Parallel Kingdom from developer PerBlue has been available for iOS and Android devices since 2009, but more recently launched a Web-based version. The game has arrived on Facebook as of January, featuring full integration with the Facebook Games Ticker and support for existing accounts which players might have from the mobile or Web versions.
Parallel Kingdom is a location-based massively multiplayer online RPG which overlays a virtual world on top of the Google Map of the player’s current location. Through planting flags on the map, players are able to claim territory, travel further afield, battle monsters, find treasures, wage war and build cities. It’s a complex game with a considerable amount of depth which was previously limited to GPS-enabled iOS and Android devices. On computers without GPS equipment, the Web and Facebook versions use coarse location tracking to determine a player’s approximate location using their network address rather than direct pinpointing of their location. The developer is keen to stress that although players can see each other’s avatars on the map, it doesn’t necessarily indicate exactly where a player is physically, since avatars are able to travel further afield in order to claim territory.
Players have a wide variety of options during gameplay. They can explore the land and attempt to claim as much as possible. They can collect resources through mining and hunting. They can collaborate with other players to build cities, which feature special buildings that are able to produce items. Or they can compete against other players and wage war against rival cities. Rather than the relatively linear structure of many massively multiplayer online RPGs, Parallel Kingdom is kept relatively freeform throughout. Players are assigned a human “mentor” upon entering the game, and this person will walk new players through the basics of the game if they so desire.
Players who have already been enjoying the mobile version are able to use their existing accounts to log into the Web and Facebook versions, though this process seemed to have a few glitches at the time of testing, with the game sometimes complaining that a “character does not exist on this world”. New players, conversely, are presented with a simple tutorial outlining the very basics of play before being thrust into the real world and introduced to their mentor.
The game is free to play but uses a resource known as Food as one of its currencies. Food is used for a variety of purposes — crafting, trading and leveling up — and can be earned through play, but can also be purchased for real money. Sales of Food provide the game’s main monetization strategy, but it’s not all about profit — in 2011 PerBlue collaborated with SOS Children to fund around 2,500 meal vouchers for children in Kenya through in-game purchases of Food.
“People want to play games in the environment they are most comfortable with, be that mobile, the Web, Kongregate, or Facebook,” said Justin Beck, co-founder and CEO of developer PerBlue, speaking with our affiliate blog, All Facebook, regarding the move from GPS-enabled smartphones to the Web and Facebook. “We don’t want to make people jump over fences to enjoy Parallel Kingdom, and that means meeting our players where they are. Thousands of users have already joined during beta, and since launching on these new platforms, the community is growing quickly.”