Sunday, November 25, 2012


Don't Download This Patch

Shigeru Miyamoto had a famous quote that he used to justify the time it took Nintendo to make their games -- a bad game is bad forever, but a delayed game can eventually be good.

So much for that!

Patches.  Man.

The upside of patches is that they can be used to add new features or remove bugs that slipped past QA.  It can give more value to the consumer.  The problem is, well...

I've written glowing reviews for Fix-It Felix Jr. and Knights of Pen and Paper on iOS.  Problem is, these reviews are now outdated because recent updates have made significant changes to the games.  I didn't download the updates, but judging from the reviews people have posted, Fix-It Felix has been relegated to being a demo for the proper Wreck-It Ralph app, and Knights of Pen and Paper has had its economy adjusted to get more people to pay for extra game money.

Really guys?  Really?

I bought the Wreck-It Ralph app without needing to be goaded into it by hobbling the free version.  Fact is, the free game was kind of simplistic enough, I'd gladly pay for a more fleshed-out version.  The problem is, the version of Felix in the paid app doesn't have iCade support, which was one of my favorite features.  So... try to replace a game I really like with a version I don't like?  Excellent strategy?!

And Knights of Pen and Paper... God, just no.  You designed your game to be modular, make that the in app purchase.  Charge me for each new campaign that comes out, that's totally fine!  Instead you're going to change it so that I have to grind more unless I pay for your funny money?  You think the best way to keep customers coming back is to make your game more annoying to play?  Well, good luck.

These are just two data points, but read enough reviews in the app store, and you'll see the recurring complaint that it was better before, then the devs got greedy and changed the game in some way that made in app purchases more prominent.

It's awful.  I know that nothing I say is going to stop developers from doing it because, hey, it's a business, and they've decided somewhere along the line that this is what will make them more money.  But it's still awful.  So I'm writing it down just to get it out of my head for a while.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Knights of Pen and Paper

It's autumn, so it's time once again for me to get completely sucked into a dungeon crawler.  This year's game is Knights of Pen and Paper.  I'm playing it on iOS, but it's also available for Android and coming soon for PC and Mac.  And gosh I love it.  I love it so much.

The defining gimmick of the game is that it attempts to recreate the experience of tabletop roleplaying.  The game start with a table, and you fill the five seats with different players and decide which character class each one is going to play -- you can even select from a variety of Dungeon Masters.  This table is always present on the screen, but the background changes as you move between various locations, representative of the players imagining where they are.  Most of the events in the game are narrated to you by the Dungeon Master, and the players drop in and out of character in their conversations.

And it's great.  It's really, really fantastic.  It exactly captures the feeling I had in high school of running a D&D campaign.  And certain changes that you make in the "real" world affect the game world.  For instance, different DMs reward the players (for, presumably, good roleplaying) in different ways.  You can use your game currency to buy pizza, chips, and soda, which give you various bonuses until they've been consumed.  And each player gives a unique ability to the character he or she plays -- the hyperactive younger brother gets higher initiative, Flowers (Ramona?) gets a bonus to all luck rolls, Paris (Hilton?) gets a discount on all blacksmith purchases, and so on.

Mechanically, the game is very familiar.  Like in Puzzle Quest, you move from node to node on the overhead map and receive quests at each location you visit.  Combat is similar to Dragon Quest, where everyone gets a turn and proximity isn't a factor.  Although I've come to prefer roguelikes in recent years for the way they make proximity and movement a factor in combat, this is, frankly, the way I played pen and paper RPGs.  It's pretty appropriate.

It's really my favorite kind of RPG in that the characterization and the story is very sparse, and it leaves a lot of room for your imagination to fill in the details.  This is helped along by the fact that all of the players in your party are obviously just normal people wearing costumes to a role-playing game.  I have the Grandma player playing the Rogue for my party, which is kind of amazing on two levels.  One is that I'm just picturing her as being literally the grandmother of one of the other players (I'm thinking the Little Brother, who I'm also picturing as literally the DM's little brother, so I guess she'd be both of their grandmother), tagging along to see what all the fuss is about this game.  The other is that she's actually a pretty tough character!  Grandma the Rogue, handing out concussions and backstabs with her poison dagger.  It's amazing.

It's been a while since I've felt this invested in any game, let alone an iOS game.  It's fun, it's funny, it's got a nice 8-bitty audio and visual style, it's got a lovably loose sort of translation to it -- it's just great.  I can sit down and play it for hours.  And it's so inexpensive!  You should check it out.


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