Category Archives: Blog

The 5 Extra Coins in Hearthstone

Hearthstone is probably my second most-played game ever, the first one being Evil Islands which I was playing for about 8 years straight, so it’s hard to beat that, but Hearthstone – I did some calculations, and I probably have spent somewhere 600-700 hours in it so far during the past two years. At the least. So, naturally, I would like to talk about it.

The 5 Extra Coins in Hearthstone
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Teslagrad and Progress Gating

Teslagrad and Progress Gating

A little story. I was playing and enjoying Teslagrad. And then, unexpectedly, the pathway to the last section of the game appears to be blocked by a door that can be opened only if you have 15 scrolls, which are hidden and tricky to get collectibles. I had only 3, there was nothing indicating that those scrolls are needed for anything else other than a bonus (for example, there’s a secret ending if you collect all 36 of them, which is perfectly fine). So to get the rest I’d have to go back through all the locations I’ve been to and search for those scrolls. That made me quit in frustration. In retrospect, I have overreacted, however I still don’t agree with the design decision. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of locking content behind collectibles (and to a certain audience there’s nothing wrong in how Teslagrad does it), but I want to talk about how such gating can be made less frustrating for a bigger audience.


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Level Design in Limbo

Today I would like to talk about Limbo. It’s a dark and moody puzzle-platformer, and in my opinion one of the best representatives of the genre out there. It’s short, but it provides a very specific and concise experience of us journeying through this bleak, dangerous world and overcoming the hurdles it throws our way.


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Pacing in Puzzle Games on the Example of Portal 2

Time to get messages on this blog going again. Today I want to talk about Portals. Mostly Portal 2. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘Hey, Stas, is this one of those obligatory posts about Portal’s smart level design and learning curve and the way it teaches you to overcome obstacles?’ And my answer to you would be, no. It is not. It’s about something different, as you probably could gather by the title, though related in a way.


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Shadow of Mordor: Focus in games and downsides of the Nemesis system

I’ve beaten recently Shadow of Mordor. It’s pretty damn good. Tolkien-wise, dig deep enough and you’ll find contradictions to the lore (though, considering that it’s in the universe of the movie, one might argue that doesn’t necessarily count), but it’s a fun and visceral open-world game. And I think it’s a perfect example for a topic I wanted to talk about: focus in games.

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Assassin’s Creed Series Stealth Viability Analysis

Being a more or less active part of Assassin’s Creed fan community, there are several things I noticed that are, one might say, constant among quite a big number of its members. For example, a lot of people say newer Assassin’s Creed installments that take place post-1700 don’t feel like a real Assassin’s Creed game because guns (and that’s despite the fact that our protagonist got a gun in Assassin’s Creed II, and our enemies received firearms in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood… oh, the irony).

One other thing that I see quite often is how the latest 2013 installment, Black Flag, is not assassin-y enough. That as a bombastic pirate adventure with a considerable naval part it’s a Pirate’s Creed rather than an Assassin’s Creed. One of the biggest reasons cited would be lack of stealth in comparison to previous games (Ezio’s trilogy especially, supposedly).

So I got curious. Whenever possible, I play Assassin’s Creed the stealthy way, and I remember quite a lot of stealth in Black Flag. So I wanted to compare how often stealth is a viable option in each of the games. And here are the results, a full spread sheet worth of information. Oh, and Assassin’s Creed IV has got the most stealth possibilities in the whole series, just so you know.

Here’s the link to the Google Spread sheet
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Story Time: Of Polish Evil Islands servers

This is a very weird one. Evil Islands had a bunch of master-servers for its online component: Russian, English, German, Polish, French, some others. A few years after release, though, none of them were very active. None except the Polish master-server – it had games going on it all the time.

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Evil Islands Playtest Story (Translation)

What goes below is a translation of an article written by Aleksei Sviridov back in the year 2000. Aleksei was the lead writer of Evil Islands. This article was my first glimpse into the world of game industry, and I think this is the one that has started an avalanche in my decision process of choosing a future career. It’s a pretty funny story, so I hope you all enjoy the read.

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Evil Islands

Evil Islands is a Russian tactical RPG released way back in the year 2000. … Well, gee, I feel old now. As I’ve written in my last post, it has inspired my venture into the Game Design territory, and I want to talk a little bit more about it.

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Story Time: Of becoming a Game Designer

People who like video games usually have a story of the first one they have ever played, how they were amazed by it, what feelings they have experienced. I don’t have a story like that. I don’t remember my first video game. I became a gamer before my memory functions have even properly kicked in. At 6 months old approximately.

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