A Recycled View of Oceanopolis, an Environmentally-Themed Facebook Game

OceanopolisA recent mix up with the developers behind a new Facebook game, Oceanopolis, led to a premature look at the green-oriented title. Now the developer, Greenopolis is telling us that the real Oceanopolis is launched and ready to go, so we decided to give the game another spin.

Still a collection-oriented game post-changes, many of the environmentally-themed title’s more mundane aspects have been remedied, and the mechanics revamped to have some semblance of a point. The game’s different elements now feel much more interconnected, forming a sort of ecosystem of their own (no pun intended). Along with presentation upgrades, the app has come a long way since its closed beta. It’s still not the greatest title in the space, but for a, primarily, non-game developer, it’s an improvement, and thankfully, not another farming, city-building, or business sim clone.

The goal of Oceanopolis remains the same, which is to create the perfect island paradise. The problem is that trash litters the space. The game informs users that a nearby ocean gyre is continually washing the litter upon the shore. Considering the wastefulness of many people, the amount of trash that appears is not terribly surprising.

This trash must be picked up, with blurbs of text portraying the proper way to dispose of it. Since its first version, Oceanopolis has modified the once-monotonous mechanic of picking up trash, in that it doesn’t constantly reappear at an accelerated rate and only has to be clicked on once (as opposed to two or three times in past versions). Once collected, the trash becomes a means of income as it can be turned in to an in-game Greenopolis recycling kiosk — in sets of 10 — for extra coin.

UpcyclingThis income is complimented by buildings that can use smaller quantities of litter to “upcycle” it into things like jewelry.

Of course, these are all merely improved mechanics from older versions. There are some new aspects as well, to help to tie everything together. Previously, we complained about the fact that players could care for decorative items called “Greenspace.” These were things like flowers, trees, and so on, but there was no real point to it. In this new version, three new consumable elements are introduced: Water, Energy, and Food.

Energy is roughly the same as any other Facebook game. It gates how much a player can do in any single sitting. That said, it doesn’t appear to regenerate passively. Instead, users must eat food to recharge it. While new users do start with a nice chunk of food, once it’s used up, new sustenance can only be acquired from specific Greenspace items (e.g. coconuts from palm trees); others are merely decorative.

Water plays a major role here as players must use this consumable to care for these trees, flowers, plants, etc. until food can be collected. In order to gain water, players must purchase certain “Accessories” to place about their island. Unfortunately, the only one that appears to have water-gathering capability for now is a rain barrel item that collects water on a daily basis. In general, food and water require a 24 hour wait to collect, which some users could find frustrating.

DolphinsThe only means to expedite collection of these resources is through friends who can gift water, as well as decorative items, to one another. Aside from this, however, the social elements are still fairly basic, consisting of island visitation and cleaning up one another’s trash. There has also been an addition of sharable achievements.

The educational aspect of Oceanopolis is also improved slightly with random events. We had a dolphin wash up on our beach. These items work the same as interacting with any other object on the island with blurbs of moderately educational text, but sadly, the animals can’t be kept as a reward.

Truthfully, Oceanopolis does still suffer from repetitive game play with its basic, point-and-click, collection mechanics, but at least now there feels to be more of a point to it all. Presentation-wise, it looks more respectable as well. It still has a bit of a flat and static look to it, but everything is at least more vibrant and less clunky feeling. Unfortunately, that clunk still rears its head in placing objects. Sometimes they just don’t want to go where they’re told.

Of course, we haven’t yet mentioned what is, perhaps, the most important aspect of Greenopolis. The developer has a real-world parent company, the giant trash-handling company Waste Management, which has the in-game Greenopolis Recycling Kiosks placed, in reality, at grocery stores and other locations nationwide. These kiosks offer users a unique way to earn virtual currency: recycling real-world trash. It’s not yet clear that such extensive effort is warranted, since the players have yet to arrive, but the real-world tie-in should provide great marketing for the game, provided that it’s as widespread as Greenopolis states.

Despite some complaints, Oceanopolis earns brownie points for trying to teach users a bit more about the environment, and not trying to be another FarmVille, Social City, or Restaurant City. Yes, the game is still rather basic, but the interconnection between elements such as water, food, and energy does open up options for greater depth and even potential strategic choices. In the end, this new Greenopolis app is much improved from earlier versions, but still has more than enough room to learn and grow.

As a final note, the developers have given us word that readers can also redeem the promotional code “InsideSG” for a free 200 coins in-game.