I think The International might have ruined me for single-player games.

I’ve been interested in esports for a while now, dropping into an occasional Twitch stream and skimming whatever articles I stumble upon, but most of the big esport titles were games I never got into myself for whatever reason.

When you don’t know the games, it’s hard to follow things with any real enthusiasm. At least, that was true for me. So when The International came along this year, I decided to fire up Dota 2 and get at least a passing familiarity with the thing.

I never should have done that. The game’s insane.

A hundred characters to choose from, untold numbers of item combinations, and deep strategy balanced by enough action that incredible reversals are possible. It’s the kind of game that can be played for years and never be mastered.

It’s also the kind of game that obsessive types like myself would probably do best to avoid.

And then there’s StarCraft 2.

Holy shit.

I’ve never been a fan of real-time strategy, and more or less jumped into SC2 thinking: “This is a game millions of people play every day. There has to be something good about it.”

A week and a half later I’m an addict. And my opinion of RTSs has pretty much taken a 180 since I discovered the “secret” technique of Using the Fucking Keyboard to keep my macro up while fiddling with my troops.

And I haven’t even mentioned Hearthstone, which was fun right up until the point when the matchmaker decided I was good enough to go up against people with decks full of legendaries who’ve been playing since beta.

All of which is to say that I’ve been diving on every multiplayer game that crosses my desk, so you should expect a lot more of that sort of thing to show up on my channel.

Sleep is for Other People

I think I’ve maybe gotten one solid night of sleep in the past two weeks. And last night wasn’t it. I was too hot, too stressed, and apparently too exhausted to remember how to sleep.

11:00PM – I realize I don’t feel tired at all.

11:30PM – I decide I should go to bed anyway, because tomorrow (this) morning is going to be full of bullshit and if I don’t get to sleep soon it’ll suck.

12:30AM – I drift off to sleep.

2:00AM – I wake up covered in sweat and decide to hit the bathroom.

3:00AM – About when I get back to sleep, I guess.

4:00AM (ish) – I wake up again. The clock is the only thing testifying that I slept in the interim. My body and brain don’t agree.

6:00AM – I get another one of those “flash-forward” things which don’t really feel like sleep, smell coffee being brewed, and decide to give up.

So, yeah, today’s going to suck.

Hearthstone: First Impressions

In my first, real, post-hiatus YouTube video I take a look at Blizzard’s Hearthstone.

Hearthstone is a digital, collectible card game wherein you choose one of nine classes, build 30-card deck, and face off against another randomly-chosen–yet, supposedly, equally-skilled–player in online matches which typically last anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. I recorded the video above after about four hours of playing the game and have since lost another 20 hours to it.

Hearthstone is fun, frustrating, and free-ish.

It’s fun because everything from the game’s presentation to its actual mechanics are slick, engaging, and show almost none of the complexity of traditional CCGs like Magic: The Gathering without sacrificing strategy.

It’s frustrating because the match-making system seems just a little broken. Once I got my head around the game and built a half-decent deck, I won a little more than 80 percent of my next fifteen or so matches. Then, for my next six games, I was so thoroughly punked I couldn’t sit down for the rest of the day.

And I say it’s free-ish because even though you can play Hearthstone without opening your wallet, it’s still a CCG and there’s still an element of pay-to-win.

Overall, I like the game enough to give it a recommendation, but not enough to devote the time necessary to learn every class, keep up with the meta, and earn enough cards in-game to build competitive decks without driving my bank balance into the negative.


I’m Sorry, Tip Who, Now?

Apparently I’m supposed to tip baristas. And in case you’re like spell check and don’t know what that word means, a barista is the person who works behind the counter of your friendly, neighborhood coffee shop serving up the java.

Or, in my case, it’s the person who charges me $3.00 (plus tax), hands me an empty cup, and gestures vaguely in the direction of the coffee pumps, because your fancy, frothy drinks confuse and frighten me.

Now, to me, the act of handing me a cup and telling me to serve myself isn’t something which requires a gratuity. In fact, it ought to come with a discount since I’m arguably doing most of the work, so I was sort of shocked at the shock of my friend when I walked away from the counter without dropping a dollar in the “Tips Are Super Karma-Riffic” jar.

Friend (under his breath): “Dude, you didn’t tip him.”

Me: “Huh.”

Friend: “You’re supposed to tip your barista.”

Me: “The who? You mean the cup handler?”

Friend: “Dude, he does way more than dispense cups.”

Me: “‘Dude,’ he took my money and gave me a cup. That makes him a vending machine. Actually, the coffee vending machines I’ve used also fill the fucking cup for me, so technically he did less work than an inanimate object.”

Friend: “Well, I tipped him.”

Me: “That’s because you asked for some kind of ‘half-caff, double-shot, espresso mocha’ horror show. I think the Gettysburg Address was shorter than your order.”

Friend: “So?”

Me: “So if ever I require a barista to do more than the Dixie Cup dispenser in my bathroom, I’ll tip him.”

The conversation went off in another direction at that point, but I got to thinking about it this morning when I saw someone on the Twitters make the same claim as my friend.

Look, I tip pretty much everyone in the service industry. You have to be an absolutely stupendous fuck up as a waiter or waitress for me to give you less than 20 percent when I go out to eat. Same with the delivery drivers who show up with my pizza or Chinese food, the people who pump my gas when I pull up to the full-serve pumps, and my bartenders when they actually pour me a drink.

That last bit got me in trouble with another friend of mine once.

Other Friend: “You didn’t give her a tip?”

Me: “I ordered a bottle of beer.”

Other Friend: “So?”

Me: “‘So?’ Her sole contribution to the beverage was to pop the cap off. I have a bottle opener on my keyring which can do that job. Granted, it doesn’t have an edgy nose stud…”

Bartender: “You realize I can hear you, right?”

I swear, some people.

Wherein I Return to YouTube!

And, I’m back!

That’s right, my YouTube channel is once again alive and kicking. If you’re a gamer or other sort of geek, this should be relevant to your interests. If you’re not, well, sorry. I don’t have any cats I can record videos of, and when I did any videos would be less of the “aww how cute variety” and more of the “Jesus fucking Christ, how much can one goddamned animal puke” sort.

Anyway, since the channel is currently in reboot territory, things like video topics and upload schedules are in flux. I’m actually speaking with a few other people about jumping in to my channel, so I’m waiting for their input before I try carving anything into stone.

I will say I’ll have a new video up on Monday to show off a very cool game which has suck it’s crack-laced claws into me. Until then, have fun!