GeekNights Tuesday - Lifestyle Games

Tonight on GeekNights, we consider lifestyle games. You know the person who plays Magic and only Magic? Or the phase we both went through playing CounterStrike literally every day? Or Chess players? In the news, Sony acquires Bungie (completing the balance of power among the AAAs) and The New York Times acquires Wordle.

Things of the Day

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Quick defence of PUBG in light of following battle royale games:



I’ve tried many first person battle royale games since PUBG, and all of them introduce loads more stuff on top of the central idea.

This results in extra things to do during the game: crafting supplies, crafting ability modifiers, collecting currency, collecting blueprints for new weapons.

It also makes for extra work between games: like building loadouts, upgrading weapons, selecting characters, choosing classes, leveling shit up, reading up on the new meta.

All that “stuff” is PERFECT to create a lifestyle game. People want to spend their currency. People want to level up all the classes. People want to unlock all the abilities. But I’ve got zero interest in busywork during game, and even LESS in busywork between games.

And all the different things to unlock and abilities to choose between creates a huge bushiness, especially towards the end of games.

In Warzone, by the end, everyone has different abilities. Some players will show up on heartbeat sensors, some will show up on UAV scans, others won’t. Some will be able to restock ammo and throwables, others won’t. Some will be able to take stims to survive in the blue zone, others won’t, some will move faster than others. And that doesn’t even take into account weapon upgrades.

In Apex Legends and Super People, the classes are even more delineated, with wormholes and teleporting and conjuring monster trucks and setting off nukes and shields popping up…

Why I’ve always gone back to PUBG after trying all these (and many other) battle royale games is that I have to put in ZERO thought between one game ending and jumping out the plane in the next game. Nothing. The first decision is “where do I try to land?”

Escape From Tarkov is at the extreme end of this “between the game” stuff, with Warzone in between. I’ve got less than zero interest in inventory tetris or weapon reloading or weapon building.

And at the end of the game, no player has more abilities than I do based on levelling or crafting or ANYTHING which isn’t also available to me, during the game. It’s all based on what loot you pick up off the floor, or what you get from killing other players. And every player can use any loot just as well, with no cooldown timers. What decides the game is: player FPS skill, positioning/tactics, and current equipment.

The only thing I think PUBG should add that all these other battle royale games have is some form of teammate resurrection. In Warzone you can buy back your dead teammates (if they don’t get out the gulag), Apex Legends has a “take a token to a beacon” mechanic, Super People has a loooong defibrillator revive which costs gold coins. It’s an obvious and accepted game mechanic to bring back teammates after a successful fight (but not 100% successful) so your friends don’t have to spectate another 20 minutes if you otherwise do well in the game.

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I wouldn’t consider Tarkov a Battle Royale. I can see the comparison, but its probably closer to a PVP MMO than a battle royale.

That said I think your observations are spot on about how PUBG is the purest distillation of the format still.

PUBG does have resurrection. In one match we died and got put into some sort of second mini-pubg game. We were the only people that died so early so we were alone in there. We just walked around and never saw another player. A few minutes later we were resurrected into the original game and there weren’t many players left! Dying extremely early on purpose seems to actually be a good rubber band strategy! We obviously didn’t win, though, because we suck.

I completely agree I don’t want any between the game stateful pay/grind to win stuff. Fortnite, for whatever else you want to say about it, has none of that. All the things you can do between matches are purely cosmetic in nature. There’s a lot of pay, but not pay to win.

The problem with PUBG was that actually playing it was just boring. Walking around in basically an empty wasteland and then eventually having a few shooting battles that are usually at a distance, and very brief. I haven’t played Fortnite, but from what I see it is action packed. Not as action packed as a Quake deathmatch, but you’re always doing something interesting.

And the military simulation aspects of PUBG that it inherited from its beginnings as an ArmA mod are still there, and that certainly doesn’t do the game any favors. They did improve the inventory screen a lot since I last played, which is nice. But having to manage different ammo types, having to press a button to hold your breath when sniping, that kind of gameplay appeals to not so many people. The Quake style arcadey fps, or even just the Counter-Strike style is more accessible and fun.

Yes Tarkov isn’t exactly a battle Royale, I was just using it as an example of “most stuff to do between starting the running/shooting/looting part of the game”. I didn’t play it myself because when I would check out Twitch streams of my otherwise favorite battle Royale players, it felt like 90% of the time all I’d see was menu screens, and in the game a huge part was dragging items between backpacks. The highlight videos on YouTube cut all that out, so it looks like a game I’d like, but I knew I’d have to do all the inventory Tetris and menus… and that’s not for me!

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This is only in one map, and only for the first part of the match, and is almost universally disliked by all players. It was trying to be like the gulag in Warzone but failed spectacularly at achieving that.

Personally I like all the military sim stuff in PUBG, as it rewards in-game decision making. I don’t have any issues with empty maps either. I get as much action, or as much waiting, as I want at any moment. I understand it’s not for everyone, but thankfully it’s still a top 10 game on Steam in terms of player base, so I never have issues with servers not filling up or not finding games.

If there was a game with the tactics and shooting of PUBG, with some of the extra game mechanics of Warzone, without needing any of the between-game stuff, I’d switch in a moment.

But there isn’t a game that has struck that balance. So I’ll stick with the jankiness of PUBG over another game that is any way stateful.


Tarkov has given me incredibly intense and unique experiences that no other shooter has come close to in terms of palpable heart rate increases and tension which is ONLY possible because of how incredibly persistent your account/PMC gamestate is between matches. The potential swings in fortune but still tied to skill are deeply compelling once you get into the system.

Inventory management out of raid can be a big part of it, but you can also just sell stuff you find immediately to an NPC vendor for less than ideal price and move on with your life. Looting in raid obscuring your UI is a big part of the risk/reward trade off as you lose situational awareness to actually pick through a bag or a body for things. Key shortcuts really help speed it up and the wiki is a god-send for a game still going through beta.

Totally agree when I played PUBG everynight the ability to decide at drop if I want a high combat high reward urban area or a more low key scrounge around in the hinterlands. The desert map amplified this distinction even further with low/no map cover in the countryside but extremely dense urban areas.

Animal crossing DS made me realize I can’t play lifestyle games, if you are going to gate me from things of the game die to real world restrictions I am out.

Nah, I get the first one, but the hold breath to steady mechanic has been a mainstay of modern shooters for YEARS now, all the way back to the early 2000s with Modern Warfare - maybe not to the same level of fidelity as ARMA, where running with a heavy pack means you hold your breath for a shorter time and shit like that, but it’s still there.

People like it just fine, and it’s become INCREDIBLY mainstream, if not just the standard way to do it - the only two modern shooters I can think of that doesn’t have it is Halo and Destiny, and even then, Halo incorporates into the fiction that you don’t need to because you’re a Spartan, a seven foot tall, 600 pound monster of a person in power armor, essentially superhuman, and in Destiny, swap out size and power armor for space magic making you stronger, tougher, and supernaturally good at combat.

Fun fact! The common term for those now is “boomer shooters”. There are newer ones you might like, mostly from New Blood Studios, but I do admittedly exclude them from the modern shooter category, since they are very explicitly and intentionally trying to use old-school shooter mechanics.

I wasn’t comparing PUBG with quake or CS, but with other battle royale games.

In terms of game mechanics, I find things like “hold button to hold breath while sniping” WAAAAAY more accessible than stuff like “read up on all these weapon options, put in a grind to unlock better gear, spend hours per week researching the latest meta”.

For a game to have depth, there has to be some level of complexity. I like that complexity to be in the movement and shooting mechanics, rather than in leveling, abilities, and between-match menu screen options.

Honestly, it really is. Not even in the same league. I play Destiny, and while that is a mild exaggeration of how much work it is and how short of a timeframe, it’s still pretty rough at times. Lots and lots of things to learn to be more effective. I’m admittedly not THAT great at the theorycrafting side, either, I have to bull my way through on sheer bloodymindedness in some activities.

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No disagreement there. Any kind of statefulness or pay to win in a competitive multiplayer game is unacceptable. If the Pokemon MOBA only sold cosmetic stuff I’d still be playing it.

It’s true that PUBG doesn’t have those things, and most of the battle royale-ish games do, and that already puts it up near the top of the category. But just being the least-awful in a category doesn’t make it good. It just means the whole category is really not so great.

If I was in charge of PUBG I think I would change just these things:

  1. Small map only. Less time spent walking on long journeys, more time in action.
  2. Less guns lying around. You should expect that in about half the games you play you’ll have to survive at least one encounter armed only with the frying pan.
  3. Remove all remnants of realistic military simulation and go full arcade fps style no more fiddly than Counter-Strike is.
  4. Enrich the environment with lots of interactivity so there’s never a dull moment, even outside of combat.

Somehow I don’t think they’d take your advice of “Reskinned remake of Counterstrike’s failed and largely ignored battle royale mode” very seriously, even if you were running the joint.

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IIRC Counter-Strikes battle royale was strange and not just straight up, 100 people enter 1 leaves. That part of the formula doesn’t need changing. What does need changing is keeping people engaged during the entire time before they die or win. Our team of 4 was unanimously bored walking around just collecting weapons and trying to figure out how to configure them. And then it was over in two seconds and we barely got to even fire those weapons.

Apex Legends was constant action in a small map, and the game was over in 12 minutes. I didn’t enjoy it.

I like ups and downs in a game, and PUBG gives me that shape. I’ve got no issues with downtime during a match, as that means chatting with the friend I’m playing with or driving around.

Other games have enforced busywork between engagements, like crafting or looting, and as I already said, I’d much rather nothing than being made to interact with anything.

Thankfully all these different flavors of battle royale exist, and there are enough players to go round so people can find what suits them best. PUBG isn’t dying, nor is it going to change drastically any time soon. For those who want non-stop action they can go play Apex Legends or Warzone Resurgence Island.

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Eh… The big map is the main thing PUBG has going. Same with Fortnite.

That’s just Fortnite.

That’s just it, though. As you correctly pointed out though, many of those flavors involved statefulness and pay/grind to win mechanics. That makes them completely unplayable. There are actually many many flavors of battle royale for which there is no acceptable game to play.

Right now my favorite is Babble Royale. They really need to add some party/team support to that.