In this three-part video series, we’re continuing to talk about cohesive game experience: what is it, why is it important, and how to achieve it.
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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.
Most of you have probably heard about the closing of four Ubisoft free-to-play games: The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, EndWar Online, Ghost Recon Phantoms and Might & Magic: Duel of Champions. All these games, Epic Loot especially, were something that I was interested in trying at some point. So with limited time left, I finally did. And it inspired me to talk about the topic of introductory experience in free-to-play games.
I want to start by saying that I wrote this post about half a year ago, back when Dead Star was released and the possibility of a shutdown didn’t seem likely at all. Somehow, it didn’t get posted, so I am gonna do so now. Beyond the addition of this paragraph, I didn’t change anything to reflect the current situation, but now that the game is off the shelves and soon you won’t be able to play multiplayer matches, it feels sad and weird to read a recommendation to check out the game, even if I personally didn’t enjoy it greatly. Always a pity to see a game gone.
A few years ago, I played Badland on mobile by my fiancee’s recommendation, and I had tons of fun – it’s a great game. Beautiful art, simple controls yet challenging levels, and when you play it you really get into the state of flow as you try to make perfect runs. So I was really curious when I learned that the game would get a console/PC port, titled ‘Game of the Year Edition’. And thanks to it appearing among the PSN+ games, I got to try the port out.
I firmly believe that what we as game developers do is create experiences for our players. And all the different areas of the game, – cool gameplay, technology, narrative, audio – feeds into those experiences. How the wooshing sound of Hearthstone cards when you move them helps with that feeling of a physical card game. How the different sound cues of Left 4 Dead depending on the special zombie nearby influence the teamwork aspect of the game. How controls themselves are used as a narrative tool in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. And a game is valued best when it all works as a whole.
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.