Thursday, 29 September 2011

Get Rich Quick Scheme

Here's an idea from the bitter, twisted genii (the correct pluralisation of genius, by the way, EG) at ESFI World's Skype chat.

Step one: Obtain a camera.  It doesn't have to be spectacular, just fit for purpose.

Step two: Attend an esports event and film stock footage of crowds and players in action.  A few minutes will be enough, but feel free to get more if you're feeling energetic.

Step three: Edit the footage together with a few random clips of in-game footage.  Visit fraps.com if this is a problem. You will need to install the game in question, also.

Step four: Add a soundtrack of epic music and intersperse commentary throughout.

Step five: Launch a website, release a completed trailer on Team Liquid and open a PayPal account for donations.

Step six: Profit!

Monday, 19 September 2011

lol at LoL players

So, for those that don't know, I finally gave in and started playing LoL.  I hated DoTA back in the day, and i tried and hated HoN (i uninstalled it after a single game).  But LoL somehow has stuck, and i'm currently half way through level 19.  I still don't think MOBA/ARTS games are suitable for esports, but whatever, that's not the point of tonight's blog.

One thing that really, really pisses me off about LoL is its players.  Since the summer holidays ended, i don't have to deal with as many "noob," "lucker," and "lucker noob" comments (there was a point where i seriously thought that every LoL player only knew these two words).  But people still don't know when to fucking quit.  The surrender system in 3v3 is utterly flawed, because there will almost always be one moron who refuses to surrender, and for some reason a 2:1 vote isn't enough.

To be fair, my time isn't particularly precious, but i'd still rather not have an hour a day wasted in games that are BLATANTLY FUCKING FINISHED.  The trouble is that ending a LoL game can be pretty rough.  It's by design that you can't just run three heroes into the base and kill the Nexus, obviously.  But this allows the "noob" brigade to camp the last tower and make the game last ten minutes longer.  Any sane person can see that, when you've lost two towers to zero, their heroes are an average of a level higher than yours and the kill ratio is 2:10, the game is over.  But nope, these mongoloids refuse to surrender and continue in their inept attempts to somehow snatch victory, despite the fact that their efforts in the previous 20 minutes have done little but feed experience to the opponents.

Give me strength!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Immediate Reaction to the new Footy Demos

It's that time of year again.  The time when Konami and EA stop hiding behind glitzy trailers and let us get our hands on this year's £30 patch for last year's game.  I downloaded both of them overnight and got my teeth into them this morning.  So how do they taste?

Being a PES player for the past six years, I obviously opted to have that for my entre√©.  Since this is a pretty informal review, i guess i'll go through my experience chronologically.  Firstly, the menu is almost identical to last year with a few new images and the like.  The menu sounds are cool, and the overall presentation is solid.  But who cares about that, right?

Getting into the game, you have a fairly confusing mixture of teams to choose from.  Obviously PES is limited by licensing, but having Spurs as the Premier League's sole representative feels very odd.  For a demo, it's not a massive deal, but it just felt very strange.  How Rangers got in there ahead of, well, any of 30 European teams is just plain baffling, however, but at least it gave me a good enemy to bash.

As for the game itself, well, it does feel somehow smoother.  I hate to use the clich√© of it being "slick" but it does sum it up rather nicely.  Movement feels much more natural - so much so that it takes a bit of getting used to from the previous years.  Turning, with or without the ball, feels more responsive, but, importantly, the defenders keep up a lot better.  A simple change of direction has often been more effective than the Street Fighter-esque combo moves, but this year - at least from the demo - it seems that running rings round defenders to score your 5th solo goal of the game might be a thing of the past.  Good riddance.

The other 95% success rate option - the through ball - also seems to have been nerfed somewhat.  Actually, i have to admit that i found through balls very difficult to execute in the PES demo.  Neat passing in midfield was much better than last year, but the final ball seems much harder to pull off.  Despite outplaying Rangers completley, i still only won 3-1, thanks to a few fairly realistic goals.  Hell, my openener went in off Defoe's chest...to be continued.  If i were to pop in PES 2011 and play the same fixture, i can almost guarantee at least five goals.

So for PES, it's definitely a case of baby steps towards the big time.  But for the more popular FIFA, it's rather unfair for me to talk too much.  I haven't owned a FIFA game since 99, and it's hard to get to grips with the playstyle and controls during the space of half an hour's demo play.  Give me the rest of the week to play it and i could have a more accurate reflection, but, frankly, i just can't be bothered.  The demo is too restrictive for it to be worth that kind of commitment.  While the team choice is better, i just can't really get to grips with the game itself.

Dribbling seems difficult, even when i played as Barcelona and gave the ball to Messi as often as possible.  One of my biggest gripes with footy games is the lack of a passing game, but FIFA seems to have gone too far the other way.  For a passing game to work you need players to move off the ball, and it felt like they just weren't doing it.

Again, though, it's important for me to be honest and say that this could be my fault.  In PES, the game where i have truly mastered the controls, i found the off-the-ball movement almost impossible to use advantageously.  This is supposed to be the big new attraction for the Konami title, but I would usually just get the player on the ball tackled, or else the man moving off the ball would do nothing useful.  Maybe that is why the through ball seems so much harder; you have to control the movement yourself.  But, with it being so difficult to use both sticks at once, it just feels like a neat idea poorly executed.

Then again, maybe it just needs more time.  But for now, it seems like i'll be paying £30 for the PES update and feeling slightly ripped-off.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

MLG's Latest Title: Dead Horse Flogging

So, it seems that MLG will be bringing back GotFrag.

I have a theory about American TV (this is related, so bear with me).  Most of it is terrible, but often starts out quite well.  Take my column's inspiration, The X Files.  The first three-four series' were superb, but it took a pretty rapid downturn from series six onwards.  Basically, Americans don't know when to let something die.  Look at The Simpsons for an even better example: still going today, but basically unwatchable.  Compare this to the best British TV shows, which typically run for just two or three series and go off-air at their peak.

So, for those of you who know GotFrag's history, you can probably see where this is going.  Bringing back what used to be the best esports site in existence - it wasn't even close - will almost definitely end in failure.  Everyone that made GotFrag so great has moved onto other things: Midway is with ESL, Anomoloy is with Complexity (I think, I could be wrong) Scoots is with EG and Lee is with MLG itself.  The game that GotFrag was built on (CS) is not quite dead, but its place in the esports pantheon has massively changed.

Then there's the simple fact that we don't really need another esports site.  If you want to read a forum, you go to Team Liquid or Reddit; if you want high quality articles and coverage, you go to ESFI, and there are half a dozen other sites that fill in any gaps.  What could GotFrag do that the other sites don't already?  Advertise MLG's sponsors?  Maybe they could post exclusive replays, but it's the nature of the internet that they will stay exclusive for precisely the length of time it takes to download and upload a 200kb file.

But in case a new GotFrag is somehow more than a disaster, it is of the utmost importance that the SC2 bubble is educated about where GotFrag went in the first place.  Apparently Sundance has no sense of irony (or else he is actually a master troll) when he posts #neverforget in regards to a GotFrag logo.

For those who don't know, MLG bought GotFrag when it had pretty much reached its prime (pun intended).  GotFrag's management were semi-forced into a position where they had to choose between MLG and CGS - an awkward decision, to be sure.  They chose MLG, and almost immediately had their entire Counter-Strike budget cut.  It was around this time that I did my best rat-on-a-sinking-ship impression and left, just as GotFrag started to become a husk of its former self.  The original management started to leave soon thereafter, and the site carried on with a threadbare staff, covering MLG's WoW tournaments (ignoring ESL's), doing a worse and worse job of it.  The site was basically dead, but they gave SC2 when it first came into MLG.  If you visit the site now, the latest news is almost a year old.

With all of that in mind you'll forgive me for being less than excited about the prospect of an MLG-fueled  GotFrag making another return.  Lest we forget, Lee Chen - previously head honcho of GotFrag - still works for MLG, one guy who did pretty well out of the death of an entire community.  Together, they want to resurrect what they destroyed?  Excuse me while I choke to death on my own bitter laughter.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The E in esports Stands for ego

Who is the CEO of the Premier League?  If you're English, you may know.  If your a non-English football fan, there's a slim chance you might know.  I know, because a couple of years ago he had the stupid "39th game" idea.  He was in the news for floating a business idea which was badly received.  He then disappeared into the background, where CEO's belong, returning to the news only occassionaly to discuss important but tedious business stuff like club debt and league sponsorship.

Who is the CEO of MLG?  Yeah, that's a rhetorical question: of course you know that it's Sundance --  self-professed THAT guy.  His every tweet cries "look at me," every forum post scerams "look how similar we are; love me."  This is a guy who should be in the background making business decisions and dealing with sponsors but here he is making drunk forum posts and begging for our attention.  At the risk of sounding pretentious, it's all very undignified.

In fairness, most English men are brought up to automatically distrust authority figures like Sundance.  Maybe it's because we're used to the bungling figures that represent our sports, and our dishonest, money-grubbing politicians.  With that in mind, perhaps i'm being unkind - judging him on the basis of other people.  But on the other hand, he makes himself so easy to hate.  He would undoubtedly spin it as being a "love me or hate me, that's who I am" figure, but, realistically, he's just an irritating attention whore.   The face of a sports league should be its players, not its CEO.

This issue is much broader and deeper than just MLG, however.  My ESFI comrade keeker made a similar point about commentatorslast week.  The fact is that esports has become a huge dick-waving contest, played out via livestream by a bunch of egotistical bores.  I could quite happily live my entire without knowing what Day9's three-day stubble looks like but I will never have that opporunity, thanks to the "look at me" nature of the Day9 Daily.  Personal and intimate, sure, but that's not what I want from analysis.  I want, er, analysis.

To put it bluntly, esports should be about computer games.  I want to tune into a Starcraft stream and watch Stracraft matches, not listen to crappy jokes from a couple of guys in t-shirts and blazers.  Esports as a whole has its priorities all wrong and continues to show the real reason why the word "esport" is so inappropriate.  The focus has shifted away from any real sporting action and onto the supporting characters.

Oh, yeah, here's my inspiration for today's rant.