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 Castle Rock

I don’t really watch much on Hulu, truth be told. My girlfriend subscribes to the service though, and will periodically let me know about an original program that she thinks I will enjoy. Knowing that I’m a fan of Stephen King, she mentioned that this show was upcoming and finding out J.J. Abrams was also involved piqued my interest. I also thought that Bill Skarsgård was terrific as Pennywise in the recent IT film adaptation, so I knew I had to watch this. I went in pretty much blind, not reading any plot details or spoilers beforehand. The following are my thoughts on Season 1 of Castle Rock. Be warned, if you haven’t finished the show, this post will contain spoilers.

The show starts off pretty slow. On July 25th when the show premiered, Hulu released the first three episodes, so I had a mini-binge. Those first three episodes were intriguing, but nothing much is happening. We’re introduced to the main character, an African-American man named Henry Deaver, who is a lawyer called back to Castle Rock (which is the title of the show and also the name of the town) to represent a client. Henry had a troubled youth, being adopted by a white family — a stay at home mother and a preacher — and having some issues as a child. He remembers hearing a loud ringing noise that others couldn’t. It is revealed that his father believes this is the voice of God, and they make trips in the dead of night to a particular spot in the woods where they believe they will hear it again. This seems to have an effect on the mother to the point where in the present day she is disturbed, yet everyone believes it is just dementia.

The client Henry is here to represent is a character called “The Kid” (played by Skarsgård) who has been locked in a portion of the town’s prison that has been unused for decades. The old warden has kept him locked up down there for as long, but after committing suicide, a new warden comes to town, and orders some of her guards to clean up the unused wing so they can bring in more inmmates. The Kid is discovered, but doesn’t talk. As soon as he is let out, bad things start to happen around the town. People die. Henry gets the kid out of jail and helps him to get his life in gear, which includes staying at various people’s houses (including his own). Bad things continue to happen but there is no real explanation of the how’s or the why’s.

The show continues like this for weeks. I was actually beginning to lose interest about halfway through the season but by episode 9 things start to make a bit more sense. One episode we are shown The Kid in the same town, surrounded by the same characters, but he is Henry Deaver, which throws things on its head a bit. The possibility of multiple dimensions (something King was able to really explore in his Dark Tower series) starts to creep into the plot, as the The Kid/Henry goes about his life, then ends up in the same woods during the time frame when old Henry and his dad had their final altercation that ultimately lead to his father’s demise. The Kid/Henry is picked up by the warden, who hears the “voice of God” that tells him that The Kid/Henry is “the Devil” and should be locked away. He kept him there while old Henry grew up and we’ve now come full circle.

I’m leaving out some small details but in the end, The Kid wants Henry to go out in the woods with him so that this dimensional rift can be opened again and he can go back to his own world. Their altercation ends up in Henry’s favor, and near the end of the season we are shown The Kid back in his cell under the prison (which appears to be shut down completely, allowing him to sneak in and out easily) and Henry is now taking the place of the Warden, as the guardian of this “Devil.” Generally speaking, there are many ways that you can read into what happened during the season, and then there’s probably a way it was meant to be understood as written by the producers. In my opinion, there are two ways of understanding this story. On one hand, you have this inter-dimensional rift that was somehow opened and sucked two different people into two different alternate realities. The simple act of being in that different world was seemingly understood by it, and as a result bad things happen where ever those two people go. On the other hand, you can believe that The Kid really is a Devil and he belongs in a cage. Some clues that point towards this different reading are the fact that The Kid’s face changes briefly during the final altercation, and he appears either very old or very zombie-like. Also there seems to be ways that he was able to influence people and things, and in some cases it really did seem like he pushed people to kill themselves or do terrible things.

I’m on the fence. I like the inter-dimensional plot twist over the religious connotation but that’s due to my own personal beliefs. Either way it was enjoyable in a cerebral way, and that’s how I typically enjoy my plot twists. What did you think of the show?

Thoughts on The Expanse

It’s been a long while since I’ve talked about some of the TV shows I watch, and that’s mainly because I have been without cable for almost a year now. Prior to that, I had a full DVR most of the time, and was consuming both recorded cable television along with original programming on some of the major streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video). Because of the lack of television in this house (this is by choice, by the way) I’ve been limited to things that I can stream on the aforementioned services, and in that case it means the only “new” programming that I’m watching are those original series. Shows like Stranger Things and The Grand Tour have been excellent and I’m glad to have the ability to watch them, but I’ve fallen behind on some of my favorite shows like The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul. Netflix gets these shows, but they are only put on the service just prior to the new seasons releasing on cable, so you’ll still be behind by a year. I was gifted a modded Firestick for my birthday last year, but with our spotty WiFi in this particular living situation, it wasn’t reliable enough to use so I will continue to be behind for the time being. With that said, I want to talk about a show that is a few years old but one that I hadn’t watched until recently: The Expanse.

I think it was my father that told me that this was a good show, but our viewing preferences don’t always align so I must have forgotten or pushed it aside for other shows. That was a mistake. This show is the single most intriguing and entertaining Sci-Fi TV shows that I’ve watched in years — decades even. I haven’t looked forward to watching a show as much as this one outside of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, but those are obviously very different animals. I haven’t enjoyed a Sci-Fi show this much since Star Trek: The Next Generation (though I have enjoyed the episodes of Star Trek: Discovery that I’ve seen). The Expanse really hit all of the right notes for me, and it’s become my one of my favorite shows.

Starting in 2015, The Expanse ran for three seasons on the SyFy channel, the latter of which finished up this year, at which time it was cancelled. What brought it back into the forefront of my mind was the recent outcry from fans for someone to pickup the series and produce a fourth season. Amazon Video has decided to do just that, and a fourth season has been greenlit. Coincidentally, this is the exact service I’ve been using to watch the show, but have been limited to two seasons at this point. This is one of the limitations of Amazon Video, the fact that in many instances you’ll have seasons of a show included with your subscription, but then newer seasons will be locked behind a pay wall. I get it, I only subscribe to Amazon Prime for the free two day shipping, because I don’t like to wait for things that I order and I don’t like to pay for shipping. Amazon Video, Music and other services are included for your $13/month, so I understand why they need extra money for certain things. I just don’t like the fact that I’m currently finished with the first two seasons of this show which I absolutely love, but then have to pay $20 to watch the third season. Considering that the 4th season will likely be included with subscription because all Prime Originals are, it seems silly for them to charge me for the current season that just finished. I’m still considering doing so though, because I haven’t had my fill of the show despite binging the first two seasons in only a couple of weeks.

As far as the story goes, it’s less episodic like Star Trek and other shows like it, where the same crew gets involved in differing adventures week in and week out. Instead, it lays the ground work by painting believable scenarios in our own solar system. Earth colonized the Moon (now called “Luna”) and then moved on to Mars. With dwindling resources on Earth, people were sent out to the asteroid belt to mine ice and other minerals for the inner planets. Eventually these become our factions: Earthers, Martians and Belters all vying for control of the solar system. From there, we are introduced to main characters of each faction, and the underlying plot by their governments to do devious things. One part Sci-Fi adventure, one part murder mystery and one part conspiracy theory, this show has it all.

The special effects are pretty damn good for a cable television show, and the acting isn’t terrible. It doesn’t feel like a B-movie on the small screen, instead it feels like a big budget block buster stretched out over many hours. I don’t want to spoil anything at all, but you need to do yourself a favor and watch this show if you haven’t already, and consider yourself any sort of Sci-Fi fan. I’m going to be checking out the third season soon, and will look forward to the Prime Original version of season four with much anticipation!

Rounding It All Up

Wow. I haven’t had a gap between posts this big in a very long time. My blog is starting to look like it did during those years when I only posted once a month. I don’t like it, and I tell myself every day that I should write something but I hate feeling forced when it comes to my writing. I enjoy having passion about what I’m writing, or at least having something I feel that needs to be said. At this point, something needs to be said so that everyone knows I’m still alive. So yes, I’m still breathing and living and going about my day to day stuff that is mostly boring but sometimes exciting. I’ve actually had plenty of things I could be sharing but at the end of the day I don’t typically feel like writing it out. Then time passes and the thing I wanted to write about loses some of its relevance and then it feels pointless to write about it. So instead, we’re doing a catch-all post, and hopefully I can get back on track with everything in the coming weeks.

Life: Real life has had me pretty busy as of late. Between work and my budding social life along with playing games and watching shows there isn’t a lot of spare time for writing and some of my other hobbies. Hell, I bought a book the other day for the first time in years, and still haven’t begun to read it. Sometimes you get home from work and just want to lay around, and that has been me as of late. I visited my mother this past long weekend and was surprised that my step-brother was also out to visit, and I hadn’t seen him in over 17 years we figured out. Was a nice visit and I hope to see him again in the near future. Most of you probably know that I’ve been single for a long time and I believe the last time I mentioned anything about it on the blog I entered into a committed relationship but that was so brief that I don’t really count it anymore. However, between then and now I’ve done more dating, had some good times and have finally come to a point that I think I’m ready to be in a monogamous relationship again. I have known the woman in question for several months now and it’s progressed naturally to the point where we feel something for each other, and I’m hoping to build upon that. That is also going to be the reason for my slacking on anything hobby related in the near future, as most can attest that maintaining a relationship takes work, and usually means putting less important things to the side. Fear not though, I refuse to let this blog die or to let my podcast die, so I’m not going anywhere. Just doing some reshuffling of things for the time being.

Gaming: Despite making it sound like I have absolutely no free time, that isn’t entirely the case. I have been doing some gaming almost daily, just not quite as much as I was doing a year ago when I was an unemployed loser with nothing but time on his hands. Lately I’ve been really stuck on MOBAs, two in particular and both of which I’ve been playing on my PS4. I’ve talked about SMITE a few times here and there, but I’ve been really focused on earning the trophies for the game. I was really bad about being a self-proclaimed “Trophy Whore” a few years back and broke myself of obsessing over it, but when it comes to a game I really like and am going to be playing anyway, I always find myself wanting to earn them all. Those included with SMITE are pretty straight forward, just taking time, and like I said I’d be playing the game anyway. Mastering gods, mastering roles, it’s been a good time. Plus I play the game with my IRL best friend so that makes it even more fun. I’m also responsible for creating his addiction to Awesomenauts, to the point where we both have purchased the game multiple times. I had it for PS3, then bought again for PC and again for PS4. He had it originally on Xbox 360, then on PS3 and now on PS4. The PS4 version has finally been updated to the point where I think it is nearly identical to the Steam version, which was good news. I haven’t really played the game on Steam lately, having burnt out on it a bit about a year ago, but having my friend to play it with and having it be basically the same thing on the console has sucked me back in. Oh MOBAs… how I love you.

I also picked up Legion. Yeah, that Legion. I resubscribed to WoW a couple of weeks prior to the launch of the new expansion, and had a hard time deciding what I was going to do. Two years ago (the last time I played) I ended up having a good time with some fellow bloggers/twitterers, but only raised a couple characters into their 30s. I found out that most of them were playing elsewhere, so I deleted those characters and decided to start fresh elsewhere. Apparently sometime between then and now, they added some cross-server tech so playing with your friends is easier to do, but I wanted to be on a higher population server than where I was anyway. I rolled elsewhere, but then had some conversations with people in my guild and ended up starting anew again. When Legion released, I ended up using the boost to get a Rogue to 100, just so I could check out some of the new stuff, but ended up feeling like I didn’t really know my class or what was going on. So I started a couple other characters and will likely level up on my own or by dungeon spamming just so I can get a better feel for the world and the class. I don’t mind the idea of a boost for someone who has played the shit out of the game, but for someone like me who hasn’t seen anything except for vanilla content (save for some other starter zones like DK or Pandas) it’s probably a better idea to level a class from scratch. Anyway, I rolled on Tichondrius which is a high pop PvP server. I also have a character on Emerald Dream, which is RPPvP. No more normies for this guy, I like me some PvP.

Really that’s it. I’ve been watching Halt and Catch Fire, The Strain, the new season of Narcos on Netflix, and hanging with my girl. It’s been tough to find the time for this, but I’m going to make more of an effort from here on out. Also, stay tuned for big news for the podcast. Yes, episode 100 should have been out already but the guests we had backed out and it ended up being delayed. Don’t think I can record this weekend either. But episode 100 will answer your questions and explain our plans going forward. Structural changes, but the show must go on! I’ll see you guys soon.

Slacktober in Full Effect

I was going so strong.

After Blaugust ended, I was on a mission to keep up the tempo. During the course of the month, I took up a few daily tasks, beyond the mere post per day the event dictates. I started doing daily runs in Nuclear Throne, recording them and throwing them up on my YouTube channel. I also started up my secondary blog, The Digital Backwoods. For the most part, I completed my goals in September. I didn’t post every day, but I did pretty well. I missed a day or two of dailies due to other priorities. I have managed to keep ahead full steam on the picture blog, thanks in part to community submissions. I thank those of you who contributed.

The origin of Slacktober escapes me but I know it came about from someone making post-Blaugust commentary, and basically admitting to themselves that they can’t adhere to a daily posting schedule (without getting paid for it, I’m sure plenty of us would gladly do more for cold hard cash). It may have even been Slacktember, but either way, my forward motion has slowed and I am settling back into a more reasonable posting schedule. I plan to keep up the daily posts on the Backwoods, but posts here will be more sporadic. Fun fact: I actually got more traffic (the most ever in a month on this site) during September than I did in Blaugust, which was interesting but probably not worth dissecting.

Some of you might remember the event I ran last October in conjunction with Eri, called Bragtoberfest. I had thought about doing it again this year, but after running the NBI this year in a larger capacity and then participating in Blaugust and my own endeavors over the past couple of months, I feel a little bit of burn out. It’s not to say I’m not going to keep most of these projects going, but I don’t have the energy to pull together more gaming events that may or may not be of interest to people. So if you liked Bragtoberfest, feel free to share your accomplishments in games and tag it as such, but as for the formal event I’m throwing in the towel this year. With enough interest, I would be willing to host a gaming event, so let me know in the comments if that would be something you’d want to do. The people who joined in last year seemed to have some fun.

The other day I pulled something or pinched a nerve in my back and literally spent a day and a half in bed. Thankfully the League of Legends World Championships started this week, so I watched the rebroadcasts on both Thursday and Friday. Today I’ve watched a couple of the VoDs and I have to say it’s been an entertaining groups stage. I’m amazed that Cloud 9 has been doing so well, and surprised that TSM is doing so poorly. The same can be said about some of the top seeds from the other regions. I could write a whole post on this, and probably will after the weekend’s games are over. I also managed to watch a bunch of Netflix and I would like to recommend Bloodline as a very good series to binge on, and the horror movie Come Back To Me was a trip.

I haven’t really played any games. That means I’ve missed about 3 days worth of daily videos, and I’m starting to think I’m going to either re-evaluate what I’m doing with those videos (i.e. adding commentary or doing some other videos with commentary and getting away from the daily schedule) or if I’m going to bother at all any more. Maybe I’ll start doing clip videos with a week’s worth of dailies. I’m not really sure. I love content creation in all its forms but I’m questioning my direction. Don’t mind my stream of consciousness nonsense. I’ll be back when I have something with more substance.