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Tribal Pride Hands-On: A Facebook Game In Progress

Tribal Pride, a Facebook game from Lutopia, launched May 16 with help from the new crowdfunding craze. The game company raised $1,300 from seven IndieGoGo users. To find out what these users bought, we recently joined the 110 active gamers using this ancient history, social-networking based time-waster. Sadly, what we found was a game that's still clearly in the preliminary stages of development.

A game based on history and building ancient civilizations based on cultures around the world, Tribal Pride works on the same Facebook canvas as titles like Mob Wars and Sorority Life where the user must complete a certain sets of tasks, wait for their energy sources to replenish, and then repeat the process with tasks that need ever-higher amounts of energy. This game runs on Motivation points, and every player starts off with a maximum of 10.

When we began the game, we were prompted to choose a culture such as the Maya of ancient Mexico or the Ivrim, who are better known as the Hebrews, to develop from the 13 listed here. The artwork for each culture served as the background once we started. Lutopia commissioned artists from DeviantArt to illustrate  the game, and the paintings are stunning and varied. The screenshot at right shows the Zhongua culture of ancient China by Shinjyu at Deviantart.

Though many of the basic elements, such as tasks and reward systems, which give the user virtual goods for achievements, are present, the application is not as sleek or well-organized as any of the most popular Facebook games. The papyrus font is easy to read, but not smooth or aesthetically pleasing, and the interface is clunky. In order to access different functions such as Tasks or Tablets, we had to hit a link instead of a button, each with a distracting animated symbol next to it.

As you complete "exploration tasks," you are rewarded with decipherable tablets to help you get resources such as wood, land, and access to rivers and secure locations. These resources don't serve a function yet. An "Expedition" tablet is supposed to unlock an event, but events have not yet been implemented.

In order to unlock access to other features, players need to gain levels in "Culture," which they can do by gaining a certain amount of "History." Players must complete tasks, decipher and use tablets to gain history. At each level of culture, we were asked whether or not we wanted to announce the achievement to friends, and then had to choose certain attributes to increase. Motivation, Force, Spirit, Attack and Defense, most of them with undefined functions for now, could all be increased.

Will Power is a currency for paying users to enhance their game experience, which we did not try because most people who play Facebook games do not plan to pay to play, and for those who do, Tribal Pride does not reach that level of addictive entertainment. For now, inviting friends gives no tangible benefits besides a little more speed in completing tasks, but like almost all other games on Facebook, we expect to see that take a larger role eventually.

Tribal Pride’s concept is solid, bringing to mind Sid Meier’s Civilization series without the depth, micro-managing or dedication required to complete the game. The art is nice, but the game developers are emphasizing an educational slant, which we didn't see in play. The difference between cultures only extends as far as custom tablets for each, but a clearer distinction, special advantages and disadvantages would make the game more appealing.

The interface needs to be refined (Lutopia's Facebook page had pictures that showed some samples of a UI that seemed much more organized), the clutter cut out and the events system implemented, but Tribal Pride is on its way to becoming a Facebook game with some real potential.