How is it that in our world there are games. Modern knowledge about the history of games and gaming behavior, allow to claim that this kind of activity originated incredibly long time, even before the appearance of mankind. Observing the behavior of animals, we can assume that the game is in the beginning performed the functions of education and socialization. Computer games are made by humans for the entertainment of people, but still use the oldest triggers the awakening of the interest — opportunity to learn, to learn something new and play with friends.
The last aspect is the subject of this material. As a practical benefit, “preparation” for a story about socialization in games, I use the mobile game The Trail 22ѕ Studio headed by game design legend Peter Molyneux. The Trail — a game about the frontier, survival and pioneering. A very controversial project. It looked interesting before the launch, promising to carve out a genre niche “runner with Kraft” in the established world of mobile free-to-play.
However, the miracle did not happen on December 19th, the game was on 177 place in top free apps iPhone USA, and then altogether disappeared from the radar. The reason for that was a questionable technical implementation (The Trail manages to brake even on powerful smartphones) and some bad decision in game design. However, the game is really an interesting approach to the socialization of users. At the beginning of the era of slot machines and the first portable computers, the game against another human or with him was probably the main game scenario. Indeed, the AI learned how to develop immediately, but for the rivalry between the players can do nothing at all.
Just remember all those “I got to the ninth speed the Tetris!”. About the same time appeared the modes Hotseat (multiplayer computer games, allowing play on a single gaming device — Prim. Ed.) and 2-player mode, which brought me in my childhood so many tears of hurt and joy. With the spread of networks (I deliberately do not quote the date because different regions of the computer networks have evolved at different speed, but we can say that it happened between 1975 and 1995) has developed a local network game. The gameplay in them was a session, the other at the time and could not be, but then originated the progenitors of the MMO genre (massively multiplayer online role-playing game — approx.ed.) text game MUD (Multi-User Dungeon).
Text description of the location and present it to the players, NPC (NPC — Prim. Ed.) and a console for entering commands — thats the whole interface. A MUD (multi-user world — approx. Ed.) has provided the ability to online chat is the first communication between players who are physically far from each other. The advent of MMORPG (1996-1997) was the bomb.
First socialization began to sell the game. MUD was extremely difficult to monetize because the free of competitors was more than enough to make them was relatively easy. However, the creation of a graphical interface was a costly business, so MMORPG could not afford to be free. The first really popular MMORPG Ultima Online got 100 thousand subscribers in the first six months after release when the monthly subscription cost of ten dollars. For at least a decade of MMO games have become the Holy Grail for many developers.
Because more people will pay ten dollars for five months than $ 50. Everyone tried to create an online world in which you live. And some were. I personally know several people whose lives changed dramatically, IMO. One married a girl from his clan, the other dropped out of University because he could not break away from the game.
Press said about the addiction to online games. If anyone still needed proof of the importance of social mechanic to keep the players they received them in full. Many MMOs to welcome a new player in the clan still treated as seriously as the candidates for a new job. With the gradual establishment of a free-to-play on top of the food chain of the gaming market, MMO game changed again. The subscription and issue of DLC (downloadable content — Prim.
Ed.) have stopped working as the primary method of monetization. Instead, the designers focused on freemium models (“free-ON — Prim. Ed.) with exclusive in-game content, which is often perceived negatively (pay2win), but the temptation was too great. By this point it was already clear that the most involved players are just clan segment of the audience. They are characterized as very competitive, willing to invest a lot of effort and money into the game in order to raise your clan to the top of the.
So disappeared the upper limit on the amount of money invested. Clan audience could pay as much as they wanted. In online games, built on rivalry, top clans pay for all players and still make it very willingly. The social network gave online games new tricks. Have the opportunity to use the stimulus of rivalry and mutual assistance to attract people who have never been part of the gaming audience.
I mean all those viral posts on the walls, which still hates a lot of people (and in vain, because the modern functionality of almost any social network allows you to customize the ribbon as you wish). More importantly, the online games have the opportunity to integrate the social context, even for the players who have it is not as if. For example, completing a puzzle Match 3, you can see your top friends who is also allegedly passed it. It does not matter, did actually specific to each this level. The game has access to his avatar and name through the social network, and it replaces faceless bot virtual replica of the personality of each.
This not only helps to personalize the competition, but also lowers the threshold of entry into a curve track viral posts. “Once my friend already plays this game, then surely it is interesting to know that I beat him on points”. Mobile games have expanded the opportunities presented by social networks. The latter quickly realized that he gave too much power to applications.
That Orgy that you could do all kinds of posts, invitations, requests on behalf of the game, affects the reputation of the social network. So Facebook, for example, the last few years hiding all game notifications and invitations so far from the user as possible. However, with the advent mobile applications have access to a new stratum of personal information. Phonebook interlocutors, messengers and the like. In addition, the phone is always with you, and the probability to miss a notification from one another is reduced.
So, the developers in their games trying to make the socialization of the player occurred as early as possible, and often easier. The major technical obstacles were overcome first, IMO. The era of f2p MMO has proven that socialization is almost the most important condition for the attraction and retention of players. Social networks and smartphone technology to try to relieve the psychological barriers of socialization (“why do I need it, friends will not appreciate”, “Im in the game I dont know” and so on). If you look at modern games, you notice that joining a clan much easier than in the days of the first MMO (by the way, then they are often called guilds).
However, even in those games where the clan mechanics are the main instrument of socialization and give its participants a unique gameplay or content, joining a clan is not a default script. From a historical point of view, it seems absolutely logical continuation. Socialization has long been an optional part of the gameplay. But always it is necessary to be guided by historical perspective when making decisions in game design.
Today, there are genres for which the co-op and PvP (player vs player — approx. Ed.) are no longer additional functionality. Instead, its core gameplay, interaction of players. Why do game designers still avoid clan mechanic as the main way the game progress?. One of the possible answers to this question.
Decisions are made deliberately and independently, perceived as their own, as opposed to decisions made for them. However, this response ignores the fact that people prefer to take only the really important decisions, choosing “not to choose” in other cases. Graph from original research. Perhaps something similar thought Peter Molyneux, working on The Trail (and maybe not). The game meets us on the shores of the new world settlers.
We see the affable conductor, which acquaints us with the basic game mechanics and controls. The trail is calling to go forward. Should pass just 14 kilometers to the town of Eden Falls. Town when we get to it, will be referred to as anything but Eden Falls. Because the city is in the clan, and the name for it comes up the player is the founder.
All the way from the beginning of the path before us is the goal. To get to the social part of the game. Of course, we interact with other players before. Share prepared remarks on the trail and goods in the Parking lots (supposedly with them, remember the virtual casts for the NPC?). But most importantly — through gameplay goals and writing the setting just screams.
“This is your home!” It sounds so organic and so well-written that when we get to town, we have no idea why we dont have to join it. Compare with the standard quest “Join the clan get X coins” in most games. Sadly, other solutions to The Trail all the power of this initial conversion to urban residents is reduced to nothing. The basic mechanics around which the city daily filling the box with goods to trade. Filled boxes are shipped to dealers, and the city gets behind them gold bars that you can use to improve it, to build new buildings.
The first thing placed in the box determines the type, all subsequent objects must be the same as the first. Experienced players put first some public ingredient, like pebbles, so that every resident of the city could help with the filling. But if the first be difficult craftiest pants, then the probability of filling such a box is zero. Will have to wait, when will pass days, and a box for items will be cleared. One of the main problems with the current build of the game faced by the residents of the city — the theft from the shelves in the houses.
Probably the regiment in houses was originally conceived as a place to share things, so it is made available to all citizens. However, no notification in the game, and settingby waiting (the frontier, the severity of manners, “my home is my castle”, thats all) worked against the game mechanics. Does not help even a chest with a lock, which is impossible to steal what is written on it. As a result, came to his home, the new resident finds an empty shelf, instead of the things he left there. Well, then about the same reaction as in the first strategy, in which it was possible to carry out the expropriation of other peoples farms.
To avoid wrong perception of the players public shelf, cost to build a separate learning step upon arrival in the city. Unfortunately, too few multiplayer games that are as elegantly solve the problem of joining the clan. Surely there are other effective mechanisms are unknown to me. And in General, the indicators of The Trail are not, to be able to use the game as a very successful example. ThinkGaming gives an estimate of 12 thousand installs and 16 thousand dollars a day.
This article is rather a call for rethinking, in which the old mechanics of socialization, in my opinion, need. Not because the current does not work, but because the implementation of the clans side from the main gameplay — it is rather a tribute to the historical tradition than a modern solution.