Friday, May 31, 2013

Played Lately: Dota 2

  • Honestly, I'm surprised that I held out this long. Between Giant Bomb and Idle Thumbs, I've been bombarded with Dota 2 almost constantly. I thought watching Brad Shoemaker's Daily Dota would be enough. Then, the Thumbs crew launched a new Dota Today podcast. It was too much. I had finally gone over the edge.

  • Last night, I tweeted this:
  • To be honest, this isn't the first time I tried Dota 2. Back during the test, I downloaded the client, loaded up a bot match (to be fair to any other players), played for five minutes, turned it off, and clicked "Delete Local Content." Honestly, my Steam account said that I had five minutes played when I reinstalled it last night. I had been so used to League of Legends and so in the dark about Dota that I just bounced off of it.

  • So with a little more knowledge this time, I tried again. I played another bot match set on Easy because I didn't want to weigh down anyone else. I played as Lina, having seen Brad play her. I knew enough from the streams to pick a build and buy my starter items. I went to the top lane to try and support my bot buddy. Then I died several times before the bots finally carried us to victory. I got in a few kills and explored the map a bit, but I've got a long way to go. Here are a few questions that I have about the game:
    • How do I deny? I tried various button combinations, but I counted attack my own creeps to save my life.

    • Why the hell are there recipes? Really, from a design standpoint, what purpose do they serve?

    • I really need to figure out how to use the stash and courier. Any advice?

    • If I'm going to rebind the item hotkeys, where is the suggested place to move them?

    • Any other advice for a newbie?
  • I know that I'm going to try again. I enjoyed LoL for a time, and I'm enjoying myself in Dota. I just hope that I don't descend into the madness into which so many others have fallen. Wish me luck.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Random Shots: Closer To The Stars

  • Late last week, word finally came down that continued development of Guild Wars has ceased. It is transitioning to a self-sufficient model. From here on out, the game world will be static. No human hand will touch the code unless something blows up.

  • I haven't played Guild Wars in some time. Probably since my last Farewell To Ascalon post, a series that was meant to encourage me to return to the game. Still....
  • I played the heck out of that game. I fell in love with the art. That first profession image of the mesmer holding her mask. If I could play that game, then I would finally join the online world. Guild Wars was the first game to show me the promise of MMOs, even if it was only partially related. I played that first campaign, Prophecies as it would eventually be named, over and over again. I soloed Thunderhead Keep. I fought in the Tomb of the Primeval Kings, both in PVP and PVE. I farmed for greens in Sorrow's Furnace. I infused dozens of sets of gear. And I Ascended, and Ascended, and Ascended.
  • I was there for the expansion campaigns, Factions and Nightfall. I even took time off work to explore these new worlds. I never meshed with any of the new professions, but you know that I tried them all.
  • But then it was all over for me. The magic had gone. Sure, I came back for Eye of the North, but it was just a formality. I had moved on.
  • Guild Wars isn't going anywhere. ArenaNet isn't shutting it down, though many other companies (NCSoft!) very well would. Instead, it has achieved a strange form of perfection. It has become closer to the stars.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

News Filter: A New Challenger Approaches - Xbox One

  • The live stream is over and now we know that the next Xbox, originally codenamed Durango, is now the Xbox One. And it sounds pretty much like what we expected. Within reason.

  • System specs look similar to the PlayStation 4. There was a lot of talk about services, again like the PlayStation 4. Though Microsoft has a very different focus. There were a few games, err, pre-rendered cutscenes, like the PlayStation 4. No mention of streaming, though.

  • I thought that after getting the specs on the two machines, I would be able to make up my mind as to which I would buy. Instead I'm as confused as ever. Looking at the two consoles side-by-side, it feels Sony made a console for me and Microsoft made one for my wife and daughter. Considering the fact that they use our 360 more than I do currently, I suspect the Xbox One will be the logical choice for the family. But the community capabilities (if they really exist) seem really interesting to me as a gamer.

  • Now we wait for E3, for any indication as to which console will be the one.

  • Damn, that turn of phrase is over now.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Played Lately: Borderlands 2

  • I hope those of you who are long time readers got the impression that I really like Borderlands. I mean, I did buy it for both for the PC and the Xbox 360. I even gave it a spot in my Top Five Video Games list for 2010. So when Gearbox announced that there would be a sequel, I was primed to play the new game. At least, I thought that I was.

  • I suppose there was no way for it to live up to the hype. Nonetheless, I find myself disappointed that Borderlands 2 doesn't have the same pull for me that the original did. The shooting feels familiar, the quests are just the same (though they do feel really spread out), the vehicles are just as fun. I'm not sure I understand why I like the first game so much more than the second.

  • Okay, there is one way that Borderlands is undeniably better than its sequel: Lilith's hearty laughter when she kills enemies or blows their heads off. It was infectiously joyous.

  • But then, even though I'm not enjoying myself, I keep coming back to the game. Not because I have a hankering to hunt skags. It's the keys. Golden Keys. It's like I can't get enough of them. If I don't redeem the codes, they can go away and I'm out a key. Or several keys. I can't just ignore them. So from time to time, I start the game, enter a few codes. And while I'm there, I might as well knock out a quest or two. That's how they get you! That's why they keep giving out keys!

  • So I'm still playing Borderlands 2. At least, whenever I have to redeem some keys.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Played Lately: Tomb Raider (2013)

  • Okay, I actually played this nearly two months ago, so "Lately" is not the right word. Just bear with me, please, because this is still important.

  • When our family came to the town to celebrate my daughter's second birthday, my brother brought along a copy of the latest Tomb Raider game. The two of us tend to stay up late and catch up on gaming since we rarely see one another. So we decided to pop in the disc and see how far I could get before I passed out.
  • As would be expected, Tomb Raider looks amazing. The environments are detailed and beautiful. Climbing around, leaping and grabbing, and shooting dudes is all satisfying visually. And, of course, Lara herself looks great. The well-documented makeover really brings her to life in a way that has been lacking in prior games. (My proclivity is to mention that her breasts are much less pneumatic, but this recent article by Jenn Frank has me second guessing whether I should care so much.)

  • The gameplay is surprisingly similar to the earlier games, though I'm not sure why I assumed otherwise. There is all of the exploration, puzzle solving, and combat that you would expect. You can tell the Crystal Dynamics has been at this a while as it is quite polished. They've just updated everything to match modern sensibilities. I had quite a lot of fun for those first several hours. Some of it was nostalgia, but it would not have worked if it wasn't a really good game. Except for one thing.

  • I do not, and I never will, understand why this game needs Quick Time Events. It really doesn't, but they can't help but put in several "Press X to not die" sections. It is so boring. And I am so very bad at them. It's just one button, but it invariably takes me three tries to get them right. And god help me if they string multiple prompts together because I have to learn each in triplicate. So in one case, I say Lara die several times because I can't react to the prompts. I have to memorize them. Slowly. It throws the pace of the game completely off and kills whatever tension they were hoping to build. I'd rather just watch a movie than be forced to endure so many pointless failures before I can get on with the game.

  • This is the reason I've been holding onto this post, even though the actual play took place in early March. This faux gameplay is a travesty. It's a design tool that needs to be put back in the drawer and locked up. I will probably play Tomb Raider again because there is so much that I do like. But it's sad that this one part can spoil so much of it.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.