Tag Archives: in-app purchases

Pixel People – Itty Bitty Fun

Pixel People - Title Image
Creepy artwork. >_< Why couldn’t they actually render pixel people?

Edit on Feb 4th: Do you spend time looking for the correct genetic material at the Arrival Center because you habitually forget what category it’s under? Do you want to easily find job titles and their combinations? Well, I might have something for you~! I’m currently putting together a spreadsheet of recipes for the jobs here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/lv?key=0ApJcOk7MQHDMdHVmS09kMXJQTjVoemNTQlJGR2RMS3c&rm=full#gid=0

Edit on Feb 5th: Wrote up a really small FAQ that address some common questions: https://koukoupuffs.net/2013/02/05/pixel-people-faq/

Since I’m lazy to write up something new, here’s a little post I did over at AdeptGamer last night:

http://www.chillingo.com/games/pixel-people/ (There’s a link on the page that’ll bring you to your country’s App Store.)

Kind of surprised no one’s posted about this yet. I came across while randomly checking TouchArcade and started playing about an hour ago. It’s a superbly adorable freemium title that feels like a cross between Tiny Tower, Kairosoft-building-sims, and Doodle God; you need to provide residences for your pixel people to live in and each work site has about 3 – 4 jobs to fill. There’s a bit of city building but nothing like needing combos and such. In fact, I’m not all that sure things like placement and roads really matter. ^^ Finally, the citizens in this game are clones that start off with no skills whatsoever. You begin with 2 people that already have skills/jobs though. Simply mix them together to produce a new one~! The clone, armed with a brand spankin’ new profession, may unlock new buildings which will generate income. 😀
pixelpeople

Lookit all them adorable pixel people!

I spent some time at the TA forum thread for the game as research to see if any nickel and diming occurs but after about 10 pages, no one seems to have brought up anything much about needing in-app purchases. However, there’s mention that new residences and/or buildings or expansions end up being quite expensive later on.

So far, from my brief experience with PP, coins are generated at a fair pace albeit in small denominations. I take it it’ll start adding up once I get more business and services up. I haven’t felt the need to use the premium currency, Utopium, since everything can be built within minutes. I’m certain, as the city expands, the ETA for construction to be completed will end up as several hours. I’m just hoping that this doesn’t happen very quickly like in Tiny Tower.
pixelpeople2

….. Sim City???

Regarding the generation of money, there’s a wee bit of maintenance required on the player’s part. It’s somewhat akin to restocking in Tiny Tower but it doesn’t seem to cost anything. A little lightning bolt icon will appear above a building which indicates that production has stopped. Simply tap on it and money will start churning out again. The frequency of performing this action seems kind of high at the moment but I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that none of my business and services are fully manned? :\

Edit: Herp derp. Each building has something called “Working Time” which indicates how long they can run for until the next recharge.

I have to say that it’s HARD to put this game down since it’s so fun trying to find new recipes to create new jobs. ^^ I honestly don’t care about the other parts of the game. XD

Edit #2: Feeling a bit of the wait time after every expansion since I have to wait for funds to build up again. It’s way too easy to max out the land limit. Currently have my land limit up to 60. ^^

There’s quite a bit of stuff to unlock in this game. @_@; For example, there’s a Nursery which lets you plant trees. Trees give you coins but only if you happen to catch the little symbol that pops up above them. There’s also the Farm which lets you plant fields + build stuff which reduces construction time and grants some other bonuses.

And there’s this too~

I did but once you get enough Utopium and coins, the game becomes even MORE fun because you no longer have to put it down and wait for funds to replenish or buildings to be constructed. It’s like, SUDDENLY, it’s an ACTUAL GAME, not some real game wannabe which is what most pay-or-wait types are. [This was in response to a comment about how I got annoyed with the wait times and IAP model of the game shortly after the write-up above.]

Anyway, there’s SO much more LambdaMu Games (the developer) can do with this title. For example:

  • all marine-type animals should be able to make use of the waterways or any bodies of water instead of swimming around on grass and land.
  • add criminals (clones gone bad!) and stuff that can hide in the trees, behind buildings etc. Finding them will get you a reward. I suppose this could also be a part of a quest system. I bet they’ll add a quest system eventually too.
  • recipes should be COLOUR-CODED for derps with severely short-term memory like me. I swear, I usually consult the menu with the list of all the jobs found, find the job I need to create, recite the hell out of the recipe while looking for the two primary jobs required in the cloning facility (forgot what it’s called) but end up having a hell of a time trying to FIND either one or both. Some are common sense like a Police Officer will fall under the Law category but for some reason, there are ones that I can never recall what they’re under like the fucking Botanist. 9__9 Edit: Okay, so the background colour of the characters are a clue and if you understand colour theory, you can probably figure out the combinations without too much trouble but still, it’d be easier if the job titles were coloured under the glossary and when you pay the 5u to unveil the hint of a vacant position.
  • similar to the previous point, if you’ve already created a job in the past and need to re-create it to fill up some spots in a business or service, any jobs already discovered should show up when you’re doing the mix and match experimentations in the cloning facility. That way, users don’t need to keep referring back to the glossary of jobs. (Of course, this could be another short-term memory issue. XD)
  • landscape orientation. Maybe I can’t find it or it can be unlocked with some building.
  • same-sex couples. :3 It’s something I noticed very early during gameplay that every pair in a residence is male x female … which is kind of strange considering there are no babies to be produced (as far as I know). All the hearts do is cause coins, Utopium, or animals to appear anyway.
  • an overview toggle that’ll let players see the quantities of outstanding jobs at buildings. I know it’s obvious with the little coin denominations popping up over them (where green ones = fully outfitted and white = some spots still need to be filled) but it’s something nice to have, I think~!
  • reduction in expansion prices. Yeah, right. Like this will happen. The publisher and developer wants $$$ from players.

There are probably more but I’ll stop here. :3

Now here are some thoughts that are original for this blog. :E

I kind of wish Pixel People actually had some special bonuses for logically placing certain facilities in close proximity to others such as a Fire Station near a home/residential area. Maybe something like this could have a radius bonus such as constructing residences within x-amount of squares will grant you a price reduction of sorts. This will be on top of the passive bonuses already given by the decorations around the map. Coding something like this into the game will make things even more fun. *___*

Edit: It would also be nice if we could just hold and drag roadways or waterways when building them instead of touching each individual square. :\

Edit #2: There should be a faster way to get animals. I thought the Animal Shelter would affect the rate at which new animals are shipped in but all it does it show the numbers of animals rescued. It would be cool if the little people around the map would suddenly come across new animals (although I suppose that wouldn’t make too much sense given how they’re “delivered”).

Oh yeah! There should be travel animations of the little people going to work and such. I wonder if including these would destroy older devices though (in terms of memory usage)? ^^

Now, if you came here looking for guide information for jobs and/or buildings, check out Pocket Gamer’s spiffy post. But you know, discovering unlocks yourself is part of the fun. :3

I spammed some screenshots on Twitter and Instagram (http://web.stagram.com/n/koukoupuffs) yesterday and today so here they are. 😀 Each image has a caption. Click on the image to see~ (Yes, my city planning is terrible but since there’s no consequence to NOT building roadways, I don’t build them much or in a logical manner. 😛 It seems like all roads are good for are the achievements.)

Final Fantasy ATB: Expensive Nostalgia

I bought Final Fantasy All the Bravest out of curiosity. It truly should have been freemium or at least a goddamn 99-cent game. Square’s been pretty outrageous with their pricing strategies so it’s not a surprise that they’d tack on in-app purchases on top of the amount you have to pay up front.

Here’s my no frills look at the game. I’m not going to talk about the visuals or music since I imagine most reviews around the Web already do:

Mindlessly Tap or Swipe Your Way to Victory

The gameplay is like a much more interactive version of many RPG-themed Japanese waiting games (see Hunt the Monsters! and Hunt the Hero! I should mention that you can at least make use of the virtual money gained in those titles. The currency in All the Bravest is just number on the screen). Incidentally, I pretty much only make the comparison to point out how insanely effortless and inane this game is. Oh, plus there’s the whole character, weapon and monster collecting bit too. With that out of the way, I’ll just get back on track about the gameplay — In FF ATB, you just get a bunch of randomly selected generic 16-bit heroes based on various job classes found in various FF games and tap on them or swipe across them to trigger attacks. They’ll attack on their own and you have absolutely no control over which enemy they target, nor get a say in what attacks they should use. As far as I can tell, each character only has one type of attack anyway. The speed at which they’ll throw themselves at an enemy is dependent on how quickly their Active Time Battle meters fills.

You start off with a microscopic number of characters. However, after some hours of levelling (or some hefty investments in Premium Characters), you’ll be travelling around with a party of a maximum of 40 units. To speed up the process, you also have the option of getting 1 additional party slot by helping SE promote the game through the wonders of social networking; you can either spam the Facebook time line or Twitter feed of your friends. To ensure that your followers won’t defriend you or physically come to your home to punch you in the face, you’re limited to 1 status update/tweet per 24 hours. Of course, they may still perform either action once they learn that you actually bought FF ATB.

Most battles will cause your pixel party to dwindle in size as enemies can take out party members in one hit. Once your group is reduced to 0, you have to wait for the party meter to replenish which goes at the rate of 1 character per 3 minutes. There’s an hourglass icon next to the meter though which will allow you to bring back everyone in an instant. Square gives you 3 complimentary hourglasses but if you require more, you’ll have to toss money at them. Such gimmicks are typical of freemium titles but sadly, this game isn’t freemium.

You will navigate the world map by a pre-determined route. Enemy encounters and bosses are in fixed locations but with the exception of boss monsters, they’re randomly generated from a pool that’s specific to the spot your party avatar is standing on. Speaking about bosses, there’s a good chance they’ll wipe out your party on a first try. If you happen to have a Fever saved up, this would be one of the best times to trigger it.  (A Fever simply gives you a brief moment, free of ATB meters, where you can swipe or tap your screen like mad to try and get in as much damage as you can. It also only pops up once every three hours.)

OCD + In-App Purchases = Lots of Money Down the Drain

Every single enemy in the game has a weapon spoil but the drop rate isn’t very high which means obsessive-compulsive players will have to repeat battles over and over until they get it. Of course, it’s most likely dependent on the enemy as well since I’ve gotten a few drops from later enemies but I’m still working on the damn Cockatrice from the first map. There are also rare monsters too such as the Cactuar and Tonberry which means more rounds of visiting areas you’ve already conquered. Joy.

Square Enix had it in their heart to exploit fans right from the start since there’s actually a Catalog that records all the job types unlocked, Premium Characters bought, weapons found, and enemies encountered. Really, it’s obvious it’s a game made for people that obsess over collecting everything in a game. What these kinds of players should realize, however, is that FF ATB is a very costly game as there are 35 Premium Characters to collect that cost 99 cents each and 3 different Premium areas, each with a price tag of $3.99 (for some unfathomable reason). If you add everything up, you’re looking at just over $50 US/CAD for the game which is bloody expensive given the lack of content and substance. In fact, you can probably buy 1 or 2 FF mobile games at full price and get a ton more out of them than you ever could with Final Fantasy All the Bravest. I would definitely recommend waiting for this title to go on sale before taking the plunge.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that while you can obtain Gil in the game, there’s no way to spend it. However, there is a Game Center leaderboard based on how much wealth you’ve racked up.

Anyway, here’s a gallery of some screenshots I took while playing FF ATB.

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. 😛

$40 iOS Game from Square Enix? You Better Believe It.

I realize this isn’t new news but I figure I’d play my part and spread the word because, frankly, this is quite disgusting.

————

SE has been known for its zany pricing which has been loving dubbed as “Square (Enix) Tax” by various iOS gamers. A lot of times, people could see that a port of a PSP or Nintendo DS game, while still running close to $20 US, is relatively cheaper than buying the game to play on the parent system. And then there are those that will also defend the pricing scheme of critically acclaimed titles like the Chaos Rings series that are made specifically for the mobile platform. These particular fans will tell you that the quality of the games justify the premium prices.

Finally, you get something like Demons’ Score, a $7 US rhythm action game with a whopping $35+ worth of in-app purchases. You may think that it’s just for virtual currency and silly little aesthetic changes but NOPE. These IAP are content-based; that is, unless you want to play the same two music tracks ad infinitum, be prepared to donate your life savings to Square.

Strangely enough, Japan is not affected by this madness. While the title is sold at a higher price from the get-go, all content is already included. Simply put, for roughly $20 US, you get the entire game. To drive home the point, you can see the pricing comparison with screenshots at http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/iPhone/Demons’+Score/news.asp?c=45198

The revelation of the price discrepancy obviously isn’t going over very well with gamers around the world. However, I came across a post over the forums at The Escapist that suggests that it’s plausible SE considered the chance that Demons’ Score wouldn’t really be something the international market would eat up with a $20 price tag. Now, if there really was some sort of market research that was done to determine the possible behaviour and reaction of international rhythm gaming fans, Square Enix fans, and iOS gamers to the title, then why didn’t they just convert the $7 game to a free Lite version or at least reduce the price? (The obvious answer is that they wanted to make some sweet profit from the “trial” version. Kind of sickening.)

Honestly, I’m down with people defending the prices of ports and some of Square’s other premium priced games, but I can’t imagine anyone approving them for gouging users like this.

Witch Wars: Puzzle — A Battle for Your Money

Once again, I download and play a game by freemium experts, Com2uS. And, once again, I rage at it.

There’s no denying that the games they create are fun and addicting, but if you’re the type that MUST unlock every item, skill, character, etc. as soon as possible, it’s in your best interest to stay the hell away from Com2uS games. The reason for this is simple: all their games are designed exploit impatience and to eat your wallet.

Let’s take a look at the Witch Wars: Puzzle. (iOS version here and Android version here.) It’s a match-3 puzzle game that plays like  Dungeon Raid (Android version here). It also reminds me a little of the battles in Puzzle Quest albeit in a really simplified form. The gameplay consists of matching 3 to 6 icons of the same type. Depending on the icon (see screenshot below), you will experience different effects. I can go deeper into the gameplay mechanics but I won’t because that’s not the point of this blog post … although I should note that the gold circle with the star in the middle is the icon for coins. Match 3 or more of these to get in-game money that can be spent on upgrades and unlocking more characters.  The amount you get is dependent on the gameplay mode. Why did I highlight the coin? Because it ties into the pay-to-win or grind-like-crazy model of Witch Wars: Puzzle.

Witch Wars: Versus Mode Gameplay Area
Witch Wars: Versus Mode Gameplay Area

When you first enter the game, you will be greeted by a screen like this:

Witch Wars - Daily Bonus Crap
Log in for a different perk each day!

It’s a trend among free-to-play games where they lure players into logging into game every single day by giving players “daily bonuses”*. In the case of Witch Wars, you will either get an unlocked character or coins.

* In my mind, it’s obvious that this is a tactic to get hook people onto the game. After all, they offer in-game currency, among other things, that could be used to upgrade your units, cards — anything you need to progress. Once you become addicted, you’ll want to advance further into the game. Eventually, you’ll realize that things get prohibitively expensive and will require a) lots of hours of simply grinding, b) installing a crap ton of apps or signing up for shit you don’t want to just to get FREE virtual money via monetization services like Tapjoy, or c) real money to buy virtual money.

As seen in the screenshot above, there are 7 playable characters. Athena, the left-most character, is sole character that is available right from the get-go. All other characters require  hefty payment starting from 3000 coins. You may think that Com2uS is generous enough to hand over these characters over the course of 7 days. Unfortunately, that is NOT the case; a witch made usable through a daily bonus gift can only be brought into either friendly matches (re: versus mode) or online matches where you can play against opponents randomly chosen by the game server. She’s also only available for 24 hours. If you WANT to keep the character, you have to pay.

On top of this, every single character has 3 passive, 3 aggressive skills, and Health Points that can be upgraded. Unsurprisingly, the cost of each skill and Health Point will increase per level. Now, you may think that the prices aren’t all that bad and that’s where Com2uS gets you. The main problem lies in the fact that it’s unnecessarily difficult to rack up coins. In Normal difficulty Single Match mode, a line of 3 coins will get you 1 measly coin while Hard and Hell difficulties give you double or triple the coins.

Witch Wars - Single Match Mode Difficulty Types
Single Match Mode Difficulty Selection Screen

Getting extra money sure is a great thing so you’ll probably just want to grind on Hard and Hell. However, you have to contend with staying alive and praying that the game will actually give you freakin’ coins to match. Heck, I can’t even bank 80 – 100 coins by the time I reach Stage 9 or 10 on Hard. Hell is out of the question for me since I can’t even get past the second character. XD

If you’re like me, you will never want to spend hours upon hours on Single Matches for the sake of making money. Thankfully, Witch Wars: Puzzle does provide the player with other gameplay modes such as Flash Mode, Infinity Mode, Versus Mode, and Online Matches. In my opinion, NONE of these modes are worth it for coins EXCEPT Infinity Mode. I’ll explain the reason for this later on.

Yes, I suppose gifted players won’t have too much trouble getting a lot of coins on any mode — my definition of a lot is “over 300 coins per run on Infinity Mode”. Of course, you can always opt into the Tapjoy offers to sign up for magazines, various digital subscription services, buy crap you don’t need, or download and run apps you’ll probably just uninstall after you get the coins. Naturally, the quickest way to get the necessary amount of virtual money is through in-app purchase. The lowest denomination is 2,000 coins which can be purchased for $1.99 and the maximum amount you can get through a single transaction is 75,000 coins which will require you to throw $49.99 at Com2uS. I’m not sure 75,000 coins will cover all unlocks and upgrades though. (I’m kind of leaning toward no.)

Witch Wars - Skills Upgrade Menu
Getting the required thousands of coins to max out all skills can take a long while.

Now, let’s run through this again: every single character has a total of 6 skills as well as health points that can be upgraded. If you don’t mind sticking to Athena and maybe 1 or 2 other characters then you may not mind all the work (or money you spend) needed to obtain and raise them. But if you’re the ambitious, obsesssive-compulsive type that HAS to have every single character unlocked and all skills maxed out, then be prepared to spend eons playing the game or making Witch Wars: Puzzle the most expensive game you’ve ever owned.

Here’s a tip though: The best way to get coins without succumbing to the Free Coins offers or adding expenses to your monthly budget is Infinity Mode. A single playthrough usually nets me 100 – 300 coins as the frequency of coin icons appearing is seemingly higher. I would believe many players could even get greater amounts but as you may have gleaned from this post so far, I’m not the greatest at puzzle games. :/

Anyway, for me — since I play with next to no strategy so setting up combos and 3+ icon matches isn’t my thing — I find that I can play Infinity Mode at a casual pace up to level 8. Once I’m past that, I have to start moving faster. 😛  The trick, therefore, is to play slowly and never let the timer get to the right side. Once it does that, you’ll end up at the next level and the higher the level, the faster the timer will drop.  If you go at a snail’s pace, you can nab as many coins as you can before you get to a level where you have to race against time. It’s possible that you’ll be forced onto a higher level though since you’ll probably get a chain of combos by accident.

Witch Wars - Infinity Mode Select Screen
My current score is actually higher than this now. ^^

I’m probably going to get some flack like I did with my first post about Tiny Farm since people will disagree with the way I present the game and Com2uS, but it’s really how I feel about this type of money-grubbing game design. Anyway, my next entry will probably be my critiques on devs seeking reviews as well as user review etiquette on the App Store and Play Store. :3 I’ve been meaning to write that one up for a while.

Tiny Farm update #2

Back in April, I had a bitchfest about Tiny Farm and raged about its pay-or-wait model. After a few months of expanding the farm, buying more animals and mastering them, I found that it’s definitely one of the more playable freemium titles.

One of the biggest criticisms about anything freemium is that the developer does things that limit your gameplay experience such as restricting inventory size and doing various other things that basically goad you into buying into their IAP feature.

Believe it or not, Tiny Farm is quite the exception to this. The reasons are these:

  1. There’s nothing that delays or obstructs your enjoyment of the game or tests your patience like Rule the Kingdom, for example, where you have to wait and wait and wait for your hitpoints to replenish before you can continue on with a mission without fear of dying from a single enemy attack. (A wait and play RPG/town-management mix is pretty disgusting, if you think about it.)
    .
  2. There’s no need to rely on special currency (re: Bells) to expand your farm as the regular currency does the job. In comparison to a game like Tiny Tower where you have to keep pumping in Tower Bux to increase store stock, this is a pretty generous design. Even base animals that can only be purchased with Bells can be obtained through a Ranger and gold. (I’m not sure if the same could be said about the recent Talking Animal additions like the Talking Hampshire, however.)

Of course, there are still many things that require Bells but a Christmas Tree or Bell Tree churns out Bells at a regular pace — albeit a rather slow one. Levelling up and mastering animals can also net you some Bells. You will have to save up immensely to afford anything that costs 50 Bells and beyond though. Well, there ARE those Tapjoy offers too. :3

Anyway, here’s what my farm currently looks like. I have about 3 pages of animals in the barn too but since I’m aiming to make a sheep and alpaca-only farm, I have no need to place them all onto the field. (And it’s not like I can since I can only fit a max of 23 animals right now.)  There’s non-woolly animals on the range too because I’ve yet to master them.

Must make a woolly farm!
Must make a woolly farm!

Oops. I forgot I wrote a status update at the end of April too. ^o^~ https://koukoupuffs.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/tiny-farm-update/

Tiny Farm update

It’s been a week since I first started playing one of Com2uS’ money-eating, wait & play games. As mentioned in an earlier post, I typically avoid these kinds of games since I know how they work; many things are cheap and have low wait times at the beginning, but as you expand your farm/building/town/street/whatever, wait times grow exponentially and the costs to purchase anything with in-game currency will skyrocket.  Of course, making the virtual money necessary to afford such purchases may take several hours to several days unless you use a credit card.

If you think about it, it’s an ingenius business model since it exploits people’s impatience and desires.  Sadly, I believe such exploitation  is here to stay because players are giving developers the message that they’re fine with giving them money over and over just to maintain a virtual playground.  After all, 99 cents for 1000 pieces of gold is doable, right?  Everyone with some sort of job or allowance can afford that.  But 99 cents x 50 purchases is $49.50!  Is the game actually worth that much?  Obviously, it is to some people. 😦

Anyway, back to the real reason for this post!

My main purpose for trying out Tiny Farm was to see how far I could get without using my credit card to buy any coins or bells (the two virtual currencies).  I didn’t really set any conditions for my experiment but since I’m currently out of a job, I was able to give my farm quite a bit of attention every day.

Usually, during the daytime, I would almost immediately react to every push notification about animals that were ready to grow.  This, along with all the planting and harvesting I was doing, allowed me to get to level 13 in a week’s time.  Maybe with some better planning & decision making, I could have even gotten to level 14 or 15.

About the crops, I would mostly plant cotton or wheat which grow in either 30 minutes or an hour respectively.  Cotton gives 200 coins per hour while wheat gets you a return of 135 coins.  (For cotton, you’re spending 1200 coins per hour to get 1400 coins.  :/ With wheat, it’s 45 coins for 180 coins in an hour.)

At night, before heading off to bed, I’d plant some crops that would take either 10 – 12 hours to grow. :3

Along with constant field work, I’d also make my rounds on the world map to visit all the folks that I’ve added as “friends” to get some hearts, gold, and experience as well as spreading some love around.  So far, I got 20 farms surrounding me. One thing I noticed is that I seem to be restricted to how many farms I can get visiting rewards from. I suppose Com2uS doesn’t want players exploiting this method to stock up on hearts and money.  They want YOUR money after all.

So here’s what the farm looks like. (The image sizes are actually reduced here.  Click on them to see their full size!):

My tiny farm after 7 days
I sold some chicken and sheep to afford the leghorns and some other stuff. My goal is to fill the farm with nothing but cute, dotty-eyed animals! The alpaca is next on my list! >:3
My tiny farm in 7 days - right side
Nothing of interest on this side but I wanted to show it anyway. XD

In terms of  mastery, I only have the sheep, brown sheep, chicken, and brown chicken maxed out.  The black sheep and black chicken are at 3rd and 2nd Mastery level respectively. I have completed the collection of those animal types though. ^o^

I currently have a ranger out looking for an alpaca but he won’t be back until Wednesday since …

Tiny Farm - Ranger out to look for an alpaca!
It'll take over 62 hours to get a cute little alpaca~! I don't have 32 bells or want to buy 32 bells so I'll just wait. 😀

I’ve completed all the farm and animal objectives up to the “Breed 2 pigs” and “Buy 1 firewood”. I don’t particularly care for these silly “missions” since the rewards are hardly worth it.

Other observations:

  • There are level restrictions for anything that will generate money, hearts, or experience.  For example, if you want to increase your fields, you have to wait until level X to buy another patch. However, you can use bells to instantly buy one.  Of course, bells are “special currency” which can only be obtained in-game through special conditions, offers from Tapjoy, or via a credit card purchase.
  • The Tapjoy offers are mostly laughable since a good number of them only give you 1 or 2 bells in return. 1 or 2 bells are great for instantly growing crops or animals but if you actually want to buy useful stuff like fields or animal certifications, you would need to pretty much take up every single free app offer. Ambitious folks could make use of signing up for subscription-based services like Netflix to get more bells though.
  • More than 95% of the purchasable items are simply decorations to make your farm “look more like a farm” and therefore pretty damn useless.
  • A good chunk of the purchasable aesthestics can only be bought with bells.

All in all, I think I’ll stick with Tiny Farm until it gets way too damn expensive to buy animal certification — i.e. increase population amount by 1.  It costs me 24,250 coins right now which is manageable. I’m pretty sure it’ll increase to at least 50,000 coins for the next one though.  Of course, I may even get bored of the game before I manage to obtain enough funds to get the next few animal certifications. :E