Runegate – When Sales Beats Common Sense

Riot Games finally released a feature for League of Legends that has been begged for since the game’s inception: additional rune pages. For those of you who aren’t familiar, runes are one of the metagame features in League of Legends that allows you to customize your gameplay. You get a series of different slots, and can purchase runes that buff various attributes of your character: movespeed, damage, mana, health, etc. This enables additional strategy for the game, and runes can only be purchased via “Influence Points,” a currency that is only earned by playing the game (win or loss), as opposed to “Riot Points” which are only gained through real money transactions.… Read the rest

Review – League of Legends: Season One

Following many months of “live,” but not “ranked” gameplay, League of Legends, published by Riot Games, has gone pro, launching their competitive Season One. Featuring several ranked ladder modes: “solo” (actually solo or duo play) 5v5, full premade 5v5 and full premade 3v3, the ladders will culminate with tournament play and $100,000 of cash and prizes. Although Riot will not release simultaneous usage numbers, they have confirmed through various online sources they have over 3 million registered accounts. With the DOTA community estimated at 7-9 million players built over a decade, Riot should be proud of how quickly their game has caught on and distinguished itself in broad field of incumbents and competitors.… Read the rest

Nuggets of Wisdom – Slime that Designer!

As a gamer, I’m often puzzled by decisions game designers make. This most often occurs with MMOs, where the eternal question of “poor decision or lack of resources?” seems to apply, but many console games come to mind, like the Gears of War magic chainsaw. Of course, as a gaming consumer, I am simply the target of disdain, condescension, and of course greed of the gaming industry. I sat pondering my frustration with the lack of two-way communication about design decisions in an era where second guessing the experts is the norm: we can go on WebMD and diagnose ourselves, yet I can’t get a straight answer out of a game designer.… Read the rest

Review – Children of the Nile / Alexandria

Children of the Nile is a continuation, and possibly the final installment of the fairly successful Pharaoh series, taking advantage of the excellent setting of ancient Egypt as a basis for a robust city builder. The people of ancient Egypt are civilized enough to be needy bastards– a prerequisite for any builder, and in an era filled with war and great deeds, we’re off to the races of conquest and glory.

COTN’s greatest strength, without a doubt, is the ecosystem of its city. Your people have multiple “tiers” of social standing, with each level having its own behavior and needs. Your job, of course, is to keep those needs satisfied so their efforts can be directed towards doing useful things for you: killing your enemies and building great works in your name.… Read the rest

Building a Mystery… I mean a City Builder

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Legos. Loved the damn things–I think I spent time after grade school every day building Legos and watching old Batman reruns (POW!). Now that I’m an adult, it’s not really appropriate for me to build Legos, but it is OK for me to play video games. This is probably why I gravitate towards city building games: I like the act of creation, and seeing the fruits of my labor, even if not a damn street in the city goes in a straight line because I am a creature of impulse.

While recently lamenting the lack of new city builders (triggered by playing Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and associated expansions yet again), I decided to dig around for some of the “golden oldie” city builders.… Read the rest

Review – Eve Online Dominion

Being primarily an MMO gamer for the past decade, I am continually amazed at my ability to be angry when developers release an untested pile of crap and demand you pay for it–which of course a gamer will. However, much as an old faithful geyser, my naiveté and then resulting hatred spring eternal. The latest source of my ire is none other than my mistress Eve’s latest expansion: Dominion.

Eve has continued to capture my attention for a variety of reasons. It remains an incomparable sandbox of player driven activity, a unique novelty amongst the “theme park” style that dominates MMOs today.… Read the rest

Review – League of Legends

League of Legends, the stand alone Defense Of The Ancients clone released by Riot Games, bills itself as better than DOTA. The good news: it lives up to its billing. Without a doubt, LoL is a superior product to DOTA. This should not be surprising. Being able to draw from established source material, recruit one of the recent caretakers of the map (Pendragon) and build a real, non-volunteer design team, made the first part of Riot Games’ job easy. But credit should be given where credit is due: these ingredients do not automatically make a good game, but Riot has ensured that they have taken the best of DOTA and added much more.… Read the rest

Leveling up the Experience System

Over the past twenty-five years of the “modern” RPG era in gaming, we’ve seen the genre advance tremendously. Rendered graphics, advanced skill systems, voice acting and ever more colors of chocobos are in the vanguard of innovation. But one thing we have not seen advance in any particularly cogent fashion is the experience system.

On the surface, the experience system is relatively straight forward. You kill monsters, you get stronger. This can take a variety of formats: from the basic experience system that leads to levels which grant automatic stat and ability increases, to systems where experience or a similar credit system are spent on customizable skills, to hybrid systems which do both.… Read the rest

Are you Smarter than 100 other Xbox Live douchebags?

Reading even a few game sites is guaranteed to expose you to a certain amount of PR jizz: with machines like Microsoft, EA, Activision and others, it is inevitable you will be exposed to their products through the usual gaming channels. So it was with 1 vs 100 for me. By way of Penny Arcade, I was subjected to a face full of “OMG this game is awesome” jizz. But it was free, so I figured I’d check it out.

For those of you who have been held hostage in a shed for 18 years and were only recently freed, 1v100 is a gameshow that originated in the Netherlands and was hosted by Bob Sagat in the US.… Read the rest

Golden Jew’s Nuggets of Wisdom #5

My initial thoughts of the DS, complete with its Nintendo Gimmick Stylus, was that it was a Junior Pokemon Power Ranger Machine (my affectionate nickname for the Wii that drives Jay up the wall). I had no desire to draw rainbows (for fear of pissing off these people) or successfully masturbate a virtual cat into ejaculation with a stylus, so the DS didn’t seem right for me. Of course, with a $200-ish pricetag and no games I like I didn’t seem like a PSP person either. I thought that my next generation future was the same as my high school prom future: bathroom abortion baby.… Read the rest