Understanding the adaptive Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is redefining gaming by adapting to the players environment. Unfortunately, it is widely misunderstood. It provides fun when used alone, with others, or with other Switch owners; in the living room, on the bus, at a desk. It an adaptive console, not a portable one. Any game that can be played like this is going to be a liberating experience, being optimised for how we live and can be played whenever we feel like.

So far, it seems the Nintendo Switch is widely misunderstood, even by game developers, reviewers and gamers alike. This is not surprising because Nintendo attempts to achieve something that no other gaming device has ever tried: gaming anywhere.

The moment everything fell in place for me was when I stopped thinking about Nintendo Switch as a portable console, but as an adaptive console.This explains why it does not become loads more powerful when docked, because that would favour playing on the TV over all the other ways. Nintendo has gone through amazing lengths to let you play together with other Switch owners even without a WiFi network, because it wants gaming everywhere.

A game that is not fun on the TV or playing with others on the same switch is limiting the switch experience and I think we will see a lot of games that are compromised in some way as game developers are getting to grips with the platforms adaptability.

The Switch is a careful balance between offline and online play, individual versus group play, and a study about where gaming can fit in our lives.

June 11, 2017 at 9:28 AM in Games

Alternative Football Manager

Jack Arnott writes for Eurogamer in the Football Manager 2016 review:

Anything beyond that, though, and, once again, I’m stumped. It won’t tell you whether you’ve lost because you were closing down too much, or too little. Or because your defensive line was too high, or too low. Would Prozone analysis have helped me tame those pesky Shrews? Not without a hireable in-game performance analyst. This is no panacea for those, like me, who crave some FM feedback.


Despite a couple of neat additions, Football Manager 2016 is an iterative release that’s sadly short on big new ideas.

None of this directly applies to this review or the quality of the game but is a bit more generalist rambling on my part — I feel SI is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
It’s difficult to make a game that is seen as holding realism above all other values and then see it being criticsed for lack of feedback.

Continue Reading »

November 16, 2015 at 3:14 PM in Games

My Hearthstone Strategy Tips

I’ve been playing Hearthstone, Blizzard’s card game battler, for a month or two now and am enjoying it very much.

Although by the very nature of a collectible card game people that pay money will have access to more cards, it’s currently very possible to win most matches without paying. My philosophy on free games is to pay the developer around as much money as I would have for the game if it was paid, but not more.

That said, if you are looking to play better here are some things I have discovered (I’m not involved in the HS community or read any strategy guides so my advice might be old hat):

Deck naming

I always change the name of my custom decks to the following format: X/Y [Approach of the deck]. X stands for the number of matches won, and Y for the numer of losses. After every couple of matches I rename the deck and update the stats. Example: 15/4 DrawHeal is my popular Priest deck.

Naming your deck this way allows you to keep tabs on if the approach works with the cards in the deck, if your deck is any good ‘in the field’, and it helps you remember your playstyle.

Refine one card at a time

You’re only as good as the hand you draw so before decimating your deck make sure you give it enough plays. One way I like to do this is to play a few matches and find any weaknesses in my deck, then swap one card for a better suited one.

This gives you valuable playing experience with the deck whilst incrementally making it better (hopefully). Should you take out 4 or 5 cards at a time then you might imbalance the deck in another way.

Spread of cards

Unless you have a specific approach you want to try out, try to have cards more or less evenly spread out across the mana spectrum (1-7).
This ensures you have the best chance of opportunities at every turn.
Nothing is more devastating to have a hand full of cards you cannot play.

Also make sure you have creature cards across the mana spectrum. As you don’t know in what order you’ll draw the cards, it is important that you can go on the defense or attack at any point in the game. Thus you need creatures across all mana levels.

Make a note of what is not working

Why did you lose? Did you end up with a lot of high mana cards in your hands that you couldn’t put into play? Or did you have a lot of low mana and high mana creatures but nothing in the middle ranges?
Perhaps you were unable to stop the rushing Hunter because you didn’t have enough area of effect spells (spells that affect all (enemy) creatures)? Or did the right cards not come up, maybe you should draw more cards? Sometimes you’re just unlucky.

Slowly adjusting your deck in this way makes it more flexible to deal with any situation that arises.

Understand the classes

Initially I had a lot of trouble playing the Paladin (even though in World of Warcraft this is my favourite class) because I didn’t understand how to play it. Look at the unique cards the classes have. In this case, my impression is that the paladin tries to preserve and grow their creatures, so using it in a deck with sturdy defensive creatures and then growing them can be a viable approach.

You can’t play any approach with any class. Although combining cards to allow a certain approach is a risky but fun experience.

Be courteous

A game is only as fun as its players. So be kind and say hello, and compliment a player on a impressive play.

Personally, I do not like to admit my mistakes during the match because the opponent might not know that I made a mistake.

I’m sure you have your own tips and hints so any feedback is welcome via twitter.

February 11, 2014 at 9:00 AM in Games

Windows 8 a catastrophe for Games?

Interesting article by Tom Phillips interviewing developers about Windows 8 and it’s closed Windows Store, with this gem of a quote from Introversions’ Chris Delay:

“I really don’t want to see the PC becoming a closed platform. Microsoft is not a company that’s able to benignly oversee that process. They will f*** it up. We’ll all be doing Kinect support and 16 language versions, we’ll all be supporting a Microsoft Office plug-in. It’s my own worst nightmare.

[…] “The PC continues to be as relevant as it was ten years ago, despite consoles coming and going, because it is an open platform. If that changed it would be terrible.”

It’s interesting times for the gaming industry, indeed.

November 8, 2012 at 2:05 PM in Games, Windows

Carbon Powershell support is here!

I have been working with Carbon over the last weeks and one thing I noticed was that having to navigate through the admin menu repeatedly was getting a bit long in the tooth. Sure, for the occasional admin task it’s useful to have the admin close to the site itself.

After adding deployment through powershell it became clear that switching between admin and commandline is not ideal either. So I decided to implement all administration throughu the powershell script.

With 0.2.3 you can add the following parameters to the script:

  • login: login to admin
  • draft: create draft
  • generate: generate static site
  • deploy: deploy to live
  • clear_cache: empty cache

The script will also tell you the correct syntax if you get it wrong. Happy carbonating!

November 6, 2012 at 3:10 PM in Carbon, Games

Silicon Knights: “used games are cannibalising the industry”

Silicon Knights boss Denis Dyack talks about used games effect on development budgets:

“I don’t think as an industry we can afford $300 million budgets. Some games can, don’t get me wrong – for a game like Call of Duty, if they had a $100 million budget, or whatever their budget is, they can afford it. That’s not the industry, that’s sort of a one-off.

Perhaps there is a point after which it makes little sense to spend more money as you simply cannot recoup it in the market. I’m guessing this limit is probably closer to $0 than $300 million.

source Gamesindustry International.

March 28, 2012 at 11:53 AM in Games

Project Cars

Sign up to WMD, the somewhat unfortunate acronym chosen for Slightly Mad’s World of Mass Development platform, and you’re granted access to regularly released builds of the game, which you’re then free to pick apart in the official forums. That feedback then gets absorbed by Slightly Mad Studios, a simple loop that means that, when the game is eventually released, it’ll be as much a product of the community as it is of the studio.

via Project Cars Preview • Eurogamer.net.

Looks like an interesting development strategy, made famous by Minecraft.

November 25, 2011 at 2:56 PM in Games

On Free to Play games

Many gamers now look at the listing of a game in the store, and if there is an inapp purchases link and they see 100 of x, 200 of x, 300 of x where x is energy, credits, bux, dollars, street cred, or whatever just skip the game – even though it might have interesting mechanics. Just be brave and proud and ask for a subscription instead of hoovering money out of my pockets. It’s a black mark on the state of gaming in my opinion.

It’s a clear indication that the game is not made to have the most fun with, but to make the most money out of you by artifical limiting the experience. Where a subscription allows the same steady income without affecting the game experience. Just say no.

The fact that f2p iap titles sell well just proves my argument that “the game is not made to have the most fun with, but to make the most money out of you by artifical limiting the experience”. I didn’t say these games are not financially successful, because they are.

If the free2play games are so much fun to play, you’d expect to see a lot of sequels in the charts to build on previous success. In the top grossing list (which favour inapp free2play titles) there are no f2p sequels as opposed to 2-4 paid sequels.

So it seems the only way to get people to play your f2p iap title is to make it appear like a new experience by reframing the theme, from restaurant to club to bakery – or from vampire to gangster to army.

Is this because people get jaded from the f2p model?

August 23, 2011 at 1:20 PM in Games