Austrian social gaming company Socialspiel launched its debut game Tight Lines Fishing last year. In December, it found itself honored with the title of “Best Social Game 2011″ at the 7th annual German Game Developer Awards, beating off stiff competition from titles such as Wooga’s Diamond Dash and Bigpoint’s Skyrama. In the last month, the game has enjoyed a surge of popularity after a couple of smaller peaks and troughs in user numbers over the course of the last year, with monthly active users currently sitting at 150,000 and daily active users at 4,000.
Tight Lines Fishing casts the player in the role of either a male or female (non-customizable) avatar who has inherited some land from that mainstay of social game stories, their missing uncle. Said uncle used to be a local fishing legend, but since his disappearance the grounds have fallen into disrepair, so it’s up to the player to continue their uncle’s legacy by cleaning up the land, proving their worth as a fisherman and building up a small fishing village in the process.
The player has several options on which they can spend their limited energy. They can explore the grounds, searching trees and under rocks for materials, money and experience. They can clean up trash piles, which rewards the player with “Junk” resources. They can use their Junk and other materials to craft fishing lures or, upon reaching level 40, food. They can build new structures on their land if they’ve unlocked them. Or they can fish.
Fishing is a case of equipping a rod and a lure (both of which may be purchased from the in-game shop, and the latter of which may also be crafted using found materials) and then clicking on a body of water when standing nearby. Initially, the player may only stand on the banks of their land’s river or lake to cast off, but later in the game they get the opportunity to restore an old pier, allowing them to fish in deeper waters. Upon casting off, the silhouette of a fish will be seen approaching the lure, and when it “bites” a small timing-based minigame begins, with an indicator sweeping back and forth across a red and green meter. Players must click the mouse when the indicator is in the green to successfully reel in the fish, with bigger and more valuable fish having a smaller “sweet spot” for success. It’s a simple system that means the player is a little more involved and engaged in the fishing process rather than simply clicking and waiting — and the possibility for failure adds some excitement and tension to the game.
The player is walked through their first few tasks via a tutorial, but before long they are let loose to pursue their tasks as they see fit. As usual, quests populate the left side of the screen, meaning that there are usually several directed tasks on offer to complete at any one time, including building, fishing and crafting challenges. This means that when the player’s energy for fishing and searching runs out, they can spend some time building or crafting instead. Energy does seem to run out a little quickly, but is replenished upon every level up, and its upper limit is also increased every couple of levels, providing a strong incentive for players who want to play more to progress. The energy system is, of course, monetized, allowing paying players to play for longer by purchasing “food” items.
The game is well-monetized all round, in fact. There are plenty of items on offer for non-paying players to purchase using soft currency, but the best items are hard currency-only affairs. These include stronger stat-boosting equipment and even structures which automatically produce resources that the player would otherwise have to expend energy searching for. Many of these are locked behind level gates, however, meaning that the player must progress beyond a certain point before being able to take advantage of these facilities, encouraging gradual progress rather than a “pay to win” scenario.
Tight Lines Fishing is a strong offering that combines fishing and building gameplay to create a satisfying, if slow-paced, experience. Its distinctive visuals, clear tutorials and fun gameplay mean it will likely enjoy some success, though its sedate pace and (arguably) niche subject matter may limit its mass appeal a little. Since the middle of last month, the game has been showing some healthy growth, however. To follow its progress, be sure to check out AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
A fun combination of fishing and building gameplay with a broad-ranging, fair monetization strategy.