Bel VS Mobile Gaming

The Eureka Moment


I just had a moment of realization while checking on the progress of Vault 816…  I am not a mobile gamer.  While I really enjoy the idea of playing Fallout Shelter, I always have the same thought I have with any mobile game.  “Man I wish I could play this on my desktop or through a web browser.”  There are games that I enjoy the idea of playing… like Fallout Shelter, Alphabear, Dragon Coins, or Final Fantasy Record Keeper.  The problem is I get frustrated by the imprecise controls.  Using your finger to move objects around the screen feels so much more cludgy than doing it with a nice tight mouse pointer. Granted if I were a smaller person I would probably not be having any of these issues.

Sausage-Like Fingers


I am 6’4” and have huge hands…  I can palm a basketball. Attached to these huge hands are useless sausage-like fingers that have the fine motor skills of sleepy toddler.  The more I think about it… this fact has gotten in the way of my enjoyment of almost every mobile game I have played.  At first I thought the bulk of my problems would be resolved were I simply playing on a larger device.  However as I graduated from my iPhone 3s to a Samsung Galaxy S2 to a Samsung Galaxy S5…  each time the screen size increased sizably but the difficulty never went away.  When I finally got my own iPad I still felt like throwing it across the room anytime I was asked to do anything that required a modicum of detailed movement.

I realize there is such a thing as a stylus, but then I am having to fiddle with an awkward device on top of an already awkward control scheme.  The problem is…  there really are games that I want to enjoy on mobile devices.  Fallout Shelter for example takes two things that I have loved in the past…  the Fallout Franchise, and Sim Tower like gameplay.  During my pre-college and college years I spent silly amounts of my free time playing both of these games.  I spent enough time playing Sim Tower to be able to build freaking airports at the top of my towers.  I have played each of the Fallout franchise games multiple times, and even though I rarely play the original…  I feel like I could pretty safely pick it right back up and meld into the nostalgia nicely.  So I am the core demographic of this game…  except for the whole control scheme problem.

I honestly have no clue why I felt like I needed to write this post, other than having my own little Eureka moment.  For the longest time I thought my dislike of mobile gaming was more about the game experiences that you have on a mobile device.  Now I realize that is wrong… there are plenty of “gamerly” experiences available.  My problem is that I struggle to get any sense of control while playing a mobile game.  Finger based movement against a slick screen always feels chaotic to me.  It reminds me of how frustrated I get when trying to use a trackball.  I guess I am just accustomed to the mouse, keyboard and controller…  and when it finally comes down to relying on my own digits to make things work…  I find the experience frustrating.  I am wondering if anyone else out there with sausage-like fingers suffers from this same issue?  We should totally form a support group or something.

Maintenance Gaming

A Conundrum

Wow-64 2015-01-08 06-06-47-06 A few days ago I posted a tweet saying that at this point I am far less bored with World of Warcraft than I have been during other expansions.  There are a myriad of reasons behind this, not the least of which is that I actually like the leveling arc in Draenor.  I am working my way through level 100 number three and I am not really bored with the content yet.  Granted I don’t really seem to have the burning desire to get through it like I have in the past, I am more comfortable to take a “will get there when I get there” approach to my leveling.  I feel like maybe this is a more sustainable thing than my normal “burn three characters to max and quit” mentality that I seem to have.  Hopefully by the end of the weekend my hunter will be 100, and I will likely start pushing more seriously my Enhancement Shaman.

I think there are a few reasons why this is happening.  Firstly I really do like the Garrison now that it is finished, especially on my warrior.  It gives me a place of peace and sanity before I venture out into the chaos of the world.  I can bank, transmog, and hopefully at some point auction without having to worry with mailbox dancers or folks standing on vendors with their corehound mount.  It was when I ventured out of my of my garrison on Christmas to go pick up my presents that I realized I really didn’t miss the people from my “daily” chores.  Someone had taken it upon themselves to coat all of the packages with a layer of savage feasts making it a pain in the ass to click the actual presents… and my immediate thought was “and this is why I don’t leave my garrison”.  That is maybe the problem however… that no one actually leaves their garrison.

Maintenance Gaming

rift 2014-10-27 06-17-35-954

Initially I was surprised when the response to my original statement about not being bored with World of Warcraft was that so many of my friends absolutely were bored.  The common thread went something like this “Right now I am only logging in to run Garrisons, so I am probably going to cancel”.  I’ve reached this point many times myself when a game has a gimmick that wants you to log in every so often to trigger. With the launch of Nightmare Tides, Rift introduced the Minions system where you could send these mini-pets out on missions to go fetch things.  There was a period of time I was logging in twice a day… when I got up in the morning and when I got home at night to swap out my minion missions.  It wasn’t long before I realized that I was only logging in to flip these switching and faded away from that game again.

The exact same thing happened for me with the Dragon Coins mobile game, and to some extent Landmark in that I was only logging in to pay my upkeep on my claim.  When you realize you are only fiddling with something out of a sense of obligation, it is almost always time to leave.  I think the problem with what I am terming “Maintenance Gaming” is that it  can very much slow down the burnout of a player by giving them things to fiddle with to distract them from burning through the objectives.  The problem is it can also serve to reanimate an already dead corpse allowing players to keep logging in ONLY to do the maintenance activity and never actually playing the game.  So the folks that are logging in “ONLY” to play the garrison, are essentially the walking dead and will eventually quit.

The Glue in Gaming

ffxiv 2015-01-05 22-00-18-02 I feel like the glue that keeps gamers attached to a game is progression in one form or another.  Right now I am actively raiding in Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft and progressing in both of them.  I care deeply about both games because that is my anchor… the fact that I am raiding.  When all the other minutiae bores me… there is a functional core there of the raid that draws me back in.  For others it is the people you play with, but that can only go so far… because eventually you will have done everything you want to do with said people.  PVP can act as an anchor for some folks, but then again you have to be building towards some long term goal to make the PVP seem like anything other than mindless grinding.  While “maintenance gaming” is definitely now a trend… it isn’t enough of a thing to actually keep someone glued to a game it seems.

Minions in Rift were fun for a few weeks, and so was building aimlessly in Landmark… but when I realized I was only logging in to mine exactly enough copper to pay my upkeep…  I was more than willing to let my claim get repossessed.  I have a feeling that before long we are going to start folks reaching that point with ArcheAge where they are willing to let their claim disappear because they are tired of logging in only to pay the upkeep.  The “glue” is a deeply personal thing, and is going to be slightly different for each player…  but ultimately you have to find whatever it is that connects you to the game and makes you care about it.  I think for me at least this is what has been missing… a sense of building towards something more important than what I happen to be doing this day.  The longest stretches I have spent playing any game… are the ones where I have been raiding.  So I feel like I need to raid to keep caring about the game world, and I need that game world to be interesting…  to keep caring about raiding.

Wrestling with DRM

Laptop Weekend

Here in Oklahoma it is a rainy nasty weekend.  I pretty much rained all day yesterday, and this morning when I went out to get breakfast I ended up completely soaked.  As such I have declared this weekend a “hang out on my laptop while curled up in blankets” weekend, and so far it has been pretty glorious.  Unfortunately a good chunk of it has been updating my laptop, since it has probably been six month since I have regularly played down here.  All in all it is not going terribly badly as I have had both my Vita and phone to play on while the laptop downloads patches and such.  I have to say I have so much frustration over allowing myself to get sucked into a mobile game.

Dragon-Coins-27 Years ago my wife and I used to play a game at the state fair that involved throwing tokens in the path of a sliding shelf that pushes coins off of the edge.  I had always enjoyed this game, and that first year at the state fair we spent way too much money getting the swing of it.  We played for hours and after about $50 spent all we had to show for it was a bullet keychain.  In successive years I got better and started learning the little tricks, like you can trade in the crappy little gifts for more tokens to collect these poker chips in order to buy bigger prizes.  That second year we walked away with a nice sized stuffed animal, and I think the third year we walked away with like five as we had figured out how to game the system.

Unfortunately Dragon Coins by Sega is exactly this game, but made even more addictive.  You take the already addictive coin pusher mechanic and attach it to a pokemon like monster collection and evolution minigame… and you have a recipe for constant mobile addiction.  Right now I am cursing Liores and Aro for talking about this game on the Cat Context podcast several times because finally I got curious enough to try it.  Now I am afraid I am hooked.  Thankfully as far as games go this one doesn’t feel too egregious yet.  There is a ton of “free” content to play and so far I have not encountered any roadblocks that absolutely required me to purchase anything.  It at least gives me something to play when I am out shopping with my wife.

Wrestling with DRM

daorigins 2014-10-11 10-25-41-983 One of the things that I spent last night installing and updating was Dragon Age: Origins.  Since I intend to be spending a bit more time downstairs I figured playing DA:O while catching up on television was a good activity.  I did not even have Origin installed on my laptop, so I went through the motions of doing that last night and then set to downloading Dragon Age Ultimate Edition.  For whatever reason the DRM on that game and I have struggled throughout the years.  It worked miraculously well upstairs when I reinstalled it a few weeks back so I thought maybe, just maybe Origin had worked out the kinks.  When I went to set it up on the laptop apparently there are still issues because while it downloaded the base Dragon Age… it did not seem to download any of the addons.

To make matters worse windows 8 does not appear to like the Dragon Age Updater program and it just simply is not running on my laptop at all.  So all of the directions from the Origin support site for restoring access to your addons does not appear to work at all.  What I finally ended up doing was manually copying all of the addons from my desktop upstairs to the laptop over the network.  Now when I boot up the game it appears to see everything just fine.  But I could see someone with less patience giving up long before we reached that point.  Dragon Age seemed to be a problem child, because I never went through any of the issues while playing any of the Mass Effect games.  So here is hoping the DRM scheme for Dragon Age: Inquisition is equally unobtrusive.

Of note for those who have not played Dragon Age: Origins before and would like to in preparation for the launch of Dragon Age: Inquisition… it is now apparently available for free from origin.  This game is well worth your time spent, and going back and playing it has made me remember just how much I loved the original game as compared to Dragon Age II.  Honestly I am not in the “I Hate 2” camp, but the first game is simply better in every possible way.  I figure just playing through the first one is more than enough to introduce you to the setting and its characters and conflicts.  More than anything that was what I was trying to do while replaying the game, is to remember all of the intricate struggles.

The Grim Dark Future has Tradeskills

Destiny_20141009231722 One of the problems I am having with Destiny is the fact that you reach this point in the end game where your entire life becomes about grinding otherwise meaningless things.  There are folks who will farm level 2 mobs over and over for five hours in the rare chance of getting drops, or return to previous content areas feverishly hunting for spinmetal or any number of other crafting materials.  Unfortunately these are not extreme players, but representative of the expected gameplay that games at the end of your twenty level story arc.  The end game of Destiny involves the collection of otherwise unimportant bits that you then use to upgrade your armor slots, in hope of getting enough “light” out of it to push yourself up yet another level.   Right now my life is about getting Spirit Bloom, Relic Iron and Plasteel… so it has me wandering aimelessly through the hunting zones in search of ground spawn nodes and chests.

My tolerance for mindless grinding is considerably higher than that of my friends, so while I am still able to find fun in this process… most of them have long since tapered off their play time.  I have managed to push myself up to level 25 after doing a ton of upgrading.  The problem is even I am not sure how much further I care to take the game when the end result is  so damned repetitive.  I suppose I could start trying to do the crucible, but I didn’t really get into this game for its player versus player gameplay.  I realize I likely expected something out of Destiny that it will never really deliver, but up until the point I hit 20 I have to say I enjoyed all of the content from that point on.  I even enjoy running the patrol missions because they give me little bursts of purpose… I just wish the patrol missions had a chance of rewarding you the crafting materials you need to progress.  That ultimately would be a massive improvement that would breathe new life into the game for me.  As of now Destiny is that game I play while waiting on something else, either waiting on my wife to get home, or waiting on something to spawn in Final Fantasy XIV.

#Destiny #DragonAge #DragonCoins