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  SXSWi 2008 Notes:  ‘Casual Multi-Player Online Games: Serious Revenues’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Following are my rough notes from the SXSW panel "Casual Multi-Player Online Games: Serious Revenues," featuring Michael Smith (Mind Candy), Adrian Crook (FreeToPlay.biz), Joe Hyrkin (Gaia Online), Jeremy Liew (Lightspeed Venture Partners), and Nabeel Hyatt (Conduit Labs)...

Moderator: What constitutes immersiveness for a virtual world? 3D? 2D? HTML?

Crook- A casual MMO is like Puzzle Pirates, in terms of delivery platform, java, etc. Facebook and Travian are other examples. For me, a Casual MMO is a place where people gather online with some kind of game structure, like Club Penguin with a loose game structure. A casual MMO is an online world with reduced barrier to entry in terms of price or platform.

Hyrkin- A range of categories apply. Casual MMO success depends on the community and engagement between users.

Smith- Presentation matters, we've stayed from avatar-based virtual worlds. At the last SXSW, I heard a lot about avatar-based worlds, but that space is getting very crowded now. Room for other types of games, such as PMOG.

Hyrkin- Not being 3D has a lot of benefits; nothing to download, easy access, reduces barrier to entry. MTV has 4 virtual worlds, built around their shows, they came top us and asked for a Gaia-like experience. We had huge success with Virtual Hills in Gaia.


Continue reading: SXSWi 2008 Notes:  ‘Casual Multi-Player Online Games: Serious Revenues’
 
     
 
   
 
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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:  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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  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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  Gary Gygax, R.I.P.  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Gary Gygax, father of the seminal Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game, has reportedly died. Gygax's D&D is the reason I became a gamer 27 years ago, and why I work in the interactive and gaming industries today.

I started "Dungeon Mastering" a D&D campaign with some friends early this year, and it's a real pleasure to get back to the tabletop again after a quarter-century. Online gaming has its charms, but sometimes you just can't beat role-playing the way it was originally intended: Snacks, polyhedral dice, lead figurines; rulebooks and maps; Led Zeppelin on the tape-deck.

Mr. Gygax, thanks for the positive influence on my life. Your legacy lives on.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Second Skin’ Documentary Debuts Friday  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Those of you in Austin, Texas this week for South by Southwest may be fortunate enough to take in the debut of Second Skin on Friday. I've been following the documentary about virtual worlds and the real people who inhabit them for some time, and can't wait to see the final film (having weaseled my way into its trailer). The makers of the film will be vlogging their Texan misadventures for your enjoyment, and have been keeping a production blog for millions of internet-years.

Here's when and where you can catch this potentially generation-defining documentary:

Friday March 7 - 9:00pm - Austin Convention Center Theater

Tuesday March 11 - 7:45pm - Austin Convention Center Theater

Thursday March 13 - 1:45pm - Austin Convention Center Theater

See you at the Convention Center!
 
     
 
   
 
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  Someone Spent Twenty-Five Bucks On This Post  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Some poor bastard paid twenty-five bucks to send me a very nicely-produced clue-package for an Alternate Reality Game, presuming I have time to unravel a ball of yarn. Guess what: I don't. Lucky for you, Despoiler already did. I got the exact same package*, so just hop on over there to view the contents.

Dear Mystery-Package Sender,
You missed on three counts.
1) I'm busy running my own company, and don't have time to play your game.
2) I don't pick up my mail as regularly as you imagine I might.
3) I don't publish a news outlet for ARG-related matters. These days, I barely publish at all. So I'm not exactly worth approaching.

Additionally, I got an email from the makers of the game yesterday that almost ended up in my Spam folder, and was ultimately a wasted effort. I didn't care to rummage through the email contents. There's a link to a video there. I didn't check it out.

Clearly, Mystery-Package Sender is shooting in the dark--I wonder who else might have been targeted. Despite my indifference to their game, they still got free buzz out of me. Twenty-five bucks well spent, I guess.

* Update: Ok, looks like my photos aren't the same. All the more tragic I don't have time to scan and post them.
 
     
 
   
 
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  For The Record:  Walsh on Writing Alternate Realities  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Austin Chronicle published an article about games and storytelling today, written by Joey Seiler, frequent contributor to Virtual World News. I'm quoted in the article, and while I won't go so far as to say the quote was out of context, it doesn't reflect what I would have said given the context the quote now appears in.

In the article, I talk briefly about extending the Halo game universe across multiple media, but neither I or the article mentions the groundbreaking Halo Alternate Reality Game known as "I Love Bees." As an ARG writer and designer on the award-winning Fallen and Regenesis games, I am well aware of this precedent, I just didn't think to mention it in the interview, although it was obliquely referenced.

My interview, in its original context as an email thread, follows for the record.

Continue reading: For The Record:  Walsh on Writing Alternate Realities
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Gaming and Gender Links for 2008-02-24  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-24 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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Clickable Conversation
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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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