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Current Social Games Aren't Fun, Says MUD Co-Creator

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the gain-eight-experience-points-for-each-comment-to-this-post dept.

Social Networks 111

Speaking at Gamerlab 2011 in Barcelona, MUD1 developer Richard Bartle had harsh words for the current state of social gaming: "The big thing about social games that they don't like to tell you, is they're not actually social. Games played on social network sites is what we mean by social games ... These games are categorized more by the platform than that they are social themselves. The way they engage their players is not through interesting gameplay, it's done through extrinsic rewards — basically bribes. ... The difference is, social games rely on the extrinsic rewards so as to be compelling. People keep playing the game because it keeps giving them things — rewards. This has led to gamification. In the hands of designers, this has a great deal of potential, but unfortunately it's not in the hands of designers, it's in the hands of marketers."

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I love being rewarded for my achievements with ads (5, Interesting)

DMFNR (1986182) | more than 3 years ago | (#36631884)

It seems like the people making the games these days are focusing less on the actual game play and the "fun factor" and more on achievements and hooks too keep people coming back. It's the easy way out for them, they know a lot of people will keep forging on just to get that next achievement and post about it on their Facebook wall. I know it worked for me when I was younger with Pokemon! Even though the gameplay was incredibly boring and repetitive, I keep trudging through it just so I could get the next Pokemon. The only "social" factor of these games are all of the item requests and such that are posted to friends walls, making them feel like their left out if they're not playing, or even making them feel like they need to play because hey, "Tom needs to plant his seed and needs a hoe". These new social games are just a big scheme to get people to play so they can watch the ads, or spend extra money for in game purchases. Until people stop playing these games it's never going to change, they think we're eating their shit and loving it. I actually think a lot of people do. It's a casual kind of gaming for them, and it seems like the people who play a lot of these games don't get out much, so they stick with it because they're hanging with their buds too I guess.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (2)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632052)

"Tom needs to plant his seed and needs a hoe".

I don't really understand what sewing has to do with prostitution.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632062)

Gah, meant "sowing." This is what I get for clicking "Submit" before thinking.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (2)

MSojka (83577) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632120)

My question would rather be, what does planting my seed in some hoe have to do with sowing?

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637520)

Reap what ye sow.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632494)

Well prostitutes were often gave their job as "Seamstress", so I think that may be an appropriate slip ...

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634016)

And these days they go by masseuse...

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634576)

And I don't really understand what a gardening tool (hoe) has to do with prostitution either. The word you were looking for is "whore". Unless, of course, your IQ is well under 90.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36635404)

Please be kidding.

"ho" is a common way of saying whore, hooker or slut. "Hoe" and "ho" are pronounced the same. What he said made perfect sense to everyone else.

And way to get all nasty and judgemental with the IQ statement, when you're the fuck-up in the thread.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632178)

You mean like Slashdot's achievement system? Like being modded up and the people who give kneejerk and/or slanderous comments to get modded insightful? Or how about relationships, being a friend of a foe?
Yeah, why do people tolerate this crap? And I'm not saying that your comment is either kneejerk of slanderous. I am saying that Slashdot works on the same scheme and we eat it up just as much here. That's one reason that political articles are so big and hard science articles normally get little play.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (2)

Ruke (857276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635386)

Slashdot "Achievements" are a tongue-in-cheek joke. They rolled out on April 1, and stuck around because, well, people liked them. And, unlike social games, people are actually communicating and forming relationships on Slashdot. A message board system by it's very nature has to be more social than those games; there is literally nothing else to it.

I'd wager that political articles see so much energy because everyone feels like they are qualified to participate, and there are multiple valid-yet-contradictory opinions. I mean, what is there to say about "Solar Impulse Airplane Makes Public Debut In Paris"? It's solar powered! It's some degree more efficient than the last airplane that attempted this! There are facts about it, and no one really cares to contest them. Very few people are qualified to hold an educated opinion about the solar impulse system, and, what's more, they recognize it.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (3, Insightful)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635418)

Perhaps you missed the history behind some of these things on slashdot.

Achievements were an April Fools joke that got left in place.

Moderation has the utility of allowing filtering. And you can use elements like "friends", "tags", etc for further filtering, increasing/decreasing effective score - and thus what is displayed to you.

Don't like how people moderate? Suggest a better method. Don't like moderation as a concept? Ignore it.

Friend of a foe? er, what? I can't speak for others, but I barely use the "friend" or "foe" features of Slashdot at all.

Political articles get lots of comments and attention largely because there IS room for comment about them. Science articles? By definition, there aren't going to be a lot of people able to provide informed commentary on breaking science news. Would you rather more uninformed comments?

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637458)

why do people tolerate this crap?

Here, because I get news out of it. I gave up on farmville, because I got nothing from it.

That's one reason that political articles are so big and hard science articles normally get little play.

I disagree. Political stories have a lot of nuances and spur a lot of arguments while to science stories (being one of the main reasons I'm on /.) my comments would be something along the lines of "cool," or "huh." I could make such comments, but the reason they would not be modded up is because no one would care to read them.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632188)

So you're, what, 15 now, and reminiscing about the "good old Pokemon days" of a couple of years ago? Seriously, you were born years after historic games like Wolfenstein 3D and even Doom were first released. You were born decades after legends like Duck Hunt, Pong and Spacewar!. What do you really know about games? Clearly not very much.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

djowatts (2269380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632286)

I'm 20 now, and just because those games were out before I was born doesn't mean I know nothing about them. I know I am not the person that this post was directed at, but still, this kind of attitude really irks me.

Wolf3D was the first game I ever played, apart from the masses of starwars games my dad had on the Commadore. Followed by Doom and Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. I then got a snes off my uncle with Duck Hunt on the Snes scope, and other arcade suc games, as well as the original SNES mario games.

Now I am studying computer games, and for all you know, the person you directed your post at could be too. And hey... So what if Pokemon is the good old days for this guy, let him talk about the games he used to enjoy. To be fair, it sounds like you are just bitter because someone younger than you posted a mildly relevant post whilst your youth is slipping further and further away.

Your comment is like saying anyone born in the 90's can't possibly know much about the music of the likes of the Beatles, Hendrix, the Kinks, just because they weren't born whilst the other bands were at their prime. There are archives for a reason! /rant

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632926)

...there was no Duck Hunt for the SNES (Super Scope)

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

djowatts (2269380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633984)

If we are talking about shooting ducks and then the funny dog goes and fetches them, yes there was, because I had it.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634886)

Not according to this [] you didn't.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your original thesis, but claiming to have played a game that doesn't exist doesn't help your argument much.


Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | more than 3 years ago | (#36636486)

The game exists, even if it isn't compatible with the Super Scope. Your responses are misleading.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36636918)


Your ability to read and comprehend is pretty telling of your age - just graduate high school, eh?

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635050)

Wish I had mod points for you, kid ;)

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36636942)

"I then got a snes off my uncle with Duck Hunt on the Snes scope, and other arcade suc games, as well as the original SNES mario games."

No Duck Hunt on the SNES. It ONLY ever made it on the Famicom/NES.

Mario games were not original on the SNES.

"just because those games were out before I was born doesn't mean I know nothing about them."

Sorry, I *WAS* around during the time of those games (Born in 82,) you DON'T have a fucking clue what you're talking about.

You can't even properly spell 'Commodore.'

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632536)

Now that's a bit harsh. Pokemon has been around for 15 years now itself. Initial players who were 15 should be 30 years old now.
I'm not into Pokemon myself, but I can see the appeal - collectable critters and battles with friends of the original Pokemon link devices

If anything, 15 year olds now are a generation too young to be into Pokemon in a big way.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632620)

Pokemon 1996, Doom 1992, only 4 years apart.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

DMFNR (1986182) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632904)

I was just using Pokemon as an example of a game which I progressed through mindlessly seeking achievements rather than an standard for excellent game play I think all modern games should be judged by. I was born in 1987 so Pong, Asteroids, etc. are well before my time, you're right on that one. According to Wikipedia the Pokemon games came out in 1996, so I was like 9 or 10 at the time, so yes that was the cool game at the time for me.

I would love to see more games in the spirit of the classic arcade games with a modern touch released though. Briquolo (an 3-D Breakout style game for Linux) is a example of what I'm talking about here. What more "social" gaming concepts do we need outside of a high score table anyway?

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632476)

Are these the kind of games that appeal to a console gamer or someone who's playing Starcraft, or is savvy enough to even know what a MUD is? Absolutely not, and guess what, you're not the target demographic. I know, its crazy, you're a gamer so all games certainly must be made with you in mind right? No.
The demographic of games like Farmville and Bejeweled Blitz (Bejeweled surprisingly moreso) is absolutely dominated by the 30-50 female crowd. Stay at home moms, empty nesters, whichever, but a demographic with tastes unlike anything the "mainstream" market has ever tried to cater to. And you know what? They like to spend their money on pretty ponies and five extra seconds of game time. Seriously. They love it.
Zynga is making 1.8B in revenue, Popcap is selling for 1B+ and these are not accidents, they are just DIFFERENT. Whats fun to you is, and this shouldn't even be a stretch for you to realize, NOT fun to the 30-50 female crowd. You don't have to understand it, they're fully aware that even if it WAS pokemon, you're not going to pay 2 facebook credits for the Snorlax that comes with curse already. But these ladies will and you better get used to it. Supply and demand.
Are the achievements and all these little carrots on sticks superficial money making machines? Absolutely! But they're also filling the psychological needs of an apparently massive demographic that gamers have never even considered. On top of that, they do it in 5-15 minute chunks per DAY, because thats what their audience wants.

I know its weird that the most popular new genre of games right now doesn't make sense to the crowd you think are "gamers" but that doesn't make them any less valid, nor the "fun" that its player base has less valid.

I disagree, brought to you by Carl's Jr. (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632754)

I don't know why you guys are complaining. Ads have the electrolytes your body craves.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633102)

It's all about the Benjamins.

Re:I love being rewarded for my achievements with (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634320)

They're not in it for the love of making games anymore. They're in it for the money.

The reason Farmville and its ilk are crappy games is the same reason that EA makes crappy games. They're made with bad intentions (in the sense of game design) from the start.

Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (2)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36631890)

The interaction even in such basic times created groups of friends on quests to raise their levels and use their imaginations. Games like Farmtown, Farmville, etc., are dull as hell.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (2)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632058)

You'll be surprised to learn that others think the opposite!

I played a MUD called DragonRealms for a few years. It was quite an amazing game, but eventually the daily grind just got to me. It was the same thing over and over to claw my way up another level. The social aspect was the best part at that point, but the developers destroyed the community with an insane price hike. -sigh-

I've searched for years for another one that I would enjoy as much, but haven't found it.

Facebook games hit me almost exactly the same way. For 1 game, there was even quite a social circle going on. We would regularly help each other and plan team battles and just chat. And eventually, I left for the same reason as the MUD: The grind. It was the same thing over and over.

What I want (even if I have to build it myself) is a game that is complex enough to be interesting to play and learn, and dynamic enough that going to the ogre fields every day is a different experience.

DR had a skill system where you improved skills by using them. This was amazing, and it's a must-have for me. They also had quite a variety of skills for each guild to choose from, and skill points were scarce enough that you couldn't have everything until you were pretty much God-like anyhow. If then. (They eventually removed the level cap, which had prevented it completely.)

It had built-in functionality like Teaching that meant people had to sit near each other to improve skills (you could teach another person any skill, rather than them actually going and using it. And they could learn other skills at the same time by using them.) That encouraged people to gather and chat while working on skills, instead of finding a quiet corner.

Each guild had a different function in the game and could do things for others than no other could do. This encouraged people to venture to other guilds and make friends, instead of staying insular.

So long as all the end result is there, I don't care how the pieces work, but the above was a pretty awesome system. And I've never found another MUD that got it right.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632384)

Dragonrealms was an amazing MUD at one time. Now its a worthless pile of junk. The only good thing about it as of the last time I played (end of last year) is the seemingly endless amount of whores who will fly to your house and suck on your junk because they think they're in love and can't find love in real life.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

dentin (2175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632980)

I hate to be a shill, but if you're actually in the market for a MUD you might want to take a look at Alter Aeon. In my opinion, we can easily hold our own against DR.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633816)

It sounds interesting! Of course, I can't really tell until I play it, but I'm definitely going to check it out. Thanks!

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36633554) - Plenty of former DR players there. Just sayin'.

Also, it actually is a 100% social MUD - no OOC allowed, and it's not about grinding to get to the next level, it's all about the roleplay. And yes, there still IS a leveling system if you're concerned about that. It's just not the main focus.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633832)

Thanks, that one looks like it's worth checking out, too.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36636224)

Have you tried Minecraft?

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632182)

To be fair, a lot of MUDs were highly repetitive, boring grindfests. After MUDs and their tropes had been firmly established (with Diku and Circle MUD), one MUD was pretty much the same as any other MUD, with the exact same, boring gameplay and areas. In fact, I remember playing on some MUDs where you were handed a bag full of the best low-level loot, so that you could get to the drudgery right away, without having to expend any creative thought. Sure, there were exceptions -- I remember one custom MUD that hid all your statistics from you, so that you never truly knew what your strength or intelligence were, and was composed entirely of unique areas; and there were RP MUDs where social interaction was more important than killing random mobs -- but even these MUDs eventually bored me to tears, as I realized that the gameplay was never going to amount to more than "west; west; north; kill orc; ; get treasure". If you weren't imprisoned within an interactive story as a passive participant, you were mindlessly executing the same commands to kill the same mobs, over and over again, to slowly replace each piece of equipment with marginally better equipment.

The alternative was arguably even worse -- stories that were more interactive and interesting, yet full of people who wanted to RP every breath they took, with no actual game involved. You want to actually kill a monster? You want to gain a level?! Powergamer! Ban him!

You can dress it up as much as you want, but MUDs were not much different than the current crop of social games, where you're on a never-ending treadmill of repetitive gameplay.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632248)

I always found the biggest tragedy was that people wouldn't use LPC more when building MUDs, which is a very nice and elegant interpreted object oriented language which is infinitely dynamic compared to the static horridness of Circle/Diku.

I tried explaining this to some MUD developers at the computer club/organization back in the old days but they didn't seem to grasp the fact that you could essentially code a room or object to do anything conceivable, without having to recode the MUD engine and reboot the whole thing - just simply edit the code, compile it and spawn the object.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

dentin (2175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633052)

In defense of the MUD developers, I understand extremely well the strengths of LPC, and I want it "way the fuck far away" from my builders. IMHO part of what makes a game world good is its consistency; game physics should work roughly the same everywhere, and while there should be surprises and special cases, they shouldn't be game breaking.

A lot of it boils down to complexity. For a well built, globally consistent world, you need a fairly small ruleset that limits what can be built. Not because it's a hard requirement, but because human builders and editors simply can't keep track of the interactions well enough to self limit, no matter how good they are. The down side of a small ruleset is limited world complexity. In the end, it's a tradeoff between consistency and complexity, and getting the balance right is hard.

We've mostly kept it under control by allowing a handful of special hooks that can be programmed using a fairly small set of features. Even so, occasionally something unexpectedly nasty sneaks through, and we have to make modifications to fix it up.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

JacksonG (82656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633392)

I'd tend to agree. In my experience I've found that a class of players will want to constantly grind and level up and a number of people will then portray that as the only way to play the game and highlight it as a disadvantage. I think it's a human nature thing - some people will always want to have bigger numbers of some arbitrary metric than the people around them.

Where some MUDs were, and still are, undoubtedly grindfests others have been built with variety and provide many ways to play them. I like to think my particular MUD (Discworld FWIW) does but I know there are a lot of people that would disagree. I think that ultimately a lot of peoples dissastisfaction with social networking games, muds, or any other game is that for most people the game will eventually get boring and that's when it's time to walk away rather than bitch about what's wrong with it that makes it boring. Even great open ended games like elite got boring for most people and games like chess or go get boring after a while for most people but some others will always take it on furthur and furthur.

In the sense that they are a fun diversion then social networking click games are a fun diversion, just like MUDs, but when they are done to excess they take on that grind element so the rule would be, when it becomes a grind rather than fun you're probably spending too much time doing it!


Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

Magius_AR (198796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635162)

We handled this by having a staff solely for the purpose of QC'ing new items or areas. Builders would be given a mini tutorial on how to maintain consistency and keep things balanced and then all changes would still have to pass through QC. It actually worked pretty well. The biggest problems occurred when builders would just skirt QC and release a bunch of overpowered crap. They didn't stay builders for long.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632326)

A very interesting middle ground between the all-combat MUDs and the all-social MUSHes was Dune MUSH. You could actually die there, and I believe you even had stats, but death meant make a new character. I didn't play it much because I was too involved in another MUSH, but for something resembling a real, story-driven RPG experience in MUDs, this one seemed to have the most potential.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632440)

Then you should have leveled to wiz and coded new and more interesting challenges....

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

Ashe Tyrael (697937) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632804)

"The alternative was arguably even worse -- stories that were more interactive and interesting, yet full of people who wanted to RP every breath they took, with no actual game involved. You want to actually kill a monster? You want to gain a level?! Powergamer! Ban him!"

Sounds suspiciously like the roleplaying servers that people set up for NWN. The ones that think that in order to have proper rp and immersion, you need glacially slow levelling and miniscual amounts of magic.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633446)

Yeah. Online NWN was very heavily influenced by MUD/MUSH culture. I tried a few NWN persistent worlds, but I found that they were usually a bit too social or too combat-oriented for my taste, so I ended up playing the single-player modules more than anything else. There were a few servers that had a decent mix of both action and RP, but they were often a bit underpopulated, as people gravitated toward the more extreme servers. While I'm generally more a fan of the action side, I like a compelling story and some light RP thrown in, as well. The social servers seemed to generally be run by elitist control-freaks who believed that having fun was a sign that you were a powergamer, while the action servers were so generic and based on instant gratification, it was a bit of a turn-off. The best part of NWN was being able to find the perfect module and play through it, without having to make major compromises on aspects of gameplay you enjoyed. I tried to get some of my friends involved, but they weren't really into it as much as I was, so it was generally a single-player game for me, with the occasional attempts at trying out new persistent worlds.

Roleplaying a gimp in a low magic world can be a decent change of pace from the more action-oriented servers, but it's definitely not something that I want to return to every time I start up the game. From a gameplay perspective, it's boring as fuck, even if it's creatively engrossing.

Re:Simplicity of a MUD and a 2496 Baud Modem (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36636612)

I helped run an LP-MUD for awhile. It was relatively easy to extend this and we added new areas all the time, without even having to reboot. Meanwhile every time I visited a Diku or Aber MUD (those most closely related to Richard Bartle's game) they all seemed very similar to each other. The difference I believe is that it was much more difficult to do extensive modifications to those games and you relied on a smaller set of trusted people to touch the source or add objects to a database; but in a game with an interpreted language it was very flexible. Many of these ended up acting a lot more like text adventures with some combat than combat games with some puzzles.

emote agree (2)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36631894)

Social Game should really be another way to say "lead generation marketing gaming". The goal is to get you to buy more fun stuff, by offering you lots of fun perky stuff to keep you interested. Very little of it requires any effort or quest-solving to attain, and it immediately unlocks the next slightly more expensive fun perky thing that you must have.

Multiplayer games that are actually social (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36631918)

I have noticed this, and there are social multiplayer games. The thing is, I am wondering why some of the legacy titles, such as Zelda don't get multiplayer online variants. (A Link to the Past with 4/8/16 Links anyone?)

A Good example of this is Mega Man: 8 bit Death Match.

Re:Multiplayer games that are actually social (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632988)

I have noticed this, and there are social multiplayer games. The thing is, I am wondering why some of the legacy titles, such as Zelda don't get multiplayer online variants. (A Link to the Past with 4/8/16 Links anyone?)

Zelda has had mutliplayer versions, they just weren't online.

Four Swords (GBA, required a copy of the game and a GBA for each player) and Four Swords Adventures (GBA + GameCube, required a GBA for each player plug a GBA->GC link cable) were the names of the two.

Four Swords is about to come to the DSiWare shop for free (for DSi/3DS owners) so we'll see if they add online play to it.

The other catch for multiplayer Zelda games... Four Swords explicitly limited each player to being able to carry one item, although you could swap it when you found

You cooperate with the other players to an extent (sometimes it requires all the players to push on a large block to move it... this was copied into Minish Cap, which is a prequel to Four Swords), but you're also competing with them for Force Gems... the better you do in each level, the better award you get and the more stuff you unlock in your games, and in the copy of A Link to the Past that was on the same GBA cart for the GBA-only version.

He's right (3, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36631920)

I completely agree. There's nothing in modern social games that draws me. I used to love MUDs, and especially the more social ones: MUSHes and the like. Playing together and establishing some kind of community inside the game is awesome. Having a community outside the game see your achievements in some lame grind game is not so exciting.

Yet I do think it should be possible to do something much more interesting with social networks and games. For example, nearly my entire RPG group is now on Google+, and with its circles, you could have some online game and play it with that circle, without all your other contacts getting annoying messages about it. That's certainly something we intend to explore.

Re:He's right (1)

djowatts (2269380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632340)

Talking of Google+, Anyone want to PM me an Invite?

Designers are Important (3, Insightful)

Veetox (931340) | more than 3 years ago | (#36631938)

In the hands of designers, this has a great deal of potential, but unfortunately it's not in the hands of designers, it's in the hands of marketers.

Bartle is probably a little biased, but he is definitely right... about more than just gaming. The marketing department tends to be in control of to much. Marketing has a simple goal: make products more desirable to the target consumer. This is supposed to involve pre-design data, and post-design constructive criticism.

However, many companies let the marketing department control the entire design process. The accountants tend to have their way with the product as well. In the end, the consumers only get choices between poor-quality products with a shiny vernier. I have no data for the following statement, but personal observation is that this process has made a few people dumber as well...

Designers are important, not only because they aim to produce a creative and unique product, but because they find ways to challenge customers in one way or another. Believe it or not, surmounting challenges are what keep us coming back for more.

Re:Designers are Important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632148)

As a gross generalization the impression that in Apple, designers "own" the product, in Microsoft marketing owns it (and hence the product vision is often "me too"), and in Google engineers own it, but of course have move on to the next interesting thing before doing any boring marketing.

Re:Designers are Important (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633026)

In my opinion, Batle is very biased and frankly, a bit dinosaur.

He is the guy that argues that "Permanent Death" is good thing for MMO (and only hated because of bad past implementations and that intelligent player can be convinced it is good thing for him).

Then, it goes downhill. He is basically all about trying to convicne people that good old hardocre muds were fun and if you do not find then fun, you are stupid. Any innovation is, of course, stupid too because it dilludes old and superior design. He is the guy that mocks player who wants to join up group of his friends in dungeon without havign to travel world for half and hour.

Game designed by this guy would be, well, disaster. Marketers made better games than him because they make games for their current customers while he wants to make game for his 20-something self.

Read and laugh: []

This Reminds Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632034)

This reminds me of my favorite social site, you are rewarded points based on what you say.
And I must say that site is not in the hands of designers either.

Re:This Reminds Me (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632110)

This reminds me of my favorite social site, you are rewarded points based on what you say..

Or have them taken away

(Score: -1, Troll)

That depends on your definition of fun! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632042)

While I agree with the author and find games like farmville and mafia wars completely unfulfilling, I never found MUDS that enjoyable either. This comes from the fact I'm a visual person. I learn visually, I experience visually... you get the idea. Games like Everquest and World of Warcraft appeased me much more. Story is always important and with MUDS it's absolutely essential to have a good experience.

With WoW or EQ, not only do you have a good storyline but you get to see the combined creative 'juice' for lack of a better word, with the environment, weapons, armor, items, magic... etc. You get to see it through their eyes and often times it's so much more well thought out than something I would.

This circles back to what your definition of fun is. Many people prefer books to movies. The same argument applies. I like movies 100 times more simply because I can SEE what the author meant. Of course... this is subject to the director of the movie not pulling a Transformers or such. (damn you michael bay).

So in the end it all comes to the eye of the beholder and what is fun for that person.

movies == what the author meant? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633054)

I like movies 100 times more simply because I can SEE what the author meant.

No, you're seeing the director's interpretation of what the author meant, as constrained by the producers, budget, ratings system, skill of the actors, etc.

Even with the adaptation of comic books to movies (both visual mediums), some authors (eg, Alan Moore [] ) have made comments on how they are effectively two different stories, as how the reader/viewer interacts with the medium is different. (pause the movie, and go check out what happened 5 minutes before to see how it relates to what just happened? Maybe in your own home, but in theatres, it means you have to watch it over and over again.)

If you think that the movie is what the author intended, you're deluding yourself. The only time that *might* be true is when the movie came first, and the book was released second, or at the same time. (and not the 'book based on the movie', written by someone completely different). The only one that comes to mind where the movie and book are near equals was a TV series, not a movie -- Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman []

All in the definition... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632082)

Pure poppycock. This is nothing more than somebody arguing that their definition of fun is different than yours and you are wrong.

Source on Gamification (2)

retroworks (652802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632106)

A) He isn't having fun in social games

B) He makes statements like " This has led to gamification. "

C) He also had no fun at the prom. He found it had led to dancification and kissification.

Re:Source on Gamification (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632166)

He should play Recettear so he can have yayifications.

Re:Source on Gamification (1)

RanceJustice (2028040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632272)

Gamification is a very useful term for what we think of as "social network gaming"; not just an indicative that someone isn't enjoying the formula. "Gamification" is basically taking the elements that make someone play a game or engage in certain behavior and applying them to other applications - The yogurt shoppe near me punches a card every time I buy so much froyo, and provides a free item when the card is full. That's no different than an "Achievement" that unlocked a perk. The business thinks, "If we dangle this carrot, they'll come back". Now, I have about 4 full punch cards by now that I always forget to put into my wallet - I go for fantastic yogurt and the one hostess with the crush on me that provides me the *good* tea from the back - but the theory is still sound.

When these theories are applied back to games again, it is typically through the marketing lens of "can we create a super addictive game that makes us far more money than a good one"? Typically, what they choose time and time again is the "skinner box" theory - Press button, get reward. All these "social" network games take it one step forward though so its "You can't press your OWN button. You have to press someone else's button in the hopes that someone will press yours" - this is Farmville, Mafia Wars and other "social "games in an instant. Its not a game, its an obligation - We've all seen SouthPark's Facebook Episode and read about the people who break up relationships and friendships because Person B did not come online to tend to Person A's virtual farm fast enough, crops died etc... add in microtransactions and you're paying for someone who's harvesting your information and enticing you to convince every friend, family member and acquaintance into your virtual goatroap!

These are not good games. They're not fun. They are carefully designed with some extremely powerful aspects of gamification that, if they work on a majority of the populace, will make for more money then developing true virtual worlds where actual choice and selective rewards are present - with a strong enough dose of gamification, the illusion is indistinguishable.

Re:Source on Gamification (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632712)

I have no strong feelings either way about social gaming (I don't play those games and I'm not particularly drawn to them), however, to say they're not fun because they're addictive and habit forming and are a means to get more money from users is like saying alcohol is not fun for the exact same reasons (it's addictive, it often relies on the fact that your friends are doing it, and the producers will do anything to sell you another bottle, after all, they care more about making money than producing a cultured, vintage drinking experience). This is not some kind of slave trade we're talking about - if people didn't enjoy the games, wouldn't they move on and find other ways to amuse themselves? Just because we can't see the point, it doesn't make them pointless.

Re:Source on Gamification (1)

PlaneShaper (1830294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634292)

if people didn't enjoy the games, wouldn't they move on and find other ways to amuse themselves?

If people didn't enjoy abusive relationships, wouldn't they move on and find other ways to amuse themselves? What's being discussed by "gamification" is really the exploitation of human social behavior to accept a situation as an obligation instead of a choice.

When *you* have to press buttons so that *your friend* can obtain a reward or satisfaction from a game, then not doing so is letting your friend down. It's quite possible that the experience can be fun and rewarding for both of you. But TFA is essentially arguing that current social games are placing a much greater design emphasis on setting up the "obligation trap" than actually making the experience fun so that you both would choose to stay. And they are doing this with their bets hedged on this being a more profitable system...which is currently panning out in their favor.

Re:Source on Gamification (1)

benhattman (1258918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637078)

if people didn't enjoy the games, wouldn't they move on and find other ways to amuse themselves?

Short answer - no.

Slightly longer answer - you can exploit human behavior in such a way that they become obsessed with doing something, even when all the actual rewards (fun) from that behavior have disappeared. If I create an activity with the goal of it being fun, and some people become addicted to where they participate long after it's still fun, you might forgive me. I have done some harm (through causing addiction) but it was accidental. If, however, I create an activity with the goal of forming addiction, then you could rightly consider me a slimeball. I am exploiting people even if I do not physically force them to participate. Most (but not all) "Social gaming" was clearly created with the intent to sink as much time as possible, as opposed to producing an activity people would find enjoyable. And that's why you see so much anger her on /.

Re:Source on Gamification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632374)

For point C, I'd say he needs to upgrade his firmware if he's having that problem.

PROMs were obsolete when MUDs had their day. Even the BIOS (babe I oughta shag) uses a EEPROM (electrically excitable people require online master******).

Re:Source on Gamification (1)

reelyanoob (2329548) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632836)

Have you played any number of "social games" on Facebook? I have, mainly at the behest of my girlfriend. Normally I play FPS, RTS, RPG type games, starting from the late 1980's. And I've played a fair few MUDs since the telnet days. Facebook games are OK-ish for a while, but the "social" is only skin deep, and every game uses the same types of interaction. There's little attempt to really explore the possibilities of multi-player. It's like every player creates their own little single-player farm/bakery/city/castle and you get to peek at each other's work and send network "pokes", gifts and requests. That is all you do. How's that really social? At least MUDs or MMO's have a shared world, your avatars can interact, rather than lots of single-player games, only pretending to be linked together. There seems to be a real lack of creativity in the Facebook/flash game making community, they copy each others systems too much. Maybe it's due to technical limitations of the facebook platform, but once proper MUDs/MMOs can run inside facebook, I think they will take off in a big way.

Re:Source on Gamification (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633602)

I've done a little programming through the facebook API, and there is no inherent limitation there. You could basically drop in a flash module that would allow full interaction with other players... like Dragon Quest, or head-to-head arcade games. There's no restriction, really, on what or how information can pass between clients. (There's limits on passing certain types of personal info, but not any sort of game info.)

I think it's not being done because it's harder and more costly to program, and the Zynga model succeeded early and wildly, and so it's what everyone copies.

Re:Source on Gamification (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637900)

" There's little attempt to really explore the possibilities of multi-player.'

On the contrary, companies like Zynga have explored and researched the possibilities of social interaction a hundred times more that most game designers, tweaking all the tiny elements to an optimum range that works on the hairless apes on Facebook - that is then copied to all the games.

All these shallow elements that you mention - they work. They keep the most amount of players coming back. The recovery rate of "energy levels" and waiting time of various in-game activities are tweaked to have the most people log in back to the game. The allowed interactions between you and your "neighbors" are tuned to drive you to interact with as many of them as possible and have players motivate each other to stay in game.

Deep player-to-player interaction and tough challenges ? Meaningful interaction between Johnny-avatar and Jimmy-avatar with actual choices requires non-zero effort and has a chance of conflict, and has less cases where Johnny pokes Jimmy out-of-game saying 'log in now and assist me on Genericville!'. So they are deliberately filtered out of the design because clearly they bring poorer results.

If you want the truth, don't listen to what people say about their preferences, but look at what they do. No matter what features and gameplay people say that they want, they have shown with their mouse clicks what game features they are actually playing, and these Facebook games have proven that (most) people actually want a stupid button that gives out shiny reward-like emotions at an optimal interval.
  After all these manipulations, more people come back to Zynga games than they come back to "proper, good, serious, deep" games. I'm not saying that this is good, but that's how it is in real life - no matter what gamers or critics or designers might say, in practice for every person that would even consider playing FPS or RTS there are ten that prefer Farmville.
Ergo, if a game design theory says that Farmville is inferior to a good FPS or a good RTS or a good RPG, then the theory is simply flawed and false, as it doesn't match what we are seeing in real life. And it's useless to argue about how it should be - just as gravity makes balls roll downwards, our brain reward chemistry makes some "social" gameplay elements more effective than others.

What does fun have to do with it? (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632108)

Solitaire games are still among the most widely played games on computers. I can't say they can be classified as "fun." They are particularly good at being a distraction, clearing the mind and passing time. Playing games is often used for those moments when such things are desired.

Some games are even the source of anger and frustration -- is that "fun"? I am quite sure a few people will answer "yes" but for most people, that's actually not the case.

For most people, they seek "reward" after a challenge. Having the reward is fun for people, but to road to getting there is quite often not fun.

So what is "fun"? I like riding my bicycle. Some games are genuinely fun to me... perhaps this weekend I will load up an old computer with Win98 and set up XWing vs Tie Fighter or something similar. THAT was a fun game. But fun for me and fun for others are different things.

Re:What does fun have to do with it? (2)

dristoph (1207920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634092)

Having worked in social media and social gaming quite a bit in the past, I've heard this and the other side of the argument on "social gaming" many times. Yet no one, on either side of the argument, even those active in the industry to this date, have actually admitted that they themselves play "social games" such as Farmville or Cityville. They have no desire to play the very games they create. They tend to prefer games with deeper strategy, storytelling, or action dynamics. Indeed, Smash Bros and StarCraft were far bigger hits in our office than any of the games we actually made.

But the masses, who evidently do like these games, pay their salaries.

I'm not a diehard entrepreneur ready to seize on this particular trend and perhaps make a nice buck from it just because I can. As a software developer, I'd much rather be working on what I myself consider to be rich, engaging gaming experiences. And that's what I'm doing instead. It helps me sleep at night and wake up in the morning just knowing that I work on the type of game I genuinely enjoy playing.

Re:What does fun have to do with it? (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36636004)

Games like Hearts, Spades, Pinochle and more is what made Yahoo Games so popular for so many years. They were extremely social as everyone chats to each other while taking their turn.

Maybe that's because marketers make money? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632138)

"it's not in the hands of designers, it's in the hands of marketers."

Would you rather make more money? Or a better game.

If your reaction is to ignore the entire sentence except for the word "money" you shouldn't be the guy who takes the decisions about how to manage the money that investors have lent you.

If your reaction is to think that a better game makes more money than a game designed to make more money... Well, it's not going to be me who pops the pretty pink bubble.

so, what's he playing today? (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632164)

WoW? I heard it's pretty "social" (the way he means it) and it's full of micro-rewards that aren't really worth much. Even more "social" games nowdays apparently tend to offer the player virtual extremities bought with real money as "rewards" ... Perhaps the players have changed more than the games on the market.

Re:so, what's he playing today? (1)

reelyanoob (2329548) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632950)

You should read the article. He did say specifically "games played on social network sites", i.e. Facebook flash and Java Applet games is what we're talking here. Boot up Frontierville, Baking Life, Chocolatier, Cafe Life. That sort of thing. Play those for a few weeks, then get back to me. You'll know what he's talking about then. Or, if you want something more "manly" try Battle Stations, Kingdoms of Camelot, Legacy of a Thousand Suns. Those are a little better, but not as "popular" as the type listed above.

Re:so, what's he playing today? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633626)

This may sound archaic, but I wonder if the reason social games seem so terrible to anyone who knows games, is because girls.

Those games are for them, not us.

On a Broader Note of Games in General (1)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632234)

The interesting question is where they keep getting their money to create such PoS that have been driveling into the gaming industry for the last six years. They can cop out and just copy/paste the latest shinies into their game that keep the mob at bay, but never make anything truly amazing. Even the better game developers have realized how easy it is to just stop putting so much effort in and start producing steaming piles of crap. Even more so when you realize a lot of game developers aren't even pushing forward graphically or computationally anymore. The no brainer, the eye candy, the brute force mechanic that can make your game shinier then others they don't even care to do anymore. ...yet where do they get their money to produce the latest clones that suck balls? I, I'm sure like many others of the newer generation that were raised and bred on the PC (not the console), have many amazing ideas for the next greatest blockbuster yet have no where to actually go with this. From what I've seen the industry is a chicken and an egg problem. They only want accomplished people who have already put out tripple A titles before they even look at you, let alone sneeze on you. I really would like to know how exactly games that have no more then the premise of 'just like that other clone' and 'check these boxes' can get multi-million dollar funding and tank time and again.

Like the opening post states, current social games aren't fun (applies to current MMOs too). Hell, people are starting to realize how terrible WoW crack really is and they're getting sick of it (impart why I believe Guild Wars 2 will do so well). It's just a grind and a regrind, you can't really even have a lot of fun with friends... you can quest (which works for maybe 2-3 people), but if you do content with any sort of breadth you spend half the time frustrated or pissed off at the friends you're supposed to be having fun with.

The kicker is, if someone does get let in with one of those sparklie ideas the industry was founded on it will utterly rape all the competition... WoW, CoD, all the games that are preying on nostalgia now will not hold a snowballs chance in hell to match them. The torrent of clones that will follow it will pail in comparison as they will only grasp an insignificant portion of what makes up that game and the metrics they can pull from it. I personally am waiting for that day with glee when I can jump up and down, clap my hands, and grin like a fricking idiot without being left to feel like one as the hype fades and I realize what a PoS I spent $60 on. I will feel good as I can have fun doing one of the things in life I originally loved doing without lowering my standards or pretending the game is fun when it is clearly not.

I personally want to get into the game industry just so I can have something fun to play in my leisure time once again...

Re:On a Broader Note of Games in General (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632748)

I personally want to get into the game industry just so I can have something fun to play in my leisure time once again...

Good luck with that. From what I gather, if you get into the game industry you won't have any leisure time.

Re:On a Broader Note of Games in General (1)

dentin (2175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632934)

I'm in the game industry, and I know exactly where they keep getting their money: investors looking to make a quick buck. Gaming is becoming the new rage, and everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie. Anyone with minimum competence and a business plan can get a couple million dollars these days. I've personally tracked a couple of these games (Earth Eternal springs to mind) from creation to destruction to see what was going on.

It's really just another bubble. It'll seethe and froth for a while, but eventually it'll settle down into a stable market.

kind of a subjective point (2)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632530)

OK, so some designer says that a simple system of semi-addictive task/reward dependencies isn't "fun".

That's self-evidently not true by an objective measure. Lots of people play them, ergo, to many people it IS fun.

I don't think running on a treadmill (or any running, frankly; I *am* posting on slashot...) is "fun" either, but I'd expect that a significant number of runners would disagree with me.

It's more like he's complaining that the task/reward system is so dull and transparent that it is uninteresting. That may be true, I certainly don't find them fun myself. But for a good 6 years I played WoW intensively, which is only marginally more complex in essence (although a great deal more varied). I was having a lot of fun, although in retrospect I have trouble understanding why, even in my own personal context.

Arguing over what's objectively "fun" is like arguing which is "better", orange or blue.

Re:kind of a subjective point (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632824)

You assume the only reason people play games is because they are fun. That's not necessarily the case. They may be playing because it was fun in the past, and expect it to be fun in the future. Or they may be playing because it's easy and occupying which can be rewarding but falls short of fun.

Re:kind of a subjective point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634342)

Or they may be playing because they expect to have future fun enabled by non-fun now. That is a common feature in MMORPGs, at least - the days spent level-grinding or collecting whatever the game uses are currency. They arn't fun at all. Players still spend the time because it leads to them having higher levels and better equipment, and thus to the very fun indeed handing out of the ass-kickings later on.

Re:kind of a subjective point (1)

dentin (2175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632900)

WoW is one of the few games that I persistently lost players to. WoW really does have nearly everything - an actual social environment, huge game world to explore, hooks to keep you leveling, stuff to do, stuff to learn. WoW isn't the juggernaut because it's the largest; WoW is the juggernaut because they built a damned good game that appeals to a lot of people.

Re:kind of a subjective point (1)

reelyanoob (2329548) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633094)

In fact WoW or MMO's in general are NOT the targets of Bartle's complaints. He's taking aim at facebook flash games which are hyped as "multi-player" but are really just repetitive single-player games with a thin veneer of linkage to your "facebook friends". They really blackmail you to keep logging back in, i.e. "log in at 4pm or we'll kill your crops"

Re:kind of a subjective point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634610)

People don't always play games because they're fun. Skinner boxes are not fun yet animals (humans included) will spend crap tons of time engaged in the Skinner box activity.

Re:kind of a subjective point (1)

benhattman (1258918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637398)

That's self-evidently not true by an objective measure. Lots of people play them, ergo, to many people it IS fun.

Kind of a false assumption. Lots of people could play because they feel compelled (I want to stop but can't). They could play because they feel pressured (I don't really like the game, but all my friends are doing it). They could play because it smooths relationships (hey, thanks for watering my pumpkins). Or they could play because they feel driven to complete things (gotta catch 'em all).

A quick rule of thumb is that if you won't look back on the activity fondly in a few years time, it probably never was fun for you.

Obviously (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632550)

They are not supposed to be fun, they are supposed to make money.

MUDs were never that much fun either (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632640)

It was mostly a lot of tintin clients running around attacking mobs below their level and never interacting. Until I discovered a item cloning bug (related to what I believe was a really slow sync on a HDD) on my favorite dikumud, I never had enough time to to do anything except gather gold for the "rent". The infinite diamonds allowed me to just sit around the inn and role-play, which was actually fun if a real person stopped by.

Re:MUDs were never that much fun either (1)

twocows (1216842) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633248)

I second this. My experience with MUDs was never that great, and it got worse the more players began to leave. They seemed like they wanted to be both a social experience and a game, but failed at both.

Conversely, my experience with modern games has been great. There are plenty of great games these days that are tons of fun to play (I think I put somewhere upward of 700 hours in Left 4 Dead 1 over the course of about a year, Team Fortress 2 is probably even higher), and Steam is exposing me to a lot of independent games I hadn't heard of before (Braid, a single-player game, is probably somewhere in my top 25 games). Plus you've got Blizzard releasing Starcraft 2 and (sometime soon, hopefully) Diablo 3, and Battlefield 3 is coming out soon. And the best thing is that I've met a ton of great people on most of these games. Voice chat is a feature in almost every first person shooter, and if you play on the same servers most of the time you get to know some great people. Other games still have text chat; I can't tell you how many people I met online back in high school playing Diablo 2 or Starcraft over, which was rather like its own IRC network back then (I'm still friends with one of the guys I met on there).

I think the success for the social aspects of these games relies on the fact that they're not trying to be a social experience at the same time; they're just trying to be fun games. When you make a fun game with even the most basic communication features, people will build a community around it. If it's not fun, nobody will care how much social integration there is.

The reason the social networking games are still around and making money despite this is because they approach it differently. Rather than try to make a fun game, they make a minimal game with some minor RPG elements, and then tie things like leveling up to the number of people you've coerced into playing the game for your benefit. The more people you get involved, the more you benefit. It's kind of like a pyramid scheme. Actually, scratch that; it is a pyramid scheme, except that people on the lower rungs can pay hard money to move up. And nobody in the pyramid actually profits except the people who made it.

Preaching to the choir (2)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632642)

I said the same thing months ago, but I don't have anywhere near the developer cred that Bartle does. These games are 'social' in the same way that leaving a post-it note on the fridge, asking your roommate to take the trash out, is social. Contact is brief and through a silent third party, with no opportunity for extended communication (negotiation, clarification, etc.) without going through a totally different third party such as e-mail, telephone, or Facebook messaging.

The platform may be social, but the games in practice quite often are not. Players perform an end run on the 'beg other players for X of Y material' mechanic by registering shill accounts to work for themselves, or applying themselves to vast lists of other players that they don't know, who end up merely pressing the occasional button for one another without pursuing contact beyond those mechanical benefits.

No need to worry - MUDs arn't dead yet! (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632820)

There might be fewer than 15 years ago but there are still plenty around - as a quick Google will show - and there must be a new generation discovering them now as they do have quite a few users and I can't believe its 30 and 40 somethings doing the same quests over and over again that they were doing in their teens and 20s back in the 90s.

MUDs are still alive... (1)

dentin (2175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632868)

I understand completely what Bartle is saying, and I don't just see it in facebook games. A lot of MMOs seem to be going the same direction - emphasize item collection and checkpoints over actually having a fun game. The down side of this is that the MMO and social game space are incredibly full of games like this and it's hard for truly original, independent games to get noticed. The up side is that I've been watching these games drop like flies for the last four years. The psychological tricks and 'next upgrade' hooks that pull in people don't appear to work forever. People gradually build up immunity, and I suspect that immunity builds much faster than is currently believed.

I've been running the MUD Alter Aeon for sixteen years now, and I've seen a lot of people come and go through the game. I have had a lot of players leave and tell me they're going to go play a different game; a couple months later, they're almost always back. The reasons vary; sometimes it's because they finished all the available content, sometimes because the game is just bad, sometimes because it costs too much, or is boring, or there's noone to talk to.

I know a big part of our success is because the social aspect of AA is an actual social aspect, with friends and community instead of my mom harvesting eggs for me. People talk, play, and occasionally even fall in love on AA; I have not yet heard of that happening in farmville. That said, the social aspect only goes so far. Until recently, I felt that AA's actual story content was middle of the road at best; but having actually explored and looked at the garbage other games are putting forward, I now understand why we have a loyal, growing player base while other games die. Not only do we have a lot of awesome content, but our game mechanics and customization allow people to build up truly unusual characters that you can't easily construct on other games. There's also a lot of "emergent" gameplay, where learning the various complexities of the game can really pay off in some situations.

I think to really have an outstanding MMO, you have to have everything - the psychological hooks to give people something to progress toward; actual gameplay that's fun and interesting; game and world interactions that are complex and are fun to learn; and a strong social element for people to really communicate and work together. New MMOs without an established player base that think they can get away with only one are going to be sorely disappointed.

No Kidding! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36632908)

They're basically exploiting the collector's instinct in people and forcing them sift through hours of bullshit for little bits of success with no actual gameplay involved. Calling them "social" is a joke as the only thing social about them is that they happen to take place on social networks (which are also an affront to what should be considered social by society). A true social game is just good old multiplayer. Give me Goldeneye or Super Smash Bros over farmville or mob wars any day.

But the thing is, even this next wave of "gam-ified" networks that are popping up, networks like foursquare and SCVNGR, really aren't even social either. Again they're driven by this top-down mentallity where the game is designed as a business first and fun-to-play second. Not that there's anything especially wrong with that, if that's what pays the bills, go for it. But they're still not particularly fun. Checking in sucks and needlessly exposes your private information to strangers.

For my senior thesis I just did I actually designed a social networking game that tried to take all the fun aspects of social games but focus them more on the player and not on getting local advertising dollars. I think it'd be fun but it probably wouldn't make much money. Speaking of which, anybody looking to invest in a gaming start-up?

Ruined by greed. (2)

badass fish (1254730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36632938)

I was recently cured of social games by the micro payment craze. A very nice tower defense game on an unnamed social network was completely hamstrung by the fact that to advance at a decent rate you would be charged about $2.50 for a upgrade gem which might work or might drop your tower level back multiple levels. Also after doing some basic math i found out they had an option to buy a new type of tower for $200. dollars no that's not a typo. Now don't get me wrong it was a great game that i would have purchased for 30- 40 dollars for a full version but to be constantly used as an ATM by devs was unacceptable and encouraged me to drop social gaming all together.

Agreed, micropayments suck (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633788)

I can't for the life of me see how games with micropayments even stay online. Must be kids with their parents credit cards?

Question for the community (1)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633016)

It seems like a social network has some good infrastructure to run a campaign with a pencil and paper style game - has anyone seen any of these incorporated into their social network of choice? The ability to talk with friends in tandem with the ability to push out posts to any device, be it computer or cellphone, seems like it would be an easy way to both log your session, craft the literary details of your world, and also to keep everyone in the game in sync with where the story/party is in. Does anyone run these, or have you heard of them being used this way? I'd love to have some names dropped if you do!

Simplification and socialization (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633250)

I agree with Bartle about the facebook games. It blows my mind that the most popular SOCIAL NETWORK has games in which the most social interaction that goes on happens by having annoying requests piped though the walls of people who mostly don't give a crap. And I also think they're ultimately boring. I think you can have a successful game with enduring popularity if it's also a social one. A lot of people back in the heyday of MUDs used to chat more than they played. I made a few modifications to Galactic Trader [] just to make it more social. It's basically a text-mode version of Elite, but that simplification makes it more accessible. And anyone who can get past the lack of eye-candy will probably enjoy the social aspects of cooperative play.

Refuse to play them (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36633746)

I refuse to play any game that requires your friends help to play, like the so called games on Facebook. I do play a couple simple MMORPG's to relax, where I can casually chat with friends and peeps I bump into all over the world while I play.

Sid Meier - Civlization (1)

Slider451 (514881) | more than 3 years ago | (#36636012)

Sid Meier might have the answer. He's bringing a version of Civilization to Facebook. My respect for him is enough to take a look. That will total exactly 1 Facebook game I've ever tried.

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