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.