Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Musings on why I hate the MTG Community

First off, not all of you are bad people; I have actually made a lot of friends playing the game, as well as some enemies. I enjoy the game's set up, lore, and art as well as it is a strategy game. But unfortunately, my spark for Magic isn't there any more. The community has driven me insane due to the nature of the people, and the nature of the game its self.

First off, the game is straight up pay to win. A lot of the good cards fetch a pretty penny online and in shops, while the cheaper cards are usually sub-par in tournaments. While these cards can be decent, they have better alternatives that see more play and thus driving the Market. While I do have a bit of money in Magic Cards, it is still rather silly to pay 60$ for a piece of cardboard. To boot, I don't have the money to actually buy all the good cards, and the only method I have to obtain the expensive cards is to trade very well. Other card games like Netrunner, while having a higher price floor, have a lower price ceiling(if I recall it is about 300 to get the core set and all expansions that come with full playsets of each card). While with Magic, the price ceiling is infinite, due to new cards being released and the fact that the market is dependent on what people play and what is popular.

While competition is good for some people, it frustrates me in a way if I don't do well. I looked into EDH for a good time, to have a relaxed format to where I could make funny decks and have fun with people. I see EDH as a format that says "Hey I have these spare cards laying around why don't I try to make something of them and have fun with friends," not as this super competitive format where everyone builds a deck to dick over the group the fastest. Another thing it has become is people pouring money into EDH decks to make them god like, like a Force of Will(100$) or a Kozilek(50$).Every game has a meta, and something will always beat something else, but when people start making a super competitive meta out of a fun format, become irritating as it becomes "OK, how many turns before someone combos off and kills everyone."

Worst of all, it is the community's attitude towards winning and loosing. The winners are what I call sore winners: they are all in your face saying "Look at me I'm so great" or "Your deck sucks, noob," and to me that does not promote healthy game play. They're also the same ones that say when they loose "I've spent so much money on this deck, how can it loose to a noob deck like yours?"The loosers end up going on tilt when they don't win because of this, and to be honest, it is a luck based game. A good friend of mine went to a grand prix and actually quit standard because he got frustrated with the meta (can we be honest and say that walkers mirror matches suck?).

All in all, I'm pretty much on the verge of liquidating my magic cards. I have a fair chunk in value through good trades and semi decent luck. Would I be able to make full value? Probably not. But it saddens me that the community I have experienced has become so toxic. I guess that is the nature of competitive gaming: there is always a few rotten eggs.

Monday, January 12, 2015

East Coast and League of Legends

If you have been on Reddit in the past couple of weeks, then you are probably no stranger to the "East Coast Lag" posts, or posts referencing packet loss. Before this, it was true that east coast did play a with higher ping than their west coast counter parts, due to location of servers, but in the past couple of weeks, the game for many east coasters, and even residents in the mid west, has been almost unplayable.Now, many people have been quick to point fingers at Riot or the Internet Service Providers(ISP), but I think both Riot and ISPs have a role in the lag.

Beginning the long train of problems was when Riot relocated their servers earlier in Season 4. The original server location was down in Southern California, near where the League Championship Series(LCS) is held. However, to ensure better server stability, they moved the servers up to Portland Oregon, despite saying they were trying to make the servers more centralized. Upon server relocation, many players had issues logging in, and even higher ping than they had when the servers were in Southern California. Patch 4.20 comes around in late November and sparks massive issues with Windows Firewall, causing games to crash. Patch 4.21 seemed to be running fine up until a week before Christmas, when the whole issue exploded. Packet loss, especially on Verizon FiOS was awful, and games became unplayable. This problem was mostly specific to the East Coast of the United States, and let to a crying out for East Coast Servers.

Now, this could be issues both on Riot's end, and possibly on the ISP end as well. Riot, admittedly, picked an awful location for their servers. In my case, my connection has to travel over three thousand miles to Oregon and the server has to send a response back over three thousand miles, which increases the ping. Another issue is the fact that when these problems started, middle and high schoolers were on break, thus enabling them to play league more often, and clogging up the servers(sorry guys).  The more traffic on a line, the more congested it will become, and causing lag issues. I am pleased to announce at home, starting around the 6th of January, the packet loss has returned to its normal state, but for some others though, the problem still remains.

Now, in the case of League, the amount of data used for league is roughly twenty Mb per game.(Assuming a game lasts thirty minutes.) This isn't a lot for the ISPs to actually throttle, but in the case that they are throttling League's connection is just weird. There are a bunch of other games for them to mess with the connection, but why for League? I think they know it's becoming one of the biggest games ever and if they can charge Riot more for a fast lane, then they would be making bank off the largest grossing video game companies, making about one billion dollars in revenue. Granted, not all of that is profit, but to think that they made one billion dollars off selling nothing but skins, Riot could become a target for greedy ISPs due to high sales.

With all that said, Riot did come out and say they were planning on making a dedicated line just for gaming. This is a massive project, so don't expect results as quickly as you might expect. The goal of this line is to make a direct connection to Riot's servers as opposed to numerous stops and jumps along the way. With this good news that Riot has promised us, I am hoping the future the League Community will stop being divided and we can all play with relatively equal ping. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tokyo ESP

Over winter break, the best way to spend it is to indulge in video games and anime. Now you might be thinking that is a waste of time and to that I say "to each his own." The first anime I sat down to watch was from the creators of Ga-Rei Zero, called Tokyo ESP. I admit, I didn't like Ga-Rei, but the premise of Tokyo ESP seemed rather interesting, I decided to give it a shot.

The story of Tokyo ESP follows a young high school girl named Rinka who lives with her father and struggles financially. One day, on the way to school, she meets a glowing yellow fish, which swims into her body and knocks her out. The next morning however, she wakes up on the first floor of her apartment complex with snow-white hair, and as soon as she gathers her self, she starts sinking through the floor again. As it turns out, the magical fish has given her the ESP to pass through objects, and her friend, Azuma Kyoutarou, has the ESP to teleport. Together, they meet a variety of other of ESP users and try to bring justice to the world. However, a select group of ESPers have decided that they want to take over the world, and install a new world order that puts normal humans at the bottom of the food chain. As they make their motives known, this causes tension between the normal humans and ESPers, even to the point of making a separate zone for the ESPers. As tensions rise, it is up to the "White Girl" Rinka to ease tensions between the two groups and bring order to Tokyo.

The story line was solid on concept, but I do feel like they missed a lot of opportunities to develop the characters. At the start of the series Rinka is your average girl that has money issues, but as the series goes on, she develops into a hero of justice, but that is about it. Her dad is hinted at to be a former cop, but we don't really get to know him that well either. The list goes on and on for all the characters, and I believe if this series had been twenty-two episodes rather than 12, I think they would have gotten a lot more chances to develop the characters and the plot its self. They did adopt a training episode, which was needed to see that she was training to get stronger, but with the anime being only twelve episodes, I think that they could have devoted more time of this one episode to character development. We do get to see a bit of Ayumu's story in that episode, but I just think it took up time they could have been using to get on with the plot.There is also a gap in between episodes four and five that felt like they were in a hurry to introduce the villain, which needed to be done, but I wish they could have done that a bit more smoothly.The ending felt rushed, and it irritated me that they had a deus ex machina ending where Rinka was able to kill the Professor.

The characters, on the other hand, tended to annoy me to no end. Like I said before, Rinka is your goody two-shoes that saves the day, but she does get beaten to a pulp multiple times and still is able to fight decently, where any other person would have black out. Her friend, Azuma Kyoutarou, goes missing mid-way through the series due to be kidnapped by his adopted sister, Minami, and even though we learn a bit about his past, it felt like the anime just kind of halted his character development. Along the way Rinka and Kyoutarou meet a theif by the name of Kobushi, whohas the power to turn invisible. She seemed like a fun character to develop, even crushing on Rinka's dad because she wish she had a father like that. Do we find out anything about her past? No. The villain, Azuma Hokusai, irritated me because he had the power of illusions and he was the one that started the war of humans vs. ESPers, and to boot, he just had a cocky attitude that just made me want to strangle him. I am ok with having a powerful villain, but I not ok with having an all powerful villain, with a dick personality and endless supply of resources. The list goes on and on about characters that were underdeveloped.

The music and audio for this series was actually pretty decent. The opening theme "Tokyo Zero Hearts," had a fun techno vibe to, and along with the animation that went along with it, it felt amazing. The animation for the show was decent, but not as fluid as the opening theme regrettably. I did like the fact they tried to make the animation more pronounced when a character was using their ESP powers, such as Rinka's hair turning white or Kyoutarou's and Minami's teleportation had a fade effect to them. The voice actors also fit the character's nicely too, and nothing felt out of place voice acting wise.

Overall, despite its many, many flaws, I found my self rather enjoying this anime. If anything, this anime has made me want to pick up the manga on my spare time to find out if they tie any loose ends that anime had left me with. In some ways I hope that there is a season two because it felt as if the series left things a bit open ended to make a second season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wonder Trade Chirstmas

Last Christmas, a few of the Pokemon players on Reddit got together and said " Hey, why don't we breed pokemon for the younger kids that will be getting X and Y for Christmas, and then put these Pokemon up on Wonder Trade." A lot of the community joined in and made Wonder Trade Christmas happen. This past November, Pokemon Omeg Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were released in November, meaning that a lot of kids will be getting one or both of these games for Christmas, and the community wants to give them some Pokemon to start out their journey with. Now the goal of Wonder Trade Christmas is not necessarily to put up 6 IV perfect nature Pokemon up(you can if you wish) but to put up pokemon that would catch a little kid's eye, such as starters or Eevee's or in some special cases legendaries. For most people though, they'll try to send out Pokemon with egg moves or hidden abilities so that they'll be something special. This Christmas, I will be participating in Wonder Trade Christmas, sending out 3-5 IV Oshawatts that know Night Slash, and egg move, for all those little kids(and adults) getting  Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. I might also send out a box of 2-5 IV Nidorans of both genders, some with the egg moves Venoshock and Poison Tail to add a little joy to a kid's Christmas.

So please, this Christmas, while you are enjoying your presents and egg nog, try and breed a few Pokemon that can be sent on Wonder Trade to help a young boy or girl start their journey to become a Pokemon Master.I believe it is our duty as the generation that grew up on Pokemon to help those just beginning their journey and give them a little gift that might make a difference in their game.

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

I admit, when I heard Generation 3 was going to be remade, I honestly had some doubts of how they would handle it being on the 3DS and how they would mix together the mega-evolutions into Hoenn. Worst yet, they were introducing new mega-evolutions into Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (ORAS) which made me skeptical. How would this affect game play? Would it alter the games I once loved and still have Pokemon from? Although there were some differences, these games still retained a lot of the same joy as the originals did ten years ago.

Seeing Hoenn in 3D really brought back a lot of memories from when I first started playing. The intro of Professor Birch in the Original Gameboy Advance graphics really hit it home for me, and this isn't even 5 minutes in. All of the locations look almost exactly as they did in Ruby and Sapphire except in 3D. When you dive now, if there is no grass, you can see the Pokemon peeking up at you from in the trenches, and riding on the back of Latios/Latias is an amazing sight to see. Having better graphics than Ruby and Sapphire did ten years ago enabled me to see more of what they were trying to do, such as Flannery's gym being a hot spring, or design of Tate and Liz's gym looking more psychic like.  Now,  one of my gripes is Mauville City, which used to be simplistic, now has changed into a mega-mall style city, that honestly was a pain to navigate.Another weird issue is the fact the transitions between the routes was not smooth like they were in original Ruby and Sapphire. It made the routes easier to navigate but having the awkward transitions broke the immersion for me. 

The elements they brought from Pokemon X and Y helped the game progress a lot faster than it did in Ruby and Sapphire. The experience share constantly being on made it so that I didn't have to worry about raising the one weak Pokemon on my team by throwing it out in front of my team. Although this is a constant complaint in the Pokemon world, they made it so you can toggle it on or off, like in X or Y. The primordial evolutions helped with the story line to help show Kyogre's and Groudon's true power in the past. Kyogre's Primordial Sea and Groudons Desolate Land are amazing and add a new power to them. The mega-evolutions keep their distance for the most part but they make their return at the Delta Episode.

The post game not lacking in things to do, unlike X and Y. The Delta Episode was full of fast passed action, with Zinnia, a young girl, goes around taking everyone's mega stones in hopes of reviving Rayquaza. After catching Rayquaza, you get a chance to catch the mysterious Deoxys. Being able to catch Deoxys, a former event only Pokemon, made me really excited due to the fact back when I was playing Ruby and Sapphire, I couldn't get Deoxys legitimately.

The new Mega-evolutions introduced in ORAS added a bit of hype to the game for me, although some of the Mega-evolutions didn't fit the theme of Hoenn.  Mega-Altaria and Mega-Sharpedo really brought the theme of Hoenn home, along with Mega-Rayquaza. They also brough up the starter Mega-Evolutions, although the artistic design of Swampert was not pleasing where as Mega-Blaziken and Mega-Sceptile seemed to ooze power.The addition of Mega-Audino and Mega-Slowbro felt awkward but I was glad to see a Generation 5 Pokemon get a mega evolution.

All in all, I'd recommend these games to any pokemon fan despite their flaws(and too much water), young or old, whether it is their first Pokemon game, or if they are a Pokemon master, any person will have fun with these games.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Aikatsu(Season 1)

On my quest to find cutesy anime, I thought I hit the tragic end at one point in my life. All that felt like was left was Sailor Moon and maybe one or two that haven't been subbed due to their obscurity. However, through reddit, I stumbled upon a cutesy anime that not only quenched my thirst for cutesy anime, but also was also perfect for my thirst for idol anime.

  Our story starts off with a first year middle schooler ,Hoshimiya Ichigo, a happy go lucky girl who loves food. One day, she and her friend, Kiriya Aoi, a studious girl and the same age as Ichigo, go to see super idol, Kanzaki Mizuki in concert. Ichigo is so mesmerized by Mizuki's performance that she decides to transfer into Starlight Academy, a school known for making famous idols such as Kanzaki Mizuki. After getting accepted into Starlight Academy, Ichigo and  Aoi embark on Idol Activities, or Aikatsu, to help her train as an Idol. Along the way, they meet Shibuki Ran, a model who loves the brand Spicy Ageha, Toudou Yurika, a tsundere girl who likes to pose as a vampire, and Arisugawa Otome, a hyper active girl that loves sweets. Together, they embark on various aikatsu in hopes of surpassing Kanzaki Mizuki. 

The story is pretty typical: you have your happy go lucky main character who has an dream and then you have her best friend that will try her best to talk sense into her. It is almost episodic in nature, however, it does a lot of continuity, which is nesacery to help show that Ichigo is progressing as an idol. At the start of the anime, it shows that Ichigo is unsure of whether or not she wants to be an idol, but as she gets more involved with aikatsu, she grows to love being an idol. Along the way, she meets various friends, all with different personalities and they help her grow as idol. The main progression of the plot is measure by time, i.e various holidays and events. To be honest, for a show aimed at little girls, the plot was not too bad.

The characters had various personalities. We have happy go lucky Ichigo, the studious Aoi, the tsundere Ran as our main three. However, we meet Otome, a eccentric girl in the same year as Ichigo, Yurika, a girl pretending to be a vampire and of course Kanzaki Mizuki, a mature girl who is the schools top idol. The characters are stereotypical I will admit, but I enjoyed them none the less. One thing that does make me sad is the fact during that I couldn't bring my self to get attached to any of the characters due to there was so many rotating in and out around the main cast. Another problem is that the characters of the cast are distinguishable, they feel like they all have the same personality at the base. Otome and Ichigo feel like the same person except for one throws English around in the middle of her sentences.

The art for this anime came in two styles: the regular anime art and the CGI used during the performances. The regular art was great; everything seemed well animated with very little flaws. Each character looked distinguishable, and were most of the time well drawn. The CGI was a bit of a miss for me because while they were dressed super cute for the performances, the girls them selves looked a bit weird. I also felt like the CGI helped with the appeals these girls were trying to make, but in the end, just felt like it was over  done. However the transition into the CGI scenes came as almost a magical girl style fashion.

The music for the first season of Aikatsu was pretty good. The songs used in every episode were upbeat and happy. The opening and endthemes were well done and were even decent enough to be used as performance songs. My only complaint was that the songs did get repetitive but it gets better in later seasons.

Over all, I enjoyed marathoning this anime. I couldn't wait to see what it had in store for me next, and honestly I was not disappointed with the first season of Aikatsu. Was it perfect? No, but don't let that discourage you because this anime is worth watching despite the flaws.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Godzilla (2014)

Although anime might be huge in America today, that was not the first thing that came over from Japan. In the 1950's,there was a Japanese movie the show cased a huge reptile tearing up Tokyo in epic fights against these big monsters called Kaijuu called Godzilla. There have been sequels and even an American remake that most people are trying to forget. However, Americans have tried their hand again in a remake of these Japanese films,and surprisingly, it turned out decently.

Our plot starts out in the Philippines in 1999 where a group of explorers discover a unusual uranium deposit that seemed to stronger once it was exposed to air. Underground, there was a massive  fossil, bigger than any animal known to man but in the fossil held an embryonic sac, which was the source of the uranium. The next scene cuts to Janjira, Japan where its a normal day as always, except the power plant where one of our main characters, Joe, works at starts reporting tremors from inside the earth. Everyone thinks it's just an earthquake, but when the power plant collapses with Joe's wife inside, he is convinced that it was not just a normal earthquake. Our plot after that point jumps to the year 2014 in San Francisco where Joe's son, Ford grew up with out any problems and has come home from a military tour over seas. However, on his first night home, he gets a phone call from Japan from his dad saying that his dad was arrested from going into a restricted area to get the data from fourteen years ago back. After the police arrest him, he meets up with one of his old co workers from the power plant and as it turns out, where the power plant use to be, there is now a pulsating cocoon belonging to the winged creature called muto which feeds off radiation. Switching scenes, there is another cocoon in Nevada which hatched into a bigger, however wingless muto. As the two travel on their way to meet up, the alpha predator,Godzilla is hot on the muto's trail, traveling across the Pacific, to cross paths with the female muto from Nevada for an epic battle over San Fransico. 

I will admit to that I haven't seen any of the Godzilla movies previously. I went in expecting two hours of monster fighting with maybe a little bit of plot thrown in. However, there was substantial lack of of monster fighting in this movie. When Godzilla him self only shows up three times, I felt like this was a movie more about the humans rather that Godzilla.This movie tried to play on the drama side and tried to show the human's side of the story, which did give our main characters a chance to develop. But when it tried too hard to pull the emotional strings a bit too hard. Another thing that irked me about the plot was the fact they pulled too many plot convenience strings, such as Ford falling off a bridge , being knocked out, and waking up just in time when the military troops walk by.   

The movies tried to play up the human character but they honestly came up as bland. Ford, our main character for majority of the movie was our typical marine guy coming home from a tour over seas. There is nothing that makes him stand out, and often times, I feel like if his character was written out, it might have been a little less bland. His dad, Joe, was slightly more interesting because he was that one guy who claimed to have a clue what was going on, but was looked at like he was crazy the whole entire movie. Unfortunately, all of the other human characters ended up kind of bland and forgettable. Godzilla himself only appeared three times but some things were explained, such as he was the alpha predator and the Muto were his prey.

Overall, I was entertained with this movie. Granted it had a generous amount of flaws,but seeing the big monster fight at the end almost made up for the fact that the human "character development" took up more time than it should have. I will say that the experience of going to the movie theater and having people cheer when Godzilla showed up was a blast. I would recommend it if you can over look some plot holes and enjoy colossal monsters fighting over the city.