Friday, April 17, 2020

The Fox And The Rabbit: Animal Crossing Pocket Camp

Before we begin, let me just say this post has been sitting around for a while. I'm finding that writing posts a few days in advance creates more problems than it solves. And I'm not even sure there were any problems in the first place.

Yesterday I had to insert a bunch of fake edits. I could do the same here but it's a joke that gets old fast. Suffice it to say Easter is over, negotiations with Freya are progressing and I do now know how to wear a hat.

Let's crack on.

I am still playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. In fact, last night when I went to bed, instead of starting to watch Amazon's well-reviewed new episodic fantasy series, Tales From The Loop, as I'd planned, I found myself catching eggler fish instead.

I've been reading a fair amount about the Easter event in Animal Crossing New Horizons, not all of it very complimentary but it hadn't even occured to me I'd run into Zipper the egg-crazed rabbit in Pocket Camp. I'm a little unclear on whether Bunny Day is a separate holiday from the general egg-based shenanigans in the way EverQuest II overlaps three events during Easter but until I logged in last night I hadn't noticed a seasonal flavor to the game, other than the ever-present "April" prompt.

Zip it, Zipper. Just point me at the fish.
It would be easy for me to miss something. I haven't logged in every day and I still don't really know what I'm doing.

The Animal Crossing games are supposed to be light, relaxing fun, or so the marketing and much of the fandom seems want you to believe, but getting to the "fun" part takes some serious determination, particularly, I suspect, in the case of Pocket Camp. It can sometimes feel like a very "mobile" game, if you know what I mean.

There are patience issues to be overcome even before that. It's slow to load on my Kindle Fire, something it has in common with pretty much every app. The Kindle always seems to have a million more important things to do than whatever I had in mind. I'm resigned to a five minute wait before I can watch anything on Amazon Prime because it takes that long before it lets me adjust the volume.

ACPC doesn't have that problem but it frequently crashes before it gets going. Fortunately, once it's sorted itself out, it's completely stable. And then the pop-ups start.

There are an inordinate amount of windows to navigate. Some of them are trying to sell me things but most seem to belong to a tutorial that never ends. Every time I do anything I haven't done before - and not infrequently when I do things I have - some screen opens up to tell me how to do it.

Freya the free spirit. I may be in love.
It can take ten minutes before I'm in full control. Okay, maybe it's not that long. I haven't timed it. It feels like it, though. It says a lot for the quality of Animal Crossing that I'm putting up with it. When the Kindle and Nintendo finally settle down and leave me to get on with things I have a pretty good time.

As I mentioned in my previous AC post, my goal was to find Freya the fox and ask her to come to my camp. Progress has been made on that front. I found her, talked to her and gave her some things she wanted but as yet, I haven't had the nerve to invite her to join me.

I'm having some issues with the etiquette here. It's that politeness thing again. It seems rather louche, doesn't it? Inviting someone you've only just met to come home with you. Not to mention move in.

The option seems to appear the very first time you speak to a new animal but there's a whole mechanic going on with hearts filling up as you do them favors or give them stuff. I'm very unclear on whether there are thresholds to reach below which an invitation would be rebuffed. It's a nervous kind of dance and I don't know the steps yet.

I could look it up. Animal Crossing guides and videos must keep an entire server farm in business. But where's the fun in that? I'll just keep poking around in the game itself. I'm sure it'll all come clear eventually.

Is there no place safe from generation hatred?
I may not have managed to lure Freya into my clutches just yet but I do have a bunny hat. Zipper gave me a long spiel about eggs and fish and measuring sticks, most of which I let wash over me, but I did pick up the bit about fish that sparkle so when I saw one I caught it. Then I kept catching them until there weren't any left.

When I gave my fish to Zipper he gave me a hat. I love hats. In game and out. I've been told I'm a natural at wearing hats. It's a talent, what can I say?

Unfortunately, this time I can't work out how to put my hat on. I can put it on an animal. I managed to work out how to put clothes on Apollo the probably-an-eagle. I made him wear a dress and he liked it. I could have given him my bunny hat but who knows if he'd ever have given it back? Not a risk I'm prepared to take.

For now my hat is staying in my backpack. Not that I have a backpack. I mean, I probably do have a backpack because I keep picking stuff up and when I need to give it to people there it is. But I can't see my backpack.

I'm not worried. I'll figure it out. I worked out how to paint my VW Camper a lovely two-tone blue, didn't I? Animal Crossing Pocket Camp has a garage run by the bastard penguin offspring of Mario and Chico Marx because why wouldn't it?

Swordfish! The password is swordfish!
I also figured out how to go inside my van and how to decorate it. I have some flowers and a lamp in there. It's cosy. If I had a van like that in real life I would be very happy to self-isolate inside it for a week or two, let me tell you!

As the BBC reported today (Tuesday, as I write) a lot of people are finding a substitute in virtual worlds for the lives they've temporarily mislaid in the real one. The BBC has a good record of reporting online gaming in a clear and reasonably accurate fashion for non-gamers. They often hang their reportage on the peg of the newest gaming fad so it wasn't a surprise to see the lede given over to Animal Crossing.

The Corporation also has a strong preference for certain IPs,  EVE Online being one of them. Hilmar Pétursson, CCP's head executive and a very familiar name in MMORPG circles, pops up to tell us Eve "is famous for being a very social game", which is one way of putting it.

In days gone past a piece like this would have focused heavily on World of Warcraft but Azeroth doesn't merit a mention even in passing. Apparently Call of Duty and Fortnite are where people go to hang with their friends these lockdown days.

And Animal Crossing, of course. Tobold still doesn't get it but millions of others do. I think I may be one of them.

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