February 1, 2014 - Tinytouchtales
This week we want to show you some of the ideas we have for the meta game in Muffin Munch 2, the collecting and baking of Muffins!
The term of “Meta Gaming” is used in different ways. In general the meta game is something that happens in parallel to the core game and is somehow related to it. A classic example for meta gaming is the bluffing in Poker. In Poker the betting and risk management, based on the cards you get, would be the core gameplay. The bluffing could be describe as the meta game. Even though bluffing was not intentionally designed with the core gameplay, it has some how emerged from the players playing the game. In casual games the term meta gaming describes an activity that gives players a reason to play the core gameplay. Common meta games for example are collecting, progressing on a map, decorating your house or experiencing a story.
The meta game can make the core gameplay more interesting and is often a great driver for player retention. It generates attachment to the game and gives the feeling of accomplishment.
Theme & Mechanic
Once the core gameplay is developed you might want to think about a theme that fits the mechanic. In our case we already knew that it would be the Muffin theme. The next step was to think about what kind of meta game would fit both the mechanic and the theme. It was relatively clear that with the Muffin theme the whole “world of baking” would tie in very nicely with our idea.
The general idea of baking splits into two categories: the ingredients and the information of how to combine the ingredients into something you can bake aka the recipe.
The next question for us was how would the user get those ingredients and recipes to create new Muffins. As described in an earlier post, we came up with the great idea of having boxes inside the game, which serve multiple purposes. One of them is finding ingredients and recipes. Every time you open a box there is a chance that you will find something you can use later to bake a new Muffin. The cool thing about our Meta game is, that it’s deeply connected to the core gameplay and does not feel like a game filler. To progress in the meta game you actually have to play the core game and both theme and mechanic fit into it.
Ingredients & Recipes
To generate a sense of progression, the basic idea of baking new muffins is influenced by several things. To bake a new Muffin you will need to find a recipe which is made out of three parts.
The top part which describes the type of Muffin you can bake, the middle part which holds a list of ingredients you need to find and the bottom part which holds the information on how long you will need to bake the Muffin to complete it. Inside the game you will be able to find those recipe parts by opening boxes. To have a basic difficulty curve we split the Muffins into three types common, rare and magic. Depending on the type they will look differently and will be easier/harder to unlock.
Once you found the middle part of a recipe, you will know about what kind of ingredients the Muffin requires. Each Muffin can be composed out of 1 to 5 different ingredients. Additionally we also split the ingredients into the same three difficulty types common, rare and magic. This way we can design an interesting difficutly curve without making the whole concept to complicated.
When you have completed the recipe and found all necessary ingredients, you can start baking. Depending on the time the Muffin will take to be completed, you can select your newly baked Muffin and use it to play with.
Competition & Pay to Win
Competition will be an integral part of Muffin Munch 2 and therefore the gameplay balancing is an important thing to consider. The term “Pay to Win” is used to describe games in which a paying user can buy his way into the high scores having a significant advantage over non paying users. Clash of Clans is one of the best examples where the users who pay the most inside the Game, normally take the top positions in the leader boards.
For Muffin Munch we decided to make the meta game more interesting by having it affect your Score inside the game. In practice this means that for every Muffin you unlock you will increase your Bonus-Multiplier for removing Muffins from the grid by 1.
Scoring will be calculated as followed:
Level of Muffin × Bonus-Multiplier × Chain-Bonus. This means that users who will have unlocked more Muffins than others, will have higher scores, thus making competition influenced by the progression in the meta game. Obviously there will be the ability to speed up the progression in the meta game by buying ingredients or recipe parts with real money. This will give paying users an advantage over non paying users, but we will try to balance this fact.
One thing will be that a user will only be able to buy parts for a new Muffin once he has found at least 1 part of the recipe. Practically this means the speed of which a user can progress with unlocking is influenced by the drop chances not by the amount of money spend.
Secondly we will not lock out non paying users from finding rare or magic type items. Everything in the game can be found without paying.
Additionally we evened out the Bonus-Multiplier for all Muffin types. A normal Muffin will increase your Bonus by 1, a magic one will increase it also by 1. This means that more difficult Muffins won’t give you any gameplay advantage, but will make you look cool in front of your friends! This has the nice side effect, that in the end it doesn’t matter with which of the Muffins you play, because no one is significantly better than the other, just your personal taste (mhhh tasty Muffins) will matter.
This sums up another great Week!
We pushed out a new build which finally supports iPads and we already started with a little bit of visual polish. We now have integrated Facebook and Gamecenter and the next big thing will be the Tutorial.
Have a nice weekend and see you next week!