Category Archives: stupidity

App Developers, Stop Asking for 5-Star Reviews!!

Back in 2012, I wrote a piece about the dos and don’ts of requesting and writing reviews on both Google Play and App Store. Nothing’s really changed from 5 years ago; people are still writing shitty useless one-word “reviews” and developers still put those prompts for a 5-star rating in their apps.

Once again, I will explain why I take issue to the latter:

  • The developer only has one thing in mind: A 5-star or perfect rating means better visibility in search results in the application’s store which ups the chances of it being downloaded. It doesn’t matter if the app is not right at the top of the results. The chances are many users LOOK for 4 or 5-star ones as it gives the impression that it’s a good product.
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  • Developers use the bullshit excuse that a 5-star rating will better motivate their team. If you actually valued user feedback, you’d be asking for critiques without tossing in the specific rating suggestion and incentive (or bribe as I like to refer to it as) to review.
    .
  • EVERYONE WANTS FREE STUFF — especially when it’s premium currency so of course most people will bite. Developers know this and they also know that they’ll fall for the following point.
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  • Users do what they’re asked to despite how they actually feel about the game.
    Poor user is made to think that the only way to get the gift is by giving the app full stars. :(
    Poor user is made to think that the only way to get the gift is by giving the app full stars. 😦

    PRO TIP: I’m unsure how it is with Android apps but with iOS, you don’t NEED to even rate or write a review to get a gift/bribe. Simply tap on the prompt box and allow the device to automatically switch to the app’s store page. Once there, don’t do anything! Just immediately go back to the app.
    .
    I believe this can also be applied to sharing on Twitter or other social services where you can just cancel the post and still receive the review incentive.

I leave 1-star reviews for companies that practices this sort of shit and call them out. I actually received a reply from one for a game I like playing which stated that players are free to give whatever rating they feel appropriate.

Well, gee. No shit. But as that example screenshot I provided showed, people a) rate 5-stars because they are told to, and b) believe giving a full rating is the only way to get the gift.

I’m not saying developers should outright stop asking for reviews and ratings or giving incentives. I’m only wishing they’d stop being dishonest and deceitful with the review prompts. Users will, in all likelihood, give the full rating and write positive comments if they’re happy with what they’re using. I think that should motivate the team more than all the blind & thoughtless 5-stars.

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[Tiny Farm] Add me (to the Power of ∞)

Almost a month ago, users from other Gamevil and Com2uS games decided to throw common sense and etiquette out the door and mindlessly bombard the companies’ message forums known as HIVE clubs with “Add Me” friend requests to fulfill in-game friend invite quotas to obtain special goodies and bonuses.

If you check any of the clubs, you’ll find that they’ve all been infested with these Goodies Hunters. (I brand them as such because sincerely doubt most of them are remotely concerned with actual friendship.)

Tiny Farm HIVE club infested with add me requests
At the Tiny Farm club: Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me. Add me.

For Tiny Farm players, it’s rather frustrating since we use the message board to find information about event quests/objectives and also to seek help from others to tame special animals visiting our farms. The barrage of “Add Me”s end up pushing all the questions, informative posts, and taming requests way down the page and due to the club’s ultra archaic and backwatered design, it’s impossible to quickly locate them as it has no search function or a log that lists all of your own posts. In short, you are forced to scroll through the entire slog of useless crap.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however! While there exists another fan-run message board, it’s pretty much been abandoned since the creator, johnnysilver, has quit the game a long while back. Now a new unofficial message board has been created in the wake of this mess thanks to frequent club users, Eluzyion and Animal House. You can find it at http://tinyfarmcommunity.freeforums.net/ 😀 At the moment, it is free from obnoxious friend requests and it’ll most likely stay that way since unless spam bots start creating accounts, the forum requires registered users to log in before they can even view it. The whole reason the HIVE clubs were subjected to the abuse is the sheer ease of accessing them in-game and the fact that you don’t need to register again to use them once you have a username or auto-generated account number from the game you logged into.

So if you’re tired of how useless the Tiny Farm Club has become, consider joining us at our new home! :3

Actually, It’s About the Ethics of These Mobile Game Companies

This isn’t about issues in journalism. I chose the title because it fits the subject matter of this post. The type of ethics in question, however, is work ethics. I’m mildly miffed that no one else seems to draw attention to the incompetence of Rayark, Inc. in their lack of proofreading text in Implosion – Never Lose Hope, and GCREST with their constant careless updates of CocoPPa Play. I feel strongly about these issues because it makes me wonder why I should support companies (or continue to support in Rayark’s case since I already purchased the game) that half-heartedly work on their games.

Continue reading Actually, It’s About the Ethics of These Mobile Game Companies

To the Point Review for the Movie, Triumph in the Skies (衝上雲霄)

Triumph in the Skies promo poster
Triumph in the Skies (衝上雲霄)

This is written for the benefit of folks like me who are illiterate to Chinese but can understand conversational Cantonese and watches Chinese movies and TV dramas now and then.

A super brief background of Triumph in the Skies: the Hong Kong TV series that the movie is based off of was about airline pilots, mechanics, and stewardesses and their hardships and interactions with each other. It also gave viewers some insight on pilot training and other technical but interesting aspects of being apart of an airline crew.

Note: There are actually 2 series: one from 2003 and the wildly popular sequel released in 2013. It’s the second series that gave someone the idea that there should be a movie adaptation.

You’d think that, because the movie carries the same title as the serials, as well as featuring some actors from it, it’d have a similar sort of flair.

Nope.

It is 100 minutes of pure, utter shit.

The English synopsis found at the Wikipedia gives you the plot straight-up; it’s a flick that focuses on 3 separate storylines revolving around the relationships of 3 different couples.

This is literally what you get AT FACE VALUE. The 3 tales are NOT a part of an over-arching story. You will sit there, for 100 minutes, watching a disjointed pot-pourri of random shit happening with 6 individuals that get NO character development whatsoever.

The only redeeming value is the gorgeous cinematography featuring various locales in and around England.

Triumph in the Skies would seriously be better off as a slideshow.

Tiny Farm: Fix your inventory, Com2uS!

Edit on September 4th, 2014: Com2uS actually revised the inventory system an update or two ago so this post is no longer relevant. However, I’m keeping it here just to show folks that infinite scrolling is a really terrible design.

Phew. It’s been a while since I wrote up an entry on Tiny Farm. I’m still playing it because I love collecting the super cute animals. I just wish animal certificates weren’t so expensive. I’ve long exhausted the ability to buy them with gold. Have to rely on Bells now. 😦

Anyway, Tiny Farm received a massive overhaul a few weeks ago. Oddly, the ONLY revision the inventory UI received was reduced icon sizes so now each page has 2 lines of items instead of a single one. While that reduces the amount of scrolling one had to endure, it still means A LOT of scrolling for someone like me that has tons of things in storage. Sure, I can sell stuff like fences and rebuy them but why would I? Why should I have to? I’d rather save the money to spend on other things like the unnecessarily expensive lottery draw events.

I recorded the video on my iPad mini with Retina to show how idiotic the inventory design is. In it, you will see that I have to scroll forever to find the freakin’ Yellow Lotus Lantern that was automatically placed in inventory after claiming it from the gift area. I know I zoom past it in the initial scroll-by but it’s just to show that it doesn’t pop up at the end like what other sadistic developers may do with new things you get. At least that would make some sort of sense. This lantern showed up on page 7 or so.

The video was originally longer to show that every single item I have in the gift area is subject to the same random treatment but I decided just showing the lantern was enough.

So what can be done to improve the damnable design? Here are my suggestions:

  • ALL new items/animals you get should appear at the BEGINNING of your inventory.
  • Additional tabs on the side to sort between plants/trees, fences, and decorations just like in the freakin’ Store page.
  • Some ability to manually input a search string to look for something.

I wonder if there’s something in the code that’ll make these additions extremely difficult to implement? There’s no reason such logical ideas haven’t found their way into the game yet. It’s been over TWO YEARS since Tiny Farm debuted. Inventories will only get larger over time. >:/

I might fire off a message to Com2uS about this. A few weeks ago, I complained about the simplicity of the Com2uS Hub to them such as the inability to easily locate one’s post and the lack of a search function (for keywords and users) so what’s another complaint? XD They can make pretty looking games but they sure can’t seem to create intuitive user interfaces. The Hub is SO backwater it’s not funny. The way it functions is like a message forum from a few decades ago. 9__9

Theatrhythm iOS: A New Decrescendo for Square Enix

Theatrhythm iOS menu
Theatrhythm iOS menu

After the fiasco with Demons’ Score, Square Enix remains undeterred and decides to, once again, put their hands into consumers’ wallets by publishing yet another freemium title that requires in-app purchases in order to get the most out of it. This time, however, it seems like the IAP model is the same across the board so Japanese players are also subject to the madness.

One main difference with Theatrhythm is that, unlike Demons’ Score, it’s a port of the $30 US 3DS game. I’m not going to go into detail about the changes since you can read about them at Joystiq but I WILL write about the sheer insanity of the pricing scheme.

Squenix graciously includes a whopping total of 2 musical tracks: One-Winged Angel from FFVII and Zanarkand from FFX. If you want more you must pay either $1.99 for individual tracks or $4.99 for 4-song bundles. Note that the store menu for songs includes tunes that are NOT among the bundles so if you want all music from each series, you’re looking at at least $7 US for each one. Multiply by that 13 titiles + 1 FFT track, 1 FFX-2 track, 1 FF: CC track, 2 Advent Children tracks + 1 from Type-0 , and 1 FFXIII-2 and you’re at $98 US.

In contrast, $30 US on 3DS will get you over 70 tracks. Of course, if you factor in the DLC, which cost 99 cents each, it’ll probably be another $50 US. But still, it’s not hard to see that the better deal is on the Nintendo system.

The iOS version also keeps a few of the unlockable 3DS characters out of reach by placing them as IAP with a price tag of $2.99 slapped onto each one.

Here’s a brief overview of what you’ll find at the store.

Note (added 11:08 PM EST):

Here’s the story behind the screenshots: I downloaded the game from the Japanese App Store because I thought it wasn’t available in the Canadian one. I also thought the prices reflected in the in-game shop were the actual localized prices. It turns out that the IAP amounts were simply conversions of the yen prices. I didn’t realize that apps now do this because I’ve purchased things from within Taiko no Tatsujin+ and Puzzle & Dragons before and they always displayed in yen prices.

I might replace the screenshots later.

Songs – $1.99 $0.99 Each:

Not listing  all 59 of them but tracks like Dancing Mad, which is a normal unlockable tune in the 3DS version, is among the list.

Theatrhythm iOS - Some tracks from the Songs IAP menu
Theatrhythm iOS – Some tracks from the Songs IAP menu

Song Bundles – $4.99 $2.99 Each:

13 x $4.99
13 x $4.99

FFI Basic Bundle:

Battle, Main Theme, Mt. Gulg, Matoya’s Cave

FFII Basic Bundle:

Battle Theme 1, Battle Theme 2, Main Theme, Tower of the Magi

FFIII Basic Bundle:

Battle 1, Battle 2, Eternal Wind, Crystal Cave

FFIV Basic Bundle:

Battle 1, Battle With The Four Fiends, Main Theme of Final Fantasy IV, Within the Giant

FFV Basic Bundle:

Battle 1, Battle at the Big Bridge, Four hearts, Mambo de Chocobo

FFVI Basic Bundle:

Battle, The Decisive Battle, Terra’s Theme, Searching for Friends

FFVII Basic Bundle:

Let the Battles Begin!, Fight On!, Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII, Cosmo Canyon

FFVIII Basic Bundle:

The Man with the Machine Gun, The Extreme, Blue Fields, Ride On

FFIX Basic Bundle:

Battle 1, The Final Battle, Over the Hill, Dark City Treno

FFX Basic Bundle:

Battle Theme. Fight with Seymour, Mi’hen Highroad, Movement in Green

FFXI Basic Bundle:

Battle Theme, Awakening, Ronfaure, The Sanctuary of Zi’Tah

FFXII Basic Bundle:

Clash of Swords, Esper Battle, Giza Plains, The Dalmasca Estersand

FFXIII Basic Bundle:

Saber’s Edge, Fighting Fate, The Sunleth Waterscape, March of the Dreadnoughts

Characters – $2.99 $1.99 Each:

There are some that you won't find in the 3DS version.
There are some that you won’t find in the 3DS version.

There are 25 in total so far.  iOS exclusive characters include:

  • Celes from FFVI
  • Tifa from FFVII
  • Rinoa from FFVIII
  • Garnet from FFIX
  • Auron from FFX
  • Balthier from FFXII
  • Hope from FFXIII
  • Serah from FFXIII-2
  • Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Cosmos from FF series

Since the game is stupid unstable on my iPod touch 4G, I can’t even play any stages. However, even if I could, I’d be stuck playing Zanarkand forever since aside from avoiding One-Winged Angel like a plague, I wouldn’t bother spending any money to get more tracks. After all, it’ll only encourage Square Enix to continue with their idiotic gouging on this platform.

Edit at 10:35 PM EST:

Square Enix lowered the prices for all categories? Now singles cost $0.99, Bundles are $2.99, and Characters are $1.99. So the new total will be $147.03:

Singles: $58.41

Bundles: $38.87

Characters: $49.75

I do wonder about something though — when I originally got the game, it was off the Japanese App Store because I thought it wasn’t out in the Canadian one. Could it be that the yen prices were auto-converted to Canadian because a single is ¥170 which is like $1.99 Canadian. However, the bundles are ¥450 which comes out to $5.28 Canadian. (Conversions are done with http://xe.com/). I suppose Apple’s got its own conversion thing going. Weirdness.

Oh well, the zany overall price still remains but it’s no longer near the $250 mark. 😛

Toys R Us needs to learn what a confirmation e-mail is

I purchased a lovely red and black 3DS XL on Black Friday from the Toys R Us Canada Website. Then, in my infinite wisdom, I decided that I was too impatient and went out on Saturday morning to get it directly from the brick and mortar store. I figure, since I can return the one I got from online once it arrives, things should be fine, right? (I’ll be out the shipping costs but that’s besides the point. :E)

So after receiving the package yesterday, I got all the paperwork together and headed to the store this morning.

Here’s what you’re supposed to bring as noted in the shipping e-mail and on the packing slip as well:

Easy Returns: You can return an item in any of our store locations across Canada or return directly to our warehouse. Simply follow the steps below for instructions on our return process:

Visit a Toys“R”Us/Babies“R”Us Store

      1. Please pack the product in its original packaging.
      2. Bring a copy of your packing slip.
      3. Bring a copy of your confirmation email.

I brought all of this but was denied a refund back onto my MasterCard. Why? Because the confirmation e-mail I brought wasn’t the one they needed. It was supposed to show the credit card number on it.

I thought for a bit and wondered if I missed an e-mail because the order confirmation one sure didn’t have anything about what card I used or the card number.

Anyway, in my infinite wisdom again and since a line was forming, I opted for the store credit. So now, I am out $200 on my credit card. I suppose I could use all of that for Christmas shopping but I never meant my budget to be that high this year. 😛

Once I got back home, I doubled checked every damn e-mail I got from Toys R Us. NOTHING had a credit card number on it.

Hell, here it is. Sorry for the size but it was the only way to show it on a single page. (It can be enlarged a bit if it’s clicked on though.):

toysrusconfemail

Then I decided to log into my account at the Toys R Us Website.

THERE IT WAS. This is what they’re looking for:

Hey, Toys R Us, this Webpage doesn't count as a fucking confirmation E-MAIL.
Hey, Toys R Us, this doesn’t count as a fucking confirmation E-MAIL.

Under Payment Method, it shows the card + last 4 digits. But as the caption reads, THIS IS NOT A CONFIRMATION E-MAIL. It’s a fucking order status on the fucking WEBSITE. If you want people to bring this, you should explicitly state so.

What’s even MORE hilarious is that their Returns & Warranty page under their Help section says the same thing as the information at the bottom of the shipping e-mail but with the added note in the parentheses:

Returning to a Toys”R”Us/Babies”R”Us Store 
To avoid paying shipping to return the item you can bring your purchase to the nearest Toys”R”Us/Babies”R”Us Store. Please bring the following items with you:

a. Packing slip
b. Confirmation email (This is used to confirm original method of payment)
c. Please pack the product in its original packaging

I didn’t check this earlier but if I did, I may have been scratching my head and wondering how they could confirm my method of payment without  it being listed and I would have did more investigation. But hey, maybe they could check via order number or something? Who am I to argue what’s written there?

However, the point still stands that they’re looking for a bloody confirmation e-mail. And why the fuck the payment info isn’t listed in the order confirmation in the first place is beyond me. Maybe it is in the US?

At any rate, I shot off a letter of complaint to them and requested to have my store credit reversed and put back on my MasterCard. Yeah, you can argue that it should be common sense to show something that indicated how the purchased was paid but I followed their instructions to the T and it shouldn’t be my responsibility to hunt down missing information for their convenience. I thought all they would have needed was an order number to verify in the system or something. Well, they wanted the confirmation e-mail and they fucking got it.
toysrusragetrans
Edit: Since I requested that they change the wording in the return policy regarding the term “confirmation e-mail”, here’s a screencapped version of the instructions in case it’s changed at some point.

Edit #2: This is gold. Customer service has reading comprehension issues.

Here’s the message I sent via the “Contact Us” form as quoted by the service agent that replied a few hours after I sent:

Letter of complaint to Toys R Us

Here is the reply. Note that utterly unhelpful it is. On top of that, it’s clear that they just use generic replies:

Reply from Toys R Us customer service

Thanks for completely ignoring my issue. Gonna reply to it soon.