Over the past year, there have been a number of Facebook games that advertise themselves as a “Facebook MMOG” or employ MMO features. Only recently have these social games have begun to feel like traditional titles in the genre. The most recent to cross our plate is one from Junebud AB called MilMo, an attempt to hybridize both traditional social and MMOG mechanics with the help of the Unity engine.
A synchronous MMOG with a casual play-style and a bright and cutesy visual, MilMo seems like it could appeal to younger audiences as well as many of the older social gamers on Facebook. Easy to get into and mess around a bit, its quaintness tends to lose its charm rather quickly. All too soon, comes the realization that there is little point what one is doing.
Players control a young adventurer of their own design, traveling around a series of themed islands and completing the “adventures” involved within them. Essentially, this boils down to doing quests for non-player characters. Thus far, however, none of the quests we have seen have gone beyond the standardized “kill X amount of this” or “find Y amount of that.”
Completing the actual tasks is no real challenge. Combat, for example, consists of simply clicking to swing a weapon. Eventually, players appear to earn abilities, and will gain special potions to aide them in battle (though early “battles” mainly consist of crabs and chickens).
As games such as Treasure Isle have shown, exploration and discovery can become a tremendous draw for users. That in mind, MilMo does have an alternative to fighting. One still must do so to complete quests, but there are also times where users can dig for treasure, catch butterflies, and other such non-aggressive activities. There are even exploration tasks where players must search the islands for special tokens.
Actually, this is one of the few parts of interest, as doing so requires the use of special power-ups and environmental items. Scattered about the world are different boosts that allow characters to jump exponentially higher, run faster, and so on. These alone are surprisingly fun to just mess around with, even without the objective of finding items. Pair this up with environmental items that can sometimes be interacted with (e.g. shooting yourself out of a cannon), and this part of the game can potentially be fun.
The word “potentially” is the big qualifier here. There reason is that the only real objective to playing is the quests at hand, which are short-term and small scale. There is no overall purpose for playing, not even a noticeable leveling system. Beyond this, there were no noticeable stats to upgrade, no easy way to spend the in-game currency collected (the game never tells you where to find a store), and no rewards other than said currency. This all equals no sense of progression.
For some, the point might be the social aspects of MilMo, at which it does do a decent job. Beyond the ability to share achievements and discoveries on their Facebook wall, players also get a personal profile that they can use to set status updates, show their mood, and display their in-game accomplishments. There are also specified chat areas, free of monsters, that users can visit any time.
As for our complaints, some might be thinking (or saying) something along the lines of “it gets better later on.” But this is an invalid argument. For a Facebook MMO, even moreso than a standard game in the genre, the hook should come quickly. Though MilMo is still very young, its MAU and DAU data is already starting to reflect this issue, with the former reaching about 261,000 and the latter now declining, having peaked at about 24,674.
In the end, MilMo is an MMOG that utilizes some decent social mechanics, but ultimately comes down to “get quest,” “kill/collect X,” and “get no reward.” There are parts present that could make a decent, free-to-play, MMOG, but as it stands, MilMo has a long way to go.