Gizmodo’s Andre Liszewski brings up a new controller from 8BitDo that puts all its buttons on the face. No shoulder buttons remain! It’s intended for accessibility purposes, although that doesn’t mean anyone can’t use it. And it’s only $35! Sadly it only works with the Switch and Android devices, although I don’t see why it couldn’t be put to use on PCs too? Is it blocked from working on PCs somehow, and for some reason?
Samuel Claiborn at IGN brings information about Jersey Jack’s upcoming Toy Story 4 pinball machine, designed by Addams Family and Twilight Zone designer Pat Lawlor! I have a friend who’s really jazzed up to get their hands on it, and has preordered it, despite it selling out in three minutes and costing $15,000!
At Rock Paper Shotfun, Katharine Castle tells us about Stray, a game where you play as a cat in a post-apocalyptic world full of robots. Some are mean, but some are friendly, including one your kitty protagonist wears as a cute backpack! It mentions that the platforming involved is unique in that it prevents you from upsetting notions of feline grace by just not allowing you to make bad jumps. I mean, that’s okay most of the time, but what if I wanted to play as a kitty klutz? Believe me, they exist.
We post a lot of articles from Nintendo Life here, we have noticed, to the degree that we are considering a limit to the number of times a single site can be featured in a single news post. Well, we haven’t done that yet, so the three Nintendo Life posts this time out:
CBR.com’s Patrick Arellano presents a list of ten mistakes that still haunt Sega. Many times these lists are pretty light, but this one makes some significant points, especially about the rancor between the Japan and U.S. branches of the company around the Genesis through Dreamcast era.
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.