Gacha Nose

There's 6 games I've played recently with gachapon or free-to-play mechanics. I have no complaint about these mechanics when made optional, I'm fine with paying some money to a game company if they keep me amused. Not everyone is capable of that.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp: The "fortune cookies" cost 50 Leaf Tickets ($2 or so), with posted chances (3% for the best items), and rarely drop in-game for free. Given that any rare item costs 100-350 LT, cookies are a "deal" but still excessive.

I have more complaint with the goddamned pelican added last month, that wants 10 furniture per trip for apparently a 5% chance at a new animal friend. HATE. HATE. HATE that fucking pelican. 2 animals got, 1 to go. I'd pay real money to make pelican soup of him & get the last animal, but this is not what Nintendo monetized.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery: As of year one, this is barely even a game, but there are game-like elements. I initially started in Ravenclaw, but instantly got bored of goody-goody shit and blue's not my color; by fucking around with the Facebook login (to a defunct account used for developer shit 10 years ago) and a second game on my old phone, I was able to reset and join Slytherin. I'm a bad man, but I look good in black & green. The NPC dialog doesn't change much, and the stupid witch antagonist doesn't realize I'm now the real monster.

The energy economy in this is shitty, but not as shitty as it first looks. There are 1-2 items (paintings, statues, house Elf…) on each floor you can tap to get some energy. Doing a class takes 10-50 energy? So take the 8 hour classes, only tap on the lower-cost action bars (0/1 is better than 0/5), go out and refresh energy, wait a while, it's easy to pass without paying.

Grossly inferior to the LEGO Harry Potter games, but I'll at least finish year one, I think. I have been informed that all these games are for children, but I have the heart of a young boy… in a jar on my shelves.

Elder Scrolls Online: Crown Crates cost ~$12 for 4, each of which has 4-5 items, 1 costume/mount skin/trinket, the rest mostly consumables you can trade for "crown gems" and save 100 of those for a good item. I routinely use the "free" crowns from my ESO+ subscription to buy the crates, and like the results; my Flame Atronach Camel is ridiculous but awesome. Some ESO players are insane with envy (the shittiest of Human emotions) about other players having better luck.

Fate/Grand Order: I liked the anime, so tried playing this and while card/turn battles are a thing I like, the endless VN dialogues with useless parasite "Director" killed me. The gacha? Cruelly unfair, but playable without any money I could see. So when I see articles like Man spends $70,000 on Gacha, I dunno what he was doing it for.

Fire Emblem Heroes: Take all the stock elements of a daily clicker gachapon game. Add very pretty anime girls with swords & spears. Add the blandest tactical pseudo-RPG ever made. So dull and formulaic it makes me wonder how anyone plays this without falling into a coma. Gacha rates seem generous, but who'd care enough to spend money? "FEH" is the sound I make at this game.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius: Before I kicked the habit, a daily struggle… Not really, it's very generous with free "lapis" and summons, and getting a good party was just a matter of time. I'm sure junkies spent money on it but that's not needed. Story drives you thru the map and fighting quests, but it's a real FF game with exploration, crafting, NPCs. Loved it but I'm done and not going back.

New Phone Who Dis?

Dealing with my aging iPhone 6 and iOS 10, and even older iPad 3, was getting on my nerves, so I got a new "space gray" iPhone 8+, 256GB.

I considered the iPhone X, but after doing some maintenance on my apps, I loathe coding around the notch, and I loathe the way it looks. Chris Pirillo had some thoughts and followup that echo mine. Chris has since gone to Android, which to me is like eating only Soylent Green because you once got an undercooked meatloaf; overreaction isn't always wrong, though.

I would prefer the SE form factor, but I don't like a years-old hardware platform. And if this is going to be my only iOS device, I should get the biggest one possible so I can use it as a phablet. It's not like I ever hold a phone up to my ear anyway, it's either on speaker or headphones (dual speakers in the iPhone 8+! But USB-C headphone dongles 😡).

The device arrives, and I go to set up, and immediately hit a roadblock: I can't access my iTunes backups. I've used them to recover before, but now I have no idea what the password is, and it's not any of my previous device passwords. Well, now I'm boned. Had to upgrade iCloud and backup to iCloud, which doesn't preserve on-device logins or the actual apps. Many hours later (slow asymmetric bandwidth), it's done.

Restoring the phone from that backup wasn't bad, but now I have a blank phone with placeholders for every single app, which I have to tap on, wait for it to spin and decide "keep/delete" if it's not 64-bit, or paradoxically tell me to buy the app if the app is no longer for sale. And then for every app, go in and restore purchases if it has any, login if necessary, etc. I didn't set Downcast to archive all podcasts, so it had to sit there for hours downloading the last 2 eps of dozens of podcasts.

At this point, let me say: Going 64-bit only is the most user-hostile, art-destroying thing Apple has ever done, and it SUCKS. All of Llamasoft's and CAVE's games are gone from the App Store, and were 32-bit. So I can still play them on old dying devices, but that's it. I miss Gridrunner and Deathsmiles. Atari Greatest Hits is still updated, and works perfectly; Activision Anthology is not, so no Pitfall! Midway Arcade is gone. Lost Treasures of Infocom is lost.

Apple's actually fucked up in 3 ways here, by not supporting 32-bit with an optional API download, by not providing legacy download of apps, and by making the App Store a toxic race for the bottom by EA and other literal motherfucking mega-studios, so no independent developer can make money except the 1 in a billion jackpots. I'm not advocating leaving for Google Play, because that's even less profitable, it's just open theft. I'm advocating burning down the entire system and starting over. But for now I'll take my Big Brother-issued gruel and pretend to enjoy it.

That was most of day 1 before I could do anything with the phone at all.

iBooks is a special level of Hell. It's the shittiest-written app Apple's ever released, syncing barely works at all, downloading is flaky and eats the main UI thread. So I'd go Purchased > Books > Not on this iPhone > All Books, which actually shows maybe 20 books and then stops listing them, then click the download arrow for the 5-6 items visible, then the UI would lock up and I'd have to wait for 5-15 minutes for it to finish. Then once I had all my books, they weren't organized correctly anymore, which is I guess my fault for having slightly different setups on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. So I went full-on librarian. Protip: Disable 3D touch in Settings, because the 3D touch in iBooks is useless and makes it impossible to move books. I spent a good 15 minutes struggling with this before I learned. So here goes most of day 2.

ibooks-hell-1 ibooks-hell-2
ibooks-hell-3 ibooks-hell-4

Taking those screenshots reveals a new screenshot UI, which PISSES ME OFF: iPhone demands that I triage or edit every screenshot immediately, sitting in the corner of the screen like a Jony Ive dog turd. I don't see any way to turn this bullshit feature off.

Additional stress comes from my entertainments: The ESO Jester's Festival was all weekend, which I grind for items worth a lot of gold, but had to spend most of a day tapping thru my phone and then looking back to the game.

And at the same time, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has two events running, a Mario anniversary crafting thing, and a gardening event. Happily I can still clear these in bed, in the bathroom, or while out, but having my phone be busy downloading books interferes with that.

I know, "do something useful, Mark", but really, games are supposed to be what recharge me, not extra stress.

I still haven't loaded my music onto the phone. I have enough space now for a good portion of my music library, instead of only the highest-rated curated lists. Yes, I still have a music library, so when I'm away from wifi, I can listen to music without burning thru my data cap. Ha ha suck it streaming-only kiddies. But I could also just take my iPod classic out, which has everything, but Apple doesn't want you to have nice things like that anymore.

As for the hardware:

The size is preposterous. 158.4mm x 78.1mm x 7.5mm, 202g. The old Palm III was 119mm x 81mm x 18mm, 160g, and the LifeDrive aka iPod touch 5 years before the iPod touch, was 121mm x 73mm x 19mm, 190g. I thought the Palm devices were almost too big for a pocket, but this is a big goddamned thing.

The screen's nice, bright, and rectangular. No fucking around with maybe-unusable areas at the bottom and top, just a big canvas for software to draw on. I can see the time, battery, AND phone signal at once. I can't really use it one-handed all the time. If I cradle it at the base of my fingers in my left hand, I can barely reach the other side of the screen with my thumb. I treat it more like the iPad already, set it down on a table or my leg and work on it.

The glossy case is irresponsible vanity. It should have a matte, grippable back, not be a perfectly-smooth, sliding-onto-concrete frictionless surface. FUCK Jony Ive and his obsession with things that look like nothing, and suck to actually use. I guess I need to find a new sticker-backing or very thin case for this. I don't want to add bulk.

Home button has a VERY satisfying haptic click, it really feels like the entire front of the device is pivoting down about 1mm, even tho it's solid glass. I do use TouchID when I'm somewhere safe, tho I'd disable that if I was travelling; I don't want the pigs to force me to unlock my device.

I haven't done any real photography with this phone yet, but the giant 2-camera hunchback is supposed to be quite nice.

Current setup, which will probably change again soon. Elric covers were just convenient, but the text under the icons doesn't look good, so I have to change that soon. You know what I want? Custom wallpaper per desktop, like we have on Mac OS X.

iphone-2018apr-1
iphone-2018apr-2
iphone-2018apr-3

Miitomo End of Life

When Miitomo came out, I thought finally, Nintendo had got a clue about online services, made someplace that could be a hub for your "Nintendo identity", let you make custom Miis to play in other games, or even use as avatars for other places, hook up chat and friends list for all other Nintendo games…

But, none of that happened. It stayed a small closed service that connected to nothing, never let you do more than change clothes, change the wallpaper and flooring of your tiny empty room, and chatter at annoying questions, the talking people do when they have nothing to say.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has its own much more primitive avatars and limited set of clothing, at least it's active for now, but there's very little "social" to it.

Some years ago, I went into Line Play with someone, and despite spending no money, just freebie coins, I ended up decorating this house, which is still there (had to stitch some screenshots together, there's no "photograph whole room", only a video capture). This is what Miitomo should've been like:

Line Play house

Animal Crossing: Winter Wonderland Edition

Shut down the animal schools, snow is here! In the console/handheld AC, there's weather and snow leading up to the full snow day of Dec 11, but in PC it just flipped over this morning. Everywhere except the island is now frosty, whether snow on the coconut palms makes sense or not.

I haven't noticed any actual gameplay changes from the weather yet, but it's early days. I miss Wild World where I'd roll up snowmen, and skid when running, but it crunches nicely under my feet.

I finished the rock stage yesterday, so now my Cool animals can all go up to Level 20. It's pretty loud in the concert pit when a crowd goes over there, and KK Slider's just sitting there trying to play his guitar, man. But now I have another construction box next to it. In a few weeks when all the amenities are built, it'll be nice to not hear hammering and sawing constantly.

And Nintendo announced the gardening and clothing crafting will be coming soon. Interesting they're pushing the expansions out so fast, expected them to wait at least until spring. It's been a pretty flawless launch and support, which I don't really understand how they do it, most mobile launches are garbage for months or years (Poke Mongo, for instance).

I like these day-for-night nighttime shots, since I mostly play in the dark, but it'll be interesting to see how it looks in actual (simulated) daylight.

Autumn River

Winter River

Winter Hollow

Winter Beach

Winter Island

Rock Stars

Winter Camp 1

Winter Camp 2

Winter Market

Winter OK

Animal Crossing: New Phone Book Edition

New animals and furniture just got added: Bluebear, Antonio, Phoebe, and Raddle! And a ton of new furniture, noticeably tiki torches, campfires, some new rugs, medical machines that go Bing!. I had all 40 animals unlocked, and 37/40 befriended, so this is just in time.

Rather than wait for the new ones to appear in random rotation, I'm starting to call them up with the Calling Cards I got from levelling other animals to Level 10 or 15. Never waste leaf tickets on anything temporary, only on inventory, market boxes, and maybe camper paint jobs.

If you visit my.nintendo at least once a week, you can click on your Mii wandering around, sometimes it'll give you coins (Club Nintendo points). Then hit Redeem, and you can redeem both AC-only points and Club Nintendo points for materials, like the ever-scarce cotton; in the app, you can only redeem AC points. I wish I could trade over some Miitomo points, too.

You can mark craftable furnishings as Favorites (star icon) on the order screen, without finishing the order. Do this for all the items you need to summon each animal, and for their special request items, and then they'll be on the star tab, without having to go hunt for the item or look thru contacts again. When you actually craft it, un-favorite it so you don't have to see it in the list again.

AC inventory favorites

After crafting 4 levels of the Cool street scene instantly (but had to wait for materials), for the 5th I'm now back to a giant 48-hour construction box and the endless sound of hammering and sawing. UGH. I'm at 240-something CC now, so I'll finish the holiday items tomorrow, a day ahead of prediction.

AC holiday kotatsu

Animal Crossing: Candy Cane Addiction

  • The first few holiday items went quick, and doing the ones with CC (Candy Cane) rewards in the Timed Goals, they're free or even generate a profit. The rest are a little pricey. Every day between the quarry and a few rounds of animal requests I make about 100 CC, so I should have all the holiday items by the 6th. Someone playing more casually should still get there by the end of the month.

  • Feature requests filed with Nintendo (More->Misc->Customer Support->Feedback): Market Box Search: Search all friends' market boxes for a specific item, and see a list sorted by unit price ascending. Sort Inventory: A button to sort clothes and furnishings A-Z instead of date-added. Breezy Hollow, the orchard area, has no reason to revisit it except when fruit resets every 3 hours. The other 3 harvest areas all have 2 fruit trees and fish/bugs, so Breezy Hollow should have 2 bug spots. Who knows if some English feature requests are even going to make it to the dev staff, but better than just complaining to the blog.

  • I've been thinking about the need for chat. It'd be nice to give feedback on camps beyond a Kudo (which for the daily goals is often just "first in the friend list"). Ideally we could just see our friends' Miitomo accounts and go chat there, it's been dead quiet for a year.
    But then I think of Nintendo's Disney-like purity goals and remember Randy Farmer's BlockChat post. So I'm pondering ways to share a URL with items, say with letter/number shirts in the camper.

These animals are crazy:

Beau Picnic

But not always wrong:

Bunnie Blogs

And sometimes full of wisdom:

Tex Coffee

Animal Crossing: Silent Night Deadly Night Edition

via @animalcrossing@twitter.com:

Animal Crossing Xmas

'Tis the season! We've got a fun holiday event planned for you, starting tomorrow, 11/30, at 10:00 p.m. (PST). I can't wait! #PocketCamp

If you want to peek at some of the new presents, Gamepress has a datamine

… Sadly Pocket Camp doesn't have a usable axe, so I can't put on a Santa suit and reenact a holiday movie.