Sunday, December 07, 2014

I Fell Off teh Wagon


It goes like this.

Couldn't get much further in GuildWars2, although I still think it has the best art and mechanics. Thought about sticking my toe in to see what WoW Draenor looks like. Why? I dunno. Curious, maybe nostalgic? I dunno.

I re-upped for three months 'cause I can't just sit and play a lot (although, hello Christmas break). Started to play. The kid joined me. First thoughts: yikes it's a face roll now. Actually, yes it's so easy now. Toons are OP and the thinking for spec'ing has basically been removed. OTOH, if you think about it as a different game, instead of changes to a game you loved, it can be less irritating and a lot more interesting. For instance, lore seems to be a lot more foregrounded, which is great if you're a legit. mmoRP player, which I like to think I am. (It probably also helps a tad that I'm playing on an RP server, though more for the quality of fellow players than to do much RP'ing).

There's also 'garrisons' now, i.e., build an in-world home for yourself and your crafting minions.

Now, let me quickly add that you need to be a level 90 to get these rolling and there's rumors that they may dump this in a future expansion, but ... kinda cool, eh? Worth the grind? mmmmmmmmm not sure.

Another aspect of this 'new' game is the art. Yeah it's still cartoony and after GW I don't really like it but... omg those mounts. Was getting hella excited til I realized that it's NOT ONLY your subscription they're soaking your for but they have a lot of items in the "store" now, and mounts are a big part of that.

Would I drop coin for an awesome mount? I dunno. Part of the mount thang, when I was into WoW, was to earn a hard-to-get mount then flaunt it in Orgrimmar or Stormwind. "Yeah, bro, I fished my brains out to get that turtle. Fuck you."  Where's the fuck you in buying an awesome mount? Like I said, it's a different game now.

And yet another new feature is the game within a game. It looks an awful lot like they've embedded Pokmon, but with WoW pets. (Of course, to highlight my smug knowledge I'm naming all my pets after Pokémon heh heh.)

Yes, when you encounter a wee beastie in game you can pause and engage it in a turn-driven battle using "attacks" specific to your "type" of creature, winning levels your pet. Well, he doesn't evolve like a Pokémon; he doesn't change how he looks.) You can also "catch" wild ones you beat. Yeah, gotta catch'm all!

So for at least the next three months, I'm going to see what's what in World of Warcraft. Will I see you there too?

Saturday, October 04, 2014

I'm a Yasuo jungler, mofos

Okay, yeah, it's against bots but I'm learning.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Orianna, Wow!

Started playing Orianna today (League of Legends) 'cause she's getting picked so much in the new build by the pros. She was very hard to learn, but finally I'm starting to get it. Yikes is she fun. I thought she was delicate and easily killed but daaaaaang, she's got great offense and defense, some of which is support for the team too. Then I stumbled on this pro's page about her and was pleased to see that I was "doin' it right." So I think she's a new favorite.

And yes, I bought a skin for her. This is the "sewn chaos" Orianna skin. Reminds me of Sally in The Nightmare before Christmas. And yeah, it's totally sick.

Friday, August 22, 2014

They Exist

Sarah and I Ran into an ArenaNet Game Dev. (the red icon). They're allegedly running around collapsing the waypoints with the strangler vines as part of the living story. Don't know what I'm talking about? Here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Friday, August 01, 2014

Pets 'n Whimsy

So they have pets...

But dude, this is the newest: Chickenado:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

So You're Über Now, Eh?

"No you're not. Yeah you're level 80, but we designed the world to be hella hard in those zones cause you all think you're so über." - No one has actually said that in a blue post, but it's pretty clear that's the thinking. Beginning about level 70, the PVE zones get very difficult, by which I mean, harder to solo. No, it's not in the WoW way, which created group quests that forced you to PUG or beg your guildies. No, it's a combination of design elements in the landscape.

First of all, the zones are occupied by the ultimate bad guys and they're everywhere. To say the zone is densely packed with evil is an understatement. It's hard to avoid fighting as you work your way around...ALL the time. Secondly, the architecture is cleverly broken, interesting, and arrayed in such a way as to create some serious barriers, forcing you to engage rather than skulk about. Yes, skulking is sometimes possible, but often not.  Thirdly, the elites (not champions, just, lol just, elites) roaming about tend to be a PITA, in part because of adds and in part because they have very annoying spells or super hard hits.

The MegaServer Solution

In short, once you hit the last several zones, you fight. A lot. However, to balance the difficulty a tad, ARENANET has done something pretty interesting. It's fairly recent, but it's both good and bad. Or rather has an upside and a downside. As in most MMOs we had our own "home" server, though it was easy enough to party with friends on other servers by going through Lion's Arch city, which originally was so popular it required an "overflow" server. That is, you and your buddy from the other server would go to Lion's Arch and end up tossed onto a separate server referred to as overflow. At some point your home server's access to Lion's Arch would come available and you'd get asked if you wanted to travel back to your server. Anything you did on the overflow server still counted and you could be with friends without them having to transfer to your server. Pretty sweet, albeit limited.

A couple of months ago, ARENANET went whole hog with the megaserver solution. Now each zone within the world is a megaserver. The upside is, you're rarely alone in a zone. As noted above, having buddies, even PUG buddies, as you move through the difficult upper level zones is a real boon. The only downside is for people like me who deliberately chose an RP server, in my case an unofficial RP server, because it has nicer chat (none of that WoW Barrens middle school chat). RP servers have a sense of decorum, and you don't see people named (real player names here): Nips McChesty or Ulga SteelMellons. =sigh=

More Public Zerg'ing

I do love this. You're walking around doing your thing and a call goes out in the general chat: Champ Such'n'such is up at [place name].  People convene at the waypoint and on we go. Sometimes you run across a train, that is, a large roaming zerg group usually with a leader (marked with the commander icon) who follows a preset path through the zone, timed to hit each champ as it comes up. And, yes, it almost always takes a big crowd to burn down a champion. I *did* once two-man a champion with some random guy. I was on my ranger (like a WoW hunter) and he was on a guardian (like a WoW Paladin) and between us we kited, healed, and traded tanking (with my pet) till we burned it down but it took us about 20 minutes. 

Champs usually drop a big chest of goodies when they finally go down, and of course there's the standard kill drops from adds 'n such. It's an extremely efficient way to farm if you join a train.  The bottom picture comes from a train I was following for a while. The top one I actually logged in to based on the server timers. That is, I knew the champ was due to come up soon.

Mid-level zerg

High Level Zerg

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting Into the RP

No, not really. But I am getting invested in the dying and altering of gear. The game devs have set up your account such that any gear style opened/unlocked on any toon is available to any of your toons on that account. Given that I have close to ten guys now, I have a lot of wardrobe choices.

I've just rerolled an engineer as it's been forever since I played my lvl 80 engineer, and I've always found it best to re-learn a toon from the bottom up, especially after build changes have happened. You get a better understanding of the synergy of the actions and specs if you work through them as you level.

Anyhow...I was really going to write about the gear twiddling. Here's my new low level engineer in what I deem to be appropriate gear look for engineers, kinda steam punky. What's especially cool in this snapshot is the guy next to me. He's wearing some of the same gear on his level 80 mesmer. His name is El Mustachio Grandé. How cool is that. And I love his goggles.

One of the things you can do, especially if you're obsessive or a hardcore RP'er, is work the colors to highlight the small details of the gear, e.g., buckles and buttons 'n stuff. So here's Kayleee Frye. Yes, she's named for Firefly's Kaylee, who was the engineer on Firefly. I had to add an extra 'e' cause, of course, the name is already taken.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Back to the Beginning: Elementalist Redux

KillerKitteh as D/F Elementalist

I went back to my very first character, the elementalist. Never did really like it. It always felt underpowered and overly complicated.

Apparently a new build went through in December, but since I wasn't playing it much I took no notice of the changes. When I went back to it today, I looked up what the new world order was for PVE spec'ing an elementalist. Well, now it's dagger/focus, not double daggers. The build I went with comes from this chick's video. It's 30/30/0/0/10, which is very different from what I was running with double daggers.

Got that memorized? Good.
It also turns out I need different slot skills, and while the toons I play the most are swimming in extra skill points, this poor toon doesn't have enough to buy ARCANE BRILLIANCE, which costs 25 points. So... I'm grinding over older regions I never finished. It both lets me practice the rotation and earns me skill points.

This is just possibly the most complicated shot rotation I've ever heard. I'm busy trying to learn it. I get the repeated switch to AIR. Every time you switch out your stance you gain 25% crit for the first couple of shots. Check this out. LOL.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Riot and Enlightment

Riot calmed, for the most part, the bitter snarky and often mean trash talk that happened in League of Legends by turning it over to the player base and allowing them to pass "ban" judgment on reported players. It was a brilliant stroke of genius that both empowered the players and removed Riot from the mess. It harkens back to the original 'let the player base rule the player base' call made in LambdaMOO back in the 80s when Pavel Curtis and company decided to step out of the middle of the disputes and institute a player driven 'government.'

Now Riot has done it again. Since the snark left the game, the remaining smack talk usually arises in the PUGs (pick up groups) that form to play a Coop-AI game. Everyone wants to play the same lane. It's not unusual to have to guys carry an argument about who gets to midlane into the game and both stand in the middle lane leaving a top or bottom lane solo. It's a chicken run. I'm not gonna bail; you gotta bail to the other lane first bro. Typically women yield. We're just stupid that way. We make the move that helps the PUG team even though it means giving up on an argument we thought we had already won in the pre-game.

So this showed up on my log in today. "Play the champ you want, where you want, every game." Fucking brilliant. They will build the composition around you. In some ways it's like a WoW random dungeon. You sign up to be tank or healer or dps and the system cobbles together a team. It's not that any one lane is the best. It's that the champ you like to play is best or at least better in one lane than another. This seems like it should work. I'll let you know.

But my main point is that Riot is very very very good at solving the  player base's problems. This means they hear them. They understand them. They know it's worth it trying to figure out a way to solve the issue rather than leave it to poison the experience. I'm very impressed. It's so... enlightened.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

OMG Floating Eyeball Dude is New Champion

Sar. and I played some LoL with the new champion who reminds me of those machines in The Matrix

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I love the smell of napalm in the morning - Kilgore

There's a server event going on right now in Guild Wars 2. It's an attack on the national capital. I understand that, when it's over, the capital will be altered significantly.

Right now, for these two weeks, it's a mind boggling public zerg. And, because it's a game by those clever NCSoft/ArenaNet bastiges, ANYONE can join in. Yeah, if you're a lowly level 32 and you enter the fray, the game will scale you up to a lvl 80 equivalent. Obviously you won't be as über as a real lvl 80 but you'll be good enough to contribute in meaningful ways in the combat, and the gear drops will be well worth it.

This happened last night. There were so many players that the server periodically seized up. Not a big problem. Just log back in and go, but an indicator of the size of the insanity that is "The Battle of Lion's Arch."

Lion's Arch is a big city and it's been taken by the evil forces. There's only three ways in to the city now, and there's nasty poison gas about that limits how long you can last in there when fighting. If the zerg doesn't complete the several quests before the gas reaches toxic levels, we all get dumped out and the timer resets. Because there are three ways in, there are essentially three war parties undertaking the missions simultaneously. Chat is used to call for additional help or point out important changes in the mission status. It's awesome fun and I highly recommend you get into it if you haven't.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Why PUGs Suck, and Why They Suck More in LOL than WoW

Well, maybe they don't. Maybe PUGs suck everywhere they exist. Perhaps the frustration is just greater in LoL because the games are shorter. That is, the sucky element has a greater impact. There's no evening out of things as you go deeper into a round of play.

So League of Legends has PVP available in five-man teams. Unless you have a group you play with you're tossing yourself in the pool of players for a PUG (pick-up game). Like WoW, LoL has roles in its teams. Unlike WoW, LoL players can, at the start of the game, decide which toon to play. That is, they don't queue up as some particular type of character. They just queue up.

When you get assigned to a group, the hell begins in chat, as players immediately call out their lane preference, before even choosing a character to play:
player1: top
player2: top
player3: jung
player 4: mid
player 5: mid

There are three lanes in this tower defense game. Typically one toon plays the mid lane. Two particular types play the top lane, and the bottom lane (bot) is usually an ADC and a support. An ADC is a fighter who is best toward the end of the game, after getting his/her end items and leveling up to, say, level 12. No one wants to play support. Supports just keep the ADC alive while s/he farms until end game. Supports don't get to kill very often; supports get "assists." Most players want kills.  The guy who called jung, is saying s/he wants to play a toon that runs around in the jungle (between lanes) ganking neutral enemies for gold so s/he can itemize (gear with stats) as fast as possible, and then move amongst the three lanes as needed. Most junglers don't actually help the other lanes. They play the jungle, way way too long. Then they KS (kill steal... someone burns the enemy down and right before the killing blow, the KS jumps in and lands the killing blow, thus getting the kill, stealing it from teh person who should have gotten the credit. Sometimes it's an accident and some players will say, 'sorry bro.' Usually it's not.) Typically when there's a jungler, someone solos top lane; the jungler comes off the top lane duo. So ideally you should have this;

player 1: top
player 2: jung
player 3: mid
player 4: ADC
player 5 sup/bot

The problem is that when folks don't get what they want, one of two things happens. Either they argue about it in chat then sulk and refuse to let go of their initial choice; and, you get three guys in top or two guys in mid. This ruins the balance in the game and the opposition creams you in whichever lane is neglected. Or, you get rage quits, and lose a player from the team, and have to re-queue.

Typically, players in 5-man PVP, at least in the beginner level, argue, sulk, and harass. They also play for themselves, not as a team. Running around solo is a great way to get ganked easily. Getting ganked feeds the enemy who ganked you, making him/her stronger, richer, better itemized... to the detriment of your whole team.  After Don't Tower Dive, Don't Feed is the most often given advice in game.

Another sucky element here is the rush to finish. Push push push the lane to end the game, often, nay usually, before level 12 (of 18 levels). What this means is that if you have chosen an ADC type character, you're screwed. You never get to your full strength. I love ADC. I'm screwed.

So there's no team in a team sport. It's like the early days of Kobe with the Lakers. You get a reasonable kill score and some a$$hole racks up three times as many kills (or deaths). It's unpleasant; it's not a game; it's a lesson in patience.

Sarah and I got tired of it and decided to try "intermediate" level play, hoping against hope that the stupidity and greed we experienced was related to immaturity and low level players (or high level players who play low level to get higher kill scores and show off. yeah, that happens.). Much to our surprise and delight -- so far -- it's been hugely more civil. People even help each other. There's slightly more team play and the games last long enough to be fun. The teams typically hit at least level 16, 17, if not 18 (the highest your toon can get in game).

Now this may all turn out to be luck and intermediate may end up sucking too, but so far, so good.

Monday, January 20, 2014

LOLing Around

This entry is for any of the EDLT students who will be trying their hand at League of Legends, fondly referred to as LOL.

So in an MMO, alts are my thing. I love to try out different classes. Obviously I was going to be rolling a ton of alts in LOL as well. Here's what's in my champion stable so far.  I mostly play Shyvana, Ziggs, Rumble, Lulu, or Renekton. Sometimes Poppy. I used to play Ahri a lot.

When I begin a new champion, I check it out on mobafire or lolpro, or both. I look for guides that are most recently updated (champion specs change) and have the most votes or are highly viewed.

I look at the masteries and itemization. I consider the play style. I begin with items or spec choices that show up in most of the guides, a kind of center sweet spot of the Venn diagrams each guide creates.

Then I might watch a Ciderhelm video, e.g., Don't Feed Ziggs, to get a feel for game play. Then I'll often play a custom 'bot game (all bots except you) to practice. They're great 'cause the games last longer and you really get to practice play. Or, if my kid is up for a  random bot game, I'll try to pair with her and we'll play with three other real humans against five bots.

The support for players has gotten quite good, especially from RIOT games. Consider this newbie guide. It even has videos explaining how the item shop works. That can be confusing when you start. You're not building a character that transcends a particular game. Each game starts from level 1, and as you get gold farming minions, knocking off enemy towers, or killing enemy champions, you buy increasingly better stat'd gear. Most low level items build into the higher level items; it's a system you have to get used to and requires some planning.