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In some games, you get a dog companion who...

In some games, you get a dog companion who follows you around and sniffs out treasure. I think I first experienced this in Secret of Evermore and most recently in Dragon Quest Builders 2.

Now that I’ve spent a lot of time walking a dog in real life, I want to make a game with a dog companion who sniffs out treasure - but half the time, instead of finding treasure, they eat something off the ground. You can’t see what it is, but it has a 25% chance of inflicting a random status ailment.

#gaming #video games #dog #Dragon Quest Builders 2 #what are you eating there is literally nothing there #this is why you get sick

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Capsule Review: Dragon Quest Heroes II

An action role-playing game set in a crossover Dragon Quest world featuring some original characters as well as some fan favorites from previous games. Despite being the direct sequel to a Musou game, Dragon Quest Heroes II takes several steps away from that formula. The large-scale hack-and-slash battles with multiple simultaneous threats to manage are mostly gone and the emphasis is on individual combat encounters between a four-character party and small groups of monsters in an interconnected and semi-open world.

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Expectation... Dragonment?

I think that Dragon Quest Heroes II hurt its marketing and reception by titling itself in a misleading way (much like Bubsy: Paws on Fire! did).

Dragon Quest Heroes (the first one) is one of several Musou crossover games (see also One Piece: Pirate Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors, etc. etc.). These games feature Dynasty Warriors-like (a.k.a. Musou) gameplay flavored with a few mechanics inspired by the particular crossover franchise, set in the world of and starring the characters of that franchise. These games tend to be loaded with fan service for the crossover franchise, but it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t enjoy Musou gameplay could enjoy these games.

The first Dragon Quest Heroes was absolutely one of these games, but Dragon Quest Heroes II is not. As I’ve mentioned briefly, Dragon Quest Heroes II pushes things much farther in the Dragon Heroes direction, and while it still has clear Musou influences the result is really an action RPG. Large-scale battles do happen but they are the exception rather than the rule, and there’s almost no tactical management of multiple simultaneous threats. The emphasis is much more on individual combat encounters between your party and small groups of enemies in an interconnected and semi-open world. I really enjoyed this (though there’s clear room for improvement in a sequel) but it’s definitely not Musou.

So, we have a sequel that’s in a different genre from its predecessor. And as much as I might wish otherwise, Musou is niche. Plenty of people are uninterested in Dynasty Warriors and its crossovers. Those people, even if they were Dragon Quest fans, would likely have ignored Dragon Quest Heroes and paid even less attention to its sequel - they never would have learned it’s not a Musou game, even if they like action RPGs.

Meanwhile, the people drawn to Dragon Quest Heroes specifically because it is Musou have a high chance of feeling disappointed or outright betrayed by the sequel not being Musou. I’m saddened by this Steam review of the game, which starts by acknowledging the game is not really Musou and proceeds to list many of the game’s “mistakes,” the supposed-worst of which are just consequences of the game not being Musou - such as enemy groups being smaller and enemies having more health than you’d expect in a Musou game. (While I’m not going to accuse the reviewer of being biased against the game, I will note that most other listed “mistakes” didn’t match my experience or were misleading/exaggerated/inaccurate. Though I do agree that it’s crap that enemy aggro causes your character to stop running to draw their weapons and walk more slowly.)

The review closes with the question, “When a musou fails to meet the requirements to even be a good musou, what’s the ♥♥♥♥ing point?” Of course the response is that this game isn’t a Musou because it’s an action RPG - but can you blame the reviewer for expecting a numbered sequel to a Musou game to be a Musou game?

By titling itself as the direct numbered sequel to a Musou crossover and then not being a Musou crossover, Dragon Quest Heroes II made itself harder to find for the people who’d like it and set up the people who did play it to be disappointed. It’s a shame, because I actually think the game is quite good at being what it is - but even I came very close to never playing it and was surprised by what it turned out to be.

#gaming #video games #Dragon Quest Heroes II #Musou #expectation management #but dragon quest heroes ii is also really good #sequels

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Capsule Review: Muse Dash

A deceptively-simple Japanese-style rhythm game with a two-button control scheme, energetic soundtrack, smooth (if cheesecake-laden) visuals, and flow-inducing gameplay for a range of skill levels. As with BIT.TRIP RUNNER or Bubsy: Paws on Fire!, the game is framed as a side-scroller with the player character constantly running to the right, but the player doesn’t have the freedom of an actual rhythm platformer.

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Score Forth and Multiply

Many games use numeric scores to rate your performance. In some, the same performance will always earn the same score; in others, there are permanent or equippable bonuses acquired over time that apply a multiplier to increase your score and the same performance will earn different scores depending on what multipliers are in effect.

I think the persistent score multipliers are almost always a bad idea as they decouple performance and feedback. I’ll explain.

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#gaming #video games #alphabear #muse dash #snowboarding the next phase #high scores #game design

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The problem isn't loot boxes; it's whale hunting

I’m not very optimistic that the right regulation will come out of this whole loot box controversy. For one thing, it’s very hard to write a law that prevents evil loot boxes while not preventing similar things that aren’t evil. But even if you solve that - loot boxes aren’t the real problem.

The real problem is the reliance on “whales” to monetize games. This causes games to be designed to be bottomless money pits to exploit vulnerable users. Loot boxes are just the current favorite way to build a money pit; there are many other strategies and if we block loot boxes designers will pivot to those other strategies.

If we wanted to actually solve this through regulation, we need to start from “How do we prevent whale hunting?” rather than “How do we prevent loot boxes?” I don’t know how to write either one of these laws, but even if we figure out a really great loot box law, we’re treating a single symptom rather than curing the disease.

#gaming #video games #loot boxes #monetization