One of the biggest draws for massively multiplayer online games (MMO’s) is the satisfaction that comes from earning in-game items and abilities. Unlike simple Flash games where your accomplishments vanish the moment you step away from your computer, MMO’s allow you to acquire virtual goods and work your way up a skill ladder, in the hopes of eventually becoming powerful enough to dominate over everyone else. Unfortunately, many people simply can’t spare the hundreds of hours a game like World of Warcraft takes to finally reach this leet status.
Today sees the launch of Moondo, a new gaming “world” that is trying to merge the best parts of MMOs and the casual games that litter the web. The Moondo world is comprised of a number of multiplayer minigames that feature 3D graphics that rival those seen on most MMOs. Each minigame is intended to require only about 15-20 minutes, though they include multiple levels that should keep gamers satisfied for hours at a time.
What differentiates Moondo from most other multiplayer minigames is the introduction of persistent goods and a leveling system. For example, a shield that a user might acquire during the course of a shooting game could later be used on the platform’s driving game. As gamers continue playing, they progressively acquire more goods and skills, and the platform’s matching system ensures that they are only pitted against players of comparable experience. At launch, there are two games available (an FPS and a racing game), but that number should grow quickly, as Moondo says that the platform is designed so that it can pump out a new game every 8 weeks.
Moondo’s biggest challenge lies in making the powerups and levels acquired by each gamer seem worthwhile. It’s one thing to be known as a powerful wizard or knight in a persistent world like World of Warcraft – everyone knows you’ve earned it. But when such advantages are carried over to smaller minigames, it might just make them unbalanced and less fun.
For the time being Moondo is only available as a standalone client on Windows, but the company plans to roll out browser support (so that it should be platform-agnostic) by October. The game is the first product from Funtactix, a Benchmark and JVP-funded company that has spent the last eighteen months developing the platform that powers Moondo. Another company that is introducing persistent accomplishments to casual gaming is CasualCafe which we covered here.