Oh Riot, will you never learn?

This isn't working.

You know, I hate to write this post again, but repetition as a method for conditioning behavior is tried and true, and frankly I don’t know what else we can do. I’ve tried to appeal to logic, to cite examples of effective communication strategies, to state again and again that players want information and that the information we want should be readily accessible, but Riot continues to drop the ball and seems to be committed to doing so.

It’s Tuesday. What’s Tuesday? Tuesday is patch day. Don’t give me any of this “we patch when patches are ready,” crap. Nope. Tuesday is patch day. Why? Because the vast majority of patches go out on Tuesday. Because humans are creatures of habit. Because your customer base prefers a consistent update schedule.

Does every patch have to go out on Tuesday? Of course not. As is the case with today’s patch, things come up. However, when things come up, the changes need to be communicated to the user base in a timely fashion. The message should be clear, concise, and easy to find. I found the explanation of the delay by going to CLG’s redtracker–which remains a superior tool to Riot’s own because it threads red responses, but that’s another issue entirely–and finding RiotRara quoting RiotDaemon from another thread, which was also asking for the patch notes. RiotRara also posted the following:

Check out the Service Status forums. I will no longer be posting these kinds of threads in GD because they don’t belong here.

The Service Status forum is a new sub-forum, which on some level I can appreciate. Riot is trying to compartmentalize information to make it more accessible. Unfortunately, the effort is sort of half-assed. There is no indication on the home page that this kind of information is available or where it might be available. As far as posts “belonging” anywhere, General Discussion is the most used sub-forum Riot has. That probably won’t change any time soon. I found the post directing me to Service Status in General Discussion. Without that post, I wouldn’t know where to get the information. What was wrong with the old banner system? Granted, I don’t think that was perfect, but it was certainly better than a random post in one of the likely thousands of posts asking for information about the patch.

Like I said, I’m tired of talking about this, which is really to say I’m tired of it being an issue. Players shouldn’t have to hunt for this kind of information.

Ziggs skill list announced

Ziggs

Riot has released the official skill list for the new coolest-champion-I’ve-seen-in-a-long-time, Ziggs. I don’t know what it is about his splash art that makes me so happy. Maybe it’s that he looks so happy…to be blowing things up. That said, I’m really curious to see how his skills will play out. He seems to be built around serious lane and positioning control. That could make him a powerful choice in mid with strong ganking abilities. I don’t really see him doing well in side lanes.

Short Fuse (Passive) – Every 12 seconds Ziggs’ next basic attack deals bonus magic damage. This cooldown is reduced whenever Ziggs uses an ability.

Bouncing Bomb – Ziggs throws a bouncing bomb that deals magic damage.

Satchel Charge – Ziggs flings an explosive charge that detonates after 4 seconds, or when this ability is activated again. The explosion deals magic damage to enemies, knocking them away. Ziggs is also knocked away, but takes no damage.

Hexplosive Minefield – Ziggs scatters proximity mines that detonate on enemy contact, dealing magic damage and slowing.

Mega Inferno Bomb (Ultimate) – Ziggs deploys his ultimate creation, the Mega Inferno Bomb, hurling it an enormous distance, Enemies in the primary blast zone take more damage than those further away.

Most of these skills are pretty self-explanatory; I wonder about the skills’ range and visibility, and the latter only really applies to the proxy mines. It looks from the screenshot like the mines are visible, which is probably for the best. With the rest of his skills, an invisible minefield would be a little ridiculous. The only real question, then, is whether his range can compete with other AP carries in mid or not.

I’ll be interested to see his Champion Spotlight. I’m a little bummed out that I won’t have the IP to buy him on release, but I’m sure I’ll see him enough on launch day to give some basic impressions.

Learning Invoker in DotA 2

Invoker.

I was never an Invoker player. Something about constantly having to bring up his spell list and, frankly, a lack of real interest just kept me from learning him in any serious capacity. I could cast a couple spells, but for the most part I was just a bumbling fool, awkwardly trying to punch in commands with what felt like hooves. I miskeyed everything. I don’t know if I’m just more dexterous now or if the world of keyboard has changed so much, but I’m really interested in picking up Invoker.

I know, I know. Everyone and his mother plays Invoker. It’s for good reason, though. Invoker is an insanely strong character, and by insanely strong I mean overpowered. His utility cannot be matched and he performs equally well on offense and defense. He’s also extremely mobile, has huge lane presence, excellent health regen, and a variety of AoE crowd control skills. Yeah, he’s a little strong, and naturally I want to play him.

The best I can describe Invoker to anyone who hasn’t played DotA is that he’s like a game of Magicka within a MOBA. He requires the player to input combos for spells which are then “invoked” to be selected. At any given time, Invoker can have two skills queued up. Each skill has its own cooldown, so once cast, he can switch to invoke another spell, cycling through as often as necessary. Once he has a decent item farm, his only limitations are the cooldown of his invoke power and the cooldowns of each of his spells.

He also diverges from the standard stat system by employing three orbs that he can change to affect his stats. Quas, his first stat, gives him health regen and bonus strength. Wex, his second stat, gives him attack speed, move speed, and bonus agility. Exort, his third stat, gives him damage and bonus intelligence. The stat bonuses are permanent, but the qualities he gains from each orb vary depending on what he has active at the time. It’s a crazy system that ends up playing very dynamically on the field.

I’m having an absolute blast learning how to play him – kind of reminds me of the first time Shaco really clicked for me in League.

Lee Sin finally catching a nerf

They say a watched pot never boils. I say a watched developer never makes overdue changes. Stop watching, people, and Riot just might make a few changes. It looks like Lee Sin is finally going to get a decent nerf in the upcoming patch. It isn’t huge. It’s isn’t tiny. It is a moderately-sized nerf that could actually slow down his jungling and hurt his damage a little bit. I know, I can hardly think of anything to say.

In the patch preview, Morello categorized the Lee Sin nerfs thusly: “We want Lee Sin players to build damage to get damage.” A revolutionary concept. I’m just happy to see one of the longest-standing top-tier junglers finally get a light tap to the genitals. He’ll still be strong, but he won’t be quite so easy.

For the rest of the patch, Jax is getting some new survivability on Counter Strike and Riot is changing the critical chance mastery into attack damage per level. I’m actually really happy about that second change. I’ve had several games in which an opponent — sometimes even an AP carry — gets an early two crits in a row and just screws me out of lane. Nice to see that kind of stuff disappearing.

Clinkz joins the DotA 2 lineup

Clinkz

Yesterday, Valve added Clinkz to the DotA 2 lineup along with a few minor bug fixes. You might think it would be difficult to get into a Thursday evening update schedule, but Riot patches were late often enough that I feel right at home. I kid, I kid. You would know if you could see my adorable yet handsome winking face.

ANYWAY, I’m not overly thrilled to see another invisible hero added to the mix, but Clinkz is soft enough that I usually find him easy to counter. He has a very weak early game and, with a little coordination, can be nothing more than a nuisance. I still wonder why invisibility was ever thought to be a good thing in MOBA games. I understand to a degree that DotA was built on the Warcraft engine, and since Warcraft allowed for the mechanic, DotA designers could add a little variety by including those kinds of mechanics. We’re so far past that point, though, I would think developers had come up with a better way to handle stealth.

But enough about all that. For now, Clinkz is in the DotA 2 beta. Huzzah. It’s another hero on the list. Valve did mention in the Clinkz blog post that they will “change the way we ship new content to you every week,” beginning with next week’s patch. I wonder if that means we’ll start seeing more hero releases at smaller intervals, or if it is truly just a new content delivery method (though I don’t know what that would be – the current system is just using Steam).

Riot’s spectator mode will feature friend list drop-ins

Spectator Mode.

One of my absolute favorite features from DotA 2 is the ability to drop in and watch in-progress games that my friends are playing. I always thought this would be a little strange, but when I’m waiting for them to finish or we’re just hanging out in vent, it’s weirdly enjoyable to watch their games play out. For competitive players this also has obvious benefits. There are downsides, like having friends heckle you for events that transpired two minutes in the past. All the same, I think it’s a great feature and the fact that it can be so easily accessed via the Steam buddy list is awesome.

It sounds like Riot’s own spectator mode will host the same feature. RJCombo said on the official forums, “Yes. The feature currently on PBE allows you to drop-in to normal and ranked games in progress (on your friends list) as a spectator.” Good on you, Riot. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect Riot to get spectator mode right, and I gave up on waiting for it to release a long, long time ago. I am glad to know that they see the value in this kind of functionality though and that it might be closer than we all think.

Ziggs, the Hexplosives Expert sneak peek

Riot has posted both the art spotlight and the sneak peek for Ziggs, the Hexplosives Expert. I really feel like they missed an opportunity for “Hexpert” but since he doesn’t actually hex anything I suppose I’ll let it slide.

I don’t know if it’s just my distance from League of Legends these days, but this guy looks awesome. I love the splash art, and I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some sort of homage to my good friend from DotA, Techies, going on here. Keep an eye peeled for his skill list some time this upcoming weekend. I’ll definitely be interested to see what he can do, even if I don’t have the IP to pick him up on release day.

Overgrowth combat looks incredible

I’m not sure where I heard about Overgrowth but I haven’t been able to stop watching combat videos ever since. Overgrowth appears to be a forthcoming action/adventure title from indie dev Wolfire Games. The star? A ninja bunny. Sounds like a win if you ask me.

I have a serious soft spot for slashers, particularly slashers that don’t take themselves too seriously. This game looks like the perfect blend of crazy kung-fu antics and super silly shenanigans. I mean, you play as a bunny.

Be sure to head over to the Wolfire Games page to check out development progress. By pre-ordering the game you can get access to the Overgrowth beta.

Pulsefire Ezreal video pops up on YouTube

There is a fairly serious, or at the very least vocal contingent of players who have been anxiously awaiting the release of Ezreal’s legendary skin, Pulsefire Ezreal. The skin is a pretty clear homage to the Mega Man series and, from the splash art, looks pretty cool. The above video popped up today, showing a player using the skin in game. The video only shows off his ult, but you can tell the animation has been given a healthy spark.

Still no word on a release date for this bad boy.

LoL to DotA: The Shop

It seems almost foolish to have to dedicate an entire post to the shop differences between LoL and DotA but trust me, it’s necessary. Again, this is one of those things I thought League did really well, and for the most part I still prefer League’s shop, if only for its organization. The DotA system does have some perks, though, which I’ll cover a bit later.

It’s impossible to talk about the DotA shop system without first discussing the differences in gold, which is where the shop differences really originate. In LoL, your gold is your gold unless you spend it. In DotA, gold can be lost on death, depending on a few different factors. Gold is divided into reliable and unreliable gold. Unreliable gold, as you probably guessed, is the gold that gets lost when you die. Reliable gold is yours no matter what. As you save more and more gold for more expensive items, more of your gold becomes unreliable. However, when you buy items you buy with your unreliable gold first, which is why shopping frequently is important.

In DotA, players can use the main shop anytime, anywhere. Yes, you can shop from your lane. Items that are purchased remotely go to each player’s individual stash. Those items can then be retrieved by either visiting base or sending a courier to retrieve them. In most games, each team will purchase a courier for the purposes of hauling items to remote locations. It’s a nice system, and it can keep you in lane for a very long time.

DotA also has a “secret shop” hidden in the same place in each team’s jungle. The secret shop contains different items from the main shop and can only be accessed by standing next to it or sending a courier to do the same. Each side lane also has a “side shop,” which contains a mix of items from both the main and secret shops. This can all be a bit confusing, but that’s the DotA way. At the very least, Valve has tried to make the experience a little less frustrating by placing a small “S” symbol on the icon of any item that is only purchasable via the secret shop. If a player tries to buy an item from the secret shop while out of range, Valve implemented a “shop not in range” error that also pings the map so the player knows where to go to buy the items.

The only other significant difference in my mind is the presence of actual recipe items. When a player buys Madred’s Bloodrazor in League of Legends, there is no 775g item that combines the components into the actual item. It is simply a combine cost that automatically happens. With DotA, there are actual recipe items. This is important because it allows the player to spend unreliable gold on a recipe though they might not be able to afford another component. It’s also important because it is possible to accidentally buy duplicate recipes, which is just no good. As in LoL, where I occasionally buy double boots, I sometimes find myself with double Yasha recipes in DotA. Be aware of this.

As with any MOBA, your best bet for understand the shop is to simply look through it. Play a bot game or find a functioning web tool that works like the shop so you can learn which items are purchased at which shop. For me, I always learned best by playing a couple characters that I really enjoyed, trying a few different builds and stumbling across items that way. Once I’ve seen them in shop a few times it gets much easier to remember how to find them.

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