Quick little update

While the rest of the world is stuck at home, I’m stuck at home and swamped with work due to Covid-19. It could be worse, of course, but it could be better too.

Anyway on the gaming front, I’m loving the recent Rimworld expansion, Royalty. The key problem with games like Rimworld is once you master them, playing again becomes too routine. The best thing about Royalty is how much it mixed things up via its quests and the needs or royals. It’s a great addition on top of the excellent base game.

On the mobile front I’m still very much into Mighty Party, as I still find the combat system really fun and there are lots of different varieties to it. The guild is doing really well too, with a solid active core that has so far performed well during Turf Wars. We have a couple of open spots, so if you are interested message me in-game under ID IXBZHG.

Posted in iPhone, Random, Site update | 1 Comment

How to enforce everyone staying isolated for a few months in just one easy step

Release Mount and Blade: Bannerlord early you cowards! 12 more days? 12! That’s just not responsible in a time when people need reasons to stay away from others.

PS: Covid-19 is serious and you should stay home and avoid contact with people. Stay safe everyone!

Posted in Mount and Blade: Warband, Rant | 4 Comments

I paid to skip the fun parts of this game and now I’m mad the game isn’t fun!

A few gameplay observations for Mighty Party, and then some commentary on the business model.

For gameplay, our guild is finishing up our first Turf War, which is the guild-based PvP event. Basically how this works is there is a board of squares, and guild members can assign troops to those squares to take them. Rewards are based on the squares you hold, but you only get the rewards at the end of each round. During a round there are multiple phases where you can assign troops and the board will change based on who has the most troops. To prevent a guild from dominating, neutral troops can riot (attack) a square, and if you don’t use enough troops to defend, you lose that square. How many troops each player has is based on the cards you own and their levels.

This setup initially looks simple, just assign some troops and you are done. But to maximize rewards, the guild must coordinate well, and pick its battles. If you expand too quickly in the early rounds (as we did), neutral forces will end up taking your tiles, and the guild simply won’t have enough troops to both defend everything and keep expanding. Other guilds are also a factor; battling over a single square might cost both sides a lot of troops, for ultimately not much gain. On the flip side, being in a position to take a lot of squares late with few troops is incredibly beneficial.

From my initial experience with the system, I’m really liking it. It’s quick in terms of time commitment per member, but feels very open-ended from a leadership/coordination aspect.

Drifting towards the business model side, early on in Mighty Party it’s tough to fully complete events and challenges, in large part because not having access to things like Raids and the Dark Tower means you can’t collect event points around doing those activities. The game ‘helpfully’ lets you pay to gain event progress (usually indirectly), and this can feel both tempting and unfair.

At least until you take a step back and realize that the point of doing well in events and challenges is to get more loot, and you want more loot to progress forward. Progressing forward is the entire point of playing, because 99.999% of players won’t come close to competing to ‘win by being #1 on a leaderboard. You play and try to do well so you can get more stuff, and more stuff helps you do better, which in turn gets you more stuff, and on and on the circle goes.

In games like Mighty Party and other such F2P games, you go around the circle fastest at the beginning. Every reward has a legitimate chance to be an upgrade, and generally things unlock quickly for you and you really feel like you are making progress. The more you play, the longer it takes to go around and around the circle. In Mighty Party, the first chests you earn take 5 minutes to open, while for me right now the fastest chest takes 2 hours. That’s a dramatic increase, and that kind of increase is basically found in all parts of the game. A hero going from level 1 to 2 takes 25 copies, but then you need 50 to go to 3, 75 to 4, etc. Early on you are upgrading frequently, and this slows as you play more.

This is all ‘normal’ in many games. In an MMO it takes far less xp to get to level 2 than it takes to hit level 100. You find item upgrades faster as you level than you do from end-game raiding. What’s different about F2P games, because they need to make money (imagine that!) is they sell you the ability to progress faster. Some games sell less, some sell more, but there is a fine line between selling progress and selling power. Selling power is being able to buy something only money can buy that helps you. Imagine in an MMO if one non-fluff equipment slot could only be filled via the cash shop; that’s power. Selling a powerful item directly to you that also drops in a raid is selling progress; instead of raiding for that item you can just skip the ‘playing’ part and buy the reward.

To return to Mighty Party, spending money gets you heroes, often times the higher tier epic or even legendary ones. That helps you progress faster, maybe even MUCH faster because legendary heroes even at level 1 are much stronger than lower rarity cards. If you face such cards in PvP, it feels extra bad to lose to them because of how strong they seem, vs losing to higher level heroes of the same rarity you are using. The end result is the same (you lost), but seeing that legendary smash you just feels worse. And make no mistake, part of the game’s design is to elicit that emotion so you get mad and ‘fight back’ via your wallet.

What amuses me is people get mad at this AND then get mad at the game’s business model. This anger completely misses the point, which is not that they haven’t spend enough money, or that they are being ‘force to’, but the simple fact that they have not progresses far enough into the game to be at that level. It’s the very reason levels exist in the first place. We don’t complain that a level 1 MMO character can’t defeat a raid boss, but we do just that in F2P ‘pay to progress’ games.

The anger is especially misguided because paying just pushes you into the slower circles of progression. It’s like buying an RPG for the story, and then buying the ‘skip all story elements’ DLC, and then ranting about how the RPG sucks because its all grind and no story. YOU PAID TO SKIP THE GOOD PARTS DUMMY! If you like progression, and that’s what a lot of these games are all about, maybe don’t pay to skip it?

Posted in Combat Systems, Inquisition Clan, Mighty Party, Rant, RMT | 3 Comments

Mighty Party: How to get into our guild

As previously stated, our guild “HC Casuals” is up and running in Mighty Party.

It’s now been upgraded to level two, meaning we have 20 spots. Currently we are full, but there are still a few randoms that can be removed to make room for blog readers. I think the easiest way to get in is to friend me in-game (my ID is IXBZHG), and then I can invite you via the friends list.

Also highly recommended you join the blog Discord, as in-game chat isn’t nearly as easy to follow as Discord: www.discord.gg/rnPykH4

As far as in-game activity, I’ve reach league 20 which opened up the Dark Tower daily event. So far I’ve yet to win more than 5 times before getting knocked out after 3 defeats, but even those results give a decent reward. Between Dark Tower, Journeys, Gold Mine, and regular ladder battles, there are certainly plenty of game modes to earn rewards in. On top of that you have the daily and weekly quests, and whatever event happens to be running. It’s a ‘busy’ game without feeling overwhelming, even just a few days into the game.

One tip: If you intend to spend any money, make sure to join the guild first, as many money spent while in a guild gives all members a small bonus, and earns the guild points towards increasing the guild rank (more member slots).

Posted in Inquisition Clan, Mighty Party | 2 Comments

Might Party: Guild has been formed

Guild in Mighty Party has been formed: HC Casuals

Should be able to just find it via the guild search, but you must be in league 24 or lower to join a guild.

Posted in Inquisition Clan, iPhone, Mighty Party | 2 Comments

New mobile game Might Party review, and maybe guild formation?

As readers here know, my two longest running games right now are both mobiles game (Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, with CoC going 5+ years now), so I’ve long since crossed over into the idea that not only are mobile games ‘real’ games, but they have the chance to be as-good or better than ‘real’ PC games. Not to suggest that MOST mobile games aren’t garbage, they are, but the good ones are in fact ‘good games’, and not ‘good mobiles games’.

I saw this to set up the sales pitch for Mighty Party, a game that was recently recommended to me and one that I’m currently very into, mostly because of its turn-based combat system. Around that combat system are all the usual trimmings of a F2P mobile game; the cash shop with plenty of pay-to-progress and convenience items (I don’t believe there is any outright pay-for-power exclusives behind a paywall), the daily quests, the weekly events, etc. The game is also polished and feature-complete, with plenty of things to do.

But as mentioned the key selling point for me is the combat system. You create a ‘deck’ of heroes much like in Clash Royale, and those heroes level up via getting more copies from chests. Unlike in CR, higher levels also open new abilities, which can substantially change how that particular hero plays. Once you have your deck, you go into a grid-based battle, where you take turns playing a card (hero). The grid is 3 squares wide and 4 deep, and heroes will hit the first enemy in a line. If no hero is in that line, you hit the enemy leader. You win when the enemy leader loses all health.

There is a huge variety of heroes, coming from three different factions (Order, Nature, Chaos), two genders (male and female, gotta specify in 2020!), and either melee or ranged. You can put any hero in any deck, but there are tons of synergies to create. For example a hero I use now will gain increased power and health when summoned for every friendly Order hero already on the board. This not only suggest you should make your deck mostly, if not all, Order heroes, but any Order hero that has the special ability of summoning other Order heroes is especially strong here. Deck building is incredibly fun for me right now, and every new or upgraded hero has the potential to mix things up.

Once you have your deck, combat itself is also surprisingly tactical. When it is your turn, your hand contains four of your heroes selected at random, and you can only play one. You retain the other three, and when its your turn again you draw a fourth. Who you play, and where you place them on the grid has massive tactical impact. Board control seems to be king, and its difficult to come back if things tilt against you, though there are heroes who specialize in just that. There is a lot of nuance as well. For example, one of my heroes gets more power from every ally that has attacked. By placing him at the bottom of the grid, he will act last on my turn, meaning all allies ahead of him provide him his power buff. Sometimes you will want to place him higher, but when possible placing him lower is great. Another example is a hero who gets a buff from each adjacent ally, so often times I will try to craft a good spot for this, and when things come together it can be game-changing. However if the opponent is able to remove key heroes, that card can be difficult to play in a meaningful way. I could go on, but the point is that the combat is deep, and you will do a lot of thinking and decision-making turn-to-turn.

The game has a guild feature, and my player code is IXBZHG to find me for the friends list. With enough interest I’ll start up a guild, and hopefully there will be as right now I’m really enjoying what Mighty Party brings to the table.

Note: I have not received any codes or funds from the Mighty Party devs to promote the game. That said if they want to give me some, I’m here with hands wide open!

Posted in Combat Systems, Inquisition Clan, iPhone, Random | 7 Comments

Kingdom Come: Deliverance Review – A frustrating game that could have been great

This is not a ‘fair’ review of Kingdom Come: Deliverance (KC:D) because I only got to quest 10 out of 28 in the main chain, and did just a few side quests. Feel free to dismiss because things get better later. Maybe they do.

The reason I am doing this ‘review’ now is because I just can’t deal with KC:D anymore, mostly the combat, but also other issues. The sad thing is KC:D has a lot of good going for it, and that good is why I put up with the bad, but I just can’t anymore.

Here is a perfect example of why KC:D is ultimately more frustration than fun: Load up the game, do a quest where I talk to someone, go through some dialog chains that feature decent to good voice work and some fun dialog, get asked to find someone in an area. Start searching the area, enjoying the scenery and the unknown. After some searching, including finding some hidden loot spots and other points of interest, I find the person I’m looking for, only they have been captured by bandits, so I now have to fight them. Because the combat is dogshit vs two enemies, I die. Because the game also features a dogshit save system, I’m back at the start of the play session. Zero progress made in let’s say 30 minutes. Assuming I haven’t quit the game for the night/forever, I replay that section, only this time I fast forward through the dialog, know exactly where to go for the search (missing out on the random stuff I found because it doesn’t matter ‘that much’), and cheese my way through the fight. Maybe. Or I die again and once again repeat. Maybe I cheese that and drink a ‘save the game’ item right before the fight. Either way by the time I beat the fight, I’m exhausted rather than entertained.

The above happens every single time the game asks you to fight more than two enemies. Hell, it might happen when you fight one if you lose, but at least 1v1 the combat system doesn’t feel terrible. If the game was smart it would auto-save before every combat encounter, so if you lost you would reload to right before it, and then have the option to leave or fight again. Not only does the game not do that, it doesn’t even let you manually save without using an item (that initially you don’t have a lot of, though even at my point I had enough eventually).

That is my main issue with the game, but it’s not the only one. The economy in the game is a complete mess. If you don’t abuse lockpicking and stealing, you will be dirt poor. If you do steal, you quickly become filthy rich with access to basically all the gear you could want. And much like combat, stealing is as much about saving and trying again as anything else, because the penalty for being caught is so extreme it’s pointless to accept failure. Inventory management with weight restrictions is a pain, and you end up transferring your loot to your horse, and then back to your inventory when it’s time to sell. Just pointless clicking for the sake of clicking. Bonus annoyance points with every interaction with a shop keeper and the haggle mini-game, where the game thinks its fun to play the same canned 3-4 dialog lines every time, every offer and counter offer. The first two times its cute, the 100th it gets added to the long list of annoying things the game does.

There are also a lot of little things, like the clutter of so many items that have no real value or use, or the lockpicking mini-game being as annoying as the one in Skyrim. There are a variety of UI issues, between info being hidden deep in menus or just obscure, to there being a lot of systems that are in the game but don’t feel important enough to care about. In short, the game is far, far from perfect, and contains a lot of stuff that I would consider amateurish design mistakes.

I saw all of the above because it sadly takes away from what KC:D does well. For starters, the world is gorgeous. Not just from a technical perspective of polygons and such, but in that it feels lived-in, and looks the part. A small village and its layout makes sense, as does that of a larger city. That pulls you into the game and its setting. I also enjoyed the story overall from what I saw, at least the main quest. The side quests were pretty hit or miss. I liked the little details, like an accident scene of an overturned wagon that you can search to find some treasure in, or a random encounter with an unsure knight who challenges you to a duel because that’s what we believes he should do. The character you play, Henry, is also for the most part relatable and enjoyable. He’s not a shining paragon of virtue, but he also isn’t the recent trend of complete moral grey. He mostly tries and cares, and that makes you try and care (until you ragequit anyway).

If nothing else, KC:D makes me more excited for the next Elder Scrolls game. Give me this level of detail for world design, but with better combat, and I’m all the way in.

Posted in Random, Review

Kingdom Come: Deliverance – The combat system is awful

I have a longer post brewing about Kingdom Come: Deliverance (KC:D), but I needed to get this out today because its infuriating, and also because we might all be quarantined from the Coronavirus by Monday (but don’t worry, Pence will just pray the virus away, so we are all good!)

The combat system in KC:D when fighting more than one opponent is so cripplingly bad it might ruin everything else about the game.

Let’s back up. The combat in KC:D is like a worse version of Mount and Blade when its one on one. You swing in certain directions, you block in those same directions, you have stamina and health, armor and weapons, there are combos, blablabla. It works, even if it never feels good.

The problem is that KC:D insists on being realistic even when that gets in the way of an enjoyable game, and while this is annoying in other parts of the game, it straight up doesn’t work in combat when fighting multiple opponents. For one, because the camera locks onto a target, you can’t accurately track multiple enemies, especially if they aren’t standing next to each other. The result is you spend much of combat fighting the camera just to have a chance of seeing when you need to block.

Then there is the issue with animation locking. If you swing a sword, you realistically can’t do anything during the animation period. If you get hit during an animation however, it stops and you take damage, unless it’s a block or dodge animation, in which case you dodge/block all of the attacks coming at you. It’s so ‘realistic’ it makes zero fucking sense. This also means that if you are fighting 3+ enemies, your window to successfully make an attack is tiny, as you are mostly focused on blocking/dodging the entire time. This is extra fun against stronger enemies who block/dodge most of your attacks.

Having stamina is key to combat, not only to have energy to block and attack, but because you take more health damage the lower your stamina gets. In one on one situations this is a fine mechanic, as you can control stamina by managing the pace of the fight. This mostly goes out the window when 2+ enemies are around, because you CAN’T control the pace. I’ve yet to win a combat that is 1v3+, and frankly don’t see how its possible without cheesing the game via geometry manipulation or archery fuckery.

Now maybe this is a case of me being really bad at the game, and good players can easily juggle 1v3 situations and enjoy it. Sure, maybe. But I doubt it, because not to toot my own horn, but I’m kinda good at videogames in general, so if I’m struggling here, good luck to the average chump that is Silver rank in LoL, or near the bottom of the dps chart in WoW.

Rant over.

Posted in Random, Rant | 4 Comments

WoW Classic – Ding 60

A few days ago I hit 60 on my human rogue, which officially closes the book on the leveling game of Classic for at least that character. It was, as expected, an enjoyable run and a reminder of what Blizzard once was. Also a reminder of what the MMO genre once was; a place you could invest a significant amount of time in, both solo and with others, and be rewarded not with the game ‘ending’ for you, but by a new phase that is both similar and different from what you just did.

The end-game of Classic is, of course, the same end-game that Vanilla had. You run 5 man dungeons to gear up, you raid to further gear up, and you PvP via Battlegrounds to also gear up. You can also continue to quest, and while you get more gold, you no longer gain XP and unlock new levels and skills.

Perhaps the most important factor is that at the cap, progression slows down, but does continue. The various 5 man dungeons contain a wide variety of upgrades for all classes, some of which remain the best option deep into raiding. Other drops might not be the best, but if you are still wearing greens or older blues, they are an upgrade. Once you progress more towards raiding, even on a raid where you didn’t gain a drop, your guild collected multiple. Assuming you and others stay with that guild, you are making progress. It’s slower, yes, but it happens, and that progression is what keeps people interested.

Now of course Classic is fast approaching its natural end-point. BWL was just released, leaving only AQ40 and Nax40 to go until the last and hardest content is out. Beyond that, Blizzard either has to move towards the Burning Crusade expansion, or into uncharted territory of creating original content. Back when Classic was freshly released I wanted original content, but seeing New Blizzard in action, be it Blitz Chung or WC3 Reforged, I’m now very confident the new content would be a disaster. At the same time, I can’t say I’m really looking forward to TBC. I never loved that expansion, and WoW nostalgia for me is firmly rooted in ONLY Vanilla.

But that is a problem for down the road. For now I’m enjoying life at 60. The 5 man dungeons (Strath, Scholo, DM, Black Rock Spire) are excellent, and raiding Molten Core is a giant wave of nostalgia. I want to see and farm Onyxia, BWL, and so on. The ride will come to an end, New Blizzard is who they are today, but not just yet.

Fun side story: First time back in MC, and we reach Baron Geddon, the boss that makes one member of the raid a bomb. First bomb target on the first pull was me, and I blew up the raid, as the bomb was placed at the same time as his first wave where melee needs to run back. Good times.

Posted in MMO design, Site update, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

I’m going to be a very happy, very busy gamers shortly

So much happy gaming goodness coming my way shortly.

First up Battle Brothers is getting another expansion soon, and that will mean diving back into that game for at least a few playthroughs. Not all of the details have been released, but what the dev blogs have talked about so far all sounds excellent. Easy day 1 purchases that will immediately get heavy playtime.

Next up Rimworld is getting its first big update, patch 1.1. This will likely inspire another go at that game, but I’ll have to see if this results in a full-blown playthrough or playing ‘enough’ to stabilize and stop prior to finishing the game. Rimworld is one of those games I like the idea of a lot more than the game itself, as is evident by my playtime with it compared to other games. How much time you have played a game, especially one with intended high replayability, is a hard metric to argue against. There is a reason some games have 200+ hrs player on Steam for me, while others never get above 50.

Speaking of games I have a silly amount of hours played, Mount and Blade Bannerlord is coming to Steam Early Access in March. If that version has the single player campaign mode and is mostly feature complete (as the Steam page says it will), I might not play anything else for months. I mean, short of Bannerlord being completely unplayable, or playing nothing like Warband, I don’t see how I don’t love this game, considering Warband is in my top 5 all-time, and might actually be #1. And everything I have seen and read up to this point leads me to believe that Bannerlord is going to be an expanded/updated Warband, so yea, pretty pretty excited for that one.

I’m currently playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance (post on that coming at some point), and really want to finish it before Bannerlord hits, otherwise I might never get back to it.

Edit: I’m dumb, Rimworld has a full-blown expansion that was released today for $20 that looks awesome. I still want to finish Kingdom Come, but damn urge to play Rimworld just went way up.

Posted in Mount and Blade: Warband, Random | 3 Comments