Quoting its wiki:
MouseHunt is a popular game in which players, referred to as hunters, catch mice with a variety of traps and cheeses in order to earn experience points and virtual gold through passive gameplay. From time to time the developers add new locations and mice as well as sponsor thousands of dollars for periodic giveaways and tournaments. MouseHunt was developed by HitGrab Inc. as a Facebook application and released to a small group for beta testing in early 2008. On 7 March 2008, MouseHunt was officially released to the general public. Just nine months later, MouseHunt earned its creators a $250,000 development grant from Facebook and the game continues to grow in popularity. (from http://mhwiki.hitgrab.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page)
It’s far from easy to explain what kind of game it is….
Let me think… it is clearly a strategy game, but the users play so little that it is hard to call it a game… I’ve been told that it can be called “passive game”…
Well, never mind the names, just give a look at this super-short video. It gives you some hints about the game mood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBm3t_8e-gE. It shows a Dwarf Mouse caught by a bizarre trap while it was looking for some cheese.
What does a user do in this game? They simply arm a trap and place a piece of cheese on it. Then, starting every 15 minutes, they can play the Hunter’s Horn and call a mouse to their trap. If the player is successful in attracting it, the trap might catch the rat and earn an amount of golds and experience points to the player. The game is designed to be extremely long and slow; at the moment, it take a full couple of years of costant playing to clear it. Furthermore, MouseHunt is periodically enlarged through the addition of new world areas, new mice and new traps. And I have not mentioned the events yet; during, Christmas, Easter, Halloween and so on a secret event area is opened and many special rats are released for a limited time.
This screen shows the game’s main page. I provide a quick resume of it. Starting from top/left: the game logo (gold version for premium players), an header showing the current player location (and, when available, the hunter’s horn), various items/quests/options buttons and stats; the greatest part of the page is filled with the trap setup picture and the Hunters Journal, showing the latest game events, showing some of the mice caught and missed.
(Spoiler alert) Here is the current full map of the game. It is made of more than 20 pieces and more than 35 different areas (click on it for a full screen version):
In order to be allowed to travel (and hunt) to a new area, the player has to aquire, by finding it, the related piece of map and the necessary rank. A player progresses are measured in XP and ranks. The higher, the more areas availbles to them. Each area has a different theme and (slightly) different gameplay. For example, the King’s Gauntlet (which is the area from which the picture comes from) is a 8 levels tower, featuring different breeds at each floor. The player has to collect magical potions to produce special cheeses in order to being able to attract the mice of the upper levels. The higher the floor, the rarer become finding these potions and the stronger the rats.
The game offers many other things: crafting items, brewing potions, making friends with fellow hunters, competing in tournaments, climbing the scoreboards, buying and selling items, collecting collectibles and so on.
But, to make it short, the greatest part of the game is: you arm a trap, set some cheese and blow your horn. The mouse arrive, it eats the cheese and might get caught by the trap. Repeat starting from the next 15 mnutes. In my opinion, this makes MouseHunt the perfect game for employees, since it requires only one or a couple clicks now and then.
I really like this game for another reason; it goes on even without me playing. I just don’t know why, but I don’t like very much playing small games on Facebook; I find it a waste of time: why playing simple games for hours, while I could play some AAA on console/pc? For an hardcore gamer like me is a non-sense. In my opinion, MouseHunt is the perfect midpoint. Furthermore, it has funny descriptions, nice pictures and a depth much bigger than expected. It is umbeliveable how much time it can make you talking about it with a group of passionate friends; strategies, suggestions, tactics… a whole bunch of options is always available for every player!
I think I have given you some sort of general idea of the game. Now I would like to try to investigate what makes this game quite popular around the world.
When the player enter the game for the first time, the bright colors and the nice graphics welcome them. MouseHunt look is suitable for any audience, from children to gramps.
Secondly, the game is in English (and some other major languages) which means worldwide covering.
Third, the game starts extremely easily, guided by a basic yet motivating tutorial.
Fourth, it is social and viral. The players are encouraged in many ways to team up with other players and to expand their net of relationships. Furthermore, the player is often offered the chance to publish their success on their Facebook page, both for personal pride and for helping fellow users.
Fifth, it’s free to play. There is no fee or price the player has to pay. It is free and the game can be cleared without paying a cent. If the player decides to pay a sum, they are awarded a proportional quantity of magic cheese and a month-long in-game bonus. Both magical cheese and bonus are not compulsory in order to complete the game. They are of help but not vital. It is not “pay-to-win”.
Sixth, the game is funny and deep. It makes you keep on playing tirelessy for years! HitGrab makes the player loyal and passionate and they feel good for paying a small amount of money as reward for the entertainment. A dollar now and then is fair.
Seventh, each Friday the developpers hold a streaming broadcast, during which they answer some of the players’ questions and give hints of future events and releases. In my opninon, this is a great way for making players feel the developpers as reachable, not as gods or distant entities. Users are able to make suggestions and can freely see the team at work. An official forum also exists; it is constantly followed by some HitGrab guy and it’s the right place to ask for help, both regarding game bugs and advancement problems.
Eighth, the game is periodically widen, with new mice, traps and areas. The enhancement can be minimal (a single new rat in a specific location) or big (a new game feature) or “seasonal” (as already said, Christmas or Easter and so on events). These situations can attract and catalyse the attention of hundreds of thousands of players, altering their game routine inexorably.
I think that this is all for today.
Let me suggest you to try MouseHunt one more time!
Stay tuned for my next post… see ya!
P.S.: right now, there is no Hunter Mouse and, surely, no Haunted Hunter Mouse! 😛
P.P.S.: Clicking Gnawnia Style takes you to Gangnam Style video on Youtube. It is pointless… Just a joke; Gnawnia is the name of MouseHunt main kingdom.