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  ‘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  
  School’s In  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
This week I resume instructing classes at two Toronto colleges. I'll be teaching four classes weekly for the fall semester, but thankfully the roster is pretty small (under 25 students between both colleges). I prefer small classes not just because the workload is smaller, but because I get a chance to work more closely with students on an individual basis.

For George Brown College's Game Design Program, I'm giving students an introduction to the game industry, conducting intensive workshops involving hands-on play and modification of tabletop games, and teaching basic Flash skills in the production of an animatic (or motion-storyboard). I teach two more semesters after this, including non-digital game prototyping, and "Games, Culture, and Society."

For Centennial College's Game Design + Development Program, I'm instructing classes on some development fundamentals, such as a game industry overview, workshops on communication and documentation, and workshops on writing for games.

This is my third year as a part-time teacher, a profession I only profess to dabble in. I really enjoy teaching (it's a great way to develop old and new skills), but my other professional pursuits are just far too fun to give up!
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-08-29  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Was Coke’s ‘Second Life’ Venture Really a Success?  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-27 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Electric Sheep Company's Joel Greenberg reports on the results from Coke's "Virtual Thirst" campaign in Second Life as presented by Coke's Mike Donnelly and representatives from campaign co-creator Crayon. The short story is that Coke reportedly feels the campaign, which was a call-out for consumer-generated media, was a success based on the following metrics:
  • 300 blog posts about the contest
  • 33,000 links
  • 150+ photos in Flickr
  • 31,000 Youtube views with 160,000+ comments


Continue reading: Was Coke’s ‘Second Life’ Venture Really a Success?
 
     
 
   
 
  11 comments  
  A Few Cross-Media Pies I’ve Had A Finger In  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-25 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I'm not always able to talk about projects I've been involved with, so when I get approval from clients (which, thankfully, is most of the time), I'm not shy about highlighting some of the outstanding initiatives I've worked on:

1) The Fallen Alternate Reality Game (a.k.a. "Ocular Effect"), to which I contributed story writing and game design (for Xenophile Media with Double Twenty Productions), was nominated for an Interactive TV Emmy Award earlier this month. Earlier this year, the project won a SXSW Web Award.

2) Thursday's Fictions In Second Life launched last month, a project by The Physical TV Company I was briefly involved with earlier this year in Tasmania. Gary Hayes of the Project Factory worked with the team after Tas and co-developed quite a wild-looking environment for the virtual world, involving elements of the Thursday's Fictions book and film. Some really creative effects were used for this, and Gary's posted a meditative YouTube walkthrough for your viewing pleasure.

3) Metaversatility has launched its cross-media game for upcoming movie The Nines. The game touches the web, Second Life and will bleed over into physical space as well. I'm happy to have been involved (even if very briefly) during the conception stages as a design consultant. The game has already made a few headlines, most notably at Variety online.

Hopefully I'll get clearance in the next month or so to discuss a few other fun cross-media projects recently-concluded and ongoing.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Child Protection In ‘Second Life’ Isn’t A Software Issue  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-22 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Sparked by a moral panic earlier this year, two German firms have launched a contest for the creation of software intended to block minors from accessing adult content in Second Life.

Child protection in Second Life isn't a problem software can solve effectively. Second Life, like booze and porn, is meant for adults, not kids. Prior experience tells us kids can't be prevented from getting their hands on booze and porn. All parents can do is raise their children "virtual-street smart," establish and enforce sensible rules, keep their Second Life passwords to themselves, and hope for the best. And, like any purveyor of adult material, Linden Lab has little choice but to make Second Life more difficult for minors to access, even if it makes access by adults more cumbersome.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Multi-User ‘Google Earth,’ Now!  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Unype welds multi-user capability onto Google Earth, including 3D avatars and a Skype-powered contacts-list. Developed by Holoscape, the Unype client software (currently in beta) connects Google Earth, Skype, and an Unype Server, where other Unype users are logged. Users select their own COLLADA-format avatar models to use in the system, as well as public profile information such as a URL and photo.

Collaboration between users is facilitated through the synchronizing of Google Earth layers between users, establishing a follow/lead link between users, and the sharing of Google 3D Warehouse models from a private site or directly from Google. I wasn't able to get Unype working on my computer, so I'm not sure if Unype's use of Skype includes voice communication in addition to contacts. Seems like a no-brainer, but the Unype site didn't list voice chat as a feature.

Holoscape also makes an Unype Facebook application which allows users to see, move towards, and contact other Facebookers using a 2D map (Google Maps API) and inside Google Earth.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Mobile Phone: More Mouse Than Desktop  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Hollywood Reporter columnist Paul Hyman interviews Andy Nulman, CMO of Airborne Entertainment, maker of branded mobile phone games. Nulman plans a shift in gears for Airborne based on his realization that mobile devices offer more game-play options than small screens typically allow. This quote says it all:
"We believe in inside-out gaming, where the phone becomes a tool to interact with things that are happening all around you. In that way, your phone becomes more of a mouse than, say, a desktop."
Location-based gaming isn't exactly new thinking, but I haven't heard too many mainstream mobile game developers talking seriously about it before. Having a handful of next-gen mobile games ready to go, Airborne's main challenge now is figuring out how to communicate its new strategy to carriers that still barely understand the first wave of mobile gaming.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-08-18  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Keeping ‘vSide’ Clean  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Developer Doppleganger has annexed its original Lounge offering with the newer, larger virtual world vSide, but can the company maintain the same squeaky-clean standards it tried to apply to its initial offering? With a larger world comes a larger user-base, and from what I've read on official vSide message boards, Doppleganger takes an active, hands-on approach to moderating its community. Maybe it's only obvious to me, but hands-on community moderation not only doesn't scale well, but is often inconsistent (moderators don't necessarily share the same standards or opinions).

The User Guidelines for vSide state that users are expected to "be nice," "be respectful," and "have fun," while refrain from "hatin'," "cybering," and sharing personal information. The User Guidelines suggest (but don't state) that the target age for vSide users the same as The Lounge, which was open to users aged 13 and above. What I'm wondering is how long Doppleganger's moderation team can hold out against a growing, hormonal user-base. Will vSide's current User Guidelines and policing strategy work long-term? Only at substantial expense, in my opinion.
 
     
 
   
 
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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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