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Coin ‘n Carry: Putting the GAME back into Social Games

by: Michael Hartman ; edited by: Benjamin Sell ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Social games are great, but the shallow game design and painfully repetitive grinds they so often rely upon HAVE TO GO! That was Frogdice’s mission statement when we set out to create our first social game: Coin ‘n Carry.

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    The Developer's Perspective

    This article is written by one of the developers of Coin 'n Carry. It is an insider's look at the development and design of a social game, and includes insights on the market as a whole.

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    What Is Coin ‘n Carry?

    Coin 'n Carry Main UI 

    In Coin ‘n Carry, you are a medieval shopkeeper trying to move up in the world. You play mini-games to earn resources and recipes, you craft items with those resources, and then you sell them in your shop.

    The core game has three basic parts:

    1. Playing Mini-Games.
    2. Crafting.
    3. Selling wares in your shop.

    You can find a basic tutorial video on Youtube that goes into the basics in greater detail.

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    Yeah, Sounds Simple. What Else?

    Coin 'n Carry Shopkeeper Gear Screen 

    Additionally, there are more complex features (some released, some still in development) that add significant depth that will keep gamers engaged and entertained. These features slowly reveal themselves as players get deeper into the game, and can be completely ignored until the player decides to dive deeper into the world of Coin ‘n Carry.

    1. Collecting.
    2. Competing on leaderboards for prizes and bragging rights.
    3. Sharing gifts with friends.
    4. Raising pets.
    5. Running your own mine, garden, or nature preserve.
    6. Forming your own merchant guilds and competing with other guilds for economic dominance.

    But before we go into too much detail about Coin ‘n Carry, I will take a moment to examine what it is about social games that people like and dislike.

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    What People Like About Social Games

    • Accessibility
    • Suport for casual play
    • Ability to team up with and help your friends.
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    What People HATE About Social Games

    • Shallow or minimalistic game design.
    • Lack of variety in gameplay.
    • Repetitive grinds.
    • Clickfests that threaten to destroy your wrists, your mouse, or both.
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    How Does Coin ‘n Carry Break the Social Game Mold?

    Every part of Coin ‘n Carry’s gameplay is designed to be fun in and of itself. At no point are there aspects of gameplay designed to kill time or slow you down through sheer repetitiveness.

    Every stage of the game is designed to be imminently playable even at a total “newbie” level, while still rewarding higher skill with superior performance and output.

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    Mini-Games: Fun Enough to Stand on Their Own

    Meiki's Mines, a Coin 'n Carry Mini-game The mini-games are varied and diverse in both style and gameplay. No matter what kind of gamer you are, you should be able to find a number of mini-games that you’ll enjoy. The list of mini-games is constantly expanding, and the long term goal is to have 50 or more.

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    Crafting: More Than Just Clicking a Button

    Coin 'n Carry Crafting The crafting is simple but strategic, and it rewards you for learning the recipes and figuring out how to most efficiently use your resources. At the same time, it doesn’t punish you for being new to the game; an expert is simply able to make more items and make them faster.

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    Run Your Shop: Capitalism That Doesn't Require a Government Bailout

    Coin 'n Carry Shop The shopkeeper stage is also simple to learn but challening to master. Selling a few items per turn is quite easy for even the newest player. Selling a lot of items, or selling some of the big ticket items requires a better understanding of your customer types and the kind of items they like.

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    As Usual, Indie Development Is Where New Ideas Come From

    Coin 'n Carry isn't yet another cookie cutter game from a giant publishing house. It was handcrafted by a small team working at Frogdice, Inc. Frogdice is an independent developer of online games that until Coin ‘n Carry was exclusively in the business of making online role playing games/RPGs (e.g. Threshold RPG, Primordiax). RPGs are some of the most hard core games out there, with arguably the most game design, the most content, and depth of gameplay. We wanted to take this experience, attention to detail, and love for deep gameplay and bring it to the social gaming genre.

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    Wait... Its Not on Facebook?

    Frooty Shooty in Coin 'n Carry 

    Coin 'n Carry is not played through Facebook. Shocking, I know. While putting a game on Facebook offers enormous benefits as far as accessibility, ease of sign up, and easy monetization, that comes with tremendous drawbacks. Some of those drawbacks include:

    1. Playing a game inside the Facebook UI means a ton of screen real estate is lost to Facebook's user interface, its advertisements, etc.
    2. Speaking of which... Facebook advertisements.
    3. Also speaking of which, Facebook loves to change their UI without warning and for purposes that are often totally contrary to the needs of gamers or game developers.
    4. Facebook's API in general is often changed without notice, which can bring a game down completely.
    5. Facebook forces game developers to use Facebook Credits, which means you lose 30% of your gross income right off the top.
    6. That 30% rate is not guaranteed. They can increase it at any time - potentially at the behest of the largest game developer on Facebook: Zynga.
    7. Developers cannot use their own virtual currency to build their own brand and cross promote their own games. Every game developer is forced to add value to Facebook's brand and currency instead, thereby increasing social game developers' dependecy on Facebook.
    8. Privacy: Do you really want Facebook to know every single thing you do, including how much time you spend playing games?

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    Why Should I Give This Game a Shot?

    First, its free. You've got nothing to lose but a little bit of time.

    Second, by supporting indie game development you help promote the idea of games exploring new designs and new ideas.

    Third, your input and suggestions could very well shape the future development of the game. Frogdice has a well established history of maintaining a close relationship with its players. Whether its our annual convention now in its 11th year, our very active forums, or the numerous feedback and suggestion methods we make available, we consider our players to be a vital source of ideas to make our games better.

    Fourth, you very well might have an enormous amount of fun, and isn't that the point of games? All too often this simple fact is forgotten in the business of game development. Making this game fun was the #1 thing constantly in the minds of Coin 'n Carry's developers, and we hope it is obvious to everyone who gives the game a shot.

References

  • To the extent any development concepts are also shown, permission has been granted by Frogdice, Inc., as the author is one of the developers of the game: Coin 'n Carry.
  • All screenshots taken directly from Coin 'n Carry by the author.