Commuting Cognition: Mini Guns, Disc League

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company (opinions are my own etc), so I’ve been trying to expose myself to more games in this market and attempt to gain an ever-better understanding of them. One of the ways I’ve been doing that is in trying out new games, seeing what they do wrong and right, and try to draw conclusions from them that I can use in the future to make our games better. One of the resources I’ve been using for this is TouchArcade (not sponsored), and their columns listing the new iOS games of the week.

This resulted in me playing a lot more new games during my daily bus rides, but I also feel the need to discuss them somewhere and keep a log of my thoughts instead of just internalising them. So, Commuting Cognition. These will be brief, bus-ride-long thoughts on these games, and should be seen less as reviews and more as first-impression brain dumps. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.


Mini Guns

Mini Guns is Clash Royale with an Advance Wars coat of paint.

You start the game with a deck of units, each of which with a certain cost. Resources for this cost are automatically acquired as the game progresses. Dragging a unit card onto the field draws its trajectory, which you can place on one of three lanes from your base to one of your opponent’s bases. Upon being placed, the unit will move forward on that path until they come across the opposing base or an opposing unit, at which point they’ll stop and begin attacking. The game ends when a player’s main base is destroyed. I mean, it’s Clash Royale.

The couple of matches i played both took a while, and both nearly ended by timeout. I think one of the causes for this is a stationary unit you can place that basically serves as a tower in a tower defence game; i don’t recall an equivalent unit in Clash Royale, and i think that kind of encouragement of defensive tactics directly leads to the matches taking longer. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, and the game does prepare for it; when you’re running out of time the resources you earn are gathered faster, encouraging a swift conclusion. My matches *nearly* ended by timeout but never actually did, which also promotes that feeling of a near win. This might be a bit exhausting if it’s constant, though.

The units didn’t feel as grokkable to me and it wasn’t very easy to gauge their effectiveness. There are some obvious ones like flying units and the aforementioned stationary unit, but other than that i usually just went for the expensive ones and hoped for the best. You can check the units’ statistics outside of matches but there’s nothing immediately distinctive, like some units being better suited to take down bases and others to take down soldiers, that sort of thing. Part of it just boils down to the military theme, which isn’t as grokkable to me personally, but it probably also doesn’t help that you start off with so many unit types right off the bat without being introduced to their strengths and weaknesses.

Disc League

For my first impressions of Disc League, i bring you a little tale that i’ve named “Why UI/UX Matters: A Use Case”.

Ok, so this is like an ice hockey game. Oh, but you hold the puck when you capture it and have to drag to release it, ok, that’s weird. Hey wait, the puck went the other way. Wait, the throws are reversed? Why are the throws reversed, this isn’t a catapult game, you’re literally throwing the thing, it should go on the direction you throw it. Oh this is upsetting, i can’t get used to this, i need to change the controls in the settings. Wait, there’s no pause button? How do i get to the settings? How do i leave the game? When does the game end, this has gone on forever, i don’t know what the win condition is. Oh finally, it ended, now i can get to the settings. Wait, there’s no leave button in this screen either, why am i forced to continue? Oh gods, i can’t take another round of this. closes app

The settings don’t let you reverse the controls, by the way.

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