What I learned from Farmville, so you don't have to play it

73cdb3f1864e4483f2d1a4fd1fc54a2a?s=47 brianmeidell
June 29, 2012
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What I learned from Farmville, so you don't have to play it

Slides from a talk about what indie game developers and game designers of traditional games can learn from Zynga's Farmville.

Made for "regular" and indie game developers for Spilbar 4.0 in march of 2011

73cdb3f1864e4483f2d1a4fd1fc54a2a?s=128

brianmeidell

June 29, 2012
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Transcript

  1. What  I  learned  from  Farmville   So  you  don’t  have

     to  play  it   (you  lucky  sonofagun)  
  2. 8  lessons  plus  bonus  

  3. Who  and  why?       •  Invested  Bme  and

     money  in  playing  Farmville   •  Analyzed  it   •  Wrote  an  arBcle  about  it   •  Was  accidentally  read  by  a  lot  of  people  due  to  hackernews   Brian  Meidell   CTO   Space  Time  Foam   Pilestræde,  Denmark  
  4. Brian’s  life  in  30  seconds   1985:  ”I  want  to

     be  an  inventor!"     1995:  Wannabe  illustrator/animator     1997:  Engineer  (Denmarks  Tech  University)     2000:  MulBplayer  matching  (NetworkLeague)     2002:  Flash  games  (Titoonic)     2003:  AAA/Core:  Hitman,  etc.  (Io  InteracBve)     2006:  Casual  games  (The  Game  EquaBon)     2010:  Indie  games  (Space  Time  Foam)  
  5. My  intro  to  Farmville   Vader,  Darth   COO,  Sith

     Corp  
  6. Gartner's  Hype  Cycle   Fig  1:  Skamløst  stjålet  fra  wikipedia

     
  7. Social  Games   The  new  Klondike  Gold  Rush!    

    2010:     ”If  it’s  social,   it  will  be  a  hit!"     1999:     ”If  it’s  dot  com,     it  will  be  a  hit!"     1480:   ”If  it’s  printed  on  paper,   it  will  be  a  hit!"    
  8. Social  games,  2010  

  9. Social  games,  2011  

  10. Why  did  I  play  Farmville?   •  Everyone  in  the

     known  universe:  “Are  you  doing  social?”   •  Immediate  reacBon:  “Garhh,  horrible  crap  game!”   •  You  should  challenge  your  ingrown  angry-­‐old-­‐man  opinions   •  Farmville:  <2  years  old,  >62  million  acBve  users   •  Zynga  is  supposedly  worth  more  than  EA   •  Casual  taught  me  to  look  beyond  core  gameplay  for  the  value    
  11. What  did  I  find  out?  

  12. I’m  right!   FarmVille  is  a  horrible  crap  game  

      (terrible  ui,  flaky,  constant  popups,  no  actual  gameplay,  infinite  collecBon  hell,  only  compulsion,  no  fun  at   all)  
  13. ...  But  it  has  a  fantasBc  distribuBon-­‐   and  markeBng-­‐model.

     
  14. Why  is  this  relevant  to  an  (indie)   game  designer?

     
  15. Spread/distribuBon  is  your  biggest   challenge  

  16. What  can  we  take  away  from  social?     • 

    Retain  your  players   •  Players  engage  and  involve  each  other   •  Player  recruit  each  other   •  Spread  is  built  into  the  game  design    
  17. In  other  words…  

  18. You  can  learn  from  Zynga,  without   becoming  soul-­‐less  corporate

      repBles.      
  19. What  does  Farmville  do?   Sit  up,  and  listen  very

     carefully  –  the   next  slide  reveals  it  all.  
  20. FarmVille:  Core  Game  Mechanic   Without  social  game  mechanics  

    1. Click  the  square  (plow)   2. Click  the  square  (plant)   3. Click  the  square    (harvest)   4. Go  to  point  1      
  21. 3564  Bmes  “click  the  square”→  Fun    

  22. FarmVille:  With  Social  mechanics   All  submechanics  support  each  other,

     yellow  lines  indicate  the  money  shortcut  
  23. FarmVille  MoBvaBon-­‐Flow  (Simplified)   Bonus:  This  is  true  for  most

     free  to  play  games  today  
  24. Take-­‐away:  9  lessons  plus  bonus  

  25. Lesson  1:  Where  is  the  value?   Find  out  what

     is  valuable  to  you,  and  to  the  player.   Sith:   •  Only  your  value   •  Hollow  game   •  EVERYTHING  leads  to     payment  
  26. Lesson  1:  Where  is  the  value?   Find  out  what

     is  valuable  to  you,  and  to  the  player.   Sith:   •  Only  your  value   •  Hollow  game   •  EVERYTHING  leads  to     payment   Jedi:   •  Value  for  you  and  the   player   •  Consider  the  balance   •  Give  back!  
  27. Lesson  2:  Mutually  enforcing  mechanics   Make  a  diagram  of

     your  submechanics  and  how  they  connect   Sith:   •  Leave  out  what  is     valuable  to  the     player     •  Pressure  funnel  for   payment   Jedi:   •  Route  everything  through   player  value   •  IdenBfy  and  enhance   different  player  styles   •  Use  it  to  make  more  fun  
  28. Lesson  3:  RecruiBng   Sith:   •  Require  recruitment  

  29. Lesson  3:  RecruiBng   Sith:   •  Require  recruitment  

    Jedi:   •  Easy  to  recruit   •  Friends  =>  more  fun   •  Demonstrate  the  fun   •  Share-­‐worthy  &  Click-­‐ worthy  
  30. Lesson  4:  Sell  your  players  things   Sith:   • 

    Insert  coin  to  play   •  Pay  to  skip  boring   gameplay   •  Payment  choke-­‐points  late   in  game   •  Sell  Fuel  
  31. Lesson  4:  Sell  your  players  things   Sith:   • 

    Insert  coin  to  play   •  Pay  to  skip  boring   gameplay   •  Payment  choke-­‐points  late   in  game   •  Sell  Fuel   Jedi:   •  Fans  want  to  give  you   money   •  Personal  expression   •  Sell  content   •  Sell  even  more  fun  
  32. Lesson  5:  Play-­‐scheduling   Get  the  player  to  come  back

     with  regular  intervals   Sith:   •  Punish  people  who  don’t     •  Force  new  schedules  
  33. Lesson  5:  Play-­‐scheduling   Get  the  player  to  come  back

     with  regular  intervals   Sith:   •  Punish  people  who  don’t     •  Force  new  schedules   Jedi:   •  Reward  people  who  do   •  Value  increasing  even  when   not  playing   •  ”Empty  the  bucket"    
  34. Lesson  6:  Giying   Let  players  give  each  other  stuff

      Sith:   •  Worthless  giys   •  Mechanical   •  Ping  pong  
  35. Lesson  6:  Giying   Let  players  give  each  other  stuff

      Sith:   •  Worthless  giys   •  Mechanical   •  Ping  pong   Jedi:   •  Limit  number   •  Let  it  cost   •  Unlock  stuff  to  give   •  Giys  with  real  value   •  Gearing  (giver  parts  with  X,   receiver  receives  5X)  
  36. Lesson  7:  Reminders   Build  in  reminders  to  play  the

     game   Sith:   •  Spam  =>  Progress   •  Deadlines     •  Many  reminders   •  Send  me  Fuel!   •  Send  a  brick!   •  Rub  my  monkey!  
  37. Lesson  7:  Reminders   Build  in  reminders  to  play  the

     game   Sith:   •  Spam  =>  Progress   •  Deadlines     •  Many  reminders   •  Send  me  Fuel!   •  Send  a  brick!   •  Rub  my  monkey!   Jedi:   •  Schedule  game  sessions   •  Opt-­‐in  ”Empty  the  bucket"   reminders   •  Large  window  of   opportunity  
  38. Lesson  8:  Share  your  accomplishments   Sith:   •  Wall-­‐post

     for  every  rouBne   acBon   •  Thousands  of  zero-­‐effort   "awards"    
  39. Lesson  8:  Share  your  accomplishments   Sith:   •  Wall-­‐post

     for  every  rouBne   acBon   •  Thousands  of  zero-­‐effort   "awards"     Jedi:   •  Joe  Danger:  Youtube   sharing   •  Screenshots   •  Really  admirable  stuff   •  Share-­‐worthy    
  40. Lesson  9:  Metrics   Measure  stuff,  send  info  back  to

     the  mothership   Sith:   •  No  design  vision   •  Metrics  =  game  design   •  Mouth  off  to  the  press   •  Only  ask  “Does  this  make   more  money?”  
  41. Lesson  9:  Metrics   Measure  stuff,  send  info  back  to

     the  mothership   Sith:   •  No  design  vision   •  Metrics  =  game  design   •  Mouth  off  to  the  press   •  Only  ask  “Does  this  make   more  money?”   Jedi:   •  Use  your  experience   •  Metrics  for  evaluaBon     •  Also  ask  “Is  this  more  fun?”  
  42. Li}le  bonus  lessons   •  Catch  the  defectors   • 

    Lure  the  users  back   •  Many  pla~orms   •  Mutual  retenBon   •  Deep  player  investment  
  43. Bonus-­‐Lesson:  Consider  your  pla~orm   Don’t  build  your  expensive  house

     on  sand   Chump:   •  Pla~orm  outside  of  your   control   •  Not  your  users  
  44. Bonus-­‐Lesson:  Consider  your  pla~orm   Don’t  build  your  expensive  house

     on  sand   Chump:   •  Pla~orm  outside  of  your   control   •  Not  your  users   Champ:   •  Start  on  your  own  li}le   channel   •  Standalone  game   •  Facebook  Be-­‐in   •  Get  the  users  
  45. What  did  I  just  say?   Wrong:   •  ”Real"

     games  are  dead  -­‐  facebook  games  are  the  future!     Also  wrong:   •  "Social"  has  nothing  to  offer  “real”  games!     Right:   •  "Social"  is  a  tool  in  your  toolbox   •  Use  it  to  spread  your  games   •  Broad  spectrum  of  socialness  
  46. Thank  you!   Brian  Meidell   brian@spaceBmefoam.dk   h}p://www.spaceBmefoam.dk  

      h}p://about.me/brianmeidell