This week Seamus speaks to the team behind Fall Guys, the hotly anticipated ‘Battle Royale’ that is more Japanese game show than Fortnite. Lead Game Designer, Joe Walsh, and Senior Level Designer, Meg Ralph, join the show to talk about the concept behind the game, delivering a family game that can hold the attention of any player of any age, and designing levels for something as chaotic and weird as this looks.
Fall Guys hits Playstation and Steam on August 4 and you can get early access by hitting the game’s Discord to join their beta test crew.
New Hearthstone is ready for roll call as we head back in time again to the age of the Scholomance Academy! The time before the school became a hotbed of necrotic evil, it was instead a grand college of arcane sciences – with a still-very-human Kel’Thuzad in the headmaster’s chair!
As always, the Hearthstone team served up a hammy (in the best way) video to show us the ropes on the new expansion and its features.
Let’s take a look:
The two biggest new features in the set we’ve seen so far?
Spellburst: this triggers an effect the first time you cast a spell after playing the minion. There’s a Spellburst that puts the spell back in your hand, and another that deals two damage across the board, and no doubt there’ll be lots more.
Dual Class: There’s a bunch of new cards that are available across two classes, and each brings features notorious to certain classes across the divide. Think Mage / Rogue cards that delivers a Combo that Discovers a Mage spell or a Druid/Shaman spell that gives two Mana crystals now but Overloads them on your next turn. Every class overlaps with two other classes and there will be 40 dual class cards in total.
The dual class vibes also reach into Legendaries, with the example Scholomance professor Shan’do Wildclaw being a Druid/Hunter that offers a Choose One with Beastly synergies galore.
We’ll learn lots more over coming weeks ahead of the expansion launch in “early August”, with 135 cards to be revealed in all.
Starting with this week’s patch, everyone who logs in gets the new Transfer Student card (yes, you get two copies) which changes its effects based on the game board you find yourself playing on. It’s usable right away so throw it in your deck and see what surprises you’ll find.
As always, there’s a bunch of pre-order packs available too. The Mega Bundle will get you a Kel’Thuzad (the lich, not the human) Mage hero and cardback. It also must be said that the Scholomance Academy pack art might just be the coolest pack design ever, all purple-y and spellbook-y.
Thaine Lyman had 17 years at Activision under his belt working on major PC and console games like Call of Duty before he headed to Wargaming to work on World of Tanks. After a first stint in the PC team he headed to Minsk in Belarus to lead the mobile team on Blitz.
We talk about the new era of ‘real’ mobile games, how free to play models have changed, and the fights over creating fantasy tanks and skins in a game with a long pedigree of historical accuracy. It’s a really fun chat so dive in and enjoy!
Seamus talks to Run Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, about how the industry has been dealing with the pandemic, the highs and lows of the first half of the year, and the politics that holds back better support for the business of games in this country.
If you’re in the industry, or you want to be, or you just want to know what’s going on, Ron is the guy and this episode is a great update on everything that’s been happening and where things might go next.
This week I’m talking to Rich Lambert, Creative Director of Elder Scrolls Online. Rich has been working on the title since its inception, which makes it a 13 year journey working on the game. Keep in mind it was in development for seven years before its official release in 2014.
The game struggled for a while but it has carved out a unique patch in the MMO space after some big changes a few years back. We discuss this and other aspects of what defines Elder Scrolls Online and how the big story arcs like we find in the new Greymoor expansion help to keep its fans coming back again and again.
Greymoor is now available and while this latest expansion has a cost, you can dive in and try ESO for free and enjoy an awful lot of the game without ever being forced to pay.
I’m a long-time WoW nerd and I’ve spent some time in ESO lately and after some initial confusion found the different combat and deeper approach to storyline built into the quest lines to be a really refreshing angle. It’s always a good thing for there to be diversity in the MMO category.
This is a great wireless headset for gaming and at a great price point for the quality on offer. But Seamus can’t help wonder if every wireless solution is really solving the cable problem if it’s introducing a separate charging problem along the way.
And somehow he makes it about brushing his teeth too? Anyway, just listen, you’ll get it by the end…
Philip Mayes is the founder and CEO of Mighty Kingdom, an Adelaide games studio closing in on its tenth anniversary. The studio was named Studio of the Year at the 2019 Australian Game Developer Awards, with a super successful focus on developing games for big brand licenses including the likes of Disney, Lego and Conan. Their games reach tens of millions around the world and they’re one of the biggest studios in the country in terms of both head count and output.
This is another fantastic conversation, exploring Philip’s big desire to see more studios really extending themselves toward bigger ambitions, wanting to see more small-to-medium studios pursue bigger and bigger ideas to chase the dream of becoming big studios in their own right.
It’s really great hearing Phil talk with a clear mission to create a big and successful business in the games industry, and the desire to develop positive competition and look to lift all ships along the way.
This week I’m chatting to Dylan Miklashek from Gameloft’s offices in Brisbane. He’s the Studio Manager and has been with the company since it founded its Australian operation. This is a longer chat than usual, but Dylan was super insightful and really candid about both the studio and the wider industry so it was a chat that I was happy to just dig deeper and deeper into.
Dylan has a really interesting background that led him to arrive where he is today and he has strong opinions about the need for government schemes like tax incentives as part of building a thriving and globally competitive ecosystem. While he’s not from Australia originally, and perhaps because he’s not, he’s got some great thoughts on why this is such a great country to be a game developer in, but also looks at the difficulties of finding the right staff when running a development studio in Brisbane and we explore what’s needed to help train developers, to get more of them to the right tier of experience, and to spread the industry around the country and not just always talk about how great things are down in Melbourne.
It’s an honest mix of the difficulties and the opportunities in the scene today.
Last night my kids and I were just meant to play a little bit of Dungeons together on our Xbox One S. Just a quick run through a zone and then off to bed, alright kids?
Two hours later we had scoured every nook and cranny, found every secret door and every hidden chest in an area we probably could have cleared in 10-15 minutes if we’d just mainlined it. But with every step the game revealed itself to be a fabulous ‘Diablo for families’ experience that will get regular play for months and maybe years to come.
There’s so much to be said for elevating ‘kid friendly’ games toward the best game mechanics in the business. Nintendo certainly does it like no other, but the wider industry often thinks that you can’t make something for those under 12 and still include advanced game mechanics of any kind.
Minecraft has shunned this idea since its earliest days, of course. It is simple on the surface and quickly offers deep building and crafting systems to those looking for details.
Here with Minecraft Dungeons, Mojang Studios and Double Eleven have built a full fledged action RPG with a gorgeous Minecraft skin. Starting with simple characters, the levelling, the equipment drops, the enchanting system, they all work together to get you thinking and rethinking character builds in search of optimised carnage.
The game flows smoothly on Xbox One, and local multiplayer was a joy. There’s no fighting for loot here, which is a plus or a minus depending on your outlook. Every drop is reserved for specific players, and the emerald currency is evenly distributed each time it drops. I really wish there was loot trading system, though, as there was jealousy amongst the troops when someone else got a drop they didn’t need while someone else was desperately trying to target a tankier build to play up front while another was keen to be a ranged attack specialist.
The general vibe of drops through the first play through are very hit and miss. When you start buying random items from the village vendor and it says they’ll be ‘level appropriate’, people often find themselves receiving useless items well below the level of their current best items. It’s actually more of a disappointment for the younger players, who again would dearly love to be able to swap with each other to get the gear they want.
There’s a fun story to play through – indeed some might find themselves wishing there was a lot more story. But it’s a complaint based on how nicely the story elements have been put together. It would be great if they lasted longer. Instead, the game speeds you toward the adventure mode where you can start to level up the challenges and in the process find cooler items and tougher enemies to deal with. Yes, just like Diablo.
As much as those gripes about trading and overly randomised loot are very real, Minecraft Dungeons has given us a new environment that is familiar to Minecraft fans that takes them toward new styles of gameplay. This is a gateway game for the hardened young Minecraft fan to open their eyes to new styles of fun.
If Minecraft Dungeons as it stands right now is all we ever get, it’s a nice fun ride that will wear eventually feel a little tired, I’m sure. We are yet to head into its hardest levels of difficulty, but it is the discovery and customisation that attracts our merry band to play. Once items, enchants and artefacts become largely a known quantity it won’t be quite so fun.
But I can only imagine Mojang has expansions and updates in mind. And with that idea that this game is likely to be well supported into the future to keep it evolving and fresh, and potentially solving some of the gripes that exist, I think Minecraft Dungeons will see a long life in many households for many years to come.
We received a free review code to access the game ahead of launch on Tuesday, 26 May. It will be available on Xbox GamePass, or for direct purchase via Xbox One, Playstation 4, Windows and Nintendo Switch.