R2, Glitch’s second round of housing test releases, receives the highest review I can give to anything ever. As both a New Englander and a baseball fan, R2 was shiny and interesting enough to make me miss most of the middle innings of Daniel Bard’s first career start. And when I finally looked back over at the TV to realize we were getting our asses handed to us by Toronto, my reaction was rather bland, consisting entirely of hitting the mute button and looking back at the computer.
One might think the fact the Red Sox were losing makes the R2 distraction less impressive, but no, bitching about the Sox when they are losing is more to the core of Red Sox fandom than cheering when they win.
Anywho, I didn’t waste a lot of time decorating the interior as there is only about one more week left until imagination releases and the test houses reset. Decorating my virtual home is something I certainly expect to do—I’m a big fan of online games with mechanics that allow individuality and creativity—but it’s something I expect to do slowly, and at first my emphasis will be on the practical rather than the cosmetic. I will want storage boxes, 40 or 50 give or take 100, and then I’ll begin to slowly pick out items and designs that feel right for me.
Even in this test version, there are some potentially awesome combinations of exterior backgrounds and home designs, which will certainly make the Grand Circuit Tour of Ur more interesting. Here’s a quick tour I took this morning, starting with my own street and then running through those of few friends:
The options are finite, of course, but there’s already enough in this test version that I have not yet run into identical homes on identical backgrounds. Even more options are planned and should be available at launch. All of this customizing has zero-effect on game play; however, custom cultivation of our land, the ability to place various resource nodes, some of which are visible in the above pictures, will end up changing the difficulty of obtaining some resources and modifying how many play the game. I can see the cultivation mechanics coming into play with group-owned locations later, and I see interesting potential implications for cultivation projects on public streets that upgrade, add to, or change existing resources. Imagination aside, just the cultivation mechanics alone are going to be reusable for other planned releases, and that’s a good thing.
My biggest concern, once I had my hands on the new content and got things all purdy, was the addition of a lifespan to our home street resources. I admit I was a bit freaked out, concerned for the future of our resource routes, and tempted to go into the forums and create a post with a title like “Tell me what happens when lifespan runs out NAO you potentially evil goats.” But that’s not my style (ok, it’s close, but not quite), so instead I searched through the release thread, reading staff posts, until I found one where bees! said something along the lines of “lifespan will run out, and the resource will need love to work again, keep using the resource and see what happens.”
Fair enough. Well except for the implication I should patiently wait for the lifespan to run down — I did not want to go to bed without knowing what would happen. I called upon the power of Global Chat, as well as Game of Crowns and PBMS chats, and recruited as many players to come by and help harvest my bubble tree as were willing. And then we bribed some players so they’d be more willing, and finally, within a single game day, we managed to get the tree down to 0%.
And then: nothing. I managed to find one more volunteer, but he was able to harvest the tree normally. I was at a loss — I commented to Scarlett (Housing Resource Route founder) that perhaps there was a mistake and that mechanic was not part of the test, perhaps bees! was only partially correct in his forum post that inspired my frantic experiment.
But then a wonderfully sharp Glitch named Grelca postulated that perhaps it was the patch that had worn down and not the tree. After headdesking a few times to punish myself for an unusual bout of incredibly linear thinking (my least favorite thing in the world), I grabbed some tree poison, killed and chopped my bubble tree, and sure enough, the patch was demanding 40 beans to be rejuvenated before it would let me replant.
The great news is that the housing routes, at least when it comes to trees, will live on. There’s still some question about whether the other routes Scarlett was planning will work — I’m not sure yet what happens when the lifespan of the non-tree resources is gone.
There’s a downside, however, that didn’t occur to me until this morning but will hopefully be balanced out if it becomes an issue. Right now it only takes one or two determined players to grief entire resource routes, poisoning tons of trees over a short period of time with few controls. While patch projects might prevent them from replacing what they kill, the projects might actually make it more amusing, for the griefers I mean, to poison trees. Now instead of just costing a bit of time and a small amount of resources to create a seasoned bean and plant a new tree, there will be a significantly larger resource drain. The griefers could previously only annoy, and not well at that, so it was easy enough to simply not let them bother me and, occasionally, laugh at those that think they’re bothering me. So I’m not an attractive target, and on at least one occasion, I frustrated the griefer enough that he actually got annoyed and left. Good times.
But now that same griefer doesn’t need to annoy me to know that he’s causing me issues. Just poisoning my tree will cost me more resources to replace than it did before, and with the possibility that the cost of these projects will increase at launch, the griefer can feel confident that he has actually set me back not just time but also resources, and my only possible defense is to be present when the tree poisoning happens.
There’s some balancing that needs to happen with poisonings, at least on home streets, and sooner rather than later I’d hope. I’m not from the school of thought that thinks players should simply not be able to poison trees on my home street — actually, I appreciate that players can choose to misbehave in a sandbox as that makes it easier for me to figure out whom I do not want as a friend. I just want more weapons at my disposal to prevent that griefing, or a hard limit on the amount of poisoning players can do on streets that don’t belong to them. Either or.
Next up in the world of Glitch, the death of old housing and XP, the birth of new housing and imagination. Excellent.