On League Of Legends Beginners Night

Okay, so I’m possibly going to have a shorter post today, and more of a tale of wonder rather than waxing philosophical. Mainly because I’m super busy at work today and don’t have  a whole lot of time to come up with a good topic. Also a slight schedule change, but I am planning to change my publishing schedule from 7 days a week to just weekdays. I tend to feel less inclined to write over the weekend, plus it would be nice to have a couple days to come up with and prepare for multiple days of posting.

So, with that said, on to the story.

Up until this point I have never played any MOBA period. Quite frankly I had no interest in them since I am not a big fan of PVP or RTS games, because honestly I suck hard at both of those. For a long time though many of the people I talk to regularly on voice chat either played or had played enough to know the lingo and often talked about the matches that they were watching. Which often left me confused when they started talking about lanes and jungle-ing and what not.

So earlier this week (or last week) my friend Bel decided he’d like to put together a League beginners night to try and get some more people interested in the game. I felt like I should join in because I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to have a choice, and figured it might also help to know what these people were always talking about.

So after I got home last night I downloaded and installed the application, and while that was patching up listened to them playing a match. Again I was confused due to lack of personal experience but it sounded like they were having a good time. Eventually I got in, and after a little while we had enough people for a 5v5 match (with one AI controlled character).

I feel slightly bad about how bad I did at the game, especially because my team got stuck with 2 of the 3 lesser experienced players. I didn’t really understand the strategy involved or what I really needed to be doing. Thankfully my friend Ash was in the team channel with us and was able to provide some instructions and answer questions. We did end up losing the match, but overall I had a good time. At the very least I have enough personal knowledge I might know what they are talking about. Not everything though, there are still plenty of things I don’t know. Such as the differences in game modes, or character abilities. But I can at least recognize some of the terminology now.

Overall I had a good time. I think the next time everyone is getting together to play I might try a different class of character. This time I was a melee character and that is not the kind I’m best at. I felt like the character moved to slowly, though I’m sure there are probably items I could purchase to fix that. I think though, next time I would play a ranged character.


On Always Online Games (The Bad)

So yesterdays topic was I would consider the good aspects of always online games. Today will be talking about the things I don’t like about always being online. Now, I feel like there is more that I don’t like than I do like, but I’ll try to keep it short-ish and hopefully not ranty or bitter.

The first thing that I would say I don’t like would be having to deal with content I’m not particularly interested in. I’ve mentioned before how I feel about being forced in to PVP content, and I feel very similar for games forcing certain online content on me. I’ve talked about player invasions in both Dark Souls 1 & 2 and how I don’t really want to do that since it is essentially PVP. I’m not the least bit interested in allowing other players in to my game in any capacity that is not for cooperative purposes. If I invite you in to play that is one thing, I don’t want someone just popping in to my game without my say.

This leads in to my second issue, not giving me the option to opt out of this content. I think this is a bit less of an issue for most games, but any game that requires an online connection AND allows other people to just come in without permission should allow me to disable that feature and NOT penalize me for it. I won’t count Diablo 3 in to this because that is partially a COOP game and doesn’t fit with my PVP analogy. I’m referring to games such as Dark Souls 1 & 2 and more recently Watch_Dogs which released on Tuesday.

While both Dark Souls games allow other players to invade your game for that additional PVP aspect. At least the PS3 version of Dark Souls allowed you to disable this, and admittedly I don’t know if the PS3 version of Dark Souls 2 has the same feature but I know the only way to get out of this content on the PC version is to start Steam in offline mode. Personally I don’t feel that this is an acceptable solution. I should just be able to disable it via the menu system.

Watch_Dogs falls kind of in the middle of this. It does allow players to “invade” your game for a variety of activities (mainly to try to hack you), but they make it somewhat easy to disable this, as long as you find the right menu. However, they penalize you for doing this. It essentially locks you out of specific skill trees that you gain xp points through a notoriety system. I have no problem with that so far, but I do have a problem with the fact that if you had done some of this and had earned xp if you decide later to turn it off you lose all the xp you earned and the skills that you bought. Now I understand the reason for this, which I think is to keep people from only enabling the feature to hack other players and then disabling it to keep them from hacking you, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The last issue, and the one I feel is the most important is the plain and simple fact that it allows other people to interrupt my gaming.  When I’m playing a game, especially one I would consider single player, I don’t want to be interrupted by some random person coming in with the sole purpose of messing with me. I understand that this content is there for people who like the sense of randomness or enjoy the unexpectedness that comes from a non AI opponent. That just isn’t for me. Have the feature in the game if you want to, just don’t force it upon me.

Now, I may have ranted a bit more than I intended, and if you disagree (or agree)  feel free to leave a comment discussing it.

Right now I have disabled the online features on Watch_Dogs so if you ever catch me streaming it you won’t see me having to worry about other people.

On Always Online Games (The Good)

Going to try something a bit different today. Namely, splitting this topic in to two posts. But hey, if Peter Jackson can find a way to split The Hobbit in to 3 movies I can make this topic two posts.

There have been quite a number of games that have come out over the last few years that essentially require you to always be connected to the internet. Games such as the latest Sim City, Diablo 3, Dark Souls 1 & 2 and Watch_Dogs, just to name a few. Each of these games handles things a bit differently, some obviously better than others. The question really is, why do I really need to be connected to a game that is essentially single player.

Today I am going to write a bit about the positive side of always online and tomorrow I’ll discuss the aspects of it I don’t like.

The first thing that really sticks out to me is the ability to easily play with your friends. Now, I’m not a huge coop player, but a lot of people I know enjoy playing through a game with another person for various reasons. In some instances the story is different when you’re playing coop versus single player. Sometimes it presents a greater challenge as seen in Diablo 3 where the campaign difficulty is increased as you add more players. What matters is that having an always online connection lets you easily drop in and out of a friends game. You don’t have to wait for a connection to be established or thanks to friends lists not having to wait for some way of knowing that person is online other than spamming invites.

Always online connections also allow for games to be updated without having to run through a patcher. I don’t personally know how this would work specifically, but I think that if this is being used that it would allow you to keep playing even if some other part of the game needs to be fixed. If you didn’t have these always online connections it could be difficult to ensure that all the players have updated game files.

Another “good” aspect of this is friendly competition through online leaderboards. This is does not specifically require an always online connection, but it easily allows you to see how you are doing compared to your friends. If you’re connection is always online than it is easier for the system to remain updated with real time stats.

I feel like this topic might have been a bit of a stretch. I am not exactly the biggest fan of always on connections, especially in games I would consider single player. Tomorrow post will discuss the things that I don’t like about always being online, but I felt the need to at least try to say something positive. I think opinions on the subject vary from person to person, and I’m sure some people reading this might have other reasons for liking always online games. If you happen to have other thoughts, feel free to add them in as a comment.

On New Game Plus

So kind of a topic stretch today, I’m doing this a bit earlier in the day than normal (it’s currently 5:45am) because I start my on call week today. This means I may be a bit too busy during the day to type up a long post, so I figure I’d do it before the world came crashing down. I’d say I would hope for a quiet week but that is never guaranteed.

That being said, today’s topic is New Game+ modes in games. I’m not exactly sure how many games have done this lately but I know of a few. Namely Dark Souls 1 & 2 and the latest Zelda game A Link Between Worlds. On the off chance you’ve never heard of new game + mode the gist of it is that once you finish the game on normal difficulty it lets you start over from the beginning with all your items/skills but makes the enemies more challenging. Now keeping all your items is not a 100 percent guarantee since Zelda does not do that. It just starts you off at the beginning with harder enemies and you lose health a lot faster. Dark Souls 1 & 2 at least lets you keep your level, and I’m sure you keep all your items as well, though I can’t say for certain as I’ve never tried.

This leads me to wonder a couple of things.

First off, why do games even offer a new game plus mode? Why not just offer a game that lets you select what difficulty you want and go from there? Personally I think it is an attempt to extend the life of a game that otherwise might not take that long to finish. Or there could be specific achievements or rewards that can only be found on a second playthrough. I know that I never find every item or collectible on the first try, and going back to earlier areas might not always be an option. The other reason I can think of is that it is there for people who want that additional challenge, maybe they thought the first playthrough was too easy or something.

The second thing is more of a reader poll. Do you play new game + mode when it is available? If so, why? Personally I have yet to finish a game in new game +. This is primarily because I have not seen any specific rewards for it other than a more difficult game. I find it especially difficult to play through a compelling story a second time as there are no longer any surprises. For me this was the case with the latest Zelda game. I really enjoyed the story, and started out playing new game + because there was a specific item that shed some light on a secondary characters backstory that only unlocked after finishing the game. Once I got that object I no longer felt compelled to keep playing. I might go back to it eventually, as I love the Zelda series, but back to back playthroughs are not my thing.

On MMO Boredom

Before I get in to todays topic I need to remind everyone that they should be listening to my friend Bel’s podcast, especially this weeks because I got to come in as a guest host again (link).

Okay, so today’s topic is one I deal with every so often, and that is hitting the “end” of an MMO. What do you do when you reach the “end”? I know that in reality there is not really any ending to MMO’s. There are usually plenty of things to do such as dungeons, raids, and achievements, but what if none of those interest you? What keeps you playing a game that you feel there’s nothing left to do?

For me this usually comes up around the time that I reach max level in a game. In almost every game I get to that point where my interest starts to fade. I’ve done the raiding thing, and I’ve done the quest for better stats thing. I find these are only temporary fixes, and I’m starting to find that if I no longer feel like I’m enjoying myself then I don’t want to continue playing.

As I mentioned there was a time when I did the raiding thing which meant all of my non-raiding time was spent gathering materials to make enchants for the raid, or food buffs, or any other number of things like researching the bosses. This is fundamentally the reason I don’t ever really feel like raiding anymore. The “end game” content felt like it was a job. Getting online was no longer about me enjoying a game so I made the decision to stop playing. This also tend to apply to dungeons as well. I do enjoy doing dungeons, and I like the group of people I do them with, but my problem is that I don’t enjoy doing them over and over again to get the best gear. I like to do them to see the story, but after the first time it isn’t the same thing.

The first real thing that keeps me going in a game is achievements. Just about anyone I’ve ever played with has heard me talking about this. I love achievements, to me that is the best part of any MMO because it gives you something else to do besides killing monsters and being the pony express mail service. Achievements usually require some amount of effort and are generally fun to do. The only problem I tend to find with achievements is that it feels like an impossible task. There are always achievements that you can’t get, such as ones for raiding or pvp, both of which are things I don’t enjoy doing. I don’t mind them being there since plenty of people enjoy both of those things, I just don’t like it when a pvp achievement is a condition for some overall achievement. That just feels like I’m being forced in to content I have no interest in.  That being said, I still enjoy doing achievements because there are always new ones to do and they provide a nice alternative for more casual gamers.

The other thing that tends to keep me in a game is the people I play with. I’m sure I’ve stated previously that one thing I look for in a game is having people to play with, which for the last few years has been the same group of people. As a whole this group tends to shift from game to game as they come out and I enjoy running content with them when I can. I’ve only recently started to understand that the game I’m playing doesn’t matter so if I feel I’m done with a game this won’t keep me playing anymore. The people in the game still is a good reason for me to keep playing, but there is a limit to any game, especially one that you have to pay a monthly fee on.

Now, since the topic is MMO boredom I should also point out that I don’t make it to the “end” in every game anymore. There have been times that I get about halfway through the content before it starts feeling a bit stale and I play less and less. Another factor might be other games coming out that I’m interested in which draw me away from the PC gaming side for a little while. I feel like if it is that easy to be pulled away from a game, then I might not want to continue playing.

So I’m curious as to what keeps other people playing? Do you stick around for that end game content or achievements, or something else entirely?

On a side note related to my fitness post: Thanks for all the advice. I’m going to try cutting back on a few things, namely sugar and carbs. They won’t be gone completely, but I’m going to try to at least reduce them. This might just mean doing something simple like taking the bun off my sandwich or cutting back on sugary snacks, but small changes can have good results.


On Free to Play Games Vs Subscriptions

This topic has come up a few times lately, well, a couple? Enough that I want to write about it, and this is my blog so “I do what I want”. Mainly this topic seems to come up whenever a new MMO comes out that is either Free to Play or has some form of monthly subscription. The latest game to cause this was ArcheAge and the fear that it will be full of jerks. This isn’t to say that every free to play game is full of them, but it feels that way some times. This might be an over abundance of immature players (ie teenagers, or children) that can’t afford to pay monthly fees.

I think the concept of Free to Play is fine as long as it is done correctly, and so far at least Trion seems to be the ones that do it best. They have a nice balance of free content, a cash shop, and an option subscription service that gives you added benefits but does not give you an unfair advantage in the game you’re playing. In fact in their last few live streams about ArcheAge they’ve specifically said they don’t want to make Pay to Win games. I have no problem supporting these games either through cash shops or the optional subscriptions because I know where those payments go. Just like subscription based games it goes to maintaining the network, and paying their employees so that there is ready customer support and content development.

Really the only thing I don’t like about Free to Play games is the risk of having a bad community experience. If games games that have optional subscriptions such as Rift or ArcheAge offered a subscriber only server I would gladly pay the $15 a month for it so that I would be a little bit less worried about a bad experience. Now that isn’t to say having a subscription means there won’t be players that want to ruin things for everyone else. That is a risk of any game that allows you to interact with so many other people from around the world. The only way to avoid it is to play single player games.

I know a few people who don’t understand the whole subscription model, especially if it is a game you went to the store and paid $60 for to begin with. They don’t seem to grasp the concept of the company having to have at least enough of a profit to pay their employees. I would like to think that everyone that is capable of paying for an optional subscription would because that just means better support and possibly content.

That being said, would I choose a subscription over a free to play game or vice versa? To be honest I’m not sure. I like the concept of free to play games because there is no commitment to a pay schedule. If you stop playing the game for a couple months you don’t have to worry about paying the monthly subscription with no personal benefit. The first thing I tend to look at is the quality of the game, and if I find it interesting enough to compel me to want to play it. If I’m on the fence and can try it for free I will be more likely to play it. If I was on the fence and had to purchase the game first I don’t think I would. I would have to wait for someone else to tell me about it or watch videos to see if I would be interested at all. Like I mentioned before, I have absolutely no issue paying for a subscription if I feel it is worth it, even if it is optional. Some people may think that is dumb, but as a professional software developer I understand why they need that money and as a gamer I love having new content and customer support if something comes up.

On Gaming and Fitness

As I sit here digesting my lunch I can’t help but think about things like how much is to much, or will I or won’t I go to the gym tonight (the answer to that is yes I’m going tonight). But I also think about my diet and how I need to lose weight and how to go about doing that.

Personally I think the word “diet” is evil and I don’t like using it. I’m not on a diet so much as I’m trying to shift my eating habits so that I can lose weight. I’m not a small guy, I’m 6 foot 4 and I have some broad shoulders. The problem is I like to eat, and for a very long time I didn’t care about what I ate or how I looked. So a few years ago I decided to better manage what I eat, which I’ve had varying amounts of success with. There are still plenty of days I eat more than I need to, but I’m more conscious about it and don’t normally do it deliberately.

My problems come from a couple of factors:

First off I don’t really like to cook, and my skills are limited. I’m trying to change this though, having bought plenty of cookbooks to try and find easy things that I like to eat. You don’t have to be a master chef to eat healthy. I think if I cooked more often I would enjoy it, but living in an apartment I feel slightly limited in what I can make. This is because I really don’t want to set off the smoke alarm in my apartment. Recently I purchased an indoor electric grill, which doesn’t seem to smoke too much, and does allow me to make some things I couldn’t before like grilled chicken or steak. Now I know you don’t need to have a grill to make either of those, but I think they taste better that way. If I cook chicken in the oven it is usually covered with some form of shake ‘n bake.

Second, I often use the excuse of not having enough time to cook. Now, I at least recognized this as an excuse, I could easily make time to cook. People have been juggling work and cooking long before I was born and will long after I’m dead and gone. I just don’t like spending a long time in the kitchen. I prefer recipes that involve sticking something in the oven, or something that is easy and only takes like 20 minutes.

My main issue is snacking. I have come to realize over the years that I tend to snack a lot in the evenings or on weekends when I am bored, or if I’m really stressed out. My brain will often start off with the “you aren’t hungry don’t eat” argument but then the rest of me beats that part of my brain up and I grab a snack. I’ve been trying to combat this in two ways, healthier snacks or not buying any so there’s none to have.

That all being said, the question comes up of how do you really manage to stay healthy, lose weight and still maintain the lifestyle I want, namely sitting in front of the computer or tv playing video games? Personally I think it is a hard thing to juggle, but I’m trying to make an effort to balance these out, even if I wind up sacrificing game time. I love games, but I also want to be alive to play them. Right now I’m trying to keep track of my calories using an app/website and going to the gym at least twice a week (I need to start going more often again). Currently I can bench press 300 lbs and the two regular times a week I go to the gym it is lifting weights. I need to get back on my regiment of cardio on the non weight lifting days.

I know a few people have had varying amounts of success with this, and I read one blog post by someone in my guild that said she a considerable amount of weight (resulting photos are amazing too). I’d like to reach that kind of goal, even if it takes longer than I want.

This is where I ask for input. What do you guy/gals do to overcome snack cravings? I tend to always want to have something sugary or caffeinated. I don’t know of any alternatives to soda other than tea or coffee which I’m not a fan of. Any helpful websites for easy/quick meals for 1?