The launch of YouTube Gaming

Twitch has pretty much had a monopoly on gaming broadcasts in the United States, and a massive pres­ence worldwide. Back when eSports was just growing, there was a competitor called Own3D, but they got owned after they couldn’t pay their partners and more or less went bankrupt.

Most people say that Azubu could be considered a Twitch competitor, but in my opinion, Azubu has too much of an unintuitive and disorganized design. On top of that, I will forever remember them as being the company that filed a DMCA takedown request on content that they didn’t even own (research the SpectateFaker controversy if you’d like to learn more about that).

For the past few months, YouTube Gaming has been in the works, and we’ve been getting occasional up­dates about its progress. It challenged to be the next big platform in broadcasting, improving its current YouTube live streaming features.

Today was the release day of YouTube Gaming, and I think that it went okay.

I participated in the launch event by doing my own live stream on YouTube Gaming – I played some Nova in Quick Matches on Heroes of the Storm.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LNrf10Iuag

(If you’re curious, this video is a lot poorer quality than most of my other videos because I was live stream­ing from a location with DSL Internet, and I had to lower my bitrate to 1,000k.)

The streaming interface is fantastic. I love how in-control you feel of your stream from your dashboard, and the number of features and the amount of information it provides to you far exceeds anything that Twitch offers.

You can constantly update/tweak settings, see viewership and activity numbers, chat with your viewers, and preview your live stream all in the same page, in a well-organized customizable layout.

Unfortunately, although the back-end is great, I think the front-end could be a lot better.

When you go to YouTube Gaming, it feels like there’s just too much stuff in too little space, and too many different kinds of media are scrambled together.

For example, if you finally figure out how to get to the Heroes of the Storm page, the first thing you’ll see is Explore, where it clumps together a bunch of content ranging from extremely popular videos to streams with one viewer.

If you click on the Live tab, you’ll see all the live streamers, but the organization seems random (there are streams with zero viewers near the top and streams with ten viewers near the bottom). The spacing and sizing of the thumbnails also seems random, where some streams are confined to a three-column row while others are larger in a two-column row.

Overall, I think the front-end is too inconsistent for it to be a satisfying directory to use to look for good streams. It also puts far too much emphasis on the thumbnail (which is often completely irrelevant be­cause streamers can upload their custom thumbnails), and not enough emphasis on the important in­for­ma­tion (like the stream title, streamer, number of viewers, and other popularity metrics).

 


 

An old deck in a new meta – grinding ladder with Demon Handlock

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JZe5VTfr4zk&list=PLKQUciHiP2v6lehTLfSf2M9HVjrfb8Hzt

As the month and the season come to a close, I get back to grinding on the Hearthstone ranked ladder to try and achieve Rank 5 and earn the maximum ranked rewards for the season.

Unfortunately, this is a little bit more difficult than I anticipated because of the new Grand Tournament expansion that came out yesterday. I ended up getting defeated a lot by cards and combinations I didn’t even know existed.

I started the stream session off at Rank 10, and did well and shot up to Rank 8. That’s when the downfall began, and I plummeted right back down to Rank 10 before taking a break.

 


 

The Grand Tournament is here!

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ix1bpeC6BPU&list=PLKQUciHiP2v6lehTLfSf2M9HVjrfb8Hzt

Hearthstone’s fifth expansion, The Grand Tournament, went live today.

I opened the 50 packs that I had preordered, and had decent luck. Supposedly you’re supposed to see one legendary every 22 packs, and I opened three in my 50.

I was going to try and do some calculations on the distribution of cards I opened, but I realized that doing so would probably take an absurdly high amount of tedious work, so I decided to pass and just post the video.

It seems like 50 packs is nowhere near sufficient for building some good TGT decks, but luckily, I play mostly Warlock and a lot of the new cards exclusive to Warlock don’t really seem that great.

Wrathguard seems like a pretty strong card for zoo decks, but I’m afraid I will face a warrior who will man­age to get 30 armor, use shield slam on my Wrathgard, and one-shot my face. Once I overcome that fear, I will probably include it in my deck.

As for the other cards, a lot of them don’t really seem worth running, but most of them are demons. This is more a buff to Bane of Doom than it is anything else, so I may consider including Bane of Doom in my demon decks.

And finally, as you may have figured, I will definitely be crafting a golden Wilfred Fizzlebang. Un­for­tu­nately, at this time, I am nowhere near the dust requirement, so that video will probably be coming much later on.

 


 

Two games of Zyra mid against Fizz and Katarina in LoL

I played two games of mid-lane Zyra yesterday, one against Fizz and the other against Katarina. Both of these match-ups are considered unfavorable for Zyra (and favorable for the opponent).

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=od1voEWjXIY&list=PLKQUciHiP2v4FC-81KQi_y3eFTITpiftc

Match history: http://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/NA1/1924093617

With the recent changes to AP items, I decided to pull Zyra mid back out and try it out again in some low-level League of Legends ranked play.

Before these changes, I felt as if Zyra was sort of in an in-between, where if she built high-damage, she was too vulnerable to death, but if she built items that synergized well together and well with her kit, she would just barely not have enough damage.

Because of the damage increases on most of the AP items, which allows flexibility in terms of build choices, Zyra’s build that just barely didn’t have enough damage before is now sufficient.

I use that build in this game and perform somewhat well. The post-game stats showed that I outdamaged our marksman by over 50% of her damage. This game also shows that no matter how badly your allies are doing (jungler on a dying spree, your top laner with a third of the enemy’s farm), as long as you keep up team morale, you should be able to carry if you’re good enough.

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=-IuCVKJdCe8&list=PLKQUciHiP2v4FC-81KQi_y3eFTITpiftc

Match history: http://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/NA1/1924308037

After the successful Zyra mid game earlier in the day against Fizz, I play her again in a new game, this time laning against Katarina.

I bravely picked Zyra even though the enemy team had Malphite, Master Yi, and Katarina, three champions that can capitalize easily on Zyra’s weakness of poor mobility – and it worked out pretty well.

I ended the game with a score of 17/4/21, with 45k damage dealt to champions, 83% more than my marksman. I ended with only 162 farm because, not only am I bad at last-hitting in general, but my team started grouping up pretty early and I had to share lane minions.

 


 

Battle Boss Blitzcrank – new unreleased skin preview on LoL PBE

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=u1lIbcnZZz8&list=PLKQUciHiP2v4FC-81KQi_y3eFTITpiftc

Battle.net is down, which means I can’t play any Heroes of the Storm or Hearthstone … so I decided to hop on the League of Legends Public Beta Environment to test out some more new skins.

Even in my eager excitement for the upcoming Heroes of the Storm patch, I still managed to focus enough to perform well and go 9/1/16 by the end of the game at 25 minutes.

There’s a pretty humorous backstory to this game.

As of today, the only game mode available on the PBE is Team Builder. So, I was forced to pick a role and queue up.

I queued up as a mid laner, and waited in queue for about 18 minutes before I realized this would be a perfect moment to use the “Why can’t I hold all these mid laners?” meme with the PBE server featured in the photograph.

I decided to switch to support, and queued up as Blitzcrank. I (literally) instantly found a game, but it was empty apart from myself and the team captain.

The other roles eventually filled up one by one, but there was one role that remained empty for about ten minutes.

Which role was it?

You got it, middle lane.

The lane for which I was sitting in queue for 18 minutes.

After I left queue, there was suddenly a scarcity of mid laners.

But it wasn’t the end of the world – we ended up finally finding a mid laner. But that would be too easy. Now our marksman Vayne had to complain about the fact that I was taking Ignite instead of Exhaust, because she wanted to take Ignite herself.

I obviously didn’t care at all and kept my Flash/Ignite combo, but the entire team started complaining and fighting with each other about summoner spells. People tried to force Vayne into taking Heal, but she settled on Exhaust.

In my opinion, Heal is not a summoner spell designed for marksmen, and I have no clue why everyone except I take it. This is coming from someone who used to run Heal/Ignite with no Flash back on Season 2, but stopped doing that because Heal got nerfed from a powerful baiting tool into a support summoner spell.

Marksmen are far better off taking Exhaust for self-peel and survivability against assassins, or Ghost for assisting in kiting away from movement-speed-buffed enemies. Cleanse is also acceptable if the enemy team has high catch potential and strong hard crowd control. Ignite is fine for combos like Graves/Leona who need that extra tiny bit of damage to secure an early-game kill during an all-in.

But Heal? Make the support player take it; the other options are far more effective for marksmen.

(Sure, go ahead and say I suck; I won’t notice because I’ll be too busy winning more games with Exhaust and/or Ghost.)

 


 

Preview of Infernal Shrines, Kharazim, and Elite A.I. on HotS PTR

Yesterday, I went through a detailed overview of Kharazim, the new melee support hero on Heroes of the Storm. I listed off the abilities and talents, showed some of the skin variations, and expressed some of my initial thoughts on the hero.

Today, I have a video of Kharazim, as well as the new map and the new A.I. difficulty.

Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=nkPaq2yziTM&list=PLKQUciHiP2v5LxXZ7F6a21HIbLO8tT3PD

I wasn’t exactly too willing to buy Kharazim for $9.99 (because you can only make real-money purchases on the PTR). It’s not that I’m not willing to spend money on Heroes of the Storm; it’s just that Kharazim is a support hero and I most likely won’t really ever play him on the live servers.

Fortunately, one of my allies didn’t think the same way that I did, and I was able to watch Kharazim in action, as played by one of my teammates.

The video also shows Infernal Shrines, the new map being released during the Eternal Conflict. It is again another Diablo-themed map, where your objective is to activate shrines, defeat guardians, and release punishers that roll through the enemy structures.

And finally, this was all done in a Versus A.I. game, which shows the improvements made to the Elite bots. Apparently the Elite difficulty mode still isn’t even done in development, so I’m guessing that the bots will become even harder once the development is done.

As I mentioned in a previous patch notes reaction blog post, I’m glad they’re doing more with the Versus A.I. mode for the people who prefer PvE over PvP.

These elite bots are definitely a lot better than the bots we have now. On live servers, the bots will ba­sically tank everything you throw at them until they are at low health, but these elite bots will actually move out of the way of skillshots.

 


 

Academy Vladimir – unreleased skin preview on LoL PBE

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8gRH_W5IOE

After doing an Academy Ahri skin preview a few days ago, I wanted to showcase some of the other A­cad­e­my skins.

The only other champion I play with an Academy skin is Vladimir. I’ve never played Ekko before (and don’t really plan on it right now); and I hate the new Darius rework because it feels clunky and unelegant.

When I tried out the new “juggernaut” Darius, I ended up having a mirror match-up in top lane. Not only do I absolutely hate mirror match-ups, but apparently I was also against someone who wanted to win really badly, because he did a jungle camp at level 1 and teleported into lane at level 2.

I swear that every time I went to hit him with Decimate, he would also use the ability, I would literally heal him, while he chunks down a quarter of my health bar.

The Darius right now is fluid, responsive, and fun to play. He always has kill pressure onto you, and if you’re engaged in an extended 1v1 fight against him, you know that you’re going to get executed once you get low.

The new Darius on the PBE feels laggy. His Decimate now heals you if you hit someone (which is com­plete­ly counterintuitive to Darius’ personality and playstyle). His passive stacks randomly don’t apply once in a while. His slow is like a stun wannabe.

I’m guessing that the reason I think he feels unresponsive is because I was laning against another Darius, and now basically all Darius does is slow you and tickle you to death. Unfortunately, once he tags a slow on you, there’s absolutely no way you’re getting away, so you’re forced to fight a mirror match-up Darius that you know is stronger than you because he got an early lead.

Overall, once the juggernaut Darius changes get pushed to the live servers, I’m going to miss the old Darius.

Anyway … the results of my Vladimir game has been embedded above.

I had a pretty easy time early game because my laning opponent didn’t really have much of a clue as to what she was doing.

Unfortunately, this sort of gave me a false sense of confidence because I assumed the entire enemy team would be as bad as their Katarina, and I got a bit reckless around Draven. After dying twice to him, we man­aged to get a surrender from the enemy team, and I ended the game 9/2/8.

 


 

Academy Ahri and Cottontail Fizz unreleased skin preview on LoL PBE

Because of the recent juggernaut changes, a new meta is emerging on the League of Legends PBE, with a lot of Mordekaisers appearing in the bottom lane.

This strategy will end up working, but it relies heavily on one of three things happening late game in order to be able to siege turrets without a marksman.

The first option, least reliant on the team, is for Mordekaiser to use his ultimate on the enemy team’s marksman, then using the ghost to siege turrets. The second option is to have a marksman in the middle lane. The third option, that requires the most coordination and has the least reliability, is to have a heavy poke composition that will push the enemies away from defending turrets.

Luckily, this hasn’t really become a huge problem yet on the PBE. The main reason is because there is usually a Mordekaiser vs. Mordekaiser mirror match-up in the bottom lane, and neither team has a marksman. A secondary reason is because the players are so bad that these kinds of strategies become irrelevant due to the abundance of mistakes made in every game.

In the games I played on the PBE, I played two ability power assassins in the middle lane to showcase gameplay of new skins coming up.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EJMiaJSBbo

The first game was with Cottontail Fizz.

I was laning against Diana. Usually, I have a lot of difficulty beating Diana. She, along with Katarina and Riven, are three champions who I will crush in lane early levels, but then randomly die to, out of nowhere, once we reach level 6-8. (The fourth magical champion to use to defeat me is Yasuo, and with him, I will just get pissed off at the fact that he exists and lose to bronze players starting from before the game even begins.)

Luckily, I did fine this game, and ended up forcing a surrender a little before half an hour (which is pretty quick for low-level games, seeing as nobody ever wants to group and pressure their base when we’re ahead).

At the end of the game, I get a little bit of a shock when I discover that Mordekaiser can now not only control champions, but also control dragon with his ultimate.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlM4wv9MWXA

The second game I played was with Academy Ahri.

Academy Ahri is a skin being released along with the Academy skin series, with Vladimir, Darius, and Ekko being the other members of the set.

This game went on a lot longer than the previous one, and again, being a low-level game, nobody was eager to press forward into the enemy base to win the game. Towards the end of the game, our Darius was just farming the jungle while the rest of us were trying to kill turrets, and when an ally confronted him about it, he said that he was “testing out the jungle” because he was on the PBE.

In an hope to make him realize how stupid he sounded, I also sat back and began to play passively, farming the jungle and ignoring my team. When asked what I was doing, I gave the same response as Darius. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of my allies were skilled enough to actually see a problem with that.

Regardless, the point of playing on the PBE is to try out the new skins before they’re released, and that’s what I got to do. I guess that’s a privilege on its own, and I shouldn’t also be seeking the privilege of winning games as well.

(Contrary to popular belief, the point of the PBE IS NOT to find and report bugs. Bugs are regularly found and reported from PBE testing, and a majority of them make it through to the live release. These bugged features then promptly get disabled from live as they seek out fixes because they didn’t tend to them when the PBE community reported the problems earlier.)

 


 

Playing Path of Exile: The Awakening, the new expansion

A little under half a year ago, I finished the first three acts of Path of Exile on normal difficulty.

At that time, I was beginning to enjoy games more that had good storylines integrated into the gameplay. I had recently finished playing the Diablo III storyline, and I was interested in playing something more, similar to Diablo.

Five months later, I went back to Path of Exile to try out their new expansion, the Awakening, and got around to finishing all the new content.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOolLg5EZnI

Back on the 30th of last month (which was two days ago), I finished patching and booted up the game while I was visiting my martial arts academy with my dog (which I’m sure you know plenty about if you’ve been keeping up with me for the past few weeks).

At first I didn’t really know what I was doing, but then I realized that in order to play the new content, I needed to go back to the final quest of the former final act in normal mode and re-defeat the boss.

Luckily, it was a lot easier this time than it was last time – I recall dying over 30 times the first time I tried killing the final boss of the third act, but in this attempt, I managed to succeed with single-digit deaths.

Once that was over, I teleported myself over to the new map and started up Act 4.

Path of Exile is a pretty difficult game compared to other games on “normal” mode. I was reminded of this over and over again when I died over and over again throughout the entire stream session.

One thing I really like about the new act is the detail they put into the creatures’ designs. I generally play on minimal graphics settings because I play from a laptop, and I want the gameplay to remain as smooth as possible, even when streaming. Even then, when I zoomed in, a lot of the creatures were still pretty eerie.

At the end of the day, I managed to make good progress into Act 4.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qia6KNuDOGw

Earlier today, I booted Path of Exile back up to finish up Act 4.

As expected, it had a very difficult final boss, and I ended up dying over 30 times, which is about the same as when I first fought the old final boss from before the expansion.

Afterwards, I moved on to Cruel mode to continue leveling for a little bit.

The original reason why I had not continued on into Cruel mode half a year ago when I started playing again is because I was playing the game mostly for the storyline, and wasn’t really too interested in im­me­di­ately repeating the same content on a higher difficulty.

Luckily, half a year is plenty of time for me to not have the storyline fresh in my mind, so I was willing to play through it again a bit before ending the stream.

One unfortunate (but valid) thing that happens in Cruel difficulty is XP loss as a penalty for death. Al­though you can’t level down from death, you lose 5% of your XP if you die.

This means that the easy days are over, and I can no longer play recklessly. If I encounter a boss, I’ll ac­tu­ally have to keep my distance to identify its mechanics and dodge abilities, rather than bum rushing it and respawning an unlimited number of times.

I’m not too sure how much longer I’ll be replaying the older content in Path of Exile at this point, but I’m sure I’ll find the motivation to at least play it for a few more stream sessions before searching for a different gaming project. It is a little bit difficult to continue playing because I’m looking for more of a relaxing and casual game to play, and trying not to die will take a lot more focus; we’ll see what I end up doing soon.

 


 

Heimerdinger vs. Galio & Lux in LoL Ranked Solo/Duo in low Gold

I’ve got two more League of Legends ranked solo/duo queue games, one against Galio and one against Lux, both in the middle lane as Heimerdinger.

The first video is a duo queue game that I played with Del.

When we play together, he and I basically lose about 90% of our games. I’m not sure why he still invites me to games.

The second game was a solo queue game, and is a bit more interesting.

Sources: http://youtube.com/watch?v=_lKdF2YvVcI & http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZdzacsatPYU

The first game was extraordinarily frustrating, to say the least. Del is low silver, so when I duo with him, I generally play with people who have absolutely no clue what they’re doing, and often actually do the very exact opposite of what you ask them to do.

We could’ve easily won the game not long after 20 minutes, but for some reason, my team decided it wanted to play passively and give the enemy team an opportunity to catch up.

There is an open inhibitor at top lane, so I tell everyone to stop what they’re doing, group together, and push top to get the inhibitor. Killing the inhibitor that early into the game means one person must be oc­cupied at all times clearing the minions.

I specifically tell our pants-on-head retarded AD carry to ignore the splitpushing Gangplank. We can trade; Gangplank can get our outer bottom turret and we can kill his inhibitor.

But as we know, a random guy who has played 200 games this season and is still struggling in silver is much better than me. Sivir proceeds to ignore my instructions, goes bottom, fails to save our bottom outer turret, then dies in a 1v1 against Gangplank.

That’s just one example. Stuff like this happens throughout the entire game.

The second game went a lot better.

My entire team wasn’t doing that great early on in the game, but we started playing extremely aggres­sive­ly. We grouped early and caught the opponents off guard, invading their side of the map and viciously rotating until we were in control.

Luckily, this worked because, in my solo queue game, the rest of my team were followers, rather than people who think they’re leaders (like the Sivir) and make their own decisions when they’re stupid and wrong.

I don’t understand how Del enjoys playing this game.