How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Rhapsodies on games, gaming, and why we play.

Month: March, 2012

Return to DOTA

by anbrewk

Recently, I took it upon myself to get an invite to the DOTA 2 beta. Upon successfully receiving an invite, I have been playing the figurative shit out of the game.  Well, not actually. But I have played a number of matches, to some success! Aha! The best thing I thought about DOTA 2 was that I didn’t have to learn anything new. As it turns out, having not played in 3 years left me not knowing a lot about core changes to DOTA, let alone remastered versions of heroes and items tweaks in DOTA 2.  For example,  they gave big hulking Sven an ability that gives every local friendly a mad speed bonus for a short time. It totally took me off guard when him and his whole team bum rushed me. It took me 3 deaths before I figured out why he was so damn fast. There are so many little things one has to keep track of that one might think the game sounds unplayable for new players, but the hurdles for new players are being addressed in some serious ways by Valve and let me tell you, I’m really impressed.

Read the rest of this entry »

On Mastery of Systems

by berv

This morning, anbrewk sent around a link to the Wikipedia article on Chess960, a chess variant that randomizes the starting positions of the back row of pieces. Much as in those days of yore when we all lived under the same roof, a conversation started up.

berv: OH GOOD

anbrewk: I think this actually looks really exciting and eliminates the frustrations presented with playing someone who simply memorized opening moves (something I think you, berv (or maybe Frange?) had expressed as a negative component of the game).

“The random setup (if it did not equate to the classic starting position) renders the opportunity of obtaining an advantage through the memorization of opening moves impracticable, compelling players to rely instead on their talent and creativity.”

berv: Yeah! It was me. I hadn’t thought about it that way. That would indeed solve some of my issues with chess (which were some of the same issues I had with the original Starcraft) while retaining the mind-fuck ten-moves-in-advance challenge of the game. I’m still not sure if it’s for me, but it’s a step in the right direction, IMO.

Upon further reflection, I think this actually makes the game a degree harder. Across multiple plays, one can’t get used to where pieces begin, and so would be forced to better understand the pieces in multiple contexts. No longer could you rely on bishops to guard your king; you’d have to adapt and find your new and alternate guard. I wonder if there are setups that would make for faster games (i.e. king in a particularly vulnerable position)? Hm.  A knight in a corner has only one legal move at the beginning of the game. Interesting.

Read the rest of this entry »

An open letter to Bioware and EA

by berv

I can’t remember what turned me on to Mass Effect in the first place, but somehow I ended up borrowing an Xbox, buying the game, and proceeding to get utterly lost in the world that lay before me. Adrian Shepard explored every corner of the galaxy, chasing down every last side quest, pursuing each conversation down every possible branch, and mining every single rock on even the most remote of planets. Suffice it to say I was hooked.

When I heard Mass Effect 2 was incoming, I scrambled to prepare, no longer having access to the Xbox I’d begun on. Once more, I recreated the story of Adrian Shepard on PC, down to the tiniest detail, so that the character I had imagined might continue the story. And so we did, enjoying the second chapter even more than the first.

From the moment the last boss went down, I craved closure to the story we had woven together. Mass Effect 3 was little more than two years away, and slated to be released on my birthday, of all days! My anticipation and excitement couldn’t have been more palpable. But as the day drew nearer and nearer my enthusiasm began to fade. “Might not be on Steam?” It would have been nice to have the trilogy in one place, but no biggie. “Requires Origin?” I don’t really have a problem with other distribution platforms; let’s just have a look at the EULA here…

And that’s when my heart sunk.

Read on…