Monthly Archives: February 2014

Is an MMO blurring occurring?

Recently we heard of game studio layoffs again. Did you ever wonder where all those skills go? I’m sure some find like work in big studios, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many end up as Indies or in small teams – or even more likely (judging from the crowded space) as mobile and cross-platform developers.

Personally I’ve never been a purist. I won’t blog just one game, I’m unmoved by open worlds until the day when instances don’t make a game run better. Raiding is for when I have the time, pvp I prefer consensual. Hardcore makes me worry about people’s health. I don’t want to “work” in a game, it’s a leisure activity and finally I can socialize without a quasi-military structure or do-it-yourself rentagang. And all of this is perfectly valid because in the end, I am the customer. This particular customer isn’t into “pure”,  just a good product I can enjoy in my own way will do fine. Other customers feel differently, and that’s life, and it also leads to possibilities.

The amorphous blob I mentally label “Massively Mulitplayer Online” reminds me of that wibbly bit in a film before it goes to a cut scene, or the fade before another viewpoint.

Right now, I’m in a position to try out a ton of games and I have been. Some things do strike me. I (like many others) see huge potential for those games with purist attributes – if they set up shop as niche products. Unbelievably hard games with great big learning curves and ocean-like time-sinks for the hardcore anyone? People feel passionately about their gaming, maybe enough for a healthy market.

That would give us all a more varied and interesting landscape to play in – and there are signs of it happening. Niche interests abound on Kickstarter nowadays. I don’t think any of these should be judged on whether they become huge or make tons of money. If enough people want to play them to support them and keep the devs alive, that’s success already.  If you’re making something you love, the chances are you’ll put heart and soul into it, and that always comes across – so a  big playerbase and riches are possible to0, but I think the basic thing of providing something enough people want and will pay for, *that* is the bar.

So we have a lot of talent sloshing about, and the beginnings of niche gaming. A third factor seems to be something to do with size. I do see attempts at the MMO format on my android, but they only have a few of the dimensions. Ravensword, The Bards Tale etc don’t compare with the giant that used to be WoW before all the content was stripped out. These mobile attempts keep getting a little richer as the technology improves though, and oddly enough, the big games keep heading more towards rails, simplification, fewer dimensions, generic classes, blandness. Both sides are heading toward the middle from opposite ends! This makes sense – there is a lot more money wafting around the mobile scene than there is to be had for a big MMO. The larger endeavors cut costs by simplifying, the smaller ones aim for an even bigger market by adding more systems.

It’s fascinating. Will they all end up mid-sized and varied, or will they all end up big and on rails? Could MMOs end up bunkering in PCs where more is possible and become like frilly octopi, catering to all styles of gameplay? Will mobile MMOs explode into fragmented MMO aspects that one can fit together at home where a cavernous desktop dominates the living room?

Whatever happens, I don’t want boring. I understand that big MMOs are seeing advantages in niching themselves and trimming development costs by not catering to everyone, and cutting systems like crafting to cosmetic. I also get that the technology is never going to allow me to play full-blown WoW even in its stripped form on my tablet. (Mind you shouldn’t say never). But I think depth is always possible, from the simplest gameplay (e.g. Flutter) right through to the sparest MMO world (like GW1) – and any game that achieves that stands a good chance.

Big teams are required for a fully fledged MMO… no not really. The tools nowadays are such that a one-man-band can make plenty of noise, and a small team can create a universe. Server costs are reasonable too. I don’t think team size matters as much as it once did. Borrowing matters. If you need to borrow to set up your MMO you’re in a tight spot and there’s huge pressure to stick with the tried and tested. That’s true for large or small studios and large or small games and is probably the single thing that keeps us all cloned and bland.

Of course, the more variety we have, the less easy it becomes to play “definitions”. That’s fine by me. Defining stuff is for high-school debates and high courts of law. In creative endeavours insisting on strict universal categorisation is counter-productive. Any definition anyone has of “MMO” is fine by me.  A rough grasp of the concept will do for exploring the thought 🙂

As small and large move closer and no MMO bastion cannot be emulated by all and sundry, I love to think that  some of the straightjackets to fall off so that the MMO genre gets more worth exploring, like in the early days. At the moment all the places you go are not like that strange little unique cafe in downtown Ancient Mesopotamia, more like McDonalds in various settings. We could be having a lot more fun. Why don’t we have Social Molo games?  Will someone ever do the crafting game of my dreams? What about a lore-driven game with emergent elements. Oh yes there’s a lot more out there and possible than downing the UberRat yet again for a piece of gear that’s obsolete in a month. – Can we have a pvp game that’s  more ‘knights in shining armour’ or ‘adrenaline of battle’ and less ‘inadequates on the loose?’

I’m always hopeful, me 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary (aphrodite event & Happy Birthday)

I’m feeling my blog-skills got quite rusty while last year had it’s way with me, but things are loosening up now – same with the rest of life. Systems are generally go, but puffing dust out of all vents and even backfiring a time or two. This little game has kept me company.

Yesterday, was Flutter’s birthday – it’s one year old! And not going anywhere near a sunset, I don’t think. The Flutter News adds, with glee, that the game is also celebrating 1 000 000 players. Yep, a million. Well Happy Birthday Flutter – and I’m delighted to see Runaway’s game doing so well! Delighted but not surprised. It’s a cool game.

The ‘Aprodite’ Event is now also complete, which is what I wanted to write about to give an idea how these things go. Mercifully I’ve more or less mastered the screenshot on the Nexus 7 (2013). No. Mastered isn’t the right word. It is so awkward that it’s not possible to time your screenshot, or follow the action – or anything really. Just hold the opposite edge against a hard surface, press the sound-down and shut-down buttons, hold – and hope you haven’t merely succeeded in turning your Nexus off (again). Frightful. Anyway here is a dodgy pic of one of the Event butterfly’s special ability, (complete with the Nexus sound control. Which also happens a lot of the time. grr.)


Aww? Aw !!

And I normally dislike “cute”, so there you go (I enjoy the art in this game!).

This next bit is quite involved. You probably need to be interested in how the money works out to actually bother reading it – but here goes:

At the end of the event I had all the event butterflies, earning me a rose decoration, but the last two butterflies were not complete, needing two and three upgrades respectively. (completing set and all upgrades = a second decoration;  set and all upgrades within the time = three decorations.) The final animated rose decoration was quite nice and I wouldn’t have minded, so I did the sums. The flowers for the 5 upgrades I needed would have set me back 800 (100 x 2, 200 x 3) Flutterbucks. (As you can see in the screenshot, I had 82.)

You buy Flutterbucks with Mobacoins which come in packaged amounts, closest being 1500Flutterbucks @ 4999Mobacoins (700Fb @2499, the package below it won’t do.) And so the attempt to squeeze up the amount you spend goes on through the currency trail. 5210 Mobacoins (the nearest package) = £39.99.

It’s not a trivial amount and needless to say it didn’t happen. Better pull out that calculator before doing any impulse spend because it’s an “all or nothing” amount for that third decoration. Which means not only didn’t I spend £40 (yes, I know, bar one p), but I didn’t spend a lesser amount either, since no point. (The second decoration is attainable through just wait for Flutterbucks to accumulate – you do earn these very slowly – and buy eggs so all butterflies are upgraded).

But before you fall off your chair or puff a “forget it”, as I usually do – there is more to the story. £40 aint going to happen, sure enough. However, one can acquire extra flowers in other ways than buying, so I’m still happy. It is possible to feed your frog treats to gain event flowers and these treats spawn from tasks, or just mysteriously appear at non-event times as well as during events. One can hoard up frog treats. I’m doing this for the next event, and already have a little hoard since I didn’t use them this time. (Will report back). As a quick indicator I blew 10 frog treats I’ve collected so far. 5 returned event flowers, and 3 were the bottlenecked flowers needed for the last two butterflies.

Gosh this is getting technical. Frog-treat flowers aren’t 100% ones, like the ones you buy, you need to fuse them up to that 100% to guarantee the butterfly you want. So 3/10 isn’t hugely helpful, but might just save the day if one has enough frog treats and only needs an upgrade or so.

Another way of completing, and more crucially, the event butterflies have special abilities. My screenshot shows a Tibetan Cupid which puffs out little hearts when you activate it’s ability. But not all the abilities are cosmetic. My Harmonia Mantle from the Christmas set allows me a free egg (long cooldown) – that represents a whole butterfly upgrade though (like an 100% flower). Another butterfly I have speeds incubation – very handy if an event is about to finish.

Heh. Well you already know I have an interest in those legacy sets. (I still miss my Snowflake I sold by mistake 😦 ) So that’s my interest duly declared, but, and it’s quite a big thing, the older butterflies have a big impact on gameplay. Which does put new players at a disadvantage. New players haven’t collected these older butterflies with wonderful abilities that help you complete a set without spending £40. And the legacy sets are not available in any way, shape or form. New players just have to hope for good abilities in the current and future events and scrabble to complete the relevant butterflies, so they can join in this advantage. I really hope that changes. It’s a wibbly bit sticking out.

Joining Facebook and adding friends who also play Flutter can gain you event flowers too, I think there’s a limit of 5 gifts friends can send. Yes. Just as UemeU got me to log into Steam after 10 years of not, so Flutter has persuaded me to finally and with trepidation make a Facebook account (that’s pretty good going for a game to do that right there). Not particularly impressed with Facebook so far, but have hardly explored, so no comment.

Lastly there is the route of earning Mobacoins by trying out games, which as already noted, I’m finding more fun than a chore. Still haven’t uninstalled any. Must also be said you’d need to try out many many many games to earn that 4999 coins.

So with all four of those extra things helping, it may be possible to fully complete an upgraded event set without spending money – or is it? Well I’m hoarding my frog-treats & earned Mobacoins for the the next razzle – we’ll see! It’s interesting to find out. We gave Mobage some of our Christmas money & are quite up for trivial purchases, but I want to know if the events are doable without a spend but by investing time and effort – we aren’t always rich! And even if we were rich, we would have got that way by not spending £40 on a digital rose 🙂

(If you’re intending to try Flutter anyway, the weekend birthday giveaways still have some hours to run at time of posting this, by the way.) And now it’s time for my lunch, I’m hungry.

Long post for a game I like 🙂

Categories: Android

Uemeu tutorial link

A series is planned! I’ve been enjoying the Uemeu livestreams (mostly in awe) as Landrunner does quite amazing things there, and this is welcome, the first in a planned tutorial series: (- personally, I need it.)

Part 2:

Categories: Uncategorized

This is me not knowing how to reblog

so from the hip:

Voluntine’s week !!:) I’m out of time, but I wanted to say this is a fantastic idea.

Categories: Uncategorized


… and that’s enough loafing about. I managed a few minutes looking out of the window twitching periodically when I remembered something I could be doing. Would have looked most disturbing to a passer-by. My head is too full! Not surprising, I’ve not been taking time out to contemplate or concentrate, so that’s back on the daily schedule. And meanwhile writing things down clears the decks too, so here I am.


Walk like An Egyptian! (sorry Jeremy couldn’t resist)

I think I found Uemeu on Twitter. It is in alpha but runs really well on pc  (including on all our older machines) and has a ui you can actually access and an impressive way of including tutorial advice in with the ui. You can choose how much you need to know. Both ui and tutorials fold out from the side – just need a tool? – then don’t fold out any further than the first column. Need some extra help or a more detailed tool? – fold out a layer further. Ingenious and very user-friendly indeed.

I hope it’s fair to call this a “build” game – I don’t know if we’ve evolved more subclasses to the genre of games where you build things. This one uses geometric and iterated-geometric shapes, which you rotate, scale, move. As you can see I’m not much further than plonking monumental objects in the landscape, which like a child I find terrifically satisfying. Actually that’s not fair on me. I owe a debt of gratitude to Uemeu. It has quite a lot to play with, including physics. So my first attempt at a rustic cottage went flying off into space hahahaha! – fact is I have a gap in my knowledge when it comes to how physical properties work in games. Uemeu, (along with a lot of other impressive features), allows me to experiment with my monumental shapes to my heart’s content without the encumbrance of scripting – invaluable. Messing about with mass – who can beat it!

Because I’m a girlie I’d like more colours and textures and terrains I guess, but apart from that I’m spoiled for options, shapes, and things to try out. Spent a whole afternoon just playing with the sky once 🙂

There are two modes – “build” mode I’ve just described, though I’ve not really done it justice – and also a “play” mode. I spend most time in build mode fooling around with all the new stuff (and physics) rather than attempting anything grand, but it’s immensely satisfying to switch to “play” and have an avatar running around over, around and in your structure now and again too. (There’s a huge temptation to make jumping puzzles – I won’t deny it.) I think nowadays our person can wall-climb too. As with the other games and applications I particularly like, there’s a totally “alive” feel to this. It seems like something new has been added every time I log in. I would love to know which features Omnigon are most proud of – there’s a lot to be proud of.

I owe this game a better screenshot and I’m putting an iou here. It’s a shame that my pics don’t properly reflect the hours of fun,  just because – well I spend most of them throwing a few basic shapes about. There is seriously no need to stick to basic – I’ve seen some extraordinary things in the livestream that goes out regularly on Twitch. I even revived a Steam account which I hadn’t used for nigh on 10 years to give it a vote for greenlight. It’s a great game and it’s been a fun alpha!

Categories: Uncategorized

A Sunday morning plooter (life in general)

What a dilemma. It’s Sunday and I’m having a few days when nothing immediate is hanging over my head growling and screeching. Do I take a break and make the most of it – or do I work myself silly on my own personal projects? Hmmm.

I don’t know. I’m not good at breaks and really should work at relaxing, especially given that I’m still as tense as a string after last year. On the other hand there’s the siren call of code and stuff, which normally gets squished into five minuteses here and there – I could make a dent in that and I’d feel good, but I’d be jumpy and tense going into the next spate of life-traps. Deary me. What to do?

Then there’s the new computer to explore, plus I’ve barely got to grips with the tablet, not to mention the VPS. Which is right, I haven’t mentioned the VPS. Well I have one. And on it I set up and configured a server – but not sure what I’ll do next – it’s like a new continent.  It doesn’t matter. It’s there to practice what I learn. So that awaits and beckons with a siren call too!

And of course there are games – games which I couldn’t play before, but can now. I already have some downloaded, and there are many more to come. And I should write about them – I look forward to doing that – so there is blogging calling me too.

Of course, not quite everything is unpacked, and playing with my house is more fun than anything just now, so there’s that.

And I need a walk, I try to do that regularly if not every day.

I need to sit down and make some roadmaps, which need is fuelling this post.

I should sort out the potplants which are beginning to look weedy& do some laundry.

On the whole the balance would seem to be on doing things. I do have a lot of things to do, and this is a good opportunity to catch up with them. However I am concerned with my recent pace. I think throwing self into action is probably the path of habit, and might not be the most beneficial. I’m so bad at relaxing though. I get Pavlov guilt responses from years of being “useful” (mostly to someone else). I think, that relaxing is probably the one to tackle today. I can five-minutes the rest of my ambitions. I do it all the time! But not easy to subside into a jelly-like blob in the normal course of events.

Oh well here goes. Got food, got shelter. Ehm… now what?


Categories: Uncategorized

Flutter (android game)

Sorry for the gap – after years of eating lentils and clawing every £ from lords and masters with bloodied fingers… our new big laptop arrived. I have been … distracted. (Yes it’s superb, it’s an Asus ROG and I’m sure I’ll burble about it in good time)

Now to Flutter. Our most favourite Android game isn’t hard to pick. This is the one all of us play, and all people we introduce it to play, and I’m putting it out here, so I dare say that will mean even more people try it and get hooked. It’s about butterflies, which you collect.  The butterflies don’t PvP. They do just flap about in their habitat like butterflies do. I can’t tell you what’s so compelling. I don’t know!


True, collecting is compelling, but there are a lot of games where you collect things – fish, dragons, whatall. Perhaps it’s that thing where you take a simple notion and do it really well.  It is a polished game and the balance is not too bad between buying/earning the Flutterbucks you need to complete sets. One is always tempted to buy, but there is the feeling that one could probably play a lot and earn enough to do the trick. More about that later. We are currently (squee) collecting a set. Last set, I bought Flutterbucks to complete (we had some Christmas money), this time I’m trying the ‘earn it’ route. For this balance to work nice, it does need to be possible to earn your way, albeit at great cost of time and effort. We shall see. I am currently logging in almost hourly to collect any honeydew/flowers. This for me is unusual behaviour. The game is on the good side of addictive.

Which brings me to how it works: (I can’t remember what you start out with, but I don’t remember struggling). At the heart of everything is a book, which contains sets of butterflies and achievements. On screen is a round flower setting which allows you to adjust 3 factors – the set, the size, the rarity. You have a flower collection (flowers pop up in the environment, or are spat out by a frog when you feed it treats, can be earned through errands – many ways – and ofc you can buy them with real money.) Oops got to point out about about the money. It uses the cash to Mobacoin to Flutterbuck/honeydew system which old-fashioned dudes(and dudettes) believe obfuscates how much things cost. Unfortunately in this day and age most of the developed world posesses a calculator, internet banking and there are social networks to spread information far and wide. Flutterbucks are pricey when you figure out how many you need, but the game is good. Presumably whales are being believed in. I don’t mind topping up here and there to support the people making this but at those rates it’s not going to be a habit. Sadly. Because I’d like to complete every single set, ever       ! – and I don’t have enough time to do it via time and effort.

So you choose your flowers for set, size, rarity and place them in the wheel-like setting in the habitat, touch the centre and choose to attract an egg. Then a whirly thing happens and an egg arrives. You can use this as a sort of slot machine – just put one or two flowers and let the game choose your egg (I love doing this) or you can look in your Butterpedia (I don’t know what it’s called :)) and get very specific. Some flowers are rarer than others, as is right and proper. It’s a nice game inside the game. Ooh and the flowers are really pretty – in fact here’s a shout to the artists – I love! the graphics in this game. Even the eggs are pretty, and awww the littel caterpillars….( and the fine detail on the chrysalis).

The music is nice and soothing, your egg takes time to hatch (how much depends on which butterfly) but sooner or later it gets a glowy pulsating ring and when you tap it, there is a stupendously appealing little caterpillar. This you move to a free nestybit in your habitat and feed it leaves (free, no purchase) when it’s hungry, through some stages. Then it hops up onto a twig and turns into – you know, I think this is one of they things where “you have to *be* there”. The end result is a butterfly that needs a few upgrades (flowers produce pollen to fuel this and each upgrade reveals pictures and info in the Fluttpedia). Hehehe.  I know it sounds like fluff. Don’t care. It’s time to check for flowers!

Hah gotta Red Pierrot flower. (need many more though). Ehm where was I? Oh yes, now and again there are events with special sets to collect which keeps everything fresh and we really do love the events (squee). Here though a word of warning. There is no way to get any of these sets after the event is over. The other day I sold my Snowflake by mistake – that’s from the Christmas set, and that’s it GONE FOREVER. So need to be on toes when selling butterflies. (Selling is back to the game, you get honeydew or a tiny amount of Flutterbucks.) Caused quite a little stab in my heart when that happened. (Also if you don’t quite finish a set, that means you never can.) With that words of warning out of the way though, all else is pretty good. It runs well, it looks nice, it sounds good, it’s pretty – and by whatever magic beans they put in their coffee, I feel compelled to play it.

The game is made by Runaway games, and their blog is worth a visit: They seem very enthusiastic and motivated about – butterflies, wildlife, making games, all sorts of things. Can’t help wishing them well – love the WWF hut. And next I have nice things to say about Mobage which seems to be the umbrella under which Runaway released this game. And odd nice thing. You see, you can earn Mobacoins by installing other Mobagames. I tried it once. I thought “once”, but actually I never have never yet uninstalled any of the games I tried for Mobacoins and I’m quite happy to try more. There’s a thing!!!

I mean who would have thought I’d really like a game about building CARS – but there it is on my tablet, installed and waiting for me to have more time to play it. Tried it, liked it, am definitely going to play it – along with all the others that I tried. Not a single one uninstalled. Which is amazing, because I’ve been through Google’s play store like a locust and though I enjoy most when I try them to some extent, few are keepers.

My Nexus is stupid with screenshots, really absurd, got to hold it firm sideways on a table, push two buttons with split second accuracy & hope. I haven’t managed a nice screenshot yet but will keep trying (or maybe a Runaway/Mobage person reading this can send me one they’d like me to use). Update: finally got a screenshot and have added it to this post :).

Big thumbs up for this game then. If I had one wish, it would be to be able to collect the Legacy/Event sets after they’re done – not only because of my lost Snowflake, but because when I looked on Flutter’s facebook page I started drooling. Some of those old sets are soooooo nice – please can we have a way of collecting them?

Categories: Android

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