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Facebook games

Facebook games
« on: December 01, 2011, 09:32:08 am »

I have been playing Facebook games for a few days now. As research (I made a new account for it). I must say I'm quite astounded.

These games are nothing but hysterical. They constantly tell you what to do. There's not a moment for reflexion. Not even for solving a puzzle or something like that. They have completely removed the idea of gaming and replaced it by pure entertainment (without the hassle of challenges). I guess in that sense FarmVille is another response to the notgames challenge.

And while it's quite possible to fill your time doing menial tasks, the games continuously present you with items that can be purchased (for real money). It's like trying to play a game in a shopping mall filled with blaring babies and dressed up students handing you coupons.

My experience on Facebook ended up increasing my respect for more "conventional" video-games (first person shooters, 3D action adventures, etc). Obviously they are far more ambitious in terms of storytelling and presentation. But even their game aspect now feels superior to me. These games have the nerve to actually present you with a challenge before you get your reward! Do they think they are art??

Ultimately these Facebook games tell me two things:
1. Forget about my ideas to make money with games. I will never beat Facebook.
2. Forget about entertaining. Facebook games have solved that problem to perfection.

Facebook games are far more escapist than anything I've ever seen. Not because they present you with a fantasy to indulge in. That would require imagination. Facebook games have found a way to completely occupy your brain with triviality. You simply don't have time to think about your real world problems, your hopes and desires, let alone the human condition. And they can entertain you for hours, days.
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Re: Facebook games
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2011, 10:31:00 am »

Very interesting write up!

I have only tried Echo Bazaar which is supposed to be a a more laid back experience (not the constant bombardment that you describe). Still I did really not like it since as you say it simply asks you to do all sort of menial tasks hoping for some greater payoff down the road. At first I sort of liked it, with some interesting small story snippets handed out, but I never got any rest from this bombardment and there was always some pressing matter that I had to attend to. Bad dream, no place to live, an unsolved mystery, etc, etc. And the way you do all of these tasks is simply by pure grinding, you just use your action points (they replenish at a rate at one per hour I think) and they run out really fast! And that is when they ask you to spread the word on facebook or pay real money in order to get more action points.

And this is supposed to be a "good" facebook games. Emily Short (writer of interactive fiction), who I agree with on many issues on gamed design, has  sort of recommended it and has also done some writing for it. Extra Credits has also recommended it. Still, I think it is a very cheap experience that is all about wasting time, for very little payoff. So other facebook games much be far far worse.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 10:32:46 am by Thomas »
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Re: Facebook games
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 12:04:10 pm »

Maybe the commercial success of Facebook games can liberates the medium. Developers who only want to entertain or who only want profit, should make Facebook games. The others should make something that is actually worth making for its own sake. There's no excuse for fun or profit anymore. If you want that and you're smart, you'll go to Facebook!
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Re: Facebook games
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 01:52:06 pm »

Then perhaps the future that Chris Bateman prophesize here:

http://blog.ihobo.com/2011/11/videogames-are-doomed.html

Might not be so bad after all?
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Re: Facebook games
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 06:25:14 pm »

Yeah, I think what happened to Facebook is Zynga.  They found an economic model that was so far and away the best, it just doesn't make sense to make anything other than this one specific formula from a business standpoint.  Unfortunately, the formula revolves around reward schedules that basically hack your brain into an addictive cycle while offering very little value.

However, I do think that Facebook is one platform where something very different and positive could be made - so many people are on Facebook that the proper community for other kinds of work is definitely out there, if they can just be wrangled up.
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Re: Facebook games
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 09:26:56 pm »

Zynga is successful now. However, people get bored. Nothing ever lasts. Five years from now we will all be going, "Zynga who?"
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Irony is for cowards.
Re: Facebook games
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2011, 12:16:46 am »

dammit! I am back on the train of my Bejeweled Blitz addiction. That is the only facebook game I have ever played ( I tried out very, very few for a couple of seconds, no more).

Revisiting it after a year or so. They changed it quite a bit. They added a lot of gambling elements to it... I love the solitude of the original Bejeweled 2. Blitz is like a carnival. Like your personal slot machine. And they made it quite tempting to spend real money on virtual money in order to buy power ups. I don't buy them, but I suppose that there are people who do....

I don't understand facebook games and their business model at all. Do they make money? Even if I want, I am pretty sure that I am not capable of writing a facebook game (or any game), that makes money.

Whenever I try to make a "commercial" fun game, I get very bored in making it. Also it feels like wasting my time or talent. There are thousands of silly games out there. I want/have to stay personal in what I am doing.

I think that PC games, hardcore and smaller studios will survive. They have a passion. Maybe graphics and effects will be more simple than triple AAA titles, but that's not what is important in a great game. (I am immeresed in books, and they usually do not have graphics)...

hm, what was the question again? =  Cheesy
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 12:22:08 am by György Dudas »
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Re: Facebook games
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2011, 09:19:06 am »

Zynga is successful now. However, people get bored. Nothing ever lasts. Five years from now we will all be going, "Zynga who?"

We will see.

Whenever I try to make a "commercial" fun game, I get very bored in making it. Also it feels like wasting my time or talent. There are thousands of silly games out there.

Same here: many people are much better at making commercial games. I know some indies who do this spontaneously (I guess because their tastes are aligned with those of a large group of people). It comes so natural to them that they don't understand why others don't simply make "awesome games".  Cheesy
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 09:24:24 am by Michaël Samyn »
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Re: Facebook games
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2011, 09:23:59 am »

To be clear: I am not being pessimistic here. Far from it!
Facebook games show how to entertain perfectly and how to make the most money with computer games. If you're not following their model, it means that those are not your priorities. I can imagine that this is making developers think about their priorities. Maybe this can lead to a sort of "purification" by which we get rid of all the fun-junkies and market-slaves and we are left with only people who are sincere about their work.
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Re: Facebook games
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2011, 07:57:38 am »

Your astonishment at this new discovery is refreshing. Cheesy

I was a little late to investigate too, but yep, your post pretty much sums up my reaction. Heh. Smiley
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