Supernova in Open Beta, Deadbreed Still Six Feet Under

At the time of writing, Supernova (Bandai Namco‘s sci-fi MOBA/RTS) has gone to open beta for the last month or so, while creepy, Gothic horror game Deadbreed is still floundering in its grave. The last time I played, the one surefire way to get a match is to add people from the leaderboards to your friends list. Now, don’t get me wrong, Deadbreed is a great idea and all, but the lack of marketing and a number of inconsistent animations in the game (among other bugs) keeps Deadbreed’s community at a very small number of players.

Meanwhile, the latest update to Supernova saw the addition of a new pet-based Commander. I really want to get a new computer with a much better GPU in order to play more often. As far as bugs go, a personal one sees the map texture disappear when I play more than one game in the same sitting (therefore, as a precaution, I quit and relaunch the game after every match). Supernova, to me, is a great idea, and I wish more people could play the game, if they weren’t so attached to the Big Two (I mean League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients 2).

 

Slither on, guys.

Infinite Crisis: A Eulogy of Sorts

Well, it finally happened right out of the blue. My favorite MOBA, Infinite Crisis, is closing down in two and a half months. August 14th, to be exact. I’d rant and bitch about how I don’t think this is happening, but let me tell you that I’ve already gone through the stages of death yesterday.

I jumped on Facebook yesterday morning as part of my usual morning routine when I got the news from my Infinite Crisis Facebook group: the game has officially announced that it is closing. I read the posts by the developers and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This couldn’t happen! Infinite Crisis was fun! I loved it more than League of Legends! It can’t be closing down now! Try as I might to deny it, the truth was still there. I’d like to give a “eulogy” about the game (even though the servers won’t be closed until August).

I first heard about the game when it was announced on Facebook roughly three years ago. I immediately loved the idea of being able to slug it out with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern…everybody I could imagine out of DC comics! I kept careful watch on the game, like when it would be available to play. In fact, I could still remember the excitement I felt when Turbine, Inc. announced that the game would be going to closed beta in May of 2013. By this point I had already signed up for a beta key to get in.

The first week went by and a full round of keys were sent out. I felt a little bummed that I didn’t get one, but I was still hopeful that I would get in. The second week rolled around and I decided to check my email for any major updates. Imagine my surprise when I discovered an email from Turbine…with a beta key! I got in! I submitted my code and got into the game. I still remember how pumped up I was back then. I met several players and immediately the popular guys started emerging on the forums, keeping in almost constant contact with the developers on behalf of the rest of us.

As the months went by, more heroes and villains were added to the game. Of course, no game is perfect, and Infinite Crisis showed early signs of struggle, since most everybody was (and still is, more or less) addicted to League of Legends like a friggin’ drug. During one particular period in the summer of 2014, Turbine announced that they would cease production on new characters while they sorted out balancing. To be honest, I believe this might have started the road to its demise. A lot of long-time players, many of who were there since the start, jumped ship. At this point for me, the updates to game made it practically unplayable on my laptop (the very same from which I’ve written all of my posts so far), whereas in the beginning I could run the game with fairly high graphics. Thus, I couldn’t actively play the game, but I could still keep up with updates and changes. After the September update, I could finally run the game decently, although the graphics weren’t running as clean as they were before. More champions were coming out and it really seemed like the game was taking off. With the full release of the game coming up in March, I was really getting into the game, pulling more and more away from League of Legends. Thus, Infinite Crisis became my go-to MOBA.

In March of this year, the game went full release, after the closed and open beta stages. I even had invested $100 into the game for the Elite Founder pack, which came with exclusive stuff and early access to Gotham Divided at the time. I even went through the stage when Coast City Marina was disabled while Gotham Divided and Heights were the main maps to play on. With the relaunch of Coast City after the full release, players were coming back. For a while, it seemed like Infinite Crisis would really take off. Ranked queues were even included in May, allowing the player base to start racing each other up the ladder. The only thing was, by this time there was only one map to regularly play on: Coast City Marina. Sure you could still play on the Gotham Maps but it had to be a custom-made game. Understandably, the relatively small player base made it so that queue times would be cut down to allow more games to happen.

Unfortunately, this also was the time that a lot of new players were coming over from League of Legends. Now, League is currently infamous for its community and anyone who’s played a PvP game knows just how toxic that community in general is. Needless to say, the player base for Infinite Crisis was dwindling, unbeknownst to many people. I think its largely because people weren’t seeing the characters they wanted to be released (such as Deadshot, Deathstroke, and others) and, throwing hissy fits on Facebook, ended up walking away.

With the announcement yesterday morning, the final nail was hammered into the coffin. I had made so many memories with Infinite Crisis, almost all of them good. I simply couldn’t bring myself to log into the game again to continue playing, as, personally, it would’ve been too painful. It was just like City of Heroes/Villains all over again: a game I was really into was going down within a few months. I couldn’t go through the emotional pain again like I did with CoX. With a heavy heart, I made the decision to remove Infinite Crisis from my Steam library. In essence, I buried the game on my end.

All in all, I don’t think any MOBA will give me quite the enjoyment that Infinite Crisis did. It also helped me find some new friends along the way via the Facebook group. Here I could geek out with other comic book fans who were just as into the game as I was, but I digress.

From The Scaly Burrow, this is AdderTude, the Serpent of Cyberspace. Infinite Crisis, I salute thee.

“It’s not over yet!” – Atomic Green Lantern

Why League of Legends Has Gotten Worse

Since I’ve started playing League of Legends, I’ve noticed that there have been many changes come and gone over the last few years. At that start of this fifth season, however, I cannot say with confidence that the game has gotten any better. In fact, I think the Game’s age is starting to show, and not necessarily in a good way. Sure, Riot Games has put out many graphical updates since they launched the game, but this doesn’t necessarily improve the mechanics of the game

First, League of Legends has the largest roster of characters of any MOBA out there with the number approaching 150. You’d think that the Game would be due for an increase in draft bans by this point, right? Nope! The Game still remains with three bans per side, which leaves a heap of champions that can wreck house too easily. Seriously, there would be more planning and actual counter-play involved if the bans were extended to five bans per side. You can even see it in the ban window! The size of the portraits screams “five bans is possible.” But no, the Game still wants only six bans total to allow the popular champions to grace the field no matter which others are sent off.

The community is not much better. You can come across a handful of genuinely nice players, but the rest is really what brings the game down. The second you want to do something unorthodox, immediately there are trigger-happy people with their finger on the report button, even if you do well. In my honest opinion, the community has steadily gotten worse with every year. The professionals are treated like gods and their words as holy scripture not to be deviated from. It’s like a new form of religious fanaticism!

Balancing isn’t anything to hoot about, either. As per the aforementioned lack of more bans due to the size of the roster, the changes to the champions always throws the balancing out one way or another. While it’s virtually impossible to have a perfectly balanced roster, there should be changes to champions that bring them in line with everyone else. The only problem with this is that the change seemingly are made solely at the consensual word of the professionals. The Game seemingly caters mainly to the pro players, which leaves the overwhelming majority of us out of luck when certain changes need to be made. Which brings me to another point in regards to balancing.

I’ve said it time and time again in-game, there are only two ways that the winning team of a match is decided. First, the winning team that has the most tanks is almost guaranteed a win. In all the matches I’ve ever played, I can count how many times I’ve beaten a team of tanks on only one hand. Second, the winning team also has the most bullsh– champions on the team. And by bullsh– I mean champions that can snowball the easiest.

I don’t really know why I keep playing the Game at this point. It might be because I use a laptop that’s a few years old and while it has decent graphics, other games that are graphic-intensive tax my machine too much (CONSORTIUM and Saints Row 2 being examples of this). If I had a better computer, rest assured I’d be on Infinite Crisis and Heroes of the Storm much more often. For the reasons of a worsening community, a character roster that’s outgrown the number of bans necessary for more balanced play, and the sole focus on snowballs and tanks, I believe League of Legends is making itself worse as time goes on, not better as many people will say.

Jeopardy! Fail

So I was watching old sketches of Animaniacs on YouTube, particularly the sketch involving Miss Flamiel playing Jeopardy! with the Warners. When Wacko (Jess Harnell) picks “United States” for $500, he gets a Daily Double with the clue “All fifty States and their capitals.” He then proceeds to sing every single one. At the conclusion of the song, he ends up getting it wrong because he didn’t structure it in the form of a question. 😀

Then I look at the comments and this one fool says that you can’t answer a question with a question, and that the sketch was stupid. A number of users, myself included, tried to explain as basically as possible how Jeopardy! works and yet the original commenter keeps insisting that the premise is stupid, so I proceeded to ask why. His response, verbatim, was the following: “because if your [sic] going to ask a question they can’t already know the answer.”

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Anyone who knows Jeopardy! knows that the setup of the show is reverse trivia: the answer is given and the contestants have to give the correct question. How stupid do you have to be to not grasp such a simple (and brilliant) concept?! I can only sum this up with a simple image:

Idiots Meme

I got a couple more games (Stranded Deep and CONSORTIUM), so it’ll be a while before I roll out a new review (or preview in the case of some games in Early Access). In the meantime, keep it cool, readers.

Busy Work, “AngryJoe” Vargas, and Scandal Suffix Overuse

To begin, school’s been keeping me busy with stuff, so I haven’t been able to really work on any reviews or anything else, really. I did, however, add a new blog to my account which is for a class I’m taking (it’s about my personal thoughts on marriage and family but that’s besides the point). Beyond that, I really haven’t found time to do much else beyond homework and gaming. That and earlier this week, I found that someone used my card number to buy almost a hundred thirty dollars’ worth of groceries at a Wal-Mart in Hawthorne, California. I currently live in my college apartment off-campus in southeast Idaho. What tipped me off about the whole ordeal was my dad (who’s back in SoCal) calling me up about the bank giving them a call looking for me. I immediately settled the issue with the bank and cancelled my number. I also called up the Wal-Mart in Hawthorne letting them know that someone used my card number while the actual card was in my possession two states away. Long story short, the matter was looked into and I got refunded the money (I’m also now waiting for my new card to arrive).

At the time I post this, I just finished viewing YouTuber “AngryJoe” Vargas‘ video titled “Top Ten Controversies of 2014.” They ranged from topics between the controversy surrounding genocide simulator Hatred and the ridiculous #GamerGate “scandal” or whatever the hell it was. I don’t know a whole lot about it because I didn’t give a crap about that bit of drama. That’s all it really was: drama. Over nothing. In the end it was nothing!

As much as I found a lot of the topics to be rather enlightening, in the end it was a video I could not give a like to, I had to give it a thumb down. In fact, I wish he could have done away with the politics altogether and just talk about what the idiotic movement was about. Give the damn facts instead of giving your own two cents about it for the next twelve minutes. The last bit of the video after talking about his top controversy was all just a waste of time, to be brutally honest, and if Joe wanted to get political about GamerGate, he should make a separate video about it.

Personally, I don’t think GamerGate was all that big a deal. It’s only a thing when you go looking for it. And what’s up with people using the “-gate” suffix to describe a scandal? I get it’s all because of Nixon and Watergate, but Watergate was the name of the hotel! You can give these scandals and controversies the same treatment if you look at other major scandals by other Presidents! Look at the Patriots these past few weeks: DeflateGate. Zoe Quinn’s boyfriend goes crazy and a ridiculous irrelevant movement springs to life: GamerGate. Resorting to the use of “-gate” to describe a controversy just goes to show that creativity in journalism is going down the crapper.

I would keep going on this, but I’ve already been up a long time as it is (presently it’s twenty minutes to five o’ clock in the morning). And I have stuff to work on in a few hours after I sleep because I have a lot to do before midnight today. Keep vigilant and I will get something out soon.

All-Nighter! Yeah!!

Last night was a great night to kick things off for this semester. At 9:00 MST, for five bucks anyone was able to stay all night at my local hang-out place (GamePulse), playing League of Legends or whatever. I played a few rounds of League but eventually went over to StarCraft II with one of my friends who was browsing through the arcade. Man the arcade has a lot of cool stuff to do, we played a map called “Plan B” where the objective was to take a small team and push the continuous stream of Zerg back in order to kill four Guardians (all Primal Zerg). It was tough going and between the two of us, it took us about two and a half hours to get even halfway through before we decided to start over in order to let a third guy join in. We ended up beating the map in the same amount of time. We capped off the night with an FPS map called “Infested Insallation.”

A first-person shooter.

In StarCraft.

It was a total blast, being able to see the fight from the troops’ point of view (we all picked Marine because we were playing the map for the first time). I liked the map so much, I bookmarked it to my account. It’s awesome how many cool ideas that people come up with for games like StarCraft or Trials Fusion or other games where using the editor program allows you to make a game inside of a game (Game-ception!!). Alright, then, that’s enough out of me for a while. Gotta get back to homework.

Looking Back: City of Heroes/Villains

I will admit that I’m not as big into MMORPGs as I once was several years ago. I’ve tried a few of the classic popular ones, my first ever being Tibia by CipSoft GmbH. My eldest brother introduced me to it and I was pretty far into it. Several years down the road, I’ve gone through RuneScape by Jagex (the original one, and I only played through the tutorial before I quit, as leveling up solely through improving crafting skills felt cheap and incredibly stupid, too) and got introduced to the mega-hit World of Warcraft from Blizzard (through a friend in Utah when I was visiting right before volleyball camp in that upcoming week).

And then I discovered Paragon StudiosCity of Heroes/Villains.

I discovered this gem sometime in 2008 (I think). I loved the fact that you could be the sort of superhero (or villain in CoV) that you wanted and develop your character the way you wanted. Additionally there were the available tools for players to create their own missions, characters, and stories to help develop the metahuman world revolving around fictional Paragon City, Rhode Island, and the Rogue Isles, located somewhere in the Atlantic but close enough to Paragon City. I got so into that universe that when I went to Brazil in May of 2009, I had ideas to create my own characters, eventually forming the supergroup I dubbed The Iron Century. This group revolved around a hero I created called the Iron Centurion. His origin was similar to Captain America’s, but Iron Centurion was from Ancient Rome. To keep it short, Iron Centurion was found frozen in modern-day Siberia when scientists from Paragon City were on an expedition to locate some radioactive materials. Back in Paragon, they managed to revive him, and despite knowing only Latin, he discovered his language’s modern derivatives and eventually learned English. The list of key members in the Iron Century will have to be for a later post.

As I played through City of Heroes, I’ve met some cool people along the way. Working with other heroes was a lot of fun, and eventually I developed a variation of teleportation to where I could lock on to a group member in the same map and “pull” them to the group. The vast diversity of abilities across various groups was what kept that game interesting. I mean, the immense character creation system had me sitting there for hours on end trying to create that “perfect” look for my character (in case you were wondering, I couldn’t create the Iron Centurion, as the items necessary to complete his outfit were only found in a high-level Roman-esque island called Cimerora). It was great fighting the different gangs and bringing down minor villains. The first time I fought against an archvillain (essentially an elite boss), a faction leader by the name of Dr. Vahzilok, I remember that fight being nothing but exhilarating. I was lower-leveled in the group but we had healers that picked us up whenever one of us got incapacitated. We really came together as our heavy-hitters wore down Dr. V and eventually beat him. Epic fights like those tend to be memorable.

And then I discovered the alternate dimension that came with the expansion, Going Rogue. There I discovered a completely different world: Praetorian Earth. In the main continuity, the heroes’ leader, Statesman, is the ultimate figure of order and justice who continually seeks to help and defend the innocent, never abusing his powers for his own gain. In Praetorian Earth, he became obsessed with power and sought to rule the world himself under the guise of helping humanity heal from a mostly nuclear wasteland. Sadly, the map felt rather empty, for I had to buy the expansion to unlock the content within Praetorian Earth. As I recall, I once fought alongside a Praetorian hero on Primal Earth (the setting of the main continuity), as the expansion evidently allowed him to cross his character over into the main world. In hindsight, I wish I could’ve progressed far enough to fight the game’s “final” boss, City of Villains leader Lord Recluse before the worst news came in late summer of 2012.

Korea-based NCSoft (who bought the game from Cryptic Studios) decided to close Paragon Studios, thereby shutting down the game in November later that year. Interestingly enough, they also announced the launch of their prized MMORPG Guild Wars 2. One wonders if NCsoft selfishly tossed aside City of Heroes in order to release Guild Wars 2. Personally, I think this was the case, and so I stand by my words when I say that Guild Wars (and NCsoft) killed City of Heroes. In the gaming community, I believe the game still lives on in the memories of all those who forged their lives in that technologically-advanced city in Rhode Island. City of Heroes remains, to this day, the best MMORPG I have ever played.

Most Popular Game…At What Cost?

League of Legends is arguably the most popular online game in the world, and a lot of you would be right about that.  A DotA-like strategy game that’s been made as simple as possible would be something that people everywhere would love.  Every game, though, has its share of problems.

Most recently, I got hit with a Leaver status after they apparently decided to run live maintenance while tens hundreds of thousands of players are in live matches.  This morning at approximately 10:05 and 11:05 AM, respectively, their very poorly timed live maintenance dropped me from both matches that I was in at both times of the day.  I got disconnected entirely from the match, as the dreaded “Attempting to Reconnect” window lingered on my screen.  At the time, I thought it was my wi-fi connection, so I manually reset my connection to the network.  Both times, I tried returning to the match and both times, I got informed that the match was over.  What was even worse was that the second time, I manually pressed “Reconnect to chat” on the main lobby window only to fail to reconnect again and again and again.

And then it kicked me out the client entirely.

I understand that sometimes Riot Games and other developers of MMOs need to run maintenance on the servers, but at least for Riot, they ought to have regularly scheduled downtime on their servers for that instead of leaving their Leaver Buster system in place while they screw a lot of players over for interrupted service.  It would annoy a lot of players but at least nobody would suffer in a similar manner that I did by getting kicked off of a match!  I already responded with a support ticket explaining the situation and how their live maintenance was the cause of my supposed “leaving,” but I’m not really expecting much to come from this.  I’ve been annoyed with them before, but this is inexcusable.  I’ve almost had it with the Rioters and unless I get my Leaver status removed, I will be utterly dissatisfied with their “service” and will begin leaving bad rating across the sites I review on (Metacritic and MMORPG, to name a couple).  You done goofed, Riot, and you goofed really bad.

On Trolling Little Kids

Today as I hang in my room, still feeling sick from yesterday and the day before, I decided to poke around YouTube this afternoon to rewatch some funny videos from Adam “SeaNanners” Montoya.  I noticed some trolling videos that some community channel puts up from Minecraft (Xbox 360 Edition) and the stuff I see on there, although they’re originally meant to be funny, are actually quite shocking.  Personally, I think trolling is best done with your friends if they can laugh it off and probably get you back later for it (as most friends do).  However, these videos were done by guys who pull crap like this on total strangers (or friends of friends…pretty much close enough).  Trolling isn’t trolling if nobody else is laughing.  It just shows that you’re a douche bag.  There’s also another thing to consider when you find out who the victim is: a little kid.

One such trolling video involving a little kid was between a guy (apparently named Willie), who was recording the video for the channel videogames, and a six-year-old boy (who apparently knows Willie, as he calls the guy by his RL name).  The kid is struggling with the controls of the 360 game pad and his frustration shows throughout the video while Willie pulls all manner of pranks on the kid, most of them involving lighting the kid on fire or drowning him in lava.  The kid begs Willie to stop (even yelling at him several times) but the guy keeps right on “trolling” him.  The video ends when the mom is heard on the kid’s end saying “Okay, that’s it. We’re done.”  It’s clear that all the six-year-old wanted to do was learn how to play the game but Willie had other ideas.  He gave the kid a hard time in the name of “trolling,” but as far as anyone who knows kids is concerned, this is practically bullying, as Willie was doing it purely for his own enjoyment.  To top it all off, he posts the recorded footage to YouTube as a comedic video!  This is despicable!

As I read through the comments section of the video, a lot of people (I assume all are guys) said that the kid was “a retard,” “stupid,” “an idiot,” etc.  You can tell those dudes are gonna have kids of their own, right? [/sarcasm]  That channel (videogames) is filled with Minecraft videos where grown guys (assumed to be teens or young adults) bully little kids by pulling all manner of pranks just to grief them in-game.  They’re only little kids so they aren’t at the point to understand that kind of humor yet!  Do you seriously think this is the way to teach them how to develop a sense of humor, being a dick to younger players?  Every time I watch these sorts of videos, I have to give ’em all a downvote.  It’s not comedy, it’s bullying in it’s near-purest form.

Why “The International” Tournament Works Well For MOBAs

I am keeping tabs on The International, VALVe Corporation’s world championship event for their mega-hit MOBA, Defense of the Ancients 2 (commonly known as Dota 2).  I noticed that their playoff style works in a series of phases.  First off, eleven teams are invited to the event after giving outstanding performances in events around the world.  After regional qualifiers are held, the regional winners go to the tournament while the runners-up have a small playoff for the Wildcard spot.  This is known as Phase One.

Phase Two of The International is the playoff stage where the fifteen teams play in a round robin setting in a single “mini-league,” if you will.  The top two teams at the end of fourteen played matches advance to what is known as the Upper Bracket and are guaranteed a chance to play for a spot in the Grand Final. The middle eight teams advance to the next stage of the competition, while the bottom six go home empty-handed.

Phase Three is the playoff stage for the middle eight teams from Phase Two.  They’re seeded and placed in the bracket according to their playoff placement from the previous phase.  In two separate brackets, the eight teams fight for the final two spots in the Upper Bracket to play against the leaders from Phase Two.  The first two teams to lose in both halves are eliminated and awarded cash prizes for their placement in the tournament.  The other four are dropped to the Lower Bracket, where the rest of the teams play

In the Main Event, the Phase Two leaders and the playoff winners in Phase Three have a small playoff in the Upper Bracket.  The winner of the Upper Bracket moves on to the Grand Final while the other three are dropped into the Lower Bracket.  The first two teams eliminated from the Upper Bracket are inserted into Round Two of the Lower Bracket, while the loser of the final game in the Upper Bracket earns a second chance at the Grand Final by securing one of two berths in Round Four.  The Lower Bracket is where most of the Main Event happens. The remaining seven teams play in four rounds to determine the second challenger at the Grand Final.

 

This playoff format looks and sounds complicated, but I personally think it’s brilliant. This is probably one of the fairest tournament setups I’ve seen.  I like how VALVe gives the regional runners-up a second chance to fight for the right to enter the tournament and see how they fare against the world’s best players.  This year, Team Liquid won the Wildcard race and fared well in Phase Two, joining seven other teams in Phase Three, where they were eliminated together with Titan in the first round of Phase Three.  The amazing thing about Liquid is that they advanced where veterans failed, including defending champions Alliance, who got eliminated at the end of Phase Two after being found among the bottom six teams.

Probably the most surprising performance at this year’s International comes from Newbee.  After splitting even in Phase Two with a record of 7-7 and a seed of eighth place with Titan, Newbee headed into Phase Three with a vengeance.  They swept their Phase Three bracket, eliminating Titan and sending Invictus Gaming into the Lower Bracket with 2012 champions Natus Vincere (also known as Na’Vi).  Newbee continued their dominating performance, rolling past Phase Two leaders ViCi Gaming and Evil Geniuses (EG) in the Upper Bracket to secure their chance at the world title, playing on Monday against the eventual winner of the Lower Bracket after tomorrow’s conclusion of the Lower Bracket playoffs.  Being the runner-up of the Upper Bracket, EG guaranteed a second chance at the Grand Final by getting placed as an automatic finalist of the Lower Bracket.

 

This is an excellent playoff model in the professional gaming scene, one that I believe other MOBAs ought to follow (yes, this includes the World Championship of League of Legends).  As an additional marketing move, VALVe has also partnered with ESPN to broadcast the Main Event games on ESPN3 while the preview show for the Grand Final will be broadcast on ESPN2.  This brings eSports more into the mainstream light, closer to being shown alongside physical sports like soccer (or football, if you’re outside of North America) and basketball.  I firmly believe that The International sets a playoff standard that best gives pro teams the chance to earn that world champion title.  Way to go, VALVe!