News Corporation social game developer Making Fun launches its third Facebook game today, entering the hidden object genre with Hidden Haunts.
The game differs from all other hidden object games on Facebook in that it’s photorealistic — the developer composed physical sets for each level of the game and snapped photographs of the scene to form the basis of the levels. The rest of the game experience will be immediately familiar to fans of Gardens of Time; players click on hidden objects, receiving a scoring bonus for finding objects in rapid succession and progression is tracked both by score and by the number of decorations a player has added to their mansion. To those ready to cry clone, however, Making Fun points out that it changed Hidden Haunts’ story immediately after Hidden Chronicles and World Mysteries launched to remove a missing uncle story element so that Hidden Haunts wouldn’t come off as too similar to other hidden object games on Facebook.
“We would like to be known for richness and depth,” Making Fun President John Welch tells Inside Social Games. “We had to launch Hidden Haunts early because we didn’t want to be left behind [by Hidden Chronicles]. There’s a theme here, and if you already like it, hopefully you’ll really like this game.”
Making Fun has had some success with its other two Facebook games, Clash: Rise of Heroes and Noah’s Ark, and with its iPad title Santa’s Village. Each game is a completely different experience — collectible card game, farming simulation and city-builder, respectively — and this helps Making Fun understand how to tap into different demographics on different platforms. The developer is still learning basic social features and monetization practices, however.
“We’re anti-whale,” Welch says. “But we still have to teach [players] spending.” He relates an incident where Hidden Haunts’ designers went back and forth on whether or not to give players free premium currency and then walk them through the pay flow as part of the tutorial — which is standard practice for most social games, but one designer new to social games worried that it took away some of the fun.
Going forward, Making Fun is exploring new genres both for Facebook and mobile. In a demo reel to be shown at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next month, we saw snippets of a basketball sports sim for Facebook that looks to be a combination of turn-based play and statistic tweaking. We also saw a tower defense game themed around bugs that looks nearly final. We also couldn’t help but notice a sketch on the wall behind Welch that appeared to depict a hybrid board and matching game based on what looked like Alice in Wonderland; Welch declined to comment on it directly.
Look for our review of Hidden Haunts later this week.