Sunday, May 29, 2011

You were killed by an Asian

In League of Legends, my first encounter with Xin Zhao (or Bob as he is reffered to on occasion) was a scary experience. I believe it was my 3rd week of playing, roughly level 10, and I had just picked up Mordekaiser (hue) not 3 days prior. This was back in the day when I was commonly posted to mid which, while I usually dominated with the man of metal, I can happily say I don't miss one bit. Having never encountered a Xin before, I was immediately rather cautious of the fellow. That spear looked painful and that ridiculous ponytail impractical in every sense of the word. It was clear he possessed some sort of sorcerous black arts for it to be attached to his head and for him to not to have some sort of hernia.

pull my finger

I think I died at level three. A charge, a knockup, a corpse. I don't think I realised what had actually happened until I noticed I wasn't moving and my screen was grey. As you may have expected, my response was a typical "WTF!!?". This was strange. Dying on Mord at that level (pre-changes) usually was. I think it took me a few more attempts, usually resulting in a death, to get a basic understanding of Mr Zhao, that being this: he will kill you 1v1.

Today, that more or less still holds true, but to a much less degree. After receiving nerfs both to him and tanky dps in general, Xin is not the monster he used to be. He is very killable if you know what you are doing. Comparitively there are better champions at doing some of the specific things he can do, but still not really any that do all of them together which is why I think I decided to pick him up. To be honest, I hated the bastard after that game. Powered of the over kind my opinion was. I didn't pick him up so much as to play him but more to counter him as much as I could on any character I played. It was not till I started playing him in serious matches that I learnt of his glaring play style issues, some that I guess should have been obvious, but probably weren't on the receiving end of his ... spear. Ahem.

Anyways, Xin is a beast in a melee. It is of my opinion that he is essentially designed to be an offtank/initiator/assassin. I say this because in a teamfight with Xin, when you go in, you either stay in or you die. This is because he has nothing outside of summoner spells to get himself out of hairy situations. To an extent you can use his slow and knockup to save yourself, but when retreating from multiple opponents, charging back into the fray and autoattacking 3 times is not the healthiest decision. On a character like Tyrndamere (-_-) you could sucessfully pull something like this off, spin back through the enemy team, aoe slow while they are still facing the other way (without even being near them) and spin off into the horizon. Or you could just press R.

My point is, with Xin, I was finally playing a character where positioning and choosing your battles wisely is very important. With Mord, it isn't a problem. You stroll in and out of combat like you are the guy at the party no one wants to talk to. With Shen it's even less of one, dashing and porting out of harms way with relative ease. With Xin you must choose your fights appropriately, often exchanging places with the tank to either mop up or 'Xinitiate' for your team. After that ... you faceroll. Seriously. Buttons. Push all of them. Now. Your summoner spell/s (ghost) and item activateables (Sword of the Divine, Ghostblade, Omen) too. Get in there and kill everything. That is your mission. His Ultimate speaks volumes of "initiate with this spell", giving you up to 90 free MR and Armor for 6 seconds, depending on how many people you hit with it and chopping off up to 30% of their current HP (before mitigation). If the enemy has any sense, which most of them do, they will look at you and try to kill you. I mean, he is an asian afterall. Racist pricks.


This is usually the point where you die. In my months of playing and fighting Xin I have seen this occur all too frequently. Fight starts, Xin (or I) goes in, everyones bars turn red, ponytailed man falls on ground or seen running for the hills. The truth of the matter is unless you are completely dominating the enemy, you cannot afford to just build offensive items and expect to do well. Sure, you may gib a guy every teamfight, but is that really worth you dying straight away? The answer should be no. Your abilities, while somewhat useless for saving your own hide, are excellent for peeling enemies, keeping them in place and slowing them almost indefinetly. They also do decent damage even without full dps gear. In a nutshell, you are more threatening and useful if you are HARDER to kill, not because you won't be doing as much damage but because you will survive longer TO DO MORE. You don't do any damage when you are dead.

Which brings me to my final component of my Xin Zhao ... review ... thing. Whatever this is. His items. Out of all the characters that I have mucked around with in LoL, he has gone under the most revisions by far. The problem derives from the fact that he is so good at killing another person 1v1 because his spells are designed for shutting them down and melting them. This makes his ability to farm creeps abysmal, especially when laning against anything ranged. Autoattack in melee becomes your worst enemy, and your creep kills suffers massively if you don't get the advantage quickly. So unless you go out of your way to gank the shit out of the enemy your income will suck donkey balls. Getting the most out of the limited gold he earns is the key here, which means that having a standard build for fighting every team is non-sensical. As much as you should never have a standard build for any character, Xin is the only character that I play where I consider the enemy as a team, individually (laning) and item wise (i.e. theirs) constantly throughout the game. What you buy on him for the current situation is key to winning the next fight and consequently the game. The following is something I mixed up as an example of possible builds I would use, but centred around a longer game buying items that give me gold. The buying of these items are in relative order of importance at the time, but could be rotated depending on the situation. Should the game be under different circumstances (e.g. fighting a Tyrndamere, stacking massive armor, all tanky dps etc) I would be buying different items altogether.

It is probably safe to say, however, that these sort of build decisions are common amongst all LoL players.

Friday, May 27, 2011


A couple of days ago a few friends and I played some LoL. For once in a very long time (perhaps ever!) we won three (3) games in a row as a premade team. It was an enjoyable night, one with many memories both good and negative.

Even though I don't really have time to spare, I said fuck it and made a short video anyway. This video highlights some of the more interesting moments that happened that night ... although really it is just me on Xin killing everything. This is also a mere taste of what one can expect when I finally get round to editing a much larger video and with weeks (not hours) to spare editing it. There is a strong, linear correlation as to how good a video looks and how long was spent on it.

Unfortunately LoL Replay doesn't support teammate healthbars unless you are looking/looked at them recently. I believe this is a limitation of the actual game engine however and not something the 3rd party programmers can easily remedy. In any case it has prevented me from happily recording a few teammate instances due to a lack of HP bars being shown.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My thoughts on Apple

Oh boy. This is bound to cause some controversy. Usually I avoid this topic like the plague, mainly because I know where I stand and I don't really care about discussing it to or convincing anyone else otherwise. Everyone has the right to their own opinion. What you prefer and what works best for you is something that you yourself know and no-one else should be able to tell for you. Unless you are incredibly naive.

I should probably also mention that this article does not relate to anyone who would read this or that I would call a friend. While many of my friends use Apple products, they are but the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I am bringing up here. In short terms, anyone who is actually reading this need not be concerned. I am not talking about you.

My problem with the discourse concerning the Apple brand is when my opinion is brought into question about it, usually by the overly energetic, hip, young 'creative' professionals I seem to encounter on a daily basis. You may categorize some of these characters as 'Apple fanboys'. I prefer to call them deluded. While I have nothing against people's opinions, I am against people thinking that their own opinion about things needs to be heard constantly, as well as the fact that their own opinion is superior (i.e. more vocal). This supposed superiority of opinion also somehow makes opposition less credible, for whatever reason, and therefore owners of opposing opinions are somehow regarded with peculiarity. While this is general human nature, to disregard someone else's opinions and beliefs and brand them as heretics, it is also rather stupid, particularly concerning technology in this day and age.

So what has brought about my slight frustration about this Apple topic, especially now? Well, mainly this. I currently sit in a cubicle with four chaps of roughly the same age. They all (all) use Apple products extensively. I believe I am the only one among them that doesn't own and has never owned an Apple product. I probably would be seen as the outcast if I wasn't the most progressed among us. Nevertheless, this does cause some problems to arise daily, especially concerning topics of software compatibility, discussion of technology and their general uses. Because of this, I find the issue being brought up far too frequently and although I attempt to stay out of it as much as I can (I have work to do afterall), there are moments where I am forced to directly and unwillingly contribute. I am really quite an antisocial bastard aren't I?

So, my justification behind my choices usually starts like this. First of all, I am not one for social looks and trends. It is actually my strongest argument against Apple products, strangely enough. They are admittedly shiny. People like new, fancy and especially shiny things. Look at me now as I use my new, fancy shiny thing in this public place. Look at how awesome I am with my casual clothes and terrible haircut. I am so hip and cool and using this shiny, overpriced gadget that is catered towards my generation of hip, cool youngsters personifies my existence and speaks volumes of my worth as a human being. I am unemployed but have 7 university degrees and am trying to get into editing movies which I can only do with a Mac. Look at me! LOOK AT ME!!! Me me ME!!! I, I, I! Iphone, iTouch, iPod, iPad! How bout ... iDon'tcare? Yes I know this is a massive over-exaggeration and that many users of Apple products don't think this way at all (or just pretend not to) but there are enough around for it to be a problem. In this increasingly materialistic, egocentric and narcissistic society of facebook, tweeting, constant social interaction and over-opinionated perspectives on 'living', characterizing with and worshipping the shiny, arguably underdog brand that is Apple is not something that should be viewed with respect or awe. If anything, it should be viewed as an evaluation of how spoilt you are, or even how much you are spoiling yourself.

That really is my driving argument. We all do it to an extent. Hell, I know I splurge all over certain types of technology at times. My personal computer is an excellent example. The difference is I don't carry that around with me all the time as I lock the contents of it up in a big, black, steel case where no-one can see it. It is also a conglomeration of many parts from all different brands and models ... so maybe I am not really talking about the same thing here. Put it this way: I once caved into the social pressure of buying a new fancy phone. After minor research I bought a Samsung Galaxy S. It was and still is alright. It has an array of useful features which can be handy at times. Do I actually need these features? No. Can I live happily without them? Yes. Would a cheaper phone from an even less respectable brand been fine. Most definitely. So why did I buy it? The social trends I mentioned previously. Sometimes I am embarrassed to even use it, just for that reason.

The thing is, Apple is apparently different. They appear to be a company that is attempting to cater for your every technological need. From computers, to laptops, media players, phones, tablets etc. Why would you want to buy any other brand besides Apple? Well, this is essentially my second reason, and it isn't the stereotypical corporate domination response you would expect. It is the most basic one. Their damn price. It has vexed me for years how people can fork out that much money for products that do the same thing as others, sometimes even worse. This argument branches into all corners of their platform, from the (in my experience) crap involved using iTunes to their non-generic connection interfaces with other technologies. Alright, sure, sometimes the Apple experience may innately be easier and more user friendly than other interfaces. Is it really worth spending a few hundred more dollars to save yourself a few seconds? Not to mention with a different interface you might understand what is actually going on. Ignorance is sometimes not bliss, and if you take into account how much Apple is actually charging you for their products (compared to others) you may realise just how much they are ripping you off.

My last and weakest argument is that of user control. You have all heard the horror stories of companies like Apple and Sony going tits up when people try to tinker with their products. The court cases, the threats, the lies etc. To me, the idea of having a product I can't modify to my own desire is just bullshit. When that money comes out of my hand, that product and everything about it should be mine to do with as I want. I am not buying it so you can lock me out of certain features depending on my location/tampering, nor should the product become unusable if you do tamper with it. 'Jailbreaking' shouldn't be necessary at all and punishing people for doing so should not even be possible by the owning company. However, never having actually owned an Apple product and having no intent on ever buying one I can say, for the moment, that this issue doesn't really bother me in the slightest. My PS3 on the other hand ...

So, the next time you or someone else asks me why I don't own a Macbook, why I have never owned an iPhone and why I use an assortment of alternative products to fill the apparent 'gap' that is my technological and social life that is so very important ... I will just link you this post. I think it will still be relevant at the time. Generally speaking though, I don't really care. You can use whatever you want. Just let me do the same.

Note: Yes, I am aware that a lot of the pictorial and video based content is outdated. It is more there for entertainment value.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Portal Wombat

Well then. Here we are again. It is late at night and I am bored and so I shall write some drivel about games. You are lost, possibly confused and/or on hard drugs, attempting to read this drivel. I commend your efforts, but I also question them. Surely there is something else better you can be doing.

Nevertheless ... games. I assume the reason you are here is to read my biased and sometimes confounded opinion on them, so here we go. First off the recent list would be Portal 2. Now, I wouldn't call myself a massive fan of Portal. The original was a good game, don't get me wrong, but I am not fanatical about the series. To me they provide an interesting but forgettable challenge that doesn't really invite me to go and replay them again. Or at least until I know I have forgotten all of the puzzles, because essentially that is what Portal 2 is. Puzzles involving portals with an interesting (and humorous) story thrown over the top. This time round, Valve have gone to great lengths to tell a compelling story exploring various historical aspects of the Aperture Science company and exposing its many abandoned locales to the player. These make for sometimes frustrating puzzle environments as you look for that one hidden bit of white-wall to put your orange portal on to walk/fly through to get to the next area. Certain new technologies and 'goo' types make for interesting portal useage which can be interesting to uncover the first time around. The coop is a bit more of a brain-buster than the singleplayer providing much more difficult challenges involving synchronization of player actions and using each other's portals appropriately. Still, not a game I think I will revisit the singleplayer any time soon. Interesting, entertaining ... but otherwise forgettable. I would love to see what the mod community comes up with though.

Crysis 2. I'm kinda scratching my head as to how I should approach this one. I probably think the best way to describe my opinion of Crysis 2 is like this: I hate cities. I hate them in real life and I hate them in games. They are visually unimpressive and unless designed properly, provide incredibly static, linear and boring game play, which Crysis 2 very much was in my opinion. Even if its New York. The overused, cliché of a city always being destroyed by a monster, aliens or crime overlord just really doesn't do it for me. It's not really even because it is a city. If it were Tokyo, Cairo or even Berlin I probably wouldn't have hated the environment so much. It's because it's an American city that I got pissed off with it. I don't believe I have made an Americanisation rant when it comes to games, and maybe I shouldn't, but to an extent it is true. Especially in recent times with military themed shooters. Oh yes, various American themed forces are here to save the world (i.e. Americans) from enemy X from taking over America ... in America. The rest of the world doesn't matter because America is the centre of the world. It is also partly because the environment is such a downgrade from the original game. In the original Crysis I was running Koreans over on beaches, stalking them through jungles and hiding from aliens in the snow. I was on a holiday! Now? Oh ... you are funneling me towards yet another subway. Walk in a straight line for 200 yards along this street, right. You want me to find another guy in another building? I swear this building is an exact replica of the one that was destroyed in the last 10 minute cutscene you forced me to watch, and you don't want to get me started on the cutscenes. We'll also leave out the whole console-isation and catering for the lowest common denominator (i.e. consoles) technologically, this time :). My overall opinion? Crysis was much better. Maybe not visually (pretty damn close) but singleplayer and multiplayer wise (Crysis Wars), it shits all over Crysis 2.


Finally, the most recent game I have been playing around with is in fact banned in this country. I'll save that topic for another time. In the meantime, I will say that Mortal Kombat is something I have looked forward to for awhile, and it was definitely worth the wait. I personally believe it is the best fighting game out in recent years and should help raise the bar concerning how lacklustre the genre has been lately. While it is true that fighting games are all really about the fight, the footsies, the dueling between two combatants (sif use a K), there really is no excuse for major titles being released to ONLY be about that. MvC3 is a classic example with very little to offer outside its raw game play. Needless to say, they get boring quickly, especially for the casual player. What MK does differently is add pretty much what every fighting game should have had in the past 5 years. Multiple game modes, a ... really good story mode (seriously), cooperative/tag team modes (which are incredibly fun), an enormous list of unlockables and decent tutorials to slowly break in new players to the genre. It is also a decent fighter, not as complex mechanically as something like SSFIV or MvC3 and not as memory game/buttonmashy as Tekken. It sits snugly somewhere in between. An example of this working effectively can be seen in the new X-Ray moves, which is basically an accumulation of bonus 'energy' from taking/dealing damage. It is similar to Street Fighter's Ultra/Super bars except for one distinct property: its execution. Two buttons, the same two for every character. Dead simple. Why is this good? Well, it means that everyone can get a chance to pull off impressive signature moves at some point regardless of the character they are controlling. How is this balanced? They are blockable, don't have high chip/guard damage, and like in SSFIV, are not so easy to actually get off on a smart player ... but at least you can 'perform' them without breaking your thumbs or brain farting. If you buy one fighting game this year I would highly recommend buying MK. How you go about doing that is up to you.