Friday, 19 April 2013

Always Online Consoles?

According to popular rumour, the next gen Xbox console will require the user to be permanently connected to the internet in order to use it. This means that even if you are playing an "offline" game, you will still need to be connected to the internet at all times in order to use it. Shitty deal in my opinion. I'll keep this short because the pros and cons seem obvious. Pros? Next to none. It only benefits the companies, and pisses off the consumer. Cons? Well, some people that own Xboxes don't have a steady internet connection, or maybe have no internet connection available to them at all.

IGN's article on this seemed to be in favour of the always online idea, and implied that us gamers whine too much about stuff without enough evidence to back it up. I would like to ask the question of "what do we, as the consumers, get out of this, assuming these always online rumours are true?" to the writer at IGN that made that article. IGN does have a rather checkered reputation among the gaming community. Many people believe that they take bribes from companies to write good reviews about a game or something related, which honestly wouldn't surprise me. That would explain why IGN's reviews on the Call of Duty series are always almost 10/10 for every game in that series that Activision pumps out. But enough ripping on potentially-biased reviewers. Regardless, IGN fails to take into account that not everyone has constant access to the internet, 24/7. To make consoles be always online in order to be used would be a huge inconvenience to some people.

Former Microsoft employee and internet douchebag Adam Orth kicked a hornet's nest when he decided to insult some people on Twitter in regards to the "always online" topic. You've probably already heard about it. In case you haven't, let me give you the short and sweet version: someone objected on Twitter to the "always online" idea, bringing up the point that not everyone has steady internet in all parts of the world. Adam's response was to proceed to make fun of smaller towns with less access to stable internet connection. Maybe he was trying to be funny, but he came off as a prick. As a result, he no longer works for  Microsoft. Whether it was his own decision or he was fired remains a mystery, Microsoft wisely refusing to comment on such a personal matter. I guess the real spokespeople at Microsoft know when to keep their mouths shut (take notes on these guys, Mr. Orth. You could learn a thing or two). Microsoft apologized for their former employee's behaviour, but also noted that they will neither confirm nor deny the rumours of an "always online" next gen console at this time. I expect all we need to know regarding the subject to be revealed at this year's rapidly approaching E3 conference. We have only to wait.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

"Elo Ego", and Thoughts on the Elo/Ladder system

I am first and foremost a LoL player when it comes to online games. As such I would like to talk about a few things when it comes to ranked ratings in MOBA games (Maybe RTS games like Starcraft II as well in some cases). I'm not going to say that the current ladder system in LoL is wrong, even though I believe it can be further improved. Nothing is wrong with the ladder system really, the only thing I believe worth changing being the fact that the default/starting ranking for newly ranked players is bronze 1. I have actually seen more unskilled players in the bronze 1 bracket than I have in the bronze 4 bracket (the lowest rank I ever managed to achieve, the lowest being bronze 5)  in LoL. I think it would make more sense to have the default ranking be bronze 5, but I digress.

Before Riot's most recent change to the ranked system, I was quite a fervent believer in "Elo Hell", a term any semi-seasoned LoL player will understand. I do believe in it still in some cases, but hey, the ladder system will never be perfect. Before the changes, Riot used to use a visible number to determine rating. I didn't like this at all, as it is a perfect way for people to brag. People still do brag about what specific bracket they are in, but it isn't as bad as it used to be. The most popular thing for people to comment about another person in League of Legends is their skill level. I have no problems with this. What bothers me is that people tend to associate their ranked status with their skill level, which is completely and utterly inaccurate. Many people get to divisions they do not seem to fit well in. I know many living examples of this fact. I see many people in the Silver divisions making dumber mistakes than people in the Bronze divisions do. Sure, the two are only 1 division apart, but ideally I think you should be able to see a slight difference in the skill levels of each. On the other hand you have very skilled players stuck in the Bronze division who deserve higher. I played with someone recently in a Bronze Elo ranked game who said he was stuck in Bronze 1. He was obviously above that skill level, and I would probably place him in the low Gold division (If I were to match divisions with skill level).

I've come to the conclusion that division rating seldom relates to skill level until you reach the platinum and diamond divisions (at that point you have played the game so much and won and lost so many games that it is near impossible to reach that point without knowing a thing or two about the game). I'm sure there are some crappy Diamond players out there too, that may have gotten that far out of sheer luck. The main point I am trying to get across from this disorganized ramble is that people tend to  emphasize rating too much. I have several people on my friends list that seem to live by ranked status. They'll even panic when they go against someone with a golden border around their names in loading screens, which I find amusing. If ranking means everything, then why is it that I have beaten so many Silver and Gold Elo players, when I am currently in Bronze 1? This is not a laudable achievement, as similar things happen every day. I use this as an example only to say that you should judge people based on evident skill, not on stats or numbers, when it comes to League of Legends. I'm not the first person to say this, but it is not said nearly enough. To loosely quote Day9, Elo is a measure of progress, not skill level.