IM PLAYIN, two games at once

This doesn’t normally happen to me. I’m used to devoting 100% attention to one title and ploughing through it relentlessly until I hit my boredom threshold or until I’ve completed everything there is to do, a particularly life-sapping trait that can get me into all sorts of trouble if a game has a particularly interesting multiplayer aspect, e.g. World of Warcraft. I suspect others have similar approaches given the number of divorces citing ‘FIFA’ as a contributory cause.

*Launches an attack, wins, punches the air like a nerd, returns to base and rebuilds army*

With the advent of freemium titles on Android and iOS, however, there’s a whole new breed of game out there – I call them ‘gap fillers’ – with which you can turn idle time, like waiting for Fable Anniversary to install to your 360’s HDD, into worthwhile gameplay. You can play these games in little 10, 20 or 30 minute chunks, you just need to find the right one to suit you. You can start a quick match in FIFA and leave your freemium game running on your tablet or phone, then whilst you’re waiting for your next match to start you can do something productive, like wiping out Kailios of Zygon Invasion in Clash of Clans because his air defence is lacking and the walls around his base still need a bit of work.

*Donates troops to a Clan buddy who just requested some for his next assault, gets troops for base in return.  High-five’s his tablet as only a geek can do*

Kailios already covered the inevitable “Premium Wall” in his earlier article above, personally I’ve yet to hit it and I’ve probably ploughed more hours into Clash of Clans than I have Skyrim, but then I haven’t hit a game-breaking bug at 180 hours in Clash of Clans as I did in Skyrim. In fact I see the premium side of things as a challenge, just how much time can I squeeze out of this game before I need to spend money on it? So far so good, although I did get a GooglePlay voucher in one of my Christmas cards so I now have 5 builders working on my base. Well worth it, keeps the developers fed so they can keep improving the game. Or perhaps I’m just trying to justify paying for a microtransaction in a freemium game, something of a taboo generally.

*Donates more troops, queues up a healing spell for 30 minutes, launches another attack*

The other game I’m meant to be playing is Fable Anniversary which arrived last Friday (thanks Zavvi). I’m a few hours in and, well, it’s Fable. Graphically improved, better menu system and Smartglass integration (which of course gets in the way of Clash of Clans so I don’t really use it), and the Smartglass map is there onscreen anyway, so my initial reaction is “what’s the point?”. That cumbersome ‘assign things to D-pad’ using the D-pad system is still there, and my first impressions overall are that if you’re going to re-release a game you need to do a lot more than just make the graphics HD, you need to make some other things better too. Anyway, that’s a whole other article.

*Upgrades wall from last attack’s booty, puts 5th builder to work on expanding an Army Camp, experiences usual delusions of grandeur*

The last time I played Fable back on the original Xbox, freemium was just a twinkle in a revenue channel specialist’s eye, so I was a devoted Hero and took out Bandits and Balverines all day, non-stop, and loved it. This time around I keep hitting the lightning spell by accident and frying innocent villagers, have a little gripe each time I have to twiddle into first-person view using a ranged weapon, and can see a future where I’m going to do what I did last time, stick with melee, because it’s easier. Maybe I’ll just progress one area at a time in between coffees and Clash of Clans, because that’s how I like it.

In my retrospective moments I question what has changed my style of gaming. Is it just me getting older and having a shorter attention span? Is it the gaming landscape that’s changing and having an impact on me as a gamer? Is it technology that enables new gaming experiences and ways of playing that affects me and the way I approach gaming? I suspect it’s a mixture of all 3. The most important thing is that my passion for gaming is still there and I’m diving into new experiences with abandon, and loving it.

*Realises it’s 28 hours until another builder becomes free, jumps into Fable Anniversary for a mammoth session*