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  Toronto Joins ‘Half-Life 2’ Conflict  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Canada's largest city becomes the backdrop for an alien invasion in City 7: Toronto Conflict, an unofficial expansion to the Half-Life 2 story created by a team of George Brown College students lead by instructor Sean Guadron. The initiative was the first thesis project of the College's postgraduate Game Design program (in which I teach several courses), now in its third academic year.

City 7: Toronto Conflict puts the player in Gordon Freeman's well-worn boots as he teleports unexpectedly into Mel Lastman square, raining carnage upon a variety of other well-known Toronto landmarks, all recreated faithfully by the students, who spent months taking photos of the city, mapping game levels based on real locations, and making detailed models including recognizable street furniture. The project also involved a scripted storyline and original voice acting.

The expansion has enjoyed more success than its creators hoped for, getting published via DVD in PC Games and PC Action magazines in Europe, and written up on a variety of web sites, including GameSpy, which recommended the student-made project as an alternative to the official Half-Life 2 expansion pack. Personally, I found the landmark recreations to be very impressive--anyone familiar with the city is bound to agree. Congratulations to the team on the recognition they've received.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-11-08  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  My New Crush: ‘Tower Defense’  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-07 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Please help me. I've become hooked on the dangerously-addictive Flash game Desktop Tower Defense after playing it under a dozen times. The first time I was exposed to the "tower defense" concept was through a custom-made Warcraft III mod (like this one here) one of my students showed me last year. The idea is simple: Plan, build, and maintain a defense system which automatically destroys waves of brainless attackers. The Warcraft version didn't pique my interest--it seemed too "busy," but the Flash version cuts to the chase, throwing out the fancy graphics in favor of finely-tuned game-play. The addictive nature of the game--for me, anyway--is in discovering optimal strategies for play given that the configuration of in-game defenses is limitless.

Continue reading: My New Crush: ‘Tower Defense’
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
  Twitter Application For Facebook: I Don’t Care If You’re ‘Twittering’  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-02 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I've been done with Twitter for about 4 months now. It just didn't gel for me. But for some reason, Facebook status updates were easier to make. Thanks to an update to the Twitter application for Facebook, it's possible to update one's Facebook status through Twitter, killing two birds with one stone--perhaps enough reason to twitter again.

The downside is that Twitter seems to think it's important for people on Facebook to know you've posted from Twitter, adding "is twittering" to your status update. Example:
Stowe Boyd is twittering: Lying in bed this morning, before really awake, I had several good ideas almost at the same time. Odd. Good.
What we have here is information overload in a Facebook status update, and a source of potential confusion for Facebook users who aren't familiar with Twitter: Why is Stowe twittering? What's twittering? Why do we need to know he's twittering instead of doing something else? Bad.
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  What’s ‘Fair Game’ In Alternate Reality?  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-01 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The 40th episode of the ARG Netcast features a great discussion about what constitutes "fair game" in Alternate Reality Game play based on what players are willing and able to do versus what the puppetmasters have planned. In my opinion as a contributing designer/writer to such games, the "this is not a game" conceit which largely defined the genre early on is a double-edged sword.

If, as a puppetmaster, you decide that "this is not a game," you had better ensure your not-game is sealed airtight against the deep digging some players are willing to do. Such digging (discussed in the netcast) includes brute-force password hacking, intensive sleuthing for the real-life people (game makers, actors) behind the scenes, or decompiling Flash executable files to search for revealing clues.

In my opinion, if you're making a not-game, you have to accept that this means there are no rules. I think players are entitled to use whatever means necessary to dissect a not-game for clues, provided they obey social contracts and actual laws. Like supervillains, puppetmasters often overestimate the sanctity of their secret plans due to conceit: Surely they're more clever than the heroes. And we all know how that turns out.

Continue reading: What’s ‘Fair Game’ In Alternate Reality?
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Quick Links for 2007-10-31  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-31 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Monsterpocalypse’: The Miniature Giant Monster Game  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Back in high-school my friends and I developed a tabletop miniature game involving B-movie style giant monsters. We unimaginatively dubbed it The Monster Game and tinkered feverishly with its mechanics (and creating variants such as Monsterball) for at least a couple years. That's why the 14 year-old in me is giddy as a schoolboy at the news that Monsterpocalypse, a collectible miniatures game involving giant monsters, is planned for release next year by Privateer Press. Obviously there are going to be plenty of crazy-looking, pre-painted miniatures involved (something like 80 in the initial set), but I'm particularly excited at the prospect of miniature destructible buildings. Me smash! Rarrrr!

I'm rather out of the loop in terms of CMGs (collectible miniatures games), but the three things that strike me most about the genre are:
1) Isn't mass-producing these things an incredible waste of precious oil resources?
2) I pity the poor bastards who have to paint those things for my gaming pleasure. Sweatshops, I'm sure.
3) Proprietary, stats-locked systems like HeroClix cramp my style. If I can't tinker with it, I ain't buying it.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-10-30  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘LivePlanet’ Dies In ‘Second Life,’ ‘Warcraft’  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
As I predicted, a pair of news sites launched by LivePlanet to report on social world Second Life and game world World of Warcraft failed to live up to expectations.

Neither Grid World News, which aimed to be "the premier media outlet for Second Life," and Azeroth World News, which boasted it would "exclusively report all the news within the [Warcraft] universe," have been updated since the beginning of October, after having been announced a few months earlier. Judging by the site archives, activity was most frequent in the summer of 2007, when the projects were announced. Contributions seem to have dwindled significantly since then, with next to no obvious input (in the form of blog comments) from either Second Life users or Warcraft players.

Continue reading: ‘LivePlanet’ Dies In ‘Second Life,’ ‘Warcraft’
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  ‘Food Fight’: A Tasty Revenue Model  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Free to Play provides an in-depth analysis of the popular Facebook game Food Fight, reckoning that the game rakes in about $6.6M annually, but cost under $100k to develop.

When I spent some time with Facebook's games earlier this year, I was impressed by the popularity of some, such as the Zombies! game, which had 1.3M users a few months ago and was growing at about 45 users per minute. It seemed clear that Facebook could be a lucrative platform for web games, and as it turns out, Food Fight is a perfect, living example.

According to Free to Play, Food Fight's road to monetization was paved by a simple switch in the way the game works. Initially, players had a pool of virtual cash used to buy and hurl virtual food at each other. This was recently changed so that players must respond to a short marketing survey in order to earn the virtual cash. Profit!
 
     
 
   
 
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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