Re: Play

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If this is the thread to just link to game-related stuff, I recommend this essay about evil and non-player characters even though I've never played the games it mentions.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-17-14 6:56 PM
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Obligatory opportunity to plug my game, which I'm thinking about maybe getting back to work on at some point, if I get around to it. But that largely depends on getting someone else to redo the graphics at a higher resolution.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-17-14 7:52 PM
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There's quite a rich tradition of this sort of thing, though the Game Dev Tycoon approach has a pleasing symmetry, of course. Having said that, the game itself is mostly a rip off of Game Dev Story, so they can hardly complain too much.

In pirated versions of Batman: Arkham Asylum, his cape wouldn't work, sending pirates plummeting to the ground instead of striking fear into the hearts of Gotham's goons. Alan Wake just gave pirates' playable character an eyepatch. See here for some more imaginative approaches. Well, more imaginative than slapping on some heavy handed DRM.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 2:54 AM
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Oh great, I just linked game-related stuff in the other thread. I'll link it here too, 'cause I just spam that way: Bee.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 3:37 AM
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I suspect part of the reason for piracy is that a lot of pirates don't actually have the ablitys to pay for games themselves. Most 14-year-olds don't have access to credit cards, and if they have to ask Mom if they can buy a game, there is a pretty good chance Mom is going to say "No, and maybe its time you got off the computer and went outside, young man".

So its not necessarily that they are cheap - though they are certainly that - just that there are costs associated with purchasing games that go beyond the $8 for the license. The problem is there is not a good means of capturing value from this kind of audience.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 4:28 AM
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The problem is there is not a good means of capturing value from this kind of audience.

The problem is there is - free to play games with ads and hideous energy/timer mechanics. Helped along by Apple's until-far-too-recently parent-unfriendly policies on IAPs.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 4:31 AM
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The problem is there is not a good means of capturing value from this kind of audience.

Sell the games in shops? The problem of making it possible for teenagers to pay money for things that they want is a solved one.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 4:33 AM
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7: Don't you have to pay the stores money to get them to carry your game? This is probably difficult for a small game developer, especially if you're selling the game at a price as low as 8 dollars.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:00 AM
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There are basically no new PC games for sale in shops. 90% of the shelf space is taken up by Blizzard games and The Sims. The rest is a handful of triple-A releases. A game like Game Dev Tycoon is never going to get into stores. And, having said that, the situation is still better for a Game Dev Tycoon with digital distribution, even with rampant piracy, than it would have been before digital distribution.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:01 AM
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Don't you have to pay the stores money to get them to carry your game? This is probably difficult for a small game developer, especially if you're selling the game at a price as low as 8 dollars

But, as I say, lots of other people seem to manage to make money by selling things, in shops, to teenagers who don't have credit cards. Even cheap things.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:13 AM
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Sell the games in shops?

Physical stores? Ok, grampa....


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:13 AM
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The problem is there is - free to play games with ads and hideous energy/timer mechanics.

Those don't actually capture that value, though. F2P is still giving the goods away for free, with a small sliver of whales providing the vast majority of revenue. Its not so different from the high-piracy model, except the games suck more. Although, if they are now building pirated games to suck, its really not so different at all.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:17 AM
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11: well, why not? If online sales aren't possible because teenagers don't have credit cards. Take a walk down the high street and the place is thick with physical shops selling stuff to teenagers.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:21 AM
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Well, like 9 said, Call of Duty can do that, although most shelf space is going to be dedicated to console games. Almost all the PC games market is via download these days.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:30 AM
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. Take a walk down the high street and the place is thick with physical shops selling stuff to teenagers.

But not selling PC games and increasingly not selling any games. The two largest games retailers in the UK both went into administration (Game and HMV) in the last couple of years and shut most of their stores. I'm not saying it wouldn't be possible to find some business model around selling small games to teens in stores* but they haven't shown much interest in doing so.

Those don't actually capture that value, though. F2P is still giving the goods away for free, with a small sliver of whales providing the vast majority of revenue.

Some of which whales, especially before Apple was forced to change its IAP policies, were children using their parents' credit cards.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:45 AM
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Oops, forgot the footnote:

*There's a colourable argument that most small PC games are aimed at an older crowd anyway, because so many of them play on nostalgia (all the pixel art), adult or arcane themes (Papers, Please! and Farming Simulator 2015 don't strike me as particularly teen friendly games) , or involved mechanics (Legend of Grimrock, say). There are plenty of counter-examples of course, but I'd be very willing to bet your teen audience skews triple-A.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 5:49 AM
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Teens probably skew towards AAA, but I think they are a huge force in the market simply based on the amount of free time they have. Having more time than money is a driver of piracy across all media, and the opposite problem is why I can't even be bothered to torrent movies that aren't available on Netflix.

I bet Goat Simulator's core audience is teens, especially now that its going MMO.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:20 AM
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Of course I'm ignoring Minecraft, which has an overwhelmingly young audience and is under £20.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:27 AM
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Stupid Nether and zombie pigmen cost me my bow that shot flaming arrows and my flame sword. Now I can't kill and cook my chicken at the same time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:32 AM
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I'm also not aware of it having a piracy problem. Maybe because you have to authenticate through their servers if you want to play multiplayer. Single player games can't really do that.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:33 AM
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I bet Goat Simulator's core audience is teens, especially now that its going MMO.

This world is very strange.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:34 AM
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From my probably skewed perspective most of the early Minecraft players were adults; the sort of people who actually thought farming materials in EQ or WoW was the most fun part.

As for piracy, I remember way back in the day talking to the sales manager of a successful game company who said it was pointless to sell in most of Europe (outside the UK) or Latin America. After the first copy, it was pirates all the way down. (This was well before internet distribution, though.)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:40 AM
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I suspect part of the reason for piracy is that a lot of pirates don't actually have the ablitys to pay for games themselves. Most 14-year-olds don't have access to credit cards

Almost any 14 year old has access to a prepaid Visa card, which works for online purchases just like a real one. You can buy one at any convenience retailer without even showing ID (for the non-reloadable kind).

Granted, that's a pretty high threshold if the alternative is is a couple of clicks to get a pirated version. The point is, I doubt there is a huge latent market of teenagers who would cheerfully pay eight dollars if only payment were more convenient.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:52 AM
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From my probably skewed perspective most of the early Minecraft players were adults; the sort of people who actually thought farming materials in EQ or WoW was the most fun part.

Early, yes. But it's just kept on growing and platform-proliferating and, at least anecdotally, most of that growth has been from young children.

As for piracy, I remember way back in the day talking to the sales manager of a successful game company who said it was pointless to sell in most of Europe (outside the UK) or Latin America. After the first copy, it was pirates all the way down. (This was well before internet distribution, though.)

This is true and untrue at the same time. I can't really speak to Latin America, though I do understand it has a lot of piracy. But in Europe, outside of Russia and its neighbours* it's perfectly possible to make money selling games, as long as you do it right. Eastern Europe is a huge market for PC strategy games, sims, and RPGs. EA makes a shit-ton of money selling FIFA and these days FIFA Ultimate Team to Europeans. Certainly there's a lot of piracy, but there's also a large addressable market. It's just that a) for the most part and b) until recently, the large companies just didn't make the effort to understand it. Nintendo didn't even bother launching the NES officially in Europe, which can hardly be blamed on piracy. And many companies either try to foist local-market-inappropriate games on the non Anglophone countries, or they have other business practices that reduce their sales (eg poorly implemented region locking to protect Western European prices, forcing inappropriate language choices on users based on location etc).

* Even in Russia it's perfectly possible to make money with the right business model. DotA is one of the biggest money spinners in all of gaming and a large part of that is coming from Russian players.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:53 AM
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DotA is one of the biggest money spinners in all of gaming

"DotA" = "Death of the Author", the smash-hit post-structuralist first-person shooter. I'm a fan myself.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 7:02 AM
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TLDR: The way to sell games in Europe is to make low budget, hardcore games that appeal to a relatively small but very dedicated audience that you can monetise over time. Most of the big publishers have (or until recently anyway had) no interest in doing that. They want high budget mass audience games they can throw their marketing muscle and benefits of scale behind.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 7:05 AM
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The reason my nephew pirates games is that his mom won't buy them for him. He's more computer savvy than her by a long shot, so he pretty much has access to whatever is on the web. I installed Netnanny on all the family machines but I'd be astonished if he hasn't found a workaround yet.

Unfortunately my nephew isn't very good about only pirating age-appropriate stuff (he's 13) and he lets his sister (10) play his games. I was a bit bothered to find her playing Grand Theft Auto and merrily beating people up and stealing their cars. My sister is really too overwhelmed to police all this so she mostly just lets it slide. I'm assuming the damage will be minimal and my relatives won't grow up to be Dylan Klebold.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 7:26 AM
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24.piracy. I wouldn't expect that things haven't changed since the Jurassic period, so: yeah.

24.russia. I get the impression that a lot of the FtP games (free but you have to pay to actually be competitive) do well in Eastern Europe and Russia. I'm thinking World of Tanks and the like, here. No piracy problems with FtP+$toWin games.

There's a pretty vocal contingent in the gaming community that believes FtP is going to be the rule before long. Hard to see how indie studios can easily monetize any other way (Steam, sometimes, I guess). If you're not expecting big returns you can probably try to live with 6% purchases, 94% pirated, but that makes you a glorified hobbyist, in my book. NTTAWWT.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 7:30 AM
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The point is, I doubt there is a huge latent market of teenagers who would cheerfully pay eight dollars if only payment were more convenient.

Yeah, this is why I'm not convinced that piracy represents a whole lot in terms of actual losses. The small proportion of would-be sales lost to pirates is largely counterbalanced by value that piracy brings in popularizing the game.

I think what we are looking at, in the case of this article, is a rather novel publicity strategy for Game Developer Tycoon. That game has been out for a couple years now; an article using it to decry an epidemic of piracy is a novel approach to getting it back in the news.

And its effective.... this game is still high up on my list of "might buy, if I can ever find the time."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 7:30 AM
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24.russia. I get the impression that a lot of the FtP games (free but you have to pay to actually be competitive) do well in Eastern Europe and Russia. I'm thinking World of Tanks and the like, here. No piracy problems with FtP+$toWin games.

Yeah, World of Tanks is also super huge in Europe. LoL I don't know how big the Russian following is relative to the rest of the world, but I assume it has a decent audience.

There's a pretty vocal contingent in the gaming community that believes FtP is going to be the rule before long. Hard to see how indie studios can easily monetize any other way (Steam, sometimes, I guess).

It already is the rule on mobile. Cash up front games, or rather cash only-up-front games have already become the exception. It's not necessarily the worst thing ever (it's better than the old DRM policies, for instance), but only if it's handled well, and as long as there's still some room for old fashioned business models. Far too often it's not handled well. DotA F2P (cash does not affect gameplay at all, no timers) is very different from Clash of Clans F2P.

Eve is another example of having modest financial goals based around a hardcore following and profiting handsomely as a result, though that's not free to play.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:14 AM
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29: You could charge for an upgrade that makes it easier to jump the buffalo.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:16 AM
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I think my solution for the buffalo is that, every time you fail, you are going to get an extra second at the beginning to run the course. Its pretty difficult to jump the buffalo with 20 seconds on the clock, but after you've tried it five times, and have built up to 25 seconds to work with, it should be easy enough to get through and go on to the next level.

Or I could just add a platinum horseshoe that gives 15 extra seconds and costs a dollar.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:32 AM
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Do the second thing. And cover the internet with ads for your game. Something like "Your ride awaits you" featuring a woman in a much too small vest with cowboy fringe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:37 AM
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30.cash. There were a lot of talks at last year's GDC about how FtP+$ games won't succeed if they are really FtP+$toWin under the covers. I forget the examples they used but some games were too nakedly impossible to win if you didn't pay. There's a whole terminology borrowed from gambling: "whales" are people who spend a lot on the games, for example.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:41 AM
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Although, more seriously, the limited ability to eventually monetize the thing is probably why its unlikely that I will continue development. I could envision putting forth the effort spiff up the the production values and create enough content to make it a reasonable value proposition for a $3 game.

But there isn't any market for $3 games. Certainly not on mobile, where I'd be competing for visibility with the 300 other crap games that get released on iTunes every day (not to mention $40 million marketing campaigns featuring pretty ladies with attractive cleavage).

Steam is focused on more expensive games, and discoverability there is a huge problem.

One option would be the indie section of the Wii U store, but I'm not convinced there are high sales volumes in that. And I'd have to drop $2500 on the development hardware.

Last choice is developing for some obscure platform like the Amazon Fire TV Stick, which maybe could get my game visibility by merit of being one of the only games targeted for the platform.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:53 AM
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4 is cool by the way. Much less frustrating than the interactive fiction genre I remember so well from the 1980s.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:04 AM
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One option would be the indie section of the Wii U store, but I'm not convinced there are high sales volumes in that.

I don't think there are any sales volumes in there. I own a Wii U and I'm into indie games, but I never, ever look at it. 3DS might be a better bet.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:15 AM
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Last choice is developing for some obscure platform like the Amazon Fire TV Stick, which maybe could get my game visibility by merit of being one of the only games targeted for the platform.

Retool it as a first person Oculus Rift game.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:16 AM
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Yeah, Oculus Rift would be awesome, but it involves a whole new 3D graphics skill set I'd have to master, and which isn't particularly applicable to anything else I do. Comparatively, a 2D javascript game is easy, because it entails a bunch of stuff I already know how to do.

The Wii U is appealing because it will run that kind of game without too much extra trouble on my part. But I agree, I don't think a whole lot of people are using that market. That may change if more people start using it to download the new Super Smash Brothers.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 10:26 AM
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35. I don't know the market, but: Machinarium is $9.99 there, cheaper elsewhere. Mateusz Skutnik sells games for $1. English country tune cost a few bucks on ios.

IMO all of these are the at the very strong end of game design, interactive paintings as much as fun things.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 10:37 AM
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Oh, I've used the online store a few times. But I just don't visit the indie game section. Partly because of Nintendo's terrible account system, which makes me fear losing any digital purchases down the road.But mainly because most good/prominent indie games come out on other platforms as well. Pushmo/Pullblox World is the only Wii-U exclusive of note I can think of, and it was too similar to the original for me to bother with. It was a similar situation on the Wii (Lost Winds was the only indie game I bought), but at least that had a massive install base. The Wii U has none.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 10:38 AM
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This evening my son and I played through most of Monument Valley. There's a good, short game that manages to sell itself in mobile app stores for $4. Something about the highbrow production values makes it able to position itself as a relatively premium game.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 6:43 PM
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My daughter and I *LOVE* Monument Valley. We've been playing it over and over again since the expansion levels came out. I've been trying to get my wife and my dad into it, but they are somehow resistant to its charms. To me, $4 for the original game and $2 for the additional levels seems like a steal for such a great game, but I have no idea how to get other people to be willing to pay nominal amounts of money for their games.


Posted by: wink ;) | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:29 PM
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Oh! A thread about games. Y'all should play Auro. It's only three dollars and it has afforded me scores of hours of procrastination in its short life.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:32 PM
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Yes, Jane and I have also played Monument Valley over and over again! I'm saving the additional levels for upcoming travel.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:37 PM
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Lest any gamergaters hunt me down, it is true both that I play Auro all the time, and I'm close to one of the creators.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 8:41 PM
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A games thread I have missed out on! And..have nothing to say about, really. <3 that you're all into indie games.

Auro looks charming and I'll give it a look. The graphics in Monument Valley are alluring but, as Spike said in 42, I've heard there isn't much game.

I've been playing Dragon Quest I on my phone, which is shit, but whatever. Dragon Quest, y'know? Dragon Age is the only non-Bethesda AAA series I'm invested in and I'll probably pick up the new one when it becomes cheap. On PC, I'm back into Kerbal Space Program and come hell or high water I am going to send some Kerbals to Mars Duna and bring them back home or they'll die trying. I did the early access for Clockwork Empires; charming but not really recommendable yet. Risk of Rain is my spacing-out game--it's a procedurally-generated brutal "roguelike" (really stretching that term) side-scroller. Getting the itch to go back through Analogue and Hate Plus and get the more obscure endings (or even the cake-baking achievement).

Oh, on Steam I have a copy of Edge and two of Guns of Icarus Online if anybody wants them.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:08 PM
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Oh, random dumb thought: seeding pirate sites with broken copies of the game is like introducing sterile mosquitoes to the breeding pool.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:14 PM
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It must be pretty hard to give a vasectomy to a mosquito.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:18 PM
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Like 22 & 23 says, early fans of Minecraft were generally the kind of people who really loved Transport Tycoon or whatever - I think the earliest sites of real popularity were computer science students - but as far as I can tell everything since the beta has been about adding content and narrative and stuff that generally moves away from the really open ended but quite rigorous gameplay into more of a sprawling appealing to anyone thing.

(Minecraft reminds me of Daniel Davies' description of Sraffa: there are two commodities, Iron and Wheat, and then it gets really complicated.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:40 PM
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50: When I bought to it, its page highlighted a youtube video of how it was possible to create a small rollercoaster in it. Mojang (really just Notch then, I guess) really focused on the openendedness. The other stuff is fine, but most stuff since biomes haven't really added much for me.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:48 PM
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It bothered me that you could get only wool, not meat, from sheep.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:52 PM
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I would actually argue that some of the stuff added since then has made the game kinda worse - especially the continual focus on making survival mode harder. I don't want to spend all my time worrying about teleporting monsters or whatever, I just want to play a game with more constraints than creative mode.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 9:54 PM
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This thread is reminding me that I should really get back to trying to write an iPhone game. I got as far as implementing the basic user controls before I lost momentum, and have now forgotten everything I learned about Objective C.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 10:00 PM
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Admittedly, my momentum loss was in part due to my not having completely thought through the game. It was going to be glorious, though.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-18-14 10:09 PM
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as Spike said in 42, I've heard there isn't much game.

I wasn't saying that like it was a bad thing. In my opinion, the vast majority of games are way too long. I like it when games introduce novel concepts, allow me to play around with them for a bit, and then allow me to get on with my life.

I put down 2048 after the first time I played it because I could see where that was going. I only have so much spare time, most of which I reserve for looking at pictures of cats and reading the comments of obscure web magazines.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-19-14 5:04 AM
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My nieces love Monument Valley too. As do I.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-19-14 5:33 AM
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Hey look, Monument Valley is free today if you buy it through the Amazon app.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-19-14 1:17 PM
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I'm not making a whole different account.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-14 1:20 PM
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Well, paying $4 won't kill anybody either.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-19-14 1:36 PM
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