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September 01, 2014, 08:20:30 PM
TIGSource ForumsPlayerGeneralWhat Minecraft and Farmville have in common
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Author Topic: What Minecraft and Farmville have in common  (Read 12093 times)
Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #30 on: December 03, 2010, 03:50:01 PM »

Let's be frank "Skinnerian techniques" is the fancy term to say REWARD!
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ILLOGICAL, random guy on internet, do not trust (lelebĉcülo dum borobürükiss)
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« Reply #31 on: December 03, 2010, 05:12:11 PM »

For what it's worth, I think GILBERT Timmy is debating the points far more eloquently than I'm able to, but I've dived in already so I might as well continue Shrug

I disagree with trying to split this into two distinct categories. The social aspect and the business model are orthogonal, and there's nothing inherently wrong with either. The problem is when you tone down elements that are fun, replace them with elements that are compulsive, and then essentially put paywalls between the player and their next reward.

I think this is the crux of the anti-Farmville sentiment. The problem with this argument is that "fun" is incredibly subjective. The thought process behind the anti-Farmville camp seems to go something like this:

I don't find the game fun. Therefore it isn't fun. Therefore no-one can find the game fun. So what's keeping the millions of players playing it? ZOMG MIND CONTROL!

It's nonsense. The players clearly do enjoy playing these games, otherwise they wouldn't play. They certainly wouldn't pay. They experience a sense of progress, a feeling of creativity - they enjoy it. The games are perhaps too simplistic for the tastes of you and I, but that doesn't mean they're devoid of fun. If they were devoid of fun, people wouldn't play them.

Characterising the microtransactions in those games as paywalls is pretty unfair and fallacious as well. Admittedly I haven't played Farmville, so I could be wrong about that game, but of all the social games I've seen (including other -Ville games), there's little (perhaps no) content that can't be attained by not paying a penny and just being more patient. The vast majority of players of freemium games never pay a penny to play - they just log in when it's convenient, do what they do, log out again, and eventually get the stuff they want. The people that pay are just the ones who want a way to shorcut the process. I don't see how there's anything wrong in that. It's not a paywall, it's a completely optional shortcut.

The "energy" (or whatever other depletable, slowly-recharging resource a game might use) generally serves to actually limit the length of any given session playing one of these games. Hard-wired into their design is a mechanic that ensures they'll be played in short bursts, in a schedule that suits the lifestyles of the players. How many "proper" games have that? Hell, Blizzard might have stopped some of their more obsessive players from fucking dying if they had the same mechanic.

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The problem is that Farmville provides mechanisms to encourage you to harass your friends in order to make your own gains in the game.

And that's why I wanted to make a distinction between the "social" aspects of these games and the monetary aspects. I find the friend-spamming uncomfortable too, and there's a lot of room for improvement there. That said, again, it's unfair to characterise the spamming as only being beneficial to you. If you spam someone who is already playing the game, and they respond by clicking on the button to magically gift you the Strawberries Of Power (or whatever the hell it is you need to progress), they get ingame bonuses too. The benefit is mutual, and it doesn't cost anyone anything. Spamming people who aren't already playing the game? Yeah, that's pretty crappy.

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Does Farmville tell you up front which features require real world money? Does it mention that certain things are only possible if you recruit friends? Does it tell you that you will be essentially taunted by being shown things that other players had to pay money to achieve?

No, Farmville doesn't tell you that stuff in advance, and it should. But again, I don't know of anything which you MUST pay for to attain, and even if you do, I think you must be an incredibly sensitive soul if you feel "taunted" by seeing someone owning a piece of virtual property that you don't. I don't hear of anyone being upset that other people's XBox avatars have clothing or accessories that they don't. I happen to have a set of that overpriced Horse Armour in Oblivion - who would be upset if I posted a screenshot?

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There is also a strong thread among gamers which states that you shouldn't be able to introduce external resources to improve your standing within the game, as a point of fairness.

Sure, I understand that point of view. But nobody is making the gamers that hold that opinion play these games. Nobody is making anybody play these games.

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Different types of players that allow some players to get privileges and benefits over the others is something else. Imagine how chess tournaments would be if you were allowed to pay to have pawns upgraded to bishops.

As GILBERT Timmy pointed out, none of these games (at least none I know of, and certainly not Farmville) are competitive. They're co-operative. If your chessboard is full of bishops, that's fine with me - I'm not playing against you. If you can lend me a copy of one of your bishops for a bit, and in return I'll clone a couple of my pawns for you in case you need them, everyone wins.
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Glaiel-Gamer
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« Reply #32 on: December 03, 2010, 05:25:16 PM »

I don't find the game fun. Therefore it isn't fun. Therefore no-one can find the game fun. So what's keeping the millions of players playing it? ZOMG MIND CONTROL!

It's nonsense. The players clearly do enjoy playing these games, otherwise they wouldn't play.

I'm going to stop you right there.

Edmund and I made a little game as an experiment back when the whole farmville thing was gaining attention (also shit like WoW which uses similar psychological tactics to keep people paying their monthly fee).

We boiled those games down to their core. Click to get stuff. More clicks = more stuff. Stuff is pointless (you can arrange it in your room how you like). It takes slightly over 10000 clicks to unlock everything. We tracked the percentage of people who played who beat the game. It was just under 10%.

Now, read the reviews. Look at the pitiful score (2.61/5.00) on newgrounds. Look how many reviews are along the lines of "This game sucks and isn't fun. I gave up after 6000 clicks" then score it a 0 or a 1.

We basically suckered people into playing a pointless game, and they SAID THEMSELVES it wasn't fun, yet something still enticed them to click a button SIX THOUSAND times in a row.

This right here is EXPERIMENTAL PROOF that people can play a game for a long time without actually finding it fun. This is why people hate farmville so much. Its psychological tricks meant to keep you playing, get more people playing, and get you paying. The game design is based around maximizing profit rather than maximizing fun.
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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #33 on: December 03, 2010, 05:49:57 PM »

But yet that would mean that people would rage quit and give low score? It isn't happening with social game so far, people are glad to share their achievement and give high score.

How about Gears of war? I played the game 6 hours despite finding it boring and uneventful. It only prove that without major defect, people are willing to give chance to a product. This relate to the kano model.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kano_model

What it says is that satisfaction does not correlate with satisfaction. Another way to say it, is that boring product (which bring neither satisfaction nor dissatisfaction) have better chance to stay than a product that have clear defect (or that a product without defect does not make an exciting product). Generally I bring this model to highlight difference between retro game (high defect rate combine with high excitement rate) with today's game (low defect but low excitement rate, but that's changing now excitement goes up again).

Basically your little game was a safe product, not exciting but not infuriating, exactly the medium score you get at the end, there is a lot of 1 and 0 but there is also a string of 10 Wink It's funny to see people praising the game and giving to make it better!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 05:57:53 PM by GILBERT Timmy » Logged


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« Reply #34 on: December 03, 2010, 05:58:30 PM »

Haha, that game is hilarious Cheesy

As satire, it's brilliant. As an experiment, it's flawed. I think if you'd added a bit where people could buy 250 clicks for a dollar, it would have been interesting to see how much money you made. I'm willing to bet it wouldn't have been much, because as you say, the game is so stripped down there's no real incentive to play, and given the choice between paying real money to progress or just quitting, people would quit.

If a microtransation-based version of AVGM actually made you a pile of money, I'd concede that it's an evil psychological trick. My argument here is that Farmville is not as stripped-down and simplified as people would like to characterise it as being, and that there is actual genuine gameplay and enjoyment in there, albeit in a simpler form than we're used to.

That's not to say there isn't evil out there. I read through EMcNeill's links, and ZT Online (described in this Escapist article: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_255/7594-The-Player-and-the-Pusher-Man.2 ) sounds like a genuinely nasty piece of work.
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« Reply #35 on: December 03, 2010, 06:21:47 PM »

If a microtransation-based version of AVGM actually made you a pile of money, I'd concede that it's an evil psychological trick. My argument here is that Farmville is not as stripped-down and simplified as people would like to characterise it as being, and that there is actual genuine gameplay and enjoyment in there, albeit in a simpler form than we're used to.

In order for it to make you money like that I'd have to tie it in with facebook and have it pump numbers to peoples statuses and "challenge their friends to do better". People can pay money to unlock stuff faster.

Though I think Cow Clicker already did that
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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #36 on: December 03, 2010, 06:24:32 PM »

http://progresswars.com/

Even more strip down to basic Wink

But your experiment are flaw because this does not work like farmville at all, it's more like regular game really.

The main hooks is the mystery and the narrative, not the number nor the progression, we want to see what's happen next, we want to see if it came to a closure, it looks like there is an hidden story to decipher, like the death of a looser. Not quite facebook game really nor like game with extrinsic reward (meaningless points). PLus what? 10 ending? This intrigue and keep us playing.

Actually the design is good with very clear feedback and constant stimulation, we got a good feel at where we are from the end and it spark the imagination. This is strip down engagement mechanic not compulsion mechanics.

However I stop to 3274 click as it seems I had a good grasp of what was going on and 10 000 is way to far FOR ME Wink I may go see a walkthrough on youtube Tongue


Also this
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1738/rethinking_carrots_a_new_method_.php?print=1
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ILLOGICAL, random guy on internet, do not trust (lelebĉcülo dum borobürükiss)
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« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2010, 06:32:32 PM »

PLus what? 10 ending? This intrigue and keep us playing.


theres only 1 ending, that was also a psychological trick
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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #38 on: December 03, 2010, 06:36:32 PM »

YOU LIAR!
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ILLOGICAL, random guy on internet, do not trust (lelebĉcülo dum borobürükiss)
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« Reply #39 on: December 03, 2010, 09:05:05 PM »

someone link to cow clicker KTHX
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« Reply #40 on: December 03, 2010, 09:14:42 PM »

better yet: clickquest

http://www.clickquest.net/
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« Reply #41 on: December 03, 2010, 09:23:24 PM »

I was wondering how long before that came up!

I think the big thing with the game Glaiel posted (cute, by the way) is that it makes absolutely no pretensions at any story to keep the player involved. I mean, that's sort of by necessity, to achieve actual parody status, but I guarantee if it featured some sort of "story" about why objects were there and why you wanted more of them, it would have a much higher completion rate and leave a much more positive general impression.

Because, well, at that point it would basically be Farmville.


Has anyone brought up the Extra Credits from last week on this topic? Or the somewhat recent Jon Blow lecture on Farmville and the ethics of game design? Both are worth watching.

Eeeedit:

Every game, from Poker to Chess to Halo to Minecraft, operates on the principles of a "game." And all games, since the dawn of time, have similarities to Skinner's experiment. OUR WHOLE LIVES ARE SIMILAR TO SKINNER'S EXPERIMENT.

I just get so frustrated with this pseudo-intellectualist garbage. I like that you portray Farmville in a starkly different light, I just wish it wasn't with a term that every moron that has had a Psych 101 class likes to use.

Operant conditioning has certainly always been an element of games, but it hasn't necessarily been exploited intentionally in a cynical manner to maximize profits within the field of computer games specifically in the way that is being done nowadays with games like Farmville (the circumstances surrounding this are covered in some detail in the two things I mentioned). There's a reason it's at the forefront of the discussion, and it isn't because everyone around you has just completed an intro psych course.

Please don't do that thing where you get angry at a term because you've heard of it. I don't want to bother having to constantly find indier and indier language to use to describe a very basic thing.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 09:34:55 PM by Chris Whitman » Logged

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« Reply #42 on: December 03, 2010, 10:09:36 PM »

Let's be frank "Skinnerian techniques" is the fancy term to say REWARD!
I think it tends to refer to something more specific -- random or timed rewards for simple, repetitive nearly-mindless actions.

What I see usually with "grindy" games is that they have some simple skinnerian thing layered under something more complex; so you can strategize on a high level on how exactly you'll choose to grind, but then you still have to put in a lot of "mindless" time to do the grinding.  It would be interesting to strip the grind layer out of one of these games and see how enjoyable the strategy layer is without that ...
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Dragonmaw
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« Reply #43 on: December 03, 2010, 10:10:42 PM »

Please don't do that thing where you get angry at a term because you've heard of it. I don't want to bother having to constantly find indier and indier language to use to describe a very basic thing.

I'm angry for a completely different reason. It's not the term, it's the fact that this whole SKINNERIAN TECHNIQUES thing seems to be an fad. An idiotic one to boot. There's also the nostalgia-ridden, I-hate-new-things assumption in that the microtransaction monetization of Farmville is a new development. It's not. It's been around for a long time.

With that, I bow out of this thread. Every time I see the word Skinnerian or a phrase involving Skinner's Box, it instantly makes me super fucking angry.
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« Reply #44 on: December 03, 2010, 10:22:17 PM »

Is it a fad? I mean, it's an element in game design which happens to be really useful for monetization, and I figured it just reached a breaking point where everyone is sick to death of its blatant exploitation.

I think people hate the Farmville microtransaction model because it's cynical and sneaky, not because it's new, but maybe that's just me.
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