Interview: Ranch Town’s Inspirations

Wild West farming game Ranch Town has really captured our imaginations here at the SGC office. We keep up with and enjoy dozens of games for the purposes of the site, but Ranch Town is one of only a few games that we would continue playing, even if we didn’t write about social games each day. The public seems to feel the same way – Ranch Town has grown slowly and steadily since launch, and is now entertaining over 500,000 monthly players.

We recently had a chance to ask Meteor Games COO and President Donna Powell a few questions about her hit western farm sim, where Meteor draws its inspiration, and what’s next for Ranch Town:

Social Game Central: For those readers that aren’t familiar with Ranch Town, can you give us some background on the game?

Donna Powell: Ranch Town is set in the Gold Rush era. You have claimed a plot of land and it is up to you to make a living. You start with a rather basic set up of a cow and some crops. As you progress through the game you unlock all kinds of machines that enable you to sift river soil for gold dust, catch and cook fish and mine that all important ore.

SGC: Ranch Town seems to take as much (or more) inspiration from Harvest Moon as other Facebook farming games. Where has Meteor Games drawn its inspiration from?

DP: Some of the core mechanics are definitely influenced by Harvest Moon. It is a great game that we have a lot of respect for. The Wild West theme really comes from a nostalgic love old films and playing Oregon Trail. Although fortunately in Ranch Town you are not in danger of dying from dysentery : )

At Meteor, we take our inspiration from anything we feel is interesting and fun. The main theme of Island Paradise is loosely based on the classic tales of Robison Crusoe, Treasure Island and Coral Island. We have also drawn influences from popular culture including Lost and Gulliver’s Island.

SGC: Right now, fishing and mining are done right next to a player’s farm. Is there any chance that down the line players might have to “travel” somewhere (like inside a mine) to perform these activities? Or that players might have to buy or craft a fishing pole or other equipment?

DP: The initial prototype for Ranch Town had an avatar that would run around tending to everything. We are working on releasing that into the game in the near future. [Note: This interview was conducted prior to the Ranch Town farmer debuting.] Your little guy/girl should really have a fishing rod, or at least a net if they are going to try to catch anything!

More advanced crafting, more space and the ability to travel to neighboring ranches are also planned.

SGC: Right now, Ranch Town’s ‘Western’ theme is fairly light. How does Meteor Games intend to give the game a strong Western flavor? Allow standoffs at High Noon?

DP: Haha, pistol fights may be a bit too violent, but we do have a lot of interesting concepts that have yet to make their way into the game. All these features will help build on the Wild West theme and create a more engaging experience.

SGC: Can you give us a sneak peak at any upcoming Ranch Town features? I’m sure our readers would love it!

DP: More space, decorative items and new animals.

We would like to thank Donna for her time, and for her insight into Meteor Games’ creative process.

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