One of the more fascinating elements of Web 2.0 is the creation of computer applications for social networking sites.
Of late, this author created a personal page on facebook.com, and granted access to one such application called Dungeons & Dragons Tiny Adventures. Loosely based on the fourth edition (4e) of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game and offered free of charge to Facebook account holders, Tiny Adventures is less of an actual game as it is a diversion, as the player’s involvement is minimal. But the application creates a level of interest in what may happen next to a given hero, and about what treasure that hero may obtain from various encounters; in addition, playing characters in succession “unlocks” availability of new powers, character classes and other advantages, generating further interest in character advancement.
Another aspect of Tiny Adventures involves recruitment of Facebook friends also to install the application. Friends who are running the application simultaneously can “buff” other online friends to provide bonuses during encounters, or to heal heroes between adventures.
The application is simple to use. You select a hero or heroine from 16 initially provided, do some preliminary equipment shopping, choose a text-based adventure to embark upon, and choose up to two potions for the trip. Thereafter, once every 10 to 15 minutes, a new event becomes available; you click on the “update” button to read what happened to your hero, for weal or woe, discover if the hero sustained any injuries, and learn about any treasure or experience points gained.
The game’s frequently asked questions (FAQ) listing explains the sporadic nature of the unfolding events as an intentional design decision, citing that “It’s not healthy to do any single activity for hours on end, so we have provided Tiny Adventures as a fun game you can use to intersperse in your other activities.”
Fortunately, the events continue to unfold whether you click each time one becomes available or not, so it isn’t necessary to “babysit” the application if a more important or interesting activity emerges. Clicking “update” reveals all encounters that came to pass since the last update.
As your hero gains experience levels, quests of correspondingly higher level become available. according to a user-created wiki about the application, there are 42 different quests at the start of the game, each presenting a different mix of terrain and story encounters that rely upon armor class, attack, and ability checks for success or failure. Many adventures are geared toward the strengths of specific character types, gravitating toward attack and strength checks or intelligence and dexterity checks, for example. While there is nothing to prevent ay character from choosing any available quest, some players review the wiki to determine if their heroes are suited to a particular adventure, or to see what ability-enhancing potions their heroes should imbibe to maximize the chances of successful encounters.
The adventures are created only for experience levels one to 10; as soon as a hero would reach the eleventh experience level, he or she retires, and the player can begin with a second hero. This “second generation” hero begins play with one item from the first hero’s inventory, and starts over with first-level quests. As more heroes are brought from level one to 10, additional benefits are unlocked. For example, this writer’s current hero is fifth generation, so the first four unlocked benefits include the ability to pass on an item from one generation to the next; expanded selection at “The Shop,” where magical and mundane equipment is bought and sold; the ability to use class-specific powers, like the cleric’s healing or the warlord’s ability to “shake it off”; and the availability of “Ironman mode,” where a hero injured only once is considered killed. It is this writer’s understanding that completing the fifth generation unlocks additional character classes, such as the sword mage.
Of course, no product is free of drawbacks, and Tiny Adventures is no exception. First, users must be comfortable with the application having access to their Facebook accounts, for the purposes of Tiny Adventures account management, posting players’ progress to their friends and similar functions.
Secondly, the sporadic play and “point-and-watch” elements of the game can seem a bit lackluster, although those of us old enough to remember the golden age of text-based computer games may experience a touch of nostalgia.
Lastly, while granting friends the ability to heal and “buff” comrades is a nice feature, there is no way to transfer items from one friend to another, so this writer’s cleric can’t pass on the set of Illithid Robes he found to a friend’s mage.
Still, Dungeons & Dragons Tiny Adventures does an admirable job of doing what it set out to do: create an interesting, but not absorbing, game to play between other tasks, and Facebook users who enjoy Dungeons & Dragons would probably enjoy it as well.
To install the application, click here.