Archive

Posts Tagged ‘mafia wars’

An experiment in fail? or how being anti-social in social rpg’s makes for a lonely, lonely world

13 October 2009 Leave a comment

Cafe WorldSo far, no one has decided that I’m worthy enough to friend in Zynga’s Mafia Wars, so I’ve decided to add their clone of Playfish’s Restaurant City, Cafe World. Like Restaurant City, Cafe World features a player-run restaurant in which you cook dishes and have your friends serve guests. There are a number of differences and improvement over Restaurant City. For example, your staff don’t get tired from working; as long as you have food, you will not have to check your cafe every hour or so to boost your staff’s energy. Dishes are also ingredient-prepared, meaning: you have to click your stove to “add an ingredient” magically several times when you begin to cook a fresh dish. Friends can also send you drink gifts which, when used, will take additional money from each sitting guest.

As in Restaurant City, Cafe World is dependent upon friends. To get staff, you need to select from one of your friends. The good thing is that they don’t have to already have the Cafe World installed; it’s not at all a requirement. But what if you’re a lone experimenter who lacks any friends? What happens then?

Select a friend to hire a waiter... oh, I have no friends :(Game over. That is, until I actually have at least one friend. Total show stopper. I don’t think Zynga or any game designer who has this kind of game feature considered a loser such as myself.

I guess I can’t play until I have a friend to hire. As it is, I can’t do anything. Logging back into the game returns me to the above screen. My restaurant sucks, and I haven’t even opened, yet! I guess that means I can’t play Restaurant City, either.

Advertisements

An Experiment in Social RPGs

12 October 2009 Leave a comment

Mafia WarsThe main theme of this year’s Austin Game Developer’s Conference, which happened to be the first that I’ve ever attended, was social networking games. I attended several panels regarding SRPGs, including one conducted by Playdom‘s Steve Meretsky (a childhood game design hero of mine, specifically his amazing work with Infocom, the best game company ever) and the final keynote, conducted by PlayFish‘s Sebastien de Halleux. It’s not that I was actively attempting to attend SRPG stuff; SRPGs are not part of my work in the Industry. It simply could not be avoided.

At the same time, I’ve had an interest in casual gaming. I’ve been playing them since Bejeweled first hit the Web. And, according to the IGDA, I’m totally within the targeted range of this type of game product: female, at home, late 30’s… except I’m a hardcore gamer. Casual games, and SRPGs, tend to target those who may not be gamers or consider themselves to be. SRPGs have the added twist of being, well, social. If a friend of yours on a social networking site is playing the game and they invite you to play, it will be likely that you will start playing the game as well.

So, I’ve decided to try an experiment in social RPGs. I’m not interested specifically in the microtransaction portion of their design (which will be the future of gaming as we know it, IMO), but more about how SRPGs spread virally, their common or uncommon traits, etc. I’ve created a second Facebook account for this purpose, and signed up for one SRPG, the very popular Mafia Wars. I won’t be adding games unless invited by friends… in fact, I won’t be adding my existing friends at all. I want to see if a complete stranger with absolutely no ties to anyone can proliferate in this genre, as well as the viral spread of these games. Let’s see how it goes.