|September 17th, 2007|
Gene Endrody of MaidMarian.com pointed out this cool Alexa graph that shows how much seasonal trends matter for virtual worlds:
I did an Alexa compare of traffic for the last six months for MaidMarian.com, ToonTown.com and Habbo.com. Habbo’s traffic is from the
site only – compared with MaidMarian.com’s worldwide, so it’s not a fair comparison per se. What I found very interesting was how close the three correlate. You can see the boost that summer holidays provide, however the ebb and flow of web traffic is really obvious. I would be really cool if we had a Dow Jones Industrial Average for web traffic to compare against. US
Yeah, I think any of the operators who have been running more than one world have noticed this. There’s definite seasonal trends to virtual world usage. We need some worlds popular in the Southern Hemisphere to even out the curves!
Juuso over at GameProducer.net writes to mention that they’ve got a new forum going:
I was wondering if it would be possible to mention our new Game Producer Forums launch at your blog? We have producer members from major gaming companies such as Activision, Ubisoft, Bizarre Creations, Sony, Gas Powered Games, Relic Entertainment, LucasArts, Stainless Games, EA and many others – expect serious discussion about game production.
Cool — always nice to see another resource for developers.
Hello, I believe you are very occupied with important things so I’ll make it short. I was very interested in your articles about the UO Ressource system and how it should work. We have a small student programming club and it sounds like an interesting project as it can be both fun and instructive. We usually develop business applications at courses and I’m looking for a change. So, I would like to know if you can point me to more articles or explanations on how such a system could be implemented practically. Thanks for your time. You have a very interesting website by the way.
Hmmm… those articles are probably the best resource there is right now. Really, aside from those articles, your best bet might be some old posts in the MUD-Dev archives. That’s about it in terms of documentation of the original design. It’s certainly a viable small project, since it’s basically an artificial life grid simulation. Similar approaches underlie stuff like SimCity‘s pollution model, for example.
Basically, in terms of practical implementation, you need a grid of resource data to operate off of, and a set of agents with a radial search or hill-climbing algorithm to seek out concentrations of whatever resource they are looking for. Loop through the agents, have them search, move ‘em towards their goal. Once you have that, the rest is just choices about what directions to grow it in. Just watch out for the well known “boom-bust” problems in artificial life sims.
My question is: I am studying General Counseling at Manhattan College, and I was a psychology major at Tulane. I’ve been playing UO for YEARS and YEARS, and I’ve noticed people have made the game their second life. Meeting new friends, and even get getting married in RL with other players. Do you think a lot of UO players might have a psychological problem that they play so much and make UO their social networks?? I think a lot of people start making UO their lives. what do you think?? Im thinkin about making somehow writing a theis on this or at least a paper.. and thinking about a Ph.D in a related feild.
I don’t see why playing UO and having your social network be in there is any different from being obsessed with football, and having your social network be other football fans. Or other psych majors. Or whatever. Any interest can be taken to unhealthy extremes, of course, but I don’t think that it is necessarily a function of the hobby. I think that there’s this sense that maybe because it’s a fantasy world, it’s not healthy — but really, the fantasy aspect is a bit beside the point. A book club, a bridge club, whatever, they’re all these social networks and systems caused by shared interests.
Phill writes an enormous email about the ESRB, which I was forced to drastically excerpt:
Your entry on what thoughtful criticism of videogames looks like caught my eye. Or should I say, the comments for the entry. The ESRB has always seemed fishy to me in its ratings system. From what I understand, the ESRB was originally created by the gaming industry as a way of assessing its own products’ appropriateness for certain age groups, so that parents could make more informed decisions. However, the way I look at it now, I’m confused as to how that could have ever been the goal. The ratings themselves do not seem to be separated into age groups that make sense. Why have E10+ for an audience that only fits into an age group of a few years? Even worse, why do we have an AO rating that is only 1 year apart from the M rating? If M and AO are both intended for adults, why are they separate at all? Not to forget that the line between the two ratings is incredibly unclear.
Well, I think that we cannot forget how much the ESRB ratings have evolved over the years. And the reason that they have evolved at the mature end and the kid’s end is because that is where the political pressure is. It’s media and parental pressure that asks for additional details and segmentation at the E+ sort of level, and it’s political and media pressure that causes the disjoint definitions of M versus AO.
The fact that retailers do not carry AO games and that modern console publishers do not allow for AO console games only makes me more skeptical about the ESRB’s effectiveness in abiding by its supposed intent. Why are we now censoring titles using the ESRB’s ratings system?
Because the industry would rather censor based on its own ratings system than let an external force such as a government agency do the censoring. The big concession in the culture wars is always to admit that you cannot police yourself.
…people who are actually interested in more mature games do not have the ability to play them on the platform of their choice or are able to purchase them from common retailers. In short, adult gamers are being screwed. Artistic freedom is probably being screwed too, as people in the industry are not able to take risks with games without fear of financial ruin. Why are adult gamers not able to exercise their right in what they should be able to play? Instead of banning the games, more emphasis should be put on keeping parents informed, giving parental controls, or regulating sales. It’s horrible that the industry and gamers are suffering because of the ignorance of parents.
So it has often been pointed out that to some degree this is a generational problem. As the parents who feel this way about games die off, this issue will be minimized.
More seriously, I think that the place where artistic freedom can flourish, of course, is on the net, where nobody pays attention to getting ESRB rated.
Of course, recently there was a study showing that Mature-rated games are actually selling very very well. The bottom line for the industry is always going to be about, well, the bottom line. And that means that if there’s enough financial pressure to push at boundaries, the boundaries will fall.