Archive for April, 2011

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

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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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April 22, 2011

Balancing Hilde – Damage and Effects Pt.II

Click here for Part I

This time I have to finalize the damage and effects of Hilde’s last 2 skills; Aegis of Kaladoun and her ultimate.

Aegis of Kaladoun

Persistent Effect: Enemy attacks increase Hilde’s armor and magic resistance by X for X seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.

Aegis is the stance Hilde wants to pick when she’s doing a good job and enemies are attacking her. As with her Fyrone Temblor passive, she wants to gain as many stacks as she can and then switch out of it.

Lots and lots of champions have armor and magic resistance buffs. Galio’s Bulwark (90! Instant activated increase to anyone!), Mordekaiser’s Creeping Death (30), Rammus (150 for self), Poppy (50 AR at 10 stacks + damage). Poppy’s ability is basically the same as Hilde’s, but it gives damage and she is not a tank. Therefore I want Hilde to have more than Poppy, but probably less than Rammus (since she has another defense boost).

Persistent Effect: Enemy attacks increase Hilde’s Armor and Magic Resistance by 15 for 8 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.

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Activation: Hilde forges a XXX health shield for all nearby allies for X seconds.

Originally this was going to be an AoE AR/MR boost. But I’ve already got an AR/MR boost, so having a shield is more supportive and interesting.

There are no AoE shield effects in the game, only single target… so I have to take that into account when balancing. Morgana’s Black Shield (300 magic damage), Janna’s Eye of the Storm (240 damage) and Karma’s Soul Shield (280 damage) are the allied target non-ultimate shields in the game.

Balancing an AoE shield will be interesting. If I reduce the health to compensate for a potential 5 shields, then it might be uselesss for Hilde. If I make it too high, it will be severely overpowered. Therefore, I might make it similar to Taric’s heal, having double the amount for himself but the standard values for his allies. Also, remember that this can be activated every 10 seconds. My only conclusion is that the values for this ability are highly speculative!

I’ve also added an effect that if the shield is broken on Hilde, it breaks on everyone else. This acts a bit like a taunt, since attacking Hilde will cause (indirectly) 150 x allies damage.

Activation: Hilde forges a 150 damage shield for all nearby allies for 5 seconds. Shield strength is increased by 50% on Hilde. If Hilde’s shield is broken, all allied shields are lost.

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Keeper’s Will*: Hilde creates a bond between herself and an ally, splitting damage taken by the target by 50% for X seconds.

*activated ability whilst using Aegis of Kaladoun

I love this skill. It allows Hilde to massively increase the effective HP of squishies, doubling their resistances (at the cost of her own health). The damage taken will also force stacks on her Persistent Effect, which is an extra bonus!

There is a balance problem though. Tanky DPS is already owning up the League, so if Hilde cast this on Renekton he’d be unstoppable (he already is in most cases). This is mainly a problem with the tanky DPS metagame (nerf it already, Riot!), but I should take it into account.

Keeper’s Will: Hilde creates a bond between herself and an ally, splitting damage taken by the target by 50% for X seconds. Damage split is reduced to 25% for targets with over 100 armor & magic resistance. 

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Base numbers are in, lets look at the skill descriptions!

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April 22, 2011

FGR – 21st April 2011 – Auto Hustle, NBA Dynasty and Zombie Lane

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… Auto Hustle

Auto Hustle is the natural evolution from typical Mafia Wars style games (time and text based RPGs). You have an energy pool, you use it to take part in missions and then you get the rewards.  What sets Auto Hustle apart is that it has a WASD controlled avatar in a top-down city, complete with driving and shooting. So, instead of clicking ‘Do mission’ to do the mission, you actually control a guy and run around the city killing people and stealing cars. It is almost identical to the old school Grand Theft Auto games. This is good though, for Facebook gaming. If you’re going to steal from someone, steal from the best.

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Some dude I just killed...

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Auto Hustle is surprisingly violent. Not for general gaming, but for a Facebook game I was quite shocked. All the missions basically tell you to kill a bunch of dudes and the player controlled environment is the first I’ve experienced where the player actively kills people. Mafia Wars probably told you to do a bunch of killing, but there’s a huge difference between clicking ‘Kill’ and aiming with your mouse and pulling a trigger. I’m surprised that I’m shocked! I suppose this says a lot about the poor state of mature gaming on Facebook.

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April 20, 2011

Reynolds (LoL Anti-Tank): Ultimate and working on more details…

Unlike Hilde, when I’ve been working on Reynolds I’ve kinda had chaos going on in my brain. This is mostly due to the passive teleport effect which I want to give him. For the purposes of organizing my thoughts and settling on skills and their effects, I want to do a summary and just outline exactly what Reynolds has so far. I’m also going to come up with some names because I’m sick of using ridiculously annoying acronyms like ASSS.

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 Purpose:

  • Kiting multiple enemies with knockback.
  • Reducing the resistances of tanky DPS.
  • Reducing the lifesteal of tanky DPS.
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Notes:
Originally this was supposed to slow, but I now have another skill that slows so it could be removed. The problem with many tanky DPS is their healing. Irelia, Xin Zhao, Sion, Olaf and Renekton all have lifesteal or healing abilities which make them even more difficult to kill. Since the slow was removed, I thought it would be nice to add the additional effect of reduced healing. All junglers rely on lifesteal and most junglers are tanky DPS, so this is a good addition.
April 20, 2011

FGR – 20th April 2011 – NBA Dynasty and Zombie Lane

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.

Sorry for no FGR yesterday! I was doing some real life FarmVille, shovelling, pushing wheel barrows and filling in a trench as a Landscaper for the day. It’s bloody hard work! It’s the next morning and I’m in agony. Also a little game called Portal 2 came out, so I played that in all the spare time I had!

Introducing… NBA Dynasty

Sports management games give me a weird feeling. I always like the idea of playing one, and I have played Football Manager on a number of occassions. However, I always give up and get bored after the transfer window closes! Perhaps I’m just not a very good manager, but I always seem to do badly. I like the idea of bringing a lower league team into the Premier League, but it’s boring down there! I had one good career as a virtual Football Manager. It was in Championship Manager 2: European Leagues, where I took Serie B team Salernitana and won everything with them! Since then I’ve failed with everyone.

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Pre-Coaching Simulation

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NBA Dynasty is a basketball coach simulation and it’s actually looking quite good. The problem with simulation games on Facebook is that they like to restrict the amount of games you can play, while management sims are generally based on huge addicted streaks. It’s a bit like Civilization. When you get into the game, you play it for 8 hours a day. This is tough on Facebook with energy. This is why I’ve avoided games such as FIFA Superstars.

Another reason is that they tend to use trading card mechanics. You can’t search players and then put in a bid for them. You have to buy a pack of players (and at the start you can only afford bad players) and pray that you get someone you either recognize or that has decent stats. You can’t uncover hidden gems, you can’t scout. Buying players is the most fun part of management sims and these games tend to get rid of it!

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4th Quarter Coaching

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NBA Dynasty changes some things around, by letting you search for players and play as much as you want. This is good. Unfortunately, superstar players cost real money and buying individual players is very expensive… but at least you have the option.

Overall it is quite simple, with a focus on the coaching side of the game rather than any upgrades to facilities or anything. You start with 10 players, you enter a game and you see a playthrough of the first 3 quarters. When it hits the 4th quarter, you start coaching. Coaching is actually quite interesting in this game, there are lots of little things you can tweak that set it apart from FIFA Superstars (for example).

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Highlight of the game

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Your players have stamina, so you must switch them out using Timeouts. There are hot and cold streaks, where a player can be shooting really well or really bad. There is the ‘go-to guy’, a status you can put on one person in your team which uses their energy quicker but makes sure you can take advantage of your strongest player, There are fouls, injuries and even momentum (which was just introduced in the last game I played). NBA Dynasty is by far the most tactical sports simulation I have played, which is brilliant.

So far, my only gripes is that it looks a bit crap. There’s no style at all on fonts, except in the in-game effects. The game came out today, with only 7500 MAU so I forgive it! One thing that is really cool is that at the end of the game there is a highlight. This is a short video of a certain one of your players doing something awesome. Yes it will be against a different team to the one you actually played, and will involve players that aren’t on your team… but damn it’s a cool feature anyway! I can’t wait to get Steve Nash so I can see his mesmerizing moves when I win a game!

Overall, NBA Dynasty is looking very good. There has been a lot of thought put into it and it’s not got the restrictions that other Facebook management sims have. Will be keeping a close eye on this one.

Daily Review

Zombie Lane

Quick Zombie Lane update. After punching a riot cop with my fireball gloves, I’ve been introduced to farming. Why can’t a game just not have farms?! Anyway, farming is in Zombie Lane and it serves another function as you can use it to get food (allowing you to purchase more energy). I also got a mission to upgrade my house, so I’m killing construction zombies to get the blueprints.

I say this all the time, but the way you’re guided through new features with a loose narrative is really nice. The more you play Zombie Lane the more you start to appreciate the things that are different from other Facebook games.

Tetris Battles

Not really much left to say on this one. It’s Tetris. It’s the same every time. This and Wine Guru haven’t really been very interesting to review!

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Sam

April 18, 2011

FGR – 18th April 2011 – Zombie Lane and Tetris Battle

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.

Lacking a new game review today, apologies! Extra long for Zombie Lane though…

Daily Review

Zombie Lane

All the weekend, Zombie Lane was the same old same old. I was clearing rubble, looking for the last piece to fix my house (the main story quest). After about 4 days of constant searching, I got the last part 1 hour ago!

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The epic story quest

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One thing that Zombie Lane is doing very well is the narrative. While the general mechanics and drop rates are mediocre at best, one thing that has impressed me has been the sense of purpose. You have a main story quest, unlike CityVille where you have about 3 different quest arcs and can’t figure out which is the most important. As I said before, Zombie Lane does feel a bit like the tutorial of an MMORPG. I really like that.

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