Hoop De Loop And The Social Gamer

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This week the Tuesday business interview focuses on the Hoop De Loop Saga. If you haven’t already played, it’s one of the latest Facebook games to capture the public eye. But it didn’t start out the same way as most titles. Instead, this cute little casual game was a skill title from King.com that had to be modified to play well within the casual and social networking space.

We talked with Marcus Dahlgren, lead developer for this interesting project, about how it all got started, what special challenges they faced, and where games of this nature might fit into the world of the future.

GiN: Can you tell us a little bit about your current project and how you came to be working on it?

Dahlgren: Hoop De Loop Saga (HDLS) (http://www.facebook.com/HoopDeLoopSaga) is a fun and intriguing casual social game that we are remodeling from being a King.com skill game to being a game that fits into the context of social networks and social gameplay. We just launched the game and are of course very excited about it. The game covers more than 70 unique levels (more to come) and has multiple game modes which make it truly challenging and entertaining.

I’m very excited about working with the social version of Hoop De Loop since I’ve been a longtime fan of the game already, which made adding the new game mechanics and progression path with increased difficulty quite an enjoyable experience. My work as producer involves prioritizing backlogs, coordinating stakeholders and most of all, making sure that my team has what they need in order to deliver a kick-ass game.

GiN: What is it about your newest game that you think players will especially get a kick out of experiencing?

Dahlgren: What’s most exciting about HDLS is its depth, created by brilliant game mechanics. Throughout the game, you will continue to be amazed by how the different modes and mechanics will create exciting and engaging challenges for you to tackle. For instance, by adding a booster crafting system, which is based on your in-game performance, you realize that you sometimes need to stop and reflect about how to tackle the challenge that’s ahead of you. These are the types of experiences we are working towards with HDLS.

Apart from these game specific elements I believe that adding Social elements to a great casual game is a recipe for success and players will hopefully enjoy the new dimensions we are adding to the experience.

GiN: Not everyone gets into this sometimes crazy business. Were there any games or people who influenced you to want to become a developer?

Dahlgren: My interest started with the introduction of online Poker and other online skill games about 10 years ago and I’ve since then kept a close eye on the business. The last six years I’ve worked with multiple online games products in different settings and what intrigues me the most is to analyze player behavior and understand what drives revenue for the business. After all, we all need to earn a few bucks while creating fascinating game experiences.

GiN: Looking at the game industry today from your position as a game developer, what do you feel are the biggest challenges?

Dahlgren: The biggest challenge for us is definitely to leverage the opportunity different platforms present to us. Working with strong IP’s across multiple platforms with different devices/standards/technologies is definitely something that we will do, but it will also be a huge challenge. One obvious example is HTML5, where many great prototypes have been showcased but few have really managed to deliver on its true potential.

GiN: What’s the next big thing or trend in games and gaming? Any predictions?

Dahlgren: In a society where time is our most precious asset I believe that the "snack gaming mentality" will continue to tint how we want to play our games. A game must be extremely easy to access, at all times, and can’t demand more than a few minutes of your focused attention at any given moment.Quality and perceived value will be drives of games rather than big brands and large campaigns even more going forward.

The definition of a gamer has already changed and if you still think it’s a 20 year old guy spending hours playing a AAA title, think again.

Also, the social aspect of games will grow even stronger and the possibility to interact with selected friends in a way that suits you will defiantly be something that we’ll see more of in the future.

Then of course, back to the big challenge, if you manage to deliver great games cross-platform then your game will be the next trend.

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