Zoo Kingdom

My New Job: Lead Analyst at Blue Fang Games

by Darius Kazemi on September 2, 2010

in Blue Fang

Today marks my second day as Lead Analyst at Blue Fang Games in Waltham, MA. I’ve joined the team in order to focus on metrics and analytics for Blue Fang’s projects, including Zoo Kingdom for Facebook. I get to work on both business metrics and game design metrics, but instead of MMORPGs (which I’ve worked on professionally for the last 5 years) I’m now working on social games on Facebook.

I do have prior Facebook game experience  – I did some metrics consulting for Popcap on Bejeweled Blitz, and I actually consulted for Blue Fang during initial Zoo Kingdom development earlier this year. I’ve never been fully focused on social/FB games, and I’m really excited about it.  One reason I find it exciting is because I always saw MMORPGs as a kind of a stagnant genre. Yes, they’re evolving, but their evolution is set in a direction that I’m not personally fond of. I think social games are young enough that they’re still in flux and there’s a lot of room for design experimentation.

And yes, there are many criticisms that can be leveled at the genre of social games, probably the most incisive one being Ian Bogost’s game-as-criticism Cow Clicker. But one of the most heartening trends I’ve seen in the last few years is excellent game designers like Brenda Brathwaite, Brian Reynolds, and Steve Meretzky moving to social games. These, and others, are people who are aware of the points made by critics like Bogost, and will work to design games that address these criticisms.

Beyond all that, there are just plain awesome things coming down the line from Blue Fang, and I’m looking forward to telling everyone about them when the time comes! In the meantime, give Zoo Kingdom a shot!


Bradley Momberger September 2, 2010 at 10:20 am

Great to see things looking up for you, Darius. We should catch up when you have some free time (if you have some free time).

Macguffin September 2, 2010 at 11:14 am

Great news, Darius. Best of luck!

Josh Brandt September 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Does it have cows to click? If not, I’m not interested!

Darius Kazemi September 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I do believe you can click a cow.

Amanda Cosmos September 6, 2010 at 10:28 am

Click the white-tailed deer! It makes the best noise.

Josh Brandt September 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Oh, but yes, congratulations. 8) Do good things!

David Ludwig September 2, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Many congratulations!

Patrick September 3, 2010 at 8:46 am

Good looking out, before long we’ll all be working in social games. :P

Amanda Cosmos September 6, 2010 at 10:29 am

Congrats Darius! You’ll do swimmingly!

David McGraw September 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Sounds epic Darius! Social gaming is definitely hot. One thing definitely bugs me, and that is that I have to explicitly invite friends to every new game I try, dispite them already playing it. That process really needs some help.

Darius Kazemi September 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm

That is definitely bothersome, but it’s part of Facebook’s rules around privacy.

Max Nichols September 9, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Congrats, Darius. Having just LEFT an innovative social game project to work on a more traditional hardcore MMO, I’m obviously looking for different things in my projects right now… but I definitely see the appeal. And Blue Fang does some pretty cool stuff, so enjoy!

John Bellone September 10, 2010 at 8:04 am

Good luck man, enjoy!

Bennett September 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Congratulations on the move! Social gaming is definitely poised to earn more respect. I’m curious, how does the company culture tend to differ between MMO developers and social gaming developers? Is the environment just as intense, but in different ways?

Darius Kazemi September 15, 2010 at 7:59 am

It’s culturally pretty much the same, I’d say. Hard for me to say as far as Blue Fang goes, since BF is a traditional AAA game studio turned social game studio. In general, both MMO and social game developers are pretty metrics-driven, although I’d say metrics are probably given more prominence at social devs.

Enki September 15, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I may have just had a really bad experience with social game devs, but I prefer traditional game companies. In my experience, big social game companies like Zynga, RockYou, Playfish etc. are largely unwilling to give the kind of time, effort and customer service necessary for social game management – because of the continuous flow of updates and interactions directly WITH the user, those things are required more, not less. Also, when I was actively playing any of the apps designed by the aforementioned game companies, I noticed various things that inhibited gameplay itself or entirely ruined my enjoyment of the game – for example, too much required “grinding” just to get the basic necessities within the game.

Blue Fang and Big Fish Games are my favorite two companies in the social gaming world; I’ll hardly play anything else. I don’t know what it is – whether it’s a mindset with the strictly social gaming companies or on the trad game companies’ side – but the game mechanics are more creative and intricate, the interface considerate of the people using them, and the games themselves less likely to use “punishment” (e.g. your crops wilting) to keep you playing.

So all this was basically off-topic, but I just wanted to congratulate you on the new position! So congratulations!

I’m going to go look up “game metrics” now.

Darius Kazemi September 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Cool, well thanks! I do think that coming from a traditional game development background rather than purely social games gives Blue Fang a different perspective than other social game companies.

Alex Schearer September 15, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Congratulations on your new job. Metrics and data mining as tools to improve business and game decisions sounds really interesting. I hope you’ll post some more about these topics in the future. As for working on casual games, I think that sounds just fine! What’s wrong with making games that hundreds of millions of people enjoy?

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