The Pitfalls of Bad Game Systems: My short lived encounter with AreaX

areaximage

So I had a little bit of time yesterday and today and decided to finally play AreaX that I purchased from Zeiva at Otakon this year. I’m very sorry to say that while I really wanted to give this game a chance, the system pretty much prevented me from doing so and therefore ruined my experience overall. Btw this isn’t really a review of the game, but rather a commentary.

I heard a lot of great things about AreaX and Xnote but it’s probably my own fault for never looking into it deeper or trying out the demo beforehand. I knew in advance that it was a non professional game, I knew that I’d have to pretty lenient with my judgement, but I pretty much walked in expecting something like a typical ren’py game that I’ve reviewed in the past. I’m sad to say this was not the case.

Let’s start with the fact that the game is made in FLASH aka Shockwave. Okay maybe for them it was easier to do it in this format, and I can somewhat sympathize as I’ve made Flash movies before and it’s really easy to drag & drop stuff than to code coordinates in Ren’Py.  However, if you are charging $25 for this, you have to now consider your paying players (well at least those of us who don’t blatantly pirate indy games). The biggest pitfall of any game for me is the lack of automode. I’m old, my bones ain’t what they used to be, so being forced into non stop clicking with my mouse until my wrist actually begins to hurt is a big problem for me. I play 99% of the time in auto-mode so maybe for others it’s different, but this is a MUST for me and this game definitely doesn’t have it. On top of this, you MUST also click within the constrains of the text box. In most non-automode games at least you can press the O button your PSP or PS2 (I’ve had to do so with Kanon) or you can click anywhere on the screen. So here not only must I constantly keep clicking, I must pretty much constantly click in the same “position” of my arm which further increases the carpal tunnel effect. (;´Д`)

Alright fine, forget the auto-mode, let’s give this game a chance! I’ll at least try to complete 1 route since the story seems interesting and the art is great. And so I begin my journey about people in the future and the heroine has to travel back in time or something. I love time travel, bring it on! She also beats up an entire gang of delinquents on her own while running into some kendo bishie and middle school shota! She doesn’t know what CAUSEPLAY is! Awesome, I like where this is going! :lol: But oops I gotta stop for the night, so I made sure to save in 2 different slots and then closed my browser and shut down my PC. THIS IS WHERE I MADE A GRAVE MISTAKE! I come in the next morning, open up Area-X.htm hit “load game” and lo & behold:

gan

∑(゚Д゚)ガーン

Welp. Alright maybe I did something wrong I check the readme file.

You may need to adjust your Flash Player setting in order for it to work. Make sure to allow Local Storage to store information into your computer.

Wat. This shouldn’t even be something that should affect my gameplay. I’ve played a ton of ren’py games on this computer without problems until I’ve run into this game.

We recommend using Google Chrome for best performance.

Hahahaha…no. ( ´_ゝ`) A co-worker of mine used google chrome and she ended up getting like 8 trojans in her PC. Also the one day I had to use it cause my FF borked on me I somehow got 1 trojan from using it for about 10 minutes. So yea no thanks.

I can imagine the solution to my problem would be to adjust my lifestyle somehow so that this game would cooperate…or somehow play everything in 1 sitting without ever closing my Firefox window. However while browsing for guides/walkthroughs I stumbled upon this review which mentioned

There were some issues I had with the game such as there wasn’t (at least any way that I found) an option to skip only read dialogue so I ended up skipping over some stuff I hadn’t read before

Uh oh! I think I’ve found a problem that would further prevent me to continue with this game had I actually finished 1 route! Well either way it’s clear by this point that this is not for me, and well frankly I kinda wish I never spent $25 on it.

————-

gang

I know some people may be raging at me for not giving this game a chance (well I tried to…) and for complaining about the system without judging the art/story/characters BUT you have to also look at it from my point of view. I realize English otome games are few & far between and if that’s all you play then you aren’t going to have much of a judgement on systems. Me however? After things like Custom Drive and Last Escort and 200+ completed otome games, I start to develop a “standard of quality” for myself on what I will and will not put myself through. As I mentioned at the beginning, most of the time a lot of the issues posted above are easily fixed if Zeiva just chose to use Ren’Py as her programming format instead of Flash.  For me as far as judging priority it’s always been and will be System > Story/Characters > Art > Seiyuus. Therefore, if your system is bad then your game basically becomes unplayable to me. Think of it as giving a can of food to a cat without actually opening the can. Sure the food in there is prolly delicious to the cat but how is the cat supposed to open the can with his paws ?_? The fact that I have a plethora of other otome games available to me (without the language barrier) that I can get through much easier really puts Area X in an unfavorable light for me. I hope in the future Zeiva considers doing her games in renpy and really considers her systems and difficulty for players as one of the priorities. Unfortunately due to this being my first ever encounter with their games and having it be so unpleasant, I probably won’t be playing or buying any of their games again. I’m still thinking about what to do with the game disk for this, maybe give it away for my blog anniversary I’m not sure yet.

For those who were able to get through the system and managed to enjoy the game, good for you! Unfortunately, with my otome gaming mood being rather low lately and with so many otome releases out there, I have to take priorities on what pretty much is up to my “standards” of a smooth gaming system. (And seriously all I really ask for is automode, a decent save feature, and “skip only read text”…) And for those who think that a time travel otome game maybe their cup of tea, head over to Zeiva Inc’s site and try out the demo and if the system really doesn’t bother you, then support them & buy yourself a copy!

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About Hinano

Patiently waiting for high res otome games on the Vita!

Posted on October 31, 2013, in Otome Games and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. It’s such a shame to hear that you didn’t like the game. D: It always sucks to spend money and time on a game just to end up not enjoying it.

    That being said, I’ve played demos of Zeiva’s other games, and the art is (usually) phenomenal and the story/writing seemed pretty good, and the music tended to be pretty good too. But I HATED the system in all of their games. Like you, it was hard on this old lady to click the mouse CONSTANTLY. I think you can actually use the spacebar instead though (in at least one of their games anyway), so that made things a bit better once I started doing that. But it’s still a pain. :I And I hate fiddling with Adobe Flash on top of all that.

    • Yea I think their newest game is also in Flash? So it seems to me like they’re pretty much stuck on that platform and in the age of renpy and Novelty and such, it just feels like such a huge step backwards. I guess you were able to get over the system but I’ve had so many shitty systems in the past to deal with I just couldn’t be bothered :lol: It’s a shame I think by not improving on the system it’s just shooting themselves in the foot but from reading Zeiva’s twitter – seems like a lot of people pirated her games so she probably doesn’t have much motivation to do anything beyond what’s easier for her to do with little cost seeing how a lot of people won’t actually let her make any profit.

      • See, I could get over the system.. if the games were free. But they’re not. They’re kinda pricey, even. After playing the demos of her games, the system was what ultimately stopped me from buying any of them. XD It’s a real shame, too; everything else seemed interesting (except for the stat-raising systems; I hate hunting and pecking in visual novels).

        • I guess my ultimate thing was “I want to try and support the indy OEL game industry” kinda deal but if I have to buy unplayable games then I think my support ends here lol.

  2. Heh. Basically right on all counts.

    Lack of auto-mode might be due to the limitations of flash…. I take that back, I’ve seen games that have auto-sexx0r mode. That said, flash is a lousy format for making a game, especially if you want to market them. Sure, it’s good for those brief Hentai games where you attempt to sexx0r the… err.. nevermind. Let’s not talk about the save slots. It’s bascially limited to some directory in the flash cache somewhere deep in the bowels of your system .Basically, flash was never meant for doing complicated stuff.

    Any game that I have to point and click repeatitively just to move/progress/scroll text gets 1 star (up to 25 points) deducted. Thus, one reason I dislike MMORPGs. And Diablo. I rather even move using the WASD keys since it doesn’t end up becoming a clickfest. If you like people to use the mouse at least have the decency to make RMB the auto-mode.

    System > Story/Characters > Art > Seiyuus.

    Basically correct. A lousy engine/system means the game is unplayable. The most recent example that comes to mind is that Day Zero/One whatever fiasco but there are plenty lurking about. Yes, writing a good engine is hard, so people licensing/using good ones instead is actually a good alternative. The rest of the game matter is pointless if your underlying framework is ricketty.

    As for Chrome… Do not want. Installed Opera on my Galaxy S3 (used to it from the old HTC HD2). Not touching the plethora of google crap apart from the search engine. Android I tolerate because &(*&$(&!(!!! Nokia screwed up their release dates for their Lumia here. -_-

    In short, if you need to charge, you need to at least do a decent job of the game.

    Now… looks at the camera, open box from Japan and the lack of commentary…

    • but even in most new RPGs you use WASD and keyboard keys so I rarely have to click as often as I would in a visual novel lol

      and while my way of judging games is so I think a lot of otome gamers prefer Art > Seiyuus > Story Characters > System which is probably why a lot of people tend to rage and disagree with my reviews :lol:.

      The auto-mode lacking was bad but the unable to save is what killed it for me lol. Can you imagine sittin there for hours playing this, then Firefox freezes, and when you open it up your progress is gone. Lol no thanks

      • HTF people put system last I don’t understand. People, it’s the thingy that is runny and makey-makey all your 1337 graphics and seiyuu voices run! To put things in perspective: You buy a 5-person sedan/hatchback car on the basis it has all these spiffy gadgets (and an iCrap dock), leather interior and seats, anti-collision, side airbags etc2 except that it has a 750cc 3 stroke engine that is woefully underpowered and has a fuel tank range of 50km. People, the engine moves things.

        Yes, I like cute art and stuff and the may go nuts over hearing Puchiko in BlazBlue: Alter Memories or Dejiko in Date-A-Live but it doesn’t inflate the ratings. (4 episodes of BlazBlue and the only thing that is promising is the 10 second episode preview that take the piss out of the show itself. Not even Tohsaka Rin + Puchiko can save the show. Date-A-Live was generic harem show. Touka was meh, the loli was forgettable (can’t even remember her name… Yoshinon? Yoshino?). Only liked Kirino and Dejiko in the show (even cannot remember their names since I always referred to them as such. :P))

      • One added point I forgot. It’s not really Chrome’s fault that you got a virus. It’s Javascripting. The thing I hate more than flash. My IE settings are designed to kill pointless ads and break websites that are JS heavy.

        • I hate Javascript with a passion and I’ve seen so many computers get infected because of autoscripts that run when unsuspecting users visit websites! My college network sets the browsers to block ads and disable Javascript too, because there’s been so many cases of 1 computer getting infected and then spreading to all the other computers on the network.

      • I can assure you, you’re not alone when it comes to judging System before Art/Voices, etc. It’s like this: we play games for fun, so if the system is so badly designed that it kills all the fun, then what’s the point of playing the game?

  3. Ah well I kinda agree with you, for it’s : system>story and characters>art>seiyuu. That’s why I havent play custom drive yet /o\. The system scares me. And also i’m not fond with the lack of auto mode, constantly clicking mouses is too much lol. I heard this game has a good story but too bad the system kinda suck www

    • yea I heard the story/characters were great but I just can’t deal with all the system issues in it ( ≖Д≖;) and yea lol don’t even bother with custom drive cause everything but the art sucks anyway xD

  4. Oh yeah, I totally understand you. X-Note had a pretty bad system, too. You have to play these dumb minigames and instead of save states there are passwords that send you to an approximate place in the game instead of where you were.

    I feel so disappointed that English otoge makers make it their mission to have their game on a horrible system with more weird stat raisers and minigames instead of actual man-conquering.

    • I wonder if Area X had the same pw system as I did see an ‘enter password’ option in the load menu. And yea I really don’t know why a lot of the English makers do this…the maker of Planets chose to go the straight VN way and that’s why that game became so popular. Turns out most people don’t want to suffer through a maze of choices lol.

  5. I bought Area-X (because I like the artist) and it saved fine on my computer…so I don’t know what went wrong there.

    But do agree, after clicking and clicking my wrists will also begin to hurt a lot, although I put through because I liked the story and wanted to complete the routes. Flash is really NOT the best tool to use for making otome games. I haven’t had experience with Ren’py games but if it’s a software specially for making visual novels, it’s got to be better than flash.

    For me the judging criteria is Story >> Characters > Voice > Art with System being able to fit in anywhere, I don’t know where exactly to put the system but I’d compare it with how much I want to finish the game which depends on the other things lmao

    • could just be my work computer is old as sin (still running windoze XP lol)

      I don’t know why at this point in time you’d make otome games in Flash when there are so much better alternative software. Check out some of the other English VNs I’ve reviewed on this blog – they’re all made in Renpy and they were just as fun without the suffering of a poor system.

  6. System > Story/Characters > Art > Seiyuus

    THIS. ^It’s how I judge games too :D

    Of course you should have a standard when it comes to what to expect from games, especially when they don’t come cheap. Good games shouldn’t inconvenience its users, whether it be making them uncomfortable like getting sore wrists from constant clicking or forcing them to compromise their systems. I wouldn’t touch Google Chrome with a 10 foot pole and I don’t think Flash is a good system for games. I’m sorry to hear that you spent money on a game that you couldn’t play (and for good reason). If that happened to me I’d feel so frustrated.

    This is probably why Miyako (PC) ranks so high in my book. The system is easy, has auto, skip, and various save/load modes, and lets you go back to review all the scenes/art/music/extras at your leisure. It’s lightweight and can even run on very old computers. :D Yes it doesn’t let you multi-task on the PC but I could deal with that since my computer isn’t that fast anyway. The story and characters are great (best chicken ever OMG :D), the art is pretty, the music is awesome, and the seiyuu are wonderful – not much more to ask for, really.

    • Fortunately it was “only” $25 but then again with that $25 I could have bought myself a new pair of shoes or perhaps a cute new dress lol. It’s not a lot but still a waste. Still though it’s also my fault for just being like derp let’s buy an otome game rather than actually looking into what it’s about (I make this mistake with official releases too lol)

      Miyako PC is great too but there’s plenty of other games I’ve played that have decent system. The game I’m playing now Danzai no Maria, has a great “jump to next unread dialogue/choice” but it does have timed choices which can be kind of annoying.

  7. Awww, that’s really too bad that you couldn’t complete the game because of bad system. I was also looking forward to this review, just because of the great story and quirky characters. But, the review is not worth the physical pain and suffering that the bad system can cause you :(. I’ve played the game before and had no saving problems…. then again, I played it on my mac x3. Anyways, who’s route did you play and, other than complaints about the bad system, what are your thoughts?

    Since everybody is comparing there rating systems, mine is Story > Characters > Art > System. This sounds really cold, but I really don’t care about voices. All I care about is if the seiyuus did a good job at portraying the characters or not. x3

    • Oh yes, why not take a break from otome games? The pile of new releases and your fans can wait until you are back in the mood for playing otome ^w^

      • If I take a break from Otome games I will never return. LOL.
        I have this odd tendency to try to hang on to things because once I let them go, they’re gone forever. I once took a “break from otome games” back when I first started playing them and that break lasted like 2 years lol. So yea no breaks and since I have stuff I preordered I don’t want to throw anymore money down the toilet at this point.

  8. Arguably, Zeiva’s first games were my first exposure to visual novels/otome games, so at the time I had no problem. After venturing onto other doujin VNs scripted in various engines (NScripter, KiriKiri, LiveMaker, Ren’py), though, you’re absolutely right. Save slots, skipping read text, and various alternatives for advancing the text (I use Spacebar and scroll wheel) are like my basic gaming rights for VNs. System is the necessary but insufficient condition for making a good game. By itself, it won’t make the game, but without it, the game is unsalvageable. Time and patience are too limited.

    (The other might be the ability to adjust text speed (since most doujin VNs are unvoiced). There was one I left alone at instant text display, max text display speed…and it still took 3 hours to complete.)

    • yea I mean if this is your first experience you might be willing to plow through the frustrating system cause maybe you don’t know any better. For me it’s way too late to be accepting this kind of systematic nonsense. I accepted this crap back in 2011 with some old PS2 games but now I’m like lol no. And yea I can’t stand when the text speed can’t be adjusted. I had this problem with Tokyo yamanote boys PC editions – it was either too fast or too slow. Because I didn’t want to constantly wait I decided to just force myself to read faster to keep up with the fast version….well in the long run I guess it helps me finish games quicker xD

  9. And here I was thinking of buying one of Zeiva’s games. If it’s going to make me click for every single line, then no thank you. I’m a lazybutt, even with clicking and the less I do, the better. And why the eff did they not fix the save slot? Sounds to me that Zeiva is overestimating their games and how people love them that they didn’t even bother fixing that or at least letting people know FIRST (like have a pop-up message in the game, some people don’t read the help/read me.txts) that they have to do something first.

    Most English otome gamers actually do go for either art or story/characters first, mostly the former. Mine is kinda messed up in that I go for the art and/or story/characters first (when deciding which games to play) but when I actually play it and the system is confusing or just annoys the fuck out of me, I’ll immediately stop playing it. So you can say I’m a “System > Art > Story/Characters > Seiyuu” person as well. If the game’s system is confusing, why the hell should people play it? The point of the game is to enjoy what you’re playing, not to freaking solve it.

    Sigh, 25 dollars that can never be taken back ever again.

  10. (″・ิ_・ิ)っ Wow, the amount of trouble you went through is shocking. I remember I was extremely enraged by the system in Zeiva’s previous game X-note (which btw, was also great art/story-wise), but was pleasantly surprised by this game because it allowed me happily save anywhere (X-note version 1 had a checkpoint system that made me flip tables).
    I don’t know why you had to click within the constrains of the text box, I could advance fine by just pressing the down arrow button on my keyboard and skip read text by holding it. ┐(‘~`;)┌ Lack of automode didn’t bother me that much since my reading speed never matches with auto modes, I read really fast or slow depending on my mood. And the not save part seems some real bad luck, I saved without any problems in firefox. Wish there was an overwrite warning prompt though.
    It’s a real shame, Elcia was one of the most badass heroines I’ve ever encountered in my otome game adventures (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧and the guys were also quite likable and multi-layered. I really hope other people who bought the game don’t face as many problems as you did. (´・ω・`)

    • you were then probably one of the few lucky people who DIDN’T have issues then
      Anything that has to deal with flash and cache is bound to have issues to be honest as everyone in this post has pointed out.

      in regards to skipping, my question to you is, when you skip does it skip EVERYTHING or does it only skip the text you read? According to that review and the way you word it, it seems like it just “skips all text” and you have to decide for yourself which one you read and which one is new.

      I never really change my reading speed so I guess I don’t have the same issue with auto-mode like you do? Anyway since I have a bunch of other games that came in that have systems a million times better I’m willing to put up with the terrible story/characters if I don’t have to suffer pain in my wrist and test my patience with flash :P

  11. I actually don’t blame you for ragequitting this game. If I were to play games with bad requirements and systems like that I’d quit too man. Sure, reviewing might be enjoyable to the readers, but for the person who is reviewing it, it’d be unsatisfactory. It’s be like how I dumped Super Paper Mario for it’s stupid flipping system.
    And we understand that you’re less hyped up about otome games since fheyve all been pretty much the same lol
    And yea Google Chrome sucks, two of my computers have crashed cuz of some viruses and stuff.

  12. I hate Ren’Py’s auto mode with a burning passion (and all game engines that use a similar auto mode setup), but at least it’s better than no auto mode at all. Blechhh.

  13. Your review is rather interesting, While I get to see many people say “This game is amazing” I accidentally stumbled upon something like this. I`ve heard that for some people that stuff happens. Not to me though. Also, it lets you skip in most parts when you complete Belph`s and Yuras good and bad ending and get the password to Sea Path. It was a bit complicated for me at first so it took me time to figure out how it works. And I`d sayd it a little bit annoying how you gotta replay 2 times with the same guy to get letter for passwords. Would`ve been much more amusing if every ending had a different story. Anyways, I don`t judge you for your review on this game, everyone has their own opinion. ;)

    • like I said I’m not knocking the story or characters but the system.
      a bad system can make a game pretty much unplayable and that’s what happened to me.
      I’ve since made a note to avoid any and all games that are based off flash instead of renpy.

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