League of Legends Ports and Other Riot Games

I can’t recall the actual day, but recently Riot Games had a 10th anniversary livestream featuring League of Legends and other stuff. First of all, what an accomplishment to keep LoL going for ten years and building the Esports community up around it. Professional play has gone from some nerds in back rooms of warehouses to huge arena-filling events with famous live performers and a quality of production rivaling ESPN and other mainstream outlets — all of this on what I’m sure is less income and all done over the Internet eschewing traditional TV outlets. I started playing LoL back in 2011 which was around the end of season 1 heading into season 2. I’ve seen the majority of the champions release, I’ve seen a ton of events and in-game happenings along with changes to the game, its launcher, the main maps/modes, and Riot itself. I’ve watched the World Championship nearly every year since I first heard about it. I’ve watched regular season games of each of the major regions, even participating in their Fantasy League (like Fantasy Football) for a couple of seasons. I’ve collected vinyl figures, owned T-shirts, and have a rather large poster hanging on my wall. You could say League became a major part of my life, despite the fact that I haven’t really played very regularly in the past couple of years. Still, when I heard the news coming out of this live stream, I knew I had to talk about it. To be fair, there’s even more that was announced that I’m not going to touch on, but IGN has a great article encapsulating all of the news.

What excited me the most out of all that was said during the live stream was that League of Legends will be ported to consoles and mobile. Called “Wild Rift,” this version of League is not a direct port, it’s the same game rebuilt from the ground up for these other devices. I’m not a huge fan of complex games on mobile phones because usually the screen isn’t big enough and touch controls can be pretty wonky… but on console, I’ll play the shit out of this. It’s not so much that I dislike the game on PC, no, I’d rather play it there. But I have friends who don’t own PCs and probably never will, along with having never played LoL before and I’d love to introduce it to them. Also, the potential for a nice long trophy list makes the trophy whore in me lick his lips. I did play a different MOBA on PS4 recently and it had some fairly intuitive controls, so I assume if they are anything like that, this version of the game will be very enjoyable even with a controller in lieu of keyboard/mouse.

Teamfight Tactics, which I wrote about when I first tried it (and I’m still not into this auto-battler genre) is getting ported to mobile now as well. This makes sense since their main competitor DOTA Underlords is also both on PC and mobile. I assume this would probably be more fun on a mobile device since you can be doing other things while playing it. I get bored too fast with this type of game so this news wasn’t particularly interesting to me.

Legends of Runeterra is new. It’s not an existing game getting ported to other devices. It’s free-to-play. It’s a card game. That’s really all I know. The above trailer will give more detail than I can. What I do know is that I do enjoy card games. I just haven’t really found a digital one that I can play for a long term. I did play Hearthstone for quite a while, but then it got stupid (as Blizzard games tend to do). I can’t get into any of the Magic: The Gathering digital versions because I simply like playing the paper version so much more. This is a world/lore that I enjoy, and depending on what they do to make this stand out from the competition, this could finally be the card game I play when I need a fix.

Project A, as it’s being call at this juncture, is Riot’s attempt at a tactical FPS, but also looks to be a hero shooter. So think games like Paladins or Overwatch. I’m intrigued by this one, mainly because it’s such a far cry from a MOBA and this company has only been known for one game for so long. A card game based on the world is great and all, but I’m a FPS player through and through, so this is very appealing. My hope is that they do something different enough to make this feel better than existing games on the market. Graphically it looks okay, but I think that will get bumped up a notch when it gets closer to release. Gameplay looks fine, but I want some heroes with crazy abilities and I want tight gunplay. I’d also like to see some objectives and things that are different from what’s out there, but time will tell. Keeping an eye on this one.

Project L was announced as a fighting game. If this is 2-D hand drawn and plays like a Street Fighter title, I’m all in. If we’re looking at more of a Tekken style fighter, I’m less excited. We’ll have to wait for more details but I love me a good fighting game and Riot has already developed so many cool characters I’d love to fight as them. It’s unknown if that’s what’s happening or if all of the characters would be original. Also keeping an eye on this one.

Lastly, stuff that isn’t game related. A documentary about LoL called “League of Legends: Origins” was released on Netflix the other day and I watched it. It was a really good look into the origin of the company via Ryze and Tryndamere, along with the rise of the game itself and Esports. Basically all stuff that I lived through, but fun to see it in a different context. If you haven’t paid attention to LoL or Esports, or just don’t “get it,” I’d recommend giving this a watch. Also, an animated series called “Arcane” is being developed and looks to deal with stories about LoL characters. You can watch the trailer above, it looks really cool and I’ll definitely watch it when the time comes.

That’s all I’m going to touch on today, but some exciting stuff coming down the pipeline. There were a few other tidbits in the article I linked at the beginning of this post, so if you haven’t had your fill you can read more there. What do you guys think about Riot Games finally branching out?

Thoughts on The Dark Tower

Recently a couple of my fellow bloggers had written posts about The Dark Tower, and now that I have finally seen said movie, I feel like I should jot down some of my thoughts on the experience. First, a little background:

I discovered the Dark Tower series somewhere between when the fourth and fifth books were written, which would have been in the early 2000s. I had a job where I was able to read in my downtime, so I grabbed The Gunslinger (book 1) on a whim, and burned through it rather quickly. I had already read a few of Stephen King’s novels at that point, along with seeing several movie adaptations of his work. The Gunslinger stood out to me as something different than his usual faire, and after completing it I hungrily devoured books two (The Drawing of the Three) and three (The Wastelands) before hitting a bit of a wall with book four (Wizard & Glass).

The filling in of Roland’s past in the fourth book was sort of boring to me. It’s important exposition nonetheless, but I just felt it was kind of a slog to get through. It was around this time though, that in real life Mr. King was involved in an accident and there was rumor that he might retire from writing altogether. Fans clamored for the conclusion the the Dark Tower series though, and eventually he did finish, writing the last three books in rapid succession. Once the last three books were released I picked them all up and read through each and the conclusion was worth the wait. Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susanna and the culmination of The Dark Tower finished things off and I felt that it was one of the greatest series of all time. I’d put it up there with Lord of the Rings.

So clearly, I am a fan and have read all of the source material. My colleagues who already wrote about the film (along with critics, etc.) noted that they went into the movie with little to no knowledge of the books or if they did read them it had been a long time. This didn’t color their opinion of the film, and honestly I went in with low expectations because I had already heard it was a poor adaptation. With this in mind it was impossible for me not to feel that this was a shitty attempt at making something visual out of these novels.

Within the last couple of years I remember hearing about a potential TV series for the books, and that would have made more sense. There is so much source material that you aren’t going to cram all of that into a single movie. At the very least, they should have just made this first movie follow the events of book one and go about making 6 more movies, and even then it probably wouldn’t have done the story justice, but it would have been better than whatever you’d call this.

The director/writers clearly knew about the source material. They clearly dropped little tidbits that would cause you to remember bits of the books. This could have been a little side tale that wasn’t in the books though, because despite referencing the material they didn’t really make much clear. You’re just thrown into a story that doesn’t make a bunch of sense (though with knowledge of the books you can sort of infer and interpret things that you probably couldn’t without having that knowledge), it moves quickly and it ends so abruptly that you’re left with a sense that the producers ran out of funds and just called the thing done. Even a 3 hour long version wouldn’t have done The Dark Tower justice, and I’m disappointed with the effort.

Sure you can sprinkle in The Crimson King references, the skin-people were I assume the “wolves” from the Calla, very little was made of Ka or Ka-tet, though the whole gunslinger’s motto was a nice touch. The portals were interesting, the Man in Black didn’t feel like the Walter I knew… there was absolutely no mention of Eddie or Susanna who were integral to the story; it just stinks. And though they left things wide open to continue with another movie, I just don’t see how they could undo what they’ve already done. All in all, it’s just not a good movie, despite the performances being well done, the special effects working and whatnot. I’m sure people who never read the books will find it to be interesting enough, but if you read the books you’ll probably want to avoid this stinker.

Here’s hoping that TV series gets the green light so we can get some real detail. I love this series and hope it gets the screenplay it deserves.

Back In Town

Fair warning: This post is going to be random as hell. 

I returned home today, after spending the last several days out of town. I managed to finish up all of my classwork along with getting all of the posts in order for the end of Blaugust and The Digital Backwoods before setting out on Saturday. As I mentioned in some of the notes towards the bottom of those posts, I wouldn’t be able to do my Nuclear Throne daily runs while I was gone, but that I’ve been thinking of continuing them beyond Blaugust, along with maintaining the daily posting. I just know that some days during the Blaugust event, there were posts that were a bit of a reach, and things that I might not have posted (skipped a day) under normal circumstances. So I’m not going to promise that the daily runs and daily postings will continue forever, but for now I have been enjoying this madness. I will however, promise that The Digital Backwoods will be getting new posts each day for the foreseeable future. By the way, thanks to the community for all of the submissions recently, it’s made scheduling out posts that much easier! I’m always willing to take more, and you will be credited for your shot. See my introductory post on that site for more details.

So the reason for my trip, if I hadn’t mentioned it already (I can’t remember and I can’t be bothered to look right now), is that my sister is moving out of state in a couple of weeks, and I wanted to see her one last time before she goes. There’s the possibility that I won’t see her in a very long time; this might even be the longest we’ve ever gone without some sort of contact in our entire lives. Time will tell. During the visit I also managed to see my old roommate whom I’ve mentioned plenty around here, his brother (who is his current roommate) and another friend of mine who I learned got into a motorcycle accident not too long ago. The good news is he survived, the bad news is he’s still pretty beat up. He was doing much better than when he was in the hospital though, so that was a definite plus. I also managed to have two separate dinners with my Mom, and it’s always nice to see family especially when you don’t live in the same town anymore. But it’s good to be home!

Being mostly unplugged for four days puts you behind on the Internet comings and goings, so I’ve spent the evening trying to catch up. I missed the entire NALCS Gauntlet, and was surprised to find out that Cloud 9 managed to win the entire thing. They reverse sweeped (lost two games and then won three in a row in a best of five series) Gravity. They did it again to Team Impulse (so much for my team making worlds this year) and then beat out Liquid (the other team I was rooting for) 3-1. Crazy shit. This upcoming weekend is the Spring Promotional tournament, so we’ll see which of the two teams (Team 8 and Enemy) who did poorly during the summer stay in the LCS, or which of the two Challenger teams (Team Imagine and Coast) might promote into it. Coast would probably be a safe bet as they were in several splits in the past, but otherwise I have no idea. None of them are particularly brilliant.

I watched a couple of movies while I was out. Focus, starring Will Smith as a con-man, was an interesting ride for much of the film, but ended up falling flat towards the ending. Really strong writing and plot twists for 3/4 of it though, so you might want to check it out yourself. It Follows, aka “the spirit STD” had a solid premise but also fell flat towards the end. The teenie bopper horror movie trope needs to go away as well. I’d skip it. I also re-watched Mad Max and it was just as fantastic the second time around. I need to get that one on Blu-ray. Lastly, a new Netflix Original Series popped up the other day, called Narcos, centering around Pablo Escobar and his cocaine empire. I’m only a few episodes into it, but it has already surpassed my expectations. The only part that is semi-irritating is the fact that there’s a lot of spoken Spanish in the movie (makes sense as it mostly takes place in South America) so you have to be paying full attention to subtitles much of the time. Otherwise it’s been a gripping story. Recommended.

I also did a little gaming, mostly playing Awesomenauts Assemble on my friend’s PS4. Of course you already know my history with the game, having played it on both PS3 and PC. He had only played the game on PS3, so AA has more new nauts for him to try out and has most of the balancing and fixes from several years of development that weren’t present in the PS3 version. It’s still a fun game despite being frustrating as hell on occasion. I was tempted to try out Destiny, but they didn’t have any free character slots. I thought about trying Farcry 4, but for some reason the disc wouldn’t read. So eventually I tried out Rocket League, and I don’t get everyone’s fascination with it. It’s fun for a game or two, but then it gets boring really quick. Glad I never paid money for that one. Lastly, the other day I also got to try out the remastered Gears of War on Xbox One, and I have to say that’s a game series I wish I would have been able to play all the way through. I’ve enjoyed what the original has shown me so far, much moreso than Halo. But I digress.

That’s all I have to ramble about today, and that’s still 1k words. Apparently doing this daily thing snowballs to the point of being second nature.

Having been out of town and not being able to play means the rust is showing already. Another short-ish run with Chicken.

The Decade in Horror

It’s October, and seeing as how this is the month for Horror movie marathons on TV and theatrical releases, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorites from the past decade. I’ve been a Horror movie buff for years now, though that wasn’t always the case. In the 80’s and early 90’s I was mostly into Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Comedy. As I remember it, when Horror movies were being played I was running out of the room, too scared to watch. That changed as I came into adulthood, and I point to my fascination with Zombies as the catalyst. I have since gone back and collected many of the greats, although there were some series from the 70’s and 80’s that I don’t feel stand the test of time, and also felt pretty pointless after so many iterations. Horror has seen some pretty terrible releases over the years, and many a B-movie has been made in the name of shock and gore. The movies contained in this list have those elements, sure, but I’m focusing on the movies that stuck with me as having the ability to evoke conversation (and conversations have been had about all of these titles). With that said, here are some of my favorite Horror movies from the past decade, in chronological order:

1. Saw (2004)

Saw came out during a time when I wasn’t watching as many movies as I would have liked. I ended up borrowing it from a friend and was amazed by it. Not only does it channel the serial killer motif ala Seven or newer films like Zodiac, but it also goes for the shock value of gore. It’s rather toned down compared to its sequels though, and focuses more on the psychological horror of being drugged and waking up in an unknown locale, chained to plumbing. The backstory helps create an enthralling tale, and this series managed to do something that other series (Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, etc.) failed to do: maintain continuity. The entirety of the seven movies are one storyline, and parts that might not make sense in one movie are later explained in others. They did turn to upping the ante with more gore in later installments, but it was the underlying story that really hooked me.

2. Secret Window (2004)

Secret Window is based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King. King is one of the best authors when it comes to Horror, so this movie earns a spot on this list, though it would probably fall under the Thriller or Suspense tags. It seems like a rather tame film with very minimal twists and turns until the end. But when the shit starts to hit the fan, it’s simply brilliant. I didn’t see the twist coming, and as such it’s one of those movies that begs to be watched more than once. Johnny Depp is a fantastic actor, so you know he nails the part. I can’t say much else without ruining it, so watch it if you get a chance.

3. Paranormal Activity (2007)

The “Found Footage” subgenre has gone through it’s paces over the years, with most of us being able to recall The Blair Witch Project as one of the first (though it isn’t the absolute first). I don’t remember BWP being overly great, but it has been a long time since I watched it. I also know that the technique has been used time and again, and has been panned by critics more often than not. That doesn’t stop me from enjoying movies like Paranormal Activity, as even though I know that they’re Hollywood productions, it gives them a more realistic feel. That layer alone makes me enjoy them more, even when movies like Cloverfield and the aforementioned BWP have a lot of shaky camera bits that can be annoying. The “Haunting” subgenre that has been ever-present for many years has also been overdone, but this mixes the two in a fashion that I found acceptable. The events of the movie (and the following sequels) form a story about a normal family that is dealing with other-worldly powers, and each tends to end on a sour note. I’m a fan of movies that don’t take the happy ending approach, so this is a welcome change. I’ve enjoyed the sequels thus far, but it does feel like they are starting to reach a bit, so hopefully they close it out soon.

4. The Mist (2007)

Another movie based on a novella by Stephen King, The Mist is an awesome flick. It starts off normal enough, but by the middle of the movie you’re simply thinking “WTF is going on?” A mysterious mist envelopes a town in Maine (go figure) and weird creatures start appearing out of nowhere. A bunch of civilians, including the main character and his son take shelter in a local supermarket, and the human struggle takes place on a small scale. Not only are survivors pit against whatever is lurking in the mist, but they also fight amongst themselves, which feels very much like the reality of a catastrophic event. The ending is where the true horror lies, but you’ll have to watch it to find out.

5. Quarantine (2008)

This movie is actually a remake of a film made in Spain called [REC]. I have not seen the original so I can’t comment on differences, though I’m sure the Internet could help you with that if you’re interested. I missed the film when it released, and didn’t catch it until later, and boy I was taken back by it. The story follows a news reporter and her cameraman (your point of view throughout most of the movie) while they go on a routine call with the local fire department. Once inside the building where the call originated from, they are trapped inside, and strange things start to happen with the residents. I find that it felt like a zombie movie, but not in the traditional sense. Rabies anyone?

6. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

This movie sees Sam Raimi’s return to horror for the first time since The Evil Dead (and no I’m not talking about the recent shitty remake). In between he did the first Spider-Man trilogy, which we will spare judgement on. Drag Me to Hell focuses on a young woman trying to get ahead at her job who turns away an old woman asking for help, who turns out to be a demon. From there, the demon is trying to take her soul to hell, hence the title. There are a lot of genuine horror bits but then some touches of comedy that Raimi is known for (if you reference the cult classic ED films). This one didn’t have a huge impact or the jump scares, but is overall a solid horror title.

7. Insidious (2010)

Insidious is another supernatural entity horror flick, but it was really well done. I typically prefer the psychological scares where there is less visual stimulation (gore, bizzare happenings) and more the director getting inside your head, making you scare yourself. This movie has a lot of that. It follows a family where a boy injures himself and falls into a coma, and is subsequently possessed. The family brings him home eventually and thinks that the house is haunted, when it’s actually the son. There’s more to it than just that, but you’ll have to watch it for yourself. There’s been a sequel that continued the storyline in interesting ways, and a third movie is in the works.

8. Grave Encounters (2011)

Grave Encounters is another Found Footage horror film, but it combines the stationary camera effect of Paranormal Activity and the handheld camera technique found in Quarantine. The beginning of the movie starts out with an editor saying that the footage was found and he pieced it together. They attempt to make the footage seem real, and for the most part it looks like it could be. The story revolves around a group of ghost hunters who are basically going through the motions for their paychecks, not really seeing anything supernatural, until that is, they come to spend the night in this abandoned asylum. From there things deteriorate in typical horror movie fashion, but for whatever reason this film really got to me. I loved it. The sequel wasn’t as good but still had some parts I really enjoyed. Both of these were on Netflix recently, so look for it there.

9. V/H/S (2012)

This film tripped me out when I first watched it. I didn’t know what to expect, I went into it completely blind. I was pleasantly surprised. The premise is that a group of miscreants were hired to break into a house and steal a VHS tape. That’s really it when it comes to story. When they get in the house, they find a dead guy, a TV and a shitload of tapes. One guy goes off to look around the house, another starts watching a tape. From there, you are watching various tapes that the characters would be watching, and they are off the wall. It reminds me of Creepshow with a different presentation: a bunch of short stories with varying content. The very first tale hooked me, and from there it was just some crazy shit. It’s the oddest horror movie I think I ever watched, but I loved it. The sequel wasn’t quite as good, but followed a similar formula. Both were on Netflix last time I checked.

10. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

This one took me by surprise. The title alone makes you think it’s the typical “let’s go on vacation in the woods and some spooky shit is going to happen killing all but maybe one of us” Evil Dead ripoff. It is far from that. I mean, yes it starts off that way, but it quickly evolves into something entirely different. The horror bits are pretty lame to begin with, but the overall conspiracy and scope of the underlying story is ridiculous. Let’s just say that it gets better with time. I highly recommend it.

#halloween #horror #movies