If there's one casual gaming genre that's been missing from Facebook -- it's the hidden object game. If you're not familiar with these games, they generally involve finding a series of objects cleverly hidden inside a lush, colorful scene and -- let me tell you -- they are surprisingly addictive.
So, big applause goes to Playdom, who will be bringing the first fully realized hidden object game to Facebook. The name of the game is Gardens of Time, where you play as a time traveler who hops into his/her time machine and travels to exotic scenes ripped from history, where you will stop and find hidden objects. Players will have a certain amount of energy to spend on playing games (one puzzle might cost, say, 20 energy) and once the energy runs out, you'll have to either buy more or wait for it to regeneration.
Note: Image above is not from Playdom's Gardens of Time, but is an example of a hidden object game.
In addition to the hidden object game puzzles, the game has a storyline with quests that help drive the action forward, and you can show off your design skills by decorating your very own garden with wordly artifacts -- purchased in the in-game store using the virtual currency earned by solving puzzles. There will be plenty of opportunities to buy things using real-life cash as well, including exclusive decor, additional puzzles and, as mentioned before, more energy.
As for the social part of the Gardens of Time, you will be able to give your friends 'hints' that they can use if they get stuck while trying to locate an object, for example, a thermometer hint which will show you if you're getting warm while looking for a particular object or a goggles hint that will highlight the desired object as you get close to it.
You'll also be able to visit friends cities and click on a particular building to play an exclusive new cooperative puzzle with that friend. For example, you will be presented with a timed puzzle and have to find as many objects as possible. Then your friend will have a chance to play the same puzzles as well, and your combined score will determine how many rewards you get.
A competitive element is built into the game as well. The faster you find objects, the more bonus points you'll get -- and once you're done, you'll be able to see how your object finding skills stack up against your friends in a leaderboard.
As for new content, Gardens of Time will refresh bi-weekly, with five new puzzles per update. The game will be out on Facebook on March 31 (or sometime around there) is slated to arrive on mobile in a few months.
Unfortunately, there are no images of the game yet, but Gardens looks pretty fantastic, combining the art style of City of Wonder for the garden (see pic to the right) and lush hidden object scenes with amped up graphics that look like something you'd see in a premium downloadable game, such as Big Fish's Mystery Case Files. In fact, it's surprising that Big Fish hasn't released a Mystery Case Files game on Facebook (even though you could sort of play MCF in the soon-to-be-defunct Treasure Quest), so this game will be filling a big void in social gaming -- and has strong potential to be Playdom's next big hit.