If I started referring to the city as “Lion’s Arwic,” would many people get that reference?
If I started referring to the city as “Lion’s Arwic,” would many people get that reference?
Years ago, I pondered reducing quantity as a means of avoiding raising price. I will avoid repeating the examples, since the link is right there.
In our present games, quantity is reduced via moving content to expansion packs and DLC. Players notice when you increase the average cost of a game from $40 to $50 to $60, and at some point it becomes hard to make that next jump, especially if you need to be the first company making that jump. So put less in the box. Heck, that’s even good publicity because you are now releasing an expansion pack sooner, and more expansion packs. You’re putting out so many updates, you’re selling something called a “season pass” for all that DLC. So what if the amount of non-procedural content in sequel+DLC is less than the original game? How many reviewers rate the game based on that?
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It does cost money to make games, and costs do increase over time. At some point, either the base game costs $80, or you are buying that same amount of content in a $40 with two $20 expansions. It doesn’t matter that you used to be able to get that much game for $40, any more than it matters that you used to go watch a double-feature at the cinema for a quarter. Costs rise, and this is one way that customers have chosen to absorb them. I say “customers have chosen” because the company would be perfectly happy to take your $80 up front with one release date, but it turns out that more players will give them more money if they sell it in smaller pieces. You get the game business models you are willing to pay for.
There are some obvious ways we benefit from that as players. If you have exit points at $40 and $60, you can decide that you don’t like the direction the game is going; if you pay $80 up front, you’ve already paid your $80. You are also getting that first $40 worth of game sooner, and given the popularity of playing beta and early release games, that seems to be an in-demand option. Each part of the game needs to justify itself as being worthwhile, rather than just getting one score for the whole game and hoping the reviewers forgive some problems in the third act.
There are some obvious drawbacks in terms of game design as well. Insert your favorite twenty stories about perverse game monetization strategies. Having that spread of DLC and expansions can fracture the playerbase and promote “pay to win” via power creep. Hey, if you need a way to sell that third expansion, how about “you’ll be more powerful if you buy it”?
Like most design and business decisions, this can be done well or badly. I would just like us to be more conscious of it and buy games for value and quality design, rather than letting our primate brains react to big numbers on the screen. But we’re gamers, and we react to big numbers on the screen.
ArenaNet might have finally found their stride with the Living World by destroying the community jewel of Lion’s Arch. In its place is a pretty intense hour-long event that is shaping the economy. This update is forceful, and I am really enjoying the more heavy-handed approach to shaping Guild Wars 2.
Ideals about ‘Fugees
The main event is about an hour-long event to evacuate Lion’s Arch. At the start of each hour there is a short event to gate three entrances to Lion’s Arch. It’s a short blitz, and then the gates are open. Players rush in to see absolute destruction of Lion’s Arch (see Jeromai and Bhagpuss’s photoblogs). The goal is to save citizens, kind of. Another goal is stop Scarlet’s armies from salting the earth with miasma.
The score shown to the right is saved citizens. At certain levels, like 100, 300 and 600, all players on the map get a treasure bag. Supposedly at higher levels there are better treasure bags. I don’t know, I haven’t been there yet. Continue reading
This apparently happened just before I downloaded Plants vs. Zombies 2. For those not clicking links: a recent update started charging 2,000 coins per lawnmower. Customer complaints were sufficiently loud to reverse that decision.
Just after my previous post, I encountered my first pinata party in PvZ2. Due to perverse randomization in the plants I was given, my party was impossible and ended in less than thirty seconds. If I would like to try another roll of the dice, it will cost 1,000 coins.
Upon logging in, players level 30 or higher will see a cinematic of the attack on Lion’s Arch. Lower level players will watch this upon entering Lion’s Arch for the first time. …
Note: All characters that were stationed in Lion’s Arch before the attack will be relocated to an adjoining map.
This is not true. If you were stationed in Lion’s Arch before the attack, the cinematic will play once you log in. Your character will stand in the exact spot where you logged off, and the monsters that now spawn in Lion’s Arch will kill you.
The sound effects you hear are not part of the cinematic. The screams of the injured and dying are coming from characters who also logged off in Lion’s Arch.
The basic play of Dominion is as simple as ABC:
This leads to four units of value in each turn: actions, buys, coins, and cards.
I did not even mention when Plants vs. Zombies 2 came out because it made me sad. Mobile only, F2P with cash shop? Ouch. Now that I have a device that plays it, I of course had to try the sequel to one of the best games ever made. It’s not bad, but it’s disappointing given the first. I don’t think anyone has ever thought, “You know what would really improve this game? Let’s have some EA business execs design the monetization.”
You first notice this when the game tries to sell you things. Want all the plants? Pay per unlock. Want to use the new special abilities? Pay per use. Want to skip to a new world? Pay per unlock. Want more slots for plants, plant food, and starting sun? Pay per upgrade. Most of these can be unlocked to some degree or at some point in-game. I would have been happy to buy the game; I am immediately resentful that the game wants me to buy parts of the game a la carte. Beyond the money-grubbing, nickel and dime nature of the transactions (I haven’t added it up, but there’s a reasonable chance I would pay more than they are asking if they just asked me once to buy the game), it puts game balance decisions in the hands of the business model rather than the game designers. How many plants and which ones should the players have available to face this challenge? Depends on how much money they spent. How much sun should they start with? Depends on how much money they spent. How often should we expect them to use the special abilities? Depends on how much money they spent. I don’t see how you can reasonably design around that answer.
You second notice this when the game is balanced around the assumption that the players have spent $X. I do not know the value of X, but PvZ2 is “aggressively balanced”. The first one was a fun romp, and if you wanted significant difficulty, you had to work for it. The second one gives you fewer resources and more enemies, and if you want lowered difficulty, you have to pay for it. I can reasonably foresee that all the levels can be beaten without spending money, but you will fail most of them at least once doing so because you will need to change your strategies in ways you cannot reasonably foresee and certainly cannot change mid-level. While working out the puzzle is more or less the point of a puzzle game, frequent readers will know my persistent irritation with games that require you to know the coming surprise in advance to survive it. Or, PvZ2′s business model suggests, just pay for the special abilities to respond to the sudden appearance of a huge lump of zombies.
I am mostly enjoying the game, and my wife is playing it obsessively, but I seem to develop Tourette’s every time I spot a design decision that seems motivated by the cash shop.
I suppose I could have just posted “EA bought Popcap,” and the rest logically follows.
The latest smartphone I was issued is a Galaxy Note 3. It is aggressively helpful, an imperfect DWIM device. It provides a constant stream of offers and requests, most of which are not of interest to me and I am sure I have turned down some things I want just because there were six pop-ups in the course of trying to run a simple search. Those will slow down over time, I’m sure, but at the moment it is as if getting a glass of water required as many questions about my preferences as the most complex order possible at Starbucks. And then the faucet remembers that order an immediately starts pouring it the next time I enter the room, and I need to click six levels deep to make it stop doing what it thinks I want to do.
I had my first real fight with autocorrect yesterday. I ended up adding “PvZ2″ to my dictionary because it was late and I was too frustrated to find the correct way to force the Google app to let me search the term I wanted without autocorrecting it to something else. I’m sure the design is very intuitive to an interface designer.
It also comes with many pre-loaded apps I need to remove. I am finding some of them because they have audible alerts for things I never turned on, although not always visible alerts to tell me why my phone is making noise. Google’s own services seem to be the main culprit there. Anytime I get an e-mail or chat through Gmail, my phone alerts me. I didn’t install or turn on Google Hangouts, but the phone helpfully comes with that. I signed out of Hangouts to stop that, which the phone helpfully reactivated when I tried to confirm that I was signed out.
I like many things about this new device, and I am sure we will settle into a workable relationship. At the moment, it is being clingy and high maintenance.
And now I need to go disable the audio alerts on e-mails because KTR is getting a tidal wave of comment spam. There’s a DWIM I need: after the 16th time in a morning that we send a comment to “spam” from the same name and address, start treating that address as spam. And stop asking if links from Kill Ten Rats to Kill Ten Rats are spam; I should not need to verify on my site that my posts (not comments, the posts) are not spam.
I hate being sick. It’s one of the worst times to be a gamer aware of “meta” because when I’m feverish my mind start throwing massive design problems at me. The unsolvable things become nightmarish in my attempt to cool down, hydrate, and overcome the disease. Instead I lie there coming up with ways that ArenaNet could create zerg breakers. I’m now on all sorts of medications so I feel up to sharing! I’ll go in order of sadness.
Mordor or Bust
Seems Turbine is shedding more employees in a layoff round. I’ve only been picking at Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) in the past few months, and I’m still on Riders of Rohan. One of my good friends still seems to obligingly log in once a week or so. I asked him about the state of the game a couple weeks ago. Continue reading
There are three types of cards in Dominion: actions, money, and victory points. Actions do things, money lets you buy cards, and victory points are all that matter in the end. You could also divide cards between the base cards, which are the same in every game, and kingdom cards, which vary between games. Continue reading