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Old 04-16-2012, 05:15 AM
GSnyder GSnyder is offline
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Default How is Rinth Island escaping hate for its IAP?

There have been several interesting discussions here about consumers' responses to various forms of IAP. A general theme seems to be that it's easy for IAPs to set off waves of hate and bad reviews when they're perceived as manipulative or surprising, or as offering poor value.

As a paid-up-front game, Rinth Island seems to me to make the worst possible IAP mistake in that it disables an essential and simple feature, undo, unless you pony up more cash for an IAP. This is a puzzle game in which most missteps require either undo or restarting the level, so the lack of an undo feature is a significant impediment. I wouldn't say the game is unplayable without undo, but it's pretty clear the developer is trying to cause you some pain.

It's not my purpose to critique Rinth Island, which in many ways looks like a lovely game. I'm just puzzled by the fact that its provocative IAP scheme has provoked nary a peep from reviewers and from the usual horde of IAP kvetchers. Does anyone have a theory as to why this is so? What is it about the package that lets it slip past people's normally-hyperactive crippleware detectors?
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:26 AM
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30BelowStudios 30BelowStudios is offline
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My personal view is that it's because 1) it's such a great game that people can overlook some complaints and 2) it would feel like cheating if there was an undo button.
Growing up and playing puzzle games I never had any undo buttons. Every game had a restart or "suicide" type feature. If I could simply backtrack my mistakes it would drain the game of its fun. Thinking back on puzzle games of the past starting at the NES generation I can't think of a single game off the top of my head that has an undo button. I think many will not share your views on the undo button making the game unplayable.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:19 AM
lolzappan lolzappan is offline
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Originally Posted by GSnyder View Post
It's not my purpose to critique Rinth Island, which in many ways looks like a lovely game. I'm just puzzled by the fact that its provocative IAP scheme has provoked nary a peep from reviewers and from the usual horde of IAP kvetchers. Does anyone have a theory as to why this is so? What is it about the package that lets it slip past people's normally-hyperactive crippleware detectors?
IAP is not everybodies cup of tea but what you are talking about is your personal opinion. If it's provocative to you, you are free to write about in the games review section and voice your thoughts as to why you think that's a bad idea. Evidently other players are not bothered by it.

Clearly judging from just one review at TA http://toucharcade.com/2012/04/09/rinth-island-review/ it would seem that this was not flagged as a problem so your opinion (to which you are naturally entitled to) is not shared by at least one other person.

My personal opinion is that the waves of hate reviews comes from buying Gems or Stars for $99.99 and that children who don't know better end up spending hundreds of dollars and that it really is child baiting. I am obviously not the target audience as I could not imagine why anyone would pay 99.99 for a virtual anything when there is so much more to be had for a lot less.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:21 AM
slewis7 slewis7 is offline
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The game is good and can be played without the undo button. The developers are entitled to try to pry more then a measly buck from folks who are enjoying the game. If someone is is spending enough time with the game to benefit from the undo, they can decide whether it is worth it to invest another dollar.
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:29 PM
pazzy pazzy is offline
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Originally Posted by GSnyder View Post
I wouldn't say the game is unplayable without undo, but it's pretty clear the developer is trying to cause you some pain.
Hello! I'm the original concept designer on Rinth Island. Throughout most of the game's development last year, there was no rewind at all... just restart. This was based on the standard set by games like Adventures of Lolo, Fire 'n' Ice, and others. In retrospect it is a bit ruthless and "old school," but that's the way we originally planned on shipping the game.

Near the end, when we were pondering cool IAP to add to the game, someone came up with the "rewind" idea. We conceived of it like a "cheat," and by offering it a few times for free, we thought of it like giving the user a preview of the "cheaty way to play."

In hindsight, of course, it's pretty obvious that offering the preview sets expectations that are later violated. And it's completely apparent to us how it could come across like we were trying to cause pain. But the way it started, we were actually trying to relieve it! Weird, huh?

Although our press reviews have been largely positive, the ubiquitous gripe is the IAP rewind.

We hope that the scope of game content offered justifies the lameness of the IAP rewind... we just released our first 30-stage content pack update, and we have another one after that coming down the pipe. And these content packs are free of charge.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:04 PM
GSnyder GSnyder is offline
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Thanks for your comments, @pazzy. I admire your response very much. It's informative, friendly, and non-defensive -- exactly the right tone for addressing a potentially sensitive issue like this.

From others' comments, it seems clear that I'm in the minority in regarding undo as an essential feature rather than a cheat. This comes as quite a surprise to me! I just don't see much play value in being forced to mechanically retrace your previous steps. That's not puzzle solving, I would argue; it's just busy work. (Again, I'm stating this baldly for purposes of discussion. It's just an opinion, and clearly not a widely-held one at that.)

But as I said in the OP, my point wasn't to pick on Rinth Island so much as to ask what general lesson about IAP might be learned from this configuration. I'm developing the impression that perhaps IAP features that are viewed as being somehow "shameful" are less likely to be regarded as entitlements.

Another IAP in this mold might be Words with Friends' addition of a cheat mode several months ago. If memory serves, that provoked some pushback at the time, but it seems to have blown over. Looking at current iTunes comments, players are a lot more outraged over the lack of high-resolution iPad support than they are about cheat mode. (The number of one-star hate reviews on this subject is really quite striking.)

A third example is IAPs for solutions to puzzles. That always seems to go down very smoothly. That system actually seems pretty close to a perfect IAP scheme to me: it's completely optional, a bit shameful, and helpful and gratifying all at once.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:53 PM
pazzy pazzy is offline
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@GSnyder, I think the lesson with IAP is not to violate expectations. The fun-fuel, dopamine, is all about forming and satisfying expectations. When expectations are violated, in games, or relationships, or life goals, it creates feelings if injustice, theft, and depression.

When as players we dive into prepaid games, we have certain expectations, formed by years of gaming experiences. And when (what we feel are) product-essential game mechanics, skills, weapons, etc. are locked behind paywalls, that feels unjust!

Very early prototypes of Rinth had much, much smaller puzzles. Restarting was basically like rewinding. Puzzles slowly grew in complexity and size over several months... the change was just too slow and subtle to sufficiently recognize that paywalling Rewind would violate many peoples' expectations.

Last edited by pazzy; 04-16-2012 at 11:00 PM..
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:09 PM
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30BelowStudios 30BelowStudios is offline
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@GSnyder I believe games are getting too easy nowadays. If you died in the old Super Mario bros you had to restart the entire level. If you die in a boss fight in any game you have to restart. Players nowadays are spoon fed, many games even get progressively easier as they die more. Anyone play that new Super Mario 3D Land? If you die too many times you are given invincibility for the entire level. If you still keep dying by falling into pits, you are then warped to the end of the level.

I believe that you should work for your wins. Rinth's levels take a minute or two to complete. It's not that big a deal to redo. In the end you will feel a larger sense of accomplishment by completing the puzzles the way they were intended to and not rewinding back to the point right before you screwed up just so you can "fix" your mistake. What's the point of putting any effort into figuring out the puzzle? You may as well blindly jump right in and just trial and error your way to the end. There's no fun in that.
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Old 04-17-2012, 05:39 PM
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BravadoWaffle BravadoWaffle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 30BelowStudios View Post
@GSnyder I believe games are getting too easy nowadays. If you died in the old Super Mario bros you had to restart the entire level. If you die in a boss fight in any game you have to restart. Players nowadays are spoon fed, many games even get progressively easier as they die more. Anyone play that new Super Mario 3D Land? If you die too many times you are given invincibility for the entire level. If you still keep dying by falling into pits, you are then warped to the end of the level.

I believe that you should work for your wins. Rinth's levels take a minute or two to complete. It's not that big a deal to redo. In the end you will feel a larger sense of accomplishment by completing the puzzles the way they were intended to and not rewinding back to the point right before you screwed up just so you can "fix" your mistake. What's the point of putting any effort into figuring out the puzzle? You may as well blindly jump right in and just trial and error your way to the end. There's no fun in that.
It's interesting you should mention Mario 3D Land, did you read this article on Gamasutra: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/featur..._learning_.php

I also read another interesting article about difficulty in games and how it's changing at PocketNext: http://www.pocketnext.com/stories/press-x-to-win/

Some very good stuff there!
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:26 PM
GSnyder GSnyder is offline
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Originally Posted by 30BelowStudios View Post
I believe games are getting too easy nowadays. If you died in the old Super Mario bros you had to restart the entire level. If you die in a boss fight in any game you have to restart. Players nowadays are spoon fed, many games even get progressively easier as they die more.
I'm all for difficult games. I just don't think the lack of undo in a game like Rinth Island makes the game one whit harder. It simply makes the game more time consuming. There's a difference between game play and filler/punishment.

Super Mario et al are perhaps not the best analogy since these games require the cultivation of a physical skill. I agree with you that being able to slice the physical play of those games into arbitrarily small increments removes the challenge and renders the game largely pointless.

But Rinth Island is a different animal. It's a cognitive game. You've either figured out what to do next or you haven't. Failed experiments aren't badges of shame that require immediate punishment; they're just part of the player's active engagement with the game world.
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