Saturday, August 1, 2009

30 games in 30 days.... Day #1: Eets Demo

So, I've decided to mix things up a bit and force myself to play more games.

Specifically, I've decided to try and play (and blog about) a game a day for the entire month of August. I'll be traveling a bunch (for work and play) so it will be a challenge. My approach is as follows:
  • Start creating a spreadsheet of games I have lying around that need to be played.
  • Hit various PC platforms and portals so I can play games on the road.
  • Play trial versions when necessary. Obviously if I like the game and it's at the right price point I'd buy it. But if it doesn't convert me, then that's OK, too.
Day #1: I installed Steam on my laptop (I already have an account and have purchased various games using Steam) and surfed the list of "casual" games. I sorted by "Top Rated" and found Eets. I downloaded the demo and...

The demo was short (less than 10 mins) and left me unconvinced it was going to be worth $19.99 (the price I paid for Plants vs. Zombies).

Usability issues are mostly minor quibbles:
  • Hard to tell what primary action buttons are some times (modal windows did NOT appear modal; it was unclear which options were slectable; primary action buttons did not stand out clearly). For instance, usually I was instructed to "Close Window" as opposed to "Continue Playing".
  • Game screen appeared cluttered even during the first few puzzles. It was hard to tell where my guy was, which objects were interactive, and which objects were repositionable (or even if there were any repositionable items).
  • Once you started a game (pressed "Play") you could no longer see the items that were available to you. This caused a couple of problems: (1) you could start the sim and not realize that you had other items to play with, making you unsure how to complete the puzzle; and (2) you had a tougher time reverse engineering how to complete the level because you couldn't see what tools were available to you when your guy got stuck or killed.
  • I actually got stuck on the 3rd level because I couldn't deduce one of the key powers of one of the puzzle elements: The Ginseng Factory. The helptext was vague, and when I used it experimentally it did not provide useful feedback. As it turns out, I have no idea what shooting my guy once or twice with this device does... But if I shoot him a third time he'll get pissed off and run and jump farther than he normally does for a while. Hmm.
  • I don't get the Exploding Giant Marshmallows. They seem to destroy everything in the game -- but they don't harm my guy. Just seems silly.
After playing 6 boards I just couldn't judge whether this would be fun enough to continue playing -- and paying for.

Notice that if this were an XBLA game that a bunch of my friends were playing, were placed at the $10 price point, and had a reasonable set of Achievements I probably would have picked it up. The social network benefits (can see what friends played it; compare progress against them; add to my Gamerscore) really influence my spending on "bite size" games. Of course, they also influence my platform of choice for cross-platform games, too.

I wonder if I would do more Steam gaming if there were some platform-wide achievements and a Gamerscore equivalent? To be effective, it would probably have to be tied into my Facebook account via an app so that I could compare against friends and discover new content through them as well.

And there you have it. Day #1. Game #1. Post #1.

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