018: Year of 3s

After many months in cryogenic sleep, our heroes emerge from their pods and record the first captain’s log of this adventure. So much of the world passed them by: GOTY Awards, Microsoft acquiring Activision, and Nintendo’s 2022 announcements.

Games talked about in this episode:

  • 1:32 It Takes Two
  • 10:50 Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • 12:37 Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
  • 13:29 Hell Let Loose
  • 17:21 Fury of Dracula
  • 19:29 Rock, Paper, Wizard
  • 19:46 Cuphead
  • 31:44 Splatoons 3
  • 32:10 Xenoblade Chronicles 3
  • 32:37 Bayonetta 3
  • 35:31 Starfield
  • 35:59 Elden Ring
  • 36:15 The Devil In Me
  • 36:59 Martha Is Dead
  • 39:30 Hades

Introductory Guy
Welcome to Design Thinking Games, a gaming and User Experience podcast card-carrying UXers Tim Broadwater and Michael Schofield, examine the player experience of board games, pen and paper roleplaying games, live-action games, and video games. Play through the backlog on your podcatcher of choice and on the web at designthinkinggames.com.

Michael Schofield
What’s up, everybody? Welcome to a new episode of Design Thinking Games back from hiatus, season two, episode number eighteen. And this kicks off the first one back from our prolonged break, and it’s been a really meaty offseason.

Tim Broadwater
Yeah, last episode was we made it to the castle, we stormed the gates, and we blasted in this space on the holy day of Mass Effect. Maybe the best thing to ask you, Mike, is what’s been going on since our last episode.

Michael Schofield
I don’t really know where to start. You know, we could probably start with the Game of the Year Awards. You and I had a couple of predictions early on, but they happened, and the winners are, I think, pretty good. To be honest.

Tim Broadwater
Yeah, I actually played the Game of the Year winner last year. It Takes Two was only a release, I believe, for Xbox and PlayStation. It is really good. A little bit of a tear-jerker. But, like the game, like the studio produced before it, you literally have It Takes Two. You cannot play it with one player. You have to play with someone, either locally or online and have two people to play it. And I’ll have to say I don’t want to ruin anything. But I know why it wasn’t Game of the Year. It’s beautifully storied. It is not giving anything away. But it’s a couple that is no longer happy. They have a child, and they’re getting a divorce. And the child kind of puts a wish it’s not a curse or anything. But I think it’s a wish on them that they’ve learned to kind of love each other again. And she even goes to like the local library or school library checks out a book on, like how to fall in love. And she’s trying to help them. And it’s beautiful. And over the course of the game. I will say this, it uses the medium of collaborative, two-player games to teach, you know, the parents’ collaboration. And so there’s like shoutouts in it that are like Street Fighter. And their shoutouts and at that are a lot of two-player games like 3d tank games, like on old school and television. So there are a lot of references to 2d games. And it’s funny because it uses the medium of 2d games to teach, like, the collaboration between two people.

Michael Schofield
That’s fascinating. I didn’t realize what the story was behind it. I’d seen the gameplay a little bit and some of the mechanics, but it hasn’t appealed to me. But that sounds like it’s suddenly like up my alley. Do you find that? Like, if part of the under-theme teaches you how to love or fall in love? Or how to collaborate? Do you feel a sense of, I don’t know, attachment with your co-op buddy?

Tim Broadwater
Yeah, so I couldn’t. I got it in the mail. And it’s just like you have a second player who needs to log in, you can’t play, and I was angry because I was like, what I want to play the game. And so they have this cool thing that you only one player has to buy the game. And you can let the other player pay play remotely. So I’m on PlayStation. And so I played with my nephew. And there are instances in the game where you have to do everything together. Everything requires collaboration, every boss battle, getting through every board, you’re holding a switch while you’re waiting for someone else to run up somewhere to click on something so you can then proceed.

There are points where someone’s piloting while another person is gunning. It is all collaborative. And there are points definitely where you know, you can get frustrated, and you’re like yelling at the other player or like, what are you doing Get over here. But then you realize it’s one of these things too, where I think it made me look at myself more to say like you need to chill out, and you need to, you know, you need to calm down. Because, you know, this requires two people to collaborate and work together and to do that you can’t be frustrated or angry at another person, you have to also, you know, kind of work together. And then you kind of get to this point where you look forward to working, it started well, it’s difficult, but then it becomes, oh, it’s a little, we’re getting the, we’re getting in the rhythm of it. And then it becomes enjoyable, like working together. And so you actually it does, my player experience was like, I haven’t, I don’t play a lot of two-player games. And I think that’s, you know, it’s usually one of those things where I think people play either online games, or they’re solo all the time. And so, in a lot of online games, you just randomly are paired, or you pick up people or you whatever, but it kind of threw me back to middle school when I was, you know, kind of on my friend’s couch, and we were playing games together, and we had to work together. And I kind of missed that in games. And this made me feel that again,

Michael Schofield
I don’t tend to play with people; I play with strangers. And, and yeah, by I do play a lot of multiplayer, man. And so like, some of the like, the best multiplayer experiences are, you know, really good cooperative ones. What’s funny is that you know, like, early on, in season one, we had an episode about, I think we had an episode or a good chunk of an episode about the role of collaborative games. I think we focus much of that on board games and whatever. But I, I believe that deep in that kind of, like, fertile soil that we planted, we’re speculating that, you know, this kind of collaborative enforced collaborative games, the software, hey, you know, to even play the game of the year, you must have a buddy. I think we speculated that the that was going to be increasingly present and like the coming years of gaming, right, you know, because we sort of, maybe we’ve maxed out on what we can do in terms of graphic fidelity or, or whatever Close. And now the ability through another network and, you know, creative game design to really tell collaborative stories more than just like two people on a squad shooting the same targets as exponentially better, like year after year over year. So I think it’s really cool that this is the game that won Game of the Year,

Tim Broadwater
When my nephew, who plays a lot of games, said, You know, I now know why this one game of the year like it’s a really good story. It’s the story that puts it above everything else. I think that’s Hazel light studios. Who made like, It Takes Two and then the game before that is a way out. I also played the only other exposure I had to the Game of the Year. You know, I thought like I was I you know, you have a lot of predictions you think is gonna win a lot of people thought Resident Evil village Rush was gonna take Yeah, and they took a lot of awards, but then I also played Metroid Dredd with one action game of the year. Yeah. And I know why it’s amazing. It’s a really good action game. So

Michael Schofield
I was more kinda like, interested in some of these categories that I’m sure have existed before. But you know, in the spirit of, you know, the UX Honeycomb, right where the player experience or the user experience is a cumulative of some tangibles and some other tangible intangibles, you know, so instead of like a genre-based game of the year, like action, or best roleplay, there’s one that I kind of like, in terms of like best community support and best ongoing games run backed, in that games for impact, innovation, and accessibility. It is coming to show, I think, how, you know, these kinds of, like, I guess, as games become more games of games as a service, as opposed to, you know, ship it and ditch it kind of banger that comes out with maybe a couple of patches, that you know, the qualities of what makes a game desirable are not too dissimilar from the qualities that make, you know, like web services, desirable that being that there’s a human on the other side to help you out. And then it’s designed for you to use in a variety of contexts. And all of those things are starting to get a lot of recognition and show up like nominees. I don’t know that people care about these categories more than Best Action Game.

Tim Broadwater
But the only one that people remember is, which is kind of a double-edged sword right because of the six games that I think were nominated for Game of the Year. I only played two of them. There are a lot of games out there. I have heard good things about Death Loop and Psychonauts and Ratchet and Clank and Resident Evil village. I played the demo of Resident Evil village. I never played the game, but at least it was freedom. You know, I played it. But the other thing is, is like I’m kind of which, you know, you don’t? If a game could win, like 20 awards, but not get nominated for the year. Does that make it a bad game? Right, not the best game. Right. I think an example of that is Horizon: Zero Dawn, you know, it never won Game of the Year, like in the proper GOTY category that we’re thinking but in one other words, and it won a lot of awards.

What have you been playing game-wise since November 7, the last time that we had an episode

Michael Schofield
Isn’t that crazy? So I beat it just because we ended on November 7. I did be the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition on Insanity. Like I beat it.

Tim Broadwater
I can’t even believe that. That’s nuts.

Michael Schofield
It was insane. I can’t argue that it was worth it, to be honest. But it was a joy sort of to go through. Again. I mean, my whole catalyst or my whole rationale for running through this was purely because I played each game so many times. That I don’t know, I need to light a match under my skin to fill it feel alive. But since then, I had I bought a gaming PC. And so the games I’ve been playing my gosh, man, like so I’ve been playing, I’ll just tell you to like almost straight up. I’ve played a couple of others that I’m excited to talk about. But I’ve been neck-deep in Hell Let Loose, which is a relatively faithful, hyper tactical World War Two shooter with, I think, either 64 or 100 players, servers, but big teams. And you know, you’re replaying many of the battles of the European front. But what’s special about hell that loose, which maybe feels particularly sweet because of how burned I personally was with Battlefield 2042. And stuff like that is that there’s no handholding, there’s no HUD, there’s barely a tutorial, you cannot succeed as a lone wolf, maybe this is that spirit of collaborative games, you have to work together with your squad. Well, your squad has to work together with other squads. Well, your experience is not only one of loss, but it just sucks. You will get pummeled if you guys aren’t working as a team. And it’s fascinating to kind of like play with these hardcore mechanics. There are a lot of different rules that I really like the fact that it forces you to get along to even moderately enjoy yourself because the penalty of not collaborating is that you’re stuck in your spawn, and you’ll never get out, and the game is over. And man, it hasn’t been some of the most like cinematic epic experiences. Because the way you have to win the game is you know like your squad leader will be like, alright, fire teams, fire team, Charlie. It’s like we’re gonna go around these hedges. You know, you the machine gunner, you know, point up here and keep the doc at least 30 paces back, you know, stuff like that. And the effect is that you are roleplaying soldier, right? So so on top of like the high fidelity, the sound design, the gameplay mechanics, all of which are amazing, both of the different mini-games between being a leader, squad leader, or a commander versus the, I guess the core game of being an individual first-person shooter all coupled in together with having to pretend to be like the doc and you know, you have to yell medic to get someone’s attention. You know, so you have to have a mic. It makes for pretty sweet Pretend time, you know, really special events? I think so. So yeah, so the same thing you have to learn to work together. And the people who don’t work well together are immediately ostracized.

Tim Broadwater
Nice. That’s cool. There’s I know you tend to skew towards I don’t know what I would call it army Armed Forces soldier, like it, can be like a knight or like you just really like period-piece, like war combat games.

Michael Schofield
That’s an interesting umbrella. You’re right. I do because it doesn’t have to be World War Two or World War One. But, or knights, but it has to be in a period. Right? That’s relatively like faithful.

Tim Broadwater
I always have some ongoing games, but I mean, I guess since our episode, I tried a couple of board games. Barbearians, which is B-E-A-R, barBEARS. I finally got to play Fury of Dracula. And he did such a great game really good. It took me forever to finally get some people to play it. But it was a really great experience.

Michael Schofield
Yeah, yeah. Like what, um, as you know, I’m a fan. So I’m really kind of curious in the same way that I was curious to pick your brain about Mass Effects. Like what? Like, what about, I don’t know what design choices were really good about Fury of Dracula?

Tim Broadwater
Well, I say this, that there are some parts of the game that didn’t age very well. And the majority of which of those are in instruction manuals. And so when you play like a lot of games that have come out in the last three or four years, you know, the kind of onboarding upskilling, understanding the game tutorials, but then also the quick primer that you look to for like, hey, what does this mean? That’s kind of dated and Fury of Dracula. However, that is the most nitpicky thing I can say because the game is amazing. Like, truly the game is. You know, we had three people controlling the vampire hunters. We lost. Dracula won. All right. We found him twice and were on his trail. But there are so many vampire traps. And how we can put move mists over cities. So it’s kind of like a, you’re trying to coordinate to like tracking down someone and finding evidence of, you know, kind of is where across Europe, Dracula’s going. And so it was really interesting just trying to. I’m going to go take the sea routes. I’m going to cover Spain, you try to go to the car page. Like you go to Russia. Someone goes up to Norway, you know what I mean? You’re just trying to find any clue. Right? And then when you find it, you’re all in like, oh, like coordinating and triangulating position. So it’s a lot of fun. And I know that now that I’ve played it, I could play it, and it would not take as long as it did. But really good game. I’m glad it’s in my collection. I also got to play Rock, Paper, Wizards, which is very fun. Quick game. I had it for years but just haven’t played it. And I would say video game-wise, you know, apart from It Takes Two and Metroid Dredd. The biggest accomplishment that I can speak to is I beat Cuphead.

Michael Schofield
That was such an event, but it baffles me that that was after the last episode we shot because I was like, Oh my God, you’re like that because he took years, right?

Tim Broadwater
Yeah, it took a long, long time to be Cuphead, and it is one of those games that you just have to get right. Yeah, you know, I got it in 2017, and I beat it in 2021. You just slowly work on it, chisel at it, work on it chisel at it. And then finally I got to the end. And the last bosses. Before you fight the devil. You have to fight to the dice, man. He runs the casino. And I could never get past the casino. It’s just difficult. So you know, that’s was the biggest, you know, kind of challenge, and I kept coming back and coming back to it. And then finally I was like, I’m beating it this weekend. No matter what. I’m just gonna play it nonstop. And I did. I had to play it nonstop for two days, pretty much straight to be a bit.

Michael Schofield
crazy. But the high felt afterward must have been insane.

Tim Broadwater
Yeah, and it has DLC coming out soon. And so, like the Game of the Year awards, they announced you know Cuphead has the DLC delicious last course takes place on DLC Island. There’s a new character, Chalice, and then new powers. And if you haven’t played Cuphead, I mean, I think everyone knows about Cuphead. But I mean, it is so beautifully drawn that it’s like this classic 40s cartoon or 50s cartoon, right? Yeah, that is really good, you know, and to the point of even putting, like the dust or the hair that you would see on the film of a movie. I mean, they have that on everything. Everything’s dated. Everything’s well done. And then it also just launched a Netflix show. It has a Netflix animated series that came out too. So I think there’s probably gonna be more in the future for Cuphead. I think apart from the DLC in the show, I think they’re probably going to ramp up for, like, another game, you know?

Michael Schofield
Oh, 100% Yeah.

Tim Broadwater
It is right now. A couple of weeks before the first episode is coming out. The Winter Olympics just ended. And I think there are some big news items that have happened kind of in gaming, right? Stuff about Microsoft and Sony

Michael Schofield
a time that this is one of those things where I regret that we took a hiatus. I’m glad we did, you know, it’s the right decision for humans who need time off of stuff. I’m talking specifically about Microsoft acquiring Activision as one of the really meaty news items. Microsoft announced that they were buying Activision Blizzard for something like $70 billion. And what that does, (Tim: oh, my God, that’s a lot of money) and what that effectively does, with this quick caveat to remind you that not long ago, they bought Bethesda. They now own all of the Activision properties, including the highest-selling franchise in the world, Call of Duty, including World of Warcraft, etc., including,

Tim Broadwater
like, Heroes of the Storm, all of the stuff that Blizzard did, right. Yeah, exactly. So I mean,

Michael Schofield
it’s I’m being a little hyperbolic, but the argument is that they have eradicated all of the competition. And so you know, any kind of like, innovation that improves emerges from Creative friction is like out the door. The questions are twofold. Like, is this good for gamers? Question mark? Is this good for the industry? Question mark. And then there’s like some subdivided questions. Is this legal? You know, what does this mean for Microsoft, etc.? I think for consumers, this is pretty great, at least in the short term. And it’s a fascinating call. Because of what it does, it changes the emphasis on gaming. Microsoft is no longer, I mean, maybe this has always been true. But when you think of Microsoft, and you pretend that they don’t do other things other than Xbox, you think of the hardware, running third-party games, right? For the most part, Sony has the exclusives,

Tim Broadwater
I think of office 365. And then all the contracts with every hospital, bank, and school, you know, that literally has all of its all Microsoft, right? I don’t really even think of the gaming side of it. So,

Michael Schofield
exactly. I think Xbox is a loss leader. Definitely. But I think what I don’t know like the Xbox is a vehicle for like Game Pass and IP delivery. But what makes that interesting to me is again, I think you’re gonna see like, like Microsoft has an option to cut Call of Duty off of the Sony ecosystem entirely, for instance, or they can maintain it and move Microsoft software presence into the Sony ecosystem through Game Pass. You know, everyone’s talking about this as like a one-two punch to Sony. My hot take is that Sony isn’t divan on Microsoft’s radar, because when you consider especially that Microsoft has so much more than Xbox. And what I think what just happened is if you think about Microsoft as like a product engineering service, a service for engineers, a service for products and business and hospitals and like everything you just mentioned, they are producing a platform called Azure or I don’t know really how to pronounce the AZ u r. E. Azure. Yeah, Azure, which is cloud computing, a competitor to Amazon Web Services, and AWS is Amazon’s, you know, like dollar sign that’s how Amazon makes money. That’s how Amazon exerts control over the internet because so much of the internet relies on AWS. Think about what Microsoft just did. They just look, the biggest bandwidth hogs on the planet, like all of the games that are consistently online, have the biggest market share, have the biggest funding, probably take up the biggest server space, and they just took that business away from AWS. And they put it on, Azure. I think what this is, is their target is Amazon. Yeah, like it has anything to do with Sony.

Tim Broadwater
I didn’t even think about it. Yeah, I didn’t even think about it that way. You know, I know that I can be on my PlayStation or on my PC or whatever. And if a game requires me to log in with a blizzard Game Pass, or an Xbox Game Pass, or whatever, I don’t care. I mean, if I want to play the game, I’ll play the game. So I think like the end player, unless they’re really not wanting to get into an ecosystem, they don’t really care because I can. I’ve done it before on my PlayStation, where I can’t remember what it was; I needed something of a game pass or a certain type of game. And it is just like, let me create it super quick, like on my PlayStation through the click of a button, and then adding my email address. And I’m like, okay, great. Now I can proceed. So behind the, you know, behind the game, or behind the scenes, so to speak, like when you’re looking at what happens behind the scenes and like a service blueprint. I don’t think users really or players really care.

Michael Schofield
I agree. I mean, I think they benefit. They get way more games. They get in their favor. IP now has the bottomless budget of Microsoft.

Tim Broadwater
That’s interesting. Yeah, there’s some I just know. Steam has been around for so long on PC that its presence is something, and it’s very connected with discord and Twitch, you know, but I, Xbox, doesn’t even register to me for PCs. But I mean, that may change very soon, especially if there are exclusive titles that they now have control of it, right.

Michael Schofield
I mean, think about this, like so I have, I’m new to PC gaming. So I don’t really have a ton of biases built yet. So I have steam, and I like it. I bought the last couple of games on there. But I downloaded, but I had already because I was part of the Microsoft ecosystem and remain part of the Xbox AQ systems and Xbox One like I have an OG gamer tag, where I already owned Dead by Daylight there on that console, or on that account. So I read downloaded it through Game Pass on my PC. So that I could you know, and I plan to cross-play from there. But it’s just part of the ecosystem’s stickiness. The other thing you can think of like in terms of like a service blueprint, right? It’s like if you think about the journey of the gamer, where it begins from turning on a machine connected to an internet, plugging in some software getting online that Microsoft owns that entire horizontal like every touchpoint along the gamers journey is now owned by Microsoft, and I think that is huge to do with games right as to do with holding the path.

Tim Broadwater
What are your predictions for this year? What are your thoughts about coming up this year? For me? I have some very strong feelings about Nintendo this year because Nintendo will be the year of threes.

Michael Schofield
What is the year of threes?

Tim Broadwater
One of the most fun games to play online for Nintendo is split tans. It is like a MOBA that is super fun. It’s addictive. And it’s fast pace. So you know this here, Splatoon three is gonna drop. If you’ve never played Splatoon, it’s one of the most enjoyable fun games you’ll ever play. Yes. Yeah. And then also this year is they Nintendo has announced Xenoblade Chronicles 3. So Xenoblade is pretty big. It’s a pretty big, open-world RPG that has its own kind of mythos and its own kind of history to it. And there if you’ve ever played any of the Xeno games, you know, gears, you know blades in the blade Chronicles. I mean, so that sequel drops this year three. But then, in addition to that, Bayonetta 3 drops this year. And so, all three of those games are Nintendo exclusives. And so, Nintendo, how I like to describe it to people is like maybe you are not a Mario person. Maybe you’re not a Zelda person, maybe whatever. But Nintendo Switch with the price of its car So, and the pool or the draw of the exclusive platform games that they get is enough to make a player buy a game for a game, right? Like Animal Crossing will make people buy a switch, and then, you know, Zelda will make people buy a switch. I don’t know, I’m sorry, I’m not a Mario. But I mean, there are some people who love Mario. But this year, Splatoon three, Xenoblade 3, and Bayonetta Three are, are all dropping. And so this year, I don’t know much about what’s forthcoming for other, you know, kind of platforms because I tend to think of other games that are like, Oh, is this going to be on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation? Okay, you know, or is this title going to be on? Just, you know, I don’t really think of exclusives so much with consoles. Now, I know there’s some, like, Last of Us, it’s exclusive for PlayStation, right? And I know there are exclusives for everything, but I just it’s gonna be I’m, I’m just saying, keep your eyes on Nintendo this year, because when I say the year three, they have three, three, part three sequels dropping, that are going to all three be amazing. So I also think there are some really sweet MOBAs that are coming out that are cross-platform. So if you’ve not seen like, you know, Star Wars hunters more, or vampire, blood hunt. I mean, those are all forthcoming. Those are going to be really fun MOBA games. And so you know, if you’re a MOBA person and I will try every MOBA like I’ll try Friday the 13th, I’ll try predator hunting grounds. I’ll try Dead by Daylight. Yeah, I’ll try everything a little bit. Because they’re, they’re fun games. And I’m definitely going to check out both of those two games.

Michael Schofield
You know, there’s some IP that I’m anxious to check out, you know, I am nebulously excited for the Vampire games because there’s another one called Swansong that’s coming out as well. And you know, there are things like that I’ve already played, you know, some there’s some like really good kind of like psychological thriller games that are sort of in the spirit of you know, gone home or whatever like I just started playing Martha Is Dead. I think that’s going to be a big chunk of my year coming up, not that game specifically but that stuff, but I’m telling you I believe November Starfield, but as this new game is set to release, I don’t know that we know a whole lot about it, but I’m expecting Skyrim in space. And I think this is going to be huge, right? Because I don’t know why I suspect we’re gonna, I bet Game of the Year contenders at least in certain categories. I mean, you’re gonna have Elden Ring, which just came out, and you’re gonna have Starfield unless Starfield totally like shits the bed, and then everything else is kind of like up for grabs there.

Tim Broadwater
I will say one more thing about this year. That is on both of our radars is The Devil In Me with the fourth and final installment of season one, quote-unquote, of The Dark Pictures Anthology, whatever that means. There’s no date released, but it always seems to kind of drop around Halloween anyways. So that is when I’m very much looking forward to just because I know those games only have like a one playthrough appeal. But it’s still if you were a fan of the classic genre like a whodunit or what’s going on mystery peace. I mean, that’s definitely one to look towards this year as well.

Michael Schofield
I have a recommendation for you if you need a horror kick. So Martha Is Dead. Came out relatively recently, I think this month. It is a game. That is, it feels indie. It’s not the same as like, the dark pictures anthology, but it’s, you know, it’s a period psychological thriller, either. You know, like in the spirit of the dark pictures, you know, it’s like, either it’s ghosts or aliens are vampires. Or you’re insane. No, it’s one of those things that walk the boundaries. But Martha Is Dead is like the story of an I have twin girls sat in World War Two in Italy. I think it’s like 19. Oh gosh. 1944 Maybe 1945, And they’re twins and one of the sisters. Dies. And the other has to deal with the ramifications. She’s a young woman she’s like in our teenage she’s a teenager, you know, there’s pressure on the family. Her father is a German general. And there’s this like a fog of war of the actual literal war, like all around, plus does grief dealing with the death of a twin. And, you know, not to mention being in kind of like a spooky, like an old forest as a setting where this person’s imagination goes around. Or goes a little wonky? Maybe or maybe what she sees is real. But dang, dude, it is. It is a blast. I wouldn’t say it’s creepy.

Tim Broadwater
Because you know, when you’re, I will check it out. We got cool. Yeah, when

Michael Schofield
You’re dead inside like us. That’s not like really gonna like, shove you off here.

Tim Broadwater
Every UX professional’s dead inside.

Michael Schofield
is super good. And you get to take pictures with like these little old brownie cameras. And they do something cool with sound design that I think you’ll really like. But since Dark Pictures isn’t coming out until probably Halloween, right. I think this one kind of fills that void.

Tim Broadwater
One thing, my suggestion to you would be, which is something I’m playing now. Not sure if you’ve heard of it or know about it. I think you know about it, but it’s on every platform I believe is Hades. Yeah, I saw you raving about it. Yeah. So a couple people I work with suggested to me another UX professional actually did and said like, hey, it’s, you know, I don’t know if you like grindy games, but you should like, you should try Hades. And I’m like, Well, I like grindy games. He’s like, Well, the person I spoke to is like, well, I don’t. But if you if something’s so enjoyable, and it’s fun that it doesn’t feel like grinding, which kind of like moonlighters this way, as well is like Diablo-like the old Diablo games where you just you go into a dungeon, you try to get as much treasured, get as far as you can’t kill as much. And then you kind of can level up and be awesome. And so it makes it easier as you go. But it’s super fun, Hades as well. It’s won tons of awards, and it has voice acting and story awards. It’s really good. It’s actually. I’m surprised I picked it up based on a suggestion. And it was always kind of like somewhere buried in my game list. And then finally I got to it, and I’m like, wow, I should have picked this up much sooner because it kind of tickles that itch that is like the Diablo Moonlighter gauntlet kind of it looks.

Michael Schofield
it looks very Diablo-like; it looks like anime Diablo when I’m looking at the as a —

Tim Broadwater
Yeah, and you can think hours into it and not even think like you were grinding as much as you have. So, but definitely, a game to check out. And that, you know, I kind of keep going back. And I did this with Spider-Man I did it with Last of Us. And I did it with, you know, Ghosts of Tsushima and a bunch of different games It Takes Two I’m always kind of seeing like, Well, what do the people love and what gets really ranked, really well gets awards or gets Game of the Year each year. And there’s, you know, despite what people say, or the anger, if someone gets angry about their game didn’t win or not. The games that make it there to that final list are really good games, you know, they have a great player experience. And so Hades would be my recommendation to you. And you can play it on PC, Xbox, PlayStation switch all of it.

Michael Schofield
Maybe that’s the challenge for the rest of this season. Right? You know, like what, like if, you know if we kind of remove our biases from, and we look at, look at the qual data out there. What games might we not play normally but just get rave reviews? I wonder if that can direct how we spend some of our time because I got to tell you I’m really stuck in my like, you know, my genre hole, but I think.

Tim Broadwater
your your, your history warfare combat genre hole

Michael Schofield
Yeah. Like, I’ve got a specific taste for things right. But I don’t often stray too far from it, but probably to my detriment. You know, like so I think I’m gonna I’ll check out Hades because this I gotta tell you, it’s not a game that I would get normally.

Tim Broadwater
Well, it’s just a general game. That’s decent to fund, and your enjoyability will be it’s an enjoyable game, right? It is not like what we did last season where you challenged me to play a Mass Effect and play, and I’m glad I did because I never would have picked up the game, and it’s really good. I’m still brewing or percolating on what the game is that I’m going to challenge you with this year. Awesome. But when I do, I will hit you with the gauntlet, D’Artagnan. And he will have to; you have to try it out. There’s, there are so many good games, and I’m trying to really narrow the list to something that I think you would really enjoy. I have it down to about three or four, though. I will say that, so maybe here soon, in a future episode, I will issue the challenge.

Michael Schofield
Amazing. I can’t wait. I’m a little scared. I feel like you’re gonna hit me with like, some sort of like Metroid Vania that I’m just gonna want to like die playing, but there’s nothing you know, excellent. For reasons right by, I just feel like you’re gonna pull something like out of like, like the early like the late 90s or something.

Tim Broadwater
Like, it will be I know that you have an aversion to Metroidvania games. And so I’m considering that because I do factor in like, like, this January. So horrible. I just don’t want to play this. So some people are beyond sidescrolling. You know, and I get it, you know, because they’re just like, hey, I’m 3d games. We’re in a 3d world. Why are we going backward? You know, so, and there are legitimately people who feel that way, you know, so, and I get it. But I also, you know, kind of feel the same thing about 3d games, you know, you put go Tsushima right next to Horizon: Zero Dawn, would you put next to Mad Max, we keep the spider man. It’s like, okay, so how many times do we have a 3d open world where you go to waypoints on the map to get story development to and then you can do time trials or find, you know, kind of unlock and find all these hidden items to do the thing. I mean, that’s a mechanic just as a side scroller as a mechanic, and then having to return. You know, the thing about Metroidvania style games is that it’s a map, and you have to kind of constantly be looking at your Mac, in return back to places because as you advance and get new powers, or new abilities, or objects, you can do things that you couldn’t do before there. Yeah. And so, so that that kind of mechanic doesn’t appeal to people like to all types of gamers, but some people love that mechanic. And so games that are modern in that genre, which you think of like hollow Knight, or you think of Metroid dread, or you think of chasm or any other games that are kind of like that. You know, it’s so, but I will promise you, it will not be a side scroller, so I will, I will guarantee that.

Michael Schofield
Well, I don’t know if you’re feeling particularly brutal. I think the rules of the game are that I got to play. So. So I don’t know like I was gonna give you a little bit. Yeah, give me.

Tim Broadwater
Give you a hint. It’s gonna probably be an indie game. That’s what I’ve got it narrowed down to so it would be available on any platform.

Michael Schofield
That’s, I mean, that’s barely like,

Tim Broadwater
as much as you’ll get right now.

Michael Schofield
Alright, cool. That’s it. For this episode of Design Thinking Games, we need your help to grow in all sorts of directions that can happen by liking Harding and favoriting. This particular episode and your podcatcher of choice if you can leave a five-star review if they offer a review platform and something nice that goes a long way to helping train the algorithm and our favor. If you want to support us and help us pay for some of the overhead of coming to you consistently with such high quality. Join us over at patreon.com/Design Thinking Games, in which we have the most hilarious tears. For all price points. Look for Design Thinking Games on Twitter on tick-tock on Twitch and also on the internet that Design Thinking Games.com. We offer incredibly affordable advertising to small TTRPG creators or folks in the user experience design space who want to grow as we grow. Check out everything that we offer at Design Thinking Games.com/advertise. We’ll see you at the next stop. Game on do

Introductory Guy
thank you for listening to the Design Thinking Games podcast. You only have so much time, and it means a lot you shared it with us to connect with your hosts Michael or Tim visit Design Thinking Games on TikTok, twitch, and Twitter DMS are open. You can also check out Design Thinking Games.com, where you can request topics, ask questions or see what else is going on. Until next time, game on

Liked it? Take a second to support Design Thinking Games on Patreon!