I would never expect a decent LoL article to come out of a radio station, but I suppose as games gain traction in the media we’ll start seeing some decent content everywhere. A Grand Rapids station put together a quick list of 10 old mechanics in League of Legends that were (mostly) broken. It’s an interesting look back at the game if you haven’t been playing for more than 6 months, especially since the post includes video.
I’ll say my favorite “remember when” from this list is the old brush system. Dear god. Riot was one brush-crazed company back in the day. That shit was everywhere. Innervating Locket was also an interesting item, though several strong characters made it ridiculously broken. I didn’t mind it terribly much on Gragas, mostly because AP Gragas is so much scarier than pure tank Gragas. Locket Udyr though? That was broken. Pair Udyr, Sona, and Gragas, get them all to buy Locket and you have one unstoppable push comp. As annoying as it was to see that comp played, I have to say, it added some flavor to the game.
If I were at Riot, I would be looking at one of DotA 2′s features above all others: spectator mode. The spectator options in DotA 2 are absolutely incredible, and could serve to reduce the learning curve for getting into the game more than any feature in a modern MOBA. With Riot’s focus on the competitive scene, a robust spectator mode is an absolute necessity, and Riot has taken far too long to release the feature to the general public.
Valve, on the other hand, has an incredible setup, complete with the ability to download and save any of your recent replays. In fact, it’s hard to talk about the DotA 2 spectator mode without mentioning the fluidity of the client. While queued for a match, players can drop in and spectate on any of the public games being played. Yes, any of them. While the list could use a little more organization, the filter system allows a player to find recent games by hero, player, and skill level, among other criteria, as well as watch games that are live and in progress, albeit with a delay.
I have never been one for livestreams. I watch a tournament game here and there, but for the most part I don’t have a lot of interest in watching. Not just watching, anyway. Certainly not watching people I don’t know. With DotA 2, though, I can jump straight in and watch the games my friends are currently playing. It’s incredibly easy, and it opens up all kinds of room for multiple tournament streams. Don’t like the casters at one site? Each game can have up to 64 spectators, so finding a tourney stream from the site you love could be very easy.
As I mentioned above, all of this can be done while in queue for a game of my own. That’s huge. I think it might be one of the features that saves DotA from the inevitable overwhelming burden of knowledge that 100+ heroes can put on a new player. Being able to see a hero played and see some of the builds out there could help new players bridge the knowledge gap they face from the start of their very first game.
My girlfriend and I are headed on a road trip up to Ohio this coming weekend to spend 10 days or so with our families. We’ve been preparing for the trip for the better part of the week so far – buying snacks for the road, doing laundry, all the boring stuff you do before a road trip. We also wanted to get together with some friends before taking off, which tonight meant dollar tacos at a local bar. They’re good too – way beyond fast food fare, replete with cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of cheese.
A friend turned to me at one point during the meal and said, “I just read that League of Legends has 15 million subscribers. That’s huge, right?” Granted, he knows that’s the game I write about, but he’s not a particularly avid gamer, and certainly not a PC gamer. Still, he not only knew the game, he knew the numbers, and that speaks volumes more than any number could.
To say that League of Legends holds a special place in the gaming industry would be a gross understatement. At the beginning of the week, Marc Merrill gave us proof of the game’s success in numbers so big I couldn’t begin to break them down. My conversation over dollar tacos tonight gave me tangible evidence of LoL’s unique position in the industry.
I’m tempted to quote Spider-Man here, but I think I’ll just say this: keep earning it, Riot. Riot earned my loyalty to the game by honing one of the most energetic and aggressive new genres into an excellent play experience. To keep my loyalty, they need to give us something great for Season Two. I absolutely think they can do, but I’ve also been burned before, and that’s not a good feeling going into Season Two. Here’s hoping the game gets the support it needs. Here’s hoping that six months from now I have random people rattling off news stories about a game over dinner.
If you spent some time on the forums today you might have noticed a higher than average amount of unrest about Riot’s development cycle. Among the many lessons the internet has taught is the fact that the internet and its denizens do not forget a date, a time frame, or anything that sounds vaguely like a promise. It’s the reason developers are unwilling to lay down release dates that aren’t absolutely set in stone.
One of the more prominent threads today asked for a timeline on achievements, a feature that has had a tab in the PvP.net client for quite a while but hasn’t received a whole lot of airtime. Phreak stepped in today to quell any hopes that we might see achievements soon, pointing out that balance changes and features like the Tribunal are higher on the totem pole. The thread quickly filled with complaints that even those features high up on Riot’s to-do list haven’t been done, that is until Riot did something I never saw coming: Riot released the Tribunal.
Technically, the company is calling it a pre-release as it will only be accessible to summoners that have achieved level 30. I use the future tense because shortly after the official pre-release it seems interest in the feature rocked the Riot servers and brought the website crashing down. So now we sit, patiently waiting out a 4-hour maintenance window to see what this new feature, which was first announced in January, is all about.
It seems like a strange confluence of events that Tribunal would release on one of the most active forum complaining days I’ve seen in months. I’m not saying Riot made the release based on the griping, but rather that Riot’s timing is either perfect or perfectly awful.
If Tribunal works, if summoners really get behind the idea of doling out justice to the grouchy bastards that ruin so many games, the system could be a real boon for the community. I think it could definitely lift spirits enough to carry people into Season Two at the least, about which we’ll hopefully get some news over the next couple weeks. There’s also a solid chance that it will generally improve behavior in game, which I think everyone would welcome.
Tribunal could be a flop, though. I know a lot of people who have been waiting a long time for the League’s gameplay to evolve, something that hasn’t happened in quite some time, at least not for veterans of the game and genre. While Battle Training and Co-op vs. AI are certainly gameplay features, the first has no value to seasoned summoners and I would consider the second situational at best. If Tribunal doesn’t capture our collective attention, I can already hear the gnashing of teeth about the informal priority list Phreak served up today. As I mentioned earlier, the internet doesn’t forget, and they certainly won’t forget this one, even if Phreak was just giving an example.
Welcome back, everybody. I hope you’ve been enjoying your holidays so far. My heart goes out to those of you at work today, so I’ll be trying to put some posts up to help fill your time at the office. My own holidays have been great (thanks for asking), though I’ve probably gained a solid ten pounds as a result of my own crippling gluttony.
The first bit of news today is that Riot has opened the League of Legends merchandise store. As of right now, you can pick up a graphic T-shirt with a variety of champions for about $20. You can also have the T-shirt customized with your summoner name, which is pretty nerd-chic. There are also posters on sale for $10.
I’m guessing we’ll see the typical gaming swag added to the store over the next couple weeks. Coffee mugs, hats, hoodies, etc, should all be making an appearance, but I’ll be interested to see if they come up with something cool. The shirts are pretty cool and the prices are reasonable. If you’ve got some extra holiday cash to spend, get out there and spend it.
I got an interesting email today, the contents of which you can find above. That’s right, I’m under investigation for potential violations of the Summoner’s Code. To say the least, I’m shocked.
I won’t deny that I rage from time to time. I absolutely do, though recently I can only think of two games in which I may have been reportable, and in both cases I was retaliating. That doesn’t make it okay, but it’s not like I’m running around verbally abusing people without provocation. Frankly, it can be tough to keep it cool when a player who is 0-11 by 15 minutes is berating his teammates for their failures to “support him.” Again, I’m not saying I’m in the right. It is just a game, and raging doesn’t do me any good (or anyone else), but sometimes my frustration comes out my fingers.
The second issue is that I haven’t really been playing that much recently. Either I’ve been reported in every one of my recent games, or action is being taken long after the complaints were originally made. I suppose it could also be that Riot has a “report threshold,” past which you get investigated, regardless of the amount time that has passed since your last report.
I’ll certainly keep you guys up to date. I think I keep a pretty level head for the most part, so I doubt too much will happen. It will be interesting to see how the League of Legends penal system works from the inside.
I hope you all got to enjoy a lovely holiday (those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, anyway) and have the good fortune to slowly get back to work today. I woke up early to get caught up on all the goings on over the weekend. It was nice to spend a few days unconnected, but I always start to feel a bit panicked when I see more than a hundred emails, a slew of comments, and all the forum posts/RSS feeds I have to catch up on. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. A lot went down over the weekend so let’s get caught up, shall we.
First, we got Trundle’s official skill list. I’ll be covering that in another post today. Riot also teased what is likely the Olaf legendary skin, Brolaf.
Riot also prepped for the Noxus vs. Ionia event, for which select summoners will be representing the two nations as they aim to resolve their conflict. I think this is a pretty cool lore-based event. I’m always happy to see the game offer a limited field of champions. It definitely makes things more interesting. You can read more about the event at the official forum post. A livestream of the match will be available on December 10th.
Some of you may recognize the name Jon St. John. Yeah, he has a badass name in real life, but he’s also done voice acting for one well-known and incredibly delayed badass: Duke Nukem. Well, Jon St. John has a new project, and one that could be of interest to LoL players. He’s doing voice acting for Valve’s version of DotA.
I don’t really have any details, and frankly, the DotA moniker comes from JSJ, not from Valve. What we do know is that Valve hired IceFrog (the mind behind DotA (along with Zileas)) to make something to please DotA fans. Jon St. John posted to his Twitter account this weekend that he has been doing voice work for DotA at Valve Software. I’m not sure why he would call out the name of the game without hearing it from Valve, and if they didn’t give him the go ahead, you can bet he wouldn’t be talking about it.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot for the LoL community, but it could be bad news for any HoN fans out there. I’ve played a bit of HoN and been completely unimpressed, so it’s not like the name DotA will kill a game like LoL. It could kill HoN, though, especially with the kind of money Valve has. What could be a problem for LoL is just that – the money.
Valve could very easily sweep in on LoL territory with more bank, more developers, but more importantly, more support. With better server uptime and the bankroll to back a quicker development cycle, Valve could make a dent in the LoL player base. That’s not to say Valve will do that, just that it could with the resources it has. Valve was notoriously slow with some of the TF2 developments, though, even if TF2 has a massive player base. Let’s also not forget that IceFrog did work on HoN, and we can all see how well that’s going.
In short, I think it’s totally possible that Valve is working up a DotA clone and it has the potential to make a bit of a stink for the big players in the MOBA world. There are so many variables, though, that Valve has a long way to go before
I know from the comments that a couple of you have been wondering where I’ve been. Posts have been a little sporadic over the last week, but I can happily invoke Paul Newman from The Color of Money when I say, “Baby, I’m back!” I had been busy with some other projects for work and I got out of town over the holiday weekend to visit good friends from college.
I’ll have full updates on the changes to LoL over the course of the day today, but in the meantime, here are a few updates from my weekend in upstate PA. First, Hudson Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey is incredible, and a great bottle to share with three other friends. Using grubs on a hot day can land you some enormous bass. Halo 2 on a LAN is still one of the best ways to wait out a rainstorm and always bring chips when there’s salsa or you’ll be horribly disappointed.
The patch that introduces Garen has officially gone live on the Test Realm. So far I’ve only had the chance to sneak two games, one of which crashed in epic fashion so I’ll have to hold out on the real feedback. I can give some impressions, though, regarding the newest addition to the League of Legends list of champions.
First, I can’t help but think that Garen is the Tryndamere remake and they’re just going to delete Tryndamere from the game. Obviously I don’t really believe that, but if you look at his skills there are some perplexing similarities. Judgement is like Spinning Slash, but with much greater damage output potential and slow immunity. Courage reduces incoming damage (a bit like Mocking Shout). He has an active skill that deals extra damage and crits and, just for good measure, silences too. His ult is definitely different but for overall “feel” I’d say the two are a close pair.
I’ll try to get another game in tonight but I’ll definitely have some more detailed analysis on the Garen playstyle tomorrow.