022: Bloodhunt Battle Royale

After exiting the Roguelike-Like star system, our heroes stop by a neighboring planet to study the native battle royale games like PUBG, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Fall Guys, and Tetris 99.

Games discussed in this episode:

  • 00:43 Vampire the Masquerade Bloodhunt
  • 02:33 Fortnite
  • 05:18 Vampire the Masquerade
  • 07:20 PUBG
  • 10:43 Apex Legends
  • 11:52 Battlefield V
  • 14:03 Call of Duty
  • 14:12 Fall Guys
  • 19:32 Dead By Daylight
  • 20:56 Tetris 99
  • 25:34 Predator Hunting Grounds
  • 31:23 Hell Let Loose

Transcript

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 role-playing games, live-action games and video games. Play through the backlog on your podcatcher of choice and on the web at designthinkinggames.com.

Vampire: the Masquerade Bloodhunt

Tim Broadwater  

Did you download it? Vampire: the Masquerade Bloodhunt?

Michael Schofield  

No, but I did preorder it on Steam.

Tim Broadwater  

You don’t have to pay for it. It’s free to play.

Michael Schofield  

I bought a pack or something. I entered my credit card number for something, so I must have gotten like the I got the special. 

Tim Broadwater  

I played three or four games today.

Michael Schofield  

Oh my god, tell me, what do you think?

Tim Broadwater  

It is like Fortnite but on crack without the building but with vampires, and each character class is a clan. So like a Vanguard is like, a row is like a Brujah and like a Vanguard is like a Nosferatu or something. I’m totally butchering it, but it loads super quick. It is heavy action. And then, in the course of the game, you can literally – if you get killed by another vampire, you get one life, you come back. However, if you come back and you drink the blood of a human, it lets you come back another time. But anytime you drink the blood of a human, and I don’t know if this is in vampire mythology, but there is an organized government entity that hunts the vampires, and so they’re( the Inquisition). Yeah, yeah, kind of the Masquerade. And if you drain a human like you can come back to life again, but then they know it’s like reported, and then they will come after you like tactical dudes will come out you in addition to all the vampires that are gonna hunt you.

Michael Schofield  

Is everyone a player other than the tactical dudes?

Tim Broadwater  

Yeah, everyone is. You are logged into Prague. Whoever this entity is, that is like the Inquisition or whatever. They are burning down the city and smoking you out. And so that’s how the ring, like Fortnite, kind of keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Michael Schofield  

Yeah.

Tim Broadwater  

It forces you into the middle of Prague. And because they’re coming and so you are, there’s a story that leads into it, but it’s basically like all the clans are at war with one another, and we’re just like fucking each other up like it’s crazy. And so in addition to that, that’s when this Inquisition or whatever is like, you know, also hunting you, and so it is super fast-paced. It is amazing. You have sniper rifles and shotguns and axes and bats and like dual-wielding pistols. In addition to like, Dude, you can just climb and scale buildings and jump from building to building and suck the blood out to people and use powers to track people and transform and like hide and turn invisible. It’s cool, very cool. My first impressions of it are like this will be hotness people are going to love it. And I think a lot of people are playing it on Twitch right now. I noticed a couple of people that I followed the day it came out. They started twitching it, you know,

Michael Schofield  

I’m gonna have to check it out. It seems like what you’re describing is that it’s surprisingly in canon. So there’s even a narrative of Prague under siege, which I think is like an event elsewhere.

Tim Broadwater  

I’m interested to see, like once you get you spin it up and play it, I want you to send me a comment or tell me what you think about the story to see how canon is, but it feels pretty canon.

Michael Schofield  

You describe it as Fortnite. Is that only because of the battle royale, or is it cartoony?

Tim Broadwater  

No, not cartoony at all. The graphics, I thought, were impressive, but just the economy of the action and speed at which you play, and then it forces you like it shrinking the map and forcing you into the middle, which is not always the same place. It always it may shrink you to the left side or may shrink you to the bottom or may shrink you to like this church, just the chair.

Michael Schofield  

Can I ask have you played many Battle Royales

Tim Broadwater  

Probably not because I’ve tried Fortnite, and I was just like, yeah, yeah, this is never a big, you know, fan. I get the appeal, you know? Yeah, I never liked the thing, but I liked this. I just played like Five games, one right after another. It was good.

Michael Schofield  

Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, it’s. I’m curious for whatever reason, perhaps I had it in my mind because there’s yet another Vampire game coming out or recently released, and I’ve been awash in Vampire the Masquerade stuff. I ended up on vampire Tiktok, so I’m like neck-deep in this stuff again, and I’m enjoying it. I even ordered the vampire rule book because I just got as —

Tim Broadwater  

They had a couple of LARPs like Vampire LARPs at PAX East. I was curious for a minute by was piqued. I was like, Can I just go watch but I didn’t go so

Michael Schofield  

I suppose my first thought was that I’ve played many Battle Royales. I generally enjoy the genre to a point.

Tim Broadwater  

So for me, I don’t know what a battle royale is.\

Battle Royales as a Genre

Michael Schofield  

So Battle Royale is this I think it’s I think I would call it a genre or a category of game style wherein multiplayer imagine you have you know team-based collaborative you have Team Deathmatch if you’ve ever played you know, like one of the shooters Battle Royale is a Hunger Games style of play where potentially you and a couple like a small party like you and maybe two others against everyone else, the resources are things that you have to pick up they may be randomly generated resources or there maybe you know, specific locations that you have to find your way to get there. You insert differently every single time, and after about, you know, a couple of minutes or so, the effect of the ring of play begins to shrink, so you know. So Fortnite is kind of like a fascinating it may not be the originator, but the how this battle royale gameplay emerged into like the mainstream was through this game by I think of the studio, this is off the top of my head, blue origins and their game PUBG and it’s a “public battlegrounds” or something like that. 

Tim Broadwater  

Heard of it, but I’ve never played it.

Michael Schofield  

So the idea of PUBG is that you are it’s kind of a real-world a Fortnite is sort of like cartoony and of course, something like Fortnite has all these or has had all of these events with Marvel and stuff. The idea of PUBG was that you are parachuted in, I believe it was like an ARMA mod or a DayZ mod, but you are parachuted in there’s alike at the beginning of the match. You are all in this like this four engine plane, and it makes its way across the map, which is quite large multi-terrain, and you can parachute out anywhere you like your goal pick up some weapons pick up some armor kill each other be the last person standing all the while the area of play shrinks.

Tim Broadwater  

The shrinking area is not a thing that’s distinct or new with Fortnite then.

Michael Schofield  

Right, so what you’re describing to me is sort of like this, this battle royale now what is unique is maybe like how they play off so Fortnite – so anyway, PUBG did this got popular PUBG was notoriously had notorious bugs and UX problems to the point whereas you and I have discussed so many times before, as soon as someone comes in and does kind of like meets those basic expectations. It becomes a question. The differentiator becomes like the quality of the experience of the UX, so Fortnite wasn’t always this battle royale style game, but they created a battle royale, and they did it better. And then the Fortnite phenomenon happened, and before that, it pre-existed before it got popular because they had a regular like Team Deathmatch and different build modes. But this battle royale they ganked from PUBG just executed on it. Then you know, you see Battle Royale is kind of everywhere. Another popular one that’s currently popular still is Apex Legends.

Tim Broadwater  

 And I’ve heard of that as well, but I’ve never played a lot of games in this genre. This is kind of new to me.

Michael Schofield  

This is interesting because it is new to you. But this idea the shrinking stuff, the resource constraints, the speed right because worst-case scenario if you tried your Best not to encounter anybody and you just can’t, you still have to escape the ring which is going to drive you closer to other people and eventually you know the ring is gonna get Yeah. And and and yeah and so the way Battle Royales are unique is, you know, how they express these very basic mechanics. So apex, I think this is true for Fortnite. I gotta admit I’m not a Fortnite player because it was too cartoony. But Apex legends, you can have your party of three or up to a party or three pubs, or you can be in a party of four or one against 30 or whatever. The one that let me down because I like my tactical realism. So Battlefield 1, or Battlefield V, or whatever, one of the battlefields recently, I’m sort of written off this, this series Battlefield, they’ve burned me too many times. But they had one called. They had a mode called Firestorm. And that was the idea that was supposed to be kind of like a hyper-realistic first-person shooter, Battle Royale, and basically, you’re in a forest, and the forest is burning down around you, and those are the ruins, so this is interesting that you haven’t experienced this before. Oh, this is your first Battle Royale. 

Tim Broadwater  

It is my first battle royale that I’m like, Man, I’m gonna play the kid out of this. I mean, because it looks that fun beginning and then leveling up. Like when I level up a class, I don’t know if this is a battle royale thing, but there’s like a player experience level and then a character experience level. So you as a player have a ranking. But then when I level up my Toreador or my Brujah or my Nosferatu like they their powers become more potent, and you get more things to do and then, so what if I’d leveled up to like level three or four? Like it’s or maybe twice that’s when I played and then it was giving me all this stuff is like you now have visibility and this is unlocked, and so yeah, I don’t know. Well, I’m curious, like when you said that you played a bunch of battle royales, and this is like a genre you like, Sure. Like which ones like what? I’m not going to ask you to favorite because that’s like crappy, but I mean, if you played and played the most. 

Michael Schofield  

Well, the one I played the most was PUBG. I think Apex Legends is the smoothest of the ones I’ve played again; caveat: I know Fortnite is the most popular; it’s just too cartoony; I can’t get over it. I don’t want to play it, but Apex Legends of that caliber is the smoothest in terms of no bug-like expression of bugs or anything like that. But I have played the most of PUBG. I’m trying to think of like the others I’ve played; there are several Call of Duty has one. I’m not a big Call of Duty fan etc.

Tim Broadwater  

technically speaking is like, you know, Fall Guys, it’s free for everyone. Yeah. Is that classified as a battle royale? I mean, because you’re eliminating people as you go, and I don’t know, Yeah, it’s like it’s online if a battle royale is an online multiplayer, that’s a Last Man Standing kind of thing, you know, or survival at the pit when I mean fuck it there’s only ever one winner.

Michael Schofield  

Yeah, it’s even listed: Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout is a platform Battle Royale game, that’s it. That’s exactly what it is, man.

Tim Broadwater  

I love Fall Guys. I did not even know that it was a battle royale because it’s as fun as athletic competition.

Michael Schofield  

To compare so, it’s like you know to take the mountain top view, and you look down before you on your right you see fall guys on the left you see Vampire the Masquerade Bloodhunt compare them.

Tim Broadwater  

Yeah, so I guess I always thought and I the reason why I never and maybe this is true for other people because but you know, I always thought as a third person army tactical shooter whatever. And then I never you know Call of Duty, and I’m sure if Call of Duty probably is in this genre or some of the games of Call of Duty or maybe in this genre I don’t know but like Apex legends and then you know PUBG like you said or Battlefield or like I just stayed away from this genre because of the military tactical realism which is great for some people but just not my jam. But yeah, if you’re talking about the genre, this multiplayer video game is a survival or last man standing kind of thing. Like, I do like Fall Guys. I think fall Guy is fun. And then they keep coming out with seasons. Yeah. And so with seasons, there’s new content and new boards. Never played Fortnite a couple of times. But then yeah, there I think there will be seasoned to Vampire the Masquerade blood hunt, hunting. And I remember this about like, you know, Fortnite is that despite the cartooniness like what people loved about it is like you had total costume creation in it. Like, you could be a ninja turtle, or you could be John Wick, or you could be Sailor Moon, or you could be like a goth cheerleader. You could just build any, you know, kind of costume you want. And that’s this is my very limited exposure to the genre of Battle Royale games,

Michael Schofield  

What you’re describing, so even the character creation, like aspect is part of it. What, um, so yeah, the because I know that’s Rewinding to season one, that’s a big thing that you care about is customization customizability of your avatar. And that’s a thing so you can unlock different like, generally, like, I’m so you kind of stalled me when you said that, like, your character becomes more potent, which is, which is in line like basically, as your vampire levels up, you become more of a like a boss ass bitch. But in the like, generally, in like, PUBG, Call of Duty Warzone or fighting or Battlefield Firestorm, which, you know, I think was a failure, Fortnite and stuff. The character potency remains the same. But you know, your skins become cooler, and stuff like that. But what it seems like to me, I’m going to have to check this out, is that maybe like, if your character in Bloodhunt does increase in strength, or at least I like, unlock certain abilities. That rings true to me for something like Dead by Daylight, which I thought was cool. Because I played other. I don’t know what you call that style of game that Dead by Daylight is, but 

Tim Broadwater  

I think that is a MOBA. Like that. There’s no like the last person survived or like asynchronous horror,

Michael Schofield  

But you’re, but you level up your class, right? 

Tim Broadwater  

Yeah, you do unlock things as you go. Yeah. And then I will say, you know, yeah, Fall Guys, it’s all cost. It’s costume customization. You’re all the same. You all literally can just jump, slide and run. That’s it. What it appeared to be for Vampire the Masquerade Bloodhunt is that if they are putting together matches, or Battle Royale matches, and it’s like, oh, rounding to the closest level, like day by day like this as a MOBA. If you’re on level 1 through 12, and then, you know, that’s 50 players, and then after that, it’s like, okay, 13 through 20. Sure. I’m assuming those abilities that unlock are scaled. Do you know what I mean? So everyone’s going to get, you know, there, everyone’s going to get them. And so it won’t be fair, it won’t be unfair, because everyone at a similar level will be grouped anyway. Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. Yeah. And there’s another one that I found out. I just googled it too. And there’s another one that I play a lot. And you didn’t know it was? No, like Tetris. 99. Yeah.

Michael Schofield  

Yeah, no, I haven’t played it. But I see it on Twitch a lot.

Tim Broadwater  

Yeah, it’s free on Switch. It’s streamed all the time. Yeah. And it is literally like, you have 100 people that log in, and then you’re playing Tetris. And every single time you get a line score, multiple line score, it adds it like screws other players, and you’re just trying to screw the other players to kill them as fast as possible. And then, you know, there can only be one Tetris winner who’s, and it’s the person who survives the longest. Yeah, it’s

Michael Schofield  

like classic survival of the fittest, or I guess since you made the reference. It’s classic Highlander.

Tim Broadwater  

You’re right. That is totally it.

Michael Schofield  

I think there are two mechanics that I think are interesting about Battle Royales that impact their longevity. One is to your point like what is the again, I don’t have a phrase for this, but it’s not. It’s not how it levels; it’s like, What? What? What changes what brings you in like, it like when we’re talking about like, RPGs we’re talking about or like, or specifically something like World of Warcraft? For the division is like, what is like the end game content the point where after you level up, what changes about the event, what special circumstances are there that, like keep the keep you keep players returning in for so so PUBG. One of the reasons that PUBGI think failed and it’s still going on, maybe they fixed it. But one of the reasons that Fortnite was able to slip in under this is that PUBG was the same map was a single map, same gameplay for months and months and months, right, like nothing changed, no events. And what Fortnite did kind of expertly is they not only had like events, and it wasn’t just skin on the original map, like, Oh, now it’s nighttime, or whatever, but it’s like, it’s like, bam, here’s fucking Thanos like, he’s part of your game. And he’s going to snap his fingers, or he’s going to merc all of you bitches. And you know, and then, you know, I guess it’s kind of dovetailed with that. The thing that makes a battle royale stand out is its engineering. So because it’s interesting to watch like, as a product engineer or a product manager or UX person is that over time, you really can see the engineering of one of these games precisely based on how well and unique the events are. And of course, like, you know, whether or not there are any bugs or problems of balance throughout the game, PUBG failed on both and got eclipsed by all of these other games. But something like Fortnite does it pretty expertly. And like I said, you can appreciate the quality of that engineering of the game because their events are truly unique. Like, and, and bananas, they changed the entire tactics of the map. So the time and like what I’ll be curious to see about Bloodhunt is like, Well, right now, you know, Prague is on fire. That’s the theme. What’s the next one? Right? Yeah,

Tim Broadwater  

there could be, like, werewolves at it. That would be bad. 

Michael Schofield  

There are werewolves in World of Darkness. Right?

Tim Broadwater  

100%. So

Michael Schofield  

if a werewolf of flux on people up, though, like,

Tim Broadwater  

well, that’s the thing. So if it’s literally an agent of chaos, where there’s one, you know, that basically you can maybe stun it, but you can never kill it, you know? Then it’s like, Okay, we have to run away from it.

Tim Broadwater  

when you play Predator Hunting Grounds, that’s asynchronous horror like Dead by Daylight. You have four Marines and one predator or one killer in for survivors, right? Much like Friday the 13th with Jason versus the counselors, however, what I like about predator hunting grounds is that each of the type of marine you are, it’s like, this is a scout. No, this is a sniper. This is like the guy who’s the medic. They all had different kinds of abilities, right? Yeah. And so what I noticed about Vampire the Masquerade Bloodhunt is like the Nosferatu can hide, he can use stealth, he can blend in. However, we’re, you know, the Brujah is much more of a melee fighter. Okay, right. And like everyone can wield bats, and everyone can shoot guns, you know, but there’s also a type of vampire which I did not, I don’t remember the clan, but there was a tracking one. And so it’s kind of like your trek to were like, (was it Gangrel)? I don’t know. I wouldn’t know if you said this because I can’t remember. And I literally only played it a little bit. But that’s a vampire who literally senses vampires and then can track them. So what happens is, is essentially like, you can drain the blood of humans and just kind of get more life he’ll come back. Sure. But if you kill another vampire, you can diablerie them.

Michael Schofield  

They have diablerie in this game.

Tim Broadwater  

I think it gives you you do it. I got it done to me a couple of times. And so it’s cool. I want to get your thoughts on it, you know, but because it does have kind of it has classes that have different skills, but there are also levels, but it’s a level playing field. But I didn’t even get involved enough to see, like, costume customization, but I would assume that that’s like, you know, this is the first release, if it’s popular, and it seems to be because, as I know from PAX East, what makes a game dictates its popularity. And its success is how many people add it to their PlayStation or Steam wish list or whatever the other equivalent is for whatever platform interesting. So based on how many people have it on their wish list, then they’re like, oh, This is gonna be successful or not. And so I know many people have already been playing it and streaming it. So I assume there are costume pieces that you can make and customize. So not every Nosferatu or Gangrel has to look the same. I feel like there’s something player experience-wise, not just that tickles the one side of a coin, which is like, the fun enjoyment piece of like these quick 15 Second matches, you know what I mean? But then also the other side, which is the competition to see like, how can how long can you last? Like, how good are you? And like, none of the games are ever longer than like, what? 5 or 15 minutes, something like that. And so it’s really fun because you can just keep playing, you can get like four or five games in, you know, in a half-hour.

Michael Schofield  

Wow. I mean, yeah, because when you play like PUBG, you’re going to have a map that goes on for, you know, 30 minutes. And so, one of the things I think is true about a good battle royale is that you can, you know, the goal is to be the last person standing. And you do not have to do that through violence. Right. So, one of the Yeah, you can just hide, right? Well, you can, you can try to hide or gather resources, like, you know, and then sort of there’s, there’s an element of like, the luck of the draw, like one of my favorites, sessions. Like, like back before PUBG was getting shut on by everything before Fortnite, like showed what everyone would battle royale could be was basically I was playing to man servers, so duos, and, and we ended up being in my partner and I ended up being in the top 10. And at this point, the ring had narrowed down into the kind of like, like, the edge of like a village, right.

Like, so there’s a little bit of like, like open grasslands, and incorporated a couple of houses. And, the winner, like somebody, basically spent a good chunk of at least the last 10 minutes of the map or whatever. Luckily, in the right enough spot, like where they just were in one of these buildings, they held it down. What happens is like the reality is like the better equipped in, the better position person one so so yeah, like we just got mowed down because somebody had like, like, acquired, they had taken over a house that someone else had been camping in. So it had a ton of resources in there. They had all the armor they had like level three helmets, level three backpacks, level three bottle body armor, and they were poking their like big ass like a machine gun out of the window, you know, just mowing down, people were coming up, and then you end up just, you know, dying because they’re in a much better position than you. And like so. But the idea is that they could have one, and maybe they did kill only one person the entire time. The circle does narrow down. This is, you know, we’re talking about genre. 

Tim Broadwater  

To force you into a death field, and what have you first? Yeah. Okay.

Michael Schofield  

But you’re not new to it. You’ve never seen you participate in several, but you’ve just never liked connecting the dots. And now I guarantee that when you go in and watch Bloodhunt, or you know, so you end up playing another one, you will see this genre for what it is, and you’ll be like, oh, I now have a word for this. That’s cool. Because like, you know, it’s not often that you see as a new type of gameplay like something is like some kind of Team Deathmatch, even you know, my current game of choice right out of the evening is remaining Hell Let Loose. This team deathmatch, right, is squad-based. You know, you can put like some feathers on the cap to like to make it unique, but it’s not super often when you have like a new type of multiplayer game, right? And that’s something that’s like pretty cool. 

Tim Broadwater  

So we very much appreciate your listening. We’re a budding podcast, so if you could rate us or subscribe, we would appreciate it. We are on Twitch, Tiktok and Twitter, and please feel free to connect with us there. We also have super affordable advertising spaces as well as Patreon tiers. Apart from that, you can connect with us on designthinkinggames.com.

Michael Schofield  

And maybe you’ll find us in Bloodhunt. Bleah.

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 designthinkinggames.com, where you can request topics, ask questions or see what else is going on. Until next time, game on.

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