Sunday, July 7, 2013

Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Public Planning is Bullshit

Continuing the trend of not being able to talk about New Leaf in a completely positive light, I have a whole new complaint about the game now that I've put quite a bit more time into it.  This time around, it's a biggie, unfortunately, because I have a bone to pick with the entire new mechanic they added to New Leaf: The Town-Building aspect.  I was initially intrigued and hopeful for the mechanic, but its become quite clear that it was under-thought and implemented poorly as one might fear.  To be honest, I have a sort of complaint with every single facet of how it's handled, if you can believe that, and it's annoying that I -can- be that bothered by it, since it's really something that shouldn't have been too difficult to implement.  Yet, Nintendo took the route they usually use and over-complicated something that could have been refined and enjoyable instead of obfuscated and tedious.

I've already mentioned that everything costs an exorbitant amount of bells, so I won't harp on that so much aside from reminding that the lowest-cost item is 30,000 bells (a bench) and a project that was 39,800 Bells only raised 1,200 bells in three days in my village, if that much.  As mentioned, you are pretty much going to need to fund these projects yourself, and that means frittering away doing menial side tasks for the express purpose of simply scraping together said amount of bells.  Though, to be fair, they only exist to buy things with - there's no reason to save them in the ATM aside from getting some badges whenever the badge guy decides to stop into town.  Still, gathering Bells without the express intention of doing so is hard to do, and the process of doing so is tedious at best.  It's not a good thing.

Of course, that doesn't even skim upon the issue of actually obtaining things -to- build via the means of throwing bells at a gyroid because your villagers won't do it their damn selves.  The step at the start, simply sitting in the Mayor's chair and picking a project to work on is tricky because you only have a certain caste of things you can pick from initially.  Thereafter, everything else has to be suggested before you can build it.  Some of these are fairly simple - You cannot get a second floor to the museum until you've played for something like 10 days and have at least one piece of work displayed in all four exhibit areas of the museum.  That one's understandable and easy and when the conditions are met, all you have to do is talk to Blathers, and he'll tell you that he's going to suggest it to your secretary.  Next time you're there, you can pick it, and it's just that simple.  The -other- method, unfortunately, is simply walking around by your villagers in the hopes that one of them will make the animation of noticing you and speak to them, hoping that it's a suggestion and not a request for you to find them a common/rare bug/fish or something equally inane.  Suffice to say, it doesn't happen a lot and indeed, I've only gotten three suggestions in my, what, month of playing(?) to add to my list via random suggestion.

Perhaps the most annoying step of the whole process is the actual placement in New Leaf.  You see, once you've figured out what you want to build from the minute list of what you -can- build, you and your secretary have to wander about.  She's looking for you to tell her where a building should go, and it's based on, roughly, where you're standing when you ask her.  It's inelegant, unwieldy and is guaranteed to keep you from putting things where you actually want them.  You pick out the perfect spot and, without fail, Isabelle will inform you that it's too close to a rock or a pond or the City Hall or a bridge or a previously constructed project (by a degree of 'spaces' which aren't...marked in even the slightest bit) and it quickly becomes a game of just trying to figure out where in the hell you can plop down this goddamn fire hydrant so that it'll be out of the way and won't ruin and of your fruit trees.  Oh yeah, picking an area with trees will just sort of get rid of those trees.  Which you only know about when Isabelle says "Oh this is a good spot, here's what it'll look like!" which brings up a flash and then you can see the spot with the project built minus whatever was there previously with no visual indication that anything is, indeed, gone.

It stands to wonder how this couldn't have been handled in...a better way.  You cannot do this sort of thing when your city is open to others, so doing something a little more 'restrictive' but far more precise is...something that comes to mind.  Personally, I would've liked the ability to just use the map on the touch screen that you literally have from the start of the game while in the office to bring up an area.  On the top screen, it shows the building or what have you as an outline (white if viable, red if not) with anything that would be destroyed as a red tinged object.  You know, like every single other game that allows you to plop down buildings too.  That Nintendo missed about two decades of design cues on this very type of idea is nothing short of astounding and disappointing, considering their method of this thing isn't even charming, it's just bad.  The whole of it is just an exercise in frustration and it's bothersome, since this was supposed to be the big draw of the game and it was barely thought-out at all.  I'm...just not sure if I'm surprised by this or not, unfortunately.  Always next game, I suppose.

Isabella, you cannot tell me that this thing is 2 spaces by 4 spaces because I HAVE NO VISUAL CUES AS TO WHAT SPACES ARE

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