Category: Portfolio

Heart Cooks Brain

They were dying and she was aware of it. But it wasn’t a fast death like a car crash or a heart attack. She didn’t step on a live wire left in the wake of a particularly bad windstorm and she didn’t feel a bullet pierce her heart.

It was a gradual death, not too dissimilar to the kind that happens when a plant dies of thirst.

One summer, her mother told her to water a plant. was a small, leafy indoor tree that her mom had owned for half a decade and it was in a beautiful porcelain planter in counter shared by the kitchen and living room counter, right next to the spice rack.

She intended to water it. She promised she would water it. Every day she saw the plant remembered that she’d agreed to water it while her mother was in Canada. She washed her dishes in the sink next to it. She invited a boy over and they made out on the couch only a few feet away from it. She saw it multiple times every day and every single time she thought about watering it.

But it wasn’t until the final day, a month after, that she decided to water it. Pulling it back, its branches snapped off, brittle and dead. Leaves fell to the floor until it was almost naked. It was a goner.

When her mother got back the next day, jet-lagged and tired, she looked her in the eyes with the sadness only a disappointed mother can have.

“You killed my plant,” she said finally. She didn’t offer anything else instead choosing to just stand there, her shoulders sagging with her luggage by her side.

The girl shrugged like eighteen-year-olds are wont to do in times of mistakes. It was, after all, just a plant. In the following weeks, she watched dumbfounded as her mother tried to nourish it back to health, eventually pulling out a scrawny stem and talking to it for days until it once again grew a single leaf. How her mother had smiled then. How her mother looked so proud. How her mother talked of the plant’s recovery as if she cured cancer or saved an orphan from a burning building.

What she didn’t know then and knows now is that the plant knew it was dying.

You always do, when it’s a slow death.

That’s why they’re the worst.



The Absent Woman: Ubisoft and Rockstar’s Huge Oversight

When I first saw Zoey from Left 4 Dead, I was instantly sold on Valve’s version of the zombie apocalypse. Standing in an elevator, hordes of the undead outside, she turns to Louis and goes: “Game over, man. Game over.” Not only was she good with a rifle, she also was an Aliens fan–a character after my own heart.

This isn’t an analytical, introspective post. I’m not going to talk about ludonarrative dissonance or pretend I care about agency on some deep level.

No. This is a love letter to Zoey—and to those before her as well as those after. To Aya Brea, to Impa, to Lilith, to Claire Redfield, to Regina, to Kerrigan. This is about how they made me who I am today by simply existing and giving me something to aspire to.

Unfortunately, it’s also about how disgusted I am right now thanks to Rockstar and Ubisoft. How let down I feel. How tired I am of their excuses.

And how I’m done accepting them.

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Hearthstone patch analysis for 1.0.0.4217

During BlizzCon 2013 last month, Hearthstone’s panel shed some light on the future of the game–promising more content and some important changes to cards like Mind Control. This week’s recent patch delivered a part of the package, seeking to balance some particularly annoying cards that are overplayed at both casual and competitive levels.But was it successful? Let’s break down the changes to these cards, how they will affect the evolving metagame, and Hearthstone’s progress as a fledgling entry to the esports scene. (more…)


OGN and 3.14: Sometimes it just takes Korea to prove that the sky isn’t falling

In a game largely defined by and closely tied to its competitive scene, playing 3.14’s release without any professional guidance was rough. Vision was thrown to the wolves, junglers struggled to adapt, and supports had no idea what items to buy after Relic Shield was quickly balanced. Even at higher divisions, games were chaotic blood baths.

It felt a little like the sky was falling–and that’s not surprising. Players had a lot to adjust to and no one to lead by example. It’s not an easy task. (more…)



Patch 3.14: A detailed analysis of Riot’s vast changes to the metagame for season 4

Any veteran League of Legends player isn’t a stranger to preseason madness–anyone played during the lull between the past two seasons still has flashbacks to the days of Black Cleaver and Warmog’s. But with a relatively calm lead up, featuring detailed explanations from Rioters on the game design team explaining every change and why they were happening, season 4 looked like it could work out for both the casual and competitive scene. (more…)



Analyze This: Heimerdinger and Sivir’s reworks

The recent League of Legends patch did more than just nerf some overpowered assassins as we covered last week.

In fact, patch 3.13 actually managed to fit in buffs to several champions including Heimerdinger and Sivir. Criminally underplayed, these two both had the distinction of being some of the Fields of Justices’ least liked characters–spending the entirety of season 3 gathering dust. Over the past few weeks, however, both of them received significant kit changes. Sivir even got a visual rework along with the changes, finally putting an end to her ridiculous moonwalking. (more…)



Why Hearthstone Matters: A Primer

Hearthstone took the gaming world by surprise.

When it was first announced at PAX East this year, people were disappointed Blizzard’s big announcement was just a card game. Fast forward to this Fall, however, and it’s the only thing gamers are talking about. Hearthstone quickly became one of the most popular games on the internet and a robust community sprouted up overnight. And, perhaps in the most surprising news, Razer even signed a professional Hearthstone player this October.

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The Rise and Fall of the Assassin Meta

From xPeke to Faker, everyone’s eyes were on the mid lane during this year’s League of Legends World Championships. Assassins stole the show with their high mobility and absurd damage. Ahri, Zed, Fizz, and Kassadin were heavily contested each game by being banned or picked nearly every time. Their popularity in the competitive scene quickly carried over to solo queue as well. Players soon learned that you either ban out champions like Kassadin or you lose–much like Cloud 9 did in the quarterfinals to Fnatic. (more…)



The Final Fantasy MMORPGs: Roads Less Traveled

My overall conflicted experience with Final Fantasy XIV still didn’t stop my jaw from dropping the first time I saw a dust storm settle over the sky of Ul’dah at night.

But for better or worse, Ul’dah and its dust storms are something that many gamers will never see. Unfortunately, not many saw its distant cousin Bastok either. The roads to the cities of Bastok and Ul’dah, to the games of Final Fantasy XI and XIV, are one and the same. They’re all roads less traveled in a world covered by interstate. Still, I like to believe that the scenic route is worth taking time to time–if you aren’t afraid of getting lost.

And I mean really lost–nearly everything in both games works differently from what you would think, creating what can be at times a frustrating of experience. However, if you know Final Fantasy’s history as an MMORPG, this may not be a new revelation.

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The Collector’s Conundrum

Civilization V is coming out soon and I feel like I’m ten years old again on Christmas Eve; unabashedly, I brimming with excitement. For me, the series represents the very foundation of gaming. It was also one of the staple titles of my early youth, something that grew up as I did–from my years in middle school to my years at college, some version of Civilization was on my PC and being played. Watching Civilization evolve with each entry has been a great experience and I’m excited to see what Jon Schafer has done with time around.

Despite my enthusiasm, though, I’m a little disappointed right now. I just finished preordering Civilization V and I found myself paying extra for an exclusive civilization and its leader. I had a brief internal monologue in which I told myself lunch at Starbucks was out for this weekend to make up the cost and then added the deluxe edition to my cart against my better judgment. I’m not completely sure who to be mad at, myself or Firaxis or Nebuchadnezzar II and his ridiculous surname, but I’m still mad. And a little embarrassed.

In fact, this leader’s inclusion for an extra sum, repackaged with a digital soundtrack as a special edition, seemed to speak to a bigger problem in the videogame industry: the cash cow syndrome.

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