May 12, 2011

The Time Has Come! Off to China!

Well this is it!

I’ve gotta go to my Mum’s wedding this weekend (starting from tomorrow… talk about making a meal of it…) and then I’m coming back and flying to Beijing on the Wednesday. Once I land, I’ll be reintegrating myself into China (i.e. Eating lots of tasty street food) and finding a place to stay. On the Monday I will start my new job, which I may or may not be able to tell you about, so I need to settle in there too.

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Seriously, this was one of the Google Image Search pictures for 'Wedding From Hell'. I will be as happy as this guy when I land in China though...

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Suffice to say, I won’t be available to blog for a while. I’ll see what I can do but don’t expect much over the next 2 weeks. Things are finally getting busy.

Until next time, enjoy yourselves!

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Sam

May 10, 2011

Little Cave Hero – Initial Impressive Impressions

InsideSocialGames recently posted a look at the Facebook game; Little Cave Hero. I was fascinated (it has PIXEL ART) and immediately checked it out. From first impressions, I’m very impressed! The humour in the tooltips and dialogue is really refreshing and I couldn’t help but smile at a lot of the quotes from the Major and Prince Jean (some pompous French dude you have to visit early on). It’s amazing how much humour and style can improve a simple town builder. Of course, LCH is more than that, but so far I’ve mainly been building a town (like every social game ever) and enjoying it for the first time!

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The Major's tongue is stapled to his cheek.

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The short intro informs you that your old town was destroyed by monsters and it’s up to you to rebuild it. After this, you are introduced to the Major (a thoroughly entertaining character) who explains a few things about building and the other part of LCH’s gameplay; Mining.

Like with Knight’s Story but with more of a Minecraft vibe (it’s definitely an influence, from the art to the gameplay), you can use energy to find treasures to improve your town and complete quests. There are also small puzzles, I’ve only entered the first non-tutorial mine and there was a simple puzzle for me to solve. It was really nice having such gameplay and I think it’s very effective. Puzzle games are very popular on Facebook, so I’m surprised so few games have added puzzle elements.

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The mining/adventuring gameplay. Avoiding traps and solving puzzles!

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You also get a score for your energy efficiency in the mines. Discovered that just this second (typing and playing at the same time). This game is constantly impressing me!

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Woo A+

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There is also a feature called the Design Studio, which appears to be some sort of pixel art item creator/customizer. It’s interesting that there haven’t been any real user generated content games on Facebook, since user generated content is like the big thing right now (Minecraft and Little Big Planet for example). It’s a type of gameplay that encourages sociability without the spam of the traditional channels. There is a reason you invite your friends, because you want to share with them… not because you need a Wooden Board for your house in Zombie Lane.

I’m not sure how comprehensive the design studio feature is yet (I’ll check it out another time), or if it’s part of a shareable UGC initiative, but it’s definitely something new in the Facebook gaming sphere.

I urge you to check out Little Cave Hero, even if you just want a little laugh reading the dialogue and tooltips, I think it’s going to be one to watch.

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Sam

May 9, 2011

Reynolds (LoL Anti-Tank) Aesthetic

So I started trying to draw some form of freehand concept for Reynolds but I have lost the ability to draw. I don’t know what happened, but everything I came up with looked horrible. It’s weird because Hilde looks quite good (passable at least), the monstrosities of Reynolds in front of me are too embarrassing to share! I doubt I will learn to draw again soon, but I wanted to show you the sort of look I want Reynolds to have.

What has been established so far is that Reynolds is likely to be from Zaun (a haven for mad scientists), he has a whole host of weapons for his abilities and a very active teleporting system which activates after his weapons have cooled down.

For his look, I have had the idea of a hunched over crazy scientist with a massive teleportation pack on his back for weeks. I haven’t even watched Back To The Future but I kept getting Doc Brown’s image in my head.

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Doc Brown from Back To The Future

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The doc’s hair is a bit wild for me and his lab coat is a bit white for a dude who needs to pack some serious weaponry. Reynolds is a scientist and an inventor, but he also likes to get his hands dirty with shotguns, grenade launchers, machine pistols and his auto attack weapon (need to decide what that will be). He needs something that can carry the weight of all these items. He needs a trench coat.

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May 7, 2011

Was Reynolds all in Vayne?

Riot just released some details about the next champion for League of Legends. She looks pretty cool, I’m definitely gonna save up for her. Why? Because she seems to be anti-tanky DPS! My 2nd champion suggestion project is for an anti-tanky DPS, so lets see what tools she has and how they compare to my suggestion…

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Tumble: Vayne tumbles, maneuvering to carefully place her next shot. She rolls toward the cursor and her next attack deals bonus damage.

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Teleport/Dash type move, like Reynolds’ RELOcator. Helps with kiting and positioning her other skills.

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Silver Bolts: Vayne tips her bolts with a rare metal, toxic to evil things. The third consecutive attack or ability against the same target deals a percentage of the target’s maximum Health as bonus true damage. (Max damage vs. Monsters is capped)

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True damage percentage based attack. Similar to Reynolds’ Let It Rip in both its damage type and that it forces enemies to stay in your range and take massive damage, or get out of your range (which aids kiting).

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Condemn: Vayne draws a heavy crossbow from her back, and fires a huge bolt at her target, dealing damage and knocking them back. If they collide with terrain, they are impaled, dealing bonus damage and stunning them.

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Knockback shot, helping with kiting and protecting squishies in general. Similar to Reynolds’ Shell Shock. When combined with Tumble, it’s like Reynolds’ RELOcator + Shell Shock combo… teleport into position and knock back.

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Final Hour (Ultimate): Readying herself for an epic confrontation, Vayne gains increased Attack Damage, stealth during Tumble, and quadruple the bonus Movement Speed from Night Hunter.

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This skill is pretty interesting, will have to see exactly how her passive (Night Hunter) works. This has no similarities to Reynolds.

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Night Hunter (Passive): Vayne ruthlessly hunts evil-doers. She gains bonus Movement Speed when moving toward nearby enemy champions.

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Another pretty cool ability, helps with chasing but not with kiting… which is interesting. Also has no similarities.

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Riot have seemed to go in an AD carry direction with Vayne, whereas Reynolds is more about utility and support. Vayne will be capable of destroying all targets with her ultimate (not just tanks, like Reynolds). She has a few aspects of Poppy, who is one of the hardest carries in the game (useless when not farmed, insane when farmed). Plus bonus damage move? Check. Terrain based stun and knockback? Check. Movement speed increaser? Check. She has some pretty crazy chasing ability (Poppy also has this, but the descriptions for Vayne seem pretty insane).

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Vayne, the Night Hunter

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May 5, 2011

Deus Ex in real life

I just got back from Paris!

Went to visit the Catacombs, felt like I was J.C. Denton.

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"Agent Navarre was out-of-line. I had no choice."

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Might do a little work on Reynolds this weekend, going to apply for my visa back to China tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

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Sam

April 29, 2011

I gots the blues!

Sorry for a lack of action, especially regarding the Facebook Game Review. I’m just a bit bluesy at the moment!

I was due to have a really fun night out with my friends for the bank holiday (Royal Wedding, woo!). Unfortunately it got cancelled at the last minute, like it did last time.

Good news is that I think my employment license back to China has been successful, so that’s going to be sent back to me in the UK and I can finally apply for my visa. My exciting new job is in Beijing and I can’t wait to get out there. In fact, I got the job offered to me in December 2010. I was due to start in January and have been available since then. But the Gods of the Visa seem to have different plans. My health check (a requirement) took about 2-3 months, my application in Beijing has taken just over 2 weeks and all the couriering of documents has added an extra month or so to that. I’ve been between jobs (first time I’ve heard that used properly!) for 5 months now.

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Shiiiii-it, I got the blues!

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Since then I’ve been trying to keep myself busy. My League of Legends champion suggestion projects have been fun and rewarding. I’ve learnt a lot more about the metagame and grown to love LoL (writing a Maokai guide has also been fun), it will be a shame to leave it behind when I move! Still, after working for 4 months on my Hilde suggestion, it hasn’t gone down too well at all on the forums (only 2 comments and a downvote! haha). What really annoys me is that there isn’t any discussion. I don’t mind if people dislike my idea, or have suggestions to improve it (suggestions are great!), but there’s nothing! The DotA hero suggestion forum has some brilliant templates for your designs and people love helping each other out and reviewing each other’s suggestions. On the LoL forum, there’s horrendous formatting, the worst I’ve ever seen, which makes any suggestions an absolute pain to read. All the time I’ve spent working out her gameplay, theorycrafting and explaining my ideas… it’s all going to waste because no-one is reading it!

My Team Fortress 2 map project was also quite interesting and I felt good about learning the basics of an editor (the closest I’ll ever get to programming), but my first test of it was cut short to about 10 minutes of playtime and it really did suck (especially after waiting 3 weeks for a test day). I wanted to get something tangible completed but I think I’m just disinterested in Team Fortress 2 these days. I loved it back in the day, but now it just seems so repetitive… I’m not having the epic attack/defence games I used to have. I’m not sure what’s changed really! I usually relish getting feedback, iterating and improving my designs… but I just can’t be bothered, I’ve lost all interest in Team Fortress. If LoL had some sort of mod tools for champion creation… oh my! I’d be creating tons of stuff!

During all this time, trying to keep my brain from rotting, I really am feeling the burn of being unemployed. And it’s not like a crappy retail job will be able to help. My first real job in Shanghai was very stimulating and challenging, my decisions made a difference and I was learning every day. I’ve given myself this mental requirement on to be in a challenging job revolving around games, anything else just wouldn’t help! As much as I try to keep mentally active, it’s a losing battle! I just hope I’m up to my new job when I finally move back into 5th gear!

I’m sure no-one has read this far, but I just had to type it all out. Not sure why, but it does help mellow me out. I think I’ll be taking a break from blogging for maybe a week, I’m heading to Paris for a couple of days to see a friend (which is SO needed right now). Perhaps I will work a bit more on Reynolds (LoL Anti-Tank), but don’t expect too much!

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Sam

April 26, 2011

SunnyD and Rum(ble) – Yum, yum!

Despite a torrent of negativity towards the newest champion in League of Legends, I’m actually quite excited about him. The last champion, Brand, was really lacklustre from a design standpoint. He was an AoE fire mage, whoopty doo… haven’t seen that in like 1million games before.

Rumble’s skills are individually quite boring, that I will admit. His Q is just an AoE damage cone. His W is another shield skill (don’t we have enough already?). His E is a skill shot slow, although it has a nice double cast feature. His ultimate is pretty interesting, a long range wall of AoE and slow pain with a new targeting mechanism. He doesn’t sound that exciting does he?!

Fortunately, Rumble’s passive is a really cool skill and is what makes him an exciting champion. All his abilities use Heat, he has no mana or energy. When Rumble is over 50 heat, he enters the danger zone and his skills are buffed. If he reaches maximum heat (120) then he overheats. When Rumble is overheating, he is silenced and has a magic damage buff to his auto-attacks until he cools down. It’s a superb mechanic that is both original, tactical and challenging to manipulate. For maximum ranged effectiveness, you’ll want to time your skills so that you stay below 120 heat but above 50. When you feel like pounding face, you can spam all your skills to reach maximum heat and then pound enemies into the ground with auto attacks.

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Rumble, the Mechanized Menace

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What Rumble’s passive does is give you a very interesting choice of item builds. You could go full caster and hope that you never need to overheat. You could go full tanky DPS and spam all your abilities to ensure you’re getting bonus magic damage on your auto-attacks as much as possible. The optimum playstyle will have to be seen, but I hope you can really kick ass with overheat attacks. I want to create a hybrid build that focuses on…

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  • Cooldown Reduction: More spam = more overheat
  • Attack Speed: More speed = more bonus damage
  • Ability Power: More ability power = stronger shield and buffed AoE damage
  • Resistances: AR and MR so you can stay in the fray and pound face.
April 26, 2011

A New Champion Approaches… Hilde, the Kinslayer

First Concept Art, click to expand

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April 23, 2011

FGR – 23rd April 2011 – Knight’s Story (painfully charming), Auto Hustle (painfully juvenile) and NBA Dynasty

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Introducing… Knight’s Story

Heroes of Might and Magic is one of those games that I’ve always wanted to enjoy more than I do (and I do enjoy it!). One of my favourite games as a child was Lords of Magic back in 1997. That game was massive, something I’d never really experienced before. Until then, I was playing side-scrolling shooters, Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Zool. Lords of Magic was a turn based strategy game that has everything I loved. Heroes that level up, building armies, exploring worlds (and dungeons) and defeating everyone else! I still love all that gameplay! When I discovered that Lords of Magic was a bit of a flop (it was buggy as hell), I was disappointed. I loved the idea of playing on of these games online, but they took so long! It seemed like a type of video game that was destined to never evolve or become popular. Without going off on too much of a nostalgic tangent, Heroes of Might and Magic is very similar to Lords of Magic, and Knight’s Story reminds me a lot of what HoM&M would be like if it it was on Facebook. At least from the first 10 mins of play!

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Knight's Story - It's very charming

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In Knight’s Story, you play a cartoony knight in a cartoony world. There are aspects to the game; Exploration, Castle-Building and Combat. With Exploration, you are given a map, covered in fog of war. You have to navigate the grid, spending energy to discover various objects that you can search for loot. While exploring, you also meet quest givers and can perform simple quests. These quests give you items with which to build your Castle. So far I’ve only built 2 buildings (the Key Maker and the Town Hall), which are built with energy initially, then you must find resources to complete them (through the Exploration and quests). Combat was introduced briefly just now, a simple turn based affair (click attack to attack… there aren’t even any abilities yet).

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April 23, 2011

Balancing Hilde – Finishing touches on her skills…

To finish off my skills, I need to add the cast ability for Fyrone Temblor, add the energy values and then create her passive. Since Hilde is such a complicated champion, I want to make the passive very simple. I’m thinking something along the lines of Soraka or Fiddle (AoE buff/debuff auras). It’s a shame because I really like complex passives, ones that define the entire way you play the champion. I’ll have a think about it.

For now, I need to finalize Fyrone Temblor…

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Mountain Divide: Hilde leaps towards a target, dealing XXX true damage and XX bonus true damage per XX armor and magic resist below her own.

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This is what I said last time about balancing this particularly tricky skill;

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Mountain Divide will probably be the most difficult skill to balance. Hilde’s ultimate abilities are not going to be massively powerful in damage, so Mountain Divide could be her de facto ultimate. However, I don’t want this to be the case because it will ensure that every Hilde player will skill Fyrone Temblor first, which reduces the versatility of the champion. This situation can be combated by reducing the base true damage of the ability, but increasing the bonus damage component. 

Aegis of Kaladoun increases the damage of Mountain Divide (by increasing your armor and magic resistance), Icathian Blades‘ ultimate ability will also increase the damage (twofold, by increasing your armor and MR and reducing theirs). This means that players will have to find a balance between all 3 skills to figure out the most effective skill sequence.

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Now I have the extra values, I really think focussing on the bonus damage component is much better. It will reward Hilde players for finding the best skill combinations and punish those who just max Fyrone Temblor for its uber nuke (she’s a tank, this would be ‘abuse’ of her abilities and a poor way to play).

The bonus damage is based on the differential between Hilde’s armor and magic resist, and her targets. It’s designed to absolutely destroy enemy carries (a bit like Cho’gath’s Feast) so that the enemy team has to deal with her. However, because of the huge amount of variables that can influence her resistances and those of her target, this is tough to balance!

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