02 May 2009

Facebook Game: Bad Design Decisions

Facebook Game: Bad Design Decisions.

The latest hit from Playfish is Restaurant City. You play as the owner of a small shop, hiring friends to serve your dishes. You level up, you decorate your shop, you trade, etc etc.

Interesting design points:
1. The need to source for more Ingredients encourages people to promote the game by themselves, instead of being forced to add 5 friends to level up, then add another 5 friends to level up.
2. Your decorations can be seen at a glance, as compared to their other product - Pet Society, where you need to visit each and every room.
3. Game currency can be earned offline, rather than visiting a million homes.

Bad design points:
a. Game points must be earned online, thus encouraging players to leave the game running by itself for hours and hours.
b. When you logs in back into the game, a horde of customers descend upon you. It's impossible to service all of them at once so your popularity takes a hit whenever you had to refresh due to a login, a visit to friends, or simply examing your inventory.

Somewhere along the line, the designers realised that people are simply leaving their games running without interaction. So they introduced toilets. I guess toilets qualify as...

Interesting design points:
4. Toilets stand between you getting an approval point that you have obtained from serving your customer. If upon completing his meal, the patron decides he needs to poop, then that approval point you gained is withheld till he visits the toilet. If he can't due to crowding, then that point is lost.

Bad design points:
c. Toilets get dirty after every 3 uses, forcing you to clean it every 2-3 minutes if you have a small restaurant and do not have an array of toilets. Forcing you to babysit your game.
d. Players can simply ignore toilets and suffer the popularity hit.

I admit it's easy to criticise. However, Restaurant City seems to lack of fore-planning and I felt they fell flat with the idea of toilets.


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