Tobold's Blog
Monday, March 15, 2010
My Tribe - Next generation Facebook games?

Following a recommendation from Cuppycake, I reactivated my dormant Facebook account and started playing My Tribe. As I said in my previous discussion of Facebook games, I recognize the power of the social engineering tools used for games like Farmville, but didn't like that these games were so lacking in actual gameplay. There isn't really much gameplay involved in apps like Farmville or Mafia Wars, it is just clicking to get rewards, plus incentives to give money to the game company and to invite your friends into the game. While obviously targeting the lowest common denominator is a valid business plan for a Facebook game, I don't actually think that the lowest common denominator is THAT low. After all, casual games like The Sims are far more complex, and sell millions too.

My Tribe can be described as a next generation Facebook game, very different from something like Farmville. It is an actual game. You control a tribe stranded on an island, and start building a civilization. The game is part "The Settlers", part "The Sims", as you give tasks to the individual members of your tribe to build things, to gather wood and rock, to fish, to do agriculture (basically there is a mini-Farmville as sub-game inside of My Tribe), or do do scientific discoveries. You need to feed and house your tribe, and you can create clothing and dyes to outfit them. They level up, and you can specialize them in specific careers. And they can have children, which grow up, making your tribe grow.

Part of the game is to set up everything in a way that your tribe lives well while you are offline, so that when you come back online your planned buildings have been constructed or upgraded, you collected science points for the next discovery, and everybody is still well fed and happy. But once you are online, there is also a lot of opportunity to just play, manually collect sea-shells, crates, and other goodies, harvest fields, level up your tribe, or craft clothing items for them. The game is cleverly set up in that there are events happening every couple of minutes, something new popping up to click on to collect. The whole thing is still casual player friendly, but immensely more complex than a simple Farmville or similar game.

My Tribe is fun to play, and combines the attractive power of "leveling up" your tribe and receiving a constant stream of rewards with a basic version of a typical civilization-building strategy game. There are even quests! But of course it uses all the same tricks as the previous generation of Facebook games, offering you a slow progress for free or a speeded-up progress if either you give them money or invite your friends to play. If you don't mind that sort of business model, feel free to send me a friend invite on Facebook and in My Tribe, as you'll need a "friend" in My Tribe for some of the quests.

I do think that games which are actually fun to play will have a bigger future on Facebook. And Facebook-like social tools will have a bigger future in various online games that aren't on that platform, including MMORPGs.
It will surpass Farmville I think.
Since there's no bore while playing this game. Recommended for My Tribe PC player.
It's really cool, kinda like a web based Sims/Survivor.
Glad to see you're enjoying it. :)
Sounds like it's worth a try. I'm going to give it a poke - thanks for the heads up.

Many of its elements (the scientific discoveries and planning for offline times particularly) sound reminiscent of turn based strategy games which have been around for years. "Planetarion" springs to mind first, there. Those games are generally struggling as time and technology moves on - I wonder if facebook is the future for them - or of them.
I'm really interested to see what they are going to do with Civilization on Facebook. It is in the works and supposed to release in the next year.

I hope they make a detailed game instead of going the route of civ revolution. A middle ground between classic civilization games and revolution could also be interesting to play.

I think we'll continue to see more Facebook games that are closer to what we generally play.
Is there any sensible reason to make dyes? I just dont see the use in coloring the clothes.. Now if they granted bonuses this would be a whole other thing..
The thing I disliked about Farmville like games was that they were so addictive, without actually doing anything. If you didn't get the timing right, food was ruined, crops were spoilt, etc.

This is why for casual gaming like this I'd much prefer to play the Sims, play a bit, save game, log out, don't play for months, pick it up again, your characters are still alive and well.
The game you're wanting to compare it to is Virtual Villagers. That company made two single-player editions of it. Virtual Villagers goes online as My Tribe.
I've always been against Farmville, since it doesn't really seem like an actual game to me. This sounds interesting though. I might just give it a go.
I am having a lot of fun so far in the game. It's not spammy like Mafia Wars, where every millisecond the game asks you to spam your friends.
Gameplay wise it's ok, the interface could be a bit more responsive but overall the gameplay is engaging.

However the main stumbling block would once again appear to be that in order to progress you need to ahve a lot of "friends" in the game. This means that soon Facebook will be full of pages that promise one thing (pearls) but deliver another (spam).
If Facebook/Social Network gaming evolves to become more like the kind of online, or even offline, games we already know, are we suggesting that that type of gaming will become the social norm?

Did hundreds of millions previously not play this type of game just becausde they didn't know it was there? Or because it seemed too intimidating to learn? But really they yearned to level up characters in a persistent virtual world?

Put another way, are there really that many people with so little else they'd rather do with their time? Evidence suggests so, which is quite disturbing. I'd always hoped the world was actually being run by adults, leaving space for responsibility-dropouts like me to goof off. Bit worrying if it turns out that really everyone would rather sit in front of a screen pretending to be an iron-age peasant.
I've now spent a day playing around in here, and I can't decide whether there is more gameplay than Farmville or if there's just more UI than Farmville.

I have ~10 farms, rock house, wood house, food house. People are specialized in a variety of things, but are generally automated to keep my supplies topped off and slowly upgrade the size of my inventories.

The eventual goal, I think, is to build an Ark and sail away, which looks like it could take about a month of self-sufficient work on the part of my tribe. I'd have to log on every few days to get them building a bigger warehouse or something.

Meanwhile, I can make babies by gathering Stork Feathers, but the number needed to make a baby increases exponentially, so my tribe growth has already slowed significantly.

I don't think the specializations or the gems with bonuses matter that much. Especially since you spend time offline, which means your peasants have everything done for you when you get back anyway, so the speed at which they do it only affects the amount of time they can sit idle. It's like doing level 80 solo quests these days in Wow. Technically, speccing and gearing your toon will be better for you. But I'm pretty sure I could complete most level 80 daily quests specced 0/0/0 and with only the most basic of gear.

On a side note, the moondust allows your tribe's children to grow up early. I used moondust to make my 11-year-old feel like she was 15 I could chain her to the rock quarry. Now, she's 15 and feels like 19. Jail bait, anyone? I don't remember Farmville disrespecting child labor laws or advocating statutory rape. I think it's pretty funny in the I'm-going-to-feel-bad-about-it-later sort of way.
"On a side note, the moondust allows your tribe's children to grow up early. I used moondust to make my 11-year-old feel like she was 15 I could chain her to the rock quarry. Now, she's 15 and feels like 19. Jail bait, anyone? I don't remember Farmville disrespecting child labor laws or advocating statutory rape. I think it's pretty funny in the I'm-going-to-feel-bad-about-it-later sort of way. "

Is THAT what Moon Dust does? The game never explained it to me. I was using it on people because it gave them experience.
"Is THAT what Moon Dust does? The game never explained it to me. I was using it on people because it gave them experience."

I think it gives YOU, the player, experience. The Stardust definitely gives villagers experience, but the little +10 XP that pops up represents you leveling up.
You can use moondust to age people (I have a 3 year felling like a 15 year old as a worker drone*), give 1000 science when applied to the science building, or take time off farmproduction (I took off about 20 hours growth time for cotton with only 1 application).

So far the limiting factor seems to be the number of stork feathers, which sucks if you want to play this alone or with a few friends.

* you can also use moondust to make people younger, I assume that way they last longer.
Where do you find this information? I tried looking up the moon dust in their help section, but they don't mention it anywhere.

What's the point in leveling up yourself, as opposed to your people? Does it give you anything, or are there just certain things that you need to be a certain level to do?
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I think MMO developers can learn a lot from referencing social games on Facebook. Here's a good read on it from a colleague who went to GDC SF this year
@Kiryn: I experimented, like the quest for stardust suggests. There is either some positive effect or the dust is returned to your inventory.
Kiryn: The moondust information was in the tutorial.

I tried aging up a couple of kids, but it seems more productive to keep the older folks alive longer (indefinitely?). At younger adult ages, it seems to do less, but at 26+, it reduces their effective age by 5 years. I'm trying to keep my entire island in the early 20s as it grows.

Stardust moves a villager an hour closer to leveling. Handy for leveling a couple before bed or work.
Maybe I never saw that part of the tutorial, since I picked up a piece of moon dust before I had a quest to do so. I saw a sparkly thing, I clicked on it, it said "quest complete: pick up a piece of moon dust" or something and then it didn't tell me anything else.

I tried using it on a person, but it didn't tell me that it changed their age -- it just sparkled and gave me 10 xp for using it, and that was all. I didn't make a connection between that and one of my villagers "feeling" younger at all -- I had just assumed it was because he was well rested or had enough to eat or something.

I tried using it on a building, and it used it up without doing anything. I assume now that the building was already full of whatever provision it was supposed to hold, and the moon dust isn't smart enough to fail in that situation.
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