Archive for the ‘Gaming (Rolling in the Mud)’ Category

Veturing the MMO realm of gaming I recently landed on a gem. A game published by SEGA and created by Three Rings named Spiral Knights, which at first glance seems like the standard hack and slash genre, but as you spend a few days into you notice something that will change your experience all together.

I’m not reviewing the game but I will cut straight to the chase, this game is a 3rd world country embellished (and by that i mean without the physical representations and atrocities that are usually implied with the picturing of the meaning). In this world you start off as  a knight from a robot like race informed that your ship has crash landed on a planet and your resources scattered. You must now learn to survive on this planet as you venture through it. If you need a visual example,think of it of something similar to the mining alien’s perspective in the movie District 9. You gather materials and resources which are needed to venture through the worlds subbterrain, but to go even further and get even more income you will need to invest on equipment and complete multiple challenges and missions. There is something very important that this game doesn’t warn you about as you are introduced to the core concepts of this game.

There are 2 types of income in this game, one which acts like monetary value, and the other acts like real value (for example a natural resource). Energy which  is a necessity in this game is very scarce  as a resource but it is what will allow you to get further into dungeons and explore the game even more.  It is used for crafting, working machinery, to heal from death and to enter new areas. You are given 2 types of energy at the start, Mist Energy and Crystal Energy  where: Mist Energy is energy that replenishes over time and Crystal energy is energy that can stored but doesn’t increase until you invest into it. You can only introduce Crystal Energy into the world of Spiral Knights by paying with “real cash”  A Crown in the world of spiral knights is a form of paper money, it is used for almost all the same things as crystal energy except it is easily manageable compared  to crystal energy. Nonetheless everything looks alright and dandy on paper, but after seeing it in action you start to see a major problem with this system.

The implemented economics of this MMO quickly turns what looks like a dandy casual game into a game where countless amounts people are just looking to survive. There is a stock market for Crystal Energy which shows how much crowns they are worth, the data is updated quite frequently. Let me just say this, the game has been out for 3-months and I haven’t seen situation that represents an economic depression as well as this game. Energy is like gasoline for robots, where you can use it for yourself like water and everything else like fuel. Just like gas prices, the price of Crystal Energy will continue to fluctuate after each event, patch and population/resource changes.

It’s a situation that would need to be fixed asap by the developers but I’m entertained by the players as they are vigorously looking for a solution for this problem. It makes me feel like we could learn a thing or two from situations like these in gaming. Not only does it add a challenge but it also adds a little of something that developers in the past have completely failed to do in the realm of video games, merging entertainment and learning into one and the same being. Although this game isn’t perfect and what has happened to it may be accidental as well as might lead it to die.  Think about it,  this is the first massive multi-player online game where the community itself can collectively experience a game over but one person can emerge and control everything, now isn’t that a unique experience!

There is so much to say about this one specific resource in Spiral Knights that I could write a 10 page report. It’s an idea that should be refined and could possibly make educational games fun through not making it so obvious that your product serves that purpose.

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