I don’t know why it is, but against what logic I can muster, the ease of cynicism and negativity is somehow more draining than the effort it takes to make the attempt to find some small glimmer of positivity. Maybe the contradiction is easily explained by the sheer abundance of disparaging comments and thoughts that I find myself presented with on a daily basis, or maybe a hopeless, terrible world built piecemeal weighs too heavily on the soul. The bottom line though is that I have found myself feeling much like Bilbo Baggins described, being “butter spread over too much bread.” The realization that the feeling stems from an overabundance of negativity is something that I’ve been flirting with on and off for a while – I had previously completely stopped paying any attention to the news for example, and whenever it comes up in social media I find myself distressed by it and what reactions it garners. Why it took me so long to extend the teachings of this lesson into other aspects of my life is troubling, but the steps that I am taking now make the old idiom of “better late than never” apt.
Internet Comments & reddit
Somehow over the past few years I became a “redditor,” a user of the site reddit that aggregates user-submitted posts and links to new stories. While it is possible on reddit to get news quickly and see some neat user-created content, the trade-off is a “democratic” cesspool where vile, backwards comments are rewarded with high visibility as a bunch of like-minded people pat themselves on the back and take pride in a false shell of “discussion” that they claim to value. The irony is that there are internal factions within reddit that try to counter the biases of the site while resorting to the same petty, childish, ignorant tactics that they themselves decry. The result is that from the view point of a lone individual, reddit is irredeemable and any effort spent to improve the site is wasted.
A careless player in League of Legends has wandered to a pointless death, creating all kinds of problems for his team.
A recent winning streak in League of Legends took a turn for the worse. Confidence and pride were gradually replaced with uncertainty and doubt; at times the usually vocal and active Skype call was as silent as a graveyard as what seemed to be a winning situation spiraled out of our control.
“Are we just going to seethe in silence then?”
“No, I’m just trying to figure out where things went wrong.”
My thoughts raced. What happened? How did things fall apart, especially when it seemed like we were doing so well? What can I do to turn things around? As a team, what can we do right now to win this game instead of lose it? Do I need to stay in the base and defend, or get more vision on the map by venturing out and placing sight-granting wards? Is there some item I can buy now to achieve success?
The Binding of Isaac/The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb
Remember how cool Legend of Zelda was when you were just a dumb little babby? And how scary basements were? Then if you grew up in a Christian household, you’ve got quite a background for The Binding of Isaac to flashback at you. The combat takes some getting used to, but eventually you can get the hang of it, and with some good item drops, become a true monster to be feared.
If you missed Zelda, were scared of nothing, and weren’t exposed to religion growing up, Isaac is a respectable place to work back from should you want to experience something close to an interesting, flavorful life.
Dungeons of Dredmor
If the jokes in Dungeons of Dredmor don’t first slay you, the monsters surely will. No kidding, Dungeons is funny and incredibly difficult, but the RPG system is good and the turn-based combat gives you just enough hope to think that maybe, one day, you can kill all those monsters on the screen that were behind the door you just lock-picked.
Of Diablo 3 (D3), many things can be said. The game is fun, especially with friends. The production value is pretty decent and the game is gorgeous to behold. The character classes all have something different to offer the player, and the hot-swappable skill-system is just as interesting and fun as it was in Guild Wars. Hardcore mode is thrilling, and nothing else feels quite like seeing your hero perma-dead due to negligence or flat-out greed. [Let's not discuss the narrative or all the pointless lines of voiced dialog, which sounded great but said nothing at all.] What D3 doesn’t do, however, is respect or trust the player.
These qualities, taken for granted it now seems, are missing thanks to core design choices that went into the final product of D3. The most egregious error is the default Normal mode, which should be an insult to anyone who even has just a basic familiarity of video games, let alone actual gamers. The instances where the player is actually trusted with real challenges to overcome can be counted on the fingers illustrated on a Left 4 Dead poster. The absolute worst part is that Normal mode cannot be skipped – the only feasible way to do so is to be run through by higher-level characters or to hit up the in-game, ever-present auction house to twink your budding character with the best gear gold (soon real money!) can buy. Keep this last point in mind.
The first Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event is done, and here are my thoughts after spending an obscene amount of time playing this weekend.
Structured PvP feels like a misnomer, as it’s really hard to tell just what this style of play is trying to achieve. There are capture points and per-map gimmick mechanics like NPCs or trebuchets. The capture mode may be simple for an audience to grasp, but it wasn’t fun to play; structured PvP tries to borrow elements like how players fight each other from Dota without any real thought. Elite skills that will maybe be used every couple minutes or so are interesting in longer games that may last 30 or more minutes, but in a condensed 15 minute gameplay mode where the losers don’t have anything at stake in the fight beyond a 15 second respawn this concept doesn’t hold up as well. Resource management is a key to having fun in any competitive game or sport, be it actual resources from a RTS or weapon and power-up spawns from the most simple FPS; elite skills alone won’t cover up the lack of any other resources to be used and managed in GW2 structured PvP.
Unlike structured PvP, World vs. World is complex and forces players to make interesting choices that will have lasting repercussions; it’s not the system’s fault that most of the time people will just swarm an objective with the least amount of resistance and trade losable objectives. WvW suffers from being too big, which isn’t a problem per se as long as players are having fun, but something at a smaller scale with the same complexity of the resource mechanics and multiple ways to attack and harass the opposing teams with a decisive victory after a period of time (30-60 minutes) might be a good replacement or complement to structured PvP.