A long overdue Critical Commentary:

Hello again… Yes… It has been a while, I hope that this piece finds any and all who read it, in good health and fine spirits. Devoid of the unhappy thoughts that have been my constant nighttime companions of late. To those that know me, it will be no surprise, that the pains in my stomach that have prevented me working and the prolonged and so far uninformative period of medical investigation that has followed. Exacerbated pre-existing discontent with the progress I was making on projects I had begun at university and hoped to finish, within a year or two. This discontent, in partnership with the near constant discomfort and pain combined with isolation both due to health and coronavirus, has led to a rise in my depressive moods. I bring this up not out of any desire to seek pity, but to stay true to the exercise I have begun here. It occurs to me that now might be a good time to explain the purpose of this piece.

Somewhat selfishly dear reader, though you may, and indeed I hope you do find the contents to be of interest to you. That is not the primary purpose of this piece, and will not be the primary purpose of any subsequent entries in this series of Critical Commentaries. So what am I defining a critical commentary as, well for the majority of people I suppose a Journal of Self Reflection might be a more familiar term. Why not use that term then? I hear your hypothetical voices quick to query! And fret not for there is, I hope a satisfactory explanation to that question, I shall be quick to type. There are two main reasons for straying away from this form.
The first is a minor technicality. The term self reflection itself. When I think of self reflection although I feel a degree of objectivity is required, I’ve always felt the outcome to have been influenced by excuses. Clouding potential progress with disappointment in what has not been achieved. Perhaps I’ve always been doing it wrong but there we are.
The second is that the form of the critical commentary was a part of University Assessments when I did my MA and BA in creative writing. With every piece of work, we would submit a critical self commentary. The objective of this was to assess the process, discuss decisions and evaluate what we may have done differently. It wasn’t, however tempting an excuse to say well this didn’t work and sell your work short, in fact the opposite was true. It was there to show recognition of successes and things that didn’t work out so well and then discuss a better way forward for future attempts at the project. In short, I have always found it to be a constructive exercise. One focused on moving forward, learning from and taking mistakes as fuel towards future successes. (Cliched I know, but forgive me, it is 5:41 am and I’ve always been prone to romantic sentiment.)

So with that out of the way I want to begin to lay out the projects which I will likely use these blog posts to evaluate. The first and perhaps most core to my life is that of my writing. The second and important in its own right, is that of my Twitch channel. Any other projects such as a game I seek to improve in, or smaller projects will likely find themselves in this category as well. But in order to evaluate results one must first set a goal and so I will use the remainder of this largely introductory post to lay out my intent or set goals.

So why my novel? Cause I want to finish it, duh. For a long time I have lacked the structure created by a university environment without deadlines, fellow writers and tutors on hand to bounce ideas off of. I hope that by implementing these weekly commentaries on my progress I can hold myself accountable and in doing so make more significant progress than I have seen in many months. As such I will be setting, what I hope to be achievable targets every week and striving to meet them. The purpose of this commentary will then be to ascertain whether or not these goals have been met. As well as to look at what worked, what hurdles I encountered and how I dealt with them, as well as any problems I feel were unresolved. This will not only serve hopefully as a stimuli to productivity but as as a record that I can go back and review when planning future edits or redrafts of the novel.

As for Twitch I find this one a little bit more difficult to define, set word counts or easily quantifiable chapters to use as goals don’t exist in this domain. Follower counts and subscribers are an indicator of performance but an unreliable one, a raid could lead to several follows in a day and then a drought for a few weeks. No, for this the criteria for success will have to be somewhat more nebulous. I believe these will more likely be focused on ideas around stream content, do I feel that I provided good commentary this week, if not, why not, what stopped me, how do I address that. Do I feel that a new game is lending itself to my strengths? That sort of thing. However beyond that I plan to try and create more for my channel: community nights, collaborations with other streamers, using social media to promote my stream more effectively etc, so expect to see these things discussed as well.

So that, as they say is that, I’ve done it, typed the blog post, signed myself up for the long haul. Two reflective blog posts a week minimum + the twitch streams and work on my novel. But I have to admit that work on the novel will be slow probably a chapter and a discussion of a chapter per week. To be frank, my health is not good, I struggle to move around too much and even sitting upright for long periods of time can be exhausting. However, I hope that by doing this, and taking these steps I can do more to help myself in my current situation than just take medication and wait… and perhaps in doing so regain some of the parts of myself that have slipped away over the past year.

So to recap my goals are as follows:

One 1000-1500 word critical self commentary on my twitch channel.
One chapter of my Novel draft.
One 1000-1500 word critical commentary on my progress.

Expect to hear from me soon.
Shieldbroski out.


Will franchising be good for the level of competition in the LEC in the short term?

With the start of the LEC and the injection of new teams, players and management, there has been a tonne of hype. Dramatic off-season changes, new ‘super teams’ and the return of fan favourites Origen have given us all questions: Will the old guard remain dominant? Which super team will come out on top? Who will step up and who, will fall down? It is expected that coming off the best European Worlds run in years, hopes for the LEC would be high. In this article I seek to examine the validity of the hype and temper rampant excitement. Continue reading “Will franchising be good for the level of competition in the LEC in the short term?”

The Value of Replays:How to do your own Vod Reviews. (LoL)

So you want to climb that ranked ladder, playing the game is a good way to improve but not necessarily the most efficient in isolation. If you are serious about improving you should be watching your own replays. Why? I’m glad you asked.

The most obvious and perhaps the most important thing is that it will allow you to identify mistakes. Identifying an error is an important step towards rectifying it and watching a replay can often reveal why you died here, or what cost you that team fight at baron.

No I’m not suggesting that you watch the replay at normal speed from start to finish, this is time consuming and inefficient. What you want to be looking for are your own errors. The replay spectator can help you here as the bar at the bottom contains markers for every kill and every objective. If you move along the bar and see that you died at five minutes, you can skip to just before that point and watch what happened. If it was a gank you didn’t have vision of, you have, come up with a couple of solutions, don’t push the wave (play safer) or ward. I find it helpful to make a note somewhere visible of the things I wish to improve, for example:

  • Warding in lane.
  • Switch to blue trinket when out of lane.
  • Manage waves, don’t constantly hard shove.

Having these in a visible location to refer to when you are recalling or walking back from base can help you prevent making the same mistakes again.

Team fights can be a little more tricky to analyse but there a few general things that you should look for.

  • Were you fighting for a reason, ie a tower, dragon, or baron?
  • Why did the Team Fight start?
  • Did you make any crucial mistakes? Ie, bad positioning, flashing into a wall, bad target selection etc.
  • Did you have vision?
  • Did either side have a numbers or gold lead?

If you have looked at all of these things for the team fights you’ve lost and come up with an answer to each of these questions, you’ve probably gotten as much out of this replay. It’s time to go and play more games, got to climb that ladder after all!

Did you find this article helpful? Do you have any tips and tricks for efficient and successful replay analysis? Share them in the comments section below.

Five Basic Tips for New League of Legends Players:

So, if you’re an established player of Plat or above, this probably isn’t the list for you. But if you are stuck in Bronze or Iron, you may find some of these tips helpful in all of your games, ranked or otherwise.  So without further here’s number one.

  1. Image result for wards image league of legends Vision, place it, clear it, utilise it. Vision is something that is criminally underrated at all levels of competitive play in League of Legends. It is of critical importance to success and takes the number one spot on this list. So how do you improve your in game vision? The easiest way is to use your trinkets, like seriously, its free, place the damn ward. If you have a ward, ready to place and no vision, place it before you do anything else.  In a similar vein, you can help your team by buying control wards as they guarantee your opponents have no vision in that area. You should buy one of these every back if you can, if you can afford it, buy two! You’ll need it as you change positions on the map to contest different objectives.  If you have a sweeper, check areas the enemy would want to ward such as gank paths or objectives. By placing and clearing vision you will force the opposing team into risky moves that you can then punish as well as protecting your team from ambushes.
  2. No Fighting Sign and Boy Fighting Stock Illustration - Illustration of  clipart, sign: 84573081Don’t fight for no reason! This is something that loses teams games, minimises your available resources and leads to mistakes. Constant fighting is for Aram, not for Summoners Rift. Make sure that you go and pick up those side waves and keep farming. Make sure that you place vision around the objectives you want to contest and don’t fight for the hell of it. Fight when you can push a tower for some plating. Fight to contest a drake or a baron. Don’t fight because you see an enemy. Fight without vision and for no reason can lead to you throwing leads. I don’t mean, do not be aggressive or push your advantages, but do it smartly.
  3. VIDEO: Baron Nashor Gets a Skin for Worlds | ht_mediaObjectives Objectives Objectives! This is a nice short one as it ties into the point about fighting with purpose. Contest objectives, ward objectives, play to take them. Ultimately if you have 100 kills more than the enemy and it is your base that explodes, you still lose. Sometimes it is enough to chunk enemy health bars and then hit a turret (the purpose of poke compositions.) A good tip here is that you should set up vision before the objectives spawn. If you have vision first you can use it to lay traps for your enemy if they come to check or start the objectives themselves.
  4. League of Legends: Turret Aggro and Everything you Need to Know About  TurretsUse your Mini Map! You should be looking at your mini map regularly. Wards are useless if you aren’t using the vision they provide. Make sure to glance at your mini map at least every twenty seconds. To start with it might feel unnatural and you will have to think more about what information it is giving you. But when it becomes a habit you’ll be surprised how little time it takes.
    When looking at your mini map it is important to check on two things. Can you see the enemy jungle, can you see the enemy laners. If you are in bot-lane pushing past the river and the enemy mid isn’t in lane, it might be worth backing off, just in case the roam comes through. If you can use the minimap and your wards together, you will be able to prevent several needless deaths through good ‘Map Awareness.’
  5. Just keep swimming: how to swim with the current of change - Discover Your  PrintDon’t Tilt. This one is probably the hardest of all. It is a team game and some losses will not be your fault. Sometimes your team will feed, sometimes you will feed. Maybe your opposition is better, the important thing to do here is to stay calm. There are a few reasons for this the first being that you can’t control other players, flaming them will achieve nothing. The second is that tilt doesn’t just disappear at the end of the game, you don’t want it to carry over into other ranked games and cost you the lp you worked so hard for. Finally, it can win you games. At low Elo, throws happen a lot and if you are tilted and have given up you will often miss the opportunities that the enemy team throws your way. If you are calm and focused there is a good chance that there will be an opportunity to turn a bad game into a win, that much alone is worth the extra effort. It is a myth that games are 100% lost in the first minute in low Elo, the more you practice playing from behind the better you will be at losing. By this I mean you won’t give up as many kills or objectives and you will recognise your opportunities when they arrive. Taking this approach can win you games that FF15 and flaming your team mates wont.

I hope some of you find this list useful. If you have any tips for climbing Solo Queue that you think others could benefit from, share them in the comments section! Good Luck on the Rift, Summoners!

Tips for New Writers: Building Routines and Optimising Time.

If you’ve watched any interviews with writers on their writing process, you will have heard of Routine and making the space to write. The usual advice is to make sure you write every day. In this Writing Tip, we’re going to look at Routines, building ones that suit you and optimising your writing time.

What do I mean by a writing routine and why should you have one?

When I talk about creating a writing routine, I am talking about carving time out of your week to sit down and write. There are a few reasons that you should endeavour to create one.

  • Similarly, to all pursuits in life, consistent practice and hard work is key to progressing with any project. In this respect writing is comparable to going to the gym or learning a new craft, if you apply yourself consistently and seek to improve, the progress will come.
  • Asides from seeking to complete projects and providing you with regular space to practice the craft it gives you one other key advantage. Writing time becomes Writing time. If you establish the habit you will be able to plan around it and protect the time you have for writing from being eaten into. It’s important to note that I am not saying that you have to find time every day, for me this is often impractical which leads me to my next topic, how to establish your routine and optimise it.

Establishing Routine:

In order to find the space in your week that you might best utilise for writing, it is important to consider a few factors: consistent availability, your typical energy levels at that and the environment that you wish to write are the three I most commonly consider. Whilst they are all important, I would suggest considering where you would like to work, before looking at the other two. For instance, if you feel like you need a public space such as a library or a cafe, you will have to consider their opening times. When you’ve found a time, it’s important that you utilise it effectively.

How to optimise your time:

Think about how you work. Some of you might know already what drives you to be productive, quiet spaces, a bustle of background noise, music, a cup of tea etc. If you don’t know already a good thing to do is to sit down and get on with some writing in your most comfortable work environment and make note of the actions that you take. I noticed that I would often get up for food and drink so to cut the time taken making a sandwich and tea out of my writing time I would prepare these before I started. I combined this with low level music to block background noise and was more productive in that time. What these things will be is unique to every person, but here is a small list of things that helped me.

  • Bring an outline to the scene that you are going to write.
  • Have everything you need to keep you in one place.
  • Turn off the internet.

I hope some of these quick tips to streamline your writing time helpful. If you have any tips that you have found useful post them in the comments below!

Writing Commentary: Chapter Two, well most of it…

Hullo! Welcome or welcome back as the case may be. About the title, yes it is only most of chapter two, this chapter ended up being significantly longer than I expected. But, that doesn’t change the fact that I have a lot to talk about so lets get right to it. The first chapter ended with an opportunity or push for Kite, that would facilitate a change in circumstances for the better, spurring action for the following chapters. This was something I wanted to capitalise on, use this as a way to display some of Kite’s characteristics. The first is that she is ambitious. Not prone to sitting around and prone to seeking more than is offered.

Characters are as I’m sure you are all aware crucial to stories in general. While setting can intrigue and capture imagination, it is often the people or beings that occupy that space which give people an anchor within your novel. Something to relate their own experiences to and form attachments on one hand and perhaps more basically give them a way to understand the world in which they find themselves. A novel that had a completely alien setting and characters that displayed no human traits, would be extremely difficult to write and alien for those who tried to read it. So lets talk a little bit about establishing characters and some of the difficulties I encountered in this chapter as I tried to do just that.

Mental health, is a sticky subject but as someone with mild autism and consistent struggles with my own mental health I wanted to include elements of this in my main character. After all, characters that get everything right and never struggle with anything make for dull stories. The Fellowship’s journey to destroy the ring was no walk in the park and to use a more contemporary example Katniss Everdeen didn’t exactly survive her ordeal in the Hunger Games without assistance. I remember a lecture I sat in during my undergraduate talking about this using the framework that people’s tastes changed from the brilliant and unassailable characters of Superman who were quite literally superhuman, to Batman and the resourcefulness and humanity he displays. While I’m sure, I’ve just done a terrible job of recapping the lecture, the essence of the message was giving characters all the answers easily isn’t the best idea.

As such Kite isn’t a perfect rock of stability. Great, but how do I display this in a way that makes her seem more human without playing into the damsel in distress trope. Well the two aren’t mutually needed, there is nothing wrong with relying on friends and people close to you for support when you are struggling. However I’m conscious that I don’t want her to be reliant on other people to move the story forward and too many displays of struggling or needing other people might undermine her character as I progress through the story. To put more of the onus on her overcoming her own problems I’ve used moments of personal reflection and only sparse indications of support. But also made it clear in interactions with her closer confidants that not everything is hunky dory and that there are problems lurking under the surface that I hope to deal with, one way or another later. I hope that as the majority of times I will display the Kite as anxious will be overcome predominantly by her own actions, I can then use either a lessening or heightened success rate to indicate character growth. Or at very least a sign of increased self discipline.

The other struggle that I encountered was that I wanted to introduce a few side characters that will end up being important later, without giving you their whole biography. Which can be difficult sometimes. Perhaps you’ve heard of Hemingway’s Iceberg, (no, not the one that sank the Titanic.) Something I’ve always struggled with as a writer is trying to sprinkle information that’s needed in a productive way, rather than writing a few sentences and then hitting the ready with the complete works biographical and historical on major characters, places, goats and otherwise. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration but you’re picking up what I’m putting down right? My struggle is always not to spend too much time on details that are insignificant at this moment in time. Those details are often really important for creating good characters, but nobody really cares what their favourite food is at every point in the story. That’s the kind of thing you might get to slip in should they attend a banquet or a local takeaway, or perhaps if they’re having a vivid culinary daydream. This consistent issue popped up again more strongly than I was expecting as I began to introduce characters.

While I’m not going to go into names or details, I do want to briefly mention that very few of my full novel length projects have received second drafts, and those that have, got them a long time ago. So second drafts, I really wasn’t expecting to have trouble slimming down information as I’d already faced these problems to a degree in the first draft. However it seems that as with the second draft I have developed a much more solid understanding of characters I am finding it more difficult not to add or place one or two extra titbits of information for good measure. Whilst I have already removed some of this excess information as I went, I am not looking forward to rereading the chapter at the end of the second draft rewrite as I suspect I’ll end up questioning a few of the decisions I have thus far made. But hey, that’s what edits are for .

I think perhaps that is the most important thing all the writing of drafts I have ever done has taught me. Is that I actually quite enjoy editing and it is important not to let on the fly editing stall progress. Editing can always be done later. You can always improve that segment with hindsight and fresh eyes and that is exactly what I intend to do. Even though, that is what I am already doing by rewriting and restructuring the plot. Editing is long, laborious and can be tedious but at the end of the day, multiple edits have always produced the work I was most proud of and I hope that at the end of this process I will be able to say the same.

So I’m running out of time to get this done before I have to kick off a live stream and cook myself dinner, (hmmmm fooooooood.) Nonetheless I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, see you next week!

Shieldbroski Out!

Stream Commentary: Week Two.

Hello again! Well, it’s that time of the week again so here I am. Last week we discussed trying to deal with the negative spirals that can emerge from losses and mistakes when playing competitive games. With particular reference to my experience playing League of Legends and the ranked modes. I suppose this week we are going to talk a little about the difficulty in getting into a healthier mindset in relation to the game. So lets talk about hitting our aims from last week, or not as the case may be.

Continue reading “Stream Commentary: Week Two.”

Understanding Your Draft in Solo Queue:

So, you’ve decided to load into ranked, whether you’re brave or just damn reckless remains to be seen, a lot will depend on your decisions. These decisions are not only the actions that you take once the game has begun, they should start in the draft. This isn’t going to be a guide that focuses on team comps because in low ELO these aren’t as important as doing the basics well. What we will be looking at is playing around the champions you have selected, lane/jungle priority and understanding itemisation/power spikes.

Let’s start with the loading screen, draft is over but the game hasn’t started yet, this is a good opportunity to size up your respective teams and begin to make a plan. Normally I approach this by looking at my lane match up and who is in the jungle. If you are a jungle main, you are going to be looking at all of your lanes and the enemy jungle.  As a bot lane main, I’m going to give a bot lane example, if my match up is


As the Lucian/Braum lane, I’m feeling pretty good early game, I’ve got mobility to dodge hooks, Braum E and W for extra protection and kill pressure if braum can apply his passive. Using our early strength to hit level two first we should then be able to set up a slow push and create a CS advantage whilst maintaining kill pressure.

As the Ashe/Thresh, I have some poke and a slight range advantage, but I don’t have the same burst as the Lucian. This makes me more reliant on Thresh Landing a hook for early trading. I’d be looking to keep the wave somewhere between my turret and the river and to farm safely. The advantage that Ashe and Thresh have, is that at level six they have much greater gank assist, with the arrow, hook and flay.

So before we move on from lane lets consider the jungle match up.




Both jungle champions are strong gankers, with their own form of crowd control and high early burst damage. In the early duels however should they meet in the jungle Elise holds the advantage.  As far as the bot lane match up is concerned Braum and Lucian will have make sure that they ward and are careful not to over push as an Elise Cocoon and Death Sentence would spell death or at least a few summoners.  If Lucian and Braum wish to have ganks, they would have to freeze the lane and force Ashe and Thresh out beyond the river to give Jarvan a good opportunity. Ashe and Thresh however if they are playing the lane defensively should have less to worry about from Jarvan as while he has good follow up, he is squishy early on and unlikely to dive the turret when Thresh has cc available.

This is just one hypothetical example, however this kind of plan is doable for every match up in the game and is particularly important for the jungle position. With a plan and a good understanding of the lane match ups the Jungler can be more efficient in helping their team mates and securing objectives.  Having this early plan can help you avoid needless and early deaths, as Lee Sin is so fond of saying, master yourself, master the enemy.

tri force

So we’ve talked a little bit about this specific match ups but how do you determine who is strong when? You’ll need to be thinking about Itemisation and Abilities.  Let’s take the example of Syndra and Fizz. I’ve chosen this example because it highlights a couple of things about laning you will want to consider, the first being range. Because of her superior range advantage Syndra will hold the early advantage over Fizz able to harass him while he farms. The second is wave clear, with her orbs Syndra can push the wave a lot faster in the early levels, gaining ‘priority’ allowing her to leave the lane more quickly should a fight break out in the river. If you haven’t seen it there is a great video on priority published by LoL Esports, you can watch it on the link below:

Fizz however needs to survive until either he is ganked or hits level six, with level six he has kill threat on the Syndra in the 1v1 which will force the Syndra to play more cautiously or risk giving over early kills.  Most champions have their own individual points of power and if you are unsure check out a champion guide it should help. This leads me on to items, whilst all champions power up as the game continues and gain levels and gold, not all champions use that gold as effectively as others. To analyse this further we’re going to look at Sivir and Lucian.  Lucian typically starts with a Blade of the Ruined King and Sivir with an Essence Reaver or Infinity Edge. In terms of stats, the Blade offers Lucian lifesteal, percent health damage as well as attack speed and damage. The Essence Reaver offers 25% crit chance, 20% cool down reduction and attack damage.  This gives Lucian a big early advantage and a power spike he can take advantage of as he can lifesteal and auto attacks faster. This will change later in the game as Crit items become better when stacked.

At three items Sivir begins to come online as she will have 75% crit, whereas lucian will have 25%. Whilst Sivir shouldn’t attempt to duel Lucian, with most of her auto attacks dealing bonus crit damage and her area of effect potential she will deal much more damage in team fights. This three item power spike is true of most crit ADC’s. It does not mean that Lucian becomes useless, just that from this point onwards the opposing crit ADC should hold the advantage moving into the later portion of the game.

Itemisation and scaling is something important to consider, if the enemy has a team that will out damage and fight better than yours at 30 minutes, you will want to be more active in the early game. The reverse is also true, don’t force fights when you are at a disadvantage or you may never get to take advantage of the scaling you drafted.

I’ve done my best to give some specific examples and illustrate my points, but what it boils down to is a few simple considerations:

  1. Your lane match up. Who has priority, do you have to play safe, can you bully.
  2. Jungle champions, does the enemy jungle gank well early, do they wait for level six? This will often influence your laning decisions.
  3. Which team scales better, this should inform your levels of aggression throughout the game. (Just because one team scales much better does not mean the game is over at low elo, punishing mistakes will make up the difference.)
  4. What is your plan? Is it to contest early drakes because you have the stronger bot lane, is it to wait for a three item ADC. Plans often change in game, but having one for the early game to follow can help avoid needless fights and deaths.

I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have any queries or feedback on the layout/style of the article, please leave it in the comments section below, I’d love to hear from you.

Critical Commentary: Chapter One.

Bloody first chapters, such tricky things… Oh! Hello there! I see you’ve found your way to my blog, are you lost? No matter, while your here, allow me to talk your ear off, I mean, entertain you for a moment! Alright tomfoolery aside, welcome to the first Critical commentary, focused on my novel Second Draft, I’m not sure how much we will end up talking about specifics of the Novel but I thought that we would talk about first chapters, the trouble that I’ve encountered writing this one and some of things I’ve attempted to do, to address them.

The first thing to consider, is perhaps the most important part of any novel, the ‘hook’ or more broadly put, how do you get people to keep reading, rather than put your book back on the shelf. While a clumsy attempt at humour, the opening sentence of this blog post, is kinda how it feels to construct the first paragraph or if you’re lucky chapter of a novel. There are many different ways to grab peoples attention, and being blunt, people like different things, there is no guarantee even if you construct a compelling opening, that it will be compelling to everyone who picks it up. In fact the only guarantee you have, is that this will not be true. Genre, while not always applicable, or as one dimensional as book shops would have you believe, is a sales tool. Used to guide people towards your book and those deemed similar to it. But being grouped with other novels people may have enjoyed is not enough in and of itself, if you’re lucky, people will take a look at a blurb or first paragraph or so and decided based on this. At least that’s what every author or lesson I’ve ever had on the subject has told me and that’s a lot of pressure.

Knowing that you have so little time to invest people in something that you have spent countless hours on is daunting and finding the right way to start can be considered starting a race without stumbling. This presented me with a problem, I wanted to do a lot in my opening, introduce major characters, grab a readers interest and set up for a progression in plot and characters. Not to mention introduce the world in which my Novel is set in a way that attracts interest without falling into the infamous ‘info dump’. As such the first question I had to answer when restructuring the Novel, was how do I improve the opening. Well that involved working out the problems I had with the previous draft, which were as follows.

Firstly that although the opening had impact it forced my two Main characters into the role of a reluctant hero very quickly. Leaving little to no space to build up connections and relationships or indeed explore their place in the world before drastically shifting it. Although I am not writing a tragedy, something that has always stuck with me is that in Greek Tragedy (classical) or Tragedy in general it is much more effective if you build a character to great heights before sending them hurtling down to earth.
The second was that the plot seemed to progress far too quickly. It was almost like the novel itself had been influenced by my own desire to see the end. To be honest most first drafts are like that which is why I tend to refer to them as brain vomit. I wanted to make things seem believable. Their needed to be more resistance or motivation for characters to go through the story as I wanted them too and as such I needed them to build a more concrete prior relationship.

With these two primary objectives in mind, the obvious conclusion was to spend more time building the world and relationships. But, having a slow build up to a novel isn’t likely to grab a readers attention, there are some memorable first lines in fantasy such as ‘in a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit’ or something to that effect. But times and audiences have changed and the slow pace of The Lord of the Rings is the reason I most commonly hear cited for not wanted to read them. In many ways I believe cinema and the birth of films has changed a lot about how people like to process literature but that’s a speculation of mine and would be worth a post in and of itself. How then did I decide to reconcile these two aims. To solve this problem I went into the background world of my novel.

Given the criminal nature of the main character Kite, on whom the opening chapter was focused, the secondary protagonist to be introduced later. I figured that a run in with law enforcement on her way to conduct business, would not only give me the tension and ability to grab a readers attention out of the gate. but to slow the chapter down afterwards as I introduce some other characters and begin to flesh out the world and characters that readers will see more of. Then they were off, as I often find the case, writing action and introducing the characters as they move straight into an action sequence, was a lot easier than what followed. Small details and bits of lore worked in throughout the chase are one thing. Lots of body movement, limited time for talk. But entering the final part of the chapter which is essentially a long conversation was more challenging.

I talked earlier about wanting to avoid info dumps, easy enough to do during an action scene, but when writing a conversation, fraught with tension. It becomes necessary to consider what information, is, well, necessary. For a start the characters have limited time and are not each privy to all the information the others may have. A history lesson wouldn’t fit well into a business conversation. Oh and one more thing, how not to make a conversation dull. I know that the information contained is needed to make the story make sense and I don’t think I’ve spent too long laboriously explaining unimportant things. Perhaps it is just a part of taking time to try and craft dialogue, that makes it feel like it drags. Struggling to write it probably had that effect.

I’ve mentioned trying to avoid unnecessary dialogue and avoid dumping information that wasn’t needed on the reader. The other thing I tried to make the passage which was heavy on dialogue interesting, was to give details about characters and their expressions or movements. A fairly standard thing to do in any novel, but something I have in the past overlooked or ignored. Here I wanted to sow the seeds for a consistent personality for all the characters involved and hope as I go through the novel and write further chapters that I can use these tells to create convincing protagonists and side characters alike.

Well, that’s all for this one, struggling to give an opening a good hook and difficulty writing dialogue and creating lifelike characters. I hope that what I have done in the first chapter to tackle these issues, such as placing action at the start and making sure to avoid unnecessary info while attempting to add depth to my characters will pay off in the long run but I guess only time will tell.

Shieldbroski Out!

Streaming: Critical Commentary week one.

Streaming League of Legends: The roller coaster ride.

Alrighty! Here we are, I am penning what is the first of the commentaries since the post announcing the schedule I hope to stick to. In that blog post I speculated that the problem I would encounter trying to be constructively critical of my streams. This largely owing to the fact that numbers and stats that are easily accumulated could be misleading. So, I’ve decided this week to focus on League of Legends, the game I have streamed the most since I resumed streaming in August of last year.

To give anyone new to me and my channel a little bit of context to my experience with league, I have been playing since Season Two and actively engaged with following the professional scenes in EU, NA, and Korea, dabbling in the Chinese league to keep up with my favourite teams. It’s safe to say that I have loved the game and invested countless hours into it. Sometimes seeking to improve, other times just to unwind and lose myself in games for a while. For years, my favourite form of broadcast entertainment has been the professional leagues, almost completely phasing out television and movies to the disappointment of my friends. I thought that I’d experienced the vast majority of what the game had to offer as a viewer and a player. However, as I made the transition into streaming, along with tackling familiar obstacles, I found myself squaring up against entirely new hurdles.

Right, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s address the obvious bugbear that most players and even fans of other games are familiar with where league is concerned. The community. It is no secret that competition, whether video games, sport, board game or really any other form of competitive activity can and often does bring out the very best and worst in people. Competition can drive us, rewarding successes with dopamine rushes and feelings of achievement but it can also be crushing and perpetuate negativity and even lead to hostile behaviour. As such toxicity is not unique to league and I am inclined to believe it gets a somewhat inflated reputation for it as I have experienced similar levels of toxicity in the majority of competitive video games I have played.

Even for people that just play the game in their spare time toxicity can create problems. In the first place nobody likes to lose, let alone endure insults or the blame of people they have been teamed with. I’ve sat there many times fuming at the nerve of players daring to say the loss of a game was exclusively my fault, or been deeply upset (yes I have emotions) by people telling me to go kill myself, get cancer, or any other unpleasant thing they could think of. It wasn’t pleasant and would often lead to me going to play other games or even throwing myself back into the fray unfocused and perpetuating the cycle by playing worse and inviting the toxicity to tea. While this is something I have always struggled with in regards to League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Dota, Overwatch, you name it, I’d gotten pretty good at blowing off steam by swearing profusely, playing other games etc. What I was not prepared for was how broadcasting the game would change my experience of it, both the highs and the lows in equal measure.

So lets briefly touch on something that I consider to be a core tenant of my stream. I want my stream to be a fun, relaxed environment. Why, cause I want people watching to have a good time and that’s the kind of stream I enjoy. League can make that almost impossible for me as some games, honestly just make me feel miserable. It doesn’t even have to be losses. A player flaming, a game in which I feel like I messed up repeatedly for example can lead to a negative attitude towards my play or the game that I have a hard time shaking. The simple reality for me is that the game has its ups and downs and can elicit a wide range of reactions, and as a person I have a habit of fixating on my own mistakes and getting inside my own head. Something that doesn’t help in league where confidence and PMA (positive mental attitude) can be so crucial.

As this is a critical commentary I want to move away from talking about the game and how it can effect me. Largely because that deserves to be post in itself and I have limited words to construct this piece. I want now to look at what I have done to try and create a consistent broadcast and how effective they have been, as well as looking at things I hope will make a difference in future.

The first and most notable change I have made is switching the type of game I play from Ranked, to Normal. This may not sound like a big change, I’m still playing the same map, largely the same champions and toxic players and bad performances by yours truly can still create a negative spiral that impacts my broadcasts. It is, in fact a massive change. As a naturally competitive person, I’m harsh on myself for errors and seek to excel in whatever game I am playing at any given time. (Regardless of level or my actual abilities.) A good example of this is Starcraft Two, I love watching SC2, observing the best in the world go head to head. From this I have gained some understanding of what works, what doesn’t, how I should respond to certain scenarios etc. But when I play SC2 I get incredibly frustrated, cause no matter how hard I try, I see thousands of things that I should be doing better and can’t. This attitude doesn’t change, but there is a level of prestige which comes from attaining certain ranks, ranks which act as a measure (accurately or inaccurately) of my skill as a player. And that, is where the ranked system digs its claws in deep. If I play a normal game, my rank doesn’t change, I don’t lose internet points, I just lost a bout. It sucks but it is easier to move on from, than coming away from League at the end of a day having demoted with the attitude that “today sucked” and pushing myself to stay up later and play more games in an effort to claw that back.

I think most people can see that this would suck, but undergoing this in front of an audience, becoming more and more frustrated. Feeling that you are wasting your time cause you are just making things worse, that hit harder. The change to normal games alleviated some of the things that were leading frankly to self loathing and disappointment that I was experiencing on stream, that was affecting my ability to create the kind of environment I strive to. This in turn led to another important realisation. That although some people do want to watch higher level players, I, at this moment in time had to make a choice, did I focus on my level of play or my stream. This was a question I wrestled with for quite some time. In the end I decided that trying to level up my stream, came at the price of levelling up my play. If I wanted to truly improve at league, with the pace I wanted. I would have to remove it from my streaming schedule and honestly potentially stop streaming to create the space for that kind of improvement.

Consciously making this decision turned from Atlas, to a man with no excuse for bad posture. All joking aside however it allowed me to tell myself that it was okay I didn’t play at 100% because, talking to chat, making jokes and providing good commentary, was all more important to me, than winning the game. It was a huge weight off of my shoulders and although it hasn’t completely removed my problems with falling into negative moods or struggling to cope with loss streaks it has allowed me a different outlet. Instead of constantly trying 110% to win and getting mad when I couldn’t, I am now more able to discuss why we are falling behind, make jokes and use chat as a way to get out of that negative headspace and focus on the broadcast. It is still difficult but taking away unnecessary pressure and accepting my limitations as a person has helped a great deal.

S0, I am going to go over my set maximum words here but I want to lay out a few of the other things I am trying to do to make improvements so I can discuss them at greater length in a future commentary or separate blog post. The first is to stay hydrated and make sure that I eat. Streaming an average of five hours per day means that I can often find myself low on energy just because I am not fuelling myself appropriately.
The second is to try and work gentle exercise into a daily regiment, taking short walks when health allows etc.
Thirdly, I want to make sure that I don’t play league for too long in any one sitting. This is something that I have been working on already trying to stream two games every day. A few hours of league and then something else. In doing this I can try to make sure that I bring my best focus to playing and to broadcasting league.

Alright, lengthy post done. There have been steps made but there are many more to follow. I hope you’ve enjoyed this commentary, such as it is. If you have any thoughts, experiences or suggestions on how to make streaming League or competitive games easier, feel free to drop me a comment below!

Shieldbroski out.

Diabolus: An early surprise in the EU Masters.


Tuning into the EU Masters for the first day of the Play Ins  2019 I wasn’t sure what to expect from Diabolus. Despite being the regular season champions of the UKLC, they had been clean swept by FNC Rising in the Play Off’s. Continue reading “Diabolus: An early surprise in the EU Masters.”