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Games

Raidapalooza 2019

The event becomes a tradition for Extra Life.

At the end of Destiny 2’s first year, my regular raid group had the idea to run all three of the Leviathan raids in one evening, as a challenge to ourselves for fun.

It was a pretty good time.

We didn’t get around to this last year, but in the last couple of weeks, what’s now grown to become Ethos (our Destiny 2 clan) started discussions around doing something similar once we’d completed Garden of Salvation. Schedules have magically aligned, and this Saturday, we run Raidapalooza 2019.

Raidapalooza 2019 will start this Saturday, November 30, at noon Central time, and will run for 12 hours maximum. Each raid will be limited to a two-hour hard cap.

It’ll be broadcast on Twitch here.

We’re raiding for a cause.

Since this will be a fairly long event, we’ll be streaming it on my Twitch channel, and hopefully raising some funds for Extra Life. I didn’t get to participate in Game Day this year, so instead, I’m running some longer streams between now and the end of the calendar year to raise those funds.

I’m hoping to raise $1,000 this year. Right now, we’re sitting at $50, and we could use your help.

There are things you can do to help, such as:

All of the proceeds from this fundraiser are forwarded to children’s hospitals in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

What are the Raids?

The first Destiny introduced the MMO concept of “raids” into the first-person shooter genre. Simply put, a Raid in Destiny is a six-player cooperative activity with higher challenge than much of the rest of the game.

Players are expected to master complex mechanics and tougher combatants than they’d experience in playing alone. They have cohesive themes and narrative importance to the Destiny experience.

As a whole, they are sharply-crafted and rewarding experiences—that many players of Destiny simply never get to see due to the six-player requirement and time necessary to learn the encounters.

As our team runs the raids, you’ll see clear and concise communication, or “calls,” throughout the experience, and witness the result of teamwork that’s been built over many attempts.

There are seven raids currently available in Destiny 2. We’ll be playing through them in release order, and limiting each raid to a maximum of two hours to ensure we can showcase as many of the raids as possible. We’re guaranteed to run at least the first six raids on Saturday, with a rotating cast of players.

Here’s what you can expect out of each raid.

Leviathan

Grow fat from strength.

Called by a mysterious invitation from the Cabal Emperor, Calus, the Guardians board his pleasure barge, Leviathan. Calus wishes to test the Guardians and their Light to see whether they are fit to serve as his Shadows: trusted operatives and elite forces.

As a raid, Leviathan relies more on mechanics than on enemy difficulty. The first three encounters are selected in a weekly random order. Players will face poisoned water in the Royal Baths, be hunted by Calus’s personal war hounds in the Pleasure Gardens, and run the Gauntlet’s obstacle course before confronting the Cabal Emperor himself in the Throne Room.

Leviathan is a good showcase of clockwork raid mechanics, where each player in the group has a specific job that must be completed to prevent the entire team from losing and having to start over. The raid layout itself is non-linear, and you’ll see us taking secret passages to navigate from encounter to encounter.

The version we’ll run is the “Prestige” version, which adds mechanics to some encounters and raises enemy difficulty.

Grab your Rat King.

Eater of Worlds

In the belly of the beast.

Called back to Leviathan, the Guardians answer a pest control call from Emperor Calus. As the ship slowly consumes the centaur Nessus to create royal wine for Calus’s hedonistic lifestyle, it’s encountered some trouble: a Vex Mind was nestled inside the core of Nessus, it’s been eaten by the ship, and now it’s angry.

Leviathan didn’t have more than a single real “boss fight” throughout the encounter, but Eater of Worlds is essentially a jumping puzzle followed by nothing but a boss fight.

This is a shorter raid; the initial step is a jumping puzzle that requires coordination between all team members, followed by a brief onslaught. Once this is complete, the raid team is confronted by a boss with two phases: a puzzle phase to unlock the boss itself, and then the boss fight itself.

In Eater of Worlds, you’ll see fluid teamwork to deliver matched weapons to various parts of the arena, followed by a final encounter that requires quick field general work to ensure maximum damage to the boss.

Spire of Stars

On the wings of Icarus.

For the third time, the Guardians are called to Leviathan to assist Emperor Calus. The Cabal Red Legion, responsible for invading Earth and assaulting the Traveler at the beginning of the events of Destiny 2, are mounting a final assault to challenge the Cabal Emperor and threaten his position.

Spire of Stars is one of the fewer-run raids in Destiny 2, owing mostly to its combination of heavy mechanics and overwhelming enemy forces. The initial encounter is a challenge of timing and efficient enemy clearing, and it’s then followed by a jumping puzzle that requires teamwork to relay an object from tower to tower.

The final encounter is again in two phases, at the top of the eponymous Spire of Stars. Val Ca’uor is assaulting Leviathan itself, and both he and his warships must be dealt with. The boss encounter is a challenge that requires constant and tight communication, as well as precision when attempting to do damage to the boss himself.

Of all the raids we are running this Saturday, this is the most likely one to run into the two-hour time limit, owing mostly to a lack of recent practice at the encounters. Many of our clan members do not yet have a single completion of this raid.

Last Wish

O murderer mine.

At the heart of the Dreaming City, the home of the Awoken people, sits its greatest secret: Riven, the last known Ahamkara. Ahamkara grant wishes to those who entertain them, but at a price. And this particular Ahamkara has been Taken.

Charged by the Mara Sov, the Awoken Queen, to destroy the Heart of Riven, and thus rid the Dreaming City of a Taken curse, the Guardians enter the Keep of Voices.

Last Wish is the largest and most boss-heavy of all raids across both Destiny and Destiny 2. It ranges from a simple and unlimited-time arena boss fight, to a tightly-timed chase of another boss, to a high-damage fight and then a mechanics-based puzzle, to a complicated boss fight (that we’ll attempt to just out-damage), and then a relay race to cap the entire experience.

Its encounters are both curiously-designed and varied, and remains exciting throughout. If you want to see the greatest mix of Destiny encounter types and strategies, this is definitely the raid to watch.

Scourge of the Past

A vault, filled with the finest wares.

Siviks, Lost to None, a Fallen Captain, seeks to plunder the vast wealth of the Forges of the Black Armory and steal their secrets as his own. Ada-1, the Curator of the Black Armory, has reluctantly sought the help of the Vanguard in repelling this assault on her family’s legacy.

Scourge of the Past is our raid group’s absolute favorite to run when we have six people hanging around and a bit of time within which to complete an activity. It’s largely fun, it moves relatively quickly, and it’s generally easy to complete with a minimum of fuss.

(We’re also still trying to get the space motorcycle from the raid to drop for my son. 30 clears and counting!)

It’s also a very good example of the “introduce one mechanic first, then a different mechanic, then at the end, mash them together!” approach that makes some Destiny raids a joy to teach. It’s again some quick encounters, followed by a two-phase boss fight.

Most of the mechanics are fairly light and rely on good communication and efficient enemy clearing. Some enemies are more dangerous than others in these encounters. If you want to see a raid that becomes super-tight with repetition, this is a good one to check out.

Crown of Sorrow

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Emperor Calus’s appetite for power has ensnared one of his lieutenants in a trap. Gahlran the Sorrow-Bearer has been entrusted with an artifact of great strength: a crown that links him to the evil Hive race and grants him use of their magics. But Savathûn, Witch-Queen of the Hive, has used it as a cunning trap, and a Hive infestation now threatens Leviathan. The Guardians, Calus’s Shadows, are tasked with eradicating the Hive within the ship.

Crown of Sorrow is a return to the innards of Leviathan, and provides a timing-based initial encounter, followed by another jumping puzzle (Leviathan has a lot of bottomless pits, OK?), and then a two-phase boss fight: first with Gahlran’s Deception, and then later with Gahlran himself.

The initial encounters depend more on timing and rapid enemy clearing, while the final boss fight requires sub-teams of two players to control space in tight cooperation, while rotating one-minute timers threaten to kill players throughout.

I rather enjoy this encounter; I get to form a squad with my son to complete the boss fight, which is quite enjoyable. Our timing is almost wordless in most situations at this point, and it’s amusing to find that we are coordinating with fewer and fewer words spoken each time.

If you want to see boss fights utilizing clockwork precision and heavy multitasking to accomplish the correct outcomes, you should watch.

Garden of Salvation

The heart of darkness.

The Darkness is manifest in our solar system with the discovery of a Pyramid on the Moon. Hive there are worshipping the Pyramid, and Nightmares of enemies past roam the system, threatening all. Eris Morn, Bane of the Swarm, has traced the signal from a mysterious artifact to the Black Garden, which is tended by the Vex.

This raid may or may not happen this Saturday; with the 12-hour total time limit, if other raids run longer, we won’t have the time to get into this one. For what it’s worth, our group only cleared this raid for the first time last week, after a bunch of struggling with the boss checkpoint.

If we do get into it, you’ll see some of the most amazing environmental art in the game. Garden of Salvation encounters rely on causing boss damage during specific windows of opportunity. For the first half of the raid, the team chases down the Consecrated Mind, attempting to confront it.

For the second half of the raid, we then battle the Consecrated Mind and later the Sanctified Mind, using a combination of mechanics borrowed from the Gambit game type, and positioning-based puzzles. The puzzles demand careful planning, as when you are helping with that aspect, you are unable to defend yourself from waves of enemies.

By this point, I expect we’ll be mentally tired in any case, so if you are watching, I would not necessarily expect to see a clear on Garden and instead watch us hit either the single-raid 2-hour time limit or the full activity 12-hour time limit.

And then what?

Should we actually manage to complete this marathon within the 12-hour time limit, I’m totally switching from Destiny and just hitting a few shots in Everybody’s Golf.

I have a feeling I’ll deserve it. 🙂

In any case, especially if you have read all the way to the bottom of this post, I hope you’ll stop by this weekend and watch us run some of the most entertaining content that exists in Destiny 2. We’d love to have you along for the ride, and we’d love even more if you are able to donate to Extra Life on our behalf.

See you there. Saturday, November 30, at noon Central time, on my Twitch channel.

Categories
Games Markel! Streaming

Supporting My Twitch Streams

I posted an update today to my page on how to support my Twitch streams—if you’re interested, take a look.

How to Support My Twitch Stream

Categories
Games High Fives Markel!

Combo Breaker 2019 Is a Go

This will be my fourth year attending Combo Breaker, and my third year helping staff the event. Combo Breaker is an event like no other, staffed with amazing people who go the extra mile and ensure the experience is top-tier for everyone involved.

I’m not even sure yet what I’ll be doing this year staff-wise, but I’m excited to find out. I’ve run brackets, helped with security, manned the TO desk, done A/V setup and lighting, and generally been available to help with anything needed.

Is this the year I submit a commentary reel and get behind the mic? Stream run? Run emcee for an Auction Tournament? Camera op? My quest to do literally everything I can behind the scenes at a fighting game major continues.

Think about attending and find out with me. Over 700 people have already registered, and it’s only been a few hours. Come celebrate the best of the fighting game community in the Midwest for one weekend to start the summer. I promise you’ll have a great time.

Plan to be in the west suburbs of Chicago on Memorial Day weekend. Don’t miss out.

Categories
Fails Games High Fives

Discord Joins the Fray!

Steam looks vulnerable, so it’s only fitting that others are jumping at the chance to steal some marketshare. First Epic and now Discord:

So, starting in 2019, we are going to extend access to the Discord store and our extremely efficient game patcher by releasing a self-serve game publishing platform. No matter what size, from AAA to single person teams, developers will be able to self publish on the Discord store with 90% revenue share going to the developer. The remaining 10% covers our operating costs, and we’ll explore lowering it by optimizing our tech and making things more efficient.

90/10 split is ambitious. And I hope this kind of competition combines across more than one storefront to give both developers and players more options. I just wish they hadn’t followed that paragraph with this one:

We will also empower developers to communicate with their players by improving Verified Servers, extending their ability to add great content to the Activity Feed, and more. We believe if we iterate and work with developers, we can reverse platform fragmentation in the game industry while connecting developers and players closer together.

The last thing we need (on PC) is a different monopoly to take the place of Steam. The best possible outcome for consumers is competing storefronts that don’t rely on onerous DRM, so we can purchase and download from the store of our choice but not be limited to running eighteen launchers—and take advantage of sales that might compete with each other over time.

Consoles are, of course, a different story altogether.

Categories
Markel!

Extra Life Game Day Update: 🙁 Edition

Well, this one didn’t exactly go as planned, we’ll say.

A few hours into my stream to raise money for Extra Life, there was a rather loud noise in my home. Some brief investigation from my children didn’t turn up anything, but a few hours later, it was revealed to me what had happened.

My wife had rolled her ankle on the stairs and it was clearly injured—it’d swollen up to about the size of an orange.

My good friend Ken was kind enough to take her to the hospital, as she’d told me she didn’t want us to end the stream. I went on to stream with four of my children, as she waited six hours or so for attention in the emergency department.

(You should understand that my wife does all of the social media work when I do charity streaming. She really enjoys it and she loves supporting the charity. For her to stop doing so meant she was most definitely hurt.)

Turns out she broke her ankle, and she’ll need to get a cast a bit later this week. So instead of staying up all night playing video games, I’m staying up most of the night making sure she can keep weight off the injured foot. Life took precedence.

Sure, it’s not what we expected, but that’s perfectly OK. I’m happy to help my wife—she’s not normally one to sit still or not do much, and it turns out that’s exactly what she needs to do right now. And at the hospital, they did give her this pretty rad award:

She got a gold star. :)

To everyone who either watched, donated, or both: thank you so much for supporting my stream for Extra Life this year. This won’t be the last one; I’ll be announcing further streams to benefit the charity, and you can make sure you know about them by following me on Twitch or Twitter.

Because the schedule was shortened, not all raffle prizes will end up being claimed. I’ll message the winners after this weekend is over when I get a minute to sit down and figure out who donated when. (There were only a handful of donations by the time we had to stop the stream.)

It may no longer make you eligible for a prize, but if you would still like to support my Extra Life fundraising efforts, please consider dropping by my donation page and giving what you can. All of the money goes to help children’s hospitals in the St. Louis metro area, and I know they will appreciate every dollar.

I look forward to streaming more often in coming days. I sincerely hope you’ll tune in.

Categories
Games Markel!

Extra Life Game Day 2018

When I’m streaming live, watch it embedded right here, or visit me on Twitch! Please consider donating to Extra Life by clicking here.

What Is It?

Extra Life is a fundraising program that benefits Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in many cities. Every year, they designate one day to be a 24-hour focus for these fundraising efforts, and participants are encouraged to livestream their games.

I’ll be doing so this year for the sixth year this upcoming Saturday, November 3rd. I’d like to invite you and many others to participate in this with me and support my fundraising efforts. Every dime raised is used for direct benefit to children’s hospitals in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

After a couple of years of being too optimistic with my goal, this year I’m making it more achievable. I’d like to raise $1,000 for these hospitals, and I’m going to need your help to do it. You can track how close we are right here:

What Will You Be Playing, and When?

I have a full schedule prepared for you. Until the marathon starts, it’s somewhat tentative, but most of it at this point should be correct. You can find the marathon schedule on horaro.org here.

I’ll be playing a mix of games from various consoles and eras, and for some content blocks, will be joined by family and friends. Please consider joining us and helping us raise money for charity!

How Can I Help?

The best way you can help is by making a donation directly to my fundraising effort. You can make your payment using a variety of methods here. All donations are fully tax-deductible, and all funds are given directly to the hospitals.

It’s also really helpful to me if you watch the stream on my Twitch channel or by using the player embedded above. More people watching helps people find my channel and can bring more interest to my fundraising stream—which can lead to more donations. You can also chat with me live using the chat box, but you’ll need a Twitch account to do so. If you have one or sign up for one, please chat a bit! I love interacting with viewers and talking with you about what’s going on.

I’d much rather you made a donation to the campaign itself, but if you want to donate something like a meal for me and my stream helpers or something to benefit stream quality (I’m in need of NodeCG help), please reach out to me directly. (These donations will *not* be tax-deductible.)

Anything Else?

Yep!

For the first time this year, any donation of $10 or more via my Extra Life fundraising campaign will be entered into a raffle for a prize. The prizes are detailed in the schedule for the event. The prize you’re entered for will depend on the block during which you donate; if you are hoping for a specific prize, make sure you donate during the appropriate block!

Some rules and disclosures regarding raffle prizes:

  • Donors are eligible for raffles by donating a minimum of $10 during the block for which a prize is offered. All raffles will be conducted off-stream after the event has concluded.
  • Raffle prize winners will be contacted via email.
  • Raffle prizes are subject to change or removal prior to the start of the event.
  • Prize winners located outside North America may be offered prize substitutions of equal value, depending on shipping or customs costs required.
  • Prize winners who do not wish to share their address for prize delivery purposes will be offered an alternate prize selection at the event’s discretion.
  • Family members of the streamer (me) and/or those people appearing on-camera during the event will not be eligible for prizes.
  • Donations prior to the start of the event will be eligible for the first prize in the schedule.
  • Any prizes that are unclaimed will be re-raffled to another donor from the same time block, or if no donors remain, the money for purchasing those prizes will be returned to the prizing sponsor.
  • Raffle prizes are courtesy a donation from Thrivent Financial and their Action Team program.

If you have any questions regarding prizing, please contact me and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Categories
Games

Thoughts on the Destiny 2 Gambit Preview

From the daily reset yesterday through the daily reset today, Bungie made a special preview of Gambit available for all Destiny 2 owners to play and experience. I won’t spend a bunch of time explaining the mode, but in very brief terms, this is how it works:

  • Two teams of four compete to defeat enemies, “bank” resources those enemies drop, and then defeat a boss that appears after enough of those resources have been collected and banked.
  • The teams play in maps that don’t physically connect to each other—your team of four has its own PvE space during the activity.
  • As you bank resources in specific amounts, this sends enemies to your enemy’s side to temporarily prevent them from banking their resources.
  • If you die without banking those resources (called “motes”), your team loses those resources completely.
  • At various points throughout the mode, each team can send over a single player from their team to the other side to engage in PvP and attempt to frustrate the other team and cause them to lose resources or progress.
  • The game is played to best-two-of-three rounds.

The mode is a public matchmaking playlist, so if you don’t enter with a pre-made team of four players, the game will add players to your team in the same way that Strikes or Crucible matches are queued. Gambit has its own playlist slot next to those activities in the Director:

I’ll work on a guide for playing Gambit later, but in the meantime, while there are still a couple of days left before Forsaken launches and the mode is available to all, I’d like to talk about what I enjoyed and what I didn’t.

Categories
Games

Understanding the Destiny 2 2.0 Weapon Slot System

With patch 2.0 to Destiny 2 this past Tuesday, the way weapons and ammo are organized within the game has fundamentally changed. It’s been confusing for some people, so I thought I’d try to explain it, if possible.

To start, here’s the easiest way to look at it:

  • The slot a weapon is in and the type of ammo it uses are no longer the exact same thing
  • The top two slots determine what ammo a gun uses based on the type of weapon, not based on the slot itself (white or green ammo)
  • All weapons in the third slot take the same type of ammo (purple ammo)
  • Ammo bricks now drop differently, with white ammo being most common, green being less common, and purple being the rarest

If pushed to write this in one sentence, it would be: weapon slots and ammo types have been decoupled.

Trust me: that’s the easiest way to phrase it I can come up with right now. If you want to learn more about the system, keep reading, and let’s talk about Destiny 1 and 2 and their weapon and ammo systems and how they have evolved.

Categories
Games

Talkin’ TWAB: Multiplayer Progression, Longer-term Matchmaking, Solstice Armor Deadlines

As we roll into the last week prior to the release of Forsaken, the information being revealed is increasing both in frequency and importance. I was out of town for this TWAB, but it’s worth it to catch up and let you know what it was all about.

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Games Markel!

Destiny 2: Forsaken Launch Party

Hey, friends!

A couple of things I love are going to join forces in a Twitch stream this upcoming Tuesday, starting around noon Central time and extending until Whenever I Feel Like Stopping:

  • With Extra Life weekend coming up in a few months, I thought it a good idea to do some early fundraising and get the ball rolling
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken launches around that time and I’ve taken some time off to play through it right away with my son, live on stream

I would love it if you would stop by and support the stream! Load it up, hang out, chat a bit, and if you feel generous, donate to my Extra Life campaign for this year. All proceeds donated via my Extra Life page go directly to local children’s hospitals and are tax-deductible.

Watch us run through the story of Destiny 2: Forsaken, experience the new Gambit game mode new to the franchise, or just stop by and chat neat-o Destiny stuff with us while we explore!

If you can’t attend directly, if you would tell your friends and families we’re doing such a thing, it would be greatly appreciated. More eyes on what we are doing means more possible donations to help sick kids in the St. Louis area.

Here are the important links for the event:

Thank you so much for your consideration!