Is it possible to make a social game that can appeal to both casual and hardcore players? It's not easy to find a satisfying middle ground between these two polarizing audiences, yet that's exactly what Zynga Boston tried to do with its recent Facebook title, Indiana Jones Adventure World.
The game sought to blend traditional action adventure game design with Zynga's accessible social mechanics, and at GDC 2012, Zynga Boston lead designer Seth Sivak offered an in-depth look at how these seemingly disparate concepts came together in one package.
Sivak explained that Zynga wanted to capture the essence of popular action adventure games like Ocarina of Time or Tomb Raider; it was a lofty goal, but making these types of games in a social context is far more difficult than you might think.
"The real question comes down to, how can we make this kind of game for everyone?" Sivak said. "There are some very basic differences between [those games and a social title]. We can't use a normal D-pad or any sort of controller; we just get a mouse. And when you're dealing with Flash games...you just get one button, since you don't get the right click."
Zynga had to work within these and other limitations to make sure that the action adventure gameplay would make sense even to the most inexperienced players. It was a complex, challenging, and exhaustive process, but Sivak said he and his team learned quite a bit about social game design along the way.
To learn more about the creation of Indiana Jones Adventure World and to get an inside look at Zynga's development process, be sure to check out the above video, courtesy of the GDC Vault.
Simply click the Play button above to start the video.
Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can send an email to Gillian Crowley. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.
Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more free content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from upcoming 2012 events like GDC Europe, GDC Online, and GDC China. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.