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  Policing Role-Play In ‘Age of Conan’  
 
 
Posted 2008-05-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The operator of the upcoming adult-oriented Age of Conan MMO intends to establish strict rules about role-playing on designated servers, according to an official community bulletin. This might be great news for role-play enthusiasts, but I have to wonder if AoC's operator has a plan to police and enforce its own proposed rules. Any such plan must involve human moderators at some point along the chain (software isn't smart enough for the job), which is an awfully costly investment in role-playing, if you ask me.

Names from outside the 'Conan' universe (as in, from another fantasy universe, such as Pokemon) are not allowed. Names from inside the 'Conan' universe (such as Conan) are also not allowed. Neither are derivatives or sound-alike names. Out of character chat is to be "avoided." Making fun of role-players is not allowed. Using role-play to justify immersion-breaking actions and exploits is not allowed. Interfering with in-progress community-driven role-playing events (such as a wedding) is not allowed.

These rules are setting the game operators up for major headaches. A good rule is one which doesn't need to be discussed--it's simply incontrovertible. These are bad rules. Not only do they require human supervision, they are open to interpretation. Who's going to moderate player names, and when will that moderation occur? How much out of character chat is acceptable, and when is it acceptable to speak OOC. What if the sight of weddings drives my character into a berserker rage--isn't it about my immersion, too? What if my entire clan of players has an in-character grudge against that wedding?

Unless the rules are tightened up, enforced transparently, frequently and consistently, the whole system's going to spiral out of control. Transparent enforcement (i.e. we see who was busted for what, and how the policing or punishment was carried out) and frequent enforcement are expensive. Consistent enforcement is sure to be a joke--I can't even go to a bank and get the same answer about the same question from 5 different tellers.
 
     
 
   
 
  4 comments  
  SXSW 2008 Notes:  Jane McGonigal’s Keynote  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Rough notes liveblogged from Jane McGonigal's keynote presentation at SXSW...

The Lost Ring has been in pay for a week, there are already over 100 screen grabs from the game trailer posted to flickr.

We need more alternate realities... the real world needs to be redesigned as a game...

Slide: "A game designer's perspective on the future of happiness"

Research around the subject of happiness... the science of happiness... we've started to see a backlash after a period of happiness study... one area of study looks specifically at what makes us happy and function well... it's been all over the popular press...

There's an amazing parallel between what makes us happy and the core tenets of game design...


Continue reading: SXSW 2008 Notes:  Jane McGonigal’s Keynote
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  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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  Game Design Quick Links for 2008-02-09  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Recommended Reading: ‘The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Recommended Reading: ‘The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Second Life’
Last year, I started up a business in Second Life with only one plan in mind: put as little effort as possible into it. As a result, I sell a few virtual radioactive barrels, voodoo masks, and magic books for the equivalent of real-world pocket-change each month--if you don't factor in the six dollars in land-rental fees I pay out monthly. If an utterly half-assed Second Life entrepreneur like myself can offset his virtual-world expenses simply by shoveling a pile of shoddy goods into the insatiable maw of the fledgling metaverse, imagine what a well-informed businessperson could accomplish.

Technology writer and acquaintance Daniel Terdiman has authored an indispensable book for those wishing to plan, launch, and maintain their own Second Life business schemes. Entitled The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, it stands as a comprehensive examination of Second Life business basics, largely based on the input of selected residents of the virtual world. The Guide speaks in a language even Second Life newbies can understand, and offers practical solutions to common commerce challenges. Thankfully, Daniel hasn't penned a "get rich quick" manuscript, but rather offers a balanced look at what goes in to making real money from in-world entrepreneurship--in short, a hell of a lot of work.

It was only a year ago that a reported 3,000 SL residents were earning at least $20k USD annually in-world. Since then, Second Life's population has skyrocketed, so it's probable a lot more people are making decent money off the virtual world. Not me, though. I'm happy with my pocket-change, thanks.
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  ‘Thursdays Fictions’: Book, Film, and ‘Second Life’ Presence  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-23 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Earlier this year I traveled to Tasmania to co-mentor teams of film and TV producers as part of the ongoing LAMP initiative driven by AFTRS. I had a rewarding experience working as the "guardian mentor" for a project known as Thursday's Fictions, which began life as a book, migrated to a DVD film (to be aired on ABC TV), blossomed into an interactive concept at LAMP, and will now be extended into Second Life.

The creative artists behind Thursday's Fictions, Dr. Richard James Allen and Dr. Karen Pearlman of The Physical TV Company, are brimming with imagination and talent, so I'll be interested to see how their original concept has evolved in collaboration with Second Life-savvy Gary Hayes, Director of LAMP at AFTRS and The Project Factory.

Following the ABC TV broadcast of the film on July 29, you'll be able to teleport to ABC Island in Second Life, where Drs. Allen and Pearlman will host a meet-and-greet in avatar form. A virtual Thursday's Fictions environment is now under construction, with new sections planned for launch this week, and some surprises to follow the broadcast. More info available on the ABC TV microsite for Thursday's Fictions.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames’ Released  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Ian Bogost's latest book, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, looks at how video games make arguments, offering a theory of rhetoric for games, and covering a wide range of example games with an eye towards politics, advertising and learning. It's now available through Amazon and MIT Press.

Bogost is an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, and founding partner of Persuasive Games, a firm which recently entered into a publishing relationship with the New York Times, creating newsgames for the paper's online op-ed page. I'm particularly looking forward to Persuasive Games (the book), as one of the colleges where I teach part-time will make persuasive games one of its main areas of investigation this fall, and because most of the games I've worked on over the years have had an educational or marketing agenda.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-07-09  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Reading ‘Mind at Play’  
 
 
Posted 2006-12-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
My wife snagged me a copy of the 1983 book Mind at Play by Geoffrey Loftus and Elizabeth Loftus. The book concerns the psychology of video games, and although it's very dated, it seems to be a useful read, particularly in light more recent work such as The Rules of Play and A Theory of Fun. A lot has changed since 1983, but I find those elements of the game industry and game design which haven't changed to be at least as interesting (for example, the similarities between designing coin-op games and microtransaction-driven games are worth considering). Mind at Play promises to be a good addition to my inventory of game design and education resources. Besides, it's under 200 pages and has large type.

Next up: James Paul Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, a timely addition to the course material I'm preparing for semester 2 of Game Culture & Design at George Brown College.
 
     
 
   
 
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  An Open Letter to The Internet  
 
 
Posted 2006-10-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Dear Internet,

I regret not being able to defend you more effectively on live television last night. As you know, we have been friends for over a decade, through feast and famine. I've appreciated how you've disrupted culture, politics, and business, and I've come to your defense in small ways over the years, but never took time to write a book or extensive magazine article on how excellent you truly are. Conversely, your detractors Andrew Keen and Steve Maich have written a book and extensive magazine article (respectively) on how awful they think you are. In hindsight, I should have realized it would be difficult defending you when the assumption from the outset is that you "suck." It's easier to tear something down than to build it up. Although I was able to respond to demands for proof of your awesomeness, I was a ultimately drowned out in the scrum.

You and I both know you live a dual life, Internet. While I celebrate your excellence, I simultaneously recognize how other people have misused your powers. You're not the problem, Internet. People are the problem. Some people use you as a tool for plagiarism, for deceitful purposes, or to inflate corporate value--but on the other hand, some use you to bust perverts, break news, or to make crazy money. You're a bit like a knife: Whether it stabs someone in the heart or slices a birthday cake, it cuts both ways. So do you, depending on how you are wielded. I understand your capacity for great good and for great ill, but I'm not sure why anyone would focus only on your bad side. Except maybe to sell books or magazines.

Respectfully yours,
Mr. Tony Walsh, Esq.
 
     
 
   
 
  6 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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