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    Mar 28th, 2012 at 22:39:31     -    Agricola (Other)

    Game Log 2:

    This game took less time than the first because it consisted of four players, each having played the game prior. I decided to try a strategy in which I would fill up my board with a full house (5 rooms) and fences. Fences cost one wood and can be placed around farm spaces to create pastures. Typically, one wants a balanced farm as a player will lose points for not having certain things, such as each type of animal, vegetables, grain, pastures, etc. This game, I received a card called Yeoman Farmer (occupation). This card made it such that I would only lose points for unused farm spaces and begging cards. My idea was to focus solely on amassing animals in the pastures that I planned to build. To do this, I would use a card called Sheep Farmer (occupation) that allowed me to take an extra sheep when I obtained one with one of my actions, as well as allowed me to exchange these sheep for wild board and cattle (wild board and cattle gives higher points). With my Yeoman farmer, I would completely neglect pastures, vegetables, grain to focus on obtaining a high animal count. I came in second place in this game. I feel that I had a slow start (did not expand house quickly) and this hurt me in the mid to late game. As I mentioned earlier, it is important to expand your house and family early to obtain more actions. I felt that I also had problems with food early and had to use excessive actions to feed my family. Eventually I obtained a major improvement that allowed me to turn animals into food (which synergized with my strategy this game). The major improvements are cards located on the communal game board and can be purchased after using certain action spaces.


    I feel that the game is a strong example of Strategy and Resource Management. The way a person uses his actions and chains his occupation/improvements together is paramount for success (high score). Often times players must make decisions on what actions to use in what order, and certain routes may prove to be more beneficial. Everything in the game requires resources to build. In addition, at each harvest (the last round in a column on the communal game board) a player must be able to feed his family or suffer major point negations.

    The game has almost zero Territory Control or Diplomacy. Players each have their own game space that they can build on. Also, no trading is allowed between players. Luck is also not present, outside of the luck involved at the very beginning when cards are dealt out (e.g., being dealt a hand of cards that chain together very well as in my Game 1). There are no dice rolls or anything else of the sort.

    The valorization element is, of course, achieving the highest score and feeling that you made good, strategic decisions with your cards and use of actions.

    This entry has been edited 5 times. It was last edited on Mar 29th, 2012 at 03:02:28.

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    Mar 28th, 2012 at 22:38:40     -    Agricola (Other)

    Rather than right a complete introduction I will first reference a few articles/pictures and expand upon those references as I explain my gameplay.

    Ref 1 (Wiki article):
    Ref 2 (Communal game board):
    Ref 3 (Score sheet):
    Ref 4 (Player board):

    The occupations and minor improvements mentioned in the Wikipedia article are what really make the game dynamic. Typically, at the beginning of the game, I will analyze these cards to see how I might chain them together. The strategy I formulate at this point will greatly impact how I play the game.

    The communal game board (Ref 2) is comprised of round spaces, each with an action card that is flipped over at the beginning of that round. At the end of a column of round spaces, each player must have adequate food to feed his family. During a round, players take turns using their pieces on the various action spots to do things such as play an occupation, play a minor improvement, gather materials (wood, stone, etc.), and many others.

    Game Log 1:

    Games typically take about 30 minutes per person. A few of the players in this game were new, so it took a bit longer. We had five players total. I decided to chain together cards that would allow me to expand and upgrade my house quickly, as well as give me extra points for doing so. The first card, Chief (occupation), gives bonus points for each room in a stone house. I also had Renovator (occupation), a card that allows me to pay less in order to renovate my house. In addition, I had Stone House Extension (minor improvement) which allows me to immediately extend my stone house by one room. I also had a card, that I can't remember at the moment, that allowed me to expand my stone house for cheaper than normal. The synergy of all these cards quickly caught my attention. My strategy was to quickly renovate my house to stone, then extend and eventually reach the maximum of five rooms. At this point, I used Master Builder (occupation) to allow me to upgrade to six rooms (beyond the maximum). This strategy worked out very well for me, and resulted in one of my few first place finishes amongst our group of friends. I was able to quickly expand early (with Renovator). By expanding I was able to quickly increase my family size (you need one room per family member), which in turn gave me extra turns (you get one turn per family member). Extra turns, especially if obtained early, can snowball as it gives the player more actions which can then be used to further increase family, obtain points, etc. At the end of the game, the massive amount of stone rooms I had, plus the bonus from the Chief card, secured me the victory.

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Mar 29th, 2012 at 03:00:05.

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    Feb 7th, 2012 at 00:26:58     -    League of Legends (PC)

    Game Log 2:

    In my first game for this session I again went Pantheon and traveled to the bottom lane with my teammate to begin the laning phase. We did very well. Our team came out of the laning phase, into the mid phase with a decisive advantage. We had more gold, and had special buffs due to the killing of the biggest jungle creature in the game. Unfortunately, we lost due to a player disconnecting. This illustrates another negative aspect of the game. It is nearly impossible to win a game 4v5. Thus, if someone has connection problems it can ultimately spell defeat for your team. It can be very frustrating because no matter how well you performed, you will be defeated due to an element that you have no control over. Our team continued to try for a period of time after the player disconnected; but, we were ultimately defeated at around 38 minutes.

    For the second game in my second session I decided to play a ranked match. LoL offers several modes of play for Summoner's Rift (the 5v5, and most popular map). The prior games in my sessions were Normal Blind Pick games. This means that all players choose at once, and neither team can see the picks of the other team. A champion can only be selected once on a team, but can be in the game twice (once per team). This is generally the mode that players use to practice new champions or new rune/mastery/item builds. The mode that I played for this game was Ranked Draft Mode. In this mode, the teams take turns banning three champions each, then selecting. Each team can see the other team's selected champions and thus can attempt to counterpick. Counterpicking involves deducing which lane a particular enemy selected champion will go to and picking a champion that can fair well against that particular champion. In this mode, a champion can only be selected once in the entire game. Players have a ranked score that increases or decreases with wins or loses. The ranked score is based on the ELO system designed for chess. This introduces an element that keeps players interested as obtaining a high ELO score is a source of valorization. This is where the negative social aspect can be the worst. Players (including myself at times) can become very angry if mistakes are made and blame and conflicts will sometimes emerge resulting in a loss of team cohesion. I chose a magical mage character and went to the middle lane. This particular character is one that I have practiced with many times. I was able to score several kills early on my enemy opponent. This game me a sizable lead in both gold and experience. As with one of my earlier games, our bottom two teammates were doing very poorly against the enemy. This could have resulted in a loss because one of those two champions on the enemy team is a champion, named Sivir, capable of dealing large amounts of damage. Fortunately, our team was positive, did not place blame, and even after mistakes were made stayed cohesive. This allowed me, as well as my teammate in the top lane who also fared well during the laning phase, to lead our team to victory. This particular game illustrated the complexity that the game offers. Due to my knowledge of the items, as well as the champions in the game, I was able to make a big impact on teamfights. Most notable, I was able to kill the enemy Sivir, who I noticed bought all damage and no defense items, before she could deal lots of damage to my teammates.

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    Feb 7th, 2012 at 00:26:34     -    League of Legends (PC)

    I will first start with a discussion about the setup and objectives of the game, as well as some of my thoughts about the game in general. This will go in my first diary log. I have been playing for about a year and a half, thus I will have more things to say than someone who has played it for the first time.

    The primary map, Summoner's Rift, is a big square (see link 1). There are two teams, with five players, whose bases' are located in the bottom left and top right of the square. The map is split down a diagonal river from top left to bottom right. Connecting both bases are three lanes that contain defensive towers. In the heart of each team's base is a Nexus. The primary goal of the game is to destroy the enemy team's Nexus. In addition, each team has at the base of their three lanes an inhibitor. One of these inhibitors must be destroyed before the Nexus can be engaged (link 1 illustrates the Nexus and Inhibitors as squares). In the extreme inner most section of the base is a Summoner Platform and a merchant that sells items. This is where players spawn when the game first begins. A player will choose one of the lanes to begin fighting in. Throughout the game the player earns gold and gains experience by killing enemy minions, AI controlled characters that spawn at the nexus and march down the three lanes, and enemy champions. In addition, creatures spawn in the jungles between the three lanes. These creatures can be killed for gold, experience, and in some cases important buffs. One of biggest overall deciding factors that determines who will win a match is amount of gold earned.

    Link 1:

    The game is very innovative for several reasons. First, it was the first stand-alone Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). This game type first emerged in a Warcraft 3 add-on known as Defense of the Ancients (DoTA). Second, the game employs a free to play micro-transaction system as its business model. Though not being the first to do so, this is a very innovative business model that allows players to obtain the game for free, and spend real money on extras or to obtain material quickly if they enjoy the game enough. The game recently announced that six million accounts had been created and the company seems to be doing very well with this business model.

    One design element that League of Legends added to the DoTA style gameplay is runes and masteries. Each summoner can set up rune pages and mastery trees that can be used to customize the champions that they pick and play in a match. These runes and masteries augment certain attributes and are usually set up to synergize with a certain playstyle. This gives the player more control over their character, and thus increases the strategy of the game. Unfortunately, the game suffers from bugs and is still lacking certain features that a competitive game really needs (e.g., replay system). I have to assume that the reason for this is a poor design of the codebase. I read that some of the people that worked on the popular DoTA add-on formed the company that created LoL. It is my guess that these creative people were probably lacking the software engineering skills required for a project of this magnitude. Nonetheless, they were able to get a stand-alone game together and with the massive increase in popularity of the game will continue to improve the game by adding features and reducing bugs.

    The game is three dimensional with the camera starting at a top-down view. The player can zoom in and tilt the camera; however, most people do not do this due to the need to see as much as one's surroundings as possible. I personally have thought about how one could take a MOBA style game, such as LoL, and make it such that one could tab from a top down, more 2 dimensional view to a first person three dimensional view.

    I feel that the game is extremely complex. First, there are over 80 champions that summoners can choose for a match, each with different playstyles and abilities. Each champion general has a passive ability (an ability that is always active), three activated abilities, and an ultimate ability. In addition, as I talked about earlier, these champions can be customized with runes and masteries. Also, the game has a large selections of items that can be purchased with the gold obtained over the course of the match. This further adds complexity as the items that a summoner buys for his or her champions can determine whether his or her team wins or loses.

    The flow of the game can definitely be felt. I would partition the flow into three phases: early (or laning), mid, and late. Early on players are only concerned with killing enemy creeps and trying to prevent the enemy from killing their creeps. As the game progresses, champions become more powerful and towers will be destroyed. This results in the map advantage going in favor of one team or the other (due to there being no defensive towers to protect champions if they venture into the map). In addition, two big bosses spawn in the river that become team objectives that, if killed, can give one team an advantage over the other. This is when the game moves into mid stage. At this point, teams will start to rally together in order to engage in a fight, hopefully to their advantage. Often times games can be decided at or before this point, due to champions earning more gold than their enemies in the laning phase. If the match is close, and continues on the game enters a late phase. The late phase is when all champions have their full builds, or close to it. At this stage of the game, team objectives and coordination become extremely important. One mistake can win or lose the game in this phase.

    The game creates two kind of conflicts, one of which is unfortunate. First, the obvious conflict, is the players battling against each other in order to earn more gold, improve their attributes, and ultimately destroy the Nexus. The second is one that I will go more in detail about in the social section of this report. Since a character becomes stronger as he kills minions and champions, a player can become very powerful if their opponent makes many mistakes. Often times, the teammates of the person making the mistakes become angry if this happens since it decreases their chances of winning when the game proceeds to the mid or late game. Many times blame will be placed on people who make mistakes (e.g., dying or being out of position if a team fight occurs). Unfortunately, this in itself often times causes the downfall of a team.

    When examining how the game keeps the player interested we can look at two areas: per game and overall. For me, the game is interesting on a per game basis because I am using my skill with the particular champion I chose, as well as wit to try and outfarm (earn more gold) than my opponent and ultimately assist my team such that we can destroy the enemy Nexus. At an overall view, the game adds a new champion each week. This new champion will have new abilities and a new playstyle. In addition, as I discussed earlier, each game will be different in terms of items purchased and strategies used to defeat the enemy team.

    There are definitely some features I would like to see added. Most importantly, I think that a replay system is very important to a game that is competitive. LoL has recently broken into some of the big worldwide game tournaments and thus really needs a replay system so that people can analyze their mistakes. For example, Starcraft 2 allows a player to save a replay after the game is over that can be replayed through the game engine in order for the player to see what was happening and when.

    The social aspect is a very important topic when discussing LoL. Since each team consists of five players, it is extremely important that these five players communicate and work together. Unfortunately, LoL has a rather hostile environment at times. Often times blame will be placed on those who make mistakes that put their team at a disadvantage. Many times, teams lose the game for themselves due to arguing with each other instead of forgetting mistakes and working as a team.

    As a final comment, I would like to talk about the difficulty in balancing a game like LoL. Every week a new patch is introduced that makes tweaks various characters, items, and less frequently masteries and runs. With so many characters, items, etc. in the game, sometimes certain combinations are found that are a bit too powerful.

    Game Log 1:

    I mentioned earlier that the game contains various bugs. I encountered one of these when starting my first match. After choosing characters in the pregame, the game engine loads. Typically, if a player disconnects, he or she can restart the game client and reconnect to the game. In this case, the game engine crashed while loading. Upon restarting my game client I was not given the option to reconnect. This usually does not happen and was very strange. I then joined another game lobby picked a champion named Pantheon. This champion is called a bruiser champion because he has abilities that allow him to get in the face of champions and deal damage while still being somewhat hardy. I went top lane by myself (general one person goes top, one middle, two bottom, and one person farms the jungle between the lanes). Due to my knowledge of the particular match up (me vs the enemy champion that also went top) I was able to kill the enemy champion several times. This put me ahead in both experience and gold. Because of this, as we entered the mid phase, I was able to score kills on enemy champions that made mistakes. Unfortunately, I lost the game even though I did really well. This illustrates the important aspect of working together as a team. It also demonstrates another important dynamic of the game, team composition. For example, a team with all hardy or tanky characters will often times have trouble against a team with a mix of high damage and tanky characters once the mid game phase begins. In this game, I feel that our team composition, in addition to other characters not doing well in the early, or laning phase caused our defeat. We lost the game at around 35 minutes.

    In my second match I again picked Pantheon. In the champion selection pregame I asked to go mid. Unfortunately, one of the other players decided to be hostile and demanded that he take the middle lane. This is a good example of the negative side of the LoL player community. I went bottom lane with a teammate. We did fairly well. Unfortunately, our jungle player made numerous mistakes that ultimately caused our team to be at too big of a disadvantage to win. We surrendered (if a majority of players vote to surrender, their Nexus is instantly destroyed and the game ends) at around 25 minutes.

    This entry has been edited 4 times. It was last edited on Feb 7th, 2012 at 02:32:59.

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