My Gaming Spaces

This is for day 23 of Blaugust. (Aah, I’m falling behind!)

This was inspired by a post over at Soul of the Forest in which Ocean shared her gaming spaces. By the way, if you’re looking for a new Resto Druid resource, go check it out. Ocean has written guides and shared Weak Aura strings and good stuff like that.

My gaming area - desk

Here’s my computer desk. It’s just a wee little thing. I could use a bigger one but I don’t really have the space for it (the dog crate takes up the rest of the wall beside it). I use a Razer Chroma keyboard which I really like, and a Razer Naga which I’m looking to replace. The side buttons are sort of wasted on me. I use a Blue Snowball microphone for video voice overs and the occasional podcast. I have two pairs of headphones. I generally use the Beats at the computer, while I use the wireless Playstation ones to play consoles in the living room. I really need a new mousepad – I’ve never even played Black Ops 2. Also, there’s frequently a bad dog hanging out under the desk while I’m sitting at it.

My gaming area - consolesThis is the setup in the living room. Set up here are the XBox One, PS4, PS3, WiiU, Sega Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, X’Eye, NES, and Retron 5. Clearly not enough consoles. We’ve got a 5-way HDMI splitter and an A/V switch so we can plug everything in. There’s also an A/V to HDMI upscaler in the back and my Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket so I can record gameplay.

There’s also a third gaming area in the bedroom. This is where the XBox 360 is, along with a Wii, a(nother) PS3, and a PS2.

Arrested Development footage not found

Ranked

This is for day 22 of Blaugust.

Let’s talk about Heroes of the Storm. Again. I was happy for the season reset that just happened. I was experiencing a bit of a pattern in ranked games that was getting really annoying. I’d win my way up to Rank 20 or so, and then lose. And lose. And lose. I’d win maybe 1 in 8 games during my long plummet from rank 20 all the way down to rank 28-30. This happened twice. If rank 20 is my skill-cap right now, that’s fine. I can accept that. But I can think of less soul-sucking ways to keep me out of the 19+ bracket.

Now, this is all just anecdotal. I have no idea how MMR works. Maybe it’s meant to make reaching your skill cap a miserable experience, maybe it’s not. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky. The worst part about the huge losing streaks is that I didn’t feel I was losing because the opposing team was really good. It felt like I was losing because my team was terrible. Now, I’m not amazing. I sometimes chase a little too far and die, or think I need to finish of a merc camp instead of doing something more useful. But my teams were full of people so bad I often questioned whether they were trolls. It started right from the draft. No one thought about comp at all. Malf and Li Li? Sure! Double tank? Okay! All melee? Sounds like fun! Then once we were off to a limping start, it got even worse. There were the people who wanted to team fight at level 2 and collected no XP (plus yelled at the people who didn’t join the fights). There were tanks off doing their own thing, smacking away at towers while the rest of the team went 4-5 against the enemy. The people who ignored objectives. The people who exclaimed “gg” and went afk if we were 2 levels down. The people who gave me the impression they had never played their hero before. It was pretty disheartening to run into some variation of this in every single match.

I feel like this is kinda backwards. I should be facing the challenge of better players as I rank up, not the challenge of being grouped with a bunch of potatoes.

I’m wondering what other people’s ranked experiences have been like?

Gun-Nac

This is for day 21 of Blaugust.

Time for another retro gaming review for day 21 of Blaugust. I played Gun-Nac for the NES for the first time and found it’s an amazing shoot’em up.

My Gaming Style

This is day 20 of Blaugust.

For today’s post, I was inspired by Missy, who posted about a survey for a gaming style profile. The survey has been floating around other blogs, but this is the one that made me click through to the survey itself.

There were 5 pages of questions but it didn’t take too long. The results were close to what I expected, though in a few cases I don’t really understand how they were calculated. The scores are percentiles.

I am Action-Oriented, Analytical, Completionist, Independent and Deeply Immersed.

My gaming style

While most of these percentiles seem about right, a couple are unexpected. Let’s start with Action.

Action

That this is high doesn’t surprise me, though I’m a little surprised to see it as my highest score overall. I do like fast-paced, exciting games like action-adventures, platformers and the occasional FPS (though I also really like turn based games). I find this metric a little suspect since as far as I can remember from the questions, there was really only one that would have been scored against the Destruction category. I do like to blow shit up in games, but I find it a bit hard to believe that I like blowing things up more than 90% of other gamers that have taken the survey.

Mastery

Apparently I hate challenge but I like strategy and complexity. It’s true that difficulty is not something I look for in games. I play on normal mode. The only game that I can think of that has really made me want to try a higher difficulty is XCOM, so I guess challenge isn’t my thing. I find it a bit strange there’s such a big discrepancy between two subjects in the same category.

AchievementWell, if I thought the last category had a big discrepancy… This is the result that’s the most surprising to me. I love achievements and I’m a huge completionist, but I’m not so into character power. I don’t care too much about gear in games (now that I don’t play WoW), but I think I’m more achievement-driven than 36% of gamers.

Social

I’m not a social animal, no surprise here. With the exception of HotS right now, I will always opt for single player games. I’ve sworn off MMOs forever and I will rarely even check out the online modes of games I get for the campaign. I do like beating people when I do play against them though.

Immersion

I thought this one would be my highest and it’s close. I love a good story and being able to immerse myself in a new world. I love exploring and ultimately see video games as the ultimate escapism.

Creativity

About average on creativity, that seems about right. I like discovery and though I like customizing my character I’m not super into things like customizing/decorating locations.

This survey was a fun little distraction. If you want to take it yourself, you can find it here: https://apps.quanticfoundry.com/lab/10 

Good Stealth, Bad Stealth

This is day 19 of Blaugust.

This post was inspired by an article over at Midnight Resistance (this was going to be a comment, but there are no comments!) In the post, Andi complains about stealth sections in non-stealth games and asks readers to tell about their least favourite stealth sections.

I am usually not a fan of stealth in games. I’m too impatient to wait for enemy patrols to pass by or throw rocks as distractions. Here are some games that feature stealthy parts that I really didn’t enjoy.

The Last of Us

TLoU

I’m sure I’ve complained about this one before. I found the stealth sections, particularly in the first half of the game, extremely frustrating. Ammo and supplies were low, Joel only had a access to a couple different weapons. There were many areas with a good half dozen infected standing around and you had to stealth around, taking them out one by one. Usually one or two could be taken out fairly easily, but the others required you to throw bottles and things to distract them. I don’t mind stealth so much when sneaking by enemies allows me to avoid combat altogether, but in most of these sections combat was inevitable.

My biggest issue? I have a shotgun! I want to use it. Technically I could use it, but it alerts all the enemies in the area and taking on more than a couple at a time generally resulted in a horrible death. So I was forced to stealth around, stabbing zombies in the neck until there were only one or two left. These sections slowed the gameplay to a crawl and were the main reason I wasn’t overly impressed by my first few hours with the game.

Arkham… Anything

The first time you hang upside down from a gargoyle to make a surprise snare of an enemy and leave them dangling by their ankles it’s quite a rush. Same thing with dive bombing out of the shadows to take down a henchman with a gun. But the sixth? The tenth? The twentieth? It gets kinda old.

All of the Arkham games (at least the first 3, I haven’t played Knight yet) are filled with gargoyle rooms. Here the enemies are numerous and usually armed so you need to sneak around to take them out, lest Batman get overwhelmed. Honestly it gets old after a while, especially in the rooms that have a dozen enemies or more. Get to the face punching, Bats.

Dishonored

Maybe it’s unfair to put this in here since Dishonored is a stealth game. Or an action-adventure game. It’s up to the player. Sort of. You can choose to go around killing everything, or you can ostensibly get through the game without killing anyone (or at least very few people). How many people you kill can impact the ending of the game.

I tried to go the no-kill route when I played. That lasted about 12 minutes. Since the no-kill experience was ruined I had no choice but to turn into the most murderous bastard alive. The problem? The combat sucks. It’s clunky and not fun at all. So while the stealthy route is presented as a choice, it’s not much of one. You either go the mechanically solid but very slow stealth route, or you go through the game being subjected to the shitty shooting mechanics. In this case, the best choice to me was to quit.

But wait…

There is one game that, surprisingly, had stealth sections that I found very enjoyable.

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein the New Order stealth

Wolfenstein is one of the best games I’ve played this year. It has a good story, really solid shooting mechanics, and all the weapons feel unique. It also has stealth. What is it that makes stealth in Wolfenstein feel so rewarding, while most games make it feel like a chore?

I can’t totally put my finger on it, but I have a few ideas. The first person perspective makes things more interesting. Whereas in The Last of Us I was watching Joel stab a zombie in the neck, in Wolfenstein I felt like I was stabbing things in the neck. Hmm… that sounds a bit psychotic now that I’ve typed it out. Anyway, the first person perspective was certainly more immersive.

Wolfenstein also made great use of sound to let you know when you were safe or not. From dogs softly snoring to Nazis in mech suits stomping around, you didn’t necessarily have to see your enemies to know they were there. I find relying on sound much more interesting than the magical ability to see through walls.

The biggest reason, I think, is that failing at stealth in Wolfenstein had a much different result than failing in other games. If you got spotted in The Last of Us, the ensuing scramble would likely bring every enemy running. And then you’d die. If you got spotted in Batman when you hadn’t taken out enough armed enemies, everyone would start shooting. And then you’d die. When you get spotted in Dishonored you have to take part in unenjoyable combat. Or die. In Wolfenstein, what happens after you’re discovered is still enjoyable. It might make things a bit harder, but it’s not a death sentence most of the time. Plus, the ensuing firefight is always a heck of a lot of fun.

What are your thoughts on stealth? Any particular examples stand out as good or bad uses of it in games?

Podcast?

This is day 18 of Blaugust.

This post is based on a writing prompt from Void.

If you were to create content for a different medium what would you choose? Videos, Streaming, Podcast, Something Else? What about that medium appeals to you as a content creator?

Apple_Podcast_logo

I really want to do a podcast. I’ve guested on a number of podcasts over the past few years and always really enjoyed it. A had a very, very brief stint as a regular co-host (if you can call 2 episodes regular) which I really enjoyed as well. I like writing here and I’ve really been getting into videos lately, but they’re both very solitary mediums. There are comments which I love getting and responding to, but it’s still not really a conversation – the content is created solely by me. I really crave the opportunity to sit down and talk and collaborate with people about video games on a regular basis. I think a podcast would be the best way to do that.

What stopping me? Hmm. Indecision. Fear of commitment. I don’t know what kind of podcast I want to have. Do I want to do the usual – what’s the news? What are you playing? One of my favourite podcasts I’ve been on was my first appearance on Justice Points where we did a deep dive on the latest Tomb Raider game. A podcast where I get to spend an hour or so really dissecting a single game per episode really appeals to me.

Who do I want to do the podcast with? Ask one person to co-host? Two co-hosts? A rotating selection of co-hosts? How would we split responsibilities and control of the podcast? I don’t really want to be in another situation where my (I use that term very loosely) podcast ceases to be and I don’t have a say. So I want control, but I also want people to bounce ideas off and collaborate with.

While I sit here wallowing in indecision, here are some great podcasts I listen to regularly and recommend:

Cat Context

Justice Points

Match 3

Spawn on Me

The Heroine’s Journey

The Smartest Man in the World

Nazeebo Tips (Heroes of the Storm)

My favourite hero to play in HotS is Nazeebo. He’s a specialist meaning he’s very good at siege damage, and his basic attack drains health and mana, making him a top choice to solo lanes. His single target damage doesn’t rival that of an assassin, but he can do lots of area damage.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of Nazeebo’s abilities.

Nazeebo - Voodoo Ritual

Voodoo Ritual is a passive ability applied with Nazeebo’s basic attack. Getting this poison up on enemies is good,and you’re be able to see when the DoT with kill a creep on their health bar, allowing you to switch and attack something else. This DoT is also good for keeping stealthy opponents out of stealth.

Nazeebo - Corpse Spiders

Corpse Spiders will do initial damage where they land, then go after whatever enemy or structure is closest. The base ability summons 3 spiders that last 4 seconds. These are pretty good at chasing retreating enemies.

Nazeebo - Zombie Wall

Zombie Wall can clinch a team fight. Or completely screw your team over. There’s a delay after casting this, so it can be hard to trap the hero you’re targeting. Keep an eye out for stunned heroes which are easier to trap, or try to anticipate the movement of your target.

If you accidentally trap a teammate (or yourself), you can press W again in order to remove the wall.

Some other uses for Zombie Wall:

  • Aiding in escapes. If you’re on the run, cast the zombie wall in your current location so it traps, or at least blocks the heroes chasing you.
  • Blocking. Most maps have choke points where dropping a zombie wall can really screw over your opponents. You can trap them in small passages, allowing your team to kill them quickly. In maps like Dragon Shire, you can drop Zombie Wall at one of the entrances to the shrines to keep enemies out (or in). You can also drop the wall over an enemy gate to keep them in or out.
  • Soaking. When you’re laning and getting close to enemy structures you can place the zombie wall next to a turret, tower, or fort. The structure will then shoot at the zombies rather than you or your team’s minions. This tactic can also be used to soak ammo.
  • Merc camps. Drop this in the middle of a merc camp so the zombies are taking damage instead of you.

Nazeebo - Plague of Toads

Plague of Toads summons 5 toads from your location, which will hop a ways and explode when they reach an enemy or structure. The toads don’t move too quickly so they can be fairly easily avoided. In a team fight, try to aim them at heroes who are stunned, trapped, or just really close and won’t have a chance to get away.

Nazeebo - Gargantuan

Gargantuan is a level 10 talent (spoiler: this is the one I’m going to recommend in my upcoming talent guide). This big guy hits hard, but you can’t specifically tell him what to attack. He does huge damage to minions and structures, making him great for laning or defending against mercs.

  • Stomp. Once he’s been summoned, Gargantuan has an AoE Stomp attack that can be triggered every few seconds by pressing R.
  • Merc camps. Nazeebo excels at taking merc camps to start out with but with this guy, they are a breeze. Stomp, stomp, stomp.
  • He will avenge you. Gargantuan doesn’t die when Nazeebo does. So keep your eye on him as you’re waiting to respawn and continue making use of Stomp.

This is day 17 of Blaugust.