The Future of eSports and The OWL

“I ate taco bell while I wrote this”
Written by Jodem

Watching the Overwatch World Cup has had me thinking a lot about the Overwatch League lately. I know I’ve had a few discussions with people here and there, and people hesitate to be excited about the OWL because of how little information Blizzard has given out about it so far. I also think people are balking at the fact that the buy in for an OWL team is a hot $20 million and many established esports teams have pulled out, but I think Blizzard is trying to pave the way for a beautiful future where esports are just as important and recognized as traditional sports.

There is some huge money in esports. DOTA 2 currently has a $24 million prize pool for The International 2017 (and nearly $11 million of that is going toward first place!), League of Legends’ 2016 World Championship was a $5 million prize pool… and so on (source). At least with DOTA 2, each player likely gets around $2 million each… The 2017 Super Bowl only left each player for the New England Patriots with $107,000 (source)… Of course, that’s not counting their $41 million contracts (I’m looking at you, Tom Brady). And then you realize Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, has just bought the Boston Overwatch League team, and it starts to dawn on you that maybe this could be a real thing.

I remember watching the first SMITE World Championship back in January 2015. SMITE was the first online, competitive game I’d really had any interest in, and I was completely and utterly hooked. I remember talking with my friends about which players and teams I liked most (dig4dig!), getting excited and wanting to support my teams. For the 2016 SMITE World Championship, my roommate and I had a watch party where we ordered pizza and got our friends to come over to watch with us… And that’s when I realized, “What makes this any different than my dad’s Super Bowl parties?”

The truth is… not much. You can still get invested in players, teams, and big games just as much as you can with physical sports. You can still have parties with your friends with beer and homemade bar food or pizza while you all scream at the television in frustration or elation.

So what does this mean? Well, esports are already being considered for the 2024 Olympics in Paris; Olympic officials realize that adding a few esports to the Olympics would get younger generations interested in watching the Olympics (which, let’s be honest, means more money in their pockets from advertisements and merchandise). People are starting to take esports seriously, and this is something gamers everywhere should be excited about. It means more teams, more tournaments, and more chances for gamers around the world to benefit… Some colleges are already offering scholarships for League of Legends players, allowing student gamers the same chances as traditional student athletes.

I think this is something a lot of people are struggling with, and I don’t think enough people are giving Blizzard enough credit for everything they’re trying to do with the OWL. Eventually, I think we’re going to start seeing esports regularly on their own ESPN channel (hell, they already have a few on there!), and I think it’s something gamers should be excited for. Blizzard has made a few mistakes with running professional Overwatch tournaments, but I think if they’re putting that effort toward OWL, the next few years are going to show incredible changes in esports.

Surviving the Wilderness

The Long Dark
A game review by Laura Martin “Fuyumé”

The air is freezing cold; you can see the breath leave in huffs of warm clouds from your mouth. You need to find shelter, so you set off down a frozen river, searching for some abandoned building. It’s almost sunset when you find a cabin, devoid of life but containing an energy bar, a lantern half full of fuel, and a bed with thin blankets. You eat the bar and drink the last of your water, knowing you’ll need to find more in the morning. You settle into bed, just warm enough to sleep. So ends another day in the quiet apocalypse.

The Long Dark, developed by Hinterland Studios, is a post-apocalyptic survival game. There are no zombies or factions of evil. It’s just the player versus nature, trying to survive the frozen Canadian wilderness. The player assumes the role of a stranded bush pilot whose plane was downed by a “mysterious geomagnetic event”. The only goal of the survival mode, until recently the only mode in the game, is to survive as long as possible.

The game’s visual style is reminiscent of a painting. The effect is calming; despite danger lurking around every corner in the form of hunger, exposure, and wildlife, one can’t help but take in the beauty of each unique map. Snowy mountains, towering trees, and frozen lakes cover the land, coated in a thick blanket of fresh snow. The same style can look a bit odd on the animations of people in the game, but Hinterland has made many improvements to its animations since its official launch on August 1st.

In a game so dependent on its sandbox mode – called Survival ever since the official release – gameplay is vitally important. The Long Dark alternates between a rhythmic, methodical playstyle as the player goes through the day to day task of making sure he has enough resources for tomorrow, and the rushing, panicked playstyle when something goes catastrophically wrong, like a bear attack or a badly timed blizzard. The HUD is clean and minimalistic, completely absent unless the player brings it up. The immersion is enough to make me feel a chill in the height of a Texas summer, to feel my heart race when I hear the bark of a wolf nearby.

The story mode, named Wintermute, debuted on August 1st with the launch of the game. The story is paced much like Survival; at times, calm and methodical, and at others making the player feel panicked. The story follows Will Mackenzie, a bush pilot, and Astrid, a doctor determined to deliver something to the remote and desolate Great Bear Island. The game opens with Mackenzie in the wreckage of his own plane, a sharp piece of metal stuck in his hand. Unfortunately, the clean HUD works against the game in this instance; any player new to the game not aware of how to interact with things would have trouble recognizing how to remove the metal from his hand and progress to the next scene.

The Long Dark has never held its player’s hands; from the very beginning of its early access and through its development there was no tutorial for Survival mode. Many players would die quickly in situations where they may have lived had they known the mechanics. For example, to obtain water reliably, the player melts snow in fires. However, the menu to do this is hidden behind the menu to add fuel to the fire and cooking food, in a vague water drop shaped tab. While this is fine for a sandbox, it becomes frustrating in a story mode where there is a tutorial section, but is ill explained. However, for veterans of the game through its early access phase, the tutorial section is a breeze to rush through and get to the real challenges the game offers.

The voice acting, though limited in some degree, is fantastic. Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale, the voice actors for Commander Shepard of the Mass Effect series, provide the voices for Mackenzie and Astrid, respectively, as well as the male and female voices for Survival mode. Hale, as a seasoned voice actor, performs as expected, which would be well. I’m pleased to say that Meer also does a stellar job as Will Mackenzie, considering he is a lesser known voice actor outside of the Mass Effect series. David Hayter, well known for his work in the Metal Gear Solid series, gives a great performance as a side character guiding Mackenzie through learning the ropes of survival.

Unfortunately, this somewhat star-studded cast does have a downside; in what can only be assumed was a choice based on a restricted budget, only major cutscenes are voiced, with dialogue between characters inside of the game being text only. While this isn’t the worst thing that could have happened, I can’t help but think that had they only used Hale and Meer, and talented unknowns for the rest of the cast, Hinterland may have had the budget to voice all the dialogue. However, this is only conjecture; the voice acting that is present is well delivered.

Over all, I must say if you were looking for a new survival game to shake things up, one that doesn’t rely on zombies and other supernatural beings to make it challenging, this is definitely the game for you. It may be a bit rough around the edges, but if you give it a chance, you’ll see the diamond.

August Blossom of the Month

August’s Blossom of the Month is Kaidas! Kaidas is a coach for 2 teams (Aris and Wolfsbane), and he’s also the Coach and Analyst lead here at Death Blossoms. He has proven to be a helpful member of the community time and time again, and is always willing to help any member with anything they might need. Here’s what two members of the community also had to say about Kaidas:

“He’s volunteered so much of his time to help our teams. Beyond that, he’s super friendly and welcoming towards everyone in the community. It’s very much appreciated!” – Nominator

“He coaches 2 of our teams and is just an awesome guy in general. PLUS he hates pineapple pizza. That’s always a good quality to have.” – Nominator

  1. What is your name and what gametag do you primarily go by?

    Mike, Ahriman

  2. How long have you been a gamer and what got you into gaming?

    Been gaming ever since I was a little kid. Started when my dad first showed me a flight sim.

  3. What other games have you played?

    I pretty much play anything. From first person shooters to RPG, Single player to MMOs. But I tend to play mostly FPS games.

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July Blossom of the Month

July’s Blossom of the Month is no one other than Amna! Death Blossoms wouldn’t be the amazing community it is today without our wonderful admin Amna, and all of the hardwork that she does on a day-to-day basis. She is truly the heart of Death Blossoms, and as a nominator below said she’s really Blossom of the Year. Here’s what two members of the community also had to say about our lovely admin:

“Amna shouldn’t just be Blossom of the Month, she should seriously be Blossom of the Year. Amna has done SOOO much for the community from the very beginning and she has helped create the foundation for the team to continue to grow. She is one of the most approachable people in the community and is always ready and willing to help each and every member no matter who they are. She is an amazing leader and DB is SO lucky to have someone like her at the helm.” – Nominator

“She’s just literally the best and nicest person on this server..” – Nominator

    1. What is your name and what gametag do you primarily go by?

      Amna is my irl AND gamer name. I know, SO creative I am.

    2. How long have you been a gamer and what got you into gaming?

      I’ve been a PC gamer since…Summer of 2010. My then-boyfriend introduced me to Borderlands and I absolutely LOVED it (that’s right, ladies, I’m not* 12). I was instantly attracted to sniping and enjoyed lining up headshots. I loved the prediction element of the game, and especially liked the part where I was able to play with/against real people around the world. Though, this last part wasn’t fully realized until I picked up my favorite game of ALL TIME: Global Agenda.

    3. What other games have you played?

      I was SUPER into Global Agenda (2,000+ hours), and played Dirty Bomb as I was waiting for Overwatch to be released. I’ve also played Rift and Portal 1 & 2. Before PC I played a little bit of Playstation as a kid: Twisted Metal, Crash Bandicoot, and Rayman.

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Featured Artist: Frostfoxie

Our first featured artist from Death Blossoms is Frostfoxie. She created this amazing Widowmaker piece using Paint Tool SAI for the lineart and Photoshop for coloring. Find more of her art on DeviantArt.

June Blossom of the Month

Every month a different member of the Death Blossoms community will be listed here with an interview and their favorite clip from the game. Nominations are collected during the previous month, and the admins decide on a final winner. For the month of June the member, Veroicone, was chosen aka … me. Besides being a member, I’m also on  the team Dreamleaf and a staff member (Event Organizer and Website editor). I was completely shocked by this and wish I could give a hug to every member of the community. Here’s what two members of the community had to say:

“She created a website for us! Not only that, but she’s irrepressibly positive and always fantastically helpful whenever anyone needs her.” – Nominator

“Took the time and effort to create Death Blossoms website/updates it. A very helpful cheerful officer at db that has put in a lot of her time into the community.” – Nominator

    1. What is your name and what gametag do you primarily go by?

      Veronica and my gamertag is Veroicone. Which is basically “Veronica” in Latin. And yes, no one ever says it correctly (which is okay).

    2. How long have you been a gamer and what got you into gaming?

      I’ve been playing video games since I was about 3 or 4 years old. My older sister had the original Nintendo system, and I’d often play it as well. Zelda and Super Mario Bros. were some of my favorites as a kid.

    3. What other games have you played?

      Since I’ve been playing games for almost 25+ years, there’s quite a few. Some of my favorites (besides Overwatch of course) is: World of Warcraft, Halo, Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, Dragon Age, Crash Bandicoot, and I’m there’s loads more.

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to the official website for Death Blossoms! Death Blossoms is an all-female gaming clan with competitive teams and casual players in Overwatch. To find out more about our amazing teams, check out the TEAMS page. Don’t forget to also follow us on TWITTER.

 

The world could always use more heroes! If you’re interested in applying, please check out the APPLY section.