Game Development Reference
Interview with Exploding Barrel: Give Them
What They Want—cont'd
game, that would scare me. The Margaritaville brand isn't just some songs
and a restaurant. There are topics. There are Parrotheads, who are people
who hang on every word Jimmy Buffett says. Beyond that group of people,
there is this concept of a great “staycation.” Who in a winter month does
not want to escape to a world of gin-clear water and go fishing on a snowy
January day? Having that core fanbase and fiction that we can mine and
respect and having the opportunity to bring some of those book characters
to life in this world was exciting. Using brands can help discovery and user
acquisition on these platforms when they come with a core fanbase, but
the brand has to lend itself to something that will make a great game.
Q: The game is free to play initially. How do you monetize users?
HP: We looked at what was working in the social space, casual MMOs
and free-to-play MMOs in both the West and in Asia. We use the energy
mechanic, because that just works. There are obviously vanity items and
also the concept of accelerators, which we think is powerful. We have
both temporary and lasting accelerators. If you don't want to grind and
really want to catch that specific kind of fish, we'll let you go to the Bait
Store and buy that great lure you want. There are also some new ideas
that we are going to try out and see what people attach to. It is important
to us to look to the data to see how people are behaving and give them
more of what they want.
Q: You guys are using great-looking avatar characters for players, and
you're doing some neat stuff with player-to-player avatar interaction. Can
you tell me more about that?
HP: A lot of social games aren't social. You can play asynchronously with
your friends and help each other in the gameplay, but you usually can't
see them in your world. That's something we think can be improved.
SB: It gives the perception of synchronous play. Facebook isn't ideally
geared toward synchronous play, but this way I can feel like I'm sharing a
moment with friends.
Q: Is all this perceived synchronous play cooperative?
SB: It's just about your friends having a presence. I can see you walking
around in my world. I can walk up to you and you can say something
from a list of different random things; you might talk about the weather,
or ask about the hurricane last night. You might tell me something that I