The News(?): Magic 2015 & Nightmare Cooperative Are Out

All right, my janky deck isn't entirely the monetisation's fault.

Question: what good does a news post announcing a game’s release date do you, a reader? Anticipating games you already want can be fun, but for ones you’re uncertain about or haven’t heard of, how useful is a release date announcement? Might it be better to hear when a game is out, when we can all know and say more about it? I ask because two problems with these things are illustrated by two games released yesterday: Magic 2015 and The Nightmare Cooperative.

Consider this rambling both news that they are indeed out and me wondering aloud about my job. Tell me, dear reader, what do you want from video game news on RPS?

Posting about Magic 2015’s release date I could speculate about what would inevitably to be the game’s big problem: extra monetisation. Now the game’s actually out and I’ve played a bit, I can note that its urging to spend money is unpleasant. Yes, having proper deck-building is great, but in practice I find it more frustrating than the old pre-built decks. See, you’re given one not-very-good starter deck of your choice, then need to grind the same set of duels to unlock enough cards to make it any good or building something from scratch. Or you can pay to get them instantly. Certain cards are only available if you pay up too. It’s a bad system. Bad.

But I’m news editor here, and big old Wot I Thinks and interviews and investigations and opinion pieces are beyond my purview. I write news so the rest have time to do those. I’d much rather write a news post about a terrifying fleshy sport or weird stealth game.

So, The Nightmare Cooperative. “That looks nice,” you may have thought reading the release date post, but it’s unlikely you’ll have remembered that or noted it on your calendar. TNC looks an interesting game, and it’s one I’ll play when I can pull away from the flame of Magic 2015, but that’s not useful news. However, now that it’s out, you can read the critics’ reviews and Steam user reviews and watch videos players have made. Being told the game’s out now is useful news.

My first job as RPS news editor was, and still is, to figure out what the RPS news editor does and why. I’m working on it. I come from a very conventional video game news background, and I’m still sloughing. But if we can only write so many posts and cover so many games, the game news staple of “This is scheduled to happen” or “might happen” seems far less interesting and useful than “this has happened” or “is happening” or “didn’t happen.”

I’m still churning lots of thoughts and ideas and inspirations and concerns in this news noggin, yet to form a firm plan, but constructive feedback from you lot would be helpful too. What do you enjoy, find useful, and desire in your news posts?

For now, the news: The Nightmare Cooperative is out; Magic 2015 is out and monetised awfully.

36 Comments

  1. leeblackwood says:

    It’s probably worth noting that the mobile edition of Magic 2015 is available for free on:

    Google Play: link to play.google.com
    iTunes: link to itunes.apple.com

    Not sure how they compare but I imagine they have built this game as a free-to-play but want to keep the PC prices the same as previous versions.

    • Gothnak says:

      You only get the first chapter on mobile, which lasts about 20 minutes, then you get asked to pay the £6.99 anyway.

      • leeblackwood says:

        That’s a total dick move.

        • Gothnak says:

          Well, i guess it’s like a demo from the 1990’s. Try before you buy kind of thang. However, styles of selling have certainly moved on in the last 20 years.

          • leeblackwood says:

            I thought it was the full game, not just a 1.3gig download to play a 20 minute game demo.

            Mobile gaming is so deceptive

          • P.Funk says:

            Mobile gaming is where bad consumers go to become worse.

  2. Gothnak says:

    I’ve been playing the iPad version, and here is something I posted on Boardgamegeek for you all..

    My advice is:

    Buy It for £6.99/$10.99 if you want a campaign of some pretty tough enemy decks where you gradually unlock all of the cards you need to defeat them. You get full deck building from a pretty large pool of cards. I now have 4 different decks with only 2 battles left in the campaign to complete it. Has the experience been worth £6.99? probably… And if i want to, i can go back and unlock all the other cards i haven’t unlocked yet. What i will be tempted to do, is to wipe my collection and start the campaign again, perhaps counting the number of losses i have had to get to the end, hope that is possible? It’s basically like Shandalar on MTG but with a set list of opponents and 10 different starting decks.

    Or:

    Don’t Buy It for all of the non premium cards unlocked. I mean, you have lost THE WHOLE POINT OF MAGIC!… Opening a pack and making your deck better, trying to win with an inferior deck against the odds, what are you doing unlocking all the cards you loonie?

    Or:

    Don’t Buy It to play Multiplayer. Although you can deck build and see loads different decks coming to fore, fundamentally you’ll need to buy premium boosters to be competitive, so you will lose or you’ll pay. If you do want to buy premium boosters, go and play some Friday Night Magic at your local gaming store, and you might win something, and you get to keep your cards in 2016, without them miraculously disappearing.

    • Vandelay says:

      I picked up Magic 2014 during the Steam sale and have been really enjoying just playing through the campaign (I did try playing multiplayer once, but it failed to find a game 3 or 4 times, so gave up.) That does make me tempted to pick this up too and to start playing real people.

      However, it does sound like the monetisation really break this game and it is still quite limited in the number of cards included in the game. I thought that Magic Online might be a viable alternative, but I tried the trial of that last night and the interface is one of the most horrific things I have ever seen (and I thought Duels was bad enough.)

      • Gothnak says:

        If you don’t play multiplayer then the monetisation won’t affect you. You will be able to unlock all the non premium cards by playing AI opponents. Sure, you won’t get the premium cards, but you won’t need them anyway.

        Once you have won 60-70 cards (You get 15 a win vs AI after the first world) you’ll be able to start thinking about changing the base two colours of your deck. Initially however you are stuck with the pair of colours you go for at the beginning.

        There is a LOT more deck buildings options than in 2014 as in previous MTG games you start with a prebuilt deck and you only get cards that fit it.

        For example. This time i started with a terrible Black/Green deck which was very difficult to win with. Initially my random packs allowed me to improve it slightly. However, i now have enough cards to build many decks of my choosing. I have a Green/Black a White/Red, a Blue/White and just put all of my lifegain together to create a fun Black/White. None of these are created for me, just the initial Green/Black.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        The first Duels of the Planeswalkers game I bought was the 2012 version, I believe. Since then I’ve considered the awful monetisation and simply get the game and dlc when they’re highly discounted. That way I end up paying roughly the same as the original price for the game. If the dlc is even worse this time I’ll probably just stick to the previous versions.

        • jrodman says:

          I buy the game when the next year is about to ship for around 5-7 dollars.

          However, in-game nags are enough of a turnoff to skip this round entirely.

          2014 was the worst experience so far for me, because the AI opponents have stupidly stacked opening hands every time.

  3. Morph says:

    I’m happy for some personal opinion to slip into the news. Your comments about Magic 2015 have put me off wasting my money so… thanks!

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    It’s an odd thing to ponder, that – news on RPS. See, I have never thought of RPS as a news site and certainly did not get into reading the site for newsy content. And furthermore, due to the 12(?) posts a day thing, most news on RPS usually ends up being more like olds. But on the other hand you can’t not post newsy stuff. And not all news is worth writing some big blurb about. Sooooo yeah, maybe batching less article-worthy newsy stuff into posts is a good way to go?

    • LTK says:

      I dunno. Release roundups have a chance of getting reactions like “Why hasn’t this game been included?” and such. But I appreciate release announcements on RPS, it reminds me of games I would otherwise have forgotten about.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      That’s the thing: news isn’t why people like RPS. But news is useful and people tend to appreciate having it. What I’ve been turning over in my head is, what could we do that’s news-y but not the sort of thing I’ve been doing for five years? I have a fair few ideas going round, some of which may work out and many that’ll inevitably be awful. Sorry about those awful ones.

      (Though, even our most sprawling of features do tend to cover new things, which perhaps qualifies as news in the newspaper sense. Is probably an argument someone could make. I’ll just take an edge of it. News new news? New news. News.)

      • DumbparameciuM says:

        Alice, firstly kudos for giving us readers the chance to be heard!

        I, for one, am pretty tired of having to scroll through three or four game announcements to get to an article with some substance to it. I find it to be especially frustrating if they’re kickstarter announcements, or two/three paragraphs of pithy text wrapped around a press release quote and an embedded trailer. I don’t come to rps to read those articles and I’m not sure what they add to the site. If i want to read stuff like that, I’ll go to ign or some other soulless pit who are only good for release dates and pricing. I think examining alternative formats/presentations for this sort of news can only serve to benefit the site. I’d make suggestions but I’m pretty sure you’re cleverer than I am so I’ll leave it to you.

        I’d like to add that none of these criticisms are directed at any one writer here at rps.

      • bill says:

        A few thoughts:

        – I think many don’t come to RPS for the news, but for the writing, humour* and curation of interesting content.
        – Too much news can make it hard to find the actual content. But then again, many of us only read RPS, so no news might leave us uninformed.
        – Posts about something you think looks interesting/cool = value. Posts about something meh or that you have no opinion on or haven’t tried = worthless. (eg, probably this post) **
        – RPS needs better organization. (see next post)

        *(humour is great in a detailed article, but if the news story is 95% random humour and 5% news, that might be a sign that the news isn’t worth posting).
        **(and news posts where the writer clearly thinks the game looks meh tend to look like the writer just needed a post at 7pm and had nothing to write, so they grabbed a random trailer and stuck in some random comedy).

      • bill says:

        Re: Organization:

        RPS is still organised like a blog. I’m not sure that’s the best format these days. It basically means everything gets lumped together in one chronological stream, whether it be something hugely important or something minor. A few tiny news posts about dull trailers can push an important topic off the front page. (I know the box at the top is a kind of hack to avoid this, but it’s not that successful).

        We need different news in different ways:
        – We don’t need a news post about every new/upcoming release or every trailer, but it would be handy to have a small list of upcoming/recent games and trailers on the sidebar. You could probably even set this to be updated automatically, from external sources.
        – A similar sidebar of recent bargains/sales that was continually updated might also be useful.
        This would remove the need for the majority of the news posts.

        Your main assets are your writers! So get them front and center. Give each of them a column, like writers in a proper newspaper. The each column would get a couple of updates a week, talking about whatever that writer wants to talk about (it might be a collection of interesting trailers*, or what they’ve been playing*, or something happening in the games world, etc..) (charlie brooker has a column on the guardian, why doesn’t Alec Meer have a column on RPS?)

        Redesign your information architecture and front page to organize things by content type. For example:
        – Editorials
        – Wot I Thinks
        – Discussions
        – Activism
        – Game Diaries (— lots more of these please)
        – Interviews
        – Podcasts / Let’s Plays / Discussions /etc..
        – Guest posts

        Make the front page show the most recent of EACH of those categories, and also the columns. Like the front page of a newspaper.

        *this, combined with the lists of new/upcoming games/trailers would cover 99% of the current news posts.

        PS/ I’ll come and sort it out for you, if you want. (and if you pay me ;-) )

  5. Guggenheimlich says:

    I second the call for fewer but longer news posts, recapping a bunch of recent smallish events. Of course, if there is a way to make a small non-news news post really funny, I am also for that.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      Just to be contrary, I would prefer more, more focussed news posts. The headlines can only be so long and I’d rather not miss something because it wasn’t in the introbabble that I can see on the main page. And each game having its own article and introbabble leads to more “huh, that looks interesting, I would like to know more” moments rather than “I don’t recognise any of these games’ names so won’t bother with this article”, meaning I only end up reading about games I already knew about.

      More generally, I’ve been pretty happy with how the news has been working on RPS recently. I know it may not catch everything but I don’t necessarily want it to, that articles get written when something catches someone’s eye is a system that works for me.

  6. Lacero says:

    A daily/weekly/irregular small news collection post could work.

    That said, being told there’s a new teaser trailer for something, or that a teaser trailer release date has been announced is not interesting at all. Personally I could live without trailers or any pre-news at all.

    Ok except games like deus-ex or hl3 or something, but there needs to be real info around to make it worth reading more than the headline. So… yeah hard job. Good luck.

    • joshg says:

      Seconded. Posts that are purely “here’s a teaser trailer” or “this game we already told you about now has a release date” are mostly skippable stuff for me.

      Opinionated previews, news that something cool is actually available right now, much better.

      • DanMan says:

        This. Noone cares about pure marketing “blergh”, but I could see a weekly thing going like “new trailers this week”. Or worse: announcements of announcements.

  7. BathroomCitizen says:

    The way news are told right now works pretty good for me, even though, yeah… maybe less trailers.
    I don’t care if RPS doesn’t tell me EVERYTHING about what’s happening in the whole PC gaming world right now: most of that stuff is useless.
    I just love seeing your personal opinions and takes on things.

    By the way, even if this doesn’t concern the news section, I’d like to see more gaming diaries on RPS – sometimes reading about gaming adventures is more fun than playing the game itself!
    Wordsmiths like you guys, are something special, because you can turn even a crappy game into a cool narrative journey. And then people feel part of it too.

  8. Bob_Bobson says:

    “This game is out now” is news I find good and valuable. “This game will be out sometime and looks interesting because…” is news I find good and valuable. “This game will be out at exactly such and such moment and here’s it’s marketing trailer regurgitated verbatim” is news I find to be dull and of little value. But then I almost never watch videos on RPS, my soundspace is usually busy elsewhere so it’s text and pictures only for me, which biases me against trailers.

    I’ve avoided the Magic games because deck building is what I want Magic for, I’m hoping for a WIT for this one because it might be just what I’ve been waiting for.

  9. Ross Angus says:

    Well, I come here for the jokes. Keep up the good work, Alice.

  10. Tiguh says:

    I’m glad you asked this Alice; at least once a day I think: “Oh! That sounds interesting – where’s the link to… Oh. It’s out ‘some time next year'”.

    Also, your musings on that Proteus mod were really engrossing and well done – are you sure you can’t do non-news-y things?

    Anyway, I can’t see the difference between saying something WILL come out and saying it’s out now, and I’d much prefer the latter, but then if it’s interesting and on Kickstarter or something then it’s probably worth mentioning. But yeah, teaser video posts are just chaff IMHO.

    Personally I dislike the roundup posts. As mentioned above, the headline needs to make me want to read the post.

    You’re (all) doing an awesome job though. Keep it up! X

  11. MM1011 says:

    In general, I appreciate the news that informs me what’s happening now. RPS tends to do a lot of “Here’s this thing that’s coming out maybe sometime in the future that looks cool!” and less of (though still a good amount of) “Here’s a cool thing that’s coming out now/came out a while ago!” Particularly, there’s not always follow-up when games from the first category get finished, regardless of whether they now fit the second category. I figure this is mostly because it’s pretty easy for things to look cool in the abstract, but hard to actually be cool when it’s real and out in the world, and if they’re no longer cool, well, why bother reporting them? I’d just like to ask, if this is feasible, for a bit more follow-up.

    This request is inherently self-interested: while I enjoy reading RPS and the writers’ takes on various games, I find that what I like to play often does not intersect with what RPS writers like to play. Hence, games in my interest don’t always make news when they come out. However, they’ll often get reported on when they’re still in potentia, for whatever reason. Some more follow-up would allow would allow me to find more games I like. I figure, though, that my case isn’t that strange among RPS readers, and would be appreciated by others.

    Either way, I’m just voicing a suggestion. I enjoy the work done by this site, and look forward to its continued reporting. Thanks for the hard work already done by you and various writers here.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Agreed. I posted something similar the other day in a thread about an “early access” game, asking that RPS try to ensure that it does some kind of follow-up when these games are actually available.

      Maybe a regular round-up of new releases would be a good feature?

  12. malkav11 says:

    For what it’s worth, I read pretty much just the headline for anything that’s not an actual article. I don’t care about trailers for games that aren’t out yet. I don’t care about trailers, full stop, to be honest, and I only care about games that aren’t out yet if a) they’re crowdfunding or early access, or b) you have actual hands on time with one of them and want to share some thoughts about it (even that tends to depend. I really valued the early couple of impressions about Divinity: Original Sin, but for the most part your average AAA game is something I’d just as soon wait til release to hear about). I have some interest in news of the “something eventful has happened in the gaming community” variety, particularly if you have opinions to share about them, but for the majority of stuff I’d wager one or two weekly roundup articles would be fine. I’d rather read WITs and opinion pieces and such, by and large.

  13. valrus says:

    I would actually prefer regular self-contained columns: trailer roundups, Kickstarters/Greenlight campaigns of note, etc. I look forward to the Bargain Bucket, Sunday Papers, Devlog Watch, Lighthouse Keeper, etc., whereas I would be annoyed if “there’s a sale”, “someone wrote something”, “minor game got updated” were packaged as news. So maybe my annoyance at “AAA trailer”, “Kickstarter announcement”, etc. would go away, maybe even be turned into anticipation.

    But add some value! Review the trailers, even facetiously, or award them for things like Best Supporting Actor. Gamble on Kickstarter prospects, and keep a running score of who in the hivemind best predicts success. Give us a recipe for a thematically appropriate adult beverage (Kickstarter with a Kick?)

    The other reason I like the columns is that RPS headlines and first paragraphs are comparatively opaque, and I can’t always tell what kind of news something is, until (often) the last line of the first or second paragraph: “… and it’s on sale now” or “… and is seeking funding through Kickstarter”, etc. I’ve been drawn to recognizable headlines (WIT, etc.) in part out of fatigue.

  14. OceanIris says:

    Halloo! (Phone interprets as “Gallop” , equally okay.)

    I like your posts. While I, as those above me, don’t equate RPS with “news”, Alice’s posts have also never struck me as “news”.

    This is a good thing. I enjoy that your news read as a person’s opinion; that they have some persona to them. The article body, and the subject it describes, has a raison d’être–there is soul in your news! Very good! There’s room for Wot Others Think, but there’s also room to hear about kool new things that haven’t been heard about, described in correspondingly fun correspondence.

    “TLDR” (of which has a great, too long, well read Wikipedia article, discovered after not knowing what the fuck these acronyms mean), keep on keeping on.

    This was my first post after 4 years of readership. Let that be a discerning vote!

  15. thesleeper7 says:

    Why would one fork over all the cash to play Magic20XX, when you can play the far superior Magarena for free? It has more cards(about 6000), better AI, better interface.

    link to code.google.com

  16. agitated_android says:

    I only read one site for gaming. For the slow, that would be this site, here, the one you’re also reading. While I can appreciate that writing a post just to say, “that game we told you about 6 months ago? that’s out now.” could be a tad boring for the editor, it is appreciated.

    If one wanted to make things easier on the reader, the “game is out!” posts could be moved to a separate feed. I would certainly appreciate a “game we told you about six months ago is now available for exchange of seashells” feed.

  17. Mitchy.Fiasco says:

    Sign this petition to let WotC know we are not happy with their decision to sell us half of a game for full price. We need 2HG back! The game isnt fun with out our friends!

    link to change.org