a lot of press over the name, but I don't think making your system the butt of jokes before it's even released is a good plan. Sure the console itself looks interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about the new remote controller. To be honest I'll have to try it before I pass judgement on it. Honestly the biggest issue I've had with Nintendo over the years is backward compatibility (or rather the complete lack thereof) and the poor game selection.

To be honest I've become much more of a PC gamer over the years and play consoles less and less. The exception is my Gameboy Advance SP. You need something to do while you are on a flight from Auberdine to Theramore. Happy
Almost forgot
I almost forgot that I promised reviews of a couple game demos. Really quickly, House of the Dead 3 looked great right up until it crashed half way through the load screen. I didn't even give it a second chance. I also tried a demo of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. The first 3 guys who entered the room and tried to shoot me made my computer lag like a night at the Ironforge Auction House. So I didn't spend much time playing it.

I think some of the demos that are coming out are beginning to be a bit much for my poor old Gateway. I guess I can't complain too much. I mean the thing is almost 5 years old and it wasn't the top of the line when I bought it. I think that overall it has held up pretty well. The first game that made it start to feel old was DOOM 3. My system will play the game but it doesn't meet all the minimum requirements on the box.

A new computer would be an interesting proposition for me though. I'm fond of AMD and I like the direction that their processor line is headed, but HP, Alienware and building from scratch are pretty much my options for an AMD processor. I'm not find of HP, mainly because of the association with Compaq, and Alienware machines are so expensive. The building option appeals to me, but it's a lot more work and at the end your only warrantee is the ones that each component carries. Oh well, World of WarCraft runs well enough for now. So until they come out with some sort of fancy pants expansion for WoW that has some serious new system requirements, I'm going to be limited in my FPS gaming selections.
Now on to Azeroth...
Last week I logged on to find a LARGE patch needed to be downloaded. But it was well worth the wait as it was the long awaited 1.5 patch. What does that mean? It means the introduction of Battlegrounds. And I must say it was well worth the wait. But as I would learn once the patch finished, it wasn't my last wait. Yes quite quickly I, along with many other Alliance players, discovered that there is a great imbalance in the number of players on each side. The line to get into Alterac Valley was hours long. Not to be detered, I crossed the vast sea to Kalimdor to see if the line for Warsong Gulch was smaller. Thankfully it was.

That first night I only made it into Warsong once and we were handily defeated 3-0. For those who didn't click the link and read up on the different Battlegrounds, Warsong Gulch is a 10 vs 10 capture the flag match. But of course this isn't touch football, so you can kill opposing players. Those players can then be brought back to life within 30 seconds. So I was slightly disappointed my first night. I only received 13 HKs (honorable kills) and had the humiliation of a 3-0 loss. The next night was more of the same. More kills but we were still being defeated 3-0 in all matches. Then I had quite possibly the weirdest experience. I was put into a game in progress. We were down 2-0 already, our flag had been stolen and when I materialized in our base, there were 3 enemy soldiers attacking me. I died and then the match was over. We lost.

After such a confusing and crushing defeat you would think I would learn my lesson and give up for the night. But no. I got back into the queue and headed towards Felwood to farm elementals while I waited to be called back to Warsong. I didn't even make it to Felwood before I was called back. This time I was in at the beginning and through the end of our 3-0 victory. It was by far the most organized group I've been partied with in Battlegrounds. Everyone stuck together with their group and each group did their job, 1 group attack the other defend. It almost seemed easy. Not that the Horde members didn't do a good job, they did make the match last almost an hour. That last flag was quite the challenge to get back to our base. They had almost everyone guarding at that point, but our strategy of 1 group attack and the other defend eventually paid off with a 3-0 victory.

I still haven't made it into Alterac Valley. Perhaps this week I'll head back over there. I still have 3 more levels until Hedana hits 60, so I should work on finishing those too. You don't receive XP for Battleground, unless you win the match. So it would take a while to finish her levels in Warsong. I may have to go and do some killing in Winterspring, Felwood or Azshara to get some more XP too. I'll have to see what quests I have in my
log. I know I have quite a few for Blackrock Mountain, maybe I'll see if anyone in the guild wants to go there.

I'm also going to have to start working on Gnick one of these days. Although now that I've seen the huge imbalance between Horde and Alliance on Malygos I may have to start leveling Mortir, my Undead Warlock.
WoW Pictures
Okay so I've now started a section in my Pictures pages devoted to screenshots from World of WarCraft. There are pictures of my characters as well as some of the scenery to be found in the game.

As far as game play goes, Hedana has decided that a change of scenery was in order. So we've packed up our troubles and switched continents for a while. We've sailed west to Kalimdor to hang out with the Night Elves. We'll see how long that lasts. There's only so many times you can hear a Night Elf NPC say "What is nature's call?" before the funny dies out.
Now for some WoW news. It was quite the weekend for WoW. Friday and Saturday I didn't play at all. Then Sunday I started yet another new character, Mortir. He's an undead warlock. I didn't put in a lot of time on him yet, he's only up to level 8. But he already knows tailoring, enchanting and first aid. But we'll see how it goes. I've never done terribly well with ranged attack characters (mages, preists, warlocks), I've always had more of a "Hulk Smash" attitude towards characters. Speaking of which, Monday I dedicated my online time to my Paladin, Hedana. She's up to level 35 now. 5 more levels before she gets her horse. I can't wait. I'm so sick of running everywhere. She's up to a purse of 20 Gold too, so I may invest in some 14 slot containers for her or maybe a new mace. We'll have to see what jumps out at her when we go shopping at the Auction House in Ironforge.
So I just noticed that there isn't a feature in this program to archive old blog entries. And it also won't let me drag them off this page onto another page. So I may have to do it manually. I shutter to think.

So a very quick update on WoW since it's been pointed out that I'm a little obsessed with the game. It finally happened, Ed has passed me in level. I'm sure it won't last long as I am about to have less of a life than normal (more on that in a minute). Anyway found this horrid new feature in the game where you type "/played" at the chat line and it will tell you how long you've been playing the game, that is how many hours you've actually been sitting starting at the screen playing. I'm at about 6 days 6 hours. That's 150 hours. Almost 4 work weeks of 8 day shifts. But I don't think I'm obsessed.
WoW update & other nonsense
I'm still a bit confused about the level 20 Paladin quest. I just finished it last night and got my shiny new 24.5 DPS maul. But I must say there would be no way for a level 20 to finish that quest on their own. I mean I'm a level 28 now and probably could have done it completely alone if I had to, but there's no way a level 20 could. Just getting to Silverpine Forest would be tough for a level 20.

But on I trudge. Not tonight though as I have dart league.

In other news, I'm contemplating building myself a new computer. I was just thinking of buying one, but the only company that prebuilds with AMD chips that I'd even consider buying from is Alienware. But I did some rough calculations and I can build a machine for about $600 less than an Alienware machine and I get more control over what goes into it.
Happy New Year
So another holiday season has come and gone. What does that mean? Well for me it means watching full seasons of Buffy on DVD, playing more WoW, food and playing more WoW.

I'm just thankful the holiday goblin vendors have left Stormwind and Ironforge. Now if Blizzard would create a patch to fix the lag spikes that keep crashing my game AND computer, I'd be thrilled.

Maybe it's time for a new AMD FX-55 based PC. They're hard to find though as Gateway and Dell no longer carry AMD. Looks like my choices are HP or Alienware. I'm guessing Alienware will win.
Okay, so I started a new character last night. A human rogue named Anadeh. So far, so good. I'm up to level 7 or 8 and just need to finish a couple more little things before I'm finished with the Elwyn Forest quests. Although there is a Rogue quest in Goldshire that I can't access yet, so we'll see.

The skinning and leatherworking is going well. Although I've been having problems finding wolf and boar meat to further my cooking skills.

The level 20 paladin quest was also fixed in yesterday's patch. So now I can continue with the quest. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be soloing this part of the game as the first stop is the Dead Mines. A group of 5 of us got our butts kicked in there in the past. But I just need to make it to the Goblin Shredder. I figure maybe I'll just tag onto a VanCleef group and finish that quest while I'm at it.

Glad I have a few days off to play. Happy
Okay so many, many days later (and when I say days later I mean that's how many hours I've spent collectively playing), I've now got a level 23 Paladin. Hopefully today they will fix the level 20 Paladin quest so that I can finish it and get my new 2 handed mace.

So far I've managed to convince Ed to join the online frenzy. Now the difficult challenge, convincing Mike. I've even started recruiting for my guild. Got Ransport to join last night.

I'm thinking about starting another character though. Just a secondary character to play every once in a while. Basically I want to be able to use that character for its 2 professions. I think Blizzard should let you have 3 professions. Maybe a Rogue or Druid with Skinning and Leatherworking.

We'll see...
All I can say is WOW! Sign me up now. I spent 5 hours or so playing WoW last night and would probably still be playing right now if they hadn't shutdown the server (it's beta testing so these things are to be expected).

As for the game itself, Blizzard has done it again. Taken the best aspects of all of their games and blended them together perfectly. This game is WarCraft 3 meets Diablo 2 with a touch of StarCraft Ghost. This game could very well be worth the monthly fee.

My favorite feature is one from Diablo 2, Quests. They give the game a sense of drive and forward movement. My least favorite feature is in the movement controls (and I haven't looked yet to see if this is an adjustable feature, so it may be easily correctable), the lack of mouse-look. The interface uses the standard WADS keys for movement, but in order to look up, down, left or right you have to click the left mouse button and drag the direction you want to look. But as I said I haven't looked to see if this is correctable.

In any case, CLEARLY I'll have to spent many more hours doing more "testing"
WoW Beta
So Blizzard has released the World of WarCraft Beta for public testing. It's a 2.5 GB download and appears to work as a P2P download/upload. 2.5 GB? I'm really hoping when WoW goes Gold that Blizzard goes with DVD instead of 5 CDs.

In any case, I can't wait to try it. That is 2 days from now when it finishes downloading. Happy