"You've probably noticed that there's no friends bar in the game. It's so stupid," Jeffrey Hyman, co-founder and CEO (and CCO) of Idle Worship creator Idle Games, admits. "This just proves that everyone is so busy fast-following somebody that nobody sort of took a moment to say, 'Why is that in there?' It's always filled with people that have abandoned the game. I can't solve the problem of attrition, but what I can do is remove the corpse off of the welcome mat, so you don't have to step over it every time you come into the game."
It's that type of thought process that seems to have informed every creative decision along Idle Worship's two-year journey to its launch day. Hyman, along with a staff of 80--including co-founder (and sole investor) Rick Thompson of Playdom fame--have crafted a god game for Facebook. Well, technically it's a polytheistic god game, Hyman tells us. In a way, most Facebook games are "god games," but Idle Worship takes that concept to heart every step of the way.
In Idle Games' debut, every player assumes the role of god, creating and ruling over Mudlings, the game's tribal people that are too adorable to crush for some and just cute enough to torture for others. Players are granted various powers over their Mudlings that are designed to increase their faith in Osbornism, Hymanism, what have you. Of course, to keep the faith, players will have to build huts for Mudlings, feed them with fish and keep their Moai (the idol crafted in your honor) in tip-top shape.
Idle Games looks to attract a wide--and surprisingly younger--audience, but the game introduces complex play concepts, like renewable resources, decaying idols and homelessness, to the player gradually. After playing Idle Worship in a preview, whether the FarmVille crowd will latch onto such complexity is a concern, but in the end they will be glad that they did. Idle Worship is one the most technologically advanced and conceptually ambitious Facebook games to date.
While players have their own islands to worry about, the game slowly introduces them to the fact that they're not alone, and that this is not their Facebook game of yesterday. For one, Idle Worship replaces the all too common Friend Bar with a complex, automated system that matches players with like-minded individuals in addition to their Facebook friends. But just because you're friends with players on Facebook doesn't mean you'll see their islands forever.
No, that depends entirely upon whether they play as often as you. Your world map will shift and change over time, reacting to how often those around you play. If your Facebook friends fall off the wagon, their islands will drift further away so that they can't be seen, replaced with islands with like-minded gods that play more often. That's the real crux of Idle Worship: not just playing with your friends, but meeting new friends.
"Some people have said, like, 'I just want to be able to not play with anybody. I want to be able to shield all of my islands,'" Hyman tell us. "And what we've always said, and have the reply for our customer support team is, 'Then this isn't the game for you.'"
Idle Games has secured five pending patents to ensure that you're always playing with others. In fact, it's to the point that it's impossible to play Idle Worship alone, but not in such a way that it feels like a chore. (You won't have to beg other players for much in this game, it seems.) The ultimate goal of Idle Worship is to amass the most followers, and that includes other players' Mudlings. Players have the choice to either curse or bless fellow players' Mudlings into following them with their powers.
The game throws players into situations that introduce them to others, like one power known as the Flick of Despair. This allows players to launch one player's Mudling into another stranger's island. That player will then receive a message that gives him or her the option to respond to whomever flicked the Mudling first, hopefully sparking a connection. Another is the Gold Bomb, a random event that showers gold on a player's island, but also notifies about five other players of the event. Then, those players can steal that gold in real time and maybe give that player's Mudlings a few blessings or curses while they're at it.
This is either to the game's benefit or detriment, but it's nigh impossible to describe everything that Idle Worship has to offer without writing some 2,000 words. It's something that just has to be seen (and played) to be believed. There are so many different, new ideas pumped into Idle Worship, and in such a hilarious and pleasant presentation, like so:
"If you zoom in on your Level One hut, you'll see that there's a little bed and then a stack of basically nudie magazines, a box of Kleenex and a pinup of a female Mudling that will be introduced at a later time," Hyman laughs. "And that's just in your Level One hut."
Idle Worship combines some of the most refreshing ideas ever seen in a Facebook game, all wrapped in a chuckle-worthy package that just screams, "Play me!" But again, what's worrying is whether all of that brilliance will be lost on the average Zynga gamer, Idle Games' target audience. Regardless, Idle Worship is a social game so brimming with fresh concepts and laugh-out-loud humor that you simply must play it to believe it.
Click here to play Idle Worship on Facebook Now >
Are you intrigued by what Idle Worship has to offer? Do you think something this different has a shot at giving Zynga's stable of games a run for their money? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.