League of Legends URF review and why it SHOULD NOT be a permanent mode

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Let’s face it – Ultra Rapid Fire was probably one of the most amazing things to come out of Riot recently. This is in no way  discrediting their other, wonderful products and features – but for an April Fool’s Joke, URF just had something magical that the community perhaps didn’t know they wanted.

I had a blast (literally, Karma RQ fo days) these past few weeks playing this game mode and was happy to see that it would be extended through PAX East, which I attended. But it also made me really appreciate the delicate process of champion balance. And now that the mode has been disabled, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a bittersweet farewell that I felt came just at the right time. URF needs to be put to rest for now, otherwise some severe and long-term damage to League could be inevitable.

Surely, URF will be terribly missed, but there is something extremely dangerous (and broken) about a mode like this staying permanent. A lot of it has to do with the community and player mentality, and a lot of it boils right down to mechanics and being realistic about Riot’s grand plan for League.

Some mechanical reasons are completely obvious, judging by the slowly expanding list of champions who had to be straight up banned from the mode – URF favors a very specific subset of play style while axing a specfic need for control and elegance to game play. This mode severely punished certain champions who general scale better with time and patience – they often got obliterated by those in which cooldowns and energy costs were an extremely necessary restriction to curb their power.

AP champs, for example, start out fairly strong and scale extremely well with items almost immediately. Traditionally, cooldowns and mana restrictions keep them from being able to faceroll at level 2, but not so in here.

If you didn’t know your champion intimately enough to execute their cocaine-infused kits well, you were probably in for a hard time. Tanking and defense become almost completely useless and it boiled down to a race for which team can out damage the other faster, with little to no weight put on other tactics that make League whole. And of course, players started to just take it too damn seriously.

Already there are complaints about the switch back to normalcy – everything feels slow, and in some extreme cases completely less enjoyable. This is the result of prolonged exposure to handicaps in a game. Lots of players, especially ranked, are opting to take a break either completely or to settle with normals for a while until they can re-train their fingers and brains to normal play.

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Outside of the technical, there’s also the issue of popularity. Obviously, queues for ranked, normals, and arams dropped considerably during URFs reign, and there was a big risk that URF would just be more favorable in the long-run to any other mode. And why not? It’s fast, powerful, and chaotic enough to be the perfect storm for addiction, and I feel that would take away from the other very delicately created worlds Riot has set up for their community.

This obviously isn’t doomsday it won’t take long for fans to get back into the swing of things, surely, but I think URF’s was a drug that’ll be harder to shake for a lot of players.  I’ll be glad to see it come back in the future, but for now I am relieved to see it take a breather and to get back down to normal

To The Readers How did you like URF? Love it? Hate it? Miss it? Do you want it to be permanent? Why or why not?

 

Posted in Games, League of Legends

League of Legends PAXEast Skin Giveaway!

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ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED. 

varusThe guys over at Riot treated us fans to some great skins as usual this PAX! I snagged a few extra to give out for free to my fellow players.

I have a few copies of Arcade Hecarim – Riot Blitzcrank – Arctic Varus – Riot Ward Skin

I’ve done this before, though, so to avoid scammers, instead of just posting codes online, I have a quick and easy entry method below.

In the comment section, please leave your summoner name / region with an in-game screenshot showing your profile which skin you want,  And, of course, a method to contact you (email or twitter).

Winners will be selected by the end of the week. Feel free to follow me @izziebot if you have any questions, concerns, and the like!

Sample entry:

Summoner Name: izari
Region: NA
Twitter/Email: @izziebot
Screenshot:

lolentry

Good luck!

Posted in Games, League of Legends

PaxEast 2014 Report – Pre-Pax Shenanigans Pt.2

Thursday is always the unofficially official “Day 1″ for any expo – most attendees have landed and checked in and are looking for ways to connect and have a little fun before the actual convention starts.

There were a slew of options for anybody who wanted to have a good time yesterday! I partook in Curse’s happy hour at the Harpoon Brewery and, of  course, the chaos that is the annual Pokemon Pub Crawl!

The Curse happy hour was pretty fun – a big divergence from their usually big affair, but I appreciated the cozy intimicy of the event.

The food was spectacular and we got to try a bunch of Harpoon’s beers on tap (their coriander cider is freaking phenomenal!)

The swag was humble – a few bottle openers, cute bag, and beer cozy. Read more ›

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Posted in Communites, Events, Games, Geek Life

PaxEast Report 2014 – Pre-Pax Shenanigans Part. 1

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One of the biggest pros to being a local in a host city (or earlybird) for PAX is the ability to partake in all the great pre-expo events put on by the community – and boy do they know how to kick things off right!

There’s a plethora of pre-PAX events to go to, more than an attendee can reasonably partake in, that gives the opportunity for old friends to reunite or newcomers to meet new people.

Down side to being a local is justifying taking the entire week off – but many events are still post work hours and can be enjoyed regardless.

pre-paxeast-2014-01I kicked off my expo week Tuesday night at the annual Pre-PAX gaming night at JJ Foley’s. The meet-up is also a monthly venture for local PAXers to keep up with each other, but the one before a convention is always a pleasure – far more active and populated!

This year the crowd was a bit smaller than previous, but it was still a good time. I got to play two awesome new games – Tsuro and Buffalo – and an old favorite in Qwirkle.

 

The festivities continued Weds night with the annual Pig Roast at Citizen Public House. While expensive, the roast is an AWESOME experience to share with friends – more food than you can even imagine and a good time with out-of-towners stopping by to catch up.

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Tonight is a big one, as Thursday is a popular travel day for attendees to come in and get settled and adventure out. Some companies will be having some pre-PAX parties and tonight is also the ever-popular Pokemon Pub-Crawl, in which decorated and drunk geeks effectively take over and terrorize locals for a few hours. I’ll be hitting up the Curse Party as well as the Crawl tonight! Look forward to some crazy photos!

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Posted in Communites, Events, Games, Geek Life

Game of Thrones – Arya and Sansa – Why love one but hate the other?

GOT Show spoiler warning. Relatively book-safe, minus some excluded scenes.

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Two sides of the same coin.

I’ll start by saying that I love both Arya and Sansa as characters – both are refreshingly complex and multidimensional young women who are deeply explored and beautifully acted in this epic series. I believe very strongly in Ned’s words that his daughters are two sides of the same coin – both have been thrown into an impossible situation, and have to use their at times wildly different personalities to adapt and survive.

The big issue, however, that I see within the GoT fandom, book and show alike, is the raging hard-on for Arya’s rebellious tomboyism pitted against Sansa’s feminine stoicism. I have a MAJOR problem with that, because both girls are flawed, both girls have moments of weakness, both girls are whiny and clueless at times, both girls have a level of self-absorbtion, and yet Arya is forgiven for this while Sansa is largely disliked for having similar issues. I can’t help but wonder if it’s her very girlishness that’s the cause. Is the universal love of Arya because she likes swords over songs? Is that even fair?

The Flaws of the Stark Girls

Sansa from day one is ridiculed for her girlish “naivety” – her desire to be a wife and mother, and live as an eventual queen. Meanwhile Arya is loved from day one for being cheeky, boyish, and wild. It’s interesting because within their universe Arya is the naive one – Sansa’s dreams are very realistic with what’s expected of women in Westeros, and that’s something that our modern minds absolutely hate, apparently. Read more ›

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Posted in Entertainment, TV

How the internet has made us immortal.

Via: http://www.enterrasolutions.com/2013/12/advances-in-cognitive-computing.html
Via: http://www.enterrasolutions.com/2013/12/advances-in-cognitive-computing.html

Via: http://www.enterrasolutions.com/2013/12/advances-in-cognitive-computing.html

Amid the chaos that is the battle for privacy in regards to just how much info on each of us is out there and who has access to it, there is one little silver lining, a teeny tiny blossom poking through the smog, that I think a lot of us haven’t really thought much about, if at all. Despite the legitimate concerns and problems of late, the internet has effectively made us immortal. That is brilliant and terrifying in one breath.

I had a conversation with an atheist friend on the meaning and value of life when you don’t believe in an afterlife. Bouncing our opinions back and forth, I joked about all the weird things people might find out about me if they went through my computer and online profiles, and then the thought occurred that… well, they’d find out a lot.

My grandfather was an artist, like me, and along with some of his ability, I inherited a few of his crafts and domino set when he passed away. I didn’t know him well – the fact that I spoke little Spanish and he little English caused communication barrier which never allowed us to really bond. I still know next to nothing about the man he was; just what my family told me and the little I saw of him. A thin, frail man who was always sick and would hit us upside the head for no reason. Allegedly a terrible father but a brilliant thinker. An artist who belonged out in the fields with no shoes, not at home with six kids. That’s all I know. However my grandchildren, should I have them, will know me so much more even if we never speak a word to one another.

The Privacy Wars of Today May Become The Immortality Tools Of Tomorrow Read more ›

Posted in Geek Life, Internets

League of Legends Vel’koz Review

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With Vel’koz being free last week, I finally got to play him a few times in ARAM and found myself surprisingly delighted with his unique play style.

I was skeptical at first since Riot pins him as difficult to play, but after a few rounds of messing with his combo order it turns out he’s not nearly as bad as I expected and really, really fun. I got the hang of him faster than other complex combo-oriented champs, like, say, the tragedy that was my first Orianna try (spoiler alert: it was brutal).

Plasma Fission's mechanics makes for some interesting, creative moves with practice.

Plasma Fission’s mechanics makes for some interesting, creative moves with practice.

To make solid use of his kit, a perfect combo feels to be be EWQWR. In ARAM this is a really powerful execution due to the limited space teams have to maneuver around his potent spells. E (Tectonic Disruption) is a knock-up and slow that sets enemy champs up to get caught in his W (Void Rift). His W is  a lined blast with initial and delayed aoe damage, and Q (Plasma Fission) is a quirky 90° angled blast that does a good job catching players who make use of side-to-side movements for escape. Finish that up with another go at W (it has 2 usable charges) and massive damage gets put out over time.

His ultimate (Life Form Disintegration Ray) is fun as hell as well – the laser follows your mouse for a few seconds, blasting everything in its path. It makes a great clean-up tool if the enemy team has taken a lot of damage already. I do feel that it’s a little underpowered right now, though, but fits with the philosophy of  champion whose style is about putting out sustained damage rather than being a spiker.

I find as far as team synergy goes, Vel shines when there is a good initiator on your side, either a bruiser or a tank. When another teammate can soak up enough distraction time and if they’re good at rounding the other team up, you can get a great combo chain off. Without a tank / bruiser, though, he has a hard time getting his abilities off fast enough to catch the other team well. I found that Q gets caught on minions a LOT, so practice with aim is pretty key (similar to Karma, in my experience).

In ARAM, heavy AP / Magic Pen via runes and masteries makes him strong early on, combined with his good range. I found in most cases he doesn’t seem to scale as well later than other AP carries, like Lux or Veigar who dominate Howling Abyss.

Still, his kit is REALLY fun and not nearly as difficult to get the hang of. I plan on grabbing him as soon as I get back up to 6300ip!

Boom Goes the Everything

Boom Goes the Everything

Champion Spotlight | Official Release Information

 

Posted in Games, League of Legends, PC

Frozen’s Elsa Character Analysis – We Are All Elsa

(Warning: Mild Spoilers. )

I want to talk today about one of the most amazing characters to be cranked out of Disney.

Queen Elsa.

Afraid of the world :(

Afraid of the world :(

Though she has definitely been embraced by the LGBT community, in a very strong way she also represents anyone who has ever had to suppress a part of their true nature. Perhaps as simple as having to push aside artistic drive because we’ve been told it’s a fruitless endeavor, to as complex a scenario is having to hide sometimes crippling emotional anguish, a lack of self confidence, depression, and so on. The creative team has confirmed that this was all intentional. And though perhaps saying we are all Elsa is a bit of a stretch – there are probably a lot of Anna’s out there – we’ve all had a point in our lives where we’ve felt we’ve had to hide something about who we are, out of fear of rejection, social outcasting, or failure.

Elsa’s entire existence is this very basic human tale. She’s spent her entire young life hiding, isolated in a room with an intense fear of human contact enforced by less-than-stellar parents whose decision was to lock her away rather than find ways to explore and control her gift. That inner storm may rage more intensely for some than others, but it’s still an extremely relatable conflict.

That brings me to “Let It Go”, and why a song that is so upbeat and empowering could also bring tears to people’s eyes. That’s because the song revolves around a very alluring yet very frightening concept – complete freedom of self. Read more ›

Posted in Uncategorized

EvE Online – Let’s Talk About EvE Appeal

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Titans are Eve online’s largest, most expensive, and costliest in terms of time ships to build.

EVE Online is an interesting game. It’s been called everything from the greatest sci-fi game to ever exist to the world’s most graphic intensive spreadsheet. Developers CCP brag 500,000 active members (average 30-50k concurrent players)  which is impressive for a universe of this size. There is only one, extremely vast server (the galaxy) where players exist, and it can take days to travel from one side of the galaxy to the other, and often through some very scary and very dangerous terrain.

But while 500k is impressive it just may be an above average number in comparison to other MMOs. At its peak, for instance, World of Warcraft boasted 12 million active subscriptions, and gaming behemoth League of Legends is currently sitting around 67 million accounts and climbing, last I heard. That’s the population of more than 8 times New York City, or equal to 123% of the population of the Northeast Megalopolis, for comparison. Eve is not an easy game and has a huge barrier to entry. Most people even vaguely involved in gaming has heard of it, almost everybody who games has tried it, and ultimately most are weeded out by the sheer intensity of the mechanics, contributing to it’s humble player base.

And yet what makes Eve so interesting is the fact that it is perhaps one of , if not the most notoriously known game, making real-world media news for in-game related events that have nothing to do with game sales or competitive play.

Eve is continually in the news for insane reasons, like large-scale corporate scandals which are both allowed and encouraged, the fact that all in-game resources can be directly translated to real-world money value, and every now and then huge-ass battles.

Last summer, a months long war, known a the Fountain War, between CFC and Test Alliance came to an explosive conclusion with Test ultimately being unable to defend their territory. Named after the space-station that was under siege, the war’s conclusion got some serious media attention, including a very matter-of-fact report from BBC news and live-updates from a “war correspondent” on the Verge’s website.

And last week another large battle (Nicknamed “Titan’s Fall”), allegedly the costliest in Eve’s 10 year history, broke out and seemingly put the Fountain War to shame in terms of damages. If nothing else, the previous record for Titans lost (Titans are the game’s biggest, most expensive, and most tedious ships to build – taking 8 weeks of real time to create) was 12, no more than 3 lost at last summer’s Fountain War, and already it’s reported that 70 have bit the stardust in the recent conflict.

News of the game is far-reaching, being covered by mainstream media like FOX, the BBC, and CBS not to mention countless of gaming or tech-based outlets online.

That leaves the question…

What is EvE’s out of game appeal?

Read more ›

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Posted in Games, PC

Four Reasons Why I Won’t Boycott PAX

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Why this geek won’t Boycott PAX

2013 wasn’t a particularly good year for Penny Arcade, Inc’s image. After a relatively peaceful  PAX-East and flagship PAX-Aus, there was another Dickwolves flair up that got sparked again at PAX Prime, and the ensuing fallout was pretty intense.

There are lots of people, former and current fans alike, who are asking for a community-wide call-to-arms to put a stop to these sorts of abuses, but how exactly to do so is hotly debated.

Many are calling for a full-blown boycott of PAX, while others are going for a larger presence and awareness campaign at-event.

I’ve chosen, for now, to be a part of that later camp. Which is in no way saying that those who choose to boycott are wrong, the same way those who were hurt, angered, or otherwise affected by some of what’s gone down but still choose to go are not wrong.  There are different ways to go about this situation, and I thought I’d share my reasons why I chose NOT to boycott.

Reason #1) Financially, it says little.

I know I said that there’s really no “wrong” or “right” in the choice of whether or not to boycott the events – financially is one area, however, where I feel there is a much straighter answer. Many feel that by boycotting we hit them where it hurts – in the wallet. Theoretically, a great idea. Realistically, not so much. With PAX tickets selling out faster and faster with every year, it’s almost impossible to imagine a drop in attendance, ever, even if every single person who opposed even one thing that PA has said or done decided not to go. Our spots would be filled instantly. PAX is, in my opinion, too large a beast to be culled by finances alone at this point. And unfortunately those of us who felt wronged or offended by what’s happened are far outnumbered by those who either don’t care, don’t even know, or are totally on the other side of the fence. By not going, I only open my spot to someone who is much more likely to be in one of those groups than not. Which leads me to point #2

Reason #2) My presence says more than my absence Read more ›

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Posted in Communites, Events, Games, Geek Life, Social Issues