Why Do We Even Care About Animal Crossing?

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Why Do We Even Care About Animal Crossing?

How does Animal Crossing do so little we love in a fun game, but deliver a consistently enjoyable experience?

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I agree animal crossing is best at catharsis. Yahtzee said it in his review (and lots of other people have said it). There are dozens of little victories that you can get playing animal crossing. Paying off your loan, getting a rare fish, having a perfect town, getting a real piece of art, etc... None of them individually give you much satisfaction, but there so many it doesn't really matter.

I never found explaining animal stool to be particularly challenging.

I'm sorry Yahtzee but it's too late. I just spent the last half an hour catching bugs. There is no hope for me, save yourselves!

I think you need to add a new leg to that stool: creativity. Games like Animal Crossing wouldn't be as addictive if you couldn't do things like plant flowers all around the edge of your town.

Well thank god I've never played an Animal Crossing game, and I never plan to. The last thing I need is yet another addictive, infinite game to turn into a giant time sink.

Just out of curiosity, do you have to take out loans? I always hear people complaining about some loan-shark (I think it's a raccoon), but a free money rock seems to solve that problem.

Also, Related: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHmIYMFM7AQ. Maybe Animal Crossing is so addictive because it makes you a citizen.

So Animal Crossing is a game that lets us enjoy the little things in life? That doesn't sound so bad, except when it ends up replacing your real life.

Rather disappointed he didn't make the comparison to Minecraft. While there are marked differences, it does have a world generated uniquely for each player, use of seed excluded, that what happens is based almost entirely upon what the player does. It's up to the player to build something.

Lately in my Minecraft game, I've decided to take a village and help it grow a bit. This will be quite a trick as all but two of the villagers were already killed by zombies. and the village itself is on top of a massive cave system with those pesky surface holes that you might walk into if you're not careful. But I feel responsible for these Squidworths or whatever that now make annoying noises constantly to endear them to me.

Having heard all about Animal Crossing: New Leaf, I am absolutely too terrified to even purchase it.

kailus13:
There is no hope for me, save yourselves!

Indeed I will! :D

I played wild world for a while, don't know why I stopped playing, it's not like I got bored I just kind of stopped.

I would say the actual part of the game that makes it so compelling is the fact you cant simply put in an all nighter and burn through the content, stay up all night and all you will manage to do is lose sleep.
You dont get burnt out on it, in fact it stays just long enough for you to wish you could play a bit longer but you cant, you need to wait till the next day.

In a sea of games where a player who can and is willing to put in stupid amounts of time into a game can beat the rest with sheer time invested, a game where you are forced to go at a moderate pace is nice...

... it also doesnt hurt that there is a ton of content in the form of collectables and silly events that isnt sitting behind a pay wall, no matter how much money you throw at the mini screen you will still have to wait till tomorrow.

As one of the few people who actually like the Syndicate FPS, I have this to say about your barb: That's the point.

The whole point of the story is how Miles Kilo is used; Euro Corp uses him as a weapon to sabotage other syndicates, Jack Denham uses you test out the DART 6, Lily Drawl uses you to kill Denham and help the Resistance (even though you pretty thoroughly wrecked their shit beforehand). You don't have impact on the plot because you're barely a person, you're a weapon. Fits pretty well with the tone of the series, I think.

OT: I've heard the Animal Crossing series used as a comparison piece to Minecraft: randomly generated world, player can influence the various systems and environments, smack levels of addiction, etc.

I fear no man. I fear no thing.

I work and toil many years in Arstotzkan border checkpoint. Turn desperate, starving mothers away, condemn good men to death in their home of Kolechia. Become cold. Fearless. Stone faced.
I visit Zone. See many horrors. Crawling crimes of nature, in black pits where sun is now dead.
I manage Dwarf city. Dead slugmen and bloodthristy sponges swarm us. Good people die. We endure, a life of death and booze. Is horror. Always horror. Outside the door. Inside, when dwarves go insane from agony of situation.

Yet... Animal Crossing... It scares me. Is a glimpse into Hell. I rather face each horror and each moment of soul crushing, pointless labour again. Every day. If it keeps me away from The Crossing.

Is man made hell.

kailus13:
I'm sorry Yahtzee but it's too late. I just spent the last half an hour catching bugs. There is no hope for me, save yourselves!

Nooo! Not another good soul claimed! We shall never forget. Or forgive...

the antithesis:
Rather disappointed he didn't make the comparison to Minecraft. While there are marked differences, it does have a world generated uniquely for each player, use of seed excluded, that what happens is based almost entirely upon what the player does. It's up to the player to build something.

Lately in my Minecraft game, I've decided to take a village and help it grow a bit. This will be quite a trick as all but two of the villagers were already killed by zombies. and the village itself is on top of a massive cave system with those pesky surface holes that you might walk into if you're not careful. But I feel responsible for these Squidworths or whatever that now make annoying noises constantly to endear them to me.

They're rather cute in a way, aren't they? Although it's interesting how they can even make it through a single Minecraft night.

I found a rather large NPC village like that in Tekkit once, and built them a small town hall and a security fence. All as a front to my secret laboratories beneath it. All went well until I had a bit of a nuclear boo boo beneath their church.

I have to disagree on the premise this time, Yatzhee. Animal Crossing is not unique. Its unique in the same way that each and every Mass Effect game is unique, but chances are you're the same god damn Shepard saving the same god damn Galaxy from the same god damn Reapers. I played Animal Crossing on a friends handheld and he kept gabbing on about how everything was different each time. And yet, he always knew exactly what to do, when to do it and which kinda creepy mutant animal thing to talk to. There I was roleplaying as the town mayor and my friend was able to, without looking at the screen 'cause he was playing Magic on PS3, tell me exactly what to do to proceed. It didn't feel all that random and unique; I mean fuck, you can read online guides on how to be a good mayor. How is it unique if there is a formula to this?!
To me unique means more than "Oh the fish pond is North instead of South." or "The duck mutant man sells sea shells by the sea shore on Tuesdays, not Thursday! See? unique!"
Maybe the game is too campy and friendly, but I'm not having fun doing the gardening in a game even while i'm neglecting my own garden! Animal Crossing is simply the Sims for toddlers.

So are you admitting to AC:NL being cripplingly addictive, Yahtzee?

Thunderous Cacophony:
Just out of curiosity, do you have to take out loans? I always hear people complaining about some loan-shark (I think it's a raccoon), but a free money rock seems to solve that problem.

Since New Leaf is my first Animal Crossing, I don't know about the other games, but in New Leaf, you have to take out a loan for when you first get your house, and then another one whenever you want to upgrade it. The money rock helps out a bit early on, but it's not nearly enough to fully pay for the loans + there's only one money rock per day.

I respect Yahtzee's three metrics ( context, challenge and catharsis ) but as he's grasping for a way to describe the appeal of Animal Crossing I'd like to bring up Naomi Clark's idea of Games of Labor. I came across it here in an interview on Another Castle ( http://www.another-castle.org/?p=23 ) and she uses the phrase as an intro to describe the appeal of casual games and MMOs.

A Game of Labor offers rewards based on the time invested in it. The category is distinct from games of skill/strategy and games of chance. On this topic specifically around 26 minutes, ramping up to it at around the 20 minute mark.

Animal Crossing is used as an example around the 29 minute mark to describe the appeal of a Fantasy of Labor. In short, "They provide a form of economic satisfaction because the world operates as we think it ought to."

Personally I thought the whole interview was pretty neat, but YMMV.

I feel like this was mostly just an attempt to rationalize liking something that you "feel" you shouldn't like.

Yes. Some games are very simple.

Checkers is simple.

So is Monopoly (to be honest).

Simple things allow us to build our own narrative. This isn't a new idea and its been around since before Video games.

Animal Crossing is popular because it presents simple concepts in an attractive way.

It's basically a video game adaptation of the children's book "Where the Wild Things are."

Elijah Newton:
Animal Crossing is used as an example around the 29 minute mark to describe the appeal of a Fantasy of Labor. In short, "They provide a form of economic satisfaction because the world operates as we think it ought to."

That's about as deep as I can see it being taken without grasping at straws.

I love the relaxed atmosphere of it myself. I can play a little on the drive to work every morning (I'm in the passenger seat...to be clear) and it never leaves me feeling like I left it on a cliff hanger.

BushMonstar:

Thunderous Cacophony:
Just out of curiosity, do you have to take out loans? I always hear people complaining about some loan-shark (I think it's a raccoon), but a free money rock seems to solve that problem.

Since New Leaf is my first Animal Crossing, I don't know about the other games, but in New Leaf, you have to take out a loan for when you first get your house, and then another one whenever you want to upgrade it. The money rock helps out a bit early on, but it's not nearly enough to fully pay for the loans + there's only one money rock per day.

You get a Perfect Fruit on the first day 100% of the time. If you plant this it'll get you a tree that makes a few rounds of 3.

As long as you use the final round to plant 2 more trees you'll never run out. Every stack of 9 makes like 38K at a friends town (assuming its non native for them).

By the end of a month of very light play (like 5 to 10 minutes depending on where you placed your tree farm) you'll have enough money to max out your house and buy most of the upgrades in the game.

I only know this because a buddy of mine and I got into an income war. It was amusing because it reminded me of real life capitalism.

[I hesitate to admit it but he won :/]

Silentpony:
I have to disagree on the premise this time, Yatzhee. Animal Crossing is not unique. Its unique in the same way that each and every Mass Effect game is unique, but chances are you're the same god damn Shepard saving the same god damn Galaxy from the same god damn Reapers. I played Animal Crossing on a friends handheld and he kept gabbing on about how everything was different each time. And yet, he always knew exactly what to do, when to do it and which kinda creepy mutant animal thing to talk to. There I was roleplaying as the town mayor and my friend was able to, without looking at the screen 'cause he was playing Magic on PS3, tell me exactly what to do to proceed. It didn't feel all that random and unique; I mean fuck, you can read online guides on how to be a good mayor. How is it unique if there is a formula to this?!
To me unique means more than "Oh the fish pond is North instead of South." or "The duck mutant man sells sea shells by the sea shore on Tuesdays, not Thursday! See? unique!"
Maybe the game is too campy and friendly, but I'm not having fun doing the gardening in a game even while i'm neglecting my own garden! Animal Crossing is simply the Sims for toddlers.

You just described how life is exactly the same for everyone. Must suck living in a reality designed for toddlers that is no fun :/.

But I understand the urge to oversimplify things in order to support your narrative. We all do it because it helps us not waste too much time on biases that only exist to make us feel superior.

I get the impression that this game is evil from both the review and this EP. Maybe we can add Animal Crossing's evil to list (such as the one Momurpogers are placed in for killing children and turning innocent people in fat cheeto eating creatures which get vaporized in sunlight).

Also, judging from the final line of this EP I can understand why there's no detail on the game other than the name on the review, nice subtle commentary there. Too bad you couldn't do it for Mindjack (fucking fucking fucking bad bad bad don't don't don't play it).

I feel like this ties into a previous point, not having to shoot everything in the face for the sake of progression. The light and whimsical game environment helps as well. Maybe, since we know the games expectations are low, we can take our time with it or perhaps the simplest reason, it just just fun and a nice distraction. : )

Silentpony:
I have to disagree on the premise this time, Yatzhee. Animal Crossing is not unique. Its unique in the same way that each and every Mass Effect game is unique, but chances are you're the same god damn Shepard saving the same god damn Galaxy from the same god damn Reapers. I played Animal Crossing on a friends handheld and he kept gabbing on about how everything was different each time. And yet, he always knew exactly what to do, when to do it and which kinda creepy mutant animal thing to talk to. There I was roleplaying as the town mayor and my friend was able to, without looking at the screen 'cause he was playing Magic on PS3, tell me exactly what to do to proceed. It didn't feel all that random and unique; I mean fuck, you can read online guides on how to be a good mayor. How is it unique if there is a formula to this?!
To me unique means more than "Oh the fish pond is North instead of South." or "The duck mutant man sells sea shells by the sea shore on Tuesdays, not Thursday! See? unique!"
Maybe the game is too campy and friendly, but I'm not having fun doing the gardening in a game even while i'm neglecting my own garden! Animal Crossing is simply the Sims for toddlers.

This is a game where you have to set goals for yourself.
If you don't have anything in mind for your village then you will find yourself bored out of your mind.
Catching fish, getting fruit, and nabbing bugs are the basic and most prominent feature of the games.
It's what you DO with it that makes it different.

Case in point I recently visited a town in the Dream Suite that basically turned their village into a ghost town where you have to find out why all the animals are "decapitated" and the mystery behind some girl in a red hood.

This is where the charm of the game comes from.

BushMonstar:

Thunderous Cacophony:
Just out of curiosity, do you have to take out loans? I always hear people complaining about some loan-shark (I think it's a raccoon), but a free money rock seems to solve that problem.

Since New Leaf is my first Animal Crossing, I don't know about the other games, but in New Leaf, you have to take out a loan for when you first get your house, and then another one whenever you want to upgrade it. The money rock helps out a bit early on, but it's not nearly enough to fully pay for the loans + there's only one money rock per day.

The thing is is that you DON'T have to.
You won't have Toom Nook banging on your doors requesting you update your house.
The game makes you WANT to do it because your house is small and crappy. So you get a bigger house. It's a torture of your own desires and actions.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
But it also creates catharsis rather underhandedly by sticking you with the same monotonous activities in the same unchanging environment for so long that when something new happens, like a new shop opening, it's like a glimpse of daylight after being in solitary for a month.

I had a serious WoW flashback here.

I always assumed Farmville and Animal crossing were the exact same thing, seeing it talked about in a serious fashion by some people, it's interesting to note how different they turn out to be.

On a slightly related topic, did Mr. Croshaw ever do anything specifically about Rogue Legacy? I could probably look this up myself, come to think of it; I only ask because the poor design choices in that game make my hair stand on end. It's a game that comes so close to my "perfect" game that the near misses feel like billiard balls to the nuts.

I haven't played the latest one yet (I know I will though...), but the first one gave me a huge amount of enjoyment. For months I would fire it up every single day, do a bit of fishing, catch some bugs, wander around delivering stuff for people. I think I can say that it held my attention longer than any other game ever has. And yes, I'm a grown man!

I remember the first time I visited a friend's town - it was really was something almost magical. And then I noticed he had different trees to me (orange trees, if I remember correctly), and I was overjoyed to take it back to my town and start growing orange trees. I think I took a weird-looking fish back, too, which I sold for a small fortune.

It's a bizarre concept that Nintendo has executed absolutely brilliantly.

kailus13:
I'm sorry Yahtzee but it's too late. I just spent the last half an hour catching bugs. There is no hope for me, save yourselves!

The true nature of Animal Crossing; Yahtzee has known about it for years: http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/reviews/animalcrossing.htm

Dragonbums:

Silentpony:
Snip

Snip

Not to belabor my point though; That's not unique! That happens with a lot of players and therefore, not unique. And maybe its just me, but that also sounds intensely uninteresting. But then again, I never understood the appeal of Minecraft. Any game that has the gall to openly ask me why I'm playing this game isn't going to last long. "Good point, Animal Crossing! Why AM I playing your crap game? Thanks for pointing this out so soon." Then I go off and play something else with a plot. It doesn't really feel like a game if I'm sitting at my screen, scratching my head while trying to come up with another reason to keep playing. At least WOW offered purple named weapons- not that I ever played that far. Gameplay got too repetitive- but Animal Crossing's appeal seems to be that if you harvest all the crops and sell all the fish then your reward is being able to do it all again tomorrow!

Plus its not unique; Did I mention that?

If you enjoyed this game, great! But I honestly can't see the appeal in a game where you have to come up with a reason to play it.

I've never played Animal Crossing, but this kinda reminds me of Harvest Moon, which I played a lot on the GBA.
But after I had a wife and child and my house and farm fully upgraded, I didn't know what to do anymore. :(

Good topic all around, "Animal Crossing, how does it work?!"

Yahtzee's three pillars of game design aside, I do want to point at the elephant in the room: the grind.

Earn bells! Unlock these fantastic prizes!

    * Furniture!
    * Clothing!
    * Tools!
    * Wallpaper and flooring!
    * More rooms for your home!
    * Bigger rooms for your home!
    * And more!
But, funny enough, you don't want to say Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a grind when you play it, because it does not feel particularly like an MMORPG would. AC:NL doesn't dangle the next level as though it's something you really must have now. Instead, it acts really laid back about it. "No, take your time, feel free to procrastinate all you want, you don't have to earn bells unless you really want to..."

Somehow, that works even better. Maybe it's because we're sick of being dragged along by a leash, but at the same time, we want something to strive for. In other words, we all like progression systems (whether we know it or not) but we don't like feeling forced to progress, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf nails that: it offers the progression system without any sense of being forced to do it.

Silentpony:

Dragonbums:

Silentpony:
Snip

Snip

Not to belabor my point though; That's not unique! That happens with a lot of players and therefore, not unique. And maybe its just me, but that also sounds intensely uninteresting. But then again, I never understood the appeal of Minecraft. Any game that has the gall to openly ask me why I'm playing this game isn't going to last long. "Good point, Animal Crossing! Why AM I playing your crap game? Thanks for pointing this out so soon." Then I go off and play something else with a plot. It doesn't really feel like a game if I'm sitting at my screen, scratching my head while trying to come up with another reason to keep playing. At least WOW offered purple named weapons- not that I ever played that far. Gameplay got too repetitive- but Animal Crossing's appeal seems to be that if you harvest all the crops and sell all the fish then your reward is being able to do it all again tomorrow!

Plus its not unique; Did I mention that?

If you enjoyed this game, great! But I honestly can't see the appeal in a game where you have to come up with a reason to play it.

Are you really saying you have so little sense of self-guidance that you literally cannot enjoy an activity unless someone else (real or fictional) is ordering you about? That the experience is somehow diminished by it being an experience you've chosen to undertake?

You must not have enjoyed playing with toys as a kid, because those completely lack structure and plot, except that which you create on your own.

Honestly, I'd hate to be you if that's the case. To me it's the exact opposite, the tasks I feel most engaged in are the one's I'm doing of my own free will in the game because it doesn't feel like I'm simply walking down some path laid at my feet.

Also, I don't understand what you mean when you say the game is 'asking you why you're playing it'. Your reason for playing should be the same reason you play any game, because you enjoy the experience. You shouldn't ever need any justification other than that.

kailus13:
I'm sorry Yahtzee but it's too late. I just spent the last half an hour catching bugs. There is no hope for me, save yourselves!

I think you need to add a new leg to that stool: creativity. Games like Animal Crossing wouldn't be as addictive if you couldn't do things like plant flowers all around the edge of your town.

Boom. Creativity is without a doubt a big factor in Games nowadays. From Sandboxes to simulations. The best example of this is probably Minecraft. That game would not exist if it were not for the creativity of its players. Games that let players play how they like are big factors. Hell another example is Dishonored. I would have been bored shitless if that game had no open environments like it did. The open environments let me choose how to do what I wanted to do and be creative. It did not matter if I chose to violently kill everyone in sight or go by unnoticed the game let me be creative with how I did it.

This same sort of creativity lets Animal Crossing hold me by the balls and never let go. On top of all the stuff people have said with flowers you can also go nuts with Designs. You could make actual roads and paths between everything if you wanted to. I personally think those that do it have something wrong in their heads cause there is no way in hell I got the patience to do that.

Silentpony:

Dragonbums:

Silentpony:
Snip

Snip

Not to belabor my point though; That's not unique! That happens with a lot of players and therefore, not unique. And maybe its just me, but that also sounds intensely uninteresting. But then again, I never understood the appeal of Minecraft. Any game that has the gall to openly ask me why I'm playing this game isn't going to last long. "Good point, Animal Crossing! Why AM I playing your crap game? Thanks for pointing this out so soon." Then I go off and play something else with a plot. It doesn't really feel like a game if I'm sitting at my screen, scratching my head while trying to come up with another reason to keep playing. At least WOW offered purple named weapons- not that I ever played that far. Gameplay got too repetitive- but Animal Crossing's appeal seems to be that if you harvest all the crops and sell all the fish then your reward is being able to do it all again tomorrow!

Plus its not unique; Did I mention that?

If you enjoyed this game, great! But I honestly can't see the appeal in a game where you have to come up with a reason to play it.

If it is not your cup of tea then fine.
However keep in mind that as much as I love game with plot, I also like games where I'm not pulled by the ear to do this and that. I like a game that simply boots up and let me do what I want, how I want, when I want.
Which is the appeal of a game like Animal Crossing.

OlasDAlmighty:

Snip

No I didn't enjoy playing with toys as a kid. I think it was right around my second toy starship that I realized I wasn't really going into space. I consider myself very lucky I had older siblings who were playing games by the time I was older enough to remember things. They let me watch and when I was too young to read they read the dialogue boxes out to me.
Perhaps this calls for an explanation. The first game I ever played was FF6 on the SNES.(I think I was 6 at the time.) And I grew up with the N64, playing Ocarina of Time, Perfect Dark, Hexen, Conker's Bad Fur Day, etc...
Games with plots. With characters. With reasons beyond...well...simply being there. When I play a game, I want it to tell me that I am a hungover squirrel who wants to get home and get some sleep, or that I'm the Hero of Time. If a game tells me i'm just a normal dude and i should go have a normal life...well, I already am a dude. I don't need the game at that point. Games like Animal Crossing, Sims, and Minecraft where the game is in and of itself not fun unless you contrive a reason to have fun are lacking to me. I'm with Yatzhee when he said in the Scribblenauts review "When I have everything, I can't think of anything."
If the game's premise is that you need to come up with a premise, then there is something wrong with that game. In the same way a blank canvas is not a painting, a game that doesn't have a game to it isnt a game.

Dragonbums:

If it is not your cup of tea then fine.
However keep in mind that as much as I love game with plot, I also like games where I'm not pulled by the ear to do this and that. I like a game that simply boots up and let me do what I want, how I want, when I want.
Which is the appeal of a game like Animal Crossing.

Fair cop, but does Animal Crossing count as a sandbox? I can do a sandbox well enough. I don't need to be pulled by the ear all the time either, but I do like that when I'm done goofing around there is a plot to come back to. An objective. If they released Saints Row and instead of being a gangleader, you were a NPC and instead of leading cops on exciting car chases you just take meetings and do grocery shopping...I'm not sure I could stand that. I already do shopping and clean my house.

I guess its just not my thing. I never understood the Sims either...

kailus13:
I'm sorry Yahtzee but it's too late. I just spent the last half an hour catching bugs. There is no hope for me, save yourselves!

Pssh, only a half hour? I would spend hour-long trips on bug-catching tours of the island to farm bells. It's thanks to that that I got my house fully upgraded and paid off within two weeks. Each bug is worth ~8,000 bells. Given the total cost is 7,595,800 Bells, and you can only get 40 bugs per visit, I must have spent a full day worth of playing just to pay off my house... for some reason. I'm sure why.

I will say that the house payments are one of the glues that holds the game together. I really like my townspeople. But there's nothing much to do after you pay out your house. I have almost all the fossils, a lot of the bugs and fish I can currently get, and you can only get 1 art per week or so (if you don't fall for a fake). There's just nothing for me to really do now. And I decided I'm either going to play every single day anyways to do everything... or not play at all. Cause I don't want to see the disappointed looks on my villagers faces when I don't log in, or risk seeing my favorites leave without me knowing.

I always thought it was cathartic because it takes you out of the depressing, morally ambiguous chaos of the real world and provides a quiet, peaceful little alternate universe where everything is always A-OK.

No wars or disasters or murders or people falling out of love and fighting one another and wasting every waking moment slinging shit at each other, everyone dragging everyone else into the dirt.

Just flowers and friendly smiles and gentle rains. It's peaceful :).

Honestly. Some games really can be engaging just for how relaxing, soothing, and heart-warming they are.

You engage yourself in the world, roleplaying a little, and you can imagine for a little while that everything is alright.

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