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31 Comments

Worth Reading: 08/04/2014

Writers trying to explain the success of League of Legends and Minecraft lead the charge in this week's collection.

I captured the screen shot to your right on Sunday afternoon, while I was quietly nursing a hangover and playing Divinity: Original Sin. It's a little dark, and if you haven't played the game before, it might not make much sense.

A good ways into the game, a little under 40 hours, I encountered a fight that proved a total roadblock. No progress was being made. Did I have the wrong characters? Were my tactics off? I couldn't be sure, so I did some Google searching, and found threads cursing the very same battle. People were offering up coping and survival strategies, but one really stood out. It made me laugh out loud.

This user had suggested stacking chairs in a row, effectively blocking off the other enemies in the scenario. In Divinity, for whatever reason, the chairs are invulnerable. They can be moved but not destroyed, and that's true for both players and bad guys. So I spent five minutes building a fortress of chairs, which locks the most powerful enemy next to me, and I wait for him to walk into the room I've camped out in, my personal slaughtering chamber. Once an enemy was destroyed, one of my wizards would use a teleportation spell to drag another victim into the chamber. Cue the slaughter.

On paper, written down, it sounds monstrous and cruel. In fact, two of the enemies eventually gave up, and decided to face the wall, rather than be within range for my teleportation spell. It's as though the A.I. had realized "oh, he's being a dick" and refused to play along. That made me laugh even more.

Cheating? I don't know. It was certainly exploitative, and that tactic might disappear in a later patch, since it makes little sense for chairs to be so inexplicably tough. But it was really damn fun. More importantly? I won!

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

At this point, there aren't many legitimate reasons to say one does not understand MOBAs, whether we're talking about League of Legends, DOTA 2, or one of the many games trying to capitalize on the trend. But even if one can fathom the big picture, minutia and lingo can be overwhelming. It's a huge barrier to entry. Though Alexa Ray Corriea's feature doesn't really tread any new ground, if you're simply looking for an excellent, straightforward primer, this is it.

"This is the third or fourth time I’ve played the game, but luckily I’m in the best place to learn.

Riot employees passing through peek over my shoulders as they walk to other cubicles, eyeing first the designer instructing me through my game and then me, as I break into a nervous sweat. I’m not a Riot employee and I get unusually excited every time I kill something. These people have to be wondering what I’m doing here.

Riot Games teaches League of Legends — its one and only game — to new employees, and also offers crash courses to the families of those who work for them. Learning to play, and love, League of Legends is a large part of the company’s culture. It’s rare they invite the press into this process, but here we are."

The question of what's made Minecraft such a success is a really tough one to answer, but Robin Sloan provides one of the most compelling explanations I've read so far. Even though Minecraft is years old at this point, we're still learning plenty about why it's captivated the imaginations of millions. Minecraft is an institution, but one that eludes the grasp of many. It's easy to look at Minecraft's LEGO-like nature and see why it's been such a big hit, but to really articulate its success...that's a challenge. And I think Sloan gets very close.

"It’s not that secret, of course. From that first buggy release onward, all the ins and outs of surviving and building in Minecraft have been documented by players, on wikis and YouTube, in ever-increasing and now mind-boggling detail. Honestly, I have no idea how you would play the game without first browsing one of those wikis or watching one of those videos. Trial and error? There would be a lot of errors.

To play, you must seek information elsewhere.

Was it a conscious decision? A strategic bit of design? I don’t know. Maybe Markus Persson always intended to create an in-game tutorial but never got around to it. If so: lucky him, and lucky us, because by requiring the secret knowledge to be stored, and sought, elsewhere, he laid the foundation for Minecraft’s true form."

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
31 Comments
Posted by Gaff

Those EVO Moments videos from Richard Li (another 1UP alumnus) always give me goosebumps.

Online
Posted by Video_Game_King

As long as you're up for community suggestions:

Posted by President_Barackbar

Always good to see someone on this site posting something about League of Legends that isn't just derisive dumping on the whole thing because it isn't Dota.

Posted by simguard

Always good to see someone on this site posting something about League of Legends that isn't just derisive dumping on the whole thing because it isn't Dota.

They feed off of comments like this. I prefer League myself, but even I find it a little funny how upset people sometimes seem to get when they joke around about it. Not to imply that your comment was especially defensive, but I'm sure you have seen worse.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I feel like cheesing Divinity with tactics like that chair barricade are totally valid. The game is hard, and the devs at Larian have been pretty supportive of players using "creative" methods of defeating foes or solving problems.

Edited by Tennmuerti

I dunno, I'll be honest, didn't even notice that fight Patrick is talking about in Divinity:OS, just kind of rode over it without slowing down.

That's kind of my big beef with the game at the moment and the reason I still have not finished it, Divinity front loads a lot of it's mechanics and cool abilities at the very start, I was having a blast in the first area (1/3 of the game), but soon afterwards it all just tapers out, the significant character progression grinds to a halt past level 10/11, mages get very few spells, rogues basically nothing. enemies no longer pose a challenge, not even bosses. It has been the same repetitive boring slog of combat after combat with no real variation and no need for variation in tactics.

Combine with the lackluster story/narrative/dialogue, I have fallen off this game hard. While my initial impressions were to rave about it, now I only want to finish it just for the sake of finishing it.

Edited by President_Barackbar

@simguard said:

@president_barackbar said:

Always good to see someone on this site posting something about League of Legends that isn't just derisive dumping on the whole thing because it isn't Dota.

They feed off of comments like this. I prefer League myself, but even I find it a little funny how upset people sometimes seem to get when they joke around about it. Not to imply that your comment was especially defensive, but I'm sure you have seen worse.

Yeah, sometimes they have a tendency to just overdo the joke. Especially now that it seems even Jeff is starting to absorb Brad's League "hatred" despite having never played either game. It's funny, the most refreshing thing I've heard anyone on the staff say on the topic was on the Bombcast when Brad came back from The International where he finally admitted that there is actually a good reason certain people prefer League of Legends to Dota 2.

Edited by PimblyCharles

This week's article didn't quite peek my interest (don't care much for LOL and Divinty), but that Jeff Green tweet is pretty great. PoopIsGood is a pretty great user name.

When is Jeff going to appear on a stream or Bombcast? That guy is awesome. Has he been on the Bombcast before? If so, I need to listen to that.

Also, that's awesome you put the link to GB user supermike6 's Deadly Premonition article. You duders need to read it, it's really interesting.

Edited by FajitaBoss

Minecraft its pretty awesome, plus one of the few top selling videogames that doesn't revolve around shooting dudes.

The world creating engine is something that has fascinated me since, it is so well made even the Biome transitions feel natural. When I jump into a new minecraft wrold I feel like a joined a simulated ecosystem, no other game makes me fell that way.

Posted by EuanDewar

I do hope Jeff Green is including himself when he asks "What has happened to us?". He's the one who appeared shirtless in a wrestling mask at a gaming convention.

Posted by Hero_Swe

As long as you're up for community suggestions:

Of course the tweet is from yourself :P

Posted by fisk0

That chair tactic reminds me of how I used to play the original Command & Conquer back in the day. Sandbags weren't indestructible - they could actually be taken out by a single shell or grenade, but the enemy would never target them as all weapons could shoot over them (unlike the late-game concrete walls, which would block most ground weapons, and thus get destroyed easily even by stray projectiles). So obviously the first thing I'd do in most missions was to build a line of sandbags across the map into the enemy base, and blocking off it's exits or it's access to resources.

Sadly, Westwood made this tactic impossible in Red Alert, as they made tanks capable of crushing sandbags.

Posted by FeverChill

A friend of mine recently let me borrow his copy of 'Deadly Premonition' and I have yet to play it but after reading that article, I may have to fire it up soon.

Edited by R3DT1D3

@pimblycharles: Jeff Green was on the podcast not too long ago as well as Brad Muir to replace GB's Jeff and Brad. I think it was one of the first one's Vinny hosted.

[EDIT] Found it: http://www.giantbomb.com/podcasts/giant-bombcast-11-12-2013/1600-671/

Edited by PimblyCharles

@r3dt1d3: You're awesome. Thank you.

Brad Muir's Brad Shoemaker impression is gold.

Posted by Mr_Creeper

Gotta say, those Grand Theft Auto V pictures are great with their flavor text added on.

As far as Rust goes, I don't see why it's such a big deal that they're working on multiple games. When I buy a game, Early Access or not, I'm not giving my money to that one game, but to the company that made it in order for them to continue making stuff I might like. If it goes back into that game or into something new, I'm just as okay with it.

Posted by DarknessMyOldFriend

YOU GOT ANY CHEETOS?

YOU GOT ANY MOUNTAIN DEW?

ARE THERE GIRLS THERE?

IF THERE ARE GIRLS THERE I WANT TO DO THEM!

Posted by Wikitoups

I just started playing League of Legends and so far I'm enjoying it.

Posted by Luck702

Ha, if anyone thought vanilla Minecraft was tough to understand, I'd love to see them load up Feed the Beast. I've put somewhere in the hundreds to possibly thousands of hours into creative Minecraft building alone. Add to that a few hundred more hours into Tekkit and FTB over the years.

That being said, Minecraft is the Lego game I grew up wanting but was never made. I think Notch is a tool and Minecraft is not everything I truly want from a building block game, but it's close enough. I wish more games would build off of what made Minecraft successful and improve the formula instead of just cloning it wholesale.

Posted by nickhead

I plan to read the Minecraft article, but the snippet is exactly how I felt when I first started playing it. What do I do? I knew to punch the tree, but crafting recipes? I would have never played it as much as I did without the wiki.

Edited by SL33TBL1ND

@patrickklepek

Just a heads up Patrick, but you misspelt Susan Arendt. A solid read as always, man.

Posted by Dizzyhippos

Learn LoL from riot so they can keep you from noticing how imbalanced the game is most of the time.

Edited by Y2Ken

@r3dt1d3 said:

@pimblycharles: Jeff Green was on the podcast not too long ago as well as Brad Muir to replace GB's Jeff and Brad. I think it was one of the first one's Vinny hosted.

[EDIT] Found it: http://www.giantbomb.com/podcasts/giant-bombcast-11-12-2013/1600-671/

Definitely a highly-recommended episode in my book. Some incredible moments. Both those guys were great fill-ins, I used to love Jeff Green on 1UP Yours way back, and Brad Muir never fails to bring a :D to my face.

Thanks for the Divinity story, Patrick. Made me chuckle. And I'll definitely have to check a few of these articles out over the course of this week so thanks for sharing as always.

Posted by buft

@y2ken said:

@r3dt1d3 said:

@pimblycharles: Jeff Green was on the podcast not too long ago as well as Brad Muir to replace GB's Jeff and Brad. I think it was one of the first one's Vinny hosted.

[EDIT] Found it: http://www.giantbomb.com/podcasts/giant-bombcast-11-12-2013/1600-671/

Definitely a highly-recommended episode in my book. Some incredible moments. Both those guys were great fill-ins, I used to love Jeff Green on 1UP Yours way back, and Brad Muir never fails to bring a :D to my face.

Thanks for the Divinity story, Patrick. Made me chuckle. And I'll definitely have to check a few of these articles out over the course of this week so thanks for sharing as always.

double recommendation, its one of those podcast where you start off sad that a regular member is off but the guests totally make up for it, lots of great stories about Jeff Greens employment if i recall correctly.

Posted by Sildfisk

Wow, I need to check out Divinity real soon.

Also, is it just me, or does Aegis Defenders look a lot like Nausicaä of the valley of the wind? You'd think they would at least mention the reference somewhere.

Posted by carg0

"Cheating? I don't know. It was certainly exploitative, and that tactic might disappear in a later patch, since it makes little sense for chairs to be so inexplicably tough. But it was really damn fun. More importantly? I won!"

it is cheating and u should be freakin' ashamed of yourself, ya jackass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUPRDnYwp74

*proceeds to copy exact same strategy*

Edited by theinnkeeper

I love fighting game tournaments. Never experienced an atmosphere quiet like it.

Edited by RollingZeppelin

I never really understood the attraction of Minecraft until I read that article. The Westeroscraft project is mind blowing! The vanilla game seemed like too much of a slog to do anything grandiose like that but it would be really interesting trying to learn to use the more powerful world editing tools that those guys use.

Posted by MormonWarrior

@arbitrarywater: I'm also a strong proponent for the concept of "if it's in the game, it's in the game." Patrick's hesitance about his strategy doesn't make much sense to me. Or people that felt bad about the Vanish/X-Zone exploit in Final Fantasy III on the SNES. If it's built in and works without actually glitching and breaking the game, then it's a totally valid way to play!

Posted by Jedted

That video with Troy and Ashley was fun to watch.