GWJ Conference Call Episode 618

Star Traders: Frontiers, WoW Stuff, No Man's Sky, MTG: Arena, Dead Cells 1.0, Games Trending Toward in Early Access, Your Emails and More!

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This week Allen Cook, Erik 'wordsmythe' Hanson, JR Ralls, Mike Chuck and Polygon's Charlie Hall talk about all the cool games they saw at Gencon!

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind.

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Great discussion about the tweaking of difficulty. The one comment that stuck out to me was the mention of the power curve during early access games, you get better at the game, at the same time the game gets easier.

The reason the game gets easier is that because it is getting closer the difficulty level the game developers actually think the game is at. By the time the game hits early access, the developers have played hundreds if not thousands of hours of the game to that point. They designed the bosses, and designed their weaknesses, they know how to beat them. To go back to that power curve, they're miles ahead on that curve, and if my own experience in the industry is any example, go into those first play tests, or into early access wondering if the game is too easy, because for them, it is.

Then the game gets in the hands of players who don't have hundreds of hours playing already. They don't know that Boss X can easily be defeated by getting behind him and sweeping the leg. Things that are blatantly obvious to the developer because he/she put so much time into putting them into the game get completely missed by the player, and because of this, the player is doing things "the hard way."

So the players perceive the game as hard, perhaps punishingly so. But because the game is in early access, developers have the opportunity to take the feedback, to read the forums, to see all the angry "Why the hell is Boss X unbeatable?" threads, and realize that sweeping the leg was something they haven't shown the player how powerful it can be. So they add new monsters that can only be defeated by a leg sweep, and add some dialog to tell the player to use the move against those monsters, so when they finally get to Boss X, they've used the move a lot more, try it against the boss, and have success.

The same goes for every other system. Granted, I worked in the industry nearly 20 years ago, and I'm sure things have changed quite a bit, one of the big changes is the 1 way mirrors or video recordings of testers playing, because we often played sitting on the same couch as the tester. It is the hardest thing in the world to watch a player try and fail over and over on something, and you know all they have to do to beat it is this one little move. It's so hard not to rip the controller out of their hands get them passed it, so they can get to the next area which you spent months building.

But I really think that's what you're seeing when you see games get "easier" during early access. The developers are finding out that the game isn't as easy as they think it is. They're finding better ways of communicating information which they themselves know, and didn't realize the player hasn't picked up on. They're tweaking settings because they're realizing the skill they built up over thousands of hours of building their game gives them a skewed perspective of how hard the game actually is.

The mobile versions of Star Traders are different games. The Steam version is kind of a sequel to those releases. They have some of the same genes, but the Steam version is far more advanced.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue is an excellent co-op with tons of good expansions. A great family game.

My email got read! WOO!

erm, I mean, great discussion of the thing.

Shawn! I’m still alive!

Thanks for the morbidity at the end there

Prozac wrote:

Shawn! I’m still alive!

Thanks for the morbidity at the end there :P

I like to keep everyone on their toes.

Speaking of going back to Diablo 3 - it's coming to the Switch this fall!

jrralls wrote:

Speaking of going back to Diablo 3 - it's coming to the Switch this fall!

Please don't have button mashing
Please don't have button mashing
Please don't have button mashing

What was that one game mentioned in the section about genres you don't typically play? Jeanne D'Arc? John Dark? I had never heard of it, and it sounded pretty cool, although I don't have a Vita.

Yep, Jeanne D'Arc. It was a PSP game.


The game that turned me around on open world games was Saints Row 3. After I found that Oblivion and GTA 4 were unending drudgery, SR3 which I picked up way later on sale, showed that open world games could actually be fun to play.

I'll still select directed experiences first, but I'm not longer totally dismissive of open worlds.

Speaking of Gal Civ, I just had a "70% off Gal Civ 3" coupon drop into my Steam inventory. PM me if you want it.

Currently $39.99 on Steam, so $28 to you with this coupon.

00:00:00 World of Warcraft
00:10:20 Elder Scrolls Online
00:11:20 Magic: The Gathering Arena
00:15:52 Star Traders: Frontiers
00:23:50 No Man's Sky
00:25:20 Dead Cells 1.0
00:26:29 Games Getting Easier While in Development
00:42:39 Your Emails