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Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Missed Utility

Most of the changes planned  for Season 4 have been revealed by Riot during this last week. Among those are a total revision of the Support role, a change to the Jungle, the flow of the game, and the introduction of Trinkets, an 1-per-player item that is to be used in the vision game.

Although most of those changes can be commended, there is one in particular that really grind my gears: Those affecting Supports.

Why? After all, they are finally doing the one thing people wanted, giving the ability to have gold and spend it on items. So everything should be fine?

Well the problem is that by giving so much gold to the role they have effectively destroyed it.

Hint: They won't give you any...

Let me explain. First thing first, we have to agree that the Support role is a role that was and is defined by gold starvation, or more precisely by gold deprivation in that they are the only role without a source of income naturally provided by the map. It is this deprivation of gold that made people choose level-dependent, utility focused, or protective champions for the role, champions whose primary source of power in their kit was utility not scaling power (for example the buffing auras of Sona), utility that only needed levels to become better.

Now, of course the role suffered for a long time because of the 'ward bitch' (and 'heal bitch') aspect of it. Supports for the whole of S2 and S3 were expected to cover the entire map in wards, and they did, mostly because nobody else would! This made them unable to get items and get into the building game with other roles, the gold being spent in wards.
S3 tried to change this with the addition of Sightstone and an increase in the gold Supports received. But what happened is that Supports now had enough wards and gold to cover even more of the map AND buy some pink wards and then cover the map with them! In the end no items were ever bought.


Now then, in S4 will come a huge change that will fix this problem. Each player can only ever have or put 3 wards on the map. Now this will have Supports buying items. All that was needed then was the gold to do so.

Again, Supports are defined by gold deprivation. One way they get around not having a direct source of gold is through GP5/10 items, items that give gold each set amount of seconds and have stats that can only be desired by Supports. Unfortunately, those items have been left in a bad shape for 2 seasons, with the best but most toxic one, Heart of Gold, being removed and Philosopher's Stone being the only one viable but with a need to be upgraded into a nice item with no GP5/10...

Now those items needed some love, and they did get some in the incoming S4 changes. Supports will have 3 gold income items that will fulfill all their needs.That plus the inclusion of Assist Sprees, rewarding players with a lot of assists. Support have a strong income of gold, and this is where things are going very wrong. That income of gold is strong, too strong, to the point of allowing any champions to fill the role that was defined by gold deprivation...

What was at first a role that favored utility through levels will now allow any champions that scales with AP or AD to come and play what is essentially now the 'lane partner that doesn't last-hit' role. No longer will utility be favored, on the opposite there is now a strong incentive to bring what will be a semi-carry (AP or AD) to the bot lane.
To counter that Riot will buff the current Support champions by having their utility 'scale' with AP or AD aka with gold. But what they are not seeing is that due to the very nature of the game, nature that favors damage, people will naturally flock toward champions that will bring the minimal amount of utility needed and with damage that scale well.

Plus the only way they can really counter that is by making the utility scaling of Supports champions way off the charts, and I think we all have an idea of how badly this can break the game (watch Janna's Shield become the OP thing ever).



What could have been done to avoid that? Make sure the role retains its trademark characteristic, being the role without a natural source of gold and with the slowest acquisition of it.
Although Assist Sprees are a good thing as they reward players that do things that are of paramount importance to the success of a team, they run the risk of giving out too much gold. GP5/10 items and the way they have been streamlined are a welcomed and needed addition, so there is no way I would ask for those to be removed (maybe toned down).
Then with the role having less gold than others, favoring utility, what do you do to make the role not an inferior version of the others (especially now that their 'ward bitch' aspect has been removed)?

You add utility items! Cheap, GP5/10-related, with a strong focus on actives, vision effects, CC, buffing, aka utility! Items that have poor scaling stats like AD or AP, favoring instead stats like CDR, Armor, Magic Resist, Regen, but with strong actives, actives that could turn a match around when used with smarts.

She is better than Sona, deal with it!
This would be a model that would closely resemble the one of DotA 2, with the actives of the items bought defining a hero and the game. Supports would have their utility scale with gold, that because of the accumulation of active items, with masteries that would favor their uses or reduce their cooldown. That plus their focus on utility increasing through levels from their kit, the role would be complete.

This is something that a lot of players would have enjoyed, a role that is more focused on thinking and overall strategy than Damage or Click-Per-Minutes.

Unfortunately right now, with the poor amount of such kind of items, this is something that is hard to do and that will be ever harder to justify in the eyes of other players, each one of them seeing you as someone who went for a bastard build between damage and utility.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wrath of Heroes: The addition of Felicia

As I'm talking to you, the first phase of the open Beta for Wrath of Heroes is concluded. The outcome of the Beta is truly average, all in all people have noticed several bad points the game currently has, they also had to endure a very unfun play experience through teams filled with burst ranged dps, "1-pull you are dead" Volrik, and a scarcity of healers. In the middle of all that, Mythic announce the future comeback of another hero, Felicia!


 

 
For those of you who have been around for a long time, you without a doubt remember Felicia. And you also remember the carnage she used to wrought down on the battlefield. Shortly after, after much whining, she was removed and the developers said she would come back in a better, improved form. Well, as you can see, she is the exact same. From the first look, nothing in her has changed. But hey who knows.

Although I can commend the addition of new heroes in a Beta that is suffering from the low number of heroes, I regret that among all the ones they had they chose Felicia, a ranged DPS, and by that one of the most obnoxious there is.

Why? Simply because the game is full of people stacking Ilyana. Why would they? Because she is the character with the most burst, thanks to her abilities favoring crits, and has a passive that increases her damage by +5% per other Dark Elf like her in your group. To put it simply, alone she has good damage, with 3 others like her, she has +15% more good damage. And to boot the other Ilyana get the bonus too. Pretty big boost for a team if I may say.

This has led to lots of Ilyana swarming the game. Not only can you get kills easily with her (which is important in this game), but you have the range advantage. This with the fact that the only healer in the game is better away from melee, Ilyana is set to dominate.

What could counter her?

First, what is the eternal enemy of a ranged "cloth" DPS? A pure "tank" melee DPS of course. Aessa being THE melee DPS of the game right now, she is bound to be a good character to counter Aessa? Well 1v1, sure! If you have the intelligence of faking a pounce and make them waste their 4th ability then use it to close the gap, you can bash her good. However ,even then it will be a close match because she can just burst you down.
Now let's put this in a more "realist" context, 6v6. Since this game is hardly a game where individual skill alone matters (since some heroes are made to dominate some others in the easiest/scrubbiest way possible), you have to judge a character in how he will interact among and against a group.
Aessa when facing a group of Ilyana will get slaughtered right now. That simple. Her only hope is if the warband is fully dedicated to melee, which would mean at least 1 Glowgob, 2 Volrik to pull people in melee at a reasonable rate, and the rest being Aessa. Using that you can all use the 5th ability of Aessa to survive the gap between you and the enemy team. I tried this strat with a player (Grakulen) that was streaming for MMORPG.com, and we lost 2 matches, each struggling to survive. Unfortunately this spec is not the best for dps since Volrik dps is far from optimal, which lead to a lack of kill points, However you have a good chance of surviving if your Aessa use their 5th ability well!
In the last match we did, we decided to just go for a full Ilyana team, and guess what? We won.

Ilyana is a problem right now, one that is exacerbated by the lack of melee heals, and heals in general.

Now you can really question the motivation behind adding another ranged dps to this mix. With Ilyana already dealing massive damage from afar, now you are going to have solid CC in the ranged field! Felicia, with Conflagration of Doom, Rain of Fire, and Fiery Blast, will bring solid CC and make it even more difficult for the rare people trying to rock melee!

Either the developers are massively unaware of the situation in the game right now. Or they have more heroes coming for the next session, which would be most welcomed. Or worse they are just capitalizing on the 'selling' factor of Felicia, after all she is a chick and seems to have less daddy issues than Ilyana!

In either case, we can only hope for Mythic to realize that the situation is dire, the ranged problem and the gold problem are showing a pretty bad picture of the game and its starting to get some media attention. If the game is branded as a bad that early (which will happen really fast if the game is deemed as devoid of depth or Pay2Win), it will die in the egg.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wrath of Heroes: Not much hope!

The Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes Beta started. As one who has followed this game since the very first Beta, and even invested some important amount of time trying to better understand or promote this game I have to say, I have now few hopes for the future of this game.

This game is riddled with problems from the ground up. But more importantly, the team behind the game is severely lacking:

1. The team doesn't understand what Free2Play really means, they basically just saw an opportunity to milk people out of their money, the ridiculous prices are a good indication of that. They -want- you to feel obliged to buy characters.

2. The gameplay is not the team's priority. They are more busy taking care of superficial aspect of the game instead of focusing on the REAL aspects that will get people to play. The fact that the game is zerg'y and simplistic is a good indication of that. They -want- people to feel like 'winners' when all they are doing is farm kills in group and counting on their friends. (I can't wait until they realize people who don't/can't find good warbands won't stick with the game).

3. The game design is an afterthought. The fact that tactics/masteries introduce a Pay2Win element, the wasted/broken perks that could have saved the game from the 5 abilities boredom. The fact that they can't realize that the variety in heroes was their advantage and decided to start a Open Beta with only 5 heroes! Those guys have no clue what they are doing, they are too busy thinking of all the money they will get from those addicted MMO PvPers.

This game has a long road ahead, even if they introduce more characters. It will just become a giant zerg farm where time and who you know is more valued than skills.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hollywood vs. The Internet! The War on Ideas!


So I think it is important that people kinda realize what is at stake in the whole SOPA/PIPA/ACTA vs Internet thing. We have two worlds facing each other right now, one based on an old model where ideas had owners, and another based on the frictionless exchange of ideas.
At its very core, this is a fight between two philosophical takes on the concept of ideas. One that focus on ownership, while the other one focus on circulation.

The old model made billions and acquired power copyrighting everything left and right, the new model needs everything left and right to be able to create value, and unfortunately technology has given the advantage to the new model.
But hey, what is the most effective way to stop technology, as the dark ages have proved, political power!

The old model is using the law as its weapon to stop a technology that is against it interests.

However this technology have proved to be insanely useful to humanity (Arab Spring, ect...).
So the choice is either we side with the likes of Hollywood (the 3 laws were backed up by the MPAA, I wonder why :P) to enable them to keep their power and to continue contributing nothing relevant to society with their copyrighted shitty materials, or we side with the Internet which means an abolition of copyrights as it is (as painful as it may sounds), the creation of a new economy/model, and an increase in technological and potential power for humanity.

The choice is simple!
Oh and just to elaborate a bit on the abolition of copyright thing. Pretty much it would mean that when a studio releases a movie, the images and stuffs enter the public domain and therefore can be freely used, captured, redistributed, modified by people. Same with TV, books, and blogs, ect...

In the case of movies, YES they will lose money because someone who see one on the Internet and realize it is a shitty movie, as most of what Hollywood produces right now, will not waste $5. Hollywood will have to realize that what they are truly selling is NOT a bunch of images and sound, but AN EXPERIENCE. You will have to focus on making theaters an unique experience, with 3D, or Odorama, or whatever, things that would make people go there even after seeing the movie!!!

Same with music, instead of focusing on making money though albums, focus on concerts, lives, events. Hell Madonna already understood that it was the future! Your album will be more a promotional goodie that will make people come to your concert and stuffs, and if your album is shit (like your movie) well you can be damn sure nobody will come instead of you making money out of being a self-sufficient egocentric, promoted but stupid asshole (targeted at pretty 90% of actual rappers).

What's in in the long run for humanity? Hollywood, the music industry, and the entertainment industry going back to making things that actually matter in people's lives! Once again focusing on intrinsic quality instead of superficial marketing campaigns and teasers that try their bests to make all those shitty movies look like they are awesome.

So yeah, either a new model or stagnation! The Old Guard will not and cannot understand that they are defending something that is detrimental to the potential of humanity, and all that for short-term profits, most are on their way to the grave anyway, like the chairman of the MPAA, they could care less of the impact their actions will have on us (and by the way, the Internet is creating WAY more jobs than Hollywood right now, so yeah...).

Again the choice is simple!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Real Potential of the Mists of Pandaria Talent System


An interesting discussion started on the MMO-Champion forums about Blizzard's next expansion for World of Warcraft, Mists of Pandaria.
This discussion presented the idea of giving all WoW classes a 4th spec: Fourth Spec for More than Druids.
Although this discussion is far from anything new, this time people are actually getting comfortable with the idea. My opinion about that? It's about damn time someone realized how great of an idea this is.

The first thing I thought when I saw the Mists Of Pandaria Talent Panel (you can see a recap of it here) was "Wow, now they can create any spec they want for each classes". And indeed with this system Blizzard does throw the customization through talents aspect out of the window, but gains the ability to finally have classes with more than 3 specs.

For Blizzard, this is a good idea for one simple reason: they will be able to sell specs! More after the jump!

The asian themed continent of Pandaria.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wrath of Heroes: Update Before the First Beta Phase of 2012!

Hey everyone!

Hope you had a great start at 2012. This post is mainly to give you all an update on the character breakdown series and my future posts covering Wrath of Heroes. First off, the last few days have been hectic for me with the holidays and some other stuffs, so I haven't been able to do all the character breakdowns I planned to do. Two articles on Conrad and Tobias are close to be done, but since the next phase of Beta is starting soon (in 2 days, January 12 2012) and we have no idea what it might bring to the game I decided to wait and see. So for the moment those articles will only be released after this coming Beta IF nothing easily need coverage.

And now what I really want to do in future posts is an analysis of the video Total Biscuit made about WoH. Here is the video but be warned this is sensitive stuff, especially if you like the game:


 Through the examination of this video, I plan on giving an accurate picture of the state of the game, what are its current strengths, what might be its weaknesses, and what it might need t succeed. I have high hopes for this game, but unfortunately high hopes are not enough in real life.

So here it is, for now I will wait for whatever January 12 is bringing to the game. And then I will have the time and material to finish the planned character breakdowns and then bring you an analysis of the WTF is of Total Biscuit. As always follow me on twitter @ControlBlue if you would be interested in discussing WoH or know when the next articles will be released! Stay Classy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wrath of Heroes BETA: Albodi Character Breakdown!

After Nethys and Gromki, now is the turn of Albodi, the latest hero from Beta 3.

"Albodi the Scarred, Chosen of the Dark Gods. His strength lies in exploiting the weaknesses of his opponents. Armed with a warpstone-infused weapon and devastating determination, Albodi is terror incarnate." - From the Beta 3/Character Reveal post on wrathofheroes.warhammeronline.com

Smart people think alike!