My queue of games is stacking up, but I decided to try out Ubisoft's latest entry into the world of Facebook gaming.
The game is called Horse Gaga. I believe it is being positioned to attract female gamers who like to raise and train horses. My thoughts, of course, are based on my own experience (a non-female, non horse trainer). But I think there are still some valuable takeaways.
- Boring billboard tutorial. Raising and training a horse should be fun and should be taught in an experiential way. If I want to read a lot of text and click only the things I'm told to click, I could go to wikipedia. I've complained elsewhere about the perils of frontloading a user with tons of information and then hoping that they'll process and remember it all (if, of course, they don't become so bored that they quit first).
- Providing fun quests. My first post-tutorial quest was presented as follows: "Here's your first task: repeat what I just taught you and train your horse until it reaches maximum proficiency!" Task, Repeat, Train, Proficiency. Do these four words make you think "fun game?"
- Help text that is approachable and not derogatory. Horse racing sounds pretty fun, even to a non-horse lover like myself. However, hovering over the horse race tab yields the following help text: "No Newbies. You need level 2 to enroll in this competition". You just called me a newbie -- a term that is derogatory to folks who know it, and that is probably not even known to a majority of casual and social game players.
- Game play modes that are puzzling. I just leveled up by watering my horse and entered a race. I have no real idea how the race works (the display looks broken) but think I will know more in 30 minutes. I also wanted to breed my horse, but I have no idea what gender it is so I can't pick a mate...