The Massachusetts-based studio has spent the past year working on the title, part of an ambitious effort to change how location-based games on mobile devices work. Founder and CEO David Bisceglia wrote an in-depth guest post for us back in February, discussing the lessons developers can learn from earlier efforts in the genre and where future titles are likely headed.
Like many location-based games, the basic idea behind Tiny Tycoons is to become a virtual property holder, accumulating businesses and hiring friends to work within them. However, a quick play-through of the game reveals there are deeper mechanics to take advantage of, like working at said businesses and being able to travel around the game world via airline tickets (which can also be gifted to other players).
Bisceglia tells us the game is designed to tap into the “Risk-element” of buying one’s favorite places and then using them to generate in-game gold. Players perform jobs to level up the businesses, building them into skyscrapers and engaging in light RPG gameplay as they earn experience for completing in-game quests.
The game monetizes through the sale of hard currency, which is then used to purchase avatar vanity items (we have yet to discover any bow ties, though) or can be exchanged for in-game materials (which takes the place of energy needed to perform jobs) and airline tickets.
The Tap Lab’s team of nine people has been working on this game for over a year. Bisceglia tells us this is due to the team creating a brand new map system by utilizing Open Maps, an open source online map system, and adapting the look and feel of these maps to the game.
When asked what the biggest challenge in Tiny Tycoons’ development was, Bisceglia says, “Hands down, it’s just how to solve all of the challenges that come with making a location-based game. It was two years of really just attacking these problems and realizing Google Maps just didn’t cut it for the experience.”
Aside from Tiny Tycoons, The Tap Lab also has another game that it’s working on. However, this game is still int he prototype stage and Bisceglia can’t share any details about it yet.
“There’s a spark; when a player realizes they’re able to interact with the places that mean something to them, it sends shivers down your spine as a gamer,” he explains. “There’s this little secret weapon we have in terms of retention. When you’re in a new area on planet earth, say a bar with your friends or on vacation with your family, there’s a little light that flips on… that spark is something only we have as location-based games.”