I am still playing Dawn of the Dragons, despite the standard social media game mechanics. Something about the energy bars and the false sense of achievement is compelling.
Mission zone 10 is an expansion pack gear reset sort of experience. Players quickly acquire zone 9 gear due to the multiplayer mechanics, and then better from leveling up while wearing it. Along the way, nothing except zone 9 raids do much damage to you. Bosses deal trivial damage, and random encounters deal exactly 1 per attack. And then you hit zone 10. Continue reading
The Basement Collection is on Steam and was part of a Humble Bundle. I have played most of these games on flash, and I presume they are all available at the usual flash sites. Aether is one of these, with a spirit evoking The Little Prince, in which you go make some planets happy.
Aether has the obvious achievement for completing the game, and then it has achievements for finding things in outer space. Five of them are obvious: the planets’ moons. Then there are eight other things in space. You would have no reason to know they exist unless you looked at the achievements or happened to find one. They are … somewhere. Just go wander in space for a while. There must be a methodical way to explore space, and once something is found you can direct others by reference to its location relative to the other planets. Until you stumble upon one of the floating things, however, you are just flying blindly about. While peaceful, this is perhaps not the highest quality gameplay to incentivize.
“Cheating” is defined collaboratively in gaming. It is not always obvious what is a bug or intended, and if not intended whether there is any negative connotation to doing something. In a puzzle game, looking up the solution is pretty clearly cheating, but you may also want to check with others for hints or “am I even going in the right direction here?” Because sometimes you are and the game is just not cooperating. So the achievement is for finding things in space, where wandering is the spatial equivalent of grinding mobs; there is no reason why The Crybaby should be in that bit of outer space, so you just keep going until you find them all (or don’t).
Looking up the locations is pretty clearly cheating, but I don’t know if the task is respectable enough to merit any negative connotation to that. In a game with trial and error gameplay, I see no shame in just seeing which combination you are supposed to find by random guessing or brute force. But at least you do not run out of air and die in space if it takes too long to find one.
It’s like Explorer content…
Continuing with the random flash games, Kingdoms CCG recently did rebalancing. “The goal was to remove the tiers and the associated power gap between Heroes to create a much more versatile and interesting meta game and battle experience.” This means that the free heroes got better and the heroes you might have bought with the RMT currency were nerfed. On some changes, you might argue about whether it was a “nerf,” but it was definitely a significant change, like turning an AE buff into a stronger single-target buff. Oh, and “The Hero Trade In program will no longer be available after this update.”
League of Legends does this sort of thing, but so far only with a few of its dozens of champions, and there will be a few with similar functions, and it is rare to completely change the role of a champion. Also, you probably bought most of your champions with the in-game currency rather than the RMT currency. Also also, they did not explicitly establish tiers of champions, make the higher tiers more expensive, and then eliminate the tiers.
While I have played some Kingdoms CCG, I don’t really have skin in the game. I had a tier 3 hero, but I used the RMT currency you receive free in-game. The rebalancing included resetting all achievements, and earning them now awards some of that RMT currency, and they removed grind, and they added free rotating heroes like the LoL champions, so this is an almost unalloyed good for me in the game, except for needing to grind achievements to unlock things I already had access to and changing my favorite hero’s abilities into something I like less.
But that is a heck of a thing to do to players who are your revenue source. How do you expect people to trust you enough to spend money after you do something like that? It’s like a tiny little NGE.
I have been playing Dawn of the Dragons, because having just one energy mechanic game at a time is less than gaming. The actual gameplay of any of these tends to be low, but in combination they can be entertaining.
Dawn of the Dragons has lots and lots of items, because grind and cash shop. The crafting tab is where much of the rubber meets the road: a fight has a chance to drop a trophy, and combine trophies to get an item, then combine items and trophies to get better items. They have these for different maps, for raids, for events, for raid events, and so on for three years of development. There are five tabs for crafting, and the longest list has a progress bar seven pixels high. That is a lot of scrolling to see everything.
This is to be expected after years of development. Following MMOs as I do, I am used to entering at the beginning. Sure, your game may have 1000 achievements, items, or raids, but you started earning them during the pre-order head start. You naturally earned most of the new ones while trying each update, so you have a subset of Things To Do that probably covers 10% of the list, and you know which part of it is relevant to your character. And then you have the new player who must do/get all the things! He joins your guild and asks every five minutes how to get X. It is essential that he gets X as soon as possible, and it is tragically unfair if X was event-related and is available only seasonally or (horror of horrors) not at all anymore.
This is my first time walking into that situation in a long time. It is pleasantly inuring. I occasionally see those new folks (but mostly people with levels in the four-digit range), and I occasionally ask something (but I can type it into Google as fast as I can type it into chat), but mostly I am just enjoying coasting. I got some newbie tips, I am accumulating some things that do who knows what, and I am working in no particular direction except up. If I keep playing, I will someday join those players in the higher digits, and I could start caring and planning. But really? That overwhelming list is somewhat comforting. I would need a lot of time to refill the energy bar to reach a lot of that content. I would need to play for months or more to see events repeat. It helps to get past the false sense of achievement.
I have continued to poke at Anti-Idle, and I have run into the same problem that others have cited about Guild Wars 2: there is a large dead zone between “have all your toys” and the cap. In Anti-Idle, that is actually thousands of levels, but it’s an idle game, so those can mostly happen while you’re AFK.
Once you reach the point where all the fights feel the same, you have completed the meaningful content. You beat the game. You’re done and can quit now. Also, when “RPG elements” has come to mean “character advancement,” it stops feeling like your character is advancing when you are just adding new numbers to old abilities. Again, game over, you won.
The sense I get from GW2 is that we are seeing the history of its development. (Entirely made up story follows.) Long before they abandoned the idea of horizontal progression, the original idea was like GW1: low cap, almost everything at the cap. Let’s give the characters all their skills by level 20. Hmm, people really like progression. Okay, we’ll match the industry leader and have 80 levels. Let’s push the elite skills back so we don’t have a 60-level dead zone. You saw a bit of that “needs more progression” when slot skills went from “all available immediately” to “buy 5 in this tier to unlock the next.” There must have been months of meetings trying to decide how to give players more toys over time without breaking the model of having one skill bar. There are some bonuses to unlock via talents, and your gear starts giving you more (not just bigger) stats, and … well, that plateau is kind of essential in the original notion of horizontal progression. Let’s hope they solve it before the coming level cap increase(s) and new tier(s) of gear.
GW1 had hundreds of elite skills you could capture, along with secondary classes, so you could pick your one bar of skills from literally thousands of skills. Part of horizontal progression is having the option to progress, more options not just ones with bigger numbers.
You may have achieved the right balance in your bullet hell game when the comment:
this [beating every level without getting hit] is probably the easiest impossible achievement on Kongregate
appears within five minutes of:
this is, quite literally, the bare-bones minimum of shooting games with nary a crap given if it was even playable or not
I must admit it is some BS to have a boss (5-3, stage 3) that can shoot from (not just at) any point on the screen, including exactly where your ship is, so you need to already have seen its entire attack pattern to not be sitting where a bullet is about to materialize. Although, if my military had the ability to shoot from inside our enemies’ ships and bodies, I would totally exploit that.
Progress Quest is the original 0-player MMORPG. It was designed in 2002 as a parody of the gameplay you know and love, with “fire and forget” convenience that went beyond auto-attack to auto-everything. Turn it on, create a character, and the game takes it from there. There is not gameplay as such, but it is a brilliant piece of work and strangely hypnotic.
As with most things, there is actually a genre of these by now. Kongregate has an idle game category. Epic Combo is notionally amusing, and Farm of Souls is more of an idle RTS game (with just peons). I’m tempted to fiddle with a few of these, but Kongregate is currently promoting Anti-Idle, which has enough little things going on at once to actually make it a game. It has its version of Progress Quest that you can play interactively instead of idling. It has a mini-FarmVille, a lousy Mario Kart, a collectible card game that doesn’t look very good but probably is not the worst on the site, a variety of mini-games, fishing, and some other things I have yet to sift through. It also has its own quests and achievements built in.
At worst, the gameplay is no worse than things you have paid to do (mine in EVE, farm almost anything). At best, well, it’s not a lot better than that anyway. When social media games were having their heyday, I found some of them interesting if I played 5 or 6 at once. The aggregate can involve interesting resource and attention allocation. Most of that seems built in here, plus your equivalent of offline skill training.
I think of Spiral Knights as the Zelda MMO. The gameplay takes me back to Nintendo and Super Nintendo days. The setting is obviously rather different.
What if you took Zelda in a different direction and decided that chopping down tall grasses in search of rupees was the heart of the game? I give you: Bush Whacker 2. Zelda, minus the monsters and game elements, plus the standard social media energy mechanic and cash shop. I do not have endgame experience, but I think I just summarized the whole thing. (It also has a quick-whack button, in case you find tedium tedious.)
It is strangely hypnotic. I have yet to research what happened to Bushwhacker 1.
Guild Wars 2 worked beautifully at launch. I had a couple of disconnects, but the game seemed to run perfectly even with 40 people escorting an NPC.
Right now, servers are down and have been since I woke up. Either the marketing people are there and bored or they pre-scheduled something, because I just received an e-mail encouraging me to join the headstart, buy Guild Wars 2, and start playing now! Bad timing, there.
While you wait, this is Jumping Line, a platformer with no buttons.
The opposite of Pixel Click Bosses appears in games that are too eager to give the player data. They want the indication to be clear and highly visible. Unfortunately, the game is still going on underneath those indicators. The game is not hiding the new factors by using too few pixels; it is hiding the existing factors by using too many.
I cited this with Arkham City. Chuck the Sheep is a recent flash game with the same problem whenever you reach a new section of the map. “Congratulations! Welcome to the next area! We’re using font size 72! Oh, and there is a duck flying at you underneath this text!” Guild Wars does the same thing in Tahnnakai Temple. Like all the Factions missions, it is timed, but it has a visible timer because you can lose by taking too long at each stage. That timer occupies the exact same real estate as the NPC pop-up text explaining what is going on.
Oh, and do you want to read what is going on? Every minute you spend reading the quest text is one less that you have to reach the Master’s reward.