Hi everyone. Do you know what’s underrated in the games industry? Books! We recently read two great books that you should check out too:
- Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online — War, espionage, capitalism, politics, revenge… this two-part series has it all. 99.9% of games don’t deserve a history book, but the gripping details of EVE Online’s player-driven universe are truly worth studying and enjoying.
- Doom Guy: Life in First Person — This new autobiography depicts the life of John Romero, the co-founder of id Software and co-creator of DOOM, Quake, Wolfenstein 3-D, and countless other games. It depicts a different era for our industry, but the brilliance and hustle of the core id Software team should be inspirational for all early stage games teams.
Any other book recs? Let us know!
In this issue, we revisit a popular essay about inspiring the player’s journey. Then we dig into our game of the week, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. Lastly, if you missed our Starfield coverage, make sure to check out the last issue.
#1 The Player’s Journey: A Call to Adventure
By Jordan Phang, Naavik Consulting Partner
This essay was initially published in Naavik Pro and was one of the service’s most popular essays. Today, we’re opening it up for everyone to read and enjoy.
Most people familiar with writing stories know about the Hero’s Journey, a template for crafting stories about a character who goes on an adventure, vanquishes a foe, and returns victorious and transformed. In games, though, we have the Player’s Journey, a framework to let players inhabit the worlds we have created as heroes or heroines in their own personal narratives.
What is a Player’s Journey? Boiled down to its very essence, it is giving the player a grand aspiration and a series of steps to get there. In a real-world context, it is akin to a player that aspires to play for Manchester United and win the Premier League (or join the Green Bay Packers and win the Superbowl). They may have a grand vision, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. They’ll first have to prove themselves in a third-tier league (Wycombe Wanderers), gain promotion, and progress along their journey to the top. Without an end target or the steps to get there, the player flounders and ends up accomplishing nothing.
In games, a player’s grand aspiration will be determined by a factor of the game’s genre and player type. Whether you classify players using the Bartle Player Types or Quantic Foundry’s Gamer Types, the motivation profile of the player will steer them towards different goals. Perhaps it’s to reach a certain rank in PvP, collect all the [insert collectible here], or complete the storyline. With the grand aspiration sorted, the player then must be able to get there, and again, depending on genre, it could be finishing levels, completing quests, or defeating opponents.
Whatever the method, games that can inspire players to aim for something great and to keep chipping away at this target will keep them engaged for longer than games that do not.
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The Pragma Backend Game Engine is the only solution that is truly extensible. Now, game designers aren’t blocked by restrictive black-box features and your studio isn't trapped into a framework that you'll inevitably grow out of. The Pragma Backend Game Engine is also capital and resource efficient because studios no longer need to hire a large backend team and get the ultimate peace of mind that their game will always be ready to scale.
#2 Game of the Week: Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon
By Nick Statt
Platform: PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Series, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
State: Worldwide Launch (August 25th)
Genre: Mecha / Action
What You Need to Know:
- Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon (AC6) is a revival of Dark Souls and Elden Ring developer FromSoftware’s mecha combat series and the first entry since Armored Core: Verdict Day in 2013.
- Many of the franchise’s core elements remain intact, including high-octane combat, a wide variety of customization options, grueling boss encounters, and incredibly fluid and responsive gameplay. You can watch an in-depth gameplay video here.
- The game is structured as a series of missions you carry out that reward you with currency you can use to upgrade and customize your mecha, with a focus on specific buildcrafting to adapt to unique boss fights, level environments, and enemy types.
- AC6 is hard… very hard. While Armored Core games (and mecha games in general) have never been for the faint of heart, this has proved somewhat controversial for diehard fans of the traditional Armored Core games that are perhaps less fond of the gameplay direction FromSoftware games have taken since the launch of Demon’s Souls.
- These difficulty spikes are most acutely felt near the beginning of the game with the AH12: HC Helicopter boss and then Balteus, the chapter one boss that acts as the game’s most severe skill check. These early bosses have been routinely cited in user reviews for why players might have put the game down for now or just outright quit altogether. Needless to say, this is FromSoftware’s now tried-and-true approach to accessibility at work, and it’s best to head into AC6 knowing that you have to rise to the challenge.
- AC6 is an exhilarating and challenging mecha gauntlet with impressive performance and some of the best-feeling movement and combat the genre has ever seen. If you power through and best Balteus, it offers some of the most rewarding experiences of any FromSoftware game to date.
- The title is also a testament to the studio’s talents and proof that its modern game design philosophy can be used to breathe fresh life into an older genre the studio left dormant for almost a decade.
- Thanks to FromSoftware’s growing reputation, it was always likely Armored Core VI would arrive to strong critical reception and sales. But even still, it’s surprising to see how much the game has expanded its audience beyond the relatively niche mecha community and pulled in series newcomers.
- Past Armored Core games have typically sold only in the hundreds of thousands of copies, and the best-selling entry remains Armored Core 2 with around 800,000 units sold. However, AC6 achieved a very respectable peak concurrent player count on Steam of more than 156,000 players, which makes it the fifth biggest launch of 2023 by that metric. Also, early U.K. retail sales put the game at the top of the charts in the region for its launch week.
- Bandai Namco Europe CEO Arnaud Muller said at Gamescom that while this entry won’t “be able to match Elden Ring numbers,” (Elden Ring has sold more than 20 million units) the hope was that AC6 “will way surpass what Armored Core previous games have done." Going by the early critical and player reception of AC6, that outcome now seems like a given.
- Dream Game Studios: Head of Product (Pune, India)
- Dream Game Studios: Head of Marketing (Pune, India)
- Dream Game Studios: Head of Game Production (Pune, India)
- FunPlus: Lead Game Designer (Barcelona, Spain)
- FunPlus: Senior Game Artist (Barcelona, Spain)
- FunPlus: Senior Game Developer (Barcelona, Spain)
- Nexus: Head of Sales (Remote)
You can view our entire job board — all of the open roles, as well as the ability to post new roles — below. We've made the job board free for a limited period, so as to help the industry during this period of layoffs. Every job post garners ~50K impressions over the 45-day time period.