Designing Social Network Games with SoPlay Heuristics

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SoPlay workshop presentation given in MindTrek 2010 conference. During the workshop the participants designed social games concepts based on the structure shown in the presentation. More information: …

SoPlay workshop presentation given in MindTrek 2010 conference. During the workshop the participants designed social games concepts based on the structure shown in the presentation. More information: http://soplayproject.wordpress.com

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  • 1. Designing Social Network Games with SoPlay Heuristics Janne Paavilainen SoPlay Project Manager Game Research Lab University of Tampere, Finland MindTrek 2010 Conference Workshop 8th October 2010, Tampere, Finland Accessibility Interruptability Continuity Discovery Virality Narrativity Expression Sharing Sociability Competition
  • 2. Who am I? Personal information Janne Paavilainen (Ms.Econ.) SoPlay project manager, games researcher, lecturer, part-time entrepreneur Social games, usability, playability, user experience, design & evaluation, heuristics janne.paavilainen@uta.fi +358 400 473 650 @rojola http://www.facebook.com/rojola Game Research Lab, University of Tampere, Finland http://gamelab.uta.fi
  • 3. SoPlay Introduction Games research project SoPlay – Research on games and play in social media http://soplayproject.wordpress.com Two year research project, Jan 2009 – Dec 2010 Study of implicit and explicit games and play in social web 2.0 Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, IRC, Forums, 4chan, Flicr… Currently focusing on Facebook and social money games Developing theories and models for researchers and developers The buzzword is social playability
  • 4. SoPlay Introduction Games research project Some examples from research questions What is social playability? What are the qualities of good social network games? What is the role of sociability in online money games? Funding by Tekes, UTA and industry partners
  • 5. SoPlay Research Team The four musketeers Professor Frans Mäyrä, scientific leader frans.mayra@uta.fi Janne Paavilainen, project manager Game design and evaluation, heuristics, user experience Jaakko Stenros, researcher The border between games and ordinary life jaakko.stenros@uta.fi Jani Kinnunen, researcher New social forms of online money games jani.kinnunen@uta.fi
  • 6. Publications and Presentations Theory and practice on social games and development Gaming, Communicating, Sharing – Users and Their Experiences in Social Games (2010) Paavilainen, J. Games Convention Online 2010. Leipzig, Germany. Critical Review on Video Game Evaluation Heuristics: Social Games Perspective (Forthcoming) Paavilainen, J. Future Play 2010. Vancouver, Canada. (in process). Playing the System. Using Frame Analysis to Understand Online Play (Forthcoming) Stenros, J. Future Play 2010. Vancouver, Canada. (in process). Social Interaction in Games (Forthcoming) Stenros, J., Paavilainen, J. & Mäyrä, F. In Sotamaa, Lugmayr, Franssila, Näränen, Vanhala (Eds.) ACM Academic MindTrek 2009: Everyday Life in the Ubiquitous Era. International Journal of Arts and Technology (in process). Comparing Two Playability Heuristic Sets with Expert Review Method – A Case Study of Mobile Game Evaluation (Forthcoming) Paavilainen, J., Korhonen, H. & Saarenpää, H. In Lugmayr, Franssila, Näränen, Sotamaa & Vanhala (Eds.) Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media, IGI Global (in process). The Many Faces of Sociability and Social Play in Games (2009) Stenros, J., Paavilainen, J. & Mäyrä, F. MindTrek. Tampere, Finland. Expert Review Method in Game Evaluations: Comparison of Two Playability Heuristic Sets (2009)Korhonen, H., Paavilainen, J. & Saarenpää, H. MindTrek. Tampere, Finland.
  • 7. Publications and Presentations Social money games Verkkorahapelaamisen muodonmuutos (2010) Kinnunen, J. Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos (THL), Raportti 12/2010. Helsinki. (trans. Transformation of Online Gambling) Verkkopelit sosiaalisena toimintaympäristönä (2010) Kinnunen, J. In Meriranta, M. (Ed.). 2010. Mediakasvatuksen käsikirja. Unipress, Kuopio. (trans. Networked Games as Social Environment) Action and Character in Social Online Gambling (2010). Kinnunen, J. Gambling, Entertainment, and Finance. Visby, Sweden. Convergence of Online Gambling and Social Media (2010). Kinnunen, J. EASG 8th European Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues. Wien, Austria. Playful Money and Games in the Internet (2010) Kinnunen, J. ACS Crossroads Conference. Hong Kong, China. Interconnectedness of Gambling and On-Line Communities (2009) Kinnunen, J. NAGS 19th Annual Conference. Canberra, Australia. Player Experiences in and Around Social On-Line Gambling (2009) Kinnunen, J. 14th International Conference of Gambling and Risk Taking. Lake Tahoe, USA. Towards Social Internet Gambling? (2009) Kinnunen, J. The Big Picture, Gambling in Perspective. 7th Conference of SNSUS. Helsinki, Finland.
  • 8. Participant introduction Who are you... and what are you doing here? Short introduction of participants Who are you? What do you do? Why are you here? Complete the following sentences... ”I will be happy at the end of the workshop if...” ”I will be furiously mad at the end of the workshop if...”
  • 9. Workshop Introduction Why are we here? Workshop Heuristic approach for designing social games for Facebook platform SoPlay project aims to develop design and evaluation heuristics for this domain This workshop is one step for validating and refining the current heuristic set Participant Take-away Knowledge of the dynamics of social network games Knowledge about SoPlay heuristics and how to use them in design Knowledge how to design social network game concepts The workshop aim is a win-win situation! The workshop will be partly video recorded for research purposes
  • 10. Workshop Timetable & Structure 10:15 – 10:45 Introduction to workshop and participants (30 min) 10:45 – 11:30 Introduction to social games and SoPlay heuristics (45 min) 11:30 – 13:00 Design Exercise (90 min) 13:00 – 14:00 Lunch break (60 min) 14:00 – 15:00 Design Exercise (60 min) 15:00 – 16:00 Presentation, evaluation and discussion (60 min) 16:00 Workshop closing We’ll have short breaks now and then Timetable subject to change as-we-work
  • 11. Social Games A brief introduction Social Games The term is a misnomer, games have always been social Can be found in online social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter Playing with your friends, but still massively single player games Casual game design principles, focus on accessibility and asynchronicity Game services, not stand-alone products per se (”eternal beta”) Metrics-based iteration, close feedback loop between user and developer Early emphasis was on virality, (was) especially powerful in Facebook Quality has gone up a lot, social games have evolved since the beginning Freemium business model, free to play, double currency Run by (formerly) ”unknown” companies such as Zynga or Playfish There is not much sociability in them
  • 12. Social Games Pictures speak for themselves
  • 13. Examples of various social games by Zynga, PopCap, Digital Chocolate, EA...
  • 14. Social Games Player Attitudes Some notes from the SoPlay user interviews Social games are played for killing time, filling gaps and relaxation Simplicity is accessibility, but simple becomes boring eventually The audience has matured, more complex social games are needed Due the vast audience, there are also reachable niche markets Two main motivators, novel game mechanics or good social aspects When game expands too much, grinding becomes boring (accelerators!) When friends are quitting the game, the player will soon follow Enthusiastic social gamers care for exclusive content Reciprocity (gifts) is a two way sword due massive spamming Quality of games is not high enough currently for players to pay for them Usability and ease of access is the key factor for impulsive buying
  • 15. Heuristics Shortcuts for being awesome Heuristics are used in many fields and used in different ways Derived from the Greek word ”Εὑρίσκω” for “find” or “discover” Psychology, philosophy, law, human-computer interaction… Heuristics in human-computer interaction Ten heuristics for usability (Nielsen) Heuristic evaluation Heuristics are not Standards or guidelines which pinpoint issues in great detail Be-all-end-all as they can be neglected when there is a good reason Challenges with heuristics Heuristics are based on existing knowledge from a system Too abstract of high-level heuristics lose their usefulness (”Easy to learn, hard to master”) Too detailed or low-level heuristics
  • 16. Nielsen’s Usability Heuristics Few examples Visibility of system status The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time. Flexibility and efficiency of use Accelerators - unseen by the novice user - may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions. Aesthetic and minimalist design Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
  • 17. SoPlay Heuristics Design and evaluation tool for social games SoPlay heuristics are used as ”mindset shortcuts” for examining a social game from different perspectives SoPlay heuristics are based on the research done in the SoPlay project and influenced by other social network/games researchers and designers Game Design for Social Networks: Interaction Design for Playful Dispositions (Järvinen 2009) Facebook Applications and Playful Mood: the Construction of Facebook as a “Third Place” (Rao 2008) Building the Foundation of a Social Future (Ventrice 2009) SoPlay heuristics were first presented in Future Play conference, Vancouver, in May 2010 Critical Review of Video Game Evaluation Heuristics: Social Games Approach (Paavilainen 2010)
  • 18. SHARING CORE CONTINUITY Theme
  • 19. SG1 - Accessibility Making the game easy to approach, understand and play Design question examples Does the game feature easily approachable TITLE and THEME? Does the game feature quick, short and inspiring TUTORIAL? Are the CORE MECHANICS easily understood? Is the INTERACTION LOOP fun? How to make the LOADING TIME as short as possible? Is this game FUN in under 2 minutes of game play? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Accessibility? FarmVille, FrontierVille, Bejeweled Blitz, Cafe World, Safari Kingdom
  • 20. SG2 - Interruptability Taking advantage of asynchronous, spontaneous and irregular play sessions Design question examples: Can the game play be STOPPED at any point? Are the gameplay tasks SHORT? Does the gameplay support BREAKS? Is returning to the game REWARDED somehow? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Interruptability? Mafia Wars, Parking Wars
  • 21. SG3 - Continuity Providing continuous game world which attracts the player to come back Design question examples: Does the game provide an interesting permanent game world, which fosters CONTINUOUS play? How the game advances while the player is OFFLINE? Are there multi-layered REWARD mechanisms? Are the both short and long term GOALS presented? Does the gameplay promote PROGRESS with every click? Are there BADGES, ACHIEVEMENTS, LEVELS, EXPERIENCE or similar progress indicators present? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Continuity? FrontierVille, Bejeweled Blitz
  • 22. SG4 - Discovery Providing new experiences, content and surprises Design question examples: What is the new EXPERIENCE provided for the player? How can the game pleasantly SURPRISE the player? What could be the NEW components generated later in the game’s life cycle? What are the UNLOCKABLE components available to the player? Are there items with different COMMONNESS like common, rare, unique? Are there more ADVANCED game mechanics for the player to discover later? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Discovery? Treasure Island, Pirates Ahoy!, Millionaire City
  • 23. SG5 – Virality Supporting viral growth in the player’s social network Design question examples: What are the means for promoting the game VIRALLY in the social network? How are viral actions REWARDED in the game? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Virality? Safari Kingdom, FarmVille Note: The power of the viral channel has decreased a lot since the introduction of social games. Before the latest Facebook policy change, viral channel provided 1/3 of new players while cross- promotion and marketing provided the 2/3.
  • 24. SG6 – Narrativity Creating in-game and off-game narratives that elicit curiosity Design question examples: What are the in-game actions that launch IN-GAME narratives to the player? What are the in-game actions that launch OFF-GAME narratives to feed? How are CALL TO ACTION principles used? How are the small achievements presented as BIG WINS? Does the game tell a STORY to the player? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Narrativity? FarmVille, Castle Age, FrontierVille
  • 25. SG7 – Expression Supporting self-discovery, customization and virtual spaces Design question examples: What are the methods for allowing the player to feel UNIQUE in the game? How the player can brag about his/her ACCOMPLISHMENTS? Can the player CHEER for other’s performances? Is the player able to SHOW his/her virtual space? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Expression? Yack Attack!, Social City, Nightclub City, Pet Society
  • 26. SG8 – Sharing Collaborating with friends by gifting and boosting Design question examples: What are the components or resources that can be shared via GIFTING to friends? How the player can BOOST friends? What are the REWARDS for gifting and boosting? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Sharing? Mafia Wars, FrontierVille
  • 27. SG9 – Sociability Supporting sociability among friends in the game dynamics Design question examples: How the player can use his/her social network as an ASSET in the game? Can the player gain new FRIENDS through the game? Are there TASKS that require collaboration? Are there CONFLICT mechanics present? Can the player INTERACT with others than friends? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Sociability? Castle Age, Bubble Island, Mafia Wars
  • 28. SG10 – Competition Promoting playful social competition with others Design question examples: How can the player COMPETE against his/her friends? Can the player COMPARE his/her performance in a flexible manner? What RANKING features does the game support? How is the player REWARDED for climbing the ladder? How would these design questions be addressed in your social game concept? What would be the result of addressing these items poorly? What other aspects could be associated with Competition? Bejeweled Blitz, Mafia Wars
  • 29. Design Exercise Structure and timetable The purpose of the design exercise is to produce social game concepts for Facebook platform The design exercise will be done in two parts 11:30 – 13:00 Part I 14:00 – 15:00 Part II Step-by-step procedure Choose an existing AAA title to work with Design the five Game Fundamentals of your social game concept Address SoPlay heuristics to your game concepts Work on the five aspects from the Business Perspective viewpoint Short presentation at the end of the day
  • 30. Game Fundamentals SoPlay Heuristics Business Perspective Theme and core Accessibility Acquisition Gameplay description Interruptability Retention Interaction loop Continuity Referral Offline mechanic Discovery Monetization Game resources Virality Following Narrativity Expression Sharing Sociability Competition
  • 31. Choose Game Game Fundamentals SoPlay Heuristics Business Perspectives Presentation
  • 32. Choose one AAA game title to use as a base for your social game concept. You can also select some other title, if you are not familiar with these ones.
  • 33. Civilization - Turn based strategy game - Develop your civilization from stone age to space age - Build cities, wonders and units - Research technology - War and diplomacy against other civilizations - Romans, Babylonians, German, Americans etc… - Multiple ways to win the game - Typical 4X game: Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate
  • 34. Final Fantasy - Japanese console RPG game - Group of heroes battling against great evil - Player is represented by a protagonist - Various other characters with capabilities - Real-time adventure on game world / map - Quests, side quests - Turn-based combat - Magic and technology, old and new - Character development through experience - Weapons, spells, items, potions…
  • 35. Starcraft - Real-time strategy game - Three races battle in distant future - Terran, Protos, Zerg - Each race has unique units and strategies - Terrans are all-rounders - Zergs are many, cheap but fragile - Protos are effective and expensive - Base building - Resource management, minerals & gas - Tier based unit construction - Most successful RTS multiplayer game
  • 36. Halo - First-person shooter - Science fiction theme - Player is ”Master Chief”, unique warrior - Destroy aliens who threat the mankind - Fast paced combat game - Various weapons and vehicles - Shield and health - Special items - Popular multiplayer shooter for Xbox 360
  • 37. Choose Game Game Fundamentals SoPlay Heuristics Business Perspectives Presentation
  • 38. Game Fundamentals Basic building blocks for your social game concept 1 Game theme and core – Short description what the game is about 2 Gameplay description – Main high-level features of the game 3 Interaction loop – Basic interaction loop patterns in the game 4 Offline progress mechanic – How asynchronicity is used in the gameplay 5 Game resources – Resources in the game used by the player
  • 39. Theme and Core, Gameplay Description Theme and core contain basic information from the game What the game is about? What the player does in the game? Gameplay description goes deeper into game mechanics What are the various actions player does in the game? What are the main features of the game?
  • 40. Interaction Loop Interaction loop is a pattern of clicks, which make the game progress Examples from various social games Plow ; Seed – Grow – Gather (FarmVille) Clear – Build ; Rent – Collect (Millionaire City) Battle – Collect ; Locate – Search (Pirates Ahoy!) Action – Collect (FrontierVille) Do job --- Level Up! – Allocate points (Mafia Wars) Plow ; Seed – Grow – Gather – Feed (Happy Habitat) Play set – Manage club (Nightclub City) Nest ; Egg – Feed – Free – Fix (Safari Kingdom) Click cow (Cow Clicker)
  • 41. Offline Progress Mechanic Offline progress mechanic is key part of the asynchronous gameplay It determines how the game progresses when the player is offline Two major styles Appointment, actions require time to be completed, e.g. growing in FarmVille Energy, action require energy to to be completed, e.g. doing jobs in Mafia Wars Energy is refilled when time passes Some social games only feature one style Appointment in FarmVille Appointment in Millionaire City Energy in Perfect Warrior Many games feature mix of both In FrontierVille actions require energy, growing is based on time In Mafia Wars actions require energy, income is based on time
  • 42. Game Resources Game resources (along with energy) restrict how much player can do in one play session One of the most common resource is in-game money (double currency) Coins and Farm Cash (FarmVille) Millionaire Dollars and Millionaire Gold (Millionaire City) Safari Coins and Safari Cash (Safari Kingdom) Resources can be generated by time, or by manipulating game components Money increases as time passes (Mafia Wars) Collect money from rents (Millionaire City) Sell goods for money (FrontierVille)
  • 43. Choose game Game Fundamentals SoPlay Heuristics Business Perspectives Presentation
  • 44. SoPlay Heuristics Part I 1 Accessibility – Making the game easy to approach, understand and play 2 Interruptability – Taking advantage of asynch, spontaneous and irregular play sessions 3 Continuity – Providing continuous game world which attracts the player to come back 4 Discovery – Providing new experiences, content and surprises 5 Virality – Supporting viral growth in the player’s social network
  • 45. SoPlay Heuristics Part II 6 Narrativity – Creating in-game and off-game narratives that elicit curiosity 7 Expression – Supporting self-discovery, customization and virtual spaces 8 Sharing – Collaborating with friends by gifting and boosting 9 Sociability – Supporting sociability among friends in the game dynamics 10 Competition – Promoting playful social competition with others
  • 46. Choose Game Game Fundamentals SoPlay Heuristics Business Perspectives Presentation
  • 47. Business Perspective Keeping it real 1 Acquisition – How the player’s attention is gained and invited into the game? 2 Retention – How the player is hooked in the game and made to come back? 3 Referral – What are the driving forces for the player to invite others to join? 4 Monetization – What is sold for the player and how? Why the player would pay? 5 Following – How to build a sustainable customership with the player?
  • 48. Choose Game Game Fundamentals SoPlay Heuristics Business Perspectives Presentation
  • 49. Presentation Give a short presentation of your social game concept Present your social game concept’s fundamentals Tell us about the theme, core gameplay, interaction loop etc. How each SoPlay heuristic was addressed Were there heuristics that you did not address? Did you come up with new design questions related to some heuristics? Were there any specific or novel features you would like to emphasis? Did you bring something outside of the scope of the heuristics? Did you find credible answers to the five business perspectives? What was challenging in designing the concept? What is your overall opinion from the design process?
  • 50. Discussion What have we learned today? What did you think about the design process in general? How would you improve the process? Did you learn something new today? Were you able to build solid social games concepts? Did your concepts suffer from ”blank” spots which were not covered today? What was most challenging in the design process? Did the heuristics help you to design? What heuristics you considered to be useful or useless? Which heuristics could be merged? Do you currently use any kind of heuristics in your own design work? Do you see problems with heuristics? Did you feel that some issues were not addressed by the process/heuristics?
  • 51. Questionnaire Please leave feedback!
  • 52. Thank You! Janne Paavilainen SoPlay Project Manager Game Research Lab janne.paavilainen@uta.fi +358 400 473 650 http://www.facebook.com/rojola http://twitter.com/rojola