Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rage Against the Machine

Thank you, sir. More like this, please.

Get the money out of politics. Limit corporate personhood. Stop the insider trading bullshit. Quit lending trillions of dollars of undisclosed cash to unscrupulous financiers. Kill the policies that put lobbyists in control of the political agenda, that make it impossible to have a rational discussion of substantive issues like healthcare, immigration, military matters, civil rights, criminal justice, fixing the financial system, fixing the entitlement system, and balancing the taxes that pay for it all (except for what we borrow...).

There is no interpretation of the Free Speech clause that allows our representatives in government to be bought out and corrupted. There is no interpretation of executive/bureaucratic power that allows our administration to sell us out. There is no interpretation of public welfare that makes it acceptable to ruin our future by kicking present problems down the road like the trash snowballs from Katamari Damacy.

This is our country. And we want it back.

(Edited: This post initially accused the government of spending trillions to bail out banks. That's not what actually happened. Rather, the government loaned trillions to the banks at ridiculously low interest rates. As far as I can tell, that didn't last, and the Fed got their money back. I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this, because it seems to have worked somehow. But egads, what a mind-bogglingly risky, cockamamie, STUPID plan of action. And the banks ended up making $13 billion off of it, if you believe the marginal rate calculations Bloomberg does here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Voter's Declaration of Illness

I'm sick of party politics.

I'm sick of two-second soundbytes and two-year election campaigns. I don't want political theater, I want public policy.

I'm sick of political expediency. I don't want to see an environment where facing up to difficult issues is political suicide, and kicking the can down the road means reelection.

I'm sick of having twenty hot-button issues with two sides each, boiling down complex problems into simplistic ideologies and blowing up simple legislation into incomprehensible gibberish. I don't want a skinny government or a fat government, I want a fit government.

I'm sick of tribalism. I don't want politicians to oppose ideas just because 'the enemy' supports them, or vice versa. I don't want politicians to appeal to groupthink--the rich, the poor, the white, the black, the unions, the employers, the war hawks, the peaceniks, the youth, the elderly. Left or right or upside down, I don't give a damn.

I want an informed populace to elect serious representatives. I want sober public discussion of policies that will impact the nation's welfare. I want complications to be explored rather than ignored. I want disagreements to encourage engagement rather than divisiveness.

I am a member of the militant middle, and I'm sick of letting the fringes wrestle for control over our country, with their efforts combining to steer towards disaster. It's Pepsi against Coke to me, and I drink water.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The National Defense Authorization Act--Indefinite Detention and Wartime Executive Power

I've spent the better part of the last week looking into this issue. It's a complicated subject that's being massacred by media sensationalism. They paint with broad strokes of black and white, and invoke the specter of totalitarianism. And that's when they don't outright print falsehoods; the latter article makes scare talk out of an amendment that never made it into the bill, for example.

They're not wrong to be disturbed, though. Here's what I've found in my checking:

The disputed section is Section 1031 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (henceforth NDAA). Section 1031 allows the military to detain:
-Anyone involved in any way with the people who orchestrated 9/11;
-Any member of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or 'associated forces';
-Anyone who has offered 'substantial support' to the above;
-Anyone who has 'committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of' the above.

Detainment is pending disposition under law of war, which can be:
-Held until the end of "hostilities" (as defined in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in 2001);
-Trial under Uniform Code of Martial Justice or other competent court/tribunal;
-Transfer to custody of a foreign country or entity

People will tell you that this section exempts US citizens and lawful resident aliens. They are wrong. The section with that exemption is 1032, which requires the military to detain certain people who have been captured in the course of hostilities. Nothing in 1032 removes the military's authority to detain citizens or resident aliens.

The first important aspect to consider is that the authority for this provision comes from the Authorization for Use of Military Force signed in 2001 (AUMF). You'll notice that the AUMF doesn't exempt US citizens either. In truth, the NDAA isn't granting the executive any special new authority; it is actually clarifying the extent of the wartime powers granted to the executive and the military by the AUMF. This was particularly made explicit by a last-minute compromise amendment from Senator Feinstein, which inserted a clause saying "Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force."

The executive gaining more power in wartime--even beyond the bounds of the Constitution--is nothing new. Practically every conflict in the last century has involved something of the sort--the most famous example that comes to mind is Executive Order 9066 and the Japanese-American internment during WWII. One difference between that time and this one is that WWII was the last time the US was legally in a state of war; the Authorization for Use of Military Force is a watered-down state of affairs that we've used for pretty much every military action since then.

The more troubling difference is the amorphous nature of the enemy identified in the AUMF. Not only nations, but organizations and even people are targeted. And the victory condition--making it so that none of these nations/organizations/people can orchestrate any more terrorist attacks on the US--is incredibly vague. It's not like Al Qaeda is going to strike their colors and let us know we've won.

In the immediate term, the concern is that anyone, even a US citizen, can be detained on suspicion of supporting terrorists and held indefinitely, even turned over to another country and squeezed--ahem, tortured--for information. Legally speaking, most people who are detained in this manner can apply for habeas corpus review of their detainment...but tell that to Maher Arar, a Canadian/Syrian citizen who was detained at JFK Airport in NYC; rendered to Syria for the better part of a year, during which time he was tortured; and remains on US watchlists to this day, despite being publicly exonerated of any connections to terrorists by both Canada and Syria.

In the long term, there is the broader concern of how much wartime power we can afford the executive branch, and for how long. With no clearly defined achievable end goal, there is the real possibility of indefinitely maintaining this state of pseudo-war, and thus the extraconstitutional authority of the executive. Obama's response has been instructive: in the White House statement threatening to veto the NDAA, he called the provisions "unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President’s authority to defend the Nation from terrorist threats." (emphasis mine) And the White House was responsible for removing language from Section 1031 that would exempt American citizens and lawful residents from the authorization to detain. See the Senate session video record, at 4:43:29; Senator Levin explains.

On the other hand, Obama's statement also refers to "...the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets," and how the current bill "would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals." He is simultaneously objecting to the restriction of executive authority, the required use of military custody under 1032 rather than other forms of custody, and the disruption of existing executive/judicial doctrine on who the AUMF applies to. So from a rights perspective, it would depend on what the existing doctrine is; unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out. In the executive authority column, Obama is solidly 'for'...but that may only be because Congress is usurping his role as Commander-in-Chief by mandating who the military must detain. After all, that's just another way of saying "who must be detained by the military" opposed to detainment by law enforcement or intelligence.

Basically, there are a whole host of reasons why this bill is bad legislation, even beyond the human rights perspective. But it got through the Senate 93-7, and now the House gets to take a look.

Let's be clear, I'm not worried that the military is going to go out and start locking up random American citizens on fabricated charges of terrorist conspiracies. I'm worried that the military is going to approach these detentions with sober well-intentioned consideration...and still get them wrong. And I'm worried that 'wartime executive authority' will eventually become just 'executive authority', an extraordinary measure maintained long past all justifiable cause, until it becomes the ordinary state of affairs.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Internet And How We Consume Information

Okay, moving on from League of Legends to a more substantial topic. A few years back, the Atlantic writes about how the Internet affects our behavior patterns in an article titled Is Google Making Us Stupid?. The author, Nicholas Carr, argues that the flitting browsing pattern of most Internet users suggests a deterioration of deep reading and deep thinking; as people rely on machines to bring them relevant and interesting content, Carr writes, they lose the ability to penetrate dense information to find that content themselves.

I disagree with a number of points, and writing about it was interesting enough to make a blog post of it, so here goes...

First, I think the idea of Internet-induced ADD is a self-fulfilling prophecy and a scapegoat. Maintaining concentration is not an inherently easy thing to do; it's not like people didn't have trouble with that before the Internet came along. But it's easy to blame one's concentration issues on Internet usage affecting one's brain, so people do it. This issue is only exacerbated by misuse of research like the cited study of online research habits, which looks at how people browse a research site; when the author suggests that this study evidences a broader change in reading and thinking patterns as a result of Internet usage, he's speculating without basis, because the study examines Internet usage rather than broader reading and thinking patterns. Indeed, the researchers themselves are doing nothing but speculating in the quotation the author chose, when they conjecture that Internet users "go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense." Did they study how Internet users' offline reading behavior changed? No. They just looked at the common-sense skimming approach one uses on an online research site, and jumped to a wild conclusion about reading in general. This sort of confirmation bias is poor scholarship, but I would bet it's typical of research done on this topic.

Second, I find it misleading to examine Internet usage only through the lens of comparison to a bookworm. As Cracked pointed out in its article about proscribed student behaviors that are good for studying, the dichotomy in many cases is not between texting and essay writing, but between texting and nothing; in our case, the alternative to the Internet is not necessarily the library. The Internet caters to a wide audience, so online material is perforce required to be available in a form that is comprehensible to the lowest common denominator, but that does not preclude greater depth for those who seek it. That's why, in addition to Google, we have tools for deep search and exploration of the 'invisible Web' of private databases and dynamically generated pages.

Third, a brief diversion: I disagree with the suggestion that there is a clear financial incentive to promote shallow online browsing. For example, just recently my mother and I were discussing a customer intelligence company that is using the information it collects about people online to, among other things, promote prolonged browsing on particular websites for greater ad revenues per viewer. That seems to be a direct contradiction of the author's point. The Internet is moving past the era of page views and click-throughs; in order to attract continued consumer attention, content has reclaimed its rightful place as the driver of revenue.

Finally, the author's warnings about how Brin/Page's blithe assumptions about the benefits of AI characterize intelligence as reducible to a series of mechanical steps miss the mark by a long way. Intelligence can harness mechanized processes without itself being purely mechanical. Consider the analogy of a programmer with many languages at his disposal, at various levels of abstraction, with work below the level of abstraction in each case being done by a machine. Is the Python programmer more mechanical or less natively intelligent than the C programmer because his language relies more on interpretation by the compiler? Nonsense. And if you desire functionality from C that's not natively available in Python, you can always wrap a C library and bring it up to the appropriate level of abstraction. Similarly, harnessing artificial intelligence to manage the presentation of information for consumption does not inhibit reading, even if in some sense we are delegating the task of reading to the machine. Rather, it allows us to get more out of our reading at every level of engagement. Machine intelligence enables human intelligence, rather than replacing it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ranked Bill of Rights

Okay, so it's been a while since I wrote the Ranked Bill of Rights. The thread received a lot of initial interest, but eventually it died off, as happens with all threads.

Now it's back. At 4 this morning, one xoxo pLexxy signed the thread, and that triggered a veritable flood of signatures--over 120 in the last 16 hours. Simply cataloguing the signers took the better part of an hour. So I feel it's a good time to bring that post to Mage's Plane. Here it is, in all its uncensored glory.


Disclaimer: All statements apply only weakly to normal games, and can be waived by 5-man consensus at any time.

1. The summoner has the right to a team that plays to win.
If you queue up for a game, you are making a contract with four other guys that you will break the enemy's Nexus before they break yours, or at least give it a damn good shot. If you queue up with no expectation of contributing to that goal, you're pissing on your teammates. That means you, intentional feeders. That means you, first-time Shaco player who doesn't know why a second Shaco appeared when you pressed R, or why you suddenly started attacking Rammus in tower range, or why Thornmail-stacking Ashe is a bad idea. That means you, Mr. "I'm 7/1/2 with 200 CS and 10k gold, who gives a shit about towers or teamfights?" We give a shit, because that's the point of the game, and if you don't, why the hell are you here?

2. The summoner has the right to a team that plays together.
Riot decided to make it impossible to win the game on your own, God knows why--thought it'd make the game more interesting or something. Whatever the reason, the fact is that you can't break that Nexus by being the better player--you have to be the better team. You gotta talk to each other, listen to each other, work with each other. Sometimes that means you gotta man up and play the fucking tank, take the duo lane, and screw your KDR. No, you can't play Squishy Carry #4. No, you can't insist on solo mid Eve. No, you can't just farm top for 40 minutes and ignore the calls to group. I don't give a shit if you speak English or Swahili, but if you can't or won't respond to "karth mia," "focus ashe," "baron," or well-placed pings, then get the fuck out of my game. And so help me, I will hunt you down if you leave or AFK.

3. The summoner has the right to civility.
This is a goddam game. You may have all the killer instinct of Mike Tyson (or Jack the Ripper), but if you suck the fun out of playing, the whole exercise is worthless. Plus, you'll lose. The chatbox is not for revealing to your teammate what a fucking ghey n00b excuse for dog food he is because he gave up first blood or stole your pentakill or built double Infinity Edge on Karthus. The chatbox is for helping your team win the goddam game. Anything you put in the chatbox that doesn't do that is a waste of time and emotional energy. Get as mad as you like--scream, stamp, break things, whatever--but don't you hit that enter key and try to make your teammates feel as shitty as you do. That's the mark of a loser, and if you're a loser, who the fuck cares if you're losing?

Play to win, play together, play nice. It's that simple. If you can't deal with it, take your two remaining brain cells and go farm bots.

[I]Inspired by condon's Thou Shalt Read This MFing Thread and OmegaHorizon's own Bill of Rights. See also EncasedShadow's I pledge to follow the code.

Attention all: I will be going to a private chat named "BillOfRights" (suggestions for a better name are welcome!). I'm not on all day, but I'm on almost every day. Besides, I'm not the main attraction--you are! This is an opportunity for serious players to find each other, discuss LoL, and set up premades. Have at it, and have fun queuing--something that's certainly difficult without a like-minded team!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Empty Ladders, Empty Queues: The Dearth of Premade Play

I wrote this post a couple months back, but I feel it's worth compiling these posts here for future reference. My last blog post was about how to make solo queue more worthwhile, but ultimately solo queue is an inferior experience. League of Legends is a team game, but teams are few and far between, and so it suffers. Here are some thoughts on that. There's more at the link; this is just the original message.


The biggest problem with League of Legends isn't the lack of Leona. It isn't "Soon." It isn't the price of runes, the patch day downtimes, or even the troll-happy playerbase.

No, the problem is this: League of Legends is a competition between teams of five...where the primary mode of play is solo queue.

Solo queue forces the system to estimate your individual skill from the result of a team game. It creates opportunities for trolls to inflict themselves on others, and provides sparks aplenty to kindle ragers' ire. It marginalizes team strategy and rewards the most rudimentary low-risk high-reward tactics, because anything more sophisticated is too difficult to coordinate with four random teammates. It's a stagnant system with too much luck, too little team play, and rampant frustration.

The premade ladders obviously do not suffer from these problems; they are a superior way to play LoL. So what's holding them back? Answer: there simply aren't enough people queuing up. Those ladders haven't reached the critical mass necessary to sustain themselves. Queue times for top players can be hours, so they don't queue; but then the second-tier players become the top players in the ladder, and face hour-long queue times, so they desert.

Premade play is much more common on the EU server--we know it can work. It's no coincidence that Europe's metagame is often leaps and bounds ahead of ours (split push, tankless comps, dual-burst, Tele-ganks, AD-support bot lane)--it's not that the Europeans are inherently better at LoL, but rather that they have a popular teamplay environment where strategies are developed and refined.

So how can we reinvigorate premade play on the NA server? I have a few suggestions.
-IP bonuses for premade queues. Simple, clean, effective. Put greed to use! If people earn 4/3rds the IP for finding 4 friends and queuing for 5's Ranked, they'll do it. Heck--right now, it's only fair that they earn more considering that they're waiting an extra 15-30 minutes in queue.
-Open challenges from top teams. Ask a favor from CLG or TSM or EG, or from other popular streamers with high-Elo friends. See if the Runeterra In-House League will lend a hand. Get some top Rioters together--Eski, Phreak, Classick, Pendragon, etc. Get people to issue open challenges on the premade ladder, and stream matches from 5's queue. The failure of the premade ladders was a trickle-down problem--so let's trickle down success.
-Clans clans clans. Okay, this one's obvious. Get people to group up, and they'll queue together. One of those Beta promises that fell through, and I think it's the most important one. Independently organized clan platforms will never have the momentum of a Riot-supported clan system. It doesn't even have to be clans, specifically--any general networking tool to get teammates together will do. Friend lists and chat rooms are not enough.
-Hard reset on the premade ladder. Solo queue should be soft-reset to avoid the chaos that reigned at the beginning of Season 1--sure, I get that. But the premade ladders were a failure this season. They need the reboot. Cut queue times with a reset and you make an opportunity for people to get back into 5's.
-Rate teams, not players. Solo queue forces you to rank the individual because the individual is the one who queues--but here we're dealing with teams. Individual skill ratings have no meaning at all in this setting, and cobbling five such to compose a team rating has even less. This will be tricky to implement, but absolutely worth the effort. I remember when red posters downplayed the importance of clans because it was more important to have permanent teams--well, why don't we have permanent teams, then? Make it so players get together and register a team name for Ranked, with those players individually registered for that team (allow more than 5 so people can sub in). The ladder should be comprised of those team names, rather than summoner names.

Solo queue is a pathetic shadow of how League of Legends is meant to be played. In order to bring strategic depth to the general population, combat the effects of leavers/griefers, and expand the competitive scene, it is absolutely critical that we make the premade ladders into a real option for competitive play.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Turning Skill Into Elo: Solo Queue Mindset and Methodology

I've written once before about climbing the Elo ladder. That was nearly 10 months ago, and I wince on rereading that guide. I got some basics right--keep calm, communicate, comp well, and so on--but I had the perspective of a new-to-Ranked, barely-1300 player, and it shows. It shows most in my emphasis on picking a champion that can carry you out of Elo Hell. Since then, I've had it ground into my bones that the champion doesn't carry; the player does.

As before, this guide is directed at people who feel their skill level is above their Elo. I'm at the low end of gold, so I can't exactly advise 1800 players on getting better. But an 1800 player who thinks he should be 2100 is really in the same boat as the 1300 player who thinks he should be 1600, or the 900 player who thinks he should be 1200. In each case, the player perceives that he is not held back by his skill, but rather that his Elo perversely holds him back from rising, in the form of uncarriable teammates. Here I will lay down some principles that help you turn your team from a hindrance into an asset that helps you carry your way up the ladder.

(Some games can't be carried. Accept it and move on. You don't have to win every game to go up; you just have to win more than you lose. Finding ways to blame your feeder teammates for the last game you lost isn't going to help you do that.)

You aren't communicating enough. Yes, you. If that chat box isn't being used within the first 3 seconds of champ select, and isn't full within the first 15 seconds, you're not doing your job, which is coordinating with your teammates to find a comp that works for everyone. One thing that tremendously frustrated me in the 12-1300 brackets was when people would keep quiet until the end and then say "Oh by the way I can't jungle." The earlier you can get that person to own up, the easier life will be. Inversely, if someone has a main, getting them to say so can prevent role redundancy.

Speaking of mains: Have a few. Don't have just one--then you can get banned/picked out, or someone might fill your role before you can talk (see above about communicating), or you might get counterpicked, or whatever. But don't try to have two dozen--then you won't have sufficient mastery of each champion. The ability to play all champions to your Elo is not going to raise your Elo; being consistently better than your opponents with the champion/s you choose is what will do that. You should be comfortable with as many champions as possible, especially in key-but-unpopular roles like jungler/support, but focus your efforts on a smaller group. If your main is someone common, you need at least one more in the same role. Don't count on getting Singed every game.

Understand matchups. Part of mastering a champion is knowing when not to use it--so even if you're a pro Teemo, don't pick him against Mordekaiser solo top. Recognize what your goals are in your particular matchup. Don't focus on trading harass with Morgana at level 5--keep the lane off your tower and kill her with burst later. Don't fight Mordekaiser in your creeps--burst him from a distance. Don't let your team enter game against Tryndamere without Exhaust, against Twisted Fate without Teleport, against Shaco without CV.

Realize who has to die and who has to live. If you're jungling and the enemy has a Kog'maw, you gank his ass and shut him down. If your team's Tristana is 6/1 with IE-PD at 20 minutes, you protect her in teamfights even at the cost of your ass, because she will win the fight as long as she's alive to DPS.

Realize the point of winning fights. No, it's not your KDA. It's the ability to take objectives unopposed after fights. With that in mind, don't chase 3v1 just because he's not dead yet if you can take two towers instead. And don't go looking for a fight when there's no objective at stake. You should never get caught at dragon cave when dragon's not up, and neither should your teammates, so spam that Ctrl-click when necessary. The corollary to this is that if you can take the objective without a fight, that's better than fighting, so don't towerdive when you can slow-push and poke a tower down.

Maphacking wins games. Buy a ward every time you go back. If you're the support, buy three. Learn the good ward spots--next to enemy wraiths, between the river bushes, in front of dragon, behind baron, and so on. Realize what the threats/opportunities are at different points in the game and ward accordingly--don't just drop it in the nearest brush.

And back to the original point: it's all very well for you to do these things, but you'll win far more if you can get your team doing them too. That means telling them what to do in a way that makes them feel good about doing it. "Tristana, you're our carry this game, we need to keep you alive, and you need to stay alive." "Their only chance of coming back is getting picks or BDing, so push lanes and force Baron." "We can come back as long as we don't get caught in bad fights, ward baron and turtle." Pings are your friend. Ping the next objective. Ping where you think the enemy is. Ping to back off, ping to go in. Having a second type of ping is the best thing Riot has done for solo queue in a long long time. Make use of it. Carries not following you in? You're not pinging enough. Support getting caught out of position? You're not pinging enough. The more you can flood the chat box with GOOD communication, the harder it is for Negative Nidalee to start the blame game. And the more you give your teammates good direction, the less time they have to do something stupid.

The corollary to the above, of course, is that you absolutely cannot start the blame game yourself. Especially late game, anything bad that happens is the whole team's fault, because the team has to function as a unit to win. Raging is the surest way to break down team coordination, which is the surest way to lose. Don't do it if you value your Elo (or your account, for that matter).

Finally, realize that your skill level isn't high enough. If you aren't on the front page of the ladder, you have no reason to sit back and say "I'm good enough, it's up to my teammates to get carried." And if you're good enough to be on the front page, there are other concerns. I will hazard to say that nobody has plumbed the depths that League of Legends has to offer. Rock Solid gave us a glimpse when they shocked the world this past weekend by knocking off CLG and TSM in quick succession at the IEM NYC qualifiers with comps that defied the established metagame. We can't all hope to imitate RS' success--nor should we attempt to imitate a team that prides itself on being inimitable and innovative--but we can surely improve ourselves, elevate our games, and play better than we ever did before. At the end of the day, that's what rising in Elo is all about.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The New IP System--How Did it Really Affect You?

By now it's common knowledge that Riot is a soulless, greedy corporation intent on sucking our wallets dry. The most obvious evidence for this is that Riot continually releases 6300-IP champions, and nerfed our IP gains to boot, so that the poor playerbase is forced to spend their hard-earned money on overpriced champions just so they don't fall behind.

Have I accurately captured the QQer's mindset? All right, moving on.

I see this complaint over and over and over again. It's tremendously frustrating. Today I'm going to focus on one aspect of this: the change to the IP system. Players lament the loss of 120 IP for 25 minutes of game time. They claim to have lost the ability to earn 6300 IP in two weeks, which puts them hopelessly behind in buying the latest 6300 champion.

But is that really what happened?

Boring Numbers Time

Average game time under old system: 35 minutes. The source for this, a TREMENDOUS number of games archived in Lolbase, has unfortunately been lost, as Lolbase has become defunct. So you'll have to take my word for it.

IP at 25 minutes: 118/62, avg. 3.6 IP/min
IP at 35 minutes: 110/68, avg. 2.55 IP/min
IP at 45 minutes or longer: 102/72, avg. 1.93 IP/min (or less)

Average game time under new system: ??? (I conjecture 30 minutes due to 20 minute surrender change)

IP at 20 minutes: 71/46, avg. 2.92 IP/min (this needs to be checked, I don't have the numbers)
IP at 25 minutes: 76/51, avg. 2.55 IP/min
IP at 30 minutes: 88/58, avg. 2.43 IP/min
IP at 35 minutes: 98/65, avg. 2.33 IP/min
IP at 45 minutes: 121/80, avg. 2.23 IP/min
IP at 55 minutes or longer: 145/93, avg. 2.16 IP/min (or less)

Explanation of Boring Numbers

The IP/minute is much, much flatter under the new system. At the old average of 35 minutes, IP/minute has declined; however, shorter game times due to 20-minute surrender imply IP/min is higher than the 35-minute number under the new system. So the nerf is at most 7% in terms of pure game time, and is almost certainly less. It could be argued that out-of-game time reduces the benefit of playing many shorter games for IP, but this argument is coming from the same people who lament the loss of 118 IP for 25-minute games under the old system, so I'm not sure how to respond.

Now consider the addition of guaranteed FWotD through Co-op. So a casual player who plays a couple of games a day can get FWotD in 15 minutes despite losing his PvP games. The gain from this depends on how many games you play per day, but anyone who's playing enough for this not to balance out the losses in IP/min doesn't have to worry about having enough IP.

An example game is provided below to show that the graph I'm basing these numbers on accurately represents actual game results. Additional examples can be provided on request. If you have an example of your own, feel free to post the screenshot. If you have a counterexample, feel free to post the screenshot. Merely posting "I only got 40 IP for my last 60-minute win!!!" does not count as a counterexample.


I have never taken the complaints about IP seriously. IP does its job: it introduces new players to the game for free (even more so with the price reductions), allows serious players to get competitive without paying money--but does not allow players to acquire the entire game for free. But even were IP QQers to have a legitimate argument, innumerate arguments like "Riot nerfed our IP gains, I can't afford this game anymore!" would cause me to dismiss them out of hand.

If I have a complaint about the store, it's the price of RP. I might have spent money on this game long ago, except I'm not willing to buy $10 in RP, buy only one 6300 champion (two if they're on sale), and have RP left over that I paid for but can't use. The game makes me want to buy from Riot, but the store stops me every time. This is bad for business, Riot. Fix it.


After getting multiple responses on this subject, I have to add one thing: Because long games can stretch up to an hour, players need to budget an hour of free time for their last game, no matter how long it actually takes. What matters in that case is the IP/game rather than the IP/minute, so the nerf actually shows here. However, the people to whom this most apply are the people who are squeezing in 1-2 games per day, and those are the people who benefit most from guaranteed FWotD through Co-op v. AI, so in my opinion it balances out.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Not Quite a Sonnet

Randomly inspired by a friend's Facebook status, which contained the first line of this poem.


Life Waits Not For You

Hot enough to take a cold shower.
Bored enough to waste a night hour.
The rain falls, the clouds tower
Death arrives with a pretty pink flower.

"Who are you?" I ask with an angry glower,
But even afore he speaks, I shudder.
This is he who has an eternal bower...
He says: "I bring your endless slumber."

Indignant, I cry, "My bill's not due!
There's nothing tying me to you.
I'm healthy, clean-living, enemy-free
What sort of death can you pin on me?"

The implacable reaper raises his voice:
"Your death's one of spirit, this end is your choice.
You've spent your life in search of escape
Why stay in a world you seem to so hate?"

Deaf to my pleas, his scythe makes my end.
All my life I killed time; now time takes revenge.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Ranks of Elo Hell

I never got any voice training, but I still like to sing. I drive my parents crazy singing songs over and over again trying to get the right voice for the tune. So I might as well combine my longtime obsession with my latest obsession, right?

The result is a parody video of the Eagles' "Hotel California", describing the misery of those stuck in "Elo Hell"--trapped below their skill level by terrible teammates and griefers. I named it "The Ranks of Elo Hell", found the Hotel California instrumentals online, bought myself a decent USB mic, and made this:

Amateurish production values, but I had fun doing it. Hope you like it.