And what do I do now?

Hey everyone…

I’ve explained who I am, which gives you an insight into the way I think, but I guess now I should explain what I currently do and what I want to do! This project does have a purpose, so here’s why I’m doing what I’m doing…

I’m currently working in Shanghai for a start-up software development company. We first started with Virtual Worlds, akin to Habbo Hotel or Second Life. Now though, we’ve shifted into Facebook games. We’re creating something which hasn’t been done so far on Facebook and it involves me interacting with a lot of Facebook games.

If you’re a gamer, I think you’ll predict where this is going. Facebook games SUCK. It almost makes me sick to see how popular games like Farmville and Mafia Wars are. The complete lack of challenging gameplay and the total absence of skill. They are not games, they’re just virtual activities/chores that somehow fool people into believing that they’re fun. I’ve played tons of these games and I will be for the next 6 months. I hate to say it but I know what I’m talking about. I want someone to prove me wrong.

Unfortunately these games make a ton of money and are extremely easy to churn out. Since they have no mechanics and no balance, there’s a lot less to think about from a development point of view. That means there’s very little impetus for developers to do ‘the right thing’ and start converting the millions of casual ‘gamers’ into mainstream gamers. Hell, a much more realistic goal would be to provide a real game for the real gamers on Facebook (there has got to be a big market there). But that’s not going to happen, not while gamers can have a better experience outside the Facebook realm.

Here is where things get interesting. Facebook games cannot compete with real games. They’re restricted by the platform. However Facebook’s platform does have advantages over a non-social network foundation… the social bit. I truly believe that the social aspect of Facebook has massive potential for real games. It’s an in-built lobby, with people you’ve probably met in real life. It’s a lobby that your non-gamer friends can’t avoid, a lobby that’s constantly advertising. It’s the best chance the gaming industry has had to convert non-gamers since the Wii… and it’s much more accessible than an expensive piece of hardware (it’s free).

The game I’m going to work on could possibly be a Facebook game. It could be through this project (although I think learning to code and learning network gaming through Facebook is a bit too much to do) or it could be through my company. I’d love to bring one of the first true gaming experiences to Facebook but, I don’t know what I’m doing so it’s a very unrealistic goal. However, the objective of this project is to give me a solid understanding of how game design works. That, coupled with the experience I get from my job here in Shanghai, and you never know!

While I might not be the first to bring a good game to Facebook, I could be bringing something to your screens in the future and that will be directly linked to this project.

Sam

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