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Playfish’s advice for building social games: “Development really starts with launch”
I’m at the State of Independence conference in York today, organised by Codeworks GameHorizon.
Here are my quick thoughts on Jeferson Valadares’ talk. He’s a Playfish designer talking about making social games.
- Playfish focuses on Viral distribution, Engagament and Microtransactions. (I call that FARM-ing your customers: Focus on Acquisition, Retention, Monetization)
- Distribution should be about “helping” your friends, not “playing our game”. Literally, don’t say “Come and play Farmville”, say “Help out John on his farm.”
- Core gamers have 30 years experience of knowledge of games and their mechanics; social gamers don’t. Keep your game simple to learn.
- Don’t mistake “simplicity” for “lack of depth”. Farmville is a deep game, but you only see that complexity when you have lots of friends and have been playing for at least a month.
- Make games that are familiar, that consumers can instantly recognise “Oh, it’s a farm”, “Oh, it’s an aquarium”
- Always look for opportunities to make the game *smaller* before launch: it’s important to do the design with the audience.”
- Don’t waste time debating two game features. Launch both and A/B test.
- Tutorials are dangerous. Gamers have no commitment to give your game and can leave easily. Give them fun INSTANTLY.
- A typical a launch team is two programmers, two server coders, two artists. No games designers. (Note: Playfish has said that a typical team in Playfish has 15-20% of its members focused exclusively on data analysis).
Next panel is now starting: Charles Cecil (of Revolution/Broken Sword), Paul Farley of Tag and Alex Amsel (Tuna Technologies)