[The following text is part of my upcoming master's thesis on the use of game mechanics in therapy games for children. This is just a rough first draft, and I gladly welcome all critique and suggestions – be it on a content level or regarding my use of language. As part of my master's thesis I am analysing already existing games that are commonly known to be addictive. A lot of those games are Facebook games.]
Diamond Dash by Wooga superficially looks like a matching tile game similar to Candy Crush Saga or Bejeweled, but works slightly different. Diamond Dash lacks some of the refined features of its competitors. When compared to Candy Crush Saga, Diamond Dash seems a bit rough around the edges, both art-wise as well as in the use of game mechanics. While Candy Crush Saga tries to cater to as many player types as possible, Diamond Dash mostly attracts agile, quickly reacting players that like to compete with their friends. Still, the classic Facebook game mechanics are implemented, mainly that one one hand, Facebook games usually provide strong motivations to do certain things but on the other hand directly prevent players to actually do those things – unless, of course, the players pay or bug their friends about it.
[The following text is part of my upcoming master's thesis on the use of game mechanics in therapy games for children.]
FarmVille by Zynga is probably one of the best known Facebook games to date, both because of players that cannot seem to quit the game and their Facebook friends that are annoyed by the game's ceaseless stream of pleas for help, designed to suck in even more players. FarmVille 2 has several tightly interwoven game mechanics that manage to keep the player glued to the game. The most important among them are the tight feedback loops, where finishing one task has an immediate effect on the next task at hand; a constant stream of quests that provide temporary "winning" conditions in an otherwise endless game; the possibility of self-expression through decoration, even if severely limited and finally the integration of Facebook friends that "ask for help", cleverly exploiting social norms that result in players returning to the game again and again.
... is, apparently, something Tale of Tales are rather good at. Robert Yang has a neat timeline of the current events. And it is not the first time they make people angry.
Of course, you can debate the value of their provocations, you can debate their contribution to game culture –
Tale of Tales is important and interesting... but also kind of not. Their conception of video games seems really narrow, perhaps out of necessity in order to target it effectively in their crazy dogmatic manifestos.
– the thing is: there is a discussion about what games are and what not. People might consider them to be wrong. But people might also consider Blizzard to be wrong, inasmuch as they pretty much only polish up the games they did ten years ago.1
No matter how aggravating/boring this argument may seem: It is important that it is discussed. Every game designer that plays a Tale of Tales game will either see how games could be made as well – or she or he will realise how games are not to be designed. Either way: everybody learns.
Here’s to the crazy ones, so to speak.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
Just an example, I am not trying to flame anyone here. Not much, anyway. ↩
I guess my plan is not so bad after all. At least this article at GameLife proves my point perfectly: first learn all the important stuff about producing a game at a big studio, probably failing miserably a few times along the way – and then actually founding your own little studio to produce the games you really want to do – just as Jamie Cheng (Shank), Jake Kazdal (Skulls of the Shogun) and Sean Murray (Joe Danger) did.
Choice quotes from the article:
The stereotypical image of an indie gamemaker is an iconoclast who prizes art over commerce, or perhaps a kid with no formal training working in his parents’ house, cobbling together a genius new game idea using pirated software and raw talent.
But that’s not what the new crop of indies are. They’re veterans of the triple-A game biz with decades of experience behind them. They’ve worked for the biggest companies and had a hand in some of the industry’s biggest blockbusters. They could work on anything, but they’ve found creative fulfillment splitting off into a tiny crew and doing their own thing. They’re using everything they’ve learned working on big-budget epics and applying it to small, downloadable games.
The good news for gamers is that, as the industry’s top talents depart the big studios and go into business for themselves, players are being treated to a new class of indie game. They’re smaller and carry cheaper price tags, but they’re produced by industry veterans instead of thrown together by B teams and interns. Most importantly, unlike big-budget games that need to appeal to the lowest common denominator to turn a profit, these indie gems reveal the undiluted creative vision of their makers.
There is a new book by Cory Doctorow, and it's about games.
In the virtual future, you must organize to survive
At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual “gold,” jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world’s poorest countries, where countless “gold farmers,” bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay.
Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of “General Robotwalla.” In Shenzen, heart of China’s industrial boom, Matthew is defying his former bosses to build his own successful gold-farming team. Leonard, who calls himself Wei-Dong, lives in Southern California, but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia, a world away. All of these young people, and more, will become entangled with the mysterious young woman called Big Sister Nor, who will use her experience, her knowledge of history, and her connections with real-world organizers to build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo.
The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power—including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister’s people must out-think the system.