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AGDC: Area/Code's Lantz On Creating  Parking Wars  For Facebook

AGDC: Area/Code's Lantz On Creating Parking Wars For Facebook Exclusive

September 18, 2008 | By Simon Carless

September 18, 2008 | By Simon Carless
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In a Worlds In Motion Summit panel at AGDC, Area/Code co-founder Frank Lantz has been discussing the creation of Parking Wars, the Facebook game sensation created as a promotion for the A&E TV show, and pinpointing the "core values of good games" along the way.

Area/Code, the New York-based developer which recently made Gamasutra 20 list of Breakthrough Developers, saw Parking Wars turn wildly popular, with 400,000 people signing up in two months.

Another Area/Code-designed title, Sharkrunners, promoted Discovery Channel's 20th Anniversary of Shark Week by having a game where the shark movements in game were determined by the actions of real sharks out in the ocean using GPS.

Lantz, who formerly worked at Diner Dash creator Gamelab, explained of the company's philosophy: "We make games for the cloud", explaining that games are really a "stylized form of social interaction".

Thus, gaming on social networks -- as Parking Wars is -- is in many ways "a return to what gaming has always been about", primarily about interacting with other people.

As for Parking Wars, Lantz explained: "We wanted to try to take advantage of Facebook as a space in which a new kind of game design would flourish."

The game, in which your park your cars on your friend's 'street' on Facebook, is specifically intended to take advantage of a "light but persistent" rhythm of interaction.

Lantz explained that, sure, there is a competitive aspect, but there's also a sense in which it functions as a light social MMO. In fact, it's "...designed specifically to be something that you would do twice a day for five minutes."

Most importantly, your relationship with your friends was an inherent part of the gameplay - making it a true social game, where you battled to ticket your friend's cars or sneakily put your cars on their street.

Of course, one of the problems with Parking Wars was simply that people played it a lot more -- and for much longer -- than the developers expected.

Lantz joked that the hardcore player were complaining vociferously: "I played this game all day every day for 6 weeks", and now there's nothing more to do. So the developers needed to create some kind of advanced level challenge, to appease and please those hardcore influencers.

Overall, Lantz -- who revealed that the company is working on more Facebook games, alongside projects for MTV and other media clients -- suggested that "under the hood, there are certain core values of good games" that transcend whatever medium they're produced on -- something they've acted upon in the creation of Parking Wars.


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