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  SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Human and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
SXWi 2008 rough notes: "Human Rights and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds"

Susan Wu- If we don't address legal issues as publishers and developers, we will lose control [presumably through regulation]

Scenario: Your Tier 5 armor which took 6 months to acquire gets nerfed, do you have legal protection against devaluation?

Eric Bethke- No.

Boyd- Game world designers should have control over that decision [to nerf the armor, I think].

Scenario: You lose equipment following a server crash, do you have the right to have that property replaced?

Andrew Schneider- yes

Bethke- yes
Boyd- publishers can treat you however they want within the law. If I were running a game I would bend over backwards to give it back.

Schneider- This is all covered in EULAs, ToS, how rules are communicated to gamers

Continue reading: SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Human and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds
 
     
 
   
 
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  Game Design Quick Links for 2008-02-09  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Second Skin’ Trailer Debuts Today  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Since 2006, I've been following the adventures of the team at Pure West--filmmakers researching and journaling MMO game culture for a documentary which would come to be called Second Skin. The team's blog gave a behind-the-scenes look at the trials of the documentarians and their evolving subject-matter, but I was fortunate enough to meet the filmmakers first-hand during one of their many journeys across the U.S., Canada, and overseas. These guys weren't just trying to cash in on the swelling interest in MMOs, or exploit players as objects of curiosity or ridicule--it was clear their mission was to seek out and reveal some compelling human stories at the intersection of real and virtual worlds.

The Second Skin trailer makes its debut today, and I'm not excited about it simply because of my brief on-camera appearance :) I feel like this will be a topical, socially-relevant documentary that will make a lasting mark. Something that may end up as course-material some day (certainly I'll be buying the DVD). The filmmakers clearly poured their blood and sweat into Second Skin, and at first glance, it really shows. Congratulations to the Pure West team and everyone (it seems like dozens) they interviewed. I think you have a hit on your hands.

 
     
 
   
 
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  Case Study:  Bringing ‘Warcraft’ To The Tabletop  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Gamasutra features a fascinating rundown of what was involved in bringing World of Warcraft to the tabletop as a role-playing game. Written by Luke Johnson of White Wolf, the article identifies "content" as being the biggest challenge in extending Warcraft's world--apparently, Blizzard wasn't comfortable giving White Wolf freedom to invent their own Warcraft lore. Johnson explains the process:
  1. We would write the books [...] making stuff up when necessary.
  2. The good folks at Blizzard would check the manuscript to make sure that a) everything in it was consistent with both their vision of the Warcraft setting and the information that had already been presented in some other format (the video games, the novels, and the like); and b) that we didn't add anything that they didn't like.
  3. The writers would then alter the manuscript as per Blizzard's requests, and we'd return to step 2.
Sounds painful, doesn't it? It's a shame a reputable game maker like White Wolf wasn't given more freedom to expand the Warcraft universe. Blizzard might own Azeroth, but that doesn't mean it has a grasp of what works for tabletop role-playing.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Not Playing The ‘Warcraft’ Blizzard Designed  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Not Playing The ‘Warcraft’ Blizzard Designed
A glimpse of a Poker-variant dubbed "Zwergenpoker."
Is World of Warcraft's unending grind causing players to seek alternate forms of in-game entertainment? Seems so. Mini-games created with Warcraft's extensible "add-on" system have been in play since at least 2006, but a game update earlier this year made it even easier for players to create their own fun.

The Guild Bank, introduced with patch 2.3, presents a 14 by 7 grid intended to be used for item-storage. One imaginative player got the idea to use the grid for a variant of Checkers (aka Draughts). Playing pieces can be any item in one's inventory. The "board" layout might not be suitable for Chess, but probably a Go- or Reversi-variant. It might be easier to play these games on the tabletop (as was the original intent), but that would defeat the whole cool-factor of bastardizing Warcraft.

 
     
 
   
 
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  Humungo-Megalithic Games Company Formed  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
All the cool nerds are talking about it: Vivendi (publisher, World of Warcraft) and Activision (Pitfall!, Guitar Hero) spent a steamy weekend entwining their glistening tentacles together so elaborately that neither megacorporation could be distinguished from the other. The unholy spawn of this union is to be named Activision Blizzard, a rampaging humungo-megalith The Guardian says will be "the world's largest computer games company" with an annual income of $3.8 billion and an insatiable appetite for fresh babies.

I'm not sure how the merger will produce better games, lower retail prices, or more choice for gamers--but then, there's a lot about the games industry I can't even begin to understand. All I know is that if I was formerly an employee of Vivendi or Activision, I might be concerned for the safety of my job (or even my entire department) next year. Time to trim some excess tentacles.
 
     
 
   
 
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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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  ‘LivePlanet’ Dies In ‘Second Life,’ ‘Warcraft’  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
As I predicted, a pair of news sites launched by LivePlanet to report on social world Second Life and game world World of Warcraft failed to live up to expectations.

Neither Grid World News, which aimed to be "the premier media outlet for Second Life," and Azeroth World News, which boasted it would "exclusively report all the news within the [Warcraft] universe," have been updated since the beginning of October, after having been announced a few months earlier. Judging by the site archives, activity was most frequent in the summer of 2007, when the projects were announced. Contributions seem to have dwindled significantly since then, with next to no obvious input (in the form of blog comments) from either Second Life users or Warcraft players.

Continue reading: ‘LivePlanet’ Dies In ‘Second Life,’ ‘Warcraft’
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-09-21  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-09-17  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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Clickable Conversation
5224 comments
on 4159 entries

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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