Yoville Jungle Theme
Monday June 29th 2009, 11:57 am
Filed under: Games
The best aspect of the Yoville game is that it engenders creativity, particularly in terms of using a limited palette of virtual furniture to do interior design. Yoville could certainly use a little more variety: in an alarming move, I got myself a profile for the Yoville.com forums and I piped in on ways the game’s development team could move, including adding my voice to the Yovillian Serbians clamouring for Serbian household goods and clothing. However, with a few hundred chairs, plants, carpets, tables, sofas, knickknacks and wallpapers, there are pretty neat stuff the average Yovillian can do.
One of my favourite activities is discovering these secret Yoville nooks and crannies, by checking out the events. Recently, I saw in the game section one listing that invited visitors to find the jack-in-the-box. Once I arrived, I understood that it would not be so easy to find the silver-and-red box. The place was a jungle:
I had no idea even what kind of house, from Yoville’s six house types, that it was. So I really had no idea how many rooms I was about to explore. I later realized that it was the biggest house in the Yoville roster and one of the houses that players can only get by credit card (in the words, by paying real money for it). I personally find this house a little too big and labyrinthine. Usually big and labyrinthine is a good thing, while in Yoville it gets a little hard for visitors to tramp through each room during sightseeing trips. Nevertheless, this particular house had some surprises.
For those of you who play Yoville, you’ll notice that they used the windows looking onto greenery to make the whisperings of a fence.
Once inside, the living room continued with a woodland meadow theme:
The tiki torches and central pond are pretty good. I’ll also have to invest into about two dozen of those unruly ferns.
The bathroom with a stream:
The game room:
The jukebox room:
A sort of sitting room:
The bushes with the white blossoms give the dark room a feeling that the blossoms are fireflies. I am keeping these in mind for a future marshmallow-roasting room – I think there is a bonfire available in Yoville.
Another sitting room:
A third, busy sitting room:
Finally, a change in all the greenery:
This upstairs hallway introduces an autumn feel, with the dead trees, perfect for a Halloween look, but rather jarring after the lush look of the previous rooms.
Here’s the autumn bathroom:
I never liked autumn, so this room makes me kind of sad.
However, then things got really, really good.
The first of the spring flower rooms!
The combination of the free gifting premium flower arrangements, the housewarming flower arrangements, the now obsolete purple and blue roses, mixed in with flowers available only through purchase, is now my goal. I experimented a little with this look so far. Luck shaved off a few days from my flower-gathering activities: I have been gathering free floral arrangements from the missions on Yoville.com profiles for a few days when the gift-collecting broke down on Saturday.
Here is the second of the spring flower rooms, albeit a little too overpowering:
I never did find that jack-in-the-box.
Yoville’s Loudest Party
Wednesday April 29th 2009, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Games
One of the complaints about Yoville is that it is a silent world. Well, not quite. The Yoville landscape beyond one’s apartment has background music; the factory has vaguely industrial sounds (of the rather cute sort). There is also expensive merchandise one can buy that emit sound.
Last night, I saw a notice for “Loudest Party Ever OMG.” I checked it out.
The guy in the purple asking us to rate the place (it’s a Yoville popularity thing) is the owner. Notice that his apartment living room has:
- five tyrannosaurus skulls (one obscured by people entering the apartment)
- two cannons on the bottom of the screen shot
- a rare king duck on the coffee table
These all make sounds when you click on them: the cannons boom (you can see the smoke); the skulls growl; and the rare king duck squeaks.
All that’s missing is the harp.
Note: the fish are called “Cheech” and “Chong.”
With people nonstop poking the squeaking, growling, booming things, it was quite cacophonous. And brilliant. This is the first Yoville party that really felt like a party. Of sorts.
(Some people wanted the duck to die. Personally, I kinda want to save up for one.)
Then suddenly, the owner shouted that the cops came:
Amid the noise, only one person heard:
Yoville Apartment Tour
Thursday April 23rd 2009, 8:12 am
Filed under: Games
In Yoville, I have a sense of urgency in making money to buy stuff because the stores eventually stop selling stuff. You see, I missed buying a rookery of penguins. I snagged only one lone penguin before the penguins went bye-bye. I’ve also missed buying the lamp I wanted and the zebra rugs disappeared. Since then, I have been aware that things come and go, and that I better buy now.
When Easter accouterments made their debut at the Yoville florist, I made myself a wishlist with prices and calculated how many days, working at the Yoville Widget Factory at 6-hour intervals, it would take to make enough funds. I coveted and got the egg vase, the marshmallow rabbits, the box of Easter eggs and the chocolate bunny. Matt presented me with the cupcake tower, which you can see below in my living room, and I eventually decided that the Easter basket was too much pastel for my taste.
Here’s my kitchen:
Someone gifted me a parrot, probably by accident, at a Yoville gathering. (The parrot’s name is Snowy, in homage to Tintin’s canine sidekick.) Matt also gave me the hanging flowers and the red microwave, which decided the colour scheme of my kitchen. I am now saving up for a red fridge. The leaf table, I bought on whim. I may save it up for my eventual real estate expansion. Once I decorate the apartment, I am buying a house which can have some theme, perhaps an animal refuge – I can use my apartment for living and for Yoville parties, my house will be a fantasy hangout.
Now here’s my living room:
I have nearly completed my arabesque living room set, just one desk left to buy. I am not so sure what to do with the ottoman on the bottom right hand side. There’s something else that’s missing, maybe more vibrant wall paper?
As for my bedroom, I am not really sure in what direction to take it:
The screen and the dead tree (from the trailer trash decorating theme) are a start. Matt is constructing a bathroom in his apartment, so that’s an idea. However, Matt is giving up Yoville for this mobster game. Oh well. I will probably start using his account to make money that his avatar will donate to my cause.
Yoville Chicken Fight Scam
Sunday April 19th 2009, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Games
I go to a lot of Yoville parties these days. Tonight I saw one advertised: “Chicken fight with beer.” My kinda thing.
It soon broke down into chaos:
Everyone was rather pissed there were no chickens. The crowd began chanting for the host’s place to be rated down:
Some people were really vocal about it, others worried about the non-existant Yoville chickens. Water balloons flew at the host.
Meanwhile, someone got into the host’s meth lab:
Yeah, that was a good way to spend a Romanian Easter.
Beyond Imaginary Interior Decorating
Tuesday April 14th 2009, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Games
At first I thought that the only point of Yoville was to decorate imaginary apartments. It turns out that there is a social aspect to it as well, though probably more geared to the under-20 set. Besides leaving messages, you can chat with other Yovillians in real time. So far, I have been chatting to others to figure out how to make more coins. There are other applications.
For example, there are “events.” You can go to “Grand Openings,” “Parties and Music,” “Trading,” “Debates and Discussions,” “Dating,” and so on, then choose from a selection of offerings. I haven’t tried making my own event. I imagine it will be some discussion on zombie movies when I do try it out very soon. Or maybe a Yovillians-of-Romanian-descent party.
I have been to a few other Yovillians’ events. I went to a bikini party (before I realized I should be taking screenshots). The females were all asking where the men were. I went to the hospital-themed apartment, was offered a receptionist job, then kicked out by the “doctor.” I also checked out a costume trading event somewhat reminiscent of a stock exchange floor:
Yoville doesn’t allow for transexuality, but it does permit transvestism, as Matt found out. A friend lent Matt her blouse:
Such a trim waist!
Then she lent him her evening gown:
New Online Waste of Time
Monday April 13th 2009, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Games
A few days ago, Matt convinced me to make an avatar for this online world called Yoville, accessible through Facebook and Myspace. In a rather poor judgment of time commitments, he got me to join up during the last part of a work-related course I am taking. Between writing a paper on human capital theory and wandering around a fake pixel world, I chose the latter.
In Yoville, you create a mini you of delectable cuteness. Then you decorate your apartment. There are set themes, like “girly,” “Shaker,” “Tiki,” “Medieval,” and so on. Some people love their Yoville homes: this kid (?) prefers to live in Yoville because Yovillian residences never get messy.
My favourite rooms are the more creative ones. Some people turn their bedrooms into hot tub dens and invite their (real-life) kids for a soak. Today I visited a hospital-themed one, an Egyptian one, a desert island with a cave, and a labyrinth one with teleporting devices.
Before you can decorate, however, you need to make money. As far as I can figure out there are six ways to make money:
1. Work at the factory every six hours. The base wage is 200 coins.
2. Spam your friends so they join your factory crew to increase your wages. Yoville works like a pyramid scheme. The growth rate is very small.
3. Do 15-minute long consumer surveys for a pittance. I read that these are a scam. Many Yovillians have not received their coins.
4. Play tic tac toe or rock paper scissors with Yovillian strangers for ten coins. The game is real time, so you are playing with real people, probably teenagers, from god knows where. Other Yovillians tell me that there is a 200 coin maximum win allowance per day. The trick is, I have learned, to get ties – both you and your opponent get five coins each. This makes everyone happy. The other trick is to approach Yovillians in the factory for games; that’s why there is always a glut of us waiting there to make money.
5. Perform actions on your friends. You can joke with them, dance with them or kiss them. But you can only do this once a day per friend.
6. Leave messages. I found out that if you leave the first message on a friend’s message board, you get ten coins. Another Yovillian told me that, if you get up to twenty crew members, you can get around twenty coins per friend per day by leaving messages. The trick here is to use the perform action function, not the room’s message board, to send messages. This Yovillian also pointed out that this is what is called a “coin run.” Many coin runners simply leave a message reading “coin run.”
This brings me to a little Yoville joke:
Snakes & Earrings
After Ring, I continued on my Japanese horror literature reading list with Hitomi Kanehara’s Snakes and Earrings. While not of the horror genre, its descriptions of icky human actions certainly horrified.
Tokyo’s Kanehara won the Akutagawa Prize for this 120-page novel in 2004. One of the youngest people to win the so-called Booker Prize of Japan at the age of 21, she is a school drop-out with a literary father, Mizuhito Kanehara. Dad edited her work.
Lui is a Barbie girl, from a subculture that I am assuming is a kind of kogyaru, or one of those blonde Japanese bimboesque types. She shows interest in a guy with a red semi-mohawk, tattoos, piercings and a forked tongue. Next thing she knows, she’s this guy’s girlfriend. She goes with it, at least until she figures she gets completely bored of him.
Ok, don’t read any further if you think this might be the book for you. I am going to spoil it from here forwards.
Lui cheats on Ama with with the sadistic tattooist Shiba. She becomes a housebound drunk and wonders which of her two men will kill her.
What surprised me is, as I approached the end of the book, is that Lui admitted she did have feelings for her poor boyfriend.
Sure, he killed a dude with his bare hands, but his apologies after cumming on his girlfriend’s genitals – again – instead of her stomach, his tenderness toward Lui as he tries to obey her every wish, and his sincere concern about her alcoholic urges, made him into a little pathetic underdog. I felt for the guy with each time Lui cheats on him or insists to her friends that she is more in love with his tongue than him.
Once the police describe his death (patterns carved into his body, cigarette burns all over, hair ripped out of scalp, nails torn from his fingers, raped, and an incense stick poking out of his penis), I felt even more sorry for the guy. That Lui’s feelings for Ama surface only after he disappears and is irretrievably lost, makes it all the more tragic. This guy can’t win: he finally wins the girl’s heart after he dies.
I actually began to like the book at this point. Novels with characters that slowly realize something generally tend to win me over if they are well-written. (Compared to Suzuki’s Ring, this was brilliant.)
The whole time until this part, I was cringing at the thought of what could befall Lui. She’d had sex where her partner stuffed her with a light bulb and tried to smash it with a hammer; Ama ripped out a guy’s teeth; and Shiba was just gross.
Why she does what she does at the end, I cannot understand. Why I cannot understand it is probably the result of my having crossed the threshold of middle age. I’ve lost the ability to understand teenage feelings.
Time to get those squelchy thoughts out of your head, right?
Let me finish with a fun fact.
Snakes and Earrings is also notable for a reference to my favourite card game, Hanafuda:
I gave him a small nod and he pulled off his long-sleeved t-shirt to reveal a body like a canvas, with every inch covered in colours and lines, then turned around to show me his back with a dragon, a boar, a deer, butterflies, peonies, cherry blossoms and a pine tree.”An Inoshikacho!” I said.
“Yeah, I like hanafuda cards.”
“But you’re missing the bush clover and the red maple leaves.”
“I know. Unfortunately I ran out of space.”
Inoshikacho refers to a good hanafuda combination. It consists of the three cards represented by the boar, the deer and the butterfly.
Hanahuda Collage Day
Tuesday March 25th 2008, 12:07 am
Filed under: Art
Ten years ago, on a hot spring night in Taiwan, I learned to play Koi Koi, a Japanese game played with beautiful hanafuda cards.
That first deck, still in my collection, is made of beautiful so-called flower cards; the game of Koi Koi is, however, mostly played by gangsters or inveterate gamblers.
The 48-card deck is divided into twelve suits of four cards each, with each suit representing a different month of the year with its signature plant.
January depicts pine trees (the first two images above are half of the cards of that suit); February depicts plum blossoms (the third card above); and so on. Some of the cards also have associated animals.
I’ve been collecting images of hanafuda cards for a while (the August susuki, or pampas grass, on a drawstring bag from a Japanese dollar store, a Gegege no Kitaro demon version of the cards, etc.).
My playing version of the cards are made by Nintendo, which started out in 1889 to manufacture and sell these cards.
Taking advantage of the Easter long weekend, I suggested Matt and I complete a long ago project I planned – to recreate our favourite cards in collage. We just happened to have some frames for which we needed artwork.
Here are my pieces:
January crane with pine trees.
February plum blossoms.
May irises along a pier.
Here are Matt’s versions:
January pine with scroll.
August pampas grass with geese.
August pampas grass with full moon.
And here are the finished product hanging on our wall:
Matt wrote more intelligently about it all on his blog.
On Hiding One’s Poker Face
Monday March 24th 2008, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Games
A huge part of Matt’s and my relationship is built around playing boardgames. Knowing that there was an exciting world beyond Monopoly and Sorry, we started out three years ago with the
gateway drugs of the European boardgame genre, games like Carcassonne, Jambo and Ticket to Ride.
Like the increasing potency that drug addicts require for the next high, we’ve evolved from light strategy to heavy strategy games. I like to think my way out of problems – the problems usually being that I need to score more points and beat Matt. I’ve come to hate dice and the risks inherent in games of chance. Relying on one’s brains is less nerve-wracking than fearing a pair of dice that will determine one’s fate. When it comes to heavy strategy games, you have only yourself to blame for your losses, yet you can learn from your mistakes to win the next time. We’ve thus become big fans of games like Power Grid, Puerto Rico and especially Caylus.
The one remaining problem with winning at these games, knowing that I indeed have the brain power to beat Mr. Look-at-Me-I’m-So-Techy-and-Smart, is that I have no poker face. Matt can see me developing my strategy minutes before I unleash a castle-building marathon that would rack me up enough points to careen ahead of him on the scoreboard. Then he sabotages my strategy.
The only bright spot, is that he has no poker face either. So I can counter-sabotage his sabotaging.
This leads to a deadlock, like our last game of Caylus, where we both finished with a score of 131. We discussed how we could overcome our lack of poker facedness:
Maktaaq: I can’t help grinning every time I come up with a sure winning strategy.
Matt: Me too.
Maktaaq: We need masks to hide our smiles, maybe a mouth-covering niqab.
Matt: We’ll still be able to read each other’s eyes. Besides, when you smile, your cheeks lift up and your eyes get squinty.
Maktaaq: Oh yeah, well you always look guilty whenever you’re about to move the provost so I can’t get my resources. It’s really obvious even if you don’t smile.
Matt: We’ll need something that can cover our eyes.
Maktaaq: A burqa will do that – they cover the whole face and they’ve got a mesh covering for the eyes.
Matt: Yeah, a pair of gaming burqas!
Maktaaq: I wonder where we can buy those…
*Matt adds: “We used to make fun of people that were so anti-dice. But a recent revisitation of the Settlers of Catan, in which an unfailingly six-rolling resource hog dominated the entire game, gave us the final proof that dice are indeed the devil.”