Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mo' Updates, Mo' Problems

I've been in contact with a lot of my friends and all I can say is "Jeez, what a complete nightmare!" I'm sure many of you have some other choice words as well. To keep it simple, Home has become unstable and completely unusable for many dedicated users. It seems every possible thing which could have gone wrong with this update has gone completely wrong. All we received were reassurances, yet all of our fears and apprehensions about 1.75 have been realized.

Would you like a list or an essay? Well...

-People are flat out missing items. Not only that, but many wouldn't know it if they were since it's now taking an hour to go through one section of inventory. 

-My friends have lost some of their avatar saves. People are reporting missing clothing, missing furniture and missing lmos.  Even several days after the update, stuff that was there on Wednedsay is gone today. 

-One of my favorite activities, decorating apartments has been made absolutely impossible. When you go to place a furniture item it takes AT LEAST 30 seconds from when you click before it actually shows up at the spawn. 

-Wardrobe and furniture has been scattered completely. In some cases furniture can't be placed at all -- choices just flicker quickly and users are sent right back to inventory.  The same thing happens when organizing what has already been placed. 

As for the store -- and this is where your ears should perk up Mr. Digital Platforms Manager -- it's taking an inordinate amount of time (about a minute per line) for selections to load.  Even when buying one free item, the new "validating purchase" screen that takes AT LEAST eight minutes each and every time, making users not want to buy anything at all.

Your program is completely unstable -- many things are broken and/or missing. Only an idiot would buy something now, and I for one will be offering no financial support until every last issue that was created with this forced update is resolved. Go ahead and laugh -- I'm only one user, right? 

Unless things change quickly, I predict you will see your sales decrease slowly, or perhaps rather quickly, percentage point by percentage point due to poor implementation and the stubborn insistance to move forward while ignoring, or at least not implementing failsafe solutions for customer concerns along the way. Many of us have been left in the lurch once again, confused, distrusting, and disheartened by what we see and experience.

If you aren't experiencing some of these bigger problems, you should thank your lucky stars and realize that for your non-issue, there are thousands of people, many of whom dont use the forum, who have no other recourse but to stop using home or roll with the punches. 

We've rolled with a lot of punches through the thick and thin of Home, but this last update may have finally beaten some of us down completely. The only way I can describe some of the issues people have been having lately is "pure devastation." 

This forum is a microcosm of Home as a whole, and when an issue is swept under the rug or ignored, thousands of users end up suffering the consequences.

I am officially terrified to see what's next, and pray that somehow, some way, everything will be fixed soon, if that's even possible without reverting to the previous client. 

I'm no fear monger, however you've left little to no recourse for a great deal of your customers. I am voting very dissatisfied, and I will be making that vote with my pocketbook.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oh, Grr! Extermination

Ogre Extermination. I can’t think of a better way to say “I love you” with that special someone this February =)

There’s plenty to do this week, and we owe a lot of that to our friends from Granzella, who made a few updates to their core spaces – updates that will have a significant portion of us “grinding away” all month.

Let me start by saying if you have any semblance of a social life you’re probably biting off more than you can chew with this game, especially if you're just starting. The only way to get on the leaderboard and stay on is to become a Home addict. That means 8+ hours a day MINIMUM of grinding to get the top rewards. If you’d like to socialize or decorate, add another few hours to the bare minimum you’ll need just to keep up.

The game is fun, I’ll admit that – the first time I played through my heart was pounding and I barely got out of there with my sword – but it’s only fun to a point, and that point comes long before your hundredth grinding session.

I feel somewhat bad knowing the people vying for the top spots on the leaderboard all won’t make it despite their efforts, and in fact would probably like nothing more than a day off at this point. The situation they find themselves in is they’ve invested so much time keeping themselves in the top bracket, and that time and effort will have been for nothing unless they spend much, much more time keeping their score competitive. People are, in fact, playing this very minute, beefing up their scores and indirectly attacking yours while you read this. I guess we’ll all finally get a chance to relax come the 27th.

What do the leaderboard rewards say about the owner? Rare items, especially those earned, tend to be worn as a badge of honor in Home. Even though they are one of the few ways we can show acumen and sophistication in the metaverse, we have to ask ourselves: what kind of culture is being cultivated in Home? Maybe I’m just projecting, but playing for hours a day sounds unreasonable, even brutal. What human being wears DAYS STRAIGHT of mindless repetition (which it INEVITABLY becomes) as a badge of honor?

Yet most of us are doing it, playing the same game over and over as quickly as possible, telling ourselves we’ll limit ourselves to whatever we feel our time is worth. Whether the rewards are sub-standard is irrelevant. Why would Granzella, or any company for that matter, make a game with goals that are impossible to accomplish without spending at least a month’s worth of full work days playing?  

It sounds a bit crazy when you look at it that way, and it leaves me asking once again: At what cost to our personal lives? You could ask this question about Home in general, and your answer could be anything from “I don’t have a personal life” to “regardless of what gimmicks different developers throw my way, they will never dictate how I choose to spend my time,” and everything in between. We should all certainly be grateful for a change of pace, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t support Granzella – they’re one of the best developers in Home – but I’m feeling a bit turned off. This grind-fest, with conveniently spaced (for Granzella) weapon releases meant to pick your pocket a second and probably third time around is the only way to stand a fighting chance on the leaderboard. 

Keep in mind if you want Valentine’s Day rewards from Southern Island Hideaway, you need to own Granzella clothing to participate. I’m not complaining because I decided not to make a purchase; if I cared enough about the rewards, then I would buy something. The point is the folks at Granzella figured it would look good enough to some to justify purchasing an item they might only sort of like, and others would simply buy something just to have access to an exclusive, limited time item.

Their marketing approach becomes very transparent if you look at it this way. These things clearly do not add any sort of entertainment value to the experience and are in fact a clear manipulation to bolster traffic and sales. I’m glad the space hasn’t been stagnant and they’re updating regularly, but they’re on a path of milking our Home experience dry to the point of painfulness. Thoughts?