For a game design class I’m taking this summer, we got into groups and are designing a Facebook game. We decided early on to use an idea I had (inspired by Cow Clicker) about spoofing the farming in MMOGs since many FB games are pretty much repetitive farming, too. Each of us were then to write a short one-page concept which we’d aggregate together into one idea. This was my pitch to the group.
(Turns out no one else from my group wrote anything. Frikkin undergrads. While a few of them have been helpful in brainstorming, I’m appalled at the lack of work coming from the rest of my team. They don’t seem to realize I’m defending my dissertation in less than a week! How is it that someone who’s not even taking the class for a grade is doing most of the group work?)
High concept: Playing a busy-work game in Facebook generates credits that can be transferred into external non-Facebook games where grinding / farming is needed to level-up or craft items. Instead of wasting precious time grinding / farming at home in the MMOG you care about, you can grind at work or school and stay productive during the down-time away from the MMOG. MMOG Farmer is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and self-aware of the genres it mimics, yet, at the same time, be a viable, enjoyable experience. Essential theme: This game captures the feeling of time-dependent repetitive grinding / farming found in MMOGs *and* Facebook games. The actual visual theme doesn’t matter so much, and we will allow players to skin the game from two choices: generic fantasy to space epic (e.g., WoW to Eve Online).
Player representation: Players create a character or avatar to control, choosing from several archetypes from a wide range of genres. These could come from more genres than just fantasy and space, and part of the appeal is juxtaposing someone from one genre with either the fantasy or space backdrop.
Player action: Comes in two forms:
- On the automated level, a player assigns a task to his or her character, ranging from things like collecting herbs, mining ore, and farming instances. He or she then waits for the action to complete, taking real-world time on the order of an hour or so, before being able to assign a new task. Meanwhile, the player can watch the game visuals depicting the character walking around and doing the harvesting or dungeon delving (see below).
- On the manual level, every player action is based around simple clicks to move from space to space and to harvest materials or kill / skin monsters. There is no combat, really, just a visual representation of combat. The actual player action is just clicking. Choosing to farm an instance changes the scenery and makes it more interesting but it is still easy and generic.
The visual look is modeled after games like The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. In other words, it’s a top-down 2D grid-based game. Movement is turn-based modeled after rogue-like games, especially Desktop Dungeons (http://www.qcfdesign.com/?cat=20
Gameplay: The automated and manual versions are the same, really. The character is in some fantasy-based or space-themed setting, moving from space to space on the 2D grid, revealing more of the map. Some spaces have harvest nodes or monsters in them that can be farmed. As the character farms, he or she gains XP and levels up, opening up new areas that can be farmed for better rewards. There are no stats for the characters, just an experience level that limits the areas that can be farmed. Between farming runs, the game automatically sells the harvested items for gold or credits.
Closing: The looks attract players to the game. The repetitive, addictive grinding compel players into playing. The fact that the gold or credits or whatever resource is accumulated can be transferred to a MMOG keeps players playing.