We all somehow innately flirt with the desire to play God, and games have tapped into that desire many times. One of the latest plays on the theme is Towner, a city building game by MetroGames, the Argentina-based developer which received $5 million in funding from Playdom. Currently at 2.1 MMAU and growing, Towner seems to be gaining on Broken Bulb’s My Town (2.7 MMAU), a chief competitor, but will it be able to attain the success that Playdom’s own titan Social City has seen with 12.6 MMAU? Read our review after the jump.
- Title: Towner
- Genre: City Building
- Game Developer: Metrogames
- Game Publisher: Playdom
- Released: 2010
Towner is a sim-city style town-building game where players design their own virtual city, expanding and growing it over time. Despite using appoint-based ‘farming’ mechanics to encourage frequent returns, the game does well to differentiate itself from a number of city building games. Inclusion of a variety of building types along with unique resource management gameplay creates good 5-10 minute play for anyone.
Tons of items to pick from; animations on roads; smooth presentation and ease of playability; resource management layer that adds depth to gameplay
Fixated angle; weak zoom features; solitary circumferential road that encloses the town (no ability to place own roads),
Players are initially presented with a simple tutorial to get them familiarized with game concepts. Existing buildings are placed on a green grid encompassed by a road, which seems to be the only ‘road’ that is available in the game. There are 2 views which the player has, map view and layers view, the latter a feature that will apparently help in city planning once the city grows to a substantial size.
Players are asked to ‘inaugurate’ a building, which is analogous to a ‘grand opening’, in order to activate the constructed building post-development. Players must also frequently return to ‘repair’ the buildings, a farming like mechanic which players in many other games have rebelled against. Mafia Wars was one of the first notable games to have properties incurring damage over time and they eventually removed it due to unpopularity.
Enhancing Towner is another layer of gameplay that involves the upkeep of the denizens’ happiness levels. There are 6 major categories: Jobs, Fire Stations, Entertainment, Security, Health and Education. Each can be viewed on a single screen, and success is determined by percentage levels (100% being the max). All the player needs to do is build category-specific buildings to keep these at max levels.
The gameplay has a standard UI of other flash games in this genre although the view is a bit odd, to say the least. Asides from an abundant amounts of decorative and functional buildings, there are animated car movements spanning the road that envelopes the cityscape that add to the realism. Nothing brings out a city feel like smog in the air!
The sociability is comprised of de-facto standards, with competition being driven by level, resources, and aesthetic appeal. Players can visit friends and send gifts. It’ll be exciting to see how Metrogames adds extra elements of sociability, tying them in with classic game mechanics while keeping a focus on monetization.
The game’s success seems to be evident of its growing player base, although the investment by Playdom might have something to do with this as well as performance marketing through Facebook Ads. It’s too early to say how the game will fare in the long run, especially because some of the elements are rather unorthodox. There’s a lot of room for innovation and Towner should aim to adapt and quickly test innovative implementations. An example could be adding weather and increasing the damage during bad weather but also allowing players to have certain buildings which can predict bad weather coming in their own towns as well as their friends and be able to fore warn them so they can purchase ‘weather proof’ upgrades which last for certain times and are economically beneficial. We expect good things from Metrogames as they continue their stride in a tough competitive environment.