Crystal Dreams

January 27, 2020

My New Horizons Plans

One of the things I really enjoyed doing for New Leaf was planning things out ahead of time. That said, it was a little easier when Japan got the game 8 months in advance– I had started my planning 2 months before Japan’s release and this time, I’m doing it 2 months before the global release which is a 1/4th of the planning time, but also a bit more exciting to go into knowing we’ll all be starting somewhat close together (I say somewhat close because eShop goes by the respective country’s time and maybe a bunch of us will be visiting Australia again to preorder ASAP BUT ANYWAY…).

And when it comes down to it, some of what I’m thinking may not be possible– this will be a lot of rambling based off what we’ve seen so far, but it’s entirely possible some of this may not be able to immediately be done. Some of it will also be based off things I noticed in like… New Leaf and am semi-expecting here to an extent based off what we know.

When I played New Leaf, my big goals every single day until I was done were:
-I had to pay off anything with a debt that day. (IE: First got your tent? Pay it off. Got the house upgrade? Pay it off. Have a building being worked on or a public work? Pay it off. The day you get the debt, the day it has to be paid off)
-I had to buy every single thing in the shop.

This generally meant that I would max out all counters to get things sooner– shops coming, new buildings, and of course, new house upgrades. With the hint that things develop based off how you develop them, it makes me think we may see similar here– upgrading our house shows we want more and buying out everything may increase shop stock.

In addition to those things, I’m hoping to also make every crafting recipe I have available (and whenever I have a new one, make it immediately) plus complete Nook Miles ASAP. Obviously, assuming some will have more lofty accomplishments like badges, that’ll take much longer, but the point is to try and do as much as I can or at least hit that first milestone ASAP.

While I know some people will reset for villagers or a certain map, I’m not going to do so. I’ve never reset for villagers, I don’t really mind having to wait to get the villagers I want (and now, there’s no fear of a villager ruining my hopes and dreams with their house placement). While I can be picky with maps and did reset a short bit in New Leaf, I’m just going to hope I see a map I do like enough to just start immediately.

I’m mostly just hoping I can place my house near a waterfall. As long as I can do that, I’m good :P Fruit-wise, I’d love to get peaches again for the obvious pinkness, but I’d also be really happy with Apples (which have my favorite perfect fruit variation) and Cherries. Apples are my favorite fruit in real life followed by Cherries which is part of why I usually hope for them. If I don’t get them, it’s not the end of the world though beyond the sadness of only being able to plant the perfect fruit of the type I get– though, who knows, maybe that’ll work differently in New Horizons. Either way, I can plant the fruit normally and just may end up replacing a handful of my town’s fruit trees for a different kind. Thinking about it, I didn’t have tons of fruit trees in my New Leaf town anyway– I mainly ended up using a lot of bushes and flowers and a good variety of the various fruit trees.

My big hope with the town itself is essentially “Pink Sea 2.0”, but that really doesn’t mean much. My second description is a “more natural” Pink Sea and what I mean by that is essentially, no patterns. As much as I loved the paths and waterways I ended up using in the original Pink Sea, I’m actually not a big fan of patterns and I never really have been. I used them very sparsely in HHD for that specific reason. Part of it is because it’s so easy to ruin the illusion of it all, but also because I’m not really the best artist and while I did my own changes to patterns to make my own take on them, it wasn’t really the same as doing it all myself. Similarly, the limits were a huge pain– not just in how many you could make, but not being able to edit them if you didn’t make them… which sucked when I made a pattern on my main character and then had it be gotten from a side character. While most of the patterns I remembered to save first, some I missed in the shuffle and it’s still kind of frustrating.

Obviously, things that NEED a pattern like the flag and certain public work projects (if they make a return) are exempt from the “no pattern” rule, but I’m hoping things like the waterways from Pocket Camp will be available and I am looking forward to trying to make a natural path with the new systems in New Horizons– maybe there will even be some pretty pink path option (Edit as of February 2nd: and that sure feels fairly likely now along with actual stairs!!), who knows. This may also seem like a weird stand to take when my New Leaf dress was also a pattern, but with new dress styles and having essentially some designs I am absolutely in love with in Pocket Camp, I am really excited to see what we have in store from the official designs and I’d be very surprised if I DIDN’T find something I’m in love with. At most, and only if we could do different design options with patterns (IE: skirt styles/lengths, sleeve styles, etc.), I may consider remaking a design just to have it in another color as there’s… definitely been official designs I loved, but the color not so much. Or you know, like how my Princess Shirt/Dress/Top was changed from pink to blue for a new furniture set *SHAKES FIST AT CITY FOLK*. I’m really hoping that dresses may have multiple colors though like what Pocket Camp has done. Maybe a new option at the Able Sisters to dye your clothes similar to how Cyrus can refurbish things. (Edit as of February 1st: And with the reveal of new renders, I may be right about color options)

I am debating on if I want to just use the same flag I did for New Leaf or change it up. I guess we’ll see. I find the thing I’m having the most trouble deciding is actually with my character. I know we’ll have new faces and even nose types, but this face:

I’ve had this face since the very first Animal Crossing game. I never used guides or anything– I just answered the questions honestly and it was somehow always the one I got with the original pink hair. It’s part of why I was so happy for the first female Villager variant in Super Smash Brothers because it was the one I had gotten at the start. But as we know for NH, we’ll actually be able to pick.

For the most part, I genuinely do like the face. I would say my only big complaint would be that I wish the lashes didn’t curve the same way and one went to the left and one to the right like most of the other faces. I also was kind of sad the “brown eyes” version looked so silly with it– it doesn’t really work as well with other colors, especially as the lash color would change too.

I’ve always had mixed feelings on the noses, but it feels like such a core part of AC, I don’t know if I’ll change it or not… I guess I’ll see what the new faces are and stuff. I remember really loving the eyes in the Funny Glasses, for example, but having no use for wearing the glasses themselves.

As for hair… I still keep hoping for a new ponytail and honestly, this makes me feel like there could be:

It especially makes me hope for a curly ponytail of some kind– I feel like we’ve seen a few nice wavy/curly longer hairstyles and I just would love one pulled into a ponytail so badly. Fingers crossed at least. Heck, if they want to do DLC hairstyle packs, I’d buy them.

Finally, I keep going over my villagers. I feel like there has to be at least 10 you can have like New Leaf– possibly more (I say possibly because while City Folk had 10 too, it did have some downgrades from Wild World and the Gamecube version, which I feel the Switch could possibly beat, had 12), so that’s what I’m currently setting my goal to.

Now, I love my New Leaf villagers. Ruby I also loved a lot and if it wasn’t for her house placement, I may have even kept her (possibly over Julian). I also have a bunch of villagers who were not in my town (mostly due to limits, but some just not in the series) that have a special place in my heart: Lolly, Gayle, Beardo, Ursala, Tutu, Midge, Norma, Cheri, Pekoe, June, Goldie, Maddie, Megumi, Ellie, Tia, Lily, Rocket, Annalise, Epona, Nana, Carmen, Zucker, Blanche, Flora, Aurora, Sprinkle, Gala, Lucy, Ruby, Etoile, Stella, Vesta, Marshal, Poppy, Bianca, Freya, and Whitney.

Regardless, I do like to try and have some new villagers too. I feel like Merengue, Diana, Cookie, Peanut, Flurry, Maple, and Marina are just… absolute must have’s. Cookie, Peanut, and Maple were some of my first villagers and I was so sad when Cookie wasn’t in Wild World. Maple and Peanut have always been with me. Marina stuck around since Wild World. And Merengue, Diana, and Flurry are easily my favorite villagers in New Leaf overall.

I would say after those 7, Molly is very close. I also like Tia and Etoile a lot, but depending on how many villagers there are and new designs, I want to make sure to give them a chance too. Especially after this Nintendo Switch sticker reveal:

(this has been enlarged by me– there’s sadly no official bigger size yet)



I am currently referring to them as “Cotton Candy Cub” or CCC for short until we know their name officially. I love them so so so much. And I absolutely need to get them in my town. The Bear Cubs are actually one of my favorite villager models– the other is Deers.

This sheep also looks really cool:

And I can’t wait to see what other villagers there may be.

I just hope we won’t lose any of my favorites (or too many in general… They already all had such nice models in the Animal Crossing Plaza on the Wii U).

January 26, 2020

Pocket Camp Ramblings and more Membership thoughts

So, it’s been a while since I showed off more random Pocket Camp screenshots from when I randomly poke in and with New Horizons so close, it feels appropriate to make it my first post in 2020. I also wanted to give my impression on the Pocket Camp subscriptions after using them both and even keeping one of them for a few months (Speaking of which, I ended up being one of the giveaway winners so I’m really excited for the bag to arrive!! I may do a little unboxing post/video when it does…).

In general, most of what I thought when they first gave out the details still holds true. I think the Happy Helper Plan is genuinely the better of the two, but it does have a couple of huge flaws that really make it not as great as it could be.

What I really like about the plan especially is having a helper villager is just a really cute aspect, I love having Merengue follow me around and occasionally, there’s even cute unique dialogue and interactions.

And as someone who will get really anxious checking in every three hours, having Merengue helping out is great… only you don’t really get all the benefits of it which is the biggest issue. At this point, I have more materials than I know what to do with. What I need is friendship and the only friendship you will get when your assistant is doing these tasks is from your assistant. While I suppose it’s expected not to earn friendship if you’re not the one doing the tasks yourself, it’s still kind of frustrating as that’s one of the biggest reasons to do the tasks in the first place.

The other issues with the pack is that:
1. Only up to 24 hours of tasks are stored, so you still have to log in daily. Which for a lot of people is fine, yes, but as someone who generally enjoys having days where I don’t have to bring up an app daily (I understand the irony of having no issue bringing up main Animal Crossing games daily– I’m weird, okay?), part of the purpose is kind of ruined.
2. Not much event stuff gets picked up. Pocket Camp has a tendency to do so many events which is part of why I’m as burned out with the game as I am. I had really been looking forward to this as sometimes I do like some of the event items, but they are usually the much more high-end ones and most of the time, I just don’t reach them as I’m still too burnt out to play super often.
3. Excessive items aren’t sold off automatically. One of the newer Pocket Camp features I liked was that if you were maxed out on an item (999 of it), it would automatically turn into bells. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to items from balloons and even more frustratingly, not from your assistant who is doing all these tasks for you and thus, these extra items add up quickly.

Right now, I have over 50 different stacks of materials just sitting in my mail box (which also means I get to see the “lovely” red alert constantly…). That doesn’t count how many have expired at this point because I have no use for them and selling them just to gather more got tiring really fast.

I think it can still be helpful in some ways, not to mention your assistant villager can get 40 Friendship points a day though doing tasks if you only check in once every 24 hours. If you don’t mind switching out your assistant, that’s a really good way to grind up friendship, but while I’ve thought about it, I’d genuinely feel bad switching.

Unfortunately, I don’t have as much good to say about the Cookie & Depot Plan. If you’re that desperate for items from older fortune cookies, maybe? But they do rotate. You can’t pick your items or anything– only the specific fortune cookie itself. What you get from it is still random. I would say the only way I’d recommend it is if someone pays that amount anyway to get some fortune cookies every month as it’s 200 Leaf Tickets for the same price which would only afford 4 Fortune Cookies and this gets you 5 plus storage, but if you rarely buy leaf tickets or generally try to get fortune cookies only when up for bells, it just feels kind of pointless. If you actually got to pick which item you wanted from a few fortune cookies, maybe I’d find it more worth it? (I know you can for scratch cards, but it’s still a lot even if they have lessened the amounts)

Despite my complaints though, the leaf tickets from them plus the fortune cookies did let me get this coat I wanted and finally manage to get this fountain which was the one item I really wanted from Julian’s cookie:

One interesting thing is that while you will get your rewards on whatever day you do your subscription, further rewards are given out the first of every month (or the next time you log in after the first)– so if you subscribed to one of the subscriptions on the 16th for example, you would get your reward on the 1st of next month despite it not having been a full month. Your subscription will still renew 30 days from the original date.

The crafting time going down is a nice perk for both, but at the moment, there’s just nothing I am crafting beyond occasionally maybe some event items and more often than not, I don’t manage to earn enough stuff to make them so… The Pocket Camp Club Journal is really cute and I’ll miss it if I don’t keep a subscription, but it’s nothing groundbreaking either. I still enjoy it though. Cyrus’ sketchbook is probably my favorite part of the book, but it’s kind of just taunting myself with how rarely I manage to get some items nowadays…

The Design tips can also be a lot of fun. While I have used some of the tips before myself, I love seeing the different rooms they create. Plus, this month’s wallpaper actually featured one of my favorite villagers: Flurry! :D I sure hope I’ll get her again in New Horizons…

Regardless, I have to say that the Member Card is SUPER CUTE and I really love the ribbons. If there’s one thing I’m sad about is no longer having the purple ribbon and probably soon, neither ribbon.

(As of posting this, my character is up to 824 days on the job)

Moving onto non-subscription-based stuff, we’re going to be covering the last few months with a handful of screenshots. For one, like Valentine’s Day, we got a special Thanksgiving thing too! I even recorded it:

I honestly like Merengue, Diana, Cookie, Peanut, Flurry, Marina, and Maple pretty evenly and I wish I could give all of them gifts. Just if it wasn’t clear between my love of Mega Audino, Alcremie, and Slurpuff, I absolutely have a certain aesthetic. :P But yes, for those who’d rather not watch a video, some pictures of it!:

And the gift we received in return:

I just wish I had somewhere better to put it… I’m genuinely pretty happy with my camp site and room to the point where it’s hard to fit new items in the first place. I had to work really hard to get this fountain to fit and while I love it more, I miss the fancy bath:

I also, shockingly, got this amazing dress:

I think the only thing I’d still want is a way to customize more of the background (I miss my cherryblossom trees and would prefer a pink mansion… but I love the fountains… but it also hides my moon-rainbow sky) and better hair– I really want a long wavy ponytail and while this kind of gives the allusion of such, it’s just a wavy partially down style with part of it pulled into a bun.

I still have been doing a pretty awful job with events. While I finished the Anniversary one, I failed both Jingle’s and Isabelle’s next one:

I’m happy I at least managed to get some of the flowers though. I will admit it makes me a bit nervous for New Horizons for just how much the flower system could expand… So many flowers. Maybe there will just be some new flower furniture item that includes one of each color in a pot or something.

Anyway, to finish this off, I just want to bring up the cute image Pocket Camp had for 2020:

Things have been rough on my end, but I’m doing my best to keep going. And New Horizons is only 54 days away now :)

December 13, 2019

New Horizons is less than 100 days away!

Heck, it’s almost exactly three months away. I’ve found myself both excited and a bit anxious about it so I thought it’d be nice to talk about my current thoughts on the game, plus a little more on the new screenshots that were shared last month.

Besides exciting news of the game also being translated into both Latin American Spanish and Spain-Spanish, they also showed a new regional/culture-based item– the China Poblana Dress.

This confirms a handful of things:
1. We will get sleeve styles besides length, as shown in Pocket Camp. I adore poofy sleeves and bell sleeves so getting both of those in Pocket Camp and seeing some kind of confirmation that at least one of those variants can come over, and honestly likely more, is really exciting.
2. Similarly, another thing I really liked from Pocket Camp: Full-length gowns/long dresses and it genuinely looks great.
3. Culture-based items are back.

That last part isn’t really surprising, but I’ve found the number one question I’ve had with New Horizons is wondering how they will work in this game. Will something on the game cartridge or what eShop you bought it from determine it even though it can work no matter what account plays it? Is it determined by what country your NNID is set to that starts the game up first? Do you get to select at the start like Pokemon?

New Leaf had regional exclusives for the following:
North America
Europe – With some item changes for New Years Eve depending on if you were playing in French, German, Spanish, or British English.

And now we know there will, at the least, be variants between Latin America and Spain, but also had been told they were taking into effect those in the Southern Hemisphere as well so they will have the proper weather. This is actually really exciting, both in the sense of just incorporating so many places, but also working together with friends to get things done with the various fish and bugs for the museum.

There’s always the question though of how far they may take it– will there be Region Exclusive Bugs/Fish? I feel like that could start getting rather complicated, especially when online costs money and many people had trouble finding people to even connect with for the few items there were. It could even get complicated as some items, like during Setsubun and Hina Matsuri involved items you can buy from the shop and not all of them could be re-ordered through the catalog.

But I find out of everything, this is what I keep coming back around to and what I really want to know most. How will it be determined? How many items are there?

I’ve always been in the party of wishing the items could be gotten in every game along with the events. It’d be a great way to share different cultures and learn about them. If it wasn’t for Japanese Cultural items being in the Gamecube version, I would’ve never spent so much time learning about different holidays in Japan and really getting to know their culture. And sure, maybe I still would’ve gotten interested down the line, but right now, that is what ended up pulling me in at the very start.

I still think a good compromise would be once you experience an event in another person’s town, you can somehow start celebrating it in your town too. Considering you help build up the Island, I feel like there’s still a chance that could happen.

I’m hoping we’ll get a Nintendo Direct next month as it feels like we’re still lacking a lot of information– even the official site is kind of just an overview. Regardless, I’m looking forward to whatever they may bring and I can’t wait to get started on my New Horizons playthrough.

November 27, 2019

On Pokemon Sword & Shield

As a note, I personally played Shield so my thoughts will mostly be in reference to that, but I just had a lot I wanted to really discuss after having played and my impressions as I went along. I more or less did this in parts as I went and the order won’t be fully concise, but I will say that I both enjoyed the game, but am still upset by certain choices it’s made along with others I didn’t expect to be issues, but, well, are. While there may be more negative than positive listed below, I am genuinely looking forward to continuing to play certain parts of the game even after finishing it. Also please keep in mind this WILL go into some spoilers.

Starting off, I will say I genuinely do like a handful of the new Pokemon, but I also loved a lot of Pokemon from previous gens too and that doesn’t really fix any of the issues with the Pokedex cut. I never expected every Pokemon to be in the game, but my issue is that I can’t even transfer them when I finish, maybe do a replay with them, and I still don’t really understand why. I don’t play Pokemon for fancy graphics or incredible animation. The models still look pretty similar and even if some Pokemon could maybe not interact in certain modes, that would’ve been okay to me. My issue is just that they’ll be trapped in a box eternally and some of these Pokemon I’ve had for over a decade.

And like, I get that this will change up competitive, especially with all the moves that have been removed as well, but they could just… have a list of Pokemon and moves that can’t be used. Heck, they already do that– I don’t see why anything had to be fully cut for this. It just feels like they are trying to push everything in this little box to play a certain way rather than letting people experience and play how they want.

There’s already a fairly linear story to play through, I don’t think there’s any need to restrict levels people can catch Pokemon at (I know it’s only at the Wild area due to how high Pokemon can be and while that is better than nothing, I still think it’s unneeded– most people will have trouble anyway when a Pokemon can literally just one-hit them), what Pokemon they can use, or just how many moves are in.

I always play through new gens with new Pokemon (or forms) only, so it’s really just that nostalgia value and attachment to the Pokemon I’ve had on past teams that I am losing out on. I don’t mind redoing my entire living dex (I’ve done so enough, though, I’ll probably pass on gender differences of any older Pokemon or at least save that for last, but since they can be transferred to an extent anyway…). The problem is just not having these Pokemon with me anymore– I collected all kinds of ribbons and things on them for a reason.

And while I know people have issues with the permanent experience share (while I enjoy it, I do wish there was a disable option for those who don’t) and changes to make things easier for EVs, it still doesn’t really mean much when some Pokemon will, unfortunately, never be completely viable based off overall stats. Even more frustrating, while I’m not entirely sure why (I would guess maybe the move cuts, but in general, it just feels like there’s less TMs that can be leaned), there just aren’t as many options for moves Pokemon can learn. It feels like they cut things out a lot and as someone who often uses very similar type Pokemon, I usually would try and make my movements have a lot of variety to help cover things like giving an Audino Thunderbolt, Flamethrower, and Surf. Unfortunately, my team will not be able to learn a single Water type move this time. I will have Normal, Fighting, Electric, Fairy, Grass, Fire, Psychic, Ground, Ghost, and Dark covered which gives me about half, but some of those moves aren’t even partially strong and between mixed stats and some of the final teams I had to go up against, overleveling was also practically required. Part of me feels like I should’ve expected it when four of the Pokemon are found in the exact same area, but it’s never been a huge issue before despite my tendency to only end up having a few different actual types and even if I didn’t have the STAB bonus, it still worked out. As a side note, TRs especially feel like a step backwards and it’s frustrating as that was a really nice quality of life feature that feels like it was tossed aside. While it’s nice we can at least trade TRs through our Pokemon, not letting TMs be able to now is just… another hit towards trying to fit everyone in this same little box to play a specific way… Like I’m just waiting for a game where we get a set team and have to deal with it because it feels like people are being forced to compromise more and more due to this. The only fire move I could have my team learn was a TM you can’t get until Post-game which made the fight against Chairman Rose one of my most difficult in the game as I had Pokemon who all could suffer to Steel and nothing to really use against it. I genuinely was scared I was going to lose (and very nearly did if it wasn’t for some quick thinking and good item usage) even with a team about 20 levels higher. Like, just, if some people want to play Pokemon on “hard mode”, let them! Let them have tougher battles and no experience share and enjoy it the way they like. If some people aren’t as into battles and want to play it on “easy mode” and get some higher attacks sooner, let them! Pokemon is a single-player game and multiplayer aspects have always been a side part of the game and those who are super into competitive will be fine even if someone’s lower level Pokemon has like… flamethrower already somehow. And like, if they did uncap stats for those who prefer to play casually so all Pokemon can be viable and they can play how they want as if all Pikachu had the power level of Ash’s Pikachu, just have it be neutralized in versus play. It’s that simple. They already do level cap adjustments in the Battle Tower areas. I don’t understand why people have to essentially get punished if they want to play any way other than this specific way.

And we kind of hit a step-back quality of life thing for encounters too honestly. I was fine saying bye to random encounters and liked seeing Pokemon right in the over world along with if they were shiny or not in Let’s Go. I also feel bad for those who shiny hunt as that probably helped a bit over running into every single one. It just seems like a weird change when the models are already in anyway and they still have gender differences show up properly– there’s no real reason the shiny ones couldn’t as well. I think I’d be okay with the random encounters being back as long as it was both– like these Pokemon can show up as both Overworld or random encounters, but not one or the other so people could still have that random feeling without having to constantly force it. That said, I am not fond of being chased which ends up making me both anxious and also screaming in real life so can we maybe not do that.

I feel part of the move changes may be because of Dynamaxing which causes moves to change in a similar way that some attacks would change when they became a Z-Move. I rarely used Z-Moves, beyond seeing the animation, and despite my love of Mega Audino, I actually hated Mega Evolutions and would’ve preferred them to just be permanent form changes. I really detest battle gimmicks and Dynamaxing has to be my least favorite so far. It’s not even how long it takes, but how it feels required. If the enemy team used a mega evolution, I could still beat them without doing so as not all Pokemon could mega evolve anyway. Z-Moves could be strong, but you can withstand them enough and half the time, I knocked out the Pokemon before they could use it, but Dynamaxing causes the HP to increase A LOT along with upping the attack power and if you don’t Dynamax as well, your attacks generally feel like doing a lot less. I generally try to ignore the gimmicks, but the game rarely gives me the opportunity to this time and it sucks. While I could maybe avoid it with some stronger Pokemon or maxing them out more, it still feels like too much at times… Not to mention I’m just kind of tired of both the music and cutscenes for the entire thing.

Similarly, going back to what I said before about kind of wanting you to play a very specific way, this feels even more apparent at the sharp level curve around the third and 4th gyms. The game assumes you’ll be going into the Wild area, doing raids, and training off Pokemon plus getting a lot of the experience increases. I purposely wanted to save the Wild area until the end when I wouldn’t have to worry about running into something I couldn’t catch. Which meant despite catching nearly every single Pokemon I could and even fighting all the trainers, I was still about 5-10 levels lower at the time and some of the attacks were brutal. Even doing some emergency leveling to get a bit ahead by going into the raid area, I found myself coming up a bit short.

Raids also have a handful of issues. While you may be able to take on 1 or 2 Stars by yourself, 3 Stars are a coin flip based off what you have available and who you’re up again and 4 and 5 stars are very hard alone or without a full team. 5 Star especially needs a full team of players as the AI is complete garbage. You CAN get lucky and maybe pull it off with two people, but it’s stressful and unlikely. The matchmaking is a mess as well when it comes to trying to match with friends as their raids won’t always show up. Add on the fact that you can put in all that effort and still have the Pokemon escape from the Pokeball at the end and it can be super disheartening. I really do thing if you manage to get a raid done, you should automatically get the Pokemon. You don’t really have second chances (I mean, I suppose you can keep saving and resetting, but I don’t know, I feel really weird about doing that in this game), you already have to depend on your teammates (I’ve had an AI who brought a fire Pokemon to a raid against a Water Pokemon) and while sometimes I’ve gotten lucky or close to winning if all the AI didn’t keep dying (as if a total of 4 Pokemon faint, the raid automatically ends… Which I also think is stupid– I can understand the 10 rounds, but unless the team fully wipes versus the same one or two people keep fainting, I don’t think there should be a fainting element to lose) and people really love to just… rush to Dynamax. I generally check my teammates to see who I think would be the best to and if I don’t think my Pokemon will do it, I’ll pass. And it’s so rare to see it get passed beyond one other person because people just… LEAP to that Dynamax button as if their life depended on it and if the Dyanmax’d Pokemon gets knocked out or is just… clearly underleveled, everyone is kind of risking it and it sucks. I feel horrible when I miscalculate and fail. One of the things I genuinely like about raids is it actually feels REALLY NICE to be able to help friends out (or at least attempt to) or even just random people. There’s something really fulfilling about it and I think I just wish it was possible to do more parties of the same raid if multiple people want to try against whatever pops up like… if someone is late, make a new room. I think that’d be cool. Even once I finish, I’ll probably pop in at times to help people out and that’s probably the first time I’ve ever really had a reason to play more of Pokemon once I finish my own goals.

Moving onto graphics, honestly, the towns were beautiful. The trainers mainly worked, but the Pokemon felt rather… bland at times. Like if I dropped a cell-shaded character on a painted background. It didn’t look bad necessarily, just kind of lackluster. Especially in the water.

In general, the Wild Area is a bit less impressive in comparison to the towns, I would guess it’s partially due to how much is IN it in the first place.

Regardless, like I said, while it’s mainly a models thing, a lot of the areas are just really stunning:

The only other thing I’d maybe bring up are some of the “battle arenas” when just battling out in about… Like Hop challenging the main character at the Hot Springs area only for it to put us on the outside Winter path. It was just kind of strange.

I’m also not really the biggest “music” person in games, but the two themes that stood out to me the most were Circhester’s Town theme and one of the Gym trainer victory theme remixes. It just sounded so bubbly.

As for customization, it was kind of mixed. I think they had a good variety for some things like jackets, pants, and skirts, but all the shirts felt pretty plain with mostly just being some variant of a long sleeved or short sleeved shirt for the most part. I would’ve loved something similar to the Tie-Neck Blouse from X/Y. I still feel like X/Y had the most “variety” style-wise– just not much in the color department, which thankfully Sword/Shield does well with, though, I do miss having “light” and “dark” versions of each color while whether you get light, neon, or bright colors seems to vary based off brand and not usually more than one shade of a color. There’s only two dresses and both are hot pink. While I could maybe try pairing a pink jacket with the white dress which looks okay, I just wish I could wear a nice light pink one. There’s a handful of skirt styles, but all are fairly short, even shorter than the dress skirt length, and it’s kind of disappointing. I still found something I like though at least, but god, why couldn’t there be some light pink dresses?

I would say hairstyles are where I was most disappointed and while I at least liked them more than Sun/Moon to an extent (I think they did wavy hair better there than here though), I still think X/Y did the best. Male hairstyles still kind of lack a bit and I’m not sure why they just… don’t include all from past games or something, but as for girls, my main issue is the lack of long hair. I loved the long wavy ponytail from X/Y and know a lot of people who used the long pigtails, but Sword/Shield’s longest hair only goes a bit below the shoulders/barely mid-back with the ponytail likely being that long hairstyle up and that’s it. I genuinely don’t understand why we couldn’t have longer hair.

I also wish we could customize our “challenger” outfit to some extent beyond the numbers. We unlock these other uniforms, but can’t even use them in the battles themselves. I also just… hate the fact that a couple of gyms vary per game. I can deal with version exclusive Pokemon, even if I do find it dumb, but exclusive gyms or anything similar just sucks. We don’t even see those characters at all beyond the gym introduction thing despite some mentioning through League Cards and I have no idea why. Like we really can’t run into them somehow? We still saw the characters in Black/White… It’s just so weird to me, especially as it causes region exclusive league cards too and like… we really can’t run into them to battle them too?

As for the gyms themselves, I found the stadium environment dumb, but did like the different challenges to get up to that point. I also enjoyed how the “Elite 4” worked in this game– it made me think of the Anime. The puzzles were fun too for the most part. The ice/rock one kind of stressed me out a bit.

Moving onto the Online stuff… Surprise Trades are essentially Wonder Trades, so I still enjoy them, but the removal of the GTS sucks and the Link Trade codes don’t really work 100%… Like it’s a neat option if you don’t want to add everyone I guess, but you can easily get someone else and sometimes, it can take a couple of times to get who you want to. I already spoke about Max Raids earlier and still stick to that. Some also just… fill up so fast and while I am looking forward to being more helpful with friends, half the time the thing doesn’t even properly pop up which is a bit of an issue. Though, considering all the maintenance, it seems they are still having some issues with it. While it can be laggy, I do genuinely love running into people out and about. I just don’t know why they didn’t let people’s icons be their trainer, maybe even from their league card, versus having to pick one of the random game trainers to represent you on the Y-Comm.

I would say my favorite part with Sword/Shield would be some of the collection aspects. I love being able to collect all the league cards and fill out the curry dex as well while working on my living dex. Camping is also a lot of fun, though, I wish we could get more toys and even customize our tent a bit more beyond just the color. I also would’ve liked to see our hotel room to be honest… Honestly, I just want both character customization and some kind of room/secret base customization too :( I feel like there were areas it could’ve been… (Also tired of the Eevee for girls, Pikachu for boys thing… I’ve always liked Pikachu more than Eevee, why couldn’t I have a Pikachu plush in my room or even both??). I’m also looking forward to trying to get all the Alcremie variants and that brings me up to my least favorite thing with the Curry Dex and Alcremie Collection: Getting the items you need sucks.

While most of the main food ingredients in the Curry Dex aren’t TERRIBLE to earn, one item you can only get rarely through raids and berries are mainly through randomly shaking trees. What berries you get are random and if you shake too much, you get attacked by a Pokemon and lose a lot of, if not all of, your berries. As for the other ingredients, while some are sold randomly, most of it is just randomly gotten through talking to trainers in the Wild Area or randomly stumbling across them, but it’s still all random. Random ingredients, random berries… And with Alcremie, there’s 7 different flavors for a total of 70 different Alcremie variants (Vanilla Cream, Ruby Cream, Caramel Swirl, Lemon Cream, Matcha Cream, Mint Cream, Rainbow Swirl, Ruby Swirl, Salted Cream, and Shiny with each of the 7 decorations) so you need to get 10 of each of these decorations which are only through random Cafe Battles you can do once a day and there are only three total cafes. Even if you somehow lucked out and got 3 sweets EVERY DAY and they were somehow all ones you still needed to do, it would take over 23 days minimum. You also need to hope you don’t mess up as some require spinning over 5 seconds in a different direction or even over 10 seconds at a specific time. The first time I even tried, despite normally spinning no problem, I was so stressed out I immediately failed because it’s such a gamble if you even get these. Like they could’ve just made it so which sweet you gave the Alcremie is which color you get overall and while I do like this way (and the Strawberry is honestly my favorite), it’s just… a lot.

I genuinely think some of the new evolution systems are interesting and cool, but I wish it wasn’t so luck-based. That is my biggest problem. And it quickly gets frustrating.

Other messes are everything with the fossils. While yes, you could just trade to make it easier, you’ll still be a bit short as there are four different fossil Pokemon that are essentially abominations that were brought back to life wrong by combining two fossils and honestly, I feel absolutely awful about it?? I hate this. I hate that they did this. WHY would they do this?? Regardless, you can only get more in your own game through yet another random chance game. I will say the fossils came faster than I expected, but it’s just… why is so much up to random chance? This goes for evolution stones as well and if there is one big complaint I have with the game, it’s how convoluted everything is. Like I’m so tired of paying the Skilled Digging Guide to try and get things.

I feel like maybe if the weather changed more often, that would at least *help* make things feel less hectic or like so much to keep track of, but it doesn’t and it’s just kind of frustrating at times. You get so many PokeDollars too as you play the game and yet, so many items can’t be bought. :/ There are also items that PokeJobs are really helpful to get, but I ended up not doing them often as due to the way I keep my box organized, it would always get messed up upon their return/removal. I kind of wish it was possible for them to just be in their space, but like… locked in the same way a Pokemon pending for surprise trade is versus needing to move everything around again when they return or thinking I’m crazy and didn’t actually catch a Pokemon because I stress too much.

Finally, the story and the characters… I really liked the characters and while some went back and forth for me, I found myself mainly wishing we could hang out with some of them more. I know a lot of people didn’t like Hop and I feel part of it was his determination that he would definitely be the Champion even as he loses to the MC each time. It wasn’t even like… general bragging of being the best, but like “Even though I keep losing I’ll still be Champion” and it came off a bit strange, but I still kind of liked him along with Bede and Marnie as well.

Speaking of Bede, I would just like to say I am absolutely pinker than him, Ms. Opal >___> Anyway, going back to my point… I liked the story a lot and I like how it built up. I think my only real issue is I often picked the options to not immediately battle or ask why, partially in hopes that maybe it wouldn’t force me to like how you can skip the catching tutorial, but also just to see if it varied the story at all, but other than seeing a bit of dialogue difference, it mostly just acted like I picked the “wrong” choice and had me go through the dialogue again. I know it was silly to hope for an option to essentially say “I’m only here because Hop dragged me into it”, but I still kind of got hopeful if only due to some of the choices they gave me.

I kind of wish we had more moments where we COULD respond how we wanted. Maybe it was just our character actually having more expressions and animations, but I felt more attached to them as a character and it made me wish I could do more and act a certain way. Especially during some of the big battle monologues. We very rarely get an option and it’d be nice to get it more.

I also was disappointed, though not surprised, about how Chairman Rose ended up being the real villain. Team Yell felt more comic relief than anything and it’s always some big important person or someone with a lot of power and well, it panned out. In general, the whole thing felt like a stretch, and I get that Pokemon never has the most sensible plots (I mean, Gen 3 showed that plenty with Team Aqua’s and Team Magma’s goals…), but it just felt weird in the sense of wanting to help these people of this town so much… he wanted to abandon them to ensure the energy lasts to the future without fully understanding how it all worked? And then he just… turns himself in. I loved the entire scene against Eternatus a lot so I’m not necessarily mad, I just kind of would’ve liked if maybe we didn’t have to have some ridiculous over the plot once, especially as I liked both of the characters and they were friendlier than pretty much all the other “villain” heads.

The Post Game was also just kind of strange, but I enjoyed seeing all the characters again. I kind of wish I could’ve pointed out that Hop is the one who dragged the MC on this journey/path in the first place, but oh well. I think my only complaint is we really only saw Marnie after that and Bede’s moment was too short. For the other “rival” characters, it really felt like they were barely around and I would’ve liked to hang out with them more and learn about them without just reading about it on the back of their cards. I also still had so many questions about the Royalty thing– am I a Princess/Queen now?? Do I really have a thrown somewhere? Can I make my title Princess? These are all very important questions.

I will say overall, I think the whole thing with Eternatus and the sword and shield was absolutely my favorite part in the game. The cutscenes were amazing, the characters reactions were great, the music was perfect, I felt so pumped up during it and there isn’t really a similar scene during post-game unfortunately but just like, look at their precious faces and some of these scenes from that moment:

And just kind of a quick fire brief thing with last opinions:
-I’m glad we got some version of a traveling box back along with more “normal” boxes. While I liked a lot of Let’s Go’s sorting options (like being able to sort by Pokedex number… That was so helpful…), I prefer the boxes to a super long menu.
-Something I never expected to say, but I’m kind of glad Pokemon following wasn’t in the game. As much as I usually like it, Let’s Go showed it REALLY doesn’t work well when there’s overworld sprites as it just makes the screen feel really busy and when you’re watching for Pokemon spawns and your own Pokemon just keeps moving around, it can be really distracting. That said, I think a good compromise in the future would be something where smaller Pokemon can still hang out if you choose for them to and/or having it so they could still pop out during cut scenes or areas where there aren’t wild Pokemon. That said, there was an option to just… not have a Pokemon follow you so it still could’ve worked if it did stay around.
-I get that Hop chooses the starter weak to ours, but him already having a Wooloo and challenging us to a battle with 2 Pokemon against 1 was really messed up.
-Honestly, some of the Pokemon cut are just… genuinely surprising and feel more UK-ish than some of the ones in (such as the Lillipup line versus the Pancham line). It just makes the dex cut feel even more disheartening because the reasons don’t add up enough. And I still stand by that we really do have tons of Pokemon already– I would love to see a game focus more on everything built up (or even just a new region) even if there weren’t any new Pokemon or just like… new legendaries. They’ve made so much great stuff, I wish they’d do something using it all rather than scrapping so much of it every new game or doing weird cuts like this.
-If a Pokemmon has a Gigantamax form, all of those Pokemon should– not just some of them. Every Pikachu, Every Gengar, Every Alcremie. Make it through an item maybe if needed, but it’s super frustrating as part of the fun is raising the Pokemon early on and if you just have to catch this fancy already evolved Pokemon, who may likely escape no matter how hard you try, it removes some of the fun bonding journey experience.
-I continue to miss the Dex Nav, especially as they keep adding more conditions for when/how to find Pokemon.
-2% catch rates are absolute garbage. I can kind of give it some flack for high level evolutions, but literally the base evolution (if there is even more than one evolution)?? Seriously?? Raid exclusives also suck considering how random it can be. What frustrates me the most is it’s all luck based. Someone can run into the grass and immediately get it while others can be running into them for hours with no luck. There’s no skill, it’s just endless monotony. Not to mention I swear the game has a higher chance of giving you a Pokemon you’ve caught or seen before than one you haven’t v-v;
-Pokemon Camp is really cute, but I kind of wish I could just watch them more as the… toys are kind of boring and we can’t really pet our Pokemon either. I wish we could add more things for them to do like toys and stuff like Pokemon Amie. Similarly, having our Pokemon say how they hope to be pet when we literally can’t in this game is just cruel.
-As much fun as the Curry dex and cooking with your Pokemon is, I wish the… method was less spammy? A bit simpler or just button pressing timers versus as convoluted as it is.
-Since we can take items away from Pokemon in the box, it’d be nice if we could also give/use/evolve them too, honestly.
-The Bike controls are kind of really awkward? The turning/controls just feel rough and it tends to do a lot of big arches.
-The Wild Area is a gimmicky mess. I think there’s cool aspects to it, it’s really fun to run around and see other trainers and Pokemon popping up in all kinds of environments in like this crazy area full of different biomes, but it’s also super laggy when there’s a lot of trainers and Pokemon, the weather changes by day which while cool at times is significantly less cool when trying to find a Pokemon that has a 2% spawn rate only in random grass (the 5% overworld ones are kind of annoying too, but easier to deal with) or playing Den lotto with Wishing Stars. I do think it’s an interesting idea, but just not really furnished a lot. I think maybe smaller areas spread out with set weathers would’ve worked a bit better.
-As cool as the bike going right into a water-riding-bike thing, I do miss surfing on Pokemon. Or with Pokemon.
-I understand why Sinistea breeding would generally be a forgery because of these… rare tea sets, but it kind of sucks the form doesn’t carry over if breeding a legit one. Similarly, if I give it a legitimate tea pot (Chipped), why can’t it BECOME an authentic one? Like it is possessing my tea pot even if the tea cup wasn’t. As a side note,, while I am glad it’s not a big difference, it sucks that you really have no way to tell without catching it unless you get lucky with how the camera moves during the battle.
-The move relearner, move deleter, and name rater all being together in one NPC in every Pokemon Center was really nice. I hope that sticks around.
-The Joy-con switching around is really cute as is getting the same Pikachu and/or Eevee as whatever gender you had at Let’s Go. I love cute Easter Eggs like that. Also really makes me wish I had pink Joy-Cons. Or that light pink ones existed.
-Kind of how Let’s Go let a random user tag in locally, I kind of wish they took that an extra step this time where if when in a Wild Area, another Switch user could connect to their saved data to play together with the other so users who only have one Switch could still raid and trade.
-I genuinely adore a lot of the new Pokemon designs. Definitely have some brand new favorites that would easily be in my top 10-20, if not top 5.
-Only being able to change our outfits in the Boutique again sucks.
-Why is there no weather key?? Sure, some are pretty obvious, but others I manage to constantly mix up somehow. Or at least flat out say the weather in the details.
-I genuinely wish there were more moments on the train. I really liked those cutscenes and it could’ve been a nice way to just… chat with characters from time to time too.

-The game seems to prioritize online notifications by anyone near you, anyone on your friend’s list, and then anyone in your region/playing the same language followed by maybe those playing in others. While it definitely shows a lot of people just wandering around, it’d be nice to see more notifications and connectivity with all players, especially when playing at times where it’s really early for most people I know.
-I’m so happy that move learning is identical throughout the line versus some Pokemon only learning certain moves at a certain stage and level varying. I don’t have to worry about missing something now.
-I really liked making my own League Card, but I wish we had some of the sparkly color backgrounds that some of the ones we collect have. A lot of the options we had for ours either felt like too busy of a pattern or were literal scenery and it’d have been cool to have some options similar to ones we collected. Regardless, that didn’t change me finding something I really liked.
-It’d be nice if the game said when someone is changing their Pokemon when in a raid with someone.
-I get that the Battle Tower is mainly for those who want to play competitive, but some people still just want to have a powerful team of Pokemon they love and maybe get all the cute collectibles and just, if I want to steamroll through with level 100 Pokemon versus level 50’s, just let me please. I also wish I could use Pokedollars instead of needing to earn BP because again, you earn A LOT of Pokedollars and while I prefer too much to too little in this case, there really isn’t much to spend it on once you finish the story itself and are dressed how you like.
-While I don’t really need voice acting in Pokemon, it was genuinely a bit awkward at times that they did all the mouths moving but… had absolutely no sound beyond awkward occasional sound effects. Even the little text beeps would’ve been fine, but it just felt really weird.
-I AM SO HAPPY WE CAN SIT ON BENCHES AGAIN. I missed sitting. And I love how the… menus fade out when you do this so you can just watch the scene unfold. I also really adore the character idle animations.

Anyway, I have less than 20 Pokemon left for my Living dex so it’s time to get back to it :)

I’ll edit this entry when I’m done.

Edit on November 28th, 2019 at 10PM EST: The Living Dex has been completed!

The video can be checked out here :)

November 22, 2019

Let’s talk about Virtual Worlds

So, something I’ve been thinking about a lot as newer ones have started to pop up again recently: Virtual Worlds. While some of you may already be aware, I really adore Virtual World games which have, unfortunately, become kind of non-existent over the years. Most have been phased out and it’s such a shame as they’re honestly pretty fun. The games are essentially MMOs… But usually a bit more relaxing. The excitement comes in customization, minigames, puzzles, and collectibles and outside the minigame grind, it’s something I really enjoy a lot.

Pretty much everyone has heard of Club Penguin, which unfortunately closed to make way for Club Penguin Island… And didn’t last very long which is a shame. I feel part of the issue is a lot of people played the PC version and while they eventually added a PC version (which I found ran much better), it was downloadable versus in browser which can turn some people off.

On top of that, you had to start over. Club Penguin Island was essentially a reboot of the original Club Penguin and while we saw some old familiar faces, many of them had new designs. On top of that, old features that people had adapted to just… weren’t there. Like Puffles which were in progress, but didn’t manage to release before the game closed. Adding on that most clothing could only be accessed as a member and having so little options compared to the old game due to being a reboot and it kind of set itself up to fail with a much higher budget, but not enough to pull people in. Plus, while clothing design is cool, they generally looked flatter to most “official” stuff and they didn’t do enough regular outfits. It was just patterns for people to design their own all the time which, yes, still cool, but could be better.

Personally, I really enjoyed the missions on Club Penguin Island as those kinds of things were my favorite part of Club Penguin. However, a big issue with the ones on CPI was the fact that they were very linear. While Club Penguin’s could be too, I felt there was more exploration and puzzles involved–but not just that, sometimes there were additional side quests which would allow you to get a bonus reward like a box of pizza or a medal and those kind of trinkets have always been some of my favorite things. CPI’s was very much a back and forth quest with occasionally some item collecting, but mostly I just felt like I was going back and forth talking to NPCs with a brief minigame at times.

Build a Bearville is probably one of the games I’m surprised shut down. It seemed to be doing well, it encouraged people to buy more of their products (I bought a lot more of them just for some little virtual item versus actually wanting the animal itself…), there was interesting customization, and I made some friends. I have a video I did shortly before it closed down and I do miss it.

ImagineTown is another odd closure and what still bothers me about it to this day is the fact that it closed VERY SHORTLY after it’s grand opening. The game I actually felt did a good job balancing things and just didn’t get the time it needed to flourish. The game had the character pick from several different “jobs” such as Model or Gardener or Designer. Each had their own quest line and you could unlock more of it. You couldn’t unlock everything for free, but there was a lifetime price which was roughly the cost of the game which honestly really helped make it worth it. I loved helping out on the forums, I felt the quests were all fun, I liked designing clothing, and it was genuinely really cute. There were neat titles you could earn:

Cool animations:

And I really loved the different backgrounds. I know Ubisoft is likely not reading this, but if somehow they are, I still wish they’d bring it back :(

Not to mention how hard I worked on my room too and there were still so many items I was looking forward to:

The game actually connected to some of their games and you could earn codes to redeem for items as well.

Wiglington and Wenks is another I was really fond of. I always loved Madeline’s European Adventure and it was kind of like that, but in a virtual world format– you traveled around places and could collect items and learn about different cultures and that just ticks nearly every box in things I love. It never really had time to kick off though, there was often not much to do once you found everything, and there wasn’t really much of a story. It just didn’t have enough to do while waiting for new content.

Pixie Hollow was another I really liked and it just kind of closed so fast, I didn’t even have a chance to really screenshot and record things I would’ve liked to remember. I would say it’s biggest issues ere having it so spawns weren’t player specific and adding a competitive nature to certain events on top of just… a lot of grinding. It also had a lot of items only available for a certain amount of time and required a lot of materials to make those things in time and when also having to go against other users trying to do the same thing, it was just too much and I feel like just a few adjustments could’ve kept it alive and well, honestly. But Disney just shut it down instead.

For those who did enjoy Club Penguin, recently the original creator of it started work on a new Virtual World– Box Critters:

The art style alone should be pretty nostalgic and while they aren’t Penguins, there are going to be a handful of different species this time around.

Right now, it’s still in Alpha phases with weekly items and occasional special events keeping people interest. There’s been an Easter one that involved collecting Eggs by going to certain parts of the map and then wearing those eggs to other parts would grant bunny hats, a Halloween Maze, and most recently, the BattleBears event to tie in with their boardgame Kickstarter of the same name, though, it is currently being reworked.

While I think the game is doing a good job keeping people interested, I do think it hits some marks that could alienate future users. There are already 94 different items that were publicly available at some point and of those 94, only 36 are still available to get. At the moment, I don’t believe it’s been said any items are permanently gone so I’m absolutely hoping some items will make a return, especially ones that were only available for a day (things happen– I’ve lost interest suddenly for an entire week and it sucks to miss out on things).

I feel like the big things that Virtual Worlds need to remember, especially if they are generally more casual and not literally an MMO in a browser, is they need to:
1. Be Flexible. Events are cool and definitely a must, but they don’t need to be one time only. Recurring can work. And even items that come back maybe every season or every year or two still helps.

2. Whether intentional or not, the game does encourage a community feeling. Having super rare items can encourage a clique-like environment and make people feel left out. People can still show their older pride either through their username or even having their date shown somewhere. There’s other ways to be a Founder besides super exclusives.

3. While it can be fun to have an item be announced through a specific social media vein or through someone specific, it’s less fun when it’s spread to just a few people before officially releasing– it’s the main reason so many people started guessing codes because nobody enjoys feeling left out.

4. Despite the community feel, don’t force people into it. Some games will require at least one other person, if not multiple people, in order to even unlock things and while maybe that can be good for really active games at all times, some people have different online times or may not be comfortable in the more social aspect of a game and prefer playing solo. One of the nice things about virtual worlds is the flexibility– if it’s constant time management, it’ll start feeling more like a chore and harder to budget the time.

5. Not everything has to be a contest. High Scores and things can be fun, but even just noting a high score can be cool without having people going up against each other for something.

Regardless, I really hope Virtual Worlds pick up again. They hit some of my favorite things to do in games without stressing me out and I really do miss them.

November 20, 2019

The Problem with Pocket Camp’s Subscription Services (Pocket Camp Club)

If you have read my previous posts about Pocket Camp or follow my Twitter, you probably have an idea of what I’m going to be saying here already. The short version would be that a game where doing everything at your own pace giving a subscription that helps you deal with their ridiculous event schedule or a game where collecting everything is a huge deal getting a subscription that gives you more space and more chances at items is incredibly scummy and I’m not sure why some games think just because they’re mobile, they can charger their users for certain things that are expected.

I will say I don’t think the “Happy Helper Plan” is awful and if it was under different circumstances, I’d probably even consider it more. I also would have less of an issue if the subscriptions were (whether just one or bought together) done through a permanent “premium” purchase of the game in the sense of buying it like Super Mario Run had versus being a monthly payment. At $2.99 a month, it’s not really terrible on paper, but still has some issues in the sense of the game itself.

The main problem with the “Happy Helper Plan” is a lot of people have brought up how demanding Pocket Camp can be. While they have slowly added more things players can sell to one another, it still doesn’t involve actual items– just materials. There are rarely any event breaks and the events require A LOT of time. In a time where every single game/site wants to do an event at the same time and all require a large amount of you dedication to get through, it’s even rougher in a game where they penalize just how much you can do at a time and also requiring you to check in each time and depend on others or even your own luck to finish.

The Happy Helper Plan essentially makes it so things will be taken care of for you so you DON’T have to constantly check in. Which honestly is really nice, but a big point of Animal Crossing is collecting everything and that’s really where the problem for this specific subscription comes in because despite the game Pocket Camp is based off of, it clearly has no idea what “going at your own pace” means and that’s one of the REALLY nice things with Animal Crossing. Days where I want to spend tons of time getting things done, I can! Times where I don’t feel like doing much, it’ll be okay! New Leaf added ways to lessen how much you really needed to check in with the Beautiful Ordinance and at times, Pocket Camp feels like two steps back which makes me worry about New Horizons quite a bit :/

If this was just a premium thing as part of mobile, I feel like I could at least justify it a bit more, but a subscription service to just feel more comfortable playing and succeeding in the point of the game itself feels really iffy.

It does cost about what 60 Leaf Tickets would be anyway so in that sense, the service is free, but in a game that attracts people of so many ages, things getting more and more paywalls (Fortune Cookies, Event Items, Terrain Customization…) just doesn’t really sit well to me.

The other subscription is the Cookie & Depot Plan which, honestly, I just think is complete garbage. It’s $7.99 a month and essentially you get 50 more Leaf tickets than you would normally (as you can pick any five fortune cookies, including ones gone each month) plus a big storage system. Ignoring all the issues with Fortune Cookies I’ve brought up before and that older ones will likely return anyway, my main issue is locking storage behind a monthly payment system.

A game with a huge collection feature, constantly adding new items (I don’t even think we have all the items from pre-existing games…), a gachapon feature, and multiple parts of the game that encourage getting extras of items (The HHA Academy, Gulliver’s whole thing). Locking storage when having everything is encouraged to such a point is really awful.

New Leaf had a lot of storage, a lot of places you could place things, and even more storage added through an update. Past games let you use wardrobes to try and have more storage too. Here, you can only decorate three places (Your Campsite, Cabin, and Camper), all are relatively small, and the game is constantly pumping out more and more things.

Was I able to keep everything I wanted on hand in New Life? No, of course not, but I was able to use multiple characters to try and hold onto everything I wanted to that was important to me and made a point to just keep items that couldn’t be ordered again through the catalog incase I DID need something. And if I ran into a situation of needing something immediately again like for Gracie or something, I could usually ask a friend to help me out.

But we don’t have any options here. Every event, we gets tons of the same things. Some HHA Academy rooms require multiple ones. Gulliver works on item combos. And yet we have to pay for additional storage and barely complimentary fortune cookies? I don’t really have words for just how much Pocket Camp just… breaks my heart. I keep lowering my expectations and somehow, it still manages to go below them and disappoint me further.

November 14, 2019

Let’s Go and Ultra Moon thoughts

So, anyone who follows my twitter or may recall some of my older posts, I had been struggling a lot with finishing Let’s Go, Pikachu and Ultra Moon before Pokemon Sword/Shield’s release. I promised I’d extrapolate on that along with my feelings about them upon finishing. While I may make some mentions to Sword/Shield, I will not be mentioning anything from leaks– just stuff that has been officially said since E3.

Honestly, I hated Ultra Moon so much. I think part of it was that I just wasn’t that happy with Pokemon Moon in the first place– I found Alola nice and I did adore the trials, but customization felt like a step down, outfit colors were restricted based on your version, and catching, especially after ORAS and the beauty of the dex-nav, felt incredibly slow, as did some of the story’s pacing. Add on loading issues due to Totem Pokemon where I was actually worried my 3DS would freeze (and it did once), and it was frustrating and nerve-wrecking more than I enjoyed it.

Regardless, I found the story interesting and liked the characters and so I picked up Ultra Moon, mostly because of a few new Pokemon, and it just… was so much worse playing a second time. While I enjoyed some of the trial changes and some of the extended cutscenes (even if our character still didn’t emote much), the story overall felt much worse this time with a lot rebooting of past storylines and that already felt frustrating in ORAS. In the sense of a fan service moment, I did like seeing those characters, especially as I was surprised by how some character’s appearances changed, but in the sense of a story, it just felt frustrating. I feel like the game could’ve benefited from a sequel similar to Black/White 2 versus a reboot of the same story to align a bit more with some of the anime characterization.

Unless I like… super love a game, I don’t think I’d get a third version again and even then, I’d be relatively apprehensive about it. I think it’d really need to be a sequel or prequel or something just… fully different for me to invest again.

As for Let’s Go, my feelings for it are best summed up as “complicated”. The only way for me to really start enjoying myself was to essentially play a way I’m not used to doing and honestly, I feel like Let’s Go genuinely didn’t want people to. It felt aimed more at people who played GO (and likely don’t care much on having a living dex), enjoyed competitive aspects, and/or shiny hunters. But for people more focused on completing their dex and catching them all, it just felt so… monotonous and exhausting to take care of these catch combos to even get certain Pokemon to show up. What I ended up learning after becoming Champion is that Pokemon show up much more often (and rarer ones as well) then… So if I just waited until the end to work on my dex, maybe I could’ve saved myself time from catching so many of them through GO Park (which… I had mixed feelings on. Having to re-catch Pokemon I already caught and raised just sucked honestly).

I loved seeing this version of Kanto, but at the same time, my nostalgia for Kanto is kind of lessening as it’s just… constant. Like I love it a lot and I liked how the story was changed up too and how it kind of fit together with the existing timeline despite some obvious anomalies, not to mention playing with Pikachu was a lot of fun. One thing I was really disappointed in, which either I just forgot due to not having played so long or wasn’t mentioned, was that the Pikachu (or maybe Eevee in the Eevee version) waving the Joy-con around meant Pikachu wanted to talk to you or give you something… I just thought it was a reminder that someone could tag in as a support trainer so I’m disappointed I missed out on more moments with Pikachu as the cut-scenes and interactions were easily my favorite part of the game.

Bringing up GO for a second, I’m super mixed on how Meltan works, especially when it requires 400 Candy to evolve. Honestly, not everyone who gets this game will have played GO (and will probably miss the Safari Zone…) so they have no way to get Meltan and while I do think the initial reveal of Meltan was really cool, I do think it should’ve been able to get normally in the game somehow too.

As for the actual catching, I’m still not a fan of motion capture at all, but I understood why it was there (unlike the stupid catch combos) considering the GO-general-Pokemon-game-combo they had going. While I disliked battling for Pokemon, especially as I often worried about knocking them out, it was frustrating not having much we could do to stop them. I often abuse quick balls at this point in hopes of catching a Pokemon immediately, but I just spent so much time missing due to terrible aim (whether my fault or the system not reading where I was moving the controller to, who knows– maybe both), that it felt really disheartening when they ran. I was surprised I managed to get all the legendaries though without needing to reset. The 5 minute timer for them and Snorlax really stressed me out (why did there need to be a timer…), but it felt really rewarding to get through it and then try to catch without as many penalties. I think if they could do that for a chance to have the Pokemon not run would be nice.

Regardless, I did manage to finish my living dex dreams and re-make my very first Pokemon team from when I played Pokemon Blue which was a really nice feeling.

I will say though, while I liked the trainer’s default appearance, I was surprised there was so little customization. I also think it was unfair with how many more outfits the Eevee version got, especially considering Pikachu’s was more… shades of yellow/orange/brown while Eevee had a whole rainbow of colors. I think it would’ve been nice if you either could get them by showing an Eevee you caught or even just being able to buy them. I don’t know why they couldn’t do that. I can understand just having one hairstyle per trainer to match Pokemon GO, but… GO has customization so not being able to customize more was just so weird to me. I did get a bit lucky with the trainer at least as for the most part, it was what I would’ve picked anyway (well, minus the outfit colors… maybe I’d change the outfit a bit)– just I would’ve gone with the darkest brown hair color instead. I’m guessing part of it is due to the cute image at the end credits, but even if that may be the case, all the colors were in already so if they just let people pick their hair/eye/skin color separately and have all the outfits in, I don’t think it would’ve caused any harm.

Regardless, it was nice to find some enjoyment in Let’s Go despite my struggles with it. That said, I still prefer catching Pokemon as I go… getting a few that only show up post-game is fine I guess, but I prefer doing it all in order as I get to each new location.

In the end, the only thing I didn’t really spend much time on was the Master Trainer feature feature, only facing the Pikachu Master. I’m just not into that kind of competitive-battle-environment and for the most part, I’m not too upset about it beyond that I couldn’t fight Red then. Maybe one day. If the CP requirements weren’t so high for the “shown” ones, at least I could’ve fought Red. v-v

I will say though, it’s a shame these were my last full Living dex completions and that still breaks my heart a bit with Sword/Shield. While I always start a new team anyway, it always meant a lot to have all my Pokemon with me and know I could bring them out when I wanted to and get them new ribbons and experiences and that just won’t be possible now. As much as I love Pokemon and do love some of the new ones, I do feel there are… plenty of Pokemon at this point and I wish time would go into making a game that uses all the great things they’ve already made to make something even better rather than constantly trying to make something new.

November 4, 2019

Incoming Transmission from Batuu (and the World of Disney)

As tempting as it was to try and write this slightly in character, I’ve been sick these last several days so I’ll try and lessen it, especially for those of you who read this blog and aren’t particularly into Star Wars (That said, if anyone is here from my old SWTOR blog, a Rising Moons/Bright Suns to you depending on where you may be in the universe!). I’m also probably going to bring up a bit other facets of my trip to Disney World, but the focus is absolutely going to be in the brand new area– Galaxy’s Edge where you can visit Batuu and get a feeling of full immersion in the Star Wars Universe.

I wouldn’t really call myself the biggest Star Wars fan, but I like it enough to still enjoy several aspects of it. What I found myself most excited for was using the new Datapad mode through the Play Disney app once we arrived in Batuu. I absolutely adored collecting things in SWTOR so being in this immersive world where we can scan things and do jobs and quests and collect things? Completely up my alley.

While I wouldn’t mind my face not just being a black silhouette, there’s still some fun outfits. As hard as I tried though, I wasn’t able to do everything. I will say as much fun as I had with the Datapad, there were a few… issues I ran into with it. Less about the app itself, but oversights with having this type of connectivity and immersion.

For one, there isn’t a lot of seating. This isn’t really too surprising– besides for immersion reasons, it helps keep people moving and to be honest, it never felt incredibly crowded outside the shops a bit. Because of this though, people essentially make their own seats, whether it be the sides of plants or most commonly, the various crates lingering around. Which wouldn’t be so much of an issue if most of the crates weren’t used for the Datapad game. Various crates of all sizes have a QR code like this, either vertically like below or horizontally:

There were many times I ended up passing by areas missing them because people were covering them– whether leaning on it or with their legs while they sat down on it. While some people knew about the app (or recognized it after seeing multiple people playing and having them ask people to move), most had no idea and didn’t realize they were blocking anything. And sometimes people need to sit and nobody really wants to interrupt someone who just wants to take some photos, but there were times I ended up just waiting around for 5-10 minutes for someone to be done to finally scan something for two seconds. Some can even be facing inward which, at least for me, weren’t always easy to reach.

In the end, I managed to get 9/15 Outfits, 3/8 Weapons, 7/11 pieces of Cargo, 12/20 Parts & Scraps, 2/4 The Interior Star Maps, 3/3 New Territories Star Maps, 1/4 The Slice Star Map, 0/2 Trailing Sectors Star Maps, 1/3 Western Reaches Star Map, 2/4 Unknown Regions Star Maps, 8/8 Vehicle Schematics, 0/1 Schematics Data (though, I swear I had this?*), 4/8 Droid Data Memories, 4/5 Dok’s Den Dealings Transmissions, 0/3 Kase Double-Cross Transmissions, 0/2 A Strange Feeling Transmissions, 0/3 A Lifelong Companion Transmissions, 1/3 Debts to Oga Transmissions, 0/3 Life in the Outpost Transmissions, 1/3 Dhoran’s Mistake Transmissions, 1/3 DJ R-3X Transmissions, 1/2 Droid Problems, 1/2 Resistance Operatives Transmissions, 2/4 First Order Comms Transmissions, 0/1 OTS Recruitment Transmission, and 0/1 Monkey Lizard Sighting Transmission. As for titles, I have 23/40 unlocked. I probably won’t unlock all the First Order ones, but I have 2/5 of them thus far. I really want to get the Galactic Explorer title. I also don’t see myself earning Bankrupt or a few others unless something with the requirements change.

*I believe this is the Credits Skimmer. I never really figured out how to utilize it properly. But maybe it just doesn’t show up properly while out of the park.

While you have full control over the crates (barring… anyone sitting on and/or blocking them), the transmissions I had a lot of trouble with. I found my phone just did not seem to pick them up often and they would be gone fairly quickly (like it’d be there and gone within the next refresh even if I didn’t move). Hacking seemed to work the best, but some just… worked in awkward ways (For example, I found I had nothing to hack in the Cantina despite a few things requiring DJ R-3X to be). It felt like I had to walk in circles to really get it to work. Speaking of the Cantina though, we actually went in for breakfast as I just… had to try the Moogan Tea:

It was amazing. I actually got a second one to go. We also had some Batuu Bits which were really tasty. I’d love to go again for dinner, though, hopefully we can actually sit next time… Fingers crossed they will have the new dishes that their other location has too.

Moving on, the thing I had the most trouble with was actually the translating. The automatic rarely actually picked up anything I was near (and I needed to hold my phone up in front of it when it was) while it was also near impossible to really do so manually without holding up traffic. I don’t really know a better way to do it, but I ended up making no progress on it because of that. It would translate fine when it actually worked– the problem was just getting it to pick up what I needed.

The jobs were definitely the most fun and for the most part, worked the smoothest. I did almost every job with the exception of some of the First Order jobs– I only did the ones that would get me an item over just credits. I never received more jobs on a different day (though, I could repeat the ones I did), but I’m hoping more may be added in the future.

The exception to “working smoothly” though is “Flight Crew Wanted”, a big multi-step job that requires you accomplishing certain things while in the queue (normal queue– not fast pass and not single rider’s) for Smuggler’s Run. As much as I enjoyed the right (well, sort of– we’ll get to that), this is where I found some of the biggest oversights are for the Datapad mini-game. The job involves helping out Hondo Ohnaka and starts off wanting you to scan crates you will see along the line. There are a lot of crates and occasionally, you’ll be asked questions about where they go. How many crates you scan and how many questions you answer correctly determines what the characters will say about you and how well your performance was.

The biggest issue is that this is a moving line. If the line is moving incredibly slow and it’s a huge line, well, maybe it’ll work out, but unfortunately for health-related reasons, I actually can’t stand for long periods of time. If the line is moving that slowly, I wouldn’t even be able to stand in it. If the line is moving at a fair pace, you can’t scan fast enough and you end up blocking the line so I can either get separated from my party or end up just letting people pass me. It’s incredibly hard to balance and even when we tried to, it just became too much as we kept seeing more and more crates and even ones we missed due to not looking around enough.

Next, you’ll be memorizing various different IDs and then answer questions asked about it. I’m not sure how many you have to do in order to have “done enough”– but one surely was too little. You have a good amount of time to do this at least and this is probably the step you can work on the most as it really doesn’t require a specific area to be in to take care of something. You just need to be after the crates and before the look-out deck… which is where the next problematic step comes. You’ll be going past four large windows above the Millenium Falcon and again, depending on the line queue, this isn’t exactly the easiest to do. You will be asked questions about the ship and need to answer accurately in order to pass.

Once that is done, it’s time for the actual ride part and your performance matters. Whatever credits you earn from the ride will get you those credits in your datapad and even an achievement based off how much you can earn. At most, if you do everything perfectly, you can earn 13,000 credits, the amount going down based on your performance and how much damage the ship takes. And that is what brings us to our biggest oversight– each “party” for the game consists of six people. And not everyone is likely to want to do the ride just like you. There’s two pilots, two engineers, and two gunners. While you can see if someone may want a different pass than you (Someone is our group had been engineer before so I traded them my gunner pass as I didn’t want to be engineer), you can’t really do anything about having different ideas in mind for what you want to do. In general, there’s essentially these groups of people:

  • People who want to do everything perfectly
  • People who want to fail completely
  • People who just want to enjoy the ride for the heck of it
  • People who are just there for someone else

The other half of our party mentioned having an issue as one of the pilots was a little kid. A similar situation happened with a friend. There will be kids on this ride. That is absolutely expected. And while I absolutely believe some kids can do a great job, there are also plenty of kids who do not care in the slightest or are only there because their parent/guardian wants to be on the ride. And I genuinely worry slightly on the kids part because someone will absolutely get annoyed and take it out on their party members and that’s kind of the problem with these group teamwork things, especially if you do not know enough people to make a full party.

When we go to Disney, we have anywhere from 2-5 people usually. Not enough for a full group and one of those people would absolutely not go on it due to motion sickness. It ended up being three of us going on the ride with three people we didn’t know. My husband and our friend ended up being in the pilot seats with me as an engineer while our newly met crew members would be the two gunners and the other engineer.

In the end, while I managed to keep my side of the ship at 100%, the other engineer didn’t do as well with 15% damage done halfway through and even more by the end of it. My husband also messed up with the breaks at one point.

The ride is incredibly reflex intensive and the thing is, and unfortunately this is the other big oversight with it, the best chance you have at doing your best is not actually watching the ride at all. Maybe I could’ve done it regardless, but in the end, I had rarely watched any of the ride screen as I was too busy focusing on my buttons. You mainly just have to hit the buttons lit up and switch the appropriate switches as indicated. It’s very easy to read (likely due to the range of ages), but it’s also easy to get caught up in the screen or forget exactly where a button is if you’re not looking at it. And if you’re looking at the buttons, you’re missing what’s going on around you as you’re no longer looking out the window, but at your control panel.

I saw so little of the ride itself because I was so focused on doing well and not letting my crew down which I suppose our other Engineer didn’t care as much about. We had earned about 11,800 Credits, but due to damages, ended up losing over 3,000 in repairs.

I actually hadn’t even known we would get them in the Datapad at the time of going on the ride– I just am a perfectionist, but this made me even more disappointed we failed. Especially considering how well we did.

And does this encourage people to go on the ride again? Yes, absolutely, but heck, it’s encouraged by being one of the best ways to earn credits too and when you have a full schedule or not a lot of time, while going on Smuggler’s Run over and over again for an entire day/week sounds fun, it’s not always plausible– not to mention the team situation again. And honestly, I wouldn’t even mind trying a “failure” run where I just… don’t do anything the entire time, but I’d want to actually do a perfect run first. Since the ride varies based off when you “fail” or succeed, I really want to see both paths definitely, but it feels like it’ll be a while before doing either.

Smuggler’s Run was actually one of the last things we found time to do because of a very busy schedule and just trying to find a good time where the line wasn’t too crazy. There is no fast pass for it (and I’m not sure if there is one planned) and to be honest, as it currently stands, I would assume that would take me away from my crate checking and everything involved in the Datapad job so I’m not sure I’d get a fast pass even if I could.

As for the ride just… on its own merits, it was fun and reminded me of essentially a smaller party version of Star Tours– it moves very similar, but obviously, it’s much more interactive.

I had hoped to go on the ride again, if only for another chance at scanning things and a perfect score, but we just didn’t manage to make it back unfortunately. I’m still bummed about it.

Moving onto things I did BESIDES the Datapad minigame, for one, my husband and I both made Droids! Mine is this cute BB Unit who I still have yet to think of a name of. We even got the bag for it too:

I also got a personality chip for it and some stickers so I hope to style it up a bit at some point (mostly using the pink to cover up the black maybe…). My husband made an R6-Unit:

I kind of wish more could’ve mixed and matched, but I’m not really surprised they couldn’t. I hope we’ll see more ways to customize our droid in the future.

We also stopped by Savi’s Workshop for some very important business.

I had gone the Elemental Nature route which also gave me this lovely pin:

There were some pieces I liked from the Protection & Defense type, but in the end, Elemental Nature just kind of fit me more. Though, I wish they still kept the original coloring over the silver for the whale bone:

The Lightsaber experience was honestly really great and if you really want to feel part of the world, it gives a huge boost to that feeling. It’s very special. That said, if you are a bit shy like me, try not to get the very center station or one of two at the ends– those are interacted with the most, though, they will go around and check with everyone :)

While I definitely love my droid and the “power up” moment is cute, it doesn’t really come close to everything that happens over at Savi’s.

We also made sure to stop by the markets and I picked up these lovely handmade plushies:

This adorable Mouse Droid (plus a lovely droid group photo):

(The top opens and the wheels move so it’s fun to just… move it about and have it old some things :) Plus the lanyard to wear it around your next)

And a Holocron, currently with the purple crystal I had gotten with my lightsaber: :)

I also got white and green Kyber crystals. I sure hope they add pink ones.

As for food, I already spoke about the Cantina earlier, but we did our best to try everything at least once. Kat Saka’s Kettle was worth it for the Mouse Droid, but honestly, the popcorn just… wasn’t that great. It was kind of chewy in an almost stale-like way and I don’t know if we just got a bad batch or what, but it just… was not enjoyable.

We, of course, had to try the Blue Milk and Green Milk over at the Milk Stand. Both were enjoyable, but my husband and I both preferred the Blue Milk. I think my only complaint is I would’ve loved a less “smoothie-like” version– just actual milk or even a milkshake. Something more creamy, essentially. We wanted to get the special Milk container, but due to lack of time, we didn’t get the chance.

For breakfast, we had Ronto Roasters and got the Ronto Morning Wrap and Ronto Wrap (which seemed to be a combination of it and the Endorian Chicken Wrap at the time we went, but now seem to be more different things). Despite generally not being much of an egg person, I loved the Ronto Morning Wrap. It was perfect and the Grilled Pork Sausage was amazing. I’d absolutely get it again.

We got Docking Bay 7 Food for lunch (though, my mother had the breakfast and said it was great so I definitely want to try the Bright Suns Breakfast Platter next time we go). I had gotten the Endorian Tip Yip with mashed potatoes while my husband got the Felucian Garden Spread. I really enjoyed mine, though, if I picked, I’d say I liked my Ronto Morning Wrap more. While my husband liked his and I enjoyed my taste of it, it was a lot spicier than expected which took away from the flavor.

To go with our lunch, we also tried the [non-alcoholic] drinks and desserts! The drinks seemed to have been changed a bit since we last went, but both we had were great. As for the desserts, I got the Batuu-bon and my husband got the Oi-Oi Puff. We shared a bit though and both were really great. My husband can’t decide which he liked more, but I preferred my Batuu-bon.

Next time we go, I’d love to try the Batuuan Roast and/or the Smoked Kaadu Ribs. I’ve heard the macaroni and cheese is good too.

And of course, we’re not here to just talk about what we did, I have some pictures of the sights too :)

The entire area has such high rocks and is set up in such a way that it genuinely does feel like its own planet/city. Even if it’s a bit awkward walking through Toy Story Land to get to it. And all kinds of familiar and new characters will just be walking around. And who knows, maybe you’ll run into a cool spy and have cool spy conversations like the person writing this did :P

Moving on to the rest of Disney, it was honestly a bit of a mixed trip. In a way, it was less crowded than we expected despite some areas still being rather packed and I ended up being sick two days before we left and the day of. We normally go around this time for the cooler weather, but this year, it was about 90 the entire time, which sure I guess is to be expected when on a planet with three suns and also in Florida but usually it’s closer to 70-80 or so when we go. In the end, I quickly got hit with heat stroke which just kind of murdered me ahead of time for our trip. I’m not going to go into my health issues, but for several reasons, I do very very poorly with heat and with all the construction and things being moved back for the new gondolas, I was not doing well.

Because of that, a lot of our plans got cut a bit. We did our usual Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian where we had been hoping to stay before things ended up not working out:

I had gotten Zanzibar Chai as my tea and absolutely loved it. While I love all the courses, I will admit the scones and sandwiches are my favorite courses. We had planned to do the tea tasting they now have in Epcot at the England Pavilion, but due to me getting sick that day, we ended up having to cancel. I’m really hoping we’ll be able to go next year.

Due to the issues with our hotel stay, what we ended up doing was staying in a Polynesian Bungalow for a night (which was really nice, honestly):

The view was so pretty and we even got our own little private pool. While the Polynesian isn’t necessarily my favorite hotel, it at least has nice room service and I still love passing this every time we enter the hotel:

And then switching to a room at Saratoga Springs for the rest of our stay (in which I finally got to accomplish my dream of a two floor hotel room like in Home Alone 2…):

Despite the size of it, the beds were not as comfy unfortunately and the pillows were… incredibly flat :( Which made sleeping a bit difficult. The room also wasn’t particularly close to a bus stop which meant a decent trek in the morning (and the room was one of the last due to the size) to not be late and an exhausting trek back after already walking all through the park.

While we hoped to do our usual “taste” around the world part of the Food Festival, due to lack of time, it just… did not fully work out. Because of this, we tried to focus on just our absolute favorites (and even then, still tried to narrow it down) for things we’ve had before and prioritized new things we hadn’t tried. I didn’t get many pictures because, again, time was just hard and honestly, I never want to plan a trip with so much overlapping again, but we did get a few pictures of some desserts plus the lovely Boba Milk Tea from China.

Panna Cotta isn’t usually my thing, but that one was pretty interesting. I liked the left-most cheesecake of the sampler best. And of course I had to do the cheese crawl– the cheesecake for finishing was really good too. And China always has an amazing Bubble Tea lately to be honest.

The only things I didn’t get to try were the Cheese Plate and Popcorn at the new Apple Orchard booth :/ Someone ordered the last just before me and I’m still pretty bummed about it. It was our last day so not much I could do about it.

On the bright side, we FINALLY got to do one of the “special events” at the Food Festival. Because my husband and I don’t drink alcohol, it’s really hard to justify the prices of most of the events as alcohol is always included, but the Parisian Breakfast was one of the more reasonably priced events despite also giving alcohol. To be honest, I was worried we would miss it– there was a hurricane passing through and it was pouring like crazy. We ended up being completely soaked (and being super wet on the freezing cold bus was not fun) and then essentially had to book it from the entrance to Epcot all the way to the World Showcase and to Paris. Maybe if I was less out of breath and stressed out I could’ve tried explaining in French, but thankfully I eventually managed to get out that we had reservations (There has been people who had tried to come in for food and to be out of the rain who had not) and thankfully, they still sat us despite being about an hour late.

They were so nice and it was really good. Also lots of cheese which is always great. I absolutely loved the Hot Chocolate especially– I prefer my hot chocolate more light and creamy than really rich so this was literally perfect and I wish I had the recipe for it. I drank so many cups. And while part of it was so we wouldn’t get pneumonia, it was also because it was genuinely super tasty.

One other new thing we finally got to do was check out the Na’vi River Journey ride and Pandora in general over at Animal Kingdom. We rarely go to Animal Kingdom as it doesn’t have a lot of indoor areas and I kind of need that with my heat issues, but a lot has been added since we’d last been there. I had managed to get fast passes for the ride as I kept hearing good things about it and I have to admit, while the land wasn’t as amazing as Batuu, Pandora was still pretty cool:

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same for the ride. It was pretty and sure, the Animatronic was impressive and very fluid, but it was just very… boring. Even most dark boat rides I’ve been on, there’s usually at least some… speeding up or amusing things to look at or some nice song or even a tiny drop, but this was literally just meandering around in a river in the dark and seeing some of the sights which, like I said, isn’t necessarily bad– I don’t regret going on it, but I don’t understand the hype and I would never go out of my way to do it again (and honestly, I’m not sure I would do it again even if I didn’t have to go out of my way).

On the bright side, we ended up eating at really lovely place– Tiffins. I loved the decor of it and while it was expensive, all the food was amazing. The drinks were really creative too. And that place alone may finally get my family to give Animal Kingdom another shot. And who doesn’t like seeing cute animals?

We also finally tried out the Frozen Ride which wasn’t too bad, but I do miss the old Norway boat ride. I really liked how the area for the line was decorated though.

In the end, we only went on about four rides total– besides the three mentioned above, we also went on Test Track again with our friend as it was his first time in Disney. I hope Disney will one day add an option to like… 3D-Print these over just getting it on a card.

Regardless, we at least got a lot of the big important things done. I just really hope our next trip goes much smoother. And with that, I just have one last thing to say: Til the Spires :P

October 27, 2019

The Event Excuse

In general, Halloween has always been kind of a mixed bag for me. I’m not fond of horror things and I’m really shy so I especially stopped trick or treating rather early, but one of the things I’ve noticed is around Halloween is a time where nearly anything I play or even just see friends playing may have some kind of Halloween or Fall Event. There’s almost always something, some limited kind thing to try and do as much as you can or grind out.

And honestly, it’s exhausting. Ignoring general grind fests over a limited amount of time as you do the same thing over and over, hoping to either finally get what you want or save up enough to do so, sometimes there’s just limits of how much you can do and the argument for why this is will always be “It’s not fun to finish everything on the first day”… but that isn’t the case for everyone and I think it’s a huge disservice how often so many games force people to play in this very specific structure. And you know what? If there’s no time limit, maybe people can work with that to some extent, but when there’s a time limit, that just… does not work as well.

People always chock it up to impatience when someone may prefer to finish things in one go, but that isn’t always the case either. Personally, I have a handful of health-related issues and have good and bad days– some days I’m super productive and can get a lot done. Other days, I’m a sick mess and just completely useless to the point where I can’t even grab a log-in bonus on my phone (here’s another frustrating thing– the problem with log-in streaks and missing out on special bonuses due to missing a single day).

So when I’m playing through and a game tells me “Oh, yeah, you already did as much as you can today or you have to wait this very long timer to progress any more now”, it really sucks. This is the main reason I don’t have any kind of stream/video/writing schedule because between my own health and random family antics, I can’t predict when I’ll be good to go or get things done. And if I could get it out of the way on a day where maybe I don’t feel like trash and then focus on the next game/site/whatever is holding yet another event, it sure is a lot easier than stressing trying to balance multiple things at once on top of however I may be doing.

At this point, delaying content or how much you can do is often used as an excuse to justify with lack of content. And the thing is… there doesn’t always need to be tons of content. Filler time doesn’t make up for actual game time. There are other things to do in most games. Not engaging in an event constantly shouldn’t be considered such hearsay or lazy.

And people who want to only do a bit a day will still do that. People who can break it up and may not have as much to play will still take their time. But those who can’t for whatever reasons are the ones who constantly end up in this same stupid loop and it’s exhausting to see it still happen.

There’s nothing fun about forcing people to play in the same strict line due to some worry that an event being done quickly makes it forgettable or boring. Especially with limited time things, the only thing letting people play it as much as they personally feel like doing just lessens the chance of people not bothering or getting frustrated.

October 7, 2019

On creating a character

This is probably one of the most different posts I’ve had here, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot due to trying to create a new character. And I… really struggle with character creation.

I don’t even mean just playing around in a character creator– I generally can make things work as long as I have options. And while I tend to pick very similar options to validate inner turmoil as a child who repeatedly became disappointed in doll aisles, it’s really working from “nothing” where I end up running into the problem.

Character arch-types aren’t enough for me to envision some grand scheme of things, why Character A is doing this or what they want. Who they fall for, if anyone. Why they do what they do. All it really does is give me an idea of the personality and what they hope to do, but not the why.

People can create elaborate backstories for their character off the bat, but for me, that back-story has to come based off what they’re doing. What my instinct is for how a character would react in that situation and figuring out the why later, as if the character has securely locked their past in the furthest corners of their mind and each key unlocks a step further. The environment and the story shape them as do their decisions and so it’s rare that anything is as simple as it starts.

Which especially makes things complicated in a setting where you need to know all the details ahead of time because I never do. My husband has wanted to try D&D for quite a while and with me starting a whole dice collection because I love rocks and they reminded me of like… certain aesthetics combined with rocks, it finally got into “hey, maybe we’ll try doing this”. While I have slowed down on the dice collecting (though, I am still waiting for some to come and am looking forward to certain Kickstarters).

In the short run, I don’t think it’s something for me. Between character creation issues and my general shyness with RPing due to issues with my writing, it’s just a very stressful affair for me, even though I’ve known everyone involved for at least 10-15 years. I also have a tendency to get too immersed in situations and something bad happening can cause me to empathize too much with how my character feels and nobody needs to hear me crying about whatever random thing has effected me at the moment. It’s especially an issue when I can’t personally read certain tones of voice and due to playing a character that is not me, I need to just be… better at reading that and working with the skill-set given to me and the dice rolls I get and it’s not exactly easy. Especially when skill set-wise, said character should be able to solve a puzzle and then I roll a 1 and apparently just had a sudden stroke instead.

I also know my not talking is quite the inconvenience, but I don’t like talking. Too many instances of pronouncing words wrong, lisps, and my breathing issues and it’s a rough situation. Add on that my issues with hearing tones of voices also leads to me not being great attributing my own tone to what I mean and it’s just easier for me to write it out as if I was writing a story or we’d probably never get anywhere.

Regardless, going back to the main subject, developing a character as you play isn’t exactly helpful in a game where someone needs to know about your entire character’s story to plan their story. Which makes things really awkward as more develops in your head and another person isn’t on the same page. Especially when you’re incredibly anxious about sharing anything you create or come up with due to constant paranoia of it being the worst thing ever.

For the most part though, it’s made it very clear to me that I don’t really like making characters. I like writing and developing characters or changing things up to see how characters react and learning about them, but I don’t like starting from nothing. Even with my imagination, rather than feeling like I have everything at my fingertips, it’s more like I am surrounded by so much color, I can’t see. It’s too bright.

I don’t think I would’ve even gotten as far as even making a character for this even if it wasn’t actually a scrapped character idea for something else that didn’t work out. I had come up with the hair and name, but couldn’t find anything to stick and then realized there was another character with similar-ish hair and at the same time, was losing interest in the game, so I just kind of pushed it to the back of my mind and then when I needed a character, well, I had something to work with. And that plus combining the idea of not wanting to do what I usually do character-design-wise, Masara was born:

Art on the left by Shattered-Earth, Art on the right by tshuki

And if she wasn’t, I’d probably have ended up going with my still unnamed Fire Emblem Heroes character:

Art by Autumn-Sacura
She’s still relatively blank, despite liking her design. And that’s also why I’m actually more attached to my Robin from Fire Emblem: Awakening who despite having this huge story she’s part of, I had a full idea for her and even a writing project that I’ve just kind of kept to myself:

Art by Selaphi

And even when my characters look similar or have some shared traits, their story is always different– their motivations, why they got to such a point. No matter how similar they look.

But it’s always a Work in Progress. And while in a sense, all characters should be, character development is important, I don’t think it’s meant to be to the extent I end up working with. Especially when some kind of one shot comes up and all your mind can come up with is a blank box of nothing because I apparently have the creativity of a teaspoon.

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