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What Makes Social Games Social?


February 17, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 6 Next
 

KoC as an MMO

Beyond its core Facebook integration, KoC's innovation is that it plays like a real MMO: emergent behavior in both social and combat features drives deep immersion. The game's combat system features open-world group PvP, tournaments, and leaderboards just like a client-based MMO. Other traditional MMO social features include alliances, chat, messaging, and trading.

MMO combat (synchronous, strong tie): Because KoC's combat system is based around open-world group PvP, it drives synchronous, strong-tie social interactions. Even though any individual attack is asynchronous, alliances band together to conduct planning and strategy and coordinate waves of attacks in real time.

The game features regular tournaments with rewards and new worlds where players can start over, both of which encourage repeat play while refreshing PvP rivalries. Individual and alliance leaderboards provide a measuring stick for combat might, fueling a strong sense of both social status and competition.

Alliances (synchronous, strong tie): The game's alliance (guild) structure and social tools enable extremely strong ties.

A feature known as "alliance diplomacy" allows alliances to set other alliances as friends, enemies, or neutral, giving rise to meta-alliance social play that is symmetrical (both alliances must agree to a diplomacy level), asynchronous (diplomacy doesn't need to be done while both parties are online) and strong tie (the jockeying for position and status never ends).

Social status and power disparities within an alliance also generate strong ties. Each alliance has several leadership roles for elite players who serve as Chancellors and Vice Chancellors and decide who's in and who's out of an alliance.

Being rejected from an alliance can be like being rejected from a prestigious college or job: it can fuel a player's game-long quest to prove the alliance wrong by forming a rival group that is more powerful.

Alliance-specific "slices" of other synchronous, strong-tie social tools such as chat, messaging, and battle reports also allow alliances to communicate and strategize while keeping the information "in the family." For example, how players in one alliance describe players from another among themselves can be quite different from how they socialize with them externally.

Chat (synchronous): KoC chat is a key synchronous social feature that makes the world feel more dynamic and alive in real time. Three levels of chat allow players different ways to communicate. Alliance and private chat channels (symmetric, strong tie) foster relationships during the down time while waiting for builds to finish. Global chat (asymmetric, strong or weak tie) lets beginners ask questions while encouraging the trash talk that drives enmity between alliances.


Alliance chat in KoC.

Messaging and Trading (asynchronous): Messaging (asymmetric, strong tie) is used for communicating organizational and logistical info: alliance rules and announcements, battle plans, enemy information. Resource trading (symmetric, weak tie) adds an additional layer of non-combat, social interdependency as players buy and sell goods with each other.

Takeaways

Kingdoms of Camelot brought synchronous, strong-tie MMO play to Facebook social gaming to create a new experience on the platform.

What we did well:

  • Layered synchronous MMO PvP combat onto a Facebook game
  • Focused on strong-tie alliance relationship as gameplay foundation
  • Supported combat system with social communication tools that leverage both synchronous/asynchronous and symmetric/asymmetric relationships

Where we could improve:

  • Deepen combat system with additional strategy/tactics (e.g., support group PvE in addition to group PvP)
  • Develop social structure of alliances even further (e.g., support broader play styles beyond attacking and sharing resources)
  • Provide additional communication tools (e.g., offline notifications for key events/interactions, additional channels for communication between alliance officers and other subgroups, etc.)

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 6 Next

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