Category Archives: Blog
Card games, trading and collectible including, always have had certain randomness to them – at least because the deck is always shuffled so you never know in which order you’ll draw your cards. Hearthstone, being a fully digital card game, tries to expand upon what kind of random effects one can achieve while playing. Some people are happy with these experiments, some are not. But let’s take a look from design perspective at the different kind of randomness in Hearthstone and how they can be perceived by players.
For a long time I wanted to try and make it so posts on my personal blog would arrive on a regular schedule. At first I had very rare articles. Last year, though, I managed to post periodically (32 posts published in total), while this year, for the past month and a half, I published regularly 2 posts per week. Here’s what I learned and why I’m going to change the paradigm to publishing blogs without a schedule.
TorqueL feels like a prototype of a very interesting mechanic that has never really left the stage of being a prototype and sort of became a full game. The point of the game is that you roll around in a box, and instead of jumping, you extend one or more of the box’s sides to do the platforming.
I really like the concept and find it interesting. And as a prototype, TorqueL is a great proof of concept. It is not, however, a great game in my opinion.
I was playing This War of Mine lately, and what I do when I want to write a blog analysis of a game, is I first check online what posts there are already so to know if there’s a particular topic that wasn’t explored (I first wanted to talk about context of mechanics using This War of Mine as an example, but there already is a great post about it on Gamasutra by the game’s lead designer). But seeing some of the feedback and discussions around This War of Mine have inspired me to talk about a more general subject, one that I touch pretty regularly in conversations with other developers, and consider to be very important. Video games need to stop HAVING to be fun.
If you’re interested in learning about risk/reward mechanics and how they affect player psychology, you should definitely check out The Swindle. It’s a procedurally generated heist game and is pretty much fully based on risk/reward loops. In this post I’m going to explore why The Swindle is so good at this.
Recently in a new PS+ free games update I saw a game that I didn’t know anything about, called Azkend 2. As it turns out, it’s a match-3 game (with a mix of hidden object to it), and I’ve got to say… if we want the match-3 genre to become popular on consoles, as it is on PCs and mobile, we need to fully rethink and repurpose match-3 mechanics there.
I’ve worked on match-3 games for almost 2 years, so I hope I’ve learned enough to say that the most important part of any game of the genre, and why it’s so popular, is that it just feels good to play. And I’m not talking about animations and effects and chain reaction mechanics, although it certainly is a part of enjoyment (and of course good level design plays a huge part as well). I’m talking about how it feels good just to do the basic actions of the game. Sluggish controls are the main reason I disliked Azkend 2, no amount of effects or pretty graphics or level design quality would have saved that, and I have a feeling that had I played it on a tablet or PC (the game is released on both), I’d have more enjoyment out of the game.
I think Broken Age has got to be the game I’m most confused what to think about. Back in the day, I gave some money to its Kickstarter campaign, at the time known just as Double Fine Adventure. And when Act 1 got released, I was absolutely blown away. It was amazing. Though, because my save files were somehow lost, when Act 2 was released I didn’t play it. That is, until I got recently the final backer reward – the collector’s box for Broken Age. It prompted me to binge the full game from start to finish. And… let’s just say, Act 2 is not as good as Act 1, both narrative-wise and gameplay-wise. And that’s mildly putting.
I’m so disappointed by Act 2 that I think I’ve spent 3 or 4 days constantly complaining to everyone I know about it. Yeah, this is a matter of opinion. So this post I’m not going to talk about my thoughts on how the character arcs set up in Act 1 weren’t fulfilled, or how Act 2 jumps the shark with a bunch of strange twists or motivations. But I do want to discuss what I think are glaring design issues with the game, Act 2 specifically, and why they’re such a big problem. Be warned, there will be spoilers!
Titan Souls is a game that makes me excited about victories but also keeps me absolutely infuriated all the time.
On one hand, that’s the whole point. After all, the name is purposefully similar to Dark Souls, and all the mechanics in the game are based on one hit death – both for you and the bosses that have one particular weak spot that you need to get to.
The thing is, what makes me infuriated is not the one-hit death part. It’s the way you target your arrows with the stick. You don’t see the trajectory of where you’ll fire, and while one may argue that it’s part of the skill to learn how to target and I’ll certainly agree with that, I’ll also provide a counter-point that missing the mark by a couple pixels is very frustrating. And it happens very often, usually leading to death after, because as bosses start getting trickier there’s pretty much just one chance to shoot.
I’m not a particular fan of MOBA games. I’ve tried at different points in time: League of Legends, Dota 2, and Guardians of Middle-Earth, neither have really grabbed me. So when about a year ago I got into Awesomenauts, which I have from a bundle, I did not expect to get grabbed by it as well. By the time of writing this post I have more than 250 hours in the game.
This made me wonder: is it just a game-specific thing, i.e. I happened to like Awesomenauts but not other MOBA games, or did Awesomenauts act as a better entrance point for the genre? So if I replay other MOBA titles, will I find more enjoyment in them? This has interested me also because I have never really experienced a situation where I didn’t really like any game I tried of a particular genre, and then a game made me appreciate those more. And yet we as developers tend to talk a lot about that – creating games that could act as entry points for titles of a similar kind.
I think Titan Attacks is a great example of reimagining a classic game, that being Space Invaders, to a more modern gaming era (while still keeping a retro style of the game). And I think the most important part of that is how it handles progression.