Category Archives: iPad

Mostly Mobile Friday Bullet Points

Another Friday post about minor items of interest.

Candy Crush and Pokemon Go Slip

Superdata Research put out their monthly chart for December 2016, which showed Pokemon Go slipping down to 4th place on the mobile list.

December 2016 Numbers

December 2016 Numbers

I think I am mostly surprised that the game is still holding out in the top five now that winter is here and that the game has clearly worn on some people during its first six months.

Also of note, Candy Crush Saga is down in 10th place.  While lower than it has been previously, I remain surprised that it is still on the list more than four years down the road.

Superdata also has a 2016 summary report that you can get for free which puts some dollar amounts to a few of their charts.

Pokemon Go Expands

This week sees the addition of creatures from Pokemon Silver & Gold into the mix players can catch.

Now featuring the Johto Region

Now featuring the Johto Region

Eggs have been hatching certain Johto Pokemon for a while, but now you should be able to find new Pokemon out and about in the world.

Pokemon Bank Update

On the 3DS hand held side of the franchise, Pokemon Bank has finally been updated to work with Pokemon Sun & Moon.  You can now move Pokemon from previous 3DS Pokemon RPG titles into the latest game.

How things line up now

How things line up now

In addition you can get the Z-crystal for Mew by scanning the QA code in the linked announcement.

Hearthstone on My iPad

After dumping Candy Crush Saga from my iPad, I found I did not really have a good “sit on the couch and play while I watch TV” sort of game left.  With the fancy new iPad able to run more modern games, I started poking around at the App Store to see what I might download.  I also went down the list of games I had already tried and found Hearthstone.  So I grabbed that.

HearthstoneWhite_450

I had not really played it since the game came out, and I only played it then because Blizzard offered up a mount for WoW players who won three games.  I had put it on the old iPad 2 as well, but never got into it.  This time around things have been a bit different.  So far it sort of works as a replacement.  I am not into collectible card games at all, so it being a dumbed down version of whatever probably means it is well suited to me.  I barely remember how the game works, but I seem to win once in a while, so it is working out.

Also, looping back to a previous bullet point, Superdata reports that Hearthstone is the highest grossing collectible card game, with the money quote being:

Hearthstone earned roughly four times as much as its closest competitor in 2016 and is forcing the digital CCG market to transform

And so it goes.  I still don’t plan to spend any money on the game myself unless I somehow really get into it.

EverQuest II Down

And,as a final item, it was reported over at EQ2 Wire yesterday that EverQuest II had to be taken down unexpectedly yesterday and problems logging on still persist as of the latest update this morning.

That is it, on towards the weekend.

I Will Play Candy Crush No More Forever

In which I finally get a post I started on about two years ago out of my drafts folder.

Five years ago we picked up an iPad 2 after Christmas with some gift cards and a bit of cash we had around the house.  The iPad was a luxury good in my opinion, not something we needed, so I wasn’t going to pull money out of the budget for one but my wife, ever the clever shopper, pointed out how we could get one without touching any of our accounts, so we went out and got one.

While it was supposed to be a device for the whole family… and I did try to share… I quickly became its primary user.

Everyone in the house has played with my iPad

I even got an app for the cats

A lot of games have come and gone on the old iPad over the last five years, but three seem to have stuck through the whole time; Ticket to Ride, DragonVale, and Candy Crush Saga.

Ticket to Ride is an example of a board game translated to the tablet just right and remains a joy to play through to this day.  I own it and all its expansions. (I still think the Windows version is crap by comparison.)

DragonVale is something my daughter wanted to play.  But then I started helping her with it, eventually becoming the sole person interested in this little “breed and collect” game.  At some point I will do a post about how this game has evolved over the last five years and how it should be a model for others who follow.

And then there is Candy Crush Saga, a horrible game from a horrible company… they literally took another company’s game, made their own version with slightly better visuals and a new name, and then, at some later point, actually tried to suppress the game they copied… that I downloaded just to see what all the fuss was about.

The game itself actually isn’t all that horrible.  It is just another minor variation in the long tradition of tile matching games that stretches back to the early days of the computer age.  Once we all had color monitors, we started matching colors to score.  And the game is actually well put together, stable, colorful, and all the things that make for success.

The horrible bit is the business model.  And the company that made it… mustn’t forget King.com, now part of the happy Activision-Blizzard family.

Candy Crush Saga uses every marginally ethical trick in the free to play book to get people to spend money on it, or at least get people to annoy their friends about it.  It is the true spiritual successor to FarmVille in my mind.  The key barrier to playing are time gates.  You only get five plays, and a play gets used up if you fail on a level.  They regenerate at a rate of one every 30 minutes, so if you’re facing a hard level.  And then, once you hit the end of a 15 level segment, you hit the 72 hour wait gate.

Pay us, bug friends, or wait...

Pay us, bug friends, or wait…

Oddly, what Candy Crush does with time gates is not radically different than what DragonVale does.  The latter has its own time gates that you can buy your way through.  However, their aggressive application differs just enough that one annoys me and one doesn’t bother me at all.

Anyway, because of their business model I made it a goal to beat the game without spending any money on it ever.

Back when I picked up Candy Crush Saga on the iPad, there was some debate as to whether or not the game was tilted to force you to pay in order to advance that far or not.  There were all sorts of hurdles and timers and levels where random chance had to fall your way to keep you from progressing.  But was that enough to deter people and make them pay?

King said it was not, pointing out that 70% of players who had gotten to the then top level, 355, had not paid them any money.  You could beat the game without paying!

Later, as the game went on King was saying that 60% of players that had beaten the game by reaching the cap, which was then level 455, had not ponied for the privilege.

With recent iOS updates for Candy Crush Saga the level count has moved past the 2,000 mark.  New levels get added regularly, I have to hand them that.  But the ability to beat the game gets harder with each new 15 level segment they add.  I mean, if you don’t pay.  I could get to the top level in an afternoon with an unlimited budget.

So King has long since stopped talking about how many people beat the game for free… I am going to guess that the percentage has continued to dwindle as the levels have increased… instead focusing on the percentage of players who chose to pay, a number that I saw reported at about 2.3%.  So 97.7% of people who play do not pay, depending on that thin slice to fork out over $20 a month on average to keep things going.

That is your free to play market place right there.  It seems to work for some companies.

My own progress towards beating the game, getting to the top level, started to lag behind.  Without spending any money the time gates and super hard levels start to hold you back.  I spent three weeks on a single level at one point, during which I think King added 30 levels to the game.  Yet I persisted.  Once I am on a quest I do tend to hang on.

However, a final problem arose.  For Christmas my wife got me a new iPad, and 32MB iPad Air 2, bringing me somewhat up to date on the iOS hardware scene.  The upgrade was due, the old iPad 2 was struggling to keep up with new apps and had developed a memory fault that caused apps to crash when they queued too much data.  So I backed it up and restored everything to the new iPad Air 2, then wiped the old one and started it up fresh as just a viewer for Netflix and Amazon Prime videos, where it still seems to be able to hold its own.

And everything ran great on the new unit.  I am quite happy with it.  However, there was one issue.  All of my progress on Candy Crush Saga was lost.  Unlike every other app on the old iPad, it didn’t store its data in a way that let me move is across to the new unit, even though it was the same Game Center ID.

So that led to a dual moment, the feeling that my quest was over before it could be fulfilled and a sense of being released from a minor obsession.  Because I was not going to start over again.

So I can report that I made it nearly to level 700.  I took screen shots now and again to mark my progress, the last one being at level 680.  I made it beyond that, but pics or it didn’t happen I guess.

Last point recorded

Last point recorded… waiting for that 72 hour timer

So we’re done with that.  Meanwhile, Candy Crush Saga continues its tenure on the top revenue generating iOS apps, and King.com keeps adding levels to make sure it stays there.  They pretty much have to since, again in the Zynga mold, they haven’t been able to remake their success through remaking the same game over and over again.

You Play the Hand with the Cards You Have, Not the Cards You May Want…

I have mentioned in the past that I am on the mailing list for a number of PR agencies who employ the shotgun approach, which means I get a pile of email about new games, expansions, albums, and what not.  Most of it just gets deleted, though I am always amused when I see a post go up on Massively OP that is based off of a press release that I got as well.

Most of it gets deleted because most of it is of little interest to me.

But sometimes a press release comes along that makes you sit back and ponder, “How is this even a thing?” or “How could this come about?” or “No, really, you’re shitting me, right?”

And so it is with Churchill Solitaire.

Paraphrase your favorite Churchill speech...

Paraphrase your favorite Churchill speech…

According to the press release, the 83 year old former congressman and twice US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, working with with a company called Javelin in Alexandria, VA, the president of which is former Rumsfeld staffer Keith Urbahn (who, among other things, was, along with The Rock, one of the first people to leak the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed before the official announcement), with the cooperation of Churchill Heritage Ltd, which represents the Churchill family for the use of the late Prime Minister’s name and image in commercial projects, is releasing a solitaire game for Apple iOS devices.  A special solitaire game that Churchill himself created that involves two decks of cards and some other complications.

On the iPad

On the iPad

If horse racing is the sport of kings, then the press release (available here) would have you believe that this variation of solitaire is the card game of diplomats, Rumsfeld having been taught the game by Andre de Staercke back when he was ambassador to NATO during the Nixon administration. Rummy is alleged to be the last remaining link between Churchill and today when it comes to this game, if the PR material is to be believed.

Of course, we have to get into the FAQ to find the price:

Q: How much does the game cost?

A. The game is available for free. The game comes with three trial deals with In-App Purchases (IAPs). Additional game packs of 25 deals can be purchased for $.99 each, or one upgrade to the premium version for $4.99 gives you access to 200 specific deals, as well as unlimited random deals. In random deal mode, there are so many combinations (1.03e166 or 1.03 with 166 zeroes behind it to be precise) that it’s likely any deal you play has never been played before and will never be played again. Hints and undos are also available for purchase.

A revenue plan only a former government staffer could love.

We’ve worked hard to replicate the game as Churchill would have played it – and believe the final version does justice to one of the greatest leaders in world history.

How Churchill would have played it… on a little glass and metal clipboard sized device, sitting on the couch while half listening to your spouse or some TV show, while is attempts to nickel and dime you.  A legacy worth preserving.  Available in the iOS store today.

On the iPad – Monument Valley

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me retweet the fact that the game Monument Valley was available for free at the App Store.  Too late now, but it was available for nothing earlier this week.

Still, I would say that it is worth grabbing at $3.99.

Like a lot of people, I became aware of the game when I saw Francis Underwood playing it during season three of House of CardsIt looked both visually interesting and like a decent little puzzle game.  I went straight to the app store to find it… and then I didn’t buy it.

I didn’t buy it because there is actually a reason why I don’t buy apps these days, in addition to the ones I have listed in the past.

I’m running on old hardware.

Often I am not buying your stuff because I have an iPad 2, which was a spiffy new piece of hardware back in early 2011, but today it is a few generations behind the curve.  It is only still supported by Apple on the latest OS because the iPad 2 was the basis for the original iPad Mini, which Apple sold for a bit longer than they probably should of.

I’ve read that older iPad hardware is a problem for Apple.  They don’t break or get stolen at the rate iPhones do, and apparently people don’t clamor to upgrade them the way they do iPhones.  My wife has an iPhone 3S when I bought the iPad 2, and has since upgraded to an iPhone 4S, and now has an iPhone 6… and I still have the iPad 2.

It isn’t that I wouldn’t like a nice iPad Air 2, which I think is the latest and greatest, I just have a list a mile long of other things on which I would rather spend that money.  And the iPad 2 still does most of the things I need it to do.  I can text my wife from it, the web browser is fine, Netflix and Amazon video both stream nicely enough, and when it comes to games, I would rather play them on my PC anyway, so I only have a few on there for the occasional idle moment.  Ticket to Ride, DragonVale, Candy Crush Saga, and Neko Atsume (now in English) are on my list for that.

But a lot of new titles won’t run, or won’t run well, on the old iPad 2.  Some, like Fallout Shelter, are pretty clear they aren’t for older platforms, while others are a bit more vague.  So I tend to err on the side of caution and, on seeing that Monument Vally was a new-ish game back then, I decided not to get it.

However, once it was available for free (additional content is available via in-app purchases, so this was giving away one part of the game to get you to buy others), I decided to give it a try.

And it runs great on my iPad 2.  So I could have been writing this post back in February.

The game itself is as charming and good looking as it seemed while Francis Underwood was playing it on TV.  It is made up of a series of Escher-esque perspective puzzles through which you must guide Princess Ida.  It starts off very easy, impressing you more with its style than any challenge, then ramps up as you progress.

I am currently stuck on the third stage of Act X, in which I am trying to rotate things in order to achieve a false perspective that Ida can then walk over.

I know I could just look up the answer on the web… what answers aren’t out there and just a Google search away… but I want to solve it on my own.  The game doesn’t have that many levels, so throwing away the challenge by looking up the answers seems like a sure fire way to make it all less fun.  Unless I get totally stuck.  I might peek then.

Anyway, that is a lot of words to say “cool game,” but there it is.

On the iPad – Be the Crazy Cat Lady

My daughter and I have discovered our latest iPad obsession, a little game called Neko Atsume.  At least I think that is what it is called.  The whole thing is in Japanese, so I am just going on what Liore called it when she mentions the game.

It looks like this in the app store

It looks like this in the app store

Of course, being something of a cat person, I had to get it.  And getting my daughter interested only required me to show her the first cat that showed up, which shoved itself into a box.

Calico in a box

Calico in a box

Figuring out what to do after that… well, that was the challenge.  My daughter, blessed with uninhibited adventurousness of youth, took over and clicked and experimented and figured out the basics of the game.

You assume the role of that most annoying person in the neighborhood, the one that puts out food for stray cats.  Seriously, this doesn’t sound so bad, but our neighbor’s son had a girlfriend that used to visit and put out food for stray cats, and with food out stray cats will show up out of the woodwork.

Then the two of them broke up and the girlfriend went away… but the stray cats remained, looking for food, yowling, fighting, pooping, knocking crap over, and generally outliving their cuteness.  This is what happens when you feed stray cats.

And this is also, essentially, what Neko Atsume is about.  You put some food out in your yard, along with some cat toys, and wait for the kitties to show up.  When they do, the eat some food and play with the toys.  Then you take pictures of them.  And if they are pleased, they bring you fish, which are the in-game currency, so you can use the fish to buy them more food and more toys, which attracts more cats and so on.  And some times they even bring you a special present.

A bug! How thoughtful!

A bug! How thoughtful!

So you can end up with a yard… and a living room… full of the local strays eating your food and playing with the things you have purchased.  And then you will truly be the neighborhood menace.

Happy Kitties

Happy Kitties

The endless cycle is made interesting but the adorable art style, the desire to “collect” and name more cats, and their somewhat reckless enjoyment of what you leave out for them.

Pretty sure this was in "Dumb ways to die"

Pretty sure this was in “Dumb ways to die”

Some cats are attracted to certain toys.  Better food is more likely to attract rare cats.  Then there is the cat I named “Fatso” who shows up every now and again and eats all the food out of the outside bowl.

Fatso ruining it for everybody

Fatso ruining it for everybody

All of which my daughter mostly managed to figure out on her own and then teach me.  The main problem we have had has been that, at certain points, doing the right thing requires some knowledge of Japanese.  We end up at this dialog state fairly often.

The question...

The question…

In my mind it ought to map to “gold is OK and silver is Cancel” but is probably is more like “Yes/No” or “Agree/Disagree” or something that makes it contextually flexible depending on what the question is in the alter.  So most of the time hitting the gold answer is “do the thing I am trying to do,” but maybe 20% of the time silver is actually “do the thing I am trying to do.”

Anyway, we hit a plateau of putting out food, taking pictures, and buying some new toys now and again.  But there was still a bunch of cats we had not seen yet.  There is a definitive list of cats for the game and the goal is, as much as there is a goal beyond just being cute, appears to be to see them all.  It was time to go out and find a bit of help.

Google led me to another blog where somebody has mapped out most of the ins and outs of the game and how to do all the things and even get some free fish on a daily basis.  The post, How to Play Neko Atsume, is a bit out of date now, as there was an update earlier this week that changed up a number of the windows and added a thing or two I haven’t figured out yet.  But all the basics are there.

And so now every time we get a new cat or something cute shows up I run over to my daughter and show her and we get all excited about our virtual cat life.  And there is still a bit to discover.  If I understand it correctly, you can redecorate the locations as well.

All in all it is too cute, and the app is free on iTunes.  We have had enough fun that I tossed in $5.00 for some of the premium currency to buy a few of the special cat toys.

 

On the iPad: Hearthstone and QuizUp

It has been a while since I have written an iPad app post.

That is probably because, in the end, I tend to use the iPad to read news and Twitter and to text my wife from the office.  The iPad screen has nice big buttons that I can mostly hit correctly with my big fingers.  So I am still playing DragonVale and Candy Crush Saga in dribs and drabs along with Ticket to Ride. (I am stuck on level 165 of Candy Crush Saga, a level I could easily win… if only I would pay… and I haven’t been able to get DragonVale to even launch in the last few days, so I might be done with that.)

I think there are more apps on the iPad for my daughter than for me at this point.

And then suddenly last week there were two new apps to download.

The first was Hearthstone which, after an exclusive engagement in Australia and New Zealand… presumably because the deserve something first now and again… the iOS version of the game finally showed up in the US iTunes store.  I hadn’t played since the second I got my Hearthsteed a few weeks back… I have more games on my PC than I can possible play already… but the iPad seemed like the right platform.

HearthstoneWhite_450

And given that Hearthstone became a top downloaded app in the store almost immediately, I guess I was not alone in that though.

I was wondering what changes or compromises Blizzard might have to make in order to work with Apple and iTunes.  A lot of smaller devs avail themselves of the Game Center approach, which worried me.  I did not necessarily want another Blizzard account.

But my worry was for naught.  When you bring up Hearthstone on the iPad, you log into your Battle.net account exactly the same way you do on Windows.  That does mean that you need your authenticator to hand when you log in, which makes sense but which also means I won’t be playing Hearthstone on the road.

The real problem was getting it away from my daughter.  Fortunately, with the standard Battle.net login, we could share the device and play on our own accounts.

So, I thought I had the new app to keep me happy when a friend suggested I grab QuizUp.

QuizUp is a trivia game for iOS and Android.  There are dozens and dozens of categories to choose from.  There is a competitive element in that you always take a quiz (all of 7 questions) in competition with another player, so there is a win/lose thing at the end.  And for each quiz you take in a given category, you earn experience (more if you win, but still some if you lose) and level up and earn titles for that category.

Did I mention there are a lot of categories.

So clearly there is something simple but compelling for the achiever in this one as well as the PvPer.

I found it amusing, showed my wife the music categories… where she excels… and then she downloaded it as well.  Now we can challenge each other across the living room.  She kills in music, I am ahead in science fiction, and we are neck and neck in logos.

The nifty thing is that you can challenge somebody and play against them without both of you being live and online at the same time.  You challenge, take the option to go ahead, and do the quiz.  Then when the other person shows up, they take the quiz as well and you get the results.

The killer/tie breaker is that there is a time element to answering the questions.  The longer you take to answer, the fewer points you get for a correct answer.  In random games against strangers, time often fails to be a factor.  But when head to head against somebody who is up on the topic, tapping the right button instantly for the full 20 points can be the difference between winning and losing.

One point difference

One point difference

Which can be annoying when your finger darts out like lightning to tap the correct answer and then, as you smile smugly to yourself on a job well done, you realize that the damn touch screen didn’t register your tap and you’ve lost a couple seconds and now you are going to lose.

I am pretty sure that is what happened in the game above.

Anyway, that was a good start.  And then, just this weekend, a new category opened up:  EVE Online trivia. (Under games, category EVE.  Why not EVE Online? I don’t know.)  And then I spent a bunch of time focused on that, often in competition with Mark726 of EVE Travel, against whom I tied three time running at one point.

Meme abused for QuizUp

Meme abused for QuizUp

It is actually interesting to see when a new category shows up, as people will jump on it just to earn titles and maybe get a world/regional ranking by playing early and often.  The top player in any category gets a “world’s best” rank which, considering you get points for just playing as opposed to playing well… and you can buy a points multiplier, which is how they monetize… lends those titles a dubious air.  But I guess you should reward persistence.

And, of course, as you play a category for a while, you start to see questions repeat.  So if you have the memory for it, you will eventually do well.  But when you first start off, get ready to lose.

You have clearly never played EVE

You have clearly never played EVE Online

I can only play in short bursts, so will never be a contender, but there are people out there who are obsessed… and probably paying money too.

So that has been the iPad focus for the last few days.  If you want to friend me and/or challenge me in QuizUp, my handle is Wilhelm Arcturus.

Know my avatar and background

My avatar and background

I actually had the EVE Online background set before there was an EVE Online category.  Call it being prepared.  And my title is from hitting level 10 in the WWI category.  While I already have two titles from the EVE Online category, the titles suck.  “Nooblar” was the best somebody could come up with?

Now my only question out of this is, why is there no World of Warcraft category on QuizUp?  That seems like a natural!

Of course, if I want WoW on the iPad, I suppose I could go play Hearthstone.

On The iPad – DragonVale, Candy Crush Saga, and Constraints

I have maintained in the past the idea that it is often the difficult bits… the annoying, high effort, failure prone adventures… that end up being the good part of games.  We remember overcoming adversity, defying the odds, working hard (or just staying up late) to achieve a goal, or finally defeating a boss after far too many wipes.  Heck, even long journeys for dubious purposes and misread quests stick in my mind after years later.

Basically, I would put forth that it is the constraints that make the game, and that overcoming particularly onerous constraints are what make memorable moments in the longer term, even if they are frustrating at the time.

Which, as it turns out, is bad news for the makers of casual games when it comes to getting me to give them money.

DragonVale

I have several games on my iPad that are there for my daughter.  I leave them alone and she plays them.  DragonVale is… or was… on that list.  One of her friends was playing it so she wanted to try it.  My first glance review of the game was “FarmVille by another name.”

DragonVale

DragonVale

Instead of growing crops, you are running a dragon zoo where you can breed new and different types of dragons.  The constraints are the typical time and currency.  It takes time to build or upgrade habitats as well as to breed the dragons.  And then there are the three currencies, gold, food and gems.

Food isn’t really a currency I suppose.  It costs gold to grow and is required to raise the level of the dragons you breed which, in turn, increase the amount of gold they bring in over time.  But it feels like a currency.

Gold is the easy, in-game currency that you buy most thing with, from paving stones to the floating islands that make up your dragon exhibit.  You earn this over time by just having dragons on display, though you have to open the game and collect it from time to time, as each dragon habitat

And then there are gems.  Gems are the constraint removal currency.  When a new, limited time dragon comes out, you can spend time trying to breed it, or just buy the egg outright for gems.  If that breeding cycles is 48 hours long, you can skip it for just 1 gem per hour.  And the top tier habitats, which hold the most dragons and gold, can only be purchased with gems.

All of which would have remained unknown to me had my daughter not come to me asking if she could buy some gems.

Gems! They Cost Money!

Gems! They Cost Money!

My immediate answer was “no,” after which I asked why she wanted them.

She explained that there was a limited time dragon she wanted, but since I am notorious for hogging the iPad, she was afraid time would run out before she was able to finally breed the dragon.  This lead to some negotiations which ended up me becoming the day-to-day manager of DragonVale while she was the owner/CEO.

She set policy, which was basically about what dragons to breed and how (usually helped along by web.) along with handling all of the cosmetic work.  I would make it part of my daily routine to click on habitats to collect gold, breed dragons as specified, exchange gifts with her friends (one of the ways you can earn gems in game), and a couple of other routine items, all of which generally takes about a minute to do maybe three times a day.

That left us with a game we both played and which we could discuss and make plans around without spending any money.  And the constraints drive that.

More Gemstone Dragons Please!

More Gemstone Dragons Please!

For example, gems remain in short supply for us primarily because the top tier habitat for each dragon type can only be purchased with gems.  However, the benefits… they are able to store more gold, increasing the time to full, thus allowing you to collect less frequently without “wasting” time with a full habitat as well as the ability to hold more dragons, allowing an increase in your overall population… were such that I convinced her to embark on a slow but continuous plan of habitat upgrade.  I would keep 50 gems in reserve, in case something we had to have came up, but would spend anything beyond that on the upgrades, which were 25 gems each.  We earn, depending on friends and the whims of a mini-game, between 2 and 10 gems a day.  We had a couple dozen habitats to upgrade, so this was truly a long term plan.  We are only about three quarters done at this point.

And the upgraded habitats themselves take up more space, leading to a park-wide layout redesign of paths and decorations.

Our "High Value"Dragon Island

Our “High Value”Dragon Island

All of which has made the game… well… an actual, long term game for us.

Unfortunately for Backflip Studios, it only maintains that status so long as we don’t give them any money.  Sorry guys.

Double Rainbow Dragon Pukes Rainbows!

Double Rainbow Dragon Pukes Rainbows!

Still, people do give them money.  On visiting the dragon park of on of my daughter’s friends, I noticed that she had a lot more rare dragons than we did as well as more than 800 gems in her inventory.  So clearly somebody is paying our way in the game.

Candy Crush Saga

I only found out about Candy Crush Saga because I heard people complaining about it.  Always the best endorsement of a game, right?

I would describe it as something of a Bejeweled clone, and apparently it is huge.  The Facebook version is one of the biggest game there, having eclipsed the once mighty Zynga on all fronts.  There are versions now for iOS and Android.  I have even seen ads for it on TV, and not just during the 3am Tom Vu time slot.

It is a classic “social” game in the odious Zynga style with a huge number of constraints which can only be bypassed by paying money or recruiting your friends by polluting their wall with posts.

Or by just waiting.

You only get so many losses before you have to stop playing, pay, or prostitute yourself.  And the game sets you up to lose with some pretty hard levels… though you can also pay your way out of not losing with extra turns, time, or other bonuses.  The game has absolutely no shame in hitting you up for money to get yourself out of a tight spot.

But the game itself is cute and light and fun in that Bejeweled sort of way and the constraints make progress in the game all the more satisfying.  I think I spent five days on a really tough level in the high 30’s. I would just lose until I ran out of plays, then go away until they regenerated.

No More Plays!

No More Plays!

There are occasional gates where you have to pay, post to Facebook, or pass three special levels.  But you can only do one of the levels per day, so you are locked out of progress for at least three days.

Come Back Tomorrow!

Come Back Tomorrow!

And yet, saying “no” to the constant “pay to win” offers, makes me feel all warm inside, like a Christian that has said “no” to the temptations of Satan.  And I continue to make progress, slowly but surely.

Now stuck at... level 59!

Now stuck at… level 59!

Which, I am going to guess, was not the designers intention.

Constraints Make The Game… for me

Which I am sure all says more about me than game design in general, but which does illustrate one of the problems I have with the free to play concept.  The constraints that are in there to make you want to pay money actually work as a deterrent towards me paying money, as the only thing the money would do is relieve me of actually playing the game.

Which makes me feel odd, because I wouldn’t mind rewarding the designer… I just don’t want to remove the constraints that make the game interesting.   And, really, that is the only path they have left me.

Well, I actually don’t feel odd when it comes to Candy Crush Saga.  They rub the “pay” button in my face so often that I have made it one of my missions in life to play their game without paying them.  But I think you get my point.