Communication in Dota 2

In Dota 2, a major key to victory is communication among team members. If a team can coordinate to pressure the opposite team and keep each other from dying for dumb reasons, that team is more likely to win. Most of the Dota games I play are known as “pubs”, which means I queue up to be randomly matched with 9 other people who are also queued (they may be solo, or a small group of friends). In pub games, especially in the lower skill brackets the rule of the day is often anything goes. Some pubs have people willing to talk to each other, other times it feels like the words I’m saying go completely unnoticed.

That may not be entirely my fault – in some cases the other players may not even speak english. In that case you can only hope that they will use the game’s built in systems of communication. Some other pubbing folks I’ve seen take offence to people who can’t speak English in their games, but with only English, Russian and Chinese to choose from, what are people from somewhere like Mexico supposed to do? As long as they are making an effort to communicate, it shouldn’t be an issue.

All that said there are several ways to communicate with your team in Dota 2:

Text Chat: press enter and type to talk to teammates, shift+enter and type to talk to everyone
Voice Chat: use a microphone to talk to teammates directly, the enemy team can never hear this
Chat Wheel: set to a keybind and press that to bring up the chat wheel, select a phrase (eg “Get Back!” or “Missing Mid!”) and your team will see it in the text chat area
Pinging: alt+click anywhere on the map, or on the ground on the main game screen to make a pinging sound and display an exclamation point. This is context sensitive, so if you ping one of your towers, it displays a shield there and signals to your team that the tower needs defending.
Drawing on the map: Super fancy. Usually used to draw dicks in the loading phase. Hold ctrl and draw with your mouse on the map to indicate routes, danger, whatever.

The quandary that I’ve run into in my pub games is an odd one, and possibly one I’m imagining (although after seeing some of the flaming that goes on in pubs already I think I’m right to be cautious). I avoid voice chatting with my teams because I am a woman. The example that brought this topic to mind today was a pub I played this morning in which the only person in voice chat kept calling my “bro” and “dude” and so on. I don’t mind that at all but I kept considering jumping on voice to improve team coordination (I wasn’t doing so hot that game) but my paranoia told me that if I started to speak, the team would discount my bad play as “playing like a girl” and assume I could do no better. Even if I’m wrong about this, I feel like it shouldn’t be something that even occurs to me and yet there it is. My plan is to venture forth in voice more often to test my theory. Expect my very non-scientific findings on this very blog in the near future!

A Dota 2 Post? The first of many, no doubt.

Tidehunter is the giant green dude.

Dota 2 is a video game that I like very, very much. I never thought I’d fall so deeply into a game that is entirely competitive multiplayer, but here we are. For the uninitiated, I’ll give a brief overview:

Two teams of five “heroes” fight to tear down each other’s bases on a map that is always the same every game. The map has three lanes connecting the two bases – top, middle and bottom. Each lane has 6 towers (3 for each team) along their length. In order to assualt the enemy team’s base, the towers in one of the lanes and the two base towers must be destroyed. To make things interesting, the towers shoot fireballs at enemy heroes, the bases spawn computer controlled “creeps” that run down a lane until they hit an enemy unit and there are 98 heroes available to choose from, each with a different set of abilities and strengths/weaknesses.

There are many more elements to the game that add to the complexity and challenge but I’m going to save those for a future post. Suffice it so say, this formula makes for a game that I just want to play over and over. Sometimes, I even manage to help my team win (though I still definitely fit in the noob category).

Here’s a video of one of my luckiest days yet, playing one of my favourite heroes – Tidehunter.

Delicious Chicken Stir Fry

When I first moved away from home I made a ton of stir fry, but it was always fairly bland because I’d make it with frozen veggies from a bag and some kind of pre-made sauce. I got bored of it after a while, but after tasting my mum’s variation on a recipe she found online my love for a good stir fry has been renewed. It doesn’t hurt that it’s super easy to make, super cheap and makes for awesome leftovers. I doubled the following recipe the first time I made it, which left me with about 4 servings.

Stir Fry:
1 bunch green onions
1 handful snow peas
3/4 cup coleslaw salad mix
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
100g rice vermicelli noodles

Marinade:
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Grated fresh ginger
1 tsp garlic chili paste
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
A bit of salt

To begin, mix together the marinade ingredients, cut the chicken into small pieces and mix them into the marinade to let soak.

Cut up the green onions and julienne the peas, mix with the coleslaw and put aside.

Put the noodles in a pot of warm water for 5 minutes to soak. Drain and set aside.

Get the wok heating up with some sesame oil in it. Once the wok is hot, stir fry the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, add the veggies and fry until almost cooked. Add 1/2 cup water and the noodles, cover and let steam for 1-2 minutes.

Mix and serve!

I am no food photographer, but this is making me hungry.

The Long Earth

The Long Earth Cover

The Long Earth (by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter) is a great book. It was a Christmas present from my mum but for some reason I hadn’t started reading it until just recently, lucky for me since I promised myself that I’d post some rambling or other every (week)day on this new blog of mine and I mean to stick with that to the best of my abilities.

I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and a newbie to his non-Discworld fare (Good Omens, Nation, both amazing) so I was psyched when I finally got started on this. The tale goes something like this: One day, a mysterious device is discovered which allows humans to “step” between parallel Earths, all exactly the same geographically except no other Earth contains humans. On the surface it’s a cool sci-fi concept but of course the authors play with it to the full extent of their abilities, deciphering the social, economic and cultural impacts of such an event. The story has a main character but it also often sidetracks to other people’s stories relevant to the current goings on or discoveries happening in the main plot. The existence of easily accessible parallel realities seems to be a good way to explore what would happen if capitalism suddenly ceased to function. The other Earths are just as full of natural resources as our home Earth and so natural “valuables” like gold and diamonds suddenly lose their currency. The return to a system of bartering and living off the land feels almost idyllic from my job hunter’s perspective.

I’d be happy with a book that explores those concepts alone, but The Long Earth’s main story involves the existence of a stepping race known as the trolls who seem to be fleeing something from a far off Earth. Our hero (Joshua) sets off with an odd Tibetan man in a robot’s body to discover more about the mysteries of the Long Earth and what the trolls could be running from. It is an intriguing storyline which I assumed would be wrapped up rather hastily, given my proximity to the end of the book. However, after googling the book to get the Amazon link at the top of this very blog I stumbled across the fact that there will be a sequel. I guess I’m going to have to wait a little while to find out whether all of human society is doomed… Rats.

Warm Bodies

Hottie/Zombie? Hellllllo ladies!

I probably wouldn’t have gone to see Warm Bodies if it wasn’t for my beau suggesting it. I had it in my head that this was “Twilight-but-zombies” but luckily that wasn’t more than a smart marketing tactic. The love story told by Warm Bodies is much more honest and sweet than Twilight ever was (though I’ll end the comparisons there and let the film stand on its own). I haven’t been out to a movie theatre since The Hobbit and I’ve been itching to go, so we hit up the local cinema (The Carlton) on cheap Tuesday and settled in for this weird sounding but intriguing film.

The film’s main characters are R and Julie, and though it didn’t click until near the end of the film for me, it is very obviously (though loosely) based on Romeo and Juliet. It becomes especially clear when R shows up at Julie’s house one night, and talks to her from the ground as she sits on a balcony. I hit myself for not putting two and two together at that point. Another cute link to R+J is R’s closest zombie buddy, M (if you could call moaning at each other occasionally friendship). M (Rob Cordry) is an obvious stand in for Mercutio, and the film’s amazing comic relief. He had the whole theatre guffawing with his perfectly zombified line delivery and general look of confusion at R’s very un-zombielike antics.

BFFs

This all isn’t to say that it doesn’t make for a good zombie film either. Though I haven’t seen many purely scary zombie films I can safely say that Warm Bodies fits right in with it’s fellow zombie genre benders like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. There is decidedly less gore in this one than its counterparts, but I found that to be a bit of a relief. There is still plenty of violence and people getting eaten, but we don’t have to be treated to graphic gut-tearing. Talk about killing the mood. This movie’s meant more for back of the theatre makeouts, and it has its fair share of tense moments perfect for cuddling up to your sweetie in mock-terror. Quick shoutouts to the seats at the Carlton for their armrests, which may be folded away for easier snuggling access, no matter where you sit. Why the heck isn’t that a standard everywhere?

All in all, this was a very enjoyable film because it took its strange premise and totally ran with it. As a purely human/human romance film it would probably be quite boring but the zombie element totally makes it. Need more reasons to see it? It was shot in Montreal with a Quebec crew, if the credits were anything to go by (Support Canadian film makers!) and John Malkovich playing Julie’s apocalypse crazy military father is another piece of icing on the cake.