New Annals in Design Stupidity

We are all familiar with the principle that you can design anything as a bonus or a penalty, right? You can give characters a “hunger” debuff, or you can give them a “well fed” buff for eating food; if you balance enemies with the assumption that everyone will have eaten, the practical effect is negligible, but players like the idea of being rewarded instead of being punished. Similarly, most games give you the normal amount of experience if you are “rested” in some form, rather than saying that you only earn half xp if you play too much. No, it’s not “bonus xp” where you are somehow putting something over the very developers who implemented it.

Most Facebook games reward you for logging in every day or having many friends. Many will even give you increasingly large bonuses for playing many days in a row or for having many friends. I have found two that take the opposite approach to an idiotic degree. Hotel City is the latest from Playfish, and if you go a few days without playing, cockroaches will take over your rooms so you must pay to clean them out. Yes, they punish you for returning to the game after an absence. Food Friendzy randomly hits you with a “21 Club” tile. If you have at least 21 friends playing, you get 21 points for landing on it; if not, you lose 21 points. That sounds like an unfortunate prospect to bootstrap: “Come play this game with me where we get punished for not having enough friends playing. No, not many, we’ll need to recruit about 12 more, why do you ask?” It is also one of the worst excuses for a game I have ever seen, where the entire gameplay is picking tiles at random to get points. Many of those tiles will make you lose points, including “lose all” and one that flips your score from positive to negative. And then they will mock your “strategy” if your score ends in the negative.

: Zubon

5 thoughts on “New Annals in Design Stupidity”

  1. I have abandoned and blocked all my Facebook game apps. Castleage, Vampire Wars, & Superhero City. Luckily, I never got into Farmville, Fishville, or that Cafe one. I hated the fact that they basically required you to invite and actively have your friends play, or you had to join faceless clans (people you don’t know) to succeed or be protected from others. The only reason I joined FB was to be able to see my new neices pics and got caught up in the stupid. =( I am free now and only log into it once every 2 weeks or when my sis texts me to tell me she pasted new items.

  2. The mini D&D game on Facebook isn’t stupid, you can come back to it whenever you like without penalty I think. I can’t stand to play games that expect you to log on every day, it usually feels like I’m losing out if I don’t, and if I feel like I’m losing out, well, I won’t play. Even if they design it as a reward, it still frequently feels like a punishment as I usually *can’t* play every single day.

    WoW dailies are set up so that I can do 2 every other day thanks to timezones, and missing one occasionally isn’t much of a loss (while levelling alts without rested feels like a punishment).

  3. I stopped playing FB’s Petville for that very reason: if I didn’t log in for a day or two my Pet ran away to the Pound and I had to pay a Fine to get him back.

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