Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Airline Tycoon Free Flight

Kalypso Media is a German video game developer and publisher. They mostly make simulation games, like the Tropico series. Their games tend not to be the highest rated, but they do okay, and what they lack in blockbusters they make up in number of different games released. And apparently they also make a handful of mobile games, one of which is Airline Tycoon Free Flight.

Airline Tycoon Free Flight (ATFF) is a business simulation game, which for mobile has been reduced in complexity compared with Airline Tycoon 2 or other PC business simulation games. The most important deviation from more serious business simulations is that in ATFF you can't make a loss on a flight; if the cost of a flight is higher than its revenue, you simply get 0$. Which makes the game very casual, which isn't necessarily a bad feature for a mobile game.

The basic game consists from flying passengers from one airport to another, on a world map which is flat, not round, and so there is no connection from Asia to America. At the start you only have access to small airplanes, cheap staff, and few airports. So you make money on those flights and invest that money in more and bigger airplanes, more and better staff, and more airports, which you can also upgrade to hold more passengers.

The passengers arrive at the airports in real time. So if you played for a while, you will run out of passengers, and better stop until the airports are full again. Other than that there is no artificial energy / stamina resource that prevents you from playing as much as you want. And once you got enough airports and have the upgraded, you can play for quite a while before you run out of passengers. Also in other aspects the game is unusually unobtrusive for a Free2Play game: At no point does the game present you with a pay wall, or nag you for money. There is a currency you can buy for cash, but it is not really needed for anything but a few special airplanes and staff members.

While ATFF is certainly harmless for a business simulation, it is actually quite fun to fly airplanes left and right and try to improve your network of airports. I would recommend trying out the game for free.

Friday, August 11, 2017
Is multiplayer an error?

I've never played Friday the 13th: The Game, but according to its Wikipedia page the game has 1.8 million players in spite of having only mediocre reviews. The only reason I know about the game at all is because this week's news about it: In this asymmetrical multiplayer game, one evil Jason against a group of camp counselors, the devs had to implement a patch to remove friendly fire, because the camp counselors kept killing each other deliberately instead of actually playing the game against the Jason player. Sigh!

Online multiplayer games are now about 2 decades old. Developers like them, because they have positive network effects, that is players serve as content which attracts other players; and you don't have to program a complicated AI if you just let players fight each other. But nobody managed to really solve the problem of gamers being such assholes in an anonymous multiplayer environment. Pretty much every multiplayer game has a long list of complaints, where players are unhappy about the behavior of other players. The removal of features which lets players communicate and interact with each other is more common than adding such features, because each such feature brings its own set of problems. The most successful multiplayer games are those in which players have the least opportunity to freely interact with each other, where there is no chat, and no way to hinder another player's progress.

So I have to ask whether this trend towards multiplayer games wasn't a mistake. Games which have positive network effects also have negative network effects, so that player number frequently fall precipitously a few months after release. When players leave it gets harder to find the necessary people to start a match, and nobody likes waiting for that. Some people like a game, but are then driven away by the nasty behavior of other players. And the multiplayer aspect frequently requires the game company to run game servers, so these games frequently die completely when the servers are shut down, as opposed to single-player games you can find on still decades later.

Whether players are annoyed about others deliberately griefing them, or just unhappy because their team members aren't competent enough, I am not certain that the positive effect of a game being multiplayer compensates for all the negative effects. I know already quite a number of games which I don't play because they are multiplayer, or would like more if they were single-player. The dream of being able to play with people from all over the world quickly turns into the nightmare of finding out that people from all over the world aren't actually very nice. And even game companies would probably recover the added cost of programming an AI over time due to having significantly less customer service costs for a single-player game.

Multiplayer has been tried, and failed. Maybe it is time to try something else, like developing better AI.

Thursday, August 10, 2017
A niche within a niche

I was watching a video on YouTube about 3D printing miniatures for tabletop wargaming. The conclusion for the guy who made the video was that 3D printing was okay for stuff like terrain, where he didn't care too much about, but not of high enough quality for his painted wargaming miniatures, where he cared a lot about how they looked. I don't disagree. But it makes me realize that in fact my personal application of 3D printing for my Dungeons & Dragons games is special, a niche within a niche. Because I have extremely low requirements, which a cheap 3D printer is well able to fulfill.

I was never much interested in painting miniatures, which was compounded by the fact that I never had much skill in that area. I have a small collection of metal miniatures, but they are either unpainted, or have been painted by my brother or friends who are good at that sort of stuff. And I wasn't even using these miniatures during the years I DM'd two 4th edition campaigns, I used tokens I printed in 2D on thick paper, and then stuck on self-adhesive felt pads.

The reason why I never was overly concerned with the quality of my monsters is that tend to be used for a relatively short time. Even more so in 5th edition, where the fights are shorter. But in a D&D campaign one usually uses a lot of different monsters. There are over 400 of them in the 5E Monster Manual. Some you might use several times: If you have an adventure about fighting orcs, you'll end up with several fights against orcs. But obviously always fighting the same monsters gets boring for both players and DM, and so one always tries to mix it up. And of course different monsters have different "challenge ratings" (as it is called in 5E), aka levels, and while at the start of your campaign you might have some interesting fights against goblins and kobolds, later on you fight orcs, ogres, or even giants.

I know some people spend weeks on building dioramas for D&D. The results can be highly impressive. But obviously it takes you far more time to build a diorama of a scene or a whole dungeon than it then takes to play through it. If you hobby is actually playing D&D, as opposed to building dioramas, putting too much effort into your monsters and terrain simply isn't worth it.

In my current 5E campaign, the first dungeon contained a bunch of goblins, a handful of wolves, and a bugbear. The biggest fight involved all three types of these monsters. So for me the "specifications" or requirements I had towards my 3D printed monsters were simple: I wanted the monsters to be at the right scale compared to the 28-mm scale painted metal figurines one of my players provided for the heroes, and I wanted them to be easily distinguishable, with no doubt of which one was the bugbear, the goblin, or the wolf. I didn't need them to be painted or very pretty. I didn't need their surfaces to be very smooth, the layered structure of a 3D printed object wasn't really a problem. I didn't need a whole lot of them, as rarely there are more than half a dozen monsters of the same type in a D&D fight. In short, my requirements are a whole lot lower than what somebody needing miniatures for tabletop wargaming might require. The monsters I print are cheap and not pretty, but they serve their purpose in my D&D game. And being 3D results in me and all players around the table easily being able to see from every angle which one of the monsters is the bugbear, which isn't quite as obvious with my previous 2D tokens.

In short, I am still using my 3D printer nearly every day to print out monsters for my campaign. I am preparing a big campaign, and I have some technical problem with my printer where it does well printing a single miniature, but fails if I try to print several of them in a single job. As 3D printing is inherently slow, printing the whole army for a campaign takes a lot of time, albeit not a lot of attention. But besides this specific niche within a niche application, I haven't really found another good reason to own a 3D printer.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Regrets, I've had a few ...

I recently bought the game Egglia for $10 for my iPad, and now I regret that purchase. 10 bucks is relatively expensive for an iOS game, and the game turned out to be far from what I wanted. The description, as an JRPG with turn-based tactical combat on a hex grid, looked like exactly my sort of game. But in reality the combat system is so simplistic (you roll a six-sided die, which both tells you how many spaces you can advance, and how hard you can hit at the end of the turn) that it simply isn't much fun at all. It just feels totally random, there are no tactical decisions to make, and after a short while of hoping that it would get better, I just got completely bored with the game.

Of course that isn't the first time that I regret buying a game. I bought my first computer in 1981, and in the 36 years since I have bought a lot of computer games, some of which certainly disappointed. But the regret about Egglia stood out because it was going against a trend: Over time the percentage of disappointments in buying computer games has massively decreased. That is not because computer games are somehow better these days than they were before. Well, in technical specifications they are obviously better, but the games of 2017 aren't necessarily better games or more fun than the games of the 1980's. However two things changed since then: It is now much easier to get information about games before buying them, and the financial stakes are lower.

If today I buy a game on Steam, I first look at the user reviews. Not just the simple percentage of positive reviews, but what exactly the people who gave negative reviews are complaining about. I also check game reviews not on a single publication, but aggregated on Metacritic, again looking what are the strong and weak points mentioned. A game where somebody else gives a bad score because it is slow and makes him think too much might be a game I value more highly. A game that gets bad scores for being an unfinished mess full of bugs might be better to stay away from, at least for the moment.

Time is an important factor. I bought No Man's Sky nearly a year after release, and haven't regretted the purchase. I paid far less than the full price, and with the various patches the game had enough content by then and less problems, so that I felt that I got a reasonably number of hours of entertainment bang for my bucks. I'm pretty sure I would have regretted buying the same game on day 1.

On the iPad there are even less games I regretted. That starts with the fact that the majority of games is free to try anyway. And the "buy to own" games on the Apple app store frequently cost very little money, single digit amounts. Hey, maybe you don't like the game "Dawn of Crafting" I recommended. But as it costs only $3, it is unlikely you would deeply regret the purchase. A $10 game like Egglia in the app store is already relatively expensive.

As a customer and consumer of games, I feel as if I am living in golden times. I am not sure that this will hold forever, because as a hobby economist I feel as if there is an oversupply of games, fed by an oversupply of people willing to code games during long hours for very little money. I can't imagine that going on forever.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017
Facts and judgments

If you are an employee of a medium to big company, chances are that you will take part in various training courses. Not just technical ones which are directly related to your job description, but also behavioral training courses designed to get people to work together better. One of the frequent exercises in such courses is to first teach and then let people practice the difference between facts and judgments. For example an expression of a fact could be "the bottle of orange juice that I had put into the break room fridge is gone"; an expression of a judgment could be "somebody stole the bottle of orange juice that I had put into the break room fridge". The purpose of the training course is to get people to use more expressions of facts, and less judgments, because in the resolution of conflict the statement of fact is usually more helpful. The guy who accidentally and unintentionally dropped your bottle of orange juice in the break room fridge is more likely to come clean and apologize on hearing the fact statement than on hearing the (wrong) judgment statement.

Unfortunately very few people manage to express only facts. In a longer text they might have some facts in, but then put a judgment directly after that and by that link destroy the effectiveness of the fact. And if somebody complains about a longer text, it is easy to pick out just the wrong judgments as selective quotes and make the quote look far meaner than the whole text. The big story in the tech world this week is about the guy who wrote a 10-page memo on gender diversity at Google and got fired for it. The guy has a right-wing point of view, and the people who attacked him have a left-wing point of view. And because we have right-wing media and left-wing media, you get the story told in two very different ways, with very different quotes, depending on the bias of the news outlet. The left-wing media quote the worst expressions of judgment, many of which are obviously offensive. The right-wing media quote the expressions of fact, which can be shown to be true (especially due to the obvious irony of somebody getting fired for writing a memo in which he says that you can get fired for writing your opinion).

Personally I would say that Google was justified in firing the guy, because of the offensive judgments in his memo, e.g. saying that women make less good software engineers. However I do think that if he had edited out all the judgments from his text, there would have remained a memo full of facts that would well be worth discussing, e.g. the fact that the current set of gender policies at Google haven't worked in achieving better gender equality. And that gets us into an area which I consider far more dangerous: Culture wars in which attacking the opponent's judgments has become so commonplace, that attacking the opponent's facts is considered normal. Both sides do that: In other news the White House has received an official report that has the best scientific evidence on the contribution of mankind to global warming, and it is nearly certain that they will dismiss those facts because they don't fit with their ideology. On gender it is a fact that if you were to take an MRI image of the brain of a man and an MRI image of the brain of a woman, a neuroscientist will be able to tell the difference. It is a scientific fact that men and women are different, and think differently. Numerous studies have shown that *on average* certain skills and modes of behavior are more prevalent in one sex than in the other. And yes, even in a hypothetical world free of sexism and only based on merit and free choice, we wouldn't have a 50:50 distribution of genders in every profession. I believe however that in this hypothetical world's Google, men would likely be lowly paid code monkeys, while women would hold the majority of better paid management positions (that is a judgment on my side, not a fact, because hypothetical situations can never be facts). What we need to work on is to improve everybody's judgment of the relative value of different skills and modes of behavior. Trying to deny that differences exist just isn't very helpful. Just like trying to deny global warming isn't very helpful. Facts and science aren't subject to ideology and disputable in a culture war. If you treat even scientific facts as only opinions, you weaken the edifice of human knowledge on which civilization is built.

Saturday, August 05, 2017
3D printing supports

The technology used in most home 3D printers is fused deposition modeling or fused filament fabrication. Which means the material is fed to the printer in the form of a plastic filament, and the print head melts that plastic and deposits it layer by layer on a print bed. The obvious disadvantage of this bottom-up layer-by-layer fabrication is that you can't deposit plastic on an upper layer if there isn't some support for it on the lower layer. You can print overhangs of up to 45°, so your model can be bigger on top than on bottom. But for example printing a figurine with an arm stretched out horizontally is a problem.

The general solution for that problem is printing supports, that is printing something that goes from the bottom up to the outstretched arm, so that you can print the arm on top of it. Once the print is finished, you can then remove that extra support part. The 3D printing software XYZWare that came with my XYZ printer is able to automatically add supports. So far, so good.

My main application for the 3D printer is still printing figurines for my Dungeons & Dragons game. And lately I've been printing animals, like spiders, hyena, or an elk. If you think of how these animals look in nature, you will realize that they have relatively thin legs which aren't directly below the center mass of their body, but rather in the corners. Which means that if you print them in 3D, you need to print them with supports. That works, but I was getting more and more annoyed with the way that XYZWare is adding supports. Basically the software adds supports everywhere, so that the whole area under a spider's body is filled with it. So at the end of the print there is a lot of work to do trying to remove the support with a scalpel, while not breaking or cutting the thin legs. Also there always remains a visible trace of the support, so these models end up full of imperfections.

There is better software than XYZWare which gives you better control over supports, but unfortunately that software isn't compatible with the XYZ Printer. So I had to find a different solution: I am importing my models into TinkerCAD, and I am adding 1 mm thick columns manually at selected locations. The I print the result without automatically added supports. If I added enough support columns at the right places, that works just as well as the automatic supports, but I need to remove far less material afterwards.


Friday, August 04, 2017
Looking for adventure plot ideas

About two years ago I played with my home D&D group the first adventure of the Zeitgeist Adventure Path, Island at the Axis of the World. This month EN Publishing released the first part of that adventure converted into 5th edition D&D. As I am now also playing with new players at a local role-playing club, I am thinking of playing the first two adventures of Zeitgeist again. It is always interesting to see how a very different group (and in a different system) approaches the same adventure, it is going to be faster in 5E, and I already have the battle maps printed out in poster format.

But this plan requires a bit of work on my part. While the 4E version of Island at the Axis of the World was for 1st level characters, the 5E version is for 3rd level characters. And I don't like to start a campaign other than at level 1. I'd rather use an introductory adventure to get players from level 1 to 3, and at the same time introduce them to the world of Zeitgeist. Island at the Axis of the World starts with the players being constables in the Royal Homeland Constabulary in Risur, 7 years after Risur lost a war against Danor. So I was thinking that a good way to explain how the characters became constables and introduce them to the background would be to play a short adventure that gets the players from level 1 to 3 in that war. More specifically I would have the adventure play on Axis Island, at the end of the war where Risur loses the island to Danor, so that their later adventures on that island would be a return, 7 years later, and thus be more interesting.

So the basic scenario is the players as a squad of soldiers on the losing side of a war. I was thinking of something like the group having to first act as scouts for the army, with a mission to infiltrate an enemy camp or find something in some dungeon before the enemy does. Then in a second part the war is lost, and the group needs to flee with whatever item they were sent out to get and reach the evacuation point before being captured.

Now 5th edition D&D goes from level 1 to level 3 rather quickly. Basically two "adventuring days" with 6 to 8 medium to hard encounters will do the trick. But I would like to have a bit more variety than staging a dozen encounters against Danoran soldiers. And I'm still a bit fuzzy about the details of the plot. So I am looking for ideas. I've been looking for war-themed published adventures, but beyond the War of the Burning Sky campaign I couldn't find much. I'd be interested if you know of a good adventure that has the group play as a squad of soldiers in a war. Or if you have ideas that could fit into the plot I outlined above. Feel free to submit your ideas here in the comment section, my new players don't read my blog.


Thursday, August 03, 2017
Affirmative action

I do not belong to any of the political tribes you can identify in Europe or America. If I had to describe my politics, I would say that I am liberal in the original sense of the word, which is to say that I want the minimum necessary government intervention as well in my bedroom as well as in my wallet. Curiously "liberal" is a left-wing label in the USA, and a right-wing label in Europe. But the left-wing "liberals" in the USA are far too much involved in identity politics for my taste. And one of the prime examples for that is the hornet's nest that the Trump administration just kicked, which is affirmative action.

As a true liberal, I am all for equality of opportunity. I do believe that race or gender or religion should have no influence whatsoever on education or job opportunities, on grades, or on pay. In a perfect world the success a person has should be solely based on merit. Now in the real world I am perfectly aware that this isn't the case. There have been enough studies to prove that sending out the exactly same CV to different companies and just changing the first name to something that suggests the applicant is black, Muslim, or a woman, reduces the change of getting hired. There is a measurable gender pay gap, and I'm sure there are pay gaps based on race or religion as well.

The point where I diverge from the US "liberals" is what the best policy would be to overcome those injustices. Because the left-wing position is to counter one injustice with another: Affirmative action is a "positive discrimination" of groups considered as disadvantaged. The problem is that it is a zero sum game. You can't "positively" discriminate towards group A without negatively discriminating against all the other possible groups. In the specific case under discussion in the USA the criticism is that positive discrimination towards African-American students in college applications results in negative discrimination towards Asian-American students.

This is where the identity politics come into play. The idea is that there has been a long history of injustice committed mostly by white people against black people, or by men against women. And that is supposed to be somehow made right by now giving favored treatment to the previous victims. Personally that sits very badly with me. Two wrongs don't make a right. Whatever the specific case is, the right policy would be one in which race, gender, or religion isn't considered at all in the selection or evaluation of candidates. You can't blame a young person, who has the misfortune to be born today white and male and Christian, for centuries of injustices committed by white Christian males and now disregard his qualification and merit in favor of a less qualified black Muslim woman. True equality is blind towards gender, race, and religion, and always takes the most qualified candidate regardless of his gender, race, or religion. Only if that is applied in all walks of life, starting from education, will we have a chance one day to arrive in a world which is just.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017
XP in 5E: At best muddled, at worst cheated

If you bought the next World of Warcraft expansion promising you 10 more levels, you would expect a certain quantity of content. If you found out that in fact the expansion had only one zone and the xp given out per quest were artificially boosted to give you 10 levels in a short time, you would feel somewhat cheated. This is a bit the impression I get from the official WotC adventures published for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons: The back of the book promises some level range, for example from 1 to 15 for Princes of the Apocalypse, but the sum of the experience points of the content in the book doesn't get a group from level 1 to 15. The DM needs to pad xp to make players get up in levels faster than described in the rules in order to have the group at the right level for the next dungeon. So somewhere the adventures have less content than promised.

If you want to see it in a less harsh light, at the very least the xp system in published adventures is somewhat muddled. It starts with the fact that 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons does not have a standard group size by design, like 4th edition had. Different adventures and books give different numbers between 3 and 7, with some adventures being designed for let's say 4 players, while others give a level range, like "4 to 5". Princes of the Apocalypse doesn't say anything about the expected number of players. Adventures generally don't adjust the number of monsters to the number of players (although of course a DM can decide to do so, there just aren't any hints in the text what numbers of monsters would be fitting for different group sizes). So if you play a dungeon as written, the more players you have, the less xp each player gets, because encounter xp are divided by player numbers. In Princes of the Apocalypse, in the first 4 dungeons, the overall xp of each dungeon would need to be divided by only 2 players if each player was supposed to get enough xp to earn a level per dungeon as it states in the text. With 4 players you are short by half, with 5 or 6 players it gets even worse. As I wrote in my previous post on the subject, I will give out double xp for most encounters to my group, plus some "quest xp" in order to get the numbers rights.

Of course some people like to play without experience points at all. Instead of calculating xp you can use "milestones", as in "at the end of this dungeon you gain a level". That works reasonably well in a linear campaign. However Princes of the Apocalypse, and many other official WotC adventures, aren't supposed to be linear. The dungeons of PotA are interconnected, and players can wander from one dungeon into an adjacent one, without having reached a point that could reasonably be defined as a milestone point. Even worse, the level progression of the adventure assumes that the players visit each of the 13 dungeons, but the story progression would make it more logical to skip certain dungeons altogether. For my campaign I will need to add story bits that give the group a motivation to visit the dungeons they would normally skip.

In one of the early videos that WotC put on YouTube to show people playing 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, the DM Chris Perkins at one point said: "Make a whatever roll". The "whatever roll" to me represents very much the design philosophy of 5E. 4th edition was a very solid rules system, which was perceived by some as being too rigid. So 5E was designed to be far more flexible, "rulings, not rules", to give especially the DM far more freedom. While that works well in some areas, I still believe that it is important for the social contract of playing a tabletop role-playing game that the areas where the players most care about are governed by rules, not rulings. Players care about their character levels and progression, so the rules about that should be solid. In 5E they aren't. They are at best muddled, and at worst the published adventures just plain cheat with xp. As a DM that doesn't "give me freedom", but rather forces me to fix a mess that WotC left me. And I am not very happy about that.


Friday, July 28, 2017
Dawn of Crafting

If you like crafting in games, I have a game recommendation for you. It is a mobile game called Dawn of Crafting, and it has eaten up lots of my hours over the last two days. This is not some Free2Play game, and so there are no artificial "energy" limitations how much one can play. So I quickly became engrossed in the intricate sysrem, which starts very simple with stone age gathering and then becomes more and more complex. In spite of a very simple interface the game becomes very interesting while you try to advance your various crafting skills, do quests, and keep yourself stocked with all necessary resources.

You start out with an old advisor who gives you some guidance on what to do in the form of quests and a "minion" who is doing all the gathering, hunting, logging, and the like for you. You craft items by combining them with each other and with tools. There is some guesswork involved, but crafting with the same metrials repeatedly also gives you "ideas", so that these materials appear in the appropriate recipes in your recipe book. As projects become more complex, you can automate some tasks like sending out your minion for longer trips or having food eaten automatically.

The game quickly evolves a strong pull where you want to finish some project and suddenly look up and realize you've spent hours on it without noticing. Recommended!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
D&D 5E House Rules: Non-rest XP

How many combat encounters should a D&D group have before gaining a level? That is obviously a trick question, because the "should" implies a judgement call, for which there is no one right answer. However 5th edition at least gives a mathematical standard answer, because it tells you how many xp you need from one level to the next, and how many xp an easy. medium, hard, or deadly combat encounter is worth. Divide the former by the latter, and you arrive at the information that for the first two levels you need 6 medium combat encounters to gain a level, but then that slows down considerably and from level 3 to 10 you need on average 15 medium combat encounters per level.

As I said, in reality this is a judgement call, and different people might come up with different answers. What is somewhat surprising is that even within WotC there are obviously people who came up with different answers to that question. On the one side the people who wrote the Players' Handbook came up with the numbers I listed above. But then the people who wrote the official published adventures didn't like those numbers and filled their adventures with "milestones". For example the first 4 dungeons of Princes of the Apocalypse are for levels 3, 4, 5, and 6, and the group is supposed to gain a level at the end of each of those dungeons. However if you use the PHB rules, the xp from the dungeons cover not even half of the xp a group of 5 players would need to actually gain a level. As I don't want to abandon the concept of xp and just handwave awarding levels, I need to come up with a way to give out much more xp when my group plays Princes of the Apocalypse.

The house rule I propose is that any combat encounter which is not directly after a long rest counts for double xp. Which means a group that takes frequent long rests will gain less xp, to compensate for the fact that fighting always with full resources is easier. This rules thus fulfills two purposes: Handing out more xp, so that my group keeps up with the required leveling speed of PotA, and solving the famous "5-minute workday" problem that some players want to rest after every fight. What do you think?


Monday, July 24, 2017
Eternal Card Game

There is a new digital collectible card game around on Steam and mobile platforms, called Eternal. It copies rules heavily from Magic the Gathering, and is thus more on the complicated end of the spectrum, as opposed to simplified games like Hearthstone. So, what's not to like? Well, the single player options. And that for me is a killer.

Eternal lets you play against the AI in three modes: Campaign, Gauntlet, or Forge. Campaign is like the story mode of Magic Duels, a tutorial that gets you started with the rules and gives you basic cards, but doesn't give any more rewards if replayed. Gauntlet is a mode where you need to play and win 7 games against increasingly difficult AI decks. Playing Forge costs you money, being similar to a "limited" rules in Magic, you have to buy cards to play but then keep them. What is missing is a simple player vs. AI mode you can play as much as you want and earn currency / cards, like Magic Duels has. Instead you are pushed to play PvP.

Unfortunately this is a general trend with games these days. PvP is cheaper to produce than PvE, because you don't need to program a good AI or lots of content. And players tend to be more competitive in PvP, so in a Pay2Win game like a collectible card game that results in higher earnings for the game company.

Me, I refuse to participate in this trend. If a game can't bother to create a decent PvE mode, then I won't bother to play it.


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