Friday, October 24, 2014

League of Legends Hexakill Tutorial

Hexakill is a new game mode available for a limited time as part of The Harrowing event in League of Legends. It uses the 3v3 map, Twisted Treeline, and doubles the amount of players to a 6v6. Chaos ensues.

Champions with an Advantage

There are many champions that are good in the original 3v3 form of Twisted Treeline, but this section focuses on the champions that get a little more oomph out of having more targets available.

List of Champions with Abilities that Benefit from Multiple Champions

These champions have abilities with multipliers based on the number of champion targets available. Not listed here are champions who have abilities that are capped at certain amounts (more on that later). Edit for Clarity: The increase in most cases is usually a very small amount, but relevant enough to mention. For example, Wukong gains a max of 8 more armor than usual from his passive. Poppy, however, gets complete immunity from 5 targets instead of 4 for a medium duration, which is rather exceptional.
  • Galio
  • Irelia
  • Jarvan IV
  • Maokai
  • Poppy
  • Wukong

List of Champions with Resets

These champions have abilities that reset when enemies are killed. They benefit heavily from additional Champion targets, if they get the kill or assist. Edit for New Information: After many matches, the following champions have proven to be deciding factors in getting closest to achieving a Hexakill. (A runner up, without resets, would be a Twisted Fate that my team chased in a straight line through the jungle and he kited them to death. Good times!)
  • Akali
  • Darius
  • Katarina
  • Karma
  • Kha'Zix
  • Master Yi
  • Tristana

Champions with a Disadvantage

These champions have abilities that are balanced around the 5v5 Summoner's Rift map. Their ultimates are capped and are much less effective with more Champions to hit. Edit for Clarity: The following champions are at a theoretical technical disadvantage. In practice, having more targets grouped more closely together in the claustrophobic passageways of the Twisted Treeline can actually cause their ults to benefit more (except Fiora sans Tiamat).
  • Evelynn
  • Brand
  • Fiora
  • Swain
  • Kennen
A notable exception to this is Irelia, who has a target cap on her passive, but 40% tenacity is still godly.


There are many different items on the Twisted Treeline. None of them were changed for Hexakill. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the major changes.
  • Rabadon's Deathcap and Zhonya's Hourglass are replaced by Wooglet's Witchcap
  • Infinity Edge is replaced by Lord Van Damm's Pillager
  • Bloodthirster is replaced by Sanguine Blade
Additionally there are many more items with a vision ability available. The Active on the items reveals a large nearby area that you target, including invisible enemies and enemies hiding in brush. They also upgrade to reveal enemy traps, like Teemo Shrooms.

There are no wards.

The Map

The size of the map is much smaller than Summoner's Rift, and even Dominion's Crystal Scar. The size allows travel between lanes with greater speed, but all paths are through the jungle. Since wards are not available, control of the jungle can be a major turning point.
Walls are also much thicker in many areas of the map, meaning they can't be jumped or flashed over as easily. Usually, the tips of a thick wall can be flashed over if aiming at an angle, but it is risky business. The back of each minion pit can also be flashed over.
Edit for Additional Information: There is a larger amount of space between the turrets than in Summoner's Rift. This can make ambushes especially deadly and escapes more difficult. If trying to use flash to escape, remember the above information about the walls and how close you will need to be for the flash to be successful. Also, keep that in mind for ganking ;)


Vilemaw can be taken down much more quickly by 6 people than by 3 in order to take advantage of her buff and gold. There is nothing different about her for Hexakill, but here is a quick rundown.
Instead of Baron Nashor, there is Vilemaw. Vilemaw has a lot of HP and 4 different abilities: a normal attack, an AOE close range smash, a long range fissure attack, and a web attack that pulls all Champions in the pit to the center. Additionally, she has a passive that strips armor and magic resist with every attack.
Vilemaw does have a pattern. Like the Baron, she will focus the closest target. If the closest target is far away, she will Fissure or Web. Sometimes, she will also fissure if Champions stand in a line. Whoever is tanking Vilemaw needs to stand close, and whoever doesn't want to get hit needs to stand anywhere but behind the Tank.
When Vilemaw is slain, she will give your entire team a buff called Crest of Crushing Wrath which grants cooldown reduction, attack speed, and some health and mana regeneration.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha Final Phase Impressions

After a week of expected maintenance, Blizzard has successfully launched the final phase of the Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha.

What Changed?


There were a few small bug fixes but two very major, very important changes were implemented.

Accounts Reset


All Technical Alpha accounts had their gold refunded and purchases refunded to their account balances. All levels gained during the previous technical alpha were lost, both hero levels and account levels. However, Blizzard has stated that this is the last reset of the Alpha, meaning all future purchases and levels gained will carry over into the finished game.

Server Regions


Previously, the Technical Alpha took place on a server under heavy load to stress test and work out any problems that could happen from server load. After months of testing, they had the Technical Alpha server running stable enough that they could proceed to set up the regional servers.

The Good and the Bad


Technical Alpha Headstart and Hero Levels

The Good
Technical Alpha players have a lot to teach new players.
The Bad
Technical Alpha players are going to absolutely murder new players when the game goes full launch.

Players in the technical alpha had a head start in personal experience with the game, and now they will have a clear headstart in levels and heroes acquired in the game. The hero leveling system locks the use of abilities on heroes until a certain level is reached with that hero. Heroes unlock all of their abilities after about 4 games. However, during those 4 games, they are playing as a handicapped version of that hero. There has been a lot of debate about the purpose of the leveling system and whether it is fair to handicap new players off the bat. An argument for the system is that it prevents new players from feeling overwhelmed by choices and presents them with a specific build path for a hero before opening up the whole kit. An argument against the system is that it unnecessarily handicaps the player in a team based game, and thus handicaps the team. Other arguments against the system include: it affects heroes purchased with real money, 4 games is an arbitrary amount to have to play, and the order in which talents unlock does not make sense on some heroes. In the end, the personal experience will matter more than the levels when it comes to technical alpha players having a headstart, and the level issue is more of a fundamental game design decision that may be changed before release.

Server Regions!


The Good
Lower latency and more communication between players.
The Bad
People switching regions can more easily disrupt matches.

If you have ever played a game with people who do not speak your language, you know how important it is to have proper server regions. When setup right, players are matched with people similar enough in culture that they can communicate more clearly with each other and work together more easily. If you have played a lot of DotA2, you know that server regions don't always work out that way. It is too early to tell if Blizzard has it set up in such a way that people from other regions aren't forced to switch regions to get a better queue.

More Information


Official Blizzard Post :: Technical Alpha is Back Online!

Shameless YouTube Plug


I am currently uploading Part 7 of my Clive Barker's Undying playthrough. Check it out on my channel :: SaikoGekido Gaming

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sonic Boom E3 Impressions

I grew up with Sonic. I watched both of the cartoons, the super serious one with freedom fighters versus Robuttnik and the super cartoony one that I remember every time I see a chilli dog. As soon as Sonic started talking in this trailer, it reminded me of the cartoons. Which is no surprise, since they are working on a cartoon to release alongside it, and because Big Red Button Entertainment was founded by one of the lead art directors from Naughty Dog, Bob Rafei. You can really see the resemblance to past works in these character character concepts released on Arcade Sushi. Having wrote that, there is an issue I have with the new look for Knuckles. When I picture Knuckles, I think of a laid back trickster who is heavily implied to have themes related to Jamaica. They changed him over the years to be more like a treasure hunter, with Rogue as his foil, but now he has massive, continent sized pectorals. In my prejudice mind, the first reaction to him is that he looks like a dumb, angry meat head, as is often the case when considering how people with prominently displayed muscles are portrayed via television tropes. The other concern I have is the gameplay. People are parroting "watch out, Sonic 06", but I'm getting more of a Shadow the Hedgehog vibe from this. Shadow was an okay game, except that the level design was terrible. You would go fast until you reached a point where going fast was no longer an option and you had to shoot enemies. The enemies weren't as interesting as going fast, making every time you were stopped an annoying, similar to the feeling of being stuck in traffic. The trailer was short, so it isn't fair to critique the gameplay, but there were fighting segments and going fast segments. The pacing of those will be key.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this story and find out how the characters have changed in personality, but there are some legitimate concerns. Sonic Boom is set to release on the WiiU and Nintendo 3DS in November 2014.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

WildStar Beta: Testing Customer Service

Beta testing is not a free ride into a video game. There is a social responsibility as the gaming pioneer to report back to your peers, and to the company producing the game, with news of your discoveries. It is not about glory and privilege, but service to the community and to future customers. Streaming has made it relatively easy to satisfy community curiosity about the performance and features of a product, but an important part of any product deployment is the infrastructure to handle customer feedback on a mass scale, which can not be so easily streamed. I am going to do my best to illustrate my experience with NCSoft, the creators of WildStar, and their customer service department.

Welcome to the exciting world of WildStar Customer Service

Yesterday, I received an email.
Awesome! I had been waiting for months to get my hands on this game. The rumor mill from the closed beta was that it was a "decent WoW clone" with some action elements, like SWTOR was at launch. NCSoft was trying to keep people from getting that idea in there head, because being called a WoW clone can kill an MMO before launch. Personally, I was excited to get a chance to find out the truth. Is WildStar really another "WoW clone", or is there hidden depth under that cartoony exterior?

Before going into a game, especially a beta, it is important to know the history of the developer. NCSoft has been around for a while. City of Heroes was made by Paragon Studios and NCSoft in 2005, around the same time as their other famous franchise, Guild Wars. City of Heroes had a relatively long run for an MMO. Shortly after the release of Guild Wars 2, City of Heroes was shut down. NCSoft closed the servers and basically told one of their oldest fan communities to deal with it. While I only played a week or two of that game, keep their story in mind while reading the rest of this article.

Following the instructions in the email, I went to login to my NCSoft account. It took me a little while to remember the password, but I was finally greeted with this message:

Huh... Well that is interesting, since the last game I remembered playing an NCSoft game was Guild Wars 2 and I had two step verification set up for it. There was the possibility that I had another account with NCSoft, but why would any of them be permanently blocked? Was I hacked? Where was an email about this? I found an email asking me to fill out a survey about NCSoft customer service dealing with this exact issue around 2010. I decide to contact customer service.

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

The North American Support page is composed of banners of their still active North American games with links to their individual support pages. However, my issue was an NCSoft Account issue, not a game related issue, so going to a specific database would not make sense, right? Wrong. But we will get to that. Poking around the page, looking for a phone number, I discovered something amazing:

NCSoft does not have a North American customer support line.

There is a customer support line for Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan, but America only gets a link back to the support page. Wow. I persisted and found the fraud line, but that also did not make sense for my type of problem. What about a customer support email? They do not mention one on their site, but I tried at the request of a friend on Twitch.

At that point, I started streaming on my Twitch channel. In the chat, a very helpful person (I'm sorry, but I forgot your username, was it woke_up_sleepy?) tried to brainstorm with me. They gave me links to the WildStar twitter and NCSoft Support Twitter, which I tweeted to twy and get help. WildStar Twitter replied before NCSoft Support did (I am still waiting for an NCSoft Support reply):
Note to self, update twitter picture.

Anyway, that link was specifically the support page for WildStar. At this point, I have given up on logic and believe there is no way I can fix the problem. I start ranting about it to people on my stream that came from > MFW, in mid rant, I stumbled upon the solution

Want to remove the permanent block on your NCSoft Account?

Step 1: Discover you have a problem. Accepting you have a problem is the first step to fixing it, since you are not going to receive an email from NCSoft about it.
Step 2: Are you a North American resident just trying to play Guild Wars 2 and don't care about WildStar? It doesn't matter. Since NCSoft does not have a centralized support page for North American account support, you will need to go to WildStar Support. In theory, this might work in one of the other support pages, but that would be logical, and we now know logic has no power here.
Step 3: Notice that the main page says that you need to login to send a ticket to ask them why you can't login. Lose part of your brain cells. Go to the bottom of the page and select Login Support.
Step 4: Search for "Account permanently blocked". Your results should look like this:
Step 5: Click "I'm having trouble logging in to my NC Account". I suppose that is one way of saying, my account has been permanently blocked. Shouldn't there be an article specifically about that? Logic.
Step 6: First it asks you to try resetting your password. Another dead end. Nope! The next sentence has a link to a page specifically for submitting tickets without being logged in! This must be the solution!

EDIT: If you have Guild Wars 2, their support page has access to ticket submission at the top. However, you will need a lot more information. They may even ask for the serial key you used to activate Guild Wars 2.

Or is it?

Depending on how you view automated replies, I am about four to five emails deep into the investigation of what NCSoft did to my account. First, one GM said that my account was blocked back in 2010, and had City of Heroes on it, but not Guild Wars 2. I asked if it could be under any of my other emails and gave them a list. This is the latest email:
In case you were wondering, both of those links redirect to the NA Support page that asks which game you want support for.

Good news is, I can join the beta. The bad news is that my account no longer has Guild Wars 2, possibly losing it during account transitions to the new system. I am going to keep trying to find out what exactly has happened and sort out this mess, but this is all of the information I have after one day. If it all gets sorted out, I will update, but there are some main points here that I feel are important to get out to people.

NCSoft is about to launch another brand new massively multiplayer game in North America and they do not have the customer service aspect worked out. You can submit tickets, if you find the proper link in their knowledge base, but there is no phone number for customer support. Although I did not go into depth about this, I did try to call the fraud line to see if I could get redirected to a hidden customer support number. It went straight to voicemail with directions for reporting fraudulent activity. If your account gets hacked you leave a message with your account info and spoken email address and they will call you back during the week, or you can send them an email. According to several forums that I found while searching for a solution to my issue, the fraud line used to have a different number that was also for account support, not just billing. Those forums also had their own stories of trying to sort out similar situations with NCSoft: Example 1 Example 2 Example 3

As far as beta testing goes, I have not even been able to try out WildStar, but I have already found some major glitches in the system. All it would take is a server outage on day one, or even more people finding out their accounts were messed up during the June transition, to completely ruin the game. Unless NCSoft sorts the problems with their North American customer support, they could be in for a very rocky launch.

UPDATE March 29th 12:56 PM

Using the Guild Wars 2 support ticket system mentioned in an edit above, they were able to find my Guild Wars 2 account. I still don't know what is going on with my SaikoGekido account. Sounds like most of the problem is solved, right? Not even close! My GW2 account does not count as an NCSoft account. I still need to get the SaikoGekido account back up and running.

UPDATE March 29th 3:06 PM

I heard back from Guild Wars 2 support:
One mystery solved, but we still do not have a clear answer on how to restore my NCSOFT account. Waiting for a reply from my latest message to WildStar support, but I am also going to try sending another message back to Guild Wars 2 support, since they have been more helpful.

UPDATE March 29th 8:19 PM

Still no word from WildStar support, but I have another email from Guild Wars 2 support:
Quick recap: Guild Wars 2 just helped me reset the password on my Guild Wars 2 account, but they can't help me get my SaikoGekido NCSOFT master account because there are no games associated with it. Because I can't log in to my NCSOFT master account I can not add any games to it and upgrade it to the new master account format. The simple, obvious, solution to this mess would be to add my Guild Wars 2 account to SaikoGekido and have it unblocked, but it sounds like it needs to be unblocked before anything can be added to it, but it can't be unblocked because it can't be accessed because it is in the old format of the account system. This is the eighth email, and not the first time that NCSOFT support has said that exact top paragraph. I sent a reply to see if I could at least get the name from my old master account. Again, no word from WildStar support and no word from the tweet at NCSOFT Support's twitter.

FINAL UPDATE March 30th 3:05 PM

WildStar Support replied to my email:

In the end, trying to get my SaikoGekido account unblocked and upgraded to the new system means creating a new account and then migrating the information from the old account to the new one. I still do not know if that is even possible, since previous emails said that I would need active games associated with an NCSOFT Account in order to make the account eligible for upgrade to a NC Account. Even though Guild Wars 2 is an NCSOFT game, it does not use the NC Account or NCSOFT Master Account system, so it can not be linked to the NCSOFT Master Account to give that account an active game to make it eligible for upgrade to the new system. Keep in mind, the changes from NCSOFT Master Account to NC Account just happened in June, without any major releases from NCSOFT. People unaware of these changes that had old NCSOFT Master Accounts with issues like mine are going to run into the same problems I did. Because NCSOFT's customer support system is maze of mirrors, I am going to make sense of all of this and create a followup post to help anyone that has the same problem. That should not be necessary.