Freeing from Constraints


Our lives are often lived within certain constraints which are both within and without our control. These range from limited resources to circumstances of our individual situations.


Time

It's been called our most valuable resource as we only have so much of it in each day, and so many days in our lives. The Internet and cell phones have made it so easy to squander away time without thinking about it, and this becomes more alarming the older we get, as we can look back in the rear view mirror and go from saying "Where did the last year go?" to "Where did the last decade go?"  

The easiest to attack is our free time, leisure time, downtime or whatever you call it. If we intend to improve at something - a video game or otherwise - could those three hours I spend a night browsing reddit or YouTube or vegging out on Netflix had been better used studying players on Twitch, reading up on new strategies, or practicing in game? What if I combine that time over a week, a month, or a year?  Those three hours a day adds up to over a thousand hours a year I could have invested at bettering myself at something important to me, video game or otherwise, and would no doubt show results. We just need the discipline and desire to make it happen.

But a larger amount of time that we often ignore are the hours we spend with work, family, and in relationships. Gary Vaynerchuk lives by the philosophy that if today he was told he only had a week left to live, would his time spent on an average day - from work to family to relationships - be doing the thing that's most fulfilling for him? He's in a place where he can answer "yes" every day, but most people are not! Finding those major timesinks in your life that are not fulfilling and finding ways to make them so are the hard "big" decisions we make to put us on a better path.


Money

How much we earn and how much we can save are limiting factors on our growth as human beings. Certainly in the realm of competitive offline gaming like Smash I believe some of the top players had not just the skill and time invested but also the money to get themselves to larger events and expose themselves to as many players as possible before they found sponsors. When I look at a player like Draxsel who just gets better every time he plays someone, I know that a major constraint limiting him and others like him is money invested. Given enough exposure to top talent I have no doubts he can be a contender at the professional level, and I'm happy we can help towards that end with LML and trips like Pound and EVO.

But there are certainly other things in life where money can be a limiting factor. I'm sure there are things you've wanted to do your whole life that you just have never been able to afford, be it travel or experiences or otherwise. Money has become an unfortunate roadblock to that for many people, and with the wage gaps between rich and poor at all-time highs this will remain so until our current socioeconomic conditions improve.


Family / Relationships

We are both born into circumstances outside of our control, and become tied to these through our relationships with others. These may provide us with love and support but also tie us to physical locations and may temporarily limit our pursuits in life. When we're bound to others we don't always take heed of our own needs, which means we may end up putting others needs in front of our own. This is necessary at some level for all relationships, but when this becomes one-sided you can lose track of your own self identity and path through life.

We can take some control over this by choosing who we relate with. Is a person dragging you down or lifting you up? Are their goals and desires in life on a similar trajectory to your own? The saying goes that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with - who are your five?



Often in life there can be a chorus of voices of doubt and pessimism all around us.

You can't do it.

These voices can even be people you respect and hold in high regard, like a parent, teacher, boss, or co-worker.

This is childish, it will never work.

In their mind they may feel like what they're saying is what you need to hear, and that it's in your best interests.

You should just give up.

Dealing With Toxicity


The player known as Flaming Popcorn

In my free time I've been investing into League of Legends supporting. On Thursday I was playing Janna support solo queue and paired with a Gold Mastery 7 Draven against a Leona/Vayne lane. Our Draven made sure everyone knew his mastery, spamming the emote on the rift and in lane repeatedly. The game started to go downhill after a level 2 jungle gank, when the enemy Warwick came via tri-bush, pausing long enough to clear my vision ward before Leona caught the Draven out of position and all three pounced on him. I blew all my cooldowns trying to save him with no luck. Flaming Popcorn began to type.

Janna Exhaust - 191 seconds
Way too long to use Janna

It's a fair criticism, I could have been quicker, but it still wouldn't have saved him from the 3v2 gank. More importantly my past experience has taught me that this Draven was going to be a problem, and that I should proceed with caution with how I respond. I can get defensive and type back at him, or I can just continue playing my game and let my results prove me right. More often than not I choose the latter and did so in this case. The Draven came back to lane, I set up a nice kill for him, and he seemed to calm down for the moment. A few minutes later the Draven was engaged on again by the Leona, and I was down a cooldown and unable to save him. He immediately started spamming question marks on top of me in lane.

The week leading up to this game I had been playing hot, cruising from Silver IV up to Silver II on the back of my newfound support main Janna, and my confidence was pretty high heading into the game. With this Draven dumping on me the thoughts of doubt started to creep in.

Am I playing poorly? Maybe I'm too tired and should be calling it a night after this?

I didn't have too much time to dwell as our turret was being pushed in on, and Janna is pretty great at holding a turret early game. I took turns shielding the turret, throwing tornados at the enemy champs and minions, and keeping myself out of range of the Leona initiate. I noticed the Draven had respawned but hadn't left the rift for 30 seconds.

Draven you still there?

Another minute of me holding the turret and finally the Draven starts returning to lane. He immediately begins pushing to catch up on CS and I do what I usually do when my ADC is pushing a wave - poking and preparing minions for his last hits. The Draven pings caution on my head.

DON'T PUSH
THE WAVE
I CAN DO IT MYSELF

This triggered me in all sorts of ways. The Draven known as Flaming Popcorn had been flaming me the entire game, blaming me for any bot lane mishaps and taking zero responsibility for his own play. He was rude and obnoxious, and I wanted to type something back but stopped myself. If I want to win then no good can come from arguing with a guy who is clearly ready to explode and make a mess of the game and my rank.

So I went and stood in a bush and held the "S" button and made myself the best Janna ward possible. For whatever reason the Draven had decided he had zero faith in my ability, and I knew that wasn't the reality of what I'm capable of. It wasn't even the ten minute mark of the game and we hadn't had a proper fight yet. I just needed a chance to prove myself and I knew the Draven would back off.

At the 10:30 mark my opportunity came. It was a long sequence and I made a clip of Flaming Popcorn's conversion to the church of SammySammy (skip to 1 minute mark):



Following this play his attitude went from night to day.

Good job Janna
I was having mouse problems earlier and couldn't click right

We went on to win the game at 28 minutes with the Draven finishing 14/4/4 on my 17 assists. Flaming Popcorn left one message in post-game chat.

Honor Janna

You Can't Let the Naysayers Win

I didn't need this Draven's approval for my own well being. If I lived my life clinging to the approval of every Flaming Popcorn that came through I'd be an emotional wreck. That doesn't mean blatantly ignoring all criticism in a conceited way, but I do have to take a moment and consider what's said and be able to some of the time confidently think "Nope, that's wrong and toxic and I'm going to ignore it." If I don't move through the world with that filter on then I'm basically just a leaf blowing in the wind.

Throughout life there are going to be people that doubt you and just don't believe in you. It could be they're just having a bad day and have this gray cloud hanging over their heads, or just their general outlook on life every day is cynical and pessimistic. It could also be they feel like they have your best intentions at heart and know what's best for you, or are trying to protect you from the dangers of the world. If you let the voices of doubt get to you, you'll find yourself caving and giving up.

The truth is it has to come from inside us from a lot of thought and deep introspection. For a moment just ignore all that noise and whirlwind around you and look within. Whatever you're working toward improving in your life - do you believe in the underlying truth and value in that, and do you believe you have what it takes to do it? If you really want to do X thing but you're just unsure of yourself, then you have to work on your self confidence first. This is half the battle because if you don't believe in yourself you've already lost.

Once you have that self confidence that you can say belongs to you and nobody else, the difficulty then becomes persisting, because if you're doing anything difficult in life the voices of doubt from without aren't going to ever let up until you can convince them otherwise. Some are just so stubborn that they'll never be satisfied no matter what you do. In the end it's only the self identity that matters, how YOU feel about YOU. But believe in your abilities and be confident in yourself, and you can accomplish great change.


The obvious answer would be all of them. Though I don't think that would ever happen, Microsoft is doing a great job with their backwards compatibility program. I honestly think it's better than what Sony offers for PS Now. Allowing certain Xbox 360 and now Original games to be played on your Xbox One console is a lot better than having to sign up for a program like PS Now. If you happen to have your physical copy handy it's just a small update away from being playable on your console! If not then you can purchase it digitally for $10-$15. Since announcing the Xbox Original BC at E3 last year, there are only 13 games available. There needs to be more! Seeing games like Jade Emipre, Morrowind, Mercenaries, Battlefront II, and SSX 3 is awesome.

Jet Set Radio Future

Though not as good as the original, Jet Set Radio Future was still an awesome title. Even today there hasn't been a game to try what Jet Set Radio accomplished.

Beyond Good & Evil

It would probably be more likely we'd get a remaster to commemorate the soon to be released Beyond Good & Evil 2.

Burnout 3

Burnout 3 is one of the best racing games I've played. With the first two being alright, Burnout 3 took it to a whole new level. With adding the "Takedown" mode, Criterion perfected the racing formula they were striving for.

Predator: Concrete Jungle

A game I never got the chance to beat but enjoyed every second. There aren't any other solo Predator games and I don't understand why. Concrete Jungle is amazing!

The Punisher

Comic book games (especially now) are getting knocked out the park. Games like the Arkham series and the upcoming Spider-Man game are fantastic. But video game adaptation of The Punisher is one of the best comic book games I've ever played. It stays true to the comics with it's brutal subject matter.

The Suffering

The Suffering was an intense first and third person shooter. The game had three different endings that resulted from your choices throughout. 

Simpsons Hit & Run

A game that strongly needs a sequel, Simpson's Hit & Run is one of the best Grand Theft Auto clones ever made. Everything from the show makes this game difficult to put down. The missions are fun, the unlockables are great, and nothing beats kicking people down the road.

Need For Speed Underground

When most people hear Need For Speed, this is usually the game people think of. So why not make it backwards compatible? If they did it with SSX I don't see why they wouldn't this time (licenses for the music might be a deal breaker for them though.)

TimeSplitters 2

One of the greatest FPS games released during that generation. TimeSplitters 2 had an amazing campaign and multiplayer that could keep you entertained for hours with your friends. You could even make levels and play your friends on them. Not to mention that every character you saw in the game was playable.

Far Cry Instincts

A remake of the original Far Cry, Instincts was the first console release for console. Why not bring it back with Far Cry 5 just recently being released?
Gaming is currently on the move to becoming accepted by the majority of people, not just as a form of entertainment but potentially as a career, as we see big cities now adopting teams to sponsor for eSports. It is also a means to fill in certain education gaps, train personnel, and also as a tool to express and understand ourselves as individuals. If we look at modern sci fi we can get a glimpse into potential realities of the future and gaming as producers writers and directors follow the extremes of certain trends and ideas like overpopulation leading to VR games being our only way to experience a world that's not completely covered in black top. Potentially an entire job industry is opening up where social life can exist completely in game and jobs are produced in games by moderators and could eventually become a full cast of characters that replace npcs in the varied and popular mmorpgs. We have already seen the potential of gaming commerce through games like Ultima online and WoW. Through the use of eBay back in early 2000 there was an explosion of people exchanging in game money and resources for real world money. This caused quite a stir and was quickly addressed by the powers that be, causing immediate reprogramming to create restrictions, prevent exchanges of items between characters, and in some causes legal action was taken to stop it. I say this to show the potential gaming may one day have on the economy, with the rise of bitcoin and crypto-currency the idea of gaming currency becoming a part of our lifestyles is not so far off, and could technically be re-instituted tomorrow. With this in mind, gaming currency and the rise of eSports, it’s become much more pressing on some individuals to put more effort into becoming a better gamer. So what does it take to enter into this competitive world and set yourself apart. In all honesty it’s the same things that set you apart in real life, at least in my opinion. So here are my thoughts on how to improve your chances.


 It’s easy to say a good attitude is a major part of becoming a good gamer, lots of people before me have said just that. What does a good attitude mean though, what is involved in having a good attitude? I enjoy breaking things down into their elementary parts and then putting it back together to gain a better understanding of the big picture, and attitude is a big picture idea. So let’s break down the many parts that make up the larger concept of a good attitude. 

First and foremost is self assessment, you’re not going to get anywhere in gaming or in anything else in life for that matter if as an individual you can not judge your own progress. We tend to or perhaps are trained to (conspiracy theory? My bad.) seek out judgement from others, be it in the form of test scores, or performance evaluations at work, and even just how we look. We are always trying to get someone else to tell us where we are at. Going to someone else for their opinion isn’t a bad thing in general, it’s good to get an outside opinion. The bad part is the utter dependence on outside sources to determine our current. We should be able to tell pretty easily and quickly how good or bad we are at something. It’s as simple as reading your feedback. 

Just a quick example, when you first start a game and are learning it you're generally obviously pretty bad at it. As you learn it’s not hard to tell you're improving by the fact that it gets easier as you go, and so the challenges in the game and how hard it is for you to accomplish them immediately give you the feedback you need to determine how you're doing. Then take this same feedback and use it to determine how easily you learn a new game. This can give you an idea of which games you're good at naturally, but you need to consider the difficulty of the game overall as well. This is where 3rd parties are useful by seeing how you compare to other players and how they struggle with a game, but you're not relying on their judgement of your skill, merely comparing to get an idea of your own performance. You're weighing your own progress against the difficulty of the game by using 3rd parties as examples of how hard the game may be and how far others have pushed the limits. This is using your own brain to come to a conclusion instead of allowing someone else to think and do the work for you by asking them to judge you. This makes you a more balanced player mentally, it allows you to take what others say with grain of salt as the saying goes. Instead of being tugged back and forth between what 2 or more different experts (authority figures) say you can take what you need from any and all including yourself and blend it all together without potentially being crushed by the so called experts criticism. Also if you know you're bad, when someone tells you you're bad it’s not gonna touch you because you have already accepted the truth of your skill, as opposed to the painful reminder of how bad you;re lying to yourself and trying to deny the truth of your skill. This is where hurt feelings and tilting and most of the negative aspects of gaming attitude comes from. The denial of the truth of your ability and lying to yourself. 

Self assessment is about being honest with yourself and this is important for the above reason of not tilting or being hurt by the reality of your ability but it also plays a much more vital role...getting better. The simple fact is if you suck at a game but convince yourself your gods gift blaming everything but yourself for losses and failures you will never try to improve because you think you're already a master. The only thing that will get better is your ability to find excuses to blame something else. However if you're honest with yourself and you know you need to improve you can truly begin training. You know you need to get better and hopefully you know your weakest point to improve. Honesty is critical for this, and when you're willing to accept your ineptitude and faults it becomes much easier to be honest with yourself, and much less painful to deal with toxicity from other players, who more often than not are only toxic because of their own insecurity. This is simple in theory but in reality it is a pretty difficult step to accept one’s flaws, there is a lot of fear associated with weakness so most people pretend it doesn't exist, this only makes it worse. It is strength to recognize one's limits, only in doing so can a person better themselves and learn to push those limits as far as they can go.

Which brings us to the mental state for training. This portion requires willpower and discipline, and both of these rest squarely on the back of motivation. Why bother training if you're not committed to it, and why commit if there is no valid reason for it. I have played and trained in a lot of games. I sometimes look at the hours I have spent on games, like 230 hours plus on tales of Vesperia and wonder why did i waste my time? Many people would agree it was a waste of time and life. Or was it? For one it was entertainment, which last I knew is probably the second (second only to military industry) most profitable business in america and for good reason. Musicians, actors/actresses, athletes, and writers are some of the highest paid people, so don’t judge my preferred entertainment as you gossip about the latest tv show and movies. Part of the video game entertainment is the challenge, and it's why I have chosen it as my preferred entertainment. 

My Vesperia journey currently has me on what's literally called “unknown” difficulty. It's quite challenging and pushes me to use every bit of game knowledge and strategy I have to overcome even simple battles, including tactical retreat which I never had to do on the other difficulties. It’s a puzzle as most games are, and victory requires solving the puzzle. It’s all mental gymnastics, unless you “cheat” but I will cover “cheating” later. All the effort I put into a game provides great returns for me in practical problem solving in many varieties as well as discipline and willpower. Many of the readers I am sure have come up against a boss that was really tough to beat or a jump puzzle that seemed impossible (why does ultimate chicken horse come to mind?) and through willpower stuck it out, perhaps failing hundreds of times, running through it over and over until finally that moment when you finally figure out the puzzle and combine it with button punching perfection to complete an amazing dance, or perhaps just clumsily luck your way through surviving with 1 hp left. It takes determination.

 I may be in the minority but I bring this same determination and puzzle solving to bear on every problem I face in life. I use the skills I have learned in gaming every day at my job. I learned to type fast because when online games first started on pc there was no voice chat and everyone typed, and you typed fast or died. I learned how to manage time because of triggers for doors that slam shut if you're not fast enough, and shooting, dodging, and weapon change patterns. I learned to manage resources in games ranging from resident evil and its scarce bullets to games like Sim City and Sim Earth. I learned logistics running roman empires and colonizing planets. Sure it's not exactly real life but a lot of the principles are very similar and excellent starts for dealing with the real world problem solving skills you need. Was it a waste, not in my opinion. If I hadn’t been training my focus on games for hours on end extending my mental stamina could I be able to focus on problems in real life that extend to days and weeks at my job? I find it unlikely. I view every game as a method and means of learning something new, or as a test of my problem solving ability, or an exploration of myself and bring it all back to real life. It's not a perfect translation, you can't learn martial arts playing a fighting game but you can learn to adapt more quickly to different opponents rhythms which is an important part of martial arts. So there is some reasoning behind why it's worth the time and effort. Oh yeah let’s not forget what I learned from the most popular of all games….Tetris, I learned how to pack a moving truck. If cup stacking is considered an important learning tool then how much more so are games that challenge us.

So if it's not a waste of time then training can begin in earnest. Training revolves around experimentation, which is the basis of the scientific method, and determination. If you're going to work to improve you must be prepared to fail over and over and over again. Just accept it, failure is a natural part of learning. All the anxiety and pain that goes along with failure needs to be let go during training. It’s training for a reason. Don’t let things like competitive or ranked mode fool you into thinking it's important. It’s not. If it doesn't affect the real world like say a tourny for prizes, then it’s only training. Ranked and competitive are just the next level of training. So it gives you a grade, other than being able to brag about how awesome you are it’s completely meaningless. What has meaning is your personal progress, and these rankings may give you some idea of where you are at, it is far from an accurate assessment of skill, esp when it comes to team based games. If you’re not willing to accurately assess your abilities and progress you won’t be able to muster the determination of the grind that training can become or learn how best to train yourself. If you don’t know your weaknesses how will you know what to train. 

Experimentation goes hand in hand with this, as you must be open to new ideas or you become predictable, mechanical, and miss out on innovation or new strategies. Let’s use Armored Core as an example. Armored core V is a mech based game that has a high level of customization. You get ranked on each mission, S rank being highest. It's not too hard to clear a mission but to clear it with an S rank is a major challenge. First you have to know your enemy and their weaknesses. Then you have to design your mech accordingly to exploit those weaknesses, and you have to have the technical skill to to actually out play your enemy (timing, aim, and use of environment). Lack any of the above and you walk away with just A rank instead of S. So when you fail you have to go through the check list, did I assess the enemy right? No … reassess enemy based on new information. Or yes so move on to the next question, was it my mech? Yes then back to the drawing board and design a new mech and start over. No not your mech then it must be your skill. The theory seems sound and I know it's the right combo it should have worked but it didn’t so that means I just suck. Okay no big deal there’s only so many variables in this fight, did I use cover, did I miss a a lot, oh wait it was my dodge timing. I took just a little too much damage. Ok trying again...fail reassess, nope still me I still suck, try again, rinse repeat, rinse repeat YESSSS!!!!!!! VICTORY IS MINE!!!!! The satisfaction of self improvement is sorely overlooked in the rush for victory, and without self improvement the quest for a win quickly gets out of reach. Every gain in your training, every little step in the process, every drop in the enemies hp from the last go should be celebrated as a minor victory, not focusing on another loss. Focusing on losing is a downward spiral, focusing on gains is how you rise up. Every loss is a lesson and every little step forward is a victory. 

When training properly you're tempering your ego, balancing it. The term tilting applies to gamers for a reason, if you start accepting loss, failure, and defeat as a matter of course for your progress it will have less and less impact on your momentum and will eventually come to propel you forward instead of being a set back. There is another side of tilting few ever discuss, I mean, if you can tilt one way why wouldn't you be able to tilt the other way. The other side of this coin is cockiness and causes just as many if not more problems as rage. Cockiness often leads to showboating and trash talk and a lot of negatives associated with gaming. Sure you can say don't do those things it's just rude, but like with all other forms of respect the true reason behind it is to avoid self destructive patterns.

 It has been my experience that those who are cocky (tilted in one direction) are the quickest to rage quit (tilt in the other direction). This is true for the reasons stated above about accepting or inability to accept the reality of one's ability. But why is this so bad, if you can be cocky you're obviously real good right? Maybe, maybe not. You may have reached above average standing due to natural skill but this has become the cap, once physical skill is established it becomes a mental game, ie strategy, innovation, and focus. One if my favorite funny moments in my gaming history is in league of legends. I was an amatuer mid laner having mained support, I understood the game and techniques in general but solo mid lane specific tactics were still new to me for that lane, but I wasn't going to feed. I forget who I was playing and it’s not really important. The important thing was that I was up against a Zed, who in my experience are statistically higher as a choice of cocky players. Me and my jungler joked about it as we saw who I was up against. Low and behold the trash talk began. I lost the first exchange and the trash talk worsened. I figured that might happen so no sweat I just let it roll off and played carefully ignoring all the verbal baiting he was doing. Me and the jungler actively decided we would tilt him because it was sooooo obvious from his behaviour that we could. So I turtled up a bit luring him into over extension and the jungler struck and we trounced him. Still talking smack, “you need the junglers help you can’t take me” blah blah blah baiting. Damn straight I can’t take you without the jungler that’s why I am relying on my team mate to help me win. We did it again, this time he hard tilted. I gotta say I was impressed he didn’t rage quit right then and there but his self destruction was assured as he tried to prove himself for the rest of the game instead of playing smart. He couldn’t adjust to the new circumstance because in his mind there was no way he could lose. Possibly in his mind relying on my teammate was somehow cheating, and relying on his teammates weakness. It’s a team game though and part of strategy and victory is waiting for the odds to be in your favor, and blending different abilities.

Let’s look at a more frequent cause of tilting in this direction.Victory itself. So you just played a hell of a game and steam rolled your opponent. You're flying high and ready to roll the next team…. Or are you? Overconfidence often occurs after a great victory and often ends in the same result as the league story. It causes rigidity, and an inability to adapt, slacking off, not giving the game your whole focus because you think it's gonna be easy. Then you get trounced, and then because you were so high off the last game your fall is that much greater and momentum stops. Balance. Don’t take the bait like “why don’t you 1v1 one me bro.” What do you really gain by that other than proving you're easily manipulated. If it’s a team game and they aren’t relying on their team for help they obviously don’t understand the game regardless of individual skill and will be a detriment to any team since they are to busy trying to stroke their fragile egos instead of winning the game.

 It’s easy to say you just need a good attitude, but it’s not a switch you can just turn on and say hey I am gonna be positive today yay. It’s something that's forged through hard work. But without understanding why one should improve their attitude there is no real motivation to do it. The simple reason is that a bad attitude is self destructive, it can be gratifying in the short term but in the long term its crippling to progress. Balance is key, one may get the impression I am saying anger and confidence are bad, but they both serve a purpose. If there is no confidence there is only fear and hesitation, and anger at oneself when used correctly is a reminder not to make the same mistake. All the “negative” emotions related to loss and difficulty are tools to help us fix our mistakes by serving as a reminder, a disciplinary action to prevent us from doing it again. Small sharp jabs at ourselves like “idiot that’s the 3rd time you got caught” or “come on man just aim a little better” are all little jabs that can keep us on track without being so hard on yourself that you can’t keep track of your actual progress. It takes time to develop, and is the core of self discipline. 

There are those that have grudgingly come to know their limits and have stopped trying, these usually turn into the trolls that just try to tilt and spoil the game for others. A balanced mind can deal with this better than a tilted mind, and again one should not take the bait. On rare occasion it's necessary to verbally lash such individuals to get them to stop but its not recommended as it's an art in and of itself as it requires understanding of their malfunction and the ability to expose it to such a degree they shut down. I don’t recommend it as failure to do so just leads to wasted energy and eventual tilting or worse, distraction from your training. It's better to practice maintaining focus under the pressure of such mental assaults from trolls so even they can be adopted into your training sessions. It’s actually quite beneficial early on in training to get started with your self assessment. The reason being if the trolls are really getting to you about something there is a good chance it’s true, and that is why it affects you so much. This helps identify potential problems you may have been trying to ignore. Eventually such abuse will fail to have much impact if any, as you achieve balance and acceptance of where your progress is.

 Historically the greatest masters are never competing with other people, they are competing against themselves. Their aim is not to defeat the world, but to defeat themselves. It sounds self destructive at first, but what this mind set does is push one perpetually forward, to constantly push the limits of capability to face new challenges or create something more beautiful. Satisfaction doesn’t come from victory or admiration it comes from improvement. Those who lack this mind set only ever reach the potential of their competition, they are only ever just better than those around them. Those who push themselves for the sake of advancement are the ones that rocket ahead of all competitors, as they constantly explore and experiment the possibilities instead of just focusing on what's directly in front of them. Not everyone can be a great master in certain things but this mentality will certainly bring you farther than most normally dare to tread regardless of personal skill caps, and can even open new avenues of mastery never considered before. I have often taken great satisfaction in changing the dynamics of a game by taking a character that everyone thinks is useless and finding a way to make them viable. It doesn’t always work but when it does it has a major impact on the game. An open and balanced mind is key.

 Everything thing that comes up be it trolls, imbalance in the games designs, all of it should be adopted as training. Pit yourself against impossible odds, or against people miles ahead of you as often as you can tolerate. Facing the impossible can make the really difficult seem easy by comparison and drive innovation in knew directions.

 These elements combined form the basis of a good attitude, the willingness to accept and learn from both victory and defeat start the journey of self assessment which leads to accurately identifying problem areas so one can improve those weaknesses or create new strategies to work around them through experimentation or development of discipline. This understanding of the self and its current potential leads to balance of the ego which prevents tilting and self destruction (keeps us from tripping ourselves up and self sabotage) by honing our focus. A strong focus leads to commitment to improvement and if we compete against ourselves it allows us to push every boundary in our way instead of getting hung up on what others think, and avoiding being torn down by spiteful and toxic players. This is a good attitude and how to develop one. It takes effort, but it is a noble goal and the rewards reaped from the effort will manifest in every aspect of our lives.

By the time this gets published, God of War (2018) will be set to release later in the week! I have so many questions: Why is Kratos in a faraway land? What's the deal with his son? What's with the beard? I had honestly thought the God of War series ended with GoW3. I went and rewatched the end of God of War 3 to verify my memories in case they slipped a new scene into the remaster. Nope, just my mind playing tricks on me! The final scene of  GoW3 is the reveal of a trail of blood leading to a cliff overlooking an ocean. I think that's more me trying to forget about the last God of War game, God of  War :Ascension.



When God of War 4 was first revealed two year ago(OH MY GOODNESS TIME FLIES), I had mixed feelings. I kept comparing it to "The Last of Us" with the third person perspective and sidekick. I was taken aback,rather, because it looked nothing like the God of War that I fondly remember playing through. However. I don't want to be quick to judge. Up until now, it's been 6 games of Kratos doing more or less the same thing. Which wasn't a bad thing. I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of hack n' slack gameplay mixed with quick time events and the puzzle solving. The only God of War games I hated was Ascension because of the wonky "rage" system and the multiplayer. That's a blog for another time. Back to the trailer,the world looks pretty! Part of me hopes that's how the world will actually look in game.




I'm fighting every urge to look for gameplay trailers and read through reviews. I plan to make good on my promise not to make a game purchase in the month of April but man, I love me some God of War. I don't mind them trying something new but I hope at it's core it's still God of War, puzzles and action segments galore! At the same time, I can't wait to see what innovations they've made!

This was my third year attending PAX East and I never get bored while I'm there. From the panels, expo hall, cosplays, etc. The now 4-day event is a blast to attend and it's a highlight of my year. There are a ton of games I got to play and most of them were pretty impressive. Though there were some others that really stood out.

Just Shapes & Beats
Platform: PC, Switch
Developer: Berzerk Studios
Release Date: May 31st (I hope)


Just Shapes & Beats is a unique rhythm game that is all kinds of awesome. You (and possibly 3 friends) control a shape and throughout the song, avoid the beats coming at you. I have been waiting for what feels like forever for this game to finally get a release date. The game has been at PAX for what feels like 3 years and now that we finally have an official date? I'm elated.

Dusk
Platform: PC
Developer: New Blood Interactive
Release Date: Early Access


Dusk is reminiscent to the arena games of old. Like Quake, Doom, and Unreal Tournament, it takes that fast paced FPS Arena gameplay and picks up where they left off. There is a single-player mode, survival (which was the mode on display at the event), and eventually a multiplayer mode too! If you liked that fast paced FPS action from the good ol' days you'll love Dusk.

Wormhole Wars
Platform: PC
Developer: 1047 Games
Release Date: TBA


Wormhole Wars is literally Halo meets Portal. Not only is it an interesting concept, it works very well. If you were crazy about Halo competitive back in the day, you might want to check this game out. The controls are fluid especially for it being in Alpha. If they keep this up they will have something amazing in their hands.

Streets Ablaze
Platform: PC
Developer: Leyline Studios
Release Date: TBA


Streets Ablaze is in "Pre-pre-Alpha" as described by the creator but even with a month of work into it, it's awesome. Inspired by the beat-em-up games from the 90's the aim is to bring the genre back into players' homes. There is currently a Kickstarter that launched for the game a few days ago, check it out! www.kickstarter.com/projects/980925500/streets-ablaze

Mage Quit
Platform: PC
Developer: Bowlcut Studios
Release Date: Early Access


Mage Quit is a fantastic multiplayer game for PC. You can get up to 9 other friends for some intense multiplayer madness! The $10 price tag is great as well. Especially considering that they are adding much more content.

Ion Maiden
Platform: PC
Developer: 3D Realms
Release Date: Early Access


The same studio that brought you Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, and Shadow Warrior are back with another classic looking FPS. The reason it looks classic? They're using the 20 year old Build-Engine. The same engine behind the classics listed above! Of course they've added things that weren't in the past games like headshots and controller support. If you liked those games you'll love Ion Maiden. I feel that this will be a huge success.


Since the beginning of my time with Rome Revolution eSports I have bounced around roles like a pinball, which has caused some pressure but since then I have excelled tremendously in gameplay and skill mechanics. I started around the time when I was an AD Carry main but that spot was taken and I took my time to learn the lanes to fill empty positions and lanes.

Going into Top lane with only a few champions in my pool was a very large learning curve but with the excelled time and coaching I received I started to get better and was able to hold my own. In time I was able to make plays and that's at the time when I was worried about me, myself, and I, but learning all the micros of top I realized they play a much larger role in a team comp then what I thought. It was great to learn the role and put it into my pool of roles and what I can bring to the table.

Now we come to where we are today and the jungle is my new home and boy does it feel good. Being the new jungler for Rome Revolution has awoken so much potential in me due to the all of the time spent so far with the team and it helps that the coach is a jungle main. Having to learn the pathing, routes, power spikes and perfect times to gank to make the gank either a 2v1 or 3v2 and not a 2v2 or 3v3 has taken some time but has helped me in my gameplay outside of the team because if I believe something can not be done to help a said laner then they either die or flame because I decided to not allow a double kill to an enemy laner. One of the harder things to learn while playing with a 5 man team was communication. I learned very quickly that communication is one of the biggest advantages you have as a team. Being able to communicate with them about what you are about to do next or if you happened to see a stray champion heading to kill them, being able to tell them without having to stop and type makes a large difference in the team play portion of this game.

Playing as a 5 man team with the rest of the Rome Revolution squad has taken a load off of my back and helped me realize I'm not putting my promo games or even just games where I want to learn or express myself and my ideas into the hands of randoms who don't know their left from right. It feels fantastic and makes me notice that I have progressed in this game from when I first started in Dec. 2015 to now.

The entire point of me writing this was to let everyone know that no matter how much you think you "main" one role is that with some practice you can "main" a champion or 2 in each role and be able to support and provide for a team or even a group of friends despite the skill cap or lack of communication. Even if you dabble in these roles, the most important thing is understanding them for competitive play with a team.

My Fortnite pro streamer career in three pictures:

Fortnite's been the new hotness at the shop for the past month! After working a birthday party where nearly all the guests where playing Fortnite, I wanted to give it a try myself! It's funny, the Battle Royale gametype never quite caught my eye. On paper, it's really neat: everyone drops into a remote location and searches for loot while the "play area" shrinks. Personally, I don't have the patience to scavenge, I just want to fight as many people as I can BUT seeing so many people hyped up for a game made me want to try it.
1)I won a pickaxe fight only to get gunned down!

Despite having access to both H1Z1 and PUBG at the shop, Fortnite:Battle Royale was the most appealing to me. I  was drawn in by the cartoon aesthetic. Fortnite:BR also costed me nothing to try,which was a huge factor in giving it a go. I really like how Fortnite has a color coded rarity system for weapons and how you can build using wood/bricks/metal. The color coding lets me compare items at a glance and I get excited when I find legendary/highest rarity loot! Although I'm bad at it, I really like how you can interact with your environment. A wall or tree's getting in your way? BREAK IT! You don't want to run around a mountain? BUILD STAIRS AND CLIMB OVER IT. There's also blueprints you can loot that allow you to make traps, a healing bonfire and even a launch pad! I'm a real fan of the launch pad, I've watched people in shop and streamers make some cheeky escapes & approaches.
2)I lost a fight over some bandages.I HAD THE HIGH GROUND

Speaking of, another reason I picked up Fortnite was to better appreciate it when it's being played in shop. I like engaging with folks about their games! It's what makes me read the patch notes & want to watch the pro games in League of Legends & Overwatch, despite me not actively playing either. From what I understand, chests are always in the same place so you have to know where to look. Some kids were nice enough to show me some chests spots to check! My favorite interaction so far is having them show me "where to drop to fight a bunch of people". I had a few laughs having pickaxe fights and scrambling to find the nearest weapon. I still lack the patience to want to be the last man standing but I've had fun building weird stairs and having pickaxe only fights!!

3)This is where I'd show off my chicken dinners victory royales IF I HAD ANY!
Real talk, where's Take Care II,Drake?
There are too many good games that were released on the PlayStation 3. There weren't too many games that I disliked, even when I went crazy on trophy hunting some of the crap games were actually not too terrible. It took me awhile to compile this list and it probably won't be too long until this ends up changing!


15. Heavy Rain

SHAUN! If this came out today, I feel like it would've been devoured by memes. Heavy Rain was a game my friends and I played through a ton in attempt to get every ending possible. Though most of the time we ended up joking about some of the terrible dialogue/voice acting, the game was still an enjoyable experience.

14. Resistance 2

The Resistance series was a mature endeavor for Insomniac Games (Spyro The Dragon and Ratchet & Clank). Resistance was treading new territory for them. Using their resources wisely they were able to make a great First Person Shooter that was able to compete among some of the top shooters of that time period. Resistance 2 was the high point in the series with its sequel falling a bit short in my opinion.

13. LittleBigPlanet

The game where creativity makes the most of your experience. The single-player was great but it was creating your own and playing other user's levels that made the game so special. A one of a kind game at the time left me enamored with it's cutesy (and sometimes challenging) platforming.

12. Sleeping Dogs

People praise Grand Theft Auto but it lacks in comparison to Sleeping Dogs. The story, gameplay, and characters are overall more appealing in Sleeping Dogs as opposed to Grand Theft Auto. Of course that is just my opinion. I feel this game rightfully deserves a sequel to expand more on the story of Wei.

11. Demon's Souls

If you haven't played this yet and still have a PS3 or know a friend that has one. Borrow it and play this. Demon's Souls is the precursor to the Dark Souls series, and is the best out of the 4 games released. It's well known now that these games aren't for everybody. It doesn't you mean you shouldn't try it. You should.

10. InFamous

SuckerPunch (Sly Cooper) tried their hands at something a bit different to celebrate the PS3. Infamous is an incredible adventure game with an interesting storyline with a little twist. Giving you the option to be the city's hero or villain.




9. Brutal Legend

Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine were able to create a fantastic world around the love of Heavy Metal music. Everything from Glam Metal to Death Metal, Brutal Legend had it. Including characters voiced by Jack Black, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, Lemmy Kilmister, Lita Ford, and Tim Curry. The soundtrack as well is amazing, including 107 songs from 75 different bands along with over 70 hours of original score. The gameplay had a few rough edges. Combining action-adventure with certain points of the game turning into an RTS. The RTS parts can be a little stressful and threw the game into some controversy. EA not wanting any of the RTS sections being shown in any advertising left a bad taste in reviewers mouths when that was approached. All in all I still enjoyed it. While it definitely had it's issues and the game could've benefited well enough without it and replaced it with a solid Hack & Slash gameplay style. Overall if you're into music it's a game I would highly recommend. Hopefully they can bring a sequel to us!

8. Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni is made by Level-5 (Dark Cloud) with partnership from Studio Ghibli. The result? One of the best JRPG games on the console. The combination of fun gameplay and even better animation easily catapulted Ni No Kuni to the near top of my list.

7. Dante's Inferno

With plenty of games coming out that were influenced by God of War, Dante's Inferno took the genre with a familiar formula and with it's unique setting and perfected it. I revisit the game from time to time and still enjoy myself. Traveling through the Nine Circles of Hell was an amazing experience and the team of artists behind it don't get enough credit.


6. Dead Space

In my opinion, the best horror game available on the system. Dead Space is one of the most atmospheric and terrifying games I've ever played. A good chunk of the time it envokes pure terror, leaving you dreading the next turn. The recurring enemies, Necromorphs, require you to cut off their limbs in order to take them out.

5. Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time

There is no such thing as a bad Ratchet & Clank game, and A Crack in Time is easily my favorite in the whole series. The platforming was excellent along with the story. Playing as this iconic duo is a pure joy from start to finish.

4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

What more can be said about this game that already has been? Everything about Modern Warfare 2 influenced FPS and gaming as a whole. Controls, multiplayer, story modes, everything changed to accommodate to the fever that Modern Warfare 2 was causing. There are a lot of games out there that left me spending weeks-months of my life playing but this takes the cake. To be able to go back to those days...

3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Naughty Dog is one of the top developers in gaming. From the Crash Bandicoot series and Jak and Daxter, they brought us two new IPs during this console generation. The first one being Uncharted. The Uncharted series is phenomenal. With it's well written characters and voice acting it was an instant hit. The sequel of Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves topped it in every way. Gameplay was smoother, the environments were better designed, the characters both recurring and new were so much better. Most "Blockbuster" games you play today was heavily influenced by Uncharted 2. If you go back and play through it, you'll notice.

2. Metal Gear Solid 4

One of the greatest gaming sendoffs ever. Each act felt like it could've been released on it's own. Being able to play as Old Snake and watch him slowly deteriorate is one of the most memorable gaming experiences I have ever had. Yes, the game had HOURS of cutscenes, but the payoff of them was more than satisfying. Not to mention the last fight in the game. My God.

1. Last of Us

The second new IP that Naughty Dog created this generation and it's amazing. It's widely praised by both critics and players alike and if you haven't played it yet that's a problem. You don't even need a PS3, if you have a PS4 it's been out remastered for a few years now. If you don't have either ask a friend that has one if you can play it. It's a hell of a single-player experience and it keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. I can't wait for The Last of Us II!

Honorable Mentions:
The Club
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Vanquish
Godfather 2
Warhawk

There really are too many good games on this system. I would type more but I feel that it would be overkill.

Now that Season 1 of Fight Nights is over, I'm so glad to see Rivals went over pretty well every Thursday night! Of course, Rivals is pretty popular with the Smash Bros community due to the gameplay, but I also like to think Rivals catches your eye regardless of fighting game you prefer thanks to the unique graphical approach. I'm ecstatic that Rivals of Aether made the cut for Season 2 of Fight Nights primarily because Rivals is a game that I always enjoy coming back to. Ironically enough, Patch 1.3.0 released just in time to be live for Season 2. Now Patch 1.3.0 not only brought some great changes to the existing Rivals, but more importantly introduced two more; and they are some of the most unique characters I've ever played in a fighting game. Introducing "Sylvanos, the Heart of the Forest" and "Elliana, the Aerial Arsenal" playable in Season 2 of Fight Nights!

Sylvanos, the Heart of the Forest

Sylvanos was actually revealed at Genesis 5, a Smash Brothers major in January 2018. That being said, the community has had a lot of time to digest Sylvanos' kit via the reveal, but personally getting my hands on him feels completely different than I imagined. First and foremost, Sylvanos is essentially a "heavy" character, in the same vein as Etalus and Kragg, but with even an even bigger hurt box. Despite his size, Sylvanos doesn't play like much of a brute, in fact Sylvanos excels in controlling space and zoning opponents. He's rocking some really powerful ranged moves utilizing vines, flower pedals and even LOGS that can help control space and threaten early KOs. One of Sylvanos' greatest strengths is his neutral special, which can plant a small flower which will create vines on an entire platform, on top of creating the same vines based on where Sylvanos chooses to maneuver. While standing in this flora, the range of certain moves such as projectiles and forward tilt increases drastically, on top of being able to "activate" any ivy-spread ground dealing damage to anyone standing in it. My personal favorite move in Sylvanos' kit is his up-special, a move that allows Sylvanos to burrow and reposition, which is cool already, but the interactions this can have when it comes to stage recovery is so much fun to play around with. It also makes for some seriously cerebral edge guarding situations. Ultimately, Sylvanos makes an excellent addition to the cast, but I have yet to play much of the Heart of the Forest. I've spent the majority of my free Rivals time playing the second new character in Patch 1.3.0.



Elliana, the Aerial Arsenal


Elliana is unlike any character in a platform fighter I've ever played, which is quite impressive considering how easy it is to compare characters to Smash Bros characters. I suppose you can make a small connection to Bowser Jr in Smash 4, simply due to the character being inside a mechanical machine armed with weaponry, but Elliana's mech comes with a very interesting mechanic - overheating. As Elliana uses her neutral and forward specials, on top of flying (that's right, she can fly!) and holding certain moves a small gauge above her head fills up, and when it reaches 100% Elliana is "overheated". While overheated, Elliana loses access to some of her abilities, but also gains some incredibly powerful strong attacks, which can be used in mid-air for some very early kills. Managing when to overheat as Elliana is a unique challenge, it's critical to be very aware of, especially because while overheated you no longer have access to flight. You can manage overheat by expelling steam via strong attacking while not overheating, which is useful to stave off overheating, but more importantly can offer a great annoyance to your opponent via disruption. Additionally, Elliana has access to an explosive mine, which can manipulate the battlefield further on top of her ranged options. One of my favorite moves is Elliana's up tilt, which is a long range vertical grab that can end a stock when the damage is right. Elliana is a ton of fun, and I plan on putting in some work to play her at a competitive level come Fight Nights Season 2!

Just like I said in my last blog relating to Rivals of Aether, I will continue to try to get more people playing the game and Fight Nights has been an awesome opportunity to do so. Rivals has such a strong cast and these two latest additions only add to the fun match ups and silly interactions, and I look forward to playing even more in Season 2! 
Season 1 of Fight Nights ended last week and I miss it already. I was skeptical but after giving it a chance, really enjoyed the format! Despite having a predisposition towards some of the games, I wanted to give each game a fair chance and to learn more about the ones I got. Talking about each game seems too much for me at the time, so I'd like to share the games I : wanted to learn, game I successfully learned and my favorite game to play at Fight Nights!



Wants To Improve In: Street Fighter V

I've always been a fan of the Street Fighter series but I wasn't enjoying Street Fighter 5 at launch. I'm a casual fan, I've always enjoyed the single player elements such as arcade/survival mode, dramatic battles and the barrel smash & car wrecking mini-games. The game as it is now has more stuff to do compared to when it launched in 2016 and copies of the game now come with two seasons' worth of characters. I can't quit Street Fighter just yet so I'm looking forward to learning the ins and outs of SF5! Truth be told, I'm still bitter at how much money I spent on Street Fighter 4 to keep up with the major balance updates and new characters. DLC is a hell of a drug.


Most Improved: Dragon Ball FighterZ

I think ArcSys did a good job with Dragon Ball FighterZ! I was excited to pick up the game partly because they were behind it(and partly because it was Dragon Ball related!) I love how easy it is to teach my non fighting game savy friends how to play and how there's more stuff to master if I want to get better in DBF. I even went out of my comfort zone and looked up some techs online to better improve myself. The last time I sought out improving myself in such a way was when I played Tekken 5 back in the day!


Favorite Game At Fight Nights: Tekken 7

TEKKEN'S SLOW MO GETS ME HYPED. I loved playing and watching Tekken 7 get played during the fight nights for the slo-mo moments! I'm not sure how slo-mo triggers but I believe when it's when both fighters are at critical health and try to land hit at the same time. It gets my blood pumping every time!!!
Releases are slowing down as E3 begins to creep up on us! That doesn't mean there isn't anything of quality coming out!

Yakuza 6: Song of Life (PS4)
4/17


One of the only games I'm looking forward to the most is almost here! After finally finishing Yakuza 0 at the end of last year I found myself engrossed in the story, characters, and entertaining gameplay that Yakuza offers. Yakuza 6 is shaping up to be even better and I couldn't be more excited for it's release. Sadly I didn't get to download the demo/full game (for those who don't know, Sega accidentally released the full game as a demo.) Regardless I can't wait to support this series more. When Sega wants to, they can make great titles.

Don't Starve Mega Pack (PS4, Xbox One)
4/17


One of my favorite games to play on PC is finally getting it's full fledged physical release on console. Don't Starve Mega Pack comes with every amount of DLC that was released for it! While it has been out on console for awhile, it hasn't had it's complete release.

LABO (Switch)
4/20


This project is another testament to how Nintendo is willing to take more risks than any other game company out there. Everyone mocks their ideas, but when it comes down to it they usually knock it out of the park. I gotta admit paying $79.99 for some cardboard is a little crazy but hey, maybe it's worth it? We'll see!

God of War (PS4)
4/20


Kratos is beginning his next journey with a full beard and in the Nordic Realm. I find myself questioning why they even bothered to keep Kratos involved. I think it would be better to just introduce a new character and have them take center stage in killing all the Gods in that setting. Then change it up again if they decided to go in a different direction. Maybe that's why they're introducing his son? We'll find out on Kush Day.

Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion (PS4, Xbox One, Switch)
4/24


Adventure Time games have always been "meh". They're fun but I've lost interest in all of them in a short span. I'm hoping that Pirates of the Enchiridion can change that. This time it's a complete 3D adventure! 

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