A little while ago Roguelike Celebration, this year on October 22 and 23 (later this month!), did a short preview as a promotional event. I mentioned this before, it came and went, and now the talks are online.
The fine folks at Roguelike Celebration are holding a free “fireside chat” style preview event next month on the 10th, at 4pm US Pacific time, 7pm Eastern! Any rogue-likers out there should definitely have a look.
David Brevik will talk about the development of Diablo, a game that I understand some people greatly enjoy!
Aron Pietroń and Michał Ogłoziński will talk about hardcore city-building survival game Against the Storm!
Nic Junius will be presenting a talk titled “Play as in Stage Play: Designing Dynamic Narrative Moments Through Character Acting.”
Next on the Roguelike Celebration 2022 train, Slashie’s wonderful explanation of what Moria is and why we should care about it. It’s true, Angband is basically expanded Moria, but the original game is incredibly important. Not just because its close descendant UMoria was the inspiration for Diablo. I could (and do!) argue that Moria is the secret foundation of the modern RPG paradigm. Disclaimer: I am quoted by Slashie at one point in this video.
As I mentioned earlier, the creator of Moria, Robert Koeneke, died recently, but thankfully before he went he did interviews about his experiences, notably in David Craddock’s Dungeon Hacks.
We like the work of indie game designer Keith Burgun here, and he has a new essay up about Diablo: Immortal, comparing it to other free2play and gatcha-style games. Diablo: Immortal, as has been noted previously by our intrepid alien newscaster Kent Drebnar, has been outright banned in two countries for its unusually rapacious loot system.
The piece begins with a long quote from the Diablo: Immortal subreddit that really tears into the game. It states that the game is worst than the standard f2p, calling it the worst example of play-to-win, and liking it to slot machines at the nearby gas station. (A condition that, here in the state of Georgia, is not far from reality. There are video poker machines here all over the place.)
Keith uses it to launch into the damage that gatcha patterns have done to game design in general, that its assumptions have soaked into gaming in ways beyond mere monetization. This include:
mechanisms like random drops
drop odds made explicit in the game’s UI
star ratings for items
repetitive gameplay designed to entice players to grind away at it to increase the number of drops they get
overuse of crafting
making quests into a kind of progress treadmill, with explicit UI, requirements and rewards given as a cost/benefit exchange, and
having many things in the game “level up” in some manner.
To all of this I exclaim “hear hear!” I would just point out that a lot of these trends in fact originated in MMORPGs. What is a star rating for an item but another form of a colored rarity loot system?
I would even argue that loot itself has become a degraded concept. All of these things are geared towards “releasing endorphins” or delivering “dopamine hits.” If an executive above your team is speaking in those terms, my advice to you is to bail, if you can, you aren’t making the world a better place. If you are thinking like this, please reconsider why you’re making games.
There is more I have to say on this issue, but rather than steal any of Keith’s thunder I’ll let him explain it, and do my own ranting at some other time.