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  Iron Realms Entertainment Spins Out ‘Spark’  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Iron Realms Entertainment Spins Out ‘Spark’
Iron Realms Entertainment, maker of fine text MUDs and MMOs since 1997, has been hard at work on its first furry-friendly graphical MMO entitled Earth Eternal. The company announced this week that it has launched a shiny new branch and brand, Sparkplay Media, specifically to handle the development of Earth Eternal (set for launch in 2008) and future games geared to casual gamers (two of these are slated for 2009).

Rumor has it that the team's pulled off some cunning technical stunts within the confines of the game's browser-based shell. I hope to be able to sneak a peek at what Sparkplay is up to and provide a follow-up report in the next couple of weeks.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-11-02  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-02 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Kaneva To Focus On Platform Over Biz-Dev?  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-31 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Much like Linden Lab has moved to distinguish between Second Life (the experience) and Second Life Grid (the technology platform), Kaneva (the company) seems to be moving towards separating Kaneva (the virtual world experience) from Kaneva the technology platform. Confused? If it's any consolation, I feel like I just drank a pint of whiskey upside-down.

According to an email newsletter I received from Kaneva founder and CEO Christopher W. Klaus, the company will focus on expanding its platform's functionality and toolkit in order to better facilitate partner-developed experiences during the first half of 2008. Partners include IBM (known for being bullish on virtual worlds), Turner Broadcasting (which announced a TV network for Kaneva), and Target (which sells Kaneva currency cards).

Continue reading: Kaneva To Focus On Platform Over Biz-Dev?
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-10-31  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-31 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Monsterpocalypse’: The Miniature Giant Monster Game  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Back in high-school my friends and I developed a tabletop miniature game involving B-movie style giant monsters. We unimaginatively dubbed it The Monster Game and tinkered feverishly with its mechanics (and creating variants such as Monsterball) for at least a couple years. That's why the 14 year-old in me is giddy as a schoolboy at the news that Monsterpocalypse, a collectible miniatures game involving giant monsters, is planned for release next year by Privateer Press. Obviously there are going to be plenty of crazy-looking, pre-painted miniatures involved (something like 80 in the initial set), but I'm particularly excited at the prospect of miniature destructible buildings. Me smash! Rarrrr!

I'm rather out of the loop in terms of CMGs (collectible miniatures games), but the three things that strike me most about the genre are:
1) Isn't mass-producing these things an incredible waste of precious oil resources?
2) I pity the poor bastards who have to paint those things for my gaming pleasure. Sweatshops, I'm sure.
3) Proprietary, stats-locked systems like HeroClix cramp my style. If I can't tinker with it, I ain't buying it.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-10-30  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Food Fight’: A Tasty Revenue Model  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Free to Play provides an in-depth analysis of the popular Facebook game Food Fight, reckoning that the game rakes in about $6.6M annually, but cost under $100k to develop.

When I spent some time with Facebook's games earlier this year, I was impressed by the popularity of some, such as the Zombies! game, which had 1.3M users a few months ago and was growing at about 45 users per minute. It seemed clear that Facebook could be a lucrative platform for web games, and as it turns out, Food Fight is a perfect, living example.

According to Free to Play, Food Fight's road to monetization was paved by a simple switch in the way the game works. Initially, players had a pool of virtual cash used to buy and hurl virtual food at each other. This was recently changed so that players must respond to a short marketing survey in order to earn the virtual cash. Profit!
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘CSI:NY’ Meets ‘Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I wasn't able to catch the recent CSI:NY / Second Life crossover, but thankfully other bloggers were on the case. Here's a link-dump from around the blogosphere about this TV / virtual-world mashup...

  • Good, short review of CSI:NY's Second Life crossover episode. Sounds like the TV episode was solid. How will the Second Life side measure up?
  • Virtually Blind reviews the recent CSI:NY / Second Life crossover, including the in-world experience: "While it has flaws, it is head and shoulders above any mainstream virtual world tie-ins we've seen so far."
  • The Second Life Herald's Pixeleen Mistral notes that some Second Life merchants attempted to game-jack incoming CSI:NY viewers by adding CSI-style search terms to their store descriptions. Clever!
  • Roundup of some mini-reviews of the CSI:NY / Second Life crossover. Mixed results, still expecting more discussion of this over the next month or so. How many people signed up to play the Second Life experience?
  • About CSI:NY / Second Life crossover, Tateru Nino says "large numbers" registered for SL, but the custom OnRez viewer download failed for many. "No flood" of newcomers to SL. "The Jury is still out as to whether the whole shebang will be a hit or or a miss.
  • Prokofy Neva muses about the aftermath, noting SL signups log-ons [thanks for the correction, Prok] actually went down from 41k to 38k during "this supposed 'rush.'" Reportedly about 700 avatars in-world on the CSI islands.
 
     
 
   
 
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  NFL’s Virtual World Missing Real Roles To Play  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-23 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A cartoony role-playing world isn't what I pictured when I first heard about NFL Rush Zone, the official virtual world of the National Football League. I was expecting more of an Empire of Sports in my head--a sort of square-jawed, die-hard, "Just Do It" virtual world filled with rippling pectorals and taut calves. But that's not even the kind of world I'd like to role-play in. The NFL Rush Zone I wish for is gritty, sweaty, and sleazy. Something I could sink my scarred helmet into.

Forget about what happens on the field--that sort of action can easily be a subset of a greater role-playing experience. Can you make it from high-school hero to national football star without resorting to steroid use? Can you handle the pressures of fame? Resist the temptation of alcohol and drugs? Be a role-model to legions of young-people? Choose appropriate sponsorships? Make a positive impact on your community, or even on the country? When I think of a football role-playing game, I wish for character-building personal choices a player might have to make. Not goofy cartoon characters.
 
     
 
   
 
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  A Little Toronto Gaming Action  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Here's a handful of local gaming items for my fellow Torontonians:

1) Three former students of mine have formed their own game development company, chiefly using Flash and Virtools as development platforms. They have recently finished two edugames and are looking for a business manager to help their startup get a foothold in the services market:
The ideal business manager will be an enterprising visionary with a strong desire to make a name for his or her self in the video game industry, be a rain maker able to develop business, and be a project manager able to coach a highly creative team toward on-time completion. On top of all of these hard skills, the right business manager will be an individual of superior character with a heart of gold.
This team is creative, hard-working, and driven--if you can help them, please send an email to photius at shannonware dot com.

2) Every Wednesday at the College St. Diner / Tiger Bar: Show off your Guitar Hero II skillz. "Super Cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon" and no cover. Scary.

Continue reading: A Little Toronto Gaming Action
 
     
 
   
 
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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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