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  SXSWi Reminder: ‘What Can the Video Games Industry Learn From ARGs?’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
As previously threatened, I'll be kicking off a conversation today at SXSW about how the video games industry might pick up a few useful tips from Alternate Reality Games. The conversation takes place between 3:30pm and 4:30pm in Ballroom E. I'll be joined by Steve Peters of 42 Entertainment, probably Dan Hon of Six to Start, and whoever else wishes to drop in.

The idea for this so-called "Core Conversation" was pitched months ago, so I hope to freshen and expand the topic by identifying some areas in which video games have already adopted ideas and mechanics made popular by ARGs. Looking forward to the chat, hope you can make it.
 
     
 
   
 
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  SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Stories, Games and Your Brand  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Liveblogged from SXSWi in Austin, my rough notes from the panel "SXSW 2008 Notes: Stories, Games, and Your Brand."

Dan Hon case study: Cloverfield.
-- More people heard of the marketing than saw the movie (based on informal audience survey)

Rachel Clarke case study: Honda.
-- Puzzles built into posters, web site, game play engages viewers, every time you play the game it takes you closer to the brand

Roo Reynolds case study: Perplex City.
-- PC had a nice collecting element, but a great backstory, bits of everything in it... in my work in virtual worlds, I've been disappointed to not experience this level of depth (although VWs are good at turning people into participants)...

Continue reading: SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Stories, Games and Your Brand
 
     
 
   
 
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  SXSWi: ‘Cross-Media Cross-Pollination: Mashing Up Video Games and ARGs’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Thanks to Dee Cook and Dan Hon of Six to Start for joining me yesterday on a last-minute SXSWi panel entitled "Cross-Media Cross-Pollination: Mashing Up Video Games and ARGs."

We chatted about how ARGs and video games relate, and how these two game-forms might learn from each other. There were at least 60 people in attendance, many of whom were probably expecting the original panel "ARGs: The Future of Entertainment." Given that we only lost a few people during our panel, and given the number of eyeballs focused on the panelists, I think it was a success. Attendees joined in the discussion during and after the panel--I'm hosting a follow-up conversation on Monday at 3:30pm if anyone at the conference is interested in further conversation about ARGs and video games.
 
     
 
   
 
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  The Retro Roots of ‘Champions Online’  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-22 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I can't wait to try Champions Online, the MMO adaptation of Champions, my favorite superhero role-playing game (the kind you play sitting around a table). It looks like Cryptic, the developers behind the excellent superhero MMO City of Heroes, is using everything learned from developing good heroic character-creation and game play and fusing this with a time-tested, highly-flexible rules system--City of Heroes Evolved, if you will.

Continue reading: The Retro Roots of ‘Champions Online’
 
     
 
   
 
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  Games and Moving Pictures:  Quick Links for 2008-02-03  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Harmless Espionage You Can Carry Out At Home  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A couple of projects I was involved with late last year are now fully operational. Although each project was for a separate broadcaster, each puts the player in the role of a secret agent. Must have been something in the air in 2007.

The Border: Interactive, which supports the new CBC TV series The Border, was produced by White Pine Pictures in association with Stitch Media, and is comprised of a series of narrative-driven mini-games. I'm pretty sure this is the first major project launch for Stitch Media, founded by Evan Jones, former Creative Director of Xenophile Media. As Game Designer on The Border: Interactive, I worked closely with Evan and his team during the pre-production phase, developing high-concept game ideas into executable design documents. Jam3Media worked with Stitch to develop the games in Flash.

M.I. High, a CBBC TV series, is now supported by an episodic web-game. I helped out as a game design consultant on the project, but I can't say more than that until I hear back from my client.
 
     
 
   
 
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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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  2008 Producers Institute At BAVC  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Applications are due February 1, 2008, for next year's Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, a 10-day program designed to give eight teams of documentary-makers a taste of new media, gaming, and cross-platform possibilities. Hosted and organized by the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) in San Francisco, the Producer's Institute is intense, energetic, and highly productive. The program runs May 30 - June 8: For complete information, or to submit an on-line application, please go to: bavc.org/producersinstitute.

I was a mentor at the 2007 Institute (held earlier this year), and thoroughly enjoyed working both with BAVC and the invited documentarians. It was a fantastic opportunity to teach, learn, and cross-pollinate, and I'm sure the 2008 event will offer more the same.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Limited Response To ‘Numb3rs’ ARG Episode?  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-13 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
An episode of the CBS TV show Numb3rs last week, which depicted a sort of Alternate Reality Game, has received fairly good reviews from a few key sources. Steve Peters (42 Entertainment) wrote that the episode was "great fun to watch," noting the game genre's mention in mainstream entertainment was a historic first. Raph Koster (Areae) grumbled that the game portrayed in the show looked more intriguing than real ones, but conceded that the show writers "got surprisingly more right than [...] wrong." The genre's top news source, ARGNet, reported that the show received "generally positive reactions" and pointed out that an actual (non-televised) ARG seems to have been launched in support of Numb3rs and the CBS suite of web sites.

Aside from a handful gaming insiders and TV sites, my impression (based on a cursory web search today) is that the Numb3rs ARG episode doesn't seem to have generated widespread discussion. Perhaps this will begin to change, given ARGNet's discovery that an ARG-like game in support of the show is unfolding. CBS has been creeping into cross-media territory lately, investing in metaverse developers The Electric Sheep Company last February, and producing a recent episode of CSI:NY crossing over into the virtual world Second Life. The success of that crossover seems tame at best--with the show's presence in Second Life trimmed down by a reported 93% barely a week after launch.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-11-02  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-02 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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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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