Status Update

I must be near a month now with a dead PC.  Well, a dead video card in a 3+ year old laptop.  At last check, I had order a new Sager from a Canadian distributor, Reflex Notebooks.  My shipping order says I’m getting it at the start of next month, which puts this purchase as the longest on-line delivery I’ve ever experienced. Heck, I ordered an HDMI cable from China and it took under 2 weeks.

Some might chalk it up to the custom laptop bit.  Well the first one I ordered was at my door in under 2 weeks.  The ones I ordered with friends after were around that time as well.  And I took this distribution because they claimed to have an all-in-one service, build, ship, duties and all.  I remember comparing the value of this versus my more traditional US delivery services and the cost savings were about $150 all told.  That begs the question as to what my time is actually worth, in particular as this is used for some rather significant stress relief.  Is 3 weeks worth $150?

Long story short, I wouldn’t recommend this service.  There are other alternatives.

And my regular gaming habits will eventually pick up once I get the new laptop in.

Tap Away

That said it’s been tablet time for the past while.  Tap Titans and Tap Tap Infinity are the two top time wasters right now.  The former is a fairly solid interpretation on the incremental progression game (sort of a rogue like) but has no off-line progression.  The latter is based off Clicker Heroes but includes a smarter incremental progression system and offline progress.  That offline portion is pretty important.

TT provides 2 methods of progress, gold which you can use to increase hero skills for a passive/active DPS gain and a relic system which provides access to artifacts that give passive stat boosts.  The former is the active game progress, you get more money, buy more skills and damage and see what stage you can get to.  When you hit a wall, you reset (prestige) and start with zero money and go again.  Knowing where to spend money for optimal gain is important as some buffs are much better than others.  Using a prestige gives you X number of relics, depending on the stage you’ve reached.  Relics are used as currency for artifacts, which provide passive boosts (+ to gold, + to damage, + to skills, etc…) Pushing farther in the stages gives more relics, which gives more power, which lets you get to farther stages.  The downside is that it’s online only, and getting to stage 100 takes some time, while getting to stage 600 takes quite a bit longer.  The top end players are reaching ~2500, so that’s a fair bit of gaming time to reach.  There’s also a bi-weekly tournament, where you compete against other players to see how far you can reach.  While neat at low levels (sub 200), once you reach mid-game, everyone seems to be slotted in the same pool which is pretty stupid. I can reach ~520 and was competing against people hitting 2500, giving me a rank of 120/200.  The reward structure of these tournaments makes them all but useless because of the bracketing.  This is the area that requires the most balancing, as the rest of the game is pretty solid.

TTI has 3 methods of progress, gold for skills and DPS, infinity tokens for passive skill gain and infinity gems for a permanent DPS/skill boost to heroes.  Gold is reset when you “go infinite”, which is the equivalent of Prestige from TT.  The gems are used in a similar vein to artifacts, and tokens are a completely new mechanic with small gains but they persist for a long time.  Progress is in line time-wise with TT, per level.  The flipside is that you can go offline and the game will calculate how far you got while offline.  So I can set up my heroes and come back an hour later and have an extra 200 levels completed.  And there’s very little actual tapping required past the first few minutes of the game.  While there’s a whole lot less strategy involved in progress here, it’s miles less painful to progress at later levels.

Iterative Play

The rogue-like is certainly taking the mobile market by storm.  To me there are 5 types of mobile games: Clash of Clans clones, Candy Crush clones, Simpsons Tapped Out clones, Card/Monster collecting clones and finally, the rogue-like.

There’s certainly something simplistic about a procedurally generated game built under the foundation of continual replays.  It means that the starting experience is just as, if not more important than the end experience.  Dungeon crawlers with stat boosts just focus on the end game (think Diablo 3 and Paragon levels), leaving the start of the game to be more or less just an intro.  A rogue like has you restarting from the beginning all the time, so the entire experience has to have some reward throughout rather than just the carrot at the end of the run.  If the journey is crap, it doesn’t matter how good the end game is if I have to keep going through it.

This method also allows for a significantly higher level of difficulty early in the game compared to later, giving a linear or exponential growth in challenge.  The typical dungeon crawler is more plateau based, where the game is always the same difficulty until some arbitrary point and then it becomes a grind.

Incentivized play to restart an adventure also gives the player some sense of power or control.  Like the game isn’t so much on rails.  They can decide when and where to collect their reward and then try again, or you know, die a billion times in a true rogue-like.

Going out on a limb here but MMOs are sort of getting onboard with this idea.  WoW has heirlooms (which can give +900% exp), FF14 has multiple jobs per player and Marvel Heroes has a multi-team on a single account and prestige levels per character.  Each future playthrough has a bit less challenge but has more flavor since some of the variables have changed.  When the entire game is a focus, it means that all parts have to be relevant.  Hoping the idea catches on a bit more…

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