Tuesday 4 March, 2008
Since the game took was played real-time, I couldn’t sell items between 11:00pm – 8:00am. It was annoying if I was very close to paying off my house debt and wanted a bigger house the next day. I found out very quickly that the game was fairly repetitive. You wake up from your bed, check your mail, go gather resources to sell, pay off your debt, expand your house, and in turn you are faced with a newer and larger debt. It’s a cycle of endless debt! The only thing I have to look forward to now are the new seasons to catch new fish and insects.
Speaking of which, the land suddenly turned from white to green the other day when I was playing. The thought of the seasons changing never occurred to me, but since the game takes place in real-time, it has to! Winter was now over and Spring rolled in. The land looks so much more vibrant and alive! There are butterflies, bumble bees, lady bugs, and cockroaches lurking about. New types of fish were also introduced, which was exciting because that meant the museum collection could finally be expanded.
I had several neighbors leave. The first one (Frobert) was okay though. I didn’t like him because he never said anything interesting and only cared about his muscles. He was replaced with a very cute squirrel named Agent S. She fished a lot so challenging and interacting with her was very easy and we got along very well! But a several days of hard work in real life school prevented me from playing and she decided to move out because I wasn’t playing with her! That made me so upset! AH!
The designers managed to design the game with lots of thought on interaction, which is very important for simulation games. Examples include using tools, such as a net to catch insects and a fishing pole to catch fish. Simply swinging the net in the general direction of a bug doesn’t usually catch it, so aiming and timing (especially while targeting flies) is required. Fishing also requires perfecting aim to reduce the amount of time a fish builds up its interested in the bait. Fishing is trivial once it has been mastered but sometimes the ripples in the water catch the player off guard if the bobble goes under too deep (meaning it’s still too early to reel in the line). Not only was interacting physically with the game world required, but the sense of listening to the sounds was also very beneficial. Players can hear insects buzzing and flying around nearby, even if at first he/she doesn’t see them on the screen. This can help the player determine which way to walk to get closer to the bug. When fishing the player sometimes is fooled by the ripples of the water, making it seem the bobble has been taken underneath the water by the fish. If the player listens for the bobble sinking sound, quick reflexes of hitting the “catch” button is more reliable.
Choosing the game to take place in real-time is probably one of the most unique aspects of Animal Crossing. This aspect allows the player to literally feel as if he/she is emerged inside the game. If it’s sunny in game, it’s sunny in real life. If it’s dark in game, it’s dark at night in real life. The seasons change and holidays are celebrated in game during the same time in real life. These subtle aspects make the game feel more real and simulating a second life just seems that much more realistic.
The narration of the game is emergent. There are some pre-determined plots and jobs for the player to choose to complete, but the player’s interaction with the villagers, shop keepers, museum, and et cetera all influence the flow and story of the game. The player can chose to befriend or become archrivals with villagers. Villagers that feel bored in the town will move out if the player doesn’t prevent it. New villagers in the town will interact with the old, and the old villagers are influenced in some way or another by them, such as raising gossip. If the player buys a lot of stuff from Tom Nook’s store, Tom will expand is store to make it larger and carry more items. Whatever the player does in the gameworld will affect the game. Even if the player quits the game without saving a mole will pop up out of the ground and give a lengthy lecture of complaint the very next time he/she logs back on.
The rewards received in the game focused a lot on those of Glory and very little Facility. Occasionally the player can get new tools that enable him/her to interact in newer ways that weren’t possible before, such as getting new tools. To get access to these new facilities the player has to spend bells (currency), which isn’t too much a reward if they have to be bought. New golden tools can be difficult and take time to obtain as well. A lot of the game revolves around the reward of Glory, such as donating as many insects, bugs, paintings, and fish as you can. The only thing that pushes the player to keep on playing is the one goal of upgrading the house to its max size and paying off all of the debts to Tom Nook. This might not be enough to keep players interested.