Changing Play

Yesterday was patch day for League of Legends. The big ticket items were the rework for Kayle and the introduction of another new 6300 IP champion, Wukong the Monkey King. Having been a previous enthusiast for Kayle, I was eager to see what changes she had coming her way, as I felt she was a bit on the weaker side of things. She had a great passive, but wasn’t able to really fulfill either of her roles as a support/carry very well. Of course, when the video was released, I was a bit saddened. I had just finished up all of her rune page a few days back, and the change meant buying 18 new runes and 3 new quintessence if Phreak’s predicted build would be more suitable. So, after I put the daughter to bed last night, I jumped into a few games to play with her to get a feel for the revamp.

I’ll be blunt, I’m not super happy with the Kayle rework so far. It’s not bad per-se, but it has definitely taken her far away from what she was before. Where before she was a good support/carry blend, that could be nasty super-late game, she’s now more of a pure carry. The hit to her heal spell, Diving Blessing, is a real kick in the nuts to any aspirations of support play. Nidalee’s heal was a far superior support tool before this change, as it has a better cooldown and a vastly greater power ratio, and after the change, it’s not even a comparison worth making. It’s as if the functions of Kayle’s heal have been swapped, making it more of a speed boost than a heal now.

That’s not to say that all the changes were bad, but Kayle is clearly no longer the champion I once played and enjoyed. She is being put almost wholly into the carry slot than the support slot. That shift is a new way of thinking when playing as her and how to approach building her. Once I’m able to get past this paradigm shift, I think I’ll have a strong hold on Kayle, but I’m not entirely sure if I want to. Playing a pure carry can be fun, but in LoL, I really enjoy more diverse and complex champions. Nidalee may take over as my primary champion after this patch.

As for Wukong, shocker, he seems pretty strong on the power curve. He’s also 6300 IP. I’d really like to see some more low and mid-range champions released, Oriana was the only one in recent history who came in under 6300 point. Relatedly, I’d enjoy a more frequent IP push-down for older champions. The push-down doesn’t have to happen as frequent as new releases, but doing a price cut of 1 old champion for every 2 new ones that gets released shouldn’t be something that will cause a revenue loss, and would go a fair way to pleasing customers.

Directing Frustration

For whatever reason, for the last few months, I’ve had this concept bouncing around in my skull, and I’ve started to put it up here a couple of times, but have yet to follow through until now. As a person matures with any endeavor they tend to think about things beyond their immediate perceptions and understanding. A long-term view starts to be adapted as the fullness of involvement starts to be realized. For myself, part of that is acknowledging personal past behavior, comparing it to others, and analyzing those actions. Part of advancement in anything is reflection and analysis, and opinions should be shining examples of this. I say this because, like I said, I’ve had a thought/nagging/what-have-you bouncing around in my skull for a while, and it just won’t go away. That thought is simple:

Do we, as players, mis-direct our frustrations towards people who are undeserving of it?

I think the simple answer to the question is “yes” (the converse question of directing our praise to those deserving is a valuable question as well, though, of probable less importance given the disparity between the projected emotional spectrums). Any romp through most MMO forum’s will see a majority of people expressing frustration. Those people more deeply embedded in the social structure of the community will probably have a greater insight to the workings of their game of choice. In-as-much as they will likely know the names of some of the designers or the forum handles of the “devs” that interact with them on the message board. That “insight” isn’t as great as some of us would like to believe (I believe). This perceived greater insight lends itself to a higher sense of involvement, and emotional attachment to a product, which can be a very nasty two-edged sword.

 

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Shocker!

You mad bro?

A lot of people read Keen’s blog. Hell, I read it from time to time. I am not playing Rift, and had no real intention of playing it past the first month. I gave it the opportunity to rejuvenate the treadmill themepark MMO style too me, and it unsurprisingly failed. I’m reading a genuinely mixed post-release take on Rift throughout various blogs. Some are caressing its cheek in deep adoration, others are growing bored with it already.

In spite of whatever the current opinion of Rift by the masses, I found it humorous that Keen went to the trouble of picking apart an interview about the game. Some of the things he said, I found to be completely unmatched to my experiences – like the lag issue. In other areas, I think he has a base difference of opinion behind the message – like what the short-comings are in the themepark MMO genre. Furthermore, I think he doesn’t realize how fully static WoW is. Rift is static as well, but having continual events that can change the landscape of the world for everyone (read: not lol-phasing), even for a short amount of time, means the world is more mutable.

The game is in direct competition with WoW. It’s a fantasy-themed, quest-grind, PvE-centric MMO. Saying otherwise is disingenuous, or spin by marketing. However, all video-games are in some extent in competition to WoW, it’s a matter of degrees. Hell, the HexDefender app on my phone is in direct competition to my Words With Friends app, despite being completely different genres, and those apps are in competition to me finishing BioShock, despite also being different platforms.

So, while I may not be a fan of Rift, it’s not because they did now what WoW did in 2004. I give credit to Trion where credit is due. They did a bang-up job on creating a ridiculous stable, smooth game. They put in place tech that supported what it is they wanted to do. They took the parts they didn’t like from all the other MMOs, and made them better. Stamping my foot because the new shoes I wore for the neighborhood game of kick-the-can isn’t wow’ing (see what I did there?) my playmates like I had hoped won’t make the game of kickball they’re playing instead any less fun.

Multibox Stigma

Can you say, "ridiculous"?

Multiboxing.

I’ve never partaken. Perhaps if the term “hydraboxing” had stuck, I’d be more apt to have partaken of such an awesomely named feat. In reality, I’ve just never felt a particular compulsion to do so in any game. I’d always rather have grouped up with other players and gone out to do our thing. In some games, like WAR, I always felt like it would take away from what the bulk of the fun involved was. That’s not to say that I have anything against player who do it, and even in WAR I was a defender of guy who was well-known for doing this. I just always found it not to be something of entertainment value for me, so the temptation was always non-existent.

Until recently.

The reality of EVE, and it’s skills, is that the game is SO big, and SO insanely large, that there is almost no way for any one person to ever train everything. What, in other games, would be considered “beating the game” by getting max level, is an impossibility (more or less). I believe the last figure I heard, a couple of years ago, was 7 years to train every skill to its max level. That’s real-time – and you can only have one character per account training at a time (no alts can learn while you’re main does). So, unless you started playing at launch, you’re nowhere near to having that thought even enter your head. There’s a little bit of me that thinks the EVE universe will implode and be recreated when someone stops having a skill to train.

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The ol’ college try

Last night, in a Sudafed and NyQuil fueled stuper, I decided to try a game I haven’t really given a fair shake in the past. It’s not a huge triple-A developed venture, and is extremely small population-wise, but it’s something that’s been sticking around and picking up players as it goes. It’s also a sandbox and non-level based, which is a fun twist from the classic MMO structure. I went into it, not really sure what to expect, but I wanted to keep an open mind. The game, (if you hadn’t guessed by now) is Darkfall.

Dun, dun, DUN.

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Rip off that Bandaid

Having played a DoK at launch of WAR, it’s a career that I think about often. Even more so, the concept of lifetapping healers is something I think about a lot. I know I’m not alone, but when I heard about Warrior Priests and Disciple’s of Khaine, I was excited for the concept of a melee healer. It was an exciting and heady concept – being able to stay in a fight and heal your group. The best of both worlds, the thrill of combat and the fulfillment of playing a vital role. At launch, the careers were not so hot. It’s hard to remember since the two have been so powerful for so long (regen on off-hand item was the straw), but there was a time, when even healing spec for the two classes was less than optimal. In today’s game, melee healing isn’t a real viable path, but playing DPS and being a back-line healer is. Most I’ve talked with will admit they are TOO good at both, and have never really hit the vision we were presented with.

This stray from the original concept wasn’t intended obviously, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Instead, I think it was more a result of trying to do a really tough job from the start and please too many bases at once. When people started to realize that what was presented earlier wasn’t reality, players started to revert to traditional patterns of the healer role-fullfillment; sitting in the back, playing the green-bar version whak-a-mole. Beyond that, we saw the people who wanted to be in the combat and to stick with the careers, take that aspect as far as they can with that, and in some cases (DoKs moreso than WP), have become frightening killers in their own right. So, instead of hitting the middle ground of a melee healer, the result was a pair of extremes, neither of which was originally intended.

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IP of Choice

I read a lot of fiction, and the books I prefer tend to be the ones where whole worlds are created. It’s part of why I prefer to stick to a series as opposed to a one-shot novel. This draw is why I love Jordan’s Wheel of Time, and Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, and how I’m able to tolerate Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series (despite how terrible everything after book three is). Coincidently, as a fan of MMOs and video games in general, I spend a lot of time thinking about games, and what I would like out of my ultimate setting. So, a natural occurrence that arises from my affinity of the two mediums is a ponderance on what type of world from an existing setting I would like to play around in the most.

We see this type of creation frequently happen, an existing intellectual property gets cooped into video game format. My current MMO of choice and the raison d’être of my blog is a game with such roots. Warhammer: Age of Reckoning is obviously based on Games Workshop’s tabletop and fantasy setting. An existing IP isn’t a guaranteed success for any game, and the games frequently turn out to be terrible or readily as good. Look to the vast expanse of Star Wars games across all the various platforms for a clear evidence of this premise in action. Still, there’s a strong connection and appeal between the creation of a world in literature and to the creation of a world in virtual space. It may have to do with the groundwork being laid out for you, and the ability to hit the ground running in terms of framework and concept. If the literary work is popular, you have a bonus with a built-in initial fan-base that is likely to at lease partake in the initial sales.

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The City Scoop

Ahhh, my trip. It is definitely an experience that I will not forget anytime soon, if ever.

My day started off with a typical early rise to get to the airport. A bit of a wait after, and I was touching down in Dulles airport in D.C. If you were a good and attentive follower, you would have noticed Andy Beldford (hence-forth, known as Bandy Belfords) sending out tweets with our smiling mugs after arrival. Mykiel (aka Sweet Uncle Happy Pants) was the first to arrive for the tour-de-force of Blaaagher Invasion, Werit and myself shortly followed, with Gaarawar filling the last spot of the group and we proceeded to lunch before we interrogated talked with a members from the  different development groups.

We arrive to a table at lunch, with seats already filled by Josh Drescher and CJ. Tastey food, and a conversation dominated by the bearded Reverend filled with stories of lizard people, moving woes, gaming references, and the overall terrible state of modern-day cinema led to a close and we made our trip to Mythic HQ. In there, is where the meat of this story begins. So, continue reading for the paraphrased question and answer session with the Mythic’s content team. Keep in mind, I’m shortening both the answers AND the questions to keep this from being 30 pages long. We need all the words we can get, but attention spans are only so big.

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Accomidating game play

If you’re familiar with my writing you know that I like to set up a common premise and then explain later on why it is I disagree with it, and play a Devil’s Advocate of sorts. Well, faithful reader, fret not, for this post will not be all that different! But I’ll try to keep the twists and turns of my thought process interesting enough to not bore you entirely. So, venture forth and think about the nature of our interaction with our hobby du jour.

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The Eternal Debate

Yes, themepark vs. sandbox (credit to Syncaine for directing me to the topic resurgence). To be fair though, this is a slightly different twist on the topic. While you might be expecting a conversation on the benefits of the different systems, or the superiority of one over the other from the perspective of this particular person’s opinion, what you get instead is a topic on verbage. Sid 6.7 (Virtuosity props), seems to be wondering more about the reasoning behind the application of these terms and how they correspond to the reality of MMOs in today’s gaming world. The crux of his premise as I see it, is that he doesn’t see a clear delineation of where the two terms fall and should be applied.

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