To start, I want to say I won’t only be talking about mobile visual novel games (though, some of the ones I will be focusing on are either mobile only or available both on the web and through mobile), but this will cover a range of different mobile games along with some other games. If you’d like to skip some of the personal stuff about why I’ve been relatively MIA and playing a lot of mobile stuff lately, you can click here to scroll on down.
In general, I’ve been having a rough time focusing on most things lately. It’s as if my mind is a giant static quagmire where a train exploded and is raining with wreckage. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is and there’s so much happening, I’m too stunned to move and can only stare in shock. And every step, it’s as if a landmine goes off and suddenly, there’s a whole other pile of crud that I can’t even start to begin to process before something else happens. To make matters worse, in the brief moments where everything is not explosions and fire, it’s just static elevator music where I can only wait until it ends to process what to do next, except it never does and even knowing that, I’m still just stuck there, staring aimlessly at nothing. To give a bit of an idea on how rough it’s been, this post in particular has been in progress for several months now.
I started this site, the various blogs I’ve done, and even doing more on my Youtube channel primarily for me– things like keeping track of my thoughts, wanting to log my gameplay, wanting to have recordings to revisit… I don’t enjoy replaying games, but I like seeing screenshots and memories of those adventures. And some people showed up and then there was the extra feeling of always worrying about letting people down– because I always worry I’m never doing enough, even when it’s just me.
So I know a lot of people want to see Miitopia finished up and Pokemon Ultra Moon and MySims and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Happy Home Designer and for some reason more Tomodachi Life even though I can’t think of a single thing to show there and maybe even some of the extra puzzles in Lady Layton and some of the bazillion other games I’ve started and didn’t finish and with very few exceptions, like games I just could not enjoy no matter how much I try or games I feel are done, I want that too. And there is no one more disappointed than I am personally when the only thing I can upload is the visual novel of the day.
I actually recorded the really cute Hogwarts Mystery Pet side-quest and was looking forward to uploading that once I finished editing… Only to have accidentally permanently deleted it. I can’t redo the quest. It’s just gone and I’m still kicking myself for it. I’ve set up multiple times now to continue multiple different games as well that I’ve had in progress, but something always comes up or I just don’t have time. To bring up something more recently, I’ve had a set game schedule for streaming and testing some 3DS stuff (as I slowly fix Audio issues because of course I have to hit more problems when I’m struggling enough already) for weeks now, but something either comes up such as tech issues or I end up being sick again (for the record, this week has been a combination of both).
I collected a whole bunch of dream addresses for New Leaf, planned to do something small for Tomodachi Life, and also wanted to get back to Pokemon, but the same problems just keep happening and it sucks. And it’s easy to say “Push through it”, but that’s not always possible because it’s like there’s a barrier you just can’t push through no matter how hard you try.
And that’s why I’ve been playing a lot of mobile games lately. To feel like I’m doing something without having to deal with sound issues, graphic issues, lag issues, a broken chair, or when I just am stuck in bed or sneezing like crazy.
I will say if there’s one thing that’s come out of all of the Mobile game playing, it’s me figuring out what kind of game I wish there was. There’s a lot of Mobile games I’ve enjoyed, but I’ve noticed one big issue with them: Excessive amounts of brick walls.
With the exception of Animal Crossing’s real time schedule, I’ve never been fond of feeling the need to constantly check in with a game (and even then, New Leaf pressed my patience a lot with the moving mechanic issues). I’m very much a play until I’m done type of person and while I can deal with grinding to an extent, I’ve never been super fond of the “sit around and wait” unless there’s plenty else to do… and most of the time, there isn’t.
Whether it be energy bars, being locked out until you have a certain amount of something, needing to constantly log in to keep up with things, or just waiting out timers, it’s incredibly frustrating to just… not be able to progress. And I get the idea of wanting people to log in a lot and check back, but I am much more likely to check in for new content or when I know something is happening than when I get burnt out due to constant timers and thus, feeling I’ve missed out on too much to want to bother.
I’ve found myself using a lot of “Auto modes” in games with fighting because I just don’t have time to keep up with it and it gives me time to work on the bazillion other things. And when I barely have time for that mechanic, the last thing I feel like doing is waiting for when a game will let me play it again.
This was part of why Pocket Camp’s events became so overbearing. Ignoring the fact that you rarely got any breaks, that was reinforced with the fact that unless you paid to speed things up, you either had to depend on others (which wasn’t always an option) or wait. Wait for flowers to grow. Wait for bugs to be left. Wait for more Gyroids to spawn. Wait for more fish to spawn. Everything was on a timer and you could only do so much of an event at a time unless you could just buy tons of leaf tickets and speed through it (and even then, not everything can be sped through– such as seasonal events that have you gathering items from many of the various other events and completing certain tasks… Or how many events now feature crafting items that require Leaf Tickets. There is so much you have to do a day in order to be prepared and keep up with everything and that’s… absolutely exhausting. I’ve had more “enjoyment” with Pocket Camp when I just play randomly at my leisure, but being such a completionist in AC, it’s always bittersweet seeing how much I miss or just can’t get without laying down a lot of money.
Part of why I enjoyed New Leaf so much was thanks to the ordinances, I was able to focus on building up my town without constantly having to water flowers to keep them alive and worry about cockroaches or trash. I could take a few days off if I wanted. Which the broken moving mechanic ruined to an extent, but I digress.
Going back to fighting games, if the brick walls aren’t enough, it’s how convoluted games can get with features. Keeping things simple isn’t always a bad thing and for those who play more casually or just want to have characters they like, it can be a lot to get their head wrapped around all these mechanics and events across multiple different games. I don’t think new modes are necessarily bad, but the constant putting the bar higher on what you need to make your characters the best is exhausting. Like oh no, you suddenly need 5 Dragon Hearts!! Time to play that brand new mode that makes your currently trained team useless!!
This is especially frustrating when a game has a PVP element to it as whether they want to or not, their game is already paid to win. Players with money to spare can keep rolling to get all their characters powered up, quickly farm things, and just generally get things done quickly without grinding as much as other players have to. I don’t really consider myself a Free to play player, but I am no where close to high end and with how I tend to play, I generally am on the par of a free to play player– I just don’t mind paying for a character I really want.
And new features aren’t inherently bad, but there’s a difference between something like Fire Emblem’s Tempest Trials (which thankfully are balanced so much better now) and the Aether Raids and Tap Battles and Grand Hero Battles and other wars and constant new weapon crafting and just, it’s really not needed. I can’t even keep up with all the game modes anymore.
Going back to Pocket Camp again for a moment, we also get this with Gulliver where him having exclusive items is one thing, but they then went and gave him various villagers you can only get from him and at most, have a 50-50 chance to do so… And then you have to go through Blather’s Treasure Trek to unlock them further and just like… Maybe don’t do that? They already had it when new villagers were added, they were usually the first to show up, it didn’t need to make it more complicated. I honestly am just tired of crafting items for Gulliver just to have a chance at a villager at this point.
In general, I’ve never been super big on crafting in games– hoarding tons of items and grinding for materials by doing the same thing over and over again has never been fun to me, even less so in mobile games which have incessant amounts of timers and energy bars that only let you do so much.
As for Visual Novels, their brick walls are generally more located in any kind of energy or unlock system. While some games at least give you some things daily (such as My Candy Love), others are on specific types of timers (like Choices), or even require ads and roulettes (like Chan Prin). Dialogue or movement will then use up that energy in those games, or for ones like Choices where a Key unlocks an entire chapter, you get certain choices locked out instead. Some games do both– having an option that costs extra energy to pick, and honestly, I hate systems like that.
Besides often being the answer that would be “correct”, it’s also often something like “Be a decent human being” versus “Be obnoxious” and when you have games like this where what dialogue you pick should be a feature, it sure doesn’t feel that way.
Similarly, in the sense of a visual novel format, it’s honestly not super fun being forced to just have to stop in the middle of dialogue whether it be because you ran out of energy or need to save up for a special choice, it completely cuts off any kind of immersion. And I get that games need to earn money, but I think I’d rather just be able to “buy” a chapter and then play it freely with no pauses on choices. I definitely prefer buying visual novels to just… have as a lot of the mobile and browser games miss out on a lot of really nice features such as saving, loading, and skipping.
And just… it’s frustrating because a lot of these games may have interesting concepts or good stories or fun characters and eventually, I just don’t check back. The notifications only work for so long before I get tired with another 10 minute waiting sequence. I like to just sit down and sink my time into a game and if I want to put a lot of time into it, I’d like to be able to. And that’s the thing with a lot of events, yeah, maybe you can finish them in the allotted time, but it also means you need to play them nearly every chance you can too. There aren’t many break days. And at that point, it feels less like a game and more like a job. And I already have a job. Too many. I don’t need something that I picked up to try and relax to turn into one as well.
Going to a different kind of mobile game, and generally one of my favorites, it’d be more collection-based games. Collect cool trinkets, have them fill out a museum or room, collect animals, color pictures, etc. Unfortunately, to balance out the free to play nature, I’ve found they have often come with some really annoying features that ruin a lot of the fun:
- Constant Timers – Waiting to be able to open a gift or for whoever to return to come back. Or until you can start work again because your character needs a break.
- Limited to how much you can do – Only so many things can be set to open or only one thing can be sent out to search or you only have one thing you can do ever. This is ESPECIALLY frustrating with limited time things or games where the selection rotates so if you’re not fast enough (and in most cases, you will not be unless you use a premium currency), you could end up missing out on things due to being too slow.
- Lots of ads – I don’t mind endless banner ads at the bottom. Even ads to speed things up is okay or to get a bigger reward, but when there is an add every other time I do anything in the game, it just gets annoying. Like all I’m doing is trying to play and I’m just constantly hit with ads.
- Subscriptions – Because rather than just let people buy a game, let’s lock a whole section off that requires you to pay monthly, usually $10-$15 no less. That is the price of an MMO subscription.
It’s greedy and discouraging and pays heavily into the feeling of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in some cases in order to get people to spend to not risk missing out on things. Which is a shame because some are really cute, but that’s just garbage. And the timers would be less frustrating if there was literally anything else to do or a feature that can be worked on that maybe didn’t have a timer rather than being forced to wait yet another thing out.
I think if I ever tried to make a mobile game, it’d be combining a lot of those types of games and finding a way to make it fun and still earn some money without being cheap in the way it’s done.
Finally, to finish this off, I wanted to talk about Game Events which is something very popular with a lot of Indie Games and Mobile Games and is generally the act of patching an event in when they want and then removing it when they feel like it. And there are many games that I have stopped playing due to this.
Again, I get the point of wanting to get people to keep checking into your game… But I’d check in to see the new features eventually anyway. But when I’m constantly on a time limit to do some event that maybe I didn’t even know about, that fun level drops completely and more often than not, I may end up not picking up the game again. It sucks missing out and when your only chance of maybe getting what you missed is up to the developer, it’s hard to feel motivated to keep trucking along, especially with a game with a collection aspect to it.
I shouldn’t have to constantly have a bunch of game launchers up, be on a mailing list, subscribed to every social media account, AND be in a discord to keep up with every little thing for a game when it comes to important updates and events. The amount of discords and facebook groups for game events and keeping track of news and updates is so immense, I had to make a Discord just for gaming groups. And I still can’t keep up with it.
And just, I really can’t say enough how once again, this makes something I like to play for fun and on my own time suddenly turn into a job. If a developer wants to add in a new event, great, cool, that’s fine! But maybe consider making it a recurring ingame thing that a player can trigger and not something that gets turned on and off at their own leisure.
It’s incredibly frustrating and exhausting to have to spend hours and hours just hitting brick walls in various games trying to get as much done as possible. It’s a balancing act of different chores and it isn’t fun. And it’s even more discouraging when I’m not feeling up to doing much lately and then I can’t even succeed at something that was supposed to be relaxing.
I genuinely think a lot of mobile games have potential, but I think they need more faith in their player base versus the constant addition of new and higher tiers and timers. People will come back if you update. People will spend if they feel supported and communicated too. But drowning people out discourages so many people and it just isn’t fun anymore.