Thrawn Vs. Wi11y: The Longest Completion Challenge EVER

With the GSL now wrapped up, my teammate Steamboat Wi11y and I have decided to have a little fun with each other in a completion challenge to add some impressive completions to our tags from our gaming backlogs. What started as a first-to-fifteen is now a race to 50 completions from a list of over 60 eligible targets. We’re still hashing out some details, but there will be prize money involved.

We agree to message each other when a game has been completed so we’re both aware of the progress of the other. Also, all achievements must be unlocked, DLC included.

As you can see from the list below, most of the games on this list are long or challenging completions (or both). The game can be finished on any platform it was released and has achievements for.

Wi11y already leads me 1-0 for completing Ascend: Hand of Kul. With the huge amount of time this list would take to clear, I’m not worried either of us has an unfair advantage over the other. I’m closer to done with Dragon’s Dogma and Kingdoms of Amalur, but I’m sure he’s ahead in other titles. If Wi11y only plays games on this list, I’m going to get smoked, as I’ll still be enjoying Xbox One and other games while chasing this goal.

I’ll be working the GWFL games aggressively before server shutdown, so I’ll be starting with those games (AOEO, Dawn of War, Dark Souls PC) and then what I can of the rest of my GFWL catalog before digging too deep into the rest of it. Still choosing a 360 title or two as a focus when I need a break from the keyboard and mouse.

Here’s the list:

1. Record of Agarest War
2. Record of Agarest War Zero
3. Two Worlds
4. Dishonored
5. Age of Empires Online
6. Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 2
7. Resonance of Fate
8. Dead Rising
9. The Secret of Monkey Island
10. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
11. The Darkness
12. The Bureau: Xcom Declassified
13. Happy Wars
14. Overlord
15. Assassins Creed: Brotherhood
16. Blue Dragon
17. Ascend: Hand of Kul
18. Final Fantasy XIII
19. Batman: Arkham Asylum
20. Duke Nukem: Forever
21. Faery: Legends of Avalon
22. Bioshock: Infinite
23. Dark Souls
24. Portal 2
25. Warhammer: Battle March
26. Final Fantasy XIII-2
27. Lost Odyssey
28. Stacking
29. Deadlight
30. Assassin’s Creed
31. Hydrophobia
32. Nier
33. The Orange Box
34. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
35. Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
36. Afro Samurai
37. Eternal Sonata
38. Defiance
39. Infinite Undiscovery
40. Left 4 Dead
41. Gears of War
42. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
43. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
44. Rise of the Argonauts
45. Divinity II: Ego Draconis
46. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
47. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
48. Bioshock
49. Dragon’s Dogma
50. EDF 2017
51. EDF: Insect Armageddon
52. EDF 2025 (out next year)
53. Dark Souls 2 (out 2014)
54. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
55. Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga

Either / Or

56. Kingdom Hearts 3 or Thief
57. Disney Universe or Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
58. Dead Island or Dead Island Riptide
59. Batman: Arkham Origins or Batman: Arkham City
60. Xcom: Enemy Within or Xcom: Enemy Unknown
61. Farcry 3 or Borderlands 2

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Xbox One: What I Love, and What Really Needs to Be Improved (Plus some Achievement Thoughts)

Xbox One, I feel like you came with an operating system that is only 2/3 finished, but I love you anyway.

The last time I made a console leap, it was from the Playstation 2 over to Xbox 360. PS2 was an amazing game machine for its time, but the graphical leap from PS2 to 360, plus the added features and reliable online play made it hard to ever go back to the older system. I feel no such leap this time around. The graphics are sure prettier, but my core needs – online MP, party chats, streaming netflix, digital downloads… all of that is also on 360. The 360 is a wonderful gaming machine, and nothing I’ve seen from the One leads me to believe I won’t still be enjoying my 360 for several THOUSAND more hours over the next 5-6 years while also enjoying the One. I’ll be a 360 gamer until they pull the plug on LIVE support for it, I reckon.

Xbox One does some awesome things. Here’s What I Love So Far:

Skype: My brother lives in Spain, and without modern technology, I’d never get to hear from him. Skype integration is awesome, because he can now play games on his PC, while I game on the One, and we can talk to each other. If using Kinect, the system dials down game audio automatically so there is no interference. My brother confirmed he could not hear any Crimson Dragon, but heard me perfectly while I used the Kinect as a mic. When I plugged in my headset, the game audio returned to normal and I heard my bro in my ear.

Kinect: When we experimented with Skype video calls, the results were everything Microsoft promised. 1080p video. It automatically focused on everyone in the room. I had 4 friends with me when I called my bro, and it followed someone when they got up and moved around the room. The voice commands work more often than not, and I’m finding it often the fastest way to get around the system. I have not spend much time with motion sensing in games, but it looked pretty damn impressive in the time I spent with Xbox Fitness.

Challenges: They may not be worth gamerscore, but I’m digging the extra achievements. If you win one, it’s a permanent extra achievement for you on the game. If you miss a challenge, it does not hurt your completion percentage. There’s no penalty for failure, which is awesome. Some even come with bonus rewards. I can see this becoming a new form of hardcore expression for a game you’re particularly passionate about. Sure, you and your friend could both had the 50 achievements for 1000 points in a game, but you could be more awesome for having 58 achievements in the game thanks to several challenge completions.

Game Recording: I can save clips of my hole-in-one shots in Powerstar Golf, edit them into a single video, save it to skydrive, and later upload to YouTube. What’s not to love?

Facial Recognition, Instant Profile access: My friend Stefan and I both had our profiles running on my Xbox One in the amount of time it took us to enter our emails and passwords. No lengthy downloads, it was all RIGHT THERE. I love being able to sit down and be greeting by “Hi Nate!” even as I turn on the controller.

OK, Now let’s talk about my launch-day issues with Xbox One.

To be clear, I love the system and am no hater, but some stuff needs to change. Given the incredible evolution Xbox 360 saw over its life, I’m optimistic much of this could come to pass.

Friend Notifications: I get that friends is its own channel with a feed, but why should I have to load that up to see who is online? I don’t want it snapped to the side just to see who is logging in. At a MINIMUM, I want to receive notifications when people I have tagged as favorites log in. Ideally, everyone could set friend notifications to favorites, all friends, or no notifications.

The Achievements Page: There is SO MUCH POTENTIAL for what this could do. The current iteration gets the minimum job done, but misses things that already exist on 360. On 360, I can see my achievement completion percentage and the number of games I’ve completed. I can select completed games and scroll through the list. This needs to come to One. I’d love to see it broken down by system too. Ideally, each system would have its own section you can scroll through, but at a minimum I’d like to see One, 360, and Other (to cover windows, WP, etc.). It would be awesome if, for at least the One, Microsoft tagged all games with a genre, and made it possible to search by genre to see how you have scored in RPGs, for example. How great would it be to see more of this date in-system and not have to rely on outside sites to dig it up?

I WANT TO TURN GAMES OFF: I get the appeal of leaving a game running while you pop over to a different app. I have used this to my benefit several times. However, if I’m streaming a 45 minute episode of Chuck on Netflix, Powerstar Golf does not need to be running in the background? This bothers me because Xbox One tallies how much time you spend in a game, and you can compare to your friends. I like to know how much time I’ve spent in the games I play, and to have them always running in the background makes it impossible to get a true sense of the time spent in each. This has resulted in my making Killer Instinct the sacrificial lamb game, that I fire up when I really intend to be doing something else. This will ruin the validity of my playtime for that one game, but will allow me to keeps the others more honest. Why not just have the option to stop the game?

Snap: Awesome in theory, more limited in application. I feel this feature benefits only those with really large TVs. I tried to snap Netflix on a 36 in TV, and that video screen was a postage stamp. That was not a fun experience at all. I don’t know if this is possible, but I’d love the option to fiddle with rations to decide how much screen real estate each app has, so I could somehow make Netflix bigger.

Those moments when Kinect is too smart for its own good: Every time I played Killer Instinct with a friend, if I handed him the controller, it switched to his profile. We didn’t want that. I could delete his , account off the xbox, or turn the kinect around (which we did), but an option to disable automatic profile swapping would be nice.

Early thoughts on Next-Gen for me:

I’m liking this as a chance to have a semi-clean slate. I still have a rotten 360 and GFWL completion percentage to try to improve while I can, but I can start from square One (see what I did there?) and keep a better completion percentage on the new system. I love not having to worry about my saves as they are stored on the HDD and backed up in the cloud. This generation looks to build on everything nice about the 360, with some added bells and whistles.

Achievement Tips:

Killer Instinct: If you’re not concerned about completion, Killer Instinct is something of an achievement gold mine, for an easy 400-500 points and 40-50 achievements without much effort. With a boosting partner, it is easy to grab 18 achievements. 6 for a supreme victory online, 6 for winning against a friend, and 6 for winning against every character (one achievement of each type for all of the game’s 6 characters).

Play survival on beginner and win 10 games for another 2 achievements per character, 12 total. You’re already to 30. There are 5 pointers for winning a versus match as each character. If you don’t already have them, they can be done in offline versus on an easy AI. That’s 36.

It won’t take much more time to get to 50 fight titles with each character, this will unlock the Novice achievement for each character. You’re now at 42 achievements. Once at 50 fight titles, purchase the first color change option, which again, is an achievement per character. That’s 48 achievements. I have not timed it, but I’d bet all of that can be done in under 6-7 hours.

The real chore achievements are the ones for ranked matches (20 per character = 120 ranked wins needed), fight title counts of 150 per character, and 2000 matches per character, as those are very time consuming. BTW, I do not believe it is possible to boost ranked wins at this time. The matchmaking is random, and I doubt you’ll be able to line it up to connect with a partner. Maybe down the road if the online for this game dries up, but it’s highly unlikely this close to launch.

Powerstar Golf: I love this list, but it is absolutely a time consuming and challenging completion. Credits and XP are earned for every round, whether you succeed in a career event or not, so it’s worth sticking through even failed efforts to make some progress. Starting out, I would save and buy a few of the 16,000 credit packs to have some better early options, but after that, I recommend saving the 60k to get extreme packs, as those clubs are worth the wait.

Be accepting of failure. Even with good clubs, the gold medal challenges in career mode can be extremely challenging and can often take several attempts. This is a skill-based game!

Reiko’s Tesla ability is your ticket to the Eagle, Double Eagle, and Hole-in-One achievements, as it sucks the ball toward the hole. You have a good shot of holing out if you are good enough to get your shot close. I have two hole-in-ones so far using this ability. I have not yet got the double-eagle, but I did get within 3 inches of it, so I know it’ll work eventually.

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Thrawn vs. Wi11y: The Insane Post-GSL Completion Challenge

Some of the most fun I’ve had in this GSL to date has come boosting and BSing with by teammate Wi11y (full gamertag: Steamboat Wi11y). We’re both fans of RPGs, MMOs, and Strategy games. He has an awesome completion percentage in the realm of 85%, while mine is a lowly 56%.

In the name of having fun and a friendly competition, we put together a list of 15 (mostly) hard-as-hell games we both want to have maxed out on our tags. First to complete the list wins. This is for fun, as nothing is at stake, and we’ll be helping each other with several of the games. As you can see, many of the games on the list below take 100+ hours to complete, so this is a loooooong battle.

Thrawn vs. Wi11y – the 15 games he will (and I will probably not) complete:

  1. Dawn of War 2
  2. Age of Empires Online
  3. Dragon’s Dogma
  4. Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
  5. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
  6. Ascend: Hand of Kul
  7. Blue Dragon
  8. Defiance
  9. Dishonored
  10. Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom
  11. Record of Agarest War
  12. Record of Agarest War Zero
  13. Two Worlds
  14. Lost Odyssey
  15. The Bureau: XCom Declassified

Obviously, we will be doing the GFWL games first. I’ll then be working on games on this list mixed in with other projects, like other GFWL games and other general completions. If Wi11y plays nothing but this list, I’ll get DOMINATED, but I expect we’re both going to bounce through other games to keep from going crazy.

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The Projects of 2014

I may still have a month left of a GSL, but that won’t stop me from looking ahead to the future projects I want to undertake in the never-ending quest / hobby that is achievement hunting, and I want to get back into blogging more often, though this space is likely to stay extremely casual. Sorry, no article length feature for the forseeable future.

So, when the dust settles on GSL XII, what’s next? Well, I have a habit of giving pretentious, over-important names to my goals, so with that in mind…

Operation SALAP (Spend As Little As Possible)

I may be buying an Xbox One, but I’m also buying a house, and have several upgrades / projects in mind, so I want to try to work my back catalog and maximize my entertainment from what I have already paid for. Gamefly will be my way to get variety, with some periodic DLC purchases. I’m going full disclosure and will show exactly how much I spend on my hobby, starting December 1st.

Operation Jedi

Jedi, I believe, is the 75% completion award on 360voice, and the goal I want to hit with my completion percentage. Considering I’m at about 56% and need over 3,000 achievements to get there, this is a long-term project.

Operation Minutes to Midnight

This is really priority #1 after the GSL. The time in running out to get everything I can out of my GFWL titles, so I’ll be making a push to try to finish what I can before I suffer a permanent hit against my completion percentage. Listed below are the games I have to do, and the rough order I want to knock them out, knowing I may not be able to accomplish everything. Several of the below I will never complete due to the marketplace being closed and I am missing DLC – though titles it’s strictly completion percentage damage control.

  1. Age of Empires Online
  2. Dark Souls
  3. Warhammer 40k
  4. Resident Evil 5
  5. Viva Pinata
  6. Bioshock 2 (may already be impossible / patched out)
  7. Bulletstorm
  8. Batman: AA GOTY (may already be impossible for me)
  9. Quantom of Solace (boosting needed)
  10. Gears of War
  11. Section 8: Prejudice (boosting needed)
  12. Shadowrun (boosting needed)
  13. Microsoft Flight

I’m looking forward to the semi-clean slate a new generation represents. While I’m going to start with the legacy of my massive 360 backlog and mediocre completion percentage, with the Xbox One I can try to keep my percentage on that system higher, and keep the backlog in check. We’ll see how it goes.

What projects will you be working on with your gaming next year?

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Project 100

I’m going to try so hard to make this work, though it may be insanity when we’re looking at new console releases this year.

I’m tired of the size of my back catalog. I spent hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars building up the generous game collection I enjoy today, but far too many of them have been underplayed, and remain unfinished. Still more I completed the main game but could go back and mine more gamerscore from them. I’ve decided that even though the amount I spend on games is a small portion of my overall budget, I’m going to trim this to the marrow to boost my house fund, plus I want to upgrade my TV and get a higher tier gaming PC once I have my own roof over my head. Every penny counts for that and I’ve been too unfocused to that truth lately.

So, I’m launching Project 100, and until I complete it, I am, to the very best of my ability, not going to buy any new gaming out of my own pocket. I can still take in new games as gifts or in trade, and buy new games from funds earned through writing about games (as that’s like recycling in my mind). I can also buy games through gift cards to places like Walmart or Best Buy, as that’s someone else’s money I’m spending.

The mission of Project 100 is to reduce my back catalog by 100 games, or racking up a lot of play time in specific games.

  • Every game I get all the achievements / trophies in counts as 1 of the 100.
  • Every game w/o achievements that I beat the main story in counts.
  • I get 1 point on the list for every 100 hours I spend in 1 game, as measured by Raptr, unless the game has its own internal time measurement system. (So, going forward, I would get 1 point for every multiple of 100 hours I hit in a game, like Gears of War 3).
  • I can by DLC for games I own as needed to be able to get all achievement points.

Once I hit the 100, then I can decide if I want to keep attacking the back cat (and do I have the sanity to keep doing so), or will I allow it to build up again with new games that have gone down in price while attempting this. (It’s also a motivator to write more often so every once in a while I can shell out for a shiny new game.) I also expect to be spending a fair amount of time exploring the Free to Play game space. Since I have no financial investment in those titles, I’m not counting them in the back cat. (Though I’ll still count it if I hit 100 hours in any of those titles)

I decided I’m not going to retroactively give myself credit for Blood Dragon, and that was a recent purchase anyway.

There will be a page for the ongoing count in the Completion Challenge tab above.


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Nier: One Game – Many Genres

Last night I completed by first playthrough of the odd Japanese RPG Nier. Set over 1,000 years after an apocalypse, one man is on a quest to cure his daughter of a debilitating illness. Along the way, he kills tons of monsters with the assistance of a female warrior who for some unexplained reason is wearing something out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

I had a good time with the game, which includes elements of other old-school genres, like Shoot-Em-Ups (SHMUPS) and text-based adventure games, which sound odd to mix into a JRPG, but they work. The story strikes an odd haunting tone which kept me interested for the 18 hours it took to complete the game (story + some side quests)… which does feel short for a JRPG campaign, but I got the game for $8, so I can’t complain.

The story and its memorable characters are the main draw here, as is the absolutely incredible soundtrack… one of my top 10 best for a video game. The side quests are terrible though… most involve hunting down a grocery list of pointless items for some NPC or another. Combat is pretty basic, with all the depth of a Dynasty Warriors game, though I like the DW games, so I don’t mind it.

Playthrough #2 started with an extended text sequence reminiscent of the text stories of Lost Odyssey, which filled out Kaine’s backstory. Now I’m in the process of working on the grindy achievements. I’m farming rice to make an in-game fortune for the 1 Million Gold achievement (no joke). At which point I’ll be buying what remaining weapons I need, and buying / farming items needed for all the weapon upgrades. I’m at 19 hours played, and the road map says I’m in for 50-70 hours for the full completion, so I probably still have my work ahead of me.

Bring it on. It’s been a while since I beat a JRPG.

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We’re BACK!

It’s been a while… nearly a YEAR, in fact, but this blog is coming back! My work schedule may be insane, but I want to get back into using this as an outlet to share thoughts on the games I’m playing, happenings gamers may be interested in, and general life stuff. Topics will probably not be of the heavy, article caliber for a while, but I’m going to try to have some fun with this.

With my gaming, I’m trying to bring back the Rule of Four. As I’ve blogged in more ancient posts, the Rule of Four is where I limit myself to trying to play only 4 different games, and swap in a new one when one of the Four has been completed. This way, I have some variety to bounce around between games and don’t get bored with any 1, but I’m not juggling so many different games that nothing ever gets finished. There is 1 caveat to the rule – that I sometimes allow extremely time-consuming games to not count in the Four. Games where most of my time is spent in Multiplayer also do not count.

So, my newly rebooted Four are:

  1. Nier (RPG)
  2. Sleeping Dogs (Action)
  3.  Bioshock Infinite (Shooter)
  4. Far Cry 3 (clean-up)

I want to try to maintain a balance between 1 RPG and 2 more action-centric games, plus one game from deeper in the back catalog that I need to clean up achievements in. I’m also playing some Defiance, Black Ops 2, and Gears Judgment, but those don’t factor in here, as they are very time-consuming or MP-centric titles.

I plan to have an extended gaming marathon tomorrow to de-stress after 6 straight days of work, so I’ll throw down some thoughts on that tomorrow night. The tentative plan is a 6-hour stint from 10am to 4pm, then take a break to go and work out (being sedentary all day is BAD), and then a smaller session from 7-9, unless I’m writing something. If possible, I want to play nothing but Nier to get deeper into that RPG, because I need to make up some points for this year’s completion challenge. (I have not made the 2013 tab yet, but you can check the tabs above to see what my completion challenge is all about). I’ll probably end up mixing it up though with Black Ops or Defiance.

That’s all for now. I’m tired and want to game. But I’m back, baby!

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