Talkin’ about Lineage 2: Revolution
The massively multiplayer clicker game
Mobile games are massive, they’ve gone from being ‘mobile’ games to straight up, well, just video games. They’re usually encapsulated versions of the larger friends on home or handheld consoles, with the best making the most out of the one handed nature that we have become accustomed to or easy enough to play with both hands without taking us away from the real world.
Games like Solitarica give us a rogue like, role playing experience through a reverse Solitaire game that features tropes of classical RPGs. Or Desert Golf, gives the player a fairly stripped down, simple outlook at the world of golf, that while it requires two hands to steady the phone, you can most definitely play it while holding a Diet Coke on the tram if you had hands to accommodate such a situation.
But the advent of mobile games brought along with it the advent of ‘clickers’, games that feature none of the video gaming bit of video games, aside from the very bare bones of seeing numbers get bigger and tapping a single thing for the purpose of getting bonuses of seeing those numbers get bigger. You wait around and eventually you can either reach a point of no progress or restart the whole thing to redo everything all over again.
It’s a wonderful concept, that hooks itself right into the very core of my brain. If it looks pretty (Egg Inc.), has a cool twist hidden within (Spaceplan) or is funny enough (Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm), I’m on board. Ian Bogost’s Cow Clicker, a game about the futile nature of late 2000s, early 2010s Facebook games (Farmville, Mafia Wars), actually had a reverse effect in that it opened my eyes not to the corporate evil that lurks below these games (and his explanation on his blog about it just further cemented this, probably not his desired effect at all), is that I just enjoy investing my time into something throughout the day. I like the obsession that comes with it, so that at some point in time I can hop onto Medium and seem like I know what I’m talking about.
That’s partially a joke, but the core of these games is what also draws me into massive multiplayer games, like Final Fantasy XIV or more recently, Black Desert Online. It’s what drew me into Runescape back in 2006 and kept me awake for two days while I discovered how to play EVE Online. I’m not there for dialogue boxes or understanding why I’m wandering through this lovingly crafted world and I really couldn’t care why they want me to kill another fifty monsters. No, what drags me in is the concept of the reward. That carrot on the stick, the most stereotypical reasoning behind everything to do with video games. You can’t get anymore bland and boring as me, the guy who just honestly presses the escape or skip button as soon as I’m given the option. I gotta game, no time for these heartfelt cutscenes.
So how does this elaborate introduction work its way into a Medium article about a mobile spin off a classic MMORPG? Well, Lineage 2: Revolution is probably the fanciest clicker to date. Everything about the design of it is what you get from the meat grinder that is video gaming on the go, mixed with the needs of the Eastern market that have taken this game and eaten it up entirely.
It takes the basics of an MMO — get quest, do, turn in and repeat — and just, well, it simplifies it down to the minimum effort. You press the side bar, which will spawn a small circle around your character, with a small set of text: “Auto-Questing…”
You’ll see it a lot. The game even insists that you press the side bar to do this. Why contend with the shoddy virtual joystick, lag on the tap of a button for an attack and hard hits of jutter on screen as you do anything? Look over here, we’ve got big red blob indicators to show you that you’ve got something to do in a menu somewhere. Don’t worry, you can do what you were doing, there’s very little chance you’ll actually die.
I’ve spent more time in menus, combining items or opening chests that I’ve earned from the half dozen achievements or daily activities that the game is laden with, than I have watching the game play itself. The most input I have during these sequences is telling the chat boxes to turn off or the pressing the close button on the page filling adverts that crop up every so often. There’s even a line of dialogue to get you into the real money store, by being condescending to you and your items. No, really, this happens and then you get a prize for logging in for fifteen minutes. I also get one for logging out and resting.
Lineage 2: Revolution is very much the result of where games have gone, especially on the mobile platform. It’s overly complex in the way it dishes out items, so that you run into an issue with the free paid currency handed to you in little droplets and feel forced into a corner, eventually paying for something. But the game itself? Ridiculously simple. Also, gated off. You have to be a certain level to do certain things — like entering a dungeon twice, you need to reach level 31 — and while this is par for the course in most MMOs, to keep low level players out of harms way, it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like it wants to keep stringing you along, so that you hit that point and then want to hit the next, but in a really grim way? Not the way that Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft string you along by saying “Hey, there’s cool raids at the end of all this wonderful content!” It’s more of, “Hey, if you get here, you can do this one minute dungeon like, twice?”
But Lineage 2: Revolution (I have to call it this in full, because the real Lineage 2 is a far different beast in the free to play market) is weirdly… perfect? The big company that developed this, Netmarble, developed it in the same mind that Hollywood develops movies now.
Red Letter Media’s review of The Mummy highlights that movies are now geared towards the Eastern market (China is where the big bucks are), so Tom Cruise was cast because he’s recognisable worldwide and the plot is elaborated on repeatedly in a dumbed down fashion because it has to hit a very large range of people. It feels developed by committee. It’s designed to fit around real life, rather than sucking you out.
You can play it with one hand, even though it’s landscape. It’s pretty to look at as the game has lots of flashes, whizzes and bangs. It draws you in with big numbers flashing on the screen when you equip new items and it most definitely prays on the weak minded by offering up huge amounts of rare items for the very low, low cost of $20. You can even hold a conversation with humans around you as you level up. Personally, I fell asleep playing it and it completed a whole quest without my input.
Lineage 2: Revolution is the perfect video game, but not in the way that we think about. It’s the pinnacle of what these types of developers want out of the industry and us.
Oh look, I’ve got my login awards, I’d better go so I can earn that 200% XP buff.