Aside

League brings on the man tears: A Loadout Review

These last two weeks have been so busy I haven’t had time to do much of anything other then work, write a few words, and booze it up.  Always time for booze.  My nice liquid cooled PC master race box, has gone utterly unused.  After a long day while I sit on my couch, with my cat on my shoulder, I just can’t bring my self to take the 20 steps and reach my desk.  Then it takes time to boot the beast up and talk to people to set something up. I guess it’s just supreme laziness, the kind of laziness that stops people from burning time on dumb things and instead literally doing nothing for an hour.

On the couch, I have turned on the TV to catch some of the LCS and every single game makes me want to boot up league and have another go.  I am definitely one of those players that is more negative then anything else, but I’ll have you know I suffer in silence.  It takes maybe 5 losses in a row, trying to just win one game before bed, around 4 in the morning on the sixth game and I can’t seem to catch a break.  In my head, my options come down to 2, pull all my hair out or say something to the top laner pushed up to the enemy tower with no wards and 4 deaths.

For the last two weeks I’ll go as far as to have the computer booted up and league updated.  Then I’ll hover my mouse over the ‘Play’ button and flashes of horrible games will bring me to tears.  Shuttering with sobs, my girlfriend will put a blanket over me and whisper, “It’s ok, take your time.”

At this low point, when I question my very will to game, grassy snipes.  “Come on try Loadout”, I can hear his evil smile.  I am a 100% jaded gamer and don’t fall for the ‘new thing’.  I like to sit and wait for a game to ripen before I decide to spend any time on it.  Free to plays are so rarely worth the time they want that I stay away. A new one, ‘that is totally different’, pops up every 2 months and Grassy eats that crap up.

Fine, it can’t destroy my day like league does, let me give it a shot.  It turned out to be ok. I would give it a solid ‘meh’ and a half.  Didn’t suffer from crazy lag and only required some fighting with the dumb Friends list.  Why, if you are on steam, would you make your own clunky friends list?

Quick review, stages have little to no thought in them. It doesn’t matter so much, since the game modes are what any other came would consider novelties.  With check points bouncing here and there and people spawning everywhere, it’s just not possible to make a balanced map with any kind of depth.  OK, maybe it is, but load out definitely didn’t manage it.  Might not bother casuals, filthy as they are, but the time required to start getting a customized character isn’t worth spending in a game with so little depth.  I could be spending my time on something productive, like trying to get karma on reddit or crying in front of the League play button.

Dark souls opens doors and is such a breath of fresh air for me.

My inner pessimist and optimist were in complete agreement that I should wait before booting the game up.  One wined, a single player game hasn’t held my interest for more then an hour or too in so very long.  The other pleaded, so many people enjoy this game, it might not hold up to the hype, so save it for later.

Two weekends ago, later finally arrived.  I was an idiot for waiting so long. Simply put, this game kindled my enthusiasm for single player games again.

I had grown tired.  FPS’s put me against dumb AI.  Dead spaces, Bioshocks, Skyrim, Tomb Raider all did this. Not to say they weren’t fun in different ways but what they lacked in mechanics and AI they hoped to make up for in story and presentation. As a gamer that isn’t afraid to pick up a book I require a bit more in story to hold my interest.

Not to imply that games can’t tell amazing stories.  Most games just don’t manage it.

As an example, I beat through Bioshock Infinite solely to see as much of the amazing world and performances as I could. The game play almost completely broke immersion and boiled down to killing waives of enemys till you could move to the next room.  Most of the weapons and powers amounted to just a few actually mechanically different options.

Gaming is still my major hobby.  That time is spent in multiplayer.

Dark souls introduced me to a game that didn’t sacrifice game play for story or presentation and a world were AI wasn’t the focus.  In dark souls the focus is mastery of the mechanics.  Enemy’s are predictable but vary in difficulty not only by level, but my the build you chose.  So each build you create changes the game so much.  What was tough then is now easy and you are forced to come up with different approaches, which in turn makes me want to try other builds.

Much of Dark souls is completely a mystery to the first time player.  Which can make for a steep learning curve.  Items of value can easily be wasted or passed over.  Once I realized that the game was supposed to be about exploration.  I wasn’t afraid to just start over and try something new. It can be punishing but restarting is fun and feels like a world of new options.

This so far sounds like a game review, which is not.  I just want to explain where I am in terms of single player and Multi-player.

Other games do this but in much smaller scales.  Binding of Issac comes to mind.  Starting over and getting different items to beat through the game a very different way.

That scale of difference is what makes me so much want to just jump in to Dark Souls right now and try something new.  Everything in Dark Souls is build for a unique experience.  Almost every weapon, even the ones you start with, have potential to be amazing. There is no ‘best’ weapon.  It all depends on how you want to use it.

Even the Multi-player in dark souls is unique every run through.  Turn to human form for help with a boss you know your build isn’t ready to handle.  What do you know you were invaded and now you have a whole new experience and it all feels natural, even part of the single player.

I wish this game wasn’t such a rare gem.  I wish more major titles would focus on mechanically interesting and different games.  Till then, Dark souls 2 is coming out 2014.

My Chivalry Review.

Thanks for checking out Fair game.  This is Mr Lion. I am going to be reviewing Chivalry and I don’t care that it’s a free for all map, don’t be a wuss and 1v1 me like a real man. [ Quick clips of the game and maybe shot of the title screen]

Number one on indiebd.com’s ‘indie of 2012’, first game by torn banner and example of a successful kickstarter.  Did any of this drive me to play Chivalry? Nope. It had a free weekend and knights’n swords are cool.

My first match started with the gates opening to a crowd’s applause and me, being the predictable nublit I am, went archer first. Between getting stabbed, dismembered and hearing my last breaths through a bloody esophagus. I recognized that certain frustration.

In my twisted world this frustration is what drives me.  That which makes me willing to poor hours into improving my skills in a given task.  In this case Chivalric task of liberating limbs or cheaply putting a spear in other unexpecting limb liberator.

This ffeeling and I say it with and extra ff, because of their rare and annoying… This ffeeling of Frustration meant I was having FFun.

What brought me to this eemotion?  Could it have been the weight of the weapons?  Maybe it was how after some time playing I still found occasions, where I feel a wince from an especially brutal blow.  No, it was the enjoyment of a deep mechanic, that I wasn’t good at.

Combine the fighting anticipation and positioning skills of ‘Jedi outcast’, the larger scales of savage, and a slower pacing then ‘pirates vikings and knights’ and what get’s spit out is Chivalry.  In Fact it reminded me of PVK so much I kept expecting the ‘Final Countdown’ to start up while the stage filled with lava.  The major differences between the two being, Chivalry is a more complete/polished game and everyones is pretty much made up of so many watermelons.

The arsenal contains a few classes and groups of class specific weapons that are all mechanically different enough for me to suck all over again when I try them.  My biggest gripe here was with the spearmen who only has 6 spears. In the game types with no way refill ammo, I’d be left with a dagger to convince people to death.

With goals like, “kill the villagers” or “protect the trebuchets” I want to praise Chivalry for what is offered in the modes department.  But, Most of the time I would freeze and the massage ‘Team blabla has won’. I would think, ‘is that my team?’  Then hold tab to bring up a spreadsheet of information that I read as ‘eh, whatever… positive kdr, YEYAAa’.

Many tables were also flung, trying to get a few friends in the same match.  The invite errored if it was full and it was impossible to tell if server had room or which one a friend was in.  I just kept switching back and forth from the steam overlay to the game trying to squeeze in.

Once I managed to get my crew in the devs were nice enough to let me see each name in green even through objects and walls.  We could actually group up and and charge hi fiving the whole way.

Watching the enemy team descended on my group and our group reacting to them reacting to us was something that happens only in games that focus on melee.  Once I reached an enemy the fighting was just slow enough to think and make calls and fast enough to get suprised by a pike through the chest.

Team Leader Steve Piggott gave an interview November 22, 2012 here’s the TLDR version.

Will there be customization?
yes

Will servers be allowed to cap classes, like archers?
yes

Controllers/game pads?
yup

Siege mode?
Bet your last spear on it.

Modable with sdk?
only a matter of time

DLC?
Gameplay stuff will be free, so tell your friends about the game already.

For one final note I’ll give a tip.  If you don’t want to get kicked when you’re going to team kill,  just before you go for the kill press f10.

Exformation is something I am just so bad at.

My schooling has been set in the logical and methodical.  So the art of leaving out information is just so far out of my current understanding.

I always complain about my lack of inherent skill in anything.  Art is something you shouldn’t be able to methodically or systematically try to understand.  However, as I look more and more, while trying to flex and increase my creative muscles, I have come to an idea that, the art is in the exformation.

While writing or making a video, I tend to do what my training has taught me.  I explain everything clearly and without room for interpretation.  Where a good author may say, “Jim was near the wood bowl”.  This isn’t a particularly inspiring sentence.  I would end up describing where the bowl is using a point of reference and or point of origin.

Might be an exaggeration,  maybe It’s not that bad.  Sometimes I will find myself 3 sentences in only to think, “Why does the bowl even matter” or “What if they don’t understand the metric system”.

The art is in the exformation.  The single important line that drives the whole painting or drawing.  It’s he ability to take but still be clear leaves.  The space is for people to fill with something from inside themselves making it resonate.

This is the idea I want to rule my art.   For a wonderful explenation of the word check out Zefrank’s Piece.

Advantage of brick and mortar.

Due to time constraints, my main method for novel consumption is audible.  So, I  listen in the car or whenever I have a moment that my mind can wander in.  Thanks to audible my book rate is much higher then it’s ever been. My girlfriend and I are walking audible ads and push it on anyone and everyone.

As a new author and general book lover, making time to read the words off the pages is a necessity.  So off to Half Price and Barnes & Noble.

Our first stop is always to the Robert Jordan section.  Wheel of time was something we enjoyed as a couple so it’s got a special place in us both.

While imagining the day we have all 14 books in hard cover up on our book shelf we heard some one on the other aisle talking about ‘Name of the Wind’ and ‘Myst Born’.

It  was a couple who had also grown close while waiting for the last book of  the ‘Wheel of time’.  We nerded out for a while and swapped recommendations.

This short encounter is something you just can’t get anywhere but in a book store.  Yes people read but for some reason it doesn’t often come up in conversation.   At least not with me around.

Give me some book nerds with the light of excitement in their eye any day.

Ren Fair and Camping

We Took off during the thanks giving break to camp at the Renaissance Festival at Huston TX.  Not to spoil too much but it was amazing.

It was our second time  attending the festival but our first time camping out there.  That decision was just so right.

The weekend was cool during the day and cold at night.  Well cold for anyone from south Texas   Down here if it drops below 60 degrees everyone breaks out the heavy wool and thermal underwear. 

We are no pro campers and bought just about everything fresh from a camping list I saw online.  So, the fact that they have only port-a-potty’s out there shouldn’t scare anyone away.  It is a but rough not being able to shower correctly, but that’s only half the fun.

The rules out there are simple. If your in a quiet area(for families) bed time is at 10 pm, otherwise just don’t put your tent on the street.  Anywhere else is game.  Oh, and no fires on the ground, accept for the one bonfire area that is built in for everyone to share.

There are a few unwritten rules that you’ll find out from the Reni’s walking around.  A Reni is someone who has been attending the festival long enough to be a pro.  The usually know each other and have secret information shhh…  One of these interesting people informed  me that if you’re unlucky enough to put a camp-up in a place that is traditionally claimed it may turn into an issue.  For the rest of the tricks you’ll just have to walk around and talk to people next year. 🙂

The campsite is a whole other world.  Everyone is just so happy to be there.  Most are super helpful and just wanting to hang out.  Booze everywhere and there is a say’n that the Ren Fair camp area is the safest place to get pass-out-drunk.  I didn’t test this, partly cause I can handle my crap and cause I didn’t bring my whiskey : (

I had the pleasure of watching a true nerd pick up a chick in his element. The conversation, I am not joking, contained Ninja skills, jello shots, naked jinga, and pirates.  It was completely surreal and it worked!

Just warning, this is a crazy nerdy place so be aware.  We are not that easy of people to get along with, they are great people though.  I am a nerd but the depths of the nerdom shocked even me. Ninja pick up lines aside it was one big nerdgasim. This isn’t a complaint, I thought it was awesome.  Just a warning.

Ok so your is campsite set-up and you have met your neighbors.  Time to listen for the cannons which happen around 9:00-9:30 am, they announce the opening of the festival.

Like the campsite, this is yet another world.  Everyone is just as excited and looking around for what fun thing they are going to see or do next.  Costumes and such all over.  Thanksgiving weekend is ‘Celtic Christmas’ so, kilts everywhere.  Each weekend has a different theme.

This place is built into the environment and it’s amazing.  Huge trees are all throughout. The stages are topped with vines growing over nets creating a living canopy of shade over cement seats.  Shops are permanent wood structures that look and feel solid.

Bathrooms are big and literally have someone taking care of them the whole time. That didn’t stop some old man from popping my door latch and seeing more of me than he bargained for. 

Performances happen all over the parks many stages and some even in the streets.  We spent a whole day just going to see them and didn’t catch everything.  If you have never been you have to make it to see, Tartanic, the French guy, and the Mud show.  The others are great too, but those are a must see.

My Shopping tips would have to be, only consider hand made things.  There is so much original work at the festival, there is no reason to buy anything you could just pick up on amazon.  Shops aren’t above padding their inventory with accessories or knives that you’d look at in a different light if you weren’t at the festival.  A cheap knife is a cheap knife, even at the fair.

One thing we didn’t master was eating.  Everything is ugly expensive and cheaply made.  There are some things you are unlikely to find somewhere other then the fair, so I hear, but we didn’t find any, other then mead.

Leaving the fair is the worst part.  The feeling of going back to the normal world.  Walking around Walmart and seeing people without that joy in their face.  It’s no wonder people love the fair so much.  We already started planing for next year.