Jon and Dirk discuss a few games they’ve played lately which make good first impressions but ultimately fall short: ‘Don’t Starve’, ‘Shogun’ and ‘Wiz-War’. They then transition over to talking about what they’ve been working on, including AI character personality and AI design in ‘At the Gates’, getting into the meat of development with ‘Futbol Strategy’ and switching developers for ‘War Stories’.
We covered some interesting games in this episode, all of which I’ve really enjoyed, but also ones I have serious concerns about. I’ll go over each of them briefly:
This game can be forgiven if only because it’s a very old design, and the fact that it still holds up today is a testament to how well-designed it actually is. There are some interesting things going in with the environment, as the board is somewhat randomized and players have the ability to alter it with spells.
The two big problems I have with Wiz-War are its failure to fully capitalize on the theme, and the fairly bland map pieces. You might be able to do interesting things with it, but the board pieces themselves are nothing more than a generic underground labyrinth.
Shogun (the board game)
The best way to describe Shogun is “Risk with an interesting economic system.” It’s probably my favorite of the three games we covered in this show, but its incorporation of victory points makes me cry inside. I’m also not a big fan of how it ties victory and strategy together in a more general sense: laying low is usually the recipe for success, and like most such games it is often decided before players have made any decisions.
I was really, really enamored with this game for a week or two, but my interest rapidly dissipated once I got past the 15-hour mark. Given how much fun I was having, it took me some time to identify why this happened.
The issue with Don’t Starve is that it doesn’t force players to adapt enough. The game has a decent amount of variety, but your strategy from game to game tends to become fairly rote. There are new opportunities each time you play, but no real reason to leave your comfort zone. A lesson I’ve come to learn is that content is often wasted when you don’t force players to experience it.