I have been working as a designer not so long but I have already a few thoughts about the organization of games in general. In this short article I would like to outline a small basis of my subsequent reflections on the core of social gameplay and everything concerned with it.
So, let's think a bit about a good game in its social sense. To begin with, we should mention virality. A good game in terms of virality is one that brings on the 1st player 3 more just because the players are interested in it. The game must motivate players to spread it among their social links. If a player does not have any benefit from spreading the application among his social links he will not invite anyone. Similarly - if posting in activity feed doesn’t bring apparent benefit or pleasure the player will not post anything. Consequently, all the features being developed for social game must pass through sanity check of virality prism. If the feature provides the increase of game audience then the feature is good. If not - we have to think about implementing new features that could increase the number of users.
In a few words about social applications:
• Friend List. If the game does not show the list of your friends with their progress, your status among your friends, top of the strongest - this game has lack of sociality.
• Exchange. If you have nothing to share with friends and express yourself, then the game is not a social one. Every step of your progress must give something to your friends to.
• Interaction with friends. You have to feel yourself useful for your friends and be sure in notifying them about your help, even if it's just a routine visit to the farm.
• Restrictions. The players should have desire to continue playing the game, even if it is nothing to do. For example, it is possible to show people things which they still can not buy. It is also very important to limit gaming session in time, because the game can be bored.
• Rewards. The player should be encouraged for every his action.
• Updates in the game. It is necessary to update the content weekly. It can be simple and visual changes. Big update - every two or three weeks with new features done.
• Work with the community. The quality of the FAQ and its availability in the first hours of life are crucial for game. Forum and group games are needed in the first hours of life. It is necessary to moderate the forums and groups, assign moderators from the number of users and reward them for their work, organize competitions.
• Surprise. Surprise player, pile all sorts of gifts all the time, especially when they did not expect it. In some cases it will help to hold a player in the game.