I was thinking about Pokemon games.

Well, not specifically. Games in the genre, in vague.

See, they lie at an interesting place halfway between two genres I like, and in turn I can't stand them.
In an RPG, I enjoy growing the party members, both statistically and narratively. By the end of the game, I've got some really kickass cool friends.

In a construction game, I enjoy making the absolute best version of a think I can make, always learning new techniques.
In a trainer game like Pokemon, I deeply enjoy beginning to train the Pokemon.

... and then I despise the rest of the game.
The Pokemon can't be polished like RPG party members - their narratives and stats just aren't beefy enough.

But the Pokemon also can't be refined into perfect shining examples of their species. At least, not on pure design skill - there's a million hours of arbitrary grind!
This halfway point infuriates me, because it doesn't let me go down either of the paths I normally choose.

But clearly a lot of people enjoy this third path, which I don't fully understand. The path, that is. I don't understand this third path.
What is it they enjoy? ... Halfassedly watching numbers go up until you find a shiny new toy?

I wish I could grasp this, because it's clearly very popular and a hole in my design sensibilities.
I have a feeling it's the same reason folks like gacha games, which I also don't understand.

I understand their gambling addiction exploitation, but there's clearly something underneath that people enjoy, and I just don't get it

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More from @craigperko

3 May
Watching a very long video on Elder Scrolls games and I'm happy to report that I disagree with most of the points he makes!

I actually got to watch a video that makes points! And has reasonable opinions!
Being able to watch a video and go "hmm, good point, but I think-"

is so much nicer than watching a video that grinds down your resistance by spending the first five minutes pretending to be about a stupid joke skit.
Skits are a way to recontextualize the body of your video. They allow you to bypass most of the critical thinking your audience might do because, hey, it's just me, Fartdog. It doesn't matter whether Fartdog is right or wrong, so you might as well not think too hard.
Read 14 tweets
3 May
So, let me talk about how "close to the pain" stories are.

I've noticed a rise in the number of video games which are literally about trauma, as in they flat-out say "here's representations of this character's trauma, use cards to beat it up and win!"

These are "close" stories.
However, many video games are about the same kind of journey, but abstracted.

For example, Outer Wilds is not "here's the terror of death, here's some cards to battle death with!"

It's still a game about coping with death.

This is a "distant" story.
There's not necessarily anything wrong with either option, but the medium does matter.

See, if I read a three-page comic about someone personally coping with something, it's one tweet and takes twenty seconds.

But playing a game about it takes hoooours and requires downloads.
Read 8 tweets
3 May
Well, I'm thinking about Ogre Battle before sleeping. What makes it so much better than modern autobattlers?

Let"s talk about it on my tiny phone keyboard.
The first thing is that there's some complexity. There are five slots (most autobattlers have three) and front/rear rows as well as left/right positioning mattering. Modern autobattlers don't do that for one bug reason: gacha.
The driving force of gacha means things need to boil down to raw stats, to drive you towards the five stars and the stat-up purchases.

Having actual strategy involved would reduce the gacha pull!
Read 10 tweets
2 May
Putting aside the tedious whining, I really do want to talk about turn-based UI.

A lot of games feature turns, and UI is almost universally crappy.

Almost... but there are some good examples that we never seem to learn from.
The basic premise of most turn-based games (combat-focused or not) is to choose from a set of equally-weighted moves from a menu.

Sometimes the menu with submenus listing everything you could conceivably do.

Sometimes the menu is a random selection of things you can do.
The latter is what card-UI RPGs do.

You have a selection of actions you can take, and you get a random set of them to choose from via menu.

Now there's obviously some play to managing your deck long-term due to this mechanic, but from a UI perspective, it's just a menu.
Read 24 tweets
2 May
Hm. I'm very sleepy, looking for a game I might like. There's a new game out in a genre I sometimes like, but it... looks really terrible.

I mean, the art quality is great, but every screenshot screams "we didn't include any gameplay".
It looks like a phone game. Not in terms of art, but in terms of play.

"Here's two squads of three autobattling", "here's a clickable map", "here's a talent tree", "here's cards"...
They proudly assert it's a mix between Dungeon Defender and Roguelike, which is a bit like proudly asserting your newest dish is a mix of pudding and beefsteak...

But it has pretty good reviews.
Read 9 tweets
29 Apr
RNG is a fascinating topic. Charles has some strong insights in his thread, but I come at things from the other side. Let me explain.
Randomization serves two fundamental purposes:

1) It allows the dev to offer the player several pieces of content that the dev thinks are equally interesting.

2) It allows the dev to keep information hidden from the player.
Hidden information is a strong tool. For first-time players, nearly all information is hidden. What's that enemy? What's this weapon? Where's this go?

As you learn those things, you un-hide the information. And eventually you know how everything goes.
Read 11 tweets

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