Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Surviving Unemployment with Peridot and Brawl Stars

So as this recent story goes, while I was unemployed, I honestly didn't have the stomach to play any PC or VR games at all! For me, that's pretty much the weirdest thing that's ever happened. The feeling I had was that I just lost all joy in doing the things I typically love. I know that sounds depressing, and yeah, it was. But that said, two mobile games helped ease the pain. 

Every day while unemployed I had a pretty strict morning schedule. I'd go to a morning meeting at 8am about job hunting, at 9am I'd go for a walk, and when I got back home, then it was time to hit the networking and resume circuit. If you're unemployed, I highly recommend keeping a schedule. This little routine gave my day some needed structure.

While I was out on a walk, I would pull out my phone and start up a game called Peridot, which is made by Niantic (you know, of Pokemon Go fame).

My Peridot waiting at the end of the sidewalk, ready to play catch with me

Peridot is a super cute AR game where you hatch cute baby pets and grow them into adults. It has the whole Tomigatchi thing going for it, but without the constant annoying real-life, real-time electronic whining. Basically, you care for your Peridot, feed it, play with it, do daily quests, and it grows up and becomes your best friend. But you don't want just one! You want a whole generational tree of Peridots.

To be honest, when I first discovered Peridot, it kind of made me mad. WIMO had tried to do the same kind of hatching game with inherited DNA traits in our mobile game Unnatural Selection. I saw this and was like, man, why didn't we just do this?  You have one body with morphing of parts -- a peridot can look like any number of four-legged creatures. The art savings must be huge!

In fact, Peridot plays into that morphing by giving badge hunters an assortment of Peridot body "archetypes" for you to hunt after.

So many archetypes!

For instance, if you hatch a peridot with the Bee Wings Plumage, Fuzzy Material, Bee Stripe Patern, Antenna Horns, and a yellow and black body, you unlock the Bee Archetype.

What's the buzz about DNA?

. . . and the resulting Peridot has a little bee flare to it.

His little robin hood hat adds the perfect flair

For a while I didn't even care about the Archetypes, I was just after hatching the rarest 4-star genes to see if I could get something crazy. The best I got was four of the 4-star genes. At the time I was surprised they didn't try to steer collectors into having higher gene ratings with an achievement system.

In fact, the big thing I kept thinking to myself over these six months or so of playing Peridot was . . . man, how does this thing even make money? It just felt like there was no motivation for players to spend. I mean, you could buy a few outfits or get an extra nest or two, but all those things come in time if you just play the game.

It's been interesting to watch the folks at Niantic bend and tweak and balance the game to be more profitable, and I think they may have actually arrived at something brilliant with the latest patch.  Now Peridots can have "chaos traits," which elevates the DNA to a really new and crazy level.  Chaos traits are basically elongated or extreme body features that you get to name and personalize.

Two chaos traits in one!

Now you have a solid reason to use the Eggs Ray consumable (to see a baby's DNA before you hatch it) because the sub-game is now trying to get as many crazy Chaos traits on your Peridot pet as possible. It's kind of genius.

I honestly can't wait to see what they come up with next because the stuff they're adding just keeps making this game better and I feel the pull to purchase more often. I'm actually proud of what they've done with this game vicariously for them. 

So, to sum it up, Peridot was just a nice comfort moment I had during my 9am walks while unemployed . . . as much comfort as I could manage between freaking out about the situation I found myself in as a 52-year-old game designer who was out of work and not making progress with employment.


The other mobile game that provided me some comfort was one I've talked about before on this blog: Brawl Stars

I didn't start playing Brawl Stars until about 2 months into unemployment. This was my "late at night" comfort game after I had done all the job hunting I could during the day. 

Unlocking Mythic stars is the best!

By the time I was 2 months into unemployment, I had finally stopped beating myself up for the situation I was in and accepted that I had done everything right in my career to this point and it wasn't my fault for being in this situation. It just . . . was.

Anyway, I was surprised that Brawl Stars had grown its hero roster so wide! Where once I had unlocked pretty much all of the heroes save for a couple Mythic characters, now I had tons of catch-up to do.  After months of not playing the game, I was happy to see them add all these new skins, emotes, sprays, and unlockable items. New events were hitting the game on the regular. All in all it was just a way more fleshed-out experience for me.

I decided to choose a new character and just take it all the way up as far as I could.  When I found Lola, I really liked her and decided, yup, she was going to be my new number one.

I'm a dirty Lola main!

What I like about Lola is that you could use her power to duplicate her and just completely wreck face with her double attacks.  In addition, you could use that same duplicate shadow character to get out of tight situations by shielding it while it stood in place and you run away. It's actually a great decoy as well!

Side note, my wife hates this game because of the music and the look of the characters. *insert sad face* I guess she'll never know why I found comfort in a silly little PVP experience on mobile, but to me, it's always been a well-designed experience with a lot of smart decisions. Unlike Peridot, I get why this game is successful. The pull to purchase is strong. Battle passes always do that to me. I love this little game!

Of course, it's not just Lola I like to play . . . gotta play them all! FRANK SMASH!

So, there you go. I'm giving it up to Peridot and Brawl Stars today for helping me through unemployment as the only type of game-playing I could stomach. Thanks for being a couple of nice distractions.

Happy Dueling!

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