Raptr’s new… whatever.

I’m completely serious when I ask – what the hell is with the way that Raptr works now? I am completely befuddled. This makes absolutely no sense to me. There doesn’t seem to be logic there. If there is logic there, I would like to know about it.

Does Raptr get something out of making people download and run a desktop app to get all their achievements run through? Is there some kind of partnership with some company out there? Something hidden within the desktop app itself that counts how many times you use it, thus getting them revenue? Is there some secret benefit to having this desktop app that I’m just not seeing? I would think that having to connect through two different places would make the burden heavier on Raptr, not lighter. And you can’t tell me that people who are using the app immediately dislodged their machines from the web-based account, since I am pretty sure that you can’t do that, just have all the info on the app and not the website. And if it can be done, show me 10 people who have actually done it. That means that the Raptr website and the Raptr app are pulling the information through the aether to display to the world.

I signed up with Raptr to share with people the shit that I’m playing and so that I could see what my friends are playing. I like to compare achievements and some of the people on my Raptr list aren’t on my XBL list, so the only way I have of seeing what they’re up to is Raptr. This may seem a bit stalkery, since I don’t generally play multiplayer games. And maybe it is. I just like to watch, okay?

But now, like half my achievements don’t show up unless I run that stupid app. Or leave it running. Since I don’t do any kind of PC gaming, I see no reason for it to always be on. And I’ve just discovered that there’s not a version of this desktop app for Apple machines.

So if you’re going to force people to use this app in order to see all of their achievements, and so their friends can see all of them, why don’t you have something compatible with MacBooks or whatever? How does that make sense? These people literally cannot have their correct information displayed on their profiles because there is no way for them to do it unless they want to manually input all of the details themselves. And who the fuck wants to do that? Nobody.

Seriously.

Nobody.

I would like a very clear, very descriptive answer to these questions: Why? What is the point? Where is the benefit? (Not just the benefit to US, but also the benefit for RAPTR.)

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An Open Letter To Netflix

Dearest Netflix,

What the fuck.

No, seriously. What the fuck is going on with you? Why is it that you don’t seem to fucking function anymore? Not even in the “I hate the way you tried to ‘streamline’ your shit” kind of way, either. But in the “I don’t think your employees are actually doing their jobs” kind of way.

I guess it started a while ago, maybe even before you decided to start charging more for shit. Splitting up the DVD and Instant services was just an asshole move. But things were rocky before then, weren’t they?

You started suggesting things that you thought I might like that were NOTHING like the movies and shows I had just watched or were in my history. Okay, I can see that I suppose. Maybe there’s something in this romance movie I might like even though 70% of what I watch is drama or horror, and 20% of it is comedy. Maybe somebody dies, I don’t know.

From there it went to what you were comparing with what. In your “More Like ___” sections, I started to find more and more things that were NOT alike at all. Not in any way. That got paired up with the fact that you started grouping things wrong. Care Bears in science fiction? That’s not how that works.

Then it was like a trainwreck happening, one that’s still happening. One that I just don’t even try to understand anymore.

– You say there are new episodes in a series when there aren’t any.

– You list things on the New Releases tab when they’ve been out for four or five years. If you just got it, and are just now able to let us see it on Instant, it should go under Just Added.

– There is no longer any way to search by actor if you’re not online doing it. It just tells you that shit doesn’t even exist. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure that Marilyn Monroe did a couple of movies and that you’ve got them all stashed somewhere. The fact that I have to search each one by title instead of being able to bring them up by her name? What the hell?

– Your copy is wrong. More often than I would like, I find myself watching something because of the description I read. And hating it. Or, on the flip side, not watching it because it sounds like something I would loathe, and then finding out later that I would have loved it.

– Your employees aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing. Did you know that for a really long time after you added Life to Instant that you had Charlie Crews’ name completely wrong? Hm? You did. Shouldn’t have happened.

– Episodes for shows are actually skipped over during regular play. When I watched Supernatural, it skipped over half of a season when I was hitting “play next episode”. When I watched Ugly Betty, the first few episodes of the first season had the wrong information tied to them, and weren’t in order. A couple might have even been missing, but since I don’t know the series, I couldn’t say. But it was all very confusing.

– Recently Watched randomly just doesn’t show up at all. Doesn’t seem to be any reason for it. I’ll just turn on my 360, fire up Netflix, wait to see my Recently Watched so I can easily pick up where I left off, and … it’s not there. The whole goddamned field is just gone.

Now let’s add into the things I’ve spoken of before, shall we? I’ll just copy and paste it to make things easier for both of us.

“To make it worse, Netflix also changed their dashboard to coincide with the Xbox change. And the Netflix dashboard is so goddamned useless sometimes that I want to throw things. They show you movies you might like to see during the last bits of movie you’re watching (some movies have stuff going on during or after the credits, so I’m not particularly happy that they reduce the screen) but they don’t give you a description of the movie, you have to seek it out after to see what it’s about. There’s no way to rate a movie without playing it. There’s no longer any way to mark that you’re not even interested in the movie anymore, so stuff you really don’t want to keep seeing pop up will, unless you go to the site. For tv shows, you can’t go in and pick an episode unless, again, you start playing the series. So if you haven’t watched in a while and want to see if the “new episodes” they’ve added are really and truly new, you have to start playing, then go to the episodes list. This is completely stupid.”

That’s just something I tacked onto a rant about the 360 dashboard. I think it’s good here, too. Since it’s about you. And the things you’re slacking on. Or forgetting. Or just don’t care about anymore.

The money I shell out to you for this service might not mean much to you. But it means a lot to me. I’m on a really strict budget. Netflix is one of the things that is completely unnecessary to life that I allow myself. A fun little thing that I enjoy having quite a bit.

It might not matter to you that all this shit is broken, but it matters to me, because of this money I hand to you every month. I know it matters to other people as well. Maybe they don’t use Instant as much as I do. Maybe that 10 bucks isn’t a really big deal to them. But it still matters. You know why?

BECAUSE WE PAY YOU FOR THIS SERVICE.

It’s not something that you give us for free. It’s not an add on to DVDs like it used to be. It’s a stand alone service that shouldn’t be as fucked up as it is. It should work. It should be functional. It should be valid. It should be fun, and not frustrating.

I’m not going to threaten to not use your service, because that’s unrealistic at this point. But I am going to ask you to fix your shit, because I’m tired of it, and there’s a good number of people I know who are also tired of it. It should be seen as a courtesy to us, your paying customers.

To sum up?
Get your shit together, Netflix.

-Mila.

Prince of Persia (Movie)

I waited a very, very long time to see this movie. I knew how I would feel about it pretty much right away. I love the Prince of Persia franchise. From the very first one that I used to play in elementary school on the school computers, right up until the Two Thrones. I am wildly, madly in love with these games. I remember being pretty excited when I heard that they were going to make a movie, trepedacious, but excited as well. I hoped beyond a hope that this would be the video game movie to break the bad streak of video game movies.

Then I saw the star.

Now, please, for the love of god, do not get me wrong here. I also very much adore Jake Gyllenhaal. I have seen pretty much everything that he has done in his career, and I have found very little to complain about. I think he’s an amazing actor, and has a great range. So it’s nothing at all personal to Jake.

It’s just that… well.

He’s not the Prince.

My excitement didn’t just waver, it sort of completely and utterly deflated and left me with absolutely no wanting to see this movie. That’s a pretty big drop, really. I see now that I should have expected it, given Jake’s appeal and stardom, who was producing the movie, and the fact that there are only a handful of video game movies out there worth their salt (and no, I cannot name them off the top of my head currently, so don’t ask. [but I can say none of them are by Uwe Boll.])

I waited for it to come up on Netflix Streaming until I would watch it. And I wasn’t even really waiting for it. I was just browsing one day, bored, and realized that it was there. I thought “hey, I have a few hours to kill and no desire to think about anything or put much effort into life, why not”.

While I will say that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, it was bad. It disappointed me that they had to fuck with the story, they had to give everyone names. There wasn’t enough of the Prince jumping around like a supermonkey. It all sort of fell flat. Especially the ending. Flat. Predictable. Boring. About what I had come to anticipate.

I am glad that I watched it. It’s behind me now. I’ve seen it. I have an informed opinion. I wish Netflix had an added star for “meh”. Between “didn’t like it” and “liked it”. I didn’t turn it off. I didn’t loathe it to the core of it’s being. It was disappointing. I won’t ever watch it again, but I sat through it once. There’s no way to reflect that feeling on the Netflix rating system, and there really should be. I have felt that way about more than one movie.

I know it was exciting for Jake to have a role like this, who wouldn’t say yes to being the Prince? But maybe, just maybe, he should have taken a moment and really just thought it out. Asked himself if he was really right for the part, or if he was a fanboy getting his ultimate dream.

My vote? The latter.

Silent Hill: Homecoming (Frustrations)

I cannot even tell you right now how long ago I got this game. I borrowed it first from a friend, then decided that I liked it too much to not own it, and that it was going to take me a fairly long time to play through it, so holding onto his copy wasn’t really nice.

I have this frequent problem. Or I did. I am trying to correct it. It’s a bad habit, and it’s how I ended up with a giant fucking stack of games that were only somewhat played through. I would be in the middle of a game and something would come out that I was more interested in. Now, instead of buying said game and waiting until I finished what I was working on, I would play the new game, leaving the other sad and alone. Crying. On my shelf.

While I did this with Silent Hill: Homecoming, I did manage to pick it up again fairly quickly after I finished whatever wondrous thing had floated my way. I was playing along quite happily, too. Enjoying myself. Yelling at the television when things wouldn’t die. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have a potty mouth. It’s not just when I write.

Then the most horrible of horribles happened. The one thing that every gamer dreads and curses the sky for.

I got stuck.

I did it to myself. I can wholly admit that. It was all entirely my doing. No question. I went into an area with maybe two bullets, a quarter of my health, a crowbar, an axe, and a flashlight. No medical kits. No health drinks. Just wandered on in, didn’t even think about it. Didn’t consider that I’d just found something pretty significant and maybe, just motherfucking maybe, I should take a moment to gather myself so that I wouldn’t be walking into the massive clusterfuck of assrape that I did. No. Not me. I’ll just go right down this pretty creepy ladder here, and… oh. What’s that? Boss you say? Can’t go back, you say? Fucked myself, did I?

I did.

I literally spent weeks trying to find a way to defeat Scarlett with what I had on me. I can admit that I didn’t even come close. Not even mildly. It’s actually pretty laughable how not close I came to killing her and proceeding with the rest of the game. I would laugh, except it’s my problem. Laughing at yourself often gets you a white padded room and a special jacket. Or maybe that’s just how hard I would be laughing, and with the release of emotion might come some added screaming and…

Let’s move on, shall we?

I have previously talked about my quest to wrap up the above noted games, bringing my backlog into some realm of sanity. Coupled with the vow that once I have picked up a game, I will complete it before starting another. (This vow is hard to keep. Obviously I was not made for vows. Or with much willpower when it comes to video games.) The time for Silent Hill: Homecoming did roll around, and lo, I picked it up and with heavy heart did erase my previous game, thus confirming the restart that was fated to occur.

I’ve been enjoying it… I suppose I should say that I had been, had being a very key word here… I had been enjoying it during the replay. There had been enough time and enough other games in that time that I didn’t remember the story perfectly, I didn’t automatically know how to solve the puzzles. It was a little new despite how far I’d gotten. It was okay. It really was.

Until I started thinking about getting to that boss level with the goddamned giant fucking puppet of massive sphincter bleeding. Then I started to get upset. Not with the game, though, with myself. I kept thinking of all the things I could have done differently to prevent this replay from happening. Replaying because you want to is one thing. Doing it because you’ve shoved your own head up your ass is entirely different. It’s just aggravating.

I had to stop playing again. Now it and GTA 4 are the ones staring at me from my shelves, asking me why they aren’t yet finished. SH:H pleading with puppy dog eyes and little whimpering noises. “Just finish me, I’m a good game, I’ll show ya, you enjoyed me before, just pick me up, we’ll have a good time together, promise”. Bastard.

I’m just so annoyed with myself over things that I’m taking it out on the game. I have to get over it, that’s what it comes down to. I have to, and I will. Somehow. Because I cannot just let it linger. It will drive me crazy (obviously we’re significantly down that street, aren’t we?).

There will be another update on this when I finish the damn game.

Beautiful Katamari

When I first got this game, I really adored the concept. I loved the story that set up what you had to do. Everything about it suited me just fine. I was excited to play it, and popped it into my machine as soon as I got it home.

I enjoyed it for about 20 minutes. A couple of levels.

After that, it was just tedium for me. I stopped being intrigued by all the things that I could roll up into a ball with me. Then, on top of it, the music started to make me feel like I wanted to put a hole in my head. There were all these little annoyances that I might have been able to handle individually, but all together, were just too much.

I put the game down for three years. I didn’t touch it, and I didn’t look at it. I didn’t even think about it. I’m not against giving something another shot after I’ve had some time away from it to cool down and maybe get out of whatever mind set I might have been in at the time. Look at it freshly, you know? Under different mental circumstances.

So while I was going through all of my partially played games, I noticed that it was still there, and decided to add it to the end of that pile. I figured by the time I got through all the other games, I would be ready for it again. I could give it that second change. Let it show me that I had been wrong, or just in a bad place for it the last go around.

It’s time finally arrived. I popped it into my Xbox and sat down to play.

I discovered that I felt the exact same way.

I went ahead and did a couple more levels, just to be extra sure. But nothing changed for me. I wanted to like this game, I wanted to like it so very much. But I just didn’t. I couldn’t even get halfway through it. There was no way to force myself. I ended up giving it to a friend who I knew would appreciate it more than I would, and she did. She played through it pretty quickly, actually. I’m glad that somebody got joy and enjoyment out of it, because I couldn’t.

There haven’t been any sort of large number of games that I have started and were unable to finish because of my dislike. In fact, the only two I can really think of are this one and Watchmen: The End is Nigh. Oh, and don’t get me wrong. My apathy toward Katamari is nothing close to my loathing of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh. I am of a general indifference toward Beautiful Katamari. I hated Watchmen deep into the core of me. There was nothing redeeming about that game, and I think if anybody handed it to me, I’d light it on fire.

It does actually make me a little bit sad that I couldn’t get into Katamari. I know that a lot of people had fun with it. It makes me wonder why I couldn’t manage to have fun with it.

Oh well. We can’t win them all, can we?

But considering my point of view compared to all the others out there, I can’t honestly say that anybody should or should not pick this one up. I feel as if I’m in the minority here, thus making me an unreliable source.

Dante’s Inferno

Have you ever been really bad at a game you really loved? I haven’t. Well, not until Dante’s Inferno. And that sounds really arrogant, but it’s true. When I find a game that I adore, it’s like I already know what to do. My brain and my hands communicate perfectly, and everything comes extremely naturally.

Again, that was until Dante’s Inferno.

I picked this game up as soon as I could. The moment that it started to be talked about, I was interested. I am a huge fan of the Divine Comedy and have had multiple copies of it over my life. Currently I have an older set in a three book arrangement, and a giant copy complete with the woodcuttings. You can imagine that I was pretty excited to hear that they were going to make a game from this.

I knew, of course, that they wouldn’t be following the story exactly. How could they? And that things would be left out, other things would be added in that weren’t there originally. I made peace with these facts long before the game was released. The point was, it was going to be Dante’s Inferno. That’s all it needed to be, for me.

When I got the game, I was more than pleased with what I was seeing. I had no complaints to make, and happily worked my way through levels, deciding (of course) to damn everything as much as possible on the way.

The only problem was – I kept dying.

There’s something to be said for getting used to a game and dying a couple of times in the very beginning, but that wasn’t what was happening here. This was an extraordinary amount of dying. This was me kicking the bucket every few minutes. This was the sort of dying that makes you feel really bad about yourself as a gamer. It was getting to the point that I was only able to get through one level each time I played before I found myself extremely frustrated and having to quit. This is not the kind of thing you want happening in a game you adore. And despite my inability to stay alive, I was still in love.

It got to the point that I decided I was going to have to go for the easiest difficultly level. I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I went to the options and lo…

I have it set on the hardest. The hardest is called “Hellish”. Yeah. No kidding. It appears that Dante’s Inferno doesn’t work the way that other games do, with an “easy” “medium” and “hard”, but rather “Normal” (medium) “hard” (Holy crap) and “What the fuck” (dear god, save me). When I saw it, I thought that “Classic” was what they were calling “Easy”, so I skipped to “Zealot” which I thought was “medium”, and accidentally went down too far on the list, putting myself on “Hellish”.

You see, I do all my games on Medium. I’m arrogant, I’m not cocky. I know my level of gaming, and I know what I’m comfortable with. I like a challenge, but I don’t like to be constantly frustrated. Rarely will I go above Medium, and really, those times, it has to do more with getting an achievement. Like if you beat a boss on Hard and don’t have to do the whole game on Hard in order to get it.

So I’m pretty proud of the fact that I got through so much of the game on Hellish, but I was really happy when I knocked myself back down to Classic and stopped dying all the time. The game became fun, and my love grew. I could actually get through entire sections without a single death.

I enjoyed the game enough to play it through twice back to back, and loved all the interactions with Virgil (there could have been more). I loved the way that they made the circles look, there was definitely a feel of what kind of people suffered within them. There was no sugarcoating of what was going on, and the damned echoed (alright, and amplified) the kind of brutality that Dante wrote about. In the Divine Comedy, he certainly doesn’t give mercy to the souls he speaks about, and it was nice that the game didn’t either.

Cowboys & Aliens (graphic novel)

Wow.

I … I really don’t know how to say this, guys. I’m really… I’m really sorry.

I know we all really liked the movie version of Cowboys & Aliens, Daniel Craig did a really fantastic job running around in chaps and hurting people a lot. Really, everyone did a rousing performance in that movie. We enjoyed the way they made the aliens look. We like that the shitty kid got hurt a lot. In general, we just really liked the film.

And in really liking something, we tend to want more of it. So we go around looking for things that can prolong our experiences. Things to make us happy. Things that will bring back that joy we felt while watching shit blow up on the big screen.

Which might lead some of us to the graphic novel. And those of us who find it might become very excited. We might order it on Amazon and wait anxiously for it to be delivered. Once we get it, we might sit for a while, just looking at the cover (a new cover, by the way, not the old one, this one is mighty pretty). We might, then, crack it open to the front page, ready to nestle into our favorite reading spot and relive our glee.

Then we might find ourselves very, very disappointed.

It’s kind of like when you see somebody do something really stupid, but they don’t end up hurting themselves. Or watching a car blow through a red light right in front of a cop, but the cop doesn’t do anything about it. It’s that kind of let down. Enormous. Soul crushing (Okay, that might be going a little too far, maybe).

Pretty much the entire thing is different from the flick, and I can really see why they’d choose to change everything right down to the character’s names, because really, other than the concept, the whole thing sucks. From the start, right to that very last page, you’re going to find yourself wondering what the fuck you just read. Then you’re going to wonder why the fuck you just read it. Believe me, you won’t find a good answer for that. All the reasons previously stated, all that wonderment brought about by the movie, and that need for more of it, it’s going to be gone. Right down the tubes.

Luckily, the movie is so completely different from this bound colorful wad of paper that you won’t even be able to bridge your disappointment of the one to the other. It’s like you’ve seen a Muppet movie and decided to read a how-to guide about frogs to further your fun. There really are only very vague similarities, and those you can ignore or wipe from your mind completely. Don’t fret too much over it. It can be forgotten. I’ve nearly already done so, and it’s only been a couple of days.

I suppose I’ll keep the thing around, because the cover is really very pretty, and I spent money on the thing, so I feel bad doing anything else aside from letting it have some shelf space. But I feel like I really need to spare you from the same fate.

Do not buy it. Do not even read it. If a friend has it and offers to loan it to you, they’re likely trying to pawn it off on you, don’t fall for it. Say ‘Thank you, my good friend, for your thoughts of me on this subject matter, but I must respectfully decline on the basis that you are a liar’. And then maybe quickly leave before your friend tries to sneak it into your car or backpack.

It does make me sad that I have to write words like this about something that should have been good. But I cannot bring myself to lie when things are bad. It’s unfair to the rest of the world. I suffer so that you do not have to. Don’t let my suffering be in vain.