The reason behind League of Legend’s popularity?

League of Legends, a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game, was published by Riot Games on October 27, 2009. Since it’s release, it has met unrivaled popularity that has grown exponentially since its first release. In 2012, according to a Forbes article, League of Legends became the most played PC game on Europe and on North America. Few years after, on 2014, more than 67 million people played LoL(League of Legends) per month and  over 7.5 million concurrently during the peak hours all over the world. Without a doubt, LoL has become the world’s most popular game in a matter of couple years.

How did LoL achieve this feat? How was it able to surpass the pre-existing games as a new comer into the scene? The answer lies within its design.

First of all, the main selling point of LoL is that it is a free-to-play game. Unlike its competitors at the time (Starcraft, Warcraft, World of Warcraft, Counter Strike, and etc.), LoL offered complete, free access to all its contents. With this, they were able to attract a large number of players who were looking for games to play. Unlike its pay-to-play counterparts, LoL provided unlimited amount of game play for everyone, making it easier for ordinary casual gamers to try the game out. Also, unlike some of the other games, LoL did not provide any in-game bonuses for the people who paid money to buy RP (Riot Points). By advertising itself as a game that only requires skill to play, LoL was open to everyone.

Second, its simple yet sophisticated game play also played a huge role in attracting new players. Starting out as a spin-off from a game named Dota (a mod game off of WarCraft 3 that started the MOBA genre), LoL shared many of the same characteristics with its parental part. LoL, like Warcraft 3’s Dota mod, offered relatively easy controls, only requiring your mouse and the usage of couple of keyboard keys. Because the controls were so easy, new players were able to easily pick up the mechanics of the game, allowing LoL to be widely accepted by the public audience. However, despite having a low skill floor, LoL still contained a high skill ceiling, meaning that players who had more experience playing the game could make fancier players (or outplay) than what their opponents could make. This aspect of the game play helped Riot Games to maintain the old player base by providing more room for old players to have an advantage over the new players through their sheer skill.

Last, but not least, Riot’s continuous attempt on having communication with its customers allowed them to maintain a stable, rising player base. By focusing on the players’ experience, Riot was able to accustom itself into making changes to their game depending on their customers’ wants and complaints. If one aspect of the game seemed unbalanced, making the game “unfair,” they sought to balance the game by “nerfing” the said aspect of the game in order to maintain high customer satisfaction. They also provided their customers with new contents often, allowing the players to maintain their interest in the game. With this, Riot was able to keep a stable, yet rising player base.

Although Riot Games was not a pioneer in the industry, because of their focus on customer satisfaction, they were able to create the most popular game in the world. There are also more reason why LoL is so popular (Riot establishing the LCS [ a pro scene]), the World Championship, etc); however, without these fundamentals, they would not have been able to achieve this type of feat.

The video above shows the movement of 10,000 different players in 10,000 games

– Jo Kim

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Shadow of the Colossus Review

By Jo Kim

 

When I first heard that Shadow of the Colossus, a game that I enjoyed playing during the PS2 era, was getting a HD makeover, I was excited. On 2011, the game came out for the PS3. Not owning a Playstation 3 for my own, I had to go over to my friends to play the game occasionally. To say it bluntly, this game is one of the most memorable games I’ve ever played on a console.

 

 

First of all, for an action game, the controls give a slightly heavy feel for the players, meaning it isn’t your everyday upbeat action games. In another view, it also means that it is also a quite cumbersome game, as you have to find out the weakness of the colossus in order to defeat them. In a way, it’s even like solving a puzzle. The giant colossus (who are more than 100 times your size) fill the entire screen, and the player can feel the intensity  of the scenes. When you are hunting these colossus one by one, the immersion the player feels is out of this world.

In addition to the action packed boss fights (which are the only type of fights available in the game), the design of these colossus also play a large role in the players’ immersion experience. Starting from a flying eel-like colossus to a scorpion-like colossus that burrows under the arid desert, the colossus come in varying types and sizes. Each of these colossus looks so real and large that the players sometimes feel intimidated by them. Below is an example of what boss fights are like in the game (Note that this is only the 3rd boss out of the 14, meaning that it’s on the easier side).

 

In addition to its ingenious game play, the game also offers one of the best narratives in the industry. Unlike other games where the players have to deal with pointless side quests that seem to be non-related to the story whatsoever, Shadow of the Colossus only focuses on the boss fights. There are no side mobs, NPCs, nor quests. The game offers a straightforward experience to the players who just wants the story to get going.

Overall, I recommend this game to anyone that likes a good action and to those who love a great narrative within a game. The makers of Shadow of the Colossus, being the pioneers of the gaming industry with their iconic game, ICO, masterfully crafts a realm that the players can’t help but to fall in love with.

To the Moon: Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background:

To the Moon is a RPG (Role-Playing Game) produced by the indie company, Freebird Games. It is both their fourth product and their first commercial product. This game was developed using the RPG Maker XP Engine.

Game play:

Just like most other games created with the RPG Maker XP Engine, To the Moon incorporates the top-down view in the game. The controls are very simple as well, only requiring the arrow keys and the z/x button. Unlike most other games, the game play in To the Moon mainly focuses on exploring a character’s memories to collect his important memory pieces. This does not involve fighting enemies nor solving puzzles. You simply walk around in the map, interacting with people to gather clues and the obtaining the necessary objects. Once you have collected all the pieces in the surrounding area, you can combine the memory pieces (which requires a bit of puzzle solving) and move further into the character’s childhood (you go back in time). Once you have gathered all the objects in the places ranging from Johnny (the dying character)’s old age to infancy, you can then begin to manipulate this memories to create a new “fake future” for him. Overall, the game play is extremely simple and enjoyable (a bit repetitive, but the cut scenes and the story makes up for it).

Story:

The story mainly focuses on the interaction between the Sigmund Corp. Employees, Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts, and the characters in Johnny (the dying character)’s memory. The Sigmund Corp. offers artificial memories their customers, using a special technology. Because this requires you to interfere with your real (actual) memory, this service is offered to dying customers only. Our main customer is a character named Johnny. He asks the doctors to send him to the Moon, but when asked why, he answers that he doesn’t understand why he wants that himself (only that he has wanted it for as long as he can remember). In the process, the doctors, for strange reasons, fail to manipulate Johnny’s memory with ordinary means, and the mystery deepens as they go further and further back into Johnny’s memories. Overall, the game offers a melancholic yet sweet story that is EXTREMELY enjoyable.

Soundtrack:

Unlike most RPG Maker Games, the soundtrack in this games are extremely beautiful.

Here is an example: 

Throughout the game, these excellent BGMs synchronizes with the heart-wrenching moments to create a mesmerizing story.

Overall:

To The Moon offers an extremely enjoyable story (it takes around 3-4 hours to complete the game) for its price $9.99 on steam. Though I have not bought the game myself (I got it from a friend), I’d think it was worth the price if I had purchased it for myself.

 

– Jo Kim

E-Sports: History of E-Sports

By: Jo Kim

E-sports, short for electronic sports, is a term for competition among professionals. The first “e-sport” tournament started out as an arcade game tournament (Space Invaders Tournament) in 1980, hosted by Atari, and these arcade were commonly seen throughout the next decade.

Following the era of arcade gaming came the era of computer gaming. The first notable PC e-sport league was the Quake tournament.

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In 1997, the first Quake tournament attracted around 2,000 players and offered a used Ferrari to the winner. Following this tournament, more tournaments were organized, and the first gaming league, Cyberathlete Professional League, was founded. In 2000, the World Cyber Games and Electronic Sports World Cup were both started, scheduled to be held annually. In 2002, MLG (Major League Gaming) was founded, featuring games of many genres, ranging from RTS (Real Time Strategy)to FPS (First Person Shooter). MLG also televised the first tournament in 2006 on the USA network; however, it failed to meet needed viewership to continue.

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Unlike MLG, South Korea’s OGN (On-Game Network) succeeded in gathering the needed viewership for its televised matches of Starcraft: Brood War. Starcraft, following its release, gained huge followers in South Korea. Many players enjoyed it for its multiplayer system, and it soon became a mainstream PC game for the Koreans. As Starcraft gained more and more popularity, the OnGameNet gained more and more audiences. The Starcraft league grew rapidly, and it has catapulted electronic gaming into a major competitive sport in Korea. These events attracted around 50,000 fans

 

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Following Starcraft’s success, the MOBA genre came into the media’s eyes. Most notably, the game, League of Legends, quickly became the most popular game. The first two tournaments of LoL were hosted by a third party. However, beginning with the third season, “Riot Games announced the formation of the LCS on 6 August 2012, creating a fully professional league with a regular schedule and guaranteed salaries for players. (Gamepedia.com).  The 2011 “LoL” tournament at Dreamhack is reported to have had over 1.6 million viewers worldwide. The following year, 2012’s “LoL” Season Two World Championship attracted eight thousand live viewers, 900,000 worldwide viewers, and a prize pool of over five million dollars (adanai).  This immense amount of popularity was not surprising, as according to a Forbes article, League of Legends was the officially most played game in the world by 2012 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/johngaudiosi/2012/07/11/riot-games-league-of-legends-officially-becomes-most-played-pc-game-in-the-world/).

Like with everything else, nothing stays forever. Like how League of Legends followed the Starcraft, which was preceded by the Arcade gaming era, the current MOBA era is destined to change as well. What type of game do you think will follow LoL/DotA? A new kind of genre?

King of Kong: Arcade Gaming Culture vs. Modern Gaming Culture

By Jo Kim

When I was in elementary school in South Korea (back in 2001), I was, too, a part of this “arcade gaming culture.” Though as not as intense as one portrayed in this movie, I too had my taste of arcade gaming. Every time I got out of school, I would rush to the nearest stationery store (or Moongoojeom in Korean), and insert my coin in to the gaming machine. Normally, I would play something like Tekken or FIFA. Normally, when I played a game, other kids would surround around me just to watch me play games, and at times, other kids would join in the game from the other side to play against me.

Like portrayed in the movie, the Arcade Gaming Culture seems to be more group-oriented (or social) than the modern gaming culture, which revolves around computer gaming/console gaming.

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This is not to say that modern gaming culture is not social. There are PC cafes and console cafes where people gather around to play their favorite games on the PC or game systems (shown below [an internet cafe]).

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As seen by comparing the above photos, you can see that the modern gaming culture relies less on group communication and focuses on the individual’s game play experience. Because of this, there is less pressure playing games in the modern gaming culture than there was in the arcade gaming culture. In the movie, Steve was constantly pressured under the viewing eyes when competing for the Donkey Kong title. However, nowadays, unlike in the movie, one does not have to make oneself vulnerable to such causes by playing at home (online tournaments). There are times in the modern gaming culture where one has to play in front of large audiences (offline tournaments), but these are limited to the select few only.

In conclusion, the modern gaming culture has shifted away from the arcade gaming culture’s group-oriented way of gaming to more of an individual-based way of gaming. I personally favor this change, as I am more comfortable in a such setting than I am in front of a mass group. What about you guys? Which type of gaming culture do you prefer?

Braid: A Different Type of Experience?

By Jo Kim

 

When I first heard that we are going to be playing a platform game in class, the first thought that came into my mind was ‘Well, this is going to be easy,’ but boy, was I wrong. Going into the game, I was half-expecting Braid to be similar to the Super Mario Brothers series. Having played the said game over and over past the years of my life, I thought having a good gaming reflex would help me breeze through the levels of Braid.

Truly enough, the first introductory phase of Braid proved to be what I expected, a typical reflex-based platform game; however, I did notice that Braid had a special tint to its game play, the narrative, which separated this game from its other platform counterparts. However, as I progressed past the initial introduction part, I realized that Braid required more cerebral activity than games like Super Mario Brothers or I Wanna Be The Guy. Braid was closer to a puzzle-type game than it was a reflex-based game.

Collecting puzzles proved to be a rather difficult task, as I had to plan out what to do in order to get the puzzle in the levels. However, thanks to the Braid’s unique feature of “time-reversal” I was able to do these tasks without starting over from the scratch whenever I “died” from controlling errors. This “time-reversal” (pressing shift to reverse for yourself, or walking backwards to reverse time for everything) gradually proved itself as a significant feature of the game, as you needed it to defeat bosses and collect puzzles. It was quite difficult getting used to this feature, as the usage of this ability seemed to differ from level to level, requiring more thinking and preparations.

Having collected all the puzzles in the first level, I did not receive any type of “reward” for my hard work (other than the picture, which I did not care about for the most part, and because of this, I deduced that the puzzles in this game might be similar to coins in Super Mario Brothers or in Sonic the Hedgehog. Following this, from the next level on, I tried to finish the level as fast as possible without collecting these puzzles, as I was more interested in the narration (the dialogue between Tim and the black dinosaur intrigued me for some reason, do not ask why). As I went further and further in the story, I got hooked into it, and I wanted to see the ending; however, this is when the puzzles got me. Because I had not collected any puzzles past level 1, I was not able to proceed into the final level, making all my work of running straight through the levels meaningless. But it was perfectly fine, as I had the internet to dig into the ending.

Overall, Braid proved to be a familiar, yet a fresh approach into the platform gaming field. Its melancholy artwork and background music created a dreamy atmosphere in the game, which allowed me to focus into the game much more. However, its puzzle-based gameplay proved to be a bit too much for me, as my brain does not possess such delicate feature. Nonetheless, the gaming experience was enjoyable, and I recommend it to puzzle-lovers and platform-lovers, as you can kill two birds with one stone by playing this game. For story lovers, the narration in this game is outstanding as well (I can vouch this because I looked at the ending on Wikipedia played the game) and the twist at the end is flavorful. When I have leisure, I will definitely go back and finish the game, just so I can say that I have played the game thoroughly.