Posted: 03/Nov/2019 01:22:44 (14 days ago)
Please read the end of this for reasonings behind the score and the categories used to create said score.
Okay so I've been here since May and I'm well aware they've got a recode they want to do but I'd like to share my full opinion on Pokefarm Q now that ive delved into it and understand what it's really like. I'm phrasing this as objectively as I can, for the purpose of both staff and new or curious players alike to get a feel for that they're going to dive into with this game.
Let's start with gameplay.
It's cute and fun. A collectathon based around the natural patterns of leucism and melanism found in the wild (though I will forever be mad they're still listed as albino which is not the same as leucism), applied to Pokemon. That and Kaboom Blaziken are what drew me to PF1 in the first place ages ago. Just being able to have a Pokemon someone can feed that I can post to other sites and carry with me around the web was something I found charming on PF1, and that's what sparked my interest into playing the actual game itself.
The whole game is just keeping and feeding Pokemon, it's a pet game, clickable actually, using both Nintendo's sprites and a handful of custom ones, either alterations on Pokemon designs like new Megas, custom sprites like Totems, or newly designed fakemon. (And I've fallen in love with one fakemon in particular, Petripeep, who is adorable and embodies my eternal love for both chickens and cockatrice/basilisk lore).
That said, you can collect all the Pokemon, minus the most recent additions who's sprites haven't been ripped and/or made for the site, in their base form for 100% free through normal gameplay (though if that's what you're here for im not sure why you wouldn't just play the actual games), as well as the Custom Sprites, variants, and megas if you're lucky. The trick is the Leucistics and Melanistics, the real draw to the games. One is obtainable through a lot of clicking, which is more accessible to some than others, and the other is basically a paid option. You need to have access to Leucistics in order to get Melanistics, which are an incredible feat of luck. Which means not only do you have to click a lot to get the item in the first place, but you also have to click a lot to charge the item for the Leucistics. You basically have to pay or save up and trade for items to boost your chances as the only way to get a Melanistic, is by it being both "Albino" and Shiny at the same time (which is a really cool concept I have to applaud the team for). The economy in the game is wack, so good luck saving up for enough items to reasonably get a melan without shelling out cash. If you don't pay, you will likely never see one. This game takes time and requires a lot of it if you care to sink into hunting these things without items, but the time sunk seems a lot more reasonable (though still requires a ton) when you throw in the item boosts.
The clicking aspect, which is the main bulk of gameplay, isnt accessible for everyone at all, given anyone with a sore wrist, carpal tunnel, or arthritis cant play. (This one has since become personal as my wrists are absolutely killing me after work.) So that's gonna bring the overall score down for accessibility, since it just...isnt. At all.
The game centers around mass clicking for events and the events are short enough that anyone pushing 40 hours a week with jobs, school, or both, wont be able to participate in them. Not to mention the amount of clicks necessary for MCW, which is 2 days. Not everyone is able to click that much in such a short amount of time. I've missed it before because I ran out of time due to actual real life. On top of that, Mass Click Weekends as well as just the clicking in general have been an issue for a while amongst people who don't have wrist problems due to the intensity of it and how addictive the game can be. Time goes fast if you focus on it, and while there is a notification that's similar to "Hey you've been clicking for a while, maybe stop", it becomes more of a nuisance than anything given you're trying to reach a failing deadline and won't make it if you take a break.
If a game cant be played around real life responsibilities, that's a problem.
However, that is a problem I recognize as something with mass-clicker games in general. Pokefarm can do a lot to improve this by thinking out of the box with different manners of gameplay that could potentially make up or become an alternative to clicking. Though I haven't seen much positive response when people bring up MCW or the clicking as an issue in general. Some of them come off as "That's a you problem, not ours." and in an era where games are making themselves more and more accessible; that's a bit of a step back, to stubbornly stick to your ways instead of utilizing it to prompt innovation and creativity.
Something I suggested a while back was allowing image links in the Pokemon Descriptions for organization purposes because a lot of people seem to play the game much like neopets, with putting things in the Pokemon description and getting art of their flagship pokes is a part of their gameplay experience, however that is very limited. Just to text coding like italics and bold.
I play a lot of pet games/collectathons and it's a strange feature to not allow, especially with how adamant the creator is on twitter of how the game is not geared towards children, but rather adult fans who grew up with the series.
Not to mention how much they encourage the art scene on the website, making it harder to link to the images people have commissioned and keep things organized seems like a waste.
Many people don't need this feature and I can respect that, however qualify of life improvements do not hurt anybody and its strange seeing a game like this that doesn't allow it.
The reason I feel the above is relevant in this review is I am aware that is a draw to this game. It certainly is for me. And you can't do anything fancy like in Neopets, or Flight Rising with fancy descriptions for each of your Pokemon. And with the forums, which is the encouraged place to code for your lore and organization for your Pokemon, there are specific rules surrounding activity that will have your stuff getting deleted on you if you aren't careful.
Pro: It's not permanent deletion, you can PM a mod to have it reinstated.
Con: That's a huge pain and having had an art shop deleted due to how unclear and different the rules in the forums are between each category as well as juggling real life, it's a frustration for sure, likely for everyone involved.
The site Interface isn't very beginner friendly either. For the above mod issue, there's a staff list, but I can't find a list of forum or general mods, which is where I was redirected when I sent in a support ticket. Which, there is nothing saying what support tickets are to be used for when you go to send one in, which seems to be a staple of this site: lack of clear rules or information.
The art threads for example, art shops included, don't have any clear rules as to how they work, or if they work differently from journals or anything like that. (FYI they don't. Journals is a different forum area that you can remain active by editing the first post. I learned the hard way that apparently that only counts for journals, and I'll get to why that is an issue in a moment.) There is simply a notice from January 2019 about how a rule update is coming to make it more clear, but I can't for the life of me understand why it's taken 10 months to copy-paste the rules they should already have had written.
As for that issue about editing counting as activity in only one forum; the site doesn't allow for self-cleaning. You cannot delete posts on your thread, but you must bump them to remain active. This is obviously a hindrance in an art shop as bumping it to remain active so it isn't deleted, even if it's closed and relocked, can lose information and lead to digging through page upon page of bumps in order to view information and records. If you're inactive for roughly 2 months your thread will be deleted due to inactivity.
The forums and their rules are not very accessible for emergencies and real life problems. If you have an emergency all your threads are wiped, and if you lose the link to them you can't have them reinstated, so you'd best hope there's no information in there you need. 2 months is simply too short in my opinion, I irreparably lost a lot of writing and art after a 3 month deadline the last time we had a major family emergency on a different site, because you don't get to choose when you can have free time to back things up when things go wrong. The last thing I'm thinking of when I'm grieving a loved one is double checking that I backed up my art shop or journal or RP on Pokefarm.You're expected to keep track of your gameplay whatever in a journal in the forums, but there's nothing there to safeguard if something happens and you're sunk if you slip and hit unsubscribe and lose that link if it is deleted.
The site relies on the Wiki far too heavily. Many many replies to questions in the help forums are simply people going "Look it up on the wiki!", and I'm a firm believer of, "If the game cannot function without the strategy guide, it is not a good game". If your players cannot progress without an outside guide there is an issue with how you present your information. I've seen this in regards to gameplay questions, to suggestions about why things are hidden on the site and making gameplay more difficult, and even the lore on the site. And you know something's off when you need to look up lore for the site, off the site.
There also is no search button in the forums which is bizarre, as another common response in the help, as well as suggestion forums is "This was brought up, search it up!", but gives no way to search the forums for those old posts. You have to use google and hope that somehow that particular thing got cached before the mods deleted it on you.
A lot of the functions are hidden, and multiple areas of the site I still need to google because I really cannot find them through the site itself, it is not intuitive and very much reminds me of Neopets and the blocky confusing website layouts of the early 2000s, minus the flash clipart. And I'm not saying the style itself needs to update if that is the intent, but being unsure of where to go because the site doesn't lead you through it is an issue and is something that needs to be addressed. I understand the second reboot is going to address some of this, but this isn't a review of "what might come", this is a review of what currently is and what can be improved upon.
And speaking of what currently is, the art is phenomenal. What the spriters make are great and they'd fit right in to the world of Pokemon! Some of the designs feel a little off and not Pokemon-like, but I can't fault the site for making their own creations instead of relying completely on Nintendo's work. Honestly, that's admirable and I would play a game made entirely of unique original work. I already play a large chunk of those anyway.
That said, the site sure uses a LOT of Nintendo's sprites, from fonts to items to Pokemon. And given the scale, it makes sense, at least temporarily; but given their own copyright policy of "you need to fill out a form to apply to use our custom sprites for fun" it comes across as super hypocritical. And I'm really unsure of how this falls legally given they are profiting/making money off of a majority of Nintendo's copywritten content. Custom Sprites and fan designs really don't compare to the almost thousand of assets, given the Pokemon take up a huge chunk of that, used for the site. At least in the US, fair use does not cover games and gameplay even in fanworks, it usually only covers very specific criteria such as critique or teaching, and this site does neither of those. And seeing how strictly they take copyright on their own works despite using so much of Nintendo's is almost laughable when those characters are things and items the userbase can use, very much in the exact same way this site uses the official sprites. The site can recolor Charmander and hundreds of other Pokemon black, but you can't recolor Lunupine magenta without express permission.
And that's the thing about the site, it's wonderful to start, and it's fine for what it is, but below the surface there's a lot of different things at play.
They profit off assets that aren't theirs, yet what they do own, the things that draw people to the site such as Custom Sprites and fakemon, are made by a team of artists with no means of real income to compensate their work. If I remember correctly it's like $5 worth of PFQ's ingame subscription service which is not only free to provide (you absolutely can make the game think you paid for a subscription service on the developer side of things) and not really a real currency, but absolutely not equivalent to whatever time is spent into the assets they make unless it takes less than an hour. Minimum wage is about $9 an hour in both the US and the UK (7.83 in pounds), and this implies they are paid for a fraction of one hour for their work. These sprites are being used to generate income that pays for the mod's rent, yet no fraction of it is being used to pay for the artist's rent.
I am absolutely not a supporter of unpaid labor in any manner, your time is valuable and you should be compensated. So letting this get a little less objective than I've tried to be, this royally pisses me off. And if I leave permanently, this will be a very big reason why. I have seen people get taken advantage of a lot, and I know what to avoid by this point, and profiting off of other's artwork without suitable compensation is really scummy to me. That's not something I want to support, whether the artist's volunteer for it or not, especially since any industry will take advantage of and underpay artists at any given opportunity.
And I'm sorry, but I'm not willing to throw away my morals for my handful of Petripeep.
I'm an artist myself, I've seen some of this stuff happen with my friends who were foolish enough to do work for free because they enjoyed it, and the end result is not pretty or fun, and while I don't think PFQ is that sinister, I know some people pay hundreds if not thousands into this site.
5,000 ZC is $53.50 if you buy it in bulk with the discount. That's one year, or 12 months, of Hypermode, the subscription service in this game. Not considering any other items. If even 10 people buy hypermode for one year, that's $535. I'm not saying this site generates an obscene amount of money, but given how many active users and how microtransactions work, paying your artists even $10 per sprite isn't unreasonable. Or heck, at least give them something in game that's equivalent to the income they should be earning, even just paying them in ZC. $5 for several hours of work is pennies, less than pennies.
Though I suppose looking at how much artists undercharge for their work in the forums, I shouldn’t be too surprised by this.
There are also problems with the staff, which in all honesty would benefit from owning up and taking responsibility for their actions as a lot has been let slide with no repercussions, not even apologies and that is not okay for any mod, I've seen proof of accusations of pose theft (which is not a thing)/tracing where there is none, mass art thread deletions, the too coincidental design of Moffkat down to every detail (even the style) as a moth cat post on tumblr, the twitter drama and all the eugh stuff getting out through there from older incidents that were never addressed, entire threads getting deleted for violating rules that are easily overlooked due to the way the site is constructed instead of addressing the one thing that was an issue, the claim that this site isn't geared towards children despite using a children's franchise to fund their pockets and allowing children on the site; there's a lot.
And the one thing I'm going to get into from PF1 is the ban hammer, as that's once again become relevant and I remember it with much clarity (anyone still like Naruto? Asking for a friend), moreso than my old username. They've banned people recently for saying things on twitter, some of which who hadn't had their account listed on their profile for years. Banning people for opinions and discussions, an off-handed comment, this is all stuff I thought was gone from the site with PF1. After Kolink rebranded to Niet. However considering the twitter things are from September 2019, nothing has really changed. You can rebrand all you want, repaint the house to cover it up to the new buyers, but if you don't fix the rotting foundation, it'll just fall apart again.
The staff needs to treat this like a professional job, considering it is. It's a business at this point, they are profiting off of work. And ignoring the not paying their artists, the hypocritical idea of their use of copyright, or making money off of Nintendo's copywritten work and all that, you need to act professionally and not snap at children who are confused by the awful site layout and directions. I might not be a child, but if staff can act like children, they shouldn't expect children to act like adults. That's unacceptable.
Now I'm not going to get into the other things like the racist comment, Orkit's stolen design, etc. That's on the users to research from here on out. They are worth mentioning simply because the site really has not changed much from the first one, and there is a long long history of crap on this site that's easy to find and form your own opinion on if you dig a little. The same drama keeps happening, and it likely always will because it's very clear that staff's idea of change is really just to get better at hiding their behavior and hoping people will forget. You have a right to move forward, but every time you regress, yes, that is a problem.
I've been trying to give it some slack, given we're all only human and they've made attempts to change; but just like in retail and every other aspect of working in a people-oriented business, if you can't act professionally you shouldn't have a job in customer service, and that's exactly what your job is.
So, how do I rate the site?
I'm sorry, but outside of Neopets, this is among the worst websites I've played in terms of locating anything and actually playing the game besides the very bare minimum. Everything is hidden, the tutorial doesn't cover a lot of the site, everyone is "look it up on the wiki" and I'm sorry, but having to look everything up via a strategy guide, means your game is bad. At least half of the stuff I've come across on here I had to be told was a thing or wasn't allowed by somebody else, because the site sure didn't.
I'm grading accessibility by how accessible the site is to play and navigate on it's own. I cant speak for anyone with disabilities, wrist problems aside.
Gotta take some points off for a major draw being basically stuck behind fees. You should really add a few more perks/quality of life improvements behind the sub service, such as threads that last longer before inactivity deletion or account upgrades. While a lot of people think the sub fee is fine, I think it's unbalanced. It's alright, but given how slow and boring the actual gameplay can be without it, with little to no reward, it could do with an overhaul to balance everything better. I also have no issue with having sub fees on a free site, but when it affects gameplay that becomes an issue to me. That’s why people keep saying it's pay to win. There's a lot of ways to make a sub fee worth it besides affecting gameplay the way this one does. Just off the top of my head, perhaps cycle what is available through it to keep it fresh. Try thinking of this through a different perspective.
I'm sorry but paying your employees is a big thing to me. Volunteering is one thing, but you all are making money off this site, off their work. Regular commissions should be priced by the hour for work, like with any other job and not be based on skill level. Commercial work should be at least double because the commissioner, PFQ, makes continuous money off of that work every time a custom sprite draws someone to play the game.
So if minimum wage is 10$ an hour, the least you should be paying them is 20$ an hour. Some artists charge $50 or more per hour for commercial work.
Work is work, pay them for their time if nothing else. If Niet can take a chunk out of the site for his fees, the artists absolutely should be able to as well. It's the art that makes the game, the charm, the draw. Very few games can stand on coding alone.
Not working professionally is another massive problem, and I think I summarized this well enough in the above section dealing with staff. While the art thing would've dropped this to half, it's the management that drops this into the negatives. You need to do better.
Ya'll do an excellent job. Thank you for Petripeep.
Community: Doesn't count since the site itself is not responsible for this, but they're getting a shoutout 9.8/10. A majority of people on here are very kind and helped me out big time when I was just starting out, they gift items and pokemon to new players, even valuable ones and it's honestly incredible, but this also comes with many other pet sites I've played, hence why I'm not letting it affect the overall site score. That said there are still some people I've seen that are rude, but that's not enough to bring the score down. Easily the best part of the site.
Could use with a lot of improvement, though if you're only here to be isolated and click pokemon you won't encounter a large amount of problems- the game itself plays fine and that on it's own should be judged on the gameplay section alone, the 8/10, and I hope the new reboot provides what it needs to to improve the site. It seems some of the stuff staff is already aware of, such as better tutorials and navigation. If they can improve their own behavior instead of snapping at any critique, the 2nd reboot could be just what the site needs.
Also I do need to give a shoutout to the coders. Making a site isn't easy, coding is tedious and sometimes super hard to find an error with. I'm not great at it, but I know the basics of what goes into it, and while the site itself could be improved in many ways, I have to give you props for having a functional website that works as intended, as well as having the ambition to improve the site beyond what it is and letting it stagnate. I truly hope the new reboot addresses many of the problems the site currently has, and can push this from an 8/10 gameplay to a 10/10.
I wholly expect the overall score to go up, I can't imagine how it could get worse than it is or was during PF1. Some of the problems are inexcusable, if nothing else, staff's behavior. You're adults. Act like it. Either set a good example for the children you allow on your site, or don't allow children on your site. (Though that doesn’t mean you can keep acting childish to other adults either. You're trying, but evidently you need to try harder.)
👍 15👎 6