Speculative Browser Game
I am thinking about a particular browser game, and I'm not sure it exists. It's a sort of a combination of Farmville, of Neverwinter's Gateway, and of the auction house of World of Warcraft. Maybe a bit of Civilisation thrown in, or EVE's Planetary Interaction. Let me list some features.
First, it shouldn't require paying to play. I'm strongly in favour of the practice of selling cosmetic upgrades for money - servers need electricity, and developers need to be paid - but I don't like game advantages being buyable.
Second, it should work in a browser, or in a fairly simple app.
Third, it should be playable by logging in once a day. The advantage of logging in more often should be incrementally decreasing - so you get 1.5 times the benefit if you log in twice a day, 1.75 if you log in three times, 1.875 for four logins, and so on. Neither should it penalise you for not logging in - you just don't gain anything for that day.
That's the business side, more or less.
On the game side, it should deal with resource gathering, resource processing, and the sale of finished goods. That is to say, it should be like crafting in most MMOs.
It should be represented by some kind of premises - an estate, a starbase, a monastery, a colony planet, a college of wizardry, whatever. This should be arrangeable and decorate-able, as per Farmville and all its clones, but also as per Starcraft. You should be able to look at and interact with other players' premises. They should be very customisable, up perhaps to the point of EQII's player housing.
It should not be cutesy. This, I think, was probably Farmville's downfall; the people it attracted with its graphic style didn't much care about the gameplay, and those who cared about the gameplay didn't much like the graphics. I will allow that cartoonish is ok; I used not to like cartoon graphics in games, but World of Warcraft and Torchlight have successfully warped my brain enough.
There should be significant player interaction; it should not need to be with specific players. This is the auction house component, as it were - the beauty of WoW's auction house was that you could chuck stuff up for sale, and buy things, depending on the actions of other players, without needing to know who they were, be concerned with the quality of their play, or indeed, be online at the same time. I do see this as a sales-and-purchase component, but there could be plenty of other activities, as per EVE's contract system.
There should not be levels of production that you pass through. A major failing of many MMO crafting systems is that materials are tiered; once you pass through the levels that use Iron Screws, you'll never need them again, and once you get to the maximum level, and are using Ultra-Titanium Warp-bonded Screws, you'll never use anything else again, or at least not until the next expansion. Complete newcomers should be able to do stuff and make stuff that is useful to the longest-established players, and thereby give access to the market.
The game should be constantly tinkerable with, not set and forget. It should be complex enough that "best loadout" is hard to achieve, and preferably have some way to respond to best loadout concepts so that they stop being "best" after some significant percentage of players use them - an ecological response, from one point of view, or a market response to saturation, from another.
If this game existed, I would play it every day. It doesn't seem to. If it could combine the atmosphere of Fallen London (or something equally well done in another milieu), I'd probably play it more than my employer would be happy with.
Posted by Drew Shiel at June 30, 2014 2:35 PM