2015-2016 : “nope.”, social game

The idea

The app “nope.” was born from seeing two friends arguing. They were constantly using the Facebook “poke” functionality, which sends a notification to the “poked” user, and allows them to do the same in return.

Through their constant use, they were arguing about who had “won” their “poke battle”, which meant had sent a poke to the other person that they hadn’t seen, and responded to, for many hours

The idea to make this the basis of a game was born from there: “nope.” is a game in which users can send their adversaries “nopes” (pokes equivalent), which triggers a notification to the opposite player, letting him know that it is now his turn to answer.

While the opposite player hasn’t answered, the player who sent a “nope” gets points (a time credit counting to his advantage), and the winning person is easily identifiable by comparing the time counters of each player.

The implementation

Just like for my previous game, the objective for me as I wrote this game was to improve my skills as a JavaScript developer. It is for that reason that “nope.” was both a webapp, available on the (now down) www.nope.wtf website, and via a mobile app which could be installed using the Google Play Store. Both shared the same code basis.

Iterating on the design

The first iteration of the game implemented the functionality describe before and worked as expected, but quickly revealed a design issue: if a player forgot to play long enough, they’d get a disadvantage they could not ever catch up.

The second iteration of the game saw the introduction of “rounds”, won or lost by players after one of them gained a sufficient time advantage over the other player. Winning a round would reset counters, and allow users a fresh start.

Starting from the second iteration, some of my friends became real fans of the game. The third iteration saw the introduction of a mechanic allowing players to conclude a truce, which would temporarily freeze the counters. Implementing this functionality was really important, as the game had an impact on some players, who woke up at night to play and score points while their opponents were sleeping!

In the same fashion, the fourth iteration of the game improved on the truce mechanism by allowing players to force a truce to happen (whereas before it needed to be a bilateral agreement). This was again necessary to stop disadvantaging players who went to sleep earlier than others.

Finally, in order to gamify the app, trophies were add to the game, to reward the players who accomplished specific actions, like answer to a “nope” in 666 seconds.

Post-mortem

“nope.” is a project I like working on a lot, and one of the reasons for that is the fact that this game was a small success, with my friends seriously playing against each other for weeks, introducing the app to other people. Some developer coworkers of mine even developed bots to cheat!

But “nope.” is also a project that had conceptual limits from the start, and may have lasted longer if it had been built as an app on Facebook than as a full-fledged game. After a while, the interest in the game waned, and I ended up closing “nope.” after a server crash in 2018