This is the first offering from “eeGeo”, a firm that came from the ashes of Realtime Worlds. It is based around travelling the UK and exploring various locations such as cities and castles.
The gameplay itself is very simple and not particularly exciting, clicking on squares within a map until it is cleared. However what National Treasures does have is a very good Collection implementation. Each city, town or landmark has items from various different collections available, for example you might be able to find bits of the Scottish, Gold and Whisky collections in Aberdeen and London is home to the Bulldog and Football collections.
Completing a collection provides something that can be placed in your home, such as an ale cask, dart board, rug or ornament. The objective therefore is to find all these collections and create a rather delightful home that will make your friends jealous. It is a solid motivation and can lead to players coming back over and over to finally complete that collection.
Unfortunately the balance and distribution of items that make up a collection could do with some serious balancing. Rather than being able to work your way though the collections that you want, most of the time items generated will be for collections already completed or you’ll have five of all but one of the items that you require. Visiting specific cities to complete a certain collection can often require about 4 or 5 replays before getting what you are after, maybe more.
This is made more frustrating but the addition of themed collections and quests, such as Christmas and Valentines. When a new collection for a festive time around the corner, for example at the beginning of February lauching the Valentines collection, rest assured it will be sought after. However unfortunately you’ll tend to find every other item time in the appropriate Valentines city rather than the one you want. As a result an excellent idea, themed collections, is hampered somewhat.
Perhaps a more structured approach would work better. Rather than having four or five different collections in a city which yield only six to eight items, provide a much smaller amount of collections. Locations can be further specialised to increase your chances of finding what you are looking for.
No one wants the crummy “Barmy Coins” over and over, instead they want the cooler, rarer collections such as the music collection. However they aren’t getting them. Naturally I understand that you can’t make it too easy. The chaps at eeGeo will want to earn money for their work and to sustain their servers so there needs to be a challenge to get people to invest their money but currently it is too frustrating and off putting.
This is backed up by looking at people’s wishlists. They usually consist of pretty much the same things, indicating that they were all after the same items but no one is really finding them. Wishlists lead me onto another issue. There is a lack of messaging to the player when they’ve received an item. Games like CityVille like to communicate that you’ve received a gift (although not their watered down wishlists) and have that has shown to be very successful.
It helps suck people back in, there is something to benefit their playing experience. The same in National Treasures would be very beneficial. If players are notified that they have been sent items, they will not only be more enthusiastic to log in but the social aspect will be improved. I know that I’ve received various tokens, items and other goodies but have no idea who sent them. On occasion I have logged in to suddenly find that the collection i was desperate to complete was finished. Who do I thank? Naturally I’d want to return the favour but National Treasures fails to provide even the most basic notification.
One thing that is key to point out is that National Treasures uses an energy system where a click uses up 5 energy and that slowly increases over time. Personally I feel as though they have been far too punishing. It takes 25 minutes for the next piece of energy to be available, which is to be frank a long time. There are items that you can use to acquire more energy, including ones in other people’s homes, but once you’ve done your rounds it will be hours until you can really do any more.
This is one of the core ways that NT generates revenue. You can pay to get more energy but to be honest, playing $5 or so to get a bunch more clicks that won’t last 15 minutes really isn’t worth it. There’s also decorations that can be bought, but you’ll struggle to fit them in with all the barmy coins that you’ll unlock. All other Facebook games that I’ve played allow you to invest to gain a functional advantage. For example $5 in a Zynga game might get you a business that earns great rewards or make a substantial gain in progression. In NT you *might* find an item that you’re after, but there’s no guarantees.
What would perhaps be better is if you could purchase more items along the lines of the starting tea-pot that over time can be used to obtain a nice cuppa, which provides a small amount of energy. Paying $5 for a one time large boost of energy doesn’t seem worthwhile, but paying $5 for an item that regularly provides a small energy bonus and now you’re talking.
These sorts of items are available as rewards for completing collections already. The slot machine provides cash, trophies give XP and ale kegs provide energy through a nice pint. These sort of items are exactly what National Treasures need to create and charge for!
The final area that I’d like to cover is the theme and location. National Treasures is set in the Great Britain with British locations and a very chipper British butler who helps you along the way. I personally really like it but unfortunately it does severely limit their market. Even if EVERY person in the UK played National Treasures, it wouldn’t match CityVille’s current user base.
I think National Treasures has some great potential. There’s some early balancing issues that need working through, but the game itself has some real promise. It is pretty different and refreshing compared to most other Facebook games that I’ve played and I really hope that they can build on it and develop the game into something nice and successful. Hopefully the choice of the UK won’t limit the success too much!
Completion: Level 29