Author Archives: Matthew
Today I found myself with a surplus of time I wanted to waste, and decided to attempt to get back into League of Legends. I’m still not even level 30 in that game, but I have a lot of friends who play it all the time. If you’ve never played a MOBA, they can be extremely difficult to learn and unfriendly to inexperienced players. That might be an understatement. MOBA communities will flame you for making mistakes, which can be…daunting for a newbie. I generally only ever play League in a group of friends so that I don’t have to deal with that hate, and also because I can get constructive criticism. Today, I played one game and lost, but it got me thinking about the whole system in general.
MOBAs are an interesting enterprise, where the entire business depends on hoping players want to learn a very complicated, detailed, skill-based game. Add in the fact that the majority of the gameplay (bots don’t count) is PvP, and it’s a wonder people like me ever even try them. I think the only real draw for me is the lore of League. Every champion has a homeland and backstory, and some of them even interact with other champions. I am a huge sucker for character details like that. Kha’zix and Rengar being on opposing teams even starts a sort of minigame, where they fight to see who is the better hunter! Riot writes interesting lore, and has a varied roster of 125 (as of this post) champions to play. There’s really a character for everyone in the giant mass of heroic men, women, and monsters.
I think it’s fascinating that all MOBAs grew out of one game: Defense of the Ancients. I used to play DotA back in college, so I got to watch a genre be born and grow. Most video game genres have existed for decades, but this one was new, and might be the only example of a new genre of games in the past 15 years. DotA started as a fan-made game using Warcraft 3 assets and existing on Blizzard’s Battle.net. When I think about that, and then look at all the MOBAs we have now. and how successful they are, I get a real “we are living in the future” feeling.
League of Legends bills itself as the most popular game in the world, with over 40 million players, and thousands of matches being played at all hours of the day. I watch competitive League and cheer for my favorite teams (TSM and UOL), and it is truly the only sport, electronic or otherwise, that I actually care about as a spectator.
Anyways I ragequit that shit after one game. Thanks for reading!
WoW just announced its next expansion yesterday. I have a passing fondness for the game, which is to say I’ve been playing it for 10 years and will never get that time back. I quit “for good” a few months ago, but I think I will probably end up playing the new expansion. There’s a lot of different reasons why WoW’s particular brand of hype works on me, such as my love of the lore and general weakness to Skinnerian MMO tactics, but the main one is probably the fact that I’ve already invested so much time in the game. I also have a lot of real life friends that play the game, so when one of us relapses, the rest of us do as well.
World of Warcraft has lost a record-breaking number of subscribers in the past few months, and if you haven’t seen the figures, they went from 10 million players to around 5.6 million. The current expansion, Warlords of Draenor, hasn’t just been a disappointment, it’s been a disaster. Lack of content, boring and chore-like garrisons, poor characterization and plot, you can criticize WoD from almost every angle. It took 9 months of Dragon Soul to make me quit last time, but it only took about 2 months of trying to push Mythic raids in Blackrock Foundry. Let me give you a little context.
I have raided every tier of dungeon in Warcraft, with the exception of the current 6.2 content. I’ve been the main tank for our raids (protection paladin) for years, and while I’m certainly not the best, I always do well, both by my own standards and the standards of things like World of Logs and AskMrRobot. I love raiding, it’s what really makes Warcraft fun for me, but this last expansion actually proved too hard for my guild. Mythic raids really showed us who we were having to carry, and when it came right down to it, we couldn’t carry 10 out of the 20 players in our raid. Moreover, the people who were not skilled enough were longstanding members of our relatively casual guild, and we didn’t want to ask them to leave. So I quit, along with all my real life friends.
Quitting WoW gave me a lot of free time that I’m still not sure how to properly use. I started doing this blog again and learning video editing, and I’m happy to not have to raid on a nightly schedule. However, when I see the upcoming stuff like customizable artifact weapons for every class (Ashbringer for Paladin!), and the class halls, and generally just let myself get sucked into the hype, I want to play again. As I understand it, the lore of the new expansion has Illidan and Gul’dan, along with more Khadgar. The Burning Legion is finally attacking real Azeroth again, and it’s a big deal, obviously. All of this news makes me flounder around in indecision, because it sounds awesome.
I’m going to attempt something new on this blog to keep myself from re-subscribing to the eternal timesink that is WoW. I’m going to write out my journey from lowly noob in 2005 to jaded 2015 ex-raider. It details the saga of how I formed my long-standing raiding guild, made a lot of friends that I still do things with on a daily basis, and in general learned about leadership and the internet itself. If I can do it right, hopefully I can capture all the different eras of WoW’s experience, and share how I came to see the game, and why I love it and know I shouldn’t play it anymore. In the process, I hope to improve my own writing skill. Look forward to it!
Towerfall was the best-selling game for the Ouya, an ill-fated console from 2013. The Ouya was a Kickstarter-funded project intended to produce a console that would play Android games, with room for multiple players and real controllers. I never bought one, which is pretty much the case for the rest of the world too. I don’t have any dislike for Android games, and I actually thought this was a pretty good idea from a business perspective, but as it turns out, no one really wants to pay $100 for what is essentially a better version of phone games. Towerfall only sold about 7000 copies on the Ouya, and was later ported to XBOX and Steam under the name Towerfall Ascension, where it is doing much better. Read the rest of this entry
Today started like a normal day for me, I got up, exercised for an hour on a stationary bike, showered, and went to my closet for clothes. And then I stepped in something wet. And then I noticed all the carpet in the closet was wet, and then I started to panic. I keep a lot of things in my closet, and one of the things most vulnerable to water is a small bookshelf. The bottom shelf had absorbed so much water that all the books were swollen and stuck together, and the wood was almost twice its normal width.
I moved everything out of the closet and began to assess the damage. Had it been leaking long? Where is the leak coming from, and is it ruining the walls? Will I need to pay for this, or the apartment management? I called the manager and they had a guy come look at it. Turns out the leak was coming from the AC unit in the closet, and was caused by a small blockage in the pipe that leads outside. Didn’t cost me anything to fix, and it should work fine now. I have fans running my closet to dry it out.
It really wasn’t that big of a deal when summarized, but the main damage was done to my books. I have a pretty large book collection, so storing them means I will take whatever room I can get, hence the closet space being used. I managed to pry the fused row of books out of the shelf and separate them to see what could be saved. Pulling them out actually did take a lot of force, because I pack books in tight in the first place.
The leak must have been going unnoticed for the past few days, because all of these books are moldy, inside and outside. There’s nothing I can do to save them, and it always makes me sad to have to throw away books. The only real solace is that most of them were books I read as a child, and I keep them in the closet because they don’t really need to be displayed to my adult friends or me. I lost compilations of the comic strips Dilbert and Foxtrot, some novels in the Pendragon series of books, and all of my Forgotten Realms collection.
The Forgotten Realms are the biggest loss. I’m not really interested in reading about Drizzt or his friends anymore, but these were 13 pristine hardcover books with their jackets still attached. My parents gave them to me when I was a teenager after I told them how much I enjoyed the first one. I think this is the main reason I feel so bad about their loss; they were a thoughtful gift given to me with love.
So that’s what I’ve been up to today. I don’t want to turn this into some sort of banal daily life blog, and I will get back to video games next time, but I thought I would give an update on what is distracting me today. I don’t have any more to say about SGDQ 2015, it was fun while it lasted but now that it’s over I will let it rest. Wednesday I want to talk about Call of Cthulu, if nothing else comes up. Thanks for reading.
SGDQ 2015 officially ends Saturday, but the bonus stream will likely continue for a few days. As of right now the donation tracker is past 700K, which is amazing. I always watch these events for the fun, but it’s nice to know the effort does help a good cause (Doctors Without Borders). I don’t buy into all the “faith in humanity restored” hyperbole that people say when they are overreacting to things, but the Games Done Quick Marathons are altruistic and virtuous. Everyone needs to do their part to help, and the speedrunning community does it at least twice a year in huge marathons, and many more times a year in small ones. Tomorrow is going to be full of popular heavy-hitters, I highly recommend you tune in, and #killtheanimals.
Here are some excellent runs you may have missed in the past few days, though by all means I haven’t seen everything.
The Wheel of Time – I haven’t read the books, and I didn’t know they had a video game, but this run is fantastic. It has fun tricks and is very well explained by the runner, Shaddex. It’s a fairly calm and enjoyable run; one that I didn’t see coming.
Shovel Knight Low% Shovel Only – A run that shows off lots of tight tricks and a high amount of skill. They get at least one developer on Skype, which is always insightful and allows for good conversation on design choices, though processes, and what was intended. Runs where the devs weigh in are always my favorite choice for high quality commentary.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 – PJ is a veteran of GDQ marathons; he maintains an entertaining and witty commentary while also showing off lesser-known games. In this case, the run had a lot of fun tricks and jokes to go along with it. There’s a lot of screaming, too.
I Wanna Be the Boshy – Witwix is another master of entertaining the audience with this strange game. Boshy is a precision platformer in the vein of I Wanna Be the Guy, but even more difficult and unfair. I personally quit Boshy in the second world, but I’ve beaten I Wanna Be the Guy, and that’s good enough for me. Watch this, or Witwix’s 100% run from AGDQ 2015.
Races – Mario Sunshine and Luigi’s Mansion are both fun races in games that demand a strong knowledge of game mechanics. As I’ve said before, races are some of my personal favorites, and are usually done to spice up runs of games that are common fixtures at GCD events. Be sure to catch the Super Metroid race Saturday, because if any game can be said to embody the speedrunning community, it would have to be Super Metroid.
Save/Kill the animals are two common donation incentives that raise a lot of money at GDQ events, and these phrases refer to the end of Super Metroid, where one can go out of the way to rescue animals from the exploding planet and allow them onto your ship. Obviously, this wastes time and speedrunners don’t do that, which is why I always donate to kill them, heartless monster that I am.
Next week I’ll be back to my regular setup of talking about specific games, but hopefully you’ve been enjoying SGDQ 2015 as much as I have! Thanks for reading.
As I mentioned on Monday, Summer Games Done Quick 2015 is happening this week. There’s always at least a few runs every marathon that are a cut above the rest, and since the marathon is now half over, there’s a few that I thought were especially good. In no particular order:
- Yoshi’s Island – Trihex has been running the game for years and has it down to a fine art. He’s always putting on an interesting show, and the game itself is an incredible speed game with tight controls. There’s a reason the marathon opened with this game.
- Sonic Boom – If you’ve never heard of Sonic Boom, it’s a really lazy and disappointing 3D Sonic game. The interesting thing about this run though, is how glitched and funny it is to watch. Knuckles can fly, you guys!
- Resident Evil 4 – The run is done on Professional mode, the commentary is spirited and fun, and the experience is pretty impressive. I am bias though; I love RE4 no matter how cheesy it is.
- Octodad Co-op run – Always entertaining to watch people play this game (it’s the QWOP of 3-d games), and with 2 people speedrunning it’s very impressive.
- The entire Tetris block – Tetris Grandmaster is insane, and I believe only seven people have achieved that rank on Tetris Grandmaster Edition 3 (the subtitle of this game is TERROR INSTINCT, because Tetris is serious business). The runs feature the only Western GM vs. KAN, the best player in the world. If you watch anything, watch this.
- Any race should be interesting, but the Mega Man X races are always cool. Lots of people run these games, so they can easily get 4 runners to race at once.
- Earthbound – If you like Earthbound, watch this to see it get glitched and beaten in about 90 minutes. I personally love everything about the game and was sort of sad we didn’t get to see more of it, but it’s a really long game.
I’m sure I’ve missed some and will have more favorites later in the week, but for now, these are what I liked. I haven’t seen even half of the runs due to daily life and sleep.
Overall the marathon seems to be going great. Donations are high and so is the general energy of the audience and the runners. The couch commentary has been good, and the only run I’ve seen so far that I didn’t like was the run of Crash Bandicoot 2, due to the runner acting weird and saying off-putting things. As always, Twitch chat is spammy and awful, so I can’t recommend ever entering it.
When I think back to the fairly small, close-knit atmosphere of the first Classic Games Done Quick a few years ago, it’s amazing how far the marathons have come. The runners and organizers really work so hard to put on a good show, and it gets better every year. Tune in and see it, if you haven’t! Thanks for reading.
Summer Games Done Quick 2015 started yesterday, so I won’t be productive at all this week. If you don’t know what that means, SGDQ and its winter counterpart, Awesome Games Done Quick, are annual video game speedrunning charity marathons. Speedrunners come from all over the country to participate in these week-long events, sometimes even running more than just one game. The audience can donate and comment on the events at any time, and there’s a lot of fun donation incentives (like donating for a 100% run of a game, donating to name the main character, donating to join a raffle for a PS4, etc.) and all the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders. If you like watching people show off their skill and knowledge to beat video games very quickly, this is the stream to watch.
Bloodborne is a third-person adventure/horror(?) game made by From Software and exclusively on the PS4. It is the fourth game in what is known as the Souls series (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and Bloodborne). Bloodborne has been out for a few months now, so hopefully most of the people who want to try it have gotten a chance by now. I’ve certainly gotten plenty of time with it this past week, and I’m not completely the worst player anymore. I have a lot of opinions about it because that’s what I’m good at.
Bloodborne seems to be taking place in a sort of Victorian-Era London-y town named Yharnam. The architecture on display is mind-blowing, and the city would be beautiful, if not for the rampant werewolves, bonfires, and blood-red sky. The inhabitants apparently solve all their problems with magical blood, and now that I’ve arrived in town and been given a transfusion, so do I. The downside is that this blood usage seems to be people turning into monstrous beasts, but even so, blood is still basically the religion of the whole town, used to treat all illnesses, and is even a substitute for alcohol. So far I haven’t learned a whole lot about the situation other than I should hunt beasts, because I’m a hunter and that’s what hunters do.
I mentioned on Monday that I recently started having access to a PlayStation 4. Along with sucking at Bloodborne, I’ve been able to use it to play Little Big Planet 3 with my roommate. The game actually came out at the end of last year, but I never really heard much about it, or indeed, even knew they made a third one until this week. I love the previous two games’ take on puzzle platforming, so I was super excited to jump into it. Everything I have done in the game has been co-op with my roommate, so keep that in mind if you have had a different experience in solo play.
I think the design concept for LPB as a series is brilliant. They always hit the same high notes of beautiful artwork, great music, and extremely detailed environments. Frankly, the level of detail is almost terrifying, were I to put myself in shoes of the designers. There’s thousands of different objects, costumes, and stickers, all spread out over the course of the game and used to give different levels cohesive themes, and it never starts to feel cluttered. It sort of reminds me of Katamari Damacy in this regard, except you platform over all the stuff instead of rolling it up.
I have a lot of things to say about the games I experienced over the weekend, but most of them either don’t warrant a full post or fall into a special category, which is “Things About Which I Would Like to Make a Video”. I want to make a video discussing the TALOS Principle, but I don’t know when that will come out, because I have never before made a video. Just call it Coming Soon™; I’ll keep writing in the meantime. It’s a scary proposition to try to learn basic video editing and structure, but I feel like the powers of visuals and voice are necessary for the topic. So now, here’s a grab-bag of topics.
Magic the Gathering
MTG recently had a new core set release named Magic Origins. It has some interesting lore that revolves around 5 well-known planeswalkers, chronicling their exploits from before and after they actually became planeswalkers. My friends and I bought a box (36 packs) together and did our own Sealed event. For the uninitiated, this means we each opened 6 packs and made a 40-card deck out of the cards, and then we played them against each other. Read the rest of this entry