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  links for 2007-09-21  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Dance Revolution Hits ‘Kaneva’  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Virtual world Kaneva is gearing up for what it calls the "world's largest online dance game" with Dance Party 3D, an expansion pack which will pit player versus player in a battle for dance-floor domination.

I'm not sure how Dance Party 3D, which hasn't even begun to catch on, could claim to be "larger" than the ragingly-popular South Korean dance game Audition Online. The latter boasts half a million concurrent players and 50M registered users, according to the Wikipedia--based on reports from my South Korean game design students, the game is extremely widely-played in their part of the world.

Dubious claims aside, Dance Party 3D seems to be a pretty clever add-on to Kaneva (itself built on a game platform), even if the artwork and character models for the game look like crap. Pre-paid "party cards" will be available at Target, one of America's largest retailers, this fall. The cards are used to acquire so-called "bonus dance gear," however no amount of money will buy you a sense of style.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-09-17  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Ignoring Spammers in ‘City of Heroes’  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A software update to the massively-multiplayer game City of Heroes yesterday included a chat command ("/ignore_spammer") intended to give players the ability to mute and report spammers sending out "tells" (personal chat messages) advertising gray-market services such as real-money trading web sites.

This sounds like it could be a good idea at first, but I think the maintainers of the game are ultimately in for some headaches. First of all, the /ignore_spammer command is meant to be followed up with a /petition command--so that's doubled the number of potential customer service calls where spammers are concerned. Secondly, what's to stop players from maliciously applying /ignore_spammer to those they wish to incriminate? If each case has to be reviewed individually--perhaps involving digging into chat records, or mediating disputes--that's a hell of a lot of work. Not to mention that /ignore_spammer won't stop the City of Heroes equivalent of raining gnomes or other non-chat-related spamming. I have to assume spamming in City of Heroes is problematic enough that adding a spam-specific new chat command was worth it, but the system doesn't seem very well planned.
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  What Can Video Games Learn From Alternate Reality Games?  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-07 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
What can the video game industry learn from Alternate Reality Games? Lots, I wager. And so I put together a SXSW panel proposal on the topic. The challenge now, aside from getting people to vote the panel into existence, is finding a particular kind of ARG expert (could be designers, producers, community leaders) who has an informed opinion about improving the way video games are made, distributed, marketed, and played. I've already sent a few notes out to the usual suspects, but I figured I'd cast a wider net by posting a call-out here. Never know who you're going to catch.

Drop me a line [tony at secretlair dot com] if you'd like to be added to the list of prospective panelists (looking for about 4 people on the panel), or if you have any specific questions about the panel thanks!
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-09-06  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  ‘Command & Conquer’ Invades Google Earth  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Game publisher/developer Electronic Arts has unleashed hordes of war machines across Google Earth, turning a layer of the 3D planet-viewer into the violent world of Command & Conquer 3. In effect, this is an officially-sanctioned mashup between a game world and the real world: gamers were invited to showcase their talent by bringing models from the game into Google Earth through Google Sketchup, a streamlined 3D-modeling tool, and placing them on the globe.

"Tiberium Earth" can be viewed by clicking this Google Earth link [kmz file], and models from the game are available via Google's 3D Warehouse. It's encouraging to see a mega-corporation like EA facilitate loosen its grip on one of its games to allow fan input and participation.

[via SLOG.com]
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  Where ‘BioShock’ Lost Me  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Cold flecks of brine grinding against my lungs, I swim for dear life from the burning wreckage of the plane crash, flames painting deadly daubs of orange on the slick, black waves. I spy something massive, solid, unmoving despite the seas, and crawl desperately toward the oppressive structure for safety. But there would be no safety in the belly of this man-made whale, I was soon to discover.

The Bioshock game demo had me at "hello," but it lost me almost as quickly. On the one hand, I'm immersed in a gorgeously-rendered, wonderfully-crafted storyworld. On the other, any mysteries concerning the nature of my enemies are dashed: when spotted, their names are superimposed on my screen, like exotic zoo animals subtitled in an educational video. Gone is any illusion that this undersea city is teeming with individual, unpredictable threats. My assailants are like an army of robots, each having a specific name, function, and set of characteristics. Which makes no sense given BioShock's biotechnology-gone-horribly-awry storyline. Each enemy in this story should be unique. And if not unique, then God forbid a precise taxonomy can describe their limited variations. My immersion destroyed, the game becomes just another shooter.

Continue reading: Where ‘BioShock’ Lost Me
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-08-26  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ Tabletop Goes Digital  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I first started playing the legendary tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons around 1980 with my grade-school friends, so it's with a veteran's eye I've watched the game morph over the years and through its various editions. Although I haven't been following D&D closely, my understanding is that the game has been "dumbed down" in recent years in order to lower the barrier to participation. In the last year or so, it seems to have returned to its roots as little more than a miniatures-based battle game.

Earlier this month the 4th Edition of D&D was announced, including D&D Insider, an internet-based platform for the game allowing players to connect remotely. Today, technology developer Vivox (about which I've previously written) announced it will be bringing voice communication to D&D Insider. So much for the venerable tabletop.

Maybe I'm wallowing in nostalgia, but the best role-playing game experiences usually involve face-to-face participation. I ran a 3 year-long D&D campaign using Neverwinter Nights a few years ago, and while the digital environment is great for bringing people together from all parts of the world, it lacks the visceral quality that tabletop and live-action gaming is drenched in. Scenes painted by the human imagination trump the best computer graphics any day of the week.
 
     
 
   
 
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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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