设计出供你的角色居住的主基地的社交游戏通常都允许玩家访问朋友的主基地。尽管如此，刚开始时玩家许多真实的Facebook好友可能并没有安装游戏，因而社交游戏就会为你创造出虚拟的好友。《FrontierVille》中有兔牙Jack，《Ravenwood Fair》中有戴着单片眼镜的Huggin，《Cupcake Corner》中有Betty Rocker。
尽管如此，没有游戏会不断免费给玩家货币。而且那些使用Facebook Credits的游戏通常在最初给予之后就不再向玩家奖励需要付费购买的货币，除非你注册开发商在Facebook上投放的其他社交游戏，如玩过《FarmVille》后再注册《Mafia Wars》。那些令人毛骨悚然的调查或Facebook决定发放免费Credits来推广项目，这些也可能让玩家获得此类货币。
5 ways social games hook you
Sneer all you want at the people who play social games. The truth is their “bad habit” may be the result of good game design. Here are five design tricks to keep you playing:
There’s something inherently insidious about social games. There must be, or so many gamers wouldn’t hate on them whenever they see a news story about Zynga or an update in their friends’ Facebook feed that reads “Jessie clobbered a bear.” But while there is something unsettling about a game that shamelessly solicits money from its audience and then encourages them to recruit their friends, there’s also something fascinating about it that makes you question how something so obviously “bad” clicks with so many people.
The answer is: It’s good game design. All the best video games are designed to make you want to play more of the game, and the only way to do that is to hook a player like a fish and keep stringing them along. Here’s how social games do it:
Hook # 1 The Fake Friend
Any social game with a “home base” for your character to live in usually has the ability to visit friends’ home bases. Starting out, though, a lot of your real Facebook friends probably don’t have the game installed, so a social game invents a fake friend for you. FrontierVille has the buck-toothed Jack, Ravenwood Fair has a monocle-wearing raven named Huggin, and Cupcake Corner features Betty Rocker.
Each of these “friends” has a better-looking home base than you do — usually with higher-end in-game materials or seasonal promotion items in full display. They also start out at much higher level than your character, and in some games are consistently three levels ahead of you to keep your sense of competition up. Visiting these friends’ home bases either nets you the same reward you get for visiting a real Facebook friend’s place, or in the case of Ravenwood Fair, you actually get better bonuses from visiting Huginn than you do from visiting a real friend.
The main point of the fake friend is to kick start the idea that you need more friends to visit — so that you can get more stuff and so that you have more stuff to click on when you run out of things to do on your own home base or on your fake friend’s home base. The secondary point is to showcase high-end or seasonal items the game offers – because how else can you really see how awesome that skeleton or haystack looks until you’ve seen what Jack’s done with it?
Hook # 2 Free Stuff
Understand that “stuff” in a social game is an illusion. That coffee table you buy for your virtual house and the little bank with your virtual money exists on a developer’s server — not in your computer or in your actual home. Nevertheless, social games want you to feel like you have stuff in their games, so developers make a lot of it and they offer it to you in exchange for currency so that it feels like it’s worth something.
Most social games use two types of currency: in-game money you can earn by doing things in-game (coins, gold, etc.) and a premium type of money that is so rare you either have to buy it or only get one token of it per day (cash, horseshoes, etc.). The second currency is usually Facebook Credits, if the game went live after the program launched in April 2010.
When you sign up to a new social game, many games actually give you both in-game money and premium money or Facebook Credit. This batch of free money usually covers the cost of the first in-game items the game wants you to have (avatar clothing, furniture, or decorations), with a little extra leftover to keep you in a spending mood. Beyond that, you also get free money and sometimes free in-game items or energy points by visiting friends (both real and fake) and by completing in-game tasks in the form of quests or habitual behaviors.
No game will continuously give you free money, however, and games that make use of Facebook Credits usually won’t reward you with free premium money beyond the initial batch – unless, you sign up for one of that developer’s other social games on Facebook, like branching out from FarmVille to Mafia Wars. Or fill out one of those creepy surveys. Or when Facebook decides to give out free Credits to promote the program.
Hook # 3 Real Friends
Facebook cracked down pretty hard on the amount of spamming a social gamer can commit while playing games, but that doesn’t completely eliminate your friends’ ability to see what you’re doing. Through the Games channel, they can see your in-game updates and your top three most-played games as well as receive those “come be my neighbor” requests that used to bombard your news feed. If that doesn’t attract them, there’s always the good old fashioned real life request of “Hey, come check out this game.”
Once you get a friend to try a social game with you, they fall prey to many of the same hooks. Even if they get the feeling that the game is dumb or that they shouldn’t be playing it, they’ll stay for a little while because they feel guilty about “leaving” you. And of course, there’s that natural 1upmanship friends get when they play games together.
Hook # 4 The Clean Freak Play
Social games appeal to the natural neat freak in all of us. You start out on a homestead overrun by trees and brambles; an empty bakery with only one grimy oven, or at an amazing party with five wasted guests. The game suggests to players that these things are aberrations — dirt needing to be cleaned up — and once you’ve seen it that way, you can’t un-see it. So every time you visit the game after an absence of an hour, a day, a month, the “dirt” is literally the first thing your brain registers and you’re already clicking on drunk party guests to get rid of them before you’ve even checked your inventory.
Naturally, this only works if you like things to be clean. Some people genuinely don’t care if their FarmVille crops aren’t aligned or their party is overrun with paparazzi. So long as the “dirt” doesn’t have a direct effect on the game’s score, this is one trick that won’t work on the untidy social gamer.
Hook # 5 Buyer’s Remorse
“Buyer’s remorse” is a decrease of dopamine in your brain that comes immediately after a spike. Dopamine is a hormone naturally produced in the body that’s associated with the “rewards center” of the brain — telling you that whatever you’re doing is good, awesome, or totally worth having sex with. Shopping is one of the easy ways to trigger a dopamine spike, which is where the “buyer” part comes from.
Social games tap into the dopamine feed by restricting the amount of stuff you can do in a game. This comes mostly in the form of an energy meter that decreases whenever you click on something to interact with it. Clicking stuff effectively becomes “buying” an action — it costs one Energy to plow that piece of land, it costs three Confidence to have a showdown with that girl, etc. Once you get started clicking, it’s difficult to stop because it’s a very simple action that apparently costs you nothing.
Once you run out of energy, though, the game hits you with a notice that you can’t do the thing you clicked on. The sudden realization that you can’t do something makes you look at what you’ve already done and feel kind of bad about it. Why did you clear away that tree when clearly you should’ve saved your energy for harvesting crops? You should’ve checked that other character’s stats before blowing your list five Confidence on a showdown you clearly couldn’t win.
The buyer’s remorse feeling makes you evaluate your gameplay and come up with strategies (e.g. “I’ll visit my friend’s place first to build up enough energy to clear that tree and then build the hot dog stand”) — which pretty much guarantees that you’ll be back to play some more. (Source: Gamepro)