Game talkLila Dreams: a very cool concept

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May 302008

Lila Dreams – Home

What the heck is Lila Dreams? It’s a massively multiplayer online game where you become a mental entity (called a “memekin”) and live out an adventurous life inside an 11 year-old girl’s psyche.

They also have a blog with interviews and the like; looks like it’s in Flash and will be on Kongregate. Based on the concept art, I’m betting it is a side view game…

May 292008

It’s Phil Harrison’s turn to get beat up, and PCWorld begins the process.

Of course, in the process, they beat up on me a little bit too, saying that I only advocate multiplayer for the money in it, or something. 😉

For those just joining this particular multiplayer game, you may want to read these older posts of mine:

May 292008

Greg Costikyan over at Play This Thing! has a list of “eminent game designers” that refreshingly crosses over into boardgames, ARGs, and other areas of the field. No bios or justification given — not even some short credits, alas — so looking up the folks you don’t know may prove a tad challenging. The comment thread is gathering more names and suggestions — go participate!

Game talkI’m #9

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May 282008

Massive Online Gamer coverBeckett Massive Online Gamer has selected a list of the “Top 20 Most Influential People in the MMO Industry.” I came in at #9.

  1. Rob Pardo, Senior VP of Game Design, Blizzard Entertainment
  2. Jeffrey Steefel, Executive Producer, Turbine
  3. John Smedley, CEO, Sony Online Entertainment
  4. Hilmar Pétursson, CEO, CCP
  5. Jack Emmert, CCO, Cryptic Studios
  6. Rob Seaver, CEO, Vivox
  7. Min Kim, Director of Game Operations, Nexon America
  8. Scott Hartsman, Formerly Senior Producer, SOE
  9. Raph Koster, President, Areae
  10. James Phinney, Lead Designer, ArenaNet
  11. Richard Garriott, Creative Director, NCSoft
  12. Starr Long, Producer, NCSoft
  13. Cory Ondrejka, Formerly CTO, Linden Labs
  14. Mark Jacobs, GM and VP, EA Mythic
  15. Sulka Haro, Lead Concept Designer, Sulake
  16. Sage Sundi, Global Online Producer, Square-Enix
  17. Jess Lebow, Lead Quest Designer, Carbine Studios
  18. David Perry, CCO, Acclaim
  19. Sanya Weathers, Director of Community,
  20. Daniel James, CEO, Three Rings Design

Quite flattering, and it’s really great company to be in.

Game talkExitReality: another VRML world

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May 282008

ExitReality Launches With Carl’s Jr Deal, and it looks like another attempt to commercialize VRML, much like several of the other projects we have seen over the last couple of years.

The comment thread is interesting precisely because of its mix of reactions:

This is really nice! Really love to check it out. It can turn any web page into 3D space? How can this be done? Amazing stuff!


I’d like one double failburger to go.

One commenter makes the point that has to be made about any plug-in based approach to the problem: what about adoption of the plug-in? Most people simply say no to all plug-in install requests. This is a significant challenge across the web — it takes really compelling content to drive adoption.

In any case, ExitReality seems to have some nice features that seem to rapidly be becoming de rigueur: HTML on a polygon, video on a polygon, etc. Not sure how they did the Burger Time emulation — Flash on a poly? Most interesting is the “install and automatically make a 3d space from your webpage” thing that is hinted at. It’s not that hard to do, really — pass in the URL to the world, and have the world scrape the page for assets to use — but it potentially makes a page a bit more compelling.

Edit: Apparently there’s a MySpace app as well, which connects to the branded worlds.

May 272008

Mr Koster, I am wondering if you can help me with a bit of online Mythbusting? I have an interest in statistics with relation to gamers and beta testers. This quote: “Something like 90% of the people playing an MMO never post in the forums.” was recently made here and attributed to you and Rich Vogel here. (please read the thread to see why I am interested) So, I was wondering if you could confirm this? How did you collect this data? And if so, what other data can you share? Do you know of any other sources of this sort of data? And, yes. I would be very happy to see this email posted and commented on in your blog. Thank you for your time and effort.

Regards, Guy Russon

Well, as far as how that stat comes about (and it does vary game to game — don’t take 10% as gospel, becaus eyou are right it’s a “whisper stat” at this point), you simply measure your subscribers, measure your active forum posters, and derive a ratio. 🙂 In the case of forums where they require a game registration in order to register for the forum, this is pretty easy.

Continue reading »

May 262008

What makes this so interesting is that music like thought always intends to get someplace specific. That place happens to be the end of the thought or the cadence. What makes this even more interesting is that just as we walk, to get someplace specific, at 116, most people also speak with the normal accents in their speech occurring at a rate of 116 beats per minute. But we only do this when we have something specific to say. People who by temperament, by personality, by persuasion, or by habit speak either faster or slower than that speed are perceived to be intolerably dull or slow witted, if they speak much slower than 116, or untrustworthy, if they speak much faster than 116. The affect of being slower is of slothfulness or of painful self consciousness. The affect of being faster is that of a shyster who is always trying to fast talk people into doing things they don’t want to do.

I thought this was fascinating, and it made me wonder whether it was applicable to pacing in other areas of creativity as well. Games? Blogging? Web site interactivity?

The whole block, excerpted from The Craft of Musical Communication – Part One: Continue reading »

The Sunday PoemThe Sunday Poem: Apples

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May 262008

In Latin, the words for “apple” and for “evil” are similar in the singular (malus—apple, malum—evil) and identical in the plural (mala).

– Wikipedia

This apple from Tajikistan gave birth to all the fruit:
The red ones, gold ones, tart ones, green and russet hues.

Each branch was mated to a branch carried over miles
And honeybees deployed in ranks to stoke the woody fires.

The names themselves are everywheres: from Fuji to Orléans,
Grannies, Coxes, McIntoshes and countless other brands,

Which carry in each half-cut star and in their very style
The memory of Kazakh slopes where first they grew in wild.

The blossoms spread, pink and pale verging on the blue,
Until we had the legends: the gold ones Hera grew;

The one that Eris tossed to Paris, causing wars in Troy;
Immortal orchards grown in eddas, Idun’s deathless joy;

A snow white princess poisoned; Atalanta’s race;
Johnny and all those orchards over which he traipsed;

The tree of knowledge, good and evil, our original sin.
This is quite a burden for fruit to bear within.

We have made the apple ours, and on it grafted history,
And yet the breed runs on, profusions to a tree,

This fruit humanity resents, but loves and needs.
Every apple carries still inside those bitter seeds.

Game talkWii Fit

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May 232008

Ah, the irony of writing about Wii Fit while eating a ridiculously sugar-laden donut. Oh well.

Initial thoughts:

For a while there, I thought a balance-board-shaped Clippy was going to be my personal trainer. Someone at Microsoft must be kicking themselves, realizing that after all these years, the equivalent of Clippy is outselling their console.

It’s funny to have my Mii gain weight to match me. Then it’s not.

The balance board is significantly sturdier than any given piece of kit in Rock Band. On the one hand, the balance board is meant to be stood on by people of up to 330lbs. (Not jumped on, they insist, though the game then proceeds to ask you to jump on things.) On the other hand, you are supposed to hit drums repeatedly with great force. I suppose this is a testament to how sturdily the balance board is built…

The biggest problem with Wii Fit is that it’s a grab bag of (pretty good) activities, rather than a training regimen. You seem to have to build your own regimen, and if you don’t feel like aerobics that day, you can just blow them off. It would have been nicer if the game did a little more handholding and told you what to do.