Social games developer Idle Games launched its first title, Idle Worship, on March 14 after a two-year development period. Idle Worship is a social “god game” that features synchronous and asynchronous gameplay options as well as the highly marketed quality animation. Idle Games was co-founded by Ruck Thompson and Jeffrey Hyman and consists of a team of eighty individuals.
The game has five patents pending on several social networking innovations as a way for the developers to protect their property in a market that sees more clones and carbon copies than innovation. This is becoming a more common practice with social games as developers continue to improve the gameplay and visuals and make it as difficult as possible for a competing company to take too much inspiration.
Jeffrey Hyman recently talked about the title, saying:
“The genre of god games taps into today’s fascination with questions like how many Facebook friends you have, or the number of Twitter followers you’ve amassed… But most importantly, Idle Worship realizes the true promise of social games… to create connections and play between friends and strangers alike. We’ve worked incredibly hard to innovate in art, story and the underlying technology to bring players a social game like no other.”
Analysis: I recently got my hands on Idle Worship a few days before release as a demo, and I’ll just go out and say that I have very little to no experience with social games. In general, they aren’t as deep or engrossing as I like my games to be, but I do acknowledge them as a good time sink for those who enjoy those titles. Knowing this, I was pleasantly impressed with my thirty minutes with the title.
Straight away, the animations and art direction the game boasts having make it stand out amongst the competition in the social games market. There’s no doubt the team at Idle Games made this a priority and it definitely shows. The game opens with players introduced to some back story that I won’t detail here before starting the tutorial. At first, a lot of the information provided can be overwhelming to more casual players, but the tutorial does a great job of focusing on each small aspect and builds upon them. I never found myself at a loss on where to click and do next, and what I enjoyed most about the tutorial is that it involved doing a lot of things that I would’ve done to start the game anyway, so it never felt too forced.
I wasn’t able to really gauge the social aspect of it as not many people had access to the game or were online at that point, so I can’t be certain as to how that part of the game pans out. However, I’m fairly confident that Idle Games has built a system that will work well with having actions that have some level of a ripple effect. I should comment that the game doesn’t spam your friend’s wall or your own, and I had no idea how much I would appreciate this aspect. It was a nice turn of pace for the social market, and hopefully, more games adopt this practice in the near future.
I did have some issues with how quickly you could scroll around the island, but this may have been a personal mouse problem rather than with the game itself. It seemed a little on the slow side at times, and the zoom in or out function was slightly unresponsive at times.
The other qualm I have with the title is with the small residents of the island. If you happen to have many of the same species, there’s nothing to distinguish one from the other as they all look the same and don’t have individual names. So when you’re answering prayers, which serves as the games “missions,” it’s unclear whose prayers you’re answering. This extends to the developing of buildings as well because it’s unclear if you’re making one individual character do all the work. This is a very minor issue and in no form a drawback from the experience, but as someone who likes to spread things as evenly as possible between members of my island, I would like to see the ability to name your citizens implemented at one stage.
But by the end of the thirty-minute session, I didn’t want to stop playing. That, to me, is the sign of a well-made game. How long the game stays interesting and how the social aspect is implemented remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Idle Games has become a serious competitor in the social market with their first release.