Monday, 24 March 2014

[FIFA] How KSI Monopolised the Kick-Off and Nep Crashed the Market

FIFA has a strange community. I often think that it might be so strange because the players aren't primarily gamers, they're primarily football fans. Nothing wrong with that, of course, I count myself as a fine helping of both.
Compare the community to something like Guild Wars 2 - obviously the game community with which I've been most involved. GW2 has a whole myriad of media circling it - official and unofficial blogs, numerous active forums and reddits, Twitter feeds (concerning news, lore, fansites etc etc) and podcasts. FIFA, conversely, has only a few fansites (sparsely updated), a few twitter feeds, little interaction with the developers (they are EA after all) but perhaps the most active and vibrant element of the FIFA community are the YouTubers.

For Guild Wars 2 we've obviously got some big YouTubers (Woodenpotatoes, MattVisual etc) but they mostly act as news/opinion sites. The FIFA YouTubers, for a lot of people, are venerated as deities. KSI, perhaps the biggest of the lot, has recently been on an international University tour and has attracted massive crowds just to come and have the chance of playing a game with him.

As an example of how influential these YouTubers are on the community, here's two cases where a single video has effected the way the entire game is played:

1)  On 11th October 2013, KSI posted the following video:

It details a cheap method to score a goal straight from kick off by passing straight back to a midfielder once you've kicked off and then simply whacking the ball up the field to a big striker. It abuses the incredibly poorly programmed AI of the defenders in FIFA 14. It's a method of scoring which was around around 3 years ago, but we generally thought that advances in AI had squashed it, apparently we were wrong - it's become known as the "KSI kick off" and is incredibly frustrating to go up against.

The outcome KSI posting this simple two minute video is that EVERY SINGLE PLAYER is now doing this exact method straight from kick off. 90% of the time it doesn't actually work, but whether or not it is successful is entirely based upon the luck of the draw, will your defender stand around like a numpty or will he be in the right place to head it away? Who knows, lets hope the luck is in your favour. KSI is just one guy, but he's managed to influence the play-style of 75% of the players of one of the most popular games in the world.

2) Another popular YouTuber Nepenthez, made short video "Easiest Trading Method EVER!" The general idea being "buy cheap Irish players a month in advance in preparation for the St Patrick's Day Cup, when their prices will drastically rise".

A simple idea, but it was so influential that everyone bought Irish players, and I mean EVERYONE - the price of Rep of Ireland players rose steadily for the month between the release of the video and the much-anticipated St Patrick's Cup. Then when the tournament was announced everyone dropped the THOUSANDS of players they'd been hoarding back into the market.
Now, it doesn't take a degree in economics to work out what happens if you flood a market with players which everyone has already bought a month ago. What actually happened is that almost everyone invested thousands of coins into Irish players, and almost all of them lost all that money because no-one  was buying them. No-one needed to buy them! They were trying to sell their stockpiled players, not buy more! The whole thing was a debacle.

These are just two examples of the strange position of power held by FIFA YouTubers. I'm not really placing any blame on them, they're just doing their job, but a single video can crash the market or influence the play-style of the entire community, and I don't believe that is necessarily a good thing.

Friday, 7 February 2014

[GW2] E is a Chekov's Gun

The question of who "E" is might prove to be one of the most important ones we can ask over the coming weeks. 
I'm viewing it as somewhat of a Chekov's Gun* at the moment - the only interaction with "E" that we've had is that one mail around Dragon Bash which asked us to contact Marjory Delaqua (and tell her "E" sent you - she later confirmed she has no idea who it is). 
Whilst this brief interaction might not suggest a large role at the moment, plot devices such as a "mysterious stranger" are rarely inconsequential when applied in good storytelling. So, as our various questions get answered and we begin ticking off the remaining mysteries, the ones left unanswered will become more and more important (and suggest a centrality in the narrative). 

Contacting Marjory has proven to be a pretty good move - she has been instrumental in taking down the Tower of Nightmares and puzzling out Scarlet's clues in the Dead End. This would seem to be a pretty big tick on the "Good" side of the debate regarding E's intentions. 

On the other hand, who knows how deep the plan might go? Perhaps E's Machiavellian scheme includes bringing Marjory into the equation. Without Jory and Kasmeer's anti-toxin, Scarlet wouldn't have been able to perfect her poison, after all. 

It's difficult to say at this stage. I've got a feeling one of the continuing threads after we finally take Scarlet down will be either the identity of the big-bad who is controlling her or the identity of E (or both!); and it will be this question which will take us into the next story arc.

*"If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." - Anton Chekov, 1911

ps. Could it be Ellen Kiel? ANet wouldn't call them "E" without "E" being in their name. Plus, the story would work just as well if we'd voted Evon Gnashblade into office (?) I dunno. Just wankin' in the dark here.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Five Easy Steps to being an Utter D**k in Hearthstone

Have you tried, filled with sincerity and naive hope, to play Hearthstone honestly and conscientiously? Using balanced cards and solid, well-thought-out decks? Have you done so and found yourself smashed for the 50th time by some who simply outplays you and has the audacity to wish you "Well Played" before finally finishing you off? Did this infuriate you beyond belief?

Perhaps you should try being a complete dick!
Being a dick is the number 1 way to get the most out of Hearthstone. Why try to learn the mechanics of the game, make value trades and maintain board control and card advantage when you could just be an utter dickwad about the whole thing and frustrate your opponent into submission?

Step 1: Remember to abuse imbalanced cards and decks. 
Build a cheesy deck which requires little more than a simple keyboard face-roll to execute. You don't want the game to distract you from your quest towards dickification - throw out your minions willy-nilly. Try warlock murloc or one of the one-turn-kill decks. Even if your opponent beats you, it's not because of you: they cheated, the game is broken and you weren't trying anyway.

Step 2: Be patient.
The race to become a dick-maestro is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember to wait out every turn and pass only when the timer is about to run out. Especially turn 1: turn 1 is the most important turn and even if you have no cards you can play it's important to give yourself the longest time possible to enjoy this moment. You and your opponent are going to have an experience together, he or she will thank you later for allowing them so much time to enjoy quite how much of a dick you are. Remember, the most important quality a dick like you can have is patience.

Step 3: Be as impatient as possible.
Your opponent is being an asshole if they make you wait any longer than 2-3 seconds before passing the turn back to you. Remind them of this fact by continuously taunting them. Say "Greetings" or even "The light shall burn you!" whenever possible. The chat clips are condescending for a reason, remember to use them as often as they are available. For maximum effect remember to pop Draxxus and shout "OBLIVION" 50 times.

Step 4: Never say "Well played".
Your opponent is a scrub and you bested them - in both the game and life. Say "Thankyou" before stealing a minion with Mind Control, a quick "Sorry about that" before finally opting to finish them off and, of course, 50 "OBLIVION"s every time you make a move will really add a dickish finesse to your playstyle.

Step 5: Never finish your opponent quickly - even if you have lethal.
Your opponent will appreciate the time you take to clear their board, taunt them a few times and shuffle the cards in your hand - perhaps even play a couple of minions and pass the turn if you know they cannot retaliate. It's all part of the dicksperience which you and your opponent are going through together: savour it! Rest assured that your opponent is most likely sitting at their computer with tears of adulation in their eyes, slowly clapping and shaking their head. "I can't believe this dick" they'll likely say.

Just follow these five simple steps, as many thousands do every day, and the path to complete and utter dickdom will open to you.
Friends and co-workers will mutter "dick" or "wow, what a dick" or even "Hey, is that X, I heard he's a complete dickhole!" as you saunter past.
Enjoy that, you dick, you've earned it.


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