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  EA Grabs Your ‘Spore Creature Creator’ IP  
 
 
Posted 2008-06-28 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Talk about harshing my buzz. Electronic Arts is going to let us design creatures with its long-awaited Spore game and stand-alone Creature Creator, but in using the game and creator, we agree to hand over all rights in our creations to the megalithic publisher, including the right to "further modify" the creations. So much for using Spore as a sketchpad for creature concepts.

In my legally-ignorant view, EA should have no IP rights in how I assemble the building blocks it supplies. That's like LEGO claiming ownership over everything we build, or Adobe claiming ownership over images run through Photoshop. The way I see it, creature designers are creating new IP with a tool set they paid for--why should we give EA our work, except for the exclusive purpose of sharing with other creature creators in the way the game was designed?

Continue reading: EA Grabs Your ‘Spore Creature Creator’ IP
 
     
 
   
 
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  Policing Role-Play In ‘Age of Conan’  
 
 
Posted 2008-05-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The operator of the upcoming adult-oriented Age of Conan MMO intends to establish strict rules about role-playing on designated servers, according to an official community bulletin. This might be great news for role-play enthusiasts, but I have to wonder if AoC's operator has a plan to police and enforce its own proposed rules. Any such plan must involve human moderators at some point along the chain (software isn't smart enough for the job), which is an awfully costly investment in role-playing, if you ask me.

Names from outside the 'Conan' universe (as in, from another fantasy universe, such as Pokemon) are not allowed. Names from inside the 'Conan' universe (such as Conan) are also not allowed. Neither are derivatives or sound-alike names. Out of character chat is to be "avoided." Making fun of role-players is not allowed. Using role-play to justify immersion-breaking actions and exploits is not allowed. Interfering with in-progress community-driven role-playing events (such as a wedding) is not allowed.

These rules are setting the game operators up for major headaches. A good rule is one which doesn't need to be discussed--it's simply incontrovertible. These are bad rules. Not only do they require human supervision, they are open to interpretation. Who's going to moderate player names, and when will that moderation occur? How much out of character chat is acceptable, and when is it acceptable to speak OOC. What if the sight of weddings drives my character into a berserker rage--isn't it about my immersion, too? What if my entire clan of players has an in-character grudge against that wedding?

Unless the rules are tightened up, enforced transparently, frequently and consistently, the whole system's going to spiral out of control. Transparent enforcement (i.e. we see who was busted for what, and how the policing or punishment was carried out) and frequent enforcement are expensive. Consistent enforcement is sure to be a joke--I can't even go to a bank and get the same answer about the same question from 5 different tellers.
 
     
 
   
 
  4 comments  
  SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Human and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
SXWi 2008 rough notes: "Human Rights and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds"

Susan Wu- If we don't address legal issues as publishers and developers, we will lose control [presumably through regulation]

Scenario: Your Tier 5 armor which took 6 months to acquire gets nerfed, do you have legal protection against devaluation?

Eric Bethke- No.

Boyd- Game world designers should have control over that decision [to nerf the armor, I think].

Scenario: You lose equipment following a server crash, do you have the right to have that property replaced?

Andrew Schneider- yes

Bethke- yes
Boyd- publishers can treat you however they want within the law. If I were running a game I would bend over backwards to give it back.

Schneider- This is all covered in EULAs, ToS, how rules are communicated to gamers

Continue reading: SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Human and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds
 
     
 
   
 
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  Evil Video Streams Threaten ‘Second Life’ Cashflow: Report  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-01 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Linden Lab has warned users of Second Life that QuickTime-based video streams may be used to "crash or exploit" Second Life's client software. The Mercury News paints a more sinister picture, alerting us that "security researchers have found a flaw in Second Life virtual world [sic] that allows them to strip a user’s character of all of its in-world money."

Since Second Life currency is easily converted to American dollars, there's a real risk here: Users of the virtual world may have dozens to hundreds to thousands of "Linden Dollars" on hand at any time. In the past 24 hours, the equivalent of about $1.5M USD has flowed through the system. So how to avoid getting robbed? Linden Lab's advice is for users to turn off video streaming, despite the company's ability to turn off streaming for all users across the virtual world until Apple fixes QuickTime. This strategy is reactive in my view, as Linden Lab plans only to act if it discovers a malicious stream. Affected users will receive "appropriate assistance," whatever that means.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  Quick Links for 2007-11-28  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-28 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  ‘Habbo’ Heist Leads To Arrest  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Beeb reports that a 17 year-old Dutch teen stands accused of stealing 4,000 euros worth of Habbo Hotel virtual furniture, with 5 other teens allegedly moving the stolen virtual goods into their own Habbo rooms. I can't help but laugh at these witless kids, who would apparently rather steal furniture than give out virtual hand-jobs. Everyone knows furni-whores get theirs for free.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Quick Links for 2007-10-31  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-31 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-10-24  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-24 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  ‘Eye of Judgment’ Blind to Cheating?  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-15 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
When I first read about PS3 augmented reality game Eye of Judgment, it didn't even occur to me that cheating would be an issue. Surely Sony had planned ahead and would be able to prevent players from pulling the wool over their Eye cameras.

Security expert Steven Davis brought my attention to the cheating issue in his analysis of Eye of Judgment as revealed in a Wired blog post:Wired article explaining Sony's anti-cheating strategy:
"Sony, as a thoughtful designer, had to consider how to handle cheating with their card game... after all, if players manipulate the deck, they can gain a substantial advantage. The solution, as described by Susan Arendt of Wired, is to have the console shuffle the cards and then tell the player which one comes out."
Eons ago, I used to work as a clerk in an all-night copy shop, and having seen everything from counterfeit currency to bootlegged public-transit tickets, I wondered if Sony had considered what comes naturally when you put a flat object of value, people and a color copier (or scanner and ink-jet printer) together in private. Apparently not--the cards don't appear to come with copy-protection measures, such as a unique serial number.

Eye of Judgment: Broken.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  links for 2007-09-24  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-24 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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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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