Spiele des Jahres 2019

December 9, 2019

1. Minion Masters

Im Grunde gehört Minion Masters seit Jahren zu meinen meistgespielten Titeln. Nun ist das Echtzeit-Kartenspiel aber endlich nicht mehr im Early Access und damit auch für meine Top-Liste qualifiziert.

Kurz beschreibe ich es gerne als “Clash Royale in gut”. In Wahrheit ist der Mobile-Hit von Supercell auch kein ganz schlechtes Spiel. Doch “MM” liegt in so ziemlich allen Belangen vorn. Es ist tiefer, flexibler, fairer, enthält deutlich weniger Grind und bietet mit seinen “King of the Hill”-Anleihen auch das wesentlich interessantere Grundsystem.

Darüber hinaus kann man die Entwickler von BetaDwarf kaum genug loben. Sie supporten ihre Spiele grundsätzlich über lange Zeit und fügen entsprechend auch bei Minion Masters seit Beginn der Early-Access-Phase vor 3 Jahren regelmäßig Content hinzu (zuletzt einen vollwertigen “Roguelike”-Modus) und feilen am Balancing. Belohnt wird dies mit einer über Jahre hinweg stabilen Spielerschaft. Zurecht!

2. Auto Chess: Origin

Bereits als Mod für Dota 2 wies “Auto Chess” ein sehr interessantes Konzept auf, war aber noch ziemlich clunky und fehleranfällig. Doch das Mod-Team von Drodo Studio besserte schnell selbst nach und entwickelte eine Mobile-Umsetzung.

“Origin” stellt meines Erachtens den bislang besten Genre-Vertreter des neu begründeten Genres der “Auto Battler” dar. Im Gegensatz zu vielen anderen Titeln stimmt das Balancing, da auf Monate an Daten durch den Quasi-Betatest mittels der Original-Mod zurückgegriffen werden konnte. Auch wird das Konzept nicht mit Nebenkriegsschauplätzen überladen (wie etwa in Riots Teamfight Tactics). Und Valves eigenes Dota Underlords hat sich mit seinen namensgebenden “Underlords” ohnehin selbst zu Fall gebracht.

Fehlt nur, dass die bislang doch stark vernachlässigte Standalone-PC-Version auf einen brauchbaren Stand gebracht wird…

3. Slay the Spire

Der Roguelike-Deckbuilder, mit dem alles begann. Die Idee, die klassisch-mathematische RPG-Progression (“höhere Stats, mehr Schaden”) durch ein bedeutsameres System zu ersetzen, das die Möglichkeit bietet, sich spontan im Spielverlauf verschiedenste “Builds” zu basteln, ist brilliant.

Über einige Early-Access-Jahre hinweg und dank des unablässigen Supports durch Mega Crit hat sich Slay the Spire zu einem echten Content-Monster gemausert. Dank unzähliger Regel-Modifikatoren gleicht kein Run dem anderen. Die “Ascensions” bieten eine Art Single-Player-Matchmaking und motivieren langfristig.

Durch die grundverschiedenen Charakterklassen (sowie einige clevere Community-Mods) wird beinahe das Maximum aus der Design-Prämisse herausgeholt. Einzig eine Prise Räumlichkeit würde dem Kampfsystem meines Erachtens gut tun. Doch das ist Meckern auf sehr hohem Niveau.

4. The Legend of Bum-Bo

Edmund McMillens neuester Streich präsentiert sich selbst als “Deck-building Roguelike” und damit im Fahrwasser von Slay the Spire. In Wahrheit ist der Isaac- und Meat-Boy-Designer jedoch mit der Idee gestartet, eine strategischere Variante des Kult-Klassikers Puzzle Quest umzusetzen. Dies ist ihm letztlich auch ganz hervorragend gelungen.

Zwar spielt der Zufall etwas zu oft eine zu gewichtige Rolle für den Ausgang eines Durchlaufs, allerdings wird so zugleich für einen hohen Wiederspielwert gesorgt. Auch die Isaac-Ästhetik – hier im Pappe-Look – wird nicht jedem zusagen. Einzigartig ist sie jedoch allemal.

5. Dicey Dungeons

Ein weiteres “Spire-like”, diesmal mit Würfeln. Terry Cavanagh (Super Hexagon, VVVVVV) gelingt mit seinem ersten kommerziellen Spiel seit 7 Jahren eine umfangreiche und mit Content vollgepackte Exploration des “Roguelike-Würfler”-Ansatzes.

Während im Karten-Vorbild dank mehr Kontrolle über die eigenen Fähigkeiten und rotierendem Kartendeck alles etwas zuverlässiger und planbarer ist, wird hier eher auf die großen “Heureka”-Momente gesetzt, die durch die “Limit-Break”-Mechanik teils regelrecht forciert werden. Das macht Spaß, verbraucht sich aber auch vergleichsweise schneller.

Weitere Highlights

Card of Darkness

Militia 2

Nowhere Prophet

P1 Select

Void Bastards


Ludomedia #69

November 4, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


David Stark: Why I Made A Game That Isn’t Fun

  • “Pay to skip the wait. Pay to remove the limit. Pay to get a boost, skip the ads, make the numbers go up faster. Sandstorm is a game that was sparked by a conversation about the intentionality of these kind of mechanics, and the idea that a game could be purposefully unfun.”

Hamish Black: John Wick Hex and the Problems of Adaptation

  • “You can see what they were going for, but in practice [John Wick] Hex ends up being too inconsistent to be a puzzler and too rigid to be an action game. It just lies awkwardly in the middle.”

Jim Sterling: Are Automated Bots A Deceptive Con?

  • “If you don’t know that it’s all pretend times, you think you’re winning. And if you think you’re winning you’ll feel encouraged to keep playing. […] And the more you play, the more you’re entrenched in that game’s economy. And the more entrenched in the economy you are, the more tempted you may be to spend cash on it.”

Neo Magazin Royale: Coin Master – Abzocke mit Fun

  • “Simuliertes Glücksspiel birgt einige Gefahren: Zum einen wird durch Normalisierungstendenzen eine positive Einstellung gegenüber Glücksspiel begünstigt. […] In letzter Konsequenz schürt dies den Wunsch auch mal um echtes Geld zu ‘zocken’. Junge Spieler sind dafür besonders anfällig.”

Razbuten: What Games Are Like For Someone Who Doesn’t Play Games

  • “Watching [my wife] work through this early section [of Hollow Knight] and seeing the different ways that she viewed the game got me thinking a lot about the language of video games, and just how much a person’s level of video game literacy affects their experience with any given title. […] So I decided to run an informal experiment…”

10 Jahre Zockwork Orange

October 30, 2019

10 Jahre gibt es bereits das famose Zockwork Orange, davon gut zwei mit mir. Zum Jubiläum gab es nun eine Artikelreihe, in der die Redaktion auf ihre jeweiligen Jahreshighlights der letzten Dekade zurückblickt.

Das hier sind meine “Picks”!

Read the rest of this entry »


Crimson Company: “The Other Side”

October 29, 2019

Ein kurzer Hinweis: Crimson Company ist mit seiner ersten Erweiterung “The Other Side” zurück auf Kickstarter! Für neue Spieler bieten wir auch ein Bundle inklusive Deluxe Edition an.

Für jedwede Unterstützung (sei es direkt auf Kickstarter, in Form von Likes und Shares auf Social Media oder einfach per Mundpropaganda) sind wir wie immer sehr dankbar! ❤️

Mehr zu den Ursprüngen der Spielidee gab es übrigens vor etwa einem Jahr in einem Artikel zu lesen.


Ludomedia #68

September 23, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Mark Brown: Space Invaders | Design Icons

  • “While [Space Invaders] was far from the first ever video game, it made a number of incredibly important contributions to the field of game design that would fundamentally change how games were made. From high scores, to destructible cover, to adaptive soundtracks, to the entire shoot-em-up genre, and that oh-so-important difficulty curve.”

Doc Burford: i don’t think i like prestige games

  • “I’d say that prestige games are expensive AAA-type games that imitate better art without really understanding or improving upon them in any way, often using fairly boilerplate mechanics to accomplish this. […] With a lot of these prestige games, the mechanics seem to be there because the designers needed to put some mechanics in to justify telling this story as a game.”

Jim Sterling: How Game Companies Abuse Passion

  • “If there’s one thing a corporation loves to do, it’s to make people feel like they’re choosing to participate in their own oppression. It’s a classic manipulation tactic. […] In short, passion has become a bullshit word used in place of compensation or fair treatment.”

Joel Goodwin: Go the Distance

  • “The beautiful thing about roguelikes is how they force you to overdose on system analysis. What variables you can control, what variables you can predict and what variables are out for your blood. And, boy, Speed Run sent me down a lava-scarred rabbit hole of Hoplite’s systems.”

Keith Burgun: Why it’s important that we push back on Auto Chess being a “genre”

  • “We get some super successful game, and then everyone is ape-ing that for a decade instead of just stepping back and thinking about interactivity in a more broad sense (which is totally possible and works, as demonstrated year after year by board game designers).”

Ludomedia #67

August 28, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Adam Millard: Why We’re Wrong About Violence In Games

  • “We need to be able to distinguish aesthetic from how we approach and engage with games […] I’d argue that instead of judging games by whether they have bloodshed or not, we should instead judge them by what kind of player experience they’re creating.”

Extra Credits: Diegetic UI – Realistic, or Distracting?

  • “Some information, it seems, is just better represented by a bar or number on screen, or even a menu list. This is because the purpose of UI is to show critical information to the player. So displaying that information in the most straightforward way is generally better. […] Good UI should be legible first, stylized second.”

Jim Sterling: The Political Agenda Of Dark Souls

  • “Dark Souls explores the idea of perpetuating cycles to keep a status quo upheld while the ruling class cling to their stale thrones. A ruling class that has convinced those lower on the social rungs to vote against their own interests and belief things that actively keep them under the elite’s boot heels.”

Mark Brown: The Best Games from GMTK Game Jam 2019

  • “This year the theme was ‘Only One’ which encouraged designers to make games with only one bullet, or only one room, or only one button. […] I want to send the jam off by showing the 20 games that I think are most deserving of note and attention.”

Mark Brown: Why Does Celeste Feel So Good To Play?

  • “[Celeste] shows the importance of getting the curves right when building basic movement, adding mechanics that introduce very different ways to navigate the space, using feedback to emphasize movement, being forgiving about pixel precision, increasing the skill ceiling with advanced movement and not being afraid to test, tweak and toss away work throughout the lengthy process of getting this stuff right.”

Ludomedia #66

July 24, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Adam Millard: Engineering The Perfect Enemy

  • “Having enemies with a clear, focussed design is a great foundation upon which to build an iconic bad guy, but it’s not enough. A great enemy also needs to fit into the wider ecosystem of play, whether that’s working alongside other enemies, the environment, or even the player. In other words: A good enemy is synergistic.”

George Weidman: Media Literacy and Game News

  • “Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms. […] But media literacy also requires an understanding of not just the standards and ethics that serious journalists should themselves accountable to, but also the sinister effects that money and cognitive bias have on it.”

Jim Sterling: The Exploitative Push For Social Networking In Games

  • “We’re in an age where kids at school are being bullied for not having any premium skins in Fortnite. […] Social gaming has its place, but its mass adoption by the AAA game industry is a fucking scam, a long con, yet another way […] in which video game publishers plan to swindle, trick and seduce cash out of you.”

Jonathan Blow: Singapore Games Guild Keynote

  • “Don’t even entertain ideas like ‘extending the playtime’, because it’ll make your game really boring. […] You really just want your game to have enough material in it to be interesting enough to last a long time. […] You want to actually have so much material that you then cut the worst material and leave the best material. That’s how the average value of your game goes up.”

Mark Brown: Can We Make Talking as Much Fun as Shooting?

  • “We can make dialogue trees that aren’t just basic skill checks that let you skip through gameplay, but involved negotiations that become exciting gameplay in of themselves, where you’re gathering evidence and intel, reading social cues and body language, and manipulating a web of relationships to get your way.”

Ludomedia #65

July 1, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Gbay99: Why “Auto-Chess” Games are Taking Over

  • “While card games are about having a pre-conceived strategy that you’re going for no matter what, Auto Chess games start off completely fresh with nothing pre-planned. […] Oftentimes a Hearthstone game between two equally skilled players isn’t won by who made more right decisions, but just who […] got luckier. Auto Chess games […] have way more room for skillful players to show off how good they are.”

Jim Sterling: The Addictive Cost Of Predatory Videogame Monetization

  • “[Addiction] doesn’t just stop on a dime and the game industry knows this. That’s why they go after those who will form habits. […] Get people to knee-jerk spend, to not think about what they’re doing as they’re doing it; keep the pressure up with limited offers, fixed prices to make each spend more appealing; get players a sense of emotional as well as financial investment; maintain the sunk cost fallacy as long as possible; everything I’ve ever ranted and raved about […] is not only supported, but gloated over by people in the industry.”

Jonathan Blow: Interview (Casual Connect)

  • “I’m soundly on the gameplay side. […] It’s a place where we’re making our own progress. […] Games are good at making settings, they’re good at establishing mood. What they’re not good at is plot, so why are we copying these storytelling structures that have plot?”

Keith Burgun: Execution in Strategy Games Should Be Considered Randomness

  • “Execution is always a matter of personally training some physical ability, whether it be muscle memory, strength, reflexes, etc. There is no way that a particular player’s ability here can be implemented into a strategy game in a way that’s strategically meaningful. You could balance around it to get it back to something like a 50% win ratio but it still needs to basically be factored out and then treated as a kind of output randomness.”

Kyle Orland: In praise of ultra-short games

  • “These quick-hit games contain more raw, memorable emotional moments than half of the 80-hour open-world epics out there. And there’s something for games that focus with such intensity on getting to the point quickly and then getting out without hours and hours of repetitive padding put on just for the sake of “value.” That’s especially true as the overall gaming audience continues to age and face more adult demands on their time and attention.”

Ludomedia #64

May 24, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Daniel Cook: Interview (Clockwork Game Design Podcast)

  • “You sort of have a spectrum of different types of activities. […] There are high-trust activities that need a lot of coordination. […] You want to only give people the types of activity that match that group’s trust level. If you as a designer are giving incredibly high-trust activities to a group of strangers, you’re going to get toxicity, it’s inevitable.”

Daniel Märkisch: Was ist Meta?

  • “Der Schwarm löst jedes der Probleme […] einfach viel zu schnell. […] Wenn du Mass Data zulässt, kannst du kein Problem bauen, das nicht innerhalb von kurzer Zeit gelöst wird. […] Magic ist noch nicht bei Mass Data angekommen. Wenn Magic [dort] ankommt, […] dann wird relativ schnell klar werden, dass es auch dort nur wenige Top-Decks an der Spitze gibt.”

Jonathan Blow: Preventing the Collapse of Civilization

  • “Software is actually in decline right now. […] Robustness of software is declining. Productivity of programmers is declining. […] This complication that’s introduced into all of our systems […] accelerates the loss of knowledge over time. […] Technology, by itself, will degrade. And we need to, as soon as we can, start working against this. […] We must simplify, at every level.”

Mark Brown: The Challenge of Cameras

  • “The most important thing to remember is that, while cameras can certainly support aesthetic and cinematic goals, it’s only going to lead to frustration if the actual mechanical experience is harmed. Because, ultimately, the camera should fit the gameplay. Not the other way around.”

Rainer Sigl: Her mit dem Gütesiegel “Games aus Freilandhaltung”!

  • “Es liegt an uns, der Industrie zu sagen, dass das auch für uns, als Spieler und Publikum, eine relevante Information ist. Spiele sind ein spannendes Medium und ein heißgeliebtes Hobby für Millionen; die Menschen, die sie für uns Wirklichkeit werden lassen, haben unsere Solidarität verdient.”

Ludomedia #63

May 7, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Chris Wallace: How YouTube let’s plays are preserving video game history

  • “While let’s plays are unquestionably not preserving the game itself, they can function as secondary documentation, and preserve the cultural impact of a game as well as the community that built up around it. […]Even in their current state let’s plays are an important part of video game history, so it’s probably an idea to look at how we can improve that currently imperfect science.”

Dominik Schott: Anno 1800 schreibt die Geschichte um

  • “Dass Sklaverei und Sklavenhandel auch noch während der Industriellen Revolution […] grundlegender Wirtschaftsfaktor waren, das unterschlägt die Spielwelt komplett. […] Sklavenhandel ist zu heikel, aber Arbeiterproteste in den Städten können auf Knopfdruck blutig niedergeschlagen oder neue Inseln zu Arbeiterkolonien erklären werden, wo Menschen in Überstunden und unterbezahlt malochen müssen.”

Jim Sterling: The Epic Brutality Of Unchecked Capitalism

  • “If you have a problem with Epic’s methods, you don’t just have a problem with Epic. You have a problem with the environment that allows, condones and by design encourages Epic to do what Epic does.”

Ross Scott: “Games as a service” is fraud

Words Per Game: Artifact: Locked by Design

  • “Artifact is built for those who like that there’s no easy answer. […] Artifact is a game where most moves come laden with trade-offs, where actions have cascading, hard-to-evaluate effects across multiple turns. A game that rewards strategic anticipation and modular, flexible planning. […] Everything in it points towards a unified, purposeful direction. It’s just uninterested in communicating it. […] At the end of the day, Artifact doesn’t want to teach you, it just wants you to learn.”