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 twoedugames 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.
Free to play MMO Dungeon Runners will soon be sodden with in-game ads. The only reason this could work is that DR is a "comedy" rather than "serious" virtual world, therefore a Coke ad in the town square isn't entirely objectionable.
Excellent case for iterative, rapid prototyping. "Give yourself a short period of time to 'find the fun' in a design... If the fun isn't there, move on... If you do fail, it isn't the end of the world."
A pat on the head goes a long way to increase sales, according to a new study: "...in general, game titles that have a higher volume of Accomplishments correlate with both a higher Metacritic Metascore and higher gross sales in the United States."
A plastic guitar or drum set might be an obvious choice for a music-game controller, but not everyone's ready to shell out for one-shot items ultimately destined for landfill. A smarter play might be to design music games for standard controllers instead--the challenge for users here is to squeeze great music out of an unfamiliar instrument.
My brother Joel has started doing some practical R&D towards the goal of "allowing anyone to pick up a game controller and make awesome music with it." A newcomer to game development but an experienced musician and audio engineer, Joel's got a great sense play, a brain for making things work, and a passion for sound. He's posted his first YouTube video. In it, he's using a PS2 controller as a MIDI device (musical instrument), triggering sounds and breakbeats through a combination of audio programs. Wild stuff. Can't wait to follow Joel's adventures in game development, but of course I'm biased :)
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.
Everybody and their dog wants to be the go-to hub for metaverse metrics. Phase 1: "[identify] standards for key activity and economy metrics, and [publish] technological information." Plus, solicit funding.
Fantastic, ongoing success story of Toronto-based indie game developers Metanet, a 2-person team whose highly playable Flash-based platformer "N" paved the way to mainstream console / handheld game development.
Scathing review: Mixed reality art installation involving recreating Second Life space in the real world seems to have come off as an advertisement. How are we to appropriately make art using a corporately-owned virtual world, author asks.
As far as I can tell, this is the only official There blog in existence. There are a few fan-blogs out there, but not many. Sadly, the official one is drop-dead dull, utterly invalidating the "Fun" part of its title.
New version of There fashion-creation tool has been published, including some functional improvements, 2 new boot templates, and 2 new hat templates. Finally, your avatar can wear a backwards baseball cap...
Steven Davis explains the difference between Real Money Transactions (RMT) and Microtransactions. RMT is player-to-player, whereas a Microtransaction is game operator-to-player. In case you didn't know.
Concept technology using a Newton-sized handheld computer to display augmented reality images. Not sold on the form-factor, but the idea of a consumer-level AR handheld is appealing. Obviously plenty of gaming potential.
I spent a few hours yesterday playing the highly-anticipated Xbox 360 shooter Halo 3 on-site at Xbox Canada's PR company, leaving with a review copy of the Limited Edition double-disk set. I plan on writing a full review in the future, but for now, my first impressions are this: If you love Halo, you'll love Halo 3. Like a Japanese mud-ball, Halo 3 is simply a more shiny version of previous editions. The best feature of the game, in my opinion, is its facilitation of shared user-created game content and machinima.
"Although some game levels require all enemies to be eliminated before allowing progression, most can be easily blitzed through. Given the scarcity of certain items, and the constant urging by other characters to make haste, it's a reasonable strategy to completing the game..."
Halo 3 actually seems easier than Halo 2. There's very little resistance from point A to point B, which will probably suit my new lifestyle quite well--looking after a 2 month-old baby really puts a damper on intensive game play. Given the apparent ease of game-play, I almost wonder if Bungie designed it for people like me. I'm pretty sure hardcore gamers will need to crank up the challenge-level to get much enjoyment out of the single-player campaign.
Bungie's upcoming Halo 3 multi-player shooter will not only support real-time collaborative level-building, but facilitate sharing of said levels amongst the game's players. Bungie's "Forge" object layout editor, provides eerily-similar functionality to "Garry's Mod" for Half-Life 2. With Forge, players modify Halo levels (solo or with friends) using interaction methods learned through game play, manipulating existing objects, creating new ones, and deleting what doesn't amuse. Forge-spawned maps can be played as Custom Games, or shared along with saved game-films, game variants, and screenshots.
Summary of $10,000 report says by adding multi-player online capabilities to games, "developers can generally double the amount of money your game makes." High quality games "can sell up to 531 percent more than the average."
Not sure how complete this is, but it's a compiled list of data supplied from various sources indicating the largest sales, player- and server-bases. Top 5: Counter-Strike, RuneScape, WoW, The Sims, and Halo. Nods to Diablo, Call of Duty, and Quake.
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!