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? 

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