Stack Exchange Gaming Blog http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com The Gaming Stack Exchange Blog Wed, 01 Mar 2017 18:32:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.6 How to Create a Minecraft PE Server http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2014/06/how-to-create-a-minecraft-pe-server/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2014/06/how-to-create-a-minecraft-pe-server/#comments Sat, 07 Jun 2014 15:37:59 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4632 Minecraft Pocket Edition has long been topping the download charts of iPhone and Android game apps, now with more than 20 million paid installs combined. The possibility to be able to play online is one of the main features that pull more downloads and because of this we have put together the ultimate guide where we cover all possible ways to setup your own Minecraft Pocket Edition server. Step by step we take you through the process!

PocketMine Server Hosting Software

PocketMine is to date the only software which people can download for free and use to setup their own Minecraft Pocket Edition server with. Mojang (the company which created Minecraft) is in no relation with PocketMine and got no intention anytime soon to release a server package similar what is offered for PC. PocketMine makes up for this lost space and is a good option to create a Minecraft Pocket Edition server for free on your own machine.

Installing the Server

Go to PocketMine and download the most recent version of the PocketMine-MP software.

Start the installer and follow through with the installation. If Microsoft Visual C++ 2012 Redistributable wants to run its installation at the same time, let it run.

Upon finishing the installation you will be asked if you want to run PocketMine, allow for that to happen.

As you start the PocketMine program a command prompt window will appear and ask in which language you want to continue. For me the appropriate language is English which means I type out en and press return. You can choose any language but this guide will help you through the process in English.

Next you will be asked if you want to skip the setup wizard. Simply type y and press return. If you are on a Windows operating system a security warning window will pop up. Choose the appropriate option based on what network you are on. Now the actual parts of your server will be installed.

Type stop and press return. Wait for it to stop and then close the command prompt window.

The server is now installed but there are still things left over to do before it’s live for everyone with an Internet connection.

Server Configuration

Locate the folder in which you chose to install PocketMine. In my case I will head over to C:\Users\John\Downloads\PocketMine-MP. Open the file named server.properties using Notepad (I use Notepad++ which is an advanced (and free) version of Notepad).

In the server.properties file is all the core settings of your server found. No changes are necessary at this point but for demonstration we are going to edit the server name. For full descriptions what each line of settings mean your should head over to this page.

For changes to go live on your server you always need to save the server.properties file after making any changes to it. If your server was running at the time the changes were made you need to restart the server.

Port Forwarding

For players to be able to connect to our server we need to open ports in our router. The router is a physical box which connects multiple networks and directs the traffic between them.

As we all got different routers you should head over to PortForward.com and find the right guide on how to do this for your specific router. Though, you should still keep on reading to understand how the process looks like.

To make changes on the router we need to login to it. For that we need the internal IP address. Open cmd (command prompt) and type ipconfig and press return. The internal IP address is marked in red on the image below. It’s located after Default Gateway (which reads Standard-gateway for me as I’m on a Swedish version of Windows). Note the internal IP adress down.

Type the internal IP adress into the address bar in a web browser.

A verification window will pop up asking you for the username and password of your router. For my router the username is username and password is password but it differs from router to router (such information is found at PortForward.com).

Open the server.properties file located in the folder in which you installed PocketMine. On the 7th line copy the port (CTRL + C).

Click Services in the router menu and then click Add Custom Service.

Put the following information into each option and click Add.

Click the Firewall Rules link in the router menu and make sure you add what is seen in the images. As a Minecraft Pocket Edition server only uses the Inbound Services as far as I know it should be enough but to be on the safe side I also added it to Outbound Services. You should do the same.

Launching the Server

Go to the folder in which you installed PocketMine. For me it’s C:\Users\John\Downloads\PocketMine-MP.

Double click the start.cmd file and the server will start. The PocketMine-MP window must be open as long you want to keep the server running.

To make sure that everyone with an Internet connection can connect to the server we will register an account at MCPEIndex.com. Next you will need your external IP address which players on other networks than yours will use to connect to your server. Go to WhatsMyIP.org and copy your external IP address (located in the top of the web page).

Login to your MCPE Index account, click Add Server and paste the IP into the field asking for the IP and then copy the port which you forwarded before (default is 19132) into the port field. If the server is live for everyone it should tell you it’s online and on the right side of the web page a debug window with raw information about your server should appear.

At last you know your server is online!

To further customize your server you should head over to PocketMine’s page for plugins

Multiplayer for Minecraft PE

This is currently considered the easiest route to create a Minecraft Pocket Edition server. The downside is that it costs money in comparison to the PocketMine software. At this point the app is only available for iOS devices.

Begin by downloading the app at the App Store for $2.99. Next launch the app.

As you open the app you will have multiple options to choose from. Select the option saying Host server.

As you tap the Host server button it might ask you to login to Game Center. To access Game Center use your Apple ID and password.

Select Server is the area where your created servers will be displayed. Tap Add in the top right corner to start creating a server.

Enter the necessary information into the different fields and make changes to the settings which you want.

If you are not already running Minecraft Pocket Edition in the background then a message will pop up telling you to launch it and keep Minecraft Pocket Edition running in the background at the same time as the server app. Press the Home button and launch Minecraft Pocket Edition. Also, start the world which you would like to host.

Your server is now launched and in the bottom you can see the connected players.

Pocket Realms

Pocket Realms is a service which will be provided by Mojang in the late of 2014. It is a subscription based service and targets groups of friends and smaller communities. A Pocket Realms server is said to be able to hold 20 players at a maximum but it’s nothing Mojang has confirmed themselves yet. As soon Pocket Realms is released we will update this part with a thorough guide of how to get started.

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The Thousand and One Revisions of Link’s Awakening http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2014/04/the-thousand-and-one-revisions-of-links-awakening/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2014/04/the-thousand-and-one-revisions-of-links-awakening/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 23:19:58 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4606 I have always loved The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. I can’t even remember how many times I played this game. I somehow got interested in the game’s numerous bugs and tried to learn about many of them. The main problem with these bugs is that some of them are reproducible only in some revisions of the game. In order to know which bug could be performed with which revision, I tried to take an inventory of the revisions… but it soon turned out to be a nightmare!

Obvious differences

When we think about the different versions of Link’s Awakening, the first obvious versions that come to our minds are the original black & white version from 1993, and the color remake from 1998, known as The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. Another noteworthy difference is that the original game has been released in four different languages (Japanese, English, German and French). Releasing the game on a different cartridge per language may have been due to the lack of memory on the old cartridges. While it was certainly not a problem with the Game Boy Color cartridges, the language separation was kept for Link’s Awakening DX, probably to lessen the burden of the development team.

Lesser known versions

Since the original Link’s Awakening managed to sell more than a million copies, it was re-released in 1996 under the Player’s Choice label (also known as Nintendo Classics in Europe), along with other Nintendo games that reached the same number of sales. Some bugs were fixed for the Player’s Choice versions of the game, introducing some more revisions of the game.

Link’s Awakening DX has also been available on the 3DS eshop since 2011. Apparently, there is still one version per language. The 3DS versions have undergone some slight modifications before they were released, so I will consider that they are different from the Game Boy Color versions. The game was also available for the Nintendo Power flash cartridges.

That said, I don’t know much about the 3DS revisions of Link’s Awakening, and I can’t tell which versions of the game were available for the Nintendo Power and whether they were different from the Game Boy Color ones. Therefore, this article will mostly try to make a list of the different Game Boy and Game Boy Color revisions of Link’s Awakening. From what I told earlier, you could probably count at least 4 versions of Link’s Awakening and 4 versions of Link’s Awakening DX, plus the Player’s Choice versions. However… there are at least twice as many revisions of this game. We will try to provide a mean to differentiate them and to eventually count them.

Cartridge ID

Every Nintendo product has an identification number. To identify the version of a game, it is generally possible to refer to the cartridge ID. This number is often written on the left strip of the cartridge (except for the Japanese versions). The version numbers for Link’s Awakening cartridges are as follows (an underscore represents the characters that change between versions):

  • Link’s Awakening: DMG-ZL-___ (e.g. DMG-ZL-FRA).
  • Link’s Awakening DX: DMG-AZL_-___ (e.g. DMG-AZLF-FRA).

There is one exception to this rule: the Quebec black and white version ID is DMG-ZC-CAN. In addition, the cartridge ID can be followed by the revision number (e.g. the Player’s Choice USA revision is DMG-ZL-USA-1).

Here is a list of the different versions that I was able to find, with the regions where they were likely to be released:

Link’s Awakening

  • English games
    • DMG-ZL-AUS (Australia)
    • DMG-ZL-CAN (Canada)
    • DMG-ZL-ESP-1 (Spain)
    • DMG-ZL-EUR (Europe)
    • DMG-ZL-HOL (Netherlands)
    • DMG-ZL-SCN (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
    • DMG-ZL-UKV (United Kingdom)
    • DMG-EL-USA (United States)
    • DMG-ZL-USA-1 (Unisted States)
    • DMG-ZL-USA-2 (United States)
  • French games
    • DMG-ZC-CAN (Quebec)
    • DMG-ZL-FRA (France)
  • German games
    • DMG-ZL-FRG (Austria, Switzerland)
    • DMG-ZL-NOE (Germany)
  • Japanese games
    • DMG-407 CHN (China, Japan)
    • DMG-ZLJ (Japan)

Link’s Awakening DX

  • English games
    • DMG-AZLE-USA (United States)
    • DMG-AZLE-USA-1 (United States)
    • DMG-AZLP-AUS (Australia)
    • DMG-AZLP-EUR (Europe)
    • DMG-AZLP-EUR-1 (Europe)
  • French games
    • DMG-AZLF-FRA
  • German games
    • DMG-AZLD-NOE (Germany)
  • Japanese games
    • DMG-AZLJ-JPN (Japan)

DMG-ZL-FRG cartridge with a DMG-ZLD-0 microchip

Microchip ID

Unfortunately, the cartridge ID isn’t sufficient to identify which exact revision of Link’s Awakening (DX) we are playing. While it may give a good idea, some cartridges with the same ID may include different revisions of the game while some cartridges with different IDs may include the same revision of the game. There are only two ways to identify precisely a revision:

  • Check the microchip ID.
  • Check the hash of the ROM.

Two revisions of Link’s Awakening are exactly the same if they have the same microchip ID or the same hash. However, checking the microchip ID requires to open the cartridge while checking the hash requires to extract the ROM from the game. None of them is trivial. The version numbers for Link’s Awakening microchips are as follows:

  • Link’s Awakening: DMG-ZL_-_ (e.g. DMG-ZLJ-0).
  • Link’s Awakening DX: DMG-AZL_-_ (e.g. DMG-AZLD-1).
  • There is one exception to this rule: the Quebec black and white version ID is DMG-ZCF-0.

The last digit in the microchip ID corresponds to the revision number of the microchip. The total number of Link’s Awakening different revisions corresponds to the number of unique microchip IDs.

I managed to create the following table thanks to many websites (especially DAT-o-MATIC). This table tries to match the microchip ID, the cartridge ID and the MD5 hash of as many Link’s Awakening (DX) revisions as possible (Game Boy and Game Boy Color only):

Link’s Awakening
Microchip ID Cartridge ID MD5
DMG-ZCF-0 DMG-ZC-CAN DD0752E29D7754AE3249F32BF0352811
DMG-ZLD-0 DMG-ZL-FRG, DMG-ZL-NOE 8B7AF1A8CA96C74301D633E0CE83BA0B
DMG-ZLE-0 DMG-ZL-CAN, DMG-ZL-UKV, DMG-ZL-USA C4360F89E2B09A21307FE864258ECAB7
DMG-ZLE-1* DMG-ZL-CAN, DMG-ZL-ESP-1, DMG-ZL-UKV E202EE96A60CE347E39FE3F5D9FD65E7
DMG-ZLE-2* DMG-ZL-EUR, DMG-ZL-USA-1 69D643BF4E37B3C133518517338B6A1C
DMG-ZLF-0 DMG-ZL-FRA 5BC0913D533000522C7C9CAC1EF6F97F
DMG-ZLJ-0* DMG-ZLJ* AE08C1F73F822116060EF58293B94ED8*
DMG-ZLJ-1* DMG-407 CHN 3AFBE0CF110FC6AD8DEF8377ECFFC34D
Link’s Awakening DX
Microchip ID Cartridge ID MD5
DMG-AZLD-0 DMG-AZLD-NOE E91FD46E7092D32CA264F21853F09539*
DMG-AZLD-1 DMG-AZLD-NOE B0080C2F1919A4BB0EA73B788F4A6786
DMG-AZLE-0 DMG-AZLE-USA 07C211479386825042EFB4AD31BB525F
DMG-AZLE-1* DMG-AZLE-USA-1* 1043FD167D0ED9C4094E3C9D8E757F1E
DMG-AZLF-0 DMG-AZLF-FRA
DMG-AZLF-1 DMG-AZLF-FRA 68242187B65166B5F8225B20E2021659
DMG-AZLJ-0* DMG-AZLJ-JPN* F75874E3654360094FC2B09BD1FED7E8
DMG-AZLJ-1* DMG-AZLJ-JPN 6D8F9CD72201CAABDFD0455A819AF9CE
DMG-AZLJ-2 DMG-AZLJ-JPN 2E2596C008D47DF901394D28F5BD66EC
DMG-AZLP-0 DMG-AZLP-EUR, DMG-AZLP-AUS*
DMG-AZLP-1* DMG-AZLP-EUR*, DMG-AZLP-AUS*
DMG-AZLP-2 DMG-AZLP-EUR, DMG-AZLP-AUS 7351DAA3C0A91D8F6FE2FBCCA6182478

The fields followed by an asterisk are the ones that I could not verify but that are likely to be true. For example, I could never find any mention of the numbers DMG-ZLJ-0 or DMG-ZLJ-1, but the corresponding versions exist. The only missing information is the exact name of the microchip that I assumed to be DMG-ZLJ-* since it would follow the apparent naming conventions. I couldn’t match every microchip ID with the corresponding cartridge ID(s) either.

Anyway, trying to take an inventory of all the revisions of Link’s Awakening and Link’s Awakening DX was a great adventure, I would never have thought that there were so many of them! Even if the game is quite old, looking for this kind of data is a slow process and I probably wont be able to complete this list for many years.

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An Interactive Walk Through Gaming History http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2013/04/an-interactive-walk-through-gaming-history/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2013/04/an-interactive-walk-through-gaming-history/#comments Wed, 17 Apr 2013 15:00:03 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4401 GameOn-banner-375I recently took a trip to Toronto, Ontario to celebrate my birthday with my twin sister (albeit a bit belatedly).  We saw some of our extended family, went to a Jays game (they lost, unfortunately), and spent some time at the ROM.  None of this is important (well, at least in the context of this blog), since I also spent some time in the Ontario Science Centre, and their special exhibit, Game On 2.0.

In the words of the Science Centre:

[On] Sept. 26, 1969, a radio signal over 1.5 billion light years away struck a circuit that raised the curtain at the Science Centre’s official opening. It was one of the world’s first interactive science museums.  The Science Centre has since welcomed more than 46 million visitors for a range of fascinating experiences in science and technology. It is one of Ontario’s most significant cultural attractions, focused on interactivity and hands-on learning for visitors of all ages.

An exhibition about gaming seems right at home.

Full disclosure: my sister works at the Ontario Science Centre, and as such, I received the family discount on the admission price.  I received no other perks, benefits, or preferential treatment, and would have paid the full price of admission had it been required.

This kid is playing Tomb Raider on an original Play Station, a game and system older than he is.  Faces have been blurred to protect their privacy.  Credit: MBraedley

This kid is playing Tomb Raider on an original Play Station, a game and system older than he is. Faces have been blurred to protect their privacy.

On display were games older than many members of Arqade.  As the Ontario Science Centre is an interactive museum, most of the games on display were also playable.  I saw (and played) games from the ’70s all the way up to modern games, across numerous genres.  This vast swath of gaming history led to some uplifting moments, seeing young gamers play games that are not only older than them, but sometimes even two or three times their age.  It’s a testament to good gameplay, that even playing with dated graphics can still be enjoyable.

Some of the earliest video game "consoles". Credit: MBraedley

Some of the earliest video game consoles.

So let’s talk about some of what was on display.  Upon entering the exhibit, you’re greeted with some dinner game machines, Pong, some pinball machines and a set of classic computers and game consoles.

Unfortunately, only Pong and the pinball machines were operational, and even then, they could be temperamental.  The pinball machines, for instance, were down for maintenance when I first entered the exhibit.  Other games and consoles were also out of order, to various degrees, although given the age of some of the hardware, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  In any case, there are more than enough games to occupy your time than for you to worry about a handful of them being unavailable.

Motherboards from the Play Station, Game Cube, and Famicon.

Motherboards from the Play Station, Game Cube, and Famicon.

More hardware can be found, with the internals of three consoles on display, as well as Amigas, Commodores, and Ataris running games while safely tucked behind Plexiglas.

Next up you’ll see the majority of the games on display, with Indy 500 at one end, Half Life 2 at the other, and everything in between.  While some of the PC games here use mouse and keyboard, many of the games use original controllers and run (mostly) on original hardware.  It’s an eclectic mix of games, and there’s bound to be something for every gamer to play.  It’d be tough to get to every game that’s here, given the number of games on display combined with the number of visitors to the exhibit, and the fact that the museum isn’t open all day, but there’s usually one game waiting to be played.  Besides, there’s more to see in the exhibit.

LaraCroft

Her eyes seem to follow me wherever I go…

Sonic

Sonic, through the ages.

Beyond the old games and hardware lie a collection of gaming art, including a statue of Lady Croft, probably the largest art piece in the exhibit.  Other artwork from the Tomb Raider series is on display, as well as artwork for the Uncharted and Sonic the Hedgehog series, among others.  Movie posters for some of the franchises that successfully (or unsuccessfully, as the case may be) made the move to the silver screen also have their place in the exhibit.  Luckily, I don’t remember seeing any Uwe Boll on the wall.

In the centre of the exhibit hall are two more areas covering handhelds, new technology, and kids’ games.  I didn’t spend any time in front of the kids’ games, but the handhelds included playable models ranging from an old Tron game up to the PSP (I didn’t see a Vita).

TombRaider-info

Some original Tomb Raider artwork.

Technologies covered included racing wheels, motion controls, and multiplayer.  Gran Turismo 5 was showcased with a full racing wheel setup and a 3 monitor panoramic view, with some arcade (literally) racing games beside it.  In addition to the Wii games found throughout, there were also Kinect and PlayStation Move games to be played.  The big multiplayer draw was 8-player Halo: Reach on four consoles.  Pro tip: if you really want to get in on the 8-player deathmatch, bring seven of your friends or be really outgoing.  Touch-screen gaming seemed oddly absent from the exhibit, although that could be due to a number of reasons.

Handheld1

Some of the non-playable handhelds

Handheld2

More of the non-playable handhelds

Looking at a display dedicated to the progression of Nintendo handhelds, a fellow visitor a little older than me explained to his daughter that he owned the original Game Boy.  I piped up saying that I had one too, and that it would probably still work if I threw 4 AA’s in it.  Asking what games I had for it, I gave the standard reply of Tetris and Dr. Mario, the same response that would come from basically every other Game Boy owner.  It’s a testament to the hardware design that us gamers in our 20’s and 30’s to still expect these older systems from our youth to still be functional.  I highly doubt that we’ll see the same thing with respect to the PS3 and 360 even 15 years from now.

The exhibit also features this really cool and innovative game called Joust!

JS_Joust_title_screen

Not the Joust you were thinking of?

No, I’m not talking about the 1982 video game, but rather J.S. Joust, the independently developed, videoless game that’s played with PlayStation Move controllers.  It’s an interesting game, combining fineness with a wide range of strategies and tactics.  Your goal is to be the last person standing by protecting your Move controller from high accelerations (i.e. other players hitting it).  Move to quickly while attacking someone else, and you might just knock yourself out.  Guard your controller to your side rather than in front of you, and someone might sneak up from behind.  Interesting strategies can pop up when, for instance, you mix 30-something parents with their preteen children.  While a parent can hold their Move controller over their head, out of reach of their child, the kid might choose to tickle their parent, causing the parent to shake their controller enough to trigger it.

ArcadeMachines

Some of the classic arcade units. Faces have been blurred to protect their privacy.

Last up is the arcade.  Luckily, you don’t have to bring a roll of quarters with you; the games here are free.  All the charm of these machines is also maintained, including the high score lists.  I spent more than a little time trying to get my name on the high score list for Centipede.  If you’re really looking for nostalgia, this is the place to be.

I do feel there was some stuff missing from the exhibit, though.  Myst and Riven, for example, were truly innovative games that brought some of the first photo-realistic graphics to video games, and the Mass Effect series stretched the envelope in terms of non-linear storytelling.  The curators may have left these games out, given that it would be hard to play them in 5 minute chunks, and they don’t lend themselves to having multiple people making decisions.  This isn’t really a problem with Tomb Raider or Uncharted, since choice doesn’t affect the story.  Also missing are games using alternative business models, i.e. Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program.  Actually, these two games are a perfect choice, since they can be used educationally.  Redstone has encouraged more than a few people to learn more about electronics, and what better way to learn about rocket science than by building a (virtual) rocket and launching it?  I don’t know what kind of lead time was required for this exhibit, which could excuse KSP, but Minecraft has been available a lot longer.  Don’t think I’m disappointed that these games weren’t shown, because I’m not.  There was plenty of other stuff to make up for it.  Of particular note, they have a virtual reality sphere that hadn’t opened yet, probably because they’re waiting for a VR headset or something, but it should be open soon (or even by the time you’re reading this).

I haven’t touched on everything at the exhibit, and to do so would be difficult at best – just look at the games list!  There’s a lot to see and do here.  And of course there’s the rest of the museum to explore as well.  Game On is just one exhibit out of many.  If you’re in the Toronto area with a free day and you’re a gamer (I presume you are, since you’re reading this blog), then you owe it to yourself to go see this exhibit.  Game On 2.0 is on display until September 2nd, 2013.

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League of Legends – Support is Science http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2013/04/lol-support-is-science/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2013/04/lol-support-is-science/#respond Tue, 02 Apr 2013 15:00:57 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=3640

Sightstone

Here I come again to talk about League of Legends. With the reign of Season 3, many things have changed. I am sure you have found a number of comments for your favourite AP/AD/Top/Jungle/IDoTonsOfDamage build, but I would rather talk about my favourite role and its changes: the Support. It is really a special type of gameplay that requires more skill than one would think of at first glance, and not just anyone can Support, just as not just anyone can Top, Jungle, AD or AP. Why? Because of many things, the main reasons being because of the gold gathering mechanism and the prevalence of the champion’s kit over its AP/AD ratio. This article will focus on the former.

Notable changes have been introduced in the third season. These changes have considerably improved the quality of life of LoL’s Support champions by allowing new possibilities. This has been made possible by changing the default passive gold per second, the addition of self-recharging items like the “Sightstone”, and the Pickpocket mastery. Furthermore, as the gold pot increases for supports, new items have been developed to add more diversity to the builds.

What is behind gold in the League?

There are many ways to get gold in League of Legends. The most notable ones are: doing the killing blow on a enemy/neutral monster, killing a champion, and assisting a champion in killing another. To this major gold income can be added: the passive gold made by each champion and the gold per 10 seconds items. In the current metagame, the Support champion is required to play on a 0 Creep-Score (0-CS) basis. Because Supports aren’t made to “snowball”, they are also asked not to take kills (the infamous kill-steal a.k.a. KS) unless the kill cannot be done by another player. These restrictions leave the Support its passive gold income, the gold per 10 seconds items, and the eventual assists he may get from other champions. The latter is very situation dependent and has a very flexible scale depending on the enemy’s number of deaths, and the number of assisting players. A Support cannot rely on this. How then can he achieve a successful gold gain with only passive and gold items?

This article will present the different mechanics for support gold gathering, with a comparison between the two seasons.

Why rely on gold items and follow the metagame?

Why play the metagame? Why might a Support not be allowed to be a full champion with CS and kills? The underlying benefits of the current meta are based on these facts:

  1. The Carry (Attack Damage champion, in general) will get all the benefits of the CS on bot lane, allowing him to snowball faster.
  2. Your gold will increase without having to hit creeps, so that you can buy stuff anyway.

One may say “Okay, but I need AP/AD and stuff too”, or “If I can get some stuff I will have more damage to help”. This is were it is necessary to distinguish what makes a champion viable as a Support.

The main difference between a Carry and a Support is that Carries rely on damage. In fact, the team expects him to do the maximum amount of damage in the shortest period of time as possible, and gamers usually refer to this as Damage per Second a.k.a. DPS. What does DPS achieve? Basically: kills. The main problem of Carries is their vulnerability to damage. They can burst, but can also be killed very fast because they have no sustainability. That is why Support has been created.

Support is here to… well… support. What does this mean? How does one know if a champion is a Support (or can be)? The main distinction between a Support and a wannabe Support is their kit. As Carries rely on their characteristics to maximise their DPS (auto-attack, or abilities), a Support relies on his kit alone to be useful. Without surprise, these abilities grow more powerful with more characteristics, but they usually are good enough at their first level. A slow will always slow, a stun will always stun etc.

Lulu’s kit has four crowd control (CC) abilities: Q (Glitterlance) does slow, W (Whimsy) polymorphs one champion so it can’t attack, and R (Wild Growth) knocks upwards and slows within an area. The last skill (E, Help, Pix!)is not crowd control, but has a special effect that reveals a champion for a short period of time. Her kit is mainly focused on utility. CC disables the enemy damage dealers, and E can prevent hiding (bush or invisibility) of a champion. Utility can also be used for the benefit of the supported champion: W gives speed to the allied target, E shields the target, and R provides a useful 300 health points boost. Furthermore, her abilities do damage, so that supports don’t turn out to be weaklings who could not face anyone 1 versus 1 or hold a lane at the turret.

On the contrary, Nidalee is a poor Support champion. Only E (Primal Surge) has real support utility, providing a heal, and W (Bushwhack) reveals champions walking on the traps. All the rest of her abilities are tailored for damage dealing. Some champions can be mixed, for example, Fiddlesticks. He is known to be a very good AP mid or AP Jungler and many are afraid of his ultimate. As a Support, he still can silence (in a group) and fear someone. However, the lack of AP will render him weak in late game.

It’s clear now that Support can be played with the metagame without CS and kills. Now, this article will show what amount of gold a Support can expect.

How much does a Support earn?

Passive gold, Masteries and Runes

First of all, the Support gains gold from passive gold generation. It is possible to map it on a graphical representation (figure 1.). Be advised that the gold generation starts at 90 seconds into the game and that each champion starts with 475 gold (time between 0-90 seconds is not valid for gold earning):

Base

Figure 1: base income for seasons 2 and 3

Greed

The Utility tree in the Masteries includes the Greed mastery. At maximum level, it gives an additional 2 gold per 10 seconds. Added to the passive gold generation, you get the following (figure 2.):

Greed

Figure 2: Greed mastery

This mastery is worth 700 gold at 3,600 seconds (60 minutes).

Pickpoket

The Pickpocket mastery is a bit tricky to evaluate. It generates 3g per ranged hit on a champion, and 5g for melee hits. It has an internal cooldown of 5 seconds. If you can trigger it twice in 10 seconds, it adds up to 6g per 10s and 10g per 10s. This overrides any gold generating item. Being overzealous and triggering it over 3,600sec will earn the support 2,160g for ranged and 3,600 for melee. But don’t get me wrong, you won’t achieve this. However, the potential is huge and it’s really worth the mastery point, as it will allow for an earlier gold generating item purchase. As it is very situational though, the calculations won’t take this into account.

On top of this, it is possible to add runes that boost the passive gold income up to 5g/10. The result is shown on the following figure 3, with and without the Greed mastery.

Runes

Figure 3: Runes

Runes are worth 1,053g at 3,600 seconds.

Gold generating items and self-replenishing items

As far as Supports are concerned, it is very likely that a build will include the following GPx/10 items: Philosopher’s Stone [Philo] (800g) 5g/10, and Heart of Gold [HoG] (825g) 5g/10… oh wait… this one is gone now! Then maybe the Kage’s Lucky pick [Kage] (765g) 4g/10. The disappearance has been painful for numerous Supports all over the world. In fact, many players used to pick this item because of the additional bonus in HP it gave aside from the gold generation. However, it was revealed that it was too powerful on non-Support champion as well, giving them too much early sustain and a bonus in gold. So the item was broken because it was mainly a health item with bonus gold, instead of a gold item with bonus health.

However, a new item came to fill the void: the Sightstone. Sightstone is an example of a self-replenishing item: it can hold 4 wards (a typical support item) which can be placed two at a time and refills when the champion is at his fountain. A ward is worth 75g, so four wards are 300g. Assuming a Support used to buy the same number of wards at each recall, the item (950g) is beneficial after 3 recalls. For some more gold (1,550 total), the Sightstone can be upgraded to the Ruby Sightstone, which gives more health and one additional ward (5 total). This makes it beneficial after 4 recalls (in total). All additional recalls are worth 300g.

This make it possible to assume that in Season 3, with the additional 3g/10 of passive gold and the Sightstone, a Support does not need two GP/10 items as in Season 2.

The following graph (figure 4) will show the gold income with one gold item (5g/10) in Season 2 with the different mastery/rune configurations. The vertical arrows indicate the times where the item begins to produce benefits. This occurs when the total gold collected is greater than the passive gold plus the item cost. The graph assumes that you buy the [Philo] as soon as you get the gold for it (from passive gold generation).

s2_buy1

Figure 4: First GP5/10 item (season2)

The next figure (figure 5) displays the same calculations for Season 3. On this graph, it is worth noticing the start of the lines occurs at an earlier time than for Season 2. This is due to the increase in passive gold generation, which allows for an earlier purchase. Furthermore, the most interesting thing to notice is that approximately 400 seconds have been gained in order to achieve the benefit. Almost 7 minutes! Where a support would have to wait 33 minutes to earn more from her item (over half a game of 60 minutes!), it now takes only 23 (a bit more than one third of the same game).

s3_buy1

Figure 5: First GP5/10 item (season3)

This reasoning can be pushed to a second gold item. In Season 2, this meant buying a [HoG] for an additional 5g/10. In Season 3, however, it’s [Kage] now, which only provides 4g/10. The figures 6 and 7 show the respective functions for Seasons 2 and 3. The curves begin as soon as the first gold item provides enough gold to purchase the next.

s2_buy2

Figure 6: Second GP5/10 item (season2)

s3_buy2

Figure 7: Second GP4/10 item (season3)

Conclusion

Focusing more on the total gold income after an hour of play, it is important to note the following:

  • Season 3 brought an additional 1k passively earned gold.
  • Runes are worth 1k.
  • Greed mastery is worth 700g.
  • The second GP/10 item used to be worth 684g but only 400g now and comes with a huge cost in term of sustainability.
  • Sightstone after 4-5 recalls is worth 375g per recall.
  • Assists and Pickpocket are not taken into account.

Finally, a Support can now expect to have a good 12k build (the usual suspects: Boots, Locket of the Iron Solari, Shurelya’s Reverie, …) and have it before the game ends! Great news for the season 3, where Supports matter!

Game on!

Credits

Game images are the property of Riot Games. Other graphics are drawn by me using gnuplot and you can reuse them as public domain objects (credit and backlinks still appreciated).

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Are you ready to conquer the Swarm? http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2013/03/are-you-ready-to-conquer-the-swarm/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2013/03/are-you-ready-to-conquer-the-swarm/#respond Tue, 12 Mar 2013 00:01:45 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4342 AnswerSwarm Top Piece

You’ve been waiting for it for three years, and now it’s finally here: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm has arrived. Join Sarah Kerrigan on her quest to assume leadership of the various rival broods of the fractured Swarm and exact her revenge on the Dominion.

You also get to win cool stuff from Arqade! The top prize this time is a sweet graphics card, and we have plush toys and peripherals up for grabs as well.

When you ask and answer questions about SCII: HOTS during the first ten days after launch, you’ll start working your way up through the leagues of AnswerSwarm. Anyone who chooses to participate will be featured in the leaderboards.

Go make posts, earn some achievements, and vengeance will be yours!

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Crysis 3 – Of Benchmarks and Borrowing http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2013/03/crysis-3-of-benchmarks-and-borrowing/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2013/03/crysis-3-of-benchmarks-and-borrowing/#respond Fri, 08 Mar 2013 15:00:37 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4295 I recently built a new PC to replace the aging laptop I was using for my day-to-day PC gaming needs. Included with my new video card was a coupon for a free copy of Crysis 3 and a free copy of Bioshock: Infinite. While I’m interested in the new Bioshock game, I can’t say I really had much interest in Crysis as a series before now. Getting it free was awfully motivating, though, so I thought I’d check it out.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

While fighting an enemy which completely outclasses them, our heroes accidentally manage to unleash a far more dire threat, one that could cause the extinction of all life everywhere. The only thing standing between this alien threat and the end of all life is a single man. With his unique abilities, granted to him by his sci-fi battle armor, he’s got to battle all comers. He’ll need to use every weapon at his disposal, pilot strange vehicles and assault alien outposts. He’s humanity’s last hope…

He’s Master Chief! This is pretty much the plot to the first Halo game.

What about:

After a tragic incident, our hero wakes to find himself something more than human. Fused with technology above and beyond anything the world has ever seen, he’s the first of a new breed. However, storm clouds are brewing, and there are evil corporations that would use this technology for nefarious purposes. With all his newfound powers, he must use stealth, martial arts, advanced weaponry, technological prowess and conveniently located man-sized vents in order to evade his enemies and put a stop to the machinations that threaten humanity.

Adam Jensen didn’t ask for this. He’s the unwilling hero of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Finally,

In some near-futuristic bombed out locale, one uber-soldier will face off against hordes of mindless soldiers taking cover behind explosive barrels, while staring down the sights of his trusty automatic rifle. His perks, grenades, and the rest of his loadout are all key to his survival. Meanwhile, people will scream military jargon like “oscar mike rio bravo!” and yell orders encouraging him to move up and take the next point. Explosions, tanks, daring rescues, cinematic camera angles and an impenetrably complex plot round out the experience.

Throw in some Russians, and this generic military shooter might as well be Modern Warfare 4.

Except, these are all the same game, and they’re all Crysis 3. Crysis 3is bits of Halo, bits of Deus Ex, bits of your generic AAA military shooter, all mixed up into one. The game’s got your standard assault rifles, alien weapons, perks and loadouts, vehicle segments (tanks and shudder dune buggies – did we learn nothing from Half Life 2?), stealth elements, and so forth.

I'm having flashbacks involving tiny, spaceward bound gnomes...

I’m having flashbacks involving tiny, spaceward bound gnomes…

Although there are some well worn tropes here, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the game feels like it “ripped off” other franchises – certainly there are many games that have similar plot elements. However, I couldn’t shake this feeling of déjà vu, of feeling that I’d already seen this particular plot play out.

Although at first I was pretty excited by this buffet of options, the systems on offer aren’t particularly deep. For instance, although you can cloak and be particularly stealthy, you can’t really dispatch enemies without drawing attention. There’s no way to avoid sounding the alarm and having reinforcements arrive. Not that it matters – the AI does a terrible job of dealing with you when cloaked. As long as you stay crouched, you can stay invisible for a couple of minutes easy, and your energy recovers quickly when you need to take the occasional break. Enemies are generally pretty oblivious while you’re cloaked, even when you’re face to face. They forget you’re there pretty soon after you’ve disappeared. They’ll go and investigate your last known position en masse, forming a conga line of easy to backstab enemies.

The bow and arrow are featured prominently here, although I didn’t find it to be particularly game-changing as a weapon. You can fire it while cloaked, but you can do the same with silenced weapons. Silenced weapons drain your cloak faster, but still, you’ve got a lot of cloak and regenerating it is pretty easy. Arrows can usually kill in one hit, but so can headshots to most enemies. Your arrow capacity is particularly limited, although you do find more ammo regularly. There are a few custom arrow types, although you carry so few of each I found myself hoarding them for sticky situations I never encountered.

Like a Call of Duty game, your hero has a loadout. However, many aspects of this loadout are customizable on the fly. For instance, you can take a break whenever you want to change your weapon attachments. Need a sniper scope and a silencer? No problem. Want a grip to steady your burst fire? That’s fine too. Likewise, your augmentations (think CoD “perks”) are interchangeable at any time.

crysis3-perks

You can select one perk/augmentation from each column, and each column has four options, for a total of 16.

When it comes to augmentations, you have to make choices, since you can only select one at any given time from four groups of four perks. Each perk has to be unlocked first, which costs points you gain by finding kits scattered around the environment. I picked a combo that made for a good stealth loadout and honestly never really looked back. There’s a lot of garbage augmentations here, and the distribution of augs into categories to choose from means you’ve got some odd decisions to make.

I found myself bored of the carnage at times. I couldn’t really figure out what my motivations were for shooting anything. Most encounters I could just cloak past, without having to deal with the annoyance of dispatching the enemies. If I’d picked a more brute-force approach, I’m sure I’d have no trouble dispatching everything in my path – when it was required of me I didn’t find it particularly challenging. There’s just no reason to bother for the most part. There’s no achievements for getting kills, and there’s no dog tags to collect from downed enemies or anything of that nature.

The plants and water are pretty, and bombed out buildings seem never to go out of style. However, the sky is almost always a dull shade of some muted pastel, in this case, gray.

The plants and water are pretty, and bombed out buildings seem never to go out of style. However, the sky is almost always a dull shade of some muted pastel, in this case, gray.

This game is pretty – very pretty. The only graphical issue I have is that most of the game takes place under a huge dome, so the sky is always sort of a neutral cloudy/gray tone lit by explosions. Other than that, everything looks awesome. Plants, water, destroyed buildings, and the enemies all look and feel fluid and alive. I’m not typically someone who cares about how a game looks, but I did stop a few times here to admire the scenery. The character models are very detailed, and the other NPCs who have on-screen dialog time are very well rendered.

I mentioned that I primarily saw this series as a very pretty benchmarking app, so we might as well cover performance. I just built what I’d consider to be an “upper middle tier” gaming rig. It’s a Core i5 (3470) paired with 8GB of DDR3 and an ATI 7950-based graphics card. I can play the game on the “high” settings at a really consistent 60 FPS, but trying to turn it up to “very high” causes it to drop like a rock and hover around 15 FPS. I didn’t notice that much of a graphical quality difference, but I’m not that picky, so others might disagree.

All in all, what’s here is the video game equivalent of a “popcorn movie.” Lots of explosions and gunfights, not a lot of depth. Try not to think too hard about the plot or you’ll get lost in its holes. It’s not a game that I think I would pay top dollar for, but when I’m in the mood for less thinking and more stuff exploding, it’s a fun game.

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Shopping Advice for Gamers http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2012/11/shopping-advice-for-gamers/ Tue, 13 Nov 2012 12:16:50 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4268 Shopping advice is another one of those topics that we don’t allow on Arqade. We did, once upon a time, and we attracted a couple of “canonical” questions on the topic. In an effort to preserve whatever value they have, as well as allow us to clean them up from the site, I’ve prepared this blog post. Remember, though, that asking shopping advice questions on Arqade is off-topic – the intent of this post is just to give people a pointer to some additional resources when we close questions.

What game should I play?

So you’ve demolished your Steam library, finished off your birthday or Christmas presents, rented and borrowed every game you can think of to rent or borrow, and you’re now bored. What’s next? The answer depends on what you’re looking for.

I want a game like X/with Y mechanic

Perhaps there’s a game you just finished or remember fondly that left you wanting more. Luckily, good ideas are shared and copied freely in the game industry. Chances are that even if the game seemed reasonably unique the first time you played it, if it was any good, it’s been cloned and copied and absorbed to death.

Most online game storefronts have methods of searching for games that are similar to the one you’re looking at. Steam is often mentioned, as it has a fairly large library and they are busily incorporating social features. There’s a whole recommendations page which is a good start, and at the bottom of every game’s store page is a set of recommendations for similar games.

Another way to find games like another game is to do a search for “(game name) clone.” Googling “gta clone” gives you an entire Wikipedia page full of examples of games that cribbed liberally from Rockstar’s formula.

If there’s some particular gameplay element that you are looking for specifically, both GiantBomb and TVTropes (among other sites) index games based on common gameplay elements. The results aren’t comprehensive, but they can point you in the right direction. Penny Arcade also offers the Decide-O-Tron which is an iOS app that can recommend games based on previous games you liked.

Finally, good games tend to have passionate communities. Chances are the community knows of other, similar games. You can bet that if they care enough to actively participate, they’re likely to have done a very similar search to yours, and would be happy to help. Try searching for “(game name) forums” to turn up potential community websites.

I want something different, or unusual

If you’re tired of the big-budget AAA releases, and/or you want to be able to say “I played (game) before it was cool” – have you considered checking out the indie scene? There’s a wealth of games available for fairly cheap. There are a number of websites dedicated to indie gaming, like IndieGames.

Yet another feature of Steam is Greenlight where the community can submit and pick games to be featured on Steam. There’s a wide array of games on offer, and the list of greenlit and released games can give you a good idea of the often “lesser known” games the community is excited about.

One way to end up with a few excellent games for cheap, while potentially supporting a good cause, is an indie game bundle. One of the early bundles (and arguably the most famous) is the Humble Bundle – it’s pay what you want, and you can can donate the money to charity if you so choose. The only downside is that you typically can’t pick the games you get, and they’re time limited. However, looking back at old bundles might give you an idea as to what indie games and developers are making waves.

A quick Google search for “Indie Game Bundle” will turn up quite a few other sites that run similar promotions. Likewise, Steam tends to run indie bundle deals from time to time, especially as part of larger sales.

I just want something good

If you’re looking for a good game, chances are you’re going to want to check out review and ranking sites. Metacritic is a good starting point, as they index and catalog a wide variety of critical reviews in an easy-to-digest format. They also summarize what’s coming soon, as well as what’s new and notable. GameRankings also serves a similar purpose, although they focus solely on video games. They’ve got some good “best games of all time” list views as well.

Individual game review sites tend to vary, and the things one site likes might not match your preferences. Try checking out a few to see what works for you. There’s a long list out there, but some of the heavy hitters are IGN, GameSpot, 1UP, Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun.

Is X better than Y?

Another common variant of the shopping advice question is “Should I buy this thing, or that thing?” The things involved might be different video cards, consoles, games, or even versions of the same game.

PC Hardware

PC hardware (CPU, Video Card, etc.) comparisons are actually relatively easy compared to most shopping decisions. Since it’s fairly easy to experiment and conclusively determine the performance of hardware, this is more of a science project than a religious discussion. Sites like TomsHardware and HardOCP both do heads up comparisons between most competing brands of hardware, in addition to comparing different models from the same brand.

When it comes to most hardware, and video cards in particular, I will tend to do a search for “(model #1) vs (model #2)” and see what pops up. Many hardware review sites will do large charts periodically, comparing virtually every model on the market against each other, which can help determine just how much bang a particular bit of hardware is going to give you for your money.

Games, Consoles, and Versions

This is a more touchy subject. An uncountable number of internet forum threads devolve into “lol (manufacturer) sux dood, (competitor) is way better noob.” For the most part, the decision boils down to figuring out what the differences are, and determining what you think is important.

For instance, each console has its own exclusive titles/licenses, controllers, friend systems, achievement doodads, and so forth. Some of these you care about, and some of these you don’t. Pick the important ones, and then determine which console provides the best experience in the areas you have prioritized.

Since these preferences are highly personal, consulting with friends who have similar tastes can be useful as well. Steam has a built-in recommendation system for games they offer, or you could turn to your social networks and ask for advice.

When it comes to comparing multiple versions of the same game, or different (but similar) games, we do allow these questions, if they’re properly scoped and as detailed as possible. So, if you’re considering buying a game and can’t choose between the console or the PC versions, if you can ask a specific question about particular features, you might have good luck getting an answer here.

Conclusion

“What should I buy/play next?” is sort of the eternal question of the gamer. Good stuff is coming out constantly, and we’re inundated with a torrent of things that are worth playing. With as many different things competing for our attention, it can be difficult to figure out what’s essential and what’s junk. In the end, though, the decision is really yours to make! As long as you’re having fun, there is no wrong answer.

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown – First Impressions of Earth http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2012/10/xcom-enemy-unknown-first-impressions-of-earth/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2012/10/xcom-enemy-unknown-first-impressions-of-earth/#respond Sat, 20 Oct 2012 12:28:19 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4238

Although I joined Steam in 2004, I managed to avoid spending very much money on it in the early years. That all changed in 2009, when the allure of sales finally won me over, and some $2,000 worth of games later, here we are. One of my very earliest purchases on Steam was the X-COM Complete Pack. X-COM was a franchise that had always interested me – I’m a sucker for tactical RPGs and strategic base building games. However, the difficulty, coupled with the somewhat impenetrable interface turned me off, and I still haven’t played a complete game in of any of them. The purchase ended up being the first in a very long line of games that I ended up buying but never quite could get into.

When I first heard that Firaxis was being handed the XCOM license and were making a turn-based strategy game with it, I was elated. I’m a big fan of Firaxis, and I’ve logged nearly 200 hours on Civilization 5 as of this article. I will play pretty much anything if the title starts with “Sid Meier’s.” I pre-ordered this game, and I’ve spent nearly every free moment I’ve had since the release playing the game. After a good chunk of hours invested, I think I’m ready to at least give my impressions of it. I think I’ll probably be sinking a considerable amount of hours into this game, including its higher difficulty levels and other challenging modes in the coming months, so this is by no means a final word.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a reimagining of the first game in the series, X-COM: UFO Defense (or UFO: Enemy Unknown outside the US). As such, it consists of two major parts. In the first, you are tasked with using your organization’s limited resources to research and engineer new alien-vaporizing technology while maintaining the fragile alliance that keeps you funded. In the second, you are tasked with commanding a squad of up to 6 soldiers in tactical combat against an overwhelming alien force.

The base view gives you a window into the various facilities you’ve built underground, and has buttons for easy access to key facilities.

Both halves are executed with the kind of expertise I’ve come to associate with Firaxis. There’s a lot of attention paid to the strategy and mechanics of the game, but not at the expense of the visual and audio design. There aren’t many studios who can put out a good looking, mainstream AAA strategy title like this, and I can’t help but be impressed. It’s got the same “one more turn” time-burning properties as the Civilization series – prepare to lose track of time and not want to stop when you know you have other things to do. There’s always one more research project, one more alien to kill, or one more door to open before you quit.

Resources are always limited, so how you prioritize your projects and construction in the base can significantly change the way you approach the tactical combat. The base view communicates a lot of information in a very compact format, and the simple base building mechanics mean that there’s not that much of a learning curve.

Still, it would have been nice to get some guidance (à la Civilization’s Advisors) – there are times when it’s not really clear what aspects of the base would give you the most benefit for your investment. Likewise, the tech tree is a bit flat, confusing, and opaque, and you may neglect avenues of research that would give you huge benefits because their side effects are unclear. The base building is neat, but a bit oversimplified – think about how a game of SimCity would go if you only had a couple of dozen places to build buildings, and just one road. Intercepting UFOs is mostly a hands-off process, with few options for upgrading your interceptors and little control over the interception itself.

Ashley, one of my heavies, shows off her LMG.

The tactical combat aspects are quite good. The game manages to make every turn feel like you’re stepping into an unknown situation, and even when you’re pretty sure you know what kind of aliens to expect, they’re still as scary the hundredth time as they were the first. Caution and careful exploration are key. There’s very real risk here, with very real consequences for making mistakes. This isn’t a game you can always win – it’s a game where you have to learn how to lose gracefully. The high-stakes tactical combat lends itself to some very emergent stories. Try naming your squad after people you know or game with, and you’ll frequently have epic stories of last-second snap shots that your friends took to save the day.

However, the cover and line-of-sight mechanics are a bit weird at times, especially when there are angular walls or odd angles of attack. Managing loadouts and keeping track of what button activates what skill can be frustrating for no good reason. The key bindings not only change from soldier to soldier, but even if you switch weapons. Soldier progression options are fairly limited – there’s only a few weapon possibilities per class, and at most 2 ability choices per level. Occasional glitches (such as randomly teleporting enemies and camera issues) damage the experience, but hopefully we’ll see these issues fixed in a post-release patch.

The tactical combat is well executed, although it has occasional issues – in this shot, I can’t send my soldier to the lower level under this balcony without being very precise or rotating the map just right. Also, he gets no cover while on the ramps, even if he’s up against the wall.

XCOM:EU is a good game, but I find myself on the fence about it. It’s terribly addictive, and it manages to distill a lot of complicated XCOM mechanics into something that’s easy to pick up and play. However, I feel like it’s pulling punches. Certainly concessions have been made for the console interface (e.g., larger fonts, less text, simplified controller-optimized navigation) and a more casual audience, (e.g., less choices in terms of loadouts, soldier progression, technology, and base building) even though the difficulty and challenging strategic combat are intact. This dichotomy of “dumbed down for the masses” while still punishing even on normal difficulty is strange, although I personally don’t mind it.

There’s more than a few things that aren’t adequately explained or fleshed out, which makes the game feel a bit rushed. For instance, the tooltips on many skills and items don’t adequately describe their effects in-game, and there’s no manual or other source of detailed information to explain them. A particular piece of armor might give you “+10 defense,” or “increased mobility,” but what that means isn’t clear unless you dig through the game’s help files (assuming there are any for this topic) and/or experiment thoroughly.

I feel as weird criticizing this game as much as I feel weird praising it. I find it entertaining and engaging, while at the same time I’m hungry for more. I suppose, in the end, that this game reminds me of Civilization: Revolution – it’s a good game that feels like a “lite” version of a truly great game. Perhaps when patches eventually squash the bugs and minor annoyances, the remaining nitpicks I have will seem that much more minor. I’m also sure I’ll be playing this game for many, many more hours. But is it a game that we’ll revere as a legend and all fondly remember 20 years from now, as we do the original X-COM? That I’m not so sure of.

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Getting the most out of your Followers in Diablo 3 (Part 2) http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2012/10/getting-the-most-out-of-your-followers-in-diablo-3-part-2/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2012/10/getting-the-most-out-of-your-followers-in-diablo-3-part-2/#respond Wed, 17 Oct 2012 14:00:50 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4174 Welcome to part 2 of our Follower guide. In this article I will be talking about the spell casting Follower; the mystical Eirena. I recommend this Follower to any melee class in the game as she is very effective with her AOE (Area of Effect) spells when farming and also gives good buffs to the player.

Eirena the Enchantress

Eirena the Enchantress

Like we did in our previous article, we will first take a look at a sample build then list equipment that you can buy for your Follower.

 

The Build

The following build is the one that was most effective for me. I will list each skill chosen and why I chose it, so you can better understand my decisions.

  • Forceful Push – Deals 100% weapon damage to all monsters (while also knocking them back) in an 8 yard radius around the target monster. The Charm skill may look good on paper, but it is actually pretty useless. Forceful Push is much more effective against large packs of monsters because each monster you hit with the skill has a chance of activating your weapon’s proc. For example, if your Follower’s weapon has a “Bleed on Hit” affix, all monsters caught in the blast have a chance to become bleeding.
  • Powered Armor – The choice was obvious here. Powered Armor gives you more armor which works against all attacks, while Reflect Missiles only works against ranged attacks. As an added bonus, Powered Armor also slows down any monsters that hit you by 30%!
  • Erosion – Picked this skill for the same reasons I picked Forceful Push: AOE damage and more procs!
  • Focused Mind – This one is a little debatable and I have used both myself, but I found that the 3% bonus attack speed is better.

 

Equipment

The choices for equipping Eirena are pretty broad, but here are my top picks:

  • Maximus or Skorn – The choice here depends on what you prefer. Maximus has a chance to summon a demon with each attack that deals good damage and is also chained (similar to Fire Chains for Elites) to your Follower, while Skorn has more damage and a guaranteed Socket. When going with either weapon make sure it also has a Bleed affix on it, as this will cause Eirena’s AOE attacks to have a chance to cause multiple monsters to bleed.
  • The Star of Azkaranth – You can put this on Eirena for the same reason you put it on Kormac; the Crowd Control affixes!
  • Band of Hollow Whispers – Gives a chance for each attack to also apply a DOT (Damage Over Time) debuff on the enemy, providing a little extra bonus damage to your Follower.
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Getting the most out of your Followers in Diablo 3 (Part 1) http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2012/10/getting-the-most-out-of-your-followers-in-diablo-3-part-1/ http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/2012/10/getting-the-most-out-of-your-followers-in-diablo-3-part-1/#respond Wed, 10 Oct 2012 14:00:22 +0000 http://blog.gaming.stackexchange.com/?p=4158 Followers in Diablo 3 are weak when compared to the majestic ones Diablo 2 had, but that does not mean they can’t be made to be useful. You probably know by now that the only customizable things on your Follower are his armor and his skills, two things I have analyzed deeply to come up with a perfect combination.

 

This is part 1 of a 3 part series where I will be showing you how to make the most out of Kormac, the Templar.

Kormac the Templar

Kormac the Templar

Kormac is the only melee Follower in the game, giving ranged classes such as Witch Doctors a little tanking power. The standard Follower dies pretty quickly in Inferno even against normal monsters, but should survive long enough to at least provide a distraction with the following changes.

 

Note: Patch 1.0.5 is buffing all Followers, making this the perfect time to gear them up!

 

The Build

This part is debatable but I had the most success with the following combination:

  • Intervene – Pulls all enemies off of you when you hit 50% life. Much better than a 5k heal!
  • Loyalty – 115 extra life regeneration sounds a lot better to me than a little movement speed debuff to the monsters.
  • Charge – A 2 second AOE stun versus a 200% damage hit against a single target. The choice is obvious here!
  • Inspire – More resource = more power!

 

Remember to try your own combinations. Just because it worked for me does not mean it will work for you.

 

Equipment

Here is where it gets fun! I found three Legendary items that work wonders on Kormac. Don’t worry if you think they are expensive, because they aren’t. Most of these items are useless to your normal character, thus their price is very cheap.

  • Skycutter – An average sword with an awesome proc. The “Chance to summon angelic assistance when attacking” does exactly what it says: it summons an Angel that fights by your side for about 20 seconds. The Angel does little damage but can be really helpful by blocking/distracting elites. The proc chance is pretty good too, causing the Angel to spawn almost every fight.
  • Lidless Wall – Remember the “Shielding” affix found on elites? This is exactly what Kormac gets when you give him this shield. Every hit has a chance to cause him to “bubble”, making him immune to all damage and movement impairing effects for about one second. I have found this to be way more effective than other shield no matter how much Vitality or Resist All it has.
  • The Star of Azkaranth – A perfect amulet for our friend. Not only does this amulet always roll a Crowd Control affix that can go up to 5% chance per hit, but it also has vitality, bleed (not shown on the armory page, it is bugged), and life on kill.

 

For the other equipment you can get some basic rings and a relic, but patch 1.0.5 will bring your Follower another upgrade. The hellfire rings that you can get from the Uber Bosses have an amazing proc that deals around 4 million AOE damage, and it works on Followers too!

 

Thanks for reading this article, and stay tuned for part 2 where I will talk about Eirena the Enchantress!

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