Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
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Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife

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An in depth presentation of a new social browser game from different perspectives.

An in depth presentation of a new social browser game from different perspectives.

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Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife Presentation Transcript

  • Creating a new kindof social browser game:Adslife
    By PietroPolsinelli
    Twitter: @ppolsinelli
    Blog: http://pietro.open-lab.com
    E-mail: ppolsinelli@open-lab.com
  • What kind of game is Adslife
    Adslife is played in the browser, also on the iPad – which means that not even Adobe’s Flash is required. This technical design choice affects play because one of my aims in design was to make the game interplay with the web in novel ways. The idea is to use the web itself not only as an environment where to play, but also as topic within the game. Given that a considerable part of the real world has a counterpart on the web, why not play with it?
    I did some researches on this topic, and I could not find any game that gave the idea the attention that I believe it deserves – so we built a game around this idea.
    2
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • What are social games?
    By social games it seems that most people understand Facebook games, which in turn are more and more becoming synonymous with Zynga’s games (see I Think Facebook is Over for a detailed argument).
    As it has been pointed out by many, social games in this sense are hardly social, and even hardly games at all. This because Zynga games are played alone, “are single player experiences, played in parallel”; the social structure is just exploited by the game itself to spread, and does not directly influence game play. From a recent interview on Gamasutra:
    “The big thing about social games that they don't like to tell you, is they're not actually social,” he says. “Games played on social network sites is what we mean by social games ... These games are categorized more by the platform than that they are social themselves. … The way they engage their players is not through interesting gameplay, it's done through extrinsic rewards - basically bribes.”
    Brandon Sheffield
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • A different meaning for “social game”?
    Leaving Zynga Facebook applications to their wealthy existence, can there be a different meaning for “social game”?
    In Adslife part of the information created and used by players is on the web, and this is an integral part of game play. Players in the game create (fake) ads for (real) companies represented by (real) web sites. This is a first mixing of levels between the game world, where you are playing a creative advertiser from 1973, and the current and real web out there.
    4
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Game play and real web
    Players first search for customers by searching companies on the web – the real web. Chosen a web site they create an ad draft proposal. The ads players create are exposed to others as “counter-biddable”, that is, other players can create new competing ads for the same company. A third player acts as judge deciding who is the winner. The game play flow for bidding ads:
    5
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Ads Museum
    A similar interplay between “inside the story / the world out there” is created in Adslife when romancing with characters and when trying to win the game – but we won’t spoil that part by saying too much.
    Winning ads are visible on dedicated pages on the web and there is even a museum of user created ads: http://adslifegame.com/m
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Players public pages
    Every player’s advertising agency which exists in game play also has a corresponding public page on the web, e.g. http://adslifegame.com/12
    7
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Players company stationery
    The player’s advertising agency has a kind of intermediate existence in the real world – e.g. you can really print the company’s stationery.
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Silvio Fans Club
    Also the game character “Silvio” has a real web site: http://silvio.adslifegame.com/
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • The game’s club
    The game’s club too: http://club.adslifegame.com/
    Players can create ads for these sites too, which leads to further game play / real web out there interactions.
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Users’ social network
    Adslife does not exploit the users’ social network in exchange for more game play – but it does facilitate user’s that want to create a game play narrative on their Twitter account, by having a Twitter button always there and sensitive to both player profile and game state.
    Each player’s ad company gets a unique tag, and the text of the tweet proposed reflects game state.
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Is Adslife a social game?
    We already tested the game with several players, getting quite some feedback and no one complained yet about the fact that the intermixing of levels leads to a feeling of incoherence – hopefully because it doesn’t.
    So is Adslife a social game? In a new sense of the expression, probably closer to the meaning of the composing words, it is. Adslife is one of many possible answers to the question “how does the web change the world of games?”.
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Classical social games
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Adslife different model
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    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Levels of fiction: “I want to be Don Draper” and Adslife
    15
    Don Draper's Presentation for Kodak:
    It's not called 'The Wheel.' It's called 'The Carousel.'
    [Photo by Carin Baer.]
    The TV series Mad Men is interesting from several point of views – let me point out one in particular which is related to this post.
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Levels of fiction: “I want to be Don Draper” and Adslife
    16
    Mad Men is a series where the spectator not only lives the story, but is also involved in a an interaction between story, history and reality: this because the ads created in the story are about real products, most of which still exist.
    So a triangle forms between the spectator’s ideas about ads, the real objects, and the ideas put forward by the advertisers in the movie. This adds interest to the story, where, like in all good stories, rarely something actually happens . This way the spectator’s projection is facilitated and made more involving.
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Levels of fiction: “I want to be Don Draper” and Adslife
    17
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
    Mad Men’s story gets further depth by another level interplay between characters and historic events of the day they are “living”, like the Cuba missile crisis; here the author (Matthew Weiner) brilliantly brings the events about not just as news, but through the details of the emotions lived by the characters.
    In Adslife we attempt something similar: the player’s projection onto the character and her/his advertising agency is facilitated by the fact that the player is creating ads for sites that exist out of the game world.
  • What is a browser game?
    18
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
    Technically, Adslife is entirely built in HTML and JavaScript. Not much of HTML5 is used - what is actually used are CSS3 properties. You can play it also on your iPad’s browser (actually, even on the iPhone, if you have really small fingers).
    Adslife game story is built using our JavaScript game-story engine, Storymoto, which we released on GitHub under MIT license (open source and free for all).
  • No gamification
    19
    We didn’t purposely introduce gamification techniques in Adslife. Building a game appeal around variable conditioning could be a symptom that you either have no story to tell, or don’t believe players can get subtleties – but maybe this idea can be falsified.
    Our idea is that you play Adslife because of game-intrinsic motivators. Not having to install it, it can be played at work, as a short break: a play of a game day can take about 10 minutes , and then the game character will sleep. When the player’s character is sleeping,  the player can’t “play”: the character dreams.
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • No gamification
    20
    Even when the character is sleeping, the public web page of the game’ advertising company is visible on the web.
    If you analyze Adslife from the point of view of somehow using gamification patterns, it actually does, although in its own way: check out this detailed presentation Social Mechanics by Ralph Koster and notice how many of the forty patterns we actually used. Notice also that Adslife is a rare social game built upon opposition!
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • The story, environment, characters
    21
    Adslife has a linear story, along a classical Hero’s Journey. This does not mean that it is perceived as linear by the player (see The Art of Game Design). There are micro-victories along the way (the ads proposed), so that the Hero’s story graph is sort of fractal. The fact that it has a story at all already makes it distinctive in the realm of browser games.
    This is the schema for the main line of events evolution:
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • The story, environment, characters
    22
    But actually, being a game, the events seen more closely are partially driven by the player, so the structure is actually a foldback story structure:
    [Ref. for this part images is Text Adventures – The Evolution of an Idea]
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Adslife atmosphere
    23
    A major effort in Adslife has gone in creating atmosphere through illustrations:
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Adslife architecture
    24
    There is an a-posteriori draft of reconstruction of the story places’ setting – a kind of a-posteriori architecture:
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • A-posteriori architecture
    25
    Here is an amazing work of a-posteriori architecture by Steven Jacobs on Hitchcock movies – entirely unrelated to this post, but it is a beautiful book.
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Adslife characters
    26
    Non player characters in Adslife have a distinct personality but very limited “action” – they play a pre-defined part in the linear story.
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Working as barman
    27
    When we decided to add a micro game to Adslife, we wanted it to be in line with the overall spirit of the game, so we created a game where the player works as a barman – but the cocktails that she / he has to prepare are real cocktails, and she / he must know and put together real ingredients. Things get really hard quite fast: try it!
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Cultural references
    28
    Adslife is crammed with references, to movies, novels, graphic novels, comics and songs. The first reference people think of is Mad Men, but actually that wasn’t a model in production. Having to pick the main references, we were surely influenced by The Long Goodbye (which, not by chance, is set in 1973 just like Adslife) by Altman (adaptation of Raymond Chandler‘s 1953 novel of the same name) in style.
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Hopper
    29
    In illustrations we didn’t avoid the obvious reference to Hopper – and are quite happy about it.
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • A new road to market
    30
    Playing Adslife costs about 9$. From Adslife site:
    Why not a free game? We are a small, self-funded indie game development team. We don’t like in game purchases (“virtual item purchases”) as it can be felt as cheating, they falsify competition fairness. We don’t like ads in games as they lower considerably the quality of user experience – the poetic immersion. So we ask a small amount at the very beginning and that’s it.
    Explicitly and upfront paying for a browser game is unusual – still, this is an unusual browser game.
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife
  • Finale
    31
    The open web also needs bolder ideas. Whereas Facebook automates sharing and effectively turns it into bland advertising (which rewards broad concept games), open web games need users to want to share them. That means they’re better suited to communities that want to form
    I Think Facebook is Over [Social Games], by Tadhg Kelly
    This is a what we are trying with Adslife.
    We are still working on the definitive trailer, on the game soundtrack, and on stability and cross browser compatibility– but the core of the game is done. So now… you can play.
    http://adslifegame.com
    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Creating a new kind of social browser game: Adslife