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Thread: A terrific deconstruction of Farmville

  1. #1
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    Default A terrific deconstruction of Farmville

    Link:

    http://mediacommons.futureofthebook....play-farmville


    An entanglement of social obligations? Really? I've never played, but I dread to imagine. It would be a very dark path for games to descend.
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    Bravo. This article elegantly articulates a concern which I've personally held for quite a while.

    My favourite quote:
    we must learn to differentiate sociable applications from sociopathic applications: applications that use people’s sociability to control those people
    Too true.
    Inventive Dingo
    Mayhem Intergalactic - streamlined space strategy game

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    My theory is people play farmville (and even rpg games where your character becomes more powerful/better equipped) because it gives an illusion of becoming richer, and as humans we "genetically" get pleasure from becoming richer, regardless of what we can practically do with those riches.
    It's ragdollsoft.com
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    Daniel James? of three rings did a nice talk at GDC where he talked about social games and right near the end of it he talked about his unease with some of the ethics of current social games.

    Frankly, the zynga boss is a sleaze and I'd urge everyone to read what he's said to get a picture of what his motivations are. But lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Social games CAN have an impact in a positive manner just as it can be manipulative. The fact is that social games play to an inherent socio-psychological need. The things we can learn from the psychology of play can be used in plenty of other games too.

    As ragdollsoft mentions, there are plenty of other psychological factors being shown in game (and lets face it they have been for some time).

    I'm interested in designing social games because I think they offer an interesting design challenge and that they seem to offer a reasonable chance of monetization (and likely wont be directly pirated at least).

    The most amazing thing in terms of social games for me is the analytics based approach to design, which I'm very interested in because I think design has been too poorly studied and we could use some cold hard data for once.
    www.mindflock.com - social AI-based games

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    This article is very good except I have some concerns:
    - If people are mindless sheep who follow other because they ask, we are doomed. People... like use your own brain brain for a freaking heavens sake.

    As a side note:

    Scamville articles: (bit of the old side, but worth checking though)
    http://techcrunch.com/2009/11/01/sca...ebook-myspace/
    http://techcrunch.com/2009/11/02/sca...-other-offers/
    http://techcrunch.com/2009/11/08/zyn...n-game-offers/

  6. #6

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    Anything that is exploiting the mass-idiocy of disturbed people with money to spend, is a winner

    p.s. when I was 20-24 and was playing EQ I was like that too, now I don't bother anymore with any MMO/social game, so maybe there's still hope!

  7. #7

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    It's games like FarmVille that make me wary of publishing for FaceBook. While I myself have no sinister intents on FaceBook users, the current "norm" is FarmVille/Zynga's technologies.

    I've bookmarked that link and will refer to it in days to come, I think - that article is as good a definition for a "sociopathic application" as I think currently exists, and if I see any of my creations fall into the dark, dank pit that this article defines...well, that's a project that needs to be scrapped for ethical and legal reasons.
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    I plan to take as much from this article as I can in my plan to extract wealth from the feeble-minded masses. Their money is safer with me.

    Cas

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by princec View Post
    I plan to take as much from this article as I can in my plan to extract wealth from the feeble-minded masses. Their money is safer with me.
    Caspian switching to the dark side!

    Be ready to face some tough competition. FB/social gaming is the new trend of this/next year and everyone will be jumping on it! Only last year I knew nobody who was working on a FB/MMO social game, now I know so many people who are doing it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Norton View Post
    Caspian switching to the dark side!

    Be ready to face some tough competition. FB/social gaming is the new trend of this/next year and everyone will be jumping on it! Only last year I knew nobody who was working on a FB/MMO social game, now I know so many people who are doing it...
    Don't worry, I'll sabotage our efforts by making whatever it is we produce slightly quirky and different. Y'know. Independent and all that. None of this herd-following business.

    Cas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Norton View Post
    Caspian switching to the dark side!

    Be ready to face some tough competition. FB/social gaming is the new trend of this/next year and everyone will be jumping on it! Only last year I knew nobody who was working on a FB/MMO social game, now I know so many people who are doing it...
    True, but with this goldrush, at least you can still publish the game on your own website anyway outside of it being on facebook. Its not a completely locked-in platform. Just one with a lot of potential.
    www.mindflock.com - social AI-based games

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    You can't discount what Farmville has done for "gaming" in a broad view. It's the latest in a growing line of items that have brought video games out of the realm of the elite few gamers and into the eyes of the common people. And I think that makes us nervous. We want people to play the games we make and we want to make money, but we'd really rather those people be "our people" - fellow gamers who can appreciate it on levels deeper than "Oh look! I can buy some onions now!"

    I don't like Farmville and I'm not a big fan of their parent company, but they've done what game developers (especially the indie crowd) have always ostensibly aspired to do: make games for all and make money from them. Leveraging something so insanely popular like Facebook is just good strategy, whatever my personal feelings are on it. And it's helped make gaming a popular pastime, albeit with sort of a slimeball image.
    I'm here to help! Mostly I specialize in web design, but can handle almost anything visual. If you need a site for an upcoming game or your company's home on the web, hit me up at http://ryanburrell.com. I tackle most indie gamer projects for cheap or free.

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    I'm working on exploiting the idiocy of Facebook right now, only with the hope of maybe providing people at least a tiny bit of something called.... gameplay?

    BTW if you think Farmville is bad:

    RANK APP MONTHLY ACTIVES

    1. FarmVille 81,476,924
    5. Café World 29,799,911 <- farmville with food
    7. Mafia Wars 25,017,233 <- farmville with guns
    9. PetVille 21,619,990 <- farmville with cute animals
    10. Happy Aquarium 21,359,721 <- farmville with fish
    12. FishVille 20,231,954 <- a competitor to farmville with fish
    14. Pet Society 19,429,717 <- farmville with more dogs and cats
    15. Zoo World 18,555,290 <- farmville with lions and zebras
    17. Treasure Isle 16,559,711 <- farmville only your crops are sand and you're on an island digging for imaginary treasure
    19. Restaurant City 14,699,587 <- see #5
    21. YoVille 12,204,221 <- i don't even want to talk about it
    23. Happy Island 11,064,850 <- see #17
    25. Bejeweled Blitz 10,442,512 <- WAIT AN ACTUAL GAME
    27. Country Life 9,499,132 <- more farmville
    28. Farm Town 9,492,501 <- the game farmville ripped off originally

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    Quote Originally Posted by zoombapup View Post
    But lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Social games CAN have an impact in a positive manner just as it can be manipulative.
    Agreed!

    Games can wield enormous psychological power, and it's our duty as responsible game developers to use that power wisely.
    Inventive Dingo
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  15. #15

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    Great article. It really gets you thinking about the psychological aspect of that sort of game and of games in general. I never really thought about social obligation being the reason why certain games are so popular, but it totally makes sense.
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew View Post
    I'm working on exploiting the idiocy of Facebook right now, only with the hope of maybe providing people at least a tiny bit of something called.... gameplay?

    BTW if you think Farmville is bad:

    RANK APP MONTHLY ACTIVES

    1. FarmVille 81,476,924
    5. Café World 29,799,911 <- farmville with food
    7. Mafia Wars 25,017,233 <- farmville with guns
    9. PetVille 21,619,990 <- farmville with cute animals
    10. Happy Aquarium 21,359,721 <- farmville with fish
    12. FishVille 20,231,954 <- a competitor to farmville with fish
    14. Pet Society 19,429,717 <- farmville with more dogs and cats
    15. Zoo World 18,555,290 <- farmville with lions and zebras
    17. Treasure Isle 16,559,711 <- farmville only your crops are sand and you're on an island digging for imaginary treasure
    19. Restaurant City 14,699,587 <- see #5
    21. YoVille 12,204,221 <- i don't even want to talk about it
    23. Happy Island 11,064,850 <- see #17
    25. Bejeweled Blitz 10,442,512 <- WAIT AN ACTUAL GAME
    27. Country Life 9,499,132 <- more farmville
    28. Farm Town 9,492,501 <- the game farmville ripped off originally
    Add to that the soon to come GangstaPets from Zinky Zonky....

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    It will be just like all previous games that have expanded the number of gamers.

    From Doom to WoW, they spawn heaps of clones trying to cash in quick. But instead all they do is scare the people who aren't core gamers away because they can't decide which one is actually a game worth playing.

    Your list of Farmville with XXXX is excatly the thing I'm talking about. Actually you could relate it to Atari and now the Wii also, the amounts of shit being pushed out is crazy and facebook is the new wii I guess or iphone app store.

    Take note of what is going on, but don't get carried away with it. The people who play other types of games are always going to be there, and are growing on their own. Even though it might be slower than what those fads create it's still happening.

    Market to your part of the market and you'll win. Make the games that will sell to who you want and ignore that is not relevant to your goals.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisP View Post
    Bravo. This article elegantly articulates a concern which I've personally held for quite a while.

    My favourite quote:
    we must learn to differentiate sociable applications from sociopathic applications: applications that use people’s sociability to control those people
    Too true.
    I recently saw this definition of sociopathic games in similar social games discussion (http://dtf.ru/blog/read.php?id=59417), however it had a different meaning: in social games we either socialize or pay to avoid socializing. In other words, the most profitable (from the point of developer) user is a sociopathic user.

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    andrew - you'll like this one - doom is just like farmville - you invest time finding bullets and then you use bullets to kill monsters and get bonuses to find more bullets. and there are levels too which are bigger and bigger with more monsters and bullets.
    NO MORE SARCASM, JUST STRAIGHT CAPS FACTS.
    this is sparta!!!!

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    Except Doom requires skill to play and it's possible (probable) to lose.

    You can't lose any of the Facebook games as far as I can tell. The best of breed are like the perfect implementations of flow theory. You never fail and you advance or shrink at your own pace. As much as it's fun to hate - from a psychology and game flow standpoint there's a lot we can learn.

    What worries me is cloning. Cloning works. In fact, when it comes to mature portals cloning works better than originality.

    I have two casual / social game designs that I could alpha fairly quickly and neither exist in any way on Facebook yet. I fear I'm going to go broke for being "original" when I should be making FishFarmPetCafeville instead.

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    Okay forget doom then.

    Wii games are a better example, you don't really win or lose in a lot of them. Though, they appear to lack the social nature of others on your facebook trying to guilt you into doing more because their farm is better, or because a good friend would help them and the designers use this by adding bigger shiner stuff non-stop to create the hole for the players to suck themselves into.

    Just like the WoW horse for $25, it's the social aspect that controls such things, it would never work in a single player game.
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    I don't think it's fair to say that most Wii games or most social games are crap. Most of everything is crap, there were a lot of crappy PSX games, a lot of crappy SNES games, a lot of crappy 360 games. Heck, most movies are crap, and books too. Maybe you notice crap more when it's not on a platform you are a fan of. Yes, some platforms are magnets for shovelware, but it doesn't mean the platform itself is bad.

    And often, the audience doesn't have the same taste as the critics or the developpers (I'm thinking about Ubisoft's Just dance that got aweful critical reviews but sold over 2 million copies since november and if you go on amazon, all the user reviews are raving.) Is it a bad game? Since it's making grandparents dance with their grandchildren at family parties all over the world, I guess not.

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    Qitsune That's my point. If you create a quality game most of the crap won't matter, but a lot of crap with a brand name on it brings down the rest of the ship with the same brand name.

    Yes Wii has some awesome games, but there are more crap than not. It also applies to PC, however, when I buy a PC game the possbility that the label will say "Microsoft" or "EA Games" is only a chance, while all games are labeled "Nintendo Wii" for the Wii. Just trying to use it as a easy to spot target.

    At the rate that Facebooks top list is going all anybody will expect is little Farmville redux 10000 and will eventually give up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragdollsoft View Post
    My theory is people play farmville (and even rpg games where your character becomes more powerful/better equipped) because it gives an illusion of becoming richer, and as humans we "genetically" get pleasure from becoming richer, regardless of what we can practically do with those riches.
    I had a thought yesterday that I was going to make a blog post about, but I'm too busy this week. Maybe next week... anyway, in a nutshell, it's similar to what you're saying, except that I think it's not just about money.

    I was thinking about this Penny Arcade comic ( link ) and wondering why it seems to be that every genre of game has begun adopting RPG-like "Level Up" mechanics...

    It's my feeling that it has to do with the way we, in the modern world, from childhood onwards, are constantly quantified. We're always trying to up our scores on our report cards, our SATs, later our paycheques, our stock portfolio, our performance reviews, our years of experience, how much value we created for the company this quarter. It's hammered into us that our worth is defined by a bunch of numbers, so we feel good when we see those numbers go up, and bad when we see them go down.

    That gives games an obvious place to find a handhold on us... and the difference between games and real life is that the numbers don't ever have to go down. They just go up and up, just a bit faster when we're doing well, in order to make us feel that we deserve these promotions.

    It's pretty insidious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexWeldon View Post
    That gives games an obvious place to find a handhold on us... and the difference between games and real life is that the numbers don't ever have to go down. They just go up and up, just a bit faster when we're doing well, in order to make us feel that we deserve these promotions.
    This reminds me of the couple of articles on the Pixel Poppers' blog about performance vs. mastery achievements. One in particular talked about the differences between RPG achievement vs. action achievement, and the variation between the two, being rewarding patience or skill respectively.

    Well, the article describes it better than I.

    Link:
    http://www.pixelpoppers.com/2009/11/...d-to-fake.html

    Combine this then with social gaming that allows for payments to bypass the proxy achievement of patience, and you have instant gratification in a competitive setting. Hooray!
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonyS View Post
    This reminds me of the couple of articles on the Pixel Poppers' blog about performance vs. mastery achievements. One in particular talked about the differences between RPG achievement vs. action achievement, and the variation between the two, being rewarding patience or skill respectively.

    Well, the article describes it better than I.

    Link:
    http://www.pixelpoppers.com/2009/11/...d-to-fake.html

    Combine this then with social gaming that allows for payments to bypass the proxy achievement of patience, and you have instant gratification in a competitive setting. Hooray!
    Another great article (except the DVD player Lord of the Rings thing at the end, which was kind of a weak way to end it, but whatever). Thanks for this.
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