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I hate to say it, but you dropped the ball.

posted by BrianBoyko on - last edited - Viewed by 1.2K users

Okay, I really, *really* was looking forward to PN2.

But I can't help but be really disappointed by this game. In short, Telltale phoned it in.

It is difficult to script, animate, etc., all the different interactions. I get that.

But unfortunately, this is an inartful sequel, that suffers from problems that you had three years to fix.

Problem 1: Poker

Despite three years since the last Poker Night, you didn't actually fix what were serious flaws in the poker engine. Misreading hands, illegal moves by characters (such as re-opening betting when a re-open isn't allowed) - these are basic mistakes in the hard and fast rules of poker. Certainly, there are strategic mistakes as well, such as offering No Limit Omaha instead of Pot Limit, only offering 25 big blind tournaments, etc, but honestly, the poker engine has to be the easiest part of the game to playtest, fix, and improve.

Problem 2: Dialogue

The game is like a Skinner box with the laughs. 97% of the game is repeated dialogue, and I'll go three or four tournaments without hearing something new. But the fact is, there is new dialogue, it's just doled out randomly. Additionally, many of the animations are annoying as hell. Like Claptrap's bbbbbbbbbb stuttering, which is only funny the first time, AND prevents the player from taking actions in the hand.

A simple algorithm which weights material which hasn't been played recently heavier than material which has would have fixed this problem immensely, and would have been relatively easy to implement. But you guys didn't do that either.

Problem 3: Scripting.

While you guys did an okay job, I'm not sure that you got the character's scripting right. Glados being the notable example - Glados was ironic and playful, teasing, and subtle. Glados the dealer hits you with a brick with the "kill yourself" remarks.

Problem 4: AI

This may improve with further play, but honestly, at least in the beginning, the aggressive AI of Ash AND the 25 big blind structure makes the game into a crapshoot. You can't wait for good cards, either, because the blinds go up every five hands. They're not as fun to play against, strategically, as the original Poker Night players. Considering how bad those guys were at poker, I think that's saying something.

Conclusion: You phoned it in.

I hate to say it, but you really phoned this one in. Maybe it was considered a throw-away title, but anything worth doing is worth doing well, and you just didn't do this well. I'm not saying that I'm angry or anything, I'm not demanding a refund - hell, I'll keep playing the game, but I am saying that I'm very disappointed in this game. Instead of being the first to preorder PN3, when that comes out, I'm going to hold off and wait for the reviews.

This could have been a knockout. But, it's just not very good.

31 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @BrianBoyko said: Glados was ironic and playful, teasing, and subtle.

    No she wasn't. Ever.

    She constantly called Chell fat and and mocked her parents' deaths.

  • Her real parents or her foster parents?

  • GLaDOS was.... playful? Was... teasing?

    ... No offense, Brian, but there is no way I can respond to this without being condescending. You monster.

  • I can deal with 3/4 of these problems.

    Just please give us a dialogue skip option.

    Please.

    Please.

  • I will agree with you on the dialogue.

    In my first game I got repeated dialogue from Brock. My FIRST game! It's too bad that they didn't implement the "random" function of most mp3 shuffles, where songs are doled out randomly but not repeated until exhausted.

    It's too bad because I like the dialogue, but it certainly loses its appeal when you hear the same jokes over and over.

  • @ploot said: I will agree with you on the dialogue.

    In my first game I got repeated dialogue from Brock. My FIRST game! It's too bad that they didn't implement the "random" function of most mp3 shuffles, where songs are doled out randomly but not repeated until exhausted.

    It's too bad because I like the dialogue, but it certainly loses its appeal when you hear the same jokes over and over.

    I wouldn't say I'd want to have no repetition whatsoever, because there ARE a few jokes I wouldn't mind hearing again (or ones I missed by accident/never finished due to the hand ending). But some kind of "lower priority" system for dialogues already played would certainly be welcome, or just a skip function period.

  • As somebody who was quite disappointed with Poker Night 1, this is exactly what I feared. I have yet to purchase Poker Night 2 and I'm not sure I ever will. I might pick it up if it goes on sale on Steam, but even the $5 seems too much to ask.

    I'm biased since I was a semi-pro poker player, though, so I have rather higher standards for what makes a good poker game than most people. Still, following the rules of poker correctly is where I draw the line, especially considering there are probably lots of open-source engines that do that already. Even if they couldn't use that code directly for some reason (maybe it wouldn't work with Telltale's tools), they could at least study it and make sure their own poker engine handles all the special cases.

    I know a lot of people (including Telltale themselves) excused the AI in Poker Night 1 by saying it's not meant to be the strongest poker AI ever, but it should at least have a proper understanding of pot odds -- the #1, most fundamental aspect of poker strategy, and the first thing any serious player learns -- and PN1 didn't seem to. There is a happy middle ground between "ignorant of poker" and "Phil Ivey", y'know. I can't judge Poker Night 2 on this because, again, I don't have it.

    Telltale's attitude seems to be something like, "Well, 90% of our customers aren't going to have played a serious game of poker, so we don't have to fully understand poker either". To be fair, they appear to be right. Players like you and me just aren't on their radar.

    I have to be fair and say they did a better job than some other poker games I've played. Most poker video games before the poker boom of the mid-2000s only had five-card draw or seven-card stud, even though hold'em was already well established as the 'default' casino poker game, and five-card draw in particular was played virtually nowhere outside of Gardena. Even if you were lucky enough to get stud instead of draw, you'd probably play no-limit or spread-limit instead of the standard fixed-limit, and stud doesn't really play well with either. They would do things like make antes way too high and with some of them I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't even know A2345 is a straight. These games weren't designed by people who understand poker and they probably assumed that little details like these don't matter. Well, they do. If the details didn't matter, nobody would have thought of them.

    I also made it a sort of hobby of mine to download strip poker games and run circles around the AI just for the hell of it (not for the nekkid girls, 'cause those are only a click away on the internets these days). It's usually pretty darn easy to do.

  • I love the the characters in the game and the dialogue break the monotony of most Poker games. The game play is one of the worst I have play in a longtime. The games algorithm is way off, after 10 hands only 2 were remotely playable (J and 8 suited, K and 2). After that I pretty much played ever hand out of boredom and lost. Of course you can tell me to be more patient with it and hold out for a better hand. The auto save is a bit annoying causing the game sound to skip over and over, I though the game crashed a couple of times. Sorry for any misspelling, using my cellphone. I hope this gets fixed soon, so far low rating on game play.

  • @BrianBoyko said: but honestly, the poker engine has to be the easiest part of the game to playtest, fix, and improve.

    tumblr_mm57nbs8qt1qlqf5vo1_500.jpg

    Yes. The system that has an absurdly high number of scenario possibilities and combinations is the "easiest part" to playtest, fix and improve. Especially with a small dedicated team of people.

    And, no, they did NOT have 3 years to work on this as the majority of the 3 years between Poker Night 1 and 2 had the people assigned to work on the various games they released between the 2. In fact, I am pretty sure not all the people that was working on PN1 in some shape and form was working on PN2. At least in regards to the stage where them working on the game would show up Steam Friends Notifications.

  • @Dedlok said: Yes. The system that has an absurdly high number of scenario possibilities and combinations is the "easiest part" to playtest, fix and improve. Especially with a small dedicated team of people.


    Considering that it's a simple matter to just find a well-written poker engine that already implements the rules correctly, well, yeah. As I said before, even if they couldn't use it as-is for some reason, it would make a pretty good reference. My own personal approach would be to write automated unit tests for all the funky cases.

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