Why I stopped playing LoL in favor of DotA2

Of these two games, I would not say that the gameplay of either is superior to the other. Each play with their own style and have things I like/dislike about each. As far as the actual game goes for either, I’m Switzerland. Neutral. Gray like Gandalf. I’m pH7 you might say. However, I stopped playing LoL on a regular basis months ago in favor of DotA2. It wasn’t some concrete decision, where I had a moment of choice that I can point to and say, “There, that is why I no longer play”. It was just a gradual subduing of my time spent in game. This weekend, after watching a YouTube video from Riot about the history of their champions, I decided to go give the game a whirl again. All I got was one game before the stark contrast between the total experience of the two games slapped me in the face and reminded me why I never went back – the community.

It started off badly. Within seconds (literally), my 4 teammates were bitching at each other. Calling each other noobs, criticizing choices on champion, spell selection, calling what lane they are going to take, and then being yelled at for going there. Within the champion select, before everyone was locked in, someone even threw out the “GG”. It wasn’t friendly banter; it wasn’t joking humor; it was bitter, vitriolic condemnation of their own teammates and fellow human beings. Did I mention this wasn’t even a ranked game? Just a standard match for fun. The attitude didn’t improve during the length of the game. Not surprisingly, the match didn’t go well. I lasted 12 minutes in game, reading condemnation, proclamations of superiority, and demands of subservience from half of my teammates, before I finally ignored them. That’s a two-edged sword sadly, because once ignored, communication is gone, and a game that relies on teamwork is basically lost. The game finally ended at about the 30 minute mark (the surrender was no-voted). I left the game, closed LoL, and doubt I will return any time soon.

I’m not saying that the community of DotA2 is the gold standard. I wouldn’t even call it the bronze standard. However, it’s not complete shit, and the average interaction is light-years beyond my experience yesterday. Not every game in LoL occurs like mine did, but it’s an indicative example of the aggregate. I talked about it on the forums at Inquisition, and one of the leaders commented something along the lines of “This is the norm in hyper-popular games.”.  The norm is not acceptable, and if it’s bad enough to drive away a veteran of online gaming like me, chances are, it will do the same to others.

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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BioWare & Friends

If you’re a reader of BioBreak, you’ve probably seen Syp’s latest update about some happenings between BioWare and its fansites. Obviously, as a blogger myself, and as a participating member of the new blog/media conundrum, I find it to be of interest how BioWare is handling this. From the revision that Syp provided after speaking with BioWare, it seems that the limitation won’t be so much in the form of interaction, but in official sponsoring. If you’re familiar with Warhammer, you’ll remember that every so often, Andy would do a blogger role-call, linking out people who wrote blogs primarily about WAR. It was a great honor to be chosen to be on those lists, and a great way for the game to show love to it’s blogging community (something Mythic always excelled at).  Those type of actions, or even participation in similar promotional events, will likely NOT be happening. No holocrons with symbols as part of a decipher puzzle will be included if you have adds on your blog.

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Birthday’s are like game development

My wife’s birthday is coming up. As I’m sure many other husbands have gone through, my wife is one of those that says, “Don’t get me anything, there’s nothing I really want.”. So, we as husbands, are then left walking the delicate wire of interpreting the actual meaning behind the cryptic words delivered by our estrogen-fueled counterparts. Sadly, all of our decoder rings are wasted on Ovaltine commercials, so women of the world should really know by now that we need them to speak to us truthfully. However, this tight-walk roping of decrypting intent of message from actual delivered message is something that players and developers do in games all the time.

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Manifest Destiny

Andy Belford, community man, touch point, and herder of cats for EA BioWareMythic (how’s that for a name amalgamation!?) for the last two years is following in the footsteps of our nation’s founders, and moving west. He announced on Twitter LATE last night that he is no longer part of the team in Fairfax, and will be taking his family west to pursue a career opportunity, as well as be closer to some family.

As a blogger whose primary focus was WAR for two years now, and a player since launch, I’ll be sad to see him leave for other pastures, but am nothing if not thankful for the amazing job he has done over WAR. He’s a self-proclaimed advocate for communities, and for using all the tools available to reach communities on any front possible. I got personal attention along with Werit, Gaarawarr and Mykiel when we went for our trip out there before the city revamps, and can say that meeting him was a pleasure. A tireless worker, an obviously dedicated father and husband, and an interesting conversationalist – his dedication to the task of fostering a community should be easily seen in all his actions. As a core-tester I got to see in more detail some of his work ethic and outlooks on gaming in general. While there may be some areas of disagreement (as with any two people on one subject matter), it’s clear that he is a consummate professional and passionate about the industry he is immersed in.

Oft derided by the forum community, he frequently was the only point of contact for players on the official threads, delivering what information he could.He frequently intertwined a wry tweak or spin on message deliveries with a sense of biting sardonic humor, or self-deprecating amusement (pig-dog overlord). Wherever he ends up, will be better for having him as a member of their team, and I’m sure he’ll exceed goals and show the same level of commitment as he has in the past.

Best of luck on your travel west, keep the oxen fresh, and watch out for those river crossings.

Rift in the community

I know, terrible pun. You’ll get over it. Or you won’t, and my bad title will cause you to do something drastic, and probably come back to bite me in the legal sense as being responsible for your extreme behavior. I’m willing to take that chance. Especially for a topic as interesting as this one.

With every new release of a fairly prominent title into the MMO community, people invariably start to talk about it. Big or small, bloggers at the last will make some comment about it. Rift is no exception. What’s particularly interesting about this release, are the reactions from those who have played it, and those who are reading the things written by those who have played it. Some players find it has too much PvP, as in, the game is not solely, 100% PvE centric. Apparently, not paying attention to whether allies are flagged for PvP and then healing them isn’t a good reason to be dragged into PvP conflict, nor is inattentively throwing out AoE when a potential enemy is around. I kid you not, someone used the excuse “They walked into my damage”, when I was in elementary school and told the teacher the other kid ran into my fist, the excuse didn’t work then either. Conversely, we have players who find it to be incredibly thin on the PvP side, and highlight that by pointing out the entire experience in the Betas so far have been PvP optional, EVEN ON THE PVP SERVERS. Capital letters drive the point home I think.

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Kick the tires, and light the fires

Playing SC2. I’m not Korean, but don’t be surprised if my posts drift substantially away from WAR. I’ve been playing Blizzard RTSs since they came out, and have loved every one. Okay, well, Warcraft 3 did nothing good other than bring us DotA, but I love it for that. Initial impression: it’s damn good. It’s the original Stacraft, only better. If you were expecting something more, you will be disappointed. Personally, I wanted exactly what I got, and couldn’t be happier (well, other than all three races campaign released simultaneously, greedy Blizzard ass-hats).

Oh, also, WARs forums officially folded into BioWare Social Network. People are not happy (all on the first page of the “General Discussion” forum, most in the top 10). I’m not particularly keen on the new forums yet. Specifically, I miss two things. Character representation (who’s post is this that I’m reading), and secondly, the “new post” link on each thread. I lived by that link. One think I expressly dislike about this forum: it’s part of a “social network”, which means every Tom, Dick and Harry who buys a BioWare game can come in and post. By opening up the community, it lost its unique flavor and appeal. If I want a social network, that what I have Facebook for.

I’ll give these forums a fair shake, and I’ll of course still use them. But I hope that there are some serious changes coming to how Warhammer is specifically handled as part of this “Network”.

Tales of Hate, Entry 10

Today is July 1, and I will be posting this on July 16, 2010, and will be the final post of the series for now.

Gorfang destro has seen a massive shift the last couple of weeks. Whereas before destro was always the underdog, fighting and scrapping for every win, of late, they have been the zerg. The force that runs over all opposition. They have been steaming down order, and breaking through the doors of Altdorf on a consistent basis. So frequent is this overwhelming assault, that the other day, order had three underdog points. Three! Obviously, my fun factor has dipped dramatically. I really enjoy being the underdog, and every time I log on Kaah to see a zerg, my desire to play vaporizes faster than an illegal alien outside an immigration office.

The class is still fun and interesting, and I think with more rank, gear, and maybe even a team to play with, he could be ridiculously nasty. A three-man assist train led by a Blackguard should bring the fear of God into the hearts of any target it falls upon. The kicker is that the career is getting some changes they have asked for. I like them sort of, but they are giving up a lot for it. They are getting a mirror of the Iron Breaker armor debuff, and the strength/willpower buff, but losing their disorient AND their morale stopper. Those are two biggies to say goodbye to, and it makes me sad. However, in the spirit of greater realm parity and similarity, it’s the right move.

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Tales of hate, entry 9

Today is June 21, and I will be posting this on July 15, 2010.

It was an interesting weekend for my Blackguard. I got to play a bit here or there, and even do a city siege. As I said from the get-go, I’ve been keeping mostly on the down-low about my character, but not being overtly sneaky about him. If people found out who I was, so be it. I wouldn’t lie, and outside of my forum signature on the Alliance forums, I don’t advertise my identity on him. That said, if you’ll reach back in your memory banks, you’ll remember a post (a couple of weeks ago for you) where I talked about some awesome drama and an ex-guildie. Luck would have it, that I ended up in a city siege with him. Within minutes of his guilds arrival, I got chatter asking if it was me.

I confirmed.

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Stupid Reunion

I resisted the urge to post a thematically weeker "Gabrielle Union" photo. Wishing I hadn't right now.

So, this weekend is my wife’s 10 year high school reunion. Seeing as how she helped plan and set this stuff up, she (and by association, I) is obligated to attend. Both days. The joy I have at spending my weekend with a bunch of strangers I don’t know, don’t care to know, and will probably never meet again is unmeasurable. There is no data-gathering tool that can examine something as small as my enthusiasm for this event. Still, with her reunion this weekend, and mine in some not-so-distant future, it has left me wondering about the people who come and go in our time in a game. Where do they go? Why’d the leave? Are they doing okay? Will I ever get my FLCL dvd’s back from them? Okay, that last one was a classmate from college who never returned my most-beloved of anime’s back to me, and I still loathe him to this day for it.

But you get my meaning.

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