OWFI: Online, Wii, Facebook, iPhone Games

Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Review: Mafia Wars (Free), Zynga, Facebook

Posted by Appgamr on July 13, 2009

Cue Sopranos music.

Cue Sopranos music.

What is the most popular game on Facebook?  In my social network, it is Mafia Wars, the free Facebook game published by Zynga, also known for its Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Game.  Anecdotally, the most popular Facebook games are Pet Society (Playfish), Restaurant City (Playfish), Mafia Wars (Zynga), Texas Hold ‘Em (Zynga), each with distinct audiences.

Zynga games appeal to transactions-oriented folks and Playfish games appeal to easy-going hanging out and sharing folks.

My b-school friend Mark is addicted to Mafia Wars.  He just won a Mafia Wars award “Dependability” for playing every day for seven days.  Mark is a senior manager at a large organization; I think he’s acting out turn by turn mob hits and grand larceny for one hour every night.  If he were paid actual $$$ for 7 hours per week, 4 weeks per month, 12 months per year, it starts becoming big bucks quickly.

Mafia Wars is a choose-your-own Sopranos adventure that lets you go at your own pace.  In my opinion, it is an interactive graphic novel or book.  Its unique appeal is that it can involve your Facebook friends and family members in the storytelling.  You’re sharing your entertainment and making it open to your friends at their option.

Zynga offers a Facebook game called Fashion Wars, which is similar in concept except set in the cutthroat Project Runway style fashionista world.

In comparison, Playfish’s Pet Society and Restaurant City are about hanging out in cute, colorful interactive worlds and giving your friends cuddly animal hugs and delicious pizzas.

Readers, which Facebook games do you prefer, those of Playfish or Zynga?



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Review: Crazy Planets (Free), Playfish, Facebook

Posted by Appgamr on July 2, 2009

Love Pet Society?  Addicted to Restaurant City?  Crazy Planets is your new habit, brought to you by the Facebook game master Playfish.

Find Crazy Planets in the Facebook Applications area, in the lower left of your Facebook profile.  Type in “Crazy Planets” in the search box.  Or, find it at  Be the first in your social network to rope everyone into this fun, light, space exploration action game.

Crazy Planets must have soft-launched recently because I haven’t read or heard about it.  Unlike Pet Society and Restaurant City, you aren’t nurturing a cute little pet or feeding your friends with food creations.  Instead, you are a cute space fighter who must visit strange planets and kill robots by blowing them up with cute bazookas and grenades.

It sounds violent but it isn’t.  It’s about as violent as Star Wars, Star Trek, or the arcade classic Space Invaders.  Blowing up cute robots without muss or fuss probably isn’t what most moms want their five year olds to be doing.  However, I’m a nonviolent wuss, and I thought Crazy Planets was OK and as sanitized as a blow ’em up game can get.  It’s a nice stress reliever and a way for gals, moms, vegetarians, peaceniks, and the alien-loathing public to understand why blow ’em up games and G-rated shooters can be fun.

Using your Facebook profile photos, Crazy Planet customizes to you and your Facebook friends.  Your space fighter avatars will wear your Facebook face picture while walking, jumping, dancing, and falling.

Playfish’s ability to make distinctive, free social networked games is unmatched.  A lot of social games producers are phoning it in.  Playfish continues to delight and innovate in this brand new world of social networked casual games.

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Review: iPuppy, (Free, $1.99), MASQ Interactive, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on June 30, 2009

Pet your puppy, stat!

Pet your puppy, stat!

Addicted to Nintendogs?  Love Pet Society on Facebook?  Raised on Neopets?

Throw away you DS and get your fix with iPuppy, the iPhone app that lets you raise, pet, feed, and tend to a cute yappy dog in your pocket.  For now, iPuppy, is the best pets app you can get.  Comes in Chihuahua, Siberian Husky, and Schnauzer, for now.  However, though the 3-D effects are pleasant and it’s a nice substitute for Nintendogs, the globally best-selling DS game several years running, it feels a little primitive and unimaginative of the iPhone’s capabilities.

Initially, you are granted $500 and use that budget to buy your pet treats, clothing, and toys.  This is the main design for Pet Society on Facebook.  However, for most pet owners, playing with budgets, like figuring out how many $20 dog bones you can buy with $250, isn’t why they keep a pet.  We keep pets for the rewards of gaining Doggy and Kitty’s eternal love when we give them simple things like a cuddle, a pat, a cookie, strokes of the brush, a bubble bath, a walk, a hug.

Artistically, I think iPuppy could be even more realistic, with bigger, close-up graphics, more ambitious and creative uses of colors for the pets and accessories.   The other artistic direction would be cartoonish avatars a la Pet Society, produced by Playfish.

iPuppy is OK for now.  I think the next big game based on pets will focus more on owner and pet bonding.  Pets will grow based on time, love, and interaction, not economic transactions.

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Review: Scramble (Free): Zynga, Facebook, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on June 29, 2009

My all-time favorite word puzzler is Scramble on Facebook, also available on iPhone.  However, there are good reasons to prefer Scramble on Facebook over iPhone.

Quick, find the words!

Quick, find the words!

First, iPhone isn’t Facebook, meaning you can’t challenge your Facebook friends to word games, though you can find random friends on iPhone.  (However, Facebook Connect on the iPhone and ngmoco’s Plus+ may change this.)  Second, QWERTY word puzzlers on a proper keyboard is much easier to play than on the touch screen iPhone.  In fact, I’m not sure why people bother playing any word puzzlers on the iPhone.

I have a friend Lauren who seems obsessed with word games.  Scramble on the Facebook tells you when your friends last played the game.  Creepy, but knowing minute daily details of random friends is how Facebook rolls.  She seems to check in an play the game for an hour every single day.  I am a good speller, having won my region’s middle school spelling bee, and have attained a roughly 2,000 high score to her roughly 4,000 high score.

I think she is a big nerd.

Then again, though I am handy with vocabulary and an above average speller, I hate crossword puzzles and don’t understand why people like Sudoku.  In fact, I’ve never bothered to find out what Sudoku is.  Though I have the skills to be a worldclass Scrabble player (I have the verbal SAT scores to prove it), I’ve never bothered to learn Scrabble rules or strategies.

I suspect, if you love crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and Scrabble, you might be a big nerd like Lauren and play this addictive free game everyday until you’ve exhausted its possibilities.  (The word puzzles repeat, that is, the same words recur as problems, after a few hours of play.)  You might even want to play on the iPhone.

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Review: YoVille (Free): Zynga, Facebook

Posted by Appgamr on June 24, 2009

Like home decoration?  YoVille on Facebook is for you.

Like home decoration? YoVille on Facebook is for you.

I’ve been following YoVille for about a year now.  Believe it or not, YoVille, the Facebook hangout, was founded by a lone guy entrepreneur in the middle of the country, Kansas or Illinois, I think.  Zynga, best known for Texas Hold’Em, acquired this budding, Facebook-distributed virtual world and YoVille has grown to several hundred thousand active users per month.

Second Life, Gaia Online, Habbo Hotel, Club Penguin are online hangouts of the same genre.  Notably, Club Penguin, acquired by Disney, is strictly monitored for safety and targets very young kids, ages 5 to 10.  All use Flash and cater to users who want to furnish their homes with graphic couches, antiques, rugs, furniture, pictures, tableware, and other home accessories.  Users also buy graphics of clothing, like sunglasses, T-shirts, and blouses.

These graphics, known as virtual goods, are bought and sold with real money.  Sometimes microtransactions or subscriptions is used to describe the practice of real people, paying real $5 to $50 per month, for graphics the size of thumbnails no one can see except in YoVille or another site.  Some virtual goods operators are reportedly clearing over $10M per month. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opinion: Plus+ is the future of real-time social networked games

Posted by Appgamr on June 22, 2009

Join Plus by flicking on the Plus+ button in the upper right of the screen.

Join Plus by flicking on the Plus+ button in the upper right of the screen.

Feel lonely on the iPhone/iPod Touch?  Want community features?  Want to play multiplayer games securely?  Not crazy about enabling your real-time location and status to any weirdo on the iPhone or permanently to random game publishers?

Plus+, by trusted publisher ngmoco and announced last week, is going to be huge.  iPhone/iPod Touch games revolution and the future lie in its location-based services ability.

However, giving away your location and status to just anyone is like posting your credit card number on the Internet.  Most people won’t abuse your private information, but there are enough crazies and spammers out there to make location not information to give away lightly.

For example, I have turned down and not tested many multiplayer iPhone games because they ask me to give them my real-time location information.  Do you really want the world to know the precise location of your bedroom, to know when you’re in the bathroom, taking a lunchbreak, visiting friends, watching TV, sitting by the computer, playing video games, sleeping, driving, commuting?  I guess some people do, but most people don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Graffiti (Facebook, Mark Kantor)

Posted by Appgamr on June 19, 2009

Graffiti user drawing.

Graffiti user drawing.

++  In the mood for amazing art?  Want to post it on your Facebook profile?  Better yet, are you a visual artist yearning to express yourself? Visit and install Mark Kantor’s Graffiti on Facebook.  Use Facebook’s Search function of the Applications function on the lower left of your Facebook profile screen.

Graffiti is not technically a Facebook game, more a Facebook utility, much-needed service, entertainment venue, graphical sharing and communication tool.  However, it’s a must-have for any Facebook user who wants to install a basic set of high-value Facebook applications.

Graffiti is one of the first Facebook apps I installed.  I met Mark last year and was blown away by the fact that one of the world’s most loved Facebook apps is operated by a recent Brandeis grad out of his grad student-like San Francisco livingroom.  Using your computer mouse to manipulate the color tools, you can draw Monet-inspired works of art or kindergarten-style happy faces.  Mark offers you many ways to access and enjoy your computer paintings and all of those of the community.  You share them on your Facebook profile, send them as Thank You or Thinking of You Facebook postcards, give them to friends as virtual gifts.  It’s also a nice way to express yourself personally and send people beautiful, artistic messages in illustrated, high impact ways stored forever on computers.

Check it out.  You’ll be glad you did.  Two thumbs up.

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Review: Restaurant City (Facebook, Playfish)

Posted by Appgamr on June 18, 2009

Lindsay, Joanne, and Shaya are your Restaurant City staffers.

Lindsay, Joanne, and Shaya are your Restaurant City staffers.

++  Love cooking?  Love food?  Dream about starting a restaurant?  You can do it for free and instantly on Facebook at Restaurant City, published by Playfish.  Playfish is a leading social games publisher, producing high-quality Facebook-based games such as Pet Society and Restaurant City.

Restaurant City’s winning feature is its accessibility.  You can recruit your Facebook friends, their names and images anyway, to collaborate with you on your restaurant.  They don’t need to do anything.  They don’t even need to click a button and say, OK.  I guess Playfish thinks (rightly in my opinion) if they agreed to be your Facebook friend, they probably wouldn’t mind if you used their names and images in your free Facebook game.  Your recruited friends get occasional Restaurant City updates by Facebook.

By automating the activity to a minimum degree of interaction, Restaurant City players are able to advance to higher levels just by being registered long enough.  Offline, your wait staff feeds customers and makes money.  They work their shifts as if you were online the whole time.  If you play for ten minutes per day, you will see your restaurant, menu, and wait staff grow with a minimum amount of interaction.  Restaurant City’s automated game play approach is a great way for lazy or busy people to advance and see higher levels.

Casual game purists will say “this isn’t really a game.”  They are probably right.  It is a casual casual game: the kind made for you to have a daily diversion and common experience with your Facebook friends.  I like Playfish’s Pet Society and love Restaurant City.  Two thumbs up.

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