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

posted by BrianBoyko on - last edited - Viewed by 888 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
  • @Dedlok said: Okay, since you obviously know so much about game programming and testing I am looking forward to your poker video game.


    What kind of argument is that? Knowing how a poker game should be made and having the time and money to actually make one are two different things.

  • @furrykef said: What kind of argument is that? Knowing how a poker game should be made and having the time and money to actually make one are two different things.

    So is arguing about a game's system when you have no background nor history mentioned on any coding of any kind, and arguing about a game's system that you, as part of a team that you know well and that has years of game coding experience, designed and released.

  • I don't know about BrianBoyko, but I've been programming for at least 15 years and have a Nintendo DS game under my belt (and contributed significantly to a second DS game that has been completed and is currently on Kickstarter), and I agree with him.

    Of course, years of experience doesn't keep me from being a moron, but that applies equally to Telltale coders too. :P (I'm not saying they are, mind...)

  • @Nova! said: So is arguing about a game's system when you have no background nor history mentioned on any coding of any kind, and arguing about a game's system that you, as part of a team that you know well and that has years of game coding experience, designed and released.

    This.

    And in game programming time is indeed money. Programmers actually get paid in money and so do playtesters. The more time spent programming and playtesting one thing means they can't work on/test other things or get moved to other jobs that need their attention. And whether they get paid by salary or hourly, the more time spent on a particular thing means the more money is spent on someone working on just that thing.

    Also, I am not say that Telltale is perfect, only that they are human. Humans make mistakes and only have so much time and energy to work on things. They did as much programming and playtesting as they possibly could to get the game out and during an internal scheduling period they deemed to get the game out as perfect and as done as they could without spending so much money that it would be unprofitable.

  • @furrykef said: I don't know about BrianBoyko, but I've been programming for at least 15 years and have a Nintendo DS game under my belt (and contributed significantly to a second DS game that has been completed and is currently on Kickstarter), and I agree with him.

    Of course, years of experience doesn't keep me from being a moron, but that applies equally to Telltale coders too. :P (I'm not saying they are, mind...)


    It's easy to make claims about having experience in one field or another. I could claim I know everything there is to know about particle physics and have a doctorate. But unless I offer up proof of that, I'm just full of hot air.

    I'm pointing this out to you not because I disagree with you or with the thread's creator--in fact I do somewhat agree about a few of the things, especially the unskippable and overly repetitive dialogue(but then everyone agrees with that one, I think)--but because you're not helping your argument by making claims like that without evidence. Said claims are too easy to dismiss and too many people will look at that rather than at what you're actually trying to say.

    Or in other words: if you're going to argue, argue effectively. Don't include things that make it easy to dismiss the totality of your argument over one little part.

  • @Kyronea said: It's easy to make claims about having experience in one field or another. I could claim I know everything there is to know about particle physics and have a doctorate. But unless I offer up proof of that, I'm just full of hot air.


    I could offer proof of it and still be full of hot air. I don't really like arguing from authority. I only objected because someone seemed to assume, with no justification, that we have no experience in game development. (At least, that's what I took away from that post. I had a little trouble understanding it.) And we all know what happens when you assume, right?

    Also, somebody who would "dismiss the totality of [an] argument over one little part" is probably not very interested in the facts in the first place.

  • @Nova! said: So is arguing about a game's system when you have no background nor history mentioned on any coding of any kind, and arguing about a game's system that you, as part of a team that you know well and that has years of game coding experience, designed and released.

    I've been programming for over eight years and it's common sense to anyone that's coded something more than a double or barely triple digit line single file code that changing the core engine is about as simple as going back and changing the shape of a house's foundation after the basement and above ground framework are finished. Just because he didn't supply any background doesn't mean he was pulling this out of nowhere.

  • I don't think anyone was arguing about whether it was easy to change an existing core engine. Our argument was over the feasibility of building the game around an open-source poker engine that already implements the rules of poker correctly (before building anything else for the game in the first place), or at the least, using such an engine as a source of unit tests.

    One thing to bear in mind here is Poker Night has had a horrible history of implementing the rules of poker correctly. In the unpatched version of Poker Night 1, players could raise almost any amount they wanted, even if it was much too small to be a legal raise. Then they patched that -- incorrectly, so the minimum bet on every round was the size of the last bet or raise on the previous round. Somewhere around this time it was noticed that the blinds were backwards when it was heads up -- the button was the big blind when he should have been the small blind. Then this was patched, but somehow raising got messed up so that raising put more money in the pot than it should, which has never been patched in Poker Night 1 and still exists in the console versions of Poker Night 2. If it's $1000 to call and you raise $3000, it will put $5000 in the pot instead of $4000. Then there's the bug of raises less than the minimum (due to going all-in) are reopening the betting when they shouldn't.

    All this could have been avoided if they'd simply used or adapted a poker engine that already works from the outset. That might well have taken them more time, but I think the result would also be much more likely to be bug-free. After all, somebody else has already taken the time to get the bugs out of the engine. They could also reuse any AIs written for the engine, saving time there, and they might well have been better AIs.

    Now, can I state with 100% confidence that Telltale took the wrong approach? No, not really. I don't know how Telltale's code and tools work. But if I were to have designed their tools then I would have done my best to allow them to be flexible enough to do something such as this.

  • Regardless of how "hard" something is, whether or not it is hard, it should have been done.

    Poker Night promised two things:

    * Play poker

    * Listen to funny stories.

    The poker rules are incorrectly implemented, and the repetition makes the funny stories not so funny.

    So even if it would have required more time and more work, I think it would have been worth it to work on those two things, if you're going to charge money for it.

    I mean, you had the money to pay Patrick Warburton...

  • I could forgive all of the errors, problems and lackluster features if it atleast read my hands correctly. I keep losing because it keeps reading two pair in instead of full house, one pair instead of flush or straight and so on. It makes the game almost unplayable.

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