I've been enjoying a couple of the Facebook games out there lately, but there are some that have me in a quandry. Such as the Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures. According to the game, it is designed so that you can adventure on the go and do any number of other tasks...and it will take care of the work for you. What this means is that you click "Find Adventure" once and come back in a couple of hours to click it again. You can read the outcome of the various moments if you like by clicking "Update Adventure". Of course, if you want to try to play it, it blocks you with a time limit. The adventuring is timed so that you do not advance too quickly, even if you actually want to play the game.
Instead of doing something (creating a farm, matching three, clicking a flower to donate to your favorite eco-organization) you basically let the game play itself with a minimum of interaction. That minimum comes down to clicking "Find Adventure" and perhaps having it use a healing potion if during the course of the turn-based system playing out (with or without your interaction) you happen to fall below a pre-determined point.
To me this seems counter-intuitive in terms of role-playing. My goofy thief is level 11 and I have not done anything to attain it. I have not even read most of the adventure logs since they seemed to repeat. I have not actively (or passively, really) made any decisions about what to do in the adventure. In fact, it isn't even half as interactive as a Choose Your Own Adventure book unless you count picking up the book at the library and letting it play itself as interaction.
Which begs the obvious question: why do you click "Find Adventure" at all? I don't know. Perhaps I wanted it to do something; I was hoping something new would happen. I used to read the adventure logs, but haven't since level 10 since they were largely repeats with a random "rare" occurrence. Having clicked the button, closed the tab, gone back hours later to click again, I don't have a very definitive answer. Rather, I have more questions since it is not addictive. I don't read the adventure logs anymore. And it really has no bearing whatsoever on my FB interactions. My level 11 thief will stay at level 11 unless they delete her or have some sort of reset for people who aren't playing anymore.
Being a Dungeons and Dragons branded game, I really wanted to like it; which I think is why I have clicked "Find Adventure" and let it play without me for as long as I have--about a week or so.
See, it hits the "too casual" low for me. Not only do I not do anything, but there is no reason that I would ever have my FB friends play it. At least FarmTown and Farkle and Bejeweled have a point. I can play Scrabble with others and enjoy it because I'm playing it; I'm doing something. Even if there is not a random non-engaging storyline (that is for the most-part well-written).
So, I have to say goodbye to Tiny Adventures. Its core design was flawed from my experience with it. While I understand wanting to provide a limited, but engaging experience (Legends of Zork is doing a better job of this since I actively have to do something while exploring, even if it is extremely limited in what I'm doing and how I'm grinding); I feel that it has failed completely on the engaging part of the experience, pushing the branding beyond any sense of gameplay or adventuring engagement. There are not "players" so much as readers who don't even have to read during the grind.
Reading FML's or random Tweets or clicking "I'm Feeling Lucky" on Google with random words from the dictionary is more adventurous and fulfilling.