All Other Food Stands Are Terrible
March 2, 2015 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Grab Them By The Eyes is a new Flash strategy game about advertising. By Terry Cavanagh of VVVVVV fame.
posted by CrunchyFrog (30 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I played this game a lot after it showed up on Rock, Paper, Shotgun! The most important thing is to remember that
as you purchase sign options the rest of the options will shuffle down to occupy any vacant cheaper spots.
posted by a car full of lions at 9:15 PM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Finally, a chance to write all the things I never was allowed to on the bank's Watchfire sign.
posted by michaelh at 9:19 PM on March 2, 2015

Really wanting the Apple ][ Lemonade Stand Thunderstorm to strike down those hipster assholes.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:30 PM on March 2, 2015

The ending was cute -- the whole time, I was thinking that Al was the only one getting rich off all this competition.
posted by sibboleth at 9:36 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also key: buying the extra frames.
posted by Quilford at 9:44 PM on March 2, 2015

Buying the extra frames is useful, but if you bankrupt yourself your opponent can buy all the remaining cards for 10 bucks a pop.
posted by pwnguin at 9:54 PM on March 2, 2015

True. Just one extra frame really makes a difference though.
posted by Quilford at 9:56 PM on March 2, 2015

Quilford: Also key: buying the extra frames.
The computer lost by buying all the extra frames, so I'm not so sure. 5 spot cards are more valuable in my opinion.

Anyway, this was pretty fun. Even if, as sibboleth pointed out, it's like Joel Hodgson said about guitars: Guitarists hardly ever make money, it's the guy who owns the guitar store who makes the money.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:29 PM on March 2, 2015

Also, this needs hotseat!
posted by michaelh at 10:29 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

One thing that is interesting / frustrating is the build-upon-itself nature of power in the game; if your opponent has an extra frame this round, they have the extra frame for all subsequent rounds, too. (My last game, I lost in a come-from-behind as the hipsters got Extra Frame for $10 on each of the first two days that they bought first.)

Top tip: You can always write your own message; it's always novel and worth two points.
Second tip: You can buy the sign slandering yourself; you can't play it, but then neither can they.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:38 PM on March 2, 2015

Only the first custom message is two points; the rest are worth one. Still, it's worth taking the hit to blast eat my shorts, jabronis in full rainbow seizure glory.
posted by michaelh at 11:15 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hm, I won without buying extra signs. The AI bought one or two, but it didn't help him much. I had better cards, and while he beat me on the last two days, I had more than made up for it on the previous ones.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:15 PM on March 2, 2015

Filthy Burger's marketing budget is at least equal to mine, but on several occasions, vastly superior to mine.
On one day I beat them in sales, and yet their marketing spend was an even double mine at the sign store.
I suspect one of the pair of those Filthy Burger proprietors has an interesting backstory containing considerable private monies he is clearly willing to spend on a losing cause.

I am sure he wears a cheap fedora whilst talking up his selfless backing of lost causes at student house parties.
posted by Plutocratte at 11:38 PM on March 2, 2015

Thanks for the tips guys. On my fourth play through I trounced the hipsters at almost double their sales. Buy big number signs on the cheap. I think you should almost never buy anything above 20. If you make it to the next round of sign buying with extra money you're probably doing it right. Avoid the extra frames UNLESS you can get it for 10 or 20. Maybe this all works cus', like, one 5 sign effect is going to equal one of their extra frames that's only filled with 1's and maybe a 2. Those are my takeaways.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 11:55 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like how all these burgers are free. It really is about buying attention.
posted by lumensimus at 1:44 AM on March 3, 2015

I loved the concept but watching 50 people buy burgers with annoying sound effects got old fast.
posted by jeather at 4:09 AM on March 3, 2015

Is this sign allowed here?
posted by NoMich at 5:23 AM on March 3, 2015

Also key: buying the extra frames.

I didn't even realize until halfway through the game that you start with two frames. The first three days, I only used one frame and left the other one blank. I still won.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:25 AM on March 3, 2015

If you haven't played VVVVVV, I really, really recommend it. Unbelievably fantastic.

My two favorite games of the past few years were VVVVVV and Monument Valley, which is moderately amusing, given that the two are effectively polar opposites.
posted by schmod at 5:45 AM on March 3, 2015

Filthy Burger's marketing budget is at least equal to mine, but on several occasions, vastly superior to mine.

Unspent money rolls over to the next day.
posted by Thing at 6:53 AM on March 3, 2015

Was there a way to not buy something you could afford but didn't want?
posted by jeather at 7:03 AM on March 3, 2015

Even dumber tip: fill all your frames. I played most of the game thinking I could only show one sign a day so never bothered to fill out my second frame. I sort of ran an ad blocker on myself.
posted by Nelson at 9:51 AM on March 3, 2015

This game is broken. I did a plain sign with the custom message "CONSUME" and yet I didn't win.
posted by ckape at 10:21 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did you try "This is a good burger"?

/Ron Swanson
posted by ersatz at 3:03 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have to say, it's kind of fun when the slogans you create are more successful than the others.

At least it is for me, because I usually like putting in threatening ones. Some of my past ones:

posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 3:47 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is one of those games that depends on obscure mechanics, where you are hamstrung on your first game because you don't know the rules of the world. You have a good chance of losing that game because the way the various game elements work together isn't explained, you have to play two or three days before that becomes obvious.

The most important thing to realize that isn't explained going in is how prices work. There are five cards lined up, but the first turn you don't know that after you buy a card, the others change price, those to its right shift left and become cheaper. The one at the far left is always $10, the next one over $20, and so on. So, if you pick the far left one each time, you're guaranteed getting three or more cards. But even then, it's usually better to get more cards than just stronger cards, because you'll spread your wear out over more cards. It's especially good to get a lot of kinds of cards....

The second thing not obvious at the start: every turn you use a sign, it gets weaker, but can't go below 1. This makes 5-strength elements extremely powerful, especially at the start, because over five turns you'll get 5+4+3+2+1 -> 15 customers out of it, instead of 1+1+1+1+1 -> 5 customers. But if you've used all of your better elements that turn, you might as well throw the old ones in remaining slots and get extra customers out of them.

Third: there exist "Extra Frame" cards. Due to the very simple nature of the customer simulation, every element used is more customers, period, with no uncertainty. If you have the cards to fill the additional frame, you always get more customers out of it. This also increases wear (since those used frames will decay an extra turn), but it's generally better to have. (The computer, by the way, doesn't seem to pick entirely randomly, and seems to have an extra chance of getting these. This is contrary to what the game implies with the cycle-through-choices selection animation, which is game design shorthand for a random process.)

Ultimately, the game is about squeezing the use out of whatever cards you get each turn: every card you buy is a number of customers you get, all that matters is if you can make the conversion before the end of the game. The efficiency with which you can do that depends on how many frames and how many different kinds of signs you have. If you get stuck behind a sequence where you can't get a lot of sign element variety (like only one blue element for the first four turns) you're going to be hurt by that.

Each kind of colored card can be used once each turn, up to the number of frames you have. So, if you get a lot of gray cards, you probably won't be able to get them all used up in time. (So it sucks when the game hands you a bunch of a color of card you've already got a ton of and demands you buy one. But more on that later.)

Bug: If the "Jay Sucks" sign is far-left and you only have $10, you can't choose to end your turn and not buy it, there is no UI for not making a purchase. I'm calling this a bug because, if this is intentional, the game does a poor job of communicating it, sign purchasing isn't presented like a board-game style legalistic mechanism where you do thing for abstract reasons but as the action of a free-willed agent who should be able to do, or not, as he pleases. (To those of us who think about these things, they matter.) I think you should be able to pass on buying an element on your turn, with a pass when the opponent cannot buy ending the phase.

I think I have more to say about this game, but want to think about it. I really dislike it for some reason. I think it's how it tries to lead the player into caring about the outcome with, for example, long unskippable animations of watching people go up to your stands (even if you tab away, argh!) when behind the scenes it's such a simple calculation. Also, little things like the "random" select animation for computer card selection. And just the amount of randomness in the game, like the signs that only help you or your opponent that may or may not appear in a particular run. Well, that's my opinion, take or leave.
posted by JHarris at 12:09 AM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

JHarris, I think I mostly agree with you. I played it once -- won it; it isn't that hard (the trick is mostly figuring out the rules). But the bugs you note -- can't skip buying (though it looks like your opponent can), can't skip the animations, unclear how the opponent picks and if the sign selections are random.

I think there's the germ of a really interesting game in there.
posted by jeather at 5:10 AM on March 5, 2015

I have seen the computer player buy the sign that only helps me, so evidently he's at least constrained by the same forced-pick thing.
posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on March 5, 2015

(It was the same condition as when I bought it: the only one he could buy when he had $10.)
posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on March 5, 2015

OTOH, buying the "only useful to your opponent" sign does prevent them from scoring its 15 points total (it's a 5 if I remember right?) against you.

I found the game frustrating too, for most of the same reasons. And dear God, the unskippable customer animations: it's trying to build tension, yes, but the outcome of each round is totally determined by the players' sign constructions, so that interminable wait is pure fluff.

It'd be more fun as a 2-player game, I think.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:40 PM on March 5, 2015

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