就如Mazza所述，《SimCity Social》克服了这一问题，在建筑放置奖励中融入许多变量。这也是我们在《Skyscraper City》中所进行的尝试——建筑放置奖励，居民（Population）的幸福（Happiness）限制，缩放能量要求都意味着，你需要弄清幸福、居民和资金支出的最佳组合模式，建筑物在各楼层的最佳放置位置，无论你在游戏中的目标是什么。
在我看来，Zynga巧妙在标准社交游戏机制中嵌入些许复杂性。《Farmville》包含若干有趣的手工艺机制，《Empires & Allies》以巧妙其、通俗易懂的方式在标准城建模式中植入PvP和PvE战斗模式。
关于此问题，社交领域的回合多人游戏在此处理得非常巧妙；关于《Words with Friends》玩家在某回合中进行什么操作的通知，或者玩家在《SongPop》较量中胜出，对于其他玩家来说都非常有趣。我们在自己的最新作品中有采用类似方式。
社交游戏设计师对于自己在设计游戏过程中的模仿领袖思维和懒惰习惯而感到愧疚。我们也因此而感到惭愧——我将能量机制放入两款游戏中，因为这协助我们更好地传播内容。但你可以基于相反方式设计游戏。这需要耗费更多精力，但能够带来更杰出的作品——能够脱颖而出的作品。《The Sims Social》就是个典型例子——EA的设计方式让你能够随心所欲地扮演你的模拟角色，购买装饰/地位道具，解锁特殊内容和动作，从中获取收益，而不是要求你购买更多能量，被赠予更多能量，或是等待能量逐步填充，方能查看模拟角色的具体操作内容。我猜想，相比玩家在电脑、主机及掌上游戏中所怀有的浓厚兴趣，这是这类游戏快速会逐步淡出的主要原因所在。坐着观看模拟角色操作内容（例如，火烧房屋）的趣味性远不及亲自进行体验。
Playfish’s Lead Designer on the “8 Truths of Social Game Design”
It’s an interesting read, even if I don’t perhaps agree with everything he’s saying here. I have to say that the overall tone comes across as someone who’s trying to justify to himself why social games are real games. This is a common refrain in the game industry; lots of traditional game devs and designers have made the jump into social and/or mobile recently. It’s a big market, far bigger in terms of size than traditional console and PC games. And that’s where a lot of the money is going (thanks to Zynga and other players). But it doesn’t necessarily show a love of these types of games. NOTE: I’m not picking on Ray Mazza specifically, I don’t know him, and from reading his blog post he seems to genuinely like what he’s doing over at EA/Playfish. I’m talking more about others in the game industry I’ve seen who made the jump from console or PC into social games because it was a hot space.
On to the specific points Mazza makes in his post.
1. Strategy is Great, But it Needs to Cater to the Target Audience.
Agree 100% on this one. Facebook games are generally casual, although some top out into what’s now being called “midcore,” generally turn-based or pseudo-realtime strategy games or RPGs. And they cover a broad range of genres within casual, from invest/express citybuilders to match-3 arcade games to gambling and casino games. Like any other platform, you need to know your audience, and to design the appropriate level of complexity into your games. Stuffing PvP into a farming game probably won’t work.
SimCity Social conquers this, as Mazza points out, by adding in a lot of variables to building placement bonuses. That’s something we tried out in Skyscraper City as well — building placement bonuses, Happiness hard caps on Population, and scaling Energy requirements all mean you have to really try to figure out the best combo of Happiness, Population and Money payouts, and optimal placement of buildings on various floors for whatever particular goal you’re trying to accomplish in the game.
In my opinion, Zynga has done a great job of layering some complexity onto standard social game mechanics. Farmville had some interesting crafting mechanics, and Empires & Allies takes a standard city-builder and adds PvP and PvE combat onto it in a smart and easily-graspable way.
2. You Are Not the Audience: Half a Billion Other People Are.
Again, agreed 100%. While it comes across as a bit of a social game apologia, it’s a solid point. Different games have different audiences. Tetris and Plants vs. Zombies manage to cross almost all demographic boundaries, while World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty franchise appeal to more hardcore gamers.
3. Fast Load Times Mean Content is Spread Out Over Time.
Yeah, it’s hard to argue with this one. Social games do need to load quickly, because users aren’t investing a long download or cash into playing the game. If there’s any obvious problems — slow load, bad interface, crashing bugs — users will bounce. After all, there are a ton of other games on Facebook you can try out in 30 seconds for free.
4. Lots of Wall Posts Means More Players. But…
Mazza is conflicted here. He understands the product manager/business side of things, where gamemakers want to spam players so they can get more players. But he also thinks we should be a little better about only sharing important things.
I’d say that social gamemakers do a bad job with spamming notifications and requests. It’s why Facebook revamped the whole wall post system and hid games away for a long time — Facebook Walls used to be filled with Farmville requests.
Developers can definitely do a better job of handling this, integrating notifications/posts into gameplay better, sharing important content, and making the posts and links loop back into the game in cool ways. For example, citybuilder games could let you click a link about a friend’s city activity and actually go there in-game and see that city, even if you weren’t in-game friends with that person. Handled like that, posts and notifications would actually be of value to other users, other than simply blasting friends to try to get more players.
One area where social games are handling this well is in turn-based multiplayer games; notifications about what someone did in a turn on Words with Friends or if they won a game of SongPop versus a friend are interesting to other players. We’ve been playing around with some of that here at Gamzee on our newer games.
5. Energy and Time Gates are Used for Pacing.
Yes and no here. Energy and Time Gates are generally the function of grindy and/or lazy game design. They do pace the game out, in that they make it impossible for you to burn through content (unless of course, you spend money to refill your Energy or to speed up the time requirement). But most games other than social games and some mobile games don’t do this at all. Whether you’re playing Skyrim or SWOTOR, you can generally play as much as and as quickly as you want. You can burn through the content if you want to.
Social game designers are guilty of follow-the-leader thinking and even some laziness when creating their games. And we’re guilty of it, too — I’ve put Energy systems into two games because it helped us spread the content out better. But you could design your way around this instead. It would take a little more effort, but it could result in a better game — and one that would stand out from the pack. The Sims Social is a perfect example of this — EA could have made it so that you could play with your Sims as much as you wanted to, purchasing vanity/status items and unlocking special content and actions for monetization, rather than making it so that you had to buy more Energy, get gifted more Energy, or wait for your Energy to refill over time to see what your Sims are doing. I would posit that that’s a main reason why the game declined rather quickly compared to the interest people showed in the computer, console, and handheld versions of the franchise. Sitting around watching your Sims doing stuff (like setting their houses on fire) is half the fun of playing.
And of course, you could always add more content to overcome this problem (and engineer your backend so that content loads in stages after initial load and/or by area).
6. Facebook Games are Hard to Make
Again, agree 100% here. Facebook games, like any other type of game, are hard to make. Particularly to make good ones. Good ones that are fun are even harder. And good ones that are fun that make a lot of money are even harder still.
7. Yes, You Need to Play with Friends. But…
Again, Mazza is conflicted. He sees that the friend mechanism helps control progress and allows monetization by players paying to skip friend/gifting requirements. But he also would like to find a way to get past these requirements, perhaps by having these get fulfilled over time if the player is unable/unwilling to spam friends or pay.
I agree with him here. “Social games aren’t truly social” is a truism many game designers have uttered. If you look at Mario Kart or any MMO, you’ll see those games are far more social than almost any social game. More social games should start allowing players to interact with strangers through gameplay mechanics (PvP, help in finishing quests, guilds, visting strangers’ cities and interacting, etc.). That would result in deeper games. And Mazza’s auto-fulfill idea (where these requirements get filled automatically over some period of time) is an interesting one that I’d like to see tested in a game or two.
8. You Don’t Need to Spend Money to Progress
Again, this seems like a bit of an odd point. No, you don’t need to spend money to progress in a social game. Or any free to play game for that matter. And most people never do. But, if you want to be competitive in a midcore game or you don’t want to fill your friend list up with low quality “neighbors” from social games or constantly wait for Energy refills, you will generally want to spend some money to get past requirements.
And the bigger social games from Zynga, EA, Playdom, etc. tend to have very grindy requirements where you need a ton of rare materials that you can only get from friends or by purchasing in order to complete quests and buildings.
Also, the whole reason why Asian companies pioneered the F2P model was they realized that it made more money for them overall.
F2P works in that a small percentage of folks (generally 1-3% for social games, and 5-15% for MMORPGs) pay for items in the game. But instead of everyone paying $19.95 a month for a subscription or $60 once for a boxed version of the game on DVD, that 1-3% spend on average, way more than that. Social game “whales” spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the game, re-upping constantly to get all the newly released “limited edition” collectible vanity buildings, refilling Energy, or buying other consumables to climb the PvP leaderboards.
So the fact that you don’t have to spend money isn’t done out of charity and a sense of goodwill, it’s knowing full well that if the game is a hit, it will make far more money than something with a fixed purchase or subscription price because there’s literally no cap on what you can spend in the game if you truly love it.
I think the bad rap social games get is because there isn’t a lot of innovation in the market place. Look how many games there were like Farmville, or how many Mafia Wars-style games there are. Or how many Texas Holdem Poker games or slot machine games you can find on Facebook. Social game companies have tended to use a fast-follow strategy for game design and mechanics, meaning that a lot of the stuff you see on Facebook is a copy of other things that have worked, whether that’s a ton of aquarium games three years ago, or the fact that most games have an Energy system.
There’s a lot of innovation to be done in the space — in terms of game design, mechanics, theme, use and integration of the social graph, and monetization. I know what we’re working on here at Gamzee, and I’m excited about it. I look forward to seeing what other developers come up with.（Source：gamzee）