Apr 292008

The SIA 25 Live (a snapshot from CNet)

The SAI 25 Live is this new index that is trying to track the hottest startups based on an estimated valuation figure. As you look at the chart, realize these figures are in thousands, so the top of the chart is valued in the billions.

Several of the top 25 are familiar names to readers of this blog and folks who hang around the virtual worlds space:

  • Webkinz
  • Habbo (why it’s not listed as Sulake, I don’t know)
  • Linden Lab
  • Stardoll

Of course, if you are on the Metaverse Roadmap bandwagon, then the stuff like Twitter also fits into the eventual metaverse picture, via the “lifelogging” quadrant. And Meebo, which many think of as just a chat app, has had great success with Meebo Rooms, which is basically am embeddable chat room that you can put on any website — another step towards web-wide synchronous interaction.

The table is intended only to show privately held companies, so many of the big players are absent. And many of these valuations are purely hypothetical — there isn’t necessarily a buyer at that price, and the markets aren’t exactly hot for IPOs right now either. But it does serve to demonstrate the attraction of virtual worlds as a category.

It’s also interesting to me how many of the others are ones I have never heard of. Tudou is a video-sharing site in China. Ozon and Yandex are Russian. There’s a bunch of job-seeking sites, and a bunch of ad networks.

Game talkGTA’s latest shots in the culture wars

 Posted by (Visited 7966 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Apr 282008


Totally not safe for work.

Not sure what the distinction is between an M and an AO game these days, but one thing seems clear — Rockstar is not hiding stuff on the disc anymore. Presumably if you don’t try to hide it, you can’t be accused of hypocrisy. 🙂

On the one hand, this is clearly puerile and likely counterproductive in that it undermines what by all accounts is a stellar game with a great script and great gameplay. (I say by all accounts because I don’t have it. And I don’t have it because, well, of scenes like this, and my kids).

On the other hand, the industry does need to be able to tackle mature content, and games with this sort of content should be allowed to exist.

I just kind of wish it weren’t so gratuitous.

The Sunday PoemThe Sunday Poem: Building the Globe

 Posted by (Visited 5054 times)  The Sunday Poem  Tagged with: ,
Apr 272008

We heft the oak beams, one two three, each count
A sturdy truss; smooth hewn and splintered, blunt
And heavy, painted gaily marbled, dun
And costumeless. By numbers shall we know
Their place, when Southwark greets our lumber load;
The Theatre is no more, and soon we’ll have a Globe.
In Shoreditch now there stands a hole, on lease-
Land Burbage didn’t own. And past the trees,
By open fields, his Men will have a Streete-
Built O, wherein proud Oberon will prance
And Lear cry out his woe; where faery dance
For groundlings’ sake, and Puck plays out his pranks.
We’ll sift the straw and lay it straight on top,
And paint anew the spangled sky aloft
Above proscenium’s boards. We’ll stop
The crowd with good stout rails, so high-pitch boys
Can stain their lips and flounce their tails, and raise
A ruckus to the skies, the center of our noise.
But first, we must dismantle, first we take
Apart. If all the world’s a stage and planks
Are how it’s made, then for our Good Lord’s sake
I hope he spent his seven days as well,
Assembling worlds in beams of thirty ells,
A Shakespere for his script, Queen Bess, and all
A-toiling midst the sound of London’s bells.

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MusicWatchingAmerican Idol is weird this year

 Posted by (Visited 5400 times)  Music, Watching
Apr 242008

Yes, of course I watch it.

Idol has always rewarded performers who built an emotional connection over good singers; that’s why people like Syesha Mercado are doomed to exit earlier than they should. But this year is downright strange, with not one but two folkies among the finalists. I don’t think that Brooke White or Jason Castro will win (one of the Davids will) but the fact that they are doing so well is interesting in what is says about pop culture. Along with the rise of new female singer-songwriters, this makes me wonder if we’re due for another shift away from glossy pop.

Another ‘Idol’ finalist booted from competition – CNN.com

As music goes, so goes quite a lot of pop culture. Movies also seem to be caught in the grip of an intent towards honest emotion lately, even in raunch comedies. Wonder what that means for games.

Game talkInterdependent systems

 Posted by (Visited 9771 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Apr 222008

Next Generation has an informative email from Russell Williams, the CEO of Flying Lab, giving the reasons why they are having to merge servers. It’s a great insight into the complex equation involved in estimating how many servers to have.

One of the items in particular caught my eye:

Game systems
Pirates’ gameplay is very organic, designed in such a way that the different systems feed into one another. In a PvE-only game, focusing mainly on content, this isn’t a big deal. But in Pirates of the Burning Sea we have systems that require a minimum number of players to function correctly, such as our economy, and they break other systems if they’re not working correctly (such as PvP). If we didn’t have these kinds of interdependent systems, we wouldn’t even be considering server merges.

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Game talkHiPiHi in open beta

 Posted by (Visited 5122 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Apr 212008

SuezanneC Baskerville notes that HiPiHi is entering open beta now.

For those that do not recall, this is the Chinese take on Second Life — I got a close-up demo of it about a year ago while at VW Fall, and it looks like a pretty complete system. It offers not only the sort of building you see in SL, but also has things like prefab buildings and layouts offered by the operator.

If you read through the social media slides I posted last week, you know that China is a massively connected society these days, and growing more so. We have mostly seen that to date with MMORPGs in this space, but the hyperactivity there surrounding UGC, particularly with blogs, is fascinating. It will be interesting to see how things go with HiPiHi.

The Sunday PoemThe Sunday Poem: Peace

 Posted by (Visited 6016 times)  The Sunday Poem  Tagged with:
Apr 202008

Peace shouldn’t be quiet, clouds soft and pliant,
A mellow sky scene in blue.
Peace should be blaring, a jazz band past caring,
A squabble of children and you.
The clangor of pots, your eyes full of spots,
Buttercups growing in dew.
Peace is invention, it’s sustained attention,
It’s chemistry going kaboom.
It’s racing of go karts and artichoke hearts
And farming in Kalamazoo.

It’s silence as well, but the silence of bells
The moment they still for a few;
An aftershock sound that echoes around
And gives way to rush and to hue.
It’s not smug inertia, safe from what hurts ya;
Pain is what gives us the glue.
It’s temperate intemperance, all quantum events,
Mosquitoes buzzing canoes.
A whole raucous party, that’s peace’s priority:
Space to be scattered and true.

ReadingCory Doctorow’s Little Brother

 Posted by (Visited 6283 times)  Reading  Tagged with: ,
Apr 192008

Little Brother, by Cory DoctorowMaking Light has a post about Cory’s new book, promising to send advance reader copies to bloggers who talk about the book. All the copies are gone, of course, since we live on Internet time.

But I’ve been lucky enough to have read it at various stages of development over the last year. So I don’t need a copy. 🙂 Connections have their privileges!

And the bottom line is, go buy Little Brother when it goes on sale in twelve days. It’s aimed at teens. Don’t let that stop you. It’s not a space opera, a military SF novel, not a Singularity sort of thing, and there are no elves. Don’t let that stop you either. Because it’s urgent, and real, and you will learn something from it.

It’s a book about a kid whose town (San Francisco) gets attacked by terrorists, and who finds it then slipping into a sort of Homeland Security nightmare. A kid who fights back with the tech he has to hand — videogame consoles and ARGs and friend networks. And also a lot of guts.

It’s a story not only about paranoia and freedom, but also about security and insecurity. The hacks described are real; there’s an afterword with real-world resources.

I am looking forward to reading it again, between proper covers instead of on loose sheets of paper.