Where is Facebook going?

Today seems to be a good day for writing blog posts, seeing as I’ve got nothing better to do right now. So I was reading this article in the NY Times about Facebook and where it’s heading. Now, I’m well aware that I’m one of the “college kids” the article mentions, but the thing, I understand where Facebook is trying to head. They need to become profitable, obviously, and their idea of how to do that is kind of cool. By eventually using those interactive ads, I think it will be an extremely effective way to advertise without the users feeling like they’re having their personal space intruded upon. I would happily choose what my favorite M&M flavor is and have it displayed on my profile. I wouldn’t even think twice about it being an ad. THAT is totally fine. What I’m not okay with is ads all over the place. You know those sponsored links that show up in the middle of your news feed occassionally? Those are not okay. Don’t ever intrude on what I’m trying to look up, and I’ll be perfectly happy.

I also understand where Facebook wants to go with the site design. They want it to be useful in real time. That makes sense. Their example of having a coworker post that they’re going to lunch so that you can join them makes complete sense. But where they fall flat is in explaining this sort of thing to their audience. Facebook has engaged multiple times in a farce of a conversation with their users, showing them mockups of what the new design will look like, and asking for feedback. But I’m not sure we have ever seen any of our feedback being used. It seems to me like they come to us with a design they’ve already decided upon and finalized, and then they ask us our opinion just to appease us. But that appeasement doesn’t work if we don’t see any results from it.

Look. I work in the game industry, as you may know. I’ve also been an avid beta tester for years before now, so I’ve followed beta forums regularly. It’s very obvious to a community when you ask for feedback on a feature you’ve already finished. When a high percentage of players (or at least of those who are active on your forums) cry out against the feature, yet you implement it without changing it, there’s going to be trouble.

Facebook seems to have taken the approach of letting their users vent their frustration, and then waiting for it to blow over. It actually turns out to be an effective strategy. Remember the time before this last one that Facebook changed the website around? We all flipped out for a while, posted petitions, made groups, etc, then eventually gave up when it was clear nothing was going to be done about it. Same thing with the news feed when it first appeared. They’re going to design the site they want to design, and there’s nothing much we can do about it. Don’t like it? No one’s forcing you to be on Facebook. Games can do the same thing, to a certain extent. We design the game that we want to make. No matter what complaints a playerbase makes, we’re not going to change our game from a fantasy genre to a wild west theme. Sure, little things can be changed, but in general, the game has already been designed by the time it gets into the public eye. The difference, however, is that games depend on an audience. You make your players upset? They quit, then where’s your money? If I leave Facebook, I’m pretty sure they’ll never even know.

Man. I like all this commentary on articles that I’m doing. This is fun! Maybe I should be in tech more often (*GAG*).

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This is why I’ll never be a game designer

This is how smart you should be

This is how smart this idea is.

I saw this article today, and my first thought was “Wow. That is fucking genius. Why hasn’t anyone ever thought of that before?” A collection quest that guarantees you’ll eventually complete it. I guess that was always something I didn’t enjoy in my adventures through Kingdom of Loathing. You are able to collect a daily “bounty” from a number of choices, and each of them are supposed to, on average, take around 40 adventures to complete. So one that asks for 40 of an item means that that area will ALWAYS drop the item each adventure, while one that needs 4 of an item will have a much lower chance of running into that enemy. But what if, as you approach the 40 adventure mark, the chance of finding that monster were to increase? I’m not saying hit 100%, because then you have a hard cap on the number of adventures it can take, and we want the game to still depend on randomness, but why not at least give us a better chance of finding those monsters the longer we spend on it. It’s genius!

I guess I’m sort of shocked that no other game (at least none that I’m aware of) has ever implemented this sort of system for collection quests. It’s brilliant. Collection quests suck, not because they’re boring or anything, but because there’s that element of randomness. When I’m grabbing a bunch of quests, I do all the kill quests first, because I know there’s a set amount I’ll have to do, and the collection quests only if I have to after that, because there’s too much uncertainty involved. Killing 20 boars is simple, collecting 10 boar hooves could take 50 kills. It could take 10 kills. It could take 1000. You just don’t know. But progressive drops? You will eventually get the drops, and you know it. That makes me very happy.

A Minor Update and a Question

Well, the question first. This isn’t meant to sound snarky at all, but it’s a very serious question. When a big MMO goes about banning gold farmers, does it ever cross their mind the amount of money they’re making off of the farmers? I was reading an article about how farmers for WoW purchase the game, both expansions, and game time cards. Each time they do that, it costs them about $100. That’s $100 for Blizzard. Do they ever worry about the money they’re losing by banning these people? Or, well, I guess they might not be losing anything, since those people will go out and buy more copies, right? Well, I guess that’s my question answered before I even asked it. Sorry you had to listen to that.

In other news, I don’t have much to share at the moment. There’s some interesting stuff going on, but nothing I can share at the moment. I know, secretive stuff, right? Sort of exciting, having secrets and all. I’ll definitely post stuff up here once I can, but it’s all exciting and new! Be excited for me!

Television Update:
Lost is awesome.
Eli Stone is cancelled.
Better Off Ted is sorta funny.
Scrubs will be sorely missed when it is gone.
Castle is very enjoyable.
Dollhouse is FINALLY awesome. Well, last week’s was. Hopefully the trend will continue.
I gave up on Heroes, and Desperate Housewives. I think it’s very stupid that DH is advertising the rest of its season like “One of the Housewives WILL DIE. Who will it be? You’ll never guess!” No, I would never ever imagine it could be the one woman who didn’t renew her contract. Man, I’ll be completely shocked if it turns out to be her.

You know when I’m getting sarcastic that it’s time to sign off. Till we meet again!