Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For Me, Summer Hath Ended

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Things may get sparse around here for the next three months. Football season has officially begun (for Indiana High Schools anyway). As a volunteer coach at the varsity level, I'm kept pretty busy. It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun.

The downside is that gaming takes a back seat. I think LoL will be easy to squeeze in a game here or there, but I'm not sure how much I'll have to write about. We'll see how it goes.

MoP looks like it's going to come out right smack in the middle of our season. GenCon Indy is also coming up. I'm sure I'll find ways to experience both.

I'm going to try my darnedest to dig into Warlock stuff once MoP hits. Since I started this blog, it's pretty much been my non-official policy to wait for things to go live before I really delve into them. Part of that was the lack of access earlier in WoW. These days, it seems like open beta is more hype than testing, and by the time something has gone live, others have already hashed it out. Doesn't work well for me because I actually prefer to wait until release. Call it old fashioned, or something. I just can't really get excited for extended beta play when it's all going to be reset or changed.

For what it's worth, I don't re-watch many books or movies. Even favorites. I suppose I just find it hard to re-bottle lightning. Diff'rent strokes and all that.

The point is that I want to fully experience something... once. That's it. I don't want to waste the good surprise on beta. I think it makes me a sucky Warlock blogger, though. There are plenty of others that will cover what I do not, and then what do I have to add?

The good news is that I've never really held myself within the delusion that y'all are coming here to be told how to play your class. Likely, you get plenty of that elsewhere. People come to KeS for the attitude and the atmosphere. (So maybe I just need to wear more flair). Thus, I'll be writing about MoP when it drops. If it's all a repeat to you, hopefully it's at least an entertaining repeat. That's all I can offer.

I suppose I just wanted to write this post today to reaffirm the direction of the blog. I've been writing a lot about other games, but once there are live, new things to talk about in WoW... I don't plan on ditching. Now, if MoP sucks... eh, I'll still call myself a Warlock and write here. It's fun, and writing is simply what I do.

Thanks for making it worth something by reading.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Being Called a Noob

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I've been called a lot of names in my life. Who hasn't?A lot of them were actually fitting. Yes, even one's meant to mock.

In a gamer's life, few insults a hurled as vehemently as "noob." Or even the alternate spellings: n00b, newb, nub (where's my umlaut key? cntrl+???). They all amount to the same thing. Someone feels the urge to deride your lack of mastery of a game or gaming concept.

I talked about my graduation in League of Legends earlier this week. The gameplay ante has been upped. So too has the trash talking.

Last night, I was accused of being a noob for the 572nd career time. Because I keep track of each time. It means that much to me.

And as I was sitting there, trying to come up with a smartass comeback (the only acknowledge method for responding to the comment, if you deign respond), I suddenly had a change of heart. I realized I've only been playing LoL for a couple weeks. I was a noob!

Then I wonder, wtf is this dude's problem? It's not like I'm playing ranked matches at Summoner level 30. This is level 12, normal mode, blind pick. Summoner's Rift map. What did this person expect?

So I'm being a bit facetious. A very large part of me expects immature behavior any time I venture into a PvP setting. I'm fairly confident in my gaming competency, and not afraid to learn in those areas where I may be deficient. Which is why I strive to block out the nerd rage and sift for the nuggets of wisdom hidden within "noob" statements. Because, all joking aside, there is often a lesson tucked somewhere in there. If you can block out the rage, that is.

Not to lend credibility to the trolls, but often players aren't simply pissed to be pissed. I will admit that this is sometimes the case, and often seems like the case, but generally players get pissed for a reason. Something you are or aren't doing is completely obvious to them, in their infinite wisdom, and they believe that they know better. I'm not saying that they're objectively "right." I'm just saying they think they're "right."

If you can figure out what they think they're right about, you can begin to develop impressions on what I'll call "average" gameplay. What is expected from a competent player? What are the moves a team is supposed to make and when? You may not agree with the logic behind them all, but generally behavioral trends will crop up in a game for a reason. If you can identify and understand that reason, you can use that information to your advantage. Being able to anticipate your opponent can pay dividends.

Unfortunately, the two individuals calling the rest of us noobs last night didn't have much in terms of wisdom to offer. I asked several times what they would rather we be doing, or what we were doing wrong. The constructive answer was "don't suck." Mind you, their stats lines were far from impressive. I said something along the lines of: "Yes, I am a noob. What's your excuse?"

That shut them up.

The one pearl I got: Apparently, "assist kills add carry." I have no idea what that statement means. I think it was meant in a bad way, which baffles me. Isn't it good to help each other kill an enemy? And what is "carry?" Anyone care to take a shot at explaining?

Monday, July 23, 2012

LoL - Graduation

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I hit level 12 late last night. This was exciting for me, because it opened the spell "Flash." It's a short teleport spell. From what I've seen, it's going to be incredibly useful. I had been running with the mana regen spell and Ignite (for a finisher). I'm going to keep Ignite.

I've also apparently graduated to the next level of LoL play. I say this based on my experience being matched with random teammates. I'm not sure if there are brackets, or how exactly the matchmaking works, but if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that there's roughly a 1-10 bracket.

Levels 1-10 are characterized with several unique things. First, there's not a lot of strategy. Sure, you get the occasional mouth smurf (a term a learned that seems to mean a high level summoner that has re-rolled an "alt" if you will). But in most cases, you're all newbs. People pick things up at different rates, and have different gaming backgrounds. You're just as likely to get a team that completely stinks, or blow the other team out of The Rift.

The 1-10 bracket is a bit more forgiving. It seems like a lot more folks are feeling out their champion. You can wander closer to the fire without getting burned. You can make mistakes and not always pay for them.

Sometime after 10, I noticed a distinct uptick in play. All of a sudden, people were calling "dibs" on lanes. Rough strategies were outlined. Terminology was used. You'd actually see someone "jungling." None of this is routine until you "graduate."

I'm typically pretty quiet when I play. I like to let my playing (or lack thereof) do the talking. Instead of typing things in, I'm more likely to ping the map. In this respect, I'll bet some folks have suspected me of not speaking English (Spanish speaking players seem to be decently common). I'm just an introvert. It happens.

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm most at home on a mage-type AP carry champion. Morgana is my favorite. I did pretty well on Brand this weekend. I stink up the house on anything melee.

I'm learning that my type of champion is generally assigned to "solo mid," which puts me in the middle lane, alone. It is also a highly sought-after spot. Whenever there are two AP mage-types, the other one is generally quick to "call" mid. And they get real touchy if you encroach on their territory.

There's a lot more intra-team bickering in this second level of play. People enjoy e-peening more. (Hence how I learned what a smurf is.) There are certain players that like to dictate when to do what. For the most part, I'm happy to oblige, but sometimes I suspect they wish to use me as a sacrificial lamb so that they can mop up the kills. That, generally, does not fly.

It's also somewhat humorous when one of these talkative types makes a mistake. It's obviously your fault for not bailing them out. I usually respond with a neutral: "What would you have had me do?" Generally, that is met with silence, or something super-constructive like "don't suck."

I found the "block" button this weekend. Bring up the scoreboard. It's on the right. Little crossed out chat window icon. Very useful.

I also reported a feeder this weekend. We had a player go off the deep-end into a nerd rage, frothing about how awful we were. He/she/it was playing on Ashe, and proceeded to spawn and run straight for the enemy base. Ashe did not veer, did not attack, and just died. Over, and over. And after every death, the summoner said "nice." Obviously, we lost, but I have a hunch a few more people learned about the block and report features, too. Even the other team got in on the reporting, because feeding is no fun for anyone.

It would be unethical reporting if I didn't point out that these asshats were the outliers. I played a good smattering of games, and each game generally with 9 other players. Out of the perhaps 100 or so players I played with this weekend, there were two that I blocked and one that I reported. That's not a bad rate for a PvP-centric game. Heck, that's not a bad rate for any game.

All in all, I've really been pleasantly surprised at the whole League of Legends community. Riot seems to understand their fans, and the fans appreciate the game as presented. People are generally helpful, which is always neat. So, if you notice that I'm on a LoL kick, here... that's why. It's a lot easier to play and write when you feel warm fuzzies about the game and community. This isn't to say the other games I play have deficiencies, just that I'm unabashedly enjoying my LoL time.

Which brings me to my final, newb-tastic question: What is "elo?" Can one of you vets explain it to me? If not, I'm sure Google can...

Friday, July 20, 2012

LoL - Ebb and Flow

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In every game that I've ever played (that has a PvP component), there is an obvious ebb and flow to player skill. Likely, I"m not the only one to notice this. In WoW, I generally knew that weekends were easier in BG's than weekdays. Tuesday nights were rough in arenas, but they calmed down by the time Monday rolled around. Certain holidays threw the normal cycles right out the window. The regular PvP player notices things like this.

A lot was dependent on the type of server you played on. SWTOR was my first experience on an advertised West Coast server. That meant that toward the later end of my own Midwestern playtime was when the masses would start showing up. PvP before that was a bit slower, more relaxed. Also, the queues took longer.

League of Legends is no different. It doesn't have a "reset" day like WoW or TOR. At least, not in terms of dungeons (since, you know, there aren't any). There is a bit of a weekly cycle when you consider the free to play champion offerings for the week. They change on Mondays. Also, I don't really know what sort of server I'm on. It's all one big server, I believe. I think it plops me in the North America region, but I've also seen folks from Brazil in my games. I wonder if East Coast vs West Coast is taken into consideration.

Not that it needs to be. Queue times are quick. And there aren't any capital cities to observe a crowd or lack thereof. I'm just observing things here.

Now, keep in mind that I'm only a level 10 summoner .(Prolly will ding 11 tonight. Go me.) I'm sure things shift a little as you level up, and my opinions are perhaps ill-formed in the first place. Still, I wanted to share what I've observed so far. (For reference, I'm in the Eastern time zone. Also, I'm primarily playing Summoner's Rift, Blind Pick.)
  • Later than 10PM, I'm generally paired with better teammates. Competition seems better as well. "Real" players play late?
  • Along with that, the folks after 10 are more likely to flame you for poor play.
  • Early in the week (Monday being the start of LoL's game week), you're more likely to see characters that summoners own/are comfortable playing.
  • Later in the week is when people are more likely to bust out the freebies. Not always the case (some people jump on the new guys right away), but seems to hold.
  • Along with that, you're more likely to see other skins for champions early in the week. My guess is that people grow bolder as the week goes on, both in terms of the champion they play and the foes they're going to be facing.
  • The few 3v3 matches we're tried have been feast or famine, not sure how it correlates to time, but we either hit very good teams, or very poor teams... nothing in between. Perhaps that's just a function of the smaller game (more emphasis on individual skill, thus just seems starker).
  • Despite the different times, the approximate queue time for me has almost always been under a minute. I think I can count the number of times it's estimated longer on one hand. Actual wait time is always longer, but not by a crazy amount.
  • Not matter what time you play, there is always exactly one (1) player with a crappy connection/computer. Everyone else has finished the pre-game sync and he/she/it is at 9%.
  • As soon as Nikasaur begins talking in a Summoner Showcase, your queue will pop. Doesn't matter if you were just waiting on your buddy to snag a glass of water or were contemplating checking your SimCity Social setup or even if you've actually queued. Seriously, the little video taunts me in the corner. It's all "Watch me, wtf else you gon' do? Facebook? Again? Pschaw!"  And I'm like, "Whatevs. I'll check out some art. It's cultural and junk." BAM. "Wanna finish what you're doing?" "Nah, can't risk it. Someone may choose my champion." (Seriously, the one time I clicked wait, someone snagged Morgana. Though she was free at the time so I shouldn't have been surprised. But they were AWFUL at her. The whole match was like a personal affront to me.) I've made it through the July patch update like seven times. I swear.
Okay, so those last two may have degenerated a bit. I don't really think they have anything to do with, well, anything. But there you have it. Anyone notice any other trends?

Monday, July 16, 2012

LoL - Home On The Ranged

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I took my first tentative steps into the world of the league of the legend of the world of the.... um, what was I saying? Oh yeah, PvP. League of Legends. I upped the ante.

Quite frankly, I probably should have started PvP runs sooner. Trying out a character on AI bots is all well and good, but the true test is against human players. At my low level, I'm not sure there's much of a difference. To be honest, the human players may be easier. It's sort of like the bots are less prone to error, but more predictable. Human players show flashes of inspired play, but will also be derpy on occasion. You trade frustrating deaths for free kills, essentially.

I expect that as I level up, players will become more unforgiving. Thus, AI bots will be more necessary for trying out new characters. For now, I've actually been trying the freebies in PvP games. My experiences have been mixed, but rarely am I a drain on my team. That is to say, I take care not to feed kills. I may not always contribute to the kill count, but I take care not to die a lot as well.

I've learned a few things. First, I'm not so great at the melee playstyle. Every melee toon I've tried so far, I feel like I do a lot of fumbling. I've been on the receiving end of some stellar melee play, where I'm just getting chopped to pieces but Master Yi (and can't run away because F that guy. Seriously). Good melee seems really tough to play.

Ranged is a bit more forgiving. On Morgana, I've become a force to be reckoned with. most games, I'll at least triple my death count. I've become "Legendary" quite a bit. With other ranged toons (Miss Fortune, Sivir), I've had decent success as well. Not quite as effective as I feel I am with Morgana, but generally about double kills v deaths. And in all cases, I stay on the top end of the leveling push.

Oddly, my wife has taken to the melee playstyle. She's been chumming around on Sion, and doing a pretty darned good job. One on one in a lane, she generally wins. And when the two of us share a lane, we tend to do very, very well. Sion is a turret killing machine, and Morgana can bring some nice burst to bear on enemy champions, while offering some support.

Here are a couple of my replies to comments yesterday. I wanted to mention them here because I elaborated a little, and this is an elaboration post. Plus, I got great feedback from folks. So thanks for that.
  • Matticus gave me some stellar tips, and I replied thus: 
    • Re: items - "Typically, I snag a Doran's ring, then rod, then hat, then hourglass. That's been my basic progression and it seems to work out well." 
    • Re: Morgana's Ulti - "The running INTO the crowd takes a bit of getting used to. As a caster, my natural instinct is to run away. I gotta remember that the ulti is "blood in the water" time. Feed, shark, feed!"
  • Diablokls offered a tip about runes, which launched me into a bit of a diatribe on the Free to Play model:
    • "That's really why I'm growing fond of this whole F2P model. I'm a little hesitant on games that gate content behind payments and the like... but a game that lets me choose between grinding (time) and paying (money), I'm okay with that. It's sort of like the company is saying, "We believe in our product, and will let it speak for itself. There are no gimmicks here." The Riot team really seems to put value in their content. The skins are gorgeous, for instance. Purely cosmetic, but you can tell thought and enjoyment goes into them."
  • Also, Mobafire.com was suggested, and I'll second the referral. I'd found the place via Google earlier in the week. Great resource for builds. 
  • I've got a running list of Morgana "alternates" for trial when the free to play rolls around to them. Malzahar and Cassiopeia are on the list.
There's nothing quite like quoting yourself. Am I right? Lazy blogger is lazy.

That's enough for today. Pleasant LoLing. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

LoL - Morgana Ability Primer

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I found the Warlock in League of Legends. Finally. Okay, so she's actually a fallen angel, but she plays like a Warlock, or at least the playstyle feels like coming home to me.

I'd been just randomly choosing characters in my first few play sessions. I love the fact that the free to play champions rotate weekly. It makes a whole lot of sense. You can play every one and never pay or, like me, when you find the one you're looking for, plop down some IP for the character and RP for a cool skin. (I went with Blackthorn, fwiw. Looked awesome.)

I'd been searching for a toon that was both decent at minion farming, but could really bring the pain to champions. So far, I'd felt like I'd either gotten one or the other. They were either bearish to level up, or ineffective at snagging me those all-too-important champion kills. I've done a few melee, a few ranged, and a few glass-cannon mage-types. They all left something to be desired.

I'm sure better/more experienced players than I can make those other toons into stone cold killers. As a Warlock, I require a certain amount of deviousness to my playstyle. While I believe I can play decently with any of the champions, I do have very specific set of skills. Skills that make me a nightmare for a player like you....

The point here is that champions are not one size fits all, at least in my limited experience. I enjoy a specific playstyle (my infatuation with DoTs and corrupted abilities is not unique to WoW, though it doesn't always take the "evil toon" form. For instance, in the old Final Fantasy MMO, I was a Red Mage.) Finding the champion that fit me was pretty much priority #1. Morgana is that champion.

I called this a "primer" and then rambled on for five paragraphs. Apologies. It would have been hard to fill a whole post with abilities though, as in League of Legends you basically have four. Morgana's are as follows:
  • Dark Binding - An aim and fire spell that will root the first thing it hits. Also does a decent amount of damage at higher levels.
  • Tormented Soil - This is a black circle of death. Does damage over time as well as applying a magic debuff. It works well for farming, and is great for weakening champions.
  • Black Shield - Only works against magical attacks, but blocks interrupts and stuns so that you or a buddy can escape.
  • Soul Shackle - The super ability. This one links you up with nearby enemy champions, does a good deal of damage to them, slows them, and explodes if you stay close.This is the champion-killer.
I need to do some research on the optimal order to buy items. I'm sure that information exists, I've just not really looked. For now, I just snag the recommended items in order. I go through mana like crazy. For my marks and seals, I'm focusing on ability buffs, cooldown reductions, and mana regen.

In game, I tend to farm minions from afar, slapped down TS until Soul Shackle is unlocked. I'll alternate between leveling DB and TS, as Dark Binding is useful when running away. I save Black Shield for last, as it seems the less useful of the four early on.

I'm still developing a lot of my strategies, but there are generally two ways I get kills. First, I'll try to lure a champion away so that we're 1-on-1. Then I bind them, throw TS beneath them, and go to town. If I have Soul Shackle, the damage wave is pretty intense. If they don't run away, they're probably going to go down.

The second way is to bait melee champions. I'll be standing in a cloud of minion and they charge in, expecting me to run like a normal caster. When they get close, I pop Soul Shackle and throw down TS. I save DB for when they've realized their mistake.

It's a nifty little playstyle, relying heavily on good timing and aim. Right now, with cooldowns basically a full (I am a newb), missing with a DB is awful. I can't afford to misplace my mana-expensive abilities. Hopefully, through seals and mastery, I'll be able to give myself a little more wiggle room.

I believe Morgana is pretty unique in that she's a caster with strong abilities, but also has a decent amount of survivability. Most of the other casters feel fragile. Morgana feels like a warlock. She regains health through damaging, and can take a little bit of a beating.

She also has wings that are burning in her Blackthorn skin. How can you beat that?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

With All Due Respect, Rivs...

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Rivs and I do this every couple of lunar cycles. He says mages are cool, I correct him. The Legion keeps on Burning.

(On a serious note: I'm a fan of River's intent: Gotta stoke the ole Mage/Lock fires every now and then. Some rivalries never get old. And, to be fair, it seemed a slow news day. I mean, we're talking about attunements again. Attunements. So, instead...)

10 Reasons Mages Are More Awesome Than Warlocks. A Rebuttal.

10. Demonic Portal – Seeing tons of people beating on thin air that was previously you is pretty damn cool.
9. Summoning – Ripping people from one location to where you desire them, way better than hopping through to some smelly "city." Like anything of note happens there.
8. Cookies – Much easier to pop in your mouth, no sitting required. Also, cookies are perhaps the most versatile form of food. Could go with a plain vanilla wafer if you're old school, or the more recent Cataclysmic Oreo of Doom. That's two chocolatey circles of black doom, one creamy soul filling.
7. Minions – They talk back, but we force them to do our bidding anyway. Elementals are for the slow of mind (Like dear Watson). Witty comebacks help you cast spells faster. It's magic science.
6. Damage – Don’t need a pet to do that.
5. Soulsteal – Ever steal a soul? 'Nuff said.
4. Fel Armor – Because dead things don't hurt.
3. Keybinds – 9 out of 10 Admirals' daughters prefer numerous nimble fingers in a lover.
2. We’re hotter – We can actually set ourselves on fire. So how is this a contest again?
1. The Nether – It's rough having a whole 'nother dimension at your beckon call.
0. You can find warlocks lurking in the cellars of taverns. Mages lock themselves in their pretty towers. Fun fantasy fact: Graceful spires are for damsels in distress. At least that's the word on the street. We've never actually tried to rescue one.

11 is louder than 10.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Now Playing: League of Legends

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I've sort of been stuck in a gaming miasma. I think I mentioned it a bit on here. I haven't really felt like diving back into any of the MMOs I'm still carrying on subscription. Just something about the MMO playstyle is unappealing right now. It is also summer, and there's not a lot of new content in my games of choice. It's easy to feel bogged down and unmotivated.

While my gaming woes have caused me a bit of angst, it is not something I'm completely unaccustomed to. Generally speaking, I've always been a broad gamer. I enjoy multiple game styles, everything from FPS to RPG. I'd been subsisting on the meager manna that is Facebook gaming (and by meager, I mean addictive, loaded with content, and somewhat red-district-like). But I haven't really been happy. Don't get me wrong, the social games I play are fun, and great ways to kill time. There's just something about the never-ending energy bar refill waiting gameplay that irks me. I feel the constant need to stop in and use energy (or I'll lose it, since the bar is maxed out). I suspect this feeling is by design.

The problem with the energy bar mechanic is that it sets a pretty hard limit on the amount you can accomplish. Couple that with needing to beg for items and the shiny "use $$ to skip" features, and you have a game that leaves you pretty unfulfilled on any given sitting. Sometimes, you want to eat your fill, and not feel like you have to trudge back to the water hole in a couple hours to do it again.

It is, if you will, the darker side of Facebook gaming. The games do a lot of things well, but they are what they are. They can't help but be a bit whorish.

So I'd been looking for alternative gaming outlets. I didn't want to spend a lot of money. In fact, I was gravitating toward "free to play" or at least "free to try." I find myself a bit unwilling to plunk down cash blindly these days. Not that I don't have the cash, just that I'm wary of the wide world of gaming. Even great development houses have been known to lay stinkers.

Saturday night, we had a couple friends over for some tabletop gaming. Play some random bargain bin games and a D&D based game called Castle Ravenloft. As gamers are wont to do, we discussed what else we were playing. It was our friend and resident DM who mentioned two highly recommended options (after a bit of ranting on my part). Day Z and League of Legends were his ideas.

Now, Day Z is pretty badass if you ask me. I encourage anyone interested in zombie settings and survival with guns to check it out. Very intriguing concept. I wouldn't be surprised to see a standalone game come out soon. For now, Day Z requires purchase of ArmA II. You see, it's a mod. A crazy, all-encompassing mod, but a mod. You need a version of the game (CO), and that'll run you $30 on Steam. Since I play with my wife in pretty much all the things, that's $60 for me (since it's an online game, for single player games we're more than happy to share a copy). I just wasn't quite that willing to plunk down the cash. Day Z will be something I keep my eye on, but the "free to play" League of Legends won the Logical Choice debate.

Now, I used to do a lot of RTS back in the day. Starcraft, Warcraft I-III... I've done them all. I remember the mods that League of Legends sprung up from. I enjoyed the hell out of those. I guess I missed where they'd developed a standalone, free to play game. Pretty awesome. So wife and I jumped right in and are having a blast. You can find me on there as Fulguralis if you'd like. We're still pretty newbish, but I've rocked the leaderboards so far on every AI game. I need to learn more before I feel comfortable going up against live opponents.

To me, LoL is what happened when WoW had a random one-night-stand with a FPS. That's the best I can explain it (and be brief). It's a lot of fun, and you'll probably see me writing more on that in the upcoming weeks. How many of you, dear readers, have tried LoL?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Yub Nub

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Because nothing celebrates freedom like a dancing Ewok.


Monday, July 2, 2012

The One That Got Away

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Apparently my brain is stuck on relationship-related gaming musings. Today's brought to you by a Katy Perry song that's stuck in my head. I have a love/hate relationship with pop music. It just gets in there, I can't help it, and then... then... bah! Not very warlockerly, I know.

On the opposite end of the things-that-stick-in-my-head spectrum is a gaming phenomenon. Tell me if you've ever had this one. It could just be me.

Freshman year of college (almost ten years ago now, holy cow), I had a random-draw roommate. You never know what you're going to get, right? In this case, the guy was pretty cool. I'm a strange hybrid of athletic and nerdy. I love sports and playing sports, always have. And I'm pretty decent at just about any of them in a casual way. Similarly, I've always loved gaming and can sit down to a new game and not be completely awful. I span several worlds, I guess you could say. (Oddly enough, the dichotomy worked against me in most circles as far as acceptance went. To the jocks, I was a nerd. The nerds, I was a jock.)

Random Roomie was completely vested in the burgeoning nerd culture. Yes, this was back before nerds were "cool." He had a tricked-out Alienware laptop that I was insanely jealous of. We shared a passion for the X-files. And more than once I asked him what game he was playing so that I could give it a try.

Back then, I was more of a FPS player than I am now. Halo parties were The Thing, especially when you have 8 floors of dudes in a wing and can run Ethernet cords all over creation. Random Roomie was more into Tactical Fleet Simulations (TFS, a term I didn't know existed until recently). He also wasn't big on the social component of, well, anything. Apart from our nightly X-files marathon sessions, we didn't really hang out. Yet, I would hesitantly call us friends. We certainly got along better than a lot of other roommates.

One of my most vivid memories was of a TFS-like game he was playing one time. I walked in from a Halo session, perhaps after a few bevvies, and saw a whole bunch of really cool looking spaceships on his screen. He was launching some mini-probes and there were lasers, and it looked epic. I watched for a bit before asking him what game he was playing. The answer has since been lost in the sands of time.

Keep in mind, this was before things like Steam and easily downloadable games. Generally, if we wanted a game, we went to the local Best Buy or GameStop or whatever and plunked down $50. As a college student, that's a lot of beer. I mean, money. So, the game got relegated to my "sometime when I have money" list in my brain, where it was promptly drowned by copious amount of alcohol, I'm sure.

Ten years later, I found myself having a sudden craving to FIND THAT GAME. I don't know what it was. A boring Sunday, time on my hands, money no longer the biggest issue in my gaming life... I wanted to play THAT game. Not a similar game, but that one.

So I spent probably 4-8 hours (I lost track of time) wandering the Interwebs, looking for a screenshot to match my memory. I learned what a TFS is. I spent $20 on a Steam game that I played for all of 5 minutes before realizing that it was not the one (it looked similar). The best search term I had to go on was "like Civilization, but in space with cool lasers." I researched the history of 4X, turn-based games. I found a myriad of top ten lists in both genres... but it was all for naught. True Blood came on at 9pm and that effectively ended my search.

This isn't the first time the desire to find the mystery game has struck me. Random Roomie and I have lost touch over the years, but I suppose I could shoot him a Facebook message. "Hey, remember me? How are things? Listen, do you remember that cool spaceship game you were playing that one time? I don't know, I think it was a Tuesday. It had lasers. And celestial bodies. Whaddya mean that doesn't really narrow it down?"

Okay, so I don't really want to go that route. Where's the fun in that? Plus, it seems fruitless and awkward, and I try to avoid fruitless and awkward whenever possible. Instead, I'd rather whittle away countless hours hoping to luck upon it through the wonders of Google. Excuses, excuses.

And before you ask... no, I don't really know any more than this. I know, I can't even describe the screenshot adequately. If I could remember like a faction name or a symbol on the side of the ship, one of you could probably name the game in a heartbeat. But I can't. And the memory only gets fuzzier with each passing year.

Do you have a game that "got away?" Were you able to find it years later? Did it even live up to your rose-colored expectations? (I have a sinking suspicion that even if I found this game it would turn out to suck.)

Maybe in another life, I'd download right away, so I don't have to say you were the one that got away. The one that got away.