I Don’t Mind Time Gates

As I wait for a raccoon to upgrade my home I have come to the realization that I play a lot of games that use time gates. Animal Crossing, Warframe, and Trove all feature this little “mechanic” and they all use real-world time as the gate. And these gates aren’t small.

The mere concept of time gates sounds like the most unfun thing you can imagine. So you’re playing this game and then it tells you you can’t do this thing anymore for a few hours, days, or the rest of the week even. I find it strange that these don’t end up bothering me.

Since Animal Crossing is the hot new thing I’ll start with that. The game is built around time gates. Literally, making buildings takes a day. Or the equivalent of a day I’m not sure exactly when it kicks over to the next day. But for all intents and purposes, there is a point in a play session where you can’t progress any further until something gets built. Or you can only buy so much from the shop in a single day. Even Nook Miles has a daily reset.

But that makes sense for Animal Crossing since it’s more or less a life sim. It’s a feature that the in-game time reflects the real-world time and there are cool things you can do with that. Like have insects and fish that appear in certain months, the map can change according to the seasons, and it makes the whole thing that much more immersive.

Warframe, on the other hand, has these arbitrary time gates because it’s free to play the game. It’s a fair free to play a game where you can see where the trade-off for time versus money is. Want to make a weapon? Cool, gather the materials and wait 12 hours OR you can pay some money and boom it’s done. Same with building Warframes (12 hours for each piece and 3 days to put the pieces together) and rooms for your clan dojo. Again, I don’t mind this because I’m getting a lot from this game while spending very little.

The one time gate gripe I did have was the Mastery tests. Mastery is basically an account level and the higher mastery the more weapons and features you have access to. You can take these once a day and if you fail you have to wait for 24 hours before you can attempt it again. I recently discovered that you can practice these as many times as you want before taking the official test so it’s not that bad.

Finally, we come to Trove. I’m not currently playing but this game is full of time gates. First up: daily bonuses. It’s only worth doing shadow towers on Mondays because you get the best rewards, it’s only worth farming gems on Wednesdays because you get 2 for every one box collected. It’s only worth gathering resources on Tuesday because you get a big bonus to materials collected. Then we cubits the “free” cash shop currency that’s obtained by filling up a bar doing dungeons that caps out once a day. And there are tomes that cap out rewards weekly. I think this is a perfect model for games like Trove though. It’s nice to be able to finish up a few things every week and log off and still make progress towards your goals.

I think for me they help reduce burn out. They artificially slow down progress. Otherwise, I’d end up eating through content pretty quick which isn’t always the best way to experience things.

The Worst Seasonal Event Ever

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Here’s an unpopular opinion: I don’t think the Animal Crossing Bunny Day event is that bad.  Is Zipper super creepy? Yes, his dead eyes do stare into your soul for a tad too long. Is it annoying to get eggs instead of materials/fish? Kind of. But you know what? Shooting down all those packages has made me really good at using the slingshot!

I’ve loved seasonal events since I discovered them playing Runescape. I love it when a game world opens up a little bit to the real world with decorations and items. Even better if the event’s worked into the lore. And I especially enjoy these events when they reward special items and cosmetics. I’ve always liked unique items that said: I was there. Well, there is always the potential to sell them later at a marked up price if it’s tradable but I rarely do that anyway.

Here’s what I think makes a good seasonal event:

A known time limit: It’s important to know when things end. If I want to put the time in to complete the event I don’t want it ending before I can complete it. Or if it’s something that’s already going on when I start a new game, I want to know if I’ll have time to do it when I get acclimated to the game. Bunny Day ends April 12th so love it or hate it’ll be over next weekend.

A good reward: Preferably some sort of silly cosmetic. I’m not putting time into the event for something I’m not going to equip/use at least for a little bit. Now, I’ll admit, most of the Bunny Day DIY recipes are awful but there’s some that make interesting/ aesthetically pleasing items. Plus, I can now wear a an egg as an outfit so there’s that.

A separate quest or additional drops for an event: This is where Bunny Day get’s annoying. Eggs replace material and fish drops which make it harder to get both. It’d be nice if there was a specific way to get eggs without sacrificing drops. Even better if there was a quest or an option to turn it off. For me, there are enough DIY recipes to collect and make that I don’t mind the egg drops because I have something to do with them. If I end up making all the recipes before the 12th at least I can sell them.

With that out of the way, let me tell you about the worst seasonal event of all time. The Borderlands 3 Bloody Harvest Halloween event. An event so bad it actually stopped me from completing the game.

This event relied on collecting ghost essence, or something, to fight a boss that would drop unique weapons. Unfortunately, these ghosts spawned whether or not you took the quest.  The ghosts spawned out of enemies you already killed essentially forcing you to kill them twice. Which is not something I wanted to deal with while I was trying to complete my first playthrough.  It started October 24th 2019 which was a little over a month after the game’s release and then apparently ran to December 5th. Which is just entirely too long for an event that fundamentally changes the mechanics of the game. And as far as I could tell, there was no way to turn it off.

Upon further research, that I definitely did just now,, it looks like there were rewards of weapon and character skins after all but I don’t think it would have made a difference for me. Ok, it may have lessened the pain and kept me playing but I don’t think this was emphasized in game because I never knew about it.

 

April 2020 Goals

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I have a feeling there just won’t be as many jokes today. It’s still a very serious time for everyone. I received news yesterday that the date for working at home has been extended until at least May 1st. I didn’t think I’d miss going in to work. Working from home was cool for 2 weeks but the novelty has worn off. Plus, I think my cat is sick of me being home all the time…

Let’s take a look at the March goals:

Finish Epistory – Typing Chronicles: I did that! It only took me 2 play sessions to finish it up after I made it a goal.

Play More Neverwinter: I don’t think I’ve touched Neverwinter since the beginning of March and I don’t have much of a desire right now to go back.

Play Animal Crossing: New Horizons: I’m currently doing that and in an unexpected turn so is my wife. It’s been a blast to play together and send each other weird items we find. I’m looking forward to playing a lot more.

Read 2 books: So I sort of completed this. Technically one of the books I finished was mostly read in February but I finished it in March so I’m counting it. I read The Uploaded by Ferret Steinmetz and Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

April Goals

Finish Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX: This was one of the new games I bought this year. The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games are my favorite spin-off games of the franchise. I might even like them more than the mainline games. It’s an interesting mix of pokemon and rogue-like dungeon crawling. The gameplay is great the story is….not so much. I knew I’d play less of this when I got Animal Crossing and was trying to finish it up before then but I’d say I still have a ways to go.

Finish the Kingdoms of Amalur DLC: I’m ready to go back to this now. I had an idea where I would respec my character and try out a different class for both DLC’s but I kind of miss raining meteors down on my enemies.

Start Tales of Berseria again: This is the last game on my list that I wanted to play through. The issue is I had put 10 hours into this game at some point but don’t remember what’s going on. So when I tried to start over it felt like I’d done all this before. I think I’m just going to push past that feeling and try to get back into it.

Read 2 more books: During my time in isolation, I’ve been trying to maintain a good reading habit. Currently, I’m reading Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky and I’m hoping to finish Deadhouse Gate by Steven Erikson this month as well. We’ll see how that goes since they’re both lengthy titles.

The Magic of Animal Crossing

2020032713170100-02CB906EA538A35643C1E1484C4B947DAnimal Crossing am I right? Have you had the pleasure of explaining what it is to someone who’s never played it yet? Here was my attempt at explaining this game to my wife.

Wife: What do you want for your birthday this year?

Me: Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Wife: What’s that?

Me: It’s a game where you live on an island and all your neighbors are animals.

Wife: Sounds cute, what do you do?

Me: You like, run around and collect bugs and fish and flowers and sell them to a racoon so you can get new clothes and furniture for your house. You’re also in a perpetual cycle of debt to this racoon who convinces you to remodel your house just as you finish paying off your debt to him.

Wife: …

Me: Well when you explain it, it sounds boring, but I swear it’s fun!

Saturday I turned 28 and the proud owner of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.  Now we have conversations like this.

Me: What do you want to do this weekend?

Wife: Let’s play Animal Crossing! We need 9 more species to get Blathers to upgrade the museum. Also, we need to start saving up Bells for when lawn flamingos are in the shop so we can buy like 10 of them!

I haven’t actually played an Animal Crossing since owning a Gamecube was cool. I have fond memories of the hours my sister and I spent glued to the basement TV. We even bought a separate memory card so we could have our own town. The day we found out we could change the Gamecube’s system clock to play more was a magical time.The thing I remember most was thinking we were funny and sending terrible messages to our residents….Now my sister lives across the country from me but got a Switch so we can visit each other’s towns just like the old days. Something tells me I’m about to wake up to some interesting mail one of these days.

 

 

 

 

 

A Nice Suprise

 

Blapril

With the craziness of the last few weeks I’ve kind of fallen out of the blogosphere. I haven’t been able to read or write as many posts as I would like. So imagine my suprise today when I opened up my Feedly to find out about Blapril!

I’m so not prepared for this…but I signed up anyway. It’s a great time for that extra sense of community this event brings out. As always I’m shooting for a 30 day streak and seeing how close I can get to that mark. Last Blaugust I suprised myself by actually making it all the way through.

One of my personal goals through these events has been to participate more. I’m such a lurker by nature so more times than not I’ll forget to leave a comment or actually say something in Discord. Hell, I’m even dusting off the ole’ twitter for this one.

I look forward to reading everyone’s posts!

If you’re somehow hearing about this for the first time from me:

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Warframe

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A quick look back shows I have exactly 0 posts about Warframe. Which is weird because I have 120 hours in the game. Making it one of my most played games. But that’s because my gaming group has never stuck with it long enough for me to form any kind of opinion on it.

3 years ago when we were getting into streaming we wanted a game we could all play together regularly. Warframe seemed like the perfect match. The group size was 4 and there were four of us. And thus began our on-again-off-again relationship with the game. We’d play for a month or 2 abandon it and then someone would get the bright idea to play it again. We’d all wonder why we didn’t keep playing it and then BAM! everyone loses interest again.

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This time is different though. The benefit of streaming Warframe is that the community likes to help people out. Warframe has a lot of moving parts and the game is notoriously bad at explaining how any of them work. So you get great advice and tips from veteran players who don’t mind showing people the ropes. We have a much better understanding of how to progress and what we should be doing. It only took 3 years…We’re finally on Uranus. Which, for the record, is not very far.

We’ve started playing as a group on Saturday nights consistently which hasn’t happened in a while for any game. Our play sessions center around progressing on planets until someone has to log off. Then the rest of the group spend the night grinding materials or Warframe / weapon parts. It’s a slow road but it’s always a great time to get everyone together.

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Warframe also makes a good podcast game. I’ve been sorely lacking a good podcast game since Trove. A game where I can turn the in-game sound off and keep my hands busy while I listen to The No Sleep Podcast.

Warframe and Trove have a lot in common. They both feature classes with small skill bars that turn into press “x” to win. They both feature a heavy material and experience grind. Both feature the gameplay loop of rush to the objective to get your reward and do it all over again. And you can do TONS of damage! Warframe is prettier though, and get’s updated more, and is more fun to play right now.

 

 

 

Things are weird

It’s been about a week now since Ohio went into quarantine. Last week felt like that part in a made for TV disaster movie where you’re getting to know all the characters. This week feels like when the storms on the horizon and all the main characters are waiting for it to hit.

Fortunately, I haven’t been impacted by this too much. I consider myself lucky that I work for a company that can function with a fully remote workforce. I’m thankful that I’m still working when a lot of people I know are not since everything is slowly shutting down. I started a new job about 4 months ago and was just getting a handle on how everything was working.  everything is completely different but with new challenges come new opportunities to grow.

The biggest change for me has been learning to work from home. I always thought it’d be hard to do. I thought there would be too many distractions. It turns out, it’s not that much different from working in the office once I get going. The only difference is my cat would like to help me work now…Even when my wife is home it’s easier than I thought it’d be.

No, it turns out the biggest challenge for me is when work is over. Most days, I’m playing games on my PC after work. Now that I spend all day in my home office, it’s the last place I want to be at the end of the day. As a result, the Switch has been getting a lot more playtime in my house. Also, a lot more reading and Netflix has followed.

It’s a weird time we live in right now. We’re living through a historic event, one we will hopefully never have to live through again. I still can’t wrap my brain around it. How the whole world has shut down and how the most mundane things like going out to eat just don’t exist right now.

I hope all of you stay safe and healthy out there.