Keeping An Eye On

I am not usually someone who risks getting my hopes up for games that aren’t even in beta, but I have the occasional moments of weakness. Here are a few of the games I am keeping an eye on:

Sir, You Are Being Hunted.

Basically an indie procedurally-generated, open-world survival game where you are being hunted by British robots. Yes, really. As much as I like the premise though, this is the sort of game that is going to live and die on the player perception of how/if the robots “cheat.” Were you really engaging in risky behavior, or does the AI just sort of auto-spot you within 30 meters? Maybe it is fun either way, who knows. The game is supposedly going to be released in July 2013, aka two months from now, so we’ll see how it shakes out soon enough.

Dying Light

Dying_light

First-person free-running zombie survival game from Techland, aka makers of Dead Island. Whatever your opinion is on zombies it’s wrong, a lot of Mirror’s Edge comparisons are being thrown around, which automatically makes it potentially more awesome. Some of the news sites are looking at this as a potential disaster given that its from the makers of Dead Island, but as you know, I enjoyed the original quite a bit. More of that in more open environments, please.

Incidentally, I have not picked up Dead Island: Riptide yet (with it’s 63 Metacritic score), but supposedly that game was made by a different team than the original. One bitten, twice zombie… or something. In any case, I wasn’t bitten. Dying Light appears to be a “hopeful” 2014 release.

Hex

The last time I talked about Hex, they were fast approaching their $300,000 Kickstarter goal. As of the time of this writing, they are sitting a $1.3 million, or more than 400% funded. The average backer spent just shy of $160. Me? I only paid $85.

Hex_Backer

My concerns about how TCGs naturally (and insidiously) combine both P2W and gamble boxes hasn’t really changed. What has changed is where exactly I place Cryptozoic on my internal Nefarious Scale, which ranges from indie all the way up to EA.

Cryptozoic is here to make money, no doubt, but their communication and outright concessions throughout the 18 Kickstarter updates has been downright refreshing. For example, their $250 Pro Player tier granted 1 free booster draft for life, which sold out in a week or less. Meanwhile, the other $250 tiers had bonuses tied to the PvE portion of the game, which is less of a value even if you planned to only play PvE (you can use PvP cards in PvE but not vice versa).

Solution? Every $250 tier now grants a free booster draft per week for 1 year.

Now, that could be construed as cynical marketing given that the Pro Player tier was sold out but the other $250 tiers were not – what better way to convince late-comers to boost their pledges than virtually increase the most popular tier? And, of course, it costs nothing to make all manners of promises in a Kickstarter campaign. At this point though, I want to believe. Just look at this:

960K – Keep Defense 
Become the master of your own domain! Every Lord of Entrath must defend their Keep, so we’re turning it into a game. Players will be able to set up a series of decks to defend their Keep, which will be played by our powerful AI (so you don’t need to even be online!). There will be rewards and prizes for those who are victorious in both defense and offense.

“Prizes” probably won’t be booster packs, so I’m not getting my hopes up about that part. But put that aside for a moment: this is asynchronous player-generated content to the max. Can you see it in your mind? Browsing your collection, building decks that you think will be useful in assaulting these keeps. And then turning around and brainstorming decks to stymie and frustrate the worms that dare defy the sanctity of your realm? Shit, I would do this all day long for free! Er… well, I guess I’m quite literally paying Cryptozoic to create content for other people, but that’s okay too.

In any case, this is quite literally the first Kickstarter I have ever pledged towards, and jumping right in at $85 given my mercilessly frugal gaming habits is pretty crazy. Dropping $10 for a beta invite probably should have sufficed. But, well, sometimes you have to put on your Press™ Pants and go full gonzo. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. The Hex beta starts in September 2013.

Please don’t be bad. Please don’t be bad. Please don’t be bad.

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Posted on May 27, 2013, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hex sounds awesome. And you can comfort yourself that your $85 and my $35 are extremely frugal compared to the whales that dominate the Hex forums. It staggers me that one of the main topics of conversation is regarding whether multiple $250+ pledges should be able to be combined onto a single account, or whether you should have to have multiple Hex accounts to take advantage of them.

    • Yeah, seeing people (figuratively) walk around with the Producer (i.e. $10,000) signatures on the forums sort of boggled my mind. I mean, I always sort of thought that the people who bought those insane tiers were other game designers, sorta helping each other out. I mean, Jesus, that’s a down-payment on a house, a decent car, or a top of the line computer with $6,000 to spare.

  2. My comment got so long and took up so much space that I ended up posting it on my own blog instead. I was leaning towards spending $50 but after putting it all on paper, I’ve actually largely talked myself out of it – with some degree of patience, you can get very close to the $35/$50/$65 packages by subscribing and waiting for the weekly card grants instead. The $85 is a separate creature with all the promo cards and I was tempted, but I don’t think I can justify that much up front on an unreleased game with the TCG red flag on its business model.

    http://playervsdeveloper.blogspot.com/2013/05/examining-hex-upsells.html

    • Yeah, there was definitely an upsell going on in my case. I didn’t bust out any spreadsheets, but I did open Notepad and start adding up the various Stretch Goal bonuses. My first inclination was the Knight tier ($65) because A) that is close to the cost of a AAA game on release, and B) that’s the lowest tier that grants a Primal pack, which I anticipate being able to sell on the AH for in-game currency to cover the entry fee of Booster Drafts. The three free months ($12) of the VIP subscription meant the difference between Knight and Champion was $77 vs $85, plus all extra boosters and the KS deck (which will presumably have rare cards inside).

      In the scheme of things, I don’t think you’ll be burned by hedging your bets lower even if you end up enjoying the game. What I anticipate happening is that Boosters will initially sell for less than the MSRP of $2 as the people with hundreds of them via KS try and recoup a portion of their pledge.

      But, yeah, it’s a tremendous gamble on a game I cannot even test drive yet. I like what I see and hear, but I’m absolutely throwing down money on faith at the moment.

      • The Knight tier is the only one that really has nothing to recommend it. There’s a big bump from Warrior to Captain because there are extra packs from the stretch goals. The jump from Captain to Knight is underwhelming by comparison – I think intentionally so that people do what you did and skip up a tier. Ironically, I’d put my odds right now at around 75% of sticking at Squire and 15% of jumping all the way to Champion, with a few percent on the middle tiers in case they improve with some future unannounced stretch goal (I assume they will roll out something once they beat $1.5 million). If you plan to spend that much on the cards anyway, it’s hard to beat all the promos in the Champion package.

        Have they confirmed that the booster draft entry fee is payable in the form of an item that can be traded (event pass or whatnot)? Or are you anticipating a secondary/RMT resale market for boosters? If the event passes can be traded, as you say, there might certainly be a business opportunity to get better than MSRP prices buying passes to trade for surplus kickstarter packs post launch.

        Personally, my plan for the game is primarily to explore the PVE content to the extent possible without suitcases of cards. I actually like the idea of subscribing and having the weekly packs slowly increase my odds of beating the content (i.e. if at first you don’t succeed, try again, and if it still doesn’t work come back next week). Assuming I actually like Booster draft in this game, I could see spending the extra buck per three packs once or twice a month as a slightly different mechanism for opening my packs. I don’t think it’ll be my primary form of play due to the cost, and I probably don’t have the time for weekly draft tournaments anyway, but I’d be willing to spend something in the range of $5-6/month for one or two draft tournaments that also help build my deck out for PVE.

      • Based on this thread, it looks to be a mirror image of Magic Online’s system. In other words, there is an RMT currency (Platinum), the currency rate is 1 Platinum = $1, Booster Draft entry fees will be 3 boosters + 1 Platinum, and you can sell cards/boosters on the AH for either in-game gold (for PvE) or more likely for Platinum. In other words, if you had four booster from winning a prior Draft, you could sell one of them on the AH for at least 1 Platinum and then get into another Booster Draft without having to put more of your own real dollars into the system.

        How Hex’s booster price ends up shaking out remains to be seen. When I was playing Magic Online, the average ticket cost of a booster pack was actually higher than the retail price bought direct from Wizards of the Coast. That made sense in a way, considering a booster was more valuable to a person striving to “play for free.” On the other hand, if you hung out in the right chat channels at the end of a Booster Draft, you could snag several boosters at below-market cost from people wanting tickets right away.

        I have a suspicion that with the AH presumably being global, such arbitrage opportunities are going to be fewer than in Magic Online. However, once the Beta starts up in September, the only people in the system are going to be those with an overabundance of booster packs via KS. So hopefully the price will stay a bit depressed long enough for you to decide if you like it.

      • Interesting. The old LOTR online TCG had a similar event pass system but no auction house, so you had to find someone in the trade channel who wanted what you had to sell. Not sure how that will work in practice since the person with $2 in plat can always just buy a pack from the store instead of the AH. It would seem that it would always be better to “buy” at a discount from other players rather than full price from the developer, and I don’t see why that’s in their best interest. Also, my patience for bartering with other players – who in my experience often only wanted deals that were very lopsided in their favor – is low.

        Personally, the odds of me going more heavily in on this game are pretty low – if they weren’t, I’d be eyeing that $85 more closely. I will view the game as a smashing success if I play it 10 hours per month – one evening booster draft and then one or two evenings seeing whether the new cards from said let me advance further into PVE content. In this scenario I’d be paying the subscription solely for the discounted weekly booster pack and grabbing some plat every other month or two. That will eventually add up to more than $85, but only if I keep at it for long enough that Cryptozooic will have earned their money.

      • You know what, you just reminded me that you couldn’t buy booster packs from Wizards of the Coast with tickets – that’s why they were more expensive in ticket price than dollars. If Cryptozoic allows you to purchase boosters directly from them with Platinum, it will absolutely keep the secondary market prices down.