Updated

Updated at least twice a week! (best catchphrase EVER)

2014/09/29

Fighting styles and metaphors

We've all heard some form of the saying, "style x counters or defeats style y."  The weird part about that is that we've all heard that saying from different places.  A gamer might say Soraka hard counters many top laners.  I might say Aikido will always triumph over Kung Fu.  A mother might say to her child, "with your sister, it's sometimes just best to just walk away."  This déjà vu of this statement is not accidental.  

Household disputes, epic battles, nail-biting duels, philosophical debates, fighting of every kind is a metaphor; timespace's representation of the battle between the wills of the participants.  In my opinion, the most successful participants are the ones who can read the style of their opponent and change their mindset to counter it.  The tenacity of their focus on this mindset will win them exchanges safely.  While switch ups are necessary, the fewer actions that violate the style they are countering with, the greater their chance of success.  This is all well and good if I am talking about fighting as not many can say they have battled to the extent that I have, but what about all that stuff about disputes and debates?  How does all that sort out?  Dear reader, the two are but shadows of the same truth.  Let me explain with a personal example.

When speaking to my own mother, it is common for me to become irritated at how often she throws out the same bits of information out at me.  I don't have a problem with it per say, I understand it is from the best of places, but it is just one of those things that just gets me.  We all find them in the ones we love, so overcoming them is most probably a universal battle waged by all humans past a certain age.  If this were some fantasy battle, I'd characterize my mom's comments like a cloud of gas around her that deals a tiny bit of damage while around her for long periods of time without movement or action.  In said fantasy battle, if I were to leave the poison cloud, I'd no longer take damage, but I'd also deal damage to her because she wants to talk to me.  So I can't leave.  What do I do?  I'd probably cast a spell or just cover my mouth to stop myself from ingesting the poison.  Ironically, this technique works equally well when not in the fantasy setting.  I love the word irony here and I think it is perfect, but I want to expound on that point by saying that this mirroring of actions across mediums of expression is more than metaphor.  It is true congruency.  

Next time you feel someone's presence is defeating you, consider observing their mindset and asking yourself what mindset you must be loyal to in order to benefit the current situation.  If they are hurting you, are you going to hurt them to show them that you are in pain because of them?  Are you going to do something that will protect yourself from the actions you know you can defend against?  Are you going to simply leave the battle because you can't defend against it?  Are you going to burn bright and warm to pacify and heal?  We all know the coworker with the stonewall smile and I-don't-give-a-shit to their boss.  We all have met someone who strikes the most exposed nerve you have just to make you feel as in pain as they are.  How do you deal with those tactics?  Do you defend yourself?  Do you fall like a soccer player to show them how successful their strike was?  Do you make the first move or the second?

Ask these questions as martial artists do, modify your footwork and your tactics, let that mindset lead your actions.  Remind the world that all forms of expression are the real metaphor.  For all of it is metaphor for the truth as it is in this very moment.

2014/09/16

College, redefined

Many of you know that I am neck-deep in the wake of the tidal wave that is the programming project I am working on.  As I work, I think to myself, "I wish I had some kind of place I could go to learn and have help giving physical form to the ideas I have."  Then I stop.  I am reminded of a game I played where the fantasy land had a college that was just like this.  It was a place where all the brilliant eccentrics hung out together.  The college had floors of research labs open for all to participate and discover with.  One wasn't ever a "graduate", academics were simply judged on how long, and how much, they gave to that community.

I want one of those for my world.  While I do know the first thing about programming, I am nowhere near knowledgable enough to complete this programming project without help.  So I picture a world where these colleges and their inhabitants are updated in real time via the internet.  I can know where all my favorite minds are (looks like Sir Ken Robinson is in Scotland today), I can search for communities of programmers (looks like there is a campus ten miles out where Wiemar used to be that is home to some programmers who could help me), and I can have access to all these resources at any time (looks like my tax dollars for education will be well spent this year).  Picturing all of this in my head is the first step.  Pulling the present forward to meet this imago is the next step.

The way I see it, first world countries would not have to build a single building or earn a single cent to turn this into a reality.  Dump administration teams and testing coordinators and curriculum designers and let the WORLD decide what needs taught.  School presidents would become gigadeans and their whole campus would now be rentable with access to equipment to students looking to learn and do.  I'm sure many teachers would rent out their room and hold classes of their fancy open to all.  I'm sure a few hundred local teachers of pottery, martial arts, yoga, or literature would be overjoyed to be able to have their midnight class in a safe place with free rent.  This would facilitate lower prices which is the direction we must go, for it is in direct incompliance with our current economic model.  If you wanna know more about that direction, stay tuned for next post.  Dear reader, thank you as always.  Til next time.


2014/09/08

Homeschooling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY
Watch this.  Please.  Come back when you are done.

So.  Yeah.  He's 13.  No one judges him but him.  He is free and awake and confident, independent and idealistic.  What changed?  Well, he became basically uncivilized by our societal standards.  He hacked his world wide open like a watermelon and is devouring every delicious piece of eternity.  He didn't do what someone told him to do, he learned how to find what makes him alive.  He was homeschooled.  He was rescued from the modern paradigm.

2014/09/05

Tokes of Awe 2

Welcome back to episode 2 of Tokes of Awe where we honor the show Shots of Awe by taking QUITE a bit more weed than Mr. Silva before sitting down to write.

"
I love plants.  They are so beautiful and hopeful and resilient.  Their babies, their SEEDS, have the strength to break through concrete in order to reach up towards their energy source, the sun.  Once they reach the sun, abundance is found; all of their wants and needs disappear and they party in the vast plenitude of it's radiance.  They begin to produce fruits and seeds to GIVE to the world for free because they are so satiated by this concert in the sky.  

Now I have partied with some intense disciples of the universe, but plants take the cake.  Sticking with this concert metaphor, plants extend with exuberance like groupies on the roadshow of their life EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Even if they run out of food and water, they'll still rock out until they wrinkle into crunchy husks.

So take care of your plants.  Give them water with the same care as you would give to a groupie barely conscious from rocking out too hard on without a water bottle.  Do that and she'll share with you the joys of her life completely freely.  ... Yeah, that's what I came here to say.
"

2014/09/02

Heroes of the Storm: Malfurryman Build

Welcome to something fun I wanna do here every now and again.  Heroes of the Storm is a new MOBA by Blizzard.  MOBAs were invented as a player-made custom map inside of one of Blizzard's games and the original heroes were in tribute to Blizzard's own.  Now Bliz is finally making a MOBA in tribute to their own fans and MY GOODNESS have they stepped up to the plate and changed the game.  I'll let you look into it on your own, but I wanna dedicate a lil time to covering heroes and builds to play to have fun with them.  I'm starting off with Malfurion not because I like him.  He is actually one of my least favorite support heroes, but I thought these builds were at least slightly entertaining, so I decided to start here.  I'll start off with my thoughts on Malfurion as a hero in HotS.  Here is some online references in case anything changes: 
http://heroesofthestorm.gamepedia.com/Malfurion?version=d9b8a8aa1eb6798864de53c3a5468925

Malfurion's trait is Innervate, a targeted spell that grants a Hero 100 mana over 10s on a 30s cooldown.  As a support, you should be sticking to your team like glue unless they are just on a quick errand in which case soaking up a lane is totes fine solo.  In the current alpha state of the game, most heroes have about 3 mana regen per second which grows to about 4 mps over the course of 30 levels.  If continuously cast, Innervate provides just over 3 mps in nice chunks that can be distributed to your party as you see fit.  This allows for unparalleled sustain pressure when compared to a team without him.

Malphy's first ability is Regrowth, a targeted 54+14/lvl heal with an additional 135+35/lvl heal over ten seconds.  The cooldown is 7s, so the heal won't even be done if you decide to reapply the heal on yourself.  Regrowth does not heal very much right off the bat, but it is a very strong heal if the heal over time effect is fully utilized.  The weakness of this heal is the lack of burst and area healing.  With all of the AoE in this game, sometimes you absolutely can't save everyone without area healing.  Thankfully, good old furryman has a few talents to help make up for this weakness.

Mister Stormrage's next ability is Moonfire, a small, circular skillshot that everyone knows and loves from World of Warcraft.  Blizzard did a great job of keeping it just as annoying too in tribute to their players that abused it.  It does 40+10/lvl damage and applies a 2s reveal for 20 mana on a 3s cooldown.  This move is highly underestimated.  Not only does it deal a great amount of damage over time, but the vision is incredible.  The weakness of this move is the lack of burst damage.  It's easy to tell that you are losing against a spell with no burst, which means you are psychologically more likely to run away before you are caught out for death.  There is no way to overcome this.  Accept this as Malfurion's way of fighting without the need to kill.  Accept this mindset and have faith in the moonfire to make them run-- so that you can then easily stop them.

This student of Cenarius's final ability is Entangling Roots, a medium sized, circular skillshot which gradually grows the flowers from Jumanji over 3s.  The roots are on a 12s cooldown and are aptly named for they root all who touch the flowers for 1.5s as the roots deal 54+20/lvl damage over the duration of the spell.  This is a lot of damage, but you will only get a portion of it unless you land the root right under their feet.  Many furries of the mal try to do this with good aim, but this move's true strength shines when it is used to chain stun, block retreats, catch fleeing targets, or separate teams.  To chain stun, wait for a targeted stun from your life partner and THEN drop the roots under them-- especially sexy with a Stitches or a Kerrigan.  To block retreats, hold onto the root until you reach a choke point and let the existing jungle become one with your own jungle-- there will be no way to avoid the root and even a 5man gank squad won't be able to catch this slippery druid.  To catch runners, just empathize.  When someone begins to run, their path should be very clear, so wait until you know where they are moving and place accordingly.  To separate teams, drop it JUST behind the initiation and preferably in a spot that cannot be avoided in order to separate the tank from those he lives for.  Don't forget to ping to take on the tank as many people save their spells for priority targets, but this technique with propper communication creates a free kill out of the enemy's strongest link.  If you are NOT doing one of these 4 things, do NOT cast the roots.  Every single root should change the game or end a life and it should always be available when it is needed.  Many druids believe the extra damage can help take objectives, but I argue that if you do not want to go back to base between every fight, you should save it for exactly when it is needed and trust in the moonfire.  The weakness of this ability is its long cooldown.  Choose your root well, for you may only have one.  This can be overcome with talents, but I believe that you only need one to do the job right.

I'll talk about the ults in the Talents, because it is important to think of heroes BEFORE their talents in order to understand their limitations and therefore how to create a balanced, specialized, or just plain fun Heroes of the Storm.


Here we GO!  Creepy Uncle Malfurryman Build:
The concept behind this build is to go for a Support role while choosing the talents that make me the creepiest uncle in existence.

First tier is Scouting Drone, a small ward that can be cast by your feet every 60s that provides vision and stealth detection in a modestly large area.  Not only is this spell super creepy, but the drone is worth its salt, even when compared to conjurer's pursuit.  As you'll be the perfect waifu, you can drop this drone in the woods to prevent ganks like in League.  No successful ganks, no need for conjurer's pursuit to heal through your losses.  It'll die in the process, but better it than you, because you'll be leaving by the time they hit your ward.  The drone also provides two more benefits.  First is the invisibility advantage.  In teamfights, drop this near a defensible location that Nova would likely come from and you'll at least hinder her attempts to Triple Crap the back of your head.  The other benefit is to aid in catching those pesky merc builds.  Place these over your objectives while you lane and as well as providing gank coverage, these can seal catches and kills against greedy specialists who want to outplay your team.

Second tier is Healing Ward.  This ward is on a 60s cooldown and heals all members for 20% of their max health over 10s.  This is your little lunch box on your creepy uncle adventures.  One of Mal's weaknesses is the inability to area heal.  This is one way to alleviate this weakness and it fits with the theme even against the current meta, which is a small and annoying tree that turns you into a duelist.  This spell is great for sustaining up your lane to help conserve mana, but it really shines in skirmishes in the jungle.  Placement is key as it will get killed by Li Li sneezing, but this ward will do wonders at providing that extra 20% cooler to let you win a fight you might have otherwise lost.

Third tier is Enduring Growth.  ENDURING.  GROWTH.  *snorts*  This is totally where I came up with the name for this build.  MILF is the Malfurion In Love with Fondling and he is now healing for a CONSIDERABLE amount more.  Mathematically speaking, the total healing is increased by a whopping 60%.  This will increase your healing scaling to 70/lvl which is absolutely phenomenal scaling compared to even Uther's full combo heal which has 60/lvl scaling.  The extra scaling will help conserve mana and free you up to spread your heals and feel confident not healing someone unless they are in a decent need-- sometimes it is best to let some problems just regen on their own and other times it's wise to pre-emptively heal the tank before he charges in to do all the work.  No need to be a busybody, you are a MALE support, after all.  You don't need to fix every problem like a fussy medic!

Your ultimate should be Tranquility, where you spread your wings and your loving embrace recovers health to all within your grasp.  As this is a support build, those area heals are very important.  Between your creepy uncle embrace, your creepy uncle lunchbox ward, your creepy uncle glare (Innervate), your enduring growth, and a player-based focus on efficiency, your team will be able to keep the fun going all night.  Oh god this build is so wrong on SO many levels.  Worth mentioning is your nightmare of Cenarius ult which is equally creepy as well as equally good.  I picture him exposing himself, damaging and silencing all in an area.  Use your instincts.  There are rarely any wrong choices if you are having fun.

Fourth tier is Full Moonfire, although Ice Block is always a good choice if that Nova or Zeratul is outsmarting you at every turn.  Aside from Full Moon being an awesome ability to give our creepy uncle, it adds to your efficiency by reducing moonfire's cost by 50% as well as giving it an easier time to hit multiple targets.  Archdruids are masters of balance and this support heals over time, so he must also be able to dish out damage over time to push the sway of battle to the point that the enemy loses the will to fight.  For if you JUST heal, your opponent will just keep coming.  Moonfire is your tool for damage.  NOT roots.  Roots are to change the game.  Every time.

Fifth tier is Lunar Shower.  Yes, the dirtiness does not end.  I'm not sure what he's showering everyone with every few seconds, but it's white and it falls from the heavens and it slowly kills you.  This talent makes you shine brighter the longer you are in combat.  I call it the Trevor Phillips effect and it fits our theme.  Your heals are solid and Tenacious Roots is a crutch that you do not need if your roots are blessed by Cenarius.  Without this talent, average moonfire does 76 dps.  With it fully revved up from minions or randomly raging at shit in the woods, the damage per second raises to 199.  For comparison, Kerrigan's full combo of leap, pull, and blades on a 12 second recharge has a dps of around 150.  Kerrigan's advantage is burst, talents, and autos which improve that in so many ways, but 199 is nothing to scoff at in comparison to 76.

Sixth tier is Bolt of the Storm, because VERY few things can top being able to be instantly at safe distance every 40s.  In league, this move has a 500s cooldown and it's still overpowered and almost never missing from a summoner's repertoire.  No joke, this creepy uncle can teleport through walls and right into your bed.  If you decided to go with the silence ult, use bolt to jump into the party and 

Overall, this build addresses all the weaknesses I believe Malfurion has.  His mana issues can be mitigated, his healing can improve as well as take on a more area-aspect, his damage can be improved safely and consistently, he can provide sight to the team (one of support's primary roles imo), and he can do all of that while saving his roots for ONLY the moments when they would be best used.  I enjoy this build because while it might not be perfectly optimized, it is fun, creepy, and I feel it balances me out to be able to be the best furry for the situation.  Just like a Druid should.  If you play this build, make sure to channel your inner Trevor Phillips as you creep with your drone, glare with your innervate, tap everything with angry moonfires, and run towards people with your arms wide open in Tranquility.  Focus on having fun while you play and you'll never have to fear defeat, for that won't be where the fun comes from.  Thank you for listening to me and tune in next time I cover Malfurion for my Backdoor Furry build.  Or maybe Zeratul as Blue Build Ezreal.  Or maybe Tyrande as Yvaine from Stardust.  Hope this wasn't too nerdy for you.

2014/09/01

Fanfiction

For all ya'all who don't know, I love me some Avatar: The Last Airbender.  If I'm honest, I think I like Legend of Korra better, but a part of me bows in respect to the origin of a series that has matured many-fold into such a beautiful creature.  I'm not here to compare though.  I'm here to talk about fanfiction.  ... I like fanfiction.  No judge, plox.  

My favorite type of fanfiction involves the act of changing one or two small details that change EVERYTHING about the characters and how they interact.  The best truly try to archive these alternate realities with as much integrity to the source material as they can.  It's a wonderful mental exercise and I truly believe that young people echo participate in this exercise, be it about Master Chief or just straight slashfiction, will grow greatly in doing so.  

You know what's coming next.  An example.  Here we go.  Let's try to create a new universe out of the Avatar universe.  What if we just swapped air with fire?  What if the fire benders were the peaceful, nomadic benders and the air benders were the army republic?  "Everything changed when the air benders attacked."  This begs the questions then: how are the air benders to match the destructive force that the fire benders were in the show and how are the fire benders going to make sense as pacifist nomads?  

Air benders could be brutal if they were not pacifists.  Air benders could be flying dervishes of lethal pressure blades, they could launch others sky high and let gravity take care of business with all the ruthless efficiency of physics, an air bender could even suffocate their foes if they simply did not let them breathe.  Good villains?  Check, but we will have to modify the respective characters to fit their new world.  Perhaps Zuko's father severed his hand instead of scarred his face.  How would this change his attitude and his legend?  

In the third book, Aang learns that fire does not need to be about rage and destruction, but instead can be seen as the primal fire of the heart-- the spark of life that animates the clay of our bodies.  Perhaps fire benders in this fic practice pacifism to align their lives towards this belief.  Their flames would shine like the heavens as they defended.  A touch could draw that life force away to stun or even to radiate to revive and revitalize.  Pursued far enough, I believe the flame of a fire bender could solely sustain the human body, allowing these nomadic healers to never need to eat (they'd drink a lot though and need to pee all the time).  Aang's whole journey and struggle for nonviolence remains intact with this small detail switched, but all the details change.  Who teaches Aang the gentler side of the ruthless air bending?  What kind of children would he and Katara had?  How would this new historical legacy of fire mesh with the existing spiritual mythos of the story?  

These questions and the details they reveal are the keys that make this exercise so powerful.  Every question is an act of creation.  You take a young and imaginative mind and just start getting them to ask these questions and explore in the endless universe fountain of their imagination about whatever it is that interests them.  Be it a book or a movie, a video game or a garden, this exercise is not only fun, but also intense training in a skill that is absolutely necessary in the dire straights my generation is in.  

So yes.  That, dear readers, is why fanfiction is the national pastime of my brain.  Have a nice day with that.