What is Rat DOTA?

DOTA can be an exciting game, where two teams clash against each other in order to take down the opponent’s Ancient Structure. Often at times, one team works exceptionally well in team fights – perhaps their combinations are better timed, or their heroes have synergies … or they are simply the better players. In which case, they keep winning team fights. This is where Rat DOTA comes into play.

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Terracotta Army in Rise of Nations

When playing Rise of Nations, one of the concepts in the game are wonders.

One of the wonders that arguably gets rushed is the Terracotta Army. What this wonder gives you is an unending stream of Light Infantry units at regular intervals, the interval is dependent upon the number of units already produced by the wonder. So that over a period of time, the production rate of Light Infantry goes down and plateaus.

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The Rise of Nations Extended Edition Tournament

After the game Rise of Nations was launched on Steam, we have seen a couple of small updates for the game. These fixes were mostly for gamers who do a lot of multi-player gaming. Some common bugs were also fixed.

The reddit community of Rise of Nations is really active and the development team is listening in on the issues that the users are facing.

It’s great to have a community slowly building up after the game died some time back. Last week, I saw one of the enthusiasts announcing a Tournament on Steam for Rise of Nations players. It’s a start to reviving this game!

Within minutes the number of people who signed up for this tourney went from 0 to 20 .. and now we have over 40 players. For those interested in participating, please register by the 28th of June and answer on this Reddit thread.

Re-Release of Rise of Nations

It’s a glorious end to a busy month of May here!

I logged on to Steam today to find that Microsoft (a company that I generally do not applaud), has bought the rights of the Rise of Nations game series.

The game which was stuck in a deadend for the past 10 years has suddenly a chance to revive itself. This game had a massive cult following and I have spent many an hour rushing, raiding and defending cities in the past years. Sadly the game was not getting any upgrades and the community was on the decline.

However with Steam and Twitch integration, the game would see another spurt of players, and thats what a dying game (which still has awesome gameplay) needed. Finally an RTS I can play instead of Starcraft or Total War series!

Path of Exile the right way to design a MMO

Back in 2010, when I was hankering for a Diablo clone, I tried out a lot of games … Torchlight, Guildwars, World of Warcraft, Borderlands, Fortune Online, Path of Exile (it was still in beta), Deus Ex, The Elder Scrolls series and finally found some solace in Rise of Nations. As someone who had spent the better part of his undergrad days playing Diablo II and its expansion, I always have a fond memories for this series.

In fact I attribute my Post Graduation to a friend of mine who used to come over to my place to play the game so that I could study for the CAT (one of the most competitive exams in India). I cleared the CAT and he became a fan of Diablo!! This is a shout-out to you Nikhil!

The Gap left by Diablo II

Having said that, the expectations that Diablo III set were pretty huge … and unfortunately, Blizzard failed to meet those expectations. The dynamics which made the game addictive back then were simply not there in the new version … albeit they are doing better work with the expansion and Loot 2.0, but this is neither the place nor the time to discuss Loot 2.0. This is the time to discuss the burning need by a horde of Diablo fans to find a Role Playing Game which had the same dark, macabre environment that Diablo II had.

A lot of games have tried to make up for this gap … a LOT. But none came as close as Path of Exile (PoE). Here’s why.

A Thriving and Helpful community

Although a lot of games have huge community, but the Path of Exile community is helpful. I mean you can just ask a question on Global Chat (#) and expect a useful answer. Try that in any other game and be sure to get trolled, or be called a n00b. The community on reddit is one such shining example, the difference between r/diablo, r/dota2 and r/pathofexile is huge. As a starter, you do get help.

One of the major factors in me sticking to this game is the non-hostile community.

A Mature Beta Testing playground or the Leagues

In a lot of games, there is a clear advantage for players who start the game earlier than the rest. They have good items, powerful characters, unique weapons … you know how that goes. Path of Exile helps stop creating this divide by creating 4 month long leagues. In any league, everyone starts afresh … yes that means you have to roll a character to participate in that league. So the economics starts from ground up (more on this in a bit).

Any new features that each patch comes out with does not hit the entire game, it first gets tested over a period of 4 months, and then is available to the Standard league (the main set of characters). What this means is that everyone is given a period of 4 months to farm and beef up before hitting the Standard league (which you can directly jump into and experience the item loot divide).

Properly Designed Free to Play

Did I mention that this game is Free to Play (F2P). Yes. Completely Free. Free to Play should not mean Pay to Win, PoE does this perfectly. If you want awesome looking characters then you will have to pay for visual effects, but money does not overpower your weapons!

The Results

All these things add up … they add up in this free game overtaking the Diablo series over a period of time.

The graph that is embedded will show you how the search intent in the Diablo series has dwindled and how the PoE search trend has gone up. The one spike in the Diablo search trend was when Diablo III was being launched.

Good job with Battle.net Blizzard!

Battle.net Client

Good Launchers

I am a huge fan of Blizzard. In fact I have pretty much played everything that they have released … right from Blackthorne (a 2D Scroller) to Warcraft Series. World of Warcraft is one of the games where I have paid more than 1000 USD to the company before I realized it was eating away into my life. One of the main features of the Blizzard games is the custom launcher which will download the game and set it up for you … the launchers that Blizzard makes are fairly awesome and aspiring game design firms should learn from them … this taunt is remarkably true for the TESO MMO and the Star Wars MMO. I believe RIFT is the only game which has done a better job with the launcher, the rest are languishing far behind.

Security Paranoia

The only complaint I had with the Battle.net system was the ridiculous account security and password rules. Everytime you have to play the game, you have to keep the password in mind … it studies your account usage and even emails you when it detects an off pattern. All this pretty much ensures that when you are playing hookey at work (who does’nt) and sitting at home and playing a raid on WoW, it will ask you to reset your password! Not to mention the requirement to enter your password everytime you want to play.

However, with the new Battle.net client, this has stopped!

The new Battle.net Client

This week I installed the new client because I wanted to give Diablo III and the latest patch a whirl. I had heard too many good things about the new Loot 2.0 system to not do this!! More on Loot 2.0 later.

The new Battle.net Client has integrated all the games in one client (quite like Steam or Origin) and has also made account security a part of this software. So when I save my login, I do not have to enter my security credentials all over again. This is awesome … no more getting stuck on login screen trying to cook up new “strong” passwords.

Configurable Downloads

The cool part about this client is that you can also choose to install the games on different drives of your computer. So no more worrying about your drive filling up and not being able to download the latest update.

Up until this week, I had pretty much given up on wanting to play any more Blizzard games. Especially with Valve releasing a slew of DOTA2 updates and Grinding Gear Games showcasing their Sacrifice of the Vaal expansion, it meant lesser time to play other games. However, the D3 team has something going here … the new Battle.net Client looks to be just the start!