The gang breaks into Death Stranding and Animal Crossing, two games that are perhaps more similar than they first appear. We discuss how adding friction to mechanics can make the player feel more present in the game world and debate whether there is such a thing as a wrong way to play a game.
The gang digs into the audacious design of Doom Eternal, which manages to be too similar to its predecessor for new players to learn, yet is also too different for some existing fans to enjoy. You can punch the ribs out of a giant brain with a gun bolted on top, though, so Jon and Rob love it anyway.
After taking a few months off, we're back ready to discuss the latest and greatest in digital games... by talking about a five-year-old mobile game. Rob's been grooving on Clash Royale's clan battles, and the gang discusses how these types of alternate game modes can expand a game's audience by providing multiple modes of play that appeal to different players.
The gang discusses Really Bad Chess, which is actually really good. We dig into how developer Zach Gage made a classic game more fun and accessible, and Rob expresses his surprisingly deep love for Backgammon.
The gang discusses the gorgeous visual album game Sayonara Wild Hearts, heaping praises upon its aesthetics but picking apart its bizarre relationship with its scoring system.
The gang discusses comedy in games and how Untitled Goose Game and What the Golf? each tackle this difficult design area.
The gang discusses Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the latest entry in the long-running tactics RPG series. We dig into how Three Houses uses its character development mechanics to encourage the player to invest in their characters both mechanically and emotionally. We then contrast this approach with those taken in XCOM 2 and Darkest Dungeon to see how each game uses its systems to reinforce its unique themes and tone.
We discuss Fantasy Flight Games' recent 'unique deck game', Keyforge, in which every deck you buy is a randomly generated, unique, and unchangeable combination of cards. We look at how this system makes the game more approachable than traditional trading card games, how it affects high level and competitive play, and what other developers can learn from this approach, even if they don't have access to FFG's custom printing processes.
The gang compare the card combat systems in Steamworld Quest and Slay the Spire and analyze how one simple difference massively changes the focus of each game.
Jon and Rob discuss how the developers of 2016's Doom reboot pursued a philosophy of 'push-forward combat', utilizing smartly-design systems and AI to give the player a sense of agency and empowerment.
(We also referred to Doom 2016 as Doom 5, thinking that there had been a previous, underwhelming Doom 4. No such game was ever release -- we were probably thinking of Quake 4 instead. Our bad!)