Game talkName your MMO dream team: eep

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Jul 312008

So Massively asks for people to list IPs & developers for “dream teams.

My dream team would be to purchase the MMO rights to MechWarrior, have FunCom develop it under the excellent command of Raph Koster! And use Valve to distribute over steam.

I’d like to see Raph Koster’s vision applied to the GI Joe world. A GI Joe Online similar to the original vision of PreCU SWG would be great, and without a mythos-engrained alpha class, I think it could work.

I think my brain broke.

Game talkScrabulous goes poof

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Jul 292008

Scrabulous, the Facebook app that cloned Scrabble, has been removed from Facebook for US and European users. Apparently because Hasbro pushed Facebook hard enough, now that they have launched their own official version.

It’s still there for other countries, because outside those territories, Mattel has the rights.

Now, I haven’t seen enough on the case,so I am curious about what IP law is being used, exactly. I suppose there’s a trademark case, since there’s a reasonable chance of confusion. I see copyright mentioned, but usually you cannot copyright game rules (people used to patent game designs, back when!). And the DMCA was invoked, according to this article. Anyone know?

MusicThe Sunday Song: Dadgaething

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Jul 272008

This is a very old guitar instrumental of mine, and a very old recording of it, originally. You can hear the aquarium in the background… that would be the fish tank we had back in Austin. In fact, this was probably grabbed off of four-track tape at some point. I’ve always liked it, even though it’s rather quirky and in an odd modal mood.

It got its title from the tuning that it is in: D-A-D-G-A-E, a tuning I used to use a lot but don’t much anymore. I started messing with it on the piano, after the “chorus” part came to mind this evening, and this is the result — just some orchestral instruments layered on top of the original recording.

Game talkRest in peace, Randy

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Jul 252008

‘Last Lecture’ professor dies at 47 –

Most of the world thinks of him as the guy in the video giving the last lecture, the guy with the bestselling book. To me, he’s the guy who co-founded CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center and graduated tons of kids into the game industry, organized academic summits at GDC, and spearheaded the development of Alice. Not a distant author and academic, but one of us.

Game talkChild Online Protection Act Overturned

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Jul 232008

COPA, the Child Online Protection Act, has been overturned by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This is actually upholding a lower court ruling from a while ago.

It will be interesting to see what effect this might have on virtual worlds, given the parental pressure for safe worlds and the ongoing political crusades, and the continued rise in kids’ worlds (and in kids who try out worlds not meant for them).

Edit: since there is some confusion about this, here’s a link that points out the differences between COPA and COPPA. In short, COPA is the replacement to the Communications Decency Act, and has to do with publishing adult material on sites minors can get to. COPPA is the Children’s Online Protection & Privacy Act, and has to do with collecting personal data from kids.

Game talkZynga gets money, buys Yoville

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Jul 232008

Zynga has raised a bunch of money to keep going after their target of building a network of more casual games — a sort of Internet version of a publisher. In fact, ex-EA Chief Creative Officer Bing Gordon has joined their board.

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus says:

He is super-involved in product strategy, brings the gaming DNA to us, and is an amazing CEO coach. He’s already stopped us from doing stupid things.

Like what?

Stupid things like build a PC downloadable MMO game that would cost anywhere from $5 million to $30 million, and would be free to play with virtual goods.

Meow. 😉 But hey, 1.6m daily users can’t be wrong. It’s a serious challenge to the status quo, an example of the mammals going after the dinosaurs. That said, Pincus also says that it’s likely that costs will rise and production values have to improve as more competition and richer experiences enter the arena.

They also picked up Yoville, the Facebook MMO that gets 150,000 daily uniques (see a video), with a 13% tie ratio (today’s stats) — just since May. Those are stats that again, most of the “mainstream” MMOs would love to have.

ReadingFrom the other side…

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Jul 222008

DuoCenti: The Murloc’s Family

This late in the evening, Mrgurlargl was the only one still awake. The others were curled around the campfire, full of wine and food and sleeping soundly. He couldn’t sleep, though, he was too proud, too excited to sleep.

“Die murloc filth!” Loldude247’s assault was swift. His sword sang death even as his shouts roused the sleeping family.

Stumbled across this when checking out trackbacks. Of course, it reminds me of this.

Game talkMore on WebFlock

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Jul 212008

For those curious about the tech behind the Electric Sheep’s WebFlock platform, here’s a glimpse from a comment posted on Clickable Culture:

…the avatars are typically created in Maya or Max but they are rendered into sprites. That doesn’t prevent avatars from being individually personalized, but we haven’t finished that capability yet in our feature set.

You can still have a very 3D feel with our rendering engine (less toylike than isometric in my opinion), but you don’t have full camera control. Personally, I think that is a feature you DON’T want right now (unless you are doing enterprise simulation/training or mirrorworld stuff) — if you’ve ever watched people try to learn the camera controls in your typical full-3D virtual world, it is sheer pain.

The environments are also created in Maya or Max and then exported to Collada.