Thursday, April 19, 2012

Analysis of facebook gaming.

The games on face book are interesting.  I am focusing on the Zygna games Mafia Wars, Vampire Wars and Pirates.

Money. Each system has money which is used to buy things.  This money can be stolen from you in fights, so each has a bank that charges 10% when you deposit it to hold it for you.  The money is safe in the bank. This money can be used to buy the things that get you ahead in the game.  You earn more money by performing missions and from income from properties.

Items.  Each game has a set of items or skills you need to purchase in order to unlock missions.  Items have varying amounts of overhead which incurs an periodic cost to you, this is taken out of the income from the property, or your money or bank.  I do not know what happens if you cannot pay this. 

Property.  You buy properties that return a value.  These properties give money back hourly and it goes into your money fund.   In Mafia Wars the money has to be picked up every 3 hours and if you don't pick it up every 24 hours it stops accumulating, and it decreases in value after that.  The businesses in other countries in Mafia wars have a production value and max storage and can be sold for a value that can be increased with investments.

Pirates has a second set of properties called islands where you have to mine for wood, iron and rock, paying your friends for the work, to build camps that assist you in different ways.  These resources can be traded in for various increases in ability or extra items. If you don't pick them up they begin to decay.

Missions.  You get money and experience from each mission.  There is no risk of injury during the missions, if you have the items and energy required, you succeed.  Some items are almost randomly given out, so there is a chance you won't have them.  Most of the games have a way of asking for what you need.

Energy.  You have a set amount of energy that lets you perform missions. 

Experience points.  Each level takes more points to finish. 

Fights.  Each game allows you to fight other participants.  You may also put people on a hit list for a sum of money (with a 20% charge.) If you win a fight you get money from that person, unless they keep their money in the bank.  If you lose, you pay.    It is actually worthwhile at higher levels to get a lot of low level people angry at you and try to fight you, because when they lose they give you free experience points.

Stamina.  This is like energy, but it regulates how fast you can fight. Each time you fight it drops by 1 and it takes about 5 minutes to regain each point.  You have to pay two points to increase Stamana by a point. 

Second award system.  Each system has a different coin that allows you to recharge anything, gives you gold, or gives you gifts in the system.  A fairy godfather if you will.  You get a bunch of these points to start, and then you are occasionally granted one at almost random every now and again.   You get one when you go up a level as well.  These coins are available for purchase for actual money.  There are also special powers and items that can only be bought with these award money that give you a huge edge in the game. 

Raffle tickets:  Each system seems to have a way of giving out random prizes, and encouraging people to visit everyday.

Social networking aspects.  The larger a group of people you can get to join your group, the more powerful you are in the fights.  People also give out energy and other gifts for free to the others in the group.  You can also respond to other peoples calls for help and get rewarded for that.

Bragging.  Most in game accomplishments you can brag about in facebook with a simple click. 

Specific overview of each game:

  • In mafia wars the key to getting ahead early is to get the Mafia Mike's bars.  In order to do this you have to build your mob up to about 11 people right away, this will let you buy 3 Mafia Mikes for about $30,000  that rakes in 3/4 of a million dollars a day.  With this money you can afford to buy the tommy guns and the like.   Buy the lots all at once if possible, otherwise each one costs you more.
  • In Vampire wars you go from paying a few thousand for skills in the first level to having to pay half a million to get the 2 sets of double skills in order to open up much of the level.  You also have to pay to convert a bunch of people to use as your blood pool in order to cover the costs of the overhead of some of these skills. The really confusing part is having to buy multiple skills, when the skills themselves have a training level as well.  It seems like two conflicting systems.   The only way to earn the money for these events is to watch your facebook for requests for help and click a button that awards you 300,000 blood and 9 xp each time.  And to help out your clan you should be sure to always click the button to ask for help anytime you see one.
  • Pirates I gamed by buying a bunch of magical gold bars for 10,000 gold each, that added 18 each to my attack and defense.  So I am up 52 points on both attack and defense.  I tend to get attacked a lot because of my small size and I am gaining a huge amount of money this way.
  • In all three games, spend what you can when you get it, build up your properties to cover your recurring costs, and then bank the rest. 

How would I improve the system?  For one thing, there are too many duplicate things.  A fight is just another kind of mission.  Stamina is just another way of slowing things down, energy could be used for both.  Just make fighting a different way of continuing.

Another strange thing is that in the beginning levels you could actually perform actions faster.  Yes, you didn't have much energy or stamina, but each time you level up everything is reset to 100%, and you were leveling so fast that you were constantly doing things.  As you go up in levels it seems like you have to wait longer and longer to do things.  The more energy you get the longer it takes to fill up. 

I should be able to do the banking without changing to another window and losing track of what I am doing.  For that matter, I should be able to just pay for anything from the bank instead of having to transfer to my wallet and then transfer to the vendor.  Take it out of the money on hand and then just go right into the bank.

I think having to perform a few actions at each level and then defeat a boss as your test to move on would be the best way to progress.  Get rid of some of the repetitiveness, but make it so that you can sometimes have a set back to move on.  Make it so that you have to master a new item or technique at each level.

Serious issues with game play:

I ran into several serious issues.  These are well known on the Internet with a lot of people complaining about them and the company evidently not caring enough to fix them. 

It turns out that people who are over 100 level can come down and attack the newbies, just sit there and attack them 40 and 50 times in a row and the newbie can't even come close to winning even once. 

They can even destroy the players property and the fun part, the people are too low level to see the protect and repair buttons.   Because you can't rob anyone until you are over level 15 or so.

It is important for game play to not allow people who are wildly different levels to interact.  It is just completely frustrating for the new people and it really can't be paying much to the high level people.  They are just being destructive for destructions sake.

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