perfectly spherical

Game Design In Theory

Shake It Up

You think you have it all figured out. Your build is perfect. It’s got armor-piercing DPS, it has a tank with killer lifesteal and the ability to stop enemy casters with mana theft, and it has a healer who can groupcast! And then you run into a guy who smacks your DPS character in the face with a slice of cake. A slice of cake that turns them into a ghost.
Let’s talk about Breath of the Wild. It’s a damn good adventure game, is what it is. Between the simple-yet-satisfying combat, the immersive-sim-esque interactions that let you bypass that combat, the deep and interesting cooking mechanics, and–most of all–the many useful traversal mechanics, Breath of the Wild is pretty damn close to perfect. Why do I bring this up? Because Minecraft does exactly the opposite of what Breath of the Wild does.
I’m changing my blogpost schedule! This is partly because I want to make sure I don’t burn through all my blogpost ideas, and partly so that I can prepare for that streaming thing (Remember that? Feels like a while ago, right?). From now on, I’m doing one post a week, on Tuesday. Stream days are TBD, because I need to coordinate with the rest of the people I’ll be streaming with.
Let’s suppose you have a really good game. A cult classic, even. There’s a hardcore audience for it, an audience that loves this game to death, an audience that will give anything for a sequel–and which constantly tells you that they’d give anything for a sequel. There’s just one problem: Every time you try to make a sequel, it fails. It’s not necessarily because you’re a bad designer, either. The Quake 3 Effect is a term I’ve coined to describe a situation where you have a really well-received game, but you can’t seem to follow it up.
Player-driven economies are all the rage. This has been the case for a while, though. Puzzle Pirates is the earliest game I can think of that did it, though I suspect Ultima Online had some degree of player-driven economics in it. Supposedly Final Fantasy 12 had a player-driven economy, which led to memes about the price of a potion. This leads into a key detail: When we talk about “player-driven economies”, we’re not just talking about having an items market.
YIIK was a disappointment. I could talk all fucking day about how disappointing YIIK was. Many people already have written about YIIK–about how its story is fundamentally broken, with the writer and lead dev insisting that it’s a story about a man who learns from his mistakes, and the story itself happily telling Alex (its main character) that everything he’s done is perfectly acceptable, up to and including driving another man to kill himself (that guy then haunts Alex specifically to say that it wasn’t his fault).
So I played a fuckton of Deltarune and didn’t get any sleep. Spoilers ahead. Chapter 2 just came out, and people have already done things like found the secret boss, remixed the secret boss’s theme, found a bunch of absolute shitpost textboxes, and finally dealt with that one fucker (if you know, you know). Everyone knows about the whole SPAREing thing, right? If you have an enemy who’s willing to surrender, you can SPARE them to end the fight without killing them.
Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Farm The Drops. So, Minecraft has items, right? And these items drop from certain things, right? Most of these items drop consistently. However, there’s several items that drop on a dice roll. Items which might drop, rather than items which always drop. And the thing is, in Minecraft, these ‘rare drops’ have two common qualities: One, they’re used to gate a specific mechanic, and they drop so rarely that in some cases you might find one per game.
There’s a certain kind of character who is very popular in League of Legends. It’s not characters with huge mobility powers, like Akshan or Yone. It’s not characters with intricate mechanics and interesting conditions for getting their damage, like Vel’Koz or Irelia. It’s not even characters like Vayne who get massive damage in the lategame if they can survive long enough. No, there’s one kind of character with persistent power, one kind of build that is always popular, and one kind of playstyle that I just fucking hate so much.
So about that modpack thing DevOps for Minecraft is absolute hell. Let me regale you with some tales of the shit I’ve gone through in the past day: Mob spawn rates are dramatically different on multiplayer servers. I have a mod in this pack called Scape & Run: Parasites. It adds freaky biological horrors, a la the Flood. It’s actually quite well designed and I like the concepts behind it, with the parasites getting stronger as they consume more biomass.