Why I hate PopCap
With the deadline for my computing project nearing, I have been trying to work as fully as possible on said project. However, PopCap, being bastards, have made that damn difficult. It’s impossible not to hate them when a deadline is looming and all you can see in your mind’s eye in the damn Bejewelled Blitz board. A typical project day for me is: Load up Delphi which takes roughly 24 seconds on my PC. Which is just enough time for me to play a quick round of Bejeweled Blitz (which takes exactly one minute, plus loading time). Which then turns into 5/6 rounds. Which increase exponentially. I hate them with a passion.
There must be countless people who have lost projects, blog posts and all sorts just because PopCap made sweet tasty heroin these addictive games. I can’t help but think that Popcap should pay for their crimes. My views are shared by Tom Roberts from PC GAMER, who blames PopCap for the loss of his mother. Not that PopCap have hired assassins (The squirrels have been following me though. And they had shurikens), just that poor Mrs Roberts has spent 800+ hours on Popcap games. That’s over a months worth of PopCap heroin game time. Considering that she only started on them last year, that means that for every day she’s been playing a PopCap game for 2 hours. Now, I struggle to manage 2 hours of mainstream gaming. She might be retired, but still, I can’t manage 2 hours during the weekend for chrissake!
The great strength of all PopCap games is that is always a very simple premise, like switching gems or shooting balls to make a group of 3 or more. That little thing makes it simple to pick up. Add in the PopCap magic (Which, for Bejeweled Blitz is that high score table), and you have your grade A heroin. As I said in the Peggle review, if you abstract down a PopCap game, you end up realising that you are playing a very simple and very dull game. However, by abstracting down the game you abstract out the bit that makes it a PopCap game.
PopCap must know what they do when they create the next drug. They have to. I once asked a Popcap employee how they came up with an algorithm when I was trying to avoid doing revision 2 months ago. The bit that I noticed most about when I read his reply (I am much obliged to Aoife Brennan from Popcap for passing my question on), was this: “I basically just kept tweaking these values until my girlfriend stopped complaining“. He was testing this game out on his girlfriend*.
As opposed to a big game company spending money on getting teams of testers, PopCap use girlfriends, wives, children, pets, donkeys, husbands etc to test their games. They know what they are doing. They know they are in the casual market, and they know their audience. And they damn well know they are messing with people’s time far too much.
*I have an inner image of her being grabbed from her sleep and tied to a chair and made to play. I need more sleep. Return to reading.