We here at Jayisgames are committed to highlighting the very best in casual games. You know that. But casual means different things to different people, so just what is it that makes a game casual? Some games that we've featured require a large time investment to really get the full experience: The Kingdom of Loathing, Skyrates, The Virtual Villagers series, and of course the upcoming Spore. These games are consistently among the most highly rated by Jayisgames readers. Heck, the top-rated game (as of the time of writing) even requires a $250 console to play. Yet all of these games are considered casual – although you can play them for hours at a time, you don't need to.
So when a game waltzes around calling itself Passively Multiplayer Online Game, we tend to sit up and take notice.
PMOG aims to capture the social dynamic of an MMORPG while remaining accessible to your everyday Joe Gamer. However, it wouldn't be much fun if you could just up and create a top-level character – there has to be some sort of dirty work, some progression by which you earn your stripes. This is the part of the game that usually keeps MMORPGs from staying casual. PMOG solves this problem by tying the leveling process directly to your web surfing. Yes, for every unique URL you visit per day, you will receive 2 Data Points (DP), which function as both experience and currency. You can spend your DP in the store (more on that in a bit), but the game keeps track of the total DP earned over the course of playing PMOG, which directly factors into your character level.
So how do you make surfing the internet into a multiplayer experience? Here, PMOG takes a cue from web trends such as social bookmarking. Players may create missions consisting of a series of related (or not) webpages which other players may take. Missions can serve many purposes: they can provide an introduction to a topic, they can serve as a tour of the very best websites of a certain type, they can form clues to a treasure hunt, and there are even epic missions for which the main purpose is just to rack up a lot of DP. For each player that takes your mission, you receive 10 DP. You can search for missions to take on the Missions Page, or you can let them find you! If you surf to a webpage that someone has included in a mission, a notification will appear and give you the opportunity to accept (or dismiss) that mission.
But that's not all! There are a number of tools available for purchase which add to the interactivity of PMOG:
- Lightposts: Think of these as bookmarks that you place on websites. These are what get strung together to make missions. And that's all they do.
- Portals: Portals are more like wormholes. Place one on a site to provide a direct link to another site.
- Crates: Stash DP or tools in these for subsequent page visitors to loot. They can be used in a variety of ways – to trade goods, to give gifts, or even to provide a reward for solving a treasure hunt.
- Mines: Deploy mines on webpages to damage the next visitor to the tune of -10 DP.
- Armor: Don armor as protection against mines.
- St. Nicks: Playing a St. Nick on a player's profile page will foil their next attempt to place a mine.
Each tool has an association tied to it, similar to a class in other RPGs. The missions you take and the tools you use determine which three associations you belong to. At first, you'll be able to purchase any tool you want in the shoppe, but once you hit level 5, you're limited to buying the tools linked to your three associations. To replenish other tools, you'll either need to change your association or trade for them.
Though it's designed to work passively as you surf the web, PMOG is undoubtedly best when played in the multiplayer realm as much as possible. Someone been give you grief? Have your allies dump a bunch of mines on their profile page! Got some friendly back-and-forth mining going on with an acquaintance? Make it official by marking them as a rival! Support your friends by taking their missions, and surely they'll return the favor.
To play PMOG, you'll need Mozilla Firefox, and you'll need to install the PMOG Toolbar Add-On. Yes, it's unfortunate to have a game restricted to a single browser, but to make your surfing a truly interactive experience requires good integration with a browser, and the open-source nature of Firefox makes it the best candidate for the purpose.
This is only a basic introduction to PMOG; check out their Help Page for more info and game resources. Then sign yourself up, install the add-on, and join the Passivist revolution!
Cheers to slgalt, Jonah, Cirr, and Mike for suggesting this one! =)