Intermittent Gameplay

mafia wars pic

In the last couple of days I’ve been playing with a Facebook app called Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures. The FAQ describes the gameplay as “intermittent,” which is to say, the designers force to player to go do something else while waiting for the next event to take place.  It’s an interesting concept that I found irritating as a player, yet I continue to play.  What’s even sillier about that is that D&D: Tiny Adventures doesn’t even have much in the way of play built into it.  The typical play session goes like this:

  • Open up the app
  • Check the adventure status
  • Read about what happened to your character
  • Bemoan or rejoice the result
  • Wait about 10 minutes
  • Repeat

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Did he actually do anything?” and the answer would be, “No, I did not.”  The extent of the player’s meaningful actions is limited to choosing a couple of bonuses that he has the opportunity to use during the “adventure” and outfitting the character with the armors, weapons, belts, etc. typical of a high fantasy game.  It basically becomes a random story generator that forces the player to wait about an hour to read the story . . . and oddly, I keep playing it.

This made me curious about all those other Facebook apps I’ve been hearing about and getting invites for: Mafia Wars, FarmVille, and the like.  I decided, as a game developer, that these are things I should know about and have experience with especially considering they are pulling in upwards of 49 million active monthly users . . . just on Facebook.  Yes, 49 million users play FarmVille.  So I started an account on both Mafia Wars and FarmVille. Both “feature” the intermittent gameplay I was introduced to in D&D: Tiny Adventures, however both allow much more in the way of meaningful actions.  I find Mafia Wars thoroughly addicting, despite it’s weak graphic design.  It is a bit less intermittent than the other two subjects, especially in the first 5 or 6 levels, which probably helps hook a player early on.  All the games I tried featured leveling up and some amount of profile/character customization.  Each creates an interesting situation which is what caused me to write this blog at nearing 6 o’clock in the morning: these type of games make me look for something to do to pass the time until I can get back to the game.  I don’t know if that’s good or not, but here I am being mildly productive . . . though way past my bedtime ; )

Gotta go check my mafia, my farm, and my adventure!


Currently Playing: Mafia Wars, FarmVille, Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures, Army of Two


  1. James says:

    Great exposee on the facebook gaming world. There really isn’t much to it all, but it still works tremendously well. Anyway, you put down how I feel better than I could. Perfect.

  2. Lovely post dude, appreciate it. I love videogames.

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