Monthly Archives: July 2012

The end of Zynga?

Perhaps I should have titled this post “A gamedev you’ll loathe,” because of the simple fact that Zynga is as close to the spawn of Satan I have seen in this world (besides whoever thought up “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” of course. What a bastard). Zynga, if you don’t know them (and you should), is the company that makes all of the “ville” game, most notably Farmville. They also are in charge of Words with Friends, Zynga Poker (duh), and more recently, Draw Something. They pretty much have a corner on the Facebook game market, and they certainly use their powers for evil. Listen to this quote by Farmville creator Marc Pincus:

“I knew that I wanted to control my destiny, so I knew I needed revenues, right, fucking, now. Like I needed revenues now. So I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar which was like, I don’t know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it.”

Wow, what a jerkwad. Not only are you the maker of some pretty dubiously legitimate games, but you also encourage your users to download, I dunno, MALWARE? Jeez. Sauron looks at you and just says, “Dang, dude.”

But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who loathe Zynga with a flaming, fiery passion: they’re dying.

Yessiree! There has been news of Zynga’s stock tanking after the 2nd quarter profit reports came in. Not enough people are playing the existing games that Zynga made, and I guess they’re just not putting out enough new ones. What, Farmville, Cityville, Frontierville, Castleville, Yoville, Fishville, and Petville have saturated your market? AW, SHUCKS! That’s just too bad. Now, as for the 3 or 4 of you who are wondering if Zynga’s (hopefully) inevitable downfall is a good thing, let me explain some things to you about the company.

 

First of all, I think it’s clear from the above quote that they’re money-grubbing bastards. But there’s more to it than prompting you to install malware. The games themselves are all designed with a system in mind: you have a certain amount of “energy,” which you accumulate over time, that allows you to complete tasks. For instance, in Farmville, you plow fields, plant crops, harvest crops, and build structures (I believe, correct me if I’m wrong), with energy. As you expand your farm, energy becomes increasingly scarce, and you must either shorten the length of time between your play sessions (to get the maximum benefit from energy regeneration), or, in a more appealing route, you can pay REAL MONEY to buy energy. Yep. Paying real money for nothing. There are also tasks you must complete by getting an obscene number of friends to help you out on FB OR by paying real money. There are premium items that you can collect your coins and cash and pinch pennies over months to buy… or pay real money for them. Lots of these “pay to play” aspects have worked their way into all of Zynga’s games.

Now, I know that there is a fundamental disagreement about “pay to play” games. Many people say that they’re just fine, because you don’t HAVE to pay to play, and if one chooses to pay, they’re not paying for “NOTHING,” they’re paying for ENTERTAINMENT. While this is true, the amount of money you have to shell out to continue playing these games increases as you get through them. They are repetitive, and if we factor in how much work it took the developers to make said premium items versus how much you’re paying to unlock them, we get an hourly salary that even makes Blizzard employees drool. I believe strongly that if one is going to pay extra money to play something free, the additional gameplay and experiences you get to enjoy should be directly related to how much you pay for it. Consider the following:

Unlocking tomatoes, eggplant, and peas in Farmville is roughly equivalent to a month’s worth of World of Warcraft? Or perhaps it’s equivalent to an extremely kickass DLC for your favorite Xbox game?

Nope. Not a chance. These games are designed to suck you in (and your friends, through the incessant mass-delivered requests), and then, once you play often, you start running into everyday predicaments that are most conveniently solved by paying for the game. They don’t stop once you start paying, either. Eventually you run out of FarmCash (or whatever), and you must pay more to continue your lavish agrarian lifestyle. Utter balderdash, I say. If a game is free then make it free. If a game is worth paying for, ask people to pay for it. None of this “free to play, pay to win” nonsense.

So their business model isn’t working out anymore. Facebook is worried about it because they get 12 percent of their revenue from Zynga. Zynga is worried about it because they’re greedy sons-of-you-know-whats. But if their entire company goes up in flames? If I never see another Farmville (or any other ville) request in my entire life? If I download a mobile game I can play with my friends and I DON’T have to be bombarded with messages demanding my money? Well… there’s at least one person who WON’T be worried about the end of Zynga.

Me.

~Another Gamer

P.S. I’m sorry that I’m not as funny when I’m pissed off, but I’ve hated Zynga for a long time and vengeance is sweet.

 

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Gamedev’s Delight!

Hey, folks! You’ll notice that I didn’t make a post on Monday! (Why’s that, Mr. Another Gamer sir?) Well, it’s because I’m no longer going to be posting on Mondays! And, if by some off chance you ask “Why’s that” again, then I would tell you it’s because I’m going to be in Germany for the next year. That’s right, ladies and gents (as if there were any chicks who read my blog), I’m studying Music Design abroad at a school in Trossingen, Germany.

Thar she blows!

Which, of course, means I’ll have plenty of stuff to blog about that doesn’t involve me sitting in my room, staring at a screen all day! And that’s what I’ll be writing about on Mondays. Now, since that’s totally irrelevant to ANYTHING video game-y, let’s move on!

Calling all gamedevs, 3D Modelers, artists, programmers, sound designers, and other members of video-game-related professions (and their wannabes)! Read the rest of this entry

Miss me yet?

Well, I’m back from vacation. I missed Monday! I’m sure you’re all quietly boo-hooing into the plate of processed food you usually ingest while reading this blog. It was awfully quiet out in rural Florida, and I had a lot of time to think about video games.

It really is too bad, however, that I didn’t spend that time thinking about video games. All is not lost, though! I have some divinely-inspired ruminations about the nature of video games, and life in general, to bestow upon you. I know. I’m grand.

Moving on! Glad to have that one off my chest. Next: I have discovered that the world of MineCraft is a lot nerdier than meets the eye. I was turned on to some pretty hefty mods by a commenter on one of my other posts, and I realized quickly that I was in over my head. Had I not retraced my steps, I would have needed a member of the Geek Squad with a PhD in computer science to come untangle the mess I made. That might be a slight overstatement, but to someone who mainly PLAYS games without really delving into how they work, it was a catastrophe of magnificent proportions. Good god.

On a different subject: Poke’mon is good. I love games that keep getting better with each new release. Generally I pirate them anyway, but I actually shelled out the money for Poke’mon White. It’s really turning into an RPG. It’s less about “you must defeat your Professor’s annoying grandson and become the Champion,” and much more in-depth. With greater data storage and computing abilities (occasionally) comes greater games! It’s not just flashier, it’s more difficult, more deep, more personalized. Trainers you fight against have their own playing styles, versus the old-fashioned, “Hey, pick a random move, go!” that made the early games so easy. The world seems bigger, more diverse, and more interesting. There’s more dialogue, more puzzles, more challenges, more things to do. Red and Blue will always have a special place in my heart, but I think it’s time we step off our soapbox and accept the fact that there are, in fact, more than 151 Poke’mon.

You racists.

And, last but not least in my series of unconnected thought: “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” is a thoroughly horrifying game. I don’t even want to play it anymore. It mentions at the beginning that the game is best experienced “in a dark room while wearing headphones.”  Coincidentally, I hear that BEING KILLED VIOLENTLY by zombies and other terrifying creatures is also best experienced in a dark room with headphones on. Way to go.

Other than that, I have a game for ya’ll to try: Glean. It’s a relatively new mineral-mining-and-stuff game, based loosely on the original gem, “Motherload,” from XgenStudios. This one has more variety, more pretty graphics, more challenges, and more plot. I like it! I know you will too.

Alrighty! See you next time. It’s good to be back.
~Another Gamer

Out of town, out of mind.

Hello, loyal readers. I will be taking a vacation, and as such I will miss Monday’s blog post. I hope you don’t mind (haha, that was a joke, I know you don’t actually care). While I may SEEM bitter about my lack of a following, I’m going to reward you for putting up with it by giving you a delightful couple of games for you to play! Enjoy!

THE TREADMILLASAURUS REX!!!!!

BULLET HEAVEN!!! It’s the opposite of a bullet hell game, BUT IT’S STILL A BULLET HELL GAME!!!!

~Another Gamer

P.S. The exclamation points are for added emphasis.

It’s MineCraft Monday!

While it is Monday, and I’m playing MineCraft, I hardly think that’s cause to institute a blog holiday. The fact of the matter is, there’s a new patch coming up, and it looks like it’s going to suck me in even worse than before. Which, all things considered, is quite bad. So, you might not hear from me for a while. Truth be told, you might not hear from me for a while because I’ll be in rural Florida, soaking up “rays,” and by “rays” I mean 90% humidity, triple-digit temperatures, with a side of hurricanes. C’est la vie.

So, back to MineCraft! New patch. It’s coming soon. If you play MC, this is very relevant and awesome, and if not… why the heck would you click on a blog with the word “MineCraft” in it? Maybe this is your first time hearing about it, and you’re asking yourself naively, “Should I buy this game?” Well, since you have obviously crawled out from underneath a rock, yes! The good news is, you’ll be spending most of your time under rocks anyway, so this will be a great fit for you.

As excited as I am about the new patch, there are a couple of other MineCraft related things that bear mentioning. First of all, I have begun work on my large project. I say “large,” but really it’s just a 64×64 square of dirt that I’ve leveled off and am setting up into four sectors, each with its own seasonal theme. Here’s a delightful picture of my work on “Winter.” I need more snow, it’s a little scarce ’round these parts, and white wool doesn’t seem to do the trick.

And it’s blank counterpart lies to the right.

Those octagonal thingies you see are going to be massive pillars and arches at some point. Just accumulating the raw resources to create them is a monumental task of its own. Whew. Who knew you could break a sweat playing video games (besides people who have CoD marathons)? Anyway, that’s what’s up on that project.

The other thing I discovered recently that’s worth mentioning is an intense survival mod for the game. Usually I’m not up for MC mods because they’re very PVP-geared, and I honestly have never liked PVP in pretty much any game I’ve played yet. But this one is called SkyBlock. Check out the video here:

You start out with nothing except for a small amount of dirt, a tree, a block of ice and a bucket of lava. Then, you attempt to create a workable empire by infinitely generating… wood, cobblestone (from the lava and ice), and slowly unlocking all the other things available in MineCraft, from food, to protection, to comfort. A large set of challenges awaits you, and they’re really tough to complete. You’re on an island. In the sky. With NOTHING. Completing anything except suicide is a thumbs-up in my book. The list of tasks one must complete is available here, as well as the download for the actual map. Enjoy!

 

Well, that’s all for “MineCraft Monday.” God, what a stupid name. Who comes up with this stuff?

 

~Another Gamer