Normal programming returning soon.

I have been in a weird daze these past few weeks when it comes to gaming and esports. GamerGate seems to have taken over the whole industry, paralyzing or sparking people into inaction/action. I’m one of them.

I haven’t really voiced a position on GamerGate because to some folks it’s a cut and dry issue, and to others one can find validity in all of the shades of gray about the situation. The level of bullshit that exists in any discussion about the issue is too damn high. I’m a straight white male and I don’t feel entitled to anything (aside from compliments about my recent haircut because I CUT IT ALL OFF AND DONATED THAT SHIT FUCK YEAH LOCKS OF LOVE o7 m8), but apparently I am entitled by default even though I can’t change that and oh yeah, I should kill myself if I think that women or other minorities are being underrepresented in the industry by the way.

I mean, that’s not even related to playing a game and I feel like it contributes to my exhaustion of the whole thing. It’s a head-spinning mess that I’d rather not think about. So I don’t.

I had been playing Destiny for two to four hours every night and I stopped. But now that the 18 November update has gone out, I feel like I need to put more time into it. I dunno. I’ve been clean for almost a week. I want to really like everything about Destiny. Just not sure that I can.

Esports has been its own little train wreck lately. Between the low points of League of Legends pro players’ throwing racial slurs around like they’re back home on the plantation and the high points of CS:GO rising into its own special place in the spotlight, finding a satisfying topic to expound upon hasn’t been simple for me. Others have certainly thrived, why can’t I?

I think what it comes down to is that while I really want to offer my view on things that are going on in esports, I feel like I can’t do so without going on some sort of uninformed rant—even though you could argue that’s the whole point of this blog. I can’t shake the feeling that my voice is just noise, but I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I have to write what comes to me regardless if I’m going to keep up with anything—be it esports or gaming.

Fuck sleep. Bring back the long nights.

I was perfectly happy with Destiny until I attempted a raid, but I’m still playing it.

The inconsistency that is showcased in the raid make me question Bungie’s direction for all of their coop plans that ask for more than a single fireteam’s number of players.

Missions in Destiny are filled with cryptic narration that doesn’t necessarily explain the procedure to complete the current objective, but they attempt to give you context by throwing foreign terminology next to obvious direction. “The Fallen from the House of Winter is wanted by the Queen per a bounty. Let’s get them!” Here’s what I just heard: “the enemy something something clear everything out to win.” That’s typical tunnel-vision-esque focus.

To contrast, the raid is simply throwing you into mechanics that you may have used for another missions. I’ve heard this explained as the raid’s progression teaches players the mechanics that are needed in the final counter, but I’m not entirely sure that it’s obvious to a lot of players.

Of course, Bungie wants you to find five other players that you think are competent enough to figure everything out between yourselves. It’s the same rationale behind Nightfall strikes. I don’t buy that these moods should not have the matchmaking capability that the Strike playlists do.

Another example: when you find the first Relic, it’s not explained to the player that picks it up how to use it. To a player that is going into the run line, the only hints given are that it has some sort of extra ability is that it looks like a shield and that your Super gauge fills up way faster than normal while you’re holding the Relic.

For a game with such a tremendous budget and premier voice cast, how hard would it be to add in a few lines of direction? Even Dinklebot spouting an off-the-cuff analysis would have worked out just fine. “The cleansing aura’s power transformed into something. This relic looks like it could be powerful enough to bring down the Templar’s shields.”

The Vault of Glass feels disconnected from the rest of the game. I wish that either the rest of the game were modeled after the raid or that the raid was modeled after the rest of the game.

It won’t happen, but it’d be a nice thought. Bungie wants people to figure everything that isn’t part of a story mode mission out for themselves, and that’s fine if they ended up using the same designers or at least the same standards implemented with the rest of the game. I just wish they picked a direction and went with it.

I wrote something on RVANews about esports. #winning

Esports: Giving reasons for gamers to invade your favorite event space since now — Even though Richmond’s cyber cafes have closed, that doesn’t mean local gaming groups don’t exist. It’s easy to associate local gaming with comic shops hosting Dungeons & Dragons one-offs; video games don’t require you to drive anywhere to play together with friends. One player group in Richmond is working to bring more attention to its esports meetups and to bring more players together.

It’s my first piece for a local news source and hey—would you look at that—it’s about esports!

Yeah, that’s a West Wing GIF. I’m rewatching the West Wing. U WOT M8? COME AT ME BRUH.

Ross Catrow, captain of the good ship RVANews, reached out to me and asked me to look into LOLRVA’s viewing party. I mean, they’re holding it at The Broadberry. They typically have them at smaller places, but The Broadberry? My first thought was along the lines of “I definitely need to check this out.” And I did.

Hopefully this is the first of many future articles I’ll contribute to RVANews. I know in the past and also this morning that I’ve been critical of Richmond as a city. However, now that Feedback has moved downtown and is coming up on a year at 14th and Cary, I think I am definitely warming up to Richmond in general.

Destiny is pretty much all I’m doing lately.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 9.00.17 AMIf you’re playing Destiny on the Xbox 360, check out my profile (image-linked to the right) and send an application to my group. I’m trying to build out a small group of folks who don’t mind randomly helping other members with quests, and want to run harder level missions and strikes, all the way up to the goal of making weekly runs of the Vault of Glass.

It’s the second time that I’ve really tried to gather a collection of gamers for any sort of constructive purpose (although that pirate Ragnarok Online server I ran nearly a decade ago barely counts as a first attempt). I’d really like for SOLR to work out.

A full account of what I think about Destiny is proving to be difficult to compose. I think it’s because of the massive proportion of the hoping/wishful crowd were disappointed that the game is not being made available to them at launch. Bungie’s said that they have a decade-long plan for Destiny, and while I don’t think it’ll span ten years in the end, it should be expected that they would slowly distribute a considerable amount of content that they have produced over the accepted year-long cycle of a mainstream console shooter.

That’s not to say that I can’t write out my full thoughts on Destiny as it presently is, but that it’s proving pretty difficult. I can understand some decisions that Bungie made in developing the game as more of a platform, but others seem to be disharmonious from that same goal. It’s not the easiest thing to wrap my head around securely enough to pull out a logical thought. I am working on it, though. Expect to see something in the coming weeks.

In unrelated news, it seems that the Columbus studio is real and MLG is going to start using it. How interesting…1

Apple did a thing yesterday. I want an Watch.

You know what they announced already. It’s news. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The Apple Watch. The Apple Pay system.

Yeah. All of that is fine and dandy. But oh boy, Apple has a way making things. And I want to sign up for one of these immediately:

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 8.15.53 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-10 at 8.16.27 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-10 at 8.23.32 AM

I know the battery life not being disclosed at this point is a huge deal, but I DON’T REALLY CARE, I JUST WANT ONE. PLEASE. IT LOOKS SO NICE AND IT MEANS I DON’T HAVE TO UPGRADE TO AN IPHONE 6, AND I WOULD REALLY LIKE ONE, APPLE. PLEASE.

Twenty-five victories later, I’m back in Gold Nova III.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 7.54.39 PM

After playing at a casual rate for the past few weeks, I’ve finally been repromoted back up to Gold Nova III. After being demoted thanks to a Rush mission and finally realizing that I am just scrub-tier and not in ELO-hell, I’m back on the up-and-up it seems. And I feel like I’m playing better all around.

I haven’t gotten any aces in matchmaking or any huge plays as the last person alive—nothing montage-worthy, certainly—but I feel like my aiming and my reaction times are getting better. I’m making better choices with how to play the positions that are out there on… Dust II.

Yeah, I’m grinding Dust II for ranks more than I’m playing the other maps available to me, but when you only have to wait sixty seconds tops instead of minutes as the queues for the other maps are, it’s quite the appealing scenario when you’re trying to play as many games as you can before your self-imposed bed time. Or something like that.

But for the rest of tonight, I’m going to take a break, have another beer, and put my feet up. Or play more FreeSpace. Yeah, probably that.

On Twitch becoming an Amazon property.

Who’d have thought that Monday would see so much Twitch acquisition news? And in that case, an announcement of an acquisition?

For nearly a billion USD, Amazon has picked up one of the highest trafficked sites on the Internet. It seems like a discount for service that serves a video to millions of users every day.1 The proposition’s value compounds considering the high audience events shown on a near-daily basis. With the ever-increasing number of ongoing events such as Riot’s LCS drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers per broadcast, it makes sense that Amazon would want a part in this.

Then there’s the news that Amazon’s new ad service would be pricing its ads on metrics like impressions instead of clicks. Most social networks use the impressions metric when it comes to displaying ads to their users.2

Later in the day of the announcement executives from Amazon and Twitch went on to a live town hall to explain the acquisition in detail. While Twitch’s CEO stayed on message, the Amazon executive shared why the company moved forward with the bid.3

To me, there are two major points that stand out about this acquisition.

The first is that this decision seems to be a business-minded decision on Twitch’s side. Any sort of acquisition—as long as it was in cash—would allow Twitch’s to continue with its current plans. I don’t think that Twitch had financial issues prompting it to find a buyer. I think part of their long-term plan included an acquisition or a large cash infusion. I also think that going public would not have been the right move for Twitch. Due to the current economic climate, the stock market would’ve more than likely eaten Twitch alive.

The second point is that I think expanding the customer base for the ad service was a goal. With Amazon as the parent company along with their new ad service, the acquisition becomes more of a perfect union of sorts. Amazon is looking to plant its new ad service into uncharted territory and Twitch is looking for more ad buyers. The acquisition will give Amazon practical data for their ad service. Before this acquisition, they’ve been allowing users to use Google’s AdSense service. Rest assured, that won’t be the case in the future.

My main reservation? Amazon’s hamstringing of Comixology after acquisition.

Before the announcement, I joked that if the Amazon deal went through that it would mean the end of support for Twitch’s apps. These apps, which are on consoles and platforms like the Xbox 360, the Xbox One, and iOS, are solid performers. Under Amazon leadership, Comixology, a widely heralded comics storefront for mobile devices, notably deviated from native iOS purchasing after being acquired earlier this year, upsetting a lot of users by complicating the purchase process.4

Nowhere in the statements released regarding that purchase mentioned anything about Comixology maintaining independence, though. As for Twitch, Amazon Games VP Michael Frazzini said that Twitch will remain independent in a town hall broadcast the day of the announcement. Regardless, I still think that support for apps on platforms like Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Xbox is vulnerable. At the same time, I think customers that use Android-based devices like the Kindle Fire have nothing to fear.

It’s too early to forecast the success of the deal, but I believe within the next year there will be results with which to reach a conclusion. If Amazon reports revenues from its ad service as part of quarterly reports it may be a little bit easier to infer success. If not, observers can only rely on the circlejerk of personalities and salespeople to gauge reaction… and those folks aren’t always reliable.

Twitch had to do it… for some reason.

Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo made a post two days ago concluding what I just realized last night about the latest Twitch controversy. His post explains the entirety of the situation that Twitch is now in, but this block of speculation at the end feels like it has some weight to it. 1

I don’t see a company prepping for a Google takeover, I see panic. Panic and a lack of understanding of what it should be doing. I think Google would want to keep all the old data instead of deleting it and enforce the DMCA on existing videos by processing takedown requests as they come in, which is all the law requires.

Why is Twitch doing this? Who the hell thinks any of this is a good idea? I think if Google was behind these changes you would see a much more organised and experienced transition. Part of me thinks the Google deal fell through or something and this is Twitch’s attempt to tighten down costs and try to stand on its own.

It’s just weird that all of a sudden there are all these changes over at Twitch and all of them seem to be misguided, harmful to the service, and don’t really solve any of Twitch’s problems.

I would imagine that the PR folks over at Twitch have been on crisis mode for a few days now.

I just don’t understand why they would proceed with a filtering system now. Why not just wait until the Google acquisition goes through? Does Twitch’s value increase by adding a copyright-abuse sniffer system? It doesn’t make sense.