Hearthstone: That New Card Smell

Hearthstone_LogoBlizzard’s Hearthstone (full name, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft) is a digital collectible card game that’s currently out on Mac, PC, and iPad. The obvious comparison is to the biggest CCG around, Magic: The Gathering. While MTG is a physical game that also has a digital component, Hearthstone is a purely digital game, designed to be purely digital. That poses both interesting challenges and opportunities.

Being a collectible card game, a huge hook of both of these game is of course, getting new cards. A recovering former MTG player myself, there is nothing quite like the experience of opening a new booster pack of cards. And while Hearthstone doesn’t reproduce that new card smell, it does go out of its way to try and evoke the same feelings as the real thing. Continue reading

Dota 2: Die Less with a Hero Build

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I think it’s fair to say that Valve’s Dota 2 is an intimidating game for new players. There are a lot of choices to be made at every turn – over 100 heroes to pick from, each with their own set of abilities, and lots of different items to purchase to fit a variety of strategies. Plus, it’s a team-based player-vs-player game, so you need to have a good deal of teamwork to be successful.

Thankfully, Dota 2 has gained a number of features that are designed help new users get their feet wet in this deep pool of gaming goodness. I’d like to take a minute here to point out one of my favorite features, Hero Builds. A Hero Build is an in-game, user-contributed strategy of how to build out your hero. And they are awesome.

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Rogue Legacy: It’s Hard to Quit (No, Literally)

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Rogue Legacy from Cellar Door Games (Steam link) is a rogue-like platformer that is difficult to quit for two reasons. One, because it does a good job at activating my “just one more turn” syndrome. And two, because it’s not immediately apparent how you actually quit the game.

After booting up your game, there’s only one thing you can be sure that players will actually do – that’s leave. Like death and taxes, it’s inevitable. So, you might as well make it easy to find. Let’s look at how Rogue Legacy handles it.

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Worst Map Ever Contender: Lord of the Rings Online

lotro logoI recently started playing Lord of the Rings Online (also known as LotRO), an MMO from Turbine that was originally released way back in 2007. I really don’t have very much experience with MMOs – I played a little bit of the first Guild Wars back in the day, but I didn’t get real far.

I do, however, have a lot of experience with world maps – see posts on Final Fantasy XIIIMass Effect 2Borderlands 2The Witcher 2, and even one on different ways to access the world map. Despite the game originally coming out 6 years ago, I’m still nominating Lord of the Rings Online to have the worst world map ever.

I’ve limited myself to three major beefs with this map:

  1. The quest markers are barely visible
  2. Places that are zoom-able aren’t labeled at all
  3. The various hint texts on the map aren’t consistently located, and zooming out isn’t real intuitive without it

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Civ V: Apparently You Can’t Save the Tutorial?

Civilization V (Steam link) is the most recent iteration of the legendary Civilization series of turn-based strategy titles. I have a soft spot for the series, but I haven’t played many just due to my inability to stop the “one more turn” syndrome. They are epic, complicated, and detailed, and have the incredible ability to destroy large blocks of time in one shot.

Since this was the first Civ title (excluding Civ Revolution) that I’ve played in a long time, I figured I would play through the tutorial. While the tutorial is for sure a tiny version of a real game, it isn’t like a 5-minute romp – there’s lots of text and details to read, which I thought was a good idea. But strangely enough, despite what could be a relatively lengthy affair, Civ V doesn’t support saving of the tutorial. At least, that’s the conclusion I came to, because the game sure doesn’t make that clear.

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