It doesn’t have to always be fun to be fun
I just updated the mini-game for sheep in Golemizer (the previous system was putting too much pressure on the database so sheep were inactive for some time when I discovered the problem). Most players will argue that this can barely be considered as a mini-game since there’s no puzzle here and doesn’t require any skills. In fact most will probably say this is just plain boring and I don’t blame them.
Like any system in Golemizer I don’t expect every players to enjoy it. Some like to sell resources, some like PvP and others have become specialists in room decoration. That’s what I like about Golemizer, there’s a little something for everyone and you don’t have to go through the stuff you don’t like.
So the new mini-game for sheep is simple. You first buy a sheep from a farmer, drop it in your city and then each day you must take care of it until it’s ready to be sheared. Players must train the husbandry skill (wiki will need to be updated) to be able to take care of sheep. Like most skills there are three levels: apprentice, intermediate and expert.
To use the husbandry skill you simply right-click on the sheep and select husbandry. A roll is made against your husbandry skill and then you see the result. The better you are the faster your sheep will be ready to get you some wool (useful to craft clothing) and the most chances you have that your sheep will remain healthy. If you leave your sheep alone for too many days you’ll have a hard time to take care of it and the health of your sheep will decrease (and the quality of the wool you can get as well).
That’s it! Once the state of the fleece reach 100% you are ready to shear it. Again your shearing skill will help you to get better wool.
As you can see it’s very simple and like I said I don’t expect most players to find this system fun. It means that probably few players will have sheep and few will be able to provide wool to others. Clothing are quite popular so there’s an interesting market for players that are more in the merchant game.
But why would a player go through such “boring” task? Because they are not looking at the task itself but at the whole experience of selling wool to other players. Maybe it’s just because they want to be the most popular wool merchant of the game or maybe they just enjoy being the person handling everything to craft clothing.
In Star Wars: Galaxies the process of gathering resources was quite boring and didn’t required much skill. All you needed was a lot of time to scan for the best resources locations and a lot of money to buy extractors. Yes it was boring but there was resource extractors everywhere. Maybe some players were enjoying extracting resources but most were really interested to run their own shop. Master weaponsmiths and armorsmiths were the most popular players on each server and they were making very good money out of it. If you were after fame or just wanted tons of credits to buy the rare loot fighters were gathering than gathering resources wasn’t that bad. Of course once they reached such fame they often had people selling them resources instead. Being able to work for that very famous player was almost an honor.
But why not make the process exciting so the experience becomes even better?! Well that’s not the point. If you focus on some random puzzle game than the focus is not the merchant or crafter experience but the mini-game itself. If you enjoy having your own shop chances are that you wouldn’t care about such mini-games that have little to do with what it could look like in reality. The end result is the fun not the process. The process just end up being fun because you have an objective.
But then it’s boring for other players?! Yes and that’s just fine. There’s no point trying to please everyone with the same single stuff. Give them different things to do but don’t bother to please everyone with a single system. Chances are that you’ll end up pleasing nobody anyway.
Back to Golemizer, there’s something interesting to note about this. The game is heavily focused on crafting yet not all players like crafting but are still enjoying it. For example if you’re into PvP or PvE you want to have the best golems. You can buy them from someone else but most will actually craft their own golems to be sure they are using the best resources possible and because it’s THEIR golems. It’s THEIR creation bashing on the enemy.
If you would ask them if they think crafting is fun they would probably tell you that they don’t. However with a specific goal in mind it makes the experience fun anyway. Could I make crafting more exciting? I guess but I don’t want to. It’s just fine as it is right now and the people that have to enjoy it are already enjoying it. By changing the process I would loose some of those people and there’s no guarantee more players would suddenly enjoy it.
Bottom line? Keep it simple, it’s fun anyway.