Welcome to the other awards. The awards no developer wants to win. The awards for the bad, the incompetent, the scummy or the just plan brain dead. Welcome to the awards I give based on my own petty whims. Welcome to the Grumble Awards for 2018
Given to the game that was held back by stupid outdated ideas about the game industry.
Those who have been in the Destructoid discord will likely be baffled by this as I've spent the past month or so regularly bringing up Gwent. Well this is the awards for 2018 and in 2018 Gwent came out of open beta in 2018 with the Homecoming update. The Homecoming update was shit. There was some simplification near the end of the closed beta removing that certain units could only be played on specific row. What Homecoming did was look at the game and in my opinion go "Yeh no-one will play anything this complex we need the make it simple" and so they did, only 2 rows instead of 3 and rather than drawing less new cards each round, the game now had you draw 3 cards each round. While some cards had a "reach" stat applied requiring them to be played on certain rows for maximum efficiency some didn't. Things became more of a mess with "Artifacts" cards that could act independently to buff others or damage them but couldn't themselves be damage only removed with a few cards. Artifacts were extremely powerful in Homecoming and the rise of decks with next to no units in them started as people realise you could just removed all the enemies units then play one big one and win.
The change to the card draws also (in my opinion) harmed the game as in the Beta version of Gwent. In Beta there were a number of different tactics that emerged with card advantage being far more powerful as there was no hand limit as such thus all your draws had value. You could try to rush down an opponent in round 1 and round 2 or you could try to save for a longer round 3. Being a card up or down could be major. However with a hand limit of 10 and a set lot of drawing 3 cards (you get additional redraws if you draw less than 3 that card advantage stuff goes away unless you push the enemy far harder. Most Gwent games these days seem to focus on winning round 1 without going to less than 4 cards and then being able to pass round 2 and be back up to 10 cards for round 3. So in round 1 if you opponent plays a strong combo and passes on 7 cards you can play 3 more cards than them to go down to 4 cards, win round 1, give them round 2 and actually have the advantage of going last in the final round. This certainty and lack of value in card advantage just make it so you'll find people holding their combos longer because it's not worth having a strong opener anymore when the first 3 cards of the turn are easily replaced next turn and not real disadvantage the real value only comes if you can push you opponent to being cards down and unable to redraw up to a full hand while you still can.
The idea that games need to be made more simple really is an idea of the past. How is Gwent doing in 2019? Well you'll have to read my 2019 awards blogs to find out if it redeemed itself.
Awarded to the game most kicked in the balls by Karma.
I mean not including a playable bear should have been enough to get EA kicked in the balls by Karma but this is EA and managing to finally fool people with a PR smear job painting anyone objecting to the game as a sexist woman hater (having previously failed to pull it off with their claims everyone against Mass Effect 3 was a homophobe (adding a second) and everyone who voted for them as worst company in the USA for the 2nd time was part of a homophobic hate campaign). Battlefield V promised to tell the stories of real women in World War II. It didn't. It took other stories and switched out the characters for women. From my own experience in the BETA the Franchise hadn't evolved much since Battlefield 3 in any way other than to find a way to make progression seemingly more scummy and the touted destructible environments felt like they still hadn't caught up with the likes of Red Faction Guerrilla. Oh and the last great joke being the final failure of their last PR move #Everyonesbattlefield trying one last time to push the game as "Owning the MRA / InCEL/ BerNIEBRO/ TRUMPER/ TECHBRO / MUCKETEER / SEXist / misogynist/ PUA/ ISIS/ Atheist / Septic/ Toxic Gamer bro / Manosphere / Fratboy / Fuckboi / Toxic nerd / manbaby / pissbaby, alliance of doom". Battlefield V did badly. It's doing badly enough people in Australia are having trouble finding matches, I mean I think that happens with other stuff too but not often for major AAA games.
Battlefield V was all EAs scummy moves of the past coming back to kick it in the balls. But I'm sure EA would prefer you pretend it was all because people hated women due to their rip off of the Imperator furiosa concept art being prominent in trailers.
Proof that loyalty of fans is a fickle thing that shouldn't be taken for granted Valve managed to push out a game with a monitisation system allegedly designed by the same guy as Magic the Gathering and didn't think this was a bad idea. When Artifact was released I looked at it and considered getting it. I watched a few Twitch streams. Then I heard about the monitisation and noped the hell out. A game where you pay for the game, then have to pay real money for packs too? Oh but you could sell the card on the Steam marketplace and maybe make money or something......... yeh no that seemed scummy as hell on the part of Valve. This is Valve the company people will throw money at if they think they're getting something good. This is Valve who managed to shake the Moba market with Dota 2 and managed to turn TF2 into a pretty profitable free to play game with just cosmetics. People expected Valve to revolutionise the card game market with Artifact. People hoped for cosmetic only stuff for sale and even if the game wasn't free to play it would still have pulled people in because cosmetic only stuff would have made any entry point far cheaper than most other card games where they really would like you to pay out for card packs. But no Valve made a game people saw as actually pay to win, not grind to win, you had to pay to get the better cards one way or another and that was seen as a major insult especially in a game charging an entry fee to begin with. For all the payed Twitch streams and talk of a $1Million tournament Artifact prove that if you piss off people and try a greedy monitisation method that annoys people, they will make sure you get kicked in the balls for it.
Given to the game or company that made asses of themselves most.
Blizzard and Activision win this award and if anyone from there has got lost and ended up on this blog and is wondering why. "Don't you guys have phones?"
Yeh, whose genius idea was it at Blizzcon to try and push a phone only game based on Diablo, a game series that started on PC? What did you forget this wasn't E3 where you audience is just investors caring that you jump on the latest trend their money making algorithm says is the next hot market that will make the most money?
Awarded to the game that was the chosen one meant to lead the industry from the darkness not become part of it.
It could be said I hold indie games to a higher standard than AAA games. To me indie games are an area of gaming that I tend to look to hoping to see the best most consumer facing side of an industry. A side of the industry that sees consumers as something more than wallets or people who the game is entitled to get their money.
Ad to this expectation the idea that in my view you can make a compelling game about anything. From these two things comes the perfect betrayl for me in the form of Grass Cutter. A game literally about cutting grass (mutant grass admittedly), such a cool sounding concept. Be a lawn mower fighting against mutant grass. It sounds so compelling just for weirdness. What wins Grass Cutter the award is the fact it sells abilities, the different skins it sell actually come with different abilities. Oh but that's not the end of the scummy stuff.
This is the kind of level of scummy I'd expect from a mobile game as while the game also charges (thus isn't free to play like many mobile games) it seems to have taken it's monitisation inspiration from mobile games selling things like revives and (as far as I know) single use consumables like shields and shockwave abilities. The game went from something I picked up as a fun novelty thinking it might be worth recommending to discovering all the scummy stuff and now actively warning people to avoid and only look into as an example of how not to do things.
Given to the game that had some good ideas but something went horribly wrong somewhere and ruined it all.
A puzzle game that awards you power ups for getting 3 stars on a level to make other levels easier. The premise is simple. Move parts and set up a system to get the gat into the food. The way it goes horribly wrong is that later levels can't be 3 stared without using some of the power ups so for a puzzle game you actually can win the puzzle just through working it would based on the standard components given and if you don't happen to have the consumable power up required for the level you can't get a perfect score. This almost feels like it was a bad mobile game that in the original incarnation would have sold those power ups to you. Oh wait it was. Guess someone didn't know how to port to PC and make it actually worth playing.
The trailer looked great. The game concept sounded great a game about trying to survive in the 1700's making your living off the sea one way or another. Then you find out how the game (at least as it was in 2018 when I played it) was one hell of a mess. It's less whimsical and more like a more punishing and less fair version of Oregon Trail. This is a game where you can go spear fishing (the easiest way to get food and most efficient way) and randomly die because a Narwhal decided to impale you. This is a game where I'm pretty sure picking missionary is a joke option because good fucking luck getting anywhere via raft. This is a game that needs a tutorial as I spent two runs with my crew falling ill when under rain clouds, finally I decided to google one of the items I didn't know what it was turns out it was wet weather gear / weatherproofs, the game never told or hinted this to me at all I just thought it was part of the game. With crew members dying and sometimes randomly coming back. This really was a game that seemingly set out as a fairly fun sailing + pirate / pirate hunting game and turned into one of the most gruelling least fun gaming experiences I had last year.
A new award for this year for the game that was patched so many times I didn't want to start it because I was worried it was still not fully fixed yet.
So less than a year since release the game has had approximately 87 updates or patches of various kinds. It had 6 patches in its launch week and 6 more the week after. On one hand I want to congratulate the developer for putting in so much effort to patch the game. On the other hand I want to tell the developer that after the first 2 weeks they probably could have tried to group some of the patches together. I get the desire to get the patch out of the fixes / changes in place as soon as possible but 87 patches is a little excessive and really does make me feel concerned to play the game.
Given to the game that was most rage inducing game of the year.
Jelly Killer starts with a great premise, you're an escaped government bioweapon and can possess humans to use their particular skills to get through puzzle plat forming levels. Sounds good enough and then the rage happens when you realise just how precise some of the plat forming and timing is such that you can lose 5+ minutes of progress in a level in an instant and have to restart the whole thing again as one a human dies there aren't any others on the level you can use instead for said role or section. Oh and the final level presents you with a option to go left or right to finish the level, completely blind you have to pick a direction, one way is inescapable death the other is the end of the level so after the hardest level in the game with the most difficult platforming it's a 50:50 coin flip as to if you'll beat the game or have to do the whole level again. It's claims of being a retro platformer are only really true in terms of difficulty and even then I don't think many retro games actually required the level of precision and timing. This is a game I beat in 4 hours and yet felt like a longer harder and less rewarding grind in those 4 hours than all the time I spent on Furi trying to learn and beat it's bosses.
Winning both porn game of the Rear for a 2nd year running and also winning the Zombies Zombies everywhere award for proving you can't polish a turd.
So Space Explorers the game with the weird naked wax girls with alien proportions wins porn game of the rear for a 2nd year because it really is still that bad and it's not got any better. For the Zombies Zombie Everywhere award however it means something has happened with it.
What happened? What did the developers do that could win Space Explorers the award? They tried to carry in the story they started. Only they didn't do in via a patch to Space Explorers. Oh no. They released a game called Space Explorers: Reloaded. A game that allegedly contained some of the content missing from the first release and advanced the plot ever so slightly. Oh and the executable was allegedly missing initially on release. How bad was it? Well it's so bad the developers and both games have been kicked off Steam. If that isn't worthy of a lifetime failure award for a game I don't know what is.
Well that's the end of the fun for this year. To those oh so lucky winners of this years Grumble awards, you have a year to try and redeem yourselves, not like you probably will though, you might even end up back here next year.
All comaplaints about these awards being unfair should be directed to Dwarvenhobble on Twitter where he will be able to tell you quite which orifice of yours you can jam said complaints into.