I've spoken before on this blog about how I am in support of game companies implementing community building elements in their websites. MyDDO and MyLOTRO by Turbine are excellent ideas, if a bit poorly executed due to the lack of ease in using the system. Well, let's take that, and combine my thought that games outside of the main game could give benefits in the main game, and we have ourselves with a game company that not only has its own intra-community social network, but Facebook-style games to go with it.
Though I would not go so far as to create anything like Farmville in terms of its demand on players, there is no reason there cannot be games like that. Or perhaps a side-scrolling hack and slash. Or how about a turn-based city management game? You know what? I like these ideas. Let's pretend for a minute we have ourselves an average, fantasy based MMORPG that includes these three games on their website that are linked to your account.
First you have your side-scrolling hack and slash game, in the same vein as Golden Axe and Final Fight and those old Ninja Turtle games that ate up all your quarters. You'd pick a character, and play as a simplified version of your class while you tear through enemies and bosses from the various enemy factions in the game. Along the way, you'd collect a special type of coin that can only be used in this game. Collecting enough of these coins would allow you to unlock bonuses from the shop that would carry over to the main game, such as pets, mounts, or even useful consumables. You could also find treasure chests with actual currency for the main game or special rewards.
And we're back to the main game, in which, after you leveled your character to max and have a bit of gold handy, you go to a vendor and buy yourself some land. A warrior/mage/rogue/amorphous blob must have a home to go back to, right? You would be given a property and some farmland to help support it. The house and its amenities would be dealt with in-game, but some of those amenities would carry over to assist a Farmville-style game where you tend to the land. Not specifically your character, but the groundskeeper you hired that served as the unlock for the game. The currency from this game would serve to upgrade the property and house itself, eventually making it bigger, adding more furniture, more land to manage in the game as well as more in-game bonuses of course.
But wait, you say. City management? Yes, with a large enough property and/or with enough in-game currency (dual ways to unlock), you could purchase a larger spot of land and play a turn-based city management game. Your goal is to attract villagers to live there and keep them happy by building homes, creating jobs, ensuring food sources and creating places of worship. You would pick the locale, race of the villagers (Human, Elven, Dwarven, Amorphous Blob) and the resources of the surrounding area would be randomized, though lean towards certain things depending on locale. Far better chance of finding a mine in the mountains than in the grasslands, after all. This could unlock special titles, such as Lord or Baron, and players would be able to create trade agreements for resources to help each other.
These things would require a bit of work on the developers part to justify in-game, such as how it is possible to find so many plots of land for people to buy, but I'm going to assume someone intelligent and well-paid is capable of finding a solution. These games would make for an interesting alternate progression in a game, as well as a fun way to keep players minds on the game and company while away from a main computer and incapable of logging in. Some of these, such as the farming and city management ones, could easily make their way onto the iPad or iPhone/Droid platforms as well.
I find these little brainstorming sessions fun. Though it could serve to draw little attention, or drain resources from the development of the core game, I nonetheless find it interesting to think about the possibilities of working with unorthodox ways to expand a game. I think the social networking game could serve useful to some games on the market. WoW could add a few minigames to their site, or SWTOR could expand the companion system to let you play as them in some RPG style adventures when you send them on missions. The possibilities are pretty exciting.
Off topic for a moment, I have some exciting news. As I mentioned, I said I would be writing a bit more on SWTOR soon. Well, I now work for ForceJunkies as a columnist to help them cover the game up to and beyond launch. I'm very proud to be a part of the team and I hope you will look to them for The Old Republic news and game commentary.