Feb 23 2011

Flushing Sharks

I don’t run a wireless network in my apartment- my laptop has been all over Alaska, but here in Anchorage it lives in one spot on it’s table, next to my ancient (sans-wireless) 4 port router. In fact, I’ve never had any desire to use my laptop anywhere else in my home.

A couple months ago, I received an iPod touch as a gift. I really like the device- but I think in the first day I disabled its ‘Wi-fi’ and put it in ‘Airplane’ mode so that it would stop asking me if it could connect to the 1-bar of signal, unsecured wireless networks in my neighbors’ apartments.

This was fine up until recently. But:

  1. I’ve been playing the Turn-Based Strategy game Highborn, and liked it quite a bit. The developer released an expansion pack, which is only available as an in-app purchase.
  2. I want to write a blog article comparing some of the iOS virtual aquarium games to each other and to actually keeping fish. One of the significant games in the field however, is a free app which requires a live internet connection.

This meant I needed a wireless hotspot. I knew there was one at the airport’s passenger terminal, and as a pilot I can park for free in employee parking, but this felt like an abuse of privilege. (Although I don’t think anyone would care if I went and sat in the baggage claim waiting area for an hour twiddling with my iPod). There’s also one at the public library, but that’s fairly distant from me. Just in case there was something closer, I looked for a list of free access points online, and found several mostly in nearby hotels and restaurants.

I didn’t think it was quite right to go to a hotel lobby and commandeer a chair to use their internet, but I also spotted a note saying that all of the Carr’s/Safeway stores in Alaska which have a Starbucks in them, have free wireless access points. I normally do my grocery shopping at Carr’s anyways, and I was out of sugar. So I went grocery shopping and then sat in the small cafe.

Connecting, and buying the second chapter for Highborn was easy enough. Many of the games I’ve been playing on the iPod have interfaces with either OpenFeint or Plus+, so I created accounts on those. Yay, pointless achievements!

Now, going into this next bit, please understand that the aquarium game I was least looking forward to playing was the TapFish series. In answer to their marketing question, “What do you get when you cross a butterflyfish and a neon tetra?” I’d say, “A self-aborting zygote, if anything at all.” Nonetheless I downloaded TapFish:Sharks and tried to keep an open mind.

Also understand that I downloaded the game a while ago- I tried to play it without a live internet connection and ended up in an observer mode where I could take no actions at all. The game has a tutorial which teaches you how to clean algae from your virtual tanks, feed your fish, etc. So in observer mode, the tutorial was completable- the game kept telling me ‘Good Job!’ as I failed to clean algae, failed to feed the fish, and so on, eventually marking itself as complete. This was several days ago.

So now, as I log into the game for real for the first time, with no idea of how the controls work or anything else about the game (including how to re-launch the tutorial) I’m met with:

  • A tank covered in algae.
  • A Basking Shark which has starved to death
  • A prompt asking me to pay ‘fishbucks’ to revive said shark, or flush it.

Worst. New. Player. Experience. Ev-er!!

OK, not really. But beyond the unintentional hilarity caused by the mental image of trying to ‘flush’ a 25 foot long fish, I’m not really able to look fairly at this game/series. If anyone wants to write a review of any of the TapFish games, with a focus on game mechanics and a comparison to actual fish keeping/commercial aquaculture, please drop me a line (my email is on the about tab). I’d be happy to run it either as a guest blog, or link to it when I finish my look at the other fish raising games. Also, I really would like at least one more game for my article- I’ve taken notes on Fish Farm Unlimited, and Fish Tycoon… if you know of another game about raising fish which has a breeding and economic similulation (however paltry), please mention it in the comments or send me an email.


  • By Ann, February 24, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

    Interesting, I didn’t know that there were fish keeping games, do they present real water quality problems?

  • By Ann, February 24, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

    I just checked out the link to the basking shark, that thing has a huge mouth!

  • By Tony, February 24, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

    Re: water quality:
    Thats… something I want to address in the hypothetical article. :)

Other Links to this Post

  1. NightFlyer Games » Comparing Fish Keeping Games — March 12, 2011 @ 2:05 am

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