Outer Wilds

Outer Wilds is 2019 open world mystery game developed by Mobius Digital and published by Annapurna Interactive. It is a critically acclaimed and award-winning game where you play as a space recruit exploring a solar system trapped in a time loop.

The official reveal trailer for Outer Wilds

Elemental Tetrad


In Outer Wilds, you play as a Hearthian – an alien race native to the planet of Timber Hearth – who joins the Outer Wilds Ventures space program to explore and learn more about the solar system and its history, mainly, the history of the Nomai – another alien species that previously inhabited this solar system. The Nomai were highly advanced in technology but their race has gone extinct for mysterious reasons.

A Nomai
A group of Hearthians

The story begins with the player preparing for their first-ever space expedition! While exploring the solar system the sun goes into supernova but instead of dying the player goes back in time 22 minutes before the sun explodes. That is when they realize that they are stuck in a 22-minute time loop that ends whenever the sun explodes or the player dies.

The different planets in the solar system contain Nomai remains with clues that link to their history. The main premise of the game is to use these clues to uncover the story of the Nomai and their extinction, understand the cause of the time loop and some of the weird happenings of the solar system.


The player has a spaceship that can be used to fly around the solar system. Although the controls are simple, navigating the spaceship can be quite challenging due to the physics of the game with each planet having a different gravitational pull force, this can cause the player to crash and damage their ship in many different ways.

The player can explore the planets deeper by putting on their space suit, grabbing their oxygen tank, and walking around the planet. They can walk, jump, and interact with some objects by picking them up and putting them down.

Additionally, the player is equipped with a translator that can translate Nomai scripts into a language that Hearthians can understand. These scripts are usually found on walls and they look like curves that glow purple and turn orange after reading them. These texts are dialogues between Nomai that contain hints and information about the solar system as well as Nomai history and technology. These dialogues are the primal source of knowledge in the game and the player is required to connect the dots through different texts found on different planets.

Using the translator to translate some Nomai writing on a wall


A planetary chart of the Outer Wilds solar system

Outer Wilds uses 3D graphics and goes for a sci-fi aesthetic. The solar system of Outer Wilds contains 6 unrealistically small planets. The game focuses more on the design and details of every planet rather than making the game look realistic. Each planet in the solar system is completely unique and designed to stand out for one reason or another. For example, one planet has a black hole in its core that teleports you to the opposite side of the solar system and another planet has giant cyclones that shoot small islands into its orbits before falling back into the planet.

Brittle Hollow – planet with a black hole at its core
Giant’s Deep – planet filled with cyclones


The game was developed using Unity engine. It runs on Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4/5, and a Nintendo Switch version is currently under development. It is best played using a controller. The game does not run on VR, however, since Outer Wilds is an atmospheric game I believe that playing the game in VR would add to the immersion experience and enhance the atmosphere of the game.


Lense of Curiosity

Outer Wilds is purely driven by the curiosity of the player. The game hands the player a spaceship in the beginning and throws them into space with no direction at all, except for one question: Where do you want to go? It could be the weird smoke coming from the moon, some Nomai script they found guiding them to a specific location on another planet, or a strange-looking planet that caught their eye. Outer Wilds rewards its players with knowledge for following their curiosity and more questions start forming with that knowledge, slowly piecing the story of this universe together. This serves as a positive feedback loop where the game encourages curiosity and rewards the player for acting upon it.

Lense of Freedom

Unlike most games, Outer Wilds does not state any clear goals or objectives to the player. It does not have a list of quests for the player to fulfill. Once they get access to their spaceship, every single planet is accessible for them to go to with no restraints. This amount of freedom could be overwhelming to some players especially since each planet has random clues and bits of information about Nomai history with no clear chronological indication. Keeping track of bits of knowledge can be challenging to piece together, so the game balances this out by keeping a ship log in the player’s spaceship. The ship log serves as a log with all the important information discovered so far about every planet. The player can utilise it to make sense of all the information they found and it could help them decide which area they want to explore next.

Lense of Time

Time is an important element in Outer Wilds. First of all, each time loop is 22 minutes long meaning that by the beginning of each loop, the player has to decide what tasks they want to achieve in that limited time. Usually, when you discover you’re in a time loop and each run is time-limited you’d think that you would want to explore a location as quickly as you can before your time runs out and you lose all your progress. However, Outer Wilds uses time to its advantage by making both being fast and waiting rewarding. Some areas require the player to go at the beginning of the loop while others require they wait for some time to pass.

The Amber twin at the top and the Ash twin at the bottom

The best example of this in the game are the Hourglass Twins. The Hourglass Twins are binary planets orbiting each other. The first twin, the Ash twin, is a planet filled with sand, and the other twin, the Amber twin, is a rocky planet with a cave system. Due to the change in the gravitational pull of these planets, the sand from the Ash twin moves to the Amber twin filling up its cave system and creating an Hourglass-looking effect when observed from a distance. The player can only explore the cave system in the Amber twin at the beginning of the loop before the sand fills up, otherwise, they’ll get crushed inside. On the other hand, the sand leaving the Ash twin uncovers some structures hidden underneath that they cannot access until some time passes.

Lense of Emotion

Outer Wilds evokes a wide range of emotions in its players. From fear and sadness to hope and happiness. The game is filled with chilling revelations and intense moments that are amplified by the imagery, atmosphere, and soundtrack. One of the more emotional revelations was finding out how the Nomai died. Throughout the game, you can see many Nomai skeletons littered around the solar system on different planets. Seeing their remains, in the beginning, does not have much of an emotional impact because you are told from the start about this ancient civilization that has gone extinct, so, seeing their dead bodies is not surprising. However, the more Nomai dialogues you find and read you, the more you start getting attached to the characters that appear recurrently in these dialogues and their journey in this solar system. Later on, discovering the cause of their extinction and finding some of their dead bodies nearby accompanied by well-crafted emotional music can fill you with complete sadness and devastation.




It Takes Two is an action-adventure platform video game developed by Hazelight Studios and published by Electronic Arts. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in March 2021, and was released for Nintendo Switch in November 2022. Like Hazelight’s debut game A Way Out, it does not have a single-player option. It is playable only in either online or local split screen cooperative multiplayer between two players.
It Takes Two received favorable reviews from critics and won multiple year-end accolades, including the Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2021 and the 25th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards. The game was a commercial success, with more than 7 million copies sold by July 2022.

Elemental Tetrad

“It Takes Two” is an action-adventure game with platforming elements designed for multiplayer split-screen cooperative play, which means it must be played with another player in either local or online mode. Nearly all the combat and puzzle solving in each level revolves around a theme, requiring players to not only use various interactive items scattered around the map to clear their way, but also to work with another player or they won’t be able to move forward.
For example, in one early level, Mei got the hammer, while Cody gained the ability to shoot and retrieve nails. Part of the platform needs to use the hammer to smash the organs to lift to a specific location, when you have to aim at the platform and the wall between the small hole, using nails to fix it; there are some partial action part is to use the dynamic cooperation between the two, such as players can be laterally embedded in the board nails as “leverage”, through the hammer hook swing to another platform.

Intuitively, there are seven levels in total, but the best part is that “It Takes Two” does not pursue the so-called “holistic”, but rather each level has its own unique gameplay, two players control two characters, each with corresponding abilities in each level, and even a combination of platform jumping, The game even combines platform jumping, decryption, audio games, real-time RPG, action games, TPS, and even tower defense elements.

  In “It Takes Two”, players take on the roles of Cody and May, two strained partners who have been turned into dolls by some unknown magic. The two are trapped in a wonderful world where unpredictable situations lurk around every corner, and even though they have a thousand reluctances they must learn to overcome their differences, save their broken relationship, and find their way home to their beloved daughter Rose.

The game adopts an animation style that most people can accept, full of fairy tales, you will meet the angry toolbox, high-tech squirrels, space monkey dolls guarding their daughter, the queen of the magic castle, elephant doll “cute”, the game is full of wild imagination, the characters are full of personality and likeable, more like a cartoon. Each map from the style and details are perfect, and invites imagination. Of course, we can also see the game for the well-known animation movie “Toy Story” reference and tribute, this work naturally has the producer’s own excellent design concept, the pursuit of two-player games, the pursuit of the game’s original intention: to let players experience the simple and pure joy.

The design team supported the AngelScript scripting language in the Unreal Engine (UE4) as a fast scripting layer between C++ and the blueprint editor. This allows for quick programming in the scripting language. While the game is running, the script is modified and saved, and the changes immediately appear on the screen. This change is useful not only for programmers, but also for designers, allowing them to be involved in the entire development of the gameplay, greatly increasing their productivity.

Other Lens

Essential experience
Two’s Company is an action-adventure game with platformer elements designed for multiplayer split-screen cooperative play, meaning that it must be played with another player, either locally or in online mode. It’s the communication between the two players, helping each other to overcome the challenges that make this game so impressive.

Problem solving
Almost all of the combat and puzzle solving in each level revolves around a certain theme, and players not only need to use various interactive items scattered around the map to clear their way, but also need to work with another player or they won’t be able to move forward.

Although this game only seems to be 13 to 18 hours long, it is almost a super “stitch monster” in terms of the richness of the gameplay. Before you get bored with a particular mechanic, the game will quickly move on to new content. One minute we’re lone hunters with grease guns and cannons, the next we’re mastering the ability to grow bigger and smaller and control gravity, the next we’re mages and warriors …… The gameplay is so diverse that you never know what abilities you’ll gain and what adventures you’ll embark on until you reach the next chapter. Surprise and fun always fill this game.

Roughly speaking, the whole work contains no less than thirty scenes. A seemingly simple house, in a combination of reality and reality, there is a world of difference. It is through these scenes that the developers have orchestrated an adventure about the resurgence of love.
Hazelight also gives the player a certain degree of freedom. In these beautiful scenes, usually configured with semi-open levels, such as ice town, toy town, etc.. Not only is the scenery unique, but there is also a lot of interactive content hidden here. The more unmissable details also lie in the occasional communication and interaction between couples.
Players are still jumping up and down in the pile of pillows, and in a short time, with the scene of the retro game machine, into outer space; when from the universe back to Earth, players will be like walking around, such as the toy room, classroom, dinosaur park, island paradise, circus, Lego Castle and other scenes.
No one knows what will happen next, and it is in this way that the players’ curiosity is aroused.


Gameplay video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAMPr9kytfk

The Elemental Tetrad

Introduction & Story

Valheim is a 3D survival game for 1~10 players, based on the Norse mythologies where players need to gather resources, craft tools and weapons, build shelters, and finally find defeat bosses to prove themselves to the god Odin.


The game unfolds in a huge, dynamic and procedurally generated world free for the player to explore, while the flow of the game is sequential. 

The game starts off with players at the world origin with an altar where players can give loots from each of the 6 bosses to be defeated as sacrifice to Odin. The world consists of many biomes such as dark forests, swaps and mountains. In each biome, there are different types of crafting materials and monsters. There is also one boss corresponding to each biome type. 

Players can explore the world, find the bosses and defeat them, but in a sequential manner, as there are also mechanics discouraging players from going to and explore meaningfully a biome that corresponds to a later boss. For example, the Dark Forest has an abundance of copper mines, but players need to defeat the previous boss to craft their first pick-axe to do minings.


In terms of graphics and modelling, the game is not great. In fact, entities in the game has very coarse 3D meshes and the animations are not impressive. However, the game has very impressive rendering and lighting effects.

However, the game has immersive background music that corresponds to the theme of each biome. In the case of players entering a “higher level biome” for the first time, there will also be eerie music sounds alerting you that you are entering a biome beyond your strength.


Valheim is an indie game developed by Iron Gate Studio consisting of only 5 developers. It is developed using Unity game engine. Despite many different elements and game mechanics, the game is surprisingly small (probably as a result of low mesh counts for in-game entities), as the program size is less than 1 Gigabyte, and it has very low system requirements.

Game Interface


#3 Lens of Venue

The game map is randomly generated for each game, so it ensures unique gameplay each time you start with a new game character. However, different biomes have different generation criteria based on distance from world center. This ensures that new players are not challenged with different biomes when they first begin, and players are expected to travel further away from their starting point to explore as the game progresses.

#8 Lens of Problem Solving

To defeat each boss, players need to first explore and find the altar for the boss. At the altar, players must provide a specific item available in the biome as sacrifice to summon and defeat the boss. A carved stone at the altar shows a riddle hinting the correct sacrifice item. This mechanism not only compels players to think and solve the riddle, it also encourages them to explore the biome thoroughly so that they can get access to all the items in the biome.

The Altar to summon the boss

#35 Lens of Expected Value

When players are killed in Valheim, they lose all items in the inventory at the corpse and their combat and survival skill levels drop. They are then spawned and have to go to the corpse to get items recovered. Such punishments discourage players from entering a new biome or summon a boss before getting well-equipped. On the other hand, venturing into a new biome means getting access to new materials for crafting more powerful equipment. As a result, players need to weigh and think carefully whether they should continue upgrading their equipment in the current biome or advance the game progress.

#51 Lens of Imagination

One element that makes Valheim stands out from other survival games is its extreme level of realistic-ness. Buildings in Valheim follow real world physics principles – for example, different materials have load-bearing capacity, and you can see the load on each segment of a building through different color codes when building it. In addition, players also need to take into account things such as ventilation when setting up a fire indoor. Such principles enforce players to build realistic shelters, giving them a more immersive experience, making them feel as if they are warriors surviving in the wild themselves.

A player’s base in game
Cooking on fire in Valheim


  • https://store.steampowered.com/app/892970/Valheim/
  • https://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-valheim-viking-guide-for-beginners-how-to-best-survive-and-ascend-to-valhalla/1100-6487525/
  • https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/valheim-elder-boss-fight-elder-location-how-to-summon-and-beat-the-elder
  • https://www.thegamer.com/valheim-tips-recover-items-die/#restock-at-your-home-camp

Remarkerable Beat Saber, from an 8-year music player’s view

I’ve been a music game player for more than 8 years, supposed to be picky enough about them. But I still could not forget the shock brought to me by the first sight of Beat Saber, so that whenever VR comes to my mind, Beat Saber comes up. And the first thing I did after switching to a 2060 PC, was to buy a VR device to play it.

Dance Monkey • Expert • Beat Saber • Mixed Reality [1]

Published since 2018, Beat Saber is now still a widely praised VR Game on Steam. The content of Beat Saber is good, but it couldn’t achieve such a huge success without VR. On my first sight of it, a player was like a brave warrior, wielding two fantastic red and blue swords, like sword-dance, nimbly avoiding the oncoming light wall, with gorgeous light effect and epic BGM sound effect. This sums up why Beat Saber is so enaging: the strong visual impact brought by VR, the wonderful interactive UI, and the sense of engaging rooted in a music game.

Immersive VR’s application

Too many wonderful music games I’ve tried, so that I won’t cast a glance at average ones. However, in Beat Saber, it differs. Vivid music blocks, FLY onto your face, and you waving your awesome lightswords, like dancing to the beat, especially in a unacquainted wonderland. What an impressive experience! And it’s what VR can offer, a fictional world full of fancy.

Less is more. Simple UI but a multisensory interation.

[Beat Saber] YOASOBI – Racing into the Night (Yoru ni Kakeru) Collaboration with MASO [2]

On the first sight of Beat Saber, you can find there are few words in it. Instead, you are embraced by a new music world where there are many instructions hiding in the properties of objects, from sight, hearing to touch. For example, the red/blue sword is to split red/blue blocks, arrows on blocks tell you in which direction to split them, feedback like an electric shock tell you bombs and walls are to elude, and etc. All of these make the game are easy to play, like you are born to know.

Sense of engaging rooted in a music game

Hearing plays an important in our life. Even without sight, simply a piece of music can make one feel sense of engaging. In some extend, “VR in sound” is the earlist and mature technology in VR developmenyt. As a music game, Beat Saber’s sound effect is no doubt excellent. In my opinion, when a VR application is able to offer me wonderful sight and hearing experience, it’s praisable enough.

Limitations of nowadays VR interation

Not just Beat Saber, nowadays many VR applications’ interation is limited to 6 DoF VR Controller. However, due to the limited technology of the current spatial positioning equipment, the interaction between the base station and the headset VR controller will cause disorder after the user moves his/her body greatly. During the game involving movement of entire body, users may find themselves gradually move to a direction where VR controllers don’t work well.

What’ more, space is much more expensive than VR equipments. These kinds of VR applications equire a lot of space, and in small rooms, such as bedrooms, it is difficult to play, likely to hit the furniture in the room. As a result, the highest cost of this game is to have a wide room rather than a VR device, which will make such kind of VR applications not applicable.


In a conclusion, nowadays a successful VR application, in my opinion, should be a VR+X application. Only VR doesn’t work. When it combine with a good content, in this article, a wonder music game, it may be potential to gain a success.


[1] Dance Monkey • Expert • Beat Saber • Mixed Reality, xoxobluff, Youtube

[2] [Beat Saber] YOASOBI – Racing into the Night (Yoru ni Kakeru) Collaboration with MASO, Artemisblue, Youtube

Game Design Analysis – Genshin Impact


Genshin Impact is a free-to-play action role-playing game developed and published by miHoYo. The game features a fantasy open-world environment and action-based battle system using elemental magic and character-switching, and uses Gacha game monetisation for players to obtain new characters, weapons and other resources.

Four Basic Elements

  1. Story
    A pair of twins who travel across the stars and visit different worlds arrive in Teyvat but are separated by an unknown god, who takes one and seals away the other. Some undisclosed amount of time later the sealed twin, referred to as the “Traveler”, awakens and meets Paimon. The pair travel to nearby Mondstadt to start their search for their missing twin. On the conquest of finding the other twin, the Traveler has been closely involved with the occurrences in Teyvat.
  2. Mechanics
    Genshin Impact is an open world game that lets you travel to unlocked in the map.  The mechanics taught at the beginning of the gameplay includes:
    a. Exploration and unlocking different locations
    b. Solving puzzles to get rewards
    c. Completing Domains and Quests
    d. Obtaining characters, weapons and artefacts and levelling them up.
    e. Collecting recipes to cook food with different ability buffs and materials to further improve characters and weapons.
  3. Aesthetics
    Mihoyo has definitely hit the sweet spot on designing the game’s environment. There is no doubt that the city of Monstadt and Liyue has captivated gamers from their rich environment sceneries.

    Monstadt’s architecture and characters  are inspired by Germany’s Medieval buildings, with character names native to Monstadt coming from German descent.

    Liyue’s architecture, history and characters are inspired by China. In version 1.3, they are releasing an event that coincides with Chinese New Year, decorating Liyue in festive atmosphere.

  4. Technology
    Engine: Unity
    Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and 5, Android, iOS and Nintendo Switch

Lens of Freedom

The game has an open world concept where you scour every inch of the unlock-able areas in the map to search for items, solve puzzles and redeem rewards. Every area is unique and there is an in-game metric to show you what percentage of the map you have explored.

The game makes use of stamina which enables them to scale walls, glide through the wind and swim on water. Players have to strategically conserve their stamina in order to reach different locations.

Lens of Accessibility

  1. Cross Platform
    Genshin Impact enables real time gameplay between users from Windows, iOS, Android, Playstation, X-box and Switch. They have managed to reduce the latency to give the best gameplay out there.
  2. Free-To-Play
    You can download this game for free and complete the story line without paying a single cent. The game rewards you with in-game currencies that unlock new characters and weapons. However due to the ‘Gacha’ system, the characters and weapons are randomised, encouraging purchase of their in game currency to increase your chances of obtaining your favourite characters.

    Overall you will still be able to get good characters depending on your luck as they also have a pity system which guarantees you a high tier character / weapon after a few ‘Gacha’ rolls.
  3. Supported Languages
    Supported Text Languages:
    French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Thai, Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese

    Supported Voice-Over Languages:
    English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean

    This enables people from different parts of the world to understand and play the game.

Lens of Time

You can spend hours playing the main story line and even exploring with your friends. They regularly release events which prevents redundancy in the gameplay.

Although Genshin impact is free-to-play game, it has one system that tries to limit how quickly players can progress. This system is called the Resin

The resin is used to unlock and obtain special materials from different domains and challenges. These materials can be easily obtained  without using resin on the first few part of the games, but as the materials you need scale with your level, you will find yourself relying on resin to grind for such materials.

On average, your game resin will fully regenerate every 16 hours, so you have time to explore different story lines and world while doing so!

Lens of Character Traits

Each characters were carefully designed to match their overall aesthetics abilities and story line. New characters and weapons are added to their arsenal every update, enabling players to ‘Gacha roll” the season characters during specific events.

They also have their own unique elements and weapons as follows:

Elements:  Pyro, Hydro, Dendro, Electro, Anemo, Cryo and Geo

Weapon Type:  Swords, Claymores, Polearms, Catalysts and Bows


There is so much more that meets the eye in Genshin Impact. With its beautiful environments and characters filled with their rich back-stories, it is hard to believe that this game and its future updates are free. It is an immersive game that makes you lose track of time especially during exploration. The ability to play it in any device, including your smartphone enables you to play it anywhere, with the option of a more dynamic and higher resolution version on other consoles. Perhaps the Gacha and resin system are implemented in order to compensate for its free-to-play nature.

Game Analysis: Slay the spire

Slay the spire is a rouge-like card game, with heavy focus on random generation, strategy and synergy. https://igf.com/slay-spire

Rouge-likes such as slay the spire are increasing in popularity, such as those of Spelunky, Binding of Isaac and Darkest Dungeon. Rouge-likes test the player on their game knowledge such as the ability to predict enemy movements, synergy between items etc. Rouge-likes are amazing in the sense that (almost) no two games are similar – your encounter is randomized and so are your rewards. RPGs reward players by strengthening their main character with systems such as skill trees or levels. However, slay the spire takes a different approach of rewarding players by unlocking more cards and even characters, adding on to their potential arsenal. This increases the replayability of the game and motivates players to see more content as they spend more time on the game. We see something similar in another rouge-likes such as One step from Eden and Binding of Isaac

One key feature of the combat in slay the spire is cards. Cards are crucial in fighting encounters. Cards present a potentially deep strategy in general such as those we see in trading card games and board games that we are usually exposed to, but i’ll just name a few. Cards present randomness: having more copies of the same card increases the chance of you getting the card when you really need it. At the same time, having more cards in your deck makes it harder for you to draw other cards that you might have fewer copies of. Another concept of card games is synergy. In this game, cards synergies with each other, as well as the collectible relics you get along the way. An example of a synergy could be having a relic that deals more damage as you play more cards and having cards that generate draws and lower energy costs, allowing you to essentially deal more damage while lowering the resource costs.

Slay the Spire review – an electrifying sense of chaos | Games | The  Guardian
Types of cards you expect to see in slay the Spire.

Lens 2: The lens of essential experience

I believe that all rougelikes, just like Slay the Spire, aim to give the player a unique experience every time they play the game. Despite having the same rules, mechanics, enemies and themes, it never gets boring as no 2 encounters are the same.

Essentially, it is the same rules, themes, enemies and elements, but the cycle of repetition is broken with its unique encounters every time a new game is made.

Lens 4: The lens of surprise

Some rooms in the dungeon are unknown to the player. Possible outcomes such as a random marketplace, events and taking gambles to improve or worsen the player’s core stats are hidden from the player. The player may choose to enter the rooms or pick a different route.

Furthermore, enemy encounters and their respective rewards are not shown to the player prior to the encounter. It is up to the player to take the risk to either fight against a stronger encounter for a better reward, or weaker encounters for standard rewards. Also, rewards are randomised and players are given a choice to choose one that fits their current run or playstyle. Players might also be surprised to see rewards and enemies not encountered before on previous runs.

Lens 8: The lens of problem solving

As a rougelike that plays out like an RPG, Slay the Spire plays out very differently in terms of how it presents enemy actions to the player. In some RPGs, enemies have some sort of “windup” to pre-amp the player when the enemies are about to make a certain move. This is more common in games such as Dark Souls and some MMORPGs, where figuring out the actions of the boss through animations are core gameplay elements. In slay the spire, you essentially can see what action each and every enemy will definitely be performing after your turn, allowing you to play the cards you currently have in your hand to the best of their advantage.

Lens 27: Time

An average game of slay the spire will not go over 1 hour. The game ends when you defeat the final boss and you unlock the next difficulty of the game. This way, it puts a final stop to any systems you have probably abused through synergies. Also, it will not make the game too repetitive from letting the player abuse the same synergies for the entire game.

Also, time can refer to number of turns in this game. Some enemies get stronger as you spend more time during that encounter, forcing the player to be more aggressive and think of how to fit their current cards and relic to overcome the encounter.

Outscaling the Time Eater : slaythespire
One aspect time is used in this game: Number of turns. This boss “Time Eater” will do massive damage if it is not defeated fast enough.

Lens 36: Chance

As with the elements of all rougelikes, all encounters are based on chance. Chance dictates the cards you will get, rooms and enemies you will encounter, what the market sells and the cards you draw from the deck. Of course, chance is something that is up to the player to manipulate to some extent. Players can fight with a thick deck, allowing them to have more tools in their arsenal to fight different kinds of enemies, however, players may not be able to draw the cards that they want at the appropriate time (That may be mitigated by draw engines but that’s another topic for discussion). Players with a thinner deck can expect to draw the same cards. However, that can be a good if the player’s strategy uses the same cards to abuse a particular synergy.

In summary, Slay the spire is game with many mechanics that blend well together. Many different elements allow the players to comeback from a bad run. Conversely, it can also worsen a player’s run if they do not take note of these other elements. Through randomly generated runs, players can expect to see the same enemies, same cards and same relics while having a different experience every time.


All in all, slay the spire presents itself as an unknown labyrinth of characters, bosses, hidden synergies and cards that players will see as they progress through the game. I would highly recommend this to any person who is a fan of card games and rougelikes in general.

The Elders Scroll V: Skyrim

1) Introduction

The purpose of this first assignment is to learn how to have a proper observation of an existing game and deduct things we have learned from this process. The observation will be done twice by me and my friend so that we then can have a comparison from two different points of view. For this exercise, my chosen game is ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’, an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game trailer can be found here.

What makes Skyrim special is its gigantic open-world, hundred of quests and activities and large community of modding. Hence, for each player, they can have different approaches to this game such as following the great and epic story of the game, continuously installing different mods to enhance the graphic and gameplay of the game or just wandering around to explore the world of Skyrim. This is also the important factor for me to use Skyrim for observation as it will be common to have different play styles among players, which will make comparison be more effective.


2) My experience

Lens of essential experience: The reason that I was first attracted to Skyrim was due to its enormous resources of mods, which allows us to configure and modify the game freely and extensively in various aspects like graphic, textures or gameplay. Hence, the vital element in my experience is the endless process of testing and selecting mods. I can never get bored of trying new mods as the game is continuously changing after each newly installed mod.

Lens of elemental tetrad: the main elements were mechanics and aesthetics of the game since it was possible to completely modify these elements to suit to my preferences. For example, I can change completely all of the textures in the game such as mountains, water, armor, weapons, characters or NPCs. Moreover, I can enhance the graphics by adding different visual effects such as bloom, ambient occlusion or dynamic depth of field. With these graphical mods, the world of Skyrim is redone completely and its graphic performance can definitely compete with every latest graphic-killer games. On the other hand, the gameplay of Skyrim can also be overhauled thoroughly like adding various new bosses and enemies, providing plenty of new quests or improving the realistic experience in world of Skyrim.

A complete overhaul in graphics of Skyrim

Lens of fun: by installing mods, it increases the enjoyment and quality of the game. Each mod will have various impacts on the look and feel of the game, which helps players enjoy the game much more than before.

Lens of curiosity: the large variety of mods in Skyrim keeps me being curious and interested in exploring many more mods. After each enhancement, I would have the desire to find more mods to improve the game more.

Lens of control: in Skyrim, you can replace and modify anything in the game with mods. The control of the game is totally in the hand of players and they are free to configure whatever to their needs.

A complete overhaul in gameplay of Skyrim

A complete overhaul in gameplay of Skyrim

Lens of projection: by using mods, players can customize their character to their preferences. This helps players feel that they are really immersed in the game and one of the many citizens in the open-world of Skyrim.

Lens of challenge: there are plenty of mods which can increase the difficulty significantly which can make the game much more challenging. By having these mods, players can have boss fights which can last several hours.

3) Friend’s experience

Lens of essential experience: On the contrary with my hobby of modding, my friend was totally immersed in the story of Skyrim and its legendary era. He spent most of his time conquering the large amount of diverse quests and the humongous and episodic history of Tamriel continent – the world in the whole series of The Elder Scrolls. Instead of customizing the game, he tried to focus on enjoying what the game provides originally.

Lens of elemental tetrad: the main elements were mechanics, story and aesthetics of the game since these are the important factors contributing to the large diversity in gameplay and quests.

Conquer the epic adventure quests in Skyrim

Conquer the epic adventure quests in Skyrim

Lens of suprise: Each quest can bring surprises to the player from its consequences. These hundred of quests will allow players to understand more about this era and discover the open-world of the game.

Lens of projection: Every choice that player makes in the quests will affect many following events and even reshape the whole world. This makes the players feel that they are really living in the world of Skyrim.

Every choice player makes might lead to different consequences

Every choice player makes might lead to different consequences

Lens of rules: the big system of skills and upgrades in the game can keep players playing for hours to test their skill builds and find the most suitable one with their preferences.

Lens of challenge/ Lens of skill: the strength of the monsters and bosses would always adapt to the player’s current level and skills so the difficulty in the game will always be challenging and requires the player’s technique to be stable continuously.

4) Conclusion

After analyzing from two points of view, we can draw these conclusions:

  • A game may have different styles of gameplay and it depends on the players to realize which one is the most suitable for him
  • The game may sometimes have its strength from the community instead of only the maker
  • Each player might have different lenses contributing to their experience
  • Each lense might have different meanings for each player depending on their play style
  • The process of analysis will help us realize which factors of the game appeal us and realize how to improve the enjoyment of our experience with the game more
  • By observing gameplay from others, we will also be able to know other unknown strengths of the game so that we can try them in the future

Bui Trong Nhan