Promotional Microsoft Points may expire after 30 days

A quick heads up: some promotional Microsoft Points have expiration dates.  This is probably not new, but it is news to me!  From the billing FAQ:

When do my Microsoft Points expire?
Purchased points don’t expire. Any points you get through promotions can have expiration dates. Typically, points expire within thirty days of the date you get them. To view any points in your account that have expiration dates, go to the Billing and Account Management page, sign in with your Windows Live ID, and then click Microsoft Points under Stored Credits. If you have points that are expiring in the next thirty days, you can click View expiring points to view the points and their expiration dates.

The good news at least, is that promotional points are used up first if they are about to expire:

How do I use my expiring Microsoft Points first?
Promotional points with expiration dates are automatically redeemed first before purchased points.

Microsoft’s billing site can be found at https://billing.microsoft.com if you want to check out if and when your points expire.

Thanks goes out to Zico on the OcUK forums for making me aware of this.

Neca Gears of War Action Figure Photos

Or: A Post On My Decent Further Into Geekdom

A catalogue from Forbidden Planet dropped through the door the other day and amongst the myriad of Star Wars memorabilia, Doctor Who tchochkes and slightly disturbing animé statuettes were the new Gears of War action figures designed by Neca. They stood out from the rest of the catalogue through sheer detail alone and ignoring the part of my brain that asks why I need such things I bought two.

One thing that concerns me when buying figures like these is that the product shots you see are often of high detail reference models and what you end up with is of a much reduced quality. For this reason what follows is a series of photos and my opinions on these models.

Continue reading Neca Gears of War Action Figure Photos

Videogame Concept Art

I am a sucker for gaming art books so I thought it’d be an idea to summarise some useful information I have gathered on the subject into one post. This is coming from the perspective of a fan here, apologies to any art/gaming students/professionals who disagree with my ramblings. Also note that while there shouldn’t be any spoilers in this post, I would advise against getting any of these books or visiting any links without finishing the respective game first.

Continue reading Videogame Concept Art

Holidays are coming…

Christmas is coming, marked by the end of the summer games drought and the release of countless Xbox 360 games all vying to be under Timmy’s Christmas tree on Christmas Day.

I mark the opening salvo in this Christmas war with the release of Halo 3, arguably the earliest game to be released which has the chance of being number one come Christmas Day. From this here is a list pulled from a Gameplay’s website that shows everything from the date of the release of Halo 3 to Christmas minus any games I know have been pushed back to 2008. I don’t claim it is definitive or correct but it gives us a pretty good idea of what is coming.

Personally I think this is insane: there are simply too many games I want coming out and unfortunately this means some are doomed to only appear on those editorial stories that lament those truly fantastic games that really shine out amongst the others- but sell disappointingly. I think for example the publishers of Army of Two saw the coming flood and wisely delayed until next year.

21st Sep – 27th Sep

  • Elder Scrolls Oblivion – GOTY Edition
  • NHL 08
  • Warriors Orochi
  • Halo 3

28th Sep – 4th Oct

  • FIFA 08
  • Skate
  • SEGA Rally
  • Conan
  • Juiced 2 – Hot Import Nights
  • Ratatouille

5th Oct – 11 Oct

  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – Hard Evidence
  • NBA Live 08

12th Oct – 18th Oct

  • Project Gotham Racing 4
  • Crash of the Titans
  • Spiderman – Friend or Foe

19th Oct – 25th Oct

  • Half-Life 2: The Orange Box
  • Eternal Sonata
  • Thrillville: Off the Rails

26th Oct – 1st Nov

  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2008
  • Tomb Raider: Anniversary
  • Virtua Fighter 5

2nd Nov – 8th Nov

  • Naruto
  • TimeShift
  • The Simpsons
  • NBA 2K8
  • BLADESTORM – The Hundred Years War
  • NHL 2K8
  • Tony Hawks Proving Ground
  • Avatar The Legend of Aang – The Burning Earth

9th Nov – 15th Nov

  • Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare
  • WWE Smackdown VS RAW 2008
  • Lego Star Wars – The Complete Saga
  • Dynasty Warriors – Gundam
  • Nascar 2008 – Chase for the Cup
  • Beowulf

16th Nov – 22nd Nov

  • Assassins Creed
  • BlackSite
  • World Championship Poker All In

23rd Nov – 29th Nov

  • Mass Effect
  • Guitar Hero 3 – Legends of Rock
  • Kane and Lynch – Dead Men
  • Ace Combat 6 – Fires of Liberation
  • Need For Speed – Prostreet
  • Dancing Stage Universe
  • Final Fantasy XI – Wings of the Goddess Expansion

30th Nov – 6th Dec

  • Scene It? Lights. Camera. Action
  • Bully – Scholarship Edition
  • Viva Pinata Party Animals
  • Hellboy
  • The Golden Compass
  • Kengo Zero

7th Dec – 13th Dec

  • Tom Clancys Splinter Cell – Conviction
  • Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

So I packed away my 360 at the weekend…

Every so often I get mad at the amount of dust that collects around my desk and the complete lack of space on it thanks to having fairly large screen, a 360, speaker equipment and whatnot and so I end up completely disconnecting everything and rearranging things – usually into exactly the positions they were in before. This time however I boxed the 360, as I haven’t played on it for quite a while now. Despite a good start there just aren’t the games out that I would justify spending £40 on. If it gets good reviews I might get Mass Effect, but that is about all I can see on the horizon that looks to me to be a ‘must-buy’.

Update

It’s been a while since I last updated here, mainly because their hasn’t been much to say and because I’ve been enjoying the sunshine or being too tired in the evenings to do anything. A quick what I’ve been up to:

Oblivion

I stopped playing shortly after getting Jade Empire. I was getting to the point where I didn’t have the motivation to continue. I was thinking of creating a more evil character and looting houses, joining the Dark Brotherhood etc. but then I thought what’s the point? I could amass a fortune in ‘lewt’ but then two problems arise. As I mentioned previously, this isn’t an MMO so it’s not like I can show it off or use it competitively, and it isn’t Baldur’s Gate and there are not a million different swords or spells to buy. So back on the shelf it goes!

Jade Empire

I was really enjoying this game, but I got a point where I realised I was steaming through it and was nearing the last couple of chapters, so I decided to slow down. I did that so much I stopped playing! I’ll get back into it soon, but with a restart no doubt.

Command and Conquer

I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m not quite ‘getting’ the game. Completed the GDI campaign which ended a bit to quickly. I’m half way through the Nod campaign but don’t have the need to complete it. I’m sure I will eventually…

GTA: San Andreas

I had an urge to play this as I’ve never quite completed it. I thought I’d run through the ambulance missions to boost my health. Got to level ten and hit the mission key by accident, ending the mission. Extremely annoying, so I remapped the key to the other end of the keyboard. Tried it again, got to level 12, bounced off a lorry and handbrake-turned over the final patient. If the keyboard wasn’t wired it would have gone out the window :D. Back in the box it goes!

Defcon

There is a concept I’d like to coin as a ‘Wikipedia wander’. You go on Wikipedia for one article and end up clicking on one of the related links. This repeats itself for a few hours until you are reading up on a completely unrelated topic. I think I started on the history of Aesops Fables, and ended up on technical articles on the workings of atomic weapons! A bit sadistically, this lead me on to play Defcon for an afternoon. The game is very simple to play, but is horrible in its plain depiction of the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. Its only a tenner and worth a play.

Dark Angel

I’m about a third of the way through the first series, it really takes me back to when I was younger and watching through the first time on Sky. It has its quirks, lame acting and action here and there, annoying streek speak, but on the whole its an entertaining piece of TV. Amusingly it would seem that half the cast of Battlestar Galactica starred in it at some point. So far I’ve only seen Gaeta as ‘random Latino-looking Jam Pony messenger’ but looking at episode guides online I think I also spot Dee (as Joshua’s blind girlfriend), Crashdown (as a cultist) and Boomer/Athena (as an x? Manticore subject).

Real life!

So as you can see much of my free time has been half heartedly playing computer games and watching TV. I have actually been outside however! I’ve been to see a few mates for birthdays and meets etc. and have really been enjoying the beautifully sunny weather. Maybe this global warming malarkey isn’t so bad 😉

Oblivion

I’m trying to get into Oblivion on the PC. I bought it at launch but never got on with it but now cash is extremely tight (switching jobs means no cash for a couple of months) I’ve decided to play some of the games I never got round to finishing.

I spent about 2 hours downloading the recommended mods to make it look pretty, and another 3 playing with the character editor to get the perfect looking person. I haven’t even left the starting cell yet. The annoying thing is I know that I’ll play it for a while and get bored again. I must persevere!

Busy busy

I’ve been so busy of late, I don’t think I’ve turned on the 360 for at least a week.

I don’t like talking about work on here, but its been causing me stress. I recently quit my current job for a new one that’s closer to home and has more career opportunities. Problem was I have a 12 week notice period (I kid you not) and I was pleading to be let go sooner or I might have ended up with no job at all. Despite some pointless dragging of heels they’re letting me go in a couple of weeks. On the upside this means I can finally get (as I need it) a car, the downside is I’ve spent every evening either fretting about my notice (now solved) or car hunting. So I’m knackered. Very knackered. Another weekend of car hunting to go and hopefully I’ll have everything in place by the middle of the month so I can actually play Crackdown and possibly Supreme Commander if it will run on my PC.

That reminds me, the fan on my PC’s northbridge started emitting a whine. Its happened before and giving it a jiggle has done the trick, but not this time. I went to unscrew it but one of the screws was threaded. As I was tired and irritable I literally tore the thing out of the heatsink, bending half of the blades and ripping the screw out. After bending the blades back again, replacing the duff screw and putting a bit of oil on the bearings I put it back in and now its silent. How I get away with being so abusive to my PC I’ll never know, but the beast has served me well for quite a while now.