Games That Add Value to Your Character’s Life

As you’re running through the woods you begin taking automatic gunfire. You hear the bullets whiz by you and see dirt kick up behind you. Bullets are flying everywhere.

What’s your reaction? Do you try to run at the person, sight up, and take a shot? If that’s the case, then maybe you’re playing a game that doesn’t value your character’s life. And those games are okay! I love Battlefield, but the consequences for dying in a Battlefield game are minimal. As such, it’s not uncommon for me to die A LOT in that game trying to rush a point or objective in order to take it. I know I can charge in – and if I die? No big deal!

But what really gives me a thrill in games are the ones that add meaningful value and emphasis to your life in the game. DayZ mod was the gold standard for adding meaning to your character’s life. When you die it mattered. The loot you had on you mattered. Maybe the vehicle you took out is lost, destroyed, or worse…stolen.

This to me adds so much weight and importance to decisions we make in a game. I love in a game when I start coming under fire and my immediate reaction is fear and the desire to get down or take cover. This brings in more realism and allows for a much intense situation.

DayZ mod was sort of like a pre-cursor to Battle Royale games. I love Battle Royale games, but it’s easy to say: “dang, I died…oh well time to queue up for the next game.”

Your life does matter in BR games, but the loot you lose is quickly replaced in the next round and there’s always “the next game.” In DayZ mod, that loot was more than likely lost. Unless of course your friends fought hard to try and save it for you and risked their lives in doing so.

All the hard work you put into finding that backpack, that sniper rifle, that assault rifle? Kiss it goodbye. And through that, it added significant value to your character’s life.

I’ll be the first person to admit that in a game where respawning is quick and easy I don’t pay almost any attention to dying with that character. If I rush in, kill a couple people, help capture the point, and then die in a blaze of glory – so be it. It means that any decisions I make has minimal consequences. And having consequences can be an important part to adding meaning to the choices you make in a game.

Not in DayZ mod though. Before going down to loot a city, I would perch up on a hill, a forest, or find some spot with cover on the outskirts to scope it out. Then after I made sure it was clear, I’d quickly rush in and loot. There was no wasted time because I wanted to avoid contact with the enemy when looting. And if I did come under fire, you better believe I wasn’t just going to rush in and die carelessly.

Nope! I was taking cover. Peeking shots. Having my friends lay down suppressing fire while I tried to get out of there. I love that feeling in a shooter: when the bullets start flying around me and it fills me with fear instead of indifference.

Hell Let Loose gives me that same feeling too. Respawning can be a big set back in Hell Let Loose. Often times you might be in for a good run back to where you died. More importantly, your loss could mean the difference between winning and losing a capture point, which is no easy task in Hell Let Loose.

When machine gun fire rips over head, and I start seeing the suppression mechanic in the game I get fearful for my character’s life. Because I know this life, and thus this respawn of my character, has value.

Adding value doesn’t necessarily have to mean just losing items. Maybe in a survival mode, “respawning” literally means having a new character. So all those skills you learned will be lost if you don’t make it out alive.

It’s something I feel that’s been missing from the horde of zombie or survival games as of late. Oh, I died? No big deal. I can just respawn and get it all back without much of an issue.

Mindless zombies that are generally easy to avoid, even if there are hordes of them, become terrifying knowing it could wipe out your character’s progress. One mistake. One error in judgment could be all it takes. It means that the person who plays smarter, not just the more skilled player, has an advantage as well.

And that adds value to other game mechanics as well! For example, if my life has value, then I better make a really well designed base. One that has multiple exits of escape. One that can hold off the hordes of zombies. Likewise, it makes those loot runs even more special. I better bring out my best gear to help me survive. I really should put a lot of effort in scouting and working with teammates to minimize risk. Maybe two of us will go in together to loot the town, and the other two teammates will provide sniper cover from the hill overlooking the town.

Just a simple act of making your character’s life important can make so many other things in the game that much more meaningful.

I’m not suggesting it necessarily be like a “hardcore mode” in Diablo either, where you could spend weeks and months building a character up to have it only lost. Instead, maybe losing your skill progression sets you back a few days. That can be enough to add value to your life.

Well, that’s it for this blog! Hope you enjoyed. Feel free to follow and message me on Twitter if you’d like to chat about this topic and more. Likewise, hit up my YouTube channel and Twitch channel to see more content. Thanks so much for reading, friend!

Earning Gamers’ Good Will Goes a Long Way

It’s become a bit of a joke today when EA releases a game. “Cash grab,” is a word you hear thrown around. Along with words like “anti-consumer,” “pay-to-win,” and many other unbecoming titles.


And yet, they may have turned a corner. Maybe? As Battlefield V released, the promise for the game is simple: all new “DLC” or game content will be free. The only form of revenue will be from the game sales and from in-game cosmetics that have no gameplay impact.

Though, similar thoughts were had before the Battlefront 2 debacle. No new paid expansions? Just some loot boxes? No big deal! Of course, that was until the loot boxes contained game defining ability enhancements.

The verdict is still out on EA and Battlefield V, but the purpose of this article is to showcase one important fact: earning a gamer’s good will is worth its weight in gold.

I think that message is being learned by EA pretty quickly: earning a bad reputation from gamers can hurt the profitability of your company. Sure, sometimes you won’t make as much money if you try to do right by gamers, but the long-term rewards are worth it.

I think earning the ill will of gamers typically comes in a lot of different ways, but here’s a few ways to “earn” it:

  • Paying full price for a game and then adding in-game content (such as a DLC) that puts people who don’t buy it at some kind of disadvantage
  • Having a free-to-play game that is almost impossible to progress in or is an immense grind in order to get people to pay money to reduce the grind to manageable levels (I call this: pay-to-suffer less)
  • Giving other players advantages by spending money (loot boxes with meaningful rewards, experience boosts, etc.)
  • Changing core mechanics of the game without community input
  • Adding excessive amounts of DLCs
  • Radically changing your payment model in a way that negatively impacts your previous players
  • Putting in mechanics simply for the sake of adding “length” to the game (aka, grindy mechanics)

Try to avoid these. I know, I know. Game development can be costly, but I think if gamers have proven anything it’s that we’re willing to spend money on games we love and are passionate about. People will buy cosmetics if you make them interesting and not impact gameplay (and the game is good).

People will spend money on DLCs or expansions if they are meaningful additions to the game. Don’t just add new unit packs or things that really don’t add meaning to the games. Instead, add new or interesting mechanics or content.

Just look at the companies out there that have earned a good reputation and gamers’ good will. Blizzard has been one of those companies for a while, and literally just about any games they make will be successful because of the reputation they’ve earned. Now, they have made a some missteps recently, but I truly believe that Blizzard could release just about any game right now and it would sell millions.


Or take a specific game as an example: Path of Exile. The game is entirely free-to-play with consistent content updates. The game possesses no true pay-to-win or pay-to-suffer less mechanics. You can upgrade your stash to hold more items, get more some more character slots, or buy cosmetic items. That’s it. All the updates, all the content, and the entire games is completely yours. And the game is wildly successful because of it (in addition to some fine gameplay as well).

More so, games that treat the gamer well makes me want to spend money on it! When I see a developer treat the gamer well, it earns my respect, and with my respect often comes a willingness to give some money for something I may not need (like cosmetics) for the sake of supporting the developer.

Treat your gamers well, developers and publishers! If you do right by them, they will reward you more times than not!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little ramble sessions as always. If you did, let me know about it on Twitter! Likewise, feel free to catch me live playing games on Twitch or check out my videos on YouTube! Thanks so much for reading, friend!

Inspiring New Games, Pt. 2: World War II Online

Welcome back to the series in which we take a look at older games with interesting mechanics (that I’d totally love to see in modern games). The idea behind this series is to pick and choose from some unsuspecting games that had really interesting or unique mechanics and speculate how they might be relevant to modern games

For this article, we’re looking at a game I put a fair bit of time into during my youth: World War II Online. First, let me start by saying: World War II Online has certainly had an interesting track record. Technically, the game was released in 2001 and still remains available to play to this day. Of course, the game is incredibly dated and has numerous issues if Steam reviews are to be believed – but the fact it still exists in some capacity is incredible.

For a quick breakdown, if you’re not familiar, WWII Online is sometimes considered one of the first true MMOFPS experiences. It allowed for thousands of players to fight on one massive map (Europe) during World War 2. It was a combined arms game with tanks, aircraft, and infantry. The game itself was always rough in terms of latency, desync issues, and it certainly wasn’t what you would call a polished experience.

Yet, the game had some incredible features that I would love to see replicated in games. One aspect I always loved about WWII OL was that the decisions you made in the game truly mattered. Unlike the traditional MMOs, where your decisions are often inconsequential (the quest you just completed will be completed by thousands of others). Do we attack this town? Do we risk losing these critical supplies? Those tanks and aircraft? Decisions, decisions – and those decisions had resounding impact on the course of the war.

In World War II Online, you could win or lose the war. In a traditional MMO, PvP is often boiled down to meaningless battlegrounds or world PvP where the outcome doesn’t mean anything to the grand scope of the game’s world.

It was epic when you were battling it out in the final cities in World War II Online. Pushed against the wall, the enemy was driving home a victory and eventual reset of the map. I love that there is a real consequence for the victories and defeats you suffered in WWII Online. I can’t tell you how many times where with good tactics and careful decision making we won a battle where we were out manned and out gunned.

Likewise, there were so many other decisions that mattered in WWII Online. In order to supply the front line with tanks and other equipment, factories had to “produce” these goods. One of the amazing things you could attempt to do in WWII Online was take a fleet of bombers all the way across Europe, bomb the factories, and reduce how much equipment, vehicles, or planes they produced.

It was an incredibly risky endeavor. Flying sometimes for hours, you would need to avoid fighters, flak, and more in order to hope you were good enough to hit the factories.

But man, if you pulled it off you KNEW you had made an impact for your side of the war. Less tanks, less equipment, and less planes would make it into the battle because of your skill and determination.

Another feature that really amazed me in World War II Online was the completely player-controlled command structure. Every decision was player controlled as it related to the war. Generals at the top decided what targets to attack. Through them, orders would be funneled down to the lowly grunts (me, when I played). It was pretty insane how much of the leadership structure was user-controlled.

As I continue to write these blogs, I realize just how much player choice in games make a difference to the enjoyment of the game (I wrote a bit about this in another blog post). And these choices don’t need to be narrative, either. The choices in this game, stemming from the command structure at the top, the ability to impact the world around you by the places you attack, and giving players the ability to “win” the game (even as an MMO) is so crucial.

I really hope games can be inspired by World War II Online. Giving players control and structure of their world is just an incredible feeling. Letting players feel like the decisions they make impact the world is just as important too. I hope games continue to add these types of features and moments. There’s nothing quite like having control over your own destiny in games.

Welp. I hope you liked this blog post and found some interesting ideas from it! I know I enjoyed writing it. Feel free to drop me a line (is that still a thing people say?) on Twitter if you’d like make a comment about it! Likewise, you can catch me live on Twitch or see my videos on YouTube. Hope you enjoyed!

The Rise and Fall of the MMO Genre (AKA I Miss You, MMOs)

I miss MMOs (massively multiplayer online games). Now, a lot of games claim the be MMOs these days — but they are pretenders I tell you! (This is the part of the blog where I feel like a crazy person screaming “THE END IS NEAR!”)

Games that sport 50, 60, or even a 100 players can’t contend with the true scope of an MMO. Even MMOs with instances still can give a grand feeling when we know we’re at least in a world with thousands of other players.

But what makes me miss MMOs, other than the large player base? Well, where do I begin…

Persistence is a huge factor in the appeal of an MMO. Building up a character from scratch, leveling them, gearing them, creating guilds, and becoming a legend in Player vs. Player Combat. Dang! I miss that feeling of being apart of something bigger than myself. In a game like Archeage, you gained wealth, created ships, and better housing as you progressed. It made it feel like you were putting down roots and that the world was changing around you (unfortunately, Archeage had it’s other fair share of issues).

Archeage was great…minus all the grinding.

I loved having many different roles/classes in an MMO, which created a reliance on each other to function well as a group. Oh you thought you could handle that dungeon without a healer, huh? Think again, pal! I loved having rely on that natural trinity in an MMO (tank, healer, damage). Throw in some extra flair with a bit of variety to each class and I’m sold! My favorite class was the scout in Dark Age of Camelot. Holding the line in our keep against the endless swarms of players while I rained down arrows? Loved it.

But where did MMOs all go wrong? Why has World of Warcraft been the only dominant and massively successful MMO in the past decade? Certainly others have found some level of success: Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Elder Scrolls Online, Lord of the Rings Online – just to name a few.

Yet, no MMO has really established a cult following like World of Warcraft. In fact, as of late, the genre has felt pretty dead. So why is that? Well for starters: MMOs are notoriously difficult to make. They cost heaps of money and typically take significantly longer to create than the traditional video game. Being able to sustain a 5+ year development process is almost impossible for most game developers. Even ones with big publishers behind them (they tend to get a bit impatient funneling in money with no return).

In addition, some of these pretender MMOs (that sounds a lot meaner than intended!) I mentioned earlier seemed to have taken root instead of a true MMO experience. Why make a massive game with thousands of players in mind when you can make a game designed for 60-100 players spread across individual servers (that the players often pay for themselves)? GG.

Creating an MMO now means going up against the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft. Your game will be compared to a game that has 10+ years of development under it’s belt. That’s hard to compete against. “Man this games end-game content is pretty lack luster.” That’s easy to say of course when World of Warcraft has had over a decade of game development to grow that end game content.

Mind you, World of Warcraft wasn’t always lush with content and things to do. Once upon a time it was basic, bland, and kind of boring. I know. I played in beta. That said, they added to it over time after their initial success.

It’s tough to compete with World of Warcraft.

It’s hard for an MMO to do that when you’re starting from square one. So what’s the solution? Heck if I know, as somebody who isn’t a game designer! But I’m happy to give my opinion and pretend its right:

First: I think any MMO should embrace the idea of backwards design. This is difficult. After all, you need to build a huge ladder to reach the end game in the first place. But if you design out the deep, engaging, and enriching end game experiences first you’ll ensure some method for competing with the big elephant in the room.

Second: BE ORIGINAL! Too many of us have experienced the traditional MMO gameplay. Yep, we’ve collected all those monster parts to make a pointless stew, we’ve grinded monsters for experience points, and we’ve spent repetitive hours in a watered down PvP experience. Stop trying to be World of Warcraft! Blow up the genre a bit! Redefine the experience. Trying to make me grind quests, levels, or whatever is just too generic these days. Put me in a conflict and a struggle for something bigger than myself or some stew you want made.

Third: Ditch the monthly subscription and pay-to-win tactics. We’ve seen time and time again that games that are friendly toward consumers will do remarkably well if the games are well received. Avoid pay-to-win, avoid “free to suffer, pay to suffer less” mentality a lot of MMOs and other free-to-play games encourage. And of course, you should never be able to buy an advantage in a competitive MMO experience. Monthly subscriptions on the other hands are just too much. $15 a month for a single game experience? Meanwhile I get the Humble Monthly for $12 and get 5-6+ games a month. It makes it a tough to convince someone to invest in the monthly subscription. Subscription overload is real too, so try not to add one more thing that we need to subscribe to. Or, try making the subscription a bit more reasonable.

Four: Power to the players. Okay, so, it’s neat having a curated experience in an MMO. However, what really drives interest (for me at least) are player controlled experiences. I love completely player-based economies – Star Wars Galaxies was amazing in this context as I discuss in my other article. EVE Online is another example. The more you let players control the experience, the more fun an experience can become.

Five: Rethink what it means to really be an MMORPG. I think when most people think of an MMO they think of of having more action bars than screen space, mundane quest dialogue they can’t skip fast enough, and generic experience points. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Why not reward players who possess higher skill, more knowledge, or game experience as opposed to just who has he most time on their hands to grind loot/experience/monsters? Reward players who can manage, organize, and direct their guild in an efficient manner. It doesn’t need to just be a fantasy RPG either. A modern day MMO is almost unheard of – but what an interesting setting it could be. Same with sci-fi to some extent.

As much as the game has fallen on hard times, ATLAS – the pseudo pirate MMO might be a model to consider. It is largely based off ARK: Survival Evolved in many ways. They developed ARK, and then they leveraged most of the technology and work in that game to make ATLAS. Now, there’s other issues surrounding this game, but it might be a viable way to create an MMO in this current game market.

I really love MMOs. I genuinely miss them. The idea of being apart of a huge, thriving world was just so much fun. It makes me sad that we now live in an era with micro-MMOs and MMOs that often fail due to scope or lack of funding. In the meantime, I’ll just keep crossing my fingers we’ll get a new MMO to blow up the genre!

So that’s all! Do you miss MMOs too? You should tell me about it on Twitter. Feel free to hop in my Discord to chat about it, and I’d love to see you all swing by my Twitch channel to watch me play video games live! Thanks for reading, friend!

What Video Games Can Learn From Dungeons & Dragons

DnD_Horiz_4c_8.pngA fireball streaks overhead – the heat almost seems to scorch you as it passes overhead and explodes with a deafening boom. The shock wave sends you reeling and you stagger to the ground. To your left, your friends are engaged in a melee with two large, blue skinned frost giants. To your right you see the trailing goblin armies that followed you up the Mountain of Gindoria. The gentle snowfall that had escorted you up the mountain is beginning to swirl into a powerful, blinding blizzard. You take a deep breath and hoist yourself up back onto your feet. What do you do?

It’s moments like this that endear Dungeons and Dragons to many of us. For those unfamiliar, Dungeons and Dragons is a roleplaying game designed around a comprehensive set of rules to help manage the various aspects of the game. While the game can be complicated with various spells, player states, and modifiers it can be simply boiled down into one phrase: what do you want to do?

It’s the beauty of Dungeons and Dragons. Similar to the real world, there are limitations to the things you can do (no, you can’t lift up a mountain and put it in your shoulder). You can’t kill everything you see without making some sort of roll. But again, what you do in Dungeons and Dragons is entirely up to you. Maybe in the scenario described above you cast a fireball spell at the top of the mountain to try and create an avalanche to overwhelm the goblin army below. Perhaps you find a clever way to convince the ogres to fight the goblin army. Maybe you just run. The options are more limited by imagination and creativity than game mechanics.


So here’s my pitch: video game designers – use Dungeon and Dragons as a template or inspiration. Okay, so I’m not a game designer, nor would I ever pretend to tell them how to do their jobs. However, as someone who loves video games and Dungeon & Dragons I can help but see the possibility of games inspired by the tabletop RPG.

That is to say: give the player tools, freedom, and choice that enables for more dynamic gameplay. I want to be clear though: I realize it’s almost impossible to simulate the “Here’s what I do…” type of mechanic in Dungeons in Dragons. That’s because in Dungeons and Dragons you have a Dungeon Master who can take liberties with the rules, who can interpret the rules, and who can explain just about any outcome based on the players’ creativity.

Clearly, video games can’t have that same level of interpretation, flexibility, and freedom in it’s game design as a Dungeon Master does. While games have improved thanks to procedural worlds, more choices, and more openness – there’s always a limit. But embracing these values or ideas in a game can make it far more enriching.

I think a great example of this is when game developers allow and support modding in their game – or at least make it easier to do so. Games that allow modding are giving more freedom, more interpretation, and more creative license to their players.

Here’s some other cool things, inspired by D&D, that’d I’d love to see more in more video games:

  • Don’t force players into a situation with binary choices (THE WORST: games force you to take an action, like who lives or dies between two party members). Give them real, non-binary choices.
  • Allow for choices in how users can undertake a mission. Allow for characters to talk their way out of a situation. Allow them to fight. Allow them to sneak.
  • Grant more creativity in combat. In D&D, I always love Dungeon Masters who encourage their players to be creative in the way they fight during a battle. Likewise, D&D does a pretty good job at rewarding tactical players.
  • Make your high level/end game character feel like a total bad @$$. Seriously. When you’re high level in D&D, you are a legend. People know you. People love you. Or people fear you. In addition, you are an absolute BEAST with all your hit points, abilities, and spells at higher levels. Yes, the enemies become more difficult too, but you still feel awesome.
  • In-game choices should have visible consequences. If you save a town, they should all recognize you. Maybe someone in the city gives you free stuff, a discount at their shop, or wants to hire you for another task because you’ve proven yourself. Cause and effect.
  • Consequences. A good Dungeon Master always makes sure there are consequences for your actions in D&D. Kill a bunch of guards? Expect to have a bounty on your head or be banned from the city. Consequence for your actions are instrumental in making a person feel like they’re a part of the world.
  • Let us create ourselves in the game. D&D puts very few limitations on your character choices beyond the basics. This allows people to truly see themselves in the game and lets anyone become the hero.

So, D&D is good. But there’s other great tabletop RPGs out there as well with wonderful mechanics and ideas too. It’s worth looking for inspiration from many of our tabletop friends.

Also, I really hope some of these blog posts don’t come across “holier than thou” or “game designers aren’t doing a good job!” That’s far from the truth. There’s an incredible amount of good games these days. For me, this is just a fun exercise in discussing the things I love or would love to see in video games.

That’s it though! I hope you enjoyed! If you’d like to see me play games live come check me out on Twitch. Also, feel free to drop me a response about this blog post or just say hi on Twitter!

Making Player Choices Matter

Picture this: your character is holding another character at gun point. The ‘X’ button is blinking on the screen. But you don’t want to shoot that character! Yeah, sure they’ve probably done something terrible, but you still don’t want to do it. Maybe they were your friend. Perhaps they even betrayed you — but it just feels wrong. So you wait, hoping another option will appear. But after a while either nothing happens, it shoots automatically for you, or the character turns the table on you and kills you. Game over. Try again.

I can’t tell you how frustrating that is in video games for me. I understand the developer may have a story they want to tell, but giving the illusion of choice is far worse than railroading us down a certain path. By no means am I saying every game should have dialogue choices or plot choices, but I do believe that when we allow players to make choices that have a meaningful impact it can completely change the feel of the game. It allows for video games to shine and show it’s true power: being an interactive medium.

I think most people can agree that in video games giving players a choice is a genuinely good thing to do. While there’s nothing wrong with playing a linear story, I have found that when given freedom and real choice it leads to a unique and engaging experiences – particularly when it comes to narrative-focused games.

Many of us recall seeing “Claire will remember that,” but did Claire really remember it? Did it impact their decisions further down the road? Not always. And many of the choices given to us in those style of games led to the illusion of choice, but any replay of the game could tell you many of the “choices” lead to the exact same outcomes.

I love getting to make an impact on the world around me in games. Playing Dragon Age makes me feel like a hero because of the choices I make and the feeling that I’m actually changing the course of history due to my choices and actions.

I mentioned this in my post discussing the game Freedom Fighters, and even though choices were limited in that game, the choices of which mission to undertake did make a difference on later missions.

Sometimes it’s just the subtle things in the world that makes your presence feel important, like in GTA when they talk about events you’re involved in on the radio. Or when you walk past NPCs in Dishonored and they speak of the person terrorizing them.

It’s important to make the player feel like their choices and decisions in the game are valued. Personally, I’d rather have a smaller world in which to play (looking at you open world games) if it means the world I’m in reflects the decisions and choices I make as a player.

And certainly this doesn’t apply to just narrative games either. Any decision can be made interesting under the right circumstances. Take Escape from Tarkov. Do I bring in my good loot to try and kill some enemies and risk losing it? Do I shoot and risk my position with the loot I have? All important decisions with meaningful consequences.

The choices I had to make in the recent closed betas of Hell Let Loose comes through frequently as another example in my mind. Should I place a garrison in a riskier spot that gives my team an advantage to getting to the next capture point quicker? Or do I play it safe? Should I rush out from cover in an effort to help my teammates being flanked? A game with fantastic design has players constantly making unique and interesting choices. And the best part about choices? You can always stop, reflect, and ask: is there anything I could have done better or differently next time?

Well that’s it for discussing player choices! What do you guys think? Is choice good? Is it too difficult to implement from a game design perspective? Tell me what ya think on Twitter. Likewise, if you want to see me live playing games check me out on Twitch. Hope you all enjoyed!

Progression: Good? Bad? Let’s Discuss.

So, as I touched upon a bit in my blog post discussing making sandbox/open world games more enjoyable, I was never typically inspired by games with no focus, missions, or storytelling elements. I like having a clear goal that I can and focus on.


With EA Games recent backlash as a result of loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2, one of the more meme worthy quotes to come out of that debacle was an EA rep saying progression led to a sense of “pride and accomplishment.” It was definitely a joke for sure, considering the pay-to-win loot box system that was incorporated into the game.

Nonetheless, that whole issue got me thinking about progression in games. While many games have had progression systems, whether they be RPG in nature, achievements, or story-based progression – there has been an increasing number of games to implement some form of a progression system.


I think Call of Duty: Modern Warfare really began to popularize this idea. While it certainly was not the first game to include progression, I think it’s wild popularity helped show that progression could be included in games beyond just RPGs. It put unlocks or gear behind certain levels. In order to reach it, you had to earn experience points (XP). Long story short, it gave a progression system to a game that would have normally just been: join match, play game, end match. This idea, while not new or brilliant, was intriguing.

Not long after EVERY game was putting in some sort of experience or progression system. The idea is pretty simple, I think: people like progressing toward things. People like having goals and things to gain some sort of prestige or recognition for their hard work.

Personally, and this might be my love of RPGs showing, but I’ve always loved games where by leveling up I would feel more powerful. This is where I think a lot of progression systems go wrong. Leveling up and getting new guns in Modern Warfare can make you more powerful, but your level of skill in a shooting game far out weighs getting a new gun or perk at a high level.

That’s where I can start to see people mocking EA for saying the purpose of progression is “pride and accomplishment” – except, oh, that pride and accomplishment comes out of a random loot box.

What I want from more games is a progression system that makes me feel like I’ve actually, well, progressed!


When I hit high levels in Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and I have amazing spells that cause untold amounts of destruction, I feel like I’ve progressed from my lowly fire spells.

Yes, the people I fight at higher levels might be harder to defeat, so it’s not necessarily “easier” to defeat my foes, but my higher level skills and abilities give me more options and variety.

When I start out with wooden tools and weapons in Minecraft, they break easily and are ineffective. By the end when I have diamond enchanted tools and life feels a whole lot easier in the game. I think that’s another part of progression as it relates to more open world/sandbox type games: movement around the world, building or gathering materials, or crafting should get better or easier.

I love games where you start out running around the world, but then you progress to get better and get vehicles or movement abilities that begin making travel easier.

So my point: make progression more about making the player stronger, cooler, and better. Make the player FEEL the sense of progress and let them EARN it. Don’t put progression behind loot boxes or items you need to purchase via micro transactions.

Sometimes it’s okay to give players a few overpowered abilities as they reach high levels because it makes them feel awesome having earned those skills.

Hey! That’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed listening to me ramble like an idiot for a bit. If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on video games, come on by my Twitch channel or YouTube channel. Lastly, feel free to say hello and chat me up about this article on Twitter.

Never Let Anyone Stop Your Hype

Hype. It’s kind of become a bit of running joke in video games these days, I feel. Hype used to be a good thing. It meant the prospect of a game you were generally looking forward to. But then something happened.

More specifically, I think early access games happened. Games were (and still are) popping up frequently in early access with big promises and a lot of hype. And many people end up disappointed. Deeply disappointed. I’m no different. Many games came and went that were woefully disappointing. Some of them even shut down or never reached full release.

I purchased a few of those games myself. In the interest of not wanting to call out any one developer in particular, I’ll leave those games unnamed.

That said, I wanted to address the issue of trying to “hate” or dampen peoples’ hype about a game. That is to say: don’t do it! Part of the enjoyment is getting excited, or hyped about a game and its release – whether it be early access or not. Let your friends get excited.

Likewise, we shouldn’t try to dismiss a game that’s trying to build hype by doing new and exciting things. While gamers should certainly be wise and cautious about games and their hype, I don’t think it’s fair to tell them not to hype their products. Yes, don’t make false claims about your game – this only leads to annoyance, disappointment, and justification for people that like to stamp out anyone having hype for a game.

That said – GET HYPED! I’ll give you an example of this right now: I’m absolutely hyped for the release of upcoming pirate massively multiplayer online game ATLAS. Based on the information available to us, it looks to encompass many of the things I’ve discussed in other blogs before that I want to see in games: deep governing/political mechanics, trade, economy, epic PvP, and a whole lot more.

ATLAS launches December 19th to Steam Early Access

Yet, as I browsed a lot of the discussion it seemed to turn to negative and people were getting upset about others getting excited (hyped). WHY!? I understand this game is extremely ambitious. Some might argue too ambitious considering it promises 40,000+ players in one server in a seamless experience. That’s not easy to do, considering it boasts action oriented combat and a massive world.

And don’t get me wrong, I want people to be cautious about ATLAS. I plan to watch streams and get feedback from people I know will already be buying it before I immediately hop in. The publisher of the game, Wildcard, didn’t have the best track record when it came to ARK as well. Having said all that: it’s okay to be hyped! Just take your time and wait to ensure everything is on the up and up.

ATLAS promises deep gameplay with boss fights, economy, and trading

Get excited. Get HYPED! And as tempting as it can be, try not to take away from people’s hype. You can tell your friends to be cautious, but let them be excited. In an era of games that can often be cookie cutter or “been there, done that” – I think we should be celebrating developers instead of chastising them for trying to get people excited for new or unique features in a game.

More so, we have more information at our finger tips to help reduce spending hard earned cash on games that get overhyped. Watch a streamer. Watch a YouTube video. Read video reviews. Look at critic reviews. Check out the Steam reviews.

Well – that’s all, friends! I hope you enjoyed this take on hype. If you’d like to experience the hype live and in person do feel free to drop by during my Twitch stream. Likewise, please come on by and message me on Twitter if you have any thoughts or comments on this article.

See you next time, friends!

Inspiring New Games, Pt. 1: Freedom Fighters

In this series, I wanted to look at some games that were perhaps underrated or overall not considered a classic game, but they offered an interesting game mechanic that might be a great addition to new games.

I love a lot of different games, but I especially love games that offer interesting game mechanics. Freedom Fighters – a game developed by IO Interactive and published by EA Games took a unique spin in a couple different facets.


For those not familiar, the game was a third person shooter that took place in an alternate timeline where the Soviet Union never collapsed. The game’s premise begins in New York where the Soviets begin a wide scale invasion of America. While this isn’t necessarily a new idea (Red Dawn, World in Conflict) it did give a different feel. You played as a couple of plumbers caught up in the fight and who take on the role of Freedom Fighter.

The aspect I loved about this game was the decisions you made in choosing your battle had actionable and noticeable consequences. While there have been plenty of games to implement “consequences,” often times it feels more like an illusion with no meaningful impact on the game.

Destroy a helicopter base of the Soviets? They lose air cover for another mission you undertake. Free some civilians? Some of them will join you in the fight.

That was the beauty of Freedom Fighters. Choices not only mattered, but they impacted the game in noticeably. You felt like the world was adjusting to the actions you took, which is a very powerful feeling when playing a game. It signifies that you’re not just playing a game; it means you’re IN the game.

Another aspect that I loved in a game like Freedom Fights that I’d love to see in other games is the sense of “building something.” I don’t mean build in the Minecraft sense either.

You started out as two plumbers who were in the middle of a drastic invasion of their country. From it though, you were able to recruit resistance members, build up an organization, and make an impact on the game world. And this was all done years ago in a relatively limited engine at the time.

I hope games like this continue to exist and evolve. I love the idea of starting out as underdogs and working to fighting against an overwhelming force through decisions that impact the world.

Well, that’s all! I hope you enjoyed this edition of All Talk All Game. Hope you enjoyed. If you’d like to see me hang out and play game on Twitch – come on by! Likewise, feel free to drop me a message anytime on Twitter.

See you next time, friends!

The Spookiest Games and the Horror Genre in Games

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of horror games or movies. Give me a wild roller coaster any day! Make me watch a horror movie though? I’ll pass on that.

Nonetheless, there’s been some games where the sense of horror really provided a great gameplay experience. Some of the games I found filled with horror weren’t really horror games by definition, but they just encapsulated a terrible experience or gave the feeling of horror or dread.


A great example of this is Fallout 3. There was something spooky about being trapped in a vault, escaping, and then ending up in this post-apocalypse world. Insert people worshiping bombs as gods, ghouls, and synths and it’s the stuff of nightmares! It’s the kind of vibe you get when thinking about what comes after the Terminator movies. Radioactive monsters. People who will do anything to survive. It’s terrifying from a perspective of the atmosphere.

Another game that really spooks me? FEAR. The original, specifically. While the game was designed with some horror elements, it definitely wasn’t what I’d think of as a traditional horror game (like Outlast). Yet, it’s environment and characters are so freaking creepy. It contains some really surprising jump scare moments. And, really, there’s nothing creepier than an evil looking little kid.

What other settings lead to a sense of creepiness or horror?

How about Far Cry 5? There’s nothing creepier than being involved with a cult. Especially a cult predicated on violence. I think one of the underrated elements of horror in games is just the sense of dread. The anticipation of knowing bad things are looming, even if they don’t happen all the time.


Another great example is the Dead Space games. The feeling of being trapped with all these little buggers is often more terrifying then the little suckers you fight.

Scarcity is another factor in creating a general feeling of fear within a confined setting. Take the Resident Evil games. While being stuck in a house with zombies isn’t exactly fun-filled, I think it’s the scarcity of the game which makes it even worse.

The idea that you need to eliminate these monsters, but you can’t because you lack the resources to do so is terrifying.

Sound is a HUGE component of this sense of horror in these games too. Sometimes it’s the sound of pure silence in a game that brings a feeling of fear. Other times it’s a creepy voice like from the little girls in Bioshock.

Whatever it is, even as a non-horror gamer or movie person I love those feelings when they’re used for atmosphere or game developers include interesting game mechanics to cause the fear, such as in Resident Evil.

That’s it for me. For those that celebrate it: enjoy your Halloween this evening, folks! Join me for less creepy times on my Twitch channel. Or, if you’d like, tell me what games creep you out on Twitter. Enjoy the candy and have yourself a great sugar filled Halloween! See you next time, friends!