Since Red Seraphim’s current work in progress, Kymera Keeper, is about to go into beta in a few weeks, I took a little while to reflect on the long journey the company has taken in making this game. My roundabout reflections start with the impetus for joining Red Seraphim to a game in the first place.
Facebook games are notorious for their pull. Whether you’re constructing a farm, a city, or trying to take down your friend’s empire, all Facebook games are constructed in such a way where the player achieves small, incremental goals. But I sincerely believe that games on social networks, while very addictive, are limited in how they define the goals that can be achieved. Yes, a player could complete quests where they plant three flowers and build a house. Through learning the game’s systems, they could eventually build a grand farm, city, empire, garden, set of pets, aquarium, restaurant, and so forth… but there’s not much else to it after a while. There are so many other reasons people play games. Some want to experience a story. Some want to find an activity and master it. Some simply want to win. And yet others (and Facebook has tapped into this very well, I think) want to nurture something and feel rewarded for it. What also makes games more fun is if you can accomplish all these things with your friends, or even a community.
Social games are in an awkward position right now. They’re games – but they still aren’t “legitimate” in the eyes of mainstream gamers because so many of the above aspects are neglected right now. At the same time, they’re a significant part of the gaming life of casual gamers who have shied away from mainstream games because they are approachable and do not require a big time commitment. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t trying to make Kymera Keeper casual enough for people to pick up right away and enjoy, and not hardcore enough to be a deep and competitive game. In a perfect world, I hope Kymera Keeper can be living proof that social games do not need to be insipid and simple, and a game with competition does not need to alienate those who aren’t out to compete.