Andy's Workshop

Game chat and stories along with some articles probably for the more geeky among us,
all written by me, Andy.

Click here for my Frontierville Addiction Therapy Guide

Monday 21 May 2012

The Dangers of Deja Vu

[Please note: this blog is my own thoughts and ramblings. Anything contained in it does not necessarily mirror the thoughts of the other admins or Express as a whole.

Although I do have the membership of Frontierville Express to fall back on for impressions, there's going to be people who disagree, I don't speak for every gamer, just myself and the views I've got from the page.]

Dear Zynga, here we are again.

I must admit recently things have happened that have made me think you're really taking notice of the fans, we're seeing more stuff on our own homestead, we're seeing lower crafting levels and less upgrades to buildings.

It's been really positive and it's been noticed (and I'd say appreciated) by the fans.

So, please, listen to the general consensus we're getting from gamers and rethink repeats.

It's got to the stage "repeat" is a dirty word, there are people out there who just won't get past it, that becomes the overriding aspect of the whole thing. It may seem like throwing an entire burger away because you don't like the slice of pickle or dumping your girlfriend because she has a birthmark the shape of a mongoose riding a polo pony on her inner thigh... but it happens.

You could write any mission you like, and as soon as you add in that dreaded overview mission... It's dead to them. Worse than that, it taints all the missions, people often don't see interesting missions, they see the word "repeat" and bam.

What gets so insane is it's not even just THOSE missions, at the peak of "Repeat Fever" every mission we put up was greeted by "I hate repeat missions" or "No more repeats"... even when there wasn't repeats in the missions, it just became an automatic reaction. Frankly at it's height I probably could have posted a folder of tasteful art nudes of the admins and 7 of the first 10 comments would involve the word "repeat".

The cowgirl missions were great, these babysitting missions are great... but then many people dislike them anyway for the addition of that one factor, the R Word.

Worse, you often get accused of lacking ideas or creativity, you'll give us nine brand new missions with a total of 27 requirements. and it'll all come down to the two or three in the overview mission.

Surely whatever you are getting out of repeats, be it to slow the game down or increase wall posts for marketing, it can't outweigh the negative PR? An entire mission thread, which presumably takes some time to design and code up, all brought down by one bit of it...

So, ideas, ideas, ideas. I suppose usually this is the point I get all arrogant (other pages love that) and try and suggest what I think could be done differently... well, I hate to disappoint and the insults make me laugh so here goes.

1) The Unrealistic Nirvana Solution.

No, I'm not getting a naked baby swimming or some unenthusiastic cheerleader backing dancers, it's about a perfect world. No repeats at all, gamers hate them, we've got enough missions already, folks will like the missions so much more.

OK, here's the problem with that. You must have some reason to do repeats or you wouldn't keep shooting yourself in the foot by having them. Therefore, to hope they'll go away entirely is generally a fanciful notion... but hey, it's a game, it's all fanciful notions. You want a massive PR boost? Try it.

You know full well on current release schedules we'll have one or two more threads come out before the final mission of these is active so where's the harm? Doing the same thing again, just doesn't excite people.

For the gamers though I think we should be looking more at a compromise... remember, they can't give us EVERYTHING, sometimes it's good to meet them half way.

2) The More Realistic Compromise Solution.

OK, I'll start this bit off with a pointer to one of the things that annoyed people with the babysitting. If we're being told to repeat certain missions we'd expect to get close to the final total of reward items (in this case "hugs") that we need. Having barely two thirds of the final total from the mandatory repeats really wasn't on, a lot of people felt they were a little ambushed there.

Instead of tying us into specific missions, just give us a set total of items such as Hugs we have to get and let us loose.

The fact is we all know the missions you get us to repeat will be the worst ones, to the point that your average player will know they've got no chance of finishing them off in short order.

If we're going to repeat, let us pick how many times we'll do each one, like you have in the past with the Native American threads, along with the overall bonus for completing each mission ONCE.

There's going to be the advantage to those prepared to go for the harder missions, more "hugs" or whatever is that series reward is, better individual mission rewards like mystery animal crates etc that people won't mind challenging for.

Personally, I would rather do a mission that takes me a day or two 10 times, instead of a mission that takes a week or more to complete even once. I want to feel I'm succeeding, not just seeing the same icons in the same places every day and picking which gets my limited request stock this time.

I know it's a balance for you, you have to keep it interesting and fun, while still making sure you're advertised by the social part of the game. We get that, we don't mind that... but there's something mildly predictable and boring about knowing the missions we'll be forced to repeat will always have an undue amount of requesting in them.

The average player will never be short of wall posts, eventually you run the risk of alienating potential gamers by having them see folks post 6-10 times in a row for all different kinds of things.

In all we're going to need to request 844 items during babysitting, 288 of which comes from the 2 repeats each of missions 4 and 8. Was 556 Wall/Direct requests too small a number?

So let us pick, let us feel like we're achieving things by letting us have the choice over the missions we want to repeat. Have these as the requirements...

Collect 120 Hugs
Complete Missions 1-4
Complete Missions 5-8

There we go, we've all done the missions once, and now we get some autonomy, some personal choice about whether we'll hammer the little missions again and again or push the bigger ones for better rewards.

If nothing else, think about it logically for a sec. We can only post once every 6-8 hours anyway. Does it matter if we're posting for muffins to finish mission 1, or mounting bolts to finish mission 4? Add that to the fact that as they're daily missions and we're seeing a two thread a week pattern, most players will have TWO more mission threads appear before the final mission of this one.

What makes more sense? Players losing interest in an entire thread because of one word, or players searching the thread to see which are the best missions to keep doing?

Players just want to achieve things, they want mission completion popups, they want rewards, they want to FINISH something because it gives a sense of pride and achievement.

So... if you can, stop the repeats altogether, I don't know your reasoning behind them but I could probably argue each one, in the end always coming back to "folks hate them".

But if we have to have repeats, just let us pick WHAT we'll repeat. Give us a reason to do the harder ones, but don't FORCE them on us. Number of posts, speed of game for the fast or rich minority... neither of those things really seems as important as a happy player base.