Rainbow 6 Siege “Operation Red Crow” (Season 4) Update Impressions, Operator Analysis & New Gameplay Meta

Rainbow Six Siege | Japanese Operator (S.A.T.) | Hibana (Spark)

Operation: Red Crow has been out for around a week now so now may be a good time to share some early impressions and discuss how Siege is evolving. Red Crow has been a massive and super satisfying update for Rainbow Six Siege. Many of the content farm sites have focused on the bug fixes and new Japanese operators but they’ve missed out on some key details and insights.

Yes, there’s tons new skins, victory animations, and visual tweaks. Kapkan, Sledge, and Thermite are amongst the first to receive ELITE skins.. If you got the coin, these skins are pretty damn impressive! There’s also complete uniforms, new headgear, and more cosmetic goodness. That’s all nifty and encouraging because it shows commitment to keep the game fresh and give us all ways to stand out (and support a fantastic game).

Sledge is the King Of Scottland??

…Cool story, bro!  What about the Season 4 impacts to gameplay, particularly ranked?

Rainbow Six Siege: Casual Vs. Ranked Competitive Multiplayer (PvP)

While I love Terrorist Hunt and Situations are a nice challenge, the competitive multiplayer is my bread and butter on Rainbow Six Siege. Heck, I don’t really play anything outside of ranked, though custom games can be good for funsies and lulz. I’d like to discuss what I’ve noticed so far since the update.

First off, Casual is surprisingly less competitive than it used to be, yet matchmaking is much faster and reliable there. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. At the start of every new season, we competitive gamers flock to the ranked queue. Even the casual folks seem to gravitate towards ranked, which is good and bad (don’t get me started on the habitual leavers and AFKers). Once people hit gold or platinum in the last few days or weeks of the season, they’ll stay in casual to maintain their precious ranks. Siege Season 4 looks like it will be no different but I have to say: the tryhards are really out in full force! I ended last season around Gold IV and now I’m struggling to get back to Silver, mostly because people dick around too much in ranked.

It’s this dynamic that has created a frustrating experience in Rainbow Six Siege and other competitive shooters. Eventually, high-ranked players won’t see any incentive in risking their MMR and they certainly won’t play with their friends, if they consider them less skilled. Players will leave matches just to avoid losing a rank, even if there’s still a good chance it could be won. These issues are compounded further by the fact that ranked matches seem to have a higher rate of disconnection and split squads. Without the slot backfill you get in casual, it leaves teams crippled.  Rage quitters and rank preservers are really ruining the game and ending friendships.  It’s silly.

Mr. Rage Quit | Is this you? If so, STOP IT!

I believe Ubisoft will address these issues well before Year Two content is announced or leaked. They have already committed to at least one more year of steady content so they’ll do what they can to have the platform succeed.. And we, the players, want it to succeed! In spite of the glaring issues with ranked play and how brutal the first few weeks of the season are with all the tryhards, competitive play is where it’s at for me so I’ll stick through it. Ubisoft has also hinted that they don’t think they’ll keep pushing out new operators in the long run so, eventually, we’ll see the game stabilize a lot more.

Now, the change with the biggest impact this season is the shorter rounds. Ranked round timers are now a minute shorter. Ubisoft says this is just a test and the goal is to get people more coordinated and efficient with their decision making. The actual effect is that it makes pick-up groups even less fun and even people whom regularly play together find themselves running out of time. Every match I’ve played in seems to come down to the last 30 seconds or so.

MEME: Never seen war war before? Oh, it's just like Call Of Duty. (NOT!)

I appreciate the design logic behind the faster rounds but the unintended results suck. People are droning far less so, when your team gets wiped, you have no cams. As such, instead of getting players to embrace the intended gameplay experience, what we’re seeing is more Call Of Duty style gameplay: lone wolf players running-and-gunning, not communicating or working together. While blitzing is a perfectly viable strategy, I don’t want to see this game devolve from tactical shooter to pew-pew-pew-WHEEEEE clusterfuck.

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7 Nifty Things About Septic Systems & Garbage Disposal

Vince Martin Septic Tank Service | Eatonton, Gray, Milledgeville & Middle Georgia | http://martinseptictanksga.com

Here at GeekyAntics, we like to cover all the things we geeks think about or at least should be aware of. It’s usually fun or useful stuff. Today’s featured article is in the latter camp, thanks to our ongoing collaboration with Martin Septic Service of Georgia. Enjoy!

Now, you may be reading this thinking, “But, wait, I don’t own a house.” That may be true but you don’t want to deal with a crappy (quite literally) situation in the future, do you? Here are some things you should know, even if you are a renter or soon-to-be homeowner.

1. Septic Systems Are Everywhere

Before talking with Vince Martin of MSS (that’s Martin Septic Services, for short), it never struck me just how much we take septic systems for granted. If you are used to living in big cities like I am, transitioning to rural areas can be tricky. After tons of research and probing Vince with the right questions, I learned that septic tanks are used by one in five U.S. households nation-wide but, in the South, that number is at around half and growing. If you live in a trailer or rent a house, chances are you have a septic system. If you own a home, those chances are even higher.  Septic systems come in many flavors but, basically, you have a septic tank, a bunch of pipes, and a drainfield where everything ultimately ends up.

How Septic Systems Work

2. Smart Water Usage & Conservation

Water conservation is always a smart play and it’s great for the environment, but it is absolutely crucial when you have a septic system in place. In our household, we’ve gotten better about spreading out laundry and doing smaller loads. We’ve also gotten into the habit of running the water less and lower pressures. Even spacing out bath/shower time makes a huge difference. I know, we all love our long showers and bubble baths but the idea here is to give the septic tank enough time to drain. Trust me, you DON’T want that thing to overload!

3. The Economics Of Septic Systems

A routine inspection and preventative can be as little as $300. Conversely, replacing a failing septic system can cost you anywhere from $3000 to $15000, depending on what sort of system you need for your land. As is the case with any other major investment such as a car or a house as a whole, being proactive is best (and MUCH more affordable). When you consider the exorbitant costs of emergency services and the huge mess a drainfield can become due to septic system negligence, investing in routine work makes A LOT more sense… And take this from a really frugal guy – ME!

What do you flush/drain and NOT?

4. What NOT To Flush Or Drain

Hazardous chemicals such as bleach, disinfectants, and cleaning solvents should never be washed down the drain, if at all possible. Of course, if you’re cleaning your sink, bath tub, and other water basins, this may be unavoidable so consider using natural cleaning solvents for smaller jobs. The trick here is to do simple cleaning on a regular basis so you don’t have to use the harsher stuff for the really tough jobs.

Even everyday items can be pesky. Coffee grounds (in large amounts), food scraps, onion skins, potato peels, pasta, rice, banana peels, and oil/grease are the biggest offenders, yet folks wash them down the drain all the time. Cigarettes and other non-biodegradable items are a HUGE no-no, too.

As a good rule of thumb, any starches or items that expand are huge troublemakers. It may seem silly but, if it doesn’t break down easily under hot running water, opt to put it in the trash or in a proper waste receptacle.

The biggest matter of debate here are eggshells. While they are arguably good for sharpening garbage disposal blades, they are surprisingly resiliant and may cause clogs/build-up in conjunction with other tough everyday items such as paper towels and cotton balls. Lots of advice out there says eggshells are safe but I’ve done some pretty exhaustive research and that advice may be a bit short-sighted. Better safe than sorry!

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Every Day Carry: What’s In Your Bug-Out Bag?

Fanny Pack / Bug-Out Bag

By Rachel Drummond

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you may have seen the reports of major bushfires in Victoria. While this is nothing new, it made me think of something that preppers are known for. The Bug Out Bag. It’s that bag that we who believe in preparedness are mocked for by those who have no idea what it really is. Everybody, in one shape or other, has a bug out bag, or if you like, it’s younger sister the every-day carry bag. Some are just poorly equipped. Men have their wallets, women have their handbags Soldiers.. well NO-ONE is more equipped than they are.

I have two bags now. I have my BOB in my car, something that if I didn’t have, I would have had to turn in my apocalypse card. As a nurse though, I’ve had to carry what amounts to an EDC. In aged care, this was a pouch that consisted of ID, scissors, tape, pens (many, many pens), Handover sheet, alcohol (swabs!! gee, I’m a little more professional than that!) and I usually throw a simple dressing in there at the start of the shift. trust me, it’s needed more often than not, and having it on me saves a lot of time!

I was looking through my pouch this morning though. Thinking about what I would have to change going into the hospital. As of an hour ago, it is almost three times as thick. Just from what I have at home, I’ve found room for my stethoscope torch and diary. I have no idea what else I’m going to have to make room for in there or what I won’t be using as much of. I have so many things I would love to take with me (My ‘nursing for dummies’ first and foremost among these).

That’s my EDC. Are there any nurses out there who have suggestions on what to add to my EDC? What is something you have in yours that you never use? Do you have a non-nursing EDC or your own BOB?

Actually,  maybe don’t list your name if you have a BOB. I’m pretty sure there are Neegans out there taking advantage of pre-apocalypse information and taking a list of potential ‘cash-cows’. There is already a possibility that I’m going to be getting some nasty comments from nurses who have know their EDC is priceless and are not happy that I painted a target on their back.

I will leave you with a small tip though. When the SHTF, make sure you have a nurse or a doctor with you. Trust me, you’ll need them in your group.

AFTERWORD: Ha! How’s that for multi-tasking, nursing, zombies and prepper talk all wrapped up in one neat little pack.

"The South Forsaken" Rachel Drummond

Want more?  Check out Rachel Drummond’s survival “handbook”, The South Forsaken.  BTW, she is a gamer, podcaster, and a Naruto fan..  Truly an uber geek and awesome friend to have – we love you, Rachel!

Prepare For The Heroes Of The Storm Full Release!

Heroes Of The Storm - Release Date June 2nd 2015 - Blizzard HotS Action PvP ARTS MOBA

Blizzard teased a huge announcement a few weeks ago.  Everyone thought it was details about the next hero, battleground/map, or open beta but it turned out to be the release date for Heroes Of The Storm.  Yes, it’s official:

Heroes Of The Storm goes public Tuesday, June 2nd 2015!

Blizzard reminds us, “You are not ready.”  I guess it time to practice.  Don’t worry: there won’t be any more account wipes.  For those who haven’t snagged a beta key or invite yet, here is a Heroes Of The Storm newbie primer/guide.  If you missed the epic teaser video, here it is:

…And now for some things that we need to sort out before the game goes public…

 

Do Team Compositions Really Matter?

Players coming from other MOBAs are used to a very stale meta or format whereas you have a mage, an ADC, a top-laner/tank, a jungler, and a support.  On Heroes Of The Storm this has translated directly into draft modes (Hero League & Team League).  Even in Quick Match, there are tons of players complaining about their lack of a “carry”, healer, or tank.  While the team composition of 1 Warrior, 2 Assassins, 1 Support, and 1 Specialist is usually a safe pick, it’s not the only viable composition nor is it the best.

While the team composition of 1 Warrior, 2 Assassins, 1 Support, and 1 Specialist is usually a safe pick, it’s not the only viable composition nor is it the best.

Blizzard released some hard numbers earlier this month regarding matchmaking and team comps.  The statistics are insightful but many are drawing the wrong conclusions.  Here are the main statistics.  Let us know what you think in the comments at the bottom of the page…

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Walker Stalkers 100th Episode & UNofficial Walker Stalker Con 2014 Guide

Greg Nicotero At Walker Stalker Con Atlanta 2013

Walker Stalker Con Atlanta is COMING!

 

UPDATE 10/17/2014:  There are a few last-minute  cancellations.  The latest was Dania G, known to us hardcore The Walking Dead fan as the super hero ninja – Michonne!  It’s a bit disappointing but there’s still much to check out and tons to do.  See you soon!

With just a few days til Walker Stalker Con Atlanta, we figured it’s time to share some love with our fellow zombie fans, podcasters, and cosplay geeks!  First and foremost, congrats to Eric and James on their 100th episode of The Walker Stalkers podcast.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, we’ve embedded the MP3 player below:

Eric & James From The Walker Stalkers Podcast With Robert Kirkman

Here are some of my favorite nuggets from The Walker Stalkers Episode 100:

  • TWD companion series has been ordered for pilot. It’s official! Robert Kirkman can’t spill the beans (though he would love to) but he can confirm that it’s not in Georgia.
  • TWD was one of many projects Kirkman was working in back in around 2003. He admits it was luck that TWD stuck. It was released under the Image label as part of a big horror push. Initial sales were abysmal. Storylines were rushed because Kirkman thought it would not last. By around issue 3, it started to gain traction, much like the show.
  • Robert Kirkman says, “The Walking Dead is essentially the Twilight of zombie series… It’s essentially a soap opera.”
  • Robert admits influence from Quentin Terentino, Stephanie Meyer, and others.
  • The Kirman workflow: bouncing around projects.  This keeps him invested and engaged so he does not burn out on any one project. If you are curious about Kirkman’s other projects, check out Invincible.
  • Robert Kirkman despises cameos because it ruins immersion. He realizes people seem to love it but he can’t do it. He promises he will never do it because it feels arrogant to him.
  • Kirkman says, if he had to cosplay as a TWD character, it would be Michonne.  The poncho is the closest thing to his “dress for comfort” approach.
  • Kirkman on clothing: “Pajama pants are to an extent my work pants… I like to feel to an extent I am naked.”
  • Kirkman admits he is not a music aficionado. He does dig Neil Young.  “My Top 5 is messed up Neil Young, Nick Cave, Presidents of the United States of America, George Michael (Faith album, not WHAM), and AC/DC.”
  • Tori Amos, Marilyn Manson, and Natalie Merchant are the only three concerts he ever went to.
  • Eric and James reminisce about the early days of The Walker Stalkers podcast and how far they’ve come along.
  • The trolls of yesteryear are called out..  Where are they nowadays?

Robert Kirkman is an inspiration to me because he is an everyday kinda dude.  He’s approachable, down-to-earth, and pretty darn humble.

What’s important here is that The Walking Dead wasn’t an overnight success but he stuck with it.  That’s success in simplest terms: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Sometimes, you just get lucky..  So don’t give up, geeks!

Similarly, Eric & James experienced great success with their podcast and eventually turned a fan meetup into a massive event.  It wasn’t always easy.  Like many creative works that start off as a  labor of love, there were critics and trolls.  But here they are..  You guys did it – CONGRATS!

Walker Stalker Con Atlanta 2014 - Lauren Cohan!

It’s not too late to get your tickets for Walker Stalker Con Atlanta 2014!

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What’s Your Podcasting End Game? #NationalPodcastDay @zmblpodcast @gamingdeath @freemandaddy5 @spydersvenom

National Podcast Day 9/30

In honor of October 1st (or is it September 30th), #NationalPodcastDay, here is my rather epic diatribe on the state of podcasting and how we can bring about positive change.. You may want to grab a large cup of coffee or tea!

For many podcasters, their shows are labors of love. They stay on the grind because they have built an audience and, with that, have developed a sense of responsibility. They might really enjoy what they do but they are not necessarily compelled to up their content marketing or social media game. The tragic part is that, to them, there may not be much value in podcasting beyond sticking to habit/ritual.

Why is that?

Well, podcasters tend to have day jobs and other responsibilities well beyond the general umbrella of social media, online business, and marketing. That is not the primary challenge but it does impact how producers and creatives approach their podcasts. The more other projects and work take precedence, the more podcasts suffer in quality and growth. This happens in business and it’s the result of not having a deliberate direction or clear plan early on.

My challenge or, better yet, burning question to podcasters is this:

Why can’t your podcast(s) support your other endeavors? Brah, do you even social media strategize?

I’m all for labors of love and doing your life’s work, but eventually something has to give. You also have to think about your collaborators. They may have other expectations and obligations… But we’ll get to that.

What I have found is that many podcasters do their shows “just for fun” but, deep down inside, whether they realize it or not, they are desperately seeking motivation and purpose. They wish they could monetize the content or justify doing it full-time. In some cases, our fellow podcasters simply use podcasts as an excuse to catch up with friends. Remember, folks: podcasts may be one of the last forms of free media left but that doesn’t mean it should be devoid of rewards.

Success in podcasting, like all social media, starts with being honest with yourself.

Friendly podcasts are nice but there is a growing number of brocasts these days. Brocasts are typically defined by pointless banter, lack of diversity, and the chaos that ensues from lack of preparation, organization, and/or motivation. I’d hate to say it but pointless brocasts are the direct result of doing things “just because you love it”; a nice notion that is usually not 100% true and leads to resentment. Without some path to revenue or incentives, podcasts become mere technical feats, time killers, and space fillers.

Not all brocasts are inherently bad.. Our friends at the Gaming Death Podcast go deep on gaming news, social issues, and other relevant matters, but they keep things fresh with banter and sophomoric humor that some geeks find endearing. The podcast is not for everyone (no podcast is or should aim to be) but they make it clear what their tone and voice is early on in each episode. Love them or hate them, they’re authentic and passionate about the subject matter they discuss.

Let’s be clear: pursuing some personal gain is not a bad thing. So long as the art and message come first, no one can really blame you for trying to do more through and with a medium you love. We all have to make a living, after all. Monetization doesn’t have to be a dirty word.. Just don’t be a shark – be honest and social about self promotion.

If only money did grow on trees...

Perhaps if money grew on trees, we wouldn’t have to worry about the stress of making money.. But it’s not that easy, sadly.

 

What’s Your Podcasting / Social Media End Game?

A theme I often revisit in business and marketing coaching sessions is the notion of maintaining a deliberate direction. The idea is painfully simple: identify and support systems for repeat success. In order to do that, you need to set milestones and have goals. With deliberate efforts towards goals, momentum will be steady and your direction intentional. Of course, there are plenty of people that have random luck and simply stumble into big success but that’s usually reserved for those in niche markets with timing or brand power already on their side.

With that in mind, think about what your “end game” is. It can be an exit strategy or a major milestone. What will happen when you reach that goal or if you don’t in X amount of time? When will you feel most or least satisfied? You need to know your limits and those of your team members. Before you can think about your ultimate goals, you have to look at the road laying right in front of you.

As weeks, months, and years pass by, what will keep you and your collaborators engaged?

We simply must pace ourselves and not jump TOO far ahead. Again, it all boils down to what will give you the most satisfaction and motivation. Running on fumes is no good. Plan ahead but also enjoy today for everything it brings. Be content and grateful.

I saw our friends at Zombie Life Podcast tweet about how podcasting is the last of free media. They tweeted (and I’m mostly paraphrasing),

#Podcasting is the only truly free media left. We dont do it for $$, we enjoy it

I LOVE that sentiment but podcasting can only move forward if we start think more strategically. Sharing compelling content we are passionate about is awesome.. But love alone won’t get you through the rainy days, folks.

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10 Myths About MOBAs Debunked #L2P #DawnGate #Tome

Tome: Immortal Arena (Currently in beta.)

With the unrelenting rise of MOBAs, I feel it is appropriate that we provide a simple list on how to play MOBAs properly. Sure, there are plenty of game-specific guides and some general MOBA guides but they all focus on the same thing everyone else does:

  1. Item building.
  2. Last hitting and farming.
  3. Learning from the top tier players.
  4. Counter-picking characters.
  5. Mastering specific characters and roles.
  6. Blah blah blah.

That’s all fine and dandy..  But…

What about the fundamentals of MOBA/ARTS games?

I’d like to look at the core mechanics, attitudes, and other less-discussed items that will give you a real edge. More importantly, these are the things that will allow you to truly enjoy the MOBA experience, in spite of the tendency to encounter toxicity and BM (bad manners). On that note, I would say fighting games and MOBAs tend to have the most toxic communities, with FPS games somewhere in that Top 3 but anyway… Here we go!

Here are 10 misconceptions and myths surrounding MOBA/ARTS games – in no particular order…

 

1.  MOBAs Are For ADD/Twitch Gamers

No, no, and, furthermore, NO.  (Sorry Stan – I still love you, bro!)

There are certainly a majority of MOBA players that have no strategy, tactics, or finesse, relying purely on twitch gaming skills, but this is not everyone nor is it the pinnacle of the experience.  The real fun in MOBAs, to me, resides in the deceptively deep strategy that is available to those that believe in teamwork and developing their own unique playstyles.  Great MOBAs are as accomodating as MMORPGs in this aspect: you can make the experience your own and play up your strengths, even if PvP isn’t usually your thang.

That said, ADD is more prevalent with gamers now than ever.  Heck, the Internet as a whole has spoiled us.  There’s just so much content vying for our attention.  People “don’t have time” for deep thinking.  I worry that future games will feature one or two-button control schemes at most..  Or maybe respond to grunting and farting.

ADD - Attention Defi.. Hey, Look - A Butterfly!

2.  Tanks Only Exist To Soak Up Damage

Recently, a wonderfully snooty gamer said the following and I found it much too funny not to share:

Tanks are supposed to soak up damage.  That’s like their sole purpose.  Just sayin.

This is the sort of elitist behavior that scares people away from competitive games as a whole.  Nobody likes a know-it-all, especially when they are misinformed or misguided.  The worst types of players on MOBAs are the ones that worry more about the rest of their team’s performance instead of their own.  BTW, the guy who fed me this line of horse crap had the worst record in the entire session and kept over-extending…

Gee, there’s a shocker!

Yes, tanks are meant to be initiators and soak up damage; however, to relegate their roles strictly to that shows a lack of grasp on strategy and tactics.  The tank or support’s role varies but, essentially, they are there to mitigate damage, slow down threats, and provide focus.   In many ways, they function as the generals and playmakers for their teams.   The thing is, if teams do not follow the tank’s lead or positioning is off, tanks should not just dive in because then they die for nothing.

The expectation that tanks should just jump into battle all the time is nothing short of stupid.  Tanks have to be able to assess situations and make quick calls.  If he pings to go in or retreat, the team should follow suite because glass cannons and squishies should not go in or get caught out alone.  All too often, tanks are either too aggressive or too passive.  Players will always disagree on the level of aggression needed but, if teams move together as a unit, beautiful things happen.

It’s also worth noting that there are MOBAs like Dawngate where, late game, damage penetration tends to overshadow any damage mitigation.  At this point, tanks have to play more cautiously and resort to guerrilla tactics (i.e. baiting and rape bushes) or more coordinated team battles.  Since tanks tend to offer CC (crowd control) and AoE effects they should not recklessly lay down their lives if the opportunity to shift the tides of battle or take an objective is not really there.  #L2P

These concepts apply to other PvP games where you have traditional RPG roles in play.  I find that Dawngate and DotA 2 tend to favor more versatile roles as well, whereas games like League Of Legends tend to be more about compartmentalizing roles and positions.  Tanks can sometimes soften up and weaken enemies, making them far more than more useful that glorified punching bags and decoys.

Pokemon - Lucario Punching Bag

 

3.  Farming And Last Hitting Are #1

Imagine a game where the primary objective is timing button presses so you get points and your goal thereof is to get the high score.  Oh wait..  That’s a rhythm game!

I’d say farming and last-hitting is the least fun aspect of MOBAs yet people check CS (Creep Score/Kills) all the time, as if that is the only that determines skill or the match outcome.  The slight edge that the added income gives you is nice but it does not guarantee victory; in fact, being too obsessed with CS will often make you sloppy if you’re not careful.

Consider this: every time you bring up the scoreboard or glance over at your CS or income, you are distracted.  That makes the gap bigger and opens you up to attacks.  Your attention is better shifted towards map awareness and working as a team to take objectives; you know, things that win matches.  What’s even more important to note here is that there are MOBA/ARTS games where the mechanics of last-hitting, denying, and farming are either not there or not as important.  Dawngate, Tome, and Guardians Of Middle-Earth are good examples of this, as they focus more on action and strategy as opposed to boring chores.

 

4.  You Need An ADC To Win

The high DPS (Damage Per Second) and sustain that ADCs bring is certainly nice but the value of team comps (compositions) is often exagerrated.  It’s best to pick characters you are comfortable with and discuss with your team what they are comfortable with.  Break the meta.  Be a leader.

An ADC, for the uninitiated, is an Attack Damage Carry.  Alongside your Jungler and the optional APC (Attack Power Carry or Mage), the ADC is part of the damage-dealing machine.   What changes within these roles is the positioning and primary damage type (i.e. magic/AP vs. physical/AD).  The terminology changes up depending on the game you are playing but the core concepts are almost always there.

Typically, MOBA players like to have one primary damage-dealer so they can feed him.  The problem with this approach is that it places too much of a burden on one player instead of teamwork.  Various team comps are viable in just about any game but your team needs to know how to work with it.  For example, an all ADC team would be very squishy and would need very coordinated attacks to win team battles.  Similarly, an APC team could work but there would need to be some heavy CC or heavy burst damage to take out key targets before they could retaliate.

Ultimately, it’s all about teamwork.  Tried and true is nice but it’s not the only way to play the game.

Fairy Tail - Natsu Saves Erza - By RJDART On Deviantart

Not everyone needs to be rescued.. But, sure, it’s nice.
[ Art by RJDART on DeviantArt ]

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Kickstarters Ending Soon & Major Twitch Updates – Time Is Running Out!

Well, folks, I was hoping to share the latest HorsePLAY! LIVE HD video with you guys buuuutttt..  Twitch has been funky.  We’ll get into that but time is of the essence!  Here’s last week’s video instead.  It’s relevant.

We have some HUGE news and time-sensitive items so be sure to read on, gang.. There are critical items for Kickstarter and Twitch users here!

HorsePLAY! EP34 is up on iTunes, Stitcher, and our official GANG podcasts feed.  Here is the embedded MP3 player, for your convenience.  In this episode, a girl joins us. JanelNo5, a rising Twitch superstar, makes this show a non-sausage fest – YAY!

Kickstarter: Fire With Fire PvP Tower Defense Game

First things first, Fire With Fire is close to being funded but we only have a couple of days.  On Sunday, August 10th 2014, this Kickstarter project comes to an end.  Currently, we need around 300 backers if everyone pledges the $6 or more (the minimum is $1).  We can make someone’s dreams come true! #GeeksUnite

Other indie games we are excited about on Kickstarter include Factions and Bacon Man, which end on August 10th and 15th, respectively. Spread the word. It only takes a few minutes to help good content go viral!

Sorry Twitch Store Closed

Major Twitch Changes & What You Need To Know TODAY

Twitch has wasted no time mixing things up now that Google is backing them with their bottomless pit of munnies. Justin.tv closes it’s doors which leads us to believe Twitch will start to compete with Ustream, Playstream, and other streaming platforms. This worries me a bit.

My concern is that the focus will shift from gaming and Twitch will become as noisy as YouTube. This is great for established video personalities but terribad for the rest of us. Let’s not forget that the Twitch brand implies gaming (i.e. twitch gaming like we see in MOBAs and FPS games). Diversifying content would ruin the brand identity. I guess only time will tell!

Hosting is one of the biggest features to come. After months of testing, now everyone can now host their favorite streamers on their own channel. This is a great alternative to simulcasting or Twitch raids, but it will not replace it. There are some key distinctions between hosting and comparable tactics:

  • All followers and views go to the hosted streamer.
  • The host will not generate video archives.
  • Hosting channels will not appear live on the mobile app (yet).

Twitch CEO has announced a new VOD policy on the official Twitch blog. Starting August 27th, past broadcasts will be removed unless there are highlights associated with them. Partnered streamers and Turbo users will have more time to work with their archives but everyone else will have a 3 to 14-day window to work with old videos.

During EP34, I went off on a rant because the changes to how Twitch handles VODs came suddenly. Sure, we saw the writing on the wall but now we have to hustle to make sure all that content we have created over months or years doesn’t go to waste. There are lots of things that need to be in place before Twitch enforces these changes.

Ironically, soon after our live show, I realized Twitch implemented quick exports and highlighting. Now you can do exports as a two-step process without loading up different pages and tabs. This was desperately needed. Sadly, I am noticing that YouTube is getting overloaded and bouncing back videos during batch jobs. Argh.  BTW, they are aware of the server capacity issues (officially as of August 6th 10:50am PT).

http://blog.twitch.tv/2014/08/update-changes-to-vods-on-twitch/

Video highlighting is much easier and cleaner now. You can create multiple highlights during one session. Again, brilliant.. And this update actually works properly so YAY! You can also see all highlights associated with a source video at a glance AND export without creating a highlight first. This is far more intuitive so great job, Twitch!

The best part about this policy change is that it will remind Twitch streamers to do what they should be doing already: creating highlights and bookmarks. I can’t tell you how many channels I visit that are barren when they are offline. It’s quite sad.

Now that Google is in the mix, I am hoping for some SEO enhancements. Tagging, social integration, commenting, and enhanced search would rock. I would also love to see differentiation between live and archived content. This would give archived content far more value and give streamers like myself more of an edge by allowing us to create themed content and events.

To our fellow streamers, the best tip we can offer now is to make sure you not only click “Save Forever” on videos but also highlight and export whenever possible. Don’t forget to bookmark, too! It looks really seksy when you have a wide variety of content available on your channel when you’re offline. In some ways, I like the presentation better than what YouTube currently does.. But a little customization wouldn’t hurt here!

Oh wait.. We forgot the biggest update!

Copyrighted music on streams is now a no-no. Google is not enforcing strikes or other stupidity yet but they have gone back and retroactively muted all video segments where music is found.. Unless it is royalty-free or officially licensed (they are not set up for the latter yet, obviously).

We saw this coming but it sucks. We recommend avoiding song requests or background music all together because it will limit the value of your recordings, even if you focus 100% on the live experience. Of course, there is always the option of playing your own music for yourself or only having in-game music but be wary of games like Typing Of The Dead: Overkill, which uses licensed music. I learned the hard way to lower game music just to be safe; otherwise, no YouTube highlights, which sucks!

1.2 Billion Passwords Stolen By Russian Hackers

1.2 Billion Passwords Stolen.. Google Responds

Holds Security of Milwaukee reports that Russian hackers have stolen 1.2 billion passwords to online accounts worldwide. The affected sites and platforms have remained undisclosed but, just to play it safe, you may want to change your passwords. I recommend using unique passwords for your most critical resources like online banking, control panels, and government sites, just to be extra safe.

Google has responded to this news by offering rewards to more secure sites. Using SSL, encrypted passwords, login lockdowns/timeouts, CAPTCHA, and other security methods will increase your search rankings. I wonder if there will be less of a penalty for longer load times since security hardening tends to compromise performance.

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue Confirmed After Leak

Ubisoft confirms that Assassin’s Creed: Rogue is coming this year as a Christmas Season 2014 release alongside the highly-anticipated “next gen” Assassin’s Creed: Unity. This news comes after a video was leaked. Now console gamers on both sides of the generation gap will be covered.

We have mixed feelings about this. Personally, I love the AC series (though the original is really hard to go back to now) but I think this overkill. Major franchises like this should not be annualized because quality suffers and discerning consumers are overwhelmed with too many options. Yes, game publishers, not all of us spend $5000 or more on video games each year, no matter how hardcore we may be.

I feel gamers have plenty of content to catch up on and enjoy as it is. This news only frustrates me. I may be in the vocal minority here but what do you guys think? Let us know via voicemail or in the comments below.

HorsePLAY! LIVE  iTunes-Friendly Podcast Cover

HorsePLAY! LIVE Where Geeks Come To Play!

Our First HorsePLAY! LIVE iTunes Review

We usually don’t push for iTunes reviews because we realize people are using other platforms.. And iTunes isn’t very intuitive when it comes to leaving reviews.

That said, we got our very first iTunes review from Normii477 from Zombie Cast and Knuckleballer Radio. Thank you, Normii! Your words really touch our hearts and get us even more fired up to bring you more great content. I agree that what I love most about our show is the chemistry Obi and I have since we contrast and compliment each other so well (some would say we are a married couple LOL). Of course, the live interaction on the GeekyAntics Twitch channel keeps things interesting every week. We love you guys – even the trolls!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/horseplay!-live-where-geeks/id837770294?mt=2

You guys really get what we are about and that’s awesome. We want HorsePLAY! LIVE to be the radio show and interactive platform where geeks can get their fix on a wide variety of discussions, events, and news. Keep the reviews coming, gang!

Stitcher is still our preferred mobile podcast app so please use their Facebook integration to leave us comments and give us some thumbs up lovin. Don’t forget to tune into us on AllGames.com every Thursday at around 5pm Eastern. AllGames.com has their own live chat – join the IRC channel and tell them the GANG at HorsePLAY! LIVE sent ya. You’ll get a warm welcome, just like we did when we joined the network! BTW, we’d LOVE more voicemail messages and bumpers at (206) 415-4987 – save our live listeners the torture of having to listen to us rant for two hours or more. *wink-wink*

Play hard and play smart, geeks! *insert heart here*

10 Twitch Myths Debunked… And How To Twitch (In Simple Terms)

10 Twitch Myths Debunked

Before we jump into this quick and dirty article, I want to be clear on a few things:

  1. I detest list posts but I realize that the ADD is real and people are “too busy” these days.  I appreciate that lists are easier to read but I find them lazy.  Just my opinion.
  2. I’m not a partnered Twitch streamer (yet) but that’s more a matter of priorities than knowledge.  I am a NISM-certified social media strategist so the info here is no mere speculation.

That said, I hope this list will entertain and perhaps help our fellow Twitch streamers step their game up.  More importantly, we want to provide a perspective that will make Twitch less intimidating and more useful, fun, and, well, doable.  If you are looking for a more detailed guide on how succeed on Twitch and social media, check out our unofficial Twitch/Social Media strategy guide (a.k.a. grow your audience). Here are the Twitch myths debunked and the truths revealed..  In no particular order!

1.  Google Purchased Twitch For One Billion Dollars [Cash]

Okay, let’s be very clear here.  The total amount of the Google acquisition of Twitch has not yet been confirmed and it certainly wasn’t when this was breaking news.  The original offer was for 1B but Google has not commented on the deal details thereof.  Anyone who says otherwise is full of it.  Even VentureBeat has offered “he said, she said” details and very shaky confirmations.  A rule of thumb on journalism is that, if anyone does not provide a solid source or says “basically” (or something to that effect), they are speculating, blatantly lying, or sharing an opinion.

That said, the deal is easily worth one billion dollars.  It is not known if this deal was done in cash or as a package with stock options and such.  Some media outlets have mentioned that this was a cash deal but do not back up the details.  SMH..  The real news here is what this means to Twitch streamers that are NOT part of the 1%.

Google Buys Twitch For Around 1 Billion

It’s worth noting that Google realized they could not win the fight between YouTube and Twitch, so they bought them out.  This is just more of their continued 30B shopping spree..  Because Google.  Is this a move to mitigate potential threats or do they have real plans to improve Twitch?  I remain hopeful but I am prepared for the worst.  Let’s not forget the acquisitions Google killed off in the past.  Of course, if there is any company with the resources to make big things happen for Twitch, it’s Google…  Right?

We reckon that it’s possible this deal has not been finalized..  And that someone might buy Twitch out from under Google.  Who has that media buying power?  Microsoft, EA, AOL, Time-Warner, Amazon, Viacom…  Hmmmm….  Check back with the GANG and we’ll keep you posted on that.  Regardless, be wary of media misinformation and fake news sites.

2.  You Need An Nvidia Graphics Card/Processor

Nvidia seems to be favored heavily amongst gamers but it’s not necessarily the best nor is it required.  Shadow Play does allow for much easier native streaming but AMD, formerly ATI, products are still solid and may provide a more budget solution with great compatibility.  Along with a solid PSU and CPU, a graphics accelerator is a must for streaming video but don’t feel pressured to get Nvidia specifically.  Look at the benchmarks and you’ll find the differences is are too subtle to warrant price differences.

On a similar note, don’t be afraid to share your gaming rig specs with your viewers.  Some folks may only acknowledge bleeding-edge technology but there is such a thing as overkill.  If your kit suits your needs, don’t worry about the rest.  Note that if you generally play indie or retro games, the system requirements are significantly lower.  Your rig will grow alongside your rig so no worries!

I will say that audio quality trumps video quality every time.  If your audio pops or is inconsistent, ears will bleed and people will leave.  Note that some people will only listen to the audio of your stream while they multitask.  This places a greater importance on a quality microphone.

3.  You Should Stream Popular Games Only

These days it seems like everyone streams League Of Legends.  That’s a great game to add to your stable of offerings but we recommend playing more niche titles.  At any given time, there are at least 1000 LoL streamers so the space is quite saturated.  You have to offer something very special for LoL to be part of a sustainable streaming strategy.

Indie titles and games that allow for easy viewer interaction/participation are usually best.  For example, Choice Chamber and Cards Against Humanity both offer deep interaction with your Twitch viewers with the latter allowing for big games, whereas LoL really limits how many people you can play with at once.  If you like the MOBA and ARTS style, there is still opportunity in popular yet less-streamed games such as Guardians Of Middle Earth, Dawngate, Smite, and Tome.

The beauty of streaming games that have little to no presence on Twitch is that you can work with the developers to be featured in-game or on their social channels.  They love the promotion and will often hook you up by promoting your channel, sending you freebies, or giving you work.  With League Of Legends, the competition is just too heavy unless you are part of the fortunate 1-5% that has timing, contacts, and/or professional gaming on their side.

4.  Twitch Only Partners Streamers With Lots Of Viewers

I hear so much talk about the minimum milestones and conditions necessary for Twitch to consider you for their partners program.  It’s all bunk.  Here’s why:

Twitch has and will make exceptions for streamers they find attractive in some way..  Even if the numbers are not there.

Maybe you have a great personality or you do other content that has garnered lots of attention.  They will consider that.  I know this because I have been to channels where there were 10-20 viewers and the person had a subscribe button.  I also know people that got sub buttons almost as soon as they started, just because they knew someone or got lucky.  Mind you, these same people had NO social media following or marketing background at all.

When you apply to be a Twitch Partner, you will have the opportunity to build your case.  Share links to your social channels, web sites, podcasts, videos, etc.  These will help you in a BIG way!  If you still get denied, don’t be discouraged.  Having a sub button is not an instawin..  But it’s nice.

Free Twitch Overlays - Twitch Templates

Before you spend money, try editing a Twitch overlay template or getting a simple freebie.

5.  Professional Overlays Are A MUST

A video overlay (the stuff that shows on top of the gameplay video) is one of the first things people will notice when browsing new channels, alongside a face cam and any sort of branding you share.  While you could pay someone to have a professional layout/overlay created, it is not recommended to boot.  It is best to get into a routine with your stream and find what works best for you before investing too much money into it.

If you pace yourself, you’ll find that people will donate and support your channel if you engage them and/or offer unique content.  These donations can then be re-invested to upgrade your rig, purchase new games to stream, improve your branding, or just save for a rainy day.  Don’t rush things – you’ll get there!  A Twitch channel is a constantly-evolving thing so enjoy it at every step of the way.

It’s also important to note that a lot of the overlays out there are overkill.  There’s no reason for your webcam or any other assets to take up 33-50% of your layout.  Some people, believe it or not, want to watch the actual gameplay.  This Wildstar overlay from Dexter_BL commits a lot of Twitch sins:

  1. It takes the focus away from the core of the experience – the gameplay.
  2. It slaps people in the face by trying to show off a nice house/apartment/flat.

This particular overlay is likely going for the LAN party effect but it’s a bit much, regardless.  I have seen people showing off their setups overtly and it’s quite obvious, materialistic, and silly.  I’ve heard from countless Twitch viewers that they feel this practice just shoves success in their faces and makes them want to support the stream less.  I would agree.

wildstar-dexter_bl-twitch-streamer-wildstar-serious-gaming-twitch-team

Too much Twitch overlay dedicated to fancy junk. Where’s the gameplay??

6.  Video Quality Is The Most Important Thing

Wrong.  Wrong.  WRONG.

People don’t see video quality when browsing channels (they do see your title though *HINT-HINT*) and, in the first few seconds of being in your channel, what they will notice is your skills in the game and your personality.  If either are what they seek, less than awesome video quality will not take away from the overall experience.  There are people that insist on streaming at 1080p 60 FPS or some other silliness but it’s overkill and most people will downscale your quality to suit mobile devices or avoid having their bandwidth throttled.

I am not saying that aiming for better video quality is not a good goal but don’t become obsessed with it.  When it comes to overall stream quality, it’s best to have smooth video than high-resolution.  You’ll have to play with the bit rate, CRF, buffer sizes, and other items to get it just right.  Be patient and, again, don’t be discouraged if you get the occasional elitist that says your video quality sucks.

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