Tobold's Blog
Sunday, February 20, 2011
 
Echo Bazaar

I stumbled upon Echo Bazaar while watching an Extra Credit video on The Escapist about non-combat gaming. Echo Bazaar also netted the "Best Browser Game" award from The Escapist, reason enough to have a look for myself.

So, Echo Bazaar is a browser game, with a link to social networks. That is you can sign into the game either via Twitter or via Facebook, although technically Echo Bazaar is not a "Facebook game". Echo Bazaar creates one of the most interesting virtual worlds you have seen for a while, Fallen London: A Victorian era goth version of London which sunk under the earth, and is now somewhere in the vicinity of hell. Thus you meet a cast of Victorians plus undead and devils, and you are trying to make your way through that society.

Helping you in that endeavor are your 4 character stats "dangerous", "watchful", "persuasive", and "shadowy". The success of any action you perform in Echo Bazaar is either based on sheer luck, or an ability check against one of these 4 stats. And even a failed check increases your stat, with harder checks giving you faster advancement. But of course the easier checks are more likely to succeed, ending you up with better rewards. Besides the stats you also have other "qualities" you collect as rewards from your adventures. For example you can have various connections to groups like the Bohemians, Society, Criminals, or Hell. Or you can have more mysterious qualities like being "Protégé of a Mysterious Benefactor".

Gameplay proceeds by you choosing either an opportunity card, or a "storylet". Opportunity cards are random, you start out with six of them, and if you play them, they slowly regenerate. Storylets are available depending on your location (Look for the grey Travel button to the right of the opportunity cards), and your stats and qualities. Every opportunity and storylet tells you a small story drawing you deeper into the world of Fallen London, and usually presenting you with several options on how to proceed. If those options include a skill check, the difficulty of that skill check is displayed. Choose an option, see how the small story continues with success or failure, increase your stats, and get other rewards. But you also risk to get negative qualities, like being haunted by nightmares or causing scandal, which you then have to try to get rid off.

Echo Bazaar is free to play. You can buy "Fate" points, which enable you to buy more actions per day, or unlock some exclusive story arcs, but it is totally possible to play the game without paying anything. Also it is totally possible to "solo" Echo Bazaar, but there are some actions you will need a Facebook friend for. Thus, don't hesitate to befriend me on Facebook and send me Echo Bazaar requests in case you decide to check this game out.

Echo Bazaar is full of danger, adventure, and intrigue, but it doesn't have a classic combat system. You might get into fights using your "dangerous" stat, and you might even equip a weapon or get wounded. But in the end that will be handled exactly like the skill checks you used to for example "Study the Hidden Language of Tattoos", or "Mock an Insufferable Poseur". Echo Bazaar has an unique graphics style, but no animations, and most of the story-telling is done by text. But unlike your usual MMORPG quest texts, the storylets of Echo Bazaar are quite interesting, and make you eager to explore more of the lore of Fallen London. My recommendation: Check it out!
Comments:
This actually sounds very interesting. Please tell me it isn't a Zynga game ?
 
How does it compare to kingdom of loathing?
 
Echo Bazaar is the only reason I have a Twitter account and the only thing I have ever used that account for.

Surprised you missed it when it was getting MMO blog traction a year ago. It got quite a lot of publicity, even outside the fan press. I actually first came across it from a piece on gaming for adults in The Guardian.

I played it for a couple of months and really liked it, but I went on holiday and sort of fell out of the habit of playing it when I came back. I've been thinking about trying it again recently, but there's just too much going on, although it's quite good to play in the background qhile you're playing another MMO.
 
Not a Zynga game, and darker than Kingdom of Loathing.
 
Don't forget to read their blog, where they frequently discuss the ins and outs of their approach to storytelling.

I've played Echo Bazaar on and off for a while, and I have to say that I find it incredibly intriguing. And Zynga doesn't have 1/10 of the creativity required to make something like this happen.
 
Tried it, found the 'interesting new stuff':'time spend ' ratio got too low to retain my interest around 30 skill in my main couple of stats.

Great fun until then, though - just maybe not a keeper.
 
@Inquisitor

Agree! It was definitely way too slow - if you don't believe me, set yourself a reminder, and see if after 3 weeks you are still playing it.
 
I'll play it a bit more, but I'm not sure this is a game for me.
 
FFXIV was down tonight so I gave it a shot. It looks ok so far, but it will probably too closely resemble facebook style gaming for me to get long-term interest. Plus I hate waiting to perform more actions.
 
that is a pretty neat game Tobold. Good find! I'd describe it as hugely elaborate, victorian with a touch of lovecraft.
But I think the name 'echo bazaar' kind of lets it down. It doesn't really communicate the dark gothic nature.
 
these links are nice :

http://www.mmorpg-info.org/guides/echo-bazaar/echo-bazaar/


http://echobazaar.wikispaces.com/Strategy
 
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