Go Farther: Help Beyond

GO FARTHER: Help beyond
I'm currently playing the game Demon's Souls, and by playing, I mean spending a mix of time carrying out deep tactical plans and getting my backside handed to me.  THIS is a hard game, one that frankly is pushing even my tolerance.

It also has a fascinating double-sided help system that I want to bring up as a good example of Going Father.

Demon's Souls has two sides of help:

1) FIrst there's a wiki at the website for the game (http://www.demons-souls.com/wiki/).  I'll be first to note it's not exactly a hopping or happening place (there's a much better fan-only wiki online).  But this is a good start in using wikis to help players help each other.  I expect it's not going to go too hot, but it's a good experiment.

2) Secondly is the in-game help, which is brilliant.  You can leave comments in the game, little red runes that, if you're networked, others playing the game may see.  People can vote on how helpful comments are, and thus you get bonuses for helping others.  The game itself becomes its own help manual.

The wiki is a good idea period.  I think wikis are best front-loaded when a game comes out (this one is not), but it's a good leveraging of technology.  It could probably be done better if one could, say, tie their Facebook account to it, get updates, a reputation system, etc.  But it's a good use of wikitech.

The ingame help system is a fantastic idea.  It makes the game social and cooperative even when people aren't in the same game (you CAN play together under conditions that would take awhile to explain, but are related to the plot/setting/ability to die a lot).  This is a great experiment, and one I imagine can be tried in a number of different ways.

What these ideas do is make help and assistance A) social, and B) user supported.  They run the risk of user disinterest (see the wiki), but also at least encourage involvement.  I consider them steps in the right direction of leveraging collaborative possibilities in an unusual area – games.

So what I'd like to see next?  Well, more of this – if you're going to add social-like tools, go all the way.  Social media integration, reputation systems, etc.  A few ideas:

  • The company may have wikis/internal support for many games, and may have people add support by registering an ID at a central site (probably one that can tie to existing social media). This allows people to give advice across many games (and to track troublemakers).
  • Take the above integrated ideantity and add a reputation system ala LinkedIn.  Reward people for involvement across games.
  • More wikis – but front-load them with data.  If possible, see if you can tie them into games.

A few thoughts from me.  Any other ideas?

– Steven Savage