So uh... can we talk about Puzzle Quest 3?

This is what happens when two worlds collide. One world where a huge chunk of people think games should be free as if the people working don’t deserve a living… and a second world where a small but deep pocketed amount of people are willing to spend obscene amounts of cash week after week for chance at a maybe. These ftp models are at the intersection of these two worlds. The rest of us, who would gladly pay a fair price for a good game don’t fit in the equation.

Ftp gets buzz and traction even though a big chunk of those players never really play. Without the buzz it’s almost impossible for a mobile game to get anywhere now. And the wallet warriors pay for that ftp in a way that most of us can’t. Even though I hate it too, I have a hard time blaming the devs. They are adapting to the realities of gaming right now.

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Money. F2P revenue.

So are a lot of PQ fans. When the announcement about it being F2P happened, I decided I’d never even install it. GoW burned that bridge. The other F2P I have installed that isn’t GoW offers a full fledged, deep story experience and is actually designed in a way to let you be successful as a free player. I’ve spent some cash but it was because I wanted to show support for the game, not because I felt bent over a barrel if I didn’t.

You could trip over that bar and clear it.

I think indies are what are going to keep this market going, honestly. I already buy far, far fewer “AAA” titles and far more indie titles. I also only have two F2P games on my phone and will quite likely never install another one. I’ve literally had it with the F2P industry as a whole.

The big corporations want players to think that complete experiences are “dead”, that games can’t survive without a $60-70 USD price tag + microtransactions + lootboxes for support, and all it really is is massive corporate greed. These are extremely financially successful businesses and some of them have the most overpaid CEOs in existence (Activision and EA come to mind here). They can afford to stick to a budget and produce quality games at a reasonable cost to the consumer…it’s just more lucrative not to.

And other people think you should support a game with bad business practices “because the devs need to make a living”.

We really only have the indie market at this point for PC gaming. I don’t know what the console space looks like so I won’t comment there.

This is not me saying “indie always = good”. There are plenty of terrible indies out there too. However, if you want a complete game, not to mention some actual passion put into the project, it’s a great place to look, and they’re usually reasonably priced. One of my favorite games goes for $10 at full price and is often on sale for $2-2.50 USD. No microtransactions, DLC, or lootboxes.

Good games are out there.


I uninstalled PQ3 by the time I was half-way through chapter 4 and the game was getting to the point where I’d have had to grind to be able to progress further. I don’t mind the grind, I play grindy games. I mind how little gameplay there is to the battles and how the game lacks personality. PQ3 is a generic and unlovingly crafted game, its gameplay is much shallower and more by the book than any moneygated game I’ve played before, including Gems of War. No single game system in PQ3 is a dumpster fire, but put together the game is less than the sum of its parts. You can find a dozen games like PQ3 on the app store, many are better made.

Do bring diagonal matches to GoW though.

Spend $45 on a single player AAA game on sale with DLC included, support several 100s of jobs and get 150 hours of fun out of a unique experience


Spend $15 on an indie game, support 3 actual humans and get 50 hours of fun out of a unique experience


Spend $10 on cosmetics in a game that’s genuinely F2P and that you’ve already put 500 hours in


Spend $20 every single month on a mobile F2P game made with stock assets, support 5 jobs and 2 outsourced freelancers in the Philippines and get just as few hours of fun out of a generic experience that will not stop demanding more of your money every time you switch game modes.


Hopefully somebody out there sees how disappointed people are with P2W3 and makes a good Puzzle Quest like game. Hell, if P2W3 has any form of “success” on the cell phone store there will be an infinite number of clones I’m sure, and I’m almost sure that at least one of them will be better. Such a damn shame.

As someone who has complained a fair bit elsewhere about how insultingly simplistic GoW’s “story” and dialogue are, this is really interesting to hear. Are there any forum posts you could link to that expand on this?

The idea of there being ‘archaic limitations’ on text capacity in a 7-year-old game engine seems baffling to me. There were entirely text-based games like MUD’s over 30 years ago and visual novel games for almost as long. Like I can understand the GoW engine not being prioritized to handle anywhere near that much text as it’s a very visual Match3 game, not text-based, but the result we get is an almost total absence of meaningful text.

Does this help explain why the troop tooltips are all just short memes instead of decent lore too? Do the campaign stories allow for a few longer paragraphs of text because that was a newer system ‘bolted on’?

All this time I just assumed the vapid dialogue was due to lack of effort but if there are valid technological limitations behind it all it just makes me wonder why they went with that engine as is for a game that’s advertised as an RPG. :face_with_monocle:


Sadly, as the lead devs actively chose to no longer post on the forums several years ago because of the general toxicity of posts, most of the discussion on the game occurs during Salty’s GoW and PQ streams. As there are now well over a hundred of these streams on the official Twitch channel, sifting through them is an all-but-impossible task.

I’ll recap as best as I can.

Originally, GoW, nearly 7 years ago, was originally written in Adobe AIR. Around Update 3.1, based on my research through the archives, GoW was ported to Unity. (Side Note: The UI and other “modern” changes to the game began after this update).

Although the game was ported to Unity, for better or worse, the Unity coding emulated the original Adobe AIR implementation. As the UI and other changes that happened after that update occured, parts of the game were reworked and recoded to a more modern standard. However, some portions of the original coding were never reworked, because there was no need at the time to do so.

As time has progressed, it has been stated on stream that attempting at this point to rework the remaining ported Adobe AIR coding is potentially extremely perilous to the functionality of the game. While on the surface it would seem to be a trivial task to rewrite a bunch of text, the devs are very leery of attempting to remove and rework a foundational ancient block of coding that could result in all sorts of unintended problems occuring elsewhere in-game because of years of coding that now exist on top of the original ported coding. Salty has implied on stream that at one point a cost/benefit analysis was done about updating the quest dialog system and that at a high level it was decided that updating the code was not worth the cost, risk, and effort needed to do so and then uniformly apply the changes across the entire game (Salty stated that if such changes had occurred, all of the questlines would have needed to be fully reworked and rewritten and then translated into all of the game’s supporting languages, at substantial time, effort, and financial costs with no financial upside for doing this).

With all of that said, although I can’t remember the exact character count restrictions, each of the quest dialog text fields has a very specific maximum character maximum limit. The response field for the hero(ine) in the quest dialog box is somewhere around 16 characters, I think? These limitations are because that is what was coded in the original Adobe AIR version of the game.

Side note, and off-topic: While I was digging through the archives for patch update notes, I found this gem. How many people remember back in the day when posts on changes were this detailed and snarky as well? A completely different era for the game, that’s for sure.


Fascinating! Thank you very much for such a comprehensive explanation of why things are the way are. :heart_eyes:

I wonder what aspect/s of Adobe AIR resulted in such restrictive character limits back then. E.g. 16 characters for the hero response field is practically pager-era limited, lol. Why not 32, 64 etc?

Conversely, with the campaign stories seemingly allowing for paragraphs of text, I wonder why the repeated requests to include weekly scoring guidelines in game can’t be acted on.

For someone like myself who has zero coding or dev experience, peeks behind the curtain like this are so interesting. The other game that takes up the vast majority of my play time is Final Fantasy 14, and like Gems, it has struggled with years of technical debt, “spaghetti code”, and a general difficulty improving on systems often complained about because of potential destabilizing effects from archaic 1.0 foundational systems.

I’ve always loved that 14’s dev team is so communicative and detailed about the challenges they face to improve the game year after year; it goes a long way toward fostering patience, understanding, etc. Knowing this bit of the dev history of Gems will similarly make me think less dimly of its story and dialogue going forward. Thanks again Lyrian!

I’m quite sure they can, but it wouldn’t benefit them. Less players would score inefficiently, meaning less tiers are being bought.


First, congratulations on being the first person to purposely quote me out of context on this forum. I feel there should be some confetti or something. I mentioned the big spenders in the same sentence. Lol

But hey, if that’s what it takes to make your point about indie games, I’ll fall on that sword. :wink: Some of my favorite games have been low priced indies. My point was not that the ftp model is a good thing. It is that the ftp model is THE thing right now because of the unfortunate number of people who wouldn’t even consider paying $3 for a game, combined with the small amount of people willing to write a blank check. The added wrinkle with mobile is “free” games get more downloads and can also afford more advertising AND far outnumber the pay for it once titles. It’s to the point that you have to know about a good, non ftp game, in order to find it.

Meanwhile, larger companies are of course going to choose the model that brings in the most revenue. They aren’t missionaries trying to save the world of gaming. They are businesses trying to make as much money as they can. People like you and me, hate this model. But, unfortunately, I don’t see it going away. :expressionless:

I don’t think the ftp model is going away anytime soon either. There’s just way too much money in them for publishers. But I’m ok with that. It’s a free country. You’re supposed to make as much money as you want as long as you’re not breaking any laws. At the same time I have the right to choose not to play them if I don’t want to. I don’t know much about Puzzle Quest 3 but I know I won’t be playing it not because it’s ftp but because I just don’t have the time to start another game.

Ah, there’s the rub, though. Most FTP games implement loot boxes which are gambling mechanics. They are encouraging children to gamble, which is against the law. Governments are finally starting to do something about it… but slowly, which is typical for them.

Ideally, I would like to see these types of games be “rated M for mature” or otherwise restricted. Once that happens, the industry will switch to something else.

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Humorously enough, the only other F2P I currently have installed I found completely by accident while watching a youtube video for an unrelated game. I played for a solid few months before moving on (the backlog isn’t going to play itself :wink: ) and legitimately enjoyed the game while I played.

I suppose my point is that finding good games, period - F2P or not - unless they have huge marketing budgets is a bit of a pain in the rump. The marketplace on both sides is incredibly bloated.

No, F2P isn’t going anywhere. No barrier to entry means your game will still get in front of more eyeballs than a paid game and since they’re just a matter of numbers and conversion rates, more eyeballs means more money.

I agree with you on all of this.

I have no idea what needs to happen for the proverbial ship to turn, but I really hope it does someday.

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To be fair, blocking loot boxes behind ratings or whatnot won’t fix the underlying greed problem. Companies will without a doubt find ways around laws. Loopholes will always be found to just barely stay within the law while making as much money as possible.

Which is why some saying “as long as it’s not breaking any laws, it’s fine” is dumb; it’s just a really unconsidered point-of-view. Overly simplistic, and the kind of thinking that justified Jim Crow, marriage inequality, loan-shark credit card rates of 200+% — you name it.

If there has ever been a civil rights injustice, or an institutionalized wrong of any kind, you can bet your bippy there were a bunch of folks standing around, shrugging their shoulders as the paint peeled and water boiled, saying, “This is fine.”


Whether it’s gambling or not I don’t care. I said as long as they are not breaking any laws in existence then I don’t see a problem with it. Until the law deems what they’re doing is illegal, I have no problem with what they’re doing.

Yep, by selling specific items and including loot boxes as a “bonus” with purchase, like some games do in China to get around gambling laws. I believe Overwatch does this, but I’m not 100% sure.

Wasn’t there a game in France or Belgium that showed you up front what a lootbox contained but then made you buy a key to open it, or something along those lines? And you couldn’t be offered another lootbox until you purchased the one in front of you…so still just round-about gambling.

Corporations aren’t stupid and with the amount of revenue on the line they will find any possible workaround.

Hmmm… at this point it would require some sort of legal sledgehammer, like banning in app purchases. It’s so lucrative. And people who only dabble with games are so used to everything being :eyes:…free…:eyes:.

There is also the issue of the revenue stream needed to maintain a live game. :thinking::woman_shrugging: People don’t like the subscription model, either.

I think we might be starting to stray away from the OP at this point, but I think it’s deeper than just legal regulation. I feel there’s something to be said about the largely-discontinued practice of offering demos for games as well. I’m not going to wade into the morass of how much content should be included with a demo, but the aspect of “try before you buy” making a comeback could help things along.

I’m of a mixed mind here. I’ve been playing MMOs since 1999. I’ve played both subscription-based and F2P versions of these games. Of the two, the subscription model feels better to me as a player - I don’t have to worry about feeling like there is content gated off.

This doesn’t mean that F2P can’t be done “right”, but it does mean that in my own personal experience, I’ve yet to find a F2P experience that matches a subscription experience in the MMO sphere. I’ve also become jaded enough towards F2P in general that I’m not sure it can ever be done “right” in my eyes, and it’s why I’ve stopped looking. I’d just rather pay up front for something and know what I’m getting.

I’ve yet to find a F2P experience that matches a subscription experience in the MMO sphere

Maybe someday somebody’s going to figure that one out. I think F2P lends itself well to games that excel at (competitive) gameplay. I’ve put in thousands of hours into F2P MOBAs and first person shooters that didn’t want my money for anything but cosmetics. F2P MMOs and collectible games almost invariably gradually put less effort into gameplay and gradually more effort into ‘you need this to keep up’ mechanics until there is too little gameplay meat left on the bone and the game goes from ‘game’ to ‘scheme’.

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I will be the dissenting voice to what the above players have thought about PQ3. I came into this game disappointed that PQ3 was going to a f2p model. Having played it for several weeks now, I found it enjoyable. Some points I want to address:

This game does not currently have a pay wall as someone above has claimed. Tacet has proven that you can complete the story mode without having to run up against a pay wall. There is non of that annoying energy system that many rpg f2p games have employed either. You can play the game as much as you want.

Loot boxes: Yes there are 5 (6?) lvls of rarity. However, the way they implemented it is more reasonable than in many other established f2p rpgs. Every 24 hrs you get 2 keys for the 2 lowest rare treasure chest. The higher rarity keys you can get through your guild and other means. Also, you can open any treasure chest no matter the rarity through the use of pets. Now the downside is that this is essentially 1 of the biggest bottle neck to progressing in the game. If you got that sweet diamond chest but not the key to open it, you will have to wait anywhere from 24 hrs and up (don’t recall how long pets take but it depends on rarity of treasure chest and rarity of pet). Also you start off with only 2 slots to hold treasure chest. If you have both slots full and find a 3rd treasure chest you can’t open, you are forced to sell it.

Story: So far I’m enjoying the story. The story is well done (I’m only on chapt 4 though). It does its job well by keeping me very involved in the story and hence the game. I want to know what happens next. Each location follows the format of an intro dialog, a battle or 2 followed by an interrim dialog, another battle or 2 and a final dialog.

Comparison to GoW: PQ3 has way more mini transactions than GoW. I’m still figuring out all the economies in PQ3. Guild is much more robust than the PQ3’s equivalent called kingdoms. Battles are generally shorter than GoW making this game much more pick up and play. PvP on the other hand is more robust than PoW.