Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
7.11 Using Leaderboards to Add Stickiness
Let's dig a bit deeper now and look at two particularly useful tools for increas-
ing user engagement: the leaderboard and the message reminder.
As we've discussed, the very term “social game” can be seen as a clever
sleight of hand, as some of the most successful social games have only the
most rudimentary of multiplayer components. Instead, many games are able
to build single-player experiences that effectively use adjust-design systems
and services to set the player's actions within the context of a social net-
work. Using leaderboards that allow users to compare their performances
against friends and other players is one of the oldest and most successful
mechanisms for accomplishing this goal. From the first arcade games, lead-
erboards (“scoreboards”) have been used to turn a single-player game into
a social experience that creates a sense of community. As any gamer over
30 years old remembers (and almost everyone will have a story about),
old-school scoreboards inspired players to plug quarter after quarter into
stand-up arcade machines because players enjoyed playing the game, but
moreover, players hoped to beat the machine's “high score,” a score that
could be achieved by them, their friends, or perhaps by someone who was
anonymous but for their initials. Later arcade games (like Gauntlet Legends ,
Golden Tee Golf , and a variety of the “bar game” machines) began to use
networks that let users compare their scores to players in other arcades or
bars around the world, further locating the single-player game within a real
community of players.
So how do we use leaderboards now to help create that sense of community,
and reinforce the social network effect? Some techniques used by the top devel-
opers include the following.
Leaderboards
l Use multifaceted scores. Give users a score based on multiple variables,
rather than just one. For example, don't just give points for every enemy
killed; instead, offer points for enemies killed, give bonuses for stringing kills
together in a short period of time, subtract points for taking damage, and so
on. This approach gives you a far wider range of possible scores, helping
to increase the granularity that differentiates between two users of similar
skill, and makes the “perfect score” far more difficult to achieve. Techniques
like these prevent your leaderboards from going stale, as well as provide
lots of different types of players with the opportunity to make a leaderboard
appearance.
l Context is everything. First, players care more about how they match up to
their friends than they do to strangers. Almost all existing social networks
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