There’s a growing sub-genre of ‘cozy’ games that focus heavily on tend and befriend-style gameplay. They try to make the player feel comfortable and safe vs stressed and competitive. Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, Hidden Folk, Neko Atsume and others fit this mold. However few have any focus on multiplayer. I just released one experiment, Beartopia, multiplayer Animal Crossing style game for VR, but it is a topic I’d love to explore more.
– What are cozy multiplayer interactions?
– What does cozy play with strangers look like?
– What sort of business models would work for such a game?
Great topic, Danc. My team and I made a cozy game (I’m tempted to use the Dutch word ‘gezellig’ here – http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl/155-gezellig) in 2010 called “Holiday Village.” The game itself is long gone, one of our sand castles left to the changing tides of technology. The only real mentions of it online I could find were a guest post on Adweek (http://www.adweek.com/digital/hearst-purchases-rodale-inc-s-global-magazine-and-book-businesses/) and a single art shot from my former art director (https://mree.deviantart.com/art/Holiday-Village-187188533).
Anyway, the idea was that people worked together to create their own holiday village (Christmas, typically, though we non-sectarian) including slow-falling snow and peaceful music. The people who played it *loved* it, but the monetization was terrible, so it sank quickly. Ah well. Premium pricing would probably work better for this anyway, but would be a harder sell. I *think* I could make this work now as a gentle F2P, but it’s an open question. I hope to get the chance someday.
We found a lot of “yes and” kinds of interactions worked well — people being able to build on each others’ progress. Being able to visit other people’s villages was popular too, though we had to be careful to limit editing privileges to only those you wanted. People being able to leave comments or gifts is about as far as you’d want to go I think — lots of social reciprocity to be explored here.
Good topic! I wish I could be there to chew on this with you!
I am definitely interested in pursuing this topic. Cozy games like those you mention are favorites of my coworkers and there is a desire outside of the design team to bring such a feeling into our game or future products. Arguably, our one live MMO, Star Stable, is a cozy game, as 90% of the game ist just a sandbox to ride horses with friends, but there is very little in the way of designed multiplayer systems beyond bare-bones chat and guild fucitons. There might be some overlap with Steve’s latest proposal about guilds in casual games, as both these topics fit under the umbrella of how to build strong social ties in a non-conflict driven game.