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  Quick Links for 2007-11-28  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-28 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Warcraft’ Ads Mainstream The MMO  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Blizzard has released a pair of comedic World of Warcraft commercials, destined for (presumably American) national TV, featuring William Shatner's alter ego as a Shaman and Mr. T's alter ego as a "Mohawk" Night Elf. The game is already no stranger to television, having been referenced in an episode of game show Jeopardy in 2005, featured in an episode of South Park last year and in a recent Toyota ad.

I see Blizzard's new ads as a confirmation of the mainstreaming of World of Warcraft specifically, and of MMOs in general: If pop culture icons are living in virtual worlds, anyone can. Granted, Shatner and Mr. T might not carry the cool-factor-style endorsement younger stars provide, but as more celebrity gamers come out of the closet (regardless of whether they're for real or paid poseurs), MMO lifestyles are going to gain increasing social acceptance.

In another few years, having an avatar alter ego is simply going to be a fact of life, facilitated in part by the future domination of the "free to play" MMO model. As a result, avatar support services will become more visible, from in-world makeovers; parents grinding for their kids; and the usual power-leveling / gold farming / gray-market virtual trading businesses.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Poll: Kids and Parents Don’t [Ok, Maybe They Do] Game Together  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Associated Press (via CNN) reports results from a poll released this week, which found that parents don't play computer and video games with kids:
  • 81% of kids aged 4 - 17 play games "at least occasionally."
  • 38% of adults play games "at least occasionally."
  • 44% of adults play online.
  • 43% of kids who play games don't play them with their parents. [Update: Matt Mihaly says the other 57% must be playing with their parents, meaning kids and parents DO play together.]
  • 30% of parents who play with their kids spend under 1 hour weekly doing so.
  • 50% of adults and kids play more than 2 hours of games weekly. 50% of adults and kids play less. Roughly 30% [not clear if it's both kids and adults] play 5 hours or more weekly.
  • 59% of adults aged 18 - 29 play "at least sometimes," said to be "double the rate" for adults aged 50 - 64
  • 31% of adults prefer casual games
  • Roughly 16% of adults prefer action games, "the next most popular alternative [to casual games]."
  • "About half of women cited casual games as their favorites, triple the number of men who did so, while twice as many males than females preferred action games."
  • "26 percent said they spent nothing on the pastime last year, another 46 percent spent up to $200 and 12 percent spent $500 or more, with men usually the bigger spenders."
  • "Price is the chief factor for people purchasing a gaming console, followed by the availability of games."
The poll, conducted by AP and AOL Games, surveyed just over 2,000 adults last month. 770 of these said they play digital games.

I'm not terribly surprised by the results finding parents and kids don't enjoy screen time together--not only does each group enjoy its own type of games, most computer games in a single household are played solo (you don't often find dad and son crouched behind the same computer screen). Furthermore, and this is simply my opinion, parents seem to be taking a less active role in the media consumption habits of their kids as each year passes. More family-oriented games, please.
 
     
 
   
 
  6 comments  
  ‘Tale of Tales’ Interviews CMP’s Simon Carless  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Simon Carless, editor and publisher with the CMP Game Group (Game Developer Magazine, Gamasutra, GameSetWatch and more) was cornered by independent art-game maker Tale of Tales earlier this year. Tale of Tales published the interview over this past weekend, touching on Carless' background, his shift towards business/product management of CMP's many game-related initiatives, and discussing today's independent game scene.

As Chairman of the Independent Games Festival, Carless helps to shape the future of indie gaming. He told Tale of Tales that the rise of independent developers is due both to game-industry veterans forming their own teams, and "bedroom programmers" publishing on the web and making money by running ads. Although not business-focused, Tale of Tales is a very strong artistic contender in the indie arena, having launched the acclaimed Endless Forest microworld in 2005 and The Path, its entry into the 2008 Independent Games Festival.
 
     
 
   
 
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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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  Iron Realms Entertainment Spins Out ‘Spark’  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Iron Realms Entertainment Spins Out ‘Spark’
Iron Realms Entertainment, maker of fine text MUDs and MMOs since 1997, has been hard at work on its first furry-friendly graphical MMO entitled Earth Eternal. The company announced this week that it has launched a shiny new branch and brand, Sparkplay Media, specifically to handle the development of Earth Eternal (set for launch in 2008) and future games geared to casual gamers (two of these are slated for 2009).

Rumor has it that the team's pulled off some cunning technical stunts within the confines of the game's browser-based shell. I hope to be able to sneak a peek at what Sparkplay is up to and provide a follow-up report in the next couple of weeks.
 
     
 
   
 
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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’
 
     
 
   
 
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  I Adored My 64 (My ‘Commodore 64’)  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-25 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I Adored My 64 (My ‘Commodore 64’)
Gamasutra digs deep into A History of Gaming Platforms: The Commodore 64 in the online magazine's latest feature. Ah, Commodore 64, how I loved you and each one of your 16 on-screen colors, your simple operating system, and your advanced sound chip.

Of course what really made the C64 shine for me was its games. Favorites included Archon and its sequel Adept, Paradroid, Impossible Mission, M.U.L.E. and Pool of Radiance. Most of these had great game-play that still stands up today, graphics be damned.

I'm not wallowing in nostalgia, but when I was a kid, we had "floppy" disks the size of ham-sandwiches...
 
     
 
   
 
  6 comments  
  A Little Toronto Gaming Action  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Here's a handful of local gaming items for my fellow Torontonians:

1) Three former students of mine have formed their own game development company, chiefly using Flash and Virtools as development platforms. They have recently finished two edugames and are looking for a business manager to help their startup get a foothold in the services market:
The ideal business manager will be an enterprising visionary with a strong desire to make a name for his or her self in the video game industry, be a rain maker able to develop business, and be a project manager able to coach a highly creative team toward on-time completion. On top of all of these hard skills, the right business manager will be an individual of superior character with a heart of gold.
This team is creative, hard-working, and driven--if you can help them, please send an email to photius at shannonware dot com.

2) Every Wednesday at the College St. Diner / Tiger Bar: Show off your Guitar Hero II skillz. "Super Cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon" and no cover. Scary.

Continue reading: A Little Toronto Gaming Action
 
     
 
   
 
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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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