Against some rational part of my brain, I started playing the free game We Rule on the iPod this weekend. I doubt the game will make it through the month on my device, but for how my weekends generally run it is a great, MMO-like dalliance. Here is a really quick review for anybody interested. Note that I have not played Farmville, so there will not be any comparisons to that and other Facebook games.
At the core the game is a progression treadmill that employs a risk-reward mechanic. The mechanic creates a type of chore accompanied with negative reinforcement. The player decides how much time (and gold) to risk, and then the player must return to the game at the end of the time to collect the benefits. In-game these are called farms which have growing, and then spoiling, crops. A player that misses the chosen time to come back will lose the gold spent on seed to come back to a unreapable crop. This ultimately requires two clicks: one to choose a crop, and one to reap the grown crop. There are other, safer chores such as tax collecting or job issuing, which fall in to the safer risk, lower payout portion of the game.
As the player continues to build and accomplish chores, the player gains experience points (XP) to advance kingdom levels. The leveling opens up more means to get money such as more farm plots or different types of safer chores, such as everybody’s favorite Tailor Shop. The more available means to get money and experience through doing more chores makes the next kingdom level require exponentially growing XP requirements and the next chore-giving structures require more gold to build. This is the bulk of the game.
There are two other portions of the game. The first is playing around and buying aesthetic things for the kingdom like trees and roads. Mechanically the aesthetic items give no benefit, yet they take away gold. Gold, which could otherwise be used to create more money-making chore structures. I have not bought any aesthetic items, except for 5 trees which helped me complete a tutorial quest for XP. The second is where community comes in. Players can visit other players’ kingdoms to check out the aesthetic appeal and to complete chores at the visited kingdom’s shops. I exist as Spugnation. Feel free to friend me if you want.
As a brief note, I have to mention Mojo. Mojo speeds everything up. Have a crop that requires 24 real-time hours to mature? Use 3 Mojo to reap the crop instantly. At every kingdom level the player receives a token award of Mojo, and the goal of the developers is to get some gamers used to the I-want-it-now feeling so that they can purchase more Mojo for real money. Likely later on as the game matures, Mojo-only items will become more prevalent.
The game is fun for now. I played it through the weekend on 1-hour and 4-hour cycles, which required less than 1 minute of active time per cycle. When I built up enough XP or gold, I would play for maybe 5 minutes to check out the new things available to buy. I’ve heard that a progression wall occurs around level 10. Then things drastically slow down in terms of progression (and fun). I have yet to hit this wall, since I am progressing quickly enough at level 7, but most MMO gamers are very familiar with this wall anyway. When I hit the wall though, I think it will likely cease on my iPod because I don’t intend to ever spend money on this simple game. Although, I think a lot more people would be likely to spend money if this game had a plethora of leaderboards.
live offa the fatta the lan’