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  links for 2007-07-09  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  WiiWare vs. Everybody Votes  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Game Set Watch is polling its readers on the recently-announced WiiWare channel for the Nintendo Wii Console: "Do you want to see Nintendo going after great-looking Flash games or existing indies... Do you want only to see titles that make unique use of the Wiimote, or are ones using the 'classic'-style controls perfectly acceptable? ...is it better to have a more open playing-field, so that we get lots of content from all sizes of creator ...Or should it be a little more highly selective ...?"

Great questions. I'd like to know the answers, too, and I think getting to those answers can be made a function of the WiiWare channel. First, WiiWare would have to be opened up as much as possible. Let rank amateurs in to the same arena as professionals by lowering the barriers to entry--this would include an inexpensive developer fee and some way to fast-track submissions through the ESRB (or some sort of content-filtering) system.

Then, we'd have gamers vote the best games into the spotlight. There's already a voting feature available for the Wii. It's called "Everybody Votes," and allows Wii users to weigh in on lightweight topics like "Sasquatch or Nessie?" What if Everybody Votes was mashed up with WiiWare? Voting could be limited to one vote per console per game, thus reducing or eliminating ballot-stacking. I'd rather have gamers tell me what's worth playing than Nintendo.
 
     
 
   
 
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  The Games of Facebook  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-28 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Aside from the obvious "Facebook as a collecting game," the crazy-popular social networking service does provide other avenues for play, made possible by opening itself up as a development platform last month. There are already over 140 game applications available at the time of this writing, ranging from various implementations of folk-game 'Rock, Paper, Scissors,' to Facebook-specific games such as Poke Wars.

As I see it, the advantage to developing a Facebook game is the ability to reach players easily by word of mouth, particularly if the game contains social or viral hooks. The most popular game at this time is (fluff)Friends (more of a virtual pet application than game), which has reached over 656,000 users, followed by branded RoShamBo game Red Bull Roshambull with over 287k users, and a multi-player games network with over 280k users. Moderately-popular games have several thousands of players while the least popular games have a few dozen players or less.

Based on what I'm seeing in the list of games, it can't be too hard to port previously-created material into Facebook (although I'd be interested to know exactly how much effort it takes to slap a Flash game into a Facebook app), and also possible to run one's own monetization systems (such as Google AdSense). Seems like fertile territory for development--might be worth checking the game landscape again in a month or two.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Third Party MMO Sites Cash Out  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-23 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Wowhead.com, a third-party site for players of World of Warcraft, has been sold for a reported sum of over $1 million USD. Wowhead is one of several resources for Warcraft players, offering a thorough database cataloging all known items and non-player characters within the game. Tech Soapbox author Ahmed Farooq says Wowhead was an instant hit, being faster and sleeker than competing resources.

Elsewhere in the metaverse, third-party Second Life news site SL Reports has reportedly been sold for the equivalent of $10k USD in virtual currency. According to SLNN.com, "What started with a few friends reading it turned into a site with 7000 hits a week and over 15000 group members." Can't say I see the value here. As far as I can tell SL Reports is simply re-posting entire passages penned by outside journalists. And 7,000 weekly hits ain't all that--Clickable Culture gets about 200 times that. Not to mention "hits" is a terrible way to measure traffic. It's like the dot com bomb all over again...
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘EVE TV’ Launch Imminent  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-22 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
EVE TV, a weekly web-exclusive video series revolving around sci-fi MMO EVE Online, launches June 23, 2007 at 11:00 GMT. The series brings together four conventionally-attractive presenters who are relatively new to the EVE universe, and one veteran gamer with previous editorial and broadcast experience, dosing viewers with both eye- and brain-candy.

While the series tagline is "play it, live it, watch it," it remains to be seen how many people will prefer to play and live EVE over watching EVE TV once weekly. CCP, maker of EVE, first broadcast live audio and video programs last July during a fan festival. The broadcast included a 95-match tournament, allowing viewers to see and hear all matches with commentary. I can see tournament footage being worthwhile viewing, I'm just not yet convinced a weekly broadcast about the EVE universe is going to be compelling enough--or interesting at all to outsiders. Guess I'll have to tune in on June 23!
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘More Research Needed’ in Linking Video Games With Negative Behaviour  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The American Medical Association's Council on Science and Public Health has issued a report entitled "Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games" which taps into 22 years of scientific literature drawn from the PubMed database. The report contains no new findings, but does provide a handy summary of previous investigation into the impact of video games on health.

The Council on Science and Public Health report refers only to the "potential" benefits and detrimental effects of games, referring to studies which showed an "association" between gaming and negative behavior. This seems a more sensible stance than the one taken by Dr. Peter Jaffe, a University of Western Ontario professor, who contended earlier this year that the effects of entertainment violence (including video games) on children "are measurable and long lasting." My question "Does Violent Media Cause Violence, Or Doesn't It?" still stands--the report indicates "more research" is needed to connect video game content with negative behavior.

Continue reading: ‘More Research Needed’ in Linking Video Games With Negative Behaviour
 
     
 
   
 
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  Child Porn Panic Hits ‘Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2007-05-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
As recently reported in the Second Life Herald, Second Life Insider, and acknowledged by Linden Lab, German TV network ARD has revealed Second Life depictions of child porn to national viewers and authorities.

Linden Lab explained yesterday that it was contacted last week by ARD, which presented footage of an adult and child avatar "engaged in depicted sexual conduct." The virtual-world maker assured readers of its blog that both participants were adults, and were "immediately banned from Second Life." Apparently, an ARD reporter also found pictures inside the virtual world described as "sexual photographs involving a child," and ARD reportedly handed over the images to German authorities. Linden Lab's requests for the location of the photos in-world have not been responded to, according to the company's blog.

Continue reading: Child Porn Panic Hits ‘Second Life’
 
     
 
   
 
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  IBM Rolls Its Own Virtual World  
 
 
Posted 2007-05-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
IBM staffers have created their own metaverse, according to eightbar, a blog authored by staffers of the company's "Innovate Quick" team. IBM recently announced plans to roll out a high-powered server capable of running massive virtual worlds, and has been tinkering with Second Life for about a year.

The IBM-created virtual world was spurred by "a desire to have a more secure intranet environment where [the team] can meet and explore the potential technology and social implications," writes eightbar contributor Ian Hughes, adding that "We in the IQ team are certainly not trying to be Second Life. We are however using some of the elements of virtual presence, and examining the potential balance of content creation versus deployable content in a business context."

The company is using Garage Games' Torque Game Engine, a low-cost game platform supporting dozens of simultaneous users (about as many as a single Second Life area). Hughes writes that the team is integrating their Torque-based virtual world with existing IBM communications systems: "What we need is the ability to gather some people together and use the human aspects of the avatar interaction to be more effective in our communications."

Continue reading: IBM Rolls Its Own Virtual World
 
     
 
   
 
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  Eat in a World Without Hunger, Drink in a World Without Thirst  
 
 
Posted 2007-05-07 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
In the virtual world of Second Life, avatars aren't required to consume digital food or liquids. It's possible to force an avatar to "eat" or "drink," but the digital denizens lack a simulated nervous and digestive system--consumption is akin to playing "tea party."

As it happens, a few outside businesses have joined Second Life's "tea party" recently, bringing along artificial food, drink, and scent. Earlier this year, Calvin Klein made a stink with its ck IN2U perfume, reportedly showering avatars with "fizzing fragrance bubbles." Last month, Coke kicked off a "virtual thirst" campaign (but failed to complete the simulation with a virtual tooth-decay campaign).

Today, Kraft Foods and American TV personality Phil Lempert bring "Phil's Supermarket" to the virtual world, reports the Business Communicators of Second Life blog. According to Lempert's web site, users will be able to browse for over 100,000 products by the end of the summer, and "pre-shop" (but not "actually shop") for real-world items. This seems like a great way to collect data on the activity and preferences of potential customers, if anyone will bother to "pre-shop."

The greatest failure of "Phil's Supermarket" is that it requires users to go shopping twice. Who has time for that? I'd rather order groceries online using a web site--a superior tool for finding and buying real food I can actually eat. Throw in automatically-delivered Second Life equivalents to the web-ordered food, and you've now got a service that saves time and bridges both worlds.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Linden Lab Lays Down Law: Give Your ID, Or Give Up Adult Content  
 
 
Posted 2007-05-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Linden Lab has announced that new restrictions on how users consume and host content in Second Life will be rolled out by mid-May. According to an official blog posting, users who do not pay a fee to verify their age will be restricted from accessing Mature-rated areas of the virtual world. These areas will be identified by virtual land owners, who Linden Lab says "are morally and legally responsible for the content displayed and the behavior taking place on their land." Land owners will be required to flag their land as "adult" if it contains "adult content."

According to Linden Lab, "The verification system will be run by a third party specializing in age and identity authentication. No personally identifying information will be stored by them or by Linden Lab, including date of birth, unless the Resident chooses to do so. Those who wish to be verified, but remain anonymous, are free to do so... US Residents will be asked to provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number, while non-US Residents may need to provide a passport or national ID number." An extensive Q&A is provided on the company's official blog.

Continue reading: Linden Lab Lays Down Law: Give Your ID, Or Give Up Adult Content
 
     
 
   
 
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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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