And just like that we are diving face first into one of my favorite systems I developed. I thought it would be well suited I start with this because world 1-1 of Mario Bros has been written about to death and back.
The teams functionality was built based off a similar system I had seen in Zen Studios’ Star Wars Pinball. In this system the players would choose either light side or dark side then play their game of pinball and when they finish based on how well they did they were awarded points. These points were allocated towards the light side or the dark side based on which side they chose when they first logged in. The particularly interesting aspect of this was how they pit both sides up against one another. Behind the menus (Like in the following image) there was a constant struggle moving back and forth between the light side (Blue) and the dark side (Red). So every time I logged in it would have moved based on which side players were playing for.
I really liked this system and thought about what I could do to try to improve the system for our purposes. The issues I saw with this system were:
A) There was no end. Because of this no one could actually win. Thus players would eventually burn out.
B) An individual player couldn’t feel like they are making much of a difference. This is difficult because the larger the player base the smaller each individual player’s contribution is to the total effort when we are pitting players against each other.
C) There were no rewards for the player to earn upon victory.
D) I didn’t particularly care if the Dark side won even though we know the light side is aligned with the rebel scum.
How did we adapt this for the NFL apps?
As we can see from comparing the two images I have brought over the same functionality but it’s displayed in the “NFL RUSH Match ups” Bar. I initially wanted to have it take up the entire back screen but after discussing it with art we decided it was better this way because all the widgets would cover it up thus rendering the data useless. That and we were able to create a widget out of the bar, which evolved into a whole new system of social menus based around the player’s chosen team. But that will be for another time.
So as we can see the Eagles are currently beating the 49ers. We initially used the team logos but later decided to use the team rushers from the rush zone television show due to player confusion between our team matchup competition and the real life games. What I like most about how we did this screen is how everyone can tell who is winning without any thought.
So how did we deal with the needed changes?
Players earn team points towards their team matchups by doing various tasks in game such as playing mini-games, posting in the forums, challenging a friend, etc.
These matchups would pit a player’s favorite team, which they chose when they first logged into the app, vs other players’ favorite teams. This solved the problem of players not particularly caring about their chosen side because we leveraged their love of their NFL team against one another.
As you can see at the top of the screen it says “2 days left”. We wanted to solve the issue of players having an endless game so we restricted each match up to last only one week. The top of the screen shows the countdown timer. During the NFL season we pitted teams who were playing each other throughout the week, in real life, against each other in the game. (Thus you can see where the confusion came from when their team won in the real world but lost in the game). At the end of the timer we would pit their team against another team (typically the team they would be playing that week). This further helped to push our players to play more and help their team to victory.
Because of the timer on each match up we were able to have a winner each week. This would help us to determine rankings for the playoffs and help us to pay out prizes to our most active players.
The final issue was making a player feel like their contributions mattered, we tried to do with notifications. When the player would do one of the actions which would gain the player team points a notification would slide down for a couple seconds telling them what they did and how many points they received. Unfortunately in the chaos, which is game development, we were unable to implement the notifications. So it still stands to be untested but the thinking goes like this: If we congratulate the player and tell them they are doing a good job and are helping their team when they do these actions, then they will want to do them more and feel more like they are contributing.
I hope this shed some light on how the teams system works. While I believe we have done an excellent job implanting it for a game based around the NFL and their teams, if you would like to see a similar but different version of this system I recommend taking a look at Helldivers (PS4, PS3 and Vita).
They use a similar system to show the movement of the front lines but instead of pitting players against one another they pit players against computer races who are trying to wipe out humanity. Also while my system and Star Wars pinball’s system pit two sides against one another theirs pits 3 sides against the players at a time. (It’s a really good game.)
I would like to thank you for sticking around to the end and bearing with me through my first design related post. I hope you learned something or at least found something useful in my post. And with that bit of light reading I bid you goodnight, until next time.