Games I play

Here are the games I play if anyone is interested in discussing or playing them too. If there are any games you think I should try, let me know. I’m also always open to trying out new co-op/multiplayer games with people. The last time I did that was when Mingmecha and I played Journey to the Savage Planet when it had just released on Epic Games Store

I’m currently playing League of Legends. Before that I played quite a bit of DotA 2. My favourite MOBA of all time is Heroes of the Storm but unfortunately Blizzard has ceased competitive development on it and the eSports scene is basically dead due to Blizzard retracting support for it. The game was fun back in the day and I was able to get to the top 200 players at one point almost exclusively playing Jaina.

Currently playing Grim Dawn. Before that I’ve played Diablo 2/3, Torchlight 2, and Titan Quest, as well as some Path of Exile (I don’t play this as much because the resetting of seasons gets too repetitive for me. I don’t like having to grind to level 80 every season by playing through the same story.) More recently I’ve played two games that have ARPG like systems but are more multiplayer focused, Tribes of Midgard and Space Punks.

RPGs/Longer Singleplayer Experiences:
I finished Witcher 3 a while ago and more recently have been playing Days Gone and Assassins’ Creed Valhalla. Both have been pretty fun overall but fairly time consuming. I tried Cyberpunk 2077 and played it for a few days but got bored pretty quickly.

Indie Game Reviews
For my job I have a list of games given to me by our lead designer and creative director to play and review as ways of creating content for our initial social media and marketing efforts. The games were picked based on some relation to our game or our studio. Generally these will tend to be games with a strong focus on narrative or story.

  • Welcome to Elk
  • Sustainability
  • Haven
  • Venice 2089
  • I doesn’t exist
  • Elements
  • Grand Story

RTS Games:
I recently started playing the co-op campaigns in Age of Empires II with a colleague and that’s been pretty fun. He started out balancing live multiplayer RTS games so he still holds a lot of expertise there. Other than that I’ve also tried out They Are Billions recently and found it pretty fun.

Card Games:
Ever since I discovered Hearthstone I’ve loved digital card games. I enjoyed Artifact but it basically died twice. Other than that I’ve tried nearly every digital CCG out there, including the Elder Scrolls one, Duelyst, Eternal, Shadowverse, and some smaller ones that never really took off. Most recently I’ve primarily been playing Magic: Arena and Pokemon Trading Card Game Online. One unique thing about Pokemon TCGO is that there’s actual trading with other players, so you can build decks without having to open a bunch of packs and hoping to get lucky.

Co-op Games:
I play lots of different games with friends. Recently we finished Factorio and started playing Satisfactory. We also tried out some survival type games like Ark, 7 Days to Die, Raft, The Forest, Minecraft and Don’t Starve Together. I’m always on the look out for more co-op games so let me know if you know of any good ones. More recently I’ve enjoyed State of Decay 2 and the start of Orcs Must Die 3.

I don’t tend to stick with MMOs for very long. I tried out Crowfall and it was OK but I stopped playing after a week. Similar thing with Starbase, which I learnt has no PvE and is purely PvP.

I ended up buying a VR headset and a bunch of VR games two years ago but then I moved and didn’t have the space to use it effectively so I lent the headset to a friend indefinitely. Beat Saber was very enjoyable personally. I might get back into it at some point. I know I’m still supposed to box @JustinCEO in Creed at some point ;). If I get back into it, I want to try to find a really good archery game to play as I really enjoy archery in general and loved it on Sports Champions for the Playstation Move back when that came out when I was in high school.

I’ll add more to this list as I discover more games but this is it for now. What do you guys play?

The only game I’ve been playing is Breath of the Wild. I’m going pretty slow but steady. I’m trying to play it in a reasonably complete fashion (not trying to get every item or korok seed, but I am trying to complete the shrines and major DLC stuff). I estimate that at my current rate I’ll be playing it for a few more weeks.

I enjoy the game. In particular, I’ve enjoyed figuring out the puzzles in the shrines. I’ve tried to figure them out on my own and mostly been able to do that. I am using guides to figure out where stuff is though, especially now that I’m trying to wrap it up and find all the shrines. I recently started using a companion app on my iPad that has a map and that you can use to find various things, check completed quests off in, etc.

I’m pretty mediocre at the combat, though I’ve been getting better since I’ve been focusing on fighting lynels (which might be the hardest non-boss in the game, I think?). I find the Lynels with the Lynel Crusher weapon particularly challenging (though I’ve figured out ways to beat them).

IMHO BotW single-handedly warrants the purchase of a Nintendo Switch. It’s quite good.

I also recently realized I could do HDMI out from the dock for it, so I have been playing on a larger 32" monitor instead of the handheld screen :slight_smile:

After I finish BotW, I’m not sure what I will do. I never finished the second south park RPG so maybe i’ll go back and do that.

Yeah I’ve only played on PC but I’m considering getting a Switch and/or PS5 to play some console exclusive games like Breath of the Wild and Miles Morales. I’ll probably wait for the OLED Switch model to come out in October and then buy it.

Did you play Mario Odyssey? That’s the main other Switch game.

Im also looking forward to trying Pokemon Unite (New MOBA) on switch. Gameplay looks fun and more like HotS than other MOBAs (no real last hitting and passive xp, and games are time capped to 15 min)

moba without mouse+keyboard sounds awful and non-competitive.

yup. liked it fine though like BotW much more

Have you tried any MOBAs Justin?

a bit, years ago.

That’s a good point. I wondered if it was possible to connect a keyboard + mouse and play that way and it looks like it is: Playing Pokemon Unite with a Mouse and Keyboard - YouTube Although apparently targeting can be somewhat wonky. The youtuber says he didn’t find he had an advantage but found it more comfortable. (Isn’t that an advantage itself?)

Just saw this review and thought it looked good enough to try.

Recently I’ve played Hades, Genshin Impact (spent $0), and WoW (TBC classic).

I liked Vindictus which is mostly about boss fights with i-frame dodges. Bless Unleashed looks maybe kinda similar.

My all time favorite and most played game was Warcraft 3. I played a variety of custom maps. The ones I played the most were Tides of Blood (similar to dota; designed better IMO) and The Kingdom of Kaliron (similar to WoW in a lot of ways but simplified; I helped make and balance it and I made it hard). I’ve also played a bunch of Diablo, Overwatch, Baldur’s Gate and chess.

I heard some negative things about Bless Online and people online were saying Bless Unleashed didn’t really fix the core issues and was still a cash grab of sorts (haven’t watched the linked video yet). I’ll research some more and might try it. I do like MMOs in general. If it’s got engaging and challenging combat I’d be interested for sure.

I tried Bless Unleashed. Pretty sure I dislike it.

What was bad about it?

ok ty. I probably won’t try it. Plenty on my plate as is.

In short, it felt like other modern games such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, where everything is streamlined, generic, easy and pointless. Over time, many companies homogenized games and rounded off the rough edges, which removed variance, and the result is boring.

Other similar games include retail WoW and Diablo 3. Neither game started that way. They got many patches which kept making them more and more that way. Bless Unleashed is starting that way on day 1, but to be fair it’s the 8th Bless game. Similarly, Assassin’s Creed is an old franchise that was less generic when it was new, has been copied a lot, and got worse as they iterated it.

The problem is primarily the players. The companies are trying to give the majority of players what they want. Most modern games from large studios are too good at this today, which makes for bad games because most people suck.

On a related note, Bless Unleashed has very nasty monetization. Kinda like how Blizzard lost half their players in the last few years but their revenue went up. These companies have figured out things like that a lot of people will buy new art (e.g. a mount or skin) for $10 or a new game for $50, and the art is much much less than 5x the work to make, and also the sales of it are more reliable (some new games flop, but you can make art for a game you already know is successful).

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On a related note, D&D 3rd edition streamlined and homogenized stuff, and removed lots of quirks, and the result was to ruin the game. They removed lots of the knowledge that was in the quirks in 2nd edition. Yes there were flaws but overall stuff had been developed for a reason and improved on over time (iteration can be good, depends on whether you’re trying to fix problems or trying to make it bland), and then they got rid of lots of the game and replaced it with “roll a d20 and add modifiers” for everything, which is boring. D&D needed systems to add complexity over that very basic idea so that there was something to the game. Making it focus so much on the one basic principle removed a lot of the game. Even if a lot of the complexity was a bit arbitrary it was better than nothing. It had been iterated to be pretty fun and reasonably understandable and manageable, and they threw out too much of that tradition to try to make it way more unified. I actually thought that sounded good at the time it came out – you can see the appeal of unification of systems, being more pricnipled, etc – and they didn’t fully ruin the game then they just started the process (and I don’t think it’s 100% ruined now, and i haven’t actually looked at 5e much. i’ll probably look at it more when baldur’s gate 3 gets out of beta, but i really doubt i’ll like it more than bg 1 and 2.)

There are tons of specific examples, e.g. how they made xp requirements for all classes the same, changed xp gain from killing enemies, changed multiclassing, and changed the bonuses from stats (str, dex, etc.).

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Thanks for the insights Elliot. Much appreciated. I’ve always liked your general insights on the gaming industry, game design, and the motivations of larger commercial game companies. I remember you sharing somewhere how Blizzard ruined one of the Diablo games for hardcore players by just deleting the hardest difficulty, all so that the majority of players could feel badass for playing on the hardest difficulty without it actually being so hard that they couldn’t make progress. Stuff like that irks me.

The startup I’m working at is designing its first game for Spring 2023 and one of our goals is to have strong narrative without compromising gameplay quality. We find a lot of videogames fail at this with most story games with decent gameplay being basically gameplay > cutscene > gameplay > cutscene (like Uncharted), and most good narrative games having uninspired, bland gameplay. Very few games innovated on both. One positive example that comes to mind is the original Red Dead Redemption which did both pretty well I think, especially the final scene where the Dead Eye Mechanic is used to evoke a certain emotional response and connect with the character on a deeper level than most games manage. (For reference we tweeted about this scene with a GIF and our explanation here:

We don’t think it’s necessary to sacrifice narrative for gameplay or vice versa, and similarly I don’t think it’s necessary at all to sacrifice higher levels of gameplay difficulty to still appeal to a mass audience. I can see how Blizzard might have made more money doing that, but I think it’s ultimately lazy, and personally we’re willing to lose out on some revenue to avoid alienating high skill/hardcore gamers like that. They’re an important part of our audience due to their role in the community, passion for games and their valuable input on design and balancing decisions overall.

re combat and game difficulty, IIRC they made Witcher 3 much less demanding than Witcher 2 (overall much easier, and e.g. potions were basically optional/unnecessary buffs, which is both bad gameplay and bad Witcher lore!). I only tried it briefly, but Witcher 1 gameplay was super clunky and weird, and other people had that complaint. So they got the combat okay like once? (with Witcher 2). My impression is that Witcher 1 wasn’t that popular, Witcher 2 was “breakthrough” to some mainstream success, and Witcher 3 was more like a AAA title. So after some practice (Witcher 1) they managed to make something decent that didn’t totally sell out (Witcher 2) but then they sold out (Witcher 3).