Category: Now Playing

Now Playing: Tori Watch (iOS, Android)

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Do you like birds, but don’t want the mess and noise of having one as a pet?  Do you like birds, but don’t like sitting outside too often  to watch for them?  Well this Japanese app (game?) has solved these problems!  The app is still mostly in Japanese, but is available here. It’s called Tori Watch by ククリス・ゲームズ (Cuculis Games) and you can find it on the Google Play store and iTunes.

Even without reading Japanese many of the menus are easy to figure out.  You can upgrade the food items you feed them with to attract new types of birds.  There are info cards to tell you about them, but those are in Japanese.  Hopefully it will get translated to English someday, but until then here are some info cards I made myself.

Shawn’s Thoughts
First off, Katy’s images are fantastic! The in-game models are cute but I didn’t realize how spot on they were to the real birds until Katy put them side by side. Questioning if this is a game at all is also spot on but as the adorably translated description proclaims, “you can play it without any complicate action”. They know the score. Truthfully, the most challenging thing I’ve done is to keep my screen from timing out when new birds arrive.

Despite the simple nature of this “bird watching game to observe leisurely small birds”, it definitely follows modern mobile game design. Don’t worry, none of it involves microtransactions or hot sales on ‘Energy’, it’s supported by simple ad banners. Birds fly in, you get points. Like Katy said, you spend those points to upgrade your feed options or expand your park to accommodate more birds. There’s a journal with goals to shoot for (again, all in Japanese so I’m guessing stuff like “get a male and female on-screen at once”) but that’s about all you have to do.

It’s been a cute little diversion over the last few days and fun to poke around the Japanese menus to figure out how the game works.

ArcheAge Travelogue: Wet Work on the High Seas

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While the vast majority of ArcheAge’s underwater terrain is simply empty peaks and trenches, there’s loads to find down there. Oysters and abalone can be harvested for some quick gold and shipwrecks randomly spawn treasure chests that can be brought to the surface and salvaged. There’s a volcanic field of steam vents I haven’t been able to explore yet and plenty of high level enemies to skirt around or be slaughtered by. That probably explains why I keep finding long-lost trade packs at the bottom of the sea.

Unlucky trade runners get caught by seabug mobs or giant jellyfish and the pack they were hoping to sell overseas for a hefty profit or rare crafting materials slowly sinks as they respawn back on shore. That was apparently the case with this pack that took me a few attempts to drag out of enemy territory and swim to the surface. My boat has oxygen tanks but once you reach the trade pack you have to swap backpack items. Without breathing potions or buffs it’s always a frantic speed-swim to see if you can make it back to the surface before dying yourself.

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This one wasn’t too much of a problem to cash in. In less time than it would’ve taken to grow the ingredients to make these trade goods myself I brought it up, sailed to shore and rode it into town for a spot of gold.

ArcheAge Travelogue: Surprise! Free Money!

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The part of town in ArcheAge known as Vilanelle is ridiculously picturesque. It’s like walking into a traditional Japanese painting with huge, rounded mountain spires, stepped rice paddies, and deep red pagodas and temples dotted everywhere. I’d tried climbing those mountains in the beta with the basic glider and just ended up falling down a lot. But with my Ultimate Glider and some downtime between crop harvests I decided it was time to try again.

Hopping from one outcropping to another, using the glider’s upward boost ability to get some extra lift, I finally reached the top of a mountain. Naturally, all I found were other peoples crops. It costs money to have a farm of your own in ArcheAge so people will go out of their way to hide their secret gardens in what they think are remote locations. Trust me, I haven’t found a single corner in this game where there weren’t crops planted or other players dashing by, no matter how secluded it seems to be.

Anyways, I kept circling the edges up there, just looking to see what I could see, when my mouse cursor slid over something odd. It was too small on the horizon but the pop-up said ‘Falcorth Snowlion Yarn’. Surely people aren’t growing livestock up here too? I drew closer, aware that the item was on a pretty steep slope. Oh! It’s a trade pack of Snowlion Yarn! I looked around for a while, expecting the owner to come bounding down the mountaintop as well, but no one ever showed. Maybe they were trying to transport it on an airship and fell to their death, leaving the pack behind when they respawned. Where the tooltip would normally say the owner’s name it only said ‘Free Loot’ or ‘Free Goods’, something like that.

With Katy standing by in case I also fell and died, I managed my way down the mountain and rode the pack over another map to turn it in for 4 gold. That money will go towards replacing the trade pack that was stolen from my dead body when we were trying to finish our large farm. It was a heartbreaking ambush I wish I’d handled better. I may not tell that story. Anyways, it all worked out… except for whoever made the Snowlion Yarn. Sorry about that.

ArcheAge Travelogue: Seabugs & Soaked Packs

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That’s… a lot of skills

Much of what brought me to ArcheAge is the stuff you see above. I’m not into 50-man raids or guild meetings or PvP; I’m into crafting, farming, and other less glamorous pursuits. Once I reached the Blue Salt Brotherhood — the NPC characters that embody most of these skills — I focused almost solely on their quests. Not only do they reward you with designs for your own farm plots, they open up the arduous, terrifying and frequently boring art of trade runs. This is probably what most of my posts on ArcheAge will be about.

I’m no MMO player but I think the trading mechanic is unique to ArcheAge. It requires you to grow or gather all the ingredients for a regional specialty, trek to a specific crafting station and then slowly transport the final product to a remote buyer. The first two trade quests are pretty easy and let you get used to the process. The third run sends you across the PvP ocean into rival faction territory to make the sale. Last week we were finally ready to brave the open waters with our heavy packs in tow.

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Katy and I patiently awaiting our watery demise

That same day we had met another adventurous couple that were several levels higher than us who offered to go along. Carrying a trade pack means you move at a snail’s pace and can’t attack unless you drop it on the ground (making it fair game for anyone to grab). Companions are always helpful… even though none of us on this trip had a ship bigger than a rowboat.

The first obstacle we ran into were seabugs, big mid-30’s mobs spread out in front of us like World War II floating mines. It wiped out our companions and I but Katy was somehow immune and carried on rowing the boat. Meanwhile, my pack was sinking to the ocean floor and I was spawned way back where we started. I swam to the gravesite marked on my map and after a few lung-emptying dives I spotted my pack! We were back in action, now spread all over the sea trying to find a way through the seabugs. I kept going more north than west and started circling around an ominous isle topped by dark clouds and lightning… and more seabugs.

The bugs soon became the least of my worries as more and more clipper ships floated by. I caught the attention of the second guy and he swung my way but despawned his ship on accident. He was now keeping pace in a rowboat of his own. I thought my eloquent plea of “please no?” would be enough but even my explanation of earlier tribulations wasn’t swaying him. I veered around some outcroppings and lost sight of him when I ran into another clipper ship, this one much closer.

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There’s just no reasoning with some folks

The captain of the ‘Good Ship Griefer’ used some spell to pull me out of my rowboat and leave me waffling in the water. I decided this could only go one way for me so I dove as fast and far as possible, hoping to put my pack out of reach without risking his own life. Respawning all the way back where we started (again), I resigned this trade run to the history books and tried to keep up with what Katy was doing. She was piloting one of our companions rowboats which eventually despawned, leaving her even more vulnerable as she swam through the ocean. With the goal slowly drawing nearer it was a giant level 50 jellyfish that took her out in two swipes.

Trade runs, everybody. They’re hilarious and heartbreaking and definitely something I’ve never experienced in a game before. It’s like Animal Crossing with tension; like if one of your villagers could viciously destroy you on your way to pay off Tom Nook. There are surely more stories of epic calamity to follow.

I’m not trying to be one of the dicks I’ve seen in ArcheAge forum posts, but…

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I am starting to get worn down by the problems of this ArcheAge head start.  If this is what it’s like now, before the game is even open to the non-subscriber public, what will it be like on the 17th when the gates are really open?   I am unable to even login this morning which gives me time to write this when I would much rather be checking my crops.

I am new to MMOs so I assumed all the queuing, the authentication errors, failed logins and infinitely looping intro movie were normal for a brand new game. I figured Trion World does Rift and other mmos, so surely they are prepared.  I asked seasoned mmo players if 20 minute queues were normal for a paying member  at launch and found out they really aren’t. A friend said they were there for Rift’s launch and it was nothing like this.

I paid $50 for this game and the times I can get logged in to play it I feel it’s absolutely worth the money. I have already had $10 worth of fun since last Friday which I hope won’t be ruined when the official launch starts. I’m playing with online friends I really like that I don’t always get to team up with, plus my husband who I work well with in game (and out obviously).  There are so many routes a player can take in this game that from what I have heard are unique for an mmo.  I am leaning towards the gardening and crafting with a bit of trading.

I am sad that some people rushed to grab land so now many of us who were trying to take it gradually have nowhere to place a house. I have read that some guilds bought land up on purpose to resell or reserve for their guild or something, but as we know, most people are dicks, online doubly so.

I am able to login now, so that’s all I will say, at least until the official release.  PS We have a GameLuv guild as of last night “Gameluv dot com”