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Posts Tagged ‘playfish’

That’s 8 point 6 million with an “m”

25 October 2009 1 comment

Cafe WorldHoly crap! That’s my response after I read a post on Raph Koster’s site (I’m playing feed catch-up) which quote from/linked to this article regarding Zynga’s Cafe World:

[Cafe World] has grown from 0 to 8.6 million users since it launched a week ago, according to AppData, based on a combination of cross-promotion from other Zynga games (including FarmVille) and advertising on Facebook.

The article goes on to say that Cafe World is not a clone of Playfish’s Restaurant City, but it is. It just takes all the bad things out, such as having to refresh your workers every hour, and not making you go through hoops to collect ingredients for recipes.

Speaking of RC‘s design, that whole ingredient collection thing is absolutely evil. You can’t really progress in the game per se, although you do get more space and the opportunity to hire more of your friends to work for you. The real thing that keeps you playing is the desire to collect more ingredients so that you can learn more recipes and raise their levels. But ingredients are devilishly hard to get: you either pay an arm and a leg for them on the market, spend $2000 and 2 days minimum (assuming you keep the plants watered) growing them in your garden (and you don’t get things like milk or ice, etc.), or wait for your chance daily to earn an ingredient by correctly answering the question in the daily quiz, as well as earning one ingredient daily. The way those clever bastards at Playfish have done it is that you want desperately to get ingredients as much as you want to make a really phat-looking restaurant. These two design elements combined make players more likely to spend money on microtransactions than they would in some other games, especially because in-game money is pretty much fixed if your restaurant is running 24/7 at the top of its game.

Zynga’s CW, on the other hand, has no current reward features, is somewhat illogical in its “buzz rating” system, and doesn’t have that level of pinache that RC does… yet. But, it’s Zynga, and they make better copies than everyone else, so I’m sure there will be a lot of great things down the line with the game that will make Electronic Arts ponder if it should have considered starting rumors about purchasing Zynga rather than Playfish instead.

This bit of the above article is also interesting:

To get a sense for what Café World means for Restaurant City, take a look at what happened to Slashkey’s Farm Town before and after Zynga launched FarmVille in June. As FarmVille grew, Farm Town’s traffic leveled off, even though it is staying steady with nearly 19 million monthly active users. The same may be happening for Restaurant City, as its traffic has also leveled off in the last week.

Players tend to forget about the original, and move to the next best clone out there. This is one of the reasons why the SRPG market lacks some serious innovation at this time. The good thing is that (hopefully) as the market continues to skyrocket, there will be developers out there who will explode SRPG game design, making it much more exciting for gamers, and more World of Warcraft-like profitable for the developers themselves.

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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.

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.