From wikipediaTo know what Furcadia is, simply read wikipedia. Among other things :
- up since 1996, that makes it the oldest still up MMO
- F2P, bonus items can be bought IG or on a special website
- users create content (integrated in what is called a "dream")
- anthropomorphic (cat, ferret, cow, bug, ...) avatars
- only 1 server, 4K player-peaks, current average of 2K
- player-brought content called Dreams
ExperienceWhat follows is what I experimented, it is definitely subjective (that's what I felt) and biased (the current "context" I experimented this game is maybe very different from yours, were you to experiment this game by yourself).
Since it's free to play, let's try it.
AvatarsArriving in the world, as usual, I have to create my avatar. Multiple avatars are possible on an account. Considering the possible character customizations (animal, gender, colors ...), everyone tends to look the same IG. Maybe is it because this game is quite old. Also in Ultima Online I found players looked quite the same, and these games use comparable graphisms. Moreover, almost all avatars' gender I met where "unspecified" (between male and female). Except me, I found no male avatar. Failry normal : "Women are social beings, like men, but social" (DB, June 2009).
Meeting peopleObviously, what do people do in MMOSG? They socialize. Actually, I found more people AFK than really present. Lots had a profile "currently at work". During my 20 minutes IG, no one talked to me. Some people were busy talking privately, surely in private channels or somewhere hidden from me. A few people publicly talked, in a slave language with weird characters - that could have been Russian.
After a while, I found a character asleep on cushions. Her name was Natial and she was, like many, from an undetermined gender. What was most striking was the description of her avatar displayed in my dialog bar (click on the screenshot to see it). Following the link written in her description, I felt on a website displaying her sexual, Furcadia-animal and some little other tastes. Obviously, this must be written to RP, but when people have to choose a background for their avatar, they quite often put sexual content. Maybe is it because they hardly dare mention such things IRL?
DreamsDreams are a very good idea. World areas brought by players can be a very valuable addition to the game experience. In Second Life, some players/inhabitants have carved or drawn wonderful artworks. But in Furcadia, the Dreams are actually pretty ugly (see the 2 screenshots). Maybe I went inside the worst dreams of the server?
Dreams are scripted by players. The interface is a basic notepad with a window containing triggers and effects. trigers, conditions and effects available remind me of Age Of Empires 2 scenario editor triggers. This tool is definitely not made for expert developers (compared to WoW LUA macros and add-ons for instance). Dream content is uploaded by players who have created the dream. An avatar enters a dream through a "warp", a white grid-cell on which he walks. When a player enters a dream, the content is downloaded. I hope for the server that the content is sometimes stored somewhere on player's computer, and not reloaded from the server each time the player access the dream. It is possible for player to access URL through the game. Websites can be displayed through the player default web browser automatically when going into a dream, when clicking on a link in an avatar description, and maybe in other ways I do not know.
ErgonomyThe interface for walking is not very friendly : mouse left-click on an adjoining grid-cell or arrow keys to move, but the "pavement grid" is diagonal/in staggered rows, so pushing "up" makes your avatar go top-right ... Pretty bad, but I think players can get used to that in less than a few hours playing.
Business ModelConsidering the current dragon-avatar prices and the amount of people having a permanent dragon avatar, I understand how the game can survive. I honestly do not know if Furcadia owners are getting rich with their game, but I can believe this business model works sufficiently well.
Also, I have seen IG quite many avatars having a customized portrait. The cost is between $5 and $10 depending on the amount of slots bought at the same time. Furcadia is certainly old, but looking at the amount of virtual items they offer through their real shop, I believe their Business Model must have worked well. And I do not understand why the wikipedia page concerning micropayment still mentions MMOs use micropayment : $5 is way too much to be considered as micro (according to wikipedia thousands of micropayments are needed to reach a dollar scale).
- soppy, mushy : after having read a lot of avatar descriptions such as "[Single, not looking]", "Heart-shaped face of seductress, or "if there's anything, just ask me [I might not be around]". Moreover, the game owners have had sufficient funds (through their real shop) to have their game still up. That means many people have bought goodies. And I dont like goodies ...
- small-range socialness : definitely an MMOSG, if you want to know new people, you have to move on. But that's a game, so it is easy to dare do something.