Saturday 16 April 2011

The Pioneer Trail, What The Trailer Tells Us

First up, if you haven't watched the trailer? Go HERE, like the App Page for Frontierville and watch it, it's worth it.

Now, let's take a look at what the Trailer tells us...

The actual game itself appears to be an expedition through multiple areas until you reach Fort Courage, in the trailer we see Beaver Valley, Grand Plains and Avalanche Pass although the final game might have more. A homage to the old Oregon Trail game which entertained so many schoolchildren with it's monochromed pixellation so many years ago.

It definitely seems to be a social addition to the game. First off you have to hire three friends to do three different jobs on the trail:

The Hunter - It seems we'll be taking a more... ahem, direct method of collecting food on the trail. Specifically by having our "hunter" friend gun down passing animals ;)

The Carpenter - Broken wheel? Hole in the Wagon side? Get your Carpenter cutting down trees and creating replacement wagon parts to keep you rolling.

The Doctor - Remember the Prairie Pox? Seems there's a lot of that on the Oregon Trail and if that does happen you need your friend to give you a pickup! So it's time to decide... which friend will look best in a set of scrubs or a nurse's outfit?

So, your friends are all jobbed up and rolling? Hows the game going to play? Well, we can only assume it'll run in the same sort of way as the old Oregon Trail on the BBC Micro.

With a travel button viewable in the bottom left hand corner we're guessing a press of that will move the expedition onwards and take you to the next stopping point, be it simple food hunting, chopping trees or an attack by some new critter such as the promised wolf packs...

As you travel you'll use up food, members of the expedition will get sick and things will break, along with other problems that you'll have to overcome to reach the end, hopefully with the help of your hired friends, traders who sell you wagon upgrades and other items and all the time getting those all important goodies and score doobers that are popping up with everything you do.

There appears to be the promise of social missions on the way, such as putting out forest fires with a bucket chain, as well as being able to leave messages in the same way as we can now with the News Stand.

As for rewards, it seems there's the option to get extra items for your expedition, upgrading your wagon or getting new missions to do as you travel or even get decorations to send home... or some new tendable animals as a cute little wolf cub would suggest.

Thanks to injured animals we've already tamed a bear cub... so something else to watch as it grows? ;)

I think what's interesting is it looks like a much more direct game, a live in the now game, something that'll basically be non stop mission and excitement. This will obviously please the people who are bored with no missions to play as unlike Frontierville's main remit of building the homestead up this will be based solely on action, a Pulp Fiction thriller from the airport bargain bin instead of a Lord of the Rings style trilogy of work.

It'll be a direct source of action as the time goes by instead of the slower "wait for crops, harvest crops, plant new crops" that's the skeleton of Frontierville's main homestead. We've seen how people are loving the idea of pushing up the Finkerton's leaderboards so surely having a scoreboard for the Trail will also tweak people's competitive nerves...

Suffice to say I'm excited. I've played the old classic Oregon Trail and it's a fun little time waster but nowhere near as accomplished or as interactive as this is.

To get one good game is wonderful, to get TWO based around the one theme is a real bonus.

Flash games are not easy to make. That we have Frontierville itself is a compliment to what Zynga have put together, it's easy to point at glitches and problems and totally underestimate the amount of work it takes, the actual difficulty involved, to put a Flash game together.

To then, inside a year, have a completely new game added on, with a different game mechanic and method to it, needs to be welcomed with credit where it's due.

This is looking like a great addition to an already addictive game, and I can't wait.