Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gigantic on PC Guide: Installing, Updating, & Playing with Friends

I'm writing this post because I'm a huge fan of PC games, but a lot of the process of using Windows Store Games is very new so to avoid some trial and error I'm attempting to pass down what I've learned quickly. This guide is designed to get the game installed, show you how to keep it updated, and get you playing with friends as quickly and streamlines as possible.

Gigantic is available on PC and Xbox One. The PC version (at this time during open beta) is available through the Windows Store. Thanks to the Xbox Live Network you can play with and against your Xbox friends and share the same matchmaking pool (cross-platform) so you don't have to worry about poor matchmaking numbers like you may have heard about from other multiplayer Windows Store titles.

Because it's on the Windows Store it does require Windows 10 and the anniversary update. This update fixes a lot of the annoyances of Windows 10 so it's a good update to grab. If you don't already have the update you will be prompted during the installation steps below so don't worry about it. Just come back and continue where you left off after getting the update.

I. Getting Gigantic on PC

Optional: this is not a requirement, but will make everything else smoother. If you already have an Xbox Live account that you want to use be sure you log in with that account to Windows, the Windows Store App, and the Xbox Live App. I changed my Windows login to match my Xbox Live login after I started playing Windows Store Games and it helped a lot! This way your store purchases will go to the correct account, all your friends and games from Xbox will be available on PC, etc. This is a good tip for all Windows Store Games, not just Gigantic.

- Open the Windows Store:

If you haven't changed your Windows taskbar there will be a Windows Store Icon by your start button. If you have simply press your Windows Key or click the Start Button and type in "store" and it will come up in your search list.

- Sign in to the Store Using your Xbox Live Account:

Use the drop-down menu in the top right to sign in/verify you're signed in with your Xbox Live account so purchases (even of free games) go on your Xbox Live account.

- Find Gigantic and Install it:

Use the search bar on the right to type in "Gigantic" and it will come up in the list. Click on Get the Game and then Install Note: I've already gone through the purchase process (even though it's free), so the button may say something like purchase.

The actual game page will load and just click Install and wait for the download, shouldn't take to long.

- Before Running the Game Open and Sign into the Xbox App:


You can do this while Gigantic is installing or after, but you need to do this before running the game for the first time if you've never signed in on this PC. Search for the Xbox app: Use the Windows Key or Start Button and type in "Xbox" when the app launches this is where you MUST be signed in with your Xbox Live account.

- Play Gigantic and Have Fun:

Search for Gigantic: Again use the Windows Key or Start Button and type in "Gigantic" That should be all you need, but if you run into any other issues continue to read the section below.

II. Keeping Gigantic Up-To-Date:

Windows is suppose to keep all your Windows Store Games and Apps up-to-date and normally does, but not always. To verify you're up to day: open up the Windows Store, click on your portrait on the right next to search and click on My Library and look for Gigantic in the list of Available updates at the top.

Click on the down arrow button on the right to start downloading the update.

III. Log In Failures:

This section covers bugs on the open beta build 253638 and anything below will of course become more functional with updates to Microsoft's APIs and Gigantic patches, but for now it's an attempt to help players use the Windows Store version of Gigantic and a few things to check should you have issues logging in.

If you click the start button and then the game hangs trying to log in: Close Gigantic and open the Xbox App and be sure you're signed in. I've actually had the best results by opening the Xbox App every time before I launch Gigantic and just leaving it up in the background while playing, this has fixed that log in issue for me.

If you click the start button, get the generic Login Failed and return to the same screen with the Start Button:

I've seen this caused because Windows hasn't kept Gigantic updated like it should, follow the steps outlined in section II above.

Other log-in errors will probably require you to contact support or retry later do to some kind of network issues :(

IV. Lose control in the Tutorial:

This one works on Xbox One or PC. If you get stuck at any point in the tutorial or practice bring up the menu by pressing Esc or Start (three lined button) and select quit from the menu, this will bring you back to the home screen.

V. Stuck in Queue Without Finding a Match:

If you spend an excessive amount of time in queue (greater than 5-10 minutes, though most queue pops seem to happen around 3 minutes max.) I've seen this caused by your client being out of date. You only match-make with players on the same version as you, and if everyone else has updated, you won't find a match, follow the steps outlined in section II above.

VI. Playing with Friends:

I mistakenly thought this was broken completely on Windows, instead some options either get defaulted off or it's easy enough to turn notifications off for the Xbox App and assume you'd still be able to party with the app open, but with notifications turned off they don't come though at all. Here is what I've found.

If you're not seeing the Windows toasts to join a party after being Invited to a Crew:

If you don't see the Game invite toasts (shown above) when someone invites you to a party, you can turn them on by:

- Press the Windows Key or click the Start Button and type in "notifications":

- Scroll to the bottom (alphabetical order) and be sure your Xbox App is set to on:

- Optional: Open the Xbox App and under Settings (gear icon on the left), General tap you can increase the Notification time so you have time to free your mouse (Windows Key) and click the toast before it disappears.

- Optional: Since you MUST have notifications turned on to get invites in the Xbox App under the Notifications section turn off anything you don't want to toast in the bottom right of Windows.

The Reliable way to Party Without Notifications:

- Have the person who is going to lead the party launch the Xbox App and Gigantic and log in to both.

- Have everyone who wants to be in the party with the leader launch their Xbox Apps (with Gigantic running) and find the leader in their friends list. (everyone should already be friends, if not add each-other as friends)

- The leader will have an button: "Joinable: Join Gigantic", click that button and everyone should show up in a party.

- When the leader is ready to play they use the Play Gigantic button and everyone will be brought into Hero Select and after they pick heroes will join the matchmaking queue together.

I'm only covering the large game breaking PC specific issues in this post. As long as you can log in and play with friends you'll find a very enjoyable multiplayer game with some time investment. Like anything else if you see other bugs try the basics of updating drivers, use the steps above to be sure Gigantic is up to date.

If you haven't already read though it, check out my guide on How to Win Matches: The Power Struggle: http://billychatterton.blogspot.com/2017/01/gigantic-guide-how-to-win-matches-power.html Hopefully this will be useful as you start playing the game to understand what is going on. Download Gigantic and enjoy! I'll see you on the airship!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gigantic Guide: How to Win Matches / The Power Struggle

Why write this post? Gigantic is an amazing complex and fun game, but the complexity takes a while to understand. I'm attempting to speed up the learning curve with information that took me about a solid month of daily play to grasp. Without understanding the underlining game it's a charming, but run-of-the-mill PvP control point type game. Once you grasp the power mechanics however, it becomes truly enjoyable and competitive at a level that makes you consider what you should be doing at every moment. A large part of Gigantic's charm is it's an intelligent strategy game at heart, wrapped in a 3rd person action arena. Read, share, and hopefully enjoy the game more as your knowledge grows! See you on the airship!

What isn't as Important as it Appears:

Forget about everything on the Tab/Y screen: kills, deaths, assists, summons, and efficiency. Those stats will net you Fortune Cards, but won't win you matches.

This is mostly true with end game screens except for two stats: Guardian Damage and Orbs. These are the only two stats that will give you an idea about how you or your teammates helped out:

- Guardian Damage: During the Vulnerable Phase how much damage did you do to the enemy guardian.
- Orbs: If there is no creature on a point (or an Obelisk) the power can be manually collected and shows in this stat. (So it is situational, see Building Power Phase below)

Why don't kills and deaths matter? Because the timing of kills and deaths is more important by far than the numbers.

What is Important: The Power Struggle:

Now that we've talked about what isn't important, what is? The match happens in phases much like Magic the Gathering or many other turn based card games. Understanding these phases helps you make smart plays and win. The good news is everything you need to understand these phases is right at the top of your screen at all times.

Building Power Phase:

This is the phase you will spend the majority of the match in. Both teams start at 0 power at the beginning of the game and after every Vulnerable Phase. Your goal during this phase is to fill your bar to 100 before the enemy team does. Here is what gives you power:

- Player Kills: Killing an enemy player earns 10 power for your team.
- Creature Kills: Killing an enemy creature earns 20 power for your team.
- Collecting Power Orbs: Collecting the power orbs that spawn earns 20 power for your team.

Power Orbs: Each of the lettered points on the map spawn a Power Orb. Normally a friendly and enemy point spawn at the same time, but if there is an odd number of points the middle point will spawn alone and controlling it can be all you need to win the Building Power Phase. If you have a non-Obelisk creature on the point it will collect the orb for you (if it's not being attacked). If there is no creature or an Obelisk is on the point you must manually collect the orb (D-Pad Down or 4). Creatures also collect orbs faster than manually collecting, so if one team has a creature and one team does not the team with a creature has an advantage.

Disrupting the Enemy Team's Power: Both creatures and players can be interrupted while collecting power orbs, so if you see someone else collecting engage them, and if a teammate is collecting support them by keep enemies away from them or body blocking shots for them. If there will be a tie to 100 you can also disrupt an enemy creature so your creature captures the orb first. If you see an enemy point without a creature on it, but with an orb you can run behind enemy lines and manually capture the power orb.

Trading Power: This is where it can get interesting. Know how much power actions will earn your team and if you can make a good trade at the right time it can tip the balance of power. Being behind enemy lines you can capture an enemy orb or kill a creature and if you die alone you will earn 20 power for your team and will give the enemy team 10 power for your death netting a +10 for the trade. Taking at least one enemy player down with you makes this a better trade. If your team needs 20 points to reach 100 and the enemy needs more than 10 this may be an acceptable risk. (Read Building Shield Phase below as it may not be.)

At completion of the Building Power Phase there is a branch, if your team was the first to 100 you will enter the Attacking Phase if your team was not first you will enter the Building Shield Phase.

Building Shield Phase:

The more complex of the two phases after the Building Power Phase ends. If your team was not the first to 100 power the other team will be attacking and your team will be building shield. Your teams goal here is to fill the shield bar to 100 so when the enemy guardian does their initial attack it does no damage and any enemy player's attacks have the most possible damage absorbed by the shield. Shield numbers are the same as power numbers from the Building Power Phase, except no orbs spawn in this phase. Do anything you can to get that last kill or two to fill your shield, if it's at 100 the enemy guardian's initial attack is completely absorbed by the shield.

Also worth noting here is there is no power penalty for dying in this phase, so while you want to be up to defend the Vulnerable Phase this is an acceptable place to die if it can't be avoided without costing anything in the power struggle for your team.

Attacking Phase:

The team that gets to 100 power first enters the Attacking Phase. In the Attacking Phase your goal is to stay alive and not feed any power into the Building Shield Phase of the enemy team. Orbs do not spawn so the best strategy is usually to group up at a forward point, heal up and time your arrival to the enemy guardian at the same time your attack timer reaches 0 so you are present for the full duration of the Vulnerable Phase.

Arriving to early is the most common mistake I see here as the other team should all be there defending and deaths will add to their shield and make it harder to complete the wound and/or avoid a full team wipe while attacking during the Vulnerable Phase. Consider hanging back if it looks like you are the last one to the enemy guardian and your team won't complete the wound to avoid a full team wipe.

Vulnerable Phase:

After the Building Shield/Attacking Phases have ended the Vulnerable Phase starts. This is the only time the Guardians takes damage and you make progress towards winning the game. The first team to complete three wounds (deplete all three guardian health bar) wins the game. At the start of the Vulnerable Phase the attacking guardian does damage to the defending guardian to start off the phase. This damage is reduced by the shield the defending team has built up in the Building Shield Phase directly before. While every bit of shield helps at 90 shield the guardian still takes a substantial amount of damage, but at 100 shield the initial attack damage is mitigated completely so pushing to 100 percent will give your team a huge advantage in defending the wound. The shield also mitigates a percentage of player damage until it is fully used up, so the higher the shield the better.

Auto Wounds: If a guardian's health bar is already partially depleted the initial damage from the attacking guardian may fully complete the wound on it's own and the attacking team may not need to do any damage at all. The first two wounds work this why while the final hit of the final wound (to win the game) can only be made by player damage. If you know this will be an auto wound avoid rushing to the back lines where you are vulnerable to unnecessary deaths and instead plan another strategic attack on a creature if the defending team all goes back to protect a wound.

This is generally an okay time to die. Death adds to shield and power by way of increasing vulnerable time, but both are fairly low amounts. This also seems to be the highest chance of a team wipe, mostly on the attacking team and you really want to avoid this at all cost! I'll briefly talk about team wipes below.

I'll break up the Vulnerable Phase into attacking and defending wounds:

Attacking During the Vulnerable Phase: The enemy guardian is being pinned down by your guardian and is vulnerable to attack after the Attacking Phase has completed. During this time you want to primarily be attacking the enemy guardian at the expense of almost everything else. If you are playing a hero with strong crowd control (Xenobia and Uncle Sven's Focus Skills come to mind) you may consider using them so your team has uninterrupted damage on the wound for their duration, or you may save them for escapes after this phase.
Keep an eye on your teammate panel and run if possible to avoid a full team wipe!!!

Defending the Vulnerable Phase: Your guardian is being pinned down by the enemy guardian and is vulnerable to player attacks after the Building Shield Phase has completed. Your number one priority is to keep attackers from damaging your guardian. Only the front glowing part around the head is vulnerable, so watch for enemy players to group up on it. This is one of the most effective times to use your area of effect (AoE) damage or crowd control skills. Also if your guardian is being attacked by ranged consider using skills like Margrave's Hellburst, Mozu's Arcane Vortex, or if you've upgraded your skills defensively even something like HK-206's Fortify directly in front of your guardian to body block for them. There are other skills that can also be used well here, like knock backs against melee heroes to keep them out of range to damage the wounds. Experiment with your chosen hero's skills to wee what is effective here.

It is acceptable to die at this point as it gives a fairly small enemy shield and no power if doing so can reduce the damage your guardian takes, and doesn't contribute to a full team wipe!

Right After Vulnerable Phase Ends:

After the Vulnerable Phase, both teams return to the Building Power Phase. The first 60 seconds after Vulnerable Phase ends is arguably the most strategic. Here are a few strategic options:

- If you were defending a wound get player kills on any low health enemies trying to get out.
- If you didn't need to or weren't in position for a wound, take a creature's health down low in the Vulnerable Phase and kill it as soon as it ends to get a quick 20 power lead.
- Make a strong coordinated attack on a creature point if the other team is out of position etc.

These are the phases of the game that loop throughout your match. If you understand them and where you are in the loop it will help you to make smart choices and win the power struggle. The team with the most Vulnerable Phases usually wins, and that is achieved by winning the Building Power Phases.

Lastly I'll cover three more things that significantly effect power.


Clash is designed to push the two teams closer together and help bring the match to conclusion faster. The top middle of the UI shows the number of points to get to Clash. Being the first team to 100 power (Rampage) is one point and when all the points are used up you enter Clash. These points really only matter for a few badges, but this will help you know how close to Clash you are. The map changes (many times dramatically) and the fight continues in closer quarters.

Full Team Wipes:

If your entire team dies there is an extra spawn time penalty added to your team (about 15-20 seconds). If your entire team is dead often the other team will push and kill one of your creatures before your team can respawn and defend it. So in addition to the power the other team got from killing yours teammates you can almost always count on losing an extra 20 power from a creature kill. This is why someone should often hang back during Attacking Phases or at least be aware if everyone is in a bad location and run early. Team wipes want to be avoided at all costs. And it's actually a good thing to watch that last person run for cover if everyone else is dead.

Summoning Creatures Your Team Can't Defend:

Those center points on a map feel nice to control, but if you can't defend the creature summoned on them it's a constant 20 power drip to the enemy team. Don't summon these creatures unless you can defend them. Many games I've been in have been lost by overzealous summoning on center points. With the addition of the Obelisk, you do now have an option as they give no power when killed. So if you summon on a heavily contested point use an Obelisk, just remember you'll have to manually collect the power orbs.