Jitesh's Domain

Game Designer. Producer. Gamer.


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Currently Playing – The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine

The Game

I’m pretty sure by now, most of the readers have already played Witcher 3… or at least have heard about this gem. I finished the main game about 2 years ago and clocked in ~100 hours! For me, this game is without a doubt, one of the finest RPGs of this generation. It just does so many things right.

This post isn’t about what makes the game great, it is about how the game provides multitude of game settings that players can make use of to further intensify the entire game experience by making it more immersive (personalize to your liking). Some of you might know about this, as the game is a little old now… to me though, after trying some settings that I’ve mentioned down below, I can vouch for the increased ‘fun’ the whole thing brings.

How I used to play?

I directly delved into the game by making minimal adjustments to the game settings (apart from visuals and audio) and finished the main game in ‘Blood and Broken Bones’ difficulty. It was an excellent experience.

This is how I played the game (~100+hours):

Witcher3_SettingsON

Take a note of the contents in the RED BOX.

The game itself is exceptionally beautiful, with lots of details in terms of the way interactions work, the way in which the world feels real with some truly well designed geography (with noticeable locations, terrains and points of interests).

Now, with no changes made to the game settings and keeping them at default, this is how it (over)populates the HUD. Unfortunately, I noticed the problem after countless hours of gameplay. Not really a problem per se, more of an hindrance. Everything inside the RED BOX is meant to simplify exploration and ease the players into the game. Give better, detailed directions to what, where, when and so on. In short, easing by hand-holding. Once we start playing the game this way, naturally we progress quicker and feel great about it. However, after paying close attention, we realize that by playing this way, our eyes are mostly focused at the RED BOX. Especially, glued to the glorious, beautiful, rotating, mini-map. This is when, we stop ‘truly playing the game’ to ‘surfing the game’ because of the minutiae brought about by the mini-map. In short, eyes glued at the wrong place… a tiny place in relation to the entire rest of the screen that is filled with intricate details… real details which are begging for your close touch and exploration.

This is how I play the game NOW (~10+hours and counting):

Witcher3_SettingsOFF

Trust me, with this way, my experience with the game and immersion it brings about has increased by a lot! To me at least. This is something that I would seriously recommend you all try too. I started with this personalized setting with the expansion ‘Blood and Wine’.

Toggle the following ‘Off’:

Witcher3_MenuSettings1

Do not forget, we can open the main World map whenever we want to see the destination objective marker, explore and find our own way and traverse like a real ‘Witcher’. Let’s just not look at the shortest way to reach there with dotted lines on your mini-map with the exact distance of footsteps it’ll take you! Try it out and see the experience being enriched.

Along with this, I also found 2 more settings that can really add a little more twist and increase the sense of danger. This can be a little subjective, but worth a try 😉 Turn ‘Off’ Boss and Enemy Health Bars. Yes, sounds scary as frak! I can’t really recall right now, but few other games also have the setting for turning off HP bars. So, try this out here… a Witcher, after all doesn’t really know how much HP the opponents have (unless witcher-vision provides the touch) 😉 role-play!

Witcher_Boss

In short, I encourage every player to try and personalize and find settings that suit you best. Turning Off the mini-map is highly recommended as I personally found that it truly enriches the experience. Everything else, well tweak and play around with them, see if it works for you or not.

This is the beauty of a true player-friendly PC game. Tweaks and tips to dig deep and escape!

 

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Clash Royale – PART I

I’m pretty sure most of you have already started playing Clash Royale by now. Even if you aren’t one of the Royale players, you might very well be aware of the game. Clash Royale is Supercell’s next gem for mobile devices.

I’ve been playing this game on a daily basis since it launched in India. I wanted to jot down and do a few write-ups focusing on design.

The first design overview I felt like covering is the gameplay concept map. Please note:

  • This concept map focuses only on gameplay elements
  • It does not teach you how to play the game
  • Shows the inter-relationships of different elements

Now, I am not explaining what each element (especially the ones taken from the game) stand for. Obviously, if you have been playing the game, you’ll be aware of the intricacies. In case you haven’t tried the game out, this’ll help you understand (a little) the concept of gameplay in Clash Royale (inter-dependencies, skills needed, synergy and complexity).

Clash_Royale_Gameplay_ConceptMap_v4

It is informative to look at the game, realize its scope and go through its various concepts. Do check it out, it’ll be fun to discuss more on this (especially if you have already been playing the game).

Keep checking here for further updates, I’ll most likely do more write-ups by focusing on different features. They may not necessarily be in sequence and will most likely be a little independent of each other.

Do shoot your feedback and rants. It’s always fun ;]

 

 

 


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Roleplaying in Wasteland 2

Playing a role.

I finally gave in and bought one of the games that was lying at No.1 spot for a long time on my Steam wishlist – Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut. I am a huge fan of the classic Fallout 1 and 2, love post-apocalyptic scenarios and isometric role-playing games. Most of the followers of the genre already know that Wasteland 1 is what inspired classic Fallout.

I always had in my mind a very particular set of characters, which I believed would be really interesting in a game like this. I love Firefly. I felt like coyboys, sci-fi and wasteland would be a perfect fit for me to roleplay (as a party). I went ahead with that decision and I am seriously so in love with this game.

Firefly party creation and composition:

  • There are so many amazing characters in the series, I had to shortlist the best taking into account character skills (TV series), ones that would really matter
  • Their chemistry – if made as an away team in a party
  • I know the game to be combat heavy (like Fallout Tactics, unlike Fallout 1 and 2), so made an appropriate selection – since 4 is the maximum number of party members allowed at game start
  • Unfortunately, biography for characters I made in Wasteland 2 party is blank at the moment (I thought those could also be edited after starting the game, but I’ll need to modify saves to do it – will update this later)
  • I’ve tried to make my party as close to their characters on the show as possible (attributes, characteristics, personalities and skills)
  • Quirks were truly interesting – and it took me a long time to choose!
Firefly_Wasteland2

State of Firefly characters – Party creation process

I’ll now share how the characters grew in around 30 hours of gameplay. Most of the characters in my party are Level 13 as of this post. I tried to roleplay and add only those skills which made sense to me (staying in line with their show counterparts and also helpful in the game/ but not always)

Malcolm Reynolds

Without any thought, this guy had to be there. There was no question about it. A leader. Smart Ass. Charmer. Can make horrible/ bad choices ;]

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Character Screen – Coordination, Charisma

Quirk: Opportunist [description from Wasteland 2] –> It takes a certain ethical flexibility to take advantage of others, and it’s a flexibility you possess. Your predatory nature means that you kick your enemies just a bit harder when they’re down. However, you’re also equally timid and fearful of harm coming to you, and as a result, you do less damage to those that are healthy.

I believed that quirk to fit Mal perfectly in this game ;]

2016-01-14_00002

Skills – Leadership, Smart Ass, Handguns

Skills: At this moment in the game, Mal is kind of above average in handgun combat. He also has Pulse Rifle as secondary weapon. Leadership helps during combat and Smart Ass provides interesting dialogue options in conversations (wherever possible). He is also perceptive and overall failure in safe-cracking.

2016-01-14_00003

Perks – Know-it-All!

Perks: bonuses for your characters as they level up.

Mal is pretty much having bonuses in Conversations and a little combat advantage. Overall, I use Mal for primary communication with others in game.

 

Zoe Washburn

I really needed a character that can be strong in combat, hardcore and a true, good friend of Mal. It had to be Zoe. Bad-ass, strong and aware.

2016-01-14_00005

Character Screen – Coordination, Awareness, Strength

Quirk: Now, I went through the entire list present in game, couldn’t really feel like a particular quirk to fit Zoe. So, in this case, there is no quirk! No plus, no minus.

2016-01-14_00006

Skills – Shotguns, Field Medic, Assault Rifles

Skills: So, I really wanted Zoe to be a shotgun expert, bad-ass and strong. Her Field medic expertise (coming from Army) really helps out the other members. She also has average Rifle skills, really really useful when friends are in the way ;]

2016-01-14_00007

Perks – Hardened!

Perks: Without blinking, as soon as I got an opportunity to give her the first Perk, I chose Hardened. +1base armor. Perfect for this character.

At this moment in game, she is one of the best combat lady in my party and really messes up raiders and other critters in-game! Just amazing :]

 

Jayne Cobb

Now, Jayne is a very interesting character. In the series and also in this game. I wanted a brawler, hard-ass and ranged expert at the same time. Jayne is all that and perfect Watchman!

2016-01-14_00009

Character Screen – Awareness, Strength

Quirk: Thick-Skinned [description from Wasteland 2] –> All the boys ‘n girls in the playground used to pick on you. They called you stinky, fatty, ugly, and beat you up until you were bruised and sore. But the more you took it, the more you learned to shrug it off. Sticks and stones won’t break your bones. Years of physical abuse have left you thick-skinned and you can shrug off attacks more easily, but you’re heavier and more sluggish, and as a result, you move slower.

Isn’t it perfect for this guy? Such an easy choice for me – works especially well in the game too!

2016-01-14_00010

Skills – Sniper Rifles, Hard Ass, Brawling

Skills: I did mentioned I wanted Jayne to be ranged expert but also a Hard Ass. Like how he really is. Brawling works wonderfully, when someone makes a mistake to jump on him ;]

2016-01-14_00011

Perks – Watchman

Perks: Now, being a strong-willed sniper, Watchman it was! Also, we have here intimidating and Hoarder – all Jayne bonuses ;]

Right now, after around 30 hours, Jayne is one of the best combat specialist in my party. Ranged destruction FTW! I have even seen him breaking down a Robot Crawler by brawling him!

 

River Tam

Okay, so I’ll be frank, the aforementioned 3 selections (Mal, Zoe and Jayne) were easy choices for me. I mean, I had to have them in my party in Wasteland 2. For the final one, I took some time to decide on the best one.

I wanted the last member in my party to be one of these:

Wasteland2_LastMember

Going with either of those, can give rise to their respective benefits, personalities and skills. After thinking a lot, I almost went with Kaylee. I mean, wouldn’t she be perfect for Mechanical repair, toaster repair and also charismatic? Then it hit me, River is someone who must be tremendously more interesting to have here, because she is so different. And, that is why, even in the game (after finally choosing her) she is so different – useful and oftentimes useless – but oh so interesting!

2016-01-14_00013

Character Screen – Intelligence, Strength and Luck!

Quirk: Manic Depressive [description from Wasteland 2] –> Mania and melancholy are two sides of the same coin, and you have known it all your life. You are subject to intense mood changes, and those around you say you’re almost like a different person each time they see you.

Perfect! Ain’t it? Also, so damn risky. This directly means, her attributes keep shifting every few mins (~15mins) – depending on whether she is feeling Mania or Melancholy! Trust me, because of this the gameplay and how we play around it has become tremendously more enjoyable for me.

2016-01-14_00014

Skills – SMG, Mech Repair, Computer Science and Animal Whisperer!

Skills: Obviously, since I didn’t choose Kaylee, I still needed someone skilled enough to repair stuff, break into locks and use her intelligence to hack into computers and blast into enemies using Submachine guns!

Also, I loved using her Animal Whisperer skills to tame more than 20 animals including gila monsters, goats and worms! :]

2016-01-14_00015

Perks – Weathered

Perks: For bonuses, I’ve selected her to have Weathered (resistance to crits) and Camel – which is really useful in this wasteland. Save, conserve and efficiently use precious water.

During gameplay, if possible I always try to use her whisperer abilities to tame animals (unless its impossible – level difference is high). It is really interesting to make choices based on her mood-state in the game. Many times, I had to wait for her to regain her abilities so that I could lock-pick an important safe!

Well, so that’s about it! I’m currently engrossed in Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut and find the role-playing pretty enjoyable. Especially, with a team like this… what can go wrong?

If you are reading this and love Firefly, RPGs or have been playing Wasteland 2, do post your thoughts.

 

 


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Hearthstone – Monies – Analysis

As many of you already know, I’m currently addicted to Hearthstone and it is the ONLY game for which my iPad is turned ON! No pun intended. Also, I have made no effort in playing this game on my PC. Coz, touch is for now best interface to play card games with.

I present to you a brief analysis I did few days back. This is not about the game design part of Hearthstone. But, more about how you gain benefits, its shop and various layers. Please feel free to comment.

 

BRIEF POINTS

·         Hearthstone has only ONE in-game currency = GOLD.

·         The only other method of purchase is via hard cash.

·         The game makes sure to SELL ONLY Expert Card packs

o   Each Expert Card Pack consists of 5 Cards out of which at least 1 is rare or above

·         The game doesn’t allow trading of cards or packs

 

SHOP

Hearthstone - Shop Screen (Currency is INR)

Hearthstone – Shop Screen (Currency is INR)

 

I made a small table to illustrate how the shop works [the currency here is Euro – €]:

 (The image shown above is from my AppStore account – so it is in Rs. Talking in Euro makes more sense internationally. Sorry for the confusion)

PURCHASE COST Without wholesale discounts – Compared to Cost for 2 Packs – Actual Costs SAVING
Expert Card Packs
1 100 Gold
2 2.69
7 8.99 9.42 0.42
15 17.99 20.18 2.19
40 44.99 53.80 8.81

 

NOTE: Player can always purchase 1 Expert Card pack using in-game currency GOLD but to buy more she must invest in hard-cash (one way). The only other method is to keep accumulating GOLD and buy 1 Pack after another as needed.

Looking at the table above it is very clear that the player can understand and see benefits that keep increasing the higher she goes in spending for card packs.

Overall – € 8.99 and € 17.99 for 7 and 15 Packs are most interesting for players. Good amount of savings.

 

Accumulating GOLD:

·         Hearthstone provides a very interesting Quest system

o   Daily Quests are given to the player [valid in ONLINE play with strangers or Arena mode]

o   A maximum of 3 can be stacked at any given time

o   Quests come in various categories which provide rewards

o   Rewards = GOLD [40-100] – depending on quest difficulty/ length

·         Ideally, a person who doesn’t want to use hard-cash to purchase Card Packs (grinder) – the best way is to ALWAYS make sure to keep finishing Quests

·         3 Consequent wins with same hero – 30 GOLD

 

ARENA MODE

One of my example match in Arena (strength of the key - color)

One of my example match in Arena (strength of the key – color)

 

·         This is my personal favorite and one of the best game mode in Hearthstone

·         Arena mode requires an entry fee

o   150 GOLD OR € 2

·         Arena mechanic

o   Choose one of a random hero presented to the player (choice among 3)

o   Make a card deck from a set of random cards

  Interesting part is – almost entire deck in Hearthstone is available

  This includes every rare, epic and legendary cards

  However, the order and selection is random

o   Player keeps progressing in Arena to unlock better and better rewards until she loses three times

  The player is basically unlocking “KEY”

·         Keys come in different variety and open the specific reward box

 

Check the table below that gives an idea about the rewards presented in Arena (wiki helped here):

 

Wins Key Rewards Random reward pool
0 Novice 2 1. One expert pack 25-40 gold
2. One random reward 25-40 dust
One common card
1 Apprentice 2 1. One expert pack 30-50 gold
2. One random reward 25-50 dust
One common card
2 Journeyman 2 1. One expert pack 40-50 gold
2. One random reward 40-50 dust
One common card
One rare card
3 Copper 3 1. One expert pack 20-25 gold
2. 25-35 gold 20-25 dust
3. One random reward One common card
One rare card
12 Lightforge 5 1. One expert pack 20-175 gold
2. 215-235 gold 20-25 dust
3. One random reward One golden common card
4. One random reward One golden or regular rare card
5. One random reward One golden or regular epic card
One golden or regular legendary card
One expert pack

 

NOTE: The important point to note here is that if the player loses all 3 games in Arena (doesn’t win even a single one) – she still gets 1 Expert Card Pack and any one of the random reward.

So according to the investment made (if used GOLD) to enter Arena –

  • Player is for sure going to get in return 67% GOLD back in terms of 1 Expert Card Pack
  • 25-40 GOLD or dust

For any non-payable player this is almost completely a win scenario.

Arena offers almost fair play as the deck is created in this mode itself + all cards are made available.

No. of wins a player gets in Arena is directly proportional to the rewards she shall reap.

 

CRAFTING

Crafting screen

Crafting screen

·         Player can disenchant any of the cards (except soulbound – hero basic cards) to earn what is called as “Arcane Dust”.

·         Can be termed as other currency (indirect) as this cannot be purchased anywhere/ nor converted from GOLD

 

Check the table below:

 

Rarity in Card Type Crafting Disenchanting
Cost Golden Card Reward Golden Card
Common (White) 40 400 5 50
Rare (Blue) 100 800 20 100
Epic (Purple) 400 1600 100 400
Legendary (Orange) 1600 3200 400 1600

Considering that the reward in Arcane Dust for disenchanting is anywhere from 1/8th to 1/4th – it is just TOO LOW for anyone to make a significant card.The only way is to sacrifice certain unused cards or to dilute extra cards… in other words earn more cards from Arena/ Expert Card purchases.

 

CLOSING POINTS

·         Pushes player to purchase card packs

·         Disenchant additional cards

o   Try crafting common or rare cards

o   Crafting a legendary card revolves around sacrificing other strong cards in huge portion

·         There is no energy system or waiting time

·         Without putting any real money, a grinder can still win many games to her satisfaction by involving more

o   In Arena

o   Daily Quests

o   Casual Online play

·         The game statistics screen NEVER display

o   Win/ Loss ratio (similar to Kill/ Death in multiplayer)

o   It is interesting to note that usually in multiplayer games the ratio is very very important to players

o   Hearthstone goes in a different direction by

  Increasing motivation – by NEVER showing how many games one loses (apart from in Arena – where it is part of core loop)

  Wins are presented strategically and in appealing fashion

  Even Arena category outside on stats page – always display the KEY till which player has reached till date (showing only positive side)

·         An average player will keep earning GOLD in loads if she keeps finishing quests and thus can easily keep purchasing Card Packs

·         The monetization is still going strong for players

o   Who do not wish to grind and wait

o   Excellent savings provided in card packs’ price

o   Very important – player NEVER knows which cards are there when she is buying Expert Packs

  So, there will be duplicates (but they can be disenchanted for dust)

  In case she doesn’t get good enough cards she’ll just go ahead and buy more packs!


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Currently Playing – Papers, Please

After hearing a lot about this tiny little game called “Papers, Please” making waves across the world, I finally decided to pick up a copy on steam during the Christmas sale! I started playing the game with a brief idea about the plot already in my head (articles from net).

Papers, Please

Papers, Please

Just when I started the game, the first thing that captured my attention was its streamlined, retro title-logo and soundtrack. The beautiful feeling of paper coming out of typewriter just got me. I started to fall in love. But, I knew its not a funny little game, this is serious. The matter the game covers is serious.

I checked into options, made sure everything is as I would like to have (perks of PC) and started my adventure as a petty Government official. The game’s charm took my by surprise as I went from one Day to the next and tried to verify people’s passports and documents. I was amazed to find such a nicely made progression. To cut this matter short (as I am bound to put my review for this game soon), my first play-through ended on Day 6 :[ yes, all my character’s family members got R.I.Ped. It took just 1 hour. I made several wrong choices and some bad decisions. My next play-through went a little better with Day 26 and 3 hours record!

That’s about it for the day. More Papers, Please post to come soon! Keep watching the page!


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Currently Playing – The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

The name intrigued me. Van Helsing. Adventures? Incredible Adventures? That too for $15? Well, I bought this game to experience and relive classic ARPGs like Diablo. I mean the first one. The one which I consider is better than two and way ahead of 3.

Adventuring Party? Marvelous reference!

I haven’t played a lot of this game yet. I’m just level 8 and my companion, Lady Katarina is 7. She’s like my pet Ghost. I mean like the pet you have in Torchlight II.

Dolby flame surround.

Dolby flame surround.

Characters in this game are very likable and display a peculiar sense of humor. Okay, I wanted to write more about this game… but guess I’ll do that next time. Soon. I’ll go back to hacking, slashing and having some more fun while the rain drops outside. Good times.

 

 


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Currently Playing – Super Hexagon

Finally! It gives me immense pleasure to say that I have beaten the final level of Super Hexagon!!!

My best timing

My best timing

 

And, mind you all… this was no easy task. I have clocked approximately 50 hours in the game! Of course, this doesn’t mean that others do not possess higher scores than mine! There are thousands of better players 😉

I do have a secret to finishing the game. Brace for the truth. At least, the truth as I see it. Idea is, to be as calm and patient as possible while playing Super Hexagon. Experiencing uber-trip with mindnumbing frenetic-action is a given while playing the game. However, what is actually needed is “mind devoid of thoughts”. Remember what Morpheus was talking about? Well, guess it was all for something like this.

It goes without saying… this game is genius design by Terry Cavanagh. Hats off to him! The whole feeling of gameplay is supported by an extremely addictive soundtrack done by Chipzel.

 


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Currently Playing – Eador: Masters of the Broken World

I finally started playing Eador: Masters of the Broken world yesterday! I had pre-ordered this on off steam and got Eador: Genesis free. My love of fantasy, role-playing games and strategy has brought me to this one. Plus, being a fan of Heroes of Might and Magic series since years, I wanted to check what this game was all about.

I am already few hours into this game and started fighting bandits, goblins, orcs and shit. I’m loving this game right now and believe it captures the beautiful era of HoMM with thrilling adventures :] And, that makes me happy. Love the graphics, hex combat and game design. Coming from a small studio, this game is pure marvel.

My Hero (Unseen) reached level 4 and my first building in provinces is everyone’s beloved granary. Yes. Food and income. Isn’t that what we all care about? Food, money and games?

Well, I’ll keep posting more about this game as my hours sink in. Till then, enjoy some of my screen captures. Fantasy calls me.

World view

World view

Hero details

Hero details

Construction view (basic)

Construction view (basic)