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December 25, 2013 11:56 AM   Subscribe

The Year of the Crush: How the Radically Unfair Candy Crush Saga Took Over Our Lives We are clearly drawn to structured entanglements with chance. We use rules and money to define the stakes, and we use cards or dice or candies not as generators but as channelers — mediums — of the chance we believe is already out there, secretly running the show. Despite whatever other beliefs we have about fate or God or a deterministic universe, we often act as if luck is quite real in our daily lives. Candy Crush Saga has capitalized on this to become the mobile game of the year. Not the best, nor the worst, but the mobile game that dominated the charts, that succeeded at free-to-play in a way that will be studied for years, that penetrated the wider culture and came to stand in for all of addictive, time-wasting mobile gaming in 2013. And yet Candy Crush is not simply game of the year in the way that Stalin was once Time’s Person of the Year. It’s a genuinely compelling game that fully commits to radical unfairness. In fact, this is the primary source of its appeal.
posted by Room 641-A (138 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I un-installed it from my phone once I realized it was a diabolical version of Bejeweled that inspired anti-social behavior. Also I was dreaming about boosts.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:06 PM on December 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, it was around the time that Peggle came out that I got this sense that this was a genre of games I should just let pass. I haven't seen an awful lot to change my mind on that point.
posted by JHarris at 12:07 PM on December 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I spend far too much time on my phone just browsing the Internet as is, so I'm glad that candy crush and its ilk don't appeal to me.
posted by knapah at 12:11 PM on December 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only time I play candy crush saga is when I'm on the subway (without internet for web browsing) and I need to play something with one hand (because I'm holding onto the pole or something). Anyone have a good alternative?
posted by yeoz at 12:13 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"It’s a genuinely compelling game that fully commits to radical unfairness. In fact, this is the primary source of its appeal."

I guess it's like gambling, then - people keep telling me it's addictive or compelling or interesting in some way or other, but I (and many others) just don't see it, at all.
posted by Dysk at 12:13 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This overlaps onto work and personal interest areas, and I spent a day solid some time back playing CCS and exploring, thinking about how it works, the incentives and persuasions (not quite the same) to proceed, retry a failed level, and purchase items, and the depth of various satisfactions. Ended up applauding the balances within the design game. It's like Halo, when it came out; nothing inside CCS/Halo was original - it was just the combination of these things made it the superior, more compelling and satisfying game within its genre.
posted by Wordshore at 12:15 PM on December 25, 2013


Maybe it's because I haven't been on facebook for a while, but I seem to have missed all those games like Bejewelled. I discovered this after I became pretty burned out on iOS games, and I have to admit that for a while I didn't think much of paying a dollar or two a month for the hours of ongoing game play. Now I've been stuck on level 181 for a while but I'm not really motivated to keep going.

Like all my recent time sucks that have been yanked from me (Reader and Glitch, in particular) I'm genuinely relieved to have an outside force that can give me back a little bit of time.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:15 PM on December 25, 2013


I was totally addicted to candy crush, to the point where I even considered paying for boosts - at which point I knew I needed to take it off my phone. As soon as I did so, the game instantly lost all appeal.
posted by lunasol at 12:23 PM on December 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


yeoz: The only time I play candy crush saga is when I'm on the subway (without internet for web browsing) and I need to play something with one hand (because I'm holding onto the pole or something). Anyone have a good alternative?

I've avoided Candy Crush, but get my subway fix with Dots, Tiny Wings and Strategery (iTunes links).
posted by frijole at 12:26 PM on December 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you have ten dollars to spare, might I suggest the iOS version of the amazing board game Agricola? It's $8, but you'll want to get the I and K decks for only $1 more each. At the moment, that and Crosswords are basically what I do on my iPad.
posted by JHarris at 12:28 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It passes the time. I never give them any money and I never share any of their shit with anyone else. I just play the challenges and wait for the next bit to come free. I really don't understand why people find it so hard to control their damned selves.
posted by Decani at 12:29 PM on December 25, 2013 [19 favorites]


I took it off my phone when I realized I was jerking myself out of a doze because the half-hour timer was up and I had another life to spend. But I still play it on Facebook - I find that sort of game useful for hitting a creative flow state. (Also I spend a lot of time staring at the computer in general.)

I find the randomness really interesting, in that I tend to dislike it but not enough to make me stop playing. It really is a slot machine mentality. Quite a few articles have gone on about the fact that 80% of the people who have reached the end of the existing content have done so without paying for it and therefore "skill" really does count, but I don't think there's much of a skill component at all. It's just patience and stubbornness.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:31 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone beat me to it but yeah, Dots. Warning though, it's a battery killer.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:32 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Quite a few articles have gone on about the fact that 80% of the people who have reached the end of the existing content have done so without paying for it and therefore "skill" really does count

I don't think that necessarily follows, that statistic can easily be misleading. There are ways the numbers could line up there that exclude skill -- there's probably far far more free players than paying, for instance, and that could easily result in the described ratio. Simply, those 80% are getting through to the ending through persistence and/or luck.
posted by JHarris at 12:35 PM on December 25, 2013


Super Hexagon.

No bullshit. But it will redefine the meaning of frustration for you...
posted by schmod at 12:38 PM on December 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I enjoyed it but trashed it once it got too hard for me. My gaming incompetence makes me me immune to addiction.
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 12:41 PM on December 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Super Hexagon.

Last time I checked it was on sale in the Steam store, but much of Steam appears to be down at the moment. I got it yesterday and it looks great, but it was a little too vertigo-inducing for me.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:43 PM on December 25, 2013


At the moment, that and Crosswords are basically what I do on my iPad.

Crosswords may be the best money I've ever spent on a game, figuring on money spent vs. time playing. Runners-up: Civilization Revolution and Solebon Solitaire. CivRev has gotten me through a fair number of long-ass flights. The kids also glommed on to Civ, and for a while, the house was awash in people exclaiming "BEE-Bo!" at random times.

I did Bejeweled for awhile, but have managed to avoid Candy Crush so far. Maybe I need to take a peek at it. You know, just through the holidays while things are sort of slow.
posted by jquinby at 1:00 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NYT Crossword, and Words With Friends. Not gambling, social, few in-app offers, just a huge time sink.
posted by chavenet at 1:08 PM on December 25, 2013


Stalin? Surely you mean Hitler?

not a Godwin
posted by acb at 1:10 PM on December 25, 2013


Super Hexagon.

Pretty much the platonic form of a video game.
posted by straight at 1:11 PM on December 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


The demo for Bejeweled Blitz only lets you play the game ten times a day.

Little did they know, I would have paid $20 for a version of Bejeweled that only lets you play ten times a day.
posted by straight at 1:12 PM on December 25, 2013 [24 favorites]


As an FYI, Skulls of the Shogun is free until tomorrow on the app store if anyone would prefer some turn based tactical samurai action over candy. It's a great escape from family togtherness today.
posted by honestcoyote at 1:15 PM on December 25, 2013


My only experience with games like these was Angry Birds; I was on vacation with my wife and parents, played the hell out of it for two weeks and then my brain told me to put it down and never pick it up again.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:22 PM on December 25, 2013


I am extremely irritated at Clumsy Ninja. Suddenly at L50 you get the command "Master all remaining items." Wut? It could take weeks to get to the next level, which apparently is where the real game begins.

I am continually irritated at Real Racing 3. They keep adding new challenges that increase your need to purchase freemiums. And then they keep taunting you with offers of 50% discounts on expensive cars like the Bugatti Veyron that you won't be able to unlock for months, let alone purchase them at a half-off deal down from $1.2M. But worst of all is their new live multiplayer mode. Every damn game, I take off down the starting lane, I'm in the lead, and then the other cars pass me at 300MPH, sideswiping me and knocking me out of the race, I can never catch up. Must be some kind of game lag, but this multiplayer thing just does not work.

The demo for Bejeweled Blitz only lets you play the game ten times a day.

I never paid for anything and I get unlimited play.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:28 PM on December 25, 2013


(that's Bejeweled Blitz on PC, not the online / phone version.)
posted by straight at 1:35 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stalin? Surely you mean Hitler?

Joe was Man of the Year in 1940.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:51 PM on December 25, 2013


...and '42. And as far as we know CCS has yet to sign a non aggression pact with anyone. Hence the difference.
posted by vbfg at 1:55 PM on December 25, 2013


Asphalt 8 is a good free racing game, which I haven't felt any need to pay anything for yet. I got bejeweled Blitz on my iPad for free as well, though it was a while ago.
posted by Windopaene at 2:21 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am so glad I have never, not once, played a game like this.
Or any game on my phone.

I seem happier. And perhaps a little smug.
posted by Mezentian at 2:22 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's no Alpaca Evolution. Mobile Game Of The Year and not a microtransaction in sight. Just alpacas. And things that used to be alpacas.
posted by emmtee at 2:24 PM on December 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


In the world of game economics what still bugs me the most is only getting three balls for a quarter.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:30 PM on December 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


One great thing about Windows Phone is that it doesn't have Candy Crush, yet. It's also one of the worst things about Windows Phone.

Disney's Frozen Free Fall is the best approximation of Candy Crush on WP8 and Windows 8. And, God help me, I'm addicted to it. For now.

Also- damn, but Hill Climb Racing (which is, like every game I deign to play now, on WP8/W8) is a blast. I bought coins to get rid of ads and because the damn Kiddie Train was costing me hours of grinding to upgrade, but once it's fully upgraded it does ridiculous, amazing things.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:32 PM on December 25, 2013


I hate Candy Crush, not because of the chance element, but because the chance isn't a fair chance, or even a transparent chance, but rather something which has been fine tuned to extract money. It's like a less fun version of a slot machine with a 100% payout to the house. No thank you.

On the other hand, Craps is nearly entirely chance (aside from a few optimal moves which represent more or less the extent of the strategy available to the player), but it's actually fun because you interact with other players, and all of the odds are clearly visible to the players at all times. You can take a garbage 12:1 bet in the center of the felt, but you know that it's a garbage bet. Craps is one of my favorite games, largely because it's such a charming expression of chance, and it gives you a chance to ride that particular wave with a bunch of other people similarly invested in the outcome of the rolls.

The downside is that, of course, Craps is pretty fucking expensive to play even with a low stake pass line. But I play one or two times a year, and I love it.

Ironically, if there was a version of Candy Crush that stripped all of the monetized elements from the game, I would probably pay up to 10 dollars for it. I think that this article is selling casual gamers short, in that regard, because my Mom's favorite games are all of the Pop-Cap stuff that provides a fair mix of chance and skill (like Bookworm adventures).

The only time I play candy crush saga is when I'm on the subway (without internet for web browsing) and I need to play something with one hand (because I'm holding onto the pole or something). Anyone have a good alternative?

Androminion, if you have an Android phone, is a stripped down version of the deck building game Dominion, which is probably one of the best designed games I've ever played. It takes a few minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master. Only downside is that you're playing against bots who, at best, employ pretty basic strategies.
posted by codacorolla at 2:38 PM on December 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


CCS is so well designed that it even takes into account when you're fed up with it.

I left it for a couple of days after playing it for weeks constantly and voila, the first time I tried that hard level again it suddenly gave up all resistance and let me pass effortlessly. For science I waited another couple of days and the same thing happened again.

Skill doesn't matter even one little bit in this game and that realization made me stop playing it altogether.
posted by Kosmob0t at 2:38 PM on December 25, 2013 [20 favorites]


I did Bejeweled for awhile, but have managed to avoid Candy Crush so far. Maybe I need to take a peek at it. You know, just through the holidays while things are sort of slow.

DON'T DO IT! IT'S THE DEVIL! IT'S WORSE THAN HEROIN! DON'T DO IT! FRIENDS DON'T LET FREINDS PLAY CANDY CRUSH!

(ah...but getting two color bombs together...oh it's so so sweet it makes it all worthwhile...come to the dark side of the force, luke...)


I need to play something with one hand (because I'm holding onto the pole or something). Anyone have a good alternative?

Tiny Death Star is fun...like a pixel-art mini 'Sims' where Darth Vader and the Emperor have decided to finance the Death Star...by opening a mall. It's super-cute.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:41 PM on December 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


My favorite game is Bookworm. It's similar to CSS and Collapse in terms of being a solitary and "random" game, but instead of matching colors, you're looking for words. I like to tell myself it adds a bit of intellectual depth to an otherwise mindless way of killing time.
posted by monospace at 2:41 PM on December 25, 2013


I hate games. I hate losing, and in many games it's a question of when, not if you lose. When I want to waste time, I play Scrabble against the phone, with the level of my opponent set to "downright stupid." I do crosswords because I can solve the puzzle. I liked Myst because you could get to the end, and the same for The Room. You know how Grantland Rice said,
For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name,
He marks – not that you won or lost – but how you played the Game
I'm only with him metaphorically. If it's a game with a lowercase "g," I want to win.
posted by Peach at 2:49 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hate games. I hate losing, and in many games it's a question of when, not if you lose.

This is why I like games like Diablo 2. Death has some consequences, but nothing that really fucks you up.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:11 PM on December 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


OK, so I installed it and got past the first few jelly levels, then the first few where you had to move the cherries and whatnot down to the bottom. Then it told me I had to wait 8 minutes before playing again and I was all NOPE NOPE NOPE and I chucked it.
posted by jquinby at 3:12 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had the same reaction to CCS that I had to Lost. I perceived within the first ten minutes that it was going to demand an investment that it could never hope to repay, deemed it horseshit, and moved along.
posted by damehex at 3:15 PM on December 25, 2013 [16 favorites]


CSS never got me, thankfully.
A bunch of compelling one-handers: ASYNC Corp, Ending, Monospace, Edge and (the quite ancient) Flowerz. But more than any other, Letterpress has really lasted with me (am I a minority in this?), though I always pass the first turn now, to keep it a little more challenging.
posted by progosk at 3:16 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's why I like Bethesda's big sandboxy games Peach. "Hmmm, drive the plot or, oh, hey, here's an interesting ruin I could explore!" Thanks to downloadable content I may NEVER finish New Vegas.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:18 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, so I installed it and got past the first few jelly levels, then the first few where you had to move the cherries and whatnot down to the bottom. Then it told me I had to wait 8 minutes before playing again and I was all NOPE NOPE NOPE and I chucked it.

Oh yeah, because that will stop you from going back to it.
one of us...one of us...
posted by sexyrobot at 3:18 PM on December 25, 2013


The only time I play candy crush saga is when I'm on the subway (without internet for web browsing) and I need to play something with one hand (because I'm holding onto the pole or something). Anyone have a good alternative?

Despite a month-long flirtation with Dots, my subway game of choice is Jordan Mechner's mobile port of Grid Runner. As a bonus, tipping your phone into landscape mode lets you play the original C64 version.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 3:19 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, let me out myself as really liking candy crush. I'm not actually sure what boosts are, but I seem to have made it a decent way in without knowing that?
posted by gaspode at 3:20 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ridiculous Fishing is my favorite go to for an idle moment (even still, though other iOS games are starting to creep in as I've long since 100%'d it). It has all the right gameplay hooks for those idle-distraction type games, but none of the "pay for advancement" perniciousness.

Also, it's funny and has a weirdly moving story and great visuals and mechanics.
posted by sparkletone at 3:46 PM on December 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


The most insidious mobile game I've seen has got to be EA's Sims FreePlay. It's a beautiful tablet port of the newer Sims games, with full 3D, intuitive controls, and full-featured gameplay. It seems ideal... until you discover that your Sims, Tamagotchi-like, perform all their actions in real time. Wanna shower? That'll take ten minutes. Watch TV? Half an hour. And sleeping will take them out of commission for six to eight hours.

You can fast through these restrictions, of course. Oh yes. If you pay for the points needed to do so.

Totally evil.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:53 PM on December 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


The probable latest version of Bejeweled - butterflies mode is my soothing small-bright-objects-exploding game of choice. You really can get into a flow state pretty well, but not as well as Tiny Wings.

When your bird falls short in TW, it gently falls asleep and is available to play again when you summon dawn. When your butterfly is captured by the spider with a martial flourish and a squeak of terror, it's really depressing. I tend to restart once I see my butterfly has no chance of escaping. If they changed this, they'd have a much more engrossing game.
posted by maudlin at 4:03 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tend to reserve candy crush saga for plane rides. Conveniently, this allows a bunch of lives to build up from friends who play a lot more regularly than me.
posted by arcticseal at 4:04 PM on December 25, 2013


The day I deleted Candy Crush from my iPod was one of the best days of the year. FREE FREE I'M FREEEEEE!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:13 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this one of those things I'd need to have a TV computer smartphone power supply to understand?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:17 PM on December 25, 2013


Time waster favs of mine are Helsing's Fire, Catch 22 (slow paced; frustrating), Tiny Wings, Ridiculous Fishing, and Synesthetic (if I have headphones). Ones with story though are my preferred games, like Sword and Sworcery, Shardlands, and Waking Mars.
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:18 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I try to tell myself I'm not really addicted to Candy Crush, since I won't pay anything for it and I won't share or even link to facebook with it. But once I discovered that all you have to do to keep playing is reset the clock on your device a day ahead, then switch back once you've clocked in with all your lives back, I was pretty much hooked for good. (I am so ashamed)
posted by Mchelly at 4:28 PM on December 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I really don't understand why people find it so hard to control their damned selves.

Yes, dear, you're very clever.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:38 PM on December 25, 2013 [32 favorites]


Sometimes I need something that's mindless. Candy crush works for that.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:44 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't think lack of control is a bit of an issue?
I do. People these days don't even seem to be able to sit through a movie or TV show without resorting to checking Facebook every 10 minutes, or responding to a request from Words With Friends.
posted by Mezentian at 4:45 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hate games. I hate losing, and in many games it's a question of when, not if you lose.

Maybe this why I dislike games. Well, that and the feeling of being constrained by rules in the name of having fun. Myst was the only computer game I ever had an ounce of patience for and I can count on one hand then number of non-computer games I actually have the patience to play. (I was the kid who picked flowers in the baseball outfield.) OTOH, I can waste the fuck out of time on Twitter.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:50 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really don't understand why Candy Crush gets all the attention/vitriol -- Jewel Mania has far better gameplay. I only play CCS when I'm waiting for my Jewel Mania lives to recharge and I haven't gotten my fill of Bejeweledness.
posted by bjrubble at 4:55 PM on December 25, 2013


Tiny Death Star is fun...like a pixel-art mini 'Sims' where Darth Vader and the Emperor have decided to finance the Death Star...by opening a mall.

It is indeed, although if you are OK giving up the Star Wars trappings, Tiny Tower is the exact same thing only faster and thus less reliant on buying currency to speed up the gameplay.
posted by Copronymus at 5:00 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Candy Crush is pretty much exactly what I'm talking about whenever I complain about games that are addictive instead of fun, or games with abusive microtransaction models. This is why I always think it's important to check out free-to-play games carefully before you play them, maybe even more carefully than regular ones - getting addicted to an intentionally misdesigned game and/or wasting money in a microtransaction store is much worse than just spending some money to buy a regular game in the first place.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:17 PM on December 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Many games are rightly criticized as power fantasies, but almost all video games share a more common fantasy — a fairness fantasy. If you work hard, improve yourself (or your character), or just put in the time, you will be rewarded. It’s the video-game version of the American Dream. Games are designed to be fundamentally winnable through player efforts. Equal access isn’t granted to all skill sets, but you can be sure that the puzzles will have solutions, that choices can be optimized and sacrifices will be rare (since games are so fussy about being balanced), and that 100 percent completion is, if difficult, at least theoretically achievable with enough practice. If a game is ever cheap or unfair, this is a cardinal sin, a provocation to rage-quit, for the entire system is predicated on the understanding that gaming is a hermetically sealed bubble of justice. Within this bubble, players are closet deists. And their gods are always fair.
One thing I always liked about Crusader Kings II, which I posted an FPP about not long ago, was its basic unfairness. In it, you can play as any aristocrat above a certain level in Europe, which means you can play as a lowly Andalusian sheik or as the Emperor in Constantinople. Aside from the differences arising from how much land and what kinds of land they rule, each character is distinguished by their abilities: That sheik may pull new money from behind his courtiers' ears; that emperor may not know which end of the sword to hold. And besides that, each character has a different family, a different relationship to all the other characters, a different set of land claims and natural ambitions, and on and on and on.

In short, the game is impossible to balance in the way that the quoted paragraph criticizes. You might not be able to fight or finagle your way up the ladder. You might be the Queen of France, and your son and heir might be the genius of his age, but that won't stop the engine from bringing a plague to Paris that kills him, leaving his drooling idiot of a brother to wait for the crown. Often, players got around such acts of God by saving often and reloading when calamity struck, but a recent update made available an Ironman mode, which prevents this kind of trick by disallowing manual saves, autosaving often, and deleting old saves when autosaving.

I think this mode increases the thrill of the game, because dead heirs stay dead and lost territory stays lost. You play much more conservatively, because one rebellion at the wrong moment could take all your power, and then all your work will have been for nothing.

As you might imagine, Crusader Kings II looks nothing like Candy Crush. It looks like, and to some extent is, a game for those insular core gamers who don't like games of chance. But it trades on the same thrill of good and bad fortune, and this has kept me addicted to it since I started playing. I hope more "core" games give the style a shot.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:22 PM on December 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


there are other games apart from Dope Wars?
posted by scruss at 6:01 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The game I play in the subway using only one hand (while the other hand is holding on to a pole for my dear life) is Orbital. Bonus: I find that I can still concentrate on listening to audiobooks or podcasts while playing this game.
posted by applesurf at 6:29 PM on December 25, 2013


I found CCS very addictive, but refused to pay or spam friends, so I got to a point that seemed like a hard barrier - they wouldn't let me proceed to the next level without spamming people on Facebook. Maybe there was a way around that, but I deleted it from my phone at that point.

Then recently I found "Sweet Mania", which is basically a clone of CCS, but without any restrictions. You can retry each level as often as you want, and don't have to spam anyone or link to facebook or anything. There are boosts available for money, but you also get one free boost a day. Weirdly, I DON'T find it as addictive as CCS, and I think it is because I can play it as often as I like, and so I get bored of it after a bit.
posted by lollusc at 6:34 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Same here. I enjoyed up to the point that I realized it was designed to make you pay to proceed. At that point I deleted it with extreme prejudice. I guess I'm not their target audience.
posted by sweet mister at 6:46 PM on December 25, 2013


"Intermittent reward" has probably worked since prehistory. It's formally possible people nowadays are more susceptible, I guess, but I wouldn't believe something like that without more than a personal anecdote or hunch.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:35 PM on December 25, 2013


Good for you and your friends, lollusc, that you drew the line at spamming them.

I consistently disallowed games to notify me on FB about anything and one friend (childhood acquaintance I've known for 30 years) kept playing CCS and spamming me.

So, I unfriended her.

I draw the line at "friends" who play games that demand my attention in order for them to play!
posted by mistersquid at 7:53 PM on December 25, 2013


I don't think that CCS has pay to win. I tried buying powerups and they're almost always basically useless. The only time I've paid anything is to unlock sets of levels and to get more lives (and that was only when I was basically bedridden last weekend after getting my wisdom teeth pulled).

To me, spending $1 to get a set of levels is fine for a game as well designed as this -- i'll spend a lot of time trying to beat the set, and there's always new wrinkles and challenges. I've spent more money on traditional games I've had less fun playing.
posted by empath at 7:56 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ramin Shokrizade's look at the top monetisation techniques in the free-to-play space (MeFi discussion) made some points about Candy Crush Saga and had a disquieting conclusion:
"While it is possible to make commercially competitive games without using coercive methods, this is a lot more work. In the current market, especially with most adults and children not familiar with the nature of these products, the environment is still ripe for fast profits, and likely will continue to be so for a few more years."
posted by Asimo at 9:17 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"This isn’t chess, where mastery comes from predicting so many moves ahead. You can’t calculate all the possibilities because there are simply too many interacting parts and you never know what random candies will fall from the top."

Actually, yes, you can predict about 2 1/2 moves ahead, and a good many of the possibilities are in fact redundant. As for the random distribution of new candies, that often resolves into stochastics performed in parallel. Unfortunately, this only improves your game with the barest of an advantage, much like knowing not to play the hard ways in craps.
posted by Ardiril at 9:42 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am fine with games that rely to a certain degree of randomness- I have been playing Elder Sign: Omens with great intensity since I got it. It's very close to the original board game, but there's quite a bit of dice rolling and even if I build the best team and send them up on the exact adventures that match their perks, I can lose. I've lost to Yig slowly and painfully and beaten Cthulhu quickly. I have a couple of Bejeweled knock offs on my phone. I play them on the subway when I want something completely mindless. But I like my slot machine simulators to be fun, rather than addictive. When I lose in Nyarlathotep's pyramid, that's one thing. When the pieces don't line up because the RNG hates me and the programmer is trying to squeeze another buck out of me, well, there's a reason I will never play this game.
posted by Hactar at 9:47 PM on December 25, 2013


I finally made it to level 201 (where did my life go) just the other day....all of it without paying a dime. Took me like a year though.

you guys do know about the trick to getting full lives instantly? When you lose all of your lives, go to your phone settings and change the date one day ahead and then go back to the game - ta da! full lives! Just be sure to set your phone back to the correct date before you start playing again.
posted by littlesq at 10:37 PM on December 25, 2013


I got very into Luxuria Superbia for a bit but realized it wasn't so much that I was addicted as that I was starting to feel a bit bad for how rarely I played with my Nexus 7, and wondering if it was good for our relationship, and now everything just feels weird and I think I may have developed lesbian bed death with a piece of consumer electronics.

My relationship with Candy Crush Saga was a lot less complicated.
posted by Sequence at 11:18 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, MetaFilter; how I love you. This game is played by sixty million people and was the ubiquitous addictive game of 2013, and yet y'all are like "Is this something I would have to own a television to understand?"
posted by DarlingBri at 1:37 AM on December 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


that often resolves into stochastics performed in parallel.

Thanks, but I don't think I'm really supple enough for that kind of thing any more.
posted by Segundus at 2:55 AM on December 26, 2013


This game is played by sixty million people and was the ubiquitous addictive game of 2013, and yet y'all are like "Is this something I would have to own a television to understand?"

I was very well able to ignore the existence of Candy Crush entirely except for the multiple Metafilter threads that helpfully pointed its existence out to me.
posted by JHarris at 4:01 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I ve never understood the appeal of endless brightly colored dots when one can play games like settlers of catan over the phone.
posted by eustatic at 4:12 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you spend HOURS playing something, it's not wrong to give the developers a few bucks. Refusing to pay for things you enjoy makes you part of the problem, not a noble creature who gets to look dares not look down upon the Hoi Polloi.

(well one problem. not the ONLY problem. The tapping into the gambling addiction some of these games put front and center is a different problem)
posted by DigDoug at 6:05 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you spend HOURS playing something, it's not wrong to give the developers a few bucks. Refusing to pay for things you enjoy makes you part of the problem, not a noble creature who gets to look dares not look down upon the Hoi Polloi.

I've seen a few people already express the willingness to straight-up buy a game that doesn't try to hustle you with stuff you need to buy in-game. Paying money isn't what's galling people about this game.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:40 AM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you spend HOURS playing something, it's not wrong to give the developers a few bucks

In the abstract, that's true. In this specific instance, rewarding the developers' tapping into gambling addiction IS wrong, in my opinion. If the devs want a bit of money for a game, they could just charge you straight up.
posted by Dysk at 6:42 AM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


It sounds to me like Big Brother is using repetitive behavioral modification techniques to teach you monkeys to keep your heads down and your noses to the grindstone despite the fact that you will never really get the candy.

Am I right?
posted by nowhere man at 7:54 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite alternative is Jewels Deluxe. I had the light version and shelled out $5 for the regular and it is totally worth it and there are no more fees.
I checked out candy crush when everyone started playing it and I just didn't get why it was so great since there are so many similar if not better alternatives that don't make you keep paying to to do the fun stuff.
posted by rmless at 8:08 AM on December 26, 2013


I know that some things - like the crossword or jumble or kenken - are supposed to keep minds limber as we age. At least I've heard that. Is the same true for things like Candy Crush?
posted by sockermom at 8:47 AM on December 26, 2013


sockermom, I think crosswords do keep your brain limber and encourage lateral thinking. (Can't speak for kenken, soduku or others but I'm a hardcore crossword addict.) Candy Crunch, which I've played quite a lot, does not seem that way to me, or only very minorly. If anything, it's lulling. Stupefying, even. The motion is hypnotic and there is very little to build upon.

I was telling myself CC was fine because the limited lives/having to wait between quests if you don't use Facebook keep you from playing longer than a reasonable work break or waiting in a long line. Then I started playing a game from the same makers called Pet Rescue Saga-- which is truly a mind-numbing and rather ugly game-- while waiting for more lives. I've stopped doing that now. But then they introduced a new alternate version that's built right into CC, the nighttime one with the owl. I can play it while I'm waiting for a new quest, and I'm off to the races again. But even though something new is added periodically it seems very self limiting and in fact that is why I enjoy it. I feel the same about playing things like video poker. But the downside to these kinds of games, for me, is that there is no feeling of accomplishment but often a feeling of failure since all you can really do is avoid mistakes. Inevitably you will make mistakes and it's demoralizing.
posted by BibiRose at 9:10 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I see Tiny Tower mentioned here a couple times. I downloaded it a while back and uninstalled it as soon as I realized that it had been fun for exactly zero minutes and instead was simply a series of chores meant to make me feel like I had accomplished something.

I still play Backflip Madness more than I'm proud of, though.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:12 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


My editor had to take it off of her phone a while back.

I'm standing on the precipice myself.

But dammit, I REFUSE TO LET IT POST TO MY FACEBOOK. THAT IS A BRIDGE TOO FAR.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:11 AM on December 26, 2013


In the short time that I played it, the microtransaction pushing seemed as blatantly manipulative as those like/share-begging pics of vets, pets, and cancer kids on FB; I didn't go for it, but I'm not at all surprised that a lot of people do.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:08 AM on December 26, 2013


I've seen a few people already express the willingness to straight-up buy a game that doesn't try to hustle you with stuff you need to buy in-game. Paying money isn't what's galling people about this game.

I can't imagine what it's like to be in game development right now. The relatively ease you can add timers, and gates, and make $5 off a a few more people HAS to be crack-like to the MBAs on the team.

There has to be a middle ground out there. Candy Crush offers way more 'fun/dollar' than so many of the games in the ecosystem. It's just so mega popular it gets the press. (also it seems to have some much harder 'gates' than other games of its ilk)
posted by DigDoug at 11:40 AM on December 26, 2013


DigDoug: There has to be a middle ground out there. Candy Crush offers way more 'fun/dollar' than so many of the games in the ecosystem.

See, I find that nearly impossible to believe. There are amazing deals all over the place in non-microtransactions games. It's pretty commonplace to be able to pick up good AAA games only a year old for less than $10 on Steam, and sometimes you can get five to eight older ones in the Humble Bundle. There are all of the games you can buy once and play forever, because mod content is created faster than you can play through it, like Minecraft or Skyrim. There are games that replicate the same gambling feeling of many FTP games, but don't include microtransactions, like FTL and Binding of Isaac. There are a million good and legitimately free games all over the internet.

If you are low-budget, you can get an amazing amount of game for your money, which is why I always have so much trouble understanding why people put up with FTP shenanigans. Even if you're willing to pump money into a FTP game, the difficulty curve or game mechanics will still be fundamentally designed to extort money, not be fun to play. You can do better.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:17 PM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's pretty commonplace to be able to pick up good AAA games only a year old for less than $10 on Steam

I got Skyrim for five bucks. I've been telling many people I know about Steam sales and the Humble Bundles. I literally wouldn't have a PC game collection if it weren't for those two things.
posted by JHarris at 2:22 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love Candy Crush, and yeah, sometimes I pay for boosters. I'd say I maybe spend as much as two or three dollars a week on it, less than a single latte. I don't have a PC that can support Skyrim, nor do I have the time and attention to devote to it; I'm a parent at home, and my gaming experience is constrained to things that take less than two or three minutes per episode and don't have a penalty for running away. I love "match 3" games in general, and the logic/puzzle aspect of Candy Crush really appeals to me.
posted by KathrynT at 2:31 PM on December 26, 2013


I got into it several months ago. When I found myself sneaking in a round of CCS at work I deleted it from my phone. And shortly after I reloaded it and played for several more weeks.

It sure can pass the time but after a while --- there were just more levels as far as the eye could see, and khan stopped expecting anything new and exciting from future levels. So I quit again. For good. (So far...)

I moved on to Lili - defeated the mayor the other day. Not sure what to do with myself now, but there seem to be some good leads up thread ... Or I could, you know, read a book.
posted by bunderful at 2:33 PM on December 26, 2013


Thing is you need to have a computer to play PC games, and if you want to have one that will play Skyrim and other games like that then you'll have to care about specs and spend probably a grand as a minimum. Even if you're go the console route you're still putting in 500-400 bucks as a baseline. That's a steep price to get a machine that is solely for/primarily for playing games.

Meanwhile everyone needs a phone, and a lot of people are adopting smartphones because they can get calls and check emails, and also because getting a feature phone on a contract is a waste. And for Candy Crush Saga you also have the option of playing it on Facebook, which you can sign up for free.

There are some pretty big reasons why it's Candy Crush and not, say, World of Goo or Skylanders that has gotten the stranglehold on the general population. Those reason are also why those articles bleating about "smartphone games will kill Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo!" are dumb -- the markets for more "traditional" video gaming (consoles/handhelds/PCs) and the markets for social/smartphone gaming are completely different.
posted by NEW Eccentric Girl at 2:35 PM on December 26, 2013


I don't have a PC that can support Skyrim, nor do I have the time and attention to devote to it;

I mentioned Skyrim because it was a particularly nice thing to find for $5, but it's far from the only thing you'll find on sale in the Steam store. There's a vote going on right now, and if it wins, they'll be selling the amazing Spelunky for $3.75. And Spelunky sounds like a game you might like, because it's quick to play but fair, very challenging but fun even when you die (which is often).

I love "match 3" games in general, and the logic/puzzle aspect of Candy Crush really appeals to me.

The thing is, I got those things out of my system long ago with things like Columns and Puyo Puyo. It really is an ancient genre.
posted by JHarris at 3:10 PM on December 26, 2013


It really is an ancient genre.

It's ancient because people like it and keep playing games made in it. If you're not into it, that's fine, but it's really missing the point to invoke Skyrim. Just because they are games made for electronic systems does not mean that they have overlapping audiences or serve the same entertainment purpose.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:14 PM on December 26, 2013


Yeah, but 90% of the time, I'm not even anywhere near my PC. I'm with my kids at the park, or waiting at the bus stop for my son, or watching the Paw Patrol Saves Christmas for the umpteenth time. My life is simply not conducive to playing PC or console games. Candy Crush is fun and I like it.
posted by KathrynT at 3:19 PM on December 26, 2013


It's ancient because people like it and keep playing games made in it. If you're not into it, that's fine, but it's really missing the point to invoke Skyrim.

(grumble grumble) It was an example of a AAA expensive game that was $5! The fact that it's Skyrim is completely against the point I was trying to make, which is, Steam rocks, and makes all kinds of gameplay experiences affordable. If you don't like Skyrim then fine, there's certainly something else there you will like. Honestly, I mean it's like people misunderstand me on purpose or something mutter grumble....

As for why so damn many games of the type have been made since the NES days, I really think that's more due to audience turnover, short memories, and how cheap they are to make.

Yeah, but 90% of the time, I'm not even anywhere near my PC.

iOS has sales too, but additionally is notably less expensive than PC gaming. The platform is amazing for board game adaptions (Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne are two particular standouts to new players), and there's lots of other cool things on it besides.

If you like Candy Crush then that's fine -- don't let people like me tell you you're wrong to enjoy something. I'm only suggesting that there might be other things you'll like, too. And it's only an act of will that prevents me from telling you about two dozen right now, because that's how enthusiastic I tend to be about them.
posted by JHarris at 3:25 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


JHarris: go head and list them!
posted by professor plum with a rope at 3:43 PM on December 26, 2013


I'm only suggesting that there might be other things you'll like, too.

Sure. I could easily list my Top Ten Games of 2013, but honestly the kinds of games I play, while they are all like 99 cents, get little coverage and zero Gaming Review respect because they are the kinds of games punters like and reviewers sneer at: hidden object games, Happy Street, mystery games, etc. If it's not Drawn or Skyrim or whatever, it's uncool. Candy Crush, though, is just so widely played that it's impossible to pretend it's uncool when almost everyone is playing it. And in that way, its a nice thing in gaming.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:09 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mystery games? You can PM them to me.
posted by bunderful at 4:37 PM on December 26, 2013


This game is played by sixty million people and was the ubiquitous addictive game of 2013, and yet y'all are like "Is this something I would have to own a television to understand?"

Seriously though the only place I have heard of candy crush is on metafilter. I assumed it was a facebook thing.

is it a facebook thing
posted by elizardbits at 6:04 PM on December 26, 2013


no wait i'm thinking of that farm thing
posted by elizardbits at 6:05 PM on December 26, 2013


Skyrim was just an example. The point was, there are examples for every genre of games that are dirt cheap, excellent, and don't have abusive micropayment models. There are a million good indie puzzle/logic games that cost next to nothing. You can even get humble bundles for android.

On a side note, PC gaming is experience one hell of a renaissance lately, so I'd recommend anyone looking into any kind of gaming give it a shot. Even if your PC can't run any 3D games at all, you can get Binding of Isaac, FTL, and Terraria for less than 10 bucks right now, which could probably occupy you for six months straight. I loved Skyrim, but I have almost twice as much time in Terraria.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:28 PM on December 26, 2013


is it a facebook thing

No, I'm not on fb. Maybe I heard about here?
posted by Room 641-A at 6:59 PM on December 26, 2013


I mean, it is a facebook thing, but not exclusively.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:00 PM on December 26, 2013


JHarris: go head and list them!

I will, but will need a little time.
posted by JHarris at 7:11 PM on December 26, 2013


Okay, here is a list of my favorite iOS games:
- Tiny Wings, Tiny Wings HD (people have already raved about it above, it's everything that's awesome about iOS as a platform, and it costs like $2.)
- Agricola I've already mentioned above. It's one of the best of the new wave of board games, and the iOS implementation is very nice. Play it with humans, or against UI opponents. It even has a one-player solitaire mode that's surprisingly good!
- Crosswords Classic costs like $10 I think, but in exchange you get several new free crossword puzzles every day. I got my copy free from a Starbucks App Store card a while back.
- I've not had the chance to play Spaceteam yet because it demands you have several friends to play it with, but the idea is awesome: each of your iOS devices pretends to be a set of instruments on the bridge of a ship like the Enterprise, and you have to call out to each other aloud various bits of nonsense space jargon to tell them what to do to ensure the ship survives.
- Le Havre is another board game from the guy who designed Agricola, Uwe Rosenberg. It's similar in some ways, but completely different in others. While it can also be played solitaire, I think it's better with opponents, whether they be human or computer.
- Pinball Arcade is free, but it's really just a shell to sell a variety of recreations of classic pinball tables made by Farsight Studios. Some of those tables, however, are amazing, among the best pinball machines ever made, like Twilight Zone, Star Trek: The Next Generation or Attack From Mars. Ordinarily I wouldn't be fond of the business model, but each table is substantial return for the investment, so I don't mind it here.
- Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land is a Lovecraftian horror turn-based tactical combat game set in World War I. I'm a sucker for Lovecraft stuff though.
- Forbidden Island is another board game recreation, but this one for a co-op game, where all the players are helping each other to all win or lose together, and you can easily play the part of all the characters yourself if you want to/need to.
- Dominion might not be available for sale (for free) anymore, but if it is it's a great introduction to the basic set. (The Android game Androminion is also free, has a worse UI, but supports all the card, from all the expansions!)
- Caylus is an excellent recreation of a board game, with a superb interface on a part with that of Carcassonne (the gold standard of touchscreen board game interfaces).
- King of Dragon Pass is a text-based game with illustrations, but also a simulation of a fantasy kingdom set in Glorantha. It is unusually rich with detail and flavor, and feels a lot more like a game for grown-ups than, say, your typical Final Fantasy thingy.
- Puerto Rico HD has a difficult interface to get used to, but is a terrific game once you're used to it.
- Sid Meier's Pirates is one of those few iOS adaptations of a computer game that's as good as the original. They took out the overland exploration mode and ground battles, but some people might call that an improvement.
- You can't go wrong with World Of Goo.
- Someone above mentioned Civilization Revolution. It used to be really buggy but I heard they've ironed much of that out -- in exchange, unfortunately, for annoying in-app purchases.
- Llamasoft's Goat Up is a nice quick playing but challenging action game.
- NYTimes Crosswords we've had fun with previously, but some time back it wouldn't let me subscribe for new puzzles. Does anyone know if it's still broken?
- Of course there's Ticket To Ride and Carcassonne, two great introductory-level board games with excellent interfaces. Carcassonne also supports an interesting solitaire variant.
- Small World 2 is a great randomized, fast-playing strategy board game with a new iOS update supporting up to five players and expansions that are pretty interesting. This, I've noticed, is also available on Steam.
- Then of course there's Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP.
- Frotz is a (free!) player for Infocom-style text adventures. It has a built-in interface to ifwiki for downloading new games!
- Finally of course there's 100 Rogues.
posted by JHarris at 8:33 PM on December 26, 2013 [28 favorites]


It's a shitty mindless game that needs no defending. I had a stint with it after many years of intermittent Bejeweled Blitz addiction. I mainly played Bejeweled on the PC on occasion, like midnight binging on the weekend, but once it was available for Android it filled whatever mindless-phone-gaming void that CCS may have left. It's gotten increasingly corrupted by the "buy stupid powerup!" bullshit too, but it's not quite as overtly obnoxious about it and you can play it as much as you like without having to do anything with your computer's time or what have you. Tellingly, my 6-year old has no interest in Bejeweled Blitz, which is the same basic game mechanics but an actual game of skill: maximize your score in a single minute of play. Play as fast and as strategically as you can for one minute. Candy Crush seems more complex and strategic at first, but it's entirely mindless drooling horseshit that you can slog through after banging your head on it enough times, which is why my then-5-year-old loved it.

The whole Candy Crush concept is icky and creepy as the graphics suggest and its defenders and supporters are easily identifiable with how quick they are to trot out some freedom-lovin' rant about how the game doesn't force anyone to do anything like they're defending the tree of liberty or some shit. It's like this force of libertarian video game heroes defending against an onslaught of criticism based on...the fact that this game is horseshit. Much like Mafia Wars and FarmVille and other pieces of shit, it's a piece of shit social engineering money extraction utility that some people feel cool "cheating" like they're min-maxing their lives into awesomeness by playing a dumbass game for free and being part of the 80% that has enough free time to persistently slog through the game which yes, does get magically easier when you get stuck on a crappy level and come back after a couple of days.

The ones who realize it's shit and admit their addictions are fine and may continue to go about their business with my approval, but there are so many smarmy douches defending this piece of shit because it's a piece of shit that must be defended against by its hordes of justifiable haters. I don't normally fall for the "thing is bad because it has a lot of critics" construction but this is just a fucking candy puzzle game and it's controversial because it. sucks. ass.

I'm particularly annoyed because this dumb fucking game has like individual $30-60 power-ups and if you make the mistake of buying a $1 item for your kid like my wife did on one occasion (lesson learned), you might end up with shit-tons of unexpected credit card charges from a mindless shitbag company that is unresponsive to communication. It's sleazy all around and represents the worst of the worst in terms of the overall decline in computer gaming (DLC, social media skinner box bullshit), not just because I got burned -- but seriously who the fuck needs a $40 power-up for a dumbass Kumika clone, how in good faith can you even sell that bullshit in your cheesy shitbox game?
posted by lordaych at 12:35 AM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well then, lordaych, how do you REALLY feel about Candy Crush Saga?
posted by mistersquid at 7:03 AM on December 27, 2013


My favorite iOS game is Soosiz, a criminally overlooked little platformer. I have no idea why this seemed to fall through the cracks.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:36 AM on December 27, 2013


Great list JHarris. I couldn't agree more with you on KODP and Agricola. I'll have to check out the rest you mentioned.
posted by andendau at 9:54 AM on December 27, 2013


The author makes a brief mention of rogue-likes, but I'm interested in a more in-depth comparison. I mean, it's not as though rogue-likes are never "radically unfair" or driven by random chance. But I guess that was more stumbled upon as a result of trying to create randomized dungeons rather than something crafted to elicit certain response?
posted by RobotHero at 10:32 AM on December 27, 2013


Some days I'm just not sure why I would ever play anything but Picross.
posted by asperity at 10:40 AM on December 27, 2013


FWIW, my favourite games I played in 2013 are as follows. Since I do not like platformers or combar games, they are not the kind of games that get review coverage but I enjoyed them.

Yesterday: Point and click adventure game with a very cool story line.

The Room: Hands down the best puzzle game ever made, maddening and absolutely beautiful.

Mystery of the Dreambox: Point and click mystery that is fun and intelligent, with some nice puzzles to break uo gameplay.

Snark Busters: An un-typical and really good Hidden Object game, though the two that follow are not as good.

Happy Street: World builder with adorable characters, and completely addictive.

Life Quest: A dumb life sim game but I found it oddly satisfying and I like that you can make families in any gender combination.

Mystery of Telescope Hill: Weird, and weird looking, but I like that it was intelligent to play.

Mr. Jack Pocket: Board game adaptation with a limited number of deductive turns and easily played over and over.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:55 AM on December 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


- Frotz is a (free!) player for Infocom-style text adventures. It has a built-in interface to ifwiki for downloading new games

I really think there’s a missed opportunity here. There was an IF interpreter for the Palm (Frobnitz, maybe?) which was really designed for touch: you could tap a noun and suitable verbs would appear, for instance. It was the best possible platform for playing IF, I think.

The last time I looked at iOS Frotz you had to do the majority of typing yourself on the keyboard, and it wasn’t great at reformatting.

Crosswords may be the best money I've ever spent on a game, figuring on money spent vs. time playing.

Is this a particular game, or do you just mean crosswords in general? Hard to search for, for obvious reasons!

While we're talking addictive mobile gaming, though, I successfully avoided CCS and then I got sucked into Spelltower. When I found myself playing it instead of getting out of dressed one morning. I knew they’d got me. They always got you.

(PS If you like words, play Spelltower. It’s ace)
posted by bonaldi at 6:34 PM on December 27, 2013


bonaldi, search the App Store for Crosswords Classic.
posted by JHarris at 7:24 PM on December 27, 2013


I like Angry Birds.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:54 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this a particular game, or do you just mean crosswords in general? Hard to search for, for obvious reasons!

Oh! I mean this one.
posted by jquinby at 5:45 AM on December 28, 2013


Thanks both!
posted by bonaldi at 6:05 AM on December 28, 2013


I think it's also worth mentioning that Puzzle Quest 2 has match 3 gameplay, but also doesn't exploit fremium design and manages to be a fun little RPG time waster.
posted by codacorolla at 7:26 AM on December 28, 2013


Super Hexagon.

Pretty much the platonic form of a video game.


I'm going to have to revise my previous statement. The platonic form of a video game is Cookie Clicker.
posted by schmod at 8:19 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I downloaded agricola, but not having played the board game before, wow is that way complicated, and it has a really cramped, hard to read UI. Don't think I'll ever be able to convince my gf to play it. I think it would be fun to play as a board game, because it looks like it would have a lot of tactile appeal, but as an ios game, it's just a mess. Carcassone and Ticket to Ride are our main ios board game options, still.

We downloaded Space Team, though, and immediately played it for an hour. Really fun game-- and free! With none of the free to play bullshit. Highly recommend it if you have nerdy friends with smart phones and/or tablets.
posted by empath at 10:05 AM on December 29, 2013


I should have added about Agricola that it might help if you had prior experience with the board game. The ? button in-game reveals what the different options do.

You should definitely play the "Family," or simplified game, first, to reduce option paralysis. It might also help to play a game or two of solo before going into a full game.

If you have any questions about it feel free to MeMail, I've played a lot of iOS Agricola and have had a solo streak of over 20 games.
posted by JHarris at 3:09 PM on December 29, 2013


Kairosoft is my favorite addictive game developer. All their games except the most recent few are one-time purchases with no in-game. All are sims- racing, business, city building, etc. Some of my favorites are Pocket Clothier, Game Dev Story and Mega Mall Story, but they're all good (except after they started releasing free games with in-game purchases). Most of their games are ports of earlier mobile games made for the Japanese market some years ago. They're priced a bit higher than many games in the App Store (usually $3:99), but they're worth it. Android porting came first and continues to be slightly ahead of iPhone.

Kairo games for iPhone

Kairo games for Android
posted by krinklyfig at 12:30 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oddly, I not long ago saw an add on TV for Papa Pear Saga ("from the makers of Candy Crush"). Which is odd. For a free game it clearly rakes in the dosh.
posted by Mezentian at 3:41 AM on January 1, 2014


Zynga is dead. Here comes Zynga+1.
posted by JHarris at 12:40 PM on January 1, 2014


Nthing krinklyfig. Game Dev Story was awesome, and I played it for well over a month, constantly. Very few apps have ever given me as much for my money as Game Dev Story. I wasn't as enthralled with Mega Mall Story, just because the scrolling around got a bit annoying.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:14 PM on January 13, 2014


In defence of Candy Crush.
posted by Artw at 7:21 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, as a result of the above linked article I gave the thing a spin - its a fun game, and the aspects noted as neat ate indeed neat. On the other hand the timed lives thing is actively evil and I wish nothing but ill upon whoever came up with it.
posted by Artw at 6:58 PM on January 20, 2014


After further investigation: Screw this game.

Oh, and there's this too: While the joys of Candy Crush Saga have only reached the PC in the form of a Facebook app, the implications of one of the worst decisions by the US trademark office affect developers on all platforms. They have, as of last week, decided it’s perfectly reasonable for owners King to trademark the word “candy”. And they’re trying to get “saga” too.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on January 21, 2014 [1 favorite]




Okay, I'm trying to think of my new game. I think you will drive around a giant head and grab as much candy as you can in its constantly-chewing jaws. It will be called Candy Crunch.
posted by RobotHero at 4:19 PM on January 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, it'll be a giant ancient Roman, that has to eat all the candy, and it will be called Candy Crunch Toga
posted by RobotHero at 4:21 PM on January 21, 2014


John Candy rolls around the screen breaking objects as part of a lengthy narrative, the John Smash Epic.
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on January 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


John Candy rolls around the screen breaking objects

OMG, IT'S CANDYMARI DAMACY.
posted by JHarris at 4:40 PM on January 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


John Candy and Q from Star Trek...
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on January 21, 2014


It's about a cafeteria lady that worked at radio shack in the mid 80s. It's called the Tandy Lunch Bagger.
posted by empath at 5:24 PM on January 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


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