Category Archives: Games

Getting back into League of Legends?

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!

World of Warcraft – Legion

It’s looking like Burning Crusade 2.0, but that was my favorite, so this is like crack to me.

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 Ascension

I can imagine some sort of snarky wanna-be AVGN clone saying “Towerfall Ass-cension is the worst game since my butt” or something like that, it’s been running through my head since I bought the game.

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

Bloodborne – First Impressions

Even an innovative game like this still has the default box art design of “one badass standing in the middle”.

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.

The Setting

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.

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Little Big Planet 3

Sackboy is a great character because he's just a doll for you to play dress-up with. I have mine looking like a pirate right now.

Sackboy is a great character because he’s just a doll for you to play dress-up with. I have mine looking like a pirate right now.

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.

The Concept

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.

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A Bunch of Topics!

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

Nuclear Throne

Today I want to tell you about Nuclear Throne!

These are all playable characters, not monsters.

These are all playable characters, not monsters.

Nuclear Throne is a fast-paced top-down pixel shooter made by Vlambeer. It’s available on Steam, which is where I randomly stumbled across it. I bought it because it looked fun and creative and (most importantly) had roguelike qualities to it, and boy, does it ever. All the levels, enemies, and drops are randomly generated, and every time you level up you’re presented with randomized upgrades from which to choose. A round of Nuclear Throne generally doesn’t take much longer than 15 minutes, especially if you’re new to it, because it is extremely difficult and death is cheap.

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Skyforge – Open Beta

Skyforge is an MMORPG that went into open beta today. You play as a god that has recently undergone apotheosis and is working to protect the planet. I’ve been playing the closed beta since last week, so I think now is the appropriate time to let people know what they are getting into if they decide to try it. I’m going to try to cover what it does well and what it does poorly in a concise manner.

First of all, Skyforge is really, really pretty. The character models are very well done, the different classes use weapons that are visually distinct, and most of the spell effects are cool. The adventuring zones are huge, and so far mostly feature gorgeous rolling landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. If you remember all the things I said about the graphical quality of Guild Wars 2, those go double for Skyforge.

I’m on a cliff overlooking a port town. Well, actually I’m falling off the cliff, but this game doesn’t have fall damage so I just took the picture like I planned.

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Grimrock 2 – Final Thoughts

This is my last post about Grimrock until a third one comes out. I want to explore the subtleties in the story and talk about the overarching mysteries that aren’t required to beat the game. Grimrock has 2 endings, and one of them asks the player to combine game mechanics with lore to figure out what’s really going on. There’s spoilers here, but realistically, if you’re taking the time to read this then you probably already know them. I’m going to discuss all the important lore and plot of Grimrock 2 here, so it’s a bit longer than usual.

First, I want to cover a little bit of this game’s backstory. We can infer some of the history of the mysterious isle of Nex from the frescoes on the walls inside the Pyramid. As best I can tell, a long time ago, an Egyptian-like group of people lived on the island. They built the Pyramid and all the other buildings and ruins, which means they had quite the diverse taste in architectural style. At some point, all of these people were enslaved by an Island Master, and apparently the mantle of Island Mater is passed down through the centuries. Their reasons for wanting to rule the island are clear, Nex is a nexus of magic in the world, and all the world’s knowledge is stored there.

Other lore on the island tells the tale of a captain Kilhagan, a pirate captain who wound up trapped on Nex after a shipwreck. His crew was killed by the traps and monsters, and he spent years of his life hoping to get revenge for their deaths, though he was never able to find it. Eventually, though, we learn that Kilhagan abandoned his rage and “sought enlightenment”.

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Legend of Grimrock 2

Legend of Grimrock 2 was released in October 2014 and is an improvement over the first in almost every aspect. After the original’s sales proved the existence of a market for this type of game, the team set out to make a sequel with a much larger scope, and in my opinion, knocked it right out of the park. There’s more content, more imaginative puzzles, better skill progression, more races, more weapons, extremely varied locations, and an interesting overarching set of mysteries that tie the game together. Almost Human is a development team to keep an eye on in the future.

This game maintains the grand tradition of starting adventures with a shipwreck.

The first thing to note about Grimrock 2 is the existence of what the layperson calls “outside”. The previous game was spent entirely inside a dungeon, and while the dungeon looked nice and did incorporate many different styles of architecture, it was still a dark, cramped dungeon. Grimrock 2 does have some nice-looking dungeon parts, but the art for the outdoors maps is gorgeous. Forests, deserts, beaches, bogs, castles and pyramids are just a few of the locales the player will visit, all while exploring the same island.

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