I'm playing two browser-based games pretty intensively right now. They've thoroughly distracted me from a replay of Dragon Age and even from Super Mario 2, proving once again that "casual gaming" can be anything but casual. The first is Flight Rising, which has elements of JRPG battling (but could we have quests or someing though please), breeding simulator, and actually casual gaming (the Fairgrounds includes a match-3 switcher, bubble puzzles, memory game, etc.). You've probably heard about it already. FR's dragons are incredibly cute, and it does the breeding sim thing very well, though I've got to say that when your genetics are explicitly non-Mendelian restricting your inbreeding to five generations makes less than no sense; I assume that bit is attempted social engineering.
The game that I'm spending more time with, because unlike Flight Rising it is really good at getting your sustained attention and real-world money, is Here Be Monsters. I never played Glitch, but I first heard about HBM as a substitute for it: crafting, farming, making your own little settlement. There's fishing, gathering of herbs and trees, and trapping of magical creatures -- you're some kind of humanoid magical creature yourself, a "Folk", but the story is that corrupting meteorites are hitting the world and you have to trap your sentient magical buddies, who get demented enough to be trapped when they're corrupted, so you can cure them. They give you magical items and gold as thanks for being healed.
The startling thing about HBM to me is how sensually appealing it is. I mean, I'm amused by the almanac entries (written in character, and she cannot even with abalone
), most stuff is visually pleasant, and crafting is satisfying enough to hold my interest. But people spend a lot of time and energy on their homes, when there's very little reason to design them that heavily. I take great pride in my naturalistic Australian-bush arid place, and oh my GOD have some of my in-game buddies gone to town. One has planted flowers to produce a giant logo of what I assume must be their favorite sports team. Another has the largest possible home area crammed with every object available, which has to have cost substantial real-world money -- and they reorganized the entire thing into a different layout last week.
The appeal of the food is the most surprising part. I find myself foraging for blueberries when I'm someplace that has them, because mmm I haven't had blueberries for a while. I am tempted to pick mangosteens and rambutan, even though there's no good reason to do it now that I have far more efficient food. Crafting all the kinds of food possible is fun, and I am very tempted to set up a cost-benefit spreadsheet on them because I know some of them have a much better return than others, but the ones I tend to settle on are optimized for how many energy points I have at the moment vs how many they restore... and also how yummy they sound
.* I cannot eat the Caramelized Silver Perch; it is made of electrons and thoughts. But it sounds so good, and I am drawn to it.
There's no reason to make food I would really like to eat, or to grow catnip around my settlement, yet I do those things because they're pleasurable in my mind. I am relentlessly practical in other ways! The house serves no in-game purpose other than looking like a house, so I still haven't upgraded my tent. Herbs, trees, and food, though, I am all over, because they appeal to my sensual imagination. I haven't encountered a game that did quite this before, and it's fascinating.
* Okay, sometimes how adorable they are too. The inarizushi
! We have to do this with inarizushi in real life sometime, rushthatspeaks