Mobile Games and Satisfaction
I play a bunch of different iOS games, often while I’m outside enjoying my pipe. So when someone tells me about a new game that’s up my alley — logic or physics puzzles, games with RPG elements, and so on — I give ’em a try. Here are a few short personal reactions to games I’ve been playing lately, inspired by my tweet yesterday asking for more iOS games and some people asking what I’ve played.
This game is still the high water mark for me, at least for games with asynchronous online play. But I have been for a bit now refusing 3- and 4-player games because they move too slowly in asynchronous time.
The way it’s integrated into Game Center seamlessly, its fantastic tutorial setup, pretty much everything about it is top-notch about it — except for not being able to tailor your online games the same way you can a local game and the overall weak AI. And even then, those aren’t serious crimes.
This is a new-to-me game, but was clearly a craze a bit ago. It hits my buttons as a short, parkour-ish game with a dirt-simple interface — one that I can play with one hand while smoking my pipe. It’s got just enough things going on to be worth playing from one game to the next, though at this point I’ve achieved nearly everything you can without insane amounts of playtime.
And that’s been making me thing about Skinner Box-style rewards. There were enough incremental rewards after a game or two that I kept playing, and those would change up game play enough to keep me going for the next bit.
Now I’m at the point where I’ve unlocked all of the extra stuff, and I can tweak my game play further, but the remaining achievements are bullshit ones (play X games or get X lifetime coins) or really, really fucking hard ones (get 10 & 20 of X upgrade in a single run). So I’m playing it as a casual “meh, kill some time” game rather than a game where I’m seeking to accomplish something, as I was doing with it earlier. Not that I begrudge that — all games have a lifespan, and sometimes they’re worth replying later (as I’m doing now with Dungeon Raid).
Also, the racism in the game is mildly amusing, in that the developers thought to incline that stuff. One of the unlockable characters is “Karma Lee, the fastest legs in the far east” wearing a kimono.
I tried this game for a bit, and I have to say it was frustrating — in that I almost liked it, but it kept feeling like there were one or two good game design decisions short of a really good game. I eventually deleted it, because I would play a game while smoking my pipe but be unable to focus on anything other than missed opportunities in the design.
I haven’t played this game in a bit, because I got pretty far in the achievements, but man this is an amazing game. It’s got the simplest interface of any game I’ve played — you’re a bird sliding around a hilly course, and you press on the screen to tuck your wings in. When you aren’t, your wings flap. They aren’t big wings, but it’s enough to where you can launch yourself up for air ona hill, and tuck your wings in to catch the downslope of another hill.
It’s gorgeous and loads of fun for something so simple.
I really wanted to like this, because many of my friends were playing it. But I deleted it after around a dozen games because the play experience was wholly unsatisfying.
The early moves feel meaningless, so there’s no sense of strategy. I won a couple times, lost others, but honestly couldn’t tell you where I ever went wrong — I don’t really enjoy non-random chaos in my games, and this is that. Along with that, I’m spoiled by other games that integrate game requests and rematches into the UI, so Letterpress making me deal with Game Center just seems lazy.
It’s unfortunate that I had to pay to unlock it in order to find out that I really don’t like it. But that’s how it goes sometimes.
Ticket to Ride
I like playing Ticket to Ride, but this medium doesn’t lend itself well to it. Ticket is a great game for sitting around and bullshitting, because your decision points on a given turn are short and simple. Taking that to an online, asynchronous space, and there’s so, so little to do each turn that the game loses context and meaning. Contrast with Carcassonne, where your individual turns have a sense of strategy and you have something to honestly think about and decide on with a given turn.
Having many of the “it’s my turn in Ticket now? Okay, I’ll…draw some cards. Whee.” experiences, I decided that I’ll just play against the AI. I like the game just fine, so I’m not looking to delete it, but the async play is pretty lacking.
I grabbed this, and subsequently never got into it. If you’re making a game that can only be played asynchronously, then my learning curve for the game increases significantly — I cannot learn at my own pace, but at the pace of those I’m playing online with. So this game falls in that weird category of “games some of my friends love that gets away with a crappy new-person UX.”
But then, I’m spoiled by Ascension, which did this right.
What games should I try?
I asked this on Twitter, and I’ll ask it here as well. If there’s an iOS game you think I should try (I have an iPad 1 & iPhone 4S), leave a comment and tell me why you dig it. Thanks!