Category Archives: gaming

Destination Gamer: our new BFFs

Running a gaming community is not the easiest of things these days. Neither is keeping a gaming forum going with all the many alternatives such as Facebook, blogs, twitter etc, not to mention things like reddit.

So, it seems reasonable that a fair solution is to for smaller gaming communities in particular to band together and share resources.

Destination Gamer contacted me a while ago to suggest just such an affiliation. They’re another small gaming community, UK based, but unlike WDG which is pc-focussed, DG comprises mainly console gamers. However, they do have some pc gamers who are currently under-served, just as WDG have some console gamers who we don’t really cater for. All very complementary. The fact that we both have such similar initials also begged for a working partnership.

We’re now doing some cross-promoting of events. I don’t think it’s something that will explode into life straight-off, but it allows both communities to offer a little extra and often this sort of thing only bears fruit further down the line.

League of Legends; learning more, building and support

So far most of my games have been against bots.

Now it was time to try real players. I decided to carry on playing Dominion mode since it seemed easier so far. In my first game, I used my trusty Goin’ Around tactic with Alistar and went around, and around and around, back a bit, across a couple of times, then back to going around. And it worked a treat. We won.

Then a clanmate decided to haul me into a couple of games on Summoner’s Rift, I’d only played this twice against real people, with one victory. To my surprise we won both games. I played Alistar, mostly bumbling around in the bottom lane.

I learnt a bit more, when I played another couple of games, this time against Intermediate bots, with more Clan. By this time I’d finally worked out how to build one item from another. I’d been too generally bewildered before to think about it. So, if, say, you bought a ruby crystal giving you 180 health for 475 gold (your starting amount), you could later upgrade it to a Heart of Gold; 250 health plus an extra 5 gold every 10 seconds. However, the cost of the ruby crystal counts towards the cost of the Heart of Gold.  When you buy it, your crystal disappears from your inventory. Overall, this means you can build up to more expensive and powerful items, but still benefit from less powerful ones in the meantime.

I’d been using Doran’s ring and Doran’s shield and hadn’t understood why people on forums seemed to be sniffy about them, they’d seemed good items. Well, I was told, it was because you can’t build from them. You can only sell them outright, and at a loss.

I played Alistar as a support, so I learnt about that. As a support, he protected his carry allowing them to farm by last-hitting minions (the player that delivers the killing blow gets extra gold) and getting the kills on champs. Carries need the gold to buy items that allow them to give maximum damage (they are the squishier dps deliverers). Once Alistar had Heart of Gold, I found he could buy what he needed anyway. My final score was 0/4/17 (kills/deaths/assists), alright or not; no idea! I really wasn’t sure if I was doing anything useful.

I also found out about Dragon and Baron which I’d seen mentioned. I’d hoped that they magically appeared at random from the sky but they don’t. They’re just a couple of the neutral mobs on the map that are harder to kill but give extra gold. And I learnt about using wards which reveal hidden enemies; useful against ganking.

But while all this learning and serious business was going on, of course Berath’s Brain Burps had to bring a certain amount of confusion and foolishness to the table. Spells and skills are mapped to various keys on the keyboard. There is a spell Recall, that automatically transports you back to the start of the map after a time delay, seen on a progress bar. This is mapped to ‘b’, as I discovered. The team communicated using Mumble. My push-to-talk key is was ‘b’. Everytime I tried to say something I started to teleport back to the base. As a result I. could. only. talk. in. very. short. bursts. At first the others though it was lag or my mic cutting out and were concerned. Eventually they understood.

NBI: How to get lots and lots of hits on your blog

Now, so far in the New Blogger Initiative, the focus of many advisory posts, including mine, has been on not blogging for numbers, instead looking at good writing and slowly building up dedicated audiences. However, there may be many new gaming bloggers who just want hits. Not  fame, not longevity, just hits, a ‘forget the quality; feel the width’ approach to blogging. This is fair enough and Berath’s Brain Burps is happy to help them too.

So, I have analysed the top search terms and listed the ones that have most frequently brought people to Berath’s Brain Burps, over the past year.

Right, the most popular topic searched for and the most popular search term is:

League of Legends.

Yes, searches for this term and the variants of, have brought many people here. How long they’ve stayed, how disappointed they were when they arrived, whether or not any came back; all irrelevant. It’s the numbers that count.

The next most popular search term was:

tf2 pyro

The Pyro in Team Fortress 2 was the subject and the classs of maximum interest for searchees (the soldier a distant second). Unfortunately, the majority of my class posts are about the Demoman and the Engineer. I’ve obviously missed a trick here.

Then we have

tf2 (a.n. other class i.e.not pyro)

Team fortress 2 is generally popular. I noticed an immediate increase in hits after my first TF2 post, initially I focussed on Lord of the Rings Online.

After that

poems about laptops/poem about laptop/laptop poem/ode to laptop and other variants

feature prominently amongst search terms; I once wrote an ode to my laptop when it was very new and very shiny and I was very excited. As a search subject, this was a surprise and perhaps something the hits maximiser can use. Poems about computers seem to be very popular and much sought after.

And finally among the more significantly popular terms we have

dice boot

I’m very pleased by this, and actually not surprised here. Dice boots are among the unsung heroes of tabletop gaming. Mine  is a marvel (it’s so handy).

So, the conclusion. The hits maximiser could write a post combining all the above, and they will get hits. Perhaps a poem about their laptop upon which they play League of Legends, whilst taking a break from playing Team Fortress 2 as a Pyro, all the while gazing upon the dice boot they have on the table beside them. Excellent. Quality unimportant.

There will, of course, be other search terms that would bring in even more hits, but I’ll leave the hits maximiser to find those out for themselves and work them in to their gaming blogs!

Oh yes and finally pictures..pictures get hits. These have been the most popular.

Coming up as image searches for excited funny animals and Snow White (associated posts included).

So, hits maximisers, just stick something similar, at random, towards the end of your post. Like this.

New Blogger Initiative: Sage words from Berath’s Brain Burps

As part of the New Blogger Initiative, each sponsor blog has been asked to write at least one post giving advice to new bloggers.  Unfortunately I’m led to understand this also includes Berath’s Brain Burps. A flaw in the Initiative I think.

But anyway, here goes. I suppose, one of the first things for anyone to consider, is why blog at all. Well for starters, don’t blog for:

  • fame
  • fortune
  • favours

‘cos it ain’t going to happen in 99% of cases; though there may be that 1% where a lucky gaming blogger has stumbled upon a sponsorship with Mr Kiplings cakes or Millies Cookies. Pause, think on that, then dismiss it.

I blog for entertainment. I enjoy writing. I enjoy gaming. When I was younger I kept a diary. Never expected anyone else to read that, I don’t expect that people to read this. Knowing that people do and that they enjoy Berath’s Brain Burps is nice and adds to things, but it’s not my main drive.

It’s noticeable that this blog seems to be one of the only blogs in the Initiative that doesn’t mainly focus on MMOs, I’m likin’ the shooters and lovin’ TF2, though there are a handful of new blogs which look at other gaming genres, one looking at League of Legends (Scattered Thoughts) and another at Starcraft II (Adamant Nomad) and I’ve found a TF2 blog just starting out (TFScribbles). Certainly, considering how many people play shooters, there don’t seem to many who blog about them, at least on a more personal level, especially compared to MMOs.

I’m not sure why there’s this lack. Is it because people  who focus on MMOs tend to be more reflective and articulate whilst fps players just care about shooting the mans and can barely string two words together that don’t comprise an insult?  There was a thread on the Super Monday Night Combat forum where someone concluded that shooter communities were generally dim-witted and loud, TF2 was specifically mentioned. They also spoke about MOBA communities saying they were generally fairly smart (but also extremely volatile), though I ‘d like to add here that Super Monday Night Combat, which I’m playing as well, has been classed as a cross between a MOBA game and an fps. Conclude what you like there.

But anyway, what am I trying to say? Well, even though the genre does not seem to be that popular amongst the personal gaming blogs in my community, since first person shooter-type games are the games that at the moment I love playing most, they’re the games I write about. And it’s that, that keeps me going. So, new bloggers, find your game/genre/platform of choice, find your raison d’etre that must be yours and based on no-one else, because it needs to keep you writing when your hit rates are barely a couple a week  and not even search engines seem to be able to find you. Because if you don’t love what you’re writing, you won’t.

(There, I think that was alright. I’ll just get my MMO-playing friend to check,  she looks over every post, capitalising the ‘i’s, she says, putting in the full stops and commas and removing the profanities; they just slip in….she’ll do right by it)

L2Blog noob – The Newbie Blogger Initiative Welcomes You All!!!!

Berath’s Brain Burps is giddy even giddier than usual at the moment.  It’s with excitement. A while back Berath’s Brain Burps was approached by one of the esteemed Readership with a proposition.

Syp of Bio Break and Massively had decided that it would be a really good idea to start a month of events to encourage new bloggers to enter the world of blogging. As part of this he was contacting a whole collection of gaming blogs, including Berath’s Brain Burps, to ask them to participate and share blogging tips, thoughts and experiences.

So, during the month of May, across the Internet, the Readership will find itself encountering countless gaming blogs all busy sharing and Berath’s Brain Burps will be one of them! It’ll be great. Syp has said over 70 blogs are involved and I’ll be posting a master list of participating blogs as soon as it becomes available (now available: see end of post)

A forum has also been set up here where new bloggers can register, ask questions and hopefully get answers from the sponsor blogs. There will also be articles and discussions. As part of the initiative, each participating sponsoring blog has agreed to write at least one post about blogging. At the end of the month all these will be collected together and the links published and of course everything will be going up on the forum, straight off.

Anyway, if any of the Readership has ever considered blogging or even just wanted to know more about it, now is good times. Should I focus on one game, how often should I publish, do I have to be up-to- date/highly erudite/incisive (take a look at Berath’s Brain Burps and guess), will I get rich and be able live the rest of my days on walnut cake….you don’t know? Well then, go, register, ask away, discuss and write!

Little bit extra: Many of the blogs, old and new, focus on mmos. This is just how it is. No reason. Gaming blogs can be about any sort of gaming, on any platform. After all this blog has moved from a gaming/mainly LoTRO blog to a gaming/lots of Team Fortress 2 blog with a bit of MOBA gaming thrown in (still love my LoTRO though).

NBI Sponsor Blogs: Games and Geekery, The Wild Boar Inn, MMO Fallout, Tastes Like Battle Chicken, Grimnir’s Grudge, Roll One Hundred, Dragonchasers, Ardwulf’s Lair, Inventory Full, Jaded Alt, Ark’s Ark, Tremayne’s Law, Blog de la Burro, Just One MMOre, DocHoliday’s MMO Saloon, High Latency Life, MMO Gamer Chick, Skycandy, Nomnom.info, Hunter’s Insight, Life is a Mind Bending Puzzle, Berath’s Brain Burps, Epic Slant, Bullet Points, Professor Beej, Journeys with Jaye, Screaming Monkeys, Welcome to Spinksville, Vicarious Existence, Casual is as Casual Does, Star Shadow, I Have Touched The Sky, The Ancient Gaming Noob, Just One More Unlock, A Ding World, Yeebo Fernbottom’s MMO Love In, Stropp’s World, Kill Ten Rats, The Jedi Gambit, Beau Hindman, Blue Kae, Gankalicious, Live Like a Nerd, Casual Stroll to Mordor, Tish Tosh Tesh, Casting a Shaddoe, A Green Mushroom, ALT:ernative, Parallel Context, ETCmmo, Avatars of Steel, Tales of the Aggronaut, West Karana, Contains Moderate Peril, The Stories of O, Levelcapped, LOTRO Fashion, Mr. Meh’s Supplication, Malchome’s Mind/Restokin, Nerdy Bookahs, T.R. Red Skies,

Post-squash: Lazytown and a game of Hide and Seek

After our game against Pielander (see below), a bit of rest and relaxation was required. So a group of us set off for Lazytown, basically to kill as many of the mans as we could. And we did this and it felt good.

Then we decided to play Prop Hunt. Very basically, Prop Hunt is TF2 Hide and Seek, a TF2 mod. From the TF2 Wiki, players on the RED team, disguised as “props”, are given a 30 second set up time to run and hide on a map, and afterwards players on the BLUteam attempt to find and kill them in the allotted time period. At the end of each round the teams are swapped; the “Hunters” (BLU) become the “Hunted” (RED) and vice versa. Respawns are not permitted until the end of each round. Firing a weapon or swinging a melee weapon will cause the Hunters to slightly damage themselves. This prevents Hunters from going around simply shooting at everything, though health and ammo packs are available. Most people play Pyros which is the default class.

At various times I was a haystack, a green hard hat and a large square of concrete….very difficult to hide as this one.

It was highly entertaining.

To give the Readership an idea of the joy of Prop Hunt, a video follows.

Grandma Berath packin’ the heat in Saints Row 3

In between shooting the Mans on-line, I’ve been playing Saints Row 3; shooting the Mans off-line. Saints Row 3 is an open world game, set in the crime-ridden, violent city of Steelport. You’re the leader of a gang, The 3rd Street Saints; your goal, to defeat your rival gangs and to build your fortune and reputation.

I’m playing Grandma Berath, the meanest, most badass, pistol packing, late-middle aged mamma in town (the character creation screen is perhaps one of the most flexible outside the Sims). So far she’s flung herself out of planes, helicopters and cars, taking out gang hideouts and gunning down rivals. She now has her homies and her crib; bizarrely with a scattering of rather plump scantily clad, apparent ‘ladies of the night’. There are rather a lot of scantily clad ladies in Steelport, generally, but I also spotted a male gimp. Steelport ain’t a town of angels.

And as Grandma Berath strutts her stuff through her hood the passers-by mutter

‘Sl*t’

‘What does she think she looks like’ and, with a judgemental sneer to their tone

‘I suppose some men go for women looking like that’  (short grey hair and purple polo-neck jumpers; well maybe they do but is that really so wrong?)

A bit odd really. Maybe it just goes to show what a morally topsy-turvey mishmash of a town Steelport is.

But whatever, the game has gone smoothly so far. I’ve played one mission where you need to clear a hideout, but I kept failing it because I left the area too soon, the game didn’t seem to indicate clearly when you did. But so far that’s been the only serious annoyance, and then not really, much.

The missions are supposed to get more surreal and stranger as the game goes on, in the meantime there is a lot for Grandma Berath to do in her takeover bid. There are lots of side-missions, she has a smart phone to keep track (this works well) . Steelport is her oyster.

Seeding a Server

Filling up your server; one of the biggest issues with Servers running on-line, multiplayer fps games.  When I  played just MMORPGs, it wasn’t something I thought of. I was in my kinship, and alright there had to be a certain number of players to run an instance or a Raid, but apart from that, you could happily play/quest on your own or just with a couple of people. A small kinship could happily function by itself.

It’s not quite the same with an online multiplayer fps. For starters, games often only take off once a critical number of people have joined. Before that number is reached, players are basically hanging around, entertaining themselves. But they need to stay as just by being there, they increase the likelihood of others joining to make up that critical mass.

So, for a clan or community server, you need that core of players who are willing to do that.

TF2 has something called Quickplay, BF3 has something similar. I’ve written about Quickplay before, but essentially it’s the insta-join facility that you can use as a new player when you start up the game, directing you to Valve-approved servers where you can start playing. The WDG server has now been running the Valve-approved configuration for a few weeks now. Previous to this, we were finding that the server wasn’t filling. People would join briefly, see the server was more-or-less empty and leave, understandable, they wanted to play a good game of TF2 straight off, they didn’t have time to wait. Now we are getting players through. It still needs that core, but maybe after a couple of maps, people start to feed in, though the rate does vary, and the server fills, and stays full. We’ve checked the server status and currently it rates at

Standing: Good

Trending: Upward Fast.

Basically this means, that new people are joining and staying. Apparently, when anyone joins, the server score is deducted 15 points, then for every minute they stay, the score gets incremented by 1 up to a maximum of 1 hour. The whole system intends to weight itself towards busy, well-run community servers to try and ensure that new players experience the best of TF2. So from that alone, our Server should do well. We have our seeding core of Clan and community players and, as well as new players, when the server is full, we have our more experienced regulars dropping in and out to give them a proper flavour of the game. And we’re seeing regulars who haven’t played for a while, stopping by for a couple of maps, easier now the server is staying full which is a great outcome.

A TF2 Grand Finale and a LoTRO Christmas Party.

Had a fully fun packed evening yesterday.

It started with my kinship’s online Yule Party. We have one every year (obviously). To mitigate our geeky sadness, we actually have a real life one too, or at least those local to London. We meet in a pub in for an afternoon drinking session; this year, finishing off in a local Indian restaurant. Pleasant.

Anyhow, to allow the spreading of Yuletide cheer amongst all the kinship, we have our online party, hosted by the Officers in our kinhouse; the Stoop in the hobbit homestead in the Shire. This year one of the kin would be performing a poem, a quiz was planned then two raffles with fireworks afterwards. And, as is traditional we,the Officers, would be wearing identical and ridiculous outfits, this year a white cloak, an unflattering green trouser suit effort and a rather peculiar red and white checked tassled hat (Turbine cannot design hats).

Hats.

This conveniently and coincidentally leads me to the other part of my evening, TF2. Originally the evening had been free and I’d been looking forward to an evening of just LoTRO frolics.

But no, Thursday evening turned out to be the date of the Season 10 ETF2L Grand Finale between Infused.Tt and Epsilon eSports. The readership may recall, assuming they’ve been reading that long and that their memories have held out sufficiently, that these were the same two teams that met in the final at i43 in August. This is because there are only two teams that play TF2 in the Premiere Division. No. I lie. I am funny. Really there are eight(ish), counting drops. It just turned out that, again, these were the teams that made it through.

Anyhow, this was happening, and it was a fair bet that with these teams and at this level, there’d be some excellent play plus the game Casters were known to be good. So, both laptops came out. The VanillaTV Stream went on one plus the chat channel, on the other I booted up LoTRO and partied.

And the party was good; and as for TF2, three maps were played. On the first, cp_Badlands, it initially looked as if Infused were heading for a steamrolling, but they managed to pull themselves back in a fantastic comeback (simultaneous to the Stream crashing and the screen going black for everyone) and eventually won 4-3 with a Golden Cap. Game-on. Epsilon took the next map, cp_snakewater 0-5, so it was on to the third, cp_gullywash. Again this was tightly fought,…until, until, until during the dying moments of the last match, Epsilon brought on two Heavies, or so I’m told. My Internet chose this moment to disconnect. When I returned, the TF2 world was in turmoil. Only one Heavy is allowed in comp play. So was it cheating? Was it all part of a desperate plot (not sure by whom)? Did Heavy no.2 have chance move or shoot; if he didn’t he sort of didn’t count. How much damage did Heavy no.1 do/take; if it was the same as a scout, well he sort of was one then. It was obvious the League admins couldn’t make an immediate decision, tapes would have to be scrutinised and either the final result upheld or an additional Golden Cap played.

Edit: at time of posting, it looks like the result has been upheld and Epsilon are the winners. Whatever, there was good play from both sides and either team would have been a worthy winner.

The Drunken Scotsman: trying to main Demoman

In Team Fortress 2, it looks like I’m maining Demoman (in as much as anyone mains anything in TF2). It’s the class I enjoy most. And I have got better. I’ve now got to the stage where if  I find myself on a server of predominantly f2p players with probably about 20 or so total TF2 hours play between them I can do reasonably well. In other words I have now effectively become good enough to be able to take candy from a baby. Result.

I’ve been practicing my aim on tr_walkway (a training map) and sticky jumping (this is where you explode one of your sticky bombs at your feet and use the explosive impetus to move forward/upwards). My sticky jumping is still random and I’m not very confident doing it. I don’t feel 100% in control, haven’t got the technique quite.

I’ve also carried on trying to develop mindset, as I’ve written earlier. I’ve read various tips and watched videos, and I found one of the most useful ones on a thread on the Steam TF2 forum. Here someone who felt they had plateaued in their development was asking for help. Someone replied with

1)     Every time you die spend your respawn time thinking about why you died and what mistakes you made

2)     Make note of your class weaknesses and play with those in mind, try to say with players who can help you compensate. A Demoman is weakest in close combat. Therefore it makes sense to stay close to classes who are better here. I sometimes now focus on making myself hold myself back, in line with a Pyro or a Soldier (who can also protect against scouts). In return as Pyro I keep an eye out for my Demomen allies.

Dead....again

3)     Think, think, think about what is going on, where you are and what everyone else is doing, don’t be rushed, don’t rush in. I suppose this counts as developing gamesense. As Demoman, this means I’ve been looking for choke points, trying to spot where opponents might come from, thinking about tricky sticky trap placement. And sticky placement to help the team as well, to protect the medic, to protect the advancing frontline (grenades help here too) and to defend it.

All this can be seen as pretty basic, but it’s the kind of stuff that can suddenly ‘click’  and make you go, ‘Oh yeah, duh.’ Things that you pick up in bits while you’re playing but don’t quite put together as a proper game plan and focus on.

I know that I’m still a fairly conservative and defensive player, I can’t dodge for toffee, my aim is dire and I die too much. I spend most of my time cheerfully at the bottom of the points table on my regular servers. But it’s all a start and it keeps me busy.

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