Andy's Workshop

Game chat and stories along with some articles probably for the more geeky among us,
all written by me, Andy.

Click here for my Frontierville Addiction Therapy Guide

Wednesday 17 August 2011

The Pioneer Trail - My View

I thought I'd indulge myself with a little blog, I haven't done one of these for a little while now and I've decided it's time to dust off the Workshop writing bench and rattle on about my feelings over The Pioneer Trail.

You'll excuse me if I only use the name for the new expansion part of the game because for me, my Homestead and everything in it will always be Frontierville and I will determinedly carry on with that name like a good old codger should.

The graphics on the Pioneer Trail are just stunning, I love the little missions and I enjoy the distraction immensely... however... Just like being a burglar in J-Lo's house there's a real danger of a big BUT just around the corner.

I've had some time to dissect the Trail now and I think I've got a good little handle on what it is, and I think many problems it has right now stems from people thinking it's NOT what it is...

The Trail is a side mission, an expansion, a diversion. It's the special features on a DVD or the cupholders in a car. To me the Trail is a Bonus Feature.

It's best played in short bursts, nip over, do a few things, do a couple missions and come home again, ready to take off to it again when you have a few minutes spare. It's not a book to sit down and read from cover to cover, its a gossip magazine to be picked up when you have to waste 5 minutes waiting for your sister to pick between all 97 pairs of shoes, or your mate to decide which brand of cologne is going to make him "lucky" tonight.

The problem is, because of how it's been released, perception of it has been altered. For one, the name change... What I play is Frontierville, and it has an expansion pack called The Pioneer Trail... but because of the name change people are seeing this new extension to our old game AS the game...

They're getting a backwards view on it. Instead of seeing it as Frontierville with an expansion pack attached to whittle away a little more of our precious existence in folks are seeing it as The Pioneer Trail taking to the fore and Frontierville being given the back seat, the supporting role, the Biden to their Barack as it were.

It also hasn't helped we've been bereft of new content for Frontierville over the last week or so. It's a totally understandable course to take, so much has been pushed out for the Trail to overwhelm it all with some new stuff on the Homestead would have been a little daft.

HOWEVER... here's the but again. By having no new content for the Homestead it exacerbated the feeling that the Homestead is becoming secondary. I know for sure new content is coming for the homestead, I can sit content in that knowledge, but other people aren't that lucky.

Already on Frontierville Express' Facebook page I've taken questions from people who are sure the homestead will be no more, that nothing new will be brought out for it, which is extremely wide of the mark, but it's an understandable fear.

Because of the combination of the name change and the lack of missions we see Frontierville being marginalised, pushed to one side. We also then, psychologically, see the Pioneer Trail taking over at the head of the table... the only problem is, it doesn't have the oompahs to be the top dog.

I love the Trail, I love it for many reasons. But I love it as a game extension. It's never long into playing I itch to get back to my Frontierville Homestead and play a mission, ANY mission... Hell, by this point I'd redo Canning...

The Trail isn't long enough, deep enough or filled enough to be the main game, it's only ever going to be a side dish in our Frontierville feast.

But the problem is with everything going on how it is, folks don't see it that way, folks see this as the big kahuna, the top cheese, the Godfrontier... and it's almost damaging the game itself. Expectations are being put on it to be a GAME in it's own right, not simply an extension of one already here.

It will never be a game in it's own right, but Frontierville is. Frontierville is a game that's kept me coming back for a year or so now, and it's Frontierville that keeps me coming back today.

I love the Trail in the same way I love cream on my hot chocolate and apps on my iPhone... as something to add spice, as the cream, not the hot chocolate.

I fear for the game if people play The Pioneer Trail and think that it's the main game, I fear for it if new players do likewise. It just isn't big enough or strong enough to hold up main game status. So I can only hope other folks think the same as me, that we've been given a great add-on, a wonderful extension to Frontierville, but NOT a whole new game in it's own right...

...and Zynga? Roll us out some homestead missions will you?