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  Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock  
 
 
Posted 2008-07-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
TechCrunch reports on the release of WebFlock, a hosted, in-browser virtual world service offered by The Electric Sheep Company. Formerly Second Life-obsessed (weren't we all at one point), the company brought a number of major brands into the overhyped virtual world (such as Major League Baseball, LEGO, and Starwood Hotels). Now, the Sheep have cut out the middle-world by starting up their own.

Because WebFlock is Flash based, it's accessible by over 90% of the web browsers out there: in other words, everyone can get in easily (unlike the recently-launched Google Lively, which requires a large plugin download and only runs on Windows-based PCs running Internet Exploder). Gotta like low barriers to entry.

Sheep CEO Sibley Verbeck reportedly puts the price of basic private-world hosting at "under $100,000" for a year of service. Well out of the range of any but rich corporations. Showtime is coughing up for the service, bringing an extension of its L-Word TV property to WebFlock after a successful splash in Second Life. I suspect many major brands will follow suit, as controlled spaces are much more attractive than "anything goes" sandboxes.
 
     
 
   
 
  6 comments  
  Games, Work, Play, And Collaboration:  Quick Links for 2008-02-04  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  PSP Gets Skype Integration  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Sony will roll out Skype services for its latest PSP handheld game console (the slim, lightweight one) through a software update scheduled for late January. According to an emailed press release, the software update will allow PSP owners with WiFi access, a microphone, and a Skype account to make and receive free voice calls, manage contacts and presence, modify their Skype account settings, and make use of the SkypeOut (place calls to non-Skype phones) as well as SkypeIn (receive calls from non-Skype phones) services.

While this is fantastic news for anyone who already has a slimline PSP, I'm not sure it's going to push PSP sales in general. As the ill-fated N-Gage phone/game console showed us, there doesn't seem to be much interest in a game console which doubles as a phone. Skype services are only available wherever WiFi hotspots are, so coverage isn't exactly ubiquitous in most parts of the world. I don't really see how the inclusion of Skype helps the PSP brand, either--is it a game console (its game library is weak), a media player (its original movie format is dead or dying), or a communications device (only where there's WiFi)?
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Gaming Links for 2008-01-06  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  DS Game Content Fueled By Wireless Hotspots  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Metro Wardive, a homebrew game for the Nintendo DS handheld console, reads the names of surrounding wireless hotspots and converts them into in-game enemies and levels. This allows the game content to change significantly based on the player's real-world location (I can only think of one mainstream game that does this).

Judging by the game's description, it seems that real-world travel is actually encouraged by design (at the very least, new game scenarios are revealed through travel)--with the right game mechanics, Metro Wardive could be used as an incentive for physical activity (walk or run from hotspot to hotspot) or urban exploration. The mind races, even if the feet do not.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  Quick Links for 2007-11-11  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  Canadian/Portugese Firms Co-Produce International ARG  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A new serialized, video-based Alternate Reality Game called The GOT will be launched in January 2008 jointly by Canada's The Nightingale Company (film and TV producers) and Portugal's beActive (known in Europe for its work on Sofia's Diary). According to The Nightingale Company, the series will follow a young woman who turns to the web when she becomes convinced the planet is in "grave danger."

According to Nightingale, game play will be aimed at mainstream audiences, and will involve "'against-the clock' international competition" as well as hallmarks of ARG play such as online collaboration, in-character interaction, and clue-hunting. Judging by the info in Nightengale's news release, we'll be able to watch the video component of the game from two angles simultaneously. Hopefully this will be a feature and not a gimmick (it's hyped more like the latter than the former).

Fortunately, at least one of the Nightingale team has previous puppetmastering experience: Adam Clare, the firm's Online Properties Strategist, was one of the co-founders of TorGame, a successful urban ARG adventure launched in 2006.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Linden Lab Rolls Out Google-Powered’Second Life’ Search Engine  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-20 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Linden Lab announced yesterday that a new, Google Search Appliance-facilitated search system for Second Life should be available both to Second Life users and outside web surfers "in the next few months." The new system, which funnels data from the virtual world into ordinary web pages, replaces a legacy system so past its prime that a number of third-party developers have invented their own public search tools, such as the Electric Sheep Company this year, or Wet Ikon in 2005.

Land parcels, resident profiles, groups, scheduled events, individual objects, and articles in the Second Life Wiki will be indexed by Linden Lab's new search engine. "Mature" content will be flagged as such in search results, and objects on public land which are marked for sale will be indexed by default. Second Life residents will be able to manually exempt objects from search, addressing privacy concerns raised by The Electric Sheep Company's search tool earlier this year.

Because official search results will be published to public web pages, Linden Lab expects in-world content to be indexed by web-exclusive search engines such as Yahoo! and Google. Presumably search results across all engines will include direct links (known as "SLURLs") to in-world content, and RSS feeds so interested parties can receive alerts when Linden Lab's search engine finds something they're looking for.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Why Facebook Is Losing Me  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Dear Facebook,
Since getting dumped on by piles of irrelevant requests and notifications seems to be your idea of a party, I'm afraid you might not be the kind of people I enjoy hanging out with.

I don't know if there's a way to turn off the stream of spam, and that's not entirely my problem. Each one of those irritating little messages should have a "STFU" button next to it. The absence of idiot-proof noise-filtering features seems to be a deliberate design choice: Why else would you join Facebook if not to be notified every time your "friend" wipes her nose?
 
     
 
   
 
  5 comments  
  Linden Lab, IBM To Collaborate on ‘3D Internet’  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Computing giant IBM and virtual-world maker Linden Lab have announced a joint effort to brighten the future of 3D virtual worlds through the development of open standards-based technologies and methodologies. According to an official press release, the two companies intend to "work with a broad community of partners to drive open standards and interoperability to enable avatars...to move from one virtual world to another with ease, much like you can move from one website to another on the Internet today."

Virtual-world enthusiasts are no doubt excited about the prospect of avatar-portability, a feature currently unavailable in most contemporary 3D worlds, but promised (or at least hinted at) by up and coming platforms such as Multiverse and Metaplace. Obviously there are many more hurdles to this idea than simply technology--for me, it will be the creative and cultural ramifications of avatar portability that are worth solving first.

Continue reading: Linden Lab, IBM To Collaborate on ‘3D Internet’
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
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5224 comments
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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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