Jon and Dirk cover a wide variety of topics this week, notably: the problems with automation and user interface in Paradox titles like Hearts of Iron 3 and Europa Universalis 4, the psychological appeal and the (possibly too-important) role of money in poker, and the challenges of meshing tech and design in At the Gates’ AI.
Dirk and I were all over the board this week – in a good way. A lot of interesting discussion for you guys.
We’ve covered Paradox’s games in the past, but there’s always more good meat on that bone. They’ve built a large and passionate audience by melding hardcore strategy and sim, but there’s tension between those two extremes.
A good strategy game requires clarity and tough decisions, while a good sim is almost entirely about feel. Paradox has done a good job balancing the two, but their user interface has always been where things break down a bit.
We also talked at length about poker. It’s extremely simple, but that simplicity focuses attention on what is there, and results in a very psychologically interesting platform. I cover this at length in the episode, but my big complaint is that this is almost entirely driven by real-money wagering. Playing with nothing on the line is a completely different experience, and not for the better.