Wow, it’s been a while. As I’ve said before, there are three possible reasons for stalled updates – this time around, it’s a combination of two of them: first of all, since I last wrote a post, I’ve been extremely busy with work. I’ve finally been moved full-time onto our company’s real game project. (Did I mention that?) And for the last month or two, I’ve been the only engineer allocated to it 100%. That means I was tasked with the fun responsibility of architecting the core framework for some pretty beefy game systems. This generally involved gutting our last project and starting from scratch for a lot of different things. Of course I can’t go into details, but I will say I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished in the little time I’ve had. And let me tell you – that ish is genuine. We ain’t in no Farmville anymore.
The new team is awesome – we’re unified, we’re focused, we’re driven, we’re inspired, and quite frankly, we want to be revolutionary. I’m loving the ride, and assuming we can shoulder-butt our lofty ideals past the bottom-lining execs, we might actually have a real and enjoyable game on our hands.
The other big news – my wife quit her job. She’s a full-time stay-at-home mom, now. This has been the best thing that’s happened to me since landing my current job. We save on childcare costs, she gets to spend more time with our kid, she gets to work more on her various side projects for an alternative income stream, and most importantly, she relieves the stress of having to come home from work just to wage war against an ever-growing queue of unfinished household chores. This whole thing was actually her idea – and I am so grateful for the way it’s turned out so far. She’s been taking care of business like a champ.
Which brings me to the second reason for the dearth of updates: now that I’m not responsible for nearly as much of the housework as before, I’ve had a lot more free time, which, for me, means games.
Since I last wrote, I’ve started playing League of Legends. ‘Bout time, yeah, I know. I was running an interview for my company and the topic came up, and I felt ashamed for not being familiar enough with the title after countless recommendations from others. So I figured it was time to see what all of the fuss was about. It turns out – the game is actually awesome. (Surprise surprise!) While I don’t particularly like the length of LoL games (given my still mostly busy lifestyle), the gameplay is chill enough to deal with it. I assumed it’d be as stressful as a Starcraft 2 match, but it’s ended up playing out at an enjoyable and mostly-stress-free pace. I spent most of my first ten summoner levels just grinding it out in co-op vs. AI mode, but I recently took the dive into PvP. The competitive barrier to entry is definitely manageable, unlike the DotA genre’s abusive RTS stepfather. You know those morons in your WoW PUGs that never followed instructions and kept getting themselves killed before finally ragequitting amid a flurry of lame excuses? You’ll see a lot of those in LoL – but at least there’s just as much chance of them being on your opponent‘s team as yours. That’s how it is at my level of play, anyway.
Despite the slow pace, though, LoL has already provided its fair share of ridiculously satisfying moments. In the few PvP games I’ve played, a large fraction of them involved our team coming back from certain defeat to win the game. And primarily playing a character that excels at pushing (Sivir), I’ve experienced no better feeling than to rally a coordinated, fatal charge into the opponent’s base. In one game, a couple of my random teammates said I played the best Sivir they’d ever seen. They clearly hadn’t been playing long. But that didn’t make me beam any less at the compliment.
I was actually on the brink of doing a “Playing to Win” series of posts on learning to play competitive LoL, but after playing it a while, it just didn’t feel appropriate. I was actually okay at the game. I didn’t feel totally helpless playing it like I did with RTS games. Also, at higher levels, I imagine much of a player’s success is going to depend on teamwork. Unfortunately, I don’t have a regular group of friends that I can play and train with. Besides, there’s no way I’d be able to coordinate sessions on a regular basis, given my hectic lifestyle, so trying to master the intricacies of team strategies is just not feasible at the moment.
So anyway, aside from that, let’s see… I participated in the Steam Summer Camp events that occurred over the past few weeks. I also got sucked into buying a couple more games and playing some of the ones I bought during the winter sale. I finally finished Portal 2 co-op with a buddy (stayed up into the wee hours of the night, in fact, so we could score one last summer camp ticket). I started playing Magicka with that same buddy. Hilarity ensued. That game drops pop-culture references at a blistering speed. And we get killed in the most amusing ways. Among other games I’ve started: Terraria, Fate of the World, Frozen Synapse, King Arthur – The Role-playing Wargame, and Rohrer’s Inside a Star-Filled Sky.
Oh, and I also managed to finished Zeno Clash – quite possibly the trippiest virtual world I’ve ever traversed. There seemed like so much narrative potential. The game had several intriguing characters, and there were ample opportunities to make the uninhibited Corwids into some strong metaphors, but in the end, I didn’t end up getting any sense of meaning. The main storyline also falls flat. The game leads up to a big reveal, but you could see the “secret” coming from a mile away, and it’s really not all that interesting. To make things worse, there was little to no resolution to the whole story. It just ends. In any case, at least the melee combat was well done.
So that’s it for me and my update. I hope to get back into my weekly stride. Hold me to it.
Oh and I just remembered – Amazon discontinued their affiliate program in California because of some new, aggressive (read: stupid) tax laws, which means I have little reason to put those links at the bottom of my posts anymore. Those’ll go away shortly. Way to promote business in your already floundering state, California…