INTRODUCTION

plumpbustlingInternet and Web Development

Dec 4, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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LifeStyleNetworker


An Internet Marketing
Management Game

(IMMG)



L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

2

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION (2
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4 PAGES)

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4

A
BOUT
LSN

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4

Our reasons

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P
ROJECT STRUCTURE

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E
RROR
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B
OOKMARK NOT DEFINED
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LSN GAME CONCEPT

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I
NTRODUCTION

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B
ACKGROUND

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6

D
ESCRIPTION


T
HE
G
AME

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The Newbie Phase

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The Intermediate Phase

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The Expert Phase

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Non
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phase specific projects

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13

D
ESCRIPTION
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T
HE
C
OMMUNITY

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14

Profiles

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LSN$

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The Message Board

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K
EY FEATURES

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G
ENRE

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P
LATFORM

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INTERNET MARKETING

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H
ISTORY OF
I
NTERNET
M
ARKETING

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Definition of Internet Marketing

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T
HE TRAFFIC GENERATIO
N COMMUNITY

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Traffic exchanges

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Offline advertising

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Search engines

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Reciprocal linking

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L
EAD GENERATION

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Tracking statistics

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Webhosting services

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Splash pages vs. generic affiliate sites

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G
ENERATING SALES

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Email autoresponders

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Real Simple Syndication (RSS)

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Conv
ersions and ROI tracking

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26

C
ONVERTING MARKETING
PRINCIPLES TO GAME M
ECHANICS

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Hosting

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Statistics

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MMO GAME ELEMENTS

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29

M
AIN
G
OALS IN
MMO
S
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T
HE FOUR PLAYER TYPES

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30

C
HARACTER PROGRESSION

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Q
UESTS

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T
HE LIFE CYCLE OF A P
LAYER

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F
ORCED INTERDEPENDENC
E

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T
HE
A
VATAR EFFECT

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A

VIRTUAL ECONOMY

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T
HE
V
IRTUAL
C
OMMUNITY

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TIL QUEST AFSNITTET:

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ERROR! BOOKMARK NOT
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DESIGNING LSN

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Main Goals in LSN

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The four player types

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Projects

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L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

3

The Life Cycle of a Player

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Increasingly forced Interdependence

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The Avatar effect

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The Virtual Community

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Virtual economy

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PROCESS EVALUATION

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ERROR! BOOKMARK NOT
DEFINED.

LITERATURE AND RESOU
RCES

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45

L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

4

Introduction

After

running a fr
ee online community website
called LifeStyleNetworker
over the last
4

years, where the main goal has been to

teach people what it takes to start a home ba
sed
business, the idea of creating an Internet Marketing Management Game (IMMG)

emerged.
The main func
tionality of the
current
community site is supporting online ma
rketing
principles and methods in a specific and well defined area of internet marketing. This
project is a stepping stone for the community website, and is the first attempt to take the
intern
et marketing community website and turn it into an online multiplayer e
-
learning
and
management
game.


About

LSN

It is
the

long term goal to develop a type community that is built around principles and
game mechanics from MMORPG’s, but encompass marketing,

e
-
learning and business
strategies.
The end goal of
LSN

is to develop a game design document for such an online
marketing game, considering elements such as rules, game play
, interaction and
communication,
game mechanics,
progression
, game content, interf
ace mock ups and
playing conditions. In order to dev
elop a successful game design, we

will be analysing
the
most compatible elements of
MMORPG’
s

with Internet marketing
.

This research is an
important part of the game design process, as some elements of MMO
RPG’s are suitable
for use i
n a game like
LSN
, while

others could destroy the whole concept. The social
behaviours and methods used to communicate with other players in MMORPG’s seems
like a valuable feature in a game like
LSN
.


This projects main purpose
is to
design and discuss

the possibilities

of

implement
ing

concepts and techniques from
online marketing

into the world of MMOs
, and
create

a
preliminary
design for such an internet marketing game
.

We

would like to investigate
whether or not it is possible

to design a
n

MMO
where the three main mechanisms evolve
around 1) generating traffic, 2) turning traffic into leads and 3) turning leads into sales.
LSN

is an attempt to teach specific profit making
competencies, packaged in a fun,
friendly
and
profession
al

environment.



This
report

will answer the following main questions:

L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

5



What aspects of internet marketing can be extracted and especially suited for
implementing into a
MMORPG
?



What are the possibilities for using

MMORPG
game
mechanics

and elements

in

an
educational
internet
marketing
management
game?



Which dangers and pitfalls may occur

when creating a hybrid design containing
both
gaming elem
ents and real life consequences and how can we avoid them?


Our reasons

Inspired by World of Warcraft (Blizzard, 2
005) and their
casual

quest and levelling system,

LSN

is an attempt to create an educational and fun multiplayer game, where players are
able to earn while they learn

how to build their online business
.
The development group
all
have a strong entrepreneuri
al drive, and at the same time love playing online games. We
see many possibilities in a production like
LSN
, and wanted to challenge our academic
perception of MMO’s

with this project
.
LSN

isn’t just a report that’s completed when
handed in, but will be a
n ongoing project that will eventually end up as a finished product.

L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

6

LSN

Game Concept

This document describes in details the first, “newbie”, phase of the game, and outlines the
rest of the game and the community aspect of the game.

Introduction

LSN

is an

internet marketing

management game where players are responsible for
creating and building their own
internet marketing
presence by completing
projects

and
interacting with other players.
You are in charge of building your own internet
web site

by
combini
ng systems and tools at your disposal.

Background

Since first launch of the community website in 2001, LifeStyleNetworker.com has
continued to evolve and adapt to the ever changing online marketing trends. Now it’s time
for LifeStyleNetworker.com to change

the trends by evolving yet again from being an
internet marketing system to a fun and challenging internet marketing management game.



Description



The Game

The players ‘play’ LSN while starting up their personal e
-
commerce website. To progress
through
the game, the players must complete various ‘projects’ either alone or together
with other players from the LSN community. For each new project, the player will gain a
new tool, which helps him run and maintain his website and costumer relations. Thus each

project requires that the player understands his new tool, and demonstrates that he can
use it by solving the project.


The game consists of three phases, which refer to the level of knowledge and experience
the player has reached in running his e
-
commerc
e website. For each of the three phases,
a new aspect of running the website and participating in the community by networking with
the other players in the game is introduced.


L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

7

The Newbie Phase

The objective of the newbie phase is to teach the player the b
asics of creating, running
and maintaining his website. All the assignments in this phase are ‘single player’, so the
player does not have to interact with the other players in order to complete them.
However, the player immediately gains access to the new
bie area of the message board,
and is encouraged to ask his fellow players if and whenever he feels like it. During the
newbie phase, the player gains the following tools:




Project portfolio.



WYSIWYG Website editor for those players who don’t already have
a website, or who
don’t know how to code one. If a player already has a website, or wishes to code one
from scratch himself, there is also the option of uploading it to our server.



Image Editor for banners, pictures of products or of the player, etc.



Trac
king counter.



Internal Mail System.



Costumer Relations Management (CRM) tool for keeping track of their leads and
potential leads. The CRM tool provides an interface to the player's database of
costumers, and also includes a newsletter/RSS feed subscriptio
n and publication tool.


To see a graphical representation of the projects in the Newbie Phase, please see figure 1
on the next page.


Project 1: Projects

Tool
: Project portfolio.

Description
: One of the most important tools in the game is the project port
folio. All the
player’s current and completed projects are stored here, and this is where the player can
keep track of his own progression through each project. The player must complete the
walk
-
through tutorial, which describes each of the project portfol
io’s functionalities, and
demonstrate that he has understood it by answering a multiple choice questionnaire
correctly.

Goals
: Complete the walkthrough. Answer all questions in the questionnaire. When the
player submits the answered questionnaire, a run do
wn of all questions and correct
answers starts, and all the correct answers are corroborated.

L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

8



Figure 1


the newbie phase


Project 2: Design or upload your website

Tools
: WYSIWYG web editor and image editor. (Or FTP details f
or those who wish to
upload their own, pre
-
designed website).

Description
: The player now needs to design his website and upload it to our server, so
other people can visit it. The player is presented with a default website, which he can edit
and alter as
he wishes with the editing tool.

Goals
: Create a front page, at least one product specific page, and at least one splash
-
page, and upload them to our server. If the player uploads his own, pre
-
designed website,
our merchant system code must be implemented
into this.


Project 3a: Traffic

Tool
: Traffic counter.

Description
: The player’s web
-
shop is now up and running, and is ready to receive its first
visitors. The player is encouraged to ask his friends and acquaintances to go and visit his
site.

Goals
: Get
50 unique visitors to your website.


Project 3
b: Entering the community

Tool
: Community profile creation tool.

Description
: In order to enter the message board, the player must create his own user
profile and log in with it.

Start

Intro

Projects

Portfolio

TOS

Website

setup

FTP

CM
S

Merchant

account

Submit

website

for review

Manage

reviews

Generate

unique hits

Setup a RSS

newsletter

Affiliate with

1 other player

Project 2

Project 3

Project 4

Project 1

Project 5

Community

Profile

Generate 3

subscribers

Project 6

L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

9

Goals
: Fill in the following fi
elds in your profile management page: Name, Custom Title,
Signature. Then log in, using your username and password.


Project 4: Staying in touch with your
leads
1

Tool
: CRM tool.

Description
: An important aspect of maintaining a web
-
shop is to keep track of

those who
have shown interest in your product or your shop in general. The player must learn how to
use the RSS/mailing list system, and must learn to use the newsletter authoring tool.

Goal
: Get three subscribers for your newsletter or RSS feed, and writ
e one newsletter,
telling your subscribers about your new web
-
shop.


Project 5:
Receive reviews of your website

Tool
: Internal ‘mail’ system.

Description
: As part of the later quests, players are asked to review each other’s
websites. The player now receiv
es two reviews, written by other players, with suggestions
on how to improve his website. It is up to the player himself to decide whether or not he
wants to change his website to accommodate the critique, or if he is content with his site
as it is. Howeve
r, the player is encouraged to listen to the points, which the more
experienced players bring up in their reviews of his website.

Goals
: Receive and read the two reviews of his website. Acknowledge that you have
received the two reviews.


Project 6: Findin
g a partner


cross
ing into the intermediate phase

Tool
: Referrer slot; room for a banner.

Description
: It’s time for the player to meet other players and understand the power of
cooperation. The player must now find a referrer
-
partner in the community who
se products
or target group somehow matches his own, and set up a referrer
-
ring with this player. A
separate section on the board will be set up for finding referrer partners.

Goals
: The player must find one other player in the community and the two must s
et up
reciprocal referrers.





1

A lead

is a visitor, who has explicitly expressed an interest in a product, e.g. by signing up for a newsletter.

L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

10

The Intermediate Phase

The main objective of the intermediate phase is to teach the players how to cooperate with
the other players and to take advantage of the fact that they belong to a community of like
minded, part time ent
repreneurs. Thus, the main focus of the projects in this phase is
creating interaction between the players and giving them shared projects with goals that
require dedication and effort from all the involved players. During the intermediate phase,
the playe
r gains the following tools:




Extended traffic tracker. Allows the player to see where traffic to his site comes
from.



Extended CRM tool. This extended version of the CRM tool allows players to see
which of their RSS or newsgroup subscribers are shared wit
h their affiliates.



More referrer slots.



Affiliated Products Tool. This allows for affiliated players to bundle their products
and sell them together, or to offer rebates to mutual costumers.


The list of projects for the intermediate phase is not final, a
s most of the projects will
simply be multiplayer versions of previous quests, i.e. getting a certain amount of visitors;
getting more visitors to sign up for the newsletter/RSS feeds, improving your website by
creating more pages, expanding your product r
ange, etc., or they will be harder or more
requiring repetitions of previous quests. Below, we have instead listed some examples of
projects, and listed milestone projects, that we felt were important to give a thorough
impression of our gameplay vision fo
r this phase.


Project 1
: Sharing traffic

Tools
: Extended traffic tracker.

Description
: This is the first multiplayer project. The player and his affiliate must now
learn to take advantage of their partnership, and the first way to do this is sharing the
traffic they each receive on their respective website. The player is advised to tell his
newsletter/RSS subscribers about his exciting new partnership.

Goal
: Send 10 unique visitors to your referrer partner, and receive 10 unique visitors from
him.


L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

11

Projec
t 2: Sharing your leads

Tools
: Extended CRM tool. The extended CRM tool allows players to see which of their
RSS or newsgroup subscribes are shared with their affiliates.

Description
: In order to take full advantage of their affiliation, the affiliates mus
t now share
their leads; the visitors who have signed up for the newsletter or RSS feed.

Goals
: Get 10 of your subscribers to sign up for your affiliates newsletter or RSS feed, and
receive

10 of his subscribers on your own subscription list.


Project 3: R
eview two other websites

Tool
s
: Review exchange system. This system automatically keeps track of all the
websites to be reviewed.

Description
: The player must look at, and review two other websites. This is a good
opportunity for the player to see how othe
r players set up their website, and maybe get
some inspiration for changing his own website. Furthermore, this quest acts as a control
mechanism, which ensures that only websites that follow our rules are allowed into the
game and the community.

Goal
: Rece
ive the mail which outlines

which websites you must review. Write a review for
each of the two websites, and recieve acknowledgement from the websites' owners that
they have received your review.


Project 4
: More affiliates

Description
: The player has now
learned to take advantage of cooperating with other
players in the LSN community. The next step for the player is to expand his network and
get even more traffic and more leads.

Goals
: Find one more affiliate, whose target group or
products compliment

your

own, and
set up an affiliation with him. You can share this affiliate with your existing affiliates, or you
can get one on your own.


Project
24
:
Joining or creating a syndicate

Tools
: Syndicate tools to administer and run a syndicate.

Description
: When p
layers have finished all quests in the Intermediate Phase, they get
the option of either joining an existing syndicate, or creating one with their friends from the
LSN community. It takes a minimum of three players to form a syndicate, but a syndicate
L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

12

can
hold as many people as the players wish. In Syndicates, players share their
accumulated credits, so having many people in a syndicate makes it easier to get more
credits. On the other hand, the more people in a syndicate, the more people will have to
agree

on how to spend the credits, and there's always the risk of getting free
-
loaders who
just want a part of the credits without putting an effort into it themselves.

Goals
: Join a syndicate, or create one yourself with at least two other players.


Project
25
: Creating your own challenges

Tools
: Project creation tool.

Description
: This is the last project in the Intermediate Phase, and marks the transition to
the expert phase. The player has now learned to cooperate with other players, has learned
to use the n
ecessary tools, and has gained a better understanding of running an e
-
commerce website.

Goal
: Set up a project for your syndicate, and complete it. What the goals of this project
are is up to you, and your syndicate partners.


The Expert Phase

When player
s reach the expert phase, they have learned to use all the tools in our game
and have completed several and many different types, of multiplayer projects. In the
expert phase, the point now is for the players to set their own goals; to challenge
themselves
, their partners, and their chosen 'opponents', and to create projects that push
themselves forward. The central aspect of the expert phase is the project creation tool and
syndication tool, which makes it possible for the players to create projects with m
ultiple
players, and with a variety of different goals. In the below, we will outline some examples
of these projects to give an idea of what kinds of projects the tool should allow the players
to make.


To further our players' motivation to keep playing,
we also introduce the 'Common Money
Pool' in the expert phase. This pool of money is generated from a small percentage of the
total profit of the game, and is shared between all players and all syndicates. Each
syndicate can get a share of the pool by buyi
ng them with their collective credits. The
syndicate can then decide to spend the money on legal aid, professional web design,
L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

13

buying banners on other sites, i.e. Yahoo, AOL or other portals, or simply withdraw the
money and make an extra income from the E
xpert Phase Projects.


Project example: Syndicate visitor count.

Tools
: Project Creation Tool and Syndicate Tool.

Description
: The leader of one syndicate challenges the leader of another syndicate, and
they decide to see who can get the biggest relative g
rowth in visitors during the next 14
days. They decide to bet 30,000 credits
2
.

Goals
: To get the highest percent growth in amount of visitors during a fourteen day
period.


Project example: Syndicate credit accumulation.

Tools
: Project Creation Tool and Sy
ndicate Tool.

Description
: Two syndicates compete against each

other on earning the most credits per
syndicate member by answering other players' questions on the message board. Whoever
gets the most credits at the end of the four week period wins.

Goals
:
Get the highest amount of credits per member in 28 days.


Other projects could focus on sales count, product expansions, RSS subscribers, or
anything else on which syndicates could have fun competing against each other.


All projects in the Expert Phase a
re publicly viewable, and each project will have a
separate thread on the message board, which describes the challenge, and is constantly
updated by the system to show how well each of the syndicates are doing at reaching their
goals.


Non
-
phase specific
projects

Certain projects are not tied in with any of the three phases. These projects are not
required to progress through the game itself, but the player is rewarded for finishing them.


Project: Refer new player




2
See the 'Description
-

The Community' section for explanation on credits.

L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

14

Tool
: The in
-
game mail system or at the s
ign
-
up page.

Description
: This project is triggered when a player sends an invitation to a non
-
player.
This can be done either through an in
-
game option, which sends a mail to the non
-
player,
or by a new player signing up and typing in the player as referr
er.

Reward
: One month’s free subscription.

Special note
: This project is 'repeatable', so the player can complete this project as many
times as he wishes.


Project: First sale

Tools
: Sales tracker


added to CRM tool.

Description
: This project is triggered

when the player finishes his first sale.

Reward
: Gains access to the ‘Sellers club’ sub
-
forum on the message board.

Special note
: This project is 'repeatable', but the
amount of sales goes

up for each
completion, and so does the amount of
LSN$

earned for
completing the project. For
example, next time the player finishes the project, he needs 10 sales, 20 for the next, 50
for the next, etc.


Project: First 10 subscribers

Tool
: Enhanced CRM tool, which allows the player to create different groups of
subscrib
ers, who all receive different newsletters/RSS feeds.

Description
: This project is triggered as completed when the player gets his first 10
subscribers to their RSS newsletter.

Special Note
: This project is 'repeatable', but the amount of subscribers requi
red
completing it goes up for each completion.


Description
-

The
C
ommunity

The LSN community has two central purposes: First of all, it allows the players to meet
each other for both support and cooperation. Secondly, it is where the in
-
game economy is
si
tuated, in the form of
LSN$
. The former is most important in the newbie and intermediate
phase, where players are still learning and trying to figure out what is going on around
then, whereas the latter is most important in the expert phase, where the batt
le for
LSN$

between the syndicates is the main focus of the game.


L
ifeStyleNetworker


Media technology & Games


An internet marketing manager game


A Game Development Project

Udarbejdet af: Nicholas John Martin, Arthur Hjorth, Jon Paludan


page

15

The LSN community consists of a message board, divided into several sections, which
each player must ‘unlock’ in order to gain access to by completing projects. There are also
sections in t
he forum which are open to the players from the start.

Profiles

To participate on the forum, each player must create his own profile on the message
board.
This is Project 3
.b in the Newbie Phase. Each player profile consists of the
following data:


Usernam
e

A user's name is the same as the name of his shop.


Post count

The post count shows how many posts a certain user has made on the message board.
This indicates clearly how active the user has been in the past, and is often in the
community perceived as a

guideline on how reliable or trustworthy a user's information
and contributions are.


Progression Status

Progression status is a small piece of text which shows how far in the game's progression
the player is.


Avatar

The avatar is a depiction of the play
er's progress, in our game symbolized by a virtual
office. As the player progresses, he is given the option to improve the looks of his 'office',
by e.g. buying new furniture, buying pieces of art for his walls, or even finding new, larger
office spaces.


Signature

A signature is a small piece of text which is added at the end of all users' posts. In here,
the player can put his logo with a link to his store or write something else that catches
people's attention and conveys a message about his store.


Amou
nt of
LSN$

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16

All players, by completing quests in all three phases, receive
LSN$
.

The amount of money
they currently have can be seen in their profile.


LSN$

LSN$

are a central aspect of the community driven game. They constitute the in
-
game
economy, and can

be gained, spent, won and lost in various ways, which will be described
below.



LSN$

can be used either in
-
game as a way for the players to buy services from each
other, or they can be exchanged for a part of the common money pool. For example, if one
pl
ayer is a programmer or designer, other players can buy his services for improving their
website.

When entering the expert phase, a player's
LSN$

are automatically merged with the rest of
the syndicate's
LSN$
, creating a common
LSN$

pool. Thus, having a lo
t of
LSN$
, or being
good at getting them, will help players get a spot in the good syndicates.


Gaining
LSN$

for Projects

Players gain
LSN$

by completing projects. Some of these projects, e.g. the first projects in
the newbie phase like setting up your web
site, are non
-
repeatable, whereas others are
repeatable. The repeatable quests will often get harder and harder the more times a player
has completed them in the past, but they will also provide more and more
LSN$
.


Players completing projects is the only
way in which
LSN$

enter the player economy.


Gaining
LSN$

on the message board

Players can trade
LSN$

on the message board by participating in discussions, asking or
answering questions. Players, on the message board, have the option of asking questions,
a
nd putting up prizes to those (or the first) player to answer the question correctly.
3

They
can also award particularly good questions with
LSN$
, or gain points by asking questions
that are considered so good by the community, that the question is included

in the FAQ.





3
This concept is also used on the Danish IT
-
related website
eksperten.dk
.

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The Message Board

First of all there are the three areas, which are tied in with the player progression status.
These should primarily be used for asking questions about projects that are tied to the
respective progression stages.




The Newbi
e Area



The Intermediate Area



The Expert Area


There are also some sub
-
fora that are accessible to all players from the start. These are
usually support forums where the players can get help to getting started with the game. In
these forums, the players can

also find FAQs which give answers to the most frequently
asked questions within the field with which the sub
-
forum deals.


Tech Tricks

This forum is accessible to all players from the beginning, and is for asking technical
questions regarding setting up t
he website.


Furthermore there are other areas, which are unlocked when the player performs specific
tasks, or finishes projects.


Sellers' Club

Players gain access to this area when they complete their first sale. This part of the
message board is a priva
te club for those who have already made their first sales, and are
now looking for ways to expand their sales.


The Developer's Corner

Since much of the GUI is created as a Safari or Mozilla extension, these are open source
and open to modifications by the

users themselves. This part of the message board is
unlocked if a player has submitted a modified GUI, and is used for the developers to talk
about the technical aspects of modding the GUI.


GUI Modifications

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This area is for players to talk about setting

up their GUI and downloading GUI packages,
which are created by other players.


Off
-
Topic

This area is for talking about everything and nothing.


Syndicate forum

There are syndicate sub
-
fora, which only members of the syndicate can read.


Chat rooms

When
people visit the message board, a chat program is automatically started up. There
will be certain set up
channels, which

match the sub
-
fora on the message board. There is
also a chat channel for each syndicate, and it will be possible for all players to cr
eate new
channels and password them, in case some players want to talk in private.


Key features



Revolutionary
fresh approach to building an internet business



Communicate with all players in
LSN



Progress by completing projects and earn LSN$



99% customizabl
e with your preferred tools and systems



Supports RSS notification and communication



10+ professionally designed splash pages



Advanced traffic tracking statistics



Hosting account

Genre

LSN

redefines the way marketers operate online b
y combining
interesting
game play
choices

from
both 3D and text
-
based
MMORPG’s
with
strategic internet marketing
mechanics.
LSN

is a real time massive multiplayer online management game where
players
interact with each other both to compete and to form teams/al
liances in the form

of
syndicates and joint ventures.


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Platform

The game itself is browser based, and will be built in Mozilla and Safari's extensions tools.
It will furthermore use some Flash. The message board could be built on Joomla
4
, which is
an open source online commu
nity platform which already supports most of the features
outlined in this document.




4

http://www.Joomla.com

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Internet Marketing

So what is internet marketing all about?
One

definition of internet marketing “is the use of
the Internet to advertise and sell goods and services”
.
Th
is is a
too

broad definition, and
not precise enough to

develop a game design around. We

will argue in the following, that
our

definition of internet marketing is better suited for a game design.

It is important for the
development of
LSN
, that the interne
t marketing field is properly analysed and defined. A
broad definition could prove to be too overwhelming for the player, and a narrow definition
could make the game
too boring and easy to complete.

History of Internet Marketing

Internet marketing first be
gan in the early 1990’s as simple text based websites, which
simply offered information about a product or service. Later it evolved into advertising
complete with graphics. Today many companies operate solely on the Internet, in order to
get their product
s and services communicated to potential customers. Internet marketing
has been associated with the business
-
to
-
consumer (
B2C
)

model and later on
the
business
-
to
-
business (
B2B
) model

emerged. Lastly the people
-
to
-
people
(P2P)
business
model got embraced by

internet marketing, and this model is especially interesting for the
development of
LSN
.

Definition of

Internet Marketing

As mentioned previously, we

need to define the
scope and target group

within Internet
marketing that
LSN

will cover. This delimitatio
n of Internet marketing
obviously plays an
important role in
the
game design process, which we will return to later.


Our target group

We have chosen to focus on part time entrepreneurs; people who are self employed, have
no employees, and who use their bu
siness as a supplement to their main income, for a
number of reasons. First of all, full time business owners and
up starters

either already
knows

the things our game offers, or have the resources to buy professional consultancy
services. Furthermore, for
part time entrepreneurs, running a business is often more than
a way of making money


it’s a hobby. Thus, all aspects of running the business should be
a pleasant experience.


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Our target products and services

Defining the products and services we would ac
cept in our game was a very difficult task,
due to the number of degrees in which they could
differ from each other. We also had to
keep in mind which type of community we would like to create, and that depends on what
type of marketers we would accept to
begin with.


We will basically encounter three
categories

of marketers:


1) Resellers are people who do not produce the product themselves, but instead buy them
from the producer and then resell them. Examples could be people who sell wine from a
German vi
neyard or import crystal glasses to resell.


2) Producers are people who create their own products and wish to sell them online.
Examples could be people who boil bonbons and make chocolates or up and coming
artists who need sales channels.


3) Affiliates
are people dedicated to promoting and selling other peoples products for a
commission. The hottest selling items in this category are digital and/or informational
products as they can be ordered, paid and delivered instantly over the Internet.


For the ini
tial design and beta phase of
LSN
, we will only allow marketers from the first two
categories to join. This is for the sake of the community as we would like to create a
pleasant and homogenous community where the members can share their hobbies. We
will h
owever keep a close eye on the development of the community and we realize there
are both pros and cons for allowing the third category (affiliates) into the game. We w
ill
discuss this a little later during the design of LSN.


Delimitation of Internet mark
eting


We

have
differentiated

internet marketing into the following three main categories:



Traffic Generation



Lead Generation



Sales

Generation

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These categories are the backbone of any online business, and must be supported in a
business strategy in order t
o reach any level of success.
First you must figure out how to
generate traffic to your website. Secondly you need to know how to turn the traffic you
generate into interested prospects or leads. Finally you need to be able to turn the
interested prospects

into sales.

These three categories are the main marketing scope o
f
LSN
. In the following we

will be defining a set of tools for each category which will give a
clear p
i
cture of the marketing mechanics to be implemented in the game.

Exactly how the
various

marketing mechanics will be implemented into the game is covered in the
“Designing
LSN

chapter

of this
report
.


The traffic
generation

community

There are many different ways to generate traffic both free and paid.
However there is one
area of traffic ge
neration that seems to have done extremely well the last few years and is
becoming increasingly popular. These are free to use systems designed to sen
d real
visitors to your website and are known as traffic exchanges.

Traffic exchanges

A traffic exchange i
s a system for generating free traffic. Each traffic exchange is a
community where webmasters can join and submit a number of their web

pages they wish
to send traffic to. In order to generate traffic you simply have to visit other member’s
websites and wa
it for a timer to countdown. These exchanges are always frame based,
where one frame contains the timer and another contains the member’s webpage you are
currently
visiting. When the timer has run out you can click continue and view another
webpage.

You w
ill typically receive 1 credit for each page you view in the traffic exchange
and it will cost you 2 credits to have a visitor sent to your own webpage, also known as a
2:1 ratio.


These exchanges are incredibly good
for generating

fast traffic,
but there

are several
problems with this type of traffic:


First of all,
the traffic is not targeted at specific users or user demographics that could be
assumed to have any interest in the product. Secondly, often the products advertised in
the traffic exchange p
rogrammes are targeted towards other marketers. Thirdly,
the
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majority of
people who visit the traffic exchange programme sites are website owners
themselves, and the sole reason they are visiting the other sites, is to generate traffic to
their own site


and the people who visit their site are just visiting it to generate traffic back
again.


So, despite creating impressive traffic statistics, traffic exchange programmes are often
useless for the people who join them, and the only ones who really gain from

them are the
programme owners.



However, these traffic exchanges are producing great results for marketers that are selling
digital products world wide.
One of the reasons for this is the fact that it’s relatively easy to
generate leads for these kinds o
f products, as the majority of traffic exchange users
always are on the lookout for the latest thing to promote.
The common products promoted
are all marketing tools like scripts and software to help automate an online business. Over
the last few years the
se exchanges have become saturated with business opportunities
and fly by night affiliate programs.

Offline advertising

In this category we find one of the best techniques for driving quality traffic to web sites. It
is in fact people spreading the word
about a web site. People will always be more entitled
to visit a web site that was recommended to them by a friend.
It is the simple fact that
people trust their friends more then a poster, advertisement or web site.

Other
methods

for
driving offline traff
ic to web sites include posters, advertisements in magazines, business
cards and bumper stickers.


Search engines

There
exist

two types of search engines (SE) today. One is the traditional SE’s like Google
and
Yahoo;

others are the newer pay per click sea
rch engines (PPC
), which

allow
webmasters to bid on certain key words and phrases. Each time a visitor clicks on a link
in
a PPC
, the owner of that keyword has to pay
the charge that he himself decided upon (the
bids). The higher the bid the webmaster subm
its, the higher the rankings they will receive.

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Some of the most know PPC search engines are Yahoo Search Marketing
5
, Miva
6

and
GoClick
7
.

Reciprocal linking

When two marketers agree to send traffic to each other, it’s
very
often in the case of
reciprocal l
inking. All the term means is swapping links and placing them on
each others
web sites. Marketers can then share their traffic between them and in the case of
complimentary products/services it’s almost always a win
-
win situation for both parties.


Lead ge
neration

Once players have learned how to master the traffic
generation tools

they need to learn
how to convert the traffic generated into interested prospects or leads. A lead is a person
who has expressed interest in whatever the promoted page has to off
er, and has given the
player permission to send more information to them about their offer.
There are a number
of ways to generate leads from traffic
generation tools
, but the most effective method is to
use splash pages. These pages are designed to be sho
rt, to the point, fast loading,
attention grabbing and lead the visitor to take action by submitting their con
tact information
in a web form or subscribing to a RSS feed.

Free gifts for subscribing can also be used to
encourage people to request more infor
mation.

Tracking statistics

Every experienced marketer knows the importance of tracking their efforts in order to
discover what sources produce better results then others. If a traffic
source

sends 10.000
hits to your page and you are only able to generate

2 leads, but another
source

generates
you 12 leads from the same amount of traffic, then you have a good idea of which
source
is producing better results in the long run.

Webhosting services

There is a myriad of hosting solutions available again ranging f
rom free to paid. It is
important for marketers to be able to manage their own content and thus be in control of



5

http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/

6

http://www.Miva.com

7

http:/
/www.GoClick.com

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their own
web server
. This is a daunting task for many marketers as they find it too difficult
to manage their own server, FTP software and dom
ain name registration.

Splash pages
vs. generic
affiliate sites

The biggest mistake I see new marketers practise is the use of generic affiliate referral
pages instead of custom built splash pages. Affiliate program owners have always told
their affiliates

to simply advertise their affiliate URL. This URL is simply a copy of the main
affiliate site page typically
only
customized with the
marketer’s
name. This approach does
not work well in traffic exchange programs as many other affiliates of the same affil
iate
program advertise the same page making it boring and unappealing for visitors to spend
any length of time on the pages.


What marketers need are custom made splash pages designed to promote a specific
affiliate program customized with the marketers na
me, picture, short bio and any other
personal information. This approach is more appealing to the visitors comfort zone as they
tend to see a ‘real person’ instead of some generic webpage.


Generating sales

The sole purpose of using a splash page in traff
ic exchanges is to generate a point of
contact with interested prospects so that marketers are able to follow up and build rapport
with their latest prospects. The splash page is designed to have the visitor submit their
contact information to the marketer

promoting the splash page. Once that has happened,
the communication between seller and prospect can begin.


Email autoresponders

When a visitor submits a contact form on a splash page, they are typically subscribed to a
so called autoresponder. This is a
n email system that has

been installed with

a set of
predefined messages which are sent automatically to th
e subscriber over a set of intervals.
It has been documented that it takes an average of 7
-
8 follow up messages before the
prospect will take action.

Typically one would send 10 messages in total during a 30 day
period. This system is great for automation bu
t terrible for personalization. Email is still the
major communication vehicle utilized by internet marketers today. However email is not
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perfect a
nd with the rising threat of spam and viruses
many

have become reluctant to
submitting their email address online.

Real Simple Syndication (RSS)

Although email is still the
preferred

form of communication, the trends are changing again
and the focus is slo
wly switching over to RSS feeds.
It is indeed the amount of spam, virus
and other malicious code that is driving this change of trends towards a more secure and
anonymous media for communication.


Conversions and
R
OI

tracking

A c
onversion occurs when a vis
itor takes an action that the
marketer

deems valuable,
according to his objectives of analysis.

Examples of conversions are:
a successful
completion of an online order/purchase, the filling out of a form or the subscription to a
mailing
-
list, etc.


The
con
version rate

is the percentage of visitors taking an action against the number of
visitors coming from the same referrer.

The conversion rate is the key element for
analyzing a successful advertising campaign. In addition, it shows how effective specific
s
earch engines or partner sites are.


It is imperative for a marketer to know how the advertisements that have been invested are
performing. The ROI is the indicator that compares the revenues with the costs of a
campaign. The ROI brings all the traffic gen
eration, lead generation and sales together in
order to determine which campaigns are performing better then others.


Converting marketing principles to game mechanics

In the previous sections we have
covered the basics of all three main categories of
our
definition of Internet mark
eting (traffic, leads & sales). With this information we can now
begin to design the game mechanics that will evolve around the marketing part of the
game.

In this section we will look at the marketing principles discussed above,

and
determine how to implement them as simple game mechanics.


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Hosting

There are thousands of companies providing web hosting to businesses. The hosting
plans are all very different and there are some common pitfalls and dangers only
experienced marketers

would be able to spot. That is why one of the key features of
LSN

is to provide our own hosting for our players. This will ensure that all players are on the
same systems, and we will be able to design the projects so that they can be completed by
all pla
yers.

The hosting allows us to take advantage of all the traditional marketing
statistics and use them in our game to monitor player progression.


Statistics

LSN

is comparable to many manager games like found in the sports genre. One game in
particular i
s the
Swedish football manger Hattrick (Extralives AB, 2000) which is extremely
popular. This game is all about creating the ‘right’ statistics for your football team, and
most of the game play evolves around improving statistics

of the players, stadium an
d
training
.


The same applies for
LSN

as it’s not a 3D fantasy world where you have to slay goblins
and dragonkin, but a manager game where you have to improve performance and
statistics through real life actions.
There will be a number of statistics avai
lable for
LSN

players. Below is a list of the most critical statistics that we feel is an absolute minimum in
order

to execute a successful play test and eventually a BETA launch.




Total hits



Unique hits



Conversion

(Unique/total)



Forum posts (total)



Syndic
ate members



RSS Subscriptions

o

Total number of subscribers

o

Subscribers for individual campaigns



Refer
r
ed players

o

Total number of players

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Sales

o

Total sales volume

o

Periodic sales reports

o

ROI campaigns



Link friends

o

Total number of link friends

o

Traffic flow



Ne
wsletter & Web site reviews

o

Total number of submitted reviews

o

Total number of reviews received

o

Total number of reviews approved/dismissed



CRM

(staying in touch with subscribers)

o

Last update published

o

Log of all previous updates


The statistics listed above

will play an essential part in the game play of LSN. It will be
each player’s goals to do what they can to improve their individual statistics.
They will
strive to achieve better statistics because that is one way of showing everyone else how
well they ar
e progressing. Players with higher statistics will be perceived as achievers and
dedicated marketers which will draw more attention, traffic and ultimately sales their way.







MMO game elements

Of course, the big question is: Why combine the MMO genre
with internet marketing?
What is so special about this particular genre, and what elements from the MMO
experience do we believe are suited for combining with our internet marketing community
and game?


As previously mentioned, all our group members are o
r have been avid MMO gamers.
What is immediately clear when you get into an MMO is how the

game
, in a traditional
sense, is not the most important aspect of the gaming experience
-

especially not in the
'high end game'. What is special about the MMO genre
is the way it retains players for
very long periods of times, often several years, by providing repeatable game content,
which must be 'grinded'
8

in order for the players to progress. This can be done alone, but
in the typical MMO like EverQuest, Star Wars
: Galaxies or World of Warcraft, most of the
high end content is only doable in large groups of people, ranging from 40 to 72 people.


As both MMOs and internet marketing is based on these two concepts; working together
online with other people, and doing
the same things over and over again, we wanted to
explore what elements of MMO games could be extracted and combined with the concepts
detailed above from internet marketing.


Main Goals in MMOs

'Goals' in MMOs are hard to define, since MMOs arguably are n
ot games, but game
platforms, which provide players with the opportunity to play a variety of different games
within the same game universe. This is in part due the lack of a 'winning condition', which
is an integral part of a traditional game, and thus in

MMOs players must set their own
goals, based on their own ideas of 'fun' and 'achievement'. Although this point of view is
both merited and interesting, it would be a poor work hypothesis for our project, since we
attempt to isolate the game elements in M
MOs that would work well with our core idea.
Thus, in the following chapter, we will first describe the essential game and play elements
on MMOs, and then discuss how we fit them into our game concept.




8
Performing the same task over and over again; often killing the same monsters or doing the same quests.

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The four player types

As mentioned, players in MMOs c
an set their own goals depending on what they
perceive

as fun and interesting. Richard Bartle identified four different arch types of players
9
;
achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers/griefers, who all have different goals, when
playing an MMO.


Ach
ievers are players who act on the world. These players find pleasure in setting up hard
challenges to themselves, achieving them, and then setting new goals. Achievers strive to
be the best at the game. Explorers are players who like to see new things, and

learn about
the lore of the game world or about the game mechanics of their MMO of choice. Explorers
strive to be the most knowledgeable in a game. Socializers are players who primarily play
to meet other people and get to know them. Socializers strive to

be known in the game
world as fun and nice. Killers, also called griefers, are players who have fun by ruining the
playing experience of other players. Griefers strive to be feared by the other players in the
gaming community.


A good MMO should be able t
o cater to each of these types, although according to Bartle,
it is important to note that the relative amount of a certain type can have both positive and
negative effects on the amount of the other types of players.


Character progression

Character progr
ession is at the very core of MMO game design
10
. As the player plays the
game, he is continually improving his character (as opposed to himself, the player).
Progression can be measured on three different areas; attributes, levels, and skills.


Attributes a
re the statistics, which determine how good a player is at doing various tasks.
For example, in a typical fantasy based MMO, strength could be part of the formula, which
determines how much damage a player can do with this sword but also how good he is at
blacksmithing. Intelligence can determine how much damage he can do with his spells, but



9

Players who suit MUDs. Richard Bartle, 1996.

http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

10
Bartle, 2003. Chapter 5, 'Advancement' section
.

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also how good he is at memorizing spells or how big his mana pool is. Attributes are
typically raised by attaining items in the game, either armor or weapons, or are g
ained
automatically as a player levels up.


Levels are a measurement of a player's accumulated amount of experience points (XP). In
level based MMOs, levels are often used as 'cap controllers'
11
, so a player can only attain
a certain skill level at any leve
l, and must level up in order to attain a higher level in this
skill. Levels also determine if a player can damage a certain monster, or how much
damage a player takes from this monster. Thus, levels determine what areas a player can
go to, and also influ
ences which other players the player can group up with, since they
should be at approximately the same level. XP is typically gained by comp
l
eting quests for
NPCs, killing monsters, or in more
role playing

oriented games, by
role playing

your
character and

making in
-
character choices under particular circumstances.


Skills determine how well a player performs a
specific

task, e.g. blacksmithing, using a
specific type of weapons, etc. Skills are usually increased either by using them in practice,
e.g. by smi
thing new armor, or by learning them from an NPC or another player.


Quests

Quests are, so to speak, what puts the ‘game’ in MMORPG, since they provide what
MMOs typically lack: Winning conditions. Quests are quantifiable tasks, that the player is
encourag
ed by NPCs to complete, and fulfil several purposes in the larger scheme of an
MMO.


First of all, quests contribute in driving forward character progression by providing short
term goals for the character. In World of Warcraft, we have identified the foll
owing arch
types of quests:




Explore


go to a certain area, or find a certain NPC.



Kill count



kill x amount of a certain type of mobs.



Collect


gather x amount of a certain quest or
trade skill

item.




11
Bartle, 2003. Chapter 5, 'Advancement' section.

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Delivery



take this item and bring it somewhere.



Su
rvival


live through a scripted event.


These different types of quests constitute the short term goals, which players must
compete. During the quests, the player gains XP from killing monsters,

and
from
completing the quests. Furthermore, in order to com
plete the quest, the player must also
travel the virtual world, discovering new areas and seeing more of the game world content.
Lastly, by completing the quests and killing the involved monsters, the player also
improves

his

skills
, armor and weapons.

Eve
n though, at the core, there are only these five
types of quests, they are designed into different contexts in the game world, and they
increasingly become harder. Thus, the quest types are recycled, and the player repeats
the same actions, but in differen
t locations and with different monsters and different
people.




Furthermore these quests are either tagged as:




Normal


the player can choose to do them alone, or together with a group.



Elite
/
Dungeon



group only quests.



Raid quests


raid only quests.


The only difference between these quests is the amount of people they require to finish.
However, this brings up the
last

purpose which quests
fulfils
;
quests is what drives people
together, either because they want to play together with someone else, or b
ecause they
have to

play together with someone else.

These
quests

however are not spread out evenly
over the levels in traditional MMOs. For example, ‘normal’ quests are available from level 1
in World of Warcraft, whereas players must reach around level 1
0
-
15 before having
access to elite quests and raid quests only start at level 60.




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The life cycle of a player

One of the special properties of MMO game design is the fact that goals in MMOs change,
depending on where in the player's life cycle a player c
urrently is, maybe with the
exception of one, central goal: Character progression. It is also important to note that even
though people have different playing styles and thus set different goals for themselves,
they must all progress through the same game,

no matter which of Bartle's types they
belong to. Progression in MMOs is done in various ways, but most of them evolve around
increasing a player's statistics, which makes him harder to kill, and makes it easier for him
to kill others. These statistics va
ry, often on the playing style of the player, or on which
player class the player has chosen to play.


At the beginning of a new MMO, the newbie player will often be confused by all the new
input; new controls, new monsters, new stats, a new community, etc
. These first
impressions of the game will be a big factor when the player decides whether or not he
wants to continue the game. During this phase, the player's main focus is on learning how
to work inside the game, and learn how to use the tools provided
to him by the game.


In the second stage of the player's life, the player is now used to the GUI and controls, and
he is now learning to use these in a group setting, killing monsters and challenging himself
in a more social atmosphere in the game. The mai
n goals in this phase is to continually
develop his skills in the game, but also to get to form friendships, and get in touch with the
community in his game or on his server.


In the last stage of a player's life, the player has become known in the communi
ty, has
seen most of what the game has to offer, and has often now either decided to be a 'casual
player' and only log on once in a while to play with his friends, or to become 'hardcore' and
join a big group of people, often known as guilds or player asso
ciations. The high end
game then consists of killing the same monsters over and over again, hoping to get the
'rare drops', which are usually pieces of armor, which increase the players' statistics, thus
increasing their ability to kill harder monsters.


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I
ncreasingly f
orced interdependence

As previously mentioned, at the high end of an MMO, players must participate in large
groups of players in order to progress. They are, in other words, interdependent with their
chosen player community. Although in some g
ames, like World of Warcraft, this
interdependence is only found at the very high end of the game at level 60, in other
games, like EverQuest or Anarchy Online, the impact of interdependence increases slowly
as the players level up.


So in the early phases

of a player's life cycle, he
can

group with other players and gain an
advantage from it, he can also
choose

not to, and instead play by himself. Often newbies
will choose to play alone in order to avoid embarrassing themselves when they exhibit
their igno
rance of the game, whereas more experienced and confident players will group
up very early on in the game. Later on in the game, when players reach the mid
-
levels,
more and more players will start to group up as they gain playing skills and confidence and
are no longer afraid of grouping with others, and as the importance of interdependence
rises.


The Avatar effect

Although the avatar effect is closely connected to character progression, we believe that it
is important enough to be mentioned in its own sec
tion. A player's avatar is the visual
representation of the player in the game world. Thus, the avatar changes as the player's
character changes, and represents, both to the player himself, but also to the other
players, the progress which the character ha
s been through.


The avatar is then closely connected to how the player perceives himself, and also how he
wants to present
himself to other players in the game world. This latter point is especially
important in socially oriented MMOs like Second Life (Li
nden Labs, 2003) or There

(Makena Technologies, 2003)
, where corporeal representation is central to social
interaction, but also plays a role in more action or progress oriented games, since other
players will be able to recognize rare artefacts

or high st
atus armor a player owns.


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In other words, the avatar is a status symbol, which the player can look at and reflect on
his own progress or experiences in the game, and a symbol by which other players can
recognize the hard work a player has put into the gam
e.


A virtual economy

Another important aspect of MMOs is their virtual economies. Basically
an MMO economy
is

split up into two types; the player to NPC economy, and the player
-
player economy.


The player
-
NPC economy is usually the only way money enters i
nto the economy.
Monsters often carry money or other valuables, and when players kill them, the player may
loot whatever the monster carried. If the player wishes to convert looted items to money,
he can then sell them to an NPC for cash. Another way of ge
tting money into the economy
is to complete quests for NPCs, which is usually rewarded with both XP and some sort of
monetary reward.


The other type is the player
-
player economy, which serves two purposes in virtual worlds:
First of all, it is an incentiv
e to interact with other players. Secondly, the player
-
player
economy creates an incentive to produce value within the game system by participating in
the player
-
NPC economy. In traditional MMOs, this usually consists of 'farming'
12

mobs for
their values. T
hus, the player
-
player economy is dependent on the influx of money from
the player
-
NPC economy.


The Virtual Community

As the community of an MMO is, in a chicken
-
or
-
the
-
egg fashion, tied in with almost all
other aspects of the MMO, it is obviously a very
important aspect of the game.


The technical part of a community in an MMO usually consists of communication tools for
private talk between players, a management tool for managing groups
13
, a management



12
Killing the same mobs over and over again, but for the purpose of getting whatever loot these monsters
drop.

13
Groups are usually meant as any group of people larger than two, but still too small to be con
sidered 'raid'
sized.

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tool for raids
14
, and a management tool for guilds. It
is through these tools, sometimes
supplemented by a message board which is outside of the actual game, where people
meet, talk and form groups, guilds, and friendships.


The community plays different roles, depending on which of the stages in the cycle of
life
the player is. At the early stages of a game, where players are often able to do most of
their quests alone, the community is optional for the player. Later on when the
interdependence between players rises, the community obviously plays a more import
ant
role, as this is where the players must find their partners. Lastly, at the high end game, the
community, it could be argued,
is
the game, as large groups of people depend on each
other, and must make collective decisions on what they do together.


Wha
t is important to note about communities is that they are often one of the main reasons
for the high retention on MMO players. Thus, it is important not only to design your
community so that it supports players as good as possible through all their life ph
ases, it is
also very important that the community is created so that it can support whatever players
end up doing at the 'high end' of the game, which is where they will spend most of their
time.







14
Raids are large groups that are big enough to kill the raid monsters in a game. These groups are,
depending on the game, usually anywhere from 20 to 70 people.

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Designing LSN

There is a problem at the very core of m
erging MMO game elements with internet
marketing: A game is meant to be played, whereas internet marketing is serious business,
which affects people's real lives and economy. We also have to acknowledge that some
people will start up businesses in our game

that might not just work out, whether this is
due to a bad business idea, bad planning, or something entirely different. The question
then is, is it possible to win one, while not 'winning' the other? Can we set up winning
conditions for the game, which a
re achievable even though the player does not 'win' at
running a successful e
-
commerce website?


From the outset, we decided that the answer should be ‘yes’, and this is what makes our
game an actual game and not just a CRM and sales tracking tool. It was
important to us
that the point
of
playing our game is the internal rule set, and that the reason people play
our game is not only because of the business advantage and the learning aspect, but
because it is actually fun to play. On the other hand, we also

wanted to reward those
people whose shops do really well, both because we believe it is in the entrepreneurial
spirit of the game, but also because retaining these in our community is important. We will
get back to this in the community section in this ch
apter.


Main Goals in LSN

As in traditional MMOs, the goals of LSN change as the player progresses, and there is no
overarching winning condition. However, the central goals of LSN evolve around gathering
LSN$ by completing projects (raising your stats) an
d participating in the community.

The four player types

We have tried to cater for three of the four player types in our game; achievers, socializers,
and explorers. We have had a hard time identifying what kind of behaviour could be
classified as 'griefin
g' in our game, but the best definition we could come up with are
websites that don't belong to the first two of the groups in our three target groups in our
limitation of target group (definition of internet marketing).


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However, with the 'Review someone

else's website' projects, we hope that our players
themselves will be able to catch those websites, and report them to our administrators, so
they can be kicked out of the game. Of course, there is also spamming the message board
with advertisements, nons
ense, or illegal material. The message board will be moderated
by employees of LSN, and we hope that these measures will take care of this sort of
griefing.


Achievers in LSN will be the players who focus on completing projects as fast as possible,
findin
g other achievers in the community with whom they can set up affiliations and later
syndicates. As the main focus of projects in our game is reaching certain goals, there is
plenty to do for achievers.


Socializers will be able to meet like minded people i
n the community, and talk and have
fun while they play our game. Although the projects and the goals related to them are
mostly about achieving, socializers will still have the possibility to enjoy themselves with
their affiliates and syndicate buddies whi
le they finish their projects.


The main aspect of the explorer player type to which we cater in our game is that of
collecting and sharing knowledge. In our community, it will be possible to ask questions
about the game, and this is where explorers can sh
ow off their expertise and knowledge
about the game.


Projects

Projects in LSN have the same functionality as quests in traditional MMO’s. Although there
is no overall winning condition for LSN, projects provide the player with short term goals,
which help
s the player focus his actions and attention to the things that need to be done to
achieve them. They are a tool to guide the players and to monitor and control their
progress through the different phases. Inspired by the five quest types from World of
War
craft we have designed our projects in the following way:


World of Warcraft quest


LifeStyleNetworker project

Explore


Read & understand (multiple choices)

Kill count


Grind stats (hits, leads, sales)

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Collect


accept/dismiss reviews

Delivery


generat
e reviews, link partners (send 5 unique hits)

Survival


time limited projects (24 hours, 30 days, etc)


Just like quests in traditional MMOs, projects in LSN are what drive the game
-
aspect of the
playing experience. For each project, the player is present
ed with some goals, which he
must complete. These goals are all picked from the statistics from our Internet marketing
chapter, which we combine in various ways to create interesting challenges to our players,
and a sense of success along the way.
15

For exa
mple, the goal of one project is to 'grind'
10 unique hits. Once the player has completed this project, a new project is open to the
player, and the goal now is to grind 20, then 50, then 100, etc. unique hits.


These quests are then combined in various wa
ys, each of which requires a different
number of participants:


Normal


Solo projects

Elite/Dungeon


Affiliate projects

Raid


Syndicate tools


As the LSN player starts out, all projects are solo projects, which the player must complete
alone. We chose t
o design our game so that doing the first quests together with other
players is not an option, as it is while completing these quests, that the player learns how
to use the most basic tools in LSN. Later on, as the player progresses and starts getting
affi
liates, the projects are then centred on these affiliations. Finally, as the player reaches
the high end game, he either joins a syndicate or creates one himself, and all quests from
then on are completed in the syndicates.


We have, especially in the newb
ie phase, focused on projects as learning tools for players.
Often for each project, the player gets one new tool, and the project's goals are about
using this new tool, so the player becomes acquainted with it, and demonstrates that he
knows how to use it
. See figure 1 for an example of how projects are designed to force the
player to use the new tools at hand.




15
See our project examples in the
LSN Game Concept chapter.

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Figure 2



the progression through projects


The Life Cycle of a Player

We wanted to keep the general idea of MMOs, i
n which the focus of the game changes
with the life cycle of a player. Therefore we have divided the life cycle into three phases:
The newbie phase, the intermediate phase, and the expert phase. At the beginning of LSN
in the newbie phase, players quickly
gain new tools, and they must learn to use them while
in the safe environment of solitude. When the player has become confident with the use of
his tools and reaches the intermediate phase, the focus shifts towards learning to use our
tools together with o
ther players in their affiliations. When the player has learned how to
cooperate with other players and has gotten to know the community, he now enters into
big groups of players called syndicates.


The high end 'grind' in LSN is doing the repeatable proje
cts, like getting more and more
unique hits, getting more and more sales, more and more RSS/newsletter subscribers,
and sharing the LSN$ gained from this with the rest of the syndicate.


Increasingly forced Interdependence

In LSN, there is also increased p
layer interdependence as the player’s progress through
the game. Projects become more and more oriented towards group efforts, e.g. getting an
amount of unique hits together with your affiliates, or getting an increased visitor count
together with your syn
dicate buddies. The danger with this decision is that players might
not want to cooperate with anyone else, either because they don't have time, or because
they would rather just run their web shop by themselves. It
is

possible to 'solo' a lot of
projects
in LSN, so just like in MMOs, it is up to the player to decide if he wants to ride
alone, but he will not get to see the 'full content' of the game if he chooses so.


Project

Tool

Complete

Reward

New Project

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The Avatar effect

We argued whether or not we needed an avatar in LSN, since there is no
physical (read:
virtual!) game world. We decided that we wanted one, not because the players need it to
be able to navigate around any world, but because we believe that it is a fun gimmick, and
a way for players to signal something about their personality
.


We chose to provide players with a virtual office which they can upgrade and customize,
because it fits in with the general business theme of the game. Players get the option of
upgrading various items in the office, and a small picture of this office w
ill appear next to
the player's name each time he posts on the message board. By viewing the player's
profile on the message board, other players can see a full screen image of the office.


The Virtual Community

As the player progresses, the community aspe
ct of LSN becomes increasingly important.
In the beginning, the community will work mostly as a support group for the player; he can
ask questions about the LSN system, about the game, about the projects, or general
questions about how to run a web shop. L
ater on, the player must interact with the
community to find affiliates and once he joins a syndicate, the syndicates will compete for
LSN$ and must cooperate in the virtual community and decide how to get the money, and
what to spend it on.


As previously

mentioned, the community in MMOs is often a big part of the reason for the
high player retention. As players get to know each other and establish personal
connections, they get a sense of belonging to the community, and they check in on the
community, not

only because they need to in order to progress in the game, but because
they like spending their time there. In other words, designing a community which invites
people to stay for long periods of time will make it easier to keep them playing.


This is esp
ecially important with the 'achievers' in the game, since they constitute a huge
resource to the community. Since they are good at playing the game, and at running their
web shops, they can provide information to the rest of the community, which will incre
ase
the value of participating in the community for the rest of the players.

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Virtual economy

Another of LSN’s main features is the virtual economy. The main difference between
LSN's economy and traditional MMO economies is that in LSN, there is a Common M
oney
Pool, which is a pool of real world money accumulated from a percentage of the game's
profit, which players can use their LSN$ on getting a part of. We decided to put this rather
untraditional element into our game, because our game is also about maki
ng money in the
real world
-

and in order to make money, you also need to spend some! Therefore, money
from the Common Money Pool can be used by syndicates on legal aid, professional web
design, buying banners on other sites, or whatever else the syndicate

wishes to spend
their money on. Another option is for the syndicates to simply withdraw their LSN$ to real
life money and consider that an extra income for their 'work' in the game.

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Conclusion

We set out with the ambition of first isolating certain aspec
ts of internet marketing to see if
we could create game elements of them, and then try to fit these into the framework of
MMO game design.


Looking back, once we had isolated

and extracted

the
statistics

with
in internet marketing,
which we thought were par
ticularly suited as game elements, it was surprisingly easy to
combine these with the traditional MMO game design principles. We designed our game
and playing experience in a way, which fairly well matches the general character
progression in the tradition
al MMOs
.

We wanted our players to slowly but steadily acquire
tools, which made sense in relation to running a web shop. We wanted our quest system
to build around these tools, while setting goals that matches the statistics which a web
shop owner must pay

special attention to. We wanted a rising importance of
interdependence, which we built into both our quest system and or community tools, by
providing players a way to cooperate with more and more people as they moved through
the game. And we believe we a
ccomplished these goals.


However, we also made some compromises along the way. One of our biggest points of
discussion was how to delimitate our target group.

We chose to focus on part time
entrepreneurs

for the reasons
described

throughout the project re
port. However, this
delimitation also brought about an exclusion of one of the most prominent internet
marketers; the traditional
affiliate programme users.

We did this, because we wanted to
work with a group of people whose reasons for running a web shop
were more than just
making money
, it has to be fun too



a reason often ascribed to part time entrepreneurs.
And our game might only work if people come with this mindset, and it might, it its current
form, scare away the more hardcore, sales oriented int
ernet marketers
, whose main
interest in working with their web shop is making money
.

And this brings us to our
conclusion.


It certainly is possible to use otherwise non
-
game related elements from internet marketing
and create an MMO
hybrid
with those elem
ents as the motor for game dynamics.

However, because different types of
gameplay attract different types of players, it might
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not be possible to create one massively multiplayer internet marketing management game
which suits all players.

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Literature

and
r
esources

Primary literature:

Designing Virtual Worlds. Richard A. Bartle. New Riders Publishing, 2003.

“Players who suit MUDs”. Richard A. Bartle. Web publication, located on
http://www.mud.co.uk/richar
d/hcds.htm

on April 27th 2006.


Secondary literature:

Developing Online Games. Jessica Mulligan and Bridgette Patrovsky. New Riders
Publishing, 2003.

Synthetic Worlds: The business and Culture of Online Worlds. University of Chicago
Press, 2005.