After a very stressful few months and with an extremely busy festive period coming up, my gaming time has been reduced to almost zero. When I do have a few hours spare to game, I just can’t seem to get into anything, flitting from game to game and not really relaxing or immersing myself. I stumbled upon a free to play game that launched on Steam in November, called Occupy White Walls.
To say it’s a PC sandbox-building, AI-driven MMO where people play with Art, developed by people who really love architecture and abstract characters… would be a bit of a mouthful.
We could have named it ‘World of curation craft’, or ‘Clash of artistically and architecturally curious people’ but we chose Occupy White Walls.
OWW for short.from https://www.oww.io/
In Occupy White Walls you start off with a blank canvas. Well, a blank piece of space carved out of nothing really. You buy artwork from the current catalogue and plonk down walls to display it on. You place it on display, frame it and stand back to admire your handiwork (or Van Gogh’s handiwork as the case may be but really, you deserve the credit here). Buying artwork levels you up, which in turn, unlocks more walls. Not just walls mind you, but ceilings, floors, pedestals, furniture, windows, doorways and more – the tools to create an entire art gallery in a variety of architectural styles from classical to modern to weird oddball futuristic. You have to open your gallery to the public in order to earn money, which trickles onto your desk in little blue stacks. After 30 minutes, your gallery automatically closes and the money stops coming in until you open it again.
Spend your stacks on expanding your gallery bigger and bigger and becoming an architect, designing it however you please and displaying more and more artwork within. And so, it grows.
That’s Occupy White Walls really – it’s about showing your own artistic vision through architecture and curation. It’s simple on the surface, but will suck you in until you realize you’ve been playing for hours and your husband is asking you if you’re going to bed. Just a minute you say, and two hours later you’re still building…
You can also visit other peoples galleries even if they’re offline, and you can open them up to the public for them, allowing you to get some brownie points in with your friends as they’ll log on to some much welcome cash for expansion. There’s both a global chat and a gallery chat in game and every time I’ve been online the chat has been flowing, so you can scratch that social urge whilst building beautiful things.
Occupy White Walls is currently free to play with no micro transactions – so completely free, although the developers have mentioned that they do intend some monetization in the future (as they should, since these servers are perpetually online for anyone to visit any gallery!) but in a fair way, as yet to be determined. The developers are active on the game Discord, Steam forums and chat in-game and I’m really looking forward to future updates with more items and changes, as well as seeing what kind of designs the community comes up with. I’d be quite happy to buy content packs for this in the future.
If you decide to download it and give it a try (why wouldn’t you? It’s free!) feel free to teleport to my gallery – predictably named Athravan – and leave me some feedback. Here are some screenshots of my work in progress – I’ve been playing the game casually for about two weeks at this point and have just been experimenting with building in different styles whilst leveling up! I’m not sure what my final vision is yet but I’m enjoying the journey and may decide to raze it to the ground and start again in the future.
The main downside is that as a free to play game it is time-gated in that you can only earn money in 30 minute cycles and you never quite have enough for what you want to do. At the beginning of the game it’s actually much better to simply open your gallery for 30 minutes, AFK, come back, check your money, buy art to level up and repeat – as at a higher level you’ll have a higher income stream. That’s not massively fun, although it can be easily done in the background whilst doing other things. The fun comes when you’ve unlocked a decent chunk of items, have a bulging wallet and are ready to get building. My worry is that as your gallery gets bigger, the costs scale higher and higher and the grind is going to detract from the actual gameplay.
Personally I’d prefer to pay a lump sum for the game and have a faster financial cycle, but I understand that making it free makes it accessible to everyone and increases the player base of a game that benefits from the social experience. If you can play with a group of folks who are willing to open each others galleries then your income will be greatly increased and there is a lot of potential for social features and group building here!
It is a work in progress, so there are a few bugs and some minor frustrations as well as some quality of life improvements needed, although I’ve already seen a patch that fixed a fair few things and added new content in the weeks I’ve been playing.
Ultimately, this is an incredibly niche game, for those who enjoy architectural creation and artwork. I’ve had quite a few people notice me in game and ask for a description with mixed responses, whilst my attempts to get my husband to even launch the game have failed – so it’s not for everyone, but my kindred spirits are going to love it as much as I do. Although it’s quite slow to play, it’s well made, intuitive, addictive and incredibly relaxing, which is just what I was looking for right now. If the idea of building an art gallery in your personal style, piece by piece, and then selecting artwork from a large catalogue to display appeals, then you need to give it a shot!