Now that I have that first sentence out of the way and guaranteed to show up on the Facebook post for people that don’t click through to my blog, I can explain what has brought me to that sentence. What has me abandoning a game that I played the heck out of for the better part of three months?
First of all, for the most part it is a great game. The developer has done some truly unique things with the Match-3 formula that has been around for years. I continue to see a new concept and think, “Wow… that is brilliant.” But it is how they embrace microtransactions, a relatively new concept in gaming, that truly bothers me.
Like many other free Facebook or mobile-based games, you can only play so much at a time. In Candy Crush Saga, when you fail 5 times, you are done. Each of your “lives” will regenerate 30 minutes after it was lost. Or, a Facebook friend can send you another one (seemingly randomly). Or, and this is why the game is free, you can purchase additional lives.
I have pretty strong willpower when it comes to these free games. I don’t fall into the microtransaction trap and end up buying additional lives or power-ups. I may get upset when my life gauge hits zero, but I never have the urge to spend money to play some more. I can take a break and come back later to a fresh pile of lives, no problem.
However, the breaking point for me in Candy Crush Saga is in the randomness. The initial placement of your candies on the board is completely random, as is the addition of candies to the board when you clear some out. As such, it is entirely possible that you will get a game board that is impossible to beat. On some of the levels past 100, this will happen quite often. Several times I have lost 3 of my 5 lives to impossible candy arrangements.
Normally, I would not have a problem with this. I understand randomness. I’ve played other games that have random elements that can lead to unsolvable puzzles. As a life-long gamer, I’m cool with this. What I’m not cool with is a game repeatedly throwing impossible scenarios at me and then asking for real money to try again. This model is clearly working for them, but it crosses a line and doesn’t work for me. However, the line here is a fuzzy one. If the pop-up said I could pay $10 and unlock unlimited lives, basically buying the game in full, I would likely do it in a heartbeat. I truly enjoy playing the game. But, it’s the “Pay $1, Get 1 More Try” model combined with the possibility of randomly getting a board that is literally impossible to beat that breaks it for me. I can’t support that, even if I’m playing for free and not actually supporting them.
Naughty Dog is a developer that makes games exclusively for the PlayStation line of gaming systems. What is kind of interesting is that Naughty Dog has made some incredible games that appear to contain a message to other developers in them. That message is, “This is how you do it.”
A few years ago, Naughty Dog released “Uncharted”, which told the developers of “Tomb Raider”, “This is how you do it.” “Uncharted” is what “Tomb Raider” should have been like on today’s systems. It looked stunning with great gameplay, a solid story, and incredible voice acting. I’ve played all the major “Tomb Raider” releases and while I’ve enjoyed them, there was a lot of nostalgia there that probably helped increase my enjoyment of them. They weren’t entirely what they used to be when they were setting trends on the original PlayStation.
Naughty Dog has done it again with “The Last of Us”, this time telling the “Resident Evil” directors, “This is how you do it.” “The Last of Us” is a classic survivor horror game, which the most recent “Resident Evil” games have strayed a bit from. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what the “Resident Evil” games are right now, but at the same time, I will admit that they aren’t the same as they used to be.
“The Last of Us” goes back to that original “Resident Evil” formula, but with modern graphics and incredible voice acting. There’s a very limited amount of ammo. Melee weapons can only hit things a few times before they break and are useless. Health items are scarce. Running to safety is almost always an acceptable alternative to sticking around and taking care of all of the threats. The game is intense and has me gripping the controller tightly and clenching most of the muscles in my body. I can only play it for about 90 minutes before I need to take a break and walk away. Just like I did with the classic “Resident Evil” games.
Last Friday night, I finished playing “BioShock Infinite”. I enjoyed the game throughout my time with it, but the last 2 hours seriously hooked me. I really began to connect with Booker and Elizabeth, the two main characters, and the ending strengthened those feelings almost infinitely (*wink, wink*). I can’t get their story out of my head and I want to play more with these characters, but I don’t want to just run through the same game again. I want new stories with the two of them.
I know that “BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea: Episode 1” is out and it’s a new adventure with these two characters set in the same location as the original “BioShock”. As excited as I am to play this, the cost is keeping me away. Episode 1 is $15 and Episode 2, coming very soon, is an additional $15. $30 is a lot of money to pay for DLC, especially when Episode 1 is only about 2 hours long.
There are reports that Episode 2 is going to be significantly longer than Episode 1, clocking in at a rumored 6 hours. Now we’re getting a little bit better. $30 for a combined 8 hours of gameplay is not too shabby. That is an acceptable amount of time for most full-sized first-person shooters, and $30 is a good deal for a full-sized game. Especially when I got the full game for free thanks to the amazing PlayStation Plus service.
I will not grab Episodes 1 and 2 immediately when 2 comes out, but will watch for a sale. But if it isn’t trending towards a sale, there will come a point when I will not be able to wait any longer and I’ll spend the $30 to get 8 more hours with these incredible characters.
More than a decade after a certain musician named Poe branded me with the name “AllAroundPsycho”, which I began using for all of my online identities, I finally have AllAroundPsycho.com.
This blog will be no different than the one I had over at ICKYWMB. Same me, same posts, same look and feel. In fact, everything that was posted over at ICKYWMB is here now. I only changed for 3 major reasons. One was to get rid of the ads. Two was to have more control of the servers and back-end technical stuff. And the third, most important reason, is to finally squat on AllAroundPsycho.com.
Update your RSS feeds (if you use them) and enjoy.