Other Xbox Live posts here and here:

I've gotten dangerously into Halo 3. It's an ENORMOUS amount of fun.
It can be involving, crushing, frustrating and joy-inducing.
Playing with sane strangers is okay, and playing with people you know or get to know is a good laugh.
I have a group of friends and coworkers I've played with a lot.

Playing team games without friends online is a lucky dip. You can get insane, singing, pot-smoking fools, or you can get pleasantly witty, serious players. If I play a few games in a row there's a meta-game I play in which I try to accrue a team of sane people. Sometimes this can take a while.

Last night I was playing teams alone. I think most of my other Halo 3 playing friends were either working or sleeping off a heavy night of gaming the day before. I played and won a game with some good, sane-sounding players. They might have been a bit young, but hey! If they play well that's to the advantage. I partied up with them. They knew each other from school, it seemed.

There was a between-game discussion about an English teacher's stash of Fruit Loops, and then one player asked us to wait to start another game while he went and got some Fruit Loops from the kitchen. I waited.

In the middle of the next match, one of them was on a score of 6 for a very long time, and he wasn't responding on voice chat. Sometimes players get disconnected, so I asked the other one, "Is your friend okay, is he lagging out or something?" and he said, "Nah, I bet he's gone to get more Fruit Loops."

I was laughing, but only half-laughing because I take the Halo ranking system far too seriously and if we had one player off getting fruit loops we were in danger of losing. It was beyond belief to me that someone would get up in the middle of a frantic game of Halo where other people were relying on him, and walk to the kitchen to grab some sweets. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"No way, come on, maybe he's just having a rough time with his connection."

We played for a bit longer. After about four minutes, the other kid's voice came back on the headset:

"If I get more than 10 kills in this game, I'll be impressed."

"Why?"

"I just went and ate a cheeseburger."

Apparently I take this game far too seriously.

Principles

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This old story came up today, and I thought I'd share.

Once upon a time I had an interview with a internet advertising agency.

I went along, went through the morning's group exercises and was selected to come back for a 2 on 1 chat that afternoon.

"So do you use the internet a lot, Stuart?"

"Oh yes, loads."

"And what do you think of web advertising?"

"It can be irritating, detract from the experience, but mostly I think it's all right. It can be pertinent or informative or funny and interesting. I think an important part of getting advertising to fulfil its function is to catch the eye and create interest but without directly affecting that experience."

"And what do you think of skyscrapers?"

"Of what, sorry?"

"Skyscrapers. Adverts that expand to fill the page when the mouse passes over them."

"Oh I hate those. As I said, that directly and adversely affects the experience."

*awkward silence*

"As a matter of fact skyscrapers form one of our major selling points as a company."

"Oh?"

Which led to this post.

I still hate those fecking things.

Follow-Up Sales

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I laughed and got sort of scared by this Penny Arcade strip but because it was such extreme parody, I thought it was merely a jokey representation of the greed of those in the video game industry:

Boss: I have invented a new Everquest II peripheral - The Visa Crucible. Seriously, listen up. Okay, kids run mom's credit card through the machine and the amount of money they pay directly equals the damage they deal. Each swipe of the card a slash of the sword! It's so pure I think I'm going to cry

Since getting the Xbox 360 I've been exposed to the sort of tag-along necessary purchases that I'm sure are carefully orchestrated somewhere.

Buy: Xbox 360 Elite. Comes with: 120GB Hard drive, wireless controller, headset, cables galore.
Semi-necessary additions:
Xbox LIVE annual subscription: $60
- needed to play multiplayer games online
Games: $60 (new) $20 and up (secondhand)
- needed to play.

Possible additions:
HD-DVD player: $250
-the 360 comes with a DVD player, but not an HD-DVD one. This is a peripheral.
Wireless adapter: $100
-no wireless internet connection
Second controller: $50
-play with a friend

The Xbox hard drive means you can download game demos, additional game content ($5 and up...or free), casual games ($5 -$15), movies ($2-$5), new little profile pictures ($1 and up), desktop themes ($1 up). All very exciting. And costly.

I recently bought a secondhand copy of 'The Godfather' for the Xbox 360 for $24. The adaptation of the classic film is made and published by industry giant EA Games, and came out in 2006. In 2006 it retailed at $60.

Using its unique cinematic links to follow in the footsteps of where so many 3D sandbox-style gangster games have gone before, The Godfather follows hot on the heels of the Grand Theft Auto series, and like Mafia and Saint's Row before, it struggles desperately to match those games but never quite manages it. But trust me, I'm okay with this as GTA4 warmup. I didn't want to end up writing a review - I have a point to make.

I bought the game on Sunday. I started playing yesterday morning. After a few hours' play my character was driving around a virtual Brooklyn and I spotted a symbol on the map that wasn't in the map key. I went to that location and saw a shifty looking character standing in a corner with a large dollar symbol above his head. Normally in the game this means that the character is a black market tradesman, with some ammunition or weapon upgrades up for sale under his dirty mac.
I initiated a conversation, and to my surprise the Xbox 360 LIVE Marketplace tab popped up.
As a low-level thug in the mafia, my ability to hire muscle to help with missions was low to non-existent.
But!
But!
For some real-world money I could give my character the ability to hire the best hitman in the game to accompany me on missions.
Would I like to purchase this additional game content now?

NO!

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