Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Maybe Some Day

I gave myself the day off blogging yesterday to play Nightingale. I think I'm circling in on the primary reason why I'm finding it so compelling but I'll let that percolate a while longer. In the meantime, I thought I'd make good on a promises I made in a previous post.

I started writing about games Palworld and Nightingale had stopped me from playing but then ended up writing about just one of them, Allods, which I actually had played, a little, somewhat defeating my own argument. I said then I'd do post something about the rest later and here we are. It's later already!

Games I'm Not Playing

Obviously, that could be an extremely long list. If you want to be literal about it, it would be all games ever made except Nightingale. That would be kind of a lengthy post even for me, though, so I'll stick to the handful I quite possibly would have been playing, if it hadn't been for (Insert ironically struck-through reference to meme from ancient Hanna-Barbera cartoon old people still somehow expect anyone who didn't grow up watching Saturday Morning Cartoons to get and then shake their heads wearily when they don't here.) two survival games on Steam.

I'm not even going to bother listing the obvious ones, the ones I was already playing before I got de-railed or, more accurately, ran my own train off the tracks, like both EverQuest titles or the many single-player games I'm in the middle of on Steam. This is just a short list of games I have bookmarked, meaning to try, added over the last few weeks either because they looked interesting or because I thought I might get a post out of them. More likely both.


Syp did a short piece on this one for MassivelyOP back in January and I thought it looked interesting enough to bookmark for possible further investigation. It's a mobile title, available for Android and iOS, which self-describes as "the best mobile MMORPG in the history of the universe!!" Look, they even bolded "best" so it must be true!

Really, when you see a claim like that, you have to check it out, don't you? And there's more...

"With engaging combat, tons of rare items to collect, and no overly complicated systems to slow you down, Eterspire cuts through the fluff and takes you straight to the action."

Good, 'cos I really hate being slowed down by those darn overly complicated systems. That's why I've played fifty-five hours of Nightingale these last two weeks. 

Looking at the screenshots and taking the temperature of the extensive patch notes, I get the feeling this is something along the lines of AdventureQuest 3D. I like AQ3D a lot but I still hardly ever play it, so why I'd think I needed another like it beats me. I'd have to play it through BlueStacks or Nox, too, which is another hurdle it will probably never pass but even so it's on the "Maybe One Day" list now. 

Hello Kitty Around The World

I can't now recall where or why I was reading about this. I didn't bookmark my original source, only the Bluestacks entry for the game, which was as far as I got in my attempt to play it. I do remember seeing something that suggested this was an important title for some reason. If I knew what was important about it, I'd tell you. 

Oh, wait, maybe Google knows...

Aha! Now I remember! Or at least, I remember what started it all. It was something I read at NME, because of course a music site was going to be my go-to for important news about Hello Kitty games.

From the NME, I learned that 2024 is Hello Kitty's fiftieth birthday. She really doesn't look her age, does she? That was how I started looking at at Hello Kitty stuff again, but how I ended up with Around The World specifically, I have no clue. 

It's what I bookmarked, anyway, so I'll have to assume I wanted to check it out for something. Maybe if I ever actually play it I'll find out what it was.

My personal history with Japan's most famous feline (And that's a highly competitive title, let me tell you.) doesn't go back quite as far as half a century but it does stretch all the way to the late 1990s, which is when I bought a Hello Kitty pencil case in the El Corte Ingles department store in Barcelona. A few weeks later, I gave that pencil case to a work colleague as a leaving present, when she decided to go to back to America. 

We were the only two people in the office who knew both who Buffy the Vampire Slayer was and that the show was fit viewing for adults, so a Hello Kitty pencil case seemed to be the obvious choice to give her to remember me by. Plus it was all I happened to have with me at her leaving do in the pub after work. God, remember when we used to do things like that? Another world...

A little bit later, I briefly played the Hello Kitty MMORPG,Hello Kitty Online, mostly out of spite. I wanted to be able to hit back at anyone who used it as a lazy diss to put down any other MMORPG they happened not to like, which was very much a trope of the early 'aughts. 

It's always a more effective put-down if you can open with "Have you actually played HKO? Because I have.

I don't think I ever did that, by the way, but I always thought I might. I guess it could still happen, but I doubt it. After all, I'm not a hot-tempered kid of forty any more.

Of course, the Hello Kitty game I really want to play is Hello Kitty Island Adventure, which is basically Hello Kitty meets Animal Crosssing as far as I can see. Unfortunately, that one is only available via Apple Arcade, which not only requires an iOS device capable of running the game but also charges a subscription. Never gonna happen.

Embers Adrift

Finally, a game you can play on the PC! Embers Adrift is one of those uphill in the snow both ways, retro "golden age" MMORPGs that were all the rage a few years ago, only it's one that both actually launched and hung around. I'm pretty sure it used to be called something else and there was probably some drama involved at some point but I neither remember the details nor care enough to go look them up.

The important part is that from the start of this month it's getting one of those endless free trials I like. The way I play, those might as well be free games. It's not like I often get much further than the starting zones in most MMORPGs, and anyway those are usually the best bits.

The devs also recently made some changes to the early stages that apparently mean you don't have to get a group before you can even take on a kill ten rats quest any more. Oh, it's still laser-focused on "Group-based Gameplay" with all the usual promises and reasons, but like just about every similar game ever, it has finally occured to someone that players occasionally either want or need to do stuff on their own, if only for the sake of their sanity. 

As the patch notes from a preparatory update for the free trial last month put it "A new solo loop has been added to the Meadowlands' Noxious Bog Ember Vein." Now, doesn't that sound inviting?

MOP reported back in January that the recent changes were just the beginning of a new approach to solo play in the game:

"“One of our primary goals in 2024 is to deliver more structured gameplay for those who begin their adventures alone,” the studio says. “We hope that by providing more tangible goals with meaningful rewards to solo adventurers they will stick around longer increasing the likelihood of forming a group to tackle a dungeon or complete a quest. To start the year off we are launching three new EV solo loops and our new Bulletin Board System!"

Amazing how every new developer has to re-invent the wheel, isn't it?

I don't know how well Embers Adrift is doing but generally these kinds of changes only come in response to either player demand or demographic decline. It seems the old school B2P + Sub payment model was the first thing to give. That would be a really hard sell in 2024. 

It's still $39.99 for the full game but the subscription is now one of those optional deals that give you perks of various kinds. A change like that wouldn't have moved the dial on my interest but the combination of not having to pay $40 plus the prospect of at least some content I might actually be able to see without having to make a whole bunch of new friends I'd never meet again did at least motivate me to bookmark the game to have a look at later. 

Op success for the Marketing Dept. I guess..

Tower of Fantasy

Aka the game I didn't play when everyone else was playing it because I was too busy playing Noah's Heart. So, if I didn't bother then, why would I consider it now?

This is why. The prospect of meeting Asuka, Shinji, Rai and the rest in a game is enticing - although I notice the promo only mentions Asuka by name. I guess she is everyone's favorite...

The crossover event begins on in exactly a week on 12 March but I'm unclear as to whether it will then become permanent content or if there's a date set after which it goes away. 

If it's the latter, I'll probably never get to try it but if it's staying for good then maybe I'll eventually find a window to take a look at a game I probably should have played already, anyway.

And that's all of them for now.  Not counting the games on my Steam wishlist I almost bought or the Prime games I almost downloaded. 

If I ever get around to trying any of them, I imagine you'll read about it here. Meanwhile, it's back to Nightingale.

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