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Innovation in Social Gaming


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#1 MashesButtons   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 01:46 PM

This is a topic I feel many designers, developers, and gamers intentionally neglect. Social gaming has huge, untapped potential, because the goal is to turn human interaction into a game mechanic. However, right now, most if not every social game the player to player interaction falls into one of the two categories: Score Comparison or Bonus Resources. The market for these games is huge, and we should really be trying to take advantage of it.

Right now, I am developing a social game with asynchronous PvP play, with both an attacker and a defender. The attacker plays a stealth game, and the defender plays a tower defense game. The goal is to also allow for the defender to have limited forms of information in order to change of improve their defense.

One person who I have spoken to believes that co-operative play has a lot of potential.

What kind of mechanics or social interactions do you think we should be using for social games?

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#2 justdashplease   Members   -  Reputation: 98

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:32 PM

Im glad you mentioned this. I was thinking of expanding not only the system but also gameplay of NPC interaction in JRPGs. I like your social game idea, How have the response been?

The enemies can come into towns or NPCs accidentally find themselves in your battle.
Another idea i had was the idea of running your own shops in JRPGs.
They can help run the store or be a rival or even a thief.
Some other idea, they can steal/trade stats,items and money.

#3 Awennor   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 01 October 2011 - 02:35 PM

The mechanic for Tower Defense VS Stealth is definitely interesting! As far as social mechanics go, The Sims is quite social on social.

I think social games should have more ways to compete actively in PVP and your idea is a step in that direction

#4 ImmoralAtheist   Members   -  Reputation: 118

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 04:01 PM

(lan gaming):
Strategy games have great potential for cooperative gameplay (players vs cpu), if the AI is good enough. Very often one player is much less experienced than the other. The less experienced don't think it's funny becaue they will only lose. They (especially the less experienced one) would like to play together. Problem is that AI often sucks. I really like Age of empires II (still the typical lan game I play), but AI is kinda bad.

Battlefield 2 is another good cooperative game, but unfortunately you can't mix bots, forcing you to play against each other, and often you're just to few.

Ofcourse mmo games have massive social gaming potential. There are no proper persistent world mmorts games out there. A big fault with mmorp games is primarily a solo experience. In guild wars 2 they've designed content to naturally bring people together, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.

#5 Zethariel   Members   -  Reputation: 310

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 01:14 AM

I too believe that the cooperative aspect of games is being wildly neglected these days. Back in the day, where LAN was a rarity and internetz ran on modem, most FPS games had cooperative gameplay -- Duke Nukem 3D, Hexen, Serious Sam to name just a few. Nowadays, it's only competetive play, if any.

Some games are trying to create cooperative experiences, but in most cases, it's a cheap DLC that is more of a shiny distraction than a main course. So far, apart from the old games mentioned, I liked Gears of War cooperative play (no idea how the consoles fare, only a PC here). The story maybe wasn't high and mighty, but me and my brother had tons of fun while playing. Fable 3 did try hard to be a good coop game, but in the end, it didn't live up to its older brothers. FEAR 3 did their stuff right, albeit I heard that singleplayer was sacrificed in the process (and the mood, which evaporated).

Let's face it, Last Stand is a cooperative game-mode, not a game itself. It is a supplement to an either single-player experience or a competetive core. F.e. Global Agenda tried to be fair and gave the players the choice to play either PvE or PvP. As fun as PvE was, it was PvP that was at the core and kept players going.

At the end of the day, as ImmoralAtheist said, the AI is dumb. We like to fight against a common enemy that we know has no remorse or feelings, cannot abuse us verbally and will stick to the rules -- yet, it does not feel challenging enough, and it is apparent on each step that we are playing against a machine. Yet, this sensation can be masked pretty well -- in most cases, it is as simple as saying "aliens are stupid, they act that way, go and shoot them". I'm awaiting the release of Exterminatus DLC for Space Marine -- if at least a quarter of what THQ/Relic say is true, the coop game-mode of the game should feel a lot more like a proper game.

EDIT: Almost forgot about the really good ones -- Diablo, Borderlands... Dead Island to some extent. Maybe the market isn't so forsaken after all, it's just that it awakens really slowly from whatever coma it was in.
Disclaimer: Each my post is intended as an attempt of helping and/or brining some meaningfull insight to the topic at hand. Due to my nature, my good intentions will not always be plainly visible. I apologise in advance and assure I mean no harm and do not intend to insult anyone, unless stated otherwise

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#6 MashesButtons   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 11:34 AM

We're approaching Alpha, so we haven't done a lot of testing. However, the reception from just explaining how the game will work has been incredibly positive. Testing will begin in a few weeks.
If someone found a way to turn a shooter into an asynchronous social/Facebook game that was more than just score comparison, I think that would be freaking huge.

Persistence, if done right, would be amazing. To many social games are single player experiences. One interesting way to do this in a social RPG could be to have the ability to give out quests, where you ask other players to bring you rare or hard to reach items and pay them/give them experience for their troubles. That way there isn't an over reliance on main game quests, and the quest options would change for every player over time.

#7 klefebz   Members   -  Reputation: 244

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 04:05 PM

We're approaching Alpha, so we haven't done a lot of testing. However, the reception from just explaining how the game will work has been incredibly positive. Testing will begin in a few weeks.
If someone found a way to turn a shooter into an asynchronous social/Facebook game that was more than just score comparison, I think that would be freaking huge.

Persistence, if done right, would be amazing. To many social games are single player experiences. One interesting way to do this in a social RPG could be to have the ability to give out quests, where you ask other players to bring you rare or hard to reach items and pay them/give them experience for their troubles. That way there isn't an over reliance on main game quests, and the quest options would change for every player over time.


Players giving quests sounds great!
Maybe you could make that each class produces a resource, and player need every resource, but they can only be given as quest rewards.
I don't play MMOs because I would become addicted

#8 Eiviyn   Members   -  Reputation: 111

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 07:43 PM

The problem with user-made quests is always going to be vulnerability to being exploited.

EVE online has something similar to this where a player can create contracts, typically involving the delivery of an item from one locale to another. This works well as the reward is often worth the effort, and the task is actually something the player wants.

With that in mind, crafting-centric player quests come to mind. Similar to how an auction house works, where goods are displayed with their price alongside them, this quest system could be like this, but in reverse. The quest lists item(s) required, and the reward (probably the game's currency).

Now the trick would be to force the player to rely on others to complete their quest. This could be done by preventing certain classes from undertaking the quest (I want 10 potions, but I'm not an alchemist).

I feel this system would be difficult to exploit, but all things considered, it just doesn't seem very fun. Relying on people in gaming tends to be slower than simply doing it yourself, and this creates frustration. I would love to see a game effectively pull off user-made questing, but despite the above idea, I'm drawing a blank.

#9 Zethariel   Members   -  Reputation: 310

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:01 AM

User made quests, for me, look just like a warped auction house. You supply demand, state your price, get the goods. And yeah, it is slow and vulnerable to exploits, as new players might not be aware of a certain economy, and players will easilly be able to resell goods to unsuspecting honest players.

The best type of quests I can think of are purelly RPG quests -- Gorgon is ruining the nearby city. You have to travel deep south to meet a monk who will show you the Monkey Hand technique. Knowing that, you have to sneak up on Gorgon when he sleeps during the day and serve justice.

Hmm. I have this idea of actually having the quest giver get a reward from the player in the form of some reputation points or so. The player will "appreciate" the quest, if it is well written. That would of course require the game easy access to making such quests, even a text based one would be a lot of hassle -- but still, it would be a nice creative toy. And implementing asynchronous, multiplayer coop wouldn't be much of an issue methinks. Will deffinetlly explore this idea at some point.
Disclaimer: Each my post is intended as an attempt of helping and/or brining some meaningfull insight to the topic at hand. Due to my nature, my good intentions will not always be plainly visible. I apologise in advance and assure I mean no harm and do not intend to insult anyone, unless stated otherwise

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#10 J-dog   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:58 AM

One excellent example of cooperative play (to me) which has not been touched on here is Left 4 dead - the atmosphere is fantastic and the degree tension that game throw at a group of 4 friends is so steep that cooperation is not an option, it's absolutely necessary. What the game pulls off well is that it's very clear that your allies' lives are precious and losing them will cost you the game too. Even so, I think this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

But like anything else, I think social gaming mechanics are in extreme danger of being gimmicky. To be fair, how many such features have really been effective at kindling cooperation between players? And that's no small feat , too!

To be honest, sometimes I wonder whether we're really making progress in this way. I played Ultima Online years ago and I absolutely loved it - I had a very strong network of friends on there and it was very much a social experience for me. For those that haven't played (vanilla, not expansions) Ultima online, the game did not have levels. You raised individual skills by just using them, and I think skills were set up in a very nice way such that you could get way without fighting at all - in fact, dungeon crawling was hardly profitable at all, and as such, had to be supported by other trades, such as mining, farming, crafting, etc.

World of Warcraft, comparatively, feels like much more of a numbers game. The professions are nothing but gimmicks for item creation etc, and although I admit that the game does offer a great social aspect (raids etc), it has a kind of tunnel-vision to it and lacks (in my opinion) the richness and variety of what ultima online had. Such as...

  • Crafting skills were far more robust and could create far more items than NPC's offered. In fact, it was usually NECESSARY to buy from players and not from NPCs.
  • ...in additon, players could buy houses to furnish and set up their own NPC to sell their produce within them. These were the most exciting stores in the game, NPC produce was bland and stock-standard compared to player-made products.
  • With a little effort, items could be harvested or farmed (I mean litreally - planting seeds and having magic reagents grow) for much greater output - this also allowed for players to wholesale!
  • Players could not communicate with ghosts (dead players) unless they learnt a skill to do so. Because bodies (and items (!!)) decayed quite rapidly if left lying there, this skill could prove extremely useful for helping players down on their luck.
  • Ultimately, no player could be a jack of all trades and had to pick half a dozen or so skills to focus on. This led to a wonderful diversity in the player base.
I spent a lot of time mixing potions to sell in addition to farming and such. I even ran a small business with some friends making leather caps and reselling them. I actually spent more time socialising and gathering items, learning skills in the safety of town than adventuring and fighting. And that was awesome. Players need to be given a correct context in which to socalise, and if there are clear rewards for doing such tasks, and they are fun to do, players will do them. Take away some of the NPC "training-wheels" and some of the content that manages itself, and put it into the hands of the players.

...Okay, forgive the rant. But UO was a wonderful online experience, and with every MMORPG copying WOW in some way, I just think we really have room for this kind of variety. Of course, I'm ignoring whole other aspects of social gaming with this post, but it's just such a diverse topic.

#11 Liosse de Velishaf   Members   -  Reputation: 114

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:04 PM

User made quests, for me, look just like a warped auction house. You supply demand, state your price, get the goods. And yeah, it is slow and vulnerable to exploits, as new players might not be aware of a certain economy, and players will easilly be able to resell goods to unsuspecting honest players.

The best type of quests I can think of are purelly RPG quests -- Gorgon is ruining the nearby city. You have to travel deep south to meet a monk who will show you the Monkey Hand technique. Knowing that, you have to sneak up on Gorgon when he sleeps during the day and serve justice.

Hmm. I have this idea of actually having the quest giver get a reward from the player in the form of some reputation points or so. The player will "appreciate" the quest, if it is well written. That would of course require the game easy access to making such quests, even a text based one would be a lot of hassle -- but still, it would be a nice creative toy. And implementing asynchronous, multiplayer coop wouldn't be much of an issue methinks. Will deffinetlly explore this idea at some point.



This reminds me of an issue I had when I was thinking about AR LARP games. One of the issues I had was that I was looking for more player-driven game-play.

It occured to me that for a player to give out a ques and have it not be item-farming or ant, they need to have some sort of stake in the result. Using the example of the Gorgon attacking a city, perhaps the player has guild-mates or friends in that city, but can't do anything about the situation personally. Then it makes sense for them to offer a reward or bounty to someone else who might deal with the situation.

You have to set up an environment where there's value in paying someone else to do something, because in most traditional rpgs, you as a player are able to do most stuff by yourself or as part of a party, and it's just simpler not to involve another independent character.

A possible abstract reward is a reputation mechanic. You complete a "quest" that helps out a lot of other players, and they have the option of giving you rep points, like a lot of message boards have. It's a way to help players keep track of what kind of character you're being, and it means that in a multi-player scenario, your actions have true far-reaching effects on the game.

#12 Zethariel   Members   -  Reputation: 310

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 01:17 AM

This reminds me of an issue I had when I was thinking about AR LARP games. One of the issues I had was that I was looking for more player-driven game-play.

It occured to me that for a player to give out a ques and have it not be item-farming or ant, they need to have some sort of stake in the result. Using the example of the Gorgon attacking a city, perhaps the player has guild-mates or friends in that city, but can't do anything about the situation personally. Then it makes sense for them to offer a reward or bounty to someone else who might deal with the situation.

You have to set up an environment where there's value in paying someone else to do something, because in most traditional rpgs, you as a player are able to do most stuff by yourself or as part of a party, and it's just simpler not to involve another independent character.

A possible abstract reward is a reputation mechanic. You complete a "quest" that helps out a lot of other players, and they have the option of giving you rep points, like a lot of message boards have. It's a way to help players keep track of what kind of character you're being, and it means that in a multi-player scenario, your actions have true far-reaching effects on the game.



Aye, you are right.

I think that in an RPG where players can advance in ways other than fighting, such quest giving would be okay. That scenario would limit multiclassing and number of characters, though.

Then again, there is this strain of players that just enjoys being a dungeon master (me included, I've been GMing for quite some time in Warhammer Fantasy and Dungeons & Dragons), and having the tools to create scenarios that others can brave is the equivalent of the multitude of level editors for casual games. Come to think of it, I'm not certain if such a game exists... I believe I heard about one.
Disclaimer: Each my post is intended as an attempt of helping and/or brining some meaningfull insight to the topic at hand. Due to my nature, my good intentions will not always be plainly visible. I apologise in advance and assure I mean no harm and do not intend to insult anyone, unless stated otherwise

Homepage (Under Construction)

Check my profile for funny D&D/WH FRP quotes :)

#13 Rajaat   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 11:43 PM

To get real player social interaction you need emotion. To get emotion you need threats. People want police because some people are bad, people group together for safety/strength.
If nothing is safe - as in life, then players will be [forced] to band together to survive, protect their assets, live/travel safely.
Perhaps a player is a high level crafter who can make very secure locks - the other players will value him/his skill, and will go to great effort to protect him, or pay him. Perhaps he charges for his services and players willingly pay the high price, or he may give out quests(requests).




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