Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Don Parsons0
One Hour In: Teacher Story
Sifting through my press releases, I come across completely absurd games on a regular basis. It’s not very often that I am drawn to one of these games, but recently the title Teacher Story, a free-to-play game played through a web browser, caught my attention. As I read the press release, I thought to myself, “How in the world can they make a profitable, free-to-play game about teaching students?” No offense to teachers (I have a very dear friend to me that is one, in fact), but there is nothing about teaching that sings out to me “Let’s make a game – nay, a puzzle-strategy game – about teaching!” Teachers stand front of their students, giving lectures, finding silly ways to interact, and dish out homework and tests. I remember school, and not one ounce of me can think of an interesting and engaging way to gamify this feat.I sat down with Teacher Story for a few hours to find out how someone might try.
The premise of this game is to strategically lower everyone’s “stupidity” by attacking them with random skills that re-roll every turn. You have ten turns to do this, and picking which skills to use on whom is actually fun. No, really: this simple and casual game took just enough thought processing to engage my brain, in turn amusing me greatly. Ten turns in, I finished my first class, passed about half of them, and continued on a happy camper.
Until the dreaded timer popped up. I’m rather used to these blockades in free-to-play games. My current favorite time sink is Puzzle and Dragons for my phone, which uses a stamina bar. Teacher Story puts you in an intermission room, where you have five hours…let me run that by you again, because it caught me off guard too…five hours to wait until you can play another round. Five hours is an absurdly long time for any gamer who has a laundry list of games at their fingertips, itching for some play time.
Luckily, creating an account with (insert their name here) nets you some weird pig coins, which you can spend on instantly playing again. I had just whetted my appetite, so of course I spent some of those piggie coins. I played through another class, got a better grasp on what was going on, and was shoved back into the waiting room. However, I had just enough coins to plow through only one additional class.
It would be one thing, if said-class lasted a little while, but it’s over in a matter of minutes. And with each passing class the points it takes to pass a student increases more and more. As you level up, you unlock new skills, but I went from a very nice passing rate to a really bad one after a few days.
The real kicker was when I didn’t have time to log in one day (due to, you know, my real job). The game timed me out of the selection of classes I was doing. So I had to pick a new course, effectively flushing what I had spent several hours doing down the drain. Most of that time, mind you, was waiting for another class to start.
Teacher Story had some fantastic elements. The art design was neat and retro, the gameplay was engrossing, and the scenery was fresh. If this were a mobile game, with a more forgiving time bar, I could see myself sinking a lot of time into this. In its current state, however, disregarding the fact that it’s a browser game, the barriers that the developers put in place to limit your play are beyond extreme and detract from the fun that Teacher Story could achieve.