Tag Archives: Magic

Realisation towards achievement

We all realise things over time, I am no exception to that. I am old school (well, old at least), I come from the stock where you buy a product, you get a product and to some degree that is it. I was there from the very beginning. I have nothing against SaaS, I get the concept, I get the notions and the considerations that come with it. Yet when I see how some programs need to find a way to fund its creators, I get it, and I do not oppose (OK, that came across wrong), but you get the idea. There is (for the most) no such thing as a free ride). 

When I look at the beginning of the iPad (I had the very first model), I got deeply into Blockheads. It was a free program and yes that was nice, but the programmer was really smart. He gave the players the option to get production upgraded to twice the speed for a mere $5.99. After a few hours I saw that I was going to like the program and spend the cash. I never regretted it and I still have the program, it served its lifetime stage, a dozen times over at least. It might be the best $5.99 I ever spent. Now, there are ways to get ‘free’ programs going. Micro-transactions was another option. Games had the option to earn the cards, or you could buy a booster pack (Magic) it is another way to get the return on investment. In the beginning games like Castle Age relied on it and it worked well, those who didn’t have the money, or would not spend the money could still play, without purchases you still made progress, but it would be slow and there would be grinding. I had this in Castle Age, I actually only made 1-2 purchases and the game became playable. A decent game for under $5, there can be no objection. 

So as the SaaS model progresses, I looked at both Day One ($2.08/month), and EverNote which is a lot more expensive. I am looking at it a an option next to Tablet Journal, which was free at the time and only charged for the additional backgrounds and icons. I had no issue buying them and now that I am looking at the new iPad, I wanted to upgrade the programs I used. 

Also, over time I noticed a few flaws in the Tablet Journal and I did program once, as such I was thinking to make my own version. Or at least make one that I liked completely (and it keeps me off the street which makes everyone happy). It also intersects with a few other issues I was having and the idea forming in my mind is a new sort of game, but I cannot start on that, my programming skills are just too rusty (the reward for becoming a data miner). 

In all this I needed to address replay-ability, challenge, growth and independence. You might think that this is a joke, but the last element is actually a lot more important than you think. During AC Brotherhood, Ubisoft almost had it right, but their focal point was in another direction. As such I now see that the mobile/non-mobile environment needs to be embraced, not separated on or merged. 

Gaming is a state of mind that must be protected and embraced, the mind is in different settings, the mind is the centre piece in the game and the makers seem to ignore it too often. Most game makers seem to see the brain, the person as the added appendage to the game, yet this is not the case, or at least I personally think that this is wrong, the brain is the entire piece n all this and the game is designed around it, as such the failures of Ubisoft become clear, when you make a game for everyone, you make a game that pleases no one.

We all have different needs in gaming, some prefer puzzles, some prefer stealth, some like it in RPG mode, some love closed levels, some need them to be open. I think that this is why Minecraft is such a hit, it is open and allows us to fill in the part we want to fill in. Yet, I have no intent of making some version of Minecraft, I believe in setting the stage to a group of people, so some will like it and a larger group will not, but it would be my intent to make it as appealing to those who want it as possible. 

So what will it bring? I do not know yet (the rusty programming skill makes it a question mark). Yet, the larger stage is not what w like, or what we might like, it is the stage of being apart, being different. Just as I hope that Cyberpunk 2077 has larger true hacking skills, we see the need for a game that is about making us seem more clever, not a game that links piece one and piece 2. I am not referring t a puzzle game like Myth, but the added setting that puzzles brought in rendez-vouz with Rama. So not getting two cogs to compete the puzzle in Tombraider (no negativity implied here), but a stage where we need to see the puzzle and consider the solution, not fitting 2 parts, but finding the proper 4 parts out of 50 offered. 

I get it, not everyone likes puzzles and some will not like the option offered, but I would make it for those who do like this side of gaming, the part where the mind figures it out. You see I always believed that games are a great educator and the proper game still needs to be paid for, but as the joy and educations progresses, we see a price that is eagerly paid by the player, all whilst those who lack funds (or prefer not to pay) can still play the game. 

When we realise that we are better or feel better with the program in our midst, at that point the $5.99 is not a hurdle, it is the threshold to the next stage in our lives and if games like Minecraft, Blockheads, Magic, Archero and Fallout Shelter can please its audience, any other creator can too.

 

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In-app purchase Armageddon

We all have these moments where we are confronted with certain choices that others make. The problem with these choices is that they always seem to spin around the greed of the developer.

It all started mid last year. Some games show gave the heads up for a mobile Dungeon Keeper. I loved that game! I actually still have Dungeon Keeper II. The game had the originality to keep me entertained again and again. Now a mobile was coming. The TV showed how everything went smooth, decently fast and graphically in the upper end. When I tried to install it, I got the issue that my iPad 1 did not support it, which is fair enough.

Now, I am spotting all over the internet an abundance of rants and anger reports on this new version of the game. What had EA done now? ‘Nerd 101’ had a decent overview (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpdoBwezFVA&feature=player_embedded). This is worse than a joke. Basically to clear one piece of rock either takes 24 hour, or $1.50 per square, or $105 for 60 squares of rock. Clearing dirt takes 4 hours according to the screenshots (not the ones you see in the Apple store). Interesting is that this was never mentioned before in the media. They are not alone, but for the adult player they are one of the most visible ones.

Let me be clear, I am not against in-app purchases, yet on this scale, through the greed approach, it is killing the market and it will kill the future of gaming. The other part of this is that this game got 3200 times a 5 star rating. This is not even close to realistic considering the game play the game is not offering. They are however not alone!

Another game that has this nightmare scenario is Dragon Story by TeamLava. Here you get to play for free, yet some dragons can only be bought. I mentioned it before in blogs, whilst a block of land would cost you up to $10 per square, dragons can go up as much as $100 per dragon. Some of them can only be bought. Still, for the patient ones, the game can be played for free. They just play the frustrating slow card hoping that the kids, if given half a chance, will spend more and more. There is something enormously unacceptable about this approach to in-app approaches.

This is only one side of in-app purchased gaming. Another side is shown by the company Time-2-play who made ‘Elemental Kingdoms’. Now in this case, the group is different. First of all, if you have ever played any customisable card game (like Magic) and if you enjoyed it, you will likely love this one. You can play for free, the gems are decently priced and the return that $4 offers is really nice, especially when you buy gems for the 1st time (you get 50% more gems). So, this is really decent. Here we have another issue. The game remains unstable. It kept on crashing. I thought at first it was just me and my iPad 1. Alas, I see that the internet is filled with android complaints. As the developers focused on more graphics and cool looking effects, which do look nice, the game seems to become less and less stable. This is a shame, because the graphics even on older tablets is really good.

Still, Time 2 play does have a decent approach and if they fix up their app, it will be a coveted app for hundreds of thousands of players and I hope and wish for them many in-app purchases for a long time to come. When it comes to almost perfect approaches it does not get any better than a game called Blockheads, it is a 2-dimemsional approach to Minecraft. The game initially works at half speed. For a one-time $5 you get the double speed and you are playing really nicely. Basically, the game gives a great value for that price. This game also allows for buying gems, yet a few days of playing will get you more gems by mining then $10 will get you, so it is an option for the eager and less patient players amongst us. When a game works like this, I feel that games with micro transactions have a decent chance of making it in the mobile world.

It is a shame to see the market getting destroyed in such a way. Old games get corrupted, their names smudged. The ‘greed’ elements as they start rearing their ugly head in some games make it important for parents to learn really fast how dangerous these games can be. Especially in the case of Dragon story where a child could set you back $200-$500 within an hour (providing that in game purchases had not been switched off).

In case of Dragon Story I do not get it. This game, when added a few parts to could be the first game to grasp a massive chunk of the Pokémon playing population. Pokémon, a game, which after a dozen released versions, remains more of the same. The fans of this style of gaming want additional games. Dragon Story, when converted with additions to the Nintendo could make TeamLava very wealthy, the fact that they rely on absurd micro transactions is just weird and in my opinion really stupid.

It does not stop here though. The larger consoles are now getting into the same field, which is a serious worry for many. Games like Warframe, War thunder, Blacklight and DC Universe online are but a few of the games, now relying on micro transactions. Here the story is not the same, these games are massive, they rely on online multi player connections and for the most, you can just pay for free. Yet, at a certain point, you will need money to get better weapons. If not, the road will be tedious and at some point even unbearable. This is not a bad way to go. Personally I think that they should have a small option for new players, but the prices they charge for whatever currency they use is not outrageous. Because of the additional parts, I would call them a reasonable approach to try before you buy. However, it must be said that $20 will usually get you just one ‘stronger’ weapon, or one better plane. Warframe had an over the top option for $140, but that does give you heaps in money and a few extra items, so you do get bang for the buck (quite literally). They all have the same flaw, like the tablets when added up they are way too expensive and they could make it up by adding a $10-$15 package deal which includes several weapons , planes and armour (depending on the game, so that the ‘keep playing’ factor stays there. In the end, the cheap skates will never buy anything, and they will rely on weak equipment. There is in my mind however, a decent group who would like to get more, but $15 for one medium piece of equipment is just not hacking it. Consider that a full game at $100 gets you all the hardware the game has to offer (even though you have to play to get it).

So back to these tablets where the funding abuse seems to be happening. It seems that Apple remains too quiet around it all considering the article (at http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57617270-37/apple-to-refund-at-least-$32.5m-for-kids-in-app-purchases/), it also seems ‘off’ that this event remains relatively quiet. I do not completely agree with the assessment of Chairwoman Edith Ramirez who stated “You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize.” The issue is slightly more loaded then that. She is correct in the statement, yet the issue of micro transactions and the parents had no idea what was going on is only barely covering it. Yes, Apple could have added blocks sooner, yet the streamlining of in-app purchases streamlining this in a much better way would have been preferable.

I think it is important for Microsoft and Sony to realise sooner rather than later that we are about to venture into a new age of gaming. There is still a massive part of this world who remain for now a minor and it becomes important that these two start guiding certain sentiments of greed into sentiments of packaged values. If not, parents might steer clear from an upcoming wave of ‘free’ downloadable games and decide on another platform for gaming altogether.

 

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