Warner Brothers are releasing a new version of Sherlock Holmes on Boxing Day this year. As part of this, they’re doing a ARG on rails – a flash based game – around the film. I signed up for the game in August and today it got released. Found at the nice vanity URL http://www.221b.sh/, the site looks good. It’s also got some interesting tie ups – Sherlock Holmes on Tweetdeck is obviously part of the offering
However, implementation is not so good. In fact, it’s so bad in my first few screens, I’ve sent a complaint through to Warner Brothers. Here’s the email, which, based on the auto-response will never be read as it’s been classified as spam.
1. Restricting the game to users who have a Facebook is poor. There is no need to do this, games like this should be playable without forcing me to share my personal profile. In order to create an account, give me the OPTION of using facebook (or another OAuth/authentification tool) but allow straight forward account login. Don’t add barriers to your users.
2. On deciding to connect with Facebook, it rightly asks me a series of questions about what rights I will give the game. However, it then decides to keep asking the question about allowing the game to post to my updates. (on logging in at different computers). If you want me to spread the word about the game – make a GOOD game. then I’ll do something about it. Don’t impose your need to broadcast your messages onto my friends.
3. When I decided to play alone, the site is broken. there appears to be no way to play the game that way, despite offering that option. There’s nothing to click on.
4. When trying to partner up with a fellow player, the gameplay is definitely broken. We’re both in the game, we’re friends on Facebook, but if we try and invite the other to be our partner, the only message it sends is that the other person has given up on you and has gone away (plus a link to the site). Looking at forums, it appears the only way this works is if the the potential partner is not already signed into the game. I understand why you may want a distribution mechanism, to force people to invite ‘new’ players, but the implementation is extremely bad and just gives the impression that it’s broken and you have failed to test.
So that’s it. What I see is a design team running through the various ‘must have’ elements, putting them in place, without thinking them through properly, to allow all to play the game (well, all if have flash). Not a good first impression.
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