Sunday, August 02, 2020
Real time rewards
Once upon a time you progressed in a computer game only when you were running that game. Online games then introduced the idea of real time into games, from the power hour in Ultima Online to rest xp in World of Warcraft. Mobile games use the concept very frequently, hoping that by granting you things like a "daily login reward" you keep engaged with the game.
I actually have a few games on my iPad which I don't actively play, but start once per day to collect the rewards. I don't do that with very many games, only those that I think I will want to play later anyway; so why not spend a minute every day on them to collect those real time rewards, and profit from them later when I actually want to play this game? Of course I might end up then never playing that game and wasting a bit of my time every day. But getting a virtual reward is always a dopamine moment, even if the reward is just for logging on.
My holidays have ended, and I haven't gotten very far with Pokemon Sword, only just passed the second gym. But I did notice that Pokemon Sword and Shield has some sort of real time reward system as well: You can send your Pokemon on "jobs" that take up to 24 hours of real time, and reward you with xp for the Pokemon, and a few bonus items. So I might start up my Switch from time to time and send out Pokemon on jobs. Why is that interesting? Well, I already have 90 Pokemon, and that is after releasing most of those that I had more than once. The classic way of leveling Pokemon is using them in combat, but only the 6 Pokemon in your party gain xp, and only those you actually swapped in and out of combat gain full xp. So keeping all your Pokemon leveled up would require quite a lot of grinding. But the different gyms and regions force you to change Pokemon from time to time; so gaining a gym badge and needing a new Pokemon type for the next content might result in you having to use Pokemon of lower levels, because you didn't take the time to level them up. You can fix that in part with the use of the xp candy you find in the max raid events of the wild area, but that is just another sort of grind. The Pokemon jobs appear to me the fastest method to keep many of my Pokemon at a relevant level.
However, I am not really sure that this is perfectly balanced. It appears to me that in the 5 minutes or so it takes to collect all the rewards and send out the Pokemon again, I am gaining a huge amount of xp, compared to other methods of leveling up. So if I actually do this in "mobile game mode", only collecting real time rewards while not actually playing the game, I might end up with a *lot* of xp and levels. Which I am willing to risk, because I don't really enjoy xp grinding in this game. I will see how this works out.