Mobile Games

Warriors of Waterdeep

Not sure how I got on the mail list but somehow a mobile game for Dungeons and Dragons entered early access (yes, that damn thing again..) and out of sheer curiosity I downloaded it.

The gist of the game is a top down, class and group based dungeon crawl. You get XP and levels and abilities are tied to equipment (which can be upgraded). You get packs of cards for completing new dungeon areas under “Play” and once you finish off a section of the dungeon you can do a “Challenge” mode. The challenge mode allows you to do the same boss over and over with increasing difficulties (And rewards). At the end of the crawl, you get an option to “keep rewards” or “continue”.

After a challenge mode you get a chest with a timer. The better the contents of the chest the longer the timer (minimum 3 hours so far, longest I have received was 12. There is at least a 24h one that I have seen an “ad” for.) So the game manages to hit all the right monetization notes – gold (in game currency farmed) or gems (paid for, and you can exchange for gold) card packs (get on completion or buy) and chests (timer unlocked that gems can speed up).

Outside of levels on equipment (number of cards to upgrade, gold to pay for the transformation) and levels of the characters (equipment is gated by levels) they also have a “renown” levelling mechanic which is the total “fame” of the party. Unlocking renown gives new character unlocks (of which you get a choice of at each unlock). So there is plenty to grind out and level here, and plenty of ways to spend your money (if you aren’t patient like me).

So far it has been fun and taking up more of my time than Clash Royale lately and there is enough carrots and “next level” points to keep me going for now. My only real complaint is that it is very slow to play and unlock. For example, if I do a 3 round challenge it takes me over 10 minutes (whereas three rounds of CR is 3-4 minutes each) so you can’t bite-size it as much. It is also pretty hard and I haven’t even unlocked the second challenge mode yet – because my group is only around level 6 each and there are creatures already one-shotting me. (You can also continue if you die in a dungeon, but that costs gems…)

I think it is a bit uneven and they will have to make it easier to unlock the first 2 or 3 challenge modes or people will lose interest. Going from level 6 to 7 on each charcater will probably take me a few weeks and I need level 7 to finish off the second dungeon leg. I have the patience many may not.

All in all, will see how it progresses but at this point I don’t feel the need to reward with cash yet, but happy to help them sort through their balancing before they go live. Which is probably in 2020. (Yes, getting cynical on EA titles…)

Mobile Games – Pay or Nay?

I have only written about Mobile games here once on the site, and that very recently. Odd for me to think especially considering I am always loading up a few titles to mess around with. Before I get into the ones I am playing now I want to share a brief history of the devices I have gamed on since the smart phone era.

I was an early buyer of the iPhone and it really was amazing. From there I went to a newer generation iPhone, and as I grew increasingly frustrated with the locked down nature of the iOS I was ready for a change. Android would be the natural next step for someone looking for freedom but I was feeling unashamedly pro-Microsoft at the time and decided to give Windows Phone a whirl. I was not disappointed one bit. The challenge happened when my phone broke (and by broke, I mean, was dropped by me) and when I went to get a new Windows Phone the handset I had liked (Samsung Ativ S) was no longer offered. The options left weren’t desirable so I had other choices to make. That being moving to an Android based phone. I suppose that was (is?) the one big negative about the Windows Phone platform – the limited options.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 was already out was well reviewed so that is what I am using in my day to day work and play. It is a great device and great system. Mobile games don’t grab my attention too much, they are more time killers and fillers. As such, I tend not to pay for them (yay for free options) but as a conscious supporter of the industry if I have an experience that I feel is worth investing in I tend to do so. So far League of Legends has been a generous beneficiary in the F2P genre but it’s not mobile. So here is the slate I am currently playing, and what I am paying.

Candy Crush Saga

Laugh it up, fuzzball! I have avoided this game like the plague for a long time while the rest of the world was knee deep. I was travelling for work with a colleague and she was playing it, and I helped her beat a couple levels. She was level 135 at the time and I became interested enough in the game to download my own version. I wanted to see how far I could go before hitting a wall (surprisingly far). I also got it in my head that I could catch and surpass my co-workers without spending a dime. Turns out, that is a pretty impossible feat. I have failed so many levels by a single candy to crush that it has to be “fixed”. How can you fail the exact same, super difficult level, by one candy 6 out of 8 times? It just doesn’t feel probable. The more time that I spent just barely failing – and getting it into my head that the failure is programmed, not genuine failure, the less I played. And the consideration to pay was non-existent based on that factor. I wonder how honest that game really is.

Clash of Clans

My 9 year old is in an all school-only clan and watching him play it made me laugh a bit – I had read a lot about the game over at Hardcore Casual and Syncaine is a big fan of it. The thought crossed my mind here that Syncaine and his bullies have been beating up on school children in the game! Then the realization came that I was probably the one getting my ass kicked by kids. Either way, any game with a level playing field on a 30 year spread is well designed. I am slowly building my clan up and I prefer defense over attacking (which is just time in my case, and non-optimal CoC playing). The sad part is I am not part of a Clan yet – been in and out of a couple but the invites I have received haven’t really stuck around. I did get in my son’s clan but his friend kicked me out [“sorry, you suck. and you are old”] was the cole’s notes of the message. The pacing is good in CoC because really you only need to check once a day. I bought some gems to get extra builders to speed up my defense building. I won’t truly get to experience or fully enjoy the game until I get better immersed in the clan and attacking side of things. I have some time and many upgrades to go. CoC is well designed enough to earn some of my money.

Marvel Contest of Champions

I am on a bit of a super hero binge right now and really missing City of Heroes. This game is a basic fighting game with your favourite Marvel Characters. The one issue I have with the game is that you have to play several game modes in order to advance. My goal is to get my favourite old comic book heroes which I have a free random chance of getting once a day, or after certain completions. The Quest system is so slow now that it takes a couple days to get through to get any “free” currency for that random chance for the right hero. The other gate is improving characters through standard quests, but also for certain catalysts you have to have – and you can’t quest for currency and catalysts at the same time, meaning you always feel like you aren’t doing what you should be doing. I am playing this one less and less now and will go elsewhere for my superhero fix (I think) unless I somehow land a 3 star hero in the next week or so (for free). I am always a fan of the idea that you make a game that people can play and enjoy, and you will probably get paid for it. Force roadblocks for the sole purpose of encouraging payment, and you get an uninstall. This premise hurts PVP based games even moreso.

That is the current trifecta and probably no surprise that the one I am most interested in holding onto is Clash of Clans. I’m finding with my Surface Pro 3 I can game more standard wherever I am so phone gaming is really relegated to waiting rooms and bathrooms (you are welcome for the visual). Any games you can recommend? Any worth paying for? Curious – I don’t research or follow the industry much having tripped over the above three titles. Surely I am missing out on something =)

Also a couple housekeeping things:

  • Do you find this site responsive, or a bit chuggy/slow? It’s been hit or miss for me lately, hoping it is just the maple syrup fueled interwebs up here.
  • Pingbacks *may* be working – I’d be thankful if you did a test for me!

Dumb Ways to Die

This is a game I am definitely “fashionably late” to as they already have a second version out. Still, let’s talk about the first.

My son asked to download this app on his iPad and I knew nothing about the game but was there to supervise so allowed it. It downloads, he fires it up, and he presses start. This is the first thing that pops up:

With a timer bar at the top, decreasing slowly. He looks at me and asks me what to do.

“Press it, clearly”.

He does, and a nuclear bomb goes off in some part of the world.

The whole game is based around a series of mini games and if you do not complete them correctly or in time, your little guy dies. The deaths are done in a playful, non-mortal or gory sort of way. The “people” you are trying to protect through the mini games kind of look like less shapely Barbapapas. The mini games are varied including (but not limited to): swatting wasps, plugging bullet holes with fingers, connecting same colored wires, swatting piranhas, running from fire, ducking while poking a bear, putting mustard on a hot dog before feeding it to a snake, removing toast from a toaster with a fork, etc. etc. Things that we face in our everyday lives. They occur in randomized order throughout the experience.

As far as phone/tablet games go, it is fun. The challenges repeat in random order and get faster and faster (and fasterer, and fasteresterer) so it gets harder and more frantic on an escalating scale. A long game will last 5 minutes so it is perfect for the in and out kind of enjoyment in small and short bursts.

An interesting part for me is that that damn red button pops up randomly as well and every time the natural instinct is to press the damn thing (causing the damn explosion) but I don’t do it! Damn I want to though. What is it with human nature and big red buttons?

If you are looking for a time waster, go download it – it’s good space on your phone/tablet.

Pointless fun, but sometimes that is the best kind.