Friday, May 31, 2013

Can a Freemium game be worth your time?

If you're using android and looked up any games, you'd be familiar with seeing games for free. If you're curious, you'd think, well, how is this possible? Why would so many developers release stuff for free.

Well, to be frank, 90% of the time, the app or game, isn't worth shit.

I seriously tried to find a less coarse way to say this but I cannot. Most of the crap for free, is crap. If developers could defecate through their fingers, they would be able to recreate the freebie lists on Google Play store.

Gameplay on most free android games is usually incredibly shallow (even some paid ones). In addition to repetitive shallow gameplay, there's uncomfortable controls, advertisements, social logins, and in-game application purchases.

This is why the term "freemium" is used. It's free, but you end up paying for the experience in some other way, generally through annoyances, or IAP.

So looking at controls - just because it's touch doesn't mean i should be touching an image of the game that blocks my view. Seriously. I'm not transparent. make a button toward the edge of the screen mate! While i can see it works in some games - like pulling back a bird on a slingshot, I don't need to see it in games where there's a lot of action on the screen.
Advertisements - suck. Sure - use my bandwidth to download crappy advertisements of stuff i'll never buy, and just waste my time looking for the little "x" to click off. Stop delaying my getting to the actual game, and for the love of god, stop putting ads on the screen during actual gameplay. I don't mind buying games outright in the play-store if that gets me a no-ad version.
Social logins - NO. BAD. BAD developer. This is annoying. I don't need to know who did what when, with some score, and ... just NO! Annoying! Yes, there are some less intrusive versions out there where this doesn't suck, but don't keep throwing it in my face!
IAP (in-app purchases) - This is a slap in the face when you consider how much you may actually spend. Normally games force you to spend money on this by making the game extremely difficult without it some item only available for real money. Forcing people to buy items to progress in a game? LAME! Just avoid these if you can. Vote with your wallet.

There's major problems with this. Lets say you try an android game and spend money in IAP stuff. If you have to re-install, or upgrade your android device, all that money spent is gone. In a real game, you can regain your position through simply playing, you're SOL on a freemium IAP model.

Keeping advertising down to a minimum, and making IAP not a necessity can keep a developer's game from being completely asinine.

Now there ARE some freemium games that are actually decent.
I'm bringing up Real Racing 3 for a reason - it's both loved and hated. The reasons seem to stem from differences in playstyle.
Real Racing 3 is popular for a reason. The graphics are above the standard for android games. The control (touch) is especially simple to use, and there's a sense of realism, many console and even PC games often lack. No turning a corner at 200MPH here (I'm looking at you Need for Speed: Undercover). Slow the fudge down! Real Racing 3 is may remind you of the anime Initial D, in that Braking, and cornering rule this game.

While a lot of people dislike it, I think it manages to appease die hard IAP haters if you play in a particular manner.
Like many freemium games, there's 2 currencies. One - "$R" is easily earned, the other "Gold" is limited.
To not feel the sting of wait times, get more cars. When one is being fixed or delivered, play with another one. In a sense, it helps keep variety, since you'll find yourself playing many different cars instead of fixating on one, and eventually boring yourself.

There's a couple ridiculous expenditures - 2 cars that cost hundreds of "Gold" effectively preventing a full 100% completion of everything unless real money is spent, though that may take months to get anyway, so there's a lot of replay value regardless.
So, can a freemium game be worth your time? Apparently yes :)

Real Racing 3 employs a damage model for cars. servicing the cars (like an oil change) takes real time."Gold" is used to skip the wait. "Gold" is also used for instant car delivery, paint jobs, final upgrades on certain cars and a couple of cars. While the game is certainly doable without any of that, it does help. That said, you'll earn "Gold" over time through gaining race experience, and completing divisions.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tablet gaming...

I like the idea tablets for games, but I don't think I've found games as satisfying on other devices. Gameboy, Gamegear, the Nintendo DS, etc.

Most games designed for a tablet are generally "casual" i.e. normally no need to spend long periods of time either developing a character or learning mechanics. Even flashy graphics like real boxing can't keep the game from feeling a little empty, and quite repetitive. Then again, if I were developing a quality title, I don't think I'd want sell games for a buck or two.

The world has spoken - they want super cheap games. Most paid games are $2 and under, a handful of $3, and a sprinkle of $4. Few games cost more - and often they're on sale. There's this idea that games must be cheap, but the sad truth is you get what you pay for. Mostly lackluster games without story, staying power, and horrid levels of in-game application purchases (IAP). Often the lesser publishers will have advertisements and obtrusive notifications.

IAP may unfortunately end up being a business model in future PC games. It's already present to an extent, but I'll loathe the "androidification" of the PC gaming market.

Until then, I put my full support behind steam developers that don't push that crap,, and

I think old school adventure games would be awesome on a tablet. The games are already made, and just need to be ported. In some cases, engines have already been rewritten - like Bioware's Baldur's gate, and Lucas Arts games. These games would lend themselves very well to touchscreen interfaces. Frankly I'm surprised at the dearth of solid adventure games on android.

One danger of a studio redoing a game for android is that they have a penchant for DRMing the affair, souring the experience for legitimate players - I'm looking at you Square Enix. They knew thay had a good game people would pay for, and instead of doing things the right way, they half as the job, and have periodic checks requiring an online connection.
When companies do this, it's becomes easier (and sane) to justify emulating the SNES port. RPGs play rather well with the clumsy onscreen buttons, especially if set to wait for user input.

for a decent dose of adventure gaming, try ScummVM
Here's a list of games that work:
You can legitimately find several of these games. All it requires is copying of the game's datafiles for ScummVM's interpreter to read.

I'm longing for Grim Fandango personally :)

There's a couple decades of decent games at this point. Here's one reason why I'm looking forward to a decent Windows tablet - something with better battery life and thinner than my Fujitsu p1630. Hopefully with a keyboard that flips around back so I can play space quest without missing a beat.