Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back To The League

I felt compelled to pop back into League of Legends over the weekend. It seems to be one of those games for me that I'll play pretty compulsively for a week or so, then get tired of it and drift away, only to come back a month later. I hesitate to even use the words "get tired," since it's not boredom so much as just "losing the shine." I consider it a good thing that, a month or so later, it apparently shines back up for me. I'm not sure what you call this on-again-off-again relationship with a game, but I would say it's uncommon for me. Generally, I'm a play-through kind of guy. Focus in, beat the game, and then move on.

LoL is unique in that it quenches both a desire to "level" and the urge to PvP. I like that I can pick it back up again and have new stuff, but also not feel completely out of practice. In short, it's a great game to play casually for an extended period of time. You don't really ever fall behind like in an MMO (though you may need to shake some initial rust off), and it doesn't require a whole lot of what I'll call "controller re-acclimation" like an FPS (soooo frustrating not to be able to headshot like you used to, amirite?).

Anyway, popped back in to find a new ARAM map. Now, if you're a casual player like me, you'll have to look up to learn ARAM stands for "All Random All Middle." Apparently, this was a custom game setting that was popular enough to have a special map created. I have to say, I'm finding the game mode rather fun. It really emphasizes team play, and puts you behind the controls of an (often) unfamiliar champion. The result is that play is just a little bit sloppy from time to time, and if you're quick to learn, you can gain an advantage.

To me, it feels like a fast-forwarded normal mode game. That is, we're just going to skip the early level-up game and jump straight to team battles. Makes things a little shorted without feeling totally frenetic. It also takes away a lot of the "sneaky" strategies, as this is pure frontal assault across a bridge. Not a whole lot of room to hide or strike and escape.

I feel like the ARAM mode is a great place to try out new champions. You don't get to pick, sure, but not-knowing how a champion plays isn't a complete disadvantage here. It's a different kind of challenge that might lead me to adding a few more champions to my regular rotation.

Yesterday I got stuck with Soraka. Basically, she's a healer/support (though you can build a variety of ways, I'm sure). Regular readers probably know... healing is not my default setting. Because it was random and my team was depending on me, however, I went with it. I healed the crap out of everyone and well full-on support build. It was great. There is no place to heal in the ARAM map, so having a healer is huge. I think we were up like 10-0 before I'd blinked an eye.

I may pick up Soraka if she goes on sale. Might be nice to have a support healer for team play. And playing a healer wasn't as bad as I'd feared. It's not like in WoW where you have to spam heals and hope for the best. You have to be able to juggle some offensive support as well, since things are going to be on cooldown. It was a fun little change-up, which I suspect is why the ARAM game mode has become so popular.

If you're like me and haven't popped into LoL in a while, maybe check it out. It is, after all, free to play.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Warlock RP

Wanted to check in today. It's been a bit. I was reading Poneria's little spat of fiction over at Fel Concentration, and fondly remembering my own glory days with RP here on the site. That was a lot of fun, wasn't it? Warlocks make great fictional characters. They are predisposed to walk the good/evil line, and it makes for a very interesting protagonist. How can you make someone who is, essentially, evil be sympathetic? How can a group where "selfishness" is a core value ever go on some sort of epic hero journey?

I watched Iron Man 3 last weekend, and really enjoyed the movie. I had the crazy notion just this morning that, you know, Tony Stark might just be a Warlock. IM3 certainly had the minion thing down. Plus, he is an inherently selfish character.

The cool part about that movie, to me, was the cleverness with which the story was pulled off. In the Avengers movie, the very fabric of the world was in jeopardy what with the alien invasion and Norse gods and all. It was the epitome of a "save the world" plot. How, then, do you create a movie in the same universe, with the same character, and have it retain a high stakes feel? It's like... well, we just saved the world, now what? Sequels in general struggle often with this problem. The stakes were so high in a previous movie and any subsequent plot will fall a bit flat.

There is a neat little trick that I think IM3 nailed. Instead of putting the whole wide world in jeopardy, you need only put the main character's world in jeopardy. If you make a likable character, then threatening things that are important to them can really raise the stakes without needing to resort to threats of a more global variety.

As a Warlock, I appreciate this. Saving the world doesn't always appeal to me. Sometimes, well... let 'em burn, right? Yet, threaten what I love and... it's on! Blizzard has a hard time using this trick, since we'd all be protagonists in Azeroth. Global threats are the only ones that seem to work well, which perhaps is why I feel it gets a bit overdone there. They have some good story threads, but my favorite by far was the Lich King. Fitting, then, that it may be perhaps the most personal of the Azerothian storylines.

I've been working with a character, Damian, on my writing blog that I'm trying to make into a bit of a Warlock. As much fun as WoW RP fiction was, I really enjoy working in my own world as well. It's more challenging, but I can also publish it at the end of the day and don't have to worry about offending any IP lawyers. Still, I'm trying to carry what I've learned over into my fiction. Tortured, somewhat ambiguous characters are fun to write. And, also, don't forge to make it personal.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Yay Warlockery!

If you've also noticed the lack of posting around here, don't worry. I still exist. Just doing more lurking these days than playing. Nothing much to report of note. I've been getting out IRL, too. Trying to create a new minion by resurrecting one of those - whaddya call 'em? - oh yeah, social lives. Just so y'all know, I will pipe up when I have things to say, but as previously warned, it's not going to be super often. I appreciate (very much!) all of you that have hung around for this long. It really does mean a lot. Connecting with folks is a large reason why any of us bloggers blog. With that in mind, even when I'm not posting I get email notifications for comments and junk. If something comes up or you just want to say hi, I have not disappeared and don't plan on closing this. It's free to me, so as long as blogger will have me, I'll be here in some ephemeral form or another.

Apart from that boring I-feel-obligated-to-share-what-is-up paragraph, I wanted to say a huge THANKS to  Amijade over at Warlockery for the very kind words prior to my little 'locky spotlight. I feel honored to have inspired other writers so, and glad that even in my absence the fate of the Purple World (...of Warcraft) is in good (if somewhat corrupted and bony) hands. Like I mentioned, I think the opportunity to connect with other great people has always been one of the biggest strengths of the WoW blogging community, and the gamer community in general.

I've enjoyed the spotlight, and will definitely continue to lurk around the Warlockery, if only to cackle with glee at the corruption of others.