Office & Co
Office & Co was released to the public on Facebook in 2010.
Platform: Facebook
Developed by: Ubisoft Vancouver
Format: Facebook (Flash)
Office & Co was a comedy take on the Mafia Wars RPG concept, as if that game was mashed with the humor of Office drama properties like Office Space and Dilbert, and was released exclusively for Facebook (at the time making tons of money thanks to games like Farmville.) With the studio fresh off one football game and growing tired of the other, myself and some excess staff were pulled onto the project.

Development

Of course, there were problems to contend with. Nobody on the team had Facebook experience. Even flash experience was minimal. Facebook itself had hardly anything like the SDK it has today, or the rules on feeds and privacy. My team was filled with developers who switched off one or both of the football games, eager to keep busy and not quite sure how to interpret the social gaming craze. And most importantly, we had little to no experience in networks and internet engineering, which turn out to be pretty important when you run online services.

Nonetheless, we shipped (“published”) a game. Our engineers picked up MySQL, flash, and whatever else was needed to get it running. Our artists pulled out the content. I designed a game (campaign, mechanics and all) and packed it full of those microtransaction nutrients the platform survives on. And our producer was the valiant shield, keeping our Ubisoft parents patient while we figured out exactly how the heck to make the platform work.

Aftermath

Working with Facebook as a platform was a struggle. There were a hundred different approaches to marketing, design, and retention. The game was well received internally, but was slow to make money, a problem made far worse when Microsoft decided to lease the floors above us and begin a massive hiring campaign. Eventually the game had no choice but to close down.