A Frustrating Discovery

In Which I Discover that all this time the DLC add-ons I thought I was adding to my games on the Xbox One were not actually added to the games!?

The world of games and gaming is supposed to be an orderly one in which the tech that makes up the primary vehicle for gaming is reliable and trustworthy and functions like clockwork.  When you purchase a DLC expansion pack or item, or you grab a free one, you expect that after it downloads it WILL be added to your game, and you WILL be in a position – at the appropriate time – to take advantage of and use that new content or item, right?  Right!  No, WRONG!

Well, it should be Right – but it turns out at least in the case of the Xbox One to be all wrong.  And very frustrating.


I first became aware of this due in no small part to another potential disaster that I am in the process of correcting – that being the sudden realization that I was out of storage space on my Xbox One.

What happened was the game I was playing suddenly started acting all strange – with stuttering video.  It got worse when I tried to apply a new accessory pack and it went V-E-R-Y freaking S-L-O-W.

A brief check revealed that my Internal Storage was down to less than 10 percent free.  So I tried to move some games over to my very spiffy and totally reliable external storage — a 2TB Western Digital My Book USB 3.0 external storage device.  Which I discovered I could not do because it was down to less than 5% free space!?

How did this happen without me being aware of it??  Why did the Xbox One not WARN me that I was running out of room??  Will little Stevie be rescued from the bottom of the well in time??

Okay well as for Stevie, it’s a coin toss.  And I never liked that kid anyway.  But as for the rest, well, the reason the Xbox One failed to warn me is mostly because the wizards at Xbox and Microsoft never thought to add that sort of alarm to the system.  I sent them an email suggesting that they do so – because hey mates, I got your back!


Had Ta Get Some New Sto-Sto!

Understanding that my position was precarious – and that I would not be able to continue playing games, let alone working on any of my writing projects (which at the moment means working on the Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 Walkthrough and Guide for NeoSeeker – which is a game I am very excited about guiding) – I understood instinctively that it was time to get more storage.

That meant deciding on HOW to do that.  I had several options – though replacing the Internal drive was not one of them as this is an Xbox One, not a PS4.  Fortunately just as I was sinking into deep and dark depression fate stepped in and graced me with her presence in the form of the code for the game that was provided by my editor being for the PlayStation 4 edition of the game and NOT the Xbox One edition.  Catastrophe averted!

But I still needed to get more storage on my Xbox One, and here were my choices:

(1) Buy a new drive and add it to my Xbox.
(2) Buy a larger drive and replace the 2TB My Book with that.

In their wisdom the blokes at Xbox opted to add support for TWO external storage devices for the Xbox One, which by the way has a total of three (3) USB 3.0 Slots on it.

Logically that is a good thing because it means that, say for example I wanted to upgrade to a larger storage device, I could attach it to my Xbox and then transfer all of the content to it that had filled up my orginal drive, no worries.  So that seemed like the way to go – and then in the future depending on the cost per TB of storage hardware I may do the same thing or, based on my experience this past week, just add a second larger drive (more on that later) instead.

So I decided to go with replacing the WDMB with a larger unit.  Initially I thought to go with a larger Western Digital My Book – say a 4TB model.  But when I went pricing the drives I discovered that I could get a nearly identical external storage device from Seagate (it too is a 7200 RPM USB 3.0 AC-powered unit) but, if I opted for the Seagate model I could get a whopping six (6) TB for the same price as a 4TB My Book!

Naturally I went with the Seagate 6TB model.

When my honey brought the new drive home – along with a 1500VA / 900W UPS for my main system whose RAID Array does NOT like being suddenly without power at all – I was very happy as I installed it and began transferring the contents of the My Book to it.

game on

There Was Trouble…

But that is when I ran into trouble.  Not storage trouble mind you, but the trouble that has prompted me to write this post.  See as I was moving the contents of the old drive to the new I discovered something that both shocked and disturbed me.

If you are a gamer you know that the modern games environment is a very different one from what we used to have.  Today you need lots of storage because while the games consoles still use the original media for a game to verify you own the license and should be able to play it (that’s for RBE games – digital titles come with a digital license that is saved on your console), they also tend to have lots of DLC-based expansion content, be that new maps, missions, story content, weapons, or kit.

Okay that’s not a problem – so far.  But during the process of moving the data files and games from one device to the other, I accidentally discovered something I was previously ignorant of.  For a LOT of the games I owned, not ALL of the DLC and expansion content had actually been installed!

Understand this – the content – the DLC packs – had been DOWNLOADED.  They just had not been INSTALLED!?

For games like Just Cause 3 or Hitman if that happened it would be obvious – because the content would not be present in the game.  No, for those titles the DLC was faithfully downloaded, installed, and properly licensed for my games.  I noticed nothing wrong.

But in the process of moving the games I had to perform the following specific steps:

  • Open the Settings Option from the Xbox One Main Menu;
  • Select All Settings from that menu;
  • Select System and then Storage from the Settings Menu;
  • Select the device to move the games FROM (Internal or My Book);
  • Select View Content for that device;
  • Move the cursor to the desired game I needed to move and select Manage Game;
  • Select Move All for that game then select the Destination (my new device);
  • Confirm that I want to Move All.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Yeah, but here is the thing – in the process of doing this I accidentally moved the cursor to the Ready to Install option on the side menu, and there, where it should NOT have been, was the following in that selection for the game Gears of War 4:

  • Brothers to the End and Vintage Del Gear Packs
  • Crimson Omen LE Controller Content Pack
  • Map: Blood Drive
  • Map: Checkout
  • Map: Clocktower
  • Map: Diner
  • Map: Drydock
  • Map: Glory
  • Map: Hotel
  • Map: Impact Dark
  • Map: Old Town
  • Map: Slab
  • Map: Speyer
  • Map: War Machine

Are you freaking kidding me!!??!


When I had originally obtained all of that DLC I SAW it download and I just ASSUMED it was installed into the game.  Big Mistake.  BIG MISTAKE!

NONE of it had been installed.  I just never noticed.  And when I checked I found that in one of every four or so games this was ALSO the case.  Expansion content and DLC I had bought and downloaded had simply NOT been installed by the system.  What the hell?!

So as I moved the games and any content that HAD installed over to the new device, I then had to INSTALL the stuff that had been downloaded but never actually installed.

I was pissed.  Very angry.  I seriously considered writing an email to President Trump to warn him about this because I knew that HE would be pissed.  After all he owns and plays an Xbox One – can you imagine how much uninstalled DLC that HE must have?!  In my fantasy head I could see agents from the DEA and ATF and FBI and IRS and ABC and LOTS of other three-letter acronyms kicking down doors at the Redmond Campus, and not even bothering with taking names.

They’d be like – “Bill of Rights?! We don’t need no steeenking Bill of Rights!  Who is the idiot that allowed this threat to national gaming security to take place?!  Tell us now or we will line you all up and start shooting you, one-by-one, until you do!  Because Trump!  Because ‘Merica!  Hell yeah!”

That could happen though, so I deleted the email.  Sigh.


Opinions sometimes have that effect…

How The Heck?

I have no idea how this happened.  I have no idea how I failed to notice this.  I have no idea how to fix it other than to go through every title on my Xbox and check to see if there is content that failed to be installed.

It’s not like I can just look at the “Ready to Install” selection and know because it FAILS TO LIST THEM.  That’s right – there is NO number next to that selection in the menu to tell you how many or even IF there is content Ready to Install – and unlike the regular patches that appear in the Main Menu section appropriately titled “Updates” which DOES list the number of Patches that are Ready to Install, but on the Settings/Storage Menu not so much.  It just does not.

So here I am, with all my games finally installed on the new Seagate external storage unit, checking the games one-by-one to see.

This, mates, is a cautionary tale.  It is my suggestion to you that you just might want to start checking YOUR game library for content you downloaded but, for a mysterious reason, was never actually installed.  Because mates don’t let mates drink-drive, and they don’t let them have uninstalled content.  I’m just saying!

Game Updates – A First World Problem

Like most people in the world, I am capable of saying insensitive things. The likelihood of me doing that is inversely proportionate to my comfort level with the group of people I am among. So it is actually a fairly predictable event that tends to manifest itself as an off-the-cuff comment about something that has either annoyed me recently, or reflects a subject I might have been thinking about.

As a general rule, that sort of faux pas takes place in one of two situations – the first and most common being when I am among friends or my peers and we are engaged in the general sort of conversation more commonly known as “shooting the breeze” — and then there is the slightly less common and perhaps more risky occurrence — an observation made among people I don’t know well.

The way I view it, the biggest potential magnifier for this sort of situation is when the comment or observation happens to violate arbitrary lines – or a pet peeve – for one of the members of the group about which I have sparse familiarity.

Take it as a given that the faux pas will be uttered when I have no useful means to either predict and/or retain knowledge about the people I am with, and the often traumatic event(s) that serve as the trigger for the violent reaction about which I have no foreknowledge. And no, I am not making an excuse here, even if it sounds like I am. Truth be told I would be far better off sticking to topics like the weather or how badly the Sox are doing this season.

Basically what I am saying is that this is usually an unhappy accident in which I touch upon a subject that immediately sets off one of the listeners – and generally the subject is simply a random shot into the dark powder magazine of the enemy ship – a shot that despite long odds still results in a spectacular explosion.

Sometimes It Isn’t What It Isn’t?

Recently I managed to trigger one of the latter sort – having made a comment voicing my frustrations over the manner in which Microsoft implemented its updates and patch scheme on its Xbox One games console – and how frustrating I found it.

To be fair here, and in the interest of full disclosure, because I spend a LOT of time familiarizing myself with a wide selection of video games on a daily basis, this is a rather predictable event – but it still tends to irritate.

Sadly as it turns out, the explosion in question would have eventually happened anyway – it wasn’t so much the topic of the observation as it was the opportunity it presented.

In my defense I had no way of knowing that the thing was simmering in the background – HAD been simmering in the background – just waiting for an excuse to blow.

All of her mates knew this; I can say with certainty that they knew it – because later they admitted that they knew it when they took me aside and commented to me privately that it was such a relief that this particular demon was no longer lingering in the background of their collective relations.

They thanked me for triggering it in other words – assuming I did it on purpose – because (and this is the part that actually upsets me) I somehow have managed to earn a reputation as the guy with the short stick who enjoys poking at the irritating spot in other people’s psyche. Seriously?!

So there was that — and it probably didn’t help that the turn of phrase I used actually was as insensitive as the person it set off felt it was.

In any event, I triggered a long simmering visceral reaction from a member of the relatively small participatory audience for this real-world conversation — and was being thanked for it by the other members of this little community — all of whom felt an almost physical relief at not being selected by the fickle finger of fate to be The One. With hindsight being 20/20 I do sort of get it.

I mean there were signs – and anyone who knew that girl well – and who was actually paying attention to her body language during the conversation – would have seen those signs and known that the issue was there, just under the surface, waiting to explode. Anyone that is except me.

The only defense that I have is that, at the time, I wasn’t actually there. No wait – to be clear I was there physically – I just wasn’t there in spirit.

I distinctly remember this – I was thinking about how great it would be to have a cigarette.

No, that’s only half true. What I was thinking – the actions that I was going over in my head in sharp detail – was holding a box-style pack in my right hand – with its distinctive red-and-white pattern, and tapping the top of the pack firmly against my left palm over-and-over-again, so that the loosely packed tobacco grind would become a tightly-packed almost solid cylinder of tobacco grind.

I then saw myself opening the plastic film that encapsulates the package so as to retard the rate at which oxygen can contact the contents and oxidize it – and catching just the barest whiff of that special smell that is released when a fresh package of that specific brand is opened.

Cracking open the top of the package as its seal and the paper hinge resist the action, I saw myself carefully pinching the silver foil of the secondary seal that encapsulates the twenty cigarettes that are organized as two-rows of ten inside the package, in a paper sleeve that is wax-coated on the inside, and foil-coated on the outside, and is found when one pulls back the top.

I then selected one of the two cigarettes that are positioned in the center of the front row, depriving it of the company of its nineteen brothers or sisters, and raising The One to my nose and smelling that oh-so-very-distinctive aroma of a fresh cigarette.

I’ve heard other addicts describe this smell as unlike any other smell in the world – but that is horseshit. It’s exactly like ONE other smell in the world – and that is the aroma you smell when you open a fresh package of raisins and raise it to your nose to smell it.

So when an addict opens a new package of cigarettes – and especially one that has the distinctive red-and-white pattern that this brand sports — let’s call them Morley Brand because hey, that’s good enough for Fox Mulder so it’s good enough for me! – the smell that they are describing is one that is familiar to pretty much any kid from kindergarten to middle school – at least any kid whose parents make the effort to pack them a nutritious lunch that is.

That was what was going through my mind while the rest of the group noticed I had lit the fuse on this girl.

That was what I was seeing, smelling, and experiencing as I verbally picked up the business-end of the fuse and applied the flame from an imaginary green Zippo lighter upon which was painted in black stenciled letters “USE ZIPPO LIGHTER FLUID ONLY. PA. 16701 U.S.A.”

Before this continues: Yes, I know that I would not have used a lighter – I would have used a cap or one of those very cool pull-ring style commercial self-contained initiators – NOT a naked flame, But hey, just whose wool-gathering mind was this? It was mine, that’s whose!

Ignoring for the moment the fact that I quit smoking successfully in 2001, for some strange reason this is how it plays out. My mind creates this strange combination of truth-and-fiction. Live with it.

So yeah, the flame first scorched the yarn coating, which smoked, creating a very distinctive smell as the orange yarn-like casing which, itself, serves as the coating for the 10 gr/ft of PETN that was contained inside and that briefly began to burn.

You can’t confuse this with any other type of fuse mind you – this was very clearly Primacord Number 2. If it were Primaline 4D it would be coated in an orange plastic jacket, not orange yarn, and when the flame touched it, the end would have melted first – not smoked – before the flame ignited its 18 gr/ft of RDX.

Thanks to the Ensign-Bickford Company we have detcord that explodes at a rate of 23,000 feet-per second. Wait, yeah, you probably think that the fuse I lit above actually burns. Nope. That’s why I would not have set it off with a lighter – why I would need to use either a cap, or a commercial initiator.

See I may obtain my imaginary cigarettes from a TV Prop Company, but my imaginary explosives are drawn right out of the imaginary EO Bunker on the training base where some very special people taught us how to blow things up!

The reason why detcord is so reliable — and why you can cut a length of it and know when it will detonate the primary package — is because it is not burning, it’s exploding.

Now for the sake of argument, in this case, in my spiritually mental state, and considering that the imaginary package was not attached to a commercial initiator that, when triggered by the detcord fuse would have had a set delay to it, as I was making figurative love to that cigarette the distance between me and the girl simply must have been approximately 230,000 feet – or 43.5 miles.

Because THAT is how long the detcord would have to have been to obtain the 10-second delay between what I said, and the resulting explosion, since there was no commercial initiator at the other end to serve as a time delay.

So according to her friends and work-mates — thanks to me — the girl obtained the much-needed relief of unloading what was apparently a huge butt-ton of pent-up rage. On Me.

Maybe I didn’t deserve that – but on the other hand I took a hit for our side (men) and you guys owe me. Just saying. Wait, did you notice how I totally waffled above? How I did not come right out and name the thing I did? How I talked about the whole cigarette thing, then the technical details about the imaginary fuse, and all that goes with that?

The reason for all that dissembling is simple really: I was avoiding stating the actual details of the thing I said that triggered all of that.

The reason for my appearing to be diplomatic and discrete in the extreme actually has more to do with my desire to not trigger a chain of similar explosions that I am fairly certain would erupt were I to — in any way — treat the matter either trivially, or without due care and diligence.

Be patient mates! I will get to it – but not before completing this PC influenced dance of care in order to provide myself with a proper reason for bringing the issue up at all.

Knowing that to bury the lead is to lose half of the audience, I am now going to provide you with a brief preview of this so that you can decide whether or not it is worth your time to stick around for the remainder.

Please note that while I am still attempting to be sensitive to the matter, I have taken care in handling it but I am still about to fail miserably in that respect. Cheers!

The Underlying Cause

There are a number of fairly complicated simple issues, but ultimately it is about patching and updating video games on the Xbox One games console — and my frustration at the presumptuous manner in which that subject was handled by the Xbox Team in the first place.

Well, that and how my observations on the matter triggered a deadly attack from a Feminist Activist of the female persuasion from which I still bear scars.

So now you know what the issues were – and what the matter was that I was attempting to be discrete and diplomatic about.

Being forewarned about all of that, if you stick around for what follows I want you to be very clear that you chose to do so – that at least part of the responsibility for any anger you might feel as a result is your shared responsibility, and finally, you cannot say I didn’t disclose that aspect to you.

We’re On the Same Page!

At this point we should be able to discuss this without there being any misunderstandings. So it’s time to get to the source of the explosion – my observation that instantly resulted in an explosive attack.

To do that we need to provide a brief explanation of the events that caused the observation that, in turn, caused the explosion. This is going to begin in a specific way, because hey, it’s a war story! Be patient, you will see why in a bit. So here we go…

No shit, there I was, sitting in front of the TV, my honey by my side; I loaded up Hulu and tried to play this weeks episode of Designated Survivor, but it was not working. We would get like 40 seconds or so and then the little swirly thingy that indicates it is buffering would appear and the show would pause while it buffered.

So I immediately yelled out: “Who is doing bandwidth-intensive computing?! Mom and I are trying to watch TV!”

My son’s voice could be heard yelling “Not I dear Father!” while my daughter just yelled “Not me!”

So I asked if anyone had Skype loaded and got the same reply. I pondered the matter for a moment, then I looked at the display on our Ethernet Switch and I realized that the system pulling the bandwidth was my Xbox One – which was the very same device we were trying to watch Hulu on! So I opened the My Games & Apps to see what was running and discovered that the system was patching a bunch of games – and they were HUGE patches. Like 50+ GB in size.

So I thought to myself, “Self, you have not played World of Tanks in forever. Why is it patching that?!” And how in God’s name is that a 50+ GB patch?!”

It took some digging but what I discovered was that the default settings for the Xbox One is to automatically apply any and all patches and updates for any and all video games and apps you have installed on your console whenever said patches are released.

So there I was with my honey by my side, trying to watch TV and I could not do so. But clever fella that I am I thought – hey, I can pause that patch. And I did. Then I switched back to Hulu, started play and – no… Still buffering.

When I went back to look, Sunset Overdrive was now patching, and it was a 20+ GB size patch! WTH?! I thought – or maybe actually said.

So it turned out that in addition to those games there were others that wanted to patch and update. So what I ended up doing was researching via the web to discover that the Xbox One by default automatically patches, and I learned how to change that setting so that it only patches when you load a game and a patch is waiting – that way you are not at the mercy of the patch release schedules.

So I changed that setting – but discovered that World of Tanks was very persistent and, once it starts to patch it means to finish. So I had no choice but to uninstall that game with it in my mind that if I ever wanted to play it again, I would have to re-install it. Right, so, problem solved, right? Right! No, Wrong!

The issue was addressed at that point, but the problem – Microsoft presuming it was okay to just decide that for me without any consideration for my needs – that was still a problem.

I literally lay awake that night thinking – what if I was one of those unlucky souls who lived on a farm in Elbonia and the only way I could get high-speed Internet access was via satellite?

According to Wikipedia, modern satellite Internet access is Internet access that is provided via a combination of physical hardware at both ends with a geostationary satellite somewhere in the middle that can offer relatively high data speeds. In fact the newer satellites that utilize Ka band achieve downstream data speeds up to 50 Mbps, which is actually faster than a basic Urban DSL connection.

The problem with that sort of connection is that typically satellite Internet is expensive and it is almost always metered – which is to say you purchase your connectivity as a package that is based on the amount of data you are allowed to pull each month.

Comparing the most popular services the reality we get is that consumers who live outside of areas that are services by Cable Modem Internet Access, and communities that do not have access to DSL Broadband Internet, Satellite really is their only option.

You can pretty much do the math here yourself – having your games console automatically incur the massive hits that patches and updates will bring to your Internet Services will generate a potentially nasty surprise at the end of the month – and particularly when you have kids in the house who are big fans of their favorite games!

That being the case, if I failed to turn off automatic updates and patches – or Background Updates as Xbox likes to call it – I might get a bill at the end of the month for $700 in Internet data usage – all because they opted to set patches and updates to be automatic in the background. And unless you go looking for it, you won’t even know it is happening until you get that massive data bill! Man that is so wrong.

The Awful Event

So that was going through my head when, a few days later, I am sitting with people I sort of know for a coffee break (I was drinking tea, but still) when in the conversation one of my friends mentioned that I looked preoccupied.

Well, I was. Still.

So when they asked me what was bothering me, I told them about the automatic background patching and updates setting, and how Microsoft just assumed that was okay — even though when you BUY something from Microsoft in their online store, they show you a pop-up that warns you that downloads may cost you EXTRA.

See that warning is to notify you that you just bought a movie and it is NOT a small package and when you download it, IF you have a limit to monthly downloads, well then the download could end up costing you more money.

I am reasonably certain that they put that there for a reason.

At some point some parents somewhere got a massive data bill for their metered connection and, discovering that Jr. had bought a digital copy of GTA V and THAT was why they exceeded their bandwidth amount, ended up blaming Microsoft.

I am speculating that after the settlement, their lawyers told them it would be a really good idea to add a disclaimer pop-up to purchases online. So they did. Or something like that.

“It’s hard to believe that they would do that – configure the game console so that it has the potential to hurt you financially?” one of my coffee buddies observed.

“You know, considering that they have a disclaimer on their store, you would think that they would know better?” observed another.

In my own defense, please understand, when I said what I am about to say, I was thinking of my daughter.

“It was probably a woman who chose to go with the automatically downloaded updates and patches without actually asking anyone,” I said.

That’s when a woman at the next table leaned in and said “Excuse me?”

Okay here is the thing – I’ve been married now for 25-years. I have two kids, a house, two cars, a tortoise, three cats, two dogs, and a rat named biscuit. My life has been more or less run by other people now for nearly 20 years. So you should forgive me that my Trap Sensor and Self-Preservation Meter is a little rusty. Because it is. Never saw it coming in other words.

The table got quiet. Spooky quiet. And then – channeling Diana Edwards – I replied.

“Why, did you fart?”

Big mistake. BIG mistake.

“Why was it probably a woman?” she asked (demanded).

“Because in my experience the rules for women are different than the rules for men?” I replied.

“Oh? And how is that?” she asked, all sweetness.

One of my buddies kicked me under the table – but in my defense I should point out that the leg he kicked me in was the one that is 100% paralyzed so I never felt it.

A few months ago, when my daughter ended up repeating a mistake, and asking forgiveness AGAIN for something that she had done twice before now, I deviated from the response she had anticipated.

See she forgot that she’d already been busted for that on two occasions previously, so I was not in the same malleable state of mind that I might otherwise have been, which was why I trotted out Male Wisdom Rule 471: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it’s enemy action.”

If you are a woman you may be unaware of that one – but based on my experience with women, probably not. That particular rule is a rare one in that it was actually adopted from an antagonist rather than protagonist, coming to us from the mad genius Auric Goldfinger, in Ian Flemings Goldfinger (1959).

Come to think on it, a large number of man rules seem to come from Ian Fleming. I should look into that.

Chagrined at having committed the same offense for a third time, and because my daughter and I are actually friends, she confided in me that she truly was sorry, but she was following the Girl Guide to Handling Men, and that was Rule 9: “It’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”

When my daughter told me that I experienced an event that normally you only see in movies and on TV – but I swear to God that I was suddenly in a whirlwind of sound and colors as a thousand different events replayed in my brain, and I saw woman after woman telling me that they were sorry or they thought since it was such an obvious thing nobody would object – and a hundred other excuses – and I realized in an absolute epiphany that my daughter had just violated the Girl Code and revealed a truth to me that she should never have revealed.

There is a theory among men that women have a code they operate under that has safety features built into it. One of those features was that, if men ever discovered the details of one of the codes, they had a mechanism in place to alter its parameters so that the men could not thereafter benefit from having cracked that code.

Basically they change that rule. Then men try to do something cute based on their understanding of the rule that one of them had cracked, only to discover that no, that was no longer the operating principle for that particular rule and now they have gone and violated it and bought themselves a world of hurt.

My daughter had violated the Girl Code by revealing one of their foundation codes. One that, let’s be honest here, they can’t actually alter or change. I was very close but not quite there to finally understanding women.

So naturally I had to prove that I am an idiot and demonstrate that I cannot be trusted with a secret.

“A pretty clever woman once told me that it is far better to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission – if you ask permission they can say no – when you ask for forgiveness if they get mad you can always start crying, then they forgive you!” I explained.

Okay you know in books, a writer will describe how the person grew red-faced by degrees, starting at their hairline, with a sort of establishing shade of red flowing like liquid down their face until it is fully covered and then how that establishing shade of red grows darker, and how that is a pretty good indicator that they are about to blow their top in anger? Yeah? No, didn’t happen in this case.

In this case instead of turning red, the face of my opponent suddenly became a very unhealthy white. Picture in your mind the technician that is normally in charge of facial colors and expressions having chucked a sickie that day, and the temp that was called in to fill in, rather than hitting the button marked “anger, red-face, progressive, warning” instead hit the one labeled “Nuclear Option.”

So what happened was the system then opened the drain valve for face color projection, and it all drained in one-go. Quickly. So what was left might have been a warning sign for anyone else, but not for me, because why? Because I can be thick that way, that’s why.

She sputtered. Like, literally. Sputtered. And while my self-preservation instincts may have been dulled by 25 years of complacency they had not been completely destroyed.

I chuckled.

I realize now that, of any reaction I could have chosen, that was absolutely and without question the wrong one.

I also understand now that the temp who hit the wrong button notwithstanding, it was that chuckle that actually detonated the nuclear bomb. Let me explain.

At the center of each atom is a “nucleus” — the plural of which is called “nuclei” — where neutrons and protons are bound in close proximity together. Most nuclei are stable, which is to say that they can walk around, shop for a dress, have tea, and otherwise interact with other nuclei all around them and remain comparatively static and unchanging.

The thing is, during the physical change effect we call fission, nuclei of certain heavy atoms will split into smaller and lighter particles called nuclei, and in the process they may release what we think of as excess energy as a side-effect of this process. Sometimes this happens spontaneously,

A very basic definition of a nuclear weapon might be an explosive device whose destructive potential derives from the release of energy that accompanies the splitting or combining of atomic nuclei. This process can happen during a very wide and diverse set of circumstances, but generally speaking we’ve found that the proper conditions for such an event will predictably occur during the follicular phase, as a byproduct of the formation of endometrium, which is somewhat predictable in that the process is thought to begin independently starting between 384 and 288 hours prior to menses.

With those conditions noted, in the case of the trigger, a neutron is shot at the nucleus and is absorbed, causing instability and fission. In some elements — such as certain isotopes of uranium and plutonium — the fission process also releases excess neutrons, which can trigger a chain reaction if they’re absorbed by nearby atoms.

When you magnify atoms to the extent that you can actually see them, and observe their interaction during fission, you will see that at the center of every atom is a nucleus. When you break that nucleus apart — or as is the case here, combine two nuclei together — the results are the release of a large amount of energy – seemingly more energy than those two nuclei have any right to possess and certainly an amount that far exceeds any reasonable expectations.

Nuclear weapons use that energy to create an explosion. As it turns out, so do women.

(Open Google.com, and search the phrase: “What is a shaggy dog story?”)

A Pokemon Master Trainer’s Need to Fill their Pokedex with Methods Examined


Pokemon is an international game – and I say that from my own personal experiences. I first became aware of the game in the Summer of 1996 while working a contract in Japan. I went outside to have a smoke (back then I smoked, I have been smoke-free now for 15 years – smoking is bad for you) and I noticed a group of Japanese office workers off in a corner and clearly they were using Nintendo Game Boys that were tethered together.

It was not a group of teenagers – these were adults. There were a dozen or so and they all seemed to be excited, cheering one or the other player on when something happened in the game they were playing. So naturally I had to go and have a look, right? And what I found was a pair of office workers playing a game called Pocket Monsters.

One bloke who spoke excellent English took me aside and explained the entire thing to me in about 20 minutes. I was hooked from that point – by the time I went to bed that evening I had a Game Boy and a copy of Pocket Monster Green and a bunch of scribbled notes for key words in Japanese.

Since then I have played the games for every generation – and I have proudly fashioned myself a professional Pokemon Master Trainer, who fills every Pokedex. Including many of the rarer and Legendary Pokemon. Well, early in the series that was a major feat – but since the games became Internet aware? Not so much.

I will admit that there were Summers when the family took mini-holidays to visit New York City for events at the Pokemon Center, and Winter Vacations in which we attended official Pokemon TCG events because they were distributing Legendary Pokemon for the games. More than a few day-trips to Toys-R-Us or Pokemon Centers happened to get a Legendary or special regular with unique abilities or items, and I can say with some pride that on more than just a few business trips I ended up battling with other Pokemon Trainers my own age in hotel bars!

I’ve taken part in battles in the USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, and most of Western Europe. So yeah, it’s an International Thing.


Completing Your Pokedex

There are rules about this – you cannot just run around willy-nilly getting the ‘mon to complete a dex – your game has to be READY to do that.

What I mean by that is that you simply don’t show up to a gathering or event with a game that you have not even obtained all of the badges in, or traveled Victory Road in. Because why? Because the other Trainers will think you are either an amateur or worse, a poser.

Once you have beaten the League, obtained the title for your game, and more to teh point, unlocked the full National Dex (Pokedex) only THEN can you legitimately seek out other trainers for trades. Or at least that is the way most of the trainers I have interacted with view the matter.

One of the rites of passage for a new game / generation is getting your game to the point where you have obtained all of the Pokemon that CAN be obtained in that game – found every single type off of every single route and etc. Then you do the same for its companion game, and trade in the types that are not normally present in your main game for that generation.

In addition to that, there are Pokemon you obtain from other games in the series to transfer into your base game – a base game being the game for that generation you consider your “home” game. That is the one whose Pokedex you care about.

ashandpikaThe Path To Pokedex Mastery

Ordinarily the process of completing your Dex goes like this: you play through the story and when you arrive at each new route or town, you make an effort to obtain every single Pokemon that is available there.

When you reach the end of the story and have beaten the Elites, you then carefully review your Pokedex to see if you missed any – then make a list of every Route you need to revisit. Then you revisit those Routes and catch those last few elusive Pokemon.

Once you have done that it is time to purchase the complimentary title for your game (if you have not already done so) and then repeat the whole process over again, playing through the story mode, getting all of the ‘Mon you can get in each Route – paying special attention to capture extras for the game-exclusive Pokemon so you have them to trade to your home game.

While all that is going on, you should be keeping an eye on your favorite News Site so that you connect to the Internet with your game when a special Pokemon is being offered via various sources – news about which can be obtained from the official source for Pokemon online: www.Pokemon.com.

On the official Pokemon Website you will want to click the Video Games button on the top bar, then check the main news box for any special give-away for Legendary Pokemon via the Nintendo Network (that is the online Internet connected distribution system you can access from the start menu of your Pokemon Game).

As I write this the final Legendary is on offer via the Nintendo Network – that being the Mythical Pokémon Meloetta who is the final Legendary being given away to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the game (they have been giving a different Legendary away every month for the past year).

You access the Nintendo Networks by selecting the “Mystery Gift” button on the main loading screen for your game and then select “Receive Gift” and “Get Via Internet” – saying yes to confirm each step.

When there is a Mystery Gift / Nintendo Network Pokemon you will be asked if you want it – you say yes of course – and the Pokemon will be added to your game via the green-hat-wearing delivery person at your closest Pokemon Center in game.

To actually receive the Pokemon you log into your game and head to the Pokemon Center, make sure that you have an open spot on your team by depositing one of the Team into your storage computer at the Center, and then speak with the delivery person.

They will transfer the new Legendary to your Team at which point you can go store it in your PC and reclaim the regular Team Member you put there to make room for this new Pokemon.

I was able to obtain Melotta for and on my following games:

  • Pokemon X
  • Pokemon Y
  • Pokemon Alpha Sapphire
  • Pokemon Omega Ruby

Moving Pokemon from Previous Generations

Pokemon may be transferred from the previous gen games using whatever system or scheme was created for that purpose, for that generation starting with Generation 3. I thought you might appreciate the details – so here they are:

Generation 3 to Generation 4

To make these trades – and they are a one-way trip you need to know – you will require a Nintendo DS that has both the Cartridge AND the Card slots.

Cartridge: Insert your copy of Ruby / Sapphire / Emerald / Fire Red / Leaf Green into the Cartridge Slot on your DS.

Card: Insert your copy of Diamond / Pearl / Platinum / HeartGold / SoulSilver into the Card Slot.

You then use the Pokemon Pal Park mechanism to trade the Pokemon forward from Gen3 to Gen4. Pal Park is a special Pokémon preserve that is located in the five Generation IV core series games, and can be found at the east end of Route 221 in Sinnoh and in Fuchsia City in place of the Safari Zone in Kanto.

thegangIn Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, you can only travel to the Pal Park after you have a Pokemon who knows the move Surf, and you have earned the Relic Badge Fen Badge, you have unlocked the National Pokedex, and you have seen all the Pokemon for the Sinnoh Pokedex.

Once you fully qualify, Professor Oak will meet you on Route 221 and invite you inside the building that contains the Pal Park offices. Oak will explain how Pal Park works, and when you load the games in the future that you have unlocked Pal Park in, you will find a new command — “migrate from (game name)” as an option from the main menu. Pal Park in HeartGold and SoulSilver is located where the Kanto Safari Zone is in the previous games, and functions like the Pal Park in the main games.

Bear in mind that when you transfer Pokemon via the Pal Park to the next gen game it is a one-way trip. The Pokemon you send CAN NOT BE RETURNED!

To migrate from Generation III to Generation IV games, you insert a Gen 3 game into the GBA slot of the same Nintendo DS or Nintendo DS Lite system that you have your Gen 5 game in. Select the “IMPORT FROM (GAME NAME)” option, and you will access a lite version of the player PC in the Gen 3 game.

From here you select the Pokemon you want to move and migrate, and then as long as the Pokemon being selected do not know an HM (if they do you have to go into the Gen 3 game, take them to the Move Deleter, and remove that HM first).

You must choose 6 Pokémon to do this, and once you have 6 valid Pokemon that can be migrated, the game will confirm the choices and you will send those Pokemon to the Gen 4 game. You then must use the Pal Park and capture all six Pokemon before you can use the Pal Park to migrate any more. If you have migrated Pokemon in the Pal Park you have NOT captured in a Pokeball, it will not allow you to migrate any more.

Using this system you can move all types of Pokemon – regular, special, and Legendary – to your Gen 4 games. That may be crucial if you mean to complete your Gen 4 Pokedex since it can be hard to attend all of the events for previous Pokemon in Gen 4 (well, impossible now anyway).

Generation 4 to Generation 5

To transfer (migrate) Pokemon from Gen 4 to Gen 5 you will need to gain access to the Poke Transfer Lab on Route 15 in Unova, and then play the mini-game there to effect the migration.

Step 1. Place the desired Pokemon you want to transfer in your Gen IV (HeartGold, SoulSilver, Diamond, Pearl, Platinum) game’s PC Box.

Step 2. Visit the Poke Transfer Lab on Route 15 in your Gen V game (Black, White, White 2, Black 2.) When you’re ready, start the Poke Transfer System in your Gen V game. Once your Gen V game begins searching for a Gen IV game to transfer Pokemon from, take a second 3DS, insert your Gen IV game into the slot, and select “DS Download Play” on the Home Menu.

ashthrowStep 3. Select the Download Play for DS rather than 3DS once it’s loaded. Wait until your 2nd DS detects the Gen V game. A Pokemon Black / White / Black 2 / White 2 icon will appear. Tap it.

From there, you should be able to pick 6 Pokemon from your Gen IV game’s PC and transfer those to your Gen V game.

Step 4. Play the mini-game using the crossbow to capture the migrating Pokemon.

There is no limit to how many times you can use Poke Transfer; you can keep transferring lots of 6 Pokemon until you have transferred your desired Pokemon from any Gen IV game.

Generation 5 to Generation 6

Download the 3DS application Pokemon Bank from the Nintendo eShop.

This application allows you to move Pokemon from any Generation 5 or 6 Game, and store them inside of the app. You can then insert your Gen 6 card and transfer the Pokemon from the Bank to your game.

Generation 6 to Generation 7

Download the 3DS application Pokemon Bank from the Nintendo eShop.

This application allows you to move Pokemon from any Generation 5, 6, or 7 Game, and store them inside of the app. You can then insert your Gen 7 card and transfer the Pokemon from the Bank to your game.

Pokemon Gen I to Gen 7

First, you can not transfer or migrate Pokemon from the Gen 1 Carts to Gen 7 Cards. It cannot be done. But very soon you WILL be able to migrate your Pokemon from the Digital versions of the Gen 1 (Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow) games to the Pokemon Bank, and then to your Gen 7 game from Pokemon Bank. I suggest you keep an eye on the official news at Pokemon.com for when that will happen.

Pokemon Bank

Pokemon Bank is a special App you can buy from the Nintendo eStore and install on your 3DS that allows you to transfer and store Pokemon from your games to your 3DS and then back again. It also allows you to migrate Pokemon from gen to gen for the later gens, and soon will allow you to migrate from the original digital Gen I games to the Bank and onward.

Bank is a subscription based service and app – I think it costs around $5 a year – so yeah, there is that.

And Finally…

Once you have exhausted all of these options, only THEN should you start thinking about looking elsewhere and interacting with other trainers for trades… Because real-life trades online is fraught with peril since you never can know if that rare Pokemon you are getting is legit. Was it hacked? Was it created by an app? Or did they really attend the Pokemon Event at the Space Center near Houston to get that Legendary?

I hope that this article helps you in your quest to complete your Pokedex. Personally I am in the process of wrapping up my game play in both Pokemon X and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire in preparation to my move to Pokemon Sun and Moon – the two new Generation 7 games.

I have not yet decided which of the Gen 7 games I will be calling home. It is a big decision. But I do know that I am going to be bringing my favorite Pokemon – and all of the Legendary ones so far – into the game. It is going to be awesome!

Hitman 2016 – the Episodic Adventure


We’ve been getting a lot of email asking if the boxed edition of Hitman (2016) that is set to release before Christmas is worth buying? The simple answer to that is, uh, yeah! That said though with the release of the last episode it’s time to talk about Hitman.

The final chapter of Season 1 is the Hokkaido, Japan Episode (Episode 6), which released in October and marks the very end of the episodic release schedule for Season 1. We’re still not certain what caused the soap opera that seemed to surround it over the course of the past year, but when all is said and done, we are pretty satisfied with the way this all turned out.

When the reboot of the Hitman series – Hitman (2016) – was announced at E3, the game play video samples that they offered us at the Square Enix booth made a definite – and good – impression.

Originally the game was going to be released in the traditional manner, which is to say the wizards behind the game create it, it gets retail boxed packaging, and it gets played like most video games get played.

Then they announced that the game would be split up into several parts, with the initial release set for March 2016 and containing three locations — Paris, France; Sapienza, Italy; and Marrakesh, Morocco. But that was not what happened…

The Episodic Release Announcement

After the initial reveal and announcement – then the announcement that it would be split into chunks – the folks over at Square Enix – and the game wizards at Io Interactive – changed their mind and their plans for the new Hitman again, opting to release the game in two distinct stages.

The first stage would consist of the game engine and base game plus the first Chapter – the Paris Map – and the second stage would be made up of regular episodic releases.

Episodes (or chapters) that would arrive on a schedule of about one per month, which would contain a new map, and a new set of challenges built around the story mode level for that episode / month.

The way that they described it was as “a truly episodic AAA game experience, with a major live component.”

“We decided to take the full leap and publish Hitman as a truly episodic game experience,” said Hannes Seifert, head of studio at Io Interactive, in a press release.

“Part of that decision is for that little bit of extra time to ensure every location we release is at the quality level fitting for a Hitman game. But the main driving reason is that this will allow us to create a living game that will expand and evolve over time and establish a foundation for the future — this is the first game in a storyline which will continue and expand with future Hitman games.”

When the game launched on 11 March 2016 it did so in digital form; a physical copy in the form of a retail boxed disc would not be arriving until the entire set of episodes were released.

The game featured a rather creative form of pricing – the base game, which included the Prologue Chapter as well as the first Episode (Paris) could be had for $15, with each additional episode costing $10. Or the intro package could later be upgraded to the full package for an additional $49. Players also had the option to purchase the full game at $60.

Ultimately the first season of the game consisted of the following:

  • Prologue + Episode 1: France – Paris / The Showstopper (March)
  • Episode 2: Italy – Sapienza / World of Tomorrow (April)
  • Episode 3: Morocco – Marrakesh / Gilded Cage (May)
  • Special Summer Bonus Episode – Sapienza + Marrakesh / The Icon + A House Built on Sand
  • Episode 4: Thailand – Bangkok / Club 27 (August)
  • Episode 5: United States – Colorado / Freedom Fighters (September)
  • Episode 6: Japan – Hokkaido / Situs Inversus (October)

In addition to the above story-mode missions there were also Weekly live events that alternated between Elusive Target Contracts and Escalation Contracts, offering the players a combination of missable content and unmissable content in the form of escalating contracts.

Only the folks at IO and Square know for sure what the real reasons were for the game being carved up like it was – but we know that regardless, it turned out to be well worth the wait and the delay. Hitman (2016) ended up being a worthy successor to the last game in the series and we cannot wait to see what comes next.

That said though – if you were waiting to see whether this was worth getting you should really wait a little longer and buy the retail boxed disc rather than the digital version, because the disc comes with all of the extra content, including some sweet in-game items.  So yeah, worth getting, worth waiting a little while longer to get.

If you are curious about our impressions of the game, check out the game reviews we have written so far over at the Cape Cod Times:

Top 10 Video Game Clichés

Despite the fact that there are such a wide variety of video game genres, its seems that the process of being a video games development wizard means finding Clichés irresistible. Seriously, Clichés must be like, video game dev catnip…

Think we’re exaggerating? Fine! Say that after you read our Top Ten Video Game Clichés Listicle – and just so you know, when we started we had a list of well over 100 — which we narrowed down to offer you some quality Clichés!

And here they are – numbered from 10 to 01 with 01 being the best of the worse…

10: Killing Gods

While this generally doesn’t tend to crop up in puzzle games or sims, when it comes to a good old JRPG and most RPGs you can almost bet that if there ARE Gods in the game, you are going to need to kill them!

But wait – aren’t Gods omnipotent? Aren’t Gods omnipresent? So doesn’t that mean that he not only KNOWS you are coming to kill him, but knows HOW you will do it, WHEN you will do it, and the best way to prevent it?

Let’s take that logic a little deeper – they’re Gods – so how come they didn’t just kill you when you were an infant?

09: Miracle Food that Heals

No we did not include StimPacks or magic bandages, health elixirs, or potions in this one because, well, everyone knows those are real and they work!  What we are talking about here is food. You know, 200-year-old wingdings and canned chili you find on the shelf in that totally abandoned Red Rocket?

Say, how is it that the nuclear apocalypse has come and gone and you can still find Salisbury Steak and Spam on the grocery store shelves?

More important than that though – how is it that EATING a 200-year-old can of Spam will magically heal you? Is it magic Spam?

08: An Army of One?

In the world of video games – and especially the action-adventure and RPG sorts – the individual is often very likely to be a docile victim unless… Unless someone kidnapped their kid from cold storage and killed their wife in the process! Or killed their father! Or kicked them out of their village/castle/fortress/shelter triggering the all-important need for revenge.

Suddenly one man/boy/girl/woman who finds themselves in such a situation and somehow manages to obtain armor and a wepon turns into an instant hero capable of feats of prowess, of dragon-killing army-of-one badassery!

So if all of that pent-up rage was already inside you anyway, why did you have to suffer at the hands of your tormentors BEFORE seeking your revenge? Why not open up that can of martial arts whoop-ass on them WHEN they were trying to kick you out of your home and/or kill you in the first place?! We’re just saying…

07: Stealth Sequences

It really doesn’t matter if you are Solid Snake or Geralt of Rivia, or even a Pirate Assassin, eventually you are going to need to follow someone without being detected. Because why?

Well, because you cannot make a game these days without some sort of Stealth Sequence.

Following a target on crowded streets is one thing but when you charge your protagonist to ninja thier way through a swamp in a massive pirate ship? That’s just sick. That’s clearly sadism!

06: The Secret Sewer Entrance / Exit

When they filmed the Shawshank Redemption they filled an ancient sewer pipe with a mixture of sawdust and chocolate syrup to make the scene where the protagonist crawls through the pipe, puking as he goes because yeah, that would happen. There would be lots of puking!

You know how you catch a prisoner who escaped from prison by way of a ewer pipe? How about an enemy agent who has infiltrated your base? I’ll tell you how – you use your nose!

No matter how well they scrub or how many fresh changes of clothing they have in that sealed bag, the stench will literally cling to them. And then of course that only matters if they did not die in the pipe by breathing in the methane gas – or die AFTER they got through because the bad gases they breathed in finally built up toxicity in their brain. That takes time!

Here’s a clue to the devs: College Students die from diving into pools that have a layer of smoke from blocks of dry ice being thrown in – your hero is going to die from breathing the toxic gases from human sewage. Really!

Oh and that sewer pipe filled with chocolate syrup and sawdust? We were in Ohio last summer and we stopped there to do the tourist thing – you can STILL smell the chocolate when you get close to the opening of that pipe and its been what? 20 years since they filmed there? Just saying…

05: One-Topic Conversations

From Pallet Town to Raccoon City, when you run up to a person in the town chances are no matter what question you wanted to ask them you don’t get to – instead you get to hear them repeat the same thing every time you talk to them: “Hmm. Something nasty is afoot in the Frost Cavern… It could be true, right?”

04: The In-And-Out of Armor

Yes, armor is a critical tool to prevent enemy arrows and swords from prematurely ending your life. And yes, armor does wear out, get broken, and need repair – that’s only fair, after all it is usually constructed from heavy pieces of steel with lots of buckles holding it onto your body through complex arrangements of leather straps and… But wait a second.

Just exactly how is it that you can so easily get in and out of that armor? Hey! Did you find a new piece of armor in the field? That might be better than what you have on now – you should swap out your existing kit for that one. Like now. Instantly.

Forget for the moment that making the armor you are currently wearing properly fit you probably required hours of adjusting its straps and moving the buckles so that they don’t chafe, it’s all good! Because Armor!

03: Press Start

Almost every start screen in practically every video game prompts you to Press Start… But happily accepts it when you press “A” or “X” (depending on the game pad). Just once I would love it if the game screamed: “I said PRESS START! Does that LOOK like START?!”

02: Quick Time Events

Sure you invented a new twist on the QTE… Yeah, really fun and challenging – NOT!

Nobody actually likes these – and having one pop up when you are trying to disarm a bomb? Yeah then we REALLY don’t like them.

01: Regenerating Health

Even in worlds where there are healing items the Golden Rule is when you are near death, all you really need is about 10 minutes of peace and quiet and maybe a glass of water and you’ll be right as rain!

That’s right – as long as you can escape damage for a set amount of time, your health will refill – even if you have been punctured by sword or spear, or stitched by a bunch of bullets! And how cool is that?! It’s even more cool when you are playing in an uber realistic combat environment!

Bonus points for Regenerating Health during World War II.

Well there you have it – my Top Ten Video Game Clichés. Can you really say that these don’t bother you? No! I’m willing to bet that what you can REALLY say is that my list doesn’t have one you think should be on there – because you secretly have your OWN list of Video Game Clichés! Yeah, go on and deny it – you can’t kid a kidder!

FM6: Where did all your money go?!

The title for this post says something – or asks something – but the answers are a LOT more complicated than you might be thinking. In fact the answer is effected by several issues – earning power and position, and bragging rights. We are about to address them all after we answer that first rude question.

Where Has All Your Money Gone?

When the Xbox One launched it did so with a vastly improved stats system in place for the LIVE Gamertag Scheme and games played.

Specifically when you load up your profile — by selecting the “My Profile” selection from the main menu — you actually have access to a array of information about yourself AND other players. When you access the Achievements Tab you get to see the Gamerscore Leaderboard right off the bat.

That is a display showing you the Top Scores for the last 30 days – and where you fit into that group. When you click on that window you get a detailed list of your mates and how much Gamerscore they have unlocked in the past 30 days.

Click on a specific person from that list and you get THEIR Profile Page. Which means you get to see all sorts of stats about their Gamertag, as well as look in depth at their games and game play if they have not locked that up. Among the very revealing data at your fingertips is the completion percentage for every game that they play AND a detailed listing of the Achievements they have unlocked in each game.

You can also compare their progress with your own in a side-by-side display, the same as you can in your own Profile’s Achievements using the Compare with Friends button.

When you open the base page for a game, you get a selection of stats that are important to that game, complete with placement tags (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) if you are in the Top Three for that game.

For Forza Motorsport 6 that means you have access to the following information about YOUR accomplishments and status as well as that of your mates. So you can see the following:

  • Gamerscore Totals
  • Achievements Count
  • Time Played (Ranked)
  • Game Progress (Ranked)
  • Driver Level (Ranked)
  • Credits Earned (Ranked)
  • Credits Spent (Ranked)

Below that is the entire complete list of Achievements, whether they have been unlocked, and WHEN they were unlocked – meaning the actual date.

If you look at my stats in that game, among other things you are going to learn that I have earned over 81 million credits, and I have spent over 52 million credits.

That particular display of stats is how I ended up being asked the rather personal question: “Where Has All Your Money Gone?!”

The correct answer to that question is: “None of your damned business!”

The polite and friendly answer though is actually very simple… The money has largely gone on Mod Packs. Oh sure, some was spent buying cars. In fact my garage contains a rather impressive number and variety of cars (if I am saying so myself). As the spending of my bank includes buying cars for my garage, I have written the complete inventory of my garage at the bottom of this post – and I leave figuring out the amount I spent as an exercise for you to complete on your own.

Why did I spend so much on Mod Packs? Well the simple reason is that I was (still am) looking to complete my collection of Super Rare Mod Cards. Believe it or not this is not just about having the important and really useful Mod Cards in my personal collection – it’s also about bragging rights.

Why? More to the point, How? The answer is actually very simple. If you have the complete collection of Mod Cards – the important ones I mean – that means you have an edge for race time and lap time because you have the ability – by virtue of your Mod Card Collection – to squeeze the most out of your cars in terms of performance and speed.

Yeah, it’s really that simple. As long as you have the cards – and the opponent you are racing against has the cards – then the results of your race are totally down to driver skill. And THAT is the whole point.

Bragging Rights?

The serious players of the Forza Motorsports game call themselves The Forza Faithful, and as you can probably imagine – thanks to the rather competitive nature with which the games are infused – there is a lot of bragging rights to be secured.

For most players, the popular bragging rights tend to be restricted to four specific areas of game play, which are – most important first – the following:

1. Multi-Player Track Times.

Visible throughout the MP side of the game, the Track Times a player locks in tend to be among the more visible and obvious of bragging rights in Forza Motorsports – and not just for FM6 mind you.

2. Design Badges

This one is hard to fathom but it seems that obtaining the Platinum versions of two specific Badges are a very big deal in terms of bragging rights and status among the Forza Faithful.

While the vast majority of the badges do not seem to matter, unlocking the Top Tuner and Top Painter badges does matter. Go figure?

3. Game Achievements.

A lot of the Achievements in FM6 are basically Been There, Done That Achievements. That noted there are a handful that actually matter to the Faithful – Achievements that are so highly desired that their owners will willingly grind to unlock them.

Those are (in order of bragging rights importance):

  • 1. One for the History Books (50g) Complete all Car Divisions, all Series, and all Showcases.
  • 2. Making a Name (20g) Earn 50K credits from the community using your Tune
  • 3. Cashing In (20g) Earn 50K credits from the community using your Design.
  • 4. Record Breaker (25g) Go faster than 250 mph in any car.
  • 5. Racking Up the Mileage (20g) Drive for 1000 miles in Multiplayer.

There you have it – the five Achievements that are important for bragging rights in FM6.

4. Mod Card Collection.

Considering just how easy it is to amass huge amounts of in-game money in Forza Motorsports 6 the question I am sometimes asked is where my money is going? That is what sparked my writing this post actually.

The answer is repeated from above – the money mostly has gone on buying Mod Packs.

The purchases were made as part of the quest to obtain the important cards for ANY Forza 6 racer’s collection, To provide you with a head’s up here there are three types of cards for the list – cards earned via racing, cards obtained from buying the booster packs, and cards acquired from brand mastery.

The short list of cards on the must-have list includes:

  • All Affinity-Based Crew Chief Cards
  • Booster Pack Crew Chief Cards
  • Track Specialist Cards – Super Rare Unlimited Use

While the cards above are unlimited use, while the one-time use bonus cards also have some very desirable cards, including:

  • Adept (+7K Driver XP)
  • Expert (+7K Driver XP)
  • Driver Mastery (+100% Driver Level XP)
  • Manufacturer Endorsement (+7K Affinity XP)
  • Manufacturer Mastery (+100% Affinity Level XP)

Now the question you have to ask yourself is this – how close are YOU to having the set and the important Super Rare Cards? Yeah? Then you better get busy mates!

Turn 10 Select Car Pack Arrives with the July Update in Tow

If you have not included Forza or its studio – Turn 10 – in your Internet News Filter – there is a chance you are unaware that the most recent expansion content for the game has arrived.

Hand picked by the game development team at Turn 10, this pack is intended to offer representation for every major car type in the game, with a sub-focus on the mechanical elements in car design and engineering.

The Turn 10 Select Car Pack is the modestly priced (it’s just $6.99 US) as far as car packs go in FM6, and contains perhaps the most diverse selection of cars on offer so far.

The Select Pack is only available online via the LIVE Store, and features the following seven crispy new rides for your motoring pleasure:

  • 1957 BMW Isetta 300 Export
  • 1969 Ford Brawner Hawk III
  • 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider
  • 2014 Chevrolet #4 ROAL Motorsport RML Cruze TC1 WTCC
  • 2014 Jaguar #14 Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar XK
  • 2015 McLaren 570S Coupé
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz #24 Tankpool24 Racing Truck

Of the seven new rides the two we are the most excited about are Ford’s Hawk III for pretty obvious reasons, not the least being the Cinderella Story of how the red STP-liveried Hawk III with its Ford turbo-V8 helped professional race car driver Mario Andretti win the 1969 Indianapolis 500. This is an Indy Car that LOOKS like an Indy Car!

Our second source of excitement may seem a little unlikely at first blush, but when you examine the Italian-designed, fusion of a three-wheeled motorcycle and traditional sub-compact car, its rather impressive performance when you consider that it is basically powered by a single-cylinder, four-stroke, 13 horsepower 298cc engine, you have to admit that it is rather fascinating as far as super-sub-compacts go!

Of course the fact that the last time we saw one of these beastly babes was when we watched Top Gear’s very capable Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear Series 10 Episode 3) take a very intimate look at the Model 300 on the show, and then a few years later, put the beast through its paces in order to demonstrate its serious design flaw (Top Gear Series 15 Episode 1).

Yeah, we like.

In the midst of revealing and sharing this new 7-pack of unique motor vehicles, Turn 10 also unleashed the July Update, which focused on what you might call the rehabilitation of three traditional tracks in the series — Catalunya, the Circuit of the Americas, and Monza — and I don’t care who you are that is awesome!

Circuit de Catalunya is a Forza mainstay of a track, offering three different daytime configurations — The Grand Prix Circuit with 2.89 miles, the National Circuit with 1.85 miles, and the School Circuit and its 1.06 miles of course. Its rehab for the update entails finer tuning for the overall course and its surfaces.

The Circuit of The Americas is the first US track that was purpose-built for Grand Prix racing, and features a trio of daytime courses. The Grand Prix Circuit offers 3.42 miles of challenging Texas track, while the West Route features 2.3 miles of challenging turns and banks. The East Route is not a mirror image of the previous course, it being just 1.23 miles long and featuring a very modest set of curves and turns and a very long straight-away.

Improvements towards rehabilitation of COA involved further fine-tuning of the track and its surfeaces, and changing the roll of toilet paper in the driver’s bathroom. Sure, Royale bathroom tissue brand might actually offer a “Stronger Feeling of Softness” for the discerning Canadian bottom, but everyone knows that Charmin Ultra is “Best For Bear Bottoms” and there’s lots of Bear Bottoms in racing!

Okay so, naked hiney humor aside, when they arrived at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza with an eye towards rehabbing the course, the first efforts that the track team focused upon was the chicane at Turn 4, and the desire to adjust it to more accurately distinguish between clean and dirty driving lines — an issue that was bothering a large percentage of the Forza Faithful.

They then focused upon the tire wall at Turn 4, opting to move it in order to alter the driving line and better prevent corner cutting, which also allowed them to declare themselves King of the Racecourse and immediately head out to Vince Young Steakhouse on San Jacinto where they nommed down on the best noms they had on offer, which you know, is steak noms. Just saying, you don’t open a jar of peanut butter expecting to find corned beef hash, and you don’t go to a steakhouse for the salad!

The rest of the content for the Update was mostly focused on improvements to the online multi-player and player-vs-player elements, including online handling, which while you know that deserves praise and all, we’re still in shock from working on completing the NASCAR Expansion so yeah, ‘Merica!

The Contents of My FM6 Garage

There are X cars in my garage. Kudos to the first person to email me with the percentages in expenses. Cars marked with a (C) are cars I own the Master Crew Card for. The Master Crew Cards number among the most wanted – as in you mostly want to have one for every car in your garage 🙂

  1. 1968 Abarth 595 esseesse
  2. 2001 Acura Integra Type-R
  3. 1934 Alfa Romeo P3
  4. 1992 Alfa Romeo Milano Quadrifoglio Verde
  5. 2008 Aston Martin Team Forza DBS
  6. 2012 Aston Martin V12 Zagato
  7. 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S (A700)
  8. 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S (A638)
  9. 1989 Audi #4 Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO
  10. 2013 Audi Team Forza R8 Coupe V10 plus 5.2 FSI quattro
  11. 2013 Audi Team Forza RS 7 Sportback
  12. 2014 Audi #2 Audi Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro
  13. 2016 Audi R8 V10 plus
  14. 2016 Audi R8 V10 plus in Top Gear Livery
  15. 1975 BMW #93 Herve Poulain 3.0 CSL
  16. 1981 BMW M1
  17. 1988 BMW M5
  18. 2009 BMW #92 Rahal Letterman Racing M3 GT2
  19. 2011 BMW X5 M
  20. 2012 BMW Team Forza M5
  21. 2014 BMW M4 Coupe
  22. 2014 BMW M235i (B598)
  23. 2014 BMW M235i (C476)
  24. 2015 BMW X6 M
  25. 1967 Brabham BT24
  26. 1992 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport
  27. 2011 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
  28. 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
  29. 2013 Cadillac XTS Limousine
  30. 2013 Caparo T1
  31. 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
  32. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport C2 Fast & Furious Edition
  33. 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
  34. 1970 Chevrolet El Camino Super Sport 454
  35. 1990 Chevrolet #30 Douglas Shierson Racing Lola T90/00
  36. 2015 Chevrolet #1 Team Penske IndyCar
  37. 2015 Chevrolet #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype
  38. 2016 Chevrolet #1 Chip Gnassi Racing McDonald’s Super Sport
  39. 2016 Chevrolet #42 Chip Gnassi Racing Target Super Sport
  40. 2016 Chevrolet #5 Hendrick Motorsports FARMERS Insurance Super Sport
  41. 2016 Chevrolet #5 Hendrick Motorsports GreatClips Super Sport
  42. 2016 Chevrolet #24 Hendrick Motorsports NAPA Super Sport (C)
  43. 2016 Chevrolet #48 Hendrick Motorsports Lowe’s Super Sport
  44. 2016 Chevrolet #88 Hendrick Motorsports Nationwide Insurance Super Sport (C)
  45. 2016 Chevrolet #4 Stewart-Haas Racing Jimmy John’s Super Sport
  46. 2016 Chevrolet #4 Stewart-Haas Racing Outback Steakhouse Super Sport
  47. 2016 Chevrolet #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Nature’s Bakery Super Sport (C)
  48. 2016 Chevrolet #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Mobil 1 Super Sport
  49. 2016 Chevrolet #41 Stewart-Haas Racing Haas Automation Super Sport
  50. 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Super Sport
  51. 2069 Chryslus Rocket 69 (R821)
  52. 2069 Chryslus Rocket 69 (S758) Fallout Livery
  53. 1969 Datsun 2000 Roadster
  54. 1968 Dodge Charger Fast & Furious Edition
  55. 1969 Dodge Charger R/T
  56. 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Fast & Furious Edition
  57. 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona HEMI
  58. 1970 Dodge Coronet Super Bee
  59. 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
  60. 1963 Ferrari 250LM
  61. 1968 Ferrari 365 GTB/4
  62. 1976 Ferrari #1 Scuderia Ferrari 312 T2
  63. 1987 Ferrari F40
  64. 1990 Ferrari #1 Scuderia Ferrari 641
  65. 2009 Ferrari 458 Italia
  66. 2009 Ferrari Team Forza 458 Italia
  67. 2013 Ferrari 458 Speciale
  68. 2013 Ferrari LaFerrari
  69. 2014 Ferrari #62 Risi Competizione 458 Italia GTLM
  70. 2014 Ferrari FXX K
  71. 2015 Ferrari 488 GTB
  72. 1952 FIAT 8V Supersonic
  73. 1969 FIAT Dino 2.4 Coupe
  74. 1940 Ford De Luxe Coupe
  75. 1956 Ford F-100 Vault-Tec Livery
  76. 1965 Ford Mustang GT Coupe
  77. 1966 Ford Lotus Cortina
  78. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II
  79. 1970 Ford Escort RS1600 Fast & Furious Edition
  80. 1973 Ford XB Falcon GT
  81. 1977 Ford Escort RS1800
  82. 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra
  83. 1981 Ford Fiesta XR2
  84. 2005 Ford Hot Wheel’s Mustang
  85. 2009 Ford Focus RS
  86. 2011 Ford Transit SuperSportVan
  87. 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Shelby
  88. 2013 Ford Shelby GT500
  89. 2014 Ford Fiesta ST
  90. 2015 Ford #02 Chip Gnassi Racing Riley MK XXVI Daytona Prototype
  91. 2015 Ford Mustang GT
  92. 2016 Ford #2 Team Penske Alliance Truck Parts Fusion
  93. 2016 Ford #2 Team Penske Brad K. Fusion
  94. 2016 Ford #22 Team Penske AAA Fusion
  95. 2016 Ford Team Penske Shell-Pennzoil Fusion
  96. 2016 Ford #66 Ford Racing GT Le Mans
  97. 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R
  98. 2017 Ford Focus RS
  99. 2017 Ford GT
  100. 2015 Formula E #2 Virgin Racing VIR 01E
  101. 1973 Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350
  102. 1977 Holden Torana A9X
  103. 1988 Holden VL Commodore Group A SV
  104. 1967 Honda RA300
  105. 2001 Honda S2000 Fast & Furious Edition
  106. 2005 Honda Team Forza NSX-R
  107. 2014 Honda #2 Castrol Honda Civic WTCC
  108. 2015 Honda #27 Andretti Autosport IndyCar
  109. 2011 Hot Wheels BoneShaker
  110. 2011 HSV GTS (A659)
  111. 2011 HSV GTS (C491) Australian Royal Air Force Livery
  112. 2015 Infiniti Q60 Concept
  113. 1988 Jaguar #60 Castrol Jaguar Racing XJR-9
  114. 1990 Jaguar XJ-S
  115. 1993 Jaguar XJ220
  116. 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
  117. 2016 Jaguar F-TYPE Project 7
  118. 2011 Koenigsegg Agera
  119. 2015 Koenigsegg One:1
  120. 1967 Lamborghini Miura P400
  121. 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 (R852)
  122. 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 (S750)
  123. 2014 Lamborghini Veneno
  124. 2014 Lamborghini Team Forza Huracan LP 610-4
  125. 2014 Lamborghini Urus
  126. 1980 Lancia #31 Lancia Corse Beta Montecarlo Turbo
  127. 1997 Land Rover Defender 90
  128. 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
  129. 1971 Lotus Elan Sprint
  130. 1999 Lotus Elise Series 1 Sport 190
  131. 2015 Lotus E23
  132. 1957 Maserati 300 S
  133. 1961 Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage
  134. 2014 Maserati #35 M.Calamia Swiss Team MC Trofeo
  135. 1991 Mazda #62 Mazda Motorsports RX-7
  136. 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3
  137. 2014 Mazda #70 SpeedSource Lola B12/80
  138. 2015 Mazda Formula Mazda
  139. 2016 Mazda Team Forza MX-5
  140. 1988 McLaren #12 Honda McLaren MP4/4
  141. 1993 McLaren F1
  142. 1997 McLaren F1 GT
  143. 2013 McLaren P1
  144. 2013 McLaren Team Forza P1
  145. 2015 McLaren P1 GTR
  146. 2016 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe
  147. 1939 Mercedes-Benz W154
  148. 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe
  149. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
  150. 1967 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL
  151. 2011 Mercedes-Benz #35 Black Falcon SLS AMG GT3
  152. 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG
  153. 2015 Mercedes-Benz #9 Erebus Motorsport E63 AMG V8 Supercar
  154. 1990 Mercury #15 Whistler Radar Cougar XR-7
  155. 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS Fast & Furious Edition
  156. 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR
  157. 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR
  158. 1969 Nissan #21 Nissan Racing R382
  159. 1969 Nissan Fairlady Z 432
  160. 1973 Nissan Skyline GT-R
  161. 1992 Nissan Silvia CLUB K’s
  162. 1993 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec
  163. 1994 Nissan #75 Cunningham Racing 300ZX
  164. 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R Fast & Furious Edition
  165. 2002 Nissan Fairlady Z Fast & Furious Edition
  166. 2002 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec II
  167. 2003 Nissan Team Forza Fairlady Z
  168. 2012 Nissan GT-R Black Edition
  169. 2015 Nissan #23 GT-R LM NISMO
  170. 2015 Nissan #1 NISMO MOTUL AUTECH GT-R
  171. 1968 Opel GT
  172. 1979 Opel Kadett C GT/E
  173. 1993 Peugeot #3 Peugot Talbot Sport 905 EVO 1C
  174. 1958 Plymouth Fury
  175. 2000 Plymouth Prowler
  176. 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD-455
  177. 2005 Pontiac Aztek
  178. 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder (C)
  179. 1957 Porsche 356A Speedster (C)
  180. 1960 Porsche 718 RS 60 (C)
  181. 1970 Porsche 914/6 (C)
  182. 1982 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.3 (C)
  183. 1987 Porsche 959 (C)
  184. 1987 Porsche #17 Porsche AG 962C (C)
  185. 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo (C)
  186. 1998 Porsche #26 Porsche AG 911 GT1-98 (C)
  187. 2003 Porsche Carrera GT (C)
  188. 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 (C)
  189. 2008 Porsche #7 Penske Racing RS Spyder Evo (C)
  190. 2011 Porsche #45 Flying Lizard 911 GT3 RSR (C)
  191. 2012 Porsche 911 GT2 RS (C)
  192. 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 (C)
  193. 2012 Porsche Cayenne Turbo (C)
  194. 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S (C)
  195. 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder (C)
  196. 2015 Porsche #19 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid (C)
  197. 2015 Porsche GTS (C)
  198. 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo (C)
  199. 2013 Ram Ram Runner
  200. 1980 Renault 5 Turbo
  201. 2013 Renault Clio RS 200
  202. 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn
  203. 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C
  204. 2013 SRT Team Forza Viper GTS
  205. 1996 Subaru SVX
  206. 1967 Sunbeam Tiger
  207. 2014 Terradyne Gurkha LAPV Fast & Furious Edition
  208. 1974 Toyota Corolla SR5
  209. 1985 Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT Apex
  210. 1995 Toyota MR2 GT
  211. 1995 Toyota Supra Fast & Furious Edition
  212. 2014 Toyota #8 Toyota Racing TS040 HYBRID
  213. 2014 Toyota #12 Rebellion Racing R-One
  214. 2016 Toyota #11 Joe Gibbs Racing FedEx Express Camry
  215. 2016 Toyota #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Interstate Batteries Camry
  216. 2016 Toyota #18 Joe Gibbs Racing M&M’s Camry (C)
  217. 2016 Toyota #19 Joe Gibbs Racing ARRIS Camry
  218. 2016 Toyota #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Stanley Camry
  219. 2016 Toyota #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Subway Camry
  220. 2016 Toyota #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Dollar General Camry
  221. 2016 Toyota #20 Joe Gibbs Racing DEWALT Camry
  222. 2013 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 Tech Line Top Gear Edition
  223. 1963 Volkswagen Beetle
  224. 1963 Volkswagen Type 2 De Luxe
  225. 1981 Volkswagen Scirocco S
  226. 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
  227. 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16v
  228. 2011 Volkswagen Scirocco R
  229. 2014 Volkswagen Golf R
  230. 1967 Volvo 123GT
  231. 2016 W Motors Lykan HyperSport

How to Grok World of Tanks


“I don’t get that game.  Why do you want to play it?  It’s stupid!

“It’s just a bunch of people getting randomly killed by other people!

“What is the difference between a light tank or a medium one?  Or a heavy one?  Aren’t ALL tanks Tank Destroyers?!

“And what the hell is a Self-Propelled Gun anyway?!  It looks like it is a tank with no top for crying-out-loud but it works like it was artillery!”

The complaints went on like that for another ten minutes as we sat in the booth at Johnny Rockets waiting for Jim to finish venting.

Last month we met at Red Robin – I like Johnny Rockets better and Chance knows that.

Chance likes me – he has a man-crush on me and I know that.  So I only had to mention that I was craving a Johnny Rockets shake when we were getting ready to depart the Cape for him to make the decision.

Since we had to pass the Burlington Mall on the way to parking at Chance’s grandmother’s house before taking the train into Boston and Pax East anyway, Chance decided that as Captain of our “Team” that was where we would lunch.

As the oldest person at the table I was out of place among the predominately college student crowd at the table – they were all law students at UMass Dartmouth, whereas I was plenty old enough to be their father.

One reasons that they tolerated my presence was that I’m a pretty good gamer.  Another was that I write – in fact that’s how they met me.

One of their professors asked me to come to the school and give a talk about writing to the pyramid and clarity of expression – a skills set that  lawyers (and those who want to BE lawyers) really benefit from having.

And of course there is the fact that I am handicapped, so nobody wants to make me feel bad by doing something like ask why I was hanging around what were arguably children when our ages are compared.

For my part, this has a lot to do with that whole “adult” thing.  You know, the story that you get fed when you are a kid about how you are not old enough to do whatever it is you want to do but are being told you are not old enough – and that you will understand later, when you are an adult?  That’s total horseshit.

Last time I checked I was old.  Really old.  And you know what?  I don’t feel anything different inside than I did when I was fifteen and was being told I would understand when I was an adult.  More to the point, the only thing I have come to understand is that you can use that logic on a teenager when you don’t want them to do whatever it is that they want to do, and it works every time.

So in a nutshell, what I understand is that the reason I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do then was because they did not want me to do them.

I understand that the only difference between the me then, and the me now, is a matter of consequences.

As in “I now understand that there are consequences to the things we do.”

On the inside I am still the same person I was at 15 – I just have a LOT more responsibility and the option of hiding in the bathroom or saying “I’m sick” no longer works because why?  Because the bank still expects my mortgage check on the first, that’s why.

“I think the problem you have here Jimmy, is that you don’t understand how this game works,” I said, waiting until he had slowed to a squeak.

“Uh, yes I do,” he declared.  “Grandpa!” he added after a brief silence.

“Well if that’s the best insult you can muster on short notice I sort of get why you can’t grok World of Tanks,” was my reply.


“Grok?  What is that?  That isn’t even a word!” he gasped.

“Listen little man, words are the tools I use to pay my bills.  If I say that’s a real word, it bloody-well is.  I am paid to know the difference.  For instance earlier you used the word ‘factoid’ wrong.

“From how you used it, I gather you think it is a small fact – when in truth the word ‘factoid’ is defined as the use of incorrect ‘facts’ which, if you carry out that logic to its proper end, means they aren’t facts at all — they’re essentially imagined ideas repeated and reprinted so often they’re accepted as fact when they aren’t factual at all.

“And by the way, ‘irregardless’ Jimmy?  Not a word.

“What you meant to say was ‘regardless’.  Oh, and fuck you very much,  Jimmy,” I added.  Then took a long pull on my Orange Creamsicle Shake.

“I think Chris is right about that – there was a student in one of my classes last term that said irregardless and the prof came down pretty hard on them about using made-up words and… Oh… Wait… That was you,” Chance said, causing the rest of the table to chuckle and Jimmy’s face to glow.  What can I say, Chance likes me.

“Well Grok is not a word.  What is it supposed to mean?” was his feeble reply.

Grok,” I explain, “Was taken from Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and technically is from the non-existent Martian language.  The dictionary defines it as understanding something intuitively, or by empathy…”

“Well Merriam-Webster says its definition is ‘to understand profoundly and intuitively’ but yeah, it’s a word,” Kay announced by interrupting me.  Holding out her smartphone she showed Jimmy the page on Grok from the dictionary website.

Kay is Chance’s girlfriend and, believe it or don’t, she’s a good gamer. Notice that I did not qualify that by saying something sexist like, “for a girl.”

Kay grew up in a nudist resort in Florida.  Her personality is almost precisely that of the character of Kit Keller in the movie A League of Their Own.

Kit was played by the actress Lori Petty, who I like a lot.  Her most recent credit is for the character of Jeri in the TV show Gotham if that helps you remember her.  Actually the character she played in Orange is the New Black – Lolly Whitehill will probably be more easily recalled.

If you want to know her defining role of all time at least in the Kingdom of Chris?  That would be as the title character of Tank Girl, in the movie by the same name which is based on the  British comic strip by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin.

Kay has a lot of heart and a willingness to put in hard work for the betterment of her guild or team.  For example she has a high-level White Mage in FFXI and a healer in WoW – not because she likes playing the healer mind you, but because someone has to.  Good gamer.

“And in any event, I honestly believe that if you give me five minutes I can explain World of Tanks to you in such a way so that you not only understand it, but find you actually like it,” I said, completing my interrupted thought.

“Cha!  Right!” Jimmy laughed.

“You do realize that after you explain it to him he is going to say that he still does not understand you, and he will declare victory; even if such declaration is silent and false and only takes place inside of his head?” Kosei asked.


“It really bothers me that you don’t use contractions in your spoken English,” I replied.

Kosei is from the city of Osaka, in Japan.  He is here reading Law because the company he works for and who basically paid for his education decided – in their infinite wisdom – that he will one day head up their legal team that is responsible for representing it in American courts.

That company – a popular Japanese automaker – strikes me as intimidating for a number of reasons. They require Kosei to write a report on himself twice a year that explains what he has been studying and that offers a critical assessment of his progress, including a section on what he is doing wrong and how he can correct that and thus improve the results being obtained.

That is just whack!

Or perhaps it’s the notion that they could be looking so far ahead into their needs for legal representation that they would evaluate their employees reading law on the company dime in Japan and, upon his graduation in Japan, dispatch him to Massachusetts to study law at UMass.

What bothers me even more is the fact that they chose UMass, Dartmouth as the law school he would attend.  Why there?  Why not Yale, or Harvard, or Columbia?

I actually asked Kosei that question and you know what he replied?  He said “There are already members of our team reading law at those schools.  It has been explained to me that this school graduates a disproportionate number of attorneys whose area of litigation tends to be or include product liability suits, and it is anticipated that the personal contacts and social relationships that I establish here will have far more value to the company.”

Kosei has a credit card from his employer that he is expected to regularly use to entertain those social contacts – which is how his group of mates go to New York City on the weekends as well as elsewhere – for social activities.  Is that whack or what?

So yeah, in addition to being valuable to his company for the reasons described above, Kosei is valuable to our guild for a completely different set of skills.  You see, in addition to being able pick up the check for dinner whenever he wants to, Kosei is willing to translate the Japanese symbols from the Inscriptions in the Customization Screen in World of Tanks – which I very much appreciate since most of them do not say what the game says they say.

Also he orders for us when we eat at Zenkichi on 6th Street in Brooklyn.

You see normally you can only order via the current menu as Zenkichi uses the Omakase style of menu selection  – and while that does change every month or so, when we eat there Kosei just tells the host that we want – and I quote – “どのようなシェフが考えることは、今日は良いです.”

What happens when he orders is the Chef comes out to the table and inquires as to our expectations.  Kosei then explains that our concerns tonight lean towards texture and the experience of complimentary flavors.

That’s a pretty serious and important distinction – which you know if you have ever eaten genuine Japanese cuisine.  We are basically asking that the Chef select the meal we eat – which pretty much is how Omakase works in the first place – but it really is not the same thing.

Whatever we get as a result of our order will not be a dish that appears on the current menu – it will literally be the dishes that the chef felt would properly serve our desires in terms of textures that compliment the flavor of the meal.

Yes, it is pretty ballsy to order like that – and yes, often the result is some pretty strange ingredients.  All that aside though, we’ve never regretted it.  Not once.


 About World of Tanks

Following my offer – basically throwing down the gauntlet – Jimmy was browbeaten into sitting and listening to me as I tried to explain the game to him and so fulfill the claims I made.  So I did.

World of Tanks is pretty much what you said – a game in which a bunch of people ride around in tanks trying to kill each other.  And not surprisingly they succeed more often than they fail, otherwise you wouldn’t have a winning team.

You were saying that a major part of your problem is you did not have access to the type of tank you want and need.  You also loudly stated that you would not pay to get it.

Actually what Jimmy said was – “I’m not like Koko here, I don’t have a credit card I can just use without having to worry about paying the bill – so I can’t just buy the tanks I want!”

In truth, Kosei doesn’t mind being called Koko – it turns out that the name belongs to one of the characters in a book series he reads that he admires a lot.  The character is called Koko and, if I understand this correctly, is a psychic cat.  He also does not use the company card to pay for World of Tanks purchases as far as I know, and even if he did, you can’t really buy tank levels like that.

“The structure is very simple.  If you look at the Tanks Screen for France (or one of the smaller countries that don’t have a huge list of them) you will see that the tree begins with the Renault FT – which is a light tank that  was created in 1929 as one of the first production tanks for the French Army.

“You play with that tank until you have the XP built up to upgrade it – once you have done that, you then build up the required XP to pay to research the next tank up in the generation tree.

“The FT is a Light Tank in the first gen of tanks.  It is the ONLY First Generation tank in the French Tank Tree.

“The Second Generation of tanks in the Tree are the Renault FT/AC which is a Tank Destroyer, the FT/D1 which is a Light Tank, the H35 Hotchkiss which is another Light Tank, and the Renault FT 75 BS – which is a Self-Propelled Gun 0r SPG.

“Whichever one of those you decide you are going to research will pretty much dictate the line of tanks you will continue to research.  So for example you level up the XP for the Renault FT, and then you research the Renault FT 75 BS.

“After you work up the XP to research the various upgrades for the FT 75, you will then research the Lorraine 39L AM which is the next tank in the tree and a Rank/Generation 3 Tank.

“After that you research the Rank/Gen 4 AMX 105 AM nle. 47, then the Rank/Gen 5 AMX 13 105 AM mle. 50, and finally the Rank/Gen 6 AMX 13 F3 AM – which was developed in the 1950s and mass-produced for use in France as well as sales to Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Morocco as well as others.

“That is the level or rank you were complaining you needed.  If you opted instead to go with, say, the US Tank Tree, the path would be similar but you would have more options even from the start.

“For example when you completed the research of the Rank/Gen 4 Tank – which is the M3 Lee – you would then have the choice of moving on to the M4 Sherman (a Medium Tank), the T1 Heavy (A Heavy Tank) or the T14 (another Heavy Tank).

“All that is assuming you followed the bottom branch of the American Tree mind you.  But let’s say you instead followed the Artillery Branch like you did in the French Tree because that is what you are interested in.


“The path that would have followed is the top branch of that particular tree – so the Rank 1 T1 to the Rank 2 T1 HMC, then you had to decide on either the Rank 3 M7 Priest or the Rank 3 T18 HMC.

“If your ultimate goal is to unlock and use the Rank 10 T92, then it doesn’t matter which of the two Rank 3 tanks you researched, or the Rank 4 either – but when you reached Rank 5 your only choice was to research the M41 HMC as that is the only one with a direct path to the T92 at Rank 10.

“Basically the take-away from this is that the selection of tanks you make early on actually does matter.  And you need to have a clear idea of what the high rank tank is that you eventually mean to field.

“Now that only applies to the SPGs – later you might decide, hey, I want to use the Light or Medium Tanks now, and maybe after that a Heavy – or the Tank Destroyer.

“In that case, you look at the tree and you see that you can use the Rank 2 T3 HMC Tank Destroyer to get to the Rank 3 T56 GMC Tank Destroyer, and so on.

“For the Lights you choose the M2 then the M3, the M6, M7 and so on.  Now you understand how the Tree works.  That means for all practical purposes you have mastered the game in terms of its structure.

“You know how to get to the tank you want, so all you have to do is put in the work.  In that case the work is simply playing the game!

“Let’s say that I wanted to follow the Tree at the bottom because I want to unlock the Achievement for owning five French SPG’s at the same time.

“To do that I will need to research the FT BS, then the 39L AM, the AMX 105, the AMX 13, and finally the Rank 6 AMX 13 F3 AM – all without ever selling off ANY of the previous Tanks.  That adds some complications to the mix.

“Basically to do this I not only need to play in that line of tanks to get the XP required to research, I will need to build the Silver required for the purchases of both the research AND the cost of the tanks, and in addition to all that, I have to be sure to I have suffcient Garage Slots to have all five of those tanks as well as all of the other tanks I own.

“Because for sure you are going to want to work other trees at the same time…

“The best way to acquire Garage Slots is to keep an eye on the sales screen in the game.  Every now and then there will be special sales like the one that is on now – so by  spending 400 gold I can obtain a starter kit with 1 Garage Slot, 2 XP Boosts, and a collection of supplies.

“Normally a Garage Slot will cost me 300 Gold anyway – but by spending the 400 Gold on that Special Sale deal I got the Garage Slot (300g) plus 2 x3 XP Boosts (a x5 pack is 438 Gold on sale so figure that is 175g alone), while the other odds and ends ordinarily cost Silver but that doesn’t matter – I got them and 475g worth of other items including the Garage Slot for 400g – so I did okay.

“If you don’t want to check the Store every day looking for a deal, just buy the Garage Slot at full retail cost – but I prefer deals.”

I then explained how picking three or four tree paths under separate flags was a good idea since the first battle you play with each every day automatically gets a x2 XP bonus – and you can increase THAT by applying bonus XP multiplier items as well – and there you go!

“The real issue here – at least for you Jimmy – is that you have not yet tasted success.  You need to see some real progress in your game before you are going to start feeling like you are gaining something.

“So pick three paths under three different flags, ideally three different types of tank, and then start working them as described.”

And that was where the conversation ended.  He said he would, and as far as I know he did.  As to whether that made a difference?  He is still playing – and he no longer complains or says the game is stupid – so I would like to think it did.

Are you playing World of Tanks?  If the answer is no, then why not?  It really is a fun game.  Just saying.