I’m all for pushing the limits of what is considered a game, but cloud platforms are taking the cake. It is unlike any game you have played before. It is the type of game that becomes your only hobby, or you immediately hate.
One way to think about the cloud platform genre is a mash-up of several other genres. There are co-op systems where one works with others. It is very much SpaceChem where there is a fixed target to achieve, but the solution must also be optimized. And finally, it has RPG elements with an overarching main quest with many side-quests.
The overall goal is to keep the production system running and producing value. What exactly is value depends on the seed with which the instance was generated. Often the value is serving a product or service that millions of users rely upon.
How one achieves the goal is the game. Cloud platforms offer many pre-built systems, which one pieces together to build and maintain production systems. Cloud platforms try to overwhelm the player with too many systems. Each system has its quirks. Some play along with each other; others do not. Some even seem to fight the player's ability to be actively understood.
Given how many different ways systems can be put together, eventually, as a player, one can muddle their way through into making a production system that works, but that is only half the game. The other half of the game is to optimize the system.
The primary goal is to simplify systems, as this has a compounding effect on the future. The quests we pick up in the future will be far more easily solved as most of them are about modifying the existing production system. What is simple is an entire game in itself. This is why cloud platforms are co-op games. We need to debate each other on what exactly is simple.
Another optimization is to reduce costs. This is often already offered as a side-quest but ties into the optimization game. How cheap can we build a production system while achieving the desired value?
Often there are hidden goals that are unclear by simply looking at the production system. This is where the metagame of the cloud platform genre shines. One has to talk to other people in real life to figure out the production system’s actual goals. This is another co-op component.
Completing a single side-quest unlocked much more content. Suddenly the other players will be clamouring for more improvements to the production system and offer more quests. After reducing cost, the business player will point to the next most costly part of the production system as the next quest. And while the users are often silent, the user experience designers speak for them and offer their quests. One will often find themselves breaking out the spreadsheet to determine which side-quest better contributes to the main quest line.
Perhaps the strangest aspect of the cloud platform genre is the monetization model. One doesn’t play the game, nor is it free to play with ads/micro-transactions. Instead, one is paid to play. This game can be played as a full-time job that pays above average! What is stranger even, the game studio that made the cloud platform isn’t the one paying you; it is, in fact, another player. These other players want to finish the game quickly and are willing to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for entire teams to play for them.
Do you want to play cloud platforms? You’re in luck, Battlefy is hiring.