28 August 2014

Brief Procastinatory Ramblings on Learning Dota and Stuff

Hello blog. What have you been up to? Not much, I see. Well, maybe I'll just scribble down a little something, just in way of procrastination...

So in my last post I mentioned trying out a little Dota 2. I've been playing a little more over the past week. I'm not sure how worthwhile it is actually writing about it with still so little experience under my belt, but whatever...

I have now completed the tutorials and practice battles in the game's training section, except for the last one, which is matches with other real players. And I really don't want to do that. Even if some people playing in those matches may well be as inexperienced as me, I am well aware of how bad I am at this game and I have zero confidence in my ability to compete against other humans.

I'm not sure I'd be willing to try that even if the MOBA community didn't have a reputation of being very harsh towards noobs. But of course it does. When you read about MOBAs, the one thing you always run into—in addition to how they're challenging but rewarding games, of course—is how unwelcoming and aggressive the community can be. Which is a shame.

It's funny, really. For a long, long time I simply wasn't interested in online games, favouring engaging single player experiences. And that's obviously just fine. But various factors lately have, just slightly, piqued my interest; like getting into following gamers on Twitch and social networks, esports becoming more mainstream etc.—overall exposing me to a wider range of gaming. And just when I'm maybe opening up slightly to these different parts of the hobby and to gaming as a more communal thing, I begin to discover that some parts of the gaming community can actually be rather shitty... Not that I have experienced anything very negative first hand—since, as said, I have hardly ever played online games and also the communities I have had touch with are pretty much composed of actually decent people—but it seems like these days you're constantly hearing stories about harassment and abuse... Actually, come to think of it, no, that's not actually funny at all.

But let's get back to Dota. Because, possible community issues aside, it is actually an interesting and entertaining game. Or at least has been so far. And I can see it will require a lot of practise. I honestly don't know at this time whether I'll have the motivation and patience to stick with it. It's quite similar to my relationship with fighting games, really. I find them cool and fascinating, but I'm terrible at them and lack the patience to really practice.

I'm slightly surprised I didn't lose any of the training section battles. But I think the game was rigged in my favour. It was obvious that the bots on my side were vastly more efficient than the enemy bots. I expect when I get into the 'proper' bot battles, which is probably the next step for me, my side will lose, even on easier settings. Because, all other things being equal, I still suck.

[EDIT: OK, so I actually played one bot match soon after writing this with the bots set to 'easy', and... the result was very much the same as the matches in the training section—i.e. I sucked but my team still dominated. So I guess I'd need to play on a higher difficulty for the teams to actually be equal...]

20 August 2014

On Things Steamy, Esportsy, and Never Wanting to Be a Lumberjack-y

I haven't been blogging much this summer. Sorry about that. Just not a whole lot going on in my life to blog about. I spent a few weeks in the countryside recently, much of which I spent cutting up firewood with a chainsaw. Turns out using a chainsaw isn't as cool as it might sound, but actual hard work. Especially when you're doing it several hours each day in the middle of Finland's longest heat wave in 40 years... Let me tell you, I was not built for manual labour...

So let us talk about geekier topics instead. I've written in the past about how I'm a dedicated GNU/Linux user and how this isn't exactly ideal for gaming on the PC, and about the (relatively few) games I've actually played on my computer. Of course the situation has slowly been improving. A major contributor to this is Valve's decision to bring Steam to GNU/Linux. I stayed away from Steam for a long while (partly because, in addition to running GNU/Linux, my laptop isn't exactly great and I've had a lot of issues with graphics drivers), but I finally took the plunge and installed it.

Steam's GNU/Linux support is still far from perfect, I'm afraid. The release is tailored for Ubuntu, for one thing, which has caused some compatibility problems with the Debian testing release I currently use. Getting it to run required a little trickery, like removing outdated libraries bundled with it in favour of actually working versions in my OS. But lo and behold, I did eventually manage to get it to run.

The main reason I decided to try Steam was that I have a whole bunch of games I've gotten from the Humble Indie Bundles, most of which are redeemable on Steam. I figured Steam might make installing and managing these games simpler. I installed a few of these games before I went on my trip... but of course I never had the time or energy to play anything after all the woodcutting. But I've finally been playing around a little over the past few days. I've played a little Legend of Grimrock, which seems pretty fun in an oldschool, nostalgic way—harking back to classic dungeon crawlers like Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder (the latter of which, if I recall correctly, might have been the first PC game I ever bought, back when I got my first PC in the 90s).

Perhaps more surprisingly (to myself at least) I've also been playing a little Dota 2. Just tutorial matches against bots, of course. I doubt I'll ever have the skills or confidence to actually play with other humans... I suck so bad at it. I'm still completely lost with all the powers and items and whatnot. But I find the basic premise of these kind of games interesting and I figured I might as well try to learn some of the very basics. And I spent a fair amount of time watching The International (not least because it happened to coincide with my woodcutting 'holiday' and I had little energy to do anything more productive), which I guess instilled a little interest in me.

Plus Dota 2 is free. Which is cool. I'm actually quite surprised it even runs on my laptop. Though of course I have graphics settings almost at minimum...

I'm not going to go any deeper into these games at this point, since I haven't actually played that much of them yet. There's a bunch of other games I now own on Steam I'd like to try some day as well. But can't play everything at once, alas...