D10’s Quest to Create a Facebook Game
I am heading to San Francisco next week to attend the Game Developer’s Conference – Social & Online Games Summit. This is a 2 day event that is focused on games for social media (Facebook, MySpace, etc).
“These games are capturing tens of millions of mainstream users, people who do not consider themselves gamers–exactly the audience that was the growth path for the casual games market, which is facing challenges such as lack of innovation and decreasing price points.” :GDC2010
D10 Interactive Facebook Game
We have been working since December 2009 on a Facebook-based game application for one of our clients. The game will be launched from my client’s FB page, and it is intended to create further awareness around their brand and products. It has been an interesting experience planning, designing, developing, and implementing. We are about to launch this game for testing within another week or so.
To prepare to work on the game, I needed to do some research first – in the form of playing Facebook games. So I started by searching for “most popular Facebook game” and came across the following link atwww.insidesocialgames.com. Farmville by Zynga was the #1 game that week, so that was the game I hesitantly started with.
I Don’t Want to Join Your Mob!
Why was I hesitant? Up until this point I had used Facebook since the summer of 2008 for social purposes. I had just migrated from MySpace after noticing that many of my MS friends were moving to FB. I didn’t like FB at first. I missed being able to customize my page and to create blogs. FB grew on me after a while though. FB apps were growing and eventually my FB Newsfeed became inundated with my friends’ game status updates. Soon I was hit with numerous requests – “Join My Mob”, “Be My Neighbor”, “Here’s a Free Gift”. These notices were really annoying to me. I was on Facebook to know what my out-of-state friends were doing. I wanted to see friends’ and family members’ photos. I wanted to check out what my old classmates from high school look like now. I didn’t want to join anybody’s mob!!
Finally I had given in at one point as I felt bad that I kept ignoring my friends’ relentless requests. I tried Mafia Wars as that was the game all of my friends were playing around Jan. 2009. It didn’t look like a game. I didn’t like the interface. I couldn’t figure out what to do, so I uninstalled the app. A few months later, I started getting Farmville requests, and in a few more months, Cafe World requests. I ignored all of them because of my first negative experience with Mafia Wars and from being annoyed about the constant stream of game updates in my Newsfeed.
“Make Us a Facebook Game”
My client then approached me in late Fall of 2009 to discuss taking one of our old games that we built for a promotion 3 years ago and utilizing it for Facebook. The games we built were Flash-based mini games that were meant to be played for short periods of time. Since these games were simple and already built in Flash, it seemed like a doable project.
In the meantime, I had finally found a game I liked on Facebook – Bejeweled Blitz. I had never played Bejeweled up to this point and was enticed to play after one of my friends (with whom up to this point I had enjoyed a friendly competition playing Brain Age) started posting his high scores to the FB Newsfeed. I had finally discovered my motivation factor – competition.
I began researching types of game apps on FB and found that they fall into 1 of 2 categories – farming/gathering and time/point-based. Farming games (such as Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Cafe World) involve collecting items to build and maintain an environment. Time-based games involve playing the game for a short amount of time to achieve a certain score. I have more research on these types of games, but I will leave it at this for now.