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Game Preview: Hearthstone 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the stay-awhile-and-play-cards dept.
Collectible card games have been a prominent part of nerd gaming culture since the early '90s. Magic: the Gathering forged a compelling genre and dozens of games have followed in its footsteps. But the past two decades have been a time of technology, and Magic is a decidedly low-tech game. Like chess, it's been moved online in only the strictest emulation of real-world play. The game itself hasn't actually evolved to make use of technology. Enter Blizzard. Many of the developers at Blizzard grew up playing Magic and other CCGs, and it seemed natural that they'd want to design one of their own. But Blizzard is video game company; managing cardboard print runs and scheduling tournaments isn't exactly in their wheelhouse. Thus, we get Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, an entirely digital CCG. It's currently in closed beta test, but open beta is supposedly just around the corner. In this video (with transcript) we take a look at how the game is shaping up.

Before we dive into the gameplay, it's interesting to note that Hearthstone is fulfilling several 'firsts' for Blizzard. It's their first game from a small team — in fact, it began as an unofficial project from a group of devs who just loved the idea of making a CCG. It's their first free-to-play game; they have a reputation for blockbusters that take years and years to develop, whereas Hearthstone's turnaround time seems much quicker. It will also be their first mobile game, as they have plans for iOS and Android ports later in 2014. It's nice to see from a company that's mostly been riding its old IPs for the past 15 years.

Now: on to the gameplay. One of the game design themes Blizzard is known for is their insistence on building games that are accessible to a large number of people. Diablo 3 smoothed most of Diablo 2's rough edges, and World of Warcraft came to dominate that MMORPG market in part because it eased many of the soul-crushing antics of Ultima Online and EverQuest. The mantra they often repeat is: "Easy to learn, difficult to master." Their preference for accessibility is very much alive in Hearthstone.

At the start of the game, you're given a hand of three cards. If you don't like any of them, you have a one-time chance to exchange one, two, or all three for random replacements from your deck. Whoever wins the coinflip gets to go first, and the play who lost gets an extra card to compensate. Once you've started, you alternate turns, casting spells and summoning minions to fight. You also have an avatar that can perform an action every turn, if you have the resources for it.

Almost all CCGs have a resource pool of some kind, and Hearthstone's is simpler and more straightforward than most. Spells are cast with mana. Every turn, you have your maximum mana pool increased by one, up to a total of 10. You don't have to worry about drawing too many or too few resources, and you don't have to worry about drawing the right type of resource. Each spell has a simple numerical cost, and you can cast as many spells as you can afford. Your mana pool refills to its max every turn.

The mana system has its pros and cons; it's quite common in games like Magic: the Gathering to lose games because you had bad luck drawing mana, and Blizzard's system removes that. It's also very easy and intuitive for players who are new to the game or to the genre. Unfortunately, it also cuts down on how clever you can be with resource management, both in gameplay and during deckbuilding.

It limits the diversity of the card pool somewhat — without resource cards, you don't have resources that behave in different and unique ways, or those with a dual purpose. It also alters the pool of viable decks. In Magic, there's a definite cost to running decks that are 'greedy,' trying to run too many different colors or too many expensive cards. Hearthstone doesn't have that constraint. Whether you consider it a pro or a con likely depends on your playstyle.

Now, as I said earlier, you use all this mana to cast spells, summon minions, and fire off your avatar's ability. It's important to note that all of this happens on your turn -- this is another of Hearthstone's significant steps toward accessibility.

One of the most important rules concepts with most CCGs is the idea of priority. If two players both want to take an action at the same time, who gets to do it? Well, the player with priority. This is something that's very easy to deal with in real life, to the point where it doesn't need to be explicitly mentioned at all. But when you move a CCG online, things get much more complicated and cumbersome. For example: turns in Magic: the Gathering are comprised of a series of 12 steps and phases. Certain spells can be cast at any time, so in each of those steps and phases, both players have to decline to cast anything, which is called "passing priority" to move onto the next.

In real life play, there's an implicit understanding: "stop me if you have something to do." A turn can be as quick as drawing a card and saying, "Go." When you take the game online, the game client can't make assumptions like that, so you're left explicitly passing priority for every step and in response to every play your opponent makes. Magic's online client has some shortcuts to deal with this, but to even use them requires an understanding of the rules that is far beyond new players to the game. Even for experienced players, it's a pain in the ass, and one misclick out of the dozens or hundreds you make in the course of play could cost you the game.

All of this was a non-starter with the developers of Hearthstone. Remember: they prize accessibility. So they made a simple choice: players can't do anything if it's not their turn. With this single decision, they eliminate 90% of the difficulty in learning a CCG. This, too, comes with a heavy cost. Being unable to respond to your opponent's actions dramatically cuts the potential scenarios in a game, and the kinds of cards they can implement. The complexity created by actions you can cast at any time are the meat and potatoes of even simple Magic: the Gathering decks.

But let's be clear: Hearthstone isn't trying to be Magic: the Gathering. While there will certainly be some overlap between the playerbase of each game, Hearthstone is deliberately trying to bring CCGs to a wider audience. Probably a younger audience, too. The graphics certainly lend credence to that idea. The in-game UI is the perfect example of Blizzard's relentless devotion to polish. The UI is really well done; everything's quite intuitive, and each action you take, be it casting a spell or just ending your turn, has a weight, an impact to it. It blows Magic's online client out the water, that's for sure.

There's more to the game than just building a deck and duelling -- there's also Arena mode, which is similar to what's called "drafting" in other CCGs. In the Arena, you pick a class, and then you're shown three cards of roughly equal power levels. You select one, and the other two are discarded. You repeat this process until you've made 30 picks, and that is your Arena deck. Then you face off against other players who built their deck the same way.

I like the way they did this -- there are a lot fewer cards to pick from, but each pick is meaningful. In Magic: the Gathering drafts, you have up to a full pack of 15 cards to select from, but even then there are sometimes only one or two picks that are remotely viable. For all the complexity that was lost by Hearthstone's other choices, this mode retains as much as it can.

Unfortunately, it's also the mode that sometimes costs money to play. It's $2 to enter, or the equivalent amount of in-game gold, which you can acquire without spending money if you have the time. This is a pretty typical CCG business model, and it's actually a lot cheaper than your typical CCG draft. But there will be many, many people who end up nickel and diming themselves for more than they usually spend on a game. Oh, I should add that you do get prizes for playing, and if you win enough, the draft pays for itself. Most people can't do that on a regular basis, though.

You can buy packs of cards as well, though just buying them and opening them isn't the most efficient way to do things. Since there's no card trading between players in Hearthstone, Blizzard implemented a new feature that's impossible with cardboard games: crafting. If you have a stack of useless cards, you can melt them down into components, which are then used to create the cards you want. It'll take some doing to get the really rare ones, but it's entirely possible to get the cards you want without dumping a bunch of money into the game, and that's a nice option to have.

The crafting UI, along with the collection and deckbuilding UIs aren't quite as slick as the gameplay UI, but they're tolerable. It's not a very powerful interface, but that's a side effect of designing for simplicity and accessibility. One thing I will say is that Hearthstone is probably the first PC game I've played where I've thought, "gee, this would be pretty nice to play on a tablet."

There's another interesting aspect of Hearthstone I want to mention. CCGs have always been social games. A big part of the fun, for a lot of people, is sitting down across from somebody else and playing with them. Even for players who aren't looking for that interaction, it's engaging to try to mislead your opponent or figure out when they're bluffing. Hearthstone, by contrast, tries to strip out most of that social interaction. There's no in-game chat, and no chat channels -- your only interaction with your opponent will be a few emotes and the gameplay itself. It makes for a curious effect.

There's an AI built into the game, but even when playing against humans, it kind of felt like I was playing against AI. On the other hand, I could certainly see myself firing it up on tablets with other people in the room and playing that way, even though I'm not much for mobile gaming.

Collectible card games are doing better than ever, and it's reasonable to expect digital ones to grow and thrive as well. With Blizzard's fanbase ready to jump on board, I have no doubt Hearthstone will be quite popular. Players looking for a Magic: the Gathering clone in a Warcraft universe will be disappointed. Players demanding a certain level of complexity will also likely tire quickly of Hearthstone. I count myself in this category. That said, it does a very good job at doing what it's trying to do, which is to be a fun and accessible digital CCG. It'll be great for introducing people to the genre.

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Game Preview: Hearthstone

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  • by Forbo (3035827) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:29PM (#45673387)
    This slashvertisement proudly brought to you by Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
    • Hey, look, when you cut out all the fan-energy by making money grubbing products designed to suck money away from customers more than be fun, you have to start spamming the hell out of your terrible(but expensive to make) free-to-play games.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If I want to play an online CCG, SOE's LoN has been around for a long time, is decently playable, and there is a good chance of you to score a card usable in their MMO when opening a new deck (you get five free decks a month.)

        This is what happens when the MBA drones overrun a "cool" company. More revenue streams, more BS, more monetization [1], less playworthyness.

        [1]: Sometimes I wonder why flight is going to be made an epic quest in the next WoW expansion is that it will keep subs open after people hit

    • by Desler (1608317)

      Why would Blizzard give Slashdot money? Especially when the editor's post is itself filled with inaccurate statements.

    • No resource management and no interrupt system. Screw that, your average 9 year old is going to be bored with such an oversimplified model.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This game was boring as heck. Two misses in a row for a company which used to be the best in the industry.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As a former WoW player who doesn't have the time for weekly raids, a 10 minute match in hearthstone is quite compelling and fun (got my key last week). I can't wait for the ipad version :p

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Ever play a card game with hardcore players? They have every card's abilities memorized based on the pictures on the card. it takes 10 minutes to play a hearthstone match that would have taken 30 seconds in person (so far I've only played the computer, as I'm unlocking cards/levels before going PvP). I expect it's the same PvP, given that it's mainly animation and sounds they are delaying for.

        I'd enjoy it more if I could play speed-version (disable animations, make results instantaneous). If I missed s
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Never played a card game like that, but I've seen the same thing in an old school Connect 4 tournament. The top players were so good they could play the game twenty moves in advance. It was no fun for the spectators - halfway through the game action would stop, and after a minute or so of both players stareing at the board one would announce 'I calculate your victory is inevitable. I cede.'

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      CCG are boring compared to even simple games on smartphones.

      If you like CCGs, then this is just another one with a little bit of animation and graphics sprinkled on top. It does look better than the several MTG ports to the PC I have seen in the past.

      The game mechanics are simple when compared with MTG. I have heard that this was on purpose to attract a more casual player.

      Another thing is that it is almost Pay2Win. You can grind out points to purchase more random card packs OR you can just pay real money

      • The game mechanics are simple when compared with MTG. I have heard that this was on purpose to attract a more casual player.

        Or, you watched the video. But who would think an outlandish thing like that?

      • by danudwary (201586)

        As someone who's been in the beta for two months now, Hearthstone is most definitely not pay-to-win, at least by CCG standards.

        You get a core set of very good cards for playing though the tutorial and leveling up classes, easily done in Practice mode. You can earn more in game currency by playing - for winning, for reaching milestones, or as rewards in Arena, which is Hearthstone's version of draft. Rare, Epic and Legendary cards are NOT required to win. While the rares and epics are desirable, they're pret

      • by cbuskirk (99904) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @07:41PM (#45675815)

        At Blizzcon this year they revealed that 46% of players with a 3 star master rating (Highest at the time) had spend $0 on the game.

    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      My brother is in the closed beta and showed me the game at his place. It looked fun enough and the rounds are quick. And the quick rounds are what he likes as you need to use your strategy pretty quickly. He used to play magic in high school and then online when it was released. To him Hearthstone is a good balance between strategy and short play times.

      Fun side note: In magic the gathering online he once used the cheezy squirrel deck to cream a player. It uses a combination of enchantments which compound da

      • by xevioso (598654)

        That's actually interesting. The Squirrel-craft deck is one of many infinite combo decks, so usually when playing the real thing and I need to pick a Very Large Number, I just pick Graham's Number.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    MTG was the original CCG. No other game comes close. The art work won't compare and the game play won't compare.

    • Re:Original Game (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xevioso (598654) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @06:53PM (#45675409)

      The reason why MTG keeps winning this race and other competitors don't even come close is the amount of quality playtesting. Each card goes through a rigorous design process as the sets have to appeal to multiple types of players. The level of Quality Control in WOTC is astounding.

      • by J-1000 (869558)

        The level of Quality Control in WOTC is astounding.

        That may be the case, but they allow plenty of broken cards to be printed; cards that end the game by sending the rules into an infinite loop, or cards that end up in nearly every deck for a given color.

        I think the real reason Magic wins the card game race is simple momentum. When your choices are playing a new game that no one else is playing, or playing an established game with an enormous player base, there really isn't much of a decision to make.

        • by Applekid (993327)

          That may be the case, but they allow plenty of broken cards to be printed; cards that end the game by sending the rules into an infinite loop,

          I don't think you've actually played Magic in the last 15 years.

          or cards that end up in nearly every deck for a given color.

          That's not an indication of the game being broken.

          I think the real reason Magic wins the card game race is simple momentum. When your choices are playing a new game that no one else is playing, or playing an established game with an enormous player base, there really isn't much of a decision to make.

          When you're at the top, the top is there to lose. And yet there's currently a CCG boom, with Magic at the helm, well in progress. (Some may call it a bubble and I wouldn't immediately disagree.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    managing cardboard print runs and scheduling tournaments isn't exactly in their wheelhouse.

    Maybe if you ignore all their boxed releases and game tournaments they've run over the years.

  • This hardly qualifies as a preview since the game is available in even its beta form
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Oh? Maybe you'd like to share with us where we can download it to try it ourselves...

      • by idioto (259918)

        I don't play this game, but it is available as my brother plays it all the time recently. You need an invite.

  • But Blizzard is video game company; managing cardboard print runs and scheduling tournaments isn't exactly in their wheelhouse.

    Just as one example, Blizzard has run tournaments at BlizzCon [battle.net] for years now. You could have found this out with 10 seconds of Googling.

  • I'll admit (Score:5, Funny)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:56PM (#45673731)

    I'll admit it, I'm mildly surprised to hear Blizzard is still a company, outside of Panda loving, anyway.

    • Who was it that created Starcraft 2 & Diablo 3 (and its upcoming expansion)?

      That's right. Blizzard.

      • I wish someone else made Diablo 3. It seemed like they just wanted to make a more linear WOW with a RMAH than a Diablo clone. I liked Starcraft 2, even if it did ignore every advancement in the genre since Broodwar to appease SC1's competitive audience. Seriously, no directional weapons, no terrain to generate cover, no destructible/deformable terrain, no autocasts on stims. These aren't hard things to implement, they just wanted to keep the micro feel.
        • by B33rNinj4 (666756)
          It's called Torchlight.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Reading your point of view made me giggle. From my perspective they actually appeased the unskilled masses too much! Auto-mining, multiple building selection, control groups with an infinite number of units in them, etc. You mention no autocast on stim, but you can stim your entire with one click - that's not easy enough for you? You also have medivacs flying over your head so you can do it with reckless abandon. Also, SCII has destructible terrain and high ground advantages (you can't fire up a cliff witho

          • by strack (1051390)
            They got rid of most of the stupid shit in SC1 for SC2, the pointless micro, and that stupid fucking 12 unit limit. using a imposed UI deficiency to shape how the game is played is fucking criminal. now most of the micro has a tactical reason. choosing the right point to stim, laying down good force fields, etc. fuck the "micro feel" of SC1.
        • by nhat11 (1608159)

          There's PoE and TL2....

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        Duh. But I thought those were sequels, rather like an expansion pack for WoW. Something 'new' like an online CCG is out of character for the old, fat, slumbering behemoth.

      • Re:I'll admit (Score:4, Insightful)

        by lgw (121541) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @05:12PM (#45674463) Journal

        Starcraft 2 & Diablo 3 are why I'm surprised Blizzard is still a brand. Any company with 2 releases that bad would be dead, if not for the WoW cashcow. And that's fading slowly. I was once a big fan, but now that brand means "dull uninspired gameplay set in a world of dull, uninspired artwork". That seems to be the consensus about the new CCG as well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Starcraft 2 & Diablo 3 are why I'm surprised Blizzard is still a brand. Any company with 2 releases that bad would be dead, if not for the WoW cashcow.

          With at least 20 million copies between SC2 and D3, that would be kind of difficult to kill a company, even if a lot was spent on them. Despite everyone's whining and bitching, they still have people buying and playing their games. They may be waning, but not anywhere near mortally injured.

        • D3 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by iceperson (582205) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @08:48PM (#45676257)
          D3 was the fastest selling PC game of all time and didn't just break PC sales records, it destroyed them. But yeah, other than that I can see why you'd think it would cause blizzard to fail...
          • D3 was the fastest selling PC game of all time and didn't just break PC sales records, it destroyed them. But yeah, other than that I can see why you'd think it would cause blizzard to fail...

            You are merely quoting initial sales before word of mouth appraisals got going. Initial sales are largely based upon reputation, the actual value of the game itself is a minor factor. You have to look at sales once word of mouth appraisals of the game are flowing to determine a game's actual value.

            D3 may very well be a big success. But you are not really offering evidence of that. You are really offering evidence of the success of D2 and WoW and their effect on D3 day one sales. Well, that and the fact t

            • by dywolf (2673597)

              Is the money from an initial sale worth any less? Sales are sales.
              And to date D3 has over 14 million units sold. If you assume a 33/67 split between normal and collectors edition (which is conservative and probably on the low side for collectors), that's over 600 million dollars. And that's not including money made off the RMAH transactions.

              A game was released and mode over half a billion dollars, and exceeded all company expectations, and is getting an expansion pack.
              By what definition exactly is that anyt

              • by drnb (2434720)

                Is the money from an initial sale worth any less? Sales are sales.

                Unless you are using sales as a metric to judge the quality of a game, then pre and post word-of-mouth sales are very different.

                And to date D3 has over 14 million units sold.

                I have never argued whether D3 is in fact a bad, good or superb game. I'm just arguing that record breaking initial sales (pre word-of-mouth) is not evidence of quality, rather it is evidence of reputation.

          • by lgw (121541)

            Sales of D3 measure the reputation earned going in. The damage D3 did to Blizzard's reputation is what will affect the sales of it's next game. Good luck with that.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      In that care you're an idiot.
      WoW still brings in tons of revenue and profit.
      SC2 has sold incredibly well, and is moving into the same pro graming circuits as the original.
      Diablo 3 missed for a lot of folks, but was still, by any measure, a resounding financial success.
      Hearthstone already brings in money through it's store, though they've been cagey about how much, and it's just in closed beta.

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        WoW is old and tired. Star Craft is old and tired. Diablo is old and tired.

        Hearthstone, at least, is new-ish.

        Go Blizzard. Glad to see there's still some life in those old bones!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been playing a bit, mostly with friends, and having a blast.

    It seems like they could have done it in the browser instead of a full blown application, but it's fine.

    • by B33rNinj4 (666756)
      Browser-based, like Card Hunter, would have made it great. I tried it in the beta, and it was okay, but it became a bit boring after a while. If it was something I could play on my phone, or play against friends, I would have enjoyed it more.
  • by dknight (202308) <damen@knighTEAtspeed.com minus caffeine> on Thursday December 12, 2013 @04:13PM (#45673893) Homepage Journal

    I'm a pretty hardcore RTS gamer (StarCraft II) but holy cow HearthStone is so fun that I've mostly abandoned SC2 in favor of racking up time there instead.

    I definitely want the iOS release to hurry up so I can play on my iPad.

    The thing that is surprising is, even with only a handful of emotes for communication, people still find ways to BM you :D But seriously, this is a REALLY REALLY fun game, and is going to make Blizzard some ungodly sum of money.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      and that is where the real money is yet to be made.
      makeno mistake, this game is perfect for mobile devices.
      and once it goes there, it will be a huge cash cow.

  • Me Tarzan, you is video game company
  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @04:53PM (#45674289)

    The mechanics of this game are about on par with the Pokemon TCG. The game is extremely lacking in player interaction. There are no instant effects. Attacking players choose to attack defending creatures directly, and can completely ignore the defender's board if they want. The game is like dual solitaire. Once you know the range of possible effects that a deck type can produce, it's fairly trivial to play around. Magic players I've seen streaming this game tend to win about 90% of the games they play, and most say it gets boring and repetitive fairly quickly. About the only time they lose is when they leave Arena and face someone who's invested every waking hour grinding for cards. It's pretty hilarious to watch other streamers coming from non-TCG games trying to play and clearly not planning out very far in advance.

    As for the summary's criticism:

    [Magic] hasn't actually evolved to make use of technology.

    It can't, won't, and shouldn't. Magic is, first and foremost, a paper card game. WotC has stated repeatedly that the online and digital versions of the game exist to promote and supplement the paper game, not replace it. This is the same stance they've taken on D&D video games: they supplement the tabletop game. Their goal is to get players to graduate from playing online to playing the paper games. It's a good thing, too, because the client software for Magic is pretty shitty. It does the rules just fine, but the interface is consistently terrible. If the game weren't so good, it wouldn't be worthwhile. Fortunately, they've finally brought in real outside help to work on it. They brought in the Duels of the Planeswalker people for the current beta and it's terrible, but supposedly the new team consists of better programmers. Historically their problem has been paying peanuts and expecting gold. We'll see if they can get something usable by the time Hearthstone is out of beta.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      This sounds exactly like the "UO and EQ players look elsewhere" posts when WOW was first released.

  • Haven't played the game yet but judging from that advertisement,

    If I compare it to Mtg:
    - no interaction during opponents turn
    - no resource management
    - no trading of cards
    So...the three things that give Magic it's depth and appeal are missing...hmmmm...not sure about this.
    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      The entire point of this game is to be a fast paced low entry cost game.

      A polar opposite of what MTG is.

  • As a former Magic player and former WoW player, it tickles a nice spot. I've had fun playing in the beta for over a week now. I get the complaints about the lack of interaction, but it's still a well-polished, fun, casual digital CCG. I do agree that it's "almost" Pay2Win because grinding gold through normal play to get better cards and get into Arena will take you forever, though technically possible. They need to make Arena cheaper, because being the most like a Draft in Magic, it's the most fun for the r
    • by kwerle (39371)

      At blizcon they said that 40% of the top tier players never spent a dime...

      • by Wormsign (1498995)
        Sure, like I said, it's possible. Also, 40% in a closed beta is likely not a huge number of people. I don't have the kind of time required for that. I don't mind F2P games that let you spend a little to equalize with those who have more game time, but I am not going to shell out ducats over and over for the same game and digital items. I bought a set of 7 packs for $9.99 and don't plan on spending any more real cash. We'll see how far that gets me.
  • Just as a heads up. The browser-based (Flash) game Card Hunter [cardhunter.com] is better and is incredibly charismatic and fun. It's also free to play and not pay-to-win. It is like someone worked out what game my brain would like the most and made it.

    You can pay to get more treasure and to do special quest maps, and the quality is astronomical for a flash-based program.

    Penny Arcade also agrees with me about it being awesome! [penny-arcade.com]
  • Unlike what the review says, if you are playing against another player, you will see what card they have highlighted in their hand. If they are playing a card, but haven't chosen a target, you will see it (face down) floating on the field along with the targets you opponent is picking. Same goes for choosing an attack. This adds to how lively the game is and adds to the bluffing part of the game.

    The AI on the other hand seems impossibly fast, playing cards right as they come out, faster than what the UI all

  • ok ok ok ok If i'm gonna sit, I'll sit....... Como back next month. Bring corn chips, box of diet coke, and two standard cheeseburgers. Let's make it right this time.
  • Please grow up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @08:01PM (#45675997) Homepage Journal

    Has the gaming industry really not yet reached the point where a female character can be portrayed without enormous breasts spilling out of her costume?

    I've got nothing wrong with enormous breasts or skimpy costumes, but is the gaming industry really happy being a male-only endeavor?

    Games are filled with adolescent depictions of women and male characters with enormous powerful leg muscles, indicating that the young men who play games must be pretty sexually conflicted. Actually that sounds about right.

    Seriously, in Arkham Origins, for some reason Batman's legs are drawn completely out of proportion to the rest of his body. He's supposed to be a big strong guy, but I don't remember him looking like a normal athlete on the top half and Mr Universe on the bottom half.

    There are lots of examples of male characters drawn as old and skinny, short and fat, strong and weak, handsome and ugly. But the female characters in those same games are all triple-E cups and dressed as if by Frederick of Hollywood.

    And yet, interestingly, if you look at the characters that players design for themselves (when the games give them the opportunity), they tend to look a lot more like normal people. I've seen people playing Saints Row IV as middle-aged black women and balding Hispanic construction workers. And yet, when the developers define the look of the character, it's always the same thing.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I've got nothing wrong with enormous breasts or skimpy costumes, but is the gaming industry really happy being a male-only endeavor?

      You're forgetting the lucrative lipstick lesbian market.

      Seriously though, as long as boobs sell stuff, we'll have boobs everywhere.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        Seriously though, as long as boobs sell stuff, we'll have boobs everywhere.

        But "sell stuff" to whom?

        I've got a feeling that a lot of people in gaming are still living in the days where only men make purchasing decisions, because penis=power.

        I didn't think about this stuff until I saw my daughter grow up and play video games. She would always pick the skinny girl character when she was given the opportunity. Fortunately, because there is a much wider variety of male character body-types, she was usually ab

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I've got a feeling that a lot of people in gaming are still living in the days where only men make purchasing decisions, because penis=power.

          I've got a feeling that a lot of people are living in the world where young men from 18-35 dispose of a massive portion of the world's disposable income on bullshit like video games and movies. As far as I know, they are still where the money is. They spend more on entertainment, I'd court them as well.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            They spend more on entertainment, I'd court them as well.

            The question is, would those young men actually spend significantly less if games didn't depict women as whores? And would the money young women spend make up for that imagined shortfall?

            I'm thinking that the game industry, and the media generally, doesn't give young people enough credit. At least they could give them the chance to show some character by producing some games that had more human depictions. I understand having beautiful people in m

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              They spend more on entertainment, I'd court them as well.

              The question is, would those young men actually spend significantly less if games didn't depict women as whores?

              I don't know. What would your comment look like if you didn't assume every woman with big tits on display is a prostitute?

              I'm thinking that the game industry, and the media generally, doesn't give young people enough credit.

              I'm thinking that they are going for what's easy. Making genuinely good advertising is non-trivial.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      But the dudes in tight pants with massive crotch bulges, and muscles that would require living in a gym 24/7 (and or continuous steroid inject via IV) are ok?

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        But the dudes in tight pants with massive crotch bulges, and muscles that would require living in a gym 24/7 (and or continuous steroid inject via IV) are ok?

        But those depictions are only a fraction of the men depicted in games. If you're a knight in Skyrim, you could be balding, fat, or muscular, but your armor covered your important bits. Batman was a steroid-fueled body-builder, but Joker sure wasn't. Every female in that game looked like a porn-star, except for one minor character, who was supposedly

  • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Thursday December 12, 2013 @11:20PM (#45677035) Homepage Journal

    I've played a bit of both, so here's the differences.
    * There's no real way to respond on another player's turn, which lessens the strategy, but also means you're not waiting on your effects to resolve forever. Games generally take much less time (~15 minutes at most)
    * Not quite as chancy. You just can't win on turn 3. The infinite and quasi-infinite combos of MTG are, as of yet, nonexistant. And there are some *good* combos, but you can't base your deck on channel/fireball as you could during MTG alphas;)
    * Harder to keep permanents. All permanents are characters or attached to characters which can be damaged directly via attacking them with your creatures. As a result, utility creatures are much harder to keep alive.

    Blizzard's done a great job of making a CCG that actually plays well online by designing it to be that way from the ground up. Unless MTG does a redesign, or at least designs cards specifically to be played online, it will always be a cludgy using a Windows Tablet circa 1999 (or a Windows 8 machine circa now).

  • "The game itself hasn't actually evolved to make use of technology. Enter Blizzard. Many of the developers at Blizzard grew up playing Magic and other CCGs, and it seemed natural that they'd want to design one of their own" I guess you've not discovered Combat Monsters yet. This game actually does advance CCG's by providing proper board-based combat using real 3D characters.

A sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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