Game Development Reference
Interview with Janus Anderson: Gaming and the
Then I joined Andrew Busey at Challenge Games in 2007. At that
time, the goal was to build asynchronous short-form entertainment for
the web. Games you could log into, play for 15 minutes. Think Massively
Multiplayer Lite—games where you could play online, but wouldn't really
be playing against another person. Which is interesting, because that's
exactly what Facebook games are. We built a couple of successful games,
at least successful on the web scale. One was called Warstorm , which was
a collectible card game. That was my baby.
The entire time we were making web games, I was fascinated with
Facebook. Coming from MMOs, I thought, “Wow, MMOs and a social
graph … there's got to be something here.”
Right when I started, Andrew gave me a budget of about $2500 and
contacts for an external outsourced Indian development company. We
built a game called Nobility . I spent about three months banging my
head against that wall. And Nobility was really interesting, conceptually.
It didn't work out in the long run because it was too hardcore in a lot
of ways. But it was my most beautiful, purely social game experiment in
some ways. This was around the time that another game where you could
buy and sell your friends had just gone big. And big at that time was like
a million MAU.
In Nobility you are a king or queen with a court. When you recruit a
friend, they become a pawn in your court. And they can have a tree under-
neath them of people who they've recruited. And you earn Influence every
day based on the number of people in the pyramid under you. And people
under you also have their own pyramids, and they're earning Influence.
And you could use Influence to steal parts of the pyramid from other peo-
ple. So it was straight up PvP [player versus player], where I could try to
take other people's courts away from them by bidding Influence points. So
the whole pyramid was constantly moving around as people bought pieces
and parts from one another. And there were other pieces you could buy,
like catapults and gifts to give to people in your court to make them happy
and make them harder to steal away. It was mostly text, with very simple
graphics, but it taught me a lot about this.
After that we did another game, which was a riff on Kingdom of
Loathing for Facebook. And back then there was no Flash; everything
was PHP driven, simple stuff. We made the mistake there of building
the game in FBML [Facebook Markup Language], which was a disas-
ter. The game was fun, but the performance was terrible. Once again
this was me and two engineers, and maybe a part-time artist. Spent