Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stopped playing, now playing

It's been about 2 months since my last post. Have I been too busy with work, family and friends? Did real life get in the way? Pfff, hell no! Crimson and I have been gaming it up as per usual.

StarCraft II has been put on the backburner for the moment. As much as my inner Achiever wanted to reach diamond ranking across all categories (1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4), it was starting to get a little stressful. I prefer team settings, where the multitude of failures I make have less of an impact on the game :) I will come back to it in a couple of months as it's still great fun, but a break was in order. With the equivalent of "rest XP" in the ranking system, I know that I'll be able to fly up the ranks fairly quickly when I do (after sucking horribly for my first 10 games or so, I'm sure).

Next was Minecraft. I haven't written anything about Minecraft yet because I didn't want to jump on the "me too" bandwagon. But Minecraft, in all its blocky, low-res glory, is probably the best game that I saw in 2010. Even a cold-hearted PvP addict such as I was able to revel in the sheer beauty of exploration, the desperation of survival (and claustrophobia), and the opportunity to realize anything that my feeble imagination could concoct (somebody made a COMPUTER in the game, for crying out loud. A freaking computer!). Some of you may have tried the multiplayer and seen that it was a buggy mess (for example, you couldn't die). The major bugs there seem to have been fixed as of around the end of November, and together with Crimson and the Melfette the three of us have whiled away some merry hours in our own private sandbox.

At the moment though, the game du jour is League of Legends, one of the ever growing number of Defense of the Ancients clones out there. I had tried to play the oh-so-wittily acronymed "LoL" a few months ago, but an atrocious account registration process that kept forgetting my details drove me away. Crimson, ever the glutton for punishment, picked it up again a month ago and insisted that it was good fun, and so I gave it one more shot.

League of Legends is absolutely nutty fun thanks to the ridiculous freedom that the artists seem to have been given with the character design. There are ~70 different characters currently in the game. Despite a lot of overlap in function they each have a really unique personality or "feel" to them... from the little boy riding a giant yeti, to little orphan Annie and her ferocious teddy bear come to life named Tibbers, to the giant demon that eats other players and grows ridiculously huge, to the psychotic homicidal maniacally giggling clown, to the freaky fricking scarecrow, there is really something to tickle everybody's fancy.

I'll write some more about LoL in coming posts, but for now suffice it to say that if you enjoy DotA style games or are curious about them, this is a good starting point. There are a lot of gameplay design features that I preferred about Demigod, but at the end of the day League of Legends has two important advantages over Demigod:
1) There are actually people playing it because they did not botch their launch
2) There is a match-making system, meaning that you are actually allowed to learn how to play the game without people raging at you (any more than they do in any other PvP game, anyway :D)

The game itself is free so really is worth checking out. The characters are unlockable through either money or a form of in-game experience points that you receive for playing games (bonuses for winning). You will be given enough points to unlock one of the cheaper (and easier to use) characters right from the get-go, but most importantly there are 10 free champions that get rotated each week so that you can try always be trying somebody new. You'll develop your favourites though, and I'm not ashamed to say that I've now plonked down about $70 on the thing, and consider them pennies well spent.