Overview: Car Madness 2 is a game that brings the excitement of street racing to the Facebook scene. The design uses a fairly standard leveling system that unfortunately comes across a little forced; the premise doesn’t really match the way the game plays out.
What It Does Right:
Photos: The sense of actual cars that the player owns, and the use of our society’s pre-existing pride in our cars, is very savvy. Using photos and names of real cars, the game has very nice-looking art (design teams work for a long time on making cars look good) that will almost certainly be appreciated by the game’s target audience.
Battle Centered: The interest in the street racing scene is primarily about the competitive urge. Having this game’s primary interest revolve around the process of racing against other players is a good decision. More generally, if you have a specific audience, make sure your product serves that group’s needs first.
Madness: The title got me to look at their store. Having a good name for your store can make a big difference in whether or not players look in on it.
New, and Uncertain Value
Viral Ultimatum: This is a risky maneuver. Car Madness 2 has a vast majority of their content absolutely unavailable unless the player is bringing friends into it. A few other games with almost identical gameplay design permit the player to move forward on almost everything alone, though much of it’s faster with a group.
The same could be done in a much less aggressive manner if the players you invited were not required to accept and keep the application; if instead you simply had to decide these were the friends of yours you wanted proxies of in the game. As it is, even if I am interested in all the game’s content, if my friends aren’t okay with allowing the app I simply can’t play most of the game.
Collection: Certainly the idea of collection isn’t hugely novel (the phrase “gotta catch ‘em all” comes to mind), but I haven’t seen much of it in the Facebook App medium. Here, I’m still uncertain what the purpose is to collecting these treasures. If the design explicitly says what I get (even saying “a mystery prize” is better than saying nothing on the topic), then that collection could become its own kind of quest.
What Could Use Work
Theme Matching Play: A quick racing animation would go a long way to letting the player feel the excitement of the races. If the designers have an algorithm for making “traction,” “power,” and “aerodynamics” important on different tracks or during different races, and could have that play out in the course of an animation, it would be downright fantastic.
Keeping the Excitement: Sure, it might be an authentic part of the life, but having a mission be “pizza delivery” doesn’t inspire me, and it’s not what I’d call a “racing tour.” It’s not even what I’d call a racing tour for level 1 racers. The big racing hill just outside town is the kind of racing tour for a racer who hasn’t made a name for himself. ”Make Donuts” makes even less sense.
Story: It’s not present, and anyone who’s seen the “Fast/Furious” series of movies knows that a story definitely can be present in a street racing environment. Right now it makes little sense that the player can’t go to Miami when the game starts. But if there’s a story the player understands from the first moment why: Because the story hasn’t gotten to that part yet.
PvP Racing Achievements/Locks: As a game that calls so much for the competitive edge, Car Madness 2 would do well to have several missions scattered through its various cities that require a certain number of wins in races against other players, possibly even wins against certain kinds of cars. If they develop their stories, they could even include an extra story for players who win against enough other players. Fundamentally, if you’re going to make a game that uses competition so heavily, you should include serious rewards (see also: content) for players who go in for that competition. Money and xp, which are available for a player who never challenge others, aren’t sufficiently different.
Balanced XP Gain: The xp value for racing other players is so huge, and the xp for playing the regular content so small, that the player completes both level 1 missions before he’s even halfway to level 2, but if he does just a few races with other players (which, lacking animation, should at least have some sense of how the game came to its decision of who won written out: “Bobo’s car resists the crosswinds with its better traction! Winner!”) he gains a level. By the time one runs out of Stamina for racing other players, one has gained three or four levels. At which point, of course, there’s nothing to do unless you bring your friends in.
To Balance It: Lower the xp gained from racing other players to about half the current rate. Increase the number of missions available at each level. Rather than naming the missions after activities, in this case, I would name them after tracks or courses. Also, provide multiple tiers of mastery to each mission, with prizes (probably parts of the collection) for hitting each tier, so that your players want to go on missions even when they’ve already hit 100% in that mission. Doing so multiplies your game’s compelling play time without your having to generate loads of new content right away.