Playdom looks for second hidden object hit with Blackwood & Bell Mysteries

Disney Playdom is far from done with hidden objects after Gardens of Time‘s smash hit success. Launching this week is the developer’s second Facebook game for the genre, Blackwood & Bell Mysteries.

At the core, the game plays like Gardens of Time — players complete levels by finding lists of hidden objects and increase their level by decorating a virtual space with items they buy or acquire through gameplay and friend gifting. Blackwood & Bell, however, puts more of an emphasis on story and narrative, connecting story progression to special objects that players must find in scenes to advance the plot. Additional modes like one-on-one multiplayer will also be added to the game post-launch. Beyond gameplay, however, Blackwood & Bell features a darker, more sinister atmosphere than its predecessor, which is how Disney Playdom plans to differentiate the game from Gardens of Time and all the other hidden object games that have launched on Facebook since.

“We hope it overlaps considerably with the Gardens of Time audience,” Playdom Executive Producer Joey Klein tells us. “We’d be really excited if this can broaden the market with its edgier feel. Each chapter will have a distinct feel and it’ll be a little darker — we’ll toe the line between actual reality and fictional exciting characters like vampires. That’s where this game fits into the space.”

Incidentally, story and narrative were how developer Making Fun hoped to set its hidden object game, Hidden Haunts, apart from Disney Playdom’s Gardens of Time. With so many developers trying to break into the genre, it’s not surprising to see similarities like this between new hidden object games. It’s even less surprising to see that both Blackwood & Bell and Hidden Haunts draw some inspiration from classic downloadable games that dealt in similar themes of mystery and tension — like Big Fish Games’ Mystery Case Files.

Klein acknowledges that social game developers are often inspired by downloadable games because they were so successful. His real fear for Blackwood & Bell, however, is its inevitable comparison to Gardens of Time. “The theme and the story and the small tweaks make a better game overall,” he says. “By having a deep storyline with interesting characters you meet along the way — we hope it keeps players engaged for a long time. It’ll be interesting to see how the target market changes with the theme.”

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11 Responses to “Playdom looks for second hidden object hit with Blackwood & Bell Mysteries”

  1. tbcali says:

    Personally think Hidden Haunts made a huge leap in their photo realistic scenes. No Facebook HOG even compares to the production value that Hidden Haunts offers.

  2. Kathleen Spears says:

    I play Gardens of Time both on Facebook and Playdom.com. The last month or so,especially on Playdom.com, this game has been suffering with glitches,no awarding of prizes and lost articles already placed in the garden. A good number of players are dissatisfied to the point of going elsewhere to play, when I say “elsewhere” I mean away from any Disney/Playdom associated game. With this new game being launched I see why they “Disney/Playdom” have abandoned the millions of players worldwide that play Gardens of Time. Good luck to them “Disney/Playdom”, with this bad reputation they are getting because of their treatment of the Gardens of Time players, they are surely going to need it. for me personally I have little faith in their “Disney/Playdom” ability to sustain the quality of work and talent the “Playdom” developers created. Oh for the days of before “Disney” Playdom was a great game source.

  3. Darryl (garnddude) Miller says:

    I agree with Kathleen on every point. If I hadn’t started playing Gardens of Time when it was first released and achieved a very high level I would have quit some time ago. The game is slow, full of glitch’s, a lot of the games parts aren’t working or aren’t working properly and support has been atrocious. Really hope Playdom/Disney get it together soon.

  4. Bebe Overmiller says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Kathleen & Darryl on every aspect. Like them, when I first joined the Gardens of Time, it was a great fun game. Now we’re all dealing with no claim boxes for either gold or regular prize, chat feed & scenes are so slow or frozen, one has to refresh a number of times. Not to mention submitting numerous “tickets” for support help. It has gotten to the point where the players are trying to “fix” the problems in order to just play it…very tedious and frustrating to the point we just leave Gardens of Time/Playdom and play other games on other websites. Playdom really should provide better support to all its players who made is possible for Gardens of Time to be as popular as it is….or I should say “was”.

  5. Kathryn (wordsmithalpha) Aldridge says:

    I agree with the above comments/complaints. I play on both Facebook and playdom; and last year, Gardens of Time achieved the status of “most popular online game”. At this point, however, I’m sure that title is in serious jeopardy. Not knowing anything about programming, I assumed that the hourly tournaments were “automated”. In the past couple of weeks, however, it has become clear that they are NOT. So many problems have erupted that the list is too long to mention. The most glaring, however, include: 1) People not receiving gold that they bought. 2) Tournaments in which no one has been awarded the prize they played for. 3) No gold tournaments at ALL. 4)Points not registering. I have counted clicks and scenes played up to 50 while the point total stays at 0. Then, all of a sudden, the point total will jump to 30 or 40. This results in someone having played as many as 75 points, when the counter stays at 29…resulting in the player NOT winning the prize. And what does it matter, anyway, when the prize box doesn’t even drop at the end? 5) Although new chapters are now being introduced every week, no solution to the “space problem” has been implemented. New “gold” items are introduced, with nowhere to PUT them. As a result, our pretty “gardens” have turned into junk heaps filled with buildings, instead of actual garden items such as trees, flowers, animals and pathways. Although I have suggested for months (in the forum and by direct communication) that they redesign the game with six smaller gardens, using the already extant chapter format, I have seen no evidence that they’ve implemented this suggestion…or any other solution to the ever-growing space problem.

    As a result of all the frustration, I’ve seen evidence that HUNDREDS (and perhaps THOUSANDS) of players have given up on the game and gone on to play other online and/or Facebook games. And, for many players, that frustration has turned to anger…which has severely impacted the mood of players in the chat feed. As a result, what was once an entertaining and happy “escape” from the real world, has turned into a vicious, backbiting free-for-all.

    I understand that Disney/Playdom has to make money on this venture. And perhaps the success of Gardens of Time is what inspired them to create yet ANOTHER hidden object game. And it looks to be a rather interesting game, as well. But, considering that Gardens of Time is still a “beta test” site, why would they invest so much time, energy, and money in a NEW game while leaving thousands (and perhaps hundreds of thousands) of dedicated players literally “out in the cold”? Personally, I have no intention of trying out a NEW game until they fix the ORIGINAL one.

    I have posited that the game is really a social experiment run by behavioral scientists who watch our every move and response to the continual “glitches” that they’ve foisted upon us. Instead of an entertaining escape, the game has become a continuous and maddening source of frustration! PLEASE, playdom, fix what you already HAVE. I seriously doubt that the dedicated Gardens of Time players will risk their emotional stability on a NEW game.

  6. SRA says:

    Blackwood & Bell Mysteries seems to be GOT with slightly different graphics!

  7. Robert John says:

    I agree witht eh others about the games. I play City of Wonders and for the last 3 weeks the game has glitched so bad I’m not play as much. If I was a not as high leveled that I am I would have left. I was playing the game on Facebook but it got so bad I quite playing there. Personally they need to fix the problems with the games they have before introducing new games. Every time I submit a ticket the reply is “Sorry about you not getting your prize.” How sad it is that they are more worried about porducing something new install of satifying the current people

  8. The BBC tries hidden objects with Jane Austen-inspired Rogues and Romance says:

    [...] Playdom announced it would be following up its runaway hidden object hit Gardens of Time with Blackwood & Bell Mysteries; last week News Corp-owned Making Fun launched its photorealistic take on the genre, Hidden Haunts; [...]

  9. Sydney says:

    As an administer of 2 groups I can fervently state that everyone in GOT world is thoroughly fed up. The “crystal” chapters took it over the top.

    I agree with all of you.

    According to what I have read, a lot of the Playdom employees walked when Disney took over. Hence the even worse customer service.

    The vast majority of my two groups intend to boycott any further crystal chapters, B&B and those in the “Inner Circle” will cancel.

    When I started playing GOT 3/11 there were ~2.7mil GOT players and ~690 Playdom employees (for all Playdom games). The players have reduced to ~2.1mil and I suspect the number of QUALIFIED employees has done the same.

    So sad that such a fun game is going to get trashed by greedy, non-caring people.

    And as they say at the end of each and every phone call that I have made to Disney regarding my fellow players’ plights (with no help or direction rendered)….

    “Have a Magical Day”
    -Sydney

  10. This week’s headlines from across Inside Network says:

    [...] Playdom looks for second hidden object hit with Blackwood & Bell Mysteries [...]

  11. The hunt for hidden clues on Facebook begins again with Blackwood & Bell Mysteries says:

    [...] the line between realism and popular mythology such as vampires. Executive producer Joey Kline told Inside Social Games that he hoped the new game would “broaden the market” but also “overlap [...]

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