Sunday, August 22, 2010
Tamagotchi in A Tale in the Desert
Technology in A Tale in the Desert is making good progress, having recently reached the metal age. So I'm busy playing the mining mini-game, the charcoal mini-game, and then smelting iron and copper ore into metal, to then transform into various metal tools. The tools then give access to new technologies, or make older technologies less work intensive. So for example I already built a hackling rake to replace my flax comb, and am working on a hand loom to replace my student's loom. With those tools I'll still make the same flax products, but I'll lose less twine in the process, and won't have to replace the tools so frequently.
So the part of the game where I discover new things to do, and new modes of gameplay open up to me, is still ongoing. In fact, it will still go on for a long time, we are still early in the tech tree. The amount of different activities and mini-games in A Tale in the Desert is huge, and only opens up slowly over time. Fortunately, because I have already difficulties to try out the new stuff as fast as it appears. And to try everything, I'm building more tools in my house than the strict minimum. So tools aren't used all that often, so you can get away with not building your own and using public ones. But although it is more work, sometimes I'd rather have my own version of a public tool, to explore all the requirements of the tech tree for myself.
But besides the "new stuff" part, A Tale in the Desert also has something which I would call the Tamagotchi mode: Some parts of the game require constant upkeep, day by day. Your beehives take about half a day to produce 10 honey and 10 beeswax, but then they are full and stop. So if you don't check them twice a day, you lose production. Worse, your sheep not only stop breeding once their pen is full, they also eat a lot of onions, and will starve when they run out. Camels need feeding too, but I haven't got any yet. So this Tamagotchi part of the game creates some daily chores to do. Not really a big workload, especially since you can set the growing of onions as offline chore. But enough to not make me want more than one sheep pen.
I think these feeding requirements are in to balance the game, so people don't build hundreds of sheep pens for example. But they also help to make the virtual world feel more real. And it creates a sense of having to take care of your virtual property. Lots of browser games work like this, making you think "oh, I need to log on and look after my stuff". And the original Tamagotchi also worked like that, and there wasn't even much "game" involved in that. MMORPGs with static worlds full of constantly respawning mobs are missing that. It doesn't matter if I don't log into World of Warcraft for a week, the world will remain unchanged whether I play or don't, and nothing bad happens if I stay away. Who said you couldn't possibly make these games more addictive?