Agent Carter; renew it, dammit!

I’ve been watching this. It’s just finished its second season. I missed the first season, didn’t know it existed, shame on me.  We’re waiting to hear if it’ll be renewed for a third season, but it’s not looking good; ratings weren’t particularly high.

Non-renewal would be a bad thing, it’s great.

In the original Marvel comic, Agent Peggy Carter was a minor character, an American. In the show, she is a Brit who worked as a spy during the war and now in the second series, is investigating scientific skulduggery and conspiracies in 1940’s Los Angeles.

Peggy is sensible. She’s fuelled on tea.



She understands the importance of a warm, buttoned-up jacket and the danger of chills

Peggy in a sensible jacket, buttoned up to avoid chills

She wears a killer dressing robe. It’s silk.



And she’s damn handy with a gun. There’s no taking of nonsense here.

Peggy with a gun because sometimes shooting at people is unavoidable

As well as standing on its own, the show also gives us the roots of S.H.I.E.L.D, foreshadowing events in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D tv show, set 70 years later. I’m watching this too, and this has been renewed. It would be nice to see the relationship developed further.

Last year, we were told in early May, so it will probably be the same this time. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Uncoachables or when will my Prince come

So the Uncoachables aka Origen, have made Playoffs. Yay! It’s been a bumpy ride so far. They’ve lost against higher level teams but they’ve been beating the less good ones so they’ve done pretty well so far on the consistency front. It’s good to be consistent. I’m very proud.

They’ve been looking for a Coach all split as well. They’ve had quite a few since the team started. The Coach is a revolving door position in Origen. They like Coaches (because who wouldn’t like someone who helps you get where you want to go) but it’s just that they haven’t found the one that’s right for them yet, the one to fit their needs and help them sort themselves out and keep on track. And after all, we all know you’ve often got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince. We also know that every frog is someone’s Prince which is nice but not really relevant, unless of course Origen is the frog and it’s them being kissed and not turning into Princes at which point the analogy is, probably, being stretched beyond breaking point and I need to stop…


Origen Coaching session

Origen Coaching session


But anyway they’re grinding their way through trying to find form and as their most impassioned fan; I support them even more than Leyton Orient – I know all their names and where they are in the LCS and everything, I’m behind them all the way. Rar rar Origen!

(it’s actually easier supporting an LCS team than a football team because there’s less people involved to keep track of and only one League with fewer teams. Football is a nightmare)


The Death of TF2 community servers

I’ve been away from TF2 for about a year. Now I’ve come back and everything has changed. I knew WDG would have difficulties keeping itself going but I didn’t expect the disappearance of communities which I’d thought would be around for a long time yet. Communities which had seemed vibrant with servers full every evening.

On Saturday  The Grumpy Old Gits said goodbye when they held their final hurrah before taking their server down.

The Hampshire Heavies, always a go to community server, seems to be empty most of the time now. UKCS have almost halved their number of servers, I remember when theirs were almost always full even when others were empty. From their forum, they seem to be having trouble even filling these. The reddit server staggers on.

The decline of the Community Server really began with the introduction of modified Quickplay and the Valve server default setting steering players to approved servers. This solved the problem of the spam commercial server chains with their premium pay2cheat servers soaking up new players; there were so many of them that by their sheer quantity people would stumble onto them. Unfortunately putting the Quickplay server default to Valve servers only, meant that community servers found themselves deprived of Quickplay players too. This was later tweaked to be more accommodating but by that time, for many community servers, the damage had been done.

Other games have come along of course, League of Legends and Dota2 in particular, to draw players away. That’s natural. But we still haven’t seen a decent community game supporting dedicated servers that can be run by a gaming community/clan emerge, a game that communities can move on to, to keep themselves going. I also think new players don’t think in terms of joining gaming communities anymore. They’re not a thing in most games that are out, they’ve never been a thing in console gaming. TF2 is still a popular game but most players are happy with just casually jumping onto a Valve server and having a runaround.

Anyhow, I’ve half a mind to get the WDG server up and running on Fridays, always the most popular evening. I’ve mentioned it to a few of people who’d be up to dropping by.  I like the idea. I’ll be keeping it to Fridays unless someone else helps out so it’s not all me. I think there’s not a lot to beat an evening of fun and fragging on a server full of regulars and chilled people who’ve just dropped by (…and only the chilled because it’s our server so trolls and cheats are kicked so there!)


The State of the Nation or what’s happening on Berath’s Brain Burps

It’s been a while, again, since I last wrote anything here, mainly for reasons I’ve already mentioned here, so I reckoned with the start of a new year, Spring and all that, it was time for a relaunch. So, first, what’s been happening:

League of Legends

I’ve more or less stopped playing League. They keep patching it and shaking up the meta. Every time I think about going to get back into it, Riot change stuff so I decide to wait a bit until it’s all sorted out and settled. And then they patch it again. So I’ve decided it’s simpler not to start at all. Less to think about. Instead I’m still watching my LoL streams, letting other people do the work. I’m also watching LCS, another way of keeping up with League without putting any effort in myself.


Stream of Cyanide: you can see me in chat, I have a green sword, I'm a twitch chat moderator so I can ban people

Stream of streamer Cyanide. You can see me in twitch chat, I have a green sword, I’m a moderator so I can ban people. Twitch chat is notorious for being foul. Giving a Guardian reader a banhammer.


In LCS, Origen remain my team of choice. They reached the semi-finals in Worlds, partly by managing to avoid the Korean teams and benefiting from the Chinese League teams imploding, but put up a pretty good performance all the same. They were expected to stomp this Season since, among all the newly formed teams, they had had only had one roster change; xPeke moving to a substitute position replaced by UOL’s Power of Evil. However they’ve looked  somewhat messy and unco-ordinated so far and have dropped games. There were problems with internet access and practice at the start which didn’t help. I also wonder if sometimes it’s easier being a new team at the start, what with Riot’s constant meta changes. A new team can come in fresh, a team like Origen has to unlearn what they had down so well previously and almost automatically as a team (with xPeke here) before the relearning starts up again and they can readjust.


Origen. All six of them

Origen. All six of them

Who Dares Grins

Whilst I’ve been away, my little multi-gaming community I was one of the Clan Leaders of, has sort of died a death. The Sunday evening Llama gaming Nights stopped (well I was the organiser) and the TF2 sessions on Tuesday and Friday evening halted. The Mumble server is still used, posts are made on the forum and some people have formed a Steam group and have pub-stomping sessions but that’s about it. I’ll probably join the group and see what’s up. I’ve been thinking about trying to get the servers populated again, but it is a lot of work that’s largely down to me; the days of community-run servers running games sustaining gaming communities seem to be almost over. WDG are one of the last of these communities to go dark with many, most,  having gone down way before.


Lord of the Rings Online

Still dropping in, now and again. Feels a bit like coming home, it’s so familiar. The kinship is still about. I’m still an Officer. I could resign but it’s not really worth any potential bother as everyone’s currently dozing away as things are.


Team Fortress 2

I miss playing TF2. Played it a little recently. Going to play it more.


Bomb cart will not push self

Bomb cart will not push self

Fallout 4 and modding

I’ve been playing a lot of Fallout 4. I’ve also been exploring the modding scene. There’s comparatively little out there at the moment since Bethesda haven’t released their modding tool yet. So far a lot of the mods that are available don’t really cater for me; I’ve no urge to populate my post-nuclear wilderness with topless women possessing Barbie doll-like proportions. I took a look at Skyrim which has a more advanced modding scene and it was similar; a vast over-supply of mods for hetero males wanting something fruity in their games and scantily-dressed and probably cold lady followers. Well I could either hope that more modders widened their briefs or have a go and try to make the mods myself that I wanted to see. I decided to do that and also see if I could get involved in some modding groups setting up to develop additional game content and give input (trying to keep my Cthulhu obsession reigned in). I’m not sure how it’ll go but at the moment I’m trying to get to grips with the Skyrim modding tool which is very likely to be similar to the Fallout 4 one when it’s released.

There aren't so many like this

There aren’t so many like this in Skyrim

So that’s about it really. There are other things going on and other things will be going on but I’ll see. Whatever, I hope to be blogging more now about the above and more. Always good to write a bit of nonsense now and again!

League of Legends: Origen, ups and downs

Well we’re over halfway through the Summer Split in LCS now and it has been a bit of a bumpy journey for Origen supporters, though it could have been worse.

Origen are now hovering in the top 3 in the Standings alongside H2K and Fnatic. Fnatic are ruling pretty much unopposed and remain undefeated (and looking pretty near undefeatable). If I was in to just supporting winners, I’d have stuck with them, but no, I’ve gone with a team still finding it’s way and improving.

The first few weeks were very strong for Origen. I think they struck a bit lucky here, many of the teams they were facing were still sorting out their own roster changes and getting back into the competitive groove. However teams are now shifting into gear and many are starting to put out good performances and becoming serious challenges.

In fact yesterday, Origen lost to Unicorns of Love, a team they beat pretty convincingly the first time around; in a Split each team plays each other twice. UOL are a strong team, if inconsistent, but nevertheless, Origen has generally shown as a stronger team.

The game was agonising. Origen started off fairly well but then fell behind and seemed to fall apart. One thing Origen are not so good at, is playing from behind. What was interesting though, was how the differences in team composition worked out.

At the start of a game (pick and ban phase), the two teams pick champions. Each team can ban three champions. Each champion has different skills which can either compliment or oppose. A team chooses a composition of champions to work, in-game, in a specific way, for instance to skirmish or to take objectives. The trick is, to play your planned strategy and composition, without revealing it to the opposition to counter who in turn are trying to get their planned composition. At the same time, each team chooses bans to either rule out overpowered champions or champions they don’t want to face, or to wreck a perceived strategy.

In last night’s game, Origen seemed to make a serious error during this stage. The strongest AD Carries were banned; so was one of the stronger junglers (junglers move about the map helping their team to get ahead). UOL had first pick and picked the best jungler. Origen went on to pick one of the best supports, Alistar (rather all-in but still good) and then they made their first mistake; they picked Jayce for xPeke, signifying a poke composition. Nothing wrong with that BUT it immediately revealed to UOL with four picks to go, exactly what Origen were planning to run. Indeed, UOL, for their next two picks choose Corki, probably the third best ADC and then, boom boom, Braum as support. Now why Braum as support? Well Braum has a skill where he can bring up a shield to block skill shots to protect his team. And what does Jayce do? Well he fires skill shots. Therefore Braum is the perfect counter. Oh dear. And that is how the game worked out in what was probably one of the most frustrating games xPeke has played for a while, countered at every turn. It also didn’t help that the ADC Origen chose, Vayne, is shorter ranged so couldn’t provide additional poke.

Both teams made strategic errors around the map during the game, but the abiding image I have is of Origen valiantly trying to defend their base; xPeke poking with every shot blocked by Braum, Vayne trying to get in close and failing, Alistair  trying to get in close and failing; everyone trying to get in close and failing. Oh yes, and all the while UOL had their own poke champ, Varus, poking from afar, unimpeded. GG.

Elements and the Quest for the Philospher’s Stone: Part 2

3 months ago, here, I wrote about Elements in League of Legends, and their struggle to find a new roster during the Spring Split. I said I hoped there wouldn’t be any more roster changes and that the new roster would be allowed to settle and find it’s feet.


It’s now 5 weeks into the Summer Split and Elements have been scooped up, shaken about and then re-assembled with a whole load of new pieces like some dodgy Lego kit. Gone are Shook (jungle), Wickd (top), Krepo (support) and Rekkles (ADC) to be replaced by Dexter, Jwaow, PromisQ and Tabzz respectively. The only constant is Froggen (mid-laner and Team Captain). To be fair Krepo retired; he has moved into casting LCS and is now employed by Riot. Rekkles also wanted to leave. He has returned to his original team, Fnatic, following a rather odd theme of the pre-Summer Split; a kind of ‘Return of the Prodgical ADC’. We’ve had Rekkles going back to Fnatic, Tabzz was the previous ADC for Elements and, a third team SK Gaming, saw the return of their old ADC, CandyPanda.

The big question of course,is, has it worked? Has the Elements organisation found the Philospher’s Stone to coalesce this new set of elements into pro-gold? So far, I’m afraid, the answer is ‘no’. Elements are currently 2 – 6. According to rumours, they may be looking at a roster change.

(At the time of writing, apparently, Elements haven’t spent more than 4 playing weeks with the same roster since becoming Elements at the start of last Split)

Rescued from Daytime Television; watching streams

I haven’t been writing much lately and for once it’s not because I just haven’t got round to it.

Back in February I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I went into hospital for surgery at the end of March, was in for about a week and then discharged with not a lot of use in my left arm whilst my various bits and bobs healed up. This meant gaming wasn’t really an option for a few weeks.

Further tests were required to make sure all the cancer had been removed; MRI scans, bone scans that sort of thing, which were all a bit scary and, which in turn, didn’t put me in a mood conducive to gaming or writing whilst I was waiting for results.

During this time, I had films and videos to watch and books to read of course. However a lot of the time I just wanted something to watch mindlessly to pass away the time. I had daytime television of course but I didn’t want to completely melt my mind and turn my brain to pulp watching an endless progression of  ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show USA’; ‘Saints and Scroungers’; ‘Helicopter Heroes Down Under’ and the like.

I found watching Twitch streams; watching gamers online play video games, satisfied my requirements. They were undemanding, I’ve always enjoyed watching people play games anyway, it was just what I needed. I could watch the games and listen to the players talk and nothing more was asked of me.


(by the way all the results are back now and I’m in the clear, so it’s on with the treatment plan to stop it coming back now, most likely chemotherapy plus other stuff)

Searching for fandom in E-sports

I went to a Sci-Fi convention a few weeks ago. One of the good ones, run by fans themselves and not taken over by corporate interests, Redemption if anyone wants to know. Anyhow, one of the Panels being run caught my interest ‘Where does Fandom live?’ I wasn’t 100% sure what it was about, and when I turned up, neither did the rest of the audience. The panelists weren’t too certain either and couldn’t remember suggesting anything; many of the ideas for the Panels run at these conventions originate under the influence various forms of intoxication so this wasn’t unusual.

After some discussion about what we should discuss, the Chair remarked that she had been a great fan of fanfiction and loved indepth debate and fan theorizing over various television programmes. Her old hang out was Live Journal, however recently Live Journal seemed to have died out and she just couldn’t track down where the associated fandom had disappeared to for the new shows that were appearing.

We talked about this and really couldn’t come up with any clear answer. Facebook was mentioned, so was reddit and tumblr; tumblr in fact emerged as the strongest contender for a replacement. However, nothing seemed to satisfy. Maddy remembered long debates on LJ and a strong sense of community, reddit was too large and generally unfriendly, tumblr was very visual but it was extremely difficult to carry out any form of detailed group discussion. I advocated for the forum, and although they could fulfil many of Maddy’s demands, these days with the many alternatives, forums are hard to grow and maintain.

So, the final conclusion of the Panel was that fandom still exists but it’s now scattered and more likely to be found in small disparate groups. There isn’t the community and there isn’t the depth of discussion. Harsh.

Seeking fandom

And what have I found so far in e-sports? I’ve found reddit, I’ve found Twitter, I’ve found Twitch chat. The closest thing to an actual community where faces become familiar is Twitch chat linked to a stream, surprising since Twitch chat is notoriously racist, sexist, homophobic, juvenile and shallow. Twitch chat is all of that. However there are means within the medium, through which groups can form and cling together despite the hostility of the general environment. There are mods who moderate the channel chat and can set the general tone. Subscribers pay a monthly fee to subscribe to the channel and they are identified by a subscribers icon. Since it tends to be regulars who both subscribe and visit the chat, people start to identify and recognise one another and in this way a group forms. People then arrange to game together outside of chat and may start to meet and communicate independently in skype or using Twitter. In many ways the chat operates  similarly to a community server for a pc game, like TF2 for instance with it’s admins and regulars, but instead of playing themselves, everyone is watching someone else (the Streamer) play.

However, for me, the final clincher for an ideal fan community is still missing and that is proper discussion. All the best community servers for a game are linked to a community forum and discussion can take place there; on-server (and Twitch) chat tends to be more conversational. As an average fan, I’ve found no equivalent where I can endlessly discuss composition, builds and strategy of my favourite teams. There are obviously places where this occurs of course, but in this New World of Fandom, they’re hidden away; difficult to find without an in to the group or friendship circle.

Anyway, I have managed to make some links, a tip of the hat here to Cyanide’s posse from his Twitch chat, but it has seemed so random. But for small matters of chance via the Stream I might never have come across them.

Elements and the Quest for the Philospher’s Stone

Oh well. The end of another week of LCS and a couple more painful losses for Elements. It’s hard to believe that the Super Team from last season is now sitting uncomfortably in the lower half of the League Standings.

Of course everyone and his dog has a theory about why it has all gone so wrong for Elements along with a plethora of solutions, some half-baked, some less so. Certainly the game of roster musical chairs they’ve had recently can’t have helped; bench Wickd, bring in Kevin, bench Nyph, bring in Krepo, bench Kevin, bring back Wickd and expecting Krepo to shotcall and turn the team around in a week when he has never really shotcalled before, was, let’s face it, a bit of an ask. I don’t know how the support staff around the team are fairing either. Nyph has now moved to Head Coach.

Whatever, I think it can be assumed that there is a lot of soul searching going on in the Elements camp at the moment. I hope there won’t be any more roster changes, to be honest I think they’ve run out of possibilities anyway. So, this near the end of the Split, it’s time to hunker down and work it through with the components they have and maybe they’ll find the Philospher’s Stone by the end of it and create pro-gold.




(Philospher’s stone: the Philospher’s Stone is a legendary substance or coaching technique allegedly capable of turning bronze League players into Challenger or even Pro players. It can only be imagined what effect  it might have on LCS teams)

Origen: Following teams, Marilyn Monroe and saxophone players

I said that I’d never follow another team. I said that I’d never be drawn back onto that particular rollercoaster.

I rejoiced as I escaped the clutches of Fnatic, ready to coast through the LCS Spring Split, my emotions untroubled and my heartbeat steady.

But I’ve done it again.

Origen. I’m sort of into them now. Yes, xPeke of ex-Fnatic, his team. And it’s the same. Saxophone players.

You said it Marilyn (sort of).

You’re drawn to a team by their flashy roster, exciting plays and Poppy picks and their potential. You just can’t stop yourself, you think they’re going to be the biggest thing and you come to them. You might try and kid yourself that this time it’ll be different; it’s an organisation, not a team, you’re not going to feel the same about them as you did about the last one. Then before you know it, they’re on loosing streaks, dropping players and facing relegation, and you find yourself taken with them through the whole agonising ride.

Yes, you can stick with them and then it just goes on until it all disintegrates. Or you leave and move onto the next team and then ‘it’s the same thing all over again’.

Word Marilyn.