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So, what do we have here? From the MMO genre there are world divided on gaming zones, in which players can interact with each other, a trading system, a friends list, quests, crafting and of course grinding, there’s never a game without some grinding these days. From the casual genre we see browser-based client (i.e. no installing prior to playing), bright flash graphics (that reminds of me of Dofus, btw) and Facebook integrity, which means you can spam people’s walls with your animals and doings. And, the last but not least aspect of the game – its a-life part.
Faunasphere worlds consists of different cubes (earth, water, gas, sand, trash, etc.), that had been put together in something like flying islands, connected with portal. The player has his own islands which can be decorated and expanded by cubes and items gathered in the gaming zones. Interaction with the world goes through Fauna – many different pet creatures who you need to feed, play with and care about, plus they can breed! There’s a whole bunch of different Fauna breeds and besides levels and abilities they also have a parameter such as “genes”. This is where information about how creature’s look and abilities is coded in, there are recessive and dominant genes (just like in real life), and you can breed your Faunas on will to get the exact look or ability you need it to have. For an additional payment you can get “decoded” DNA of your Fauna so you can see what to await from its siblings.
The main gameplay consists of you telling your Fauna where to go and travelling along the world zones, where you can gather everything that is not nailed down to the background – gather world cubes, dig out plants, take fruits from trees and receive money, experience and special egg points for every action you do. The egg points sum up for every creature and as soon as the number gets high enough, the Fauna would lay an egg with 1 gene in it. Then you need a second adult Fauna to give a 2nd gene to it, and voila – there’s a new baby with genes from the both of its parent!
Now, to the grinding structure. The gameplay means you must go around and gather things, and kill monsters (which appear in form of cubes too), and do it over and over. But here comes in the developer’s experience in social gaming, where a gap between player’s doings and a reward he gets for them – i.e. between those times when a player sees his actions is giving out some results - is much smaller than in “normal” online games. There’s no way you’re going to gather hundreds of items (like in some Korean grind feasts) until something good happens and you see a rewarding experience that makes you resume the playing – no, there’s always something going on in Faunaspere to keep your attention.
Crafting system is also unusual. To create something at your islands, you first need to but an Idea of this item. Then you place the Idea where you want this item to be and put into it different items and pieces of food – for each Idea there’s an assortment of stuff you need for it “to get real”. If you put a Tree Idea, you need a fruit for it to get real into a tree. After several harvests the tree would die, but you’ll have more fruits to plant more trees. You also can built other things which would give you a steady income or some bonuses to your Fauna.
For example, you can build a Totem that will produce stuff. You can’t use this stuff by yourself, but other players can buy it from you and use to get bonuses for themselves (these things used to build mega-structures for every player out there, and taking part in the building grants you tickets, which you can trade for valuable prizes), and if some player happen to buy from you several times he becomes a Patron to you, which gives you bonuses in turn (looks like a piece of social gaming again, a reason to get more friends into the game).
I must also mention that the game runs on a mixed “free to play” with “pay to play” model, in this particular case it means micro-transactions rather than on a separate cash shop, plus you can subscribe for small amount of money to get more Fauna slots and a fixed amount of points to spent in-game. The points are used for buying a variety of stuff in-game, that is mixed with things you can buy for game money. The cool thing is that you can get points not only by buying them for real money, but also by selling stuff to other players who are eager to spend their points like that.
Now, to the technical part. Client loading time is quite short comparing to other browser-based games, and it’s also went through some decent optimization, i.e. even while there’s a lot of items and Faunas on the screen it won’t slow down significantly, and there is no loading times between the game zones. Graphics are quite nice, with pre-rendered backgrounds and dynamically drawn character made out of little pieces. The animating is rather nice and smooth too, looks fine to me. There are sounds, music and even voice acting in this game, and it doesn’t makes you feel like you should drown your speakers ASAP. The interface is simple and could be put hidden like a “Start” in Windows does. There’s also an detailed intro for new players like in a good social Facebook game out there. Ah, and you also can’t die at all – if you’re beaten up, your Fauna just goes back home all tired and sad.
Overall, on my taste, the game is unusual and quite interesting, especially for the younger audience. Big Fish Games has a lot of experience on social games and their support, and this particular game seems to be running rather smooth, because it was released back in March 2009 and is still upgraded with new stuff and bug fixes, almost each week or two.
Online Games in Girl's Eyes