Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Cityville" Some Thoughts #1

I have been playing Cityville here and there for quite a while now since last year. It is actually the first FB game that I had invested more than five minutes into, so I thought it might be a good game for a little bit of reflection.

I started playing this game when it first came out last year. I was intrigued by the massive amount of players that  started playing on day one and I wanted to see what all the hub bub was about. I thought it took a few days to warm up to it, but it became fun as a kind of competition to see how quickly I could level up compared to my other friends.

It did not take me long to realize the friends I had who were truly dedicated and you could tell were paying some cash into the game. Their city was decorated with some expensive items, and you could tell they were returning to the game frequently.

After playing for a while I tried my best to create a layout to my city that would be somewhat realistic to an actual city, but this was actually a hindrance to your progression in the game. It was quickly discovered that if you removed your roads you could connect your businesses and houses with sidewalks to take advantage of precious real estate. It also made your city look really stupid. It always bothered me to visit other cities to find that they had 20 hamburger joints or identical city buildings right next to each other. The game became less about the aesthetics of a cool city and more about the ease of harvesting easier.

With a little prompting I got my wife into the game as well for a short time. As lame as it sounds, we had a good time talking about our city layout and the things we had done to our cities. It was nice to have somebody who would consistently give you items without feeling like you were spamming them all day. In the end, that is the only way we got ahead.

Eventually I gave up on trying to complete goals because of having to spam people. I was able to find some gaming forums however such as which allowed you to post needed items and allowed you to get things more quickly.

Over time my interest waned. I think what was a big buzz kill for me was when they introduced the police departments to the city where you have to keep feeding your police force with donuts (of which they had an endless appetite). Or you were unable to catch the little criminals who lurked around your city stealing your money. This got super annoying to me as there was never any time off. Feeding your lazy police with donuts was a full time job.

Occasionally I do check into my city to see what is going on and to collect some money. I have a LOT of friends who still play so I will go in and accept their help. Now I just save up money and try to buy some of the larger buildings. Trying to build a nice downtown area, and a slum area, etc... I don't really care about the progression any more.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Deep Realms Day 1

Day 1

I have not played a lot of RPG games. I think the last one I really played a ton of was Dragon Warrior for the NES.

Having just gotten through to level six and through a couple areas of Deep Realms I can say that I really like the story and engaging characters. There seems to be a wide variety of enemies to battle.

The giant mouse battle at the end of the cave level was very amusing.

I’ve only explored the story line, but it looks like there are other things to explore like the castle and arena battles where you are able to fight friends. I will have to check that out later.

So far it is a really fun game.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Monster World Day 7

This post is actually a compilation of the last few days. I was trying to get through a few more goals so that I could get the satisfaction of really understanding the fun of this game. In the end, it just ended up taking way too long to accomplish anything without taking short cut to pay for progress.

Admittedly, I also was stubborn in the spamming and recruitment of friends which limited my ability to get the items necessary to build certain game items. It just feels at times that the requests are relentless and it is to the point where it is almost embarrassing to be bugging people with such high frequency. This is a huge annoyance in all games. I suppose it is a double edged sword because that which bugs is also that which makes it popular.

I would not be completely unwilling to invest money into a FB game, but the more I think about it with regards to this game, it should get some kind of pay off before I am willing to pay. In the end I did not feel any real pay off to this game, nothing unique except for the design. I felt the play space was small and there was only so much you could do with it, to the point where I felt all your design options were somewhat useless. Some of the other games I have played I think I will come back to, but I think I am going to hang up my monster hat with this one. I can see the appeal for some players, but it just wasn't for me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monster World Day 6

Still grinding to complete goals. When it takes several hours for one plant to be ready to harvest, it is going to take forever  to complete these goals and progress. Because I am up to level 14 on Day 5, and higher than my four neighbors, I’m under the impression that they too have given up on the repetitive and time consuming grinding of planting and harvesting goals as well. Yet, with 8 million monthly users it seems there must be something that keeps people coming back.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monster World Day 5

I am getting kind of bored with “plant 50 types of this plant, and harvest 50 types of this plant” that seems to be a never ending theme of the latest set of goals. It takes forever and the tedium is less than fun.

I know fb games require you to ask friends for things, and that is how they attract more people to the game, but it makes me not want to play any more if I have to ask every single person on my friends list for a screw driver ten times over. I guess there is the option of paying, but it would be nice to find a better incentive for drawing people into the game.

Day 4 has been super simple and way too boring. The characters and the animations have lost their luster after the lame goals.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Monster World Day 4

Think I found a bug: I am unable to build the baby bed that I am supposed to and nothing happens when I follow the instructions and place it. That is kind of a bummer. Two major bugs in 3 days isn’t cool.

Today was a full day of just planting crops and harvesting them. The plants I need to harvest to progress in my goals take quite a while to grow, so until they are finished growing I can’t do much.

My other progression goal requires me to either pay Facebook money, or wait another day until I can collect from my friends. I guess the third option is to invite more friends to play, but I am anti spamming. I don’t want to lose friends because they are upset with me spamming them with invites. So I will wait till tomorrow to make head way in this game.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Monster World Day 3

Ok, since I had not fed my helper in several hours he ate up all the plants in my garden. I think that is pretty funny.

I’m feeling pretty tired tonight. The two goals I had to complete tonight required me to visit friends, and since I have already done that and cannot help them again today, I have to wait a few hours for some of my plants to harvest so I can replant them.

That works out well with it being kind of late in the evening. So far this game is pretty amusing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Monster World Day 2

I was able to make it past the level 3 bug. 90% of the game play so far revolves around your garden.

I like their system for hiring friends to water your garden and then feeding them to keep them there longer.

Leveling up to 8 was pretty quick and rewarding. Plants seem to grow pretty quick, and the ones I planted yesterday were still there waiting for me to harvest when I got back to it today.

If you feed a friend you can keep them watering your plants for a long stretch of time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monster World Day 1

Another virtual world game akin to Farmville and the like. I am almost finding it confusing to have so many similar type games going at once and keeping track of how they all work with their slight differences.

My first thought was that I am really liking the fun art style and cute animations of the characters. I think it really adds a lot to the game play. The initial goals were simple and very quick, I never had to wonder what to do next while I got my bearings on the game. I accomplished lots of planting and harvesting right off the bat that was quick and easy.

Where I kind of hit a brick wall and stopped playing for the night is when I made it to level 3 and the game crashed. No matter what, it kept crashing and reloading and I would have to repeat what I had done to level up to level 3 again. On the third crash I said screw it, and turned the game off. We’ll  see if this issue happens again on Day 2.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Family Village Day 6

Day 6

Okay, I don’t know if it is a bug, but I can not figure out how to give my villagers gifts.

The only other goal I can possibly complete is to add another family member to my family tree. After that, the goal is to add their birth date.

I think this game has made me uncomfortable and frustrated enough that we are only going to make it to day six with this stinker. It’s unfortunate because it is a local study and I really wanted to like it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Family Village Day 5

Bleh. Still getting the server error when trying to go to the family tree page to complete a progression goal. Also, still unable to buy gifts. Not sure if I am too dumb to figure it out, or if I need to report that as a problem.

Even though I played late last night and this is just a few hours later in the morning all my jobs had still expired. Since I was unable to progress I spent a long ten minutes clearing out the wild trees and bushes in my home, visited my neighbors and tried to find something I could do besides invite them to visit my village (couldn’t figure anything out).

Hoping I can make it to Day 7 before giving up all together.

Family Village Day 4

Well hey! One of my jobs didn’t expire and I was able to collect some game money - however while trying to complete the goals I got an error connecting to the data server which stopped my ability to complete one of them.

My other goal was to raise the morale of my villagers by buying them gifts, but of course there were no gifts anywhere to be found in my inventory. With this apparent brick wall, I am calling it a day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Family Village Day 3

Once again my jobs had expired a few hours later and I had to ask friends to recover them. Totally lame! Seriously, how often do I have to play this game?

I was then notified of a newspaper article that the game had found about my mother, and asked if it was my relative. I said yes and it tried to make me buy the documentation for 5 village bucks. I have no village bucks, so it would cost real world money to buy it - I don’t think so. I am not even sure what that documentation would benefit me in the game, and it is kind of creepy.

I found a new business I could buy without inserting my credit card and set my avatar to work.

I tried visiting friends again, but still not sure what to do in their worlds. I tried clicking on everything, scratch that, I just got one of the other avatars to cut down a tree, and now consequently have figured out that my avatar can chop down all my crappy trees too. Progress.

I spent some time completing some goals and finding my family tree, using only my facebook friends, which made it easy to add family members with a couple clicks. I added my wife, and most of my brothers and sisters. It will be interesting to see what the game does with that info the next day i log in.

I was happy to see more goals/tutorials that were fast and easy to complete actually showed me how to play the game. It also helped me level up a little faster and make me feel rewarded as a player.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Family Village Day 2

So I turned on the music this time and it was old time upbeat music that fit well. I was discouraged to find that though I had only been away for a few hours, the jobs that I had started for myself, my mom and my dad had already expired. Made me wonder how often you have to check in just to progress in the game.

I set myself back to work to accomplish the only goal I had with the exception of buying a business I could not afford. I noticed that I had three neighbors I could visit, so I did, but when I got to their games II was not sure what to do there. There were help tokens on the left side, but as far as I could tell there was nothing I could do except invite people to visit me back. Upon getting back to my game, one of the people I had invited was already visiting me. It was cool to see them visit in real time and I have often wished that Cityville had this feature.

Something to note as well is that the other two people had not made it as far as I had in my five minutes of playing the game. The sounds were humorous when I set a village member to work as a “whisper catcher in the library”. A voice could be heard saying “shhhhh be quiet”.

Also, the game made its first attempt to locate one of my family members. It thought my dad was some dude in Minnesota, and of course I promptly set it straight.

For some reason I was awarded some village cash and I bought a school house. And that is as far as I was able to progress. The game has some serious flaws, but I must admit that Day 2 was better than Day 1.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Family Village Day 1

Heard about this game from a school mate. It was made in Lehi, Utah and is in beta with a monthly user base of 26k.

My initial thought going through the tutorial was that they are using Cityville or Farmville as a template, but adding some additional complexities to it that did not make it feel like I was jumping into the game.

Another weird aspect is that to populate my village I have to input the names of actual relatives and give them jobs, etc... I think the game is supposed to start finding relatives on it’s own to add to your family tree and population.

It only took about 5 minutes to complete a handful of goals and get oriented before it asked me to buy Family Cash to continue. This is where I called it quits for Day 1.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Empires and Allies day 7

Last review log: Unfortunately I did not post consistently each day but I think the fact that I continued to play several times a day, even when I was not posting notes, shows that this game was indeed fun.

I still refuse to pay money to speed up the process of leveling up and building out my island. I find the frequency that it asks me to invite friends to play terribly annoying and I notice that without an amazing amount of friends playing, staffing your new government buildings is near impossible without shelling out some cash. I suppose that is the point of the game.

My wife has commented about how lame my facebook wall looks with all the item requests that are spammed all over it. Yet, I still plan on playing this game - so you win, yet again, Zynga.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Empires and Allies day 6

Goals continue to be too many to really keep track of while grinding through the level.

Energy is used up pretty quickly while playing campaign mode.

I have one friend who is continually invading me, which I find annoying, but that adds to the game play because I am not mad at the game, I am mad at him, which I think is fun.

Goals and upgrades are now to the point of rebuilding your industry buildings.

Still having fun, but don’t feel like I am experiencing anything new.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Empires and Allies day 5

Ok, this is not really the fifth day of playing,. I have logged in to play for a few days but have not written about it. Nothing new in game play, just a lot of the same. Still somewhat enjoyable, but getting mindless and kind of boring. Invasion from friends seem to keep me motivated, as I feel somewhat violated when they invade my empire.

I am now at level 18 and am grinding my way up in level and along the story line. Goals have built up pretty heavily to the point where there are so many uncompleted that I am having a hard time remembering things. I need so many permits and items to progress that I can’t really focus on any, and to bypass this you need a ridiculous amount of badges that can only be acquired by paying  real world cash.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Empires and Allies day 4

Played a couple of times today - I am enjoying invading empires.

I was a little worried after not logging in for about a week while I was on vacation (I decided against taking the laptop) when I noticed that all my neighbors had leveled up, and were well above me. It was fun to see that I could still invade and beat them. I invaded about 10 all together and it was rewarding to come back later that night and collect the spoils as they had not yet been able to fend me off.

I am now at level 15. Leveling up is still pretty boring. I am trying to complete the missions as quickly as possible, but it takes time. Tonight I have been playing on a super laggy laptop and it sucks.

I am happy to see that I am able to ask my neighbors for parts today and have a list of just them, so I don’t have to search individually or spam everybody on my FB friends lists. I also found a cheat website that makes it easier to ask for parts. We shall see if this increases the speed at which I am able to build and complete goals tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Empires and Allies day 3

Started having some fun today by defeating a couple of level ten friends while I was only a level 7. The payoff of defeating others was rewarding. It felt pretty good getting a ton of their loot.

I was pleased to see that one of my neighbors had come to fend off that level fifty who had invaded my island. I am not sure what block infamy hearts will give me in the end. Clicking on everything seems to be the pay off, in addition to the daily rewards for playing consecutively.

I am on day 3 and leaving on vacation for a week tonight. I’ve decided to take the laptop so I can at least log in each day to see if the this daily reward chain will be worth it.

Big annoyance is that I need certain items before I can progress with my research station whch enables me to upgrade my soldiers. Rather than choosing from a list of people who already play the game, I have to select from my entire list of Facebook friends. That is super annoying - both to me, and I’m sure to them. At least in CityVille you were given the option to only ask your Cityville friends so you were’nt bugging people who didn’t want to play, every single day. For that reason it may slow down my progression because I refuse to spam all my friends, and I don’t really want to spend the time picking out my actual neighbors from the list. Super annoying.

I am going to look online if there is a web board for people to accept gifts. I found one while playing Cityville which made getting certain items a lot easier. I wonder if they have done something with this game to prohibit those kinds of short cuts. I must find out.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Empires and Allies day 2

It has been a few days since playing the game, even though I have been getting gads of requests and gifts from Facebook friends who play the game. It’s been difficult to find the time.

So a few minutes were spent accepting gifts and requests. I thought it was weird that I still had not filled my Parliament building, so spent some precious badges to finish it up so I could continue the game. I find myself hoarding cash in these games because I outright refuse to spend real world money for them. I  am not opposed to taking it slow.

I am still at level 6, but am enjoying having a linear mission structure to follow along with the building up game play.

One of my level 50 friends decided to invade my poor level 6 island. Despite that being a brutal game play decision on his part, actually gives me incentive to level up so I can whoop him sooner rather later. That or find some tough friends to do it for me.

I quickly ran out of energy today which kept this play time to about a half hour.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Empires and Allies Day 1

I sat down to play my first half hour of Empires and Allies today. My first thought is: This is very similar to Cityville. I played Cityville quite frequently, but eventually got pretty bored with.

The interface is the same in both games, so there is not much of a learning curve if you’ve played either one. Apart from building your city and army, there is a fun campaign mission system complete with combat play. I enjoyed the dynamic of having virtual enemies. Leveling up was quick. I shot up to a level 6 within the first 30 minutes of play and was given a slew of goals as I was guided through the game.

Secretly, I was hoping that I would run out of energy so that I could take a break, but with every level up my energy was also filled. I hate leaving a game with any extra energy that I could use, but it was late and I need more sleep.

I am looking forward to checking out more of the combat systems and invading other people’s armies tomorrow.

One thing that annoys me about these games, is when players have 400 barns placed right next to each other. It seems there is no advantage to building an elegant, and well designed city.