Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blizzard hints at new hero

In a blog post Blizzard hinted at a possible new hero. The post is an interview with a character. Her name is Efi. She's a child prodigy from Numbani who's very famous for her genius in robotics and science and she recently won a genius grant.

There's various hints throughout that mean she might be involved with the next new hero. She mentions that she built drones to help around the house and help her folks. This means she might be some kind of summoner.

Later she mentions she wants to build a robot that can help keep us safe. So she could be a summoner and they can potentially be omnics that follow teammates and heal them. They might shield them, they could boost or buff them like Mercy's staff, etc. Things of that sort.

She was asked what she was going to do with her grant money and she said,"Oh! I have an idea." Which means she's going to build a robot.

Obviously this all speculation but the concept of a support summoner hero is magical. But because she's a character that is only 11 years of age means that she wouldn't be a playable character. If its not Efi herself that's the new hero it could be a giant robot omnic that's the actual next hero.

This is exciting news! And she's African, how very diverse!

*sings* Do you wanna build a robot? 

Jazz fusion pioneer Larry Coryell dead at 73

The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and found out Larry Coryell had passed away. He died Sunday in Manhattan, at the age of 73. He died of heart failure in his hotel room. He had just been playing some shows at the Iridium in Midtown on Friday and Saturday. In this post I not only wanted to pay honor and respect to a great guitar player and jazz musician but also to shine light on his importance in the jazz and rock world.

He bridged the gap between jazz and rock in the sixties. He played on an album with John Mclaughlin, Chick Corea, and other leaders of the jazz rock fusion era that would go on to create great fusion with Miles Davis on the legendary Bitches Brew album. That early fusion record he did was an early staple of what would come later in jazz rock fusion, which would later develop into many forms. One of them being smooth jazz, jazz-funk, and more.

The other era of importance for Larry was when he did trio performances with Paco De Lucia and John Mclaughlin. This can easily be found on Youtube. In the video performances you can see Larry struggling a bit. It was drug addiction that unfortunately lead to him being replaced by Al Di Mieola for this legendary triple acoustic guitar team attack.

His most important band was a fusion group called 11th House. After that he focused on acoustic guitar. He switched off between fusion, straight ahead jazz, and acoustic for the rest of his career. Honestly I haven't heard anything new from him since I first found out about that trio acoustic guitar recording. But his musical importance in the jazz and jazz rock fusion world can't go unnoticed.

He was also a hell of a guitar player and a great jazz musician.

Rest in peace Larry. Jazz will keep on going strong thanks to great musicians like you. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I don't like Lucio (in Heroes of the Storm)

I figured here would be a great place to rant about how much I dislike Lucio in Heroes of the Storm. He was recently added to roster, this week I believe. I'm actually annoyed that Blizzard is adding Overwatch characters into Heroes of the Storm when they clearly don't fit in a moba (massive online battle arena games, like League of Legends and Dota 2). I figured it was okay to have Tracer because she's a killing machine in Heroes but when they added Zarya I figured that they've gone too far.

Well now they've added Lucio. When I found out I wrote about his kit (which you can read here) and was excited to see how he would turn out in moba form. Then I finally got around to playing him and I was not pleased. I actually haven't been upset about a video game in a super long time. Yet, here I am. I should go to Blizzard HQ and protest. People are out here protesting the Muslim ban and Trump and I'll be protesting against Blizzard for terrible game design. Jokes aside I do think Lucio is a complete bore to play. Definitely a failed attempt at innovative character design.

It's not the fact that he's bad at what he does. He passively heals okay, and he can speed boost the team out of fights quickly. Not only that, but his sound barrier can even win team fights. However, my biggest complaint (and the most important imo) is the fact that his sound wave gun is a freakin' pea shooter that can barely kill an enemy hero with hardly any health points left. There are times when you'll be chasing any enemy hero with a sliver of health, only to find out that they got away because your gun is just so pathetically weak.

That's my main problem with him. If they gave him more damage I'd be cool with his design and that would be that. The fact that they gave him no damage is a mystery to me because in Overwatch he is a killing machine support like Zenyatta. You can even shoot Pharahs out of the sky once you get good enough with his sound wave gun.

Just a short little rant. Usually I love everything Blizzard touches and creates. Here, they messed up big time on one of my favorite characters. Shame on a gaming company!

Overwatch Competitve Season 3 ending tomorrow

So the current Overwatch competitive season ends tomorrow. For everyone that doesn't know Overwatch has a competitive ranking system that begins and ends within a certain period. Then there's a break, and it resumes once again in about a 3-4 month cycle. I don't know how long the off season break will be but I believe Jeff Kaplan (director of Overwatch) said in a video that this time it would only be about a week long.

There's so much to say about this last competitive season. I'm super disappointed that I couldn't rise above and break out of my low rank (silver) into higher (was hoping for platinum, would've even settled for gold) ranks. In the beginning of the season I met some cool people and there was a time when I was only about 200 points away from gold-but then gold got snatched away from me. The trolls, the leavers, and the generally just bad players kept me from winning many games but honestly I can't blame it all on them. I played poorly myself. And for that I only have myself to blame.

One thing I'm planning for the next competitive season is only playing with certain people for competitive. I'm not going to play with my friends that barely play Overwatch (therefore aren't good enough in my opinion, too risky to risk losing ranking points), and I'm going to stick to small groups (think 2-3 man parties instead of full 6 stacks). When I stuck to 2-3 man parties I was able to win a lot and rank up fast. I want to continue that strategy.

I have a goal for the next season to hit gold super fast if I don't get it within my placements. My long term (and more extreme) goal is to be able to win most of my games in solo queue playing healers (Mercy, Ana mainly). This is a super difficult goal and it might take me over a year but I want to be able to do it. I don't consider people good at Overwatch unless they can win most of their games in competitive in solo queue in their most picked role (damage, tank, healer).

Competitive has given Overwatch the competitive edge that other games don't have. I adore Team Fortress 2 but competitive in that game is just bad. It's breathed new life into competitive gaming for me and it's given me more confidence when it comes to one-upping people and just general rivalry. I'm a super cocky son of a bitch now. Haha, just kidding. But the game will give you a stronger backbone once you're done dealing with the trolls and the testosterone filled cockiness. I'll be spending the off season time practicing my Zenyatta in Quick Play.

Good luck and see you next season!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fire and Dice, A Refuge for Nerds in the Valley

I've been on vacation for a week. I'm just hanging out at home away from work, laying low for a while. It's an unpaid vacation so I'm going to be working for free for a week but its fine. I wanted to talk about my favorite hangout place with my friends-Fire and Dice!

Fire and Dice is a hobby shop that I've been going to for over a year now. You can find old blog posts where I wrote about my sm4sh tournaments there and how I did and stuff. It used to be located on Ventura and De Soto but it moved to a bigger space and is now located at on Vanowen and Winnetka. It didn't move far and I can always catch a ride there with friends if I provide a bit of gas money. The place is known for its board games, Magic the Gathering tournaments, and Smash 4 tournaments which occur every Thursday.

I used to be obsessed with attending every sm4sh weekly and getting better and better. As I started working more I never got Thursdays off so I haven't been able to attend for a super long time. However, I've been getting lots of Mondays off, which are Magic the Gathering tournament nights. Since I started playing Magic there I've met many new friends, one of which even made me a really good deck. I've become pretty good at the game and gained a much better understanding of the tactics than from when I used to play as a middle schooler.

I actually go there to play Magic often now. I wish I could go to more Sm4sh tournaments there but honestly I'm so rusty in Sm4sh that I'm sure some high school Sm4sh junkie that plays 24/7 would crush me. That wouldn't stop me from attending though. I'd still be down, and I might even go tomorrow. But that's the topic for another post. Here I wanted to talk about how great fad (Fire and Dice) is.

Fad is the most fun place I can go to with my more nerdy friends. I have another set of friends who wouldn't set foot at fad because they hate smelly nerds crowded in a small space (we experienced this when I took them to a big sm4sh tournament) and also they aren't into magic or board games. However, my more nerdy friends and I love going to fad because its like a refuge, a safe haven for people like us-nerds.

The fact that tournaments are cheap ($5 commander league magic the gathering, which I enter every Monday that I can attend if I'm off work, and $10 sm4sh singles entry) and that you can hang out there until 10 pm is just icing on the cake. If you don't want to play magic, or participate in their Dungeons and Dragon event (every Wednesday) you can relax and play one of their many board games that they have out in the open on display. I really want to play their Mario chess game sometime, that would be sick.

Fad has improved my social life a lot. I've met so many cool people and new friends just by hanging out there. I'm probably never going to meet a girl friend there or anything but I always have a good time every time I go. I've actually come to find video gaming to be a bore because I'm so used to going to fad and playing magic with friends. I find hanging out in a social environment much more fun and better than sitting in my room on my computer and playing games.

All in all fad is a hip and happening place when it comes to hobby shop fun and gaming in the valley. There's other hobby shops but fad is the best one I've been to. Game Ogre was another great place in the valley (used to be in Northridge) but I heard today that they moved to Agoura Hills. Guess fad really is the best place for nerds in the valley.

There's so much more stuff to do there that I haven't done too. I was thinking about eventually getting into the Dungeons and Dragons scene on Wednesdays. Maybe one day. I wanted to write about how cool fad is because I've been really enjoying hanging out there on my vacation. Its a great store and its run by a bunch of super cool Asian guys. If you enjoy sm4sh, magic the gathering, dungeons and dragons, and board games you should definitely check this place out!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Metal Show Extravaganza at the Regent

I went to a metal show last night at the Regent, this venue in LA. At first I wasn't going to go because lately I haven't been listening to a lot of metal but my friends persuaded me to go. I'm so glad I went because it was super fun! Let me tell you about it.

The opening band was the band that we went there to see specifically. The Agonist is a female fronted metal (metalcore/deathcore/death metal) band that my friends really love. Its easy to see why. The chick fronting the band has such charisma, style, and a great voice for cleans as well as screaming. I would say that The Agonist sounds even better live than they do on record, and I've heard them a lot on record because of my friends. Seeing them perform was a first for me in the sense that it was the first time I'd ever seen a woman singing super aggressive metal live and doing it with such grace, style, and sonic fury. It was pretty amazing. Definitely a memorable experience!

The next band was called Winter Plague or Plagues, something like that. I can't remember because their name was nothing remarkable. They were more of a stereotypical sort of metalcore band where they played lots of fast heavy riffs with a guy screaming over the top of all of it. The best part was when the keyboardist girl sang a song. The lead guitarist had some better solos than the guitarists in The Agonist but overall their band was a bit too cliche for my metal tastes. Totally the opposite of the next band...

Next up was Death Angel. These were the grandmaster metal musicians of the night. They were older, cooler looking, more talented, and way more metal than all the other bands, even The Agonist. They were my favorite band. The band featured two Asian (most of them are Filipino) guys on guitars and they absolutely shredded through heavy metal guitar riffs and solos. The lead guitarist was so fast and maniacal. There was a sense that anything and everything could happen at anytime during his solos, it was very daring and adventurous even though he was making mistakes and hitting bum notes at times. This set him apart from the other guitarists of the night who seemed to be playing stock solos that they play every night at every show.

Their drummer was a fat white guy bigger than me but who was so fast and technical. He was probably good enough to play in Dream Theater or something, his double bass drum patterns and fills were so spot on. The singer was good but his voice didn't exactly stand out as much as the other musicians. Also, the singer looked a lot like Tom Araya, singer/bassist of Slayer. That was funny because they're both in thrash metal bands from the 80's. Their set was definitely the best of the night. There was a sense that most of the people there went to see Death Angel and their fans really shouted and moshed in the pit hard for them. How could a band called Death Angel not play great heavy metal music?

Finally, after standing around all night we got to hear the headliner. Devil Driver is a popular metal band that plays such stock cliche gun metal gray (to quote Marty Friedman on Megadeth) music that it was too bland to enjoy. Their singer didn't have a great voice, their riffs were generic and fast but not technical enough to be interesting, and the songs didn't really go anywhere. The good thing that I can say about them is that they played their entire set almost as if they were playing an album live in the studio. They didn't even stop to say anything in between songs. It was just start, finish, start, finish, and repeat. I like that sense of urgency from musicians. They played the longest set and after a certain point I wanted them to stop playing and they kept going on and on. Eventually they ended the show. And that was that.

As you can imagine I was really tired after the show ended. I'm actually super tired right now the day after. Thinking about it all now I'm still not the biggest fan of modern metal and I would go so far as to say that Devil Driver was annoying. But still, I'm glad I got to see The Agonist and Death Angel. Also, you'd be surprised how many hot girls were at this show. Seems like metal musicians probably get a lot of hot girls. But that's a story for another post.

Think I'm gonna lay low off loud things and heavy metal music for a while. Till the next concert that is. Btw, that's a young picture of Death Angel.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Lucio Arrives to the Nexus (on the ptr)

Overwatch's hard partying dj healer Lucio has arrived to the Nexus (in Heroes of the Storm) on the ptr. If you've ever played Overwatch then you know that Lucio provides passive healing and speed boosts and specializes in wall riding like those crazy Russian dudes that do wall stunts on the top of giant towers on YouTube. He has a few new tricks in Heroes of the Storm. Let's break it down!

His passive is wall ride. When he runs up or against a wall he wall rides it, increasing his movement speed and gaining him access to go through other units. This can be troublesome if he gets cornered and because he can wall ride he cannot ride a mount. That's a big downside because mounts are a great way of escape in Heroes. But hey it sure does look cool!

His Q ability is soundwave. Lucio knocks back enemies in a small cone in front of him and does a small amount of damage to them. You won't be able to knock people off ledges like in Overwatch and kill them. In Heroes this move is simply a way of escape and disengage.

His W ability is crossfade. With W, LĂșcio swaps between his two tracks. The green one, increases his and his allies’ movement speed, while the yellow one heals allied heroes by a (very) small amount constantly. This does not cost mana.

This is what is going to make Lucio one of the best new supports in Heroes of the Storm. Honestly, we already have a great passive healer with Brightwing. However, Brightwing can't increase allies' movement speed, run around fast, and dps at the same time. This is what sets them apart and might make Lucio more popular if he makes it to competitive play.

His E is amp it up. For a brief duration, the effects of Crossfade are greatly increased: the movement speed aura gives a higher boost, while the healing aura becomes much more effective. This is basically his main ability from Overwatch. He already passively heals and speedboosts if you have them turned on but this will increase its effects greatly. Perfect to power heal a low health ally or run away super fast from a fight you're about to lose.

And now for his R or Ultimate abilities. First is his sound barrier. This is straight outta Overwatch. Lucio gives nearby allies a huge shield that decays over time. It's not as good as sound barrier from Overwatch but the shield is still pretty strong and massive.

The second ultimate is a new trick that sounds interesting-reverse amp. Lucio causes the effects of amp it up to reverse and work on enemies. When using the track to speed up allies, it will also slow enemies by 45%. When using the track to heal allies, it will also deal a large chunk of damage to enemies every second.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this kit. He's more of an offensive Lucio in Heroes than in Overwatch but the fact that he has low health and small range means battles might often go in your enemies' favor. I'm not sure if he'll make it to competitive play but where I think he will shine is when you already have a tank, healer, specialist, and dps (damage per second-assassin character), and you're looking for a last character to fill an extra slot. He will work great as that extra slot.

Look at this team, we're gonna do great!