A few interesting tidbits have been around lately of interest to agoners.
The biggest one is the excellent competitive card game Yomi finally coming to Steam on May 8th. Whilst I’ve played this game tons already in it’s web version and it’s physical form, this is still a huge deal as it will have much more visibility and appeal on the Steam platform which should expand the player pool no end. The Yomi team have done an absolutely incredible job of implementing almost every feature agoners recommended back in 2012 as well as many more improvements, since I last played it a lot. It’s still a bit intimidating to new players and the tutorials aren’t that in depth, but to be honest, the addition of AI bots of varying skill levels pretty much solves that problem too, allowing new players to learn at their own pace in a non-competitive environment if and when they want to. Gameplay wise I’m still a bigger fan of the slower pace of the original version of Yomi (v1), however the current version (v2) is still a really good game – and one I’m expecting to get back into in a big way if it’s Steam implementation is as good as I expect it will be. No forced grinds, no need to spend in a fortune in cash or time collecting cards, an even playing field in every match, an excellent ranking system and matchmaking that should work great with a bigger player pool means this is one of only a handful of competitive card games that actually IS worth competing at.
This piece at RPS explores the ideas Blizzard has with it’s attempts to expand the eSports scene with Heroes of the Storm (and maybe Overwatch). Whilst I applaud the good innovative ideas Blizzard has had with the game mechanics and the publicity to make the lane-pusher genre much more fun and interesting to play and watch, as long as they are implementing a forced grind in games like HotS, I consider it a waste of time to any players who actually want a real competition. I’ve been on the HotS beta for a while, but knowing the grinding mess it seems intent to be, I’ve only really scratched the surface of it as it doesn’t have much appeal to me. Come on Blizzard, we know you can do so much better – competitive gaming design like StarCraft 2. A mix of the best qualities of a number of Blizzard’s games could be truly interesting. To be honest, the amazing competitive gaming design of StarCraft 2 mixed with anything would be interesting!
Another RPS piece notified me that Valve are just starting to think about adding competitive matchmaking to Team Fortress 2…. Agoners take: a huge LOL – this is just rather too late I feel. I can understand and identify with most of the negative comments on this at RPS, but I still have to approve of this move to at least start to move this total mess of a game into something that I could perhaps one day be interested in playing.
Myself, I’m still mainly playing Hero Academy and a bit of Ultra Street Fighter IV, as well as running and playing in some local casual fighting game events… in fact I even recently won a local Street Fighter 2 tournament, hurrah! Just a massive shame they were playing HDR in the obsolete “Super ‘Tard” (ST) mode. Awful decision; but a really awesome fun event regardless 🙂
With the announcement of the long-awaited Yomi on Steam, I’m really hoping that the fact my friend gave me this yesterday is prophetic of another game I’ve been waiting years for to finally be released on Steam… 😀
4 thoughts on “Competitive Gaming Round-Up”
I’m well excited to be playing Yomi on Steam! Especially if I can couch surf with a controller. Getting it on the iPad was a good move too as I realise that the only reason why I haven’t been playing it much is because it’s in a browser window and reminds me of having to do work sat at a PC with mouse/keyboard.
Like we discussed earlier, HotS grind should be minimal (I haven’t played it yet so can’t say for sure) with only 2 – 4 games needing to be played before you have access to everything for that character. You’ll have to let us know how the rest of the game is as I’m still not on the beta.
Matchmaking for TF2 is ace news. Except it still has the problem of being a cluster-f%£k of a game. I think squad based games with players taking on specific roles is fundamentally broken as your team is only as strong as the weakest player. e.g. if your healers aren’t good enough to powerup their healing ray to get invulnerability for your heavy’s, then you are probably going to lose to a team who can manage to do this. Same problem with Evolve. If you have 1 bad player holding a key role (which is all roles in this case), then you are probably going to lose against only a moderately good player.
Think I’m going to go away and start practicing more SF4 and Starcraft 2 as these are still the only games which seems well balanced for competitive multiplayer.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there’s no pad support announced for Yomi on Steam though I’m afraid, at least, not yet, so it will still be mouse & keys. But it will be nice to have it running as it’s own app and not in a browser tab for me too. Hopefully it will be much easier for them to add pad support to it later now it’s running as it’s own app though – or the Steam controllers coming later this year might be good with it potentially for couch-play. Also the new Steam features are sweet enough for me to want to get it again anyway 🙂
I’m still VERY nervous about investing much time or hope into HotS being a decent competitive gaming design. They are clearly still tinkering with the details still, and whilst the grind appears to be fairly minimal per-character, there’s a lot of characters.
Also the general issues with the ‘freemium’ model of scope and power creep are already appearing. They’ve actually PROMISED they will continually release new heros and maps ad infinitum – and they are actually saying this like it’s a good thing; rather than a virtual guarantee it will become an unbalanced mess and there is huge temptation for power creep too.
A great review of HotS here explaining just how bad the grinding is & even mentioning matchmaking and the iffy business model, and balancing problems etc – the kind of things that ALL reviews should actually explain about, yet almost none of them do, especially on commercial sites. Great job Polygon (far FAR better than Eurogamer’s useless review that explained nothing):
“So far, after about 30 hours, two for-pay stimpaks (which speed up your leveling progress) and lots of queuing with friends (which also speeds up your leveling progress), I’m level 20. I don’t feel like I can have proper, competitive experiences in quickmatch, and I’m hours away from the point where I can potentially find them”
“But I can’t shake the feeling that developing a reliable, fun roster with a decent variety of roles is going to take a ton of grinding out games with free-to-play heroes — much more than the amount of time taken to reach level 30 — and waiting for heroes to go on sale, or a lot of real-world money up front. As time goes on and Blizzard adds more and more heroes, remaining competitive and current is only poised to take more and more of an investment of either.”
“…it puts an enormous amount of pressure on Blizzard and the game’s designers to make sure every character is balanced against every other character particularly well — and also that every character is potentially balanced against each of Heroes’ maps.”
Just realised I really should’ve posted this with the article. Video of the first two matches of the finals (Dan thought I had won as it had been best of 3 matches until then, but we played best of 5 for the final):