Game Development Reference
Interview with Jason Decker: Love Letters from
Q: Uh, what's a Face Raper?
A: We forgot to turn on our profanity filter for names, initially. So, of
course, some people named their character some horrible stuff. We had
to spend a ton of time going through and renaming people like Face Raper
to Happy Pony and that kind of stuff. We use a name generator now, and
lots of the names that are left are like, “Iskitraaun”—some Serbian knight
from the Middle Ages or something.
Q: What's the most fun thing about developing social games?
A: For us, it was definitely when we were only six people. That ended up
being a high point in my career because with six people and six tables,
there's no stopping work for a meeting. You're developing all the time,
and everyone knows what everyone else is doing. It's just “Go, go, go!”
And I think that's an important lesson for anyone trying to do social
games. Work lean and fast.
Put something out first, then fix it later. Because the big problem and
joy of social games and having such a large market to deal with is churn.
Churn is a huge factor.
Q: What do you mean by churn?
A: People download your game, they look at it for five minutes. Hell,
maybe someone else paid them to come download it in the way I talked
about. So maybe they aren't even really interested in the game. But I still
have to try to hook them in the first few minutes, so they stick around
long enough to buy something.
Q: How long do you let a user play for free? When do you start thinking
about trying to monetize a user?
A: How long do you let a player play? As long as they want! If they
enjoy the game, and 20 days from now they decide to spend a dollar,
well, that's a dollar I want. The key is that they are there for 20 days.
If they are there for 5 minutes, and don't know what to do, you never
got a thing out of them. You shouldn't be concerned about how long
they play without paying you. You should be concerned when they quit