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.