Fuel Releases New Business Sim Game, Toy Factory, on Facebook

Toy FactoryFuel Games is getting into social business sims with a new release on Facebook called Toy Factory. Similar to RockYou’s Toy Land, Toy Factory takes toy making and adds elements from business apps like Playdom’s Market Street.

From action figures to plush toys, Toy Factory is all about cute. Cleaner looking and more functional than some of its predecessors, it has a nice aesthetic and plenty of space to be creative. However, some core elements feel limiting in both the play and decoration.

The premise is that you are in charge of a factory and must produce toys for your very own toy store. Using toy machines (the quantity of which is limited by level), you create items in the traditional Facebook game fashion: X toy takes Y amount of time, with the higher level items being valued more.

Unlike most business-like games, you do not simply sell your creations, but must put them on display in the factory’s store-front. This is where the Market Street like  mechanics come in. Once a batch of toys is finished, you place them on a display and kids show up to purchase them.

FactoryLike the Playdom title, only one type of toy can be put on any single shelf at a time, and depending on the size of the shelf, it can only hold so many. As kids make purchases, the stock will dwindle and you must place more of the same item on the shelf to keep it full. In keeping with previous business sim apps, the factory element is all created for you — you simply have to order the goods you want. Fuel has given you an extra level of control in your factory, though, in that you manage what you are creating as well as what your inventory looks like. Since the number of toy-making machines is limited, control over production is important (whereas other games let you order a finite, yet large quantity, of goods at any given time).

This is not a revolutionary addition, also being present in games like Chocolatier. It’s actually not much more than an extra step, but it also doesn’t feel cumbersome in any way, and gives you one more action for each play. Additionally, and more importantly, the inclusion of the factory adds one more virtual space in which to be creative. Sadly, the decorum is rather limited.

Decorating is not much better in the store. There just isn’t all that much variety. For the most part, décor consists of shelves and columns. There is a large selection of these items,  but it still feels very limiting. Even with the walls, floors and windows, the creative palette feels stunted.

TipsStill, the ability to visit other users’ stores within the top 50 leaderboards revealed that there are a number of users that have already created some very nice virtual spaces, even with the limited decor. Unfortunately, and this is one of our complaints, it is not possible to view the factories even amongst friends, leaving little reason to decorate them. Aside from this, you can give gifts to any player (friend or not),and visiting friends allows you to receive a toy-making “tip” from them earning a currency called R&D points.

These points are used to research new blueprints for new toys to make in one’s machines. However, most of the blueprints cost a lot, and not all  blueprints are unlocked by tips. Many of the toys must be unlocked by level or virtual currency.

Where Market Street allowed you to create the kind of store, with the type of goods you wanted from the start, Toy Factory only allows you to make plush toys in the beginning.  A startling number of goods costs virtual currency, require high levels, or a very large amount of R&D points. To give an idea, by level six, you have only unlocked about six items; two plush, one doll, two vehicle toys, and one action figure. Being able to make toys from every category earlier (even if only one) would be an improvement. Teddy bears just don’t appeal to everyone.

BlueprintsYour store has a percentage rating associated with it. As you add more decorations to both the store and factory, the rating goes up, and though Toy Factory isn’t 100 percent clear on the matter, this likely affects the number of kids that come to make purchases. What it is clear is that once you reach a particular rating , you will be eligible to receive daily rewards.

The core mechanics of  Toy Factory aren’t particularly original, but it does have a few nice changes. These are a few extra things to do, including the ability to visit other, random, players, and giving more space to be creative — it’s often the little things that add up to a superior game experience. If you’re burned out on virtual space-oriented games, this particular game won’t really be all that appealing. But if you’re an fan of the genre and are looking for something cute fresh, then Toy Factory may be worth a look.