Saturday, March 28, 2009

NHB Mission Darkstar - 5 Finalists Awarded

National Heritage Board has announced the 5 finalists for the online games competition to develop a Singapore heritage related game! The details of the Mission Darkstar - Heritage Gaming Redefined can be found in the NHB news release (16 Dec 2008).

These 5 finalists, having passed the first stage of this competition, will each get $4,000 seed funds to develop their online game on social media platform, that 'raise the awareness and appreciation of Singapore’s unique heritage and culture.' The competition will run until October - November 2009, when the top winner will be selected, and total prizes of $13,500 will be given out (top prize has a payout of $8,000). The judging will be done by both experts and public votes, with criteria linking to quality of the game and how the game resonates with the users and Singapore’s history and heritage.

More information about NHB's Mission Darkstar can be found on their website: and there is even a Youtube on the site about this competition!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dungeons & Dragons - Tiny Adventures on Facebook

There are a good number of interesting Facebook applications. Other than the Pet Society which I covered earlier, there is also this Dungeons & Dragons - Tiny Adventures application.

In Tiny Adventures, one could choose from over 16 classes of characters, including Tiefling Warlock, Eladrin Wizard, Human Rogue, Dwarf Warlord etc. Each character can level until they reach level 11, and the application will automatically retire the character. At this point in time, the player can choose an item from the retiring character to pass on to the next character, and the next character will be labelled as Generation 2. This retiring process can carry on, and each generation will unlock new ability. At Generation 5, a new class of Swordmage will also be unlocked.

As per other Dungeons & Dragons game, the character will come with a set of attributes but for Tiny Adventures they are pre-rolled. There will also be equipments for each 'slot', including weapons and armour. The equipments will come with different attributes enhancements but not all classes can wear all the equipments, e.g. wizard can only wear light armour.

In order to level up the charater, the character could choose from a number of available adventures of around the same level as the character. There are quite a number of interesting quests / adventures to choose from. As the character level, bonus attribute points will be given at level 4 and 8.

Prior to the start of the chosen adventure, the character can choose two potions to bring along, including healing potions or others that boost the attributes, e.g. Potion of Heroism giving +5STR for 4 encounters.

Each adventure provides multiple encounters / parts (from 5 to 12 parts & higher levels seem to have more encounters), and each encounter comes with a description of what is happening to the character, as well as a dice roll that determines the outcome of that particular part. Occasionally there will be 'rare' encounters that provide better challenge and rewards. Success from the encounter will reward the character with experience points, golds and sometimes items.

The different adventures could also be reviewed later and the review log includes the different dice rolls as well as rewards from each adventure. Tiny Adventures has many tabs and statistics that keep track of the character's progress.

Generally the Dungeons & Dragons - Tiny Adventures application is quite fun to play with. The option of 'drinking potions' with triggering of certain conditions is also useful. The irritating part is that many of the encounters requires AC checks, and certain weaker classes like mage will have problems. It does not help that each healing potion costs 130 golds, i.e. expensive potions.

Will try the application and see if I have the patience to reach Generation 5!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Smallworlds application in Facebook

Smallworlds has progressed well over the past many months. It is not surprising that Smallworlds is now on Facebook (see article), since Smallworlds has always gave the impression that it is an applications that is highly mashable. It seems that other than Facebook, Smallworlds is also on Bebo (see article).

The user created missions, and generally missions based play (picture above) has given Smallworlds a more unique element based compared to other social networking applications. Yet with individual rooms and tokens to decorate the rooms, Smallworlds retains enough social networking flavour that will be attractive to the casual gamers.

Recently I played their featured mission, 'Break Out 1' (pictures above and below) that described a mad scientist who captured users for experiments. The user is supposed to get out of the moon base with the help of a fellow prisoner. It is relatively easy, except for the initial part where a user needs to find that room with a 'Trooper' poster and search for an item. The crucial element is that the user must first receive this part of the 'quest' in the correct room, i.e. if the mission box told you that your room is in area B, do not go to area C to get the quest. After finding the correct room, the user can proceed to the room with the 'Trooper' poster.

There are other quests that require simpler actions to complete. For example there is this 'classroom maths quest' where the user just needs to provide correct answer to the maths questions. At the end of the 15 questions, just /clap, and the quest is done.

As of February 2009, Smallworlds has about 300,000 users, and 65% of these users are female. A similar proportion of the users created content to share with other users. An example of such user generated content is the 'Arcade game machines' found littered in Smallworlds, where a 'game' with the game of Smallworlds could be played and progress saved.

This user figure is healthy but still pales in comparison with giants like the Wtorld of Warcraft. Nonetheless, with a reported Average Revenue Per User of US$1.40, and a progressive looking development team, Smallworlds is likely to go far in the virtual world arena.