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Boundless: With Kids… Again!

Red Thomas Posted:
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First, just a big thanks to our awesome community.  In my last article, I talked a bit about trying out a couple games with one of my nephews and his sister.  It turns out that my picks weren’t as well received as they might have been, but several members of the community suggested that I try Boundless with the kids.  Excellent recommendation, folks.  Don’t ever say we don’t listen to you!

Right off the bat, there are a few things that I liked about Boundless, that made it easy to play with my nephew (this time the nine year-old).  For one, he was able to figure out how to create a character and join on me.  That’s a pretty big deal, as it speaks to the thought that went into the UI design.  I got a text saying he was about to launch the game, and next thing I knew I was looking up to him being right there.

The other thing that I liked about the game when it came to playing with kids, was that it has a very Minecraft feel and adopts a lot of the same game mechanics.  That immediately made it easy to pick up for the youth.  He also even told me flat out that he was really enjoying the game because it was like Minecraft.

Turned around and poof, he was there like a ninja… rock demon turtle… thing.

The updated graphics and textures gives it an updated visual experience compared to the game’s vintage ancestor, but I don’t think it’ll be too much for most cards to handle.  As far as resources, I think the game is pretty tame, which also gives it a few checks in the “for-kids” column in my book.

I did have a lot of issues rubber-banding, which can be kind of frustrating.  Wonderstruck really needs to put some effort into tweaking their net code.  Though, I believe the game is supposed to be truly cross platform, so having to ship data in and out of Sony’s PlayStation network may be the culprit.

The crafting IS a little complex after the first few items, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.  Apparently, starting location can make a really big difference, and I hurt myself there.  I had trouble finding flint to make torches, and I’m still struggling to find any metal ore in the caves I’ve started exploring.  That’s something that could potentially make it frustrating for the kids eventually, but hasn’t seemed to bother them yet.

When I ported down, I saw this thing not too far away. Turns out that it’s another player who I’ve yet to meet.

The kicker to Boundless is why it looks like a game that I’m going to enjoy.  There are a lot of ideas being tested out in this game that really appealed to the more mature gamer side of the equation.

I’m a big fan of the territory claiming system.  I like that as you level up and do in-game stuff, you get credits that you can use to claim more space.  You can also spend a little real money for the same credits which puts it in line with my favorite revenue model of all time, exchanging cash for time.  Anytime a game lets you spend a little money to speed up your experience, while still giving you the option of getting the same thing through in-game means, I’m all for it.

Another big win for Boundless as far as I’m concerned is their idea of creating an online economy through the game.  There are no NPCs, but there is a trading system.  It allows players to exchange game credits and items with each other, but they have to find each other first.

I heard the devs may even open it up to players to host their own worlds, which has me excited.

This brings up another thing that’s really exciting me about the game.  The developers have clearly taken the approach of just providing players tools and letting them do whatever they want with them.  Apparently, some players have formed a guild to create portals from planet to planet and keep them charged.  I expect one of those portal hubs will soon turn into a sort of player-created bazar with players trading goods among each other, or perhaps we’ll see players exploring to find other players in attempts to create their own trading empire.

In the end, Boundless has turned out to be a game that my younger nieces and nephews seem to be really enjoying.  That’s fantastic news because there are so many things about the game that have excited me, too.  It still has a few rough edges, but I can easily over look those for the chance to play something with the kids that I’ll find enjoyable, too.  That was a fantastic recommendation by the community.  Way to go, folks!


Red Thomas

A veteran of the US Army, raging geek, and avid gamer, Red Thomas is that cool uncle all the kids in the family like to spend their summers with. Red lives in San Antonio with his wife where he runs his company and works with the city government to promote geek culture.