Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
back lapsed players. “It's such a fun, engaging time,” says Winkler, “people come out of retirement.” (This kind
of symmetrical play, by the way, isn't typical of most Facebook games, which are asymmetrical.)
Interestingly, because raids require player cooperation, they encourage people to buy items to help their guild
beat a boss, instead of just buying upgrades that only benefit themselves. (For both Dawn and Legacy, the ma-
jority of monetized items are player energy and stamina refills.) “People want to be part of something bigger
than themselves,” Winkler explains.
Get a Lawyer Early On
Beyond game design, Winkler emphasizes a point developers may not consider at the start: “One of the smartest
decisions we made was hiring a good lawyer early on.” In 5th Planet's case, they found someone involved in
entertainment law, and the reason for doing that is very simple: “Facebook gaming, social gaming...this is just
the Wild West, and there are very few rules, so it's very important to have good legal counsel.” This was most
valuable when negotiating a publishing agreement—a lawyer can better explain how much revenue such a deal
will cost you, what rights it will grant you, and so on.
Here are the key points we covered in this chapter:
Paul Preece, co-founder and lead designer for the successful Facebook strategy developer KIXEYE, re-
commends game mechanics that are wrapped in metaphors that people immediately understand. He be-
lieves the game's tutorial should act as its sales pitch and immediately satisfy the players' expectations
raised by the art, marketing, and branding. He recommends developing a rough prototype rather than
a detailed design document. For KIXEYE (and probably other developers of strategy games), speed-up
boosters monetize well, but decorative items and weekly discounts do not. Preece believes that linking
monetization to a player's emotional response (good or bad) does very well, and Facebook marketing
that targets your game's desired demographic is crucial for good monetization. Finally, he recommends
designing a strong “meta game,” which is a way of playing the game beyond its specific objectives and
Robert Winkler, co-CEO of the successful 5th Planet Games, gained success from the company's RPGs
by differentiating them with high-quality art and music, and discovered that there is a market for text-
heavy games on Facebook. 5th Planet drives viral growth and retention with regular group experiences
in which hundreds or thousands of players can participate in a giant boss battle. For new developers, he
recommends hiring a lawyer early on to help you negotiate publishing deals and protect your intellectual
property in the social gaming's “Wild West” frontier.
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