Friday, December 4, 2015

Godzilla PS4 Players: Stop Using Burning Godzilla

You're not impressing anyone by using a broken character. We know those 1000+ wins you have are mostly owed to an attack that takes out a quarter of your opponent's health in one shot. The fact that you still manage to lose half of your health playing this guy 1-on-1 (when I can use him 2-on-1 and hardly get scratched) says everything we need to know about how good you really are at this game.

I recently passed 300 wins myself. The vast majority of those were with such monsters as Spacegodzilla, Mechagodzilla, Battra, and Anguirus. When I fought someone with more experience than yours truly, I watched how they played and learned how to either counter those tactics or perform them myself. I clawed my way up the ladder fair and square, and I am goddamn proud of it. So grow a fucking pair and do the same for yourself.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

RWBY Volume 1 and 2 in Retrospect

I've mentioned to folks in the past that RWBY often made me rage at the pacing of the show, the presentation of the characters, and their relationships to each other. I decided to re-watch both volumes back-to-back today since I had nothing else to do, and... I was actually surprised at how incorrect most of my complaints were. Do I still have complaints about RWBY? Yes, but most of the ones I used to have were very unjustified. In this post, I'm going to go through and debunk a lot of my old complaints with what I observed in this most recent viewing.

Complaint: The first two seasons have too little plot progression and can't decide which characters to focus on.

Actually, RWBY hasn't completed its first season yet. The two releases thus far have been volumes, and a typical season of anime (from which RWBY draws much inspiration) contains 3 volumes. Viewing volumes 1 and 2 as the first two-thirds of a season, they are actually paced exactly the way you would expect of this kind of show.

Complaint: Team JNPR gets way too much screen time compared to Team RWBY.

Actually, Team JNPR has less than half the screen time Team RWBY has, and much of it is actually shared with that team. Jaune in particular gets targeted with this criticism quite frequently, especially centered on the "Jaune gets bullied" arc. Cringe-worthy though that arc may have been, it's actually quite short, and prominently featured Pyrrha and Ruby throughout. Jaune is the focus, yes, but not to nearly the degree that the criticism makes him out to be.

Complaint: Jaune and Ruby should have been paired up as a couple or at least as very good friends.

This was a very particular nitpick I had since I previously felt there was little tying the two teams together to justify JNPR's screen time. In reality, Jaune and Ruby are portrayed as being very good friends, it's just that a lot of this happens in the "Jaune gets bullied" arc that a lot of folks instinctively skip. The truth is, Jaune and Ruby hit it off in the very second episode and remain quite close throughout the series.

It's actually very rare for the show to go more than about 20 minutes of screen time without these two having a moment. What was Jaune's first reaction when Ruby went to meet Yang in the auditorium? Disappointment that he'd have to wait to see her again. Who does he look to initially for support in the Emerald Forest? Ruby. Who did Ruby initially consider trying to team up with? Yang, Blake, or Jaune. Who was the first to say they were worried about Jaune being bullied? Ruby. Who was one of his closest confidants through that arc? Ruby. Who did Jaune immediately seek out at the dance when he was alone? Ruby. Who was the first person Ruby called for help from in Mountain Glen? Jaune. Not to mention many smaller moments between these. There is no reasonable argument for saying these two aren't close: Ruby and Jaune have been portrayed as being at least close friends from the very beginning. Being as they're the leaders of the two teams, of course the show is going to give team JNPR a fair amount of screen time: we need to know what Ruby's friend is doing for their moments together to have their full impact.

Complaint: Ruby is the main character, and we know almost nothing about her.

Are you kidding me? We know more about Ruby than perhaps any other character in the series. We learned almost her entire background in the very first episode, and almost the entire first half of Volume 1 is spent inside her head. Since then, we've seen how this has molded her as a person from the perspective of others, and we continue to see her grow as a character throughout. We even got a bit of bonus background when Yang tells Blake about their mothers. No other character has had anywhere near this much development. About the only thing we don't know for certain about her is exactly why she became a huntress, other than her mother having been one and her stating in the first episode that she "wants to help people," but even in that respect it's more information than we have about half of the cast.

Complaint: Team JNPR has more overall development than Team RWBY.

Again, this is completely false! The great majority of the show's screen time is spent on Team RWBY and fleshing out their characters. I paid attention, and we actually know next to nothing about Team JNPR: Pyrrha's famous, Nora and Ren are old friends, and Jaune's great-grandfather fought in "the war." Beyond that? Really nothing. They're the B-cast, when we do learn something about them it's always during a time when the A-cast is moving the plot along.

Contrast with our other characters: Again, we know more about Ruby than anyone else. We know quite a bit of Yang's story from her infodump with Blake and the campfire at Mountain Glen, and can infer other things from her actions; i.e. she is apparently quite popular, possibly a bit of a man-eater, a brilliant student (it's plainly stated that Beacon only accepts the best), etc. Weiss has stated that she grew up in a very strained environment, between her father's questionable actions and the White Fang killing or capturing family friends. Her initial demeanor, quick shift to being friendly, and short temper are, to me, tell-tale signs of someone who has never really been shown much kindness until now, and is overcompensating to try and hold onto that. Her occasional outbursts in Volume 2 show that despite being outwardly friendly, she is still very insecure and quick to revert back to lashing out at people.

Blake's character development got started rather late, only beginning at the end of Volume 1, but we quickly learn that she never really had a childhood to speak of, has spent most of her life being frustrated at everyone and everything, and is only now starting to come out of her shell. Yet, like Weiss, the change is far from drastic. Sure, she can bring herself to be sociable when she and her teammates are out doing something, but what happened right after the incident at the docks? She retreats into frustration and tries to solve everything herself. In this respect, she and Weiss are actually quite similar, if for opposite reasons.

In Conclusion

Yes, I still have some complaints. Team CFVY still burst onscreen a little too suddenly at the end for my tastes, Cinder should probably be playing a bit more active a role by now than she actually is, and Penny actually isn't onscreen enough in my opinion, considering how much Ruby's other friends appear onscreen. Overall, though? I'd say RWBY's plot progression and character development are actually moving along quite swimmingly so far. I think a lot of criticisms are not justified, and stem mainly from how the episodes were initially released in Volume 1 (which, admittedly, was one of the worst releases possible; 5-minute episodes once per week!?).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Writing Yourself Into a Corner

Recently I started a crossover fanfiction based on the premise of Godzilla getting teleported to the RWBY universe. If you read the synopsis, you can see my original intentions for the story: Godzilla gets transported, people do shit to him, he gets high on Dust, chaos ensues. Once you read the prologue (the only part that's been posted, at the time of this writing), you can already see where I derailed my whole premise: a second monster and a human being have also been teleported, and from looking at the synopsis they apparently have nothing to do with the rest of the story. This is a problem for properly integrating them, and I'll talk about how situations like this can be avoided entirely, and possible solutions once you've gotten yourself into it.

First, you may think avoiding this might be quite easy: just plan your story better next time. The problem with this is that a scene often sounds better in your head before you actually commit it to paper. Godzilla was originally just going to wander into Tokyo and get blasted by Dimension Tide; hell, in one draft it was just going to be a straight continuation of Godzilla vs Megaguirus. The problem is that while a low-key scene like that might work okay in a first chapter, a prologue calls far a more intense scene which leads you into the story proper. No matter how you look at it, Godzilla wandering around and suddenly disappearing is pretty damned hard to make sound interesting. Looks good in the mind's eye, but it's not very compelling in writing. Godzilla needed a sparring partner, and I couldn't have realized that until I started writing.

The second way to avoid this is to run the idea by someone else. This is fairly foolproof most of the time, and is the strategy I'd recommend. The only reason I didn't do this is because the people I could talk to either aren't interested in this type of story, or were not easy to reach at the time.

Lastly, you can page-vomit some ideas before you actually plan the whole story. It lets you see which premise is the most workable, allowing you to proceed from there. This is really what I should have done, and I just kind of didn't. Hey, it's the first time in like 5 years I've actually tried to write, cut me some slack!

As far as fixing this, there are a few things I could do. The first would be to have Emi team up with the main cast somehow to defeat Godzilla. However, the story would last all of maybe two chapters if I did that, plus the RWBY characters would get shoved into the background while the entire focus is on Emi and Godzilla; I might as well set this story in Equestria for all the significance it would have as a crossover setting. Considering this story was intended to last between 10 and 20 chapters, this is clearly not an acceptable option.

Option two would be to kill off Emi and Ghidorah. This would allow the story to proceed on-track with no further alterations, and save me several headaches. Again, this has problems: Emi and Ghidorah have already been established as characters we somewhat sympathize with, and having them basically die offscreen has the potential to put a bad taste in readers' mouths as they progress through the story. It could be seen as wasted potential, and that would distract from how the story actually unfolds.

Option three is to draw further inspiration from Godzilla Neo and have Ghidorah possess Emi, making her an antagonist from this point forward. This again poses several problems: she upstages the main villains one way or another, whether by joining them or doing her own thing. That, of course, pisses off fans who may be looking forward to seeing Cinder and Roman dealing with Godzilla. Not to mention, there's the question of how Ghidorah fits back into this: if too much of the story relies on the Godzilla characters, there's no reason to set this in Remnant. A potential compromise might be to start things a little further in the past: Emi wakes up first, gets out of there, and on Ghidorah's behest ends up becoming Cinder. This has the fewest problems, and is the solution I may ultimately go with, but it is still imperfect. Doing this means I basically have to write a second prologue, and that means the story takes even longer to get moving because the story of Emi becoming Cinder is basically irrelevant to the rest of the plot. Again, there are potential solutions to that, each with their own potential problems, but listing those out would spoil things should I decide to go this route.

The big lesson you should take away is this: try not to write yourself into a corner. And if you do, pause and think about it before you continue forward, as any potential solutions may not be as clear-cut as you prefer.

Friday, April 24, 2015

I just had a moment of fridge brilliance regarding Yang's semblance

I remember reading somewhere that Yang's character takes inspiration from Goldilocks. While re-watching Volume 2, I finally made the connection.

Why couldn't Yang deal the decisive blow to Roman? Because Roman isn't a physical fighter. He's crafty, and he always has an escape plan. As Yang's semblance makes her progressively more overcome with rage, she loses focus, allowing Roman to slip away. Her semblance was burning too hot, and she couldn't muster the focus needed to take him down.

Why couldn't Yang do all that much to Neo? There's no question that Yang at full fury could wipe the floor with Neo; but Neo never did anything to light up Yang's semblance. Yang's semblance was too cold, which meant Neo could bring the blonde down to her level and beat her with experience.

Yang won't be able to decisively beat this duo until she's able to control her fury and get her semblance to a level that's just right to deal with their respective tactics.

Am I on to something, or am I over-thinking this?

via reddit

Monday, April 13, 2015

Expansions REALLY need a late-game buff

Continuing from an older post I did, I am now even more convinced that expansions are in dire need of a mutation. About two weeks ago I finally reached a point where I could ascend well before my normal larva production exceeded what my mutagen produces. With this most recent ascension, I knocked the cost to ascend all the way down to being free, and my expansions still didn't even get close to catching up with mutagen production.

I actually have two suggestions this time. First is simply to have an expansion mutation. Expansions are just way too out-classed by everything else late-game due to not having a mutation of their own. The hatchery mutation, by itself, is not enough to compensate for this. Accomplished Ancestry with all achievements unlocked is also not powerful enough to make up the difference. Territory mutation also doesn't make a lick of difference late-game. Expansions need a mutation to stay relevant in the late game, plain and simple. Either that or we need a new late-game mechanic that can compete with mutagen levels reaching and exceeding a googol.

My other suggestion: make ascensions cost exponentially more energy each time. A simple formula like "(worlds infested+1)x(base cost)" should be sufficient. As it is currently, ascending is seriously overpowered once you get the frequency and meta-mutation buffs, because the larvae produced from mutagen can put you a couple tiers above where you left off, and you can do this once a week. That is just insane, to me. If ascending is going to be that powerful, at least give it a price to match!

via reddit

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stealths May Actually Be Useful

It has long been thought that the Stealth air unit of Advance Wars: Dual Strike, also known as AWDS or AW3, were useless. I have recently found that this may not actually be the case.

In a post I did years ago on different game modes, I commented that high funds games in AW3 are basically unplayable due to becoming B-Bomb fests. A couple months ago, it occurred to me that any game in which the B-Bomb is easily affordable also makes the Stealth affordable (we're talking like 3k funds and above), due to being cheaper. So I tried it out.

The strength of the B-Bomb is that it is too maneuverable to be caught by other air units, and can explode the same turn it moves. It's basically invincible. However, the Stealth is the one unit a B-Bomb can't actually see coming, and can't totally avoid. A Stealth can intercept a Bomb while it's in transit or even before it leaves the airport. They do 120% BD to the Bombs, so only Kanbei and Javier can actually make them survive the strike.

There is the issue of refueling, but Stealths at high funding levels are pretty disposable and get more bang for their buck. A single Stealth can 1HK multiple Bombs before fuel consumption takes it down, plenty of time to get another one in the field.

This doesn't mean you'll suddenly become immune to Bomb strikes during a high funds game. Aside from being countered by Fighters and other Stealths, there are also any number of reasons why a Bomb might slip through, be it clever walling, building too many to counter, or whatever. The important take-away from this, however, is that Bombs are no longer the end-all be-all of high funds. You can't make a constant stream of them if the majority are just going to get shot down and waste your money; which, while plentiful in high funds, is not unlimited.

So there you have it. High funds modes are officially playable again. Let the fun begin.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ideal Metagame Tier System for CWT

Once CWT comes out with a multiplayer release, I want to try out a tier system similar to what they've got going on Smogon in the Pokemon community. Some details have to be changed due to obvious differences between how the games work, but I have tried to preserve the spirit of how their tier system works. The examples I give here will use the AWDS build of CWT, since that is the game I am most familiar with in the AW series.

Usage Tiers

These tiers are determined by usage. They are organized every few months according to a CO/Tag's usage by a certain percentile of players in ranked free-play. The higher the tier, the more narrow the percentile sampled. The idea of using different percentiles for each tier is that high-ranked (and presumably skilled) players will have a better grasp on which COs and strategies are stronger; but also because if a high-ranked player experiments and consistently loses, their rank will take a nosedive and their experiment won't affect placement in that upper tier. There are still ways to skew that result, but said skewing will generally last for only a single placement period, after which the system will self-correct. Lastly, popularity in a higher percentile takes precedence over lower percentiles; i.e. if a CO/Tag would qualify for both the OU and UU tiers, it will be placed in OU because the stats of the top 20% of players takes precedence.

The purpose of these tiers is to set brackets for tournaments during a particular placement period.

Overused (OU)

This tier is determined by the top 20% ranked players. COs/Tags make it to OU if their usage by those players exceeds a certain percentage determined by the number of COs/Tags present in the game; so in AWDS, with just a little under 400 of these, that percentage would be about 3-5%. (Games with lower CO/Tag counts would undoubtedly have higher thresholds.) The OU bracket represents COs that have repeatedly proven to be a major cut above the rest during the previous placement period.

OU placement happens during the first judgement round. All COs/Tags ranked as OU are removed from the later judgement rounds.

Underused (UU)

This tier is determined by the top 40% ranked players. These COs and Tags are less common in competition due to hindering flaws cropping up in various maps, lack of usage, or just being out-classed. The percentage required to enter is the same as OU, because while the judgement pool is smaller, so is overall usage.

UU placement happens during the second judgement round. Factions that make it into UU are removed from later judgement rounds.

Rarelyused (RU)

This tier is determined by the top 60% ranked players. COs and Tags that are majorly flawed or just easily out-classed will tend to find their way here. They may also just be suited to a very particular niche when playing against higher tiers. Think Lash or Jake in AWDS. Like UU, the percentage required to enter is the same as OU, for the same reasons. In a smaller game, this tier might be removed altogether.

RU placement happens during the final judgement round, so no further removals are required.

Neverused (NU)

Exactly what it sounds like. There is no judgement round, as these are simply COs and Tags that didn't make the cut at all for the competitive tiers. These factions are almost never seen on the competitive field due to being limited, weak, unpopular, or some combination of the three. Anything deemed to be a game-breaker, but not utilized enough to ever get banned, is also likely to end up here.

Banning Tiers

Another set of tiers exists to organize COs and Tags that are obviously too powerful for their assigned tier, but aren't used enough to be placed higher. Like the usage tiers, banning tiers are determined from ranked free-play and used to structure tournaments and leagues. Bans are only applied to factions that have been used in at least 10 games over the course of a placement period. They are set after the judgement rounds end.

Total Ban (TB)

Uber factions land in this bracket when their winning streak against other Ubers is >60%. They cannot be used in any leagues, and in ranked games may only be fielded in free-play and anything-goes tournaments. TB factions can be placed here permanently by community vote, and be later removed by the same process.


This level is half ban-list, half tier unto itself. OU factions land here when their winning streak against other OUs is >60%. Because there is no proper tier above Uber, it has its own tournament and league. Uber factions can be placed here permanently by community vote, with the caveat that they can still be moved up to TB. They can later be removed by the same voting process.

Borderline (BL)

The first of 3 ban lists by this name, BL is for UU factions who have a >60% winning streak against other UUs. They are considered too strong for the UU metagame, but aren't used enough to qualify as OU. BL factions are banned from UU, but may be used in OU and Uber if desired.

Borderline 2 (BL2)

Same as BL, but for the RU tier. They are banned from RU, but may be used in UU, OU, and Uber if desired.

Borderline 3 (BL3)

Again, same as BL, but for the NU tier. They are banned from NU, but may be used in RU, UU, OU, and Uber if desired.

Why do this?

A system like this ensures that a tier list is automatically kept up to date according to actual gameplay, rather than allow community bias to creep in. It is not without its flaws, but in general this system is able to self-correct in the event of unusual trends or trolling cropping up.

If there's a gaping flaw in this system that I've missed, please let me know, because I want this system ready to go when CWT's online multiplayer launches.

Friday, March 20, 2015

[Suggestion] Expansion Mutation

Expansions feel really underpowered in the late game. In terms of mutagen production, they can't compete with hatcheries, and the larva bonus they provide takes ages to catch up with your mutagen larvae once you've invested a lot in upgrades. Territory mutation doesn't help that much: I have all un-capped mutations at 1.00e63 right now, and even with swarm warps, rushes, and clones, it'll be days before I have enough expansions to put a dent in my mutagen larvae production.

I don't think the answer is de-powering mutagen; personally, I dislike nerfing something unless it just outright breaks the game. Having an expansion mutation, capped or not, would easily solve this problem. As long as it's introduced with another update, such as generated meat unit tiers, I think it would be a perfectly fair and balanced addition to the game.

via reddit

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

[Suggestion] In-game notepad

This is a very small suggestion and more a matter of convenience than anything else. Basically, it would be handy to have an in-game notepad that a player can use to write down little reminders to themselves, like when to switch from rushing to cloning, or start investing in a new tier of meat units.

I realize you can already do that with your computer's own notepad program. Like I said, just thinking in terms of convenience.

via reddit

Friday, March 13, 2015

How to Use Reddit

Step 1: Get gold.

Step 2: No, seriously, get gold. It's amazing.

Step 3: Under preferences, check the box that says, "Don't show links after I dislike them."

Step 4: Find subs you like.

Step 5: Get good at recognizing links that aren't appropriate for that sub and/or belong in a different sub, and downvote those links.

Step 6: Upvote all other links.

Step 7: Never downvote something just because you disagree. Your goal is to prune for quality discussion topics, not create a circlejerk (unless that's the purpose of the sub).

Congratulations, you now know how to use Reddit properly. Now go make the internet a smarter place.