Electronic Arts has been bringing many classic board games to the video game space in recent years. The close of 2010 saw a whimsical version of strategy giant RISK: Factions adapted for Xbox Live Arcade, and now, the company's launching a version specifically for Facebook -- with some unique design lessons to be had from the adaptation.
By Leigh Alexander From GAMASUTRA
Whereas original RISK: Factions uses little yellow playing pieces to represent people, "video games offer an opportunity to turn those playing pieces into characters," says producer and designer Spencer Brooks.
The RISK: Factions offshoot on XBLA and Facebook features cats, zombies and Yetis as divisions players can use, for example. "Besides more maps and a fiction behind the little armies, I thought, 'let's make the maps change as you play the game that's where I wanted to innovate."
"It really is a strategy game; if you make bad decisions, the game will win," he emphasizes. "It's not this 'everybody wins all the time.' I think it's really going to resonate with the strategy gamer pretty well."
One bold decision the RISK: Factions team made was to do away with the "energy" system, commonly used in Facebook games to constrain player actions in hopes of affecting their resource management -- and ultimately their real-money spend. Brooks said the team's also very excited about its scalable leaderboard, that accords more movement up the ranks to a player who defeats one much better than him or herself, and less so for defeating an equal or weaker player.
"When core gamers say 'there are no real games on Facebook,' I think what they're striving for is, 'I want a game with a win condition; when I play somebody I want to play that person, I don't want to play an abstraction of the person, or the statistics of the person."
"Let's just make a Risk: Factions on Facebook where you actually play other people," he adds. "If that scares you, you can play bots and that's fine, but I thought -- let's make the game that people are expecting."
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