Friday, February 28, 2014

Out In The Field

Finally made it to Hyrule Field. I really liked the freedom to roam around a bit.  I ran around the first little area for about 15 minutes or something like that having a grand time killing goblins.

Then it's back to hunting tears.  This one was better than the last, or more interesting anyway.

Actually, scratch that.  I am too frustrated with this game to give it a fair shake at the moment. I lost all my progress at one point and had to play the section from the end of the forest dungeon through the mines two times in a row.  This game was not designed with this in mind.  I'm going to angrily rant about it anyway.

Cutscenes are arbitrarily not skip able.  Some are, some aren't, for no clear reason.  The game KNOWS these are cutscenes, and outwardly tells me I "can't skip."  Why in God's name would you do that?  They should all be skip able, no excuse.  If I want to watch them, I will.

There's already a plan in place to prevent accidentally skipping important scenes.  You have to press the - button two times, so they don't even have that excuse.

I think I mentioned it before, but it takes too long to go from "game over" to the next try. Now I'm going to mention it again. It makes you listen to a little melody any time you die before allowing you to pick retry.  All it does is give me a second to decide your game is a waste of time, Nintendo.

They could remove the sumo wrestling thing from the game.  I would not miss it. At all. Hold forward while smashing A gets you through it mostly, but it's just an annoying version of rock, paper, scissors.  Except it's sidestep, hit, grab.  Grab counters hit, sidestep counters grab, hit counters sidestep.

It means guessing, and guessing is boring.  I hate that kind of system.  It's not fun, and it has nothing to do with adventuring.  Keep your minigames optional, Nintendo.

The popup indicators for actions are vague at best.  A pops up on screen.  That could mean: rapidly press A, hold A, or press A with timing.  Good luck!  Noticed this when catching the rolling Gorons.

The menu system is annoying.  Why demote B from being the back button? I muscle memory that thing every time I try to leave a menu, and just keep equipping the stupid, useless fishing pole.

Why is this the only Zelda game thus far to do a full heart damage when falling off ledges? All the others only do half.  What, are they just that desperate to get people toward their mandatory game over jingle?

Another minor thing: your "you have a key" indicator Nintendo, should NOT be transparent on the HUD.  Transparent means: "you do not have this."

I was having a lot of fun at the start of this session, I really was.  This is going uphill, I said to myself.  Running around, killing goblins, exploring around, but the game just keeps poking me with these sharp sticks every few minutes.

I'm not even mad about the lack of any sort of auto save.  That wasn't a big deal, but it's no good when most of the stuff I have to go back through is annoying.

LoL Talk: Calm Down

I never quite expected people would take individual games of League of Legends as seriously as they do.  This is coming from someone who rose pretty high in Starcraft ranks.

You'd think I was talking about ranked here, but no.  People are this serious in normals, too. Thankfully, anyone who acts like this in bots gets laughed out of the game.

The guy who goes 0-4 gets to be crucified if the game heads south.  They just won't let it go, no matter what is said.  When the game is lost, he gets blamed a few more times as a parting gift.

Just let it go.  One lost game isn't a big deal.  Even in ranked.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monkey Business

Ok, so I've beaten the first real dungeon. It's the forest one, because that's where Zelda starts out.  Notable features include monkeys.

In the story, we're gathering artifacts to fight the twilight king.  One of said artifacts is here, so it's time to gather keys and beat a boss.

Individual Rooms

Each room includes some sort of riddle/puzzle.  This makes it less straightforward to move around.  It's pretty standard Zelda stuff otherwise.


Combat is secondary to navigation.  In fact, just swinging your sword wildly will beat most of the creatures here.  You don't even have to fight deku babas, just stay out of their range and walk around them.  There's no meaningful reward for killing things, so combat's best avoided unless you just want to beat stuff up.

If the combat is neither rewarding, nor an obstacle, why is it here?  What purpose does it serve?  It's reasonably fun, I guess, but part of the fun is supposed to be overcoming tough opponents. Zelda isn't the type of game where the player is supposed to feel overpowered.  Maybe it's because the combat mechanics are limited, so there isn't too much the game can throw at you.

Lack of Polish

Never thought this complaint would come up, to be honest.  Certain little things hint that maybe this section wasn't play tested enough.

First, the bomb bug things become really hard to pick up if they are against a wall. 

Second, certain vine walls don't cover all that they should, so Link goes jumping off when it looks like you're on the vines.

Little things, but annoying.


The temple was fairly easy from start to finish.  The hardest part was timing the jump to the boss room.

Speaking of which, I actually missed that enough to get a game over.  You get a full 10 seconds of music/menu to be placed back at the start of the same room.  Blatantly unnecessary and just breeds frustration.

Hated that part.  Had I made it myself, the hit box for the monkeys would've been huge, so that you'd catch it as long as you were in the ballpark.

Link handles terribly when it comes to jumping.  That should be accounted for.

An Aside

After coming back, there is something that must be said.  Skyward Sword is the better game mechanically.  The number of things I miss from that game is staggering.

Majora's Mask has a way better story.  Wind Waker has more interesting world design.

I'm not liking this one as much as I remembered, and I'm not sure why.  Could be that this is a second play through, and I know how things go.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

LoL Talk: Ezreal Support

I've been trying to see what all roles I can fit Ezreal in.  Why?  I like to play him, nothing more special than that.  That adventure, of course, has led me to support.

Notable Aspects

First is the 100% ADC complaint rate.  Yeah, at one point or another, my ADC has complained about this pick in each game I've played.  Even when we destroyed our lane.  I guess I can see where they are coming from, Ezreal's not much for utility.  I personally wouldn't complain too much about this pick (except for Ezreal being taken).  I don't care what my support picks, as long as he stays alive and helps keep up the pressure in the lane.

Ezreal is a poke support.  I'd compare him to Nidalee and a bit of Sona if she doesn't max her heal.  He has no CC, so he relies on poking enemies down from a safe distance.  Thus far, my ADCs and I are not on the same page here.  Many ADCs dive in like I'm Leona or something.  Surprise, that doesn't go over too well with Ezreal's strengths.

What are his strengths, exactly?  Well, he does decent poke damage.  His early game AD takes a bit of time to be out scaled, so he can auto harass reasonably well.  Meanwhile, W and Q make for good poke.  I've built him AP each time so far, and having the burst damage is pretty nice.

His burst damage goes through the roof with enough AP.  You help in team fights by dealing out this magic damage, as well as using True Shot Barrage to weaken grouped enemies.


No peel. 

None at all.  I've found that the best way to keep an assassin or bruiser off the carry is to make yourself a focus target instead, and then escape because you're Ezreal.

No CC. 

As mentioned above, he has none.  You could perhaps remedy these situations by building Iceborn Gauntlet or something.

Gold reliant. 

The biggest weakness by far.  Ezreal needs items to be useful, so bottom lane had better go well.  You don't need kills or CS to get enough gold, but if your carry is getting destroyed, you'll struggle for relevance later.

The Plan from Here

I haven't been convinced that support Ezreal is unplayable.  Quite the opposite, I have about the same success rate as with other supports.  So, I'll keep going on this when I support, along with Orianna.  I'll have to find out a good build.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LoL Talk: First Ranked Games

I hadn't played any ranked until recently for a variety of reasons.  First, I couldn't be bothered to buy the necessary Champions.  Second, all that wait time before a game begins.

This past week I played some duo queue ranked with my friend Glyphic21.  Overall, a sad experience.  Ranked is a lot like normals, except with exponentially increased whining.

Winning and losing hardly matters to me. Starcraft beat that out of me long ago. I play individual games for the purpose of improving/practice.  Oh, and fun. A particular ranked loss isn't going to ruin anyone's lives, but you'd hardly notice that with some of the attitudes on display.

I was whined to about my performance by people with more than 6 deaths.  I was accused of going AP Ezreal because I had the 30 AP from Trinity Force.  Bloodthirster and Last Whisper must be standard AP Ezreal, then, because those were my other items.

I was told I should dive the enemy ADC in team fights, again, as Ezreal.  While an enemy Vi licked her lips and dared me to try it.  This was by our jungler, a bruiser.

So Ranked: a long setup time whine fest.  I'm determined to make it work, though, since it's probably the best avenue for improvement.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Osu Passive Health Drain

I've played some of the mouse game Osu, and I really cannot understand why passive health drain exists.  It doesn't make sense.

In Osu, the little failure meter, you know, the thing on Guitar Hero that you have to keep above a certain threshold, constantly goes down.  Whether you miss notes or not.

This serves no purpose but to be infuriating.  The bar goes down as the song continues anyway if you miss notes, there's no reason for it to just go down for nothing.

All it serves to do is punish you for breaks in songs.  That's right, it just takes it to you because the song has pauses.  You have to recover from a loss simply because there weren't that many notes in a section.

Games shouldn't punish the player for no reason at all. It just makes me give your beatmap a low rating. Stop with the fake difficulty, Osu's hard enough. People can use the mods if they want a stupid challenge.

LoL Talk: Vamp Scepter Rush

As my last post indicated, I usually play ADC.  That just because I like to play Ezreal, rather than particularly enjoying the ADC role.  Still, since I play Ezreal the most, and he is predominantly an ADC, I need to look into how that role works from time to time.

You'll notice that many ADC rush Vamp Scepter.  It's a sustain item with a bit of AD.  The main benefit of it as a first buy is to allow you to stay in lane longer than someone who doesn't have one.  For high ranking ADC, this is a standard first buy.

Me, I haven't been rushing it.  That may possibly explain some of my ranked performance of late, but I'm not entirely convinced that you MUST have a vamp scepter for the laning phase.  As in, your very first buy along with boots.

I'm going to start getting it, to see what the difference is.  However, I'll only buy it when I'm starting to fall a bit behind.  To me, that makes the most sense when looking at the sustain it provides.  Sustain is a form of defense, and if you're overwhelming them with your attacks anyway, you won't need too much of it.

Otherwise, I'm going to continue with Triforce, although I may start getting Sheen before Phage.

Friday, February 14, 2014

LoL Talk: My Ezreal Build

I said I was going to start this series yesterday, but that didn't happen.  Instead, we're going to start it off today with what I build on Ezreal and why.

A disclaimer first.  I'm terrible at League of Legends.  I have, however, spent the vast majority of my few hundred games playing Ezreal as an ADC.  I've played him in other positions too, but that's not my focus here.  I get a bit of pushback on my build in more than a few games, so I'm just going to outline why I build some of the things that I do.


This pick gets the most people riled up by far.  Most ADC don't get this item, so most just assume it's a lackluster buy.  Truly, this item isn't the best on most ADC, but that has nothing to do with Ezreal in particular.

Triforce offers a lot of different stats.  In particular, the Sheen AP, mana, and spell blade don't work on all ADC.  Meanwhile, it is great on Ezreal.  The spell blade passive gives a huge damage boost to Mystic Shot, Ezreal's harass and poke tool, as well as a major source of burst damage when building AD.

This boost, provided you can hit your Mystic Shot, outperforms most other common ADC buys on Ezreal.

Blood Thirster

A common pick on ADC, but still bears explanation, particularly when compared to Blade of the Ruined King.  These two items are actually quite similar when it comes to their stats.  Blade is more effective on ADC that scale well with attack speed.

While Ezreal gets quite a bit out of attack speed, he gains more from the raw AD of Blood Thirster.  In fact, it only takes a moderate amount of stacks for it to surpass Blade's damage.

The numbers support Blood Thirster, as long as the other team doesn't have particularly fed tanks.  In that case, Blade's % damage may be the better route.

I'll be putting up more League content worth discussing as I come across it.

The Twilight Zone


There, now that that's done, we can talk about the first twilight section.  It's pretty straightforward, really.  You have to work your way through a few obstacle courses as wolf Link.

Down The Drain

The sewers are pretty unremarkable, as they always are.  This section just serves as an introduction to wolf Link and what he can do.  Short answer: not a lot.  Besides his incredibly context sensitive jumping powers, he's more or less a downgrade from regular old Link.

The emphasis here is on navigation.  You have to find tucked away little holes and switches to progress for a bit, then you run around on the roof for a while.  Some combat is on display, but it's quite easy to avoid fights due to wolf Link's speed.

So, linear segement with emphasis on the "where do I go?" question.

A couple of people have told me this section lost their interest, and I understand that sentiment.  It's a stale section, with the main reward being getting out of it.

Story-wise, important, though.

Let There Be Light

Then, you gather light tears (or something) in the forest.  Could be nonlinear: "find these things in whatever order," but suffers from Faron Woods being a linear area anyway.

Maybe these tear missions get better.  I can't remember for the life of me. It's hard to quantify, but this was far less interesting than saving the kids, even though they're the same quest if you strip away the context.

Let this be a lesson: the more impactful the thing is, the more rewarding it will be to find.

Still More on the Way

I really held off on the Skyward Sword comparisons again.  They were glaring me in the face, but don't belong in this post.

Twilight Princess is a long game, so more of these articles are coming up.

Goat In!

The goats are in the barn.  That is, the tutorial section of Twilight Princess is done.  It's been a good couple years since I played it, so my perspective is as clear as possible.

What Are We Doing and Why?

Nintendo has done their best to integrate this game's tutorial with the beginning of the story. Honestly, I think they succeeded.  Each of the little tasks you undertake help establish game mechanics for future use, then put them to the test.  Let's go one by one and discuss where each fits in.

First, you have to find a cradle for the pregnant lady.  Doing this requires climbing vines, jumping from platforms, and using the hawk.  Each of which is given a little instruction via NPC dialogue. The goal is disconnected from the mechanics, and the game is attempting to teach you these things in the background, rather than straight up instruction.

Next, you have to catch a fish for a cat.  I've seen a decent amount of criticism over this one.  People wonder why Nintendo devoted time teaching you fishing, something you don't use for a while, and is a minigame mechanic anyway.  Really, the fishing is incidental: this is teaching you how to equip and use B items.

Then you buy the slingshot, giving you a look at how shops work.  You also have to spend some time gathering rupees. Doing so demonstrates that exploration can often be rewarding in this game.

You also learn to ride the horse and fight in this sequence.  The former is done in a goat herding minigame, the latter in a more traditional step by step tutorial.

Tutorial Dungeon

While I didn't recognize it as such at the time, this is what searching for the kid and monkey really is.  It's a test asking you to demonstrate the things you learned earlier.

You have to use items, explore, and fight your way through a small cave system.  I really like the way the tutorial leads into this, and gets the player up and running rather quickly.

Was It Too Long?

People complain about the length of this section all the time.  In fact, it's usually noted as a starting point for Nintendo's overly long tutorial sections in later games.

All told, it took me an hour to go from the beginning of the game, to completing the tutorial dungeon.  I'd estimate I took around 20 minutes on the true tutorials, including cutscenes, then got stupidly lost in the tutorial dungeon for a bit of a time loss.

That's really not all that long, when you consider that is probably less than 5% of total play time in Twilight Princess.  Plus, seasoned Zelda players will race through this quite fast.

Looking back, the complaints don't seem as justified, and nothing feels like unneeded padding.

More To Come

Stay tuned for stuff I would improve and a comparison to Skyward Sword.

Also, I'm going to analyze the whole game like this.  Be on the lookout for Part 2.

Twilight Princess Design: Introduction

The game I'm working on could be charitably called a Zelda clone. A 2D one, but still.  As such, I've been looking quite heavily to all Zelda games for a bit of inspiration.  Zelda games usually evoke certain feelings, and, more than anything, it's those I'm trying to replicate most.

The Goal

In the next few articles, I'm basically going to be taking design notes while playing Twilight Princess. I'll be trying to find out what makes it tick, then sharing my thoughts with you.

Why Twilight Princess?

It isn't the most popular Zelda, you'll find a decent number of people who hate it. Personally, I thought it was good.  Most importantly, it was one of the best at invoking a particular feeling: that you've come a long way from where you started. Occasionally, you stop and think "wow, I've really been through all that."

I want that feeling for Hero's Handbook, so why not look into how Zelda has done it?  I hope it's not sheer amount of content, that sure would be disappointing.

I'll also be looking for dungeon design pointers, because Zelda is where you look for those.

Final Comments

Don't like my reasoning?  Let me know in the comments.  Alternatively, enjoy the ride.

Oh, and I'll be spoiling the crap out of the game, so heads up.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Upcoming Content

Posting has slowed a bit here, in large part because I am working on other projects.  Rest assured, I haven't forgotten about this.

Now, on to the update:

New Project Update Soon

This is where a large portion of my time has been going.  Here in the next couple days, I am going to put up some screenshots and discussion on Hero's Handbook to show where that's been headed.

New Post Series

Starting sometime this afternoon, I'm going to start posting a series called LoL Talk. I play League of Legends, if you haven't noticed, and I'm going to devote a little column to it.  I'm terrible, but still have stuff to say.

I might make some more promises.