Daily Archives: April 6, 2010

Mafia Wars – A Deposition

As I mentioned back in the post about FarmVille, as part of the preparation for SUWT #60, I was looking into Facebook games.

In addition to FarmVille, Zynga‘s #1 game, I though I should also try their #2 game (it “only” has 25 million monthly active players according to Facebook), Mafia Wars.

Unfortunately, after only a few minutes with the game, I felt it was #2 in more ways that one, if you know what I mean.  It struck me as nothing but “advancement” through pointless, repetitive button clicking.

Still, 25 million players.  That means somebody must like it, even if it hasn’t been banned in Utah like that other game that is constantly in the side-bar ads on Facebook.

And, sure enough, I know somebody who likes Mafia Wars, or at least liked it for a bit.

To get him to testify against the Mafia I had to offer him full immunity from prosecution/persecution, a place in the MySpace witness protection program, and secret identity.  So here is the testimony of Mr. X.

I “played” it for about 3 weeks.  It takes about a week to actually get any kind of rhythm so I got about 2 weeks of playtime out of it and then I heard about the autoplayer.  The autoplayer does exactly what it sounds like:  it plays automatically to a set of rules you define.  I let it run for weeks, checking it periodically and pausing it occasionally to do a specific task but mostly it just autoleveled me.

The good news / bad news is they have developed a health “system” that only allows you to play or do a finite number of things in a finite amount of time. You have stamina “points” that regenerate every 5 minutes so once you’re depleted you need to 1) wait 5 minutes per point (many tasks require more than 1 point; a pvp encounter requires exactly 1 if I recall correctly) 2) buy more points for real money or for earned Godfather points or 3) level up so your stamina is refreshed.  The good news is you can only level so fast.  The bad news is you can’t sit down for an hour and play because you’ll deplete your points in 10 minutes.

The autoplayer can be setup to play a variety of ways (e.g. only perform tasks, only perform pvp, hide in the hospital when hurt, auto-buy property with your winnings, etc.) but, as you’d expect, it can play better than you ever will therefore the best way to gain fame/fortune/levels is the autoplayer.

One of the interesting aspects to those games is your Facebook friends.  Not sure how it applies to Farmville but your mafia is comprised of a subset of your FB friends who “join” your mafia and provide you reinforcement in a tough fight.  Additionally, they provide you resources in the form of gifts such as guns, ammo, traps and other things.  I assume Farmville is similar albeit with feed, livestock, etc. that you can gift back and forth.

I did enjoy the experience while it lasted.  The addition of the other areas (eg. Cuba, Moscow) helped but I found it frustrating that it was just more of the same and you can’t transfer wealth from one area to the other.

Thank you Mr. X.

One of the ironies of Mafia Wars is that Zynga got sued (and settled) because they apparently stole the whole game idea and mechanics from another Facebook game, Mob Wars.  They stole a game about crime!  It is like cheating in your business ethics class.  (Which, contrary to popular myth, will not secure you an automatic “A”) Mob Wars may “only” have 800,000 monthly users, but at least they got a few million dollars out of Zynga, or so it seems.

And, in case you were wondering, Zynga’s game Vampire Wars appears to be Mafia Wars reskinned with a vampire motif.  So if you feel that pointless button clicking would be better if you were pretending to be a vampire, you have that option available.

For me, FarmVille is a step up from this.

New WoW Phishing Angle

Not an unprecedented vector of attack, an offer to make your account more safe and secure.  A change from the usual threat to ban your account for violating EULA provisions.

They over-egg the pudding a bit by threatening to freeze your account at the end, but given the message syntax, we’re not dealing with a team that has mastered all the subtleties of the English language.

Recently, the problem of account invasion is getting worse
and worse which cause enormous players’ equipments and virtual currency stolen.
This severely damages the benefits of mass players, also causes our company lose
a lot of customers.
Our company has to adopt some measures
to safeguard our common benefits in order to strengthen the safety of mass
players’accounts, and firmly resist the account to be stolen again.
Through
our company’s research and investigation to xxx customers,we will make the
following decisions: we launch a package of updated code strengthen system and
dynamic code protection card which can effectively prevent the accounts invaded.
We will send this package of code protection system to players free of
charge.

Please open this connection: [Bogus URL]

the information need to be filled in the following pages, when you have submitted
the preceding filled information, if your account passes the check successfully,
we will send this package of dynamic code protection card to you in the form of
e-mail.
In 3 days after you receiving the e-mail, if you
don’t submit your information, we have right to freeze your account, every
player is obligated to protect the safety of the account. You must work together
with us to be determined to crack down all the behaviors of destroying
games.

The dynamic code protection card is a lie.  Be wary.