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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  
  Quick Links for 2008-05-12  
 
 
Posted 2008-05-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Is The Cartoon Network Confused, Or Is It Just Me?  
 
 
Posted 2008-05-01 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Clipped this from a Cartoon Network email I received minutes ago, talking about how awesome its upcoming FusionFall MMO is going to be:
"How is FusionFall different from other online games out there?

The biggest difference is that we are combining two play styles: platform gaming with RPGs. That hasn't been done before in an MMO and it's really exciting."
Hasn't MapleStory combined platform gaming with RPGs in an MMO format since at least 2005? Someone tell me if I'm wrong, this Cartoon Network assertion is making me dizzy.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Games and Moving Pictures:  Quick Links for 2008-02-03  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  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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  Quick Links for 2007-11-23  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-23 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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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.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  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.
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  Quick Links for 2007-11-02  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-02 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  I Mull Over ‘Manhunt 2’ On City News Tonight  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-31 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Roving reporter Amber MacArthur is doing a story on Manhunt 2 today, and roped me in for some soundbites. I was able to play about 10 minutes of the ultra-violent game while we chatted. Amber and I were treated to all sorts of Halloweenish sights during the first few minutes of game-play, including needle-stabbings and poop-flinging. Frankly, I was expecting more but based on what I've seen on YouTube, the action gets more disgusting as the game progresses.

If all goes according to plan, you'll be able to catch the segment tonight (6pm and 11pm Eastern, I believe) on City News, provided you're not already needle-stabbing or flinging poop at local kids during their trick-or-treating.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 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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