GamemakingThe Great Metaplace Meep-In

 Posted by (Visited 7828 times)  Gamemaking  Tagged with:
Feb 272009
Some sorts of meeps

Some kinds of meeps

A meep is a fuzzy critter I made in Metaplace that is sort of a cross between the things Marvin Suggs beats on in his Amazing Muppaphone and a Miyazaki soot sprite. They come in a variety of colors and with a variety of behaviors — some like people, some are shy, some have big teeth… I put them on the marketplace, and they quickly became popular on the service.

If you have been on Metaplace, you may have noticed that people get “meeped” instead of “poked.” This was put in by our web guys as a joke, originally, when meeps became popular. Sure enough, everyone started asking, “What is meeping?”

Well, last week we decided to rename the feature to “nudge” or something else mundane. Too many people in our user testing were getting confused, didn’t know what it meant, or were commenting on it. So with regret, we decided we needed to change the term. Meeps would remain running around the worlds, but the feature needed to be easy for new folks to understand. We figured some of the veterans would not like this, but that everyone would understand and be supportive.

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MiscDunbar’s Number matters online too

 Posted by (Visited 6366 times)  Misc  Tagged with: , ,
Feb 272009

Of course, this is completely unsurprising to me, since we demonstrated it via datamining of MMORPG metrics five years ago. There’s some interesting stuff here about “core” or tight-cluster friends versus the extended network, however.

The rise of online social networks, with their troves of data, might shed some light on these matters. So The Economist asked Cameron Marlow, the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook, to crunch some numbers. Dr Marlow found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, consistent with Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis, and that women tend to have somewhat more than men. But the range is large, and some people have networks numbering more than 500, so the hypothesis cannot yet be regarded as proven.

What also struck Dr Marlow, however, was that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable. The more “active” or intimate the interaction, the smaller and more stable the group.

— The size of social networks | Primates on Facebook | The Economist.

As someone with a larger-than-normal extended network and a smaller-than-normal core network, I kind of live with this every day as I use social media. There’s a lot of talk about the issue of “unbalanced” followers/following number on Twitter, for example, or about whether social media are used as marketing tools by some folks. In my case, the answer is undoubtedly “yes,” though perhaps my style of personal marketing is fairly informal. At the same time, as I have commented to folks at the office, the first anonymous brown-paper-wrapped package you get at your home address, first death threat, first random fan phone call at dinner, completely changes your perspective on social media…

Game talkBBC’s on Flash

 Posted by (Visited 4909 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Feb 262009

The BBC News blog has a piece about web gaming and how the industry is changing, with a pile of quotes from yours truly. It was a very fun conversation with Darren Waters.

The relaunch of a 10-year-old video game inside a web browser is not just a chance to wallow in some nostalgia, but also a strong pointer to the direction in which the video games industry is heading, and a potential herald of the future of rich internet media on many types of devices…

…The shift to the network – both in terms of delivery of content and at the end of point of the experience itself – is touching every aspect of the media industry and for video gamers it means a lot more fun in a browser near you soon.

GamemakingMetaplace CNET article

 Posted by (Visited 3940 times)  Gamemaking  Tagged with:
Feb 252009

Everyone has probably heard about this already via other sources, but here it is:

Built to run inside the browser on any Internet-connected machine, Metaplace employs a simple, 2D, Flash-based graphics system that fronts for a fairly sophisticated set of content creation tools and what may one day be a complex open-ended economy built around user-created content.

In fact, because of the 2D and Flash nature of Metaplace, it’s easy to miss that the platform offers users some of the easiest virtual-world building tools that have ever been made available.

— Metaplace: Platform for user-created virtual worlds | Gaming and Culture – CNET News.

Game talkAnother silly game design meme

 Posted by (Visited 6336 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Feb 252009

This seemed amusing, especially since I am barely blogging and need content. 😉

Hi Raph! 🙂

Inspired by “#backflick” on Twitter, I’ve started #backgames:

I’ve written 15. Here are a few, to whet your appetite….

*Cave Story* A traveller lands on a floating island, helps the Doctor enslave the Mimigas, then falls asleep & forgets everything.

*Katamari Damacy* A prince must hide the stars, by rolling them across the earth’s surface, until they break into small everyday objects.

*Asteroids* A spaceship tends a galactic garden, growing tiny rocks into huge boulders.

Thought your visitors might like to submit a few of their own?

— Gabe aka Mr_Staypuft JustOneMoreGame

Game talkFrance & videogame addiction

 Posted by (Visited 19102 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Feb 242009

From Olivier comes this little tidbit:

Hi Raph, Here are some news from France. Politics try to put addiction to videogames into the new Hospital reform law. Here is a translation at my blog.

Best, Olivier M.

His translation of the legalese:

After Article 25 insert the following:

When a game presents a risk to public health because of its addictive potential, support each unit and its packaging bear, under conditions set by a decree of the Minister for Health, a message of sanitary . The implementation of this obligation is incumbent upon the publisher or, failing that, the distributor responsible for distribution in France of the video game.


Adolescents constitute a particularly vulnerable target to computer. Consultations for addiction to video games are primarily concerned with children and adolescents. Faced with this phenomenon, a common sign in 25 European countries was established. PEGGY system (Pan-European Game Information) provides guidance in the form of symbols printed on the boxes of video games. However, many parents do not understand the meaning of symbols. This amendment seeks to make the implementation of a prevention message clear about the risks of addiction that can cause some video games.

As Olivier notes, it’s kind of a bad sign when legislation on games is being done by folks who don’t know what PEGI is.

Game talkNeuroscience of gambling

 Posted by (Visited 6113 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Feb 212009

I mentioned in Theory of Fun that humans kinda suck as odds estimation and that this is one reason why games of chance persist. But maybe there’s more!

It turns out that the reward system that lights up when we get a near-miss in a game of skill (which makes sense) gives us the same reward when we have a near-miss in a game of chance (but only if we get to make a choice in the game, such as picking our lotto numbers, even though this has no influence over the outcome of the game).

via Neuroscience of gambling – Boing Boing.

It’s a radio segment from Quirks & Quarks available here.

Game talkCA’s video game law ruled unconstitutional

 Posted by (Visited 4669 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Feb 212009

The battle continues. This is still that Leland Yee bill that was blocked in 2006, on appeal.

LOS ANGELES–A U.S. appeals court ruled Friday that a California law restricting the sales and rental of violent video games to minors and imposing labeling requirements is too restrictive and violates free-speech guarantees.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the labeling requirement unfairly forces video games to carry “the state’s controversial opinion” about which games are violent.

via California’s video game law ruled unconstitutional – CNET News.

Game talkThe Pub Game, for designers!

 Posted by (Visited 9710 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Feb 202009

From Sheri Graner Ray, The Pub Game. In short, you take an experience, in this case a restaurant, and describe it as if done by different designers. For the record, I think she overestimates my design skills. 🙂

If Sid Meier created this restaurant, first we’d have to invent the Chinese, and the Koreans and all the other Asian cultures before we could invent the food that would then be served in the restaurant…

If Will Wright created this restaurant, we’d have to continually monitor what each employee was doing, instructing them when to cook, when to clean and when to go to the bathroom, but eventually, it would burn down anyway.. and if it didn’t a natural disaster would occur to make sure it was destroyed.

If Richard Garriott created this restaurant, it would have been started by him and a number of his friends. At the restaurant, the customers could harvest the grain, mill it into flour, mix it and bake it into bread… which of course would have nothing to do with anything on the menu

If Raph Koster created this restaurant, it would be completely self contained. It would be completely automated, adjusting its menus to reflect the changing seasons, regulating its resource consumption based on available crops and making the food. It wouldn’t even need customers.. in fact, customers could just watch as it ran itself!

If Brenda Brathwaite created this restaurant, it woud be staffed by naked people and the customers would have to order their meals from a terminal equiped only with an excel spread sheet

If Sheri Graner Ray created this restaurant, there would be extensive discussion on the new diner experience and how to create the easiest onramp to the restaurant and making sure all dining styles were accounted for.. this would all then be put into a visio flowchart before any work on building the restaurant could begin.

via twylite1 – The Pub Game...

If John Carmack created this restaurant, it would be just like his other restaurants, except much prettier.

If Steve Mereztsky created this restaurant, an octopus, a priest, and a cowboy would immediately walk up to the bar….

Add your own!