Casually playing Adventure Era

A nifty little game called Adventura Era by Game Insight & Krivorukoff has me a little distracted (thanks to Tobold’s post). I’m playing enough that my wife first asked “what is that you’re doing” and then “put that down”. It’s a good game, and playing it on my mobile means that I always have it around when I want to, but I can also ignore it I choose.

Nothing really bad happens if you don’t play. Well, ahem, it is frustrating to come back to the game after 3-4 hours and ALWAYS find three monsters attempting to ravish my humble village, but paying off the monsters is part of the resource sink mechanics. It happens every damn time! So now I’ve decided to move almost all of my important buildings away from the areas with the monsters, so that I’m almost unaffected by them. That will take some additional effort and a bit more grinding that I like, but afterward I’ll rarely pay the 15 food, 50 lumber, or 100 stone resources that they need to be shushed and sent away when my cyclops-for-hire yells at them.

Apart from the basic build, expand, research cycle which repeats as your village increases in size and resources there are aspects of the game which I think are clever. The game is all about expanding your resource pool, and deciding when to spend your resources in the various resource sinks. All of the progressive choices are forgone conclusions, where you have to do X to get to Y, so start saving, building, or expanding. I don’t mind that the game is extensibility on rails, as I’m not looking for life changing gameplay. I’m looking for overly simplified entertainment. It allows small choices with almost no side effects, so for me the game’s fun is about efficiently. What worked, what do I need to plan for now, so that I’m not resource locked for too long later.

I also like the way that money really isn’t being begged for at every turn. The game is free and thankfully you can avoid the nag-ware style of other mobile/social games. My Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other followers have no bloody interest in how many pets or lumber yards I have; just as I don’t give a damn about theirs.This is a casual distraction, not a thing to brag about on social media (but then isn’t most of social media a free casual distraction seeking to commercialise your attention?).

Each advance takes time, and during that time you can be clicking to earn your coins, rather than spending real money. It does not have a long life though, as I’m already seeing the increase in the repetition for grinding money, which is expected but undesirable for me. I can just as easily be entertained by my rss feed, so something that feels like work will have an expiration date.

For now, as the village’s ruler…I kind of pity those small virtual pixel-folk. They’re lucky I’m not give the option for human sacrifice to increase build time. Hmm, maybe something to recommended for v2.

adventure_era_screenshotHappy clicking, TyphoonAndrew

brilliant, a game in only 265 code lines

Doing a dev job elegantly and quickly is wonderful. It is something I rarely see. So when I read that a quasi-3d environment (by PlayfulJS - try the Playfuljs demo) had been built using just 265 lines of code I was impressed. After running around in the demo I was darn impressed. It might not be true 3d at all, but it still a clever emulation. Good enough for a game hack, yup, certainly. More please.

Think for a moment about how little code that actually is. A true credit to the 6-7 folk who put this together. The geeks over at Soylent also think its interesting, which is where I found the article; mind you a few seem to have unbridled hate for javascript too.

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You Sir, Yeah, You Are Being Hunted

I picked up Sir, You Are Being Hunted on a sale for a lazy $17, and I kind of like the adhoc short play style of the game.

Death One – shot to death by a random robot patrol on the main island. To my credit I did figure out what the baloon was doing, but I think I didn’t move far enough away. Found one fragment next to the stones, but spend much of mu short life looking at the inventory, trying to understand how food works.

Death Two – ran out of Vitality and starved to death. Interesting that I was trying to play it safe, but as my character stated to really drop I ran everywhere and was spotted a heap of times.

Death Three – Afk and I assume slaughtered by a host of nasty robots.

I’m really enjoying it.

It is all about the time sink

The time sink game is all I’m playing at the moment. It has many levels and challenges.

I have three writing mini-projects going at once, a few games to try to play, and a family to look after. The three writing projects have deadlines which are looming so I really should be doing those with all my spare time, but I find them difficult to write them without spending large blocks of time. When I write I need a good 1-2 hours of time to get anything new written. I can review my own work in much smaller time blocks, but there is only so much review that can be done before it is called procrastination. New text needs thinking time.

A pc game however can be 30 minutes to 1 hour if I know what I’m doing (like WoW), or need a heap more (like 2-3 hours) if it is a game which is new to me like Elder Scrolls, EvE, Star Wars. I guess I could go play D3 too if I wanted some hack and slash fun, and D3 is the game I’ll fall back to when all else fails.

The writing is all based around pen and paper role-playing games (for a Deathwatch mini-module and a fan made Ars Magica supplement), and I’m enjoying the process of trying to create something for a critical audience. Writing for your own sake is easy, writing for an audience who will read, review, editorialise, and point out incongruity is much harder. That could be part of my hesitation too. The projects are not commercial things, so I’m not targeting a commercial level quality, but still thinking it has to be better than my typical notepad scrawl.

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As far as computer games go, WoW is still interesting to me. I have some gripes which will come out below, but as I write this I’m really just mouthing off about an errant kid who I like, but pissed me off recently.

I think it is interesting that WoW Insider has announced cut-backs to their blog staff across all games, and wow is significantly affected. That would not happen if the revenue was flowing well, and that is telling about the users of these games, and the market in general. Even though the subscription rate is ok-ish the players themselves are not putting up with any kind of silly or boring content anymore. I think repetition will be the next thing that MMOs have to have less of to keep their audiences, and that will be a huge problem for almost all the theme park style games. Players want more content, more often, with no drop in quality or they go elsewhere. They might return when the new content drops, but almost all the players I speak to are not willing to wait. They go elsewhere. And they should too.

WoW and Guilds

Well there is a doozy here to tell. Many of our raiders either left for greener pastures, were removed for being painful, or left for life reasons. That then caused another round of departures, as others had to ponder leaving too. Then some of those greener pastures were not as good as advertised, so those people began looking around again. Because I’m fed up with being treated like a revolving door, and fed up with the whinging, a few were told they were not welcome back. I think most people would support a player making the “right” call for themselves, and forgive a lot of how that was communicated or made. We’re all human. I think a Guild has to also make the “right” choices too, and that means sometimes enough is enough.

This was not a great time for our guild, but also not unexpected at this stage in the game. The downtime between expansions is always crappy for guilds, with only the strongest ones staying focused. Add in some continued drama, a few people who think they are special snowflakes, and you’re left with very little to do. There is no lever by which a player can be controlled (such as an employment contract for compensation) so “managing” difficult people is next to impossible for any prolonged period.

That leaves us with a guild of social players and no “serious progression” raids happening. Frankly I’m glad that some of the pains-in-the-arse players are gone. I’m sad that we lost great people too, and even more so that it might lead to others leaving. At this point though it is not something to fight, but something to accept. I want players to be having fun, and that is far more important than rubbish about which guild you belong to, or she-said-he-said malarkey. I am glad it is “over”. I’m glad that the people who are staying will not have to wonder why such stupidity is tolerated. It is not tolerated anymore.

I can now login without having to think about somebody getting shitty about some illusory problem. Finally, no dramas from World of Warcraft. Yeehaw! I do not even understand why in hell some people require the input that they do; it is like they are not adults at all.

I’m even happy that the people who left are getting what they like from their game time. It is good to think that people can go somewhere and be happy, and it is very possible (and even a certainty in one case) that a problem only existed because of the people involved. Dissolve the problem relationship permanently, and the fun comes back. More power to them. I hope they’re all killing digital monsters, and looting wonderful pixels.

I’m really not having a go, just talking through what happened. I’m sure the choices were not perfect, nobody makes perfect choices all the time.

Bygones are bygones. – TyphoonAndrew.

An aside – Wow characters can only belong to a single guild at a time, and therefore changing guilds is also inevitable. Why can’t WoW have more than one formal method to organise players. Cal them battle units, corps, whatever, but allow a way that players can stay in a guild they like, but also advance and be managed in another set of organisations. It might help players who have dual loyalties. We can cross-server raid all sorts of junk, but cannot organise characters in the same way in-game. I think that is a functional gap.

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ESO Beta

This weekend I was given a ticket into Elder Scrolls Online Beta (thanks T!) and it looks like a reasonable game. As my friend told me “think of it as a good single player story, not as an MMO” and its a great game. There was an NDA which I briefly skimmed while downloading the game so rather than say anything questionable, I’ll just say that it is similar enough that I knew what to do, but was a little different. Graphically it will challenge some computers. This is not a game which will run well on a low spec machine.

Where is the value?

If I were to think about value for money when playing time sinks I not subscribe to Wow, Eve, ESO, or any other subscription game. I’d get back into Star Wars, or something like it. It’s free and has plenty of content I’ve not played. Or many of the other games out there that are free to play. I do like the idea of not having a wow subscription for a while to save up for something else. Perhaps it is time to pause my membership for a few months.

I’ve also got a 7 day trial of EvE sitting waiting, but I cannot bring myself to login just yet. It looks fantastic, and honestly I’d be playing more just to look at the pretty space pictures than actually want to do space battles. I don’t think that alone is worth a subscription cost. In fact a video of beautiful space scenes rolling in the background would almost be as appealing.

That’s not weird. Is it? Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

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Those who must be left behind, on purpose.

A long time ago in my guild there was a player who needed to be removed. The story around why was typical in an online game, an ego was out of check and was disruptive to many of the other guild members.

He wasn’t special, wasn’t an officer, and was certainly one of the rudest people I’d had the displeasure of talking to closely. What made is worrisome was how many months later the same person was still out in /Tradechat bad mouthing the guild, the characters involved, and still sending rude whispers. A truly enlightened bastard who appeared to get his enjoyment from the game by bothering others.

Recently in the guild we also had to tell a few people tone it back. They did, and everything seems to be ticking along without issues now. When the Officers and I were talking through the situation with the recent guys the enlightened bastard’s character name came up as a point of reference. The recent guys were not even close to the E.B in the long past, but EB is still out there playing.

It got me thinking… about not wanting to ever see the EB again. Not under any circumstances.

Now my ignore list solves that problem for me, but I also have a responsibility to my guild. I think MMO games like World of Warcraft could do with a Guild based parma-ban feature.

When set the PLAYER’s account is stopped from being a member of that guild. This stops somebody from alt switching, it makes removing somebody who is really vitriolic easy, and means the other guild members who might have invite ability will not and cannot be pressured into letting the person rejoin.

Block them permanently. Anyway, just a thought.

TyphoonAndrew

Yuriv's_Tombstone

Can the Trinity be damned?

Can the trinity of tank, heal, damage roles in online rpg games be removed? Really?

An old question, and perhaps one which is both too subjective for each game style in question, and also blisteringly obvious for MMOs. Blessing of Kings has a great post where the discussion thread is the perfect primer for the issues and the potential degrees of how effective the solutions will be. A darn good read.

trinity-dangerousTo me it is all about degrees of effectiveness vs the suspension of disbelief. No solution I’ve ever read provided a summary for an MMORPG that has no role based system, without a set of quasi-magical powers to manipulate the monster’s behaviour. And that is not what might really happen.

If nine of my friends and I decided to attack a giant, I don’t think the giant would understand taunts enough to only swing at one person, or that two of us were good at recovering from wounds so might be better to kill early. The giant is going to kill easy targets, targets that hurt it a lot, and then the rest of us.

Similarly a grizzly bear will attack one of us until it can get a good meal, unless we keep poking it with spears in which case it will hurt the spear carrier and probably ignore any others just standing to the side waving their hands (healing, caster dps).

In MMORPGs I don’t think it can be totally removed. I don’t think I’d want it removed either. We have a method which is essentially in support of the fun, and while the mechanics of that illusion might be tweaked, the illusion is useful.

Slowly is the only way to go

Thanks to a guildie (hello Tarc) I have completed the Nalak phase of the Legendary quest and am now killing bosses again in Throne of Thunder LFR for the x12 bling-things part. Twelve, that is better than Twenty; right?

Well yes and no. There is no indication that the drop rate is better or worse, unless you suspect that the change to an auto-drop from Lei-Shen might indicate that these little tokens were even more rare that the 20x odd of the previous type. I got the first one last night from Lei-Shen and I guess I’m ok with it taking 12 weeks to get the others. I like Legendaries to be hard and painful. Patch 5.4 will likely be out in production before I reach 12x drops, so I’ll hopefully be able to use the cloak in p5.4 content.

From a lore perspective I do not understand how it makes sense that Wrathion would ask for this many too. I mean there are 12 bosses, and these are rare things, and they drop from bosses only…and somehow we got 20x of them. No wonder Wrathion has us doing this, it is not logical in the setting. I bet he is amazed! Not a new theme though if I remember the Hand of Sulfuras correctly either.

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew