Just catching up on freewaregenius and saw this: http://www.freewareg...nd-and-life-mapping/Direct link: http://www.mindbloom.com/#1:
There are no images because Mindbloom being a game, everything is full of animations. If you want pictures, check out the freewaregenius article but IMO it doesn't do it justice.#2:
This won't be a traditional review for the reasons that I feel there are few reviews on game-based services from the perspective of someone being critical of it as a gamification theme i.e. being critical of it as a game rather than a tool w/ addicting elements. I'm no expert on gamification though so there are some parts where I simply add my own interpretation of it.#3:
This review does not include Bloom. The App version of the service. I don't have an Iphone to test that software but judging from the reviews, it's one of the highly rated mobile to-do list apps out there. Someone even said it helped them get through their chemo.What is it?
A web based service mindmap with a database containing some task recommendations. It also hosts a plethora of unique aesthetics and elements not usually seen in web based mindmaps such as full-page pictures and sounds (though I couldn't hear the sounds probably due to my having not restarted Firefox when flash has crashed).
Even if it didn't go the gamification route, it's safe to say this is a mindmap service that stands apart on it's own though whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is up to you as the more childish theme may turn people off who prefer the more simplistic professional look of other mindmaps. At the same time, this is a level of aesthetics that hasn't been attempted in any mindmap service since bubbl.us
came on to the scene.
Remember the ratings below are trying to judge it like a game.Graphics
- 6/10 as a game, 7/10 as a service Pros:
-Gets tutorial right
-Large hover pop-ups
-Unique but well placed icons
-Extremely well placed help textsCons:
-Excessive reliance on buttons
-Being a web based game, it can feel slow but all online mindmaps can be slow
-Small sign out button
As soon as you open the page, Mindbloom gets it right by having THE best gamification based implementation of a tutorial I've ever seen. I'd even go so far as to say it's the first true attempt at gamifying a "Get Started" screen. This is not just your average text sampled over the different screen.
The weakness of this aspect though is that it may even be too "right".
As soon as you click the "Get Started", you're not introduced straight ahead to a bunch of forms. It's like playing an actual game where you're not asked to sign in before knowing how the game controls are.
Unfortunately in an age where most casuals have signed into Facebook, everyone expects the Get Started screen to be a quick tutorial and everyone pretty much expects some form and Mindbloom does adhere to this by having both a basic "Learn More" and of course sign in forms and Facebook logins. These are all necessary features but they all destroy the game immersion of the interface especially as there's no clear distinction of the difference between get started and learn more is except for the color of the boxes.
Once signed up, Mindbloom comes close to being a 9/10 and gets you pumped up to try it out as a game but unfortunately you soon realize the icons/buttons below while clear makes it unnecessarily clunky and there's no way to hide it. (Not that hiding it would be a vast improvement as the point of gamification is for the entire thing to feel like a game first and foremost.)
On the positive side, the two main key actions are found in huge icons of Sun and Droplet icons which is so easy to use, it may feel like you're being treated into a child's game but as soon as you click any of those, you'll see some of Mindbloom's options are scarily absent even in pro versions or desktop mindmapping software.
Besides the obvious implementation of social aspects, there's a search box, there's comments, there's likes, there's pictures, there's a market (using virtual currency), there's quotes, there's music, there's images, there's three privacy settings (friends, me, everyone) - it's not everything you would want in a mindmap but it's chock full of things you expect more from a game than a web service.
The downside here is that there are no keyboard shortcuts I could find and the drop down box is humongous which is what turned me off to the game.
Here's a preview: (remember this is in one
mini-drop box like when sign-up forms asks you for what security questions you want)
As you can see, my god...how did this past alpha testing both as a game, as a mindmapping tool much less a webpage form?
The reason I didn't drop this as a zero is that chances are, I received this massive form, because I added all these as my interests (the max number) so all the sub-categories for those interest got added.
Still...it's such a deal killer for an interface that obviously went through a lot of work.Gameplay
-Addictive for a to-do list/life mapping software
-Utilizes virtual currency in a more proper way for to-do list tasks
-Rewards, while nothing special, do make you want to earn themCons:
-Slow (for a web based game)
-Based on a game where you want to make a guide for it only because it's only half a game, you don't truly want a guide for it which kills the addictive part of it
-Many parts feel tacked on and hidden - Facebook/Twitter client, E-mail service, Task lists
Mindbloom's gameplay could be said as a carbon copy of the Flash series Grow
only without the depth and the puzzle aspect.
Still this is less a con because at the heart of grow is just the concept of there being an order and seeing as Mindbloom used the concept of a plant needing water and sunlight. Water being your to do list and sunlight being your inspiration list then it's not even fair to say that Mindbloom stole the concept of Grow and more that both implemented a game where you are rewarded for seeing something...well...grow
In the end, Mindbloom as far as the concept of gamification is concerned is innovative in that it went to lengths on turning it into a game the lengths I haven't seen before.
It didn't just turn a to do list into a game, it looked at gamifying the social aspect. It looked at gamifying the task aspects. It looked at introducing bonuses to your tasks.
It just unfortunately neither did too much or too little nor did it base itself on an addictive game and so none of it is good enough in any form except for a brief reprieve when you're bored of using your boring old (or newly released) software to-do list.
The type of game Mindbloom based itself on requires a challenge beyond the challenge provided by the contents of your task. By opting for a single living tree (or several living trees if you take advantage of the social feature) the growth of the tree doesn't ever feel dynamic enough to be a reward and most of the screen while dynamic enough to be interesting but static enough that it doesn't eat your browser process alive, still remains too much like those gimmicky relaxation based webpages where you can choose relaxing sounds to play from your browser + some pictures passing by.
In terms of being a mindmap or even a to-do list. It's too slow to be a to-do list and that huge category list is insane. It has lots of innovative tricks to make up for this but no trick can survive a mapping tool that doesn't show the actual maps on a map and no to-do list can survive requiring several clicks just to get to the space where you can write one task down. It does both too much and too little to serve it's use long term.
...still I think it succeeded in it's attempt that's why I rate it 5/10. It introduced enough of a legit gamification depth of design that you can't say it simply combined a game with that of a to do list regardless of the intentions of the authors nor can you say it is gamification simply because it's a tool + a virtual currency. There are elements it added that could redefine social to-do list if not actually introduced the first legitimate version of making a social to-do list and not just a gimmicky to-do list with collaboration and painting it as social.
Hopefully one day the developers will be more prepared. I can't say for sure that they consider Mindbloom a disappointment or not but I think they should be more prepared next time for meeting all the needs that they are planning to tackle with one service. You can't get gamification right and then turn the side pop-up into a tacked on to-do list with aspects of a Facebook type concept but squeezed into a smaller space. Similarly you can't work on great web design only to design the toolbar as if you're adding it for a Cloud Based OS rather than a mapping software. Finally, you can't get most of the gaming aspects right only to base it on a boring game or make it so that you can't even view everything on the actual game section of the games and need the pop-ups just to show the actual to-do list contents or to see the pretty pictures provided for it. It would not streamline the product and that's the most important quality a great website needs to have.