Facebook Needs To Pivot

The value Facebook is generating for it’s users is minimal. I know, it sounds crazy. Let’s explore how I came to this conclusion.

My central preoccupation right now is analyzing games and why people play them. This involves looking deep into the human psyche, specifically areas of reward and motivation, and trying to discern what compels people to jump over endless pits of spikes and brag to their friends about clicking on cows. It is the twisty road which motivates the latter that brings Facebook harrowingly close to a deadly drop.

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posted 10 months ago

Spartan Game Design

I’m naturally approaching the creation of games from a place most don’t. I’m trying to make games that accomplish something in a bigger context. Usually this place is the thing we casually refer to as “The Real World”.

I’ve been seeing a lot of the ideas I had approaching games from this perspective echoed by people approaching it from the other side: making fun games. This leads me to believe there might be some core truth here. What follows is a basic synopsis of those ideas. It’s still in an early stage, but it’s starting to guide me toward promising game designs. So, I think it has value. The key premise revolves around re-framing and carefully presenting an inherently hard problem.

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posted 11 months ago

Prelude to an Infographic

Part of creating an infographic is building some tools to analyze the data that we have on how and why people play games. The following is a little peek at that data.

Percentage Played

This graph shows what percentage of games in a Steam library people play, on average. The big brown bar in the middle is 50%. What this means is that, on average, people end up actually playing only about half of the games they own. The threshold for ‘playing’ is pretty low here. We count all the games a person plays for 30 minutes or more. It might not seem like a problem that people only play about half the games they buy, more choice often feels like more freedom. It does hint at why we want to build this service, though.

What we’d actually like to do is find the games we’ll feel so strongly about we’ll play, not just a little, but all the way to the end. We’d like to help other people find games they’ll feel this way about too.

posted 11 months ago

Not Dead Yet

It’s been way too long since I wrote a post. Cool stuff is happening. We’re not dead yet. Let me elaborate.

We have enough data to do some significant data analysis now. Stuff like: Try to look for trends. Evaluate the performance of the algorithm. Compare it to existing algorithms. Look for weak spots. Find out how to fix them. That sort of thing. As you can imagine, this takes a bunch of time. More than we expected. That’s kinda the reason we haven’t added replayability yet.

We wanted to do it right away. Like, a month ago. But a little research revealed that it might be better to hold off a bit. Let me explain.

We don’t want to waste your time. There’s plenty of places to do that already. We want to help you find games. We want every minute you spend on our site to be as fun and as useful as it can be. That’s why we’re putting it off. We want to make sure that playing more games on Crunch Magic, or replaying the existing one, makes your recommendations better. To do that we must first do science.

We’ve started looking at stuff, and we’ve discovered some pretty interesting facts already. For instance, some people really like Football Manager. I mean really like it. Enough to be intriguing. We’ll be putting a cool infographic together soon.

posted 12 months ago

I Am No Man’s Bosom

But you can see my page, now.

Crunch Magic just got Shareable User Pages. This means every user on Crunch Magic has their own page. It gives you more recommendations and more control over those recommendations. You can also easily share the page with your friends. No more screenshots or typing required. It’s, like, totally on the internet!

We’ve got lots of cool ideas for this page. If people like it, it will definitely grow. If you’ve got ideas, drop by our User Voice and let us know.

posted 1 year ago

Upgrade Complete!

We spent the last week moving most of our data from Redis over to Mongodb. I love Redis. It’s fast and it’s fast and, also, it’s super honkin’ fast. It likes to store things in RAM, though, which ain’t cheap. So, we moved everything that didn’t have to happen at light speed to something that uses spinning metal plates to store information. It’s a little archaic, but it gets the job done.

This involved rewriting a significant chunk of the database layer. Also, we had to learn Mongodb. Neither of us had ever used it before.

lol

I’m glad it’s done. Now, it’s time to construct additional pylons.

posted 1 year ago

Recommendation Algorithm Changes Are Live!

It should now give more consistent recommendations. As more people play the game, the quality will just go up. It’s about to get Wagnerian up in here.

The rest of the stuff from the last blog post should be done soon. Check it. It’ll be better than rollin’ your De Lorean to pop some tags.

posted 1 year ago

I’m Blow Away!

Our user base just increased by 1000% over the weekend! We’re feeling the growing pains.

In order to deal with the increased traffic and growing user base we’re tweaking our algorithm to improve all users’ recommendations. This will involve doing a little filtering of the data to ensure that everything that goes into our recommendations is of the highest quality. In order to make sure that your data counts make sure that you’re answering the questions in the game with as much care and honesty as you can.

We’re also working on implementing some of the most requested features in our user voice community. If you have a suggestion, please visit crunchmagic.uservoice.com and let us know. Current suggestions in the works are:

  • The ability to play the game again
  • The ability to filter out games you own from recommendations
  • General improvements to recommendations (the filtering mentioned above)

Stay tuned for more updates on progress and thanks for trying out crunchmagic!

posted 1 year ago

Crunch Magic Update

We updated Crunch Magic yesterday. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s what’s in it.

  • New featured indie game, revealed as your level increases
  • More games shown during gameplay
  • Links to the Blog, Twitter and Facebook
  • Bug fixes

The new featured indie game is the most significant change. We really like this direction, and we want to do more. Part of finding great games is having more great games to choose from. We think the way to do this is supporting people who make great games. Look for more changes like this from us in the future.

posted 1 year ago

What’s the Haps?

This week has been all about making sure people don’t lose their data. We set up a second database and put all of the data into it. We also came up with a plan for backing up all the production data on a regular basis and started doing that. That makes me feel a lot better.

There for a few days I was worried that I might do something stupid in the code and everyone who had played through the game might lose all of their data. It was only about 20 people, but right now those 20 people are very important to me. Those 20 people are making my dreams come true.

I’m just gonna come out and say it, 20 people, I love you. You don’t have to worry about your data anymore. I took care of it, and I always will.

posted 1 year ago