Archive for the ‘Social Gaming’ Category

Facebook Week – Finale

I didn’t actually work on the game today, but I did get the turn processor running for real this morning, so I figured I’d put that link up again: http://apps.facebook.com/primesuspect

I finished off everything I had on my list for yesterday. The UI is much improved, but I still don’t think it’s quite there yet. I should probably put the word “beta” on it somewhere so people don’t think I think it’s finished.

If you do end up trying it out, please drop a comment here and let me know. Any feedback you give me will let me make the game better before I list it in the application directory and send it out to ALL my friends (instead of just the 5 or 6 lucky ones I sent it to yesterday.)

So far I have had about 15 people install the game. I guess people are seeing it on news feeds and trying it out. The name is apparently good enough to get people to click on it. Hopefully the one uninstall I’ve had will come back when it’s finished.

And now I return you to your regular once every week or two posting schedule… :)

Facebook Week – Day 8

Maybe you didn’t realize this, but Facebook Week has two weekends, so it’s actually 9 days long.

I revamped the way the ASP.NET code handles its own URLs and links between pages yesterday so I could get Prime Suspect up and running on the hosting provider. I never heard back from ReliableSite.net about the URL Rewriting install, so I worked around it. I assume it will happen on Monday now that I don’t need it anymore.

The game is live on Facebook at this point. If you want to check it out, it’s right here. I haven’t set up the turn running daemon to actually run yet, so infinite free turns are still available via the “add turn” button at the bottom of the page. Add Turn doesn’t post anything to your profile, but it will give you turns and check victory conditions. Please post any feedback you have here.

Today I hope to:

  • Improve the game UI some more
  • Fix up the display for games that have already ended
  • Add “how to play” instructions
  • Get the turn daemon running on a regular basis
  • Make the mystery list page not suck
  • Make the mystery join page not suck

Of course it’s the middle of the afternoon as I write this, so some of those things are already done. :)

Facebook Week – Day 7

My murder mystery game has a name!  I’m calling it “Prime Suspect”.  Thanks for the suggestion, Nissa.

I signed up with ReliableSite.net for hosting yesterday, but they don’t seem to have emailed the “here’s how you use our service” message, so I didn’t realize they were finished with my order until this morning.  Now I just need to wait for the URL rewriting package to be installed so I can get things up and running. ReliableSite is on the east coast, so if they don’t do it in the next two hours they may not do anything about it until Monday. The servers should be running IE6 or better, so I might just cut out all the rewriting other than the callback URL itself so I can get it up and running.

I sent invitations to a few people yesterday to come check the app out, and Justin Miller helped me shake out some bugs in the game UI itself. This morning I notice that only two people have actually made the install… I’ll have to hassle them some more. :)

I hooked up profile updating and revamped the game UI yesterday.  I also added support for game names (though they’re all currently named “Random Name”.)  The global turn processor is working now and it updates your profile with the status of all the mysteries you’re playing.

The biggest change from yesterday was the introduction of networks.  Every Mystery belongs to a network, and you are only shown games from your own network by default.  You can always invite someone from another network to any mystery, but they won’t find it normally.  The game is also drawing suspects from network affiliations, so you will see other players from your network(s) listed as suspects in the mysteries you’re playing.  My hope is that this builds a sense of community around the mysteries themselves. Most Facebook games use the friend list for the same purpose… we’ll see how networks work out.

Today my goals are:

  • Get the game running on the hosting provider
  • Push it out in “beta” form
  • Get news feed items generating for accusations and the mysteries getting solved
  • Generating random names
  • Further end-game UI revisions

Those are in priority order, so if the hosting stuff ends up taking all day I may not get much done.

Facebook Week – Day 6

As expected, I didn’t get much coding time yesterday. I did knock off a couple quick Facebook integration features:

  • All mystery pages now have a mystery-specific comment section.  This was one tag (with a tiny bit of C# code to generate a unique ID.)
  • I added a popup dialog that allows you to invite your friends to play a specific mystery or to install the game.
  • The FDT framework required logins before it required adds.  That meant two “do you want this app to know who you are” pages for users.  That’s down to just the standard install page now.
  • I’m recording the users’ infinite session keys now so I can post to their profiles and news feeds on a timer (for when turns run.)

I emailed a couple of hosting providers that people pointed me out.  One doesn’t support rewriting on windows. The other (ReliableSite.net) uses Ionics Isapi Rewrite Filter for URL Rewriting. The latest version of IIRF is broken, but the one before that seems to work fine so maybe ReliableSite.net will work for me.

Today I hope to:

  • Sign up with a hosting provider
  • Get the site up and running on that provider
  • Get the automatic turn-running code written
  • Put the hosted game up in a new Facebook app so I can…
  • Post the URL here so you can all try it out

Most of that depends on figuring out whatever configuration issues come up when I try to run on the new host.  That could be half an hour or twelve hours depending on how many gotchas come up.

Facebook Week – Day 5

Yesterday was the first time someone other than me installed the game. Thanks for the help, Nissa and Tim!

I have the main game UI up and running now. I’m not really happy with how it looks, but it’s more or less functional. Now I need to get started on all the features that are specific to Facebook, as well as the non-game features that surround the game itself. I’m not sure how much I’ll actually get done today because of lunch plans and this afternoon’s ION Game Conference Advisory Board conference call. Those two things kind of chop up the day.

If you’re using the Facebook Developer’s Toolkit that Microsoft and Facebook are pushing you already know this: It throws an exception if somebody with “Networking” selected in their “looking for” field uses your app. I had to add Networking to an enum and recompile it to fix the problem, so not a big deal, really.

I don’t expect to get much done today, so I don’t have a list of the days’ goals. The list of items remaining for the week is below. Boy that looks like a lot when you bother to write it all out like that. :)

  • Find a hosting provider. I have some recommendations, I just need to look at them now that I know more about my requirements (like ISAPI_Rewrite.)
  • Network support:
    • Split up the mystery list by network
    • Add a new mystery automatically if the network doesn’t have an appropriate one.
    • Pull the suspect list from the network instead of globally
  • Leaderboards:
    • Filtered by friend list
    • Filtered by network
  • Inviting friends to join a mystery
  • Track turn history
    • Show player actions
    • Show turns processing every X hours
  • Global “process all mysteries”code.
  • Posting news:
    • Starting a game
    • Finishing a game
    • Making an accusation
  • Profile box:
    • Show current mysteries
    • Show win-lose record
  • Icon for the profile
  • Generate names for mysteries
    • Case of the Silver Monkey
    • Case of the Slippery Banana
    • etc.
  • Come up with a name for the game itself

I’m happy to take any suggestions on that last one.  Something involving “Murder” and/or “Mystery” might be good.  Neither word is well represented in Facebookappland. The only game I can find that’s roughly similar to what I’m doing is MO, which hasn’t been updated in several months (and has 4 daily active users.)

Some names I’m thinking about:

  • Murder!
  • Mystery!
  • Take the Case
  • Solve the Case
  • Crack the Case
  • Case Closed
  • True Crime
  • Investigate Your Friends!
  • Investigation
  • Alleged
  • Baseless Allegations
  • Cops and Robbers
  • Catch the Killer
  • Track the Killer
  • Confidential Informant
  • Murder Confidential
  • Police Blotter
  • Sucker for Mystery
  • Expose the Killer
  • Killer
  • Homicide
  • Solve the Homicide
  • Clue (It worked for Scrabulous. ;)

I’d love to get further brainstorming in the comments.