Archive for April, 2006|Monthly archive page

Welcome Aboard Folks.

hey. thanks for the pointer to me, andrew.

and, yeah. travian is totally fun for a bit. me? i'm one of those bastards who plays teutons and got real big real quick. i'm also a min/maxer at heart, so, i haven't wasted any time or resources to getting to catapults.

oh. my. god.

they are game enders. i'm melting people's workshops from level 10 to gone in one attack. that's just not right.

anyway, my point was that the game we've been working on isn't going to have those kinds of power imbalances. in our 'super-secret passive game,' one of the great rules (i think) is that you can never attack someone weaker than you — unless they attack you first.

that should solve a lot of the issues with the folks who just want to casually poke around.

well. that, and it's turn-based, so, it doesn't matter how much free time you have. you can only make 48 moves a day. period. you can burn through 4 days worth of them in 1/2 hour, or you can trickle them out during each day. however you want to play.

anyway. i'm rambling now. really just wanted to say hey to the folks flowing in.


Woo Hoo! My Xbox Feed is Correct!

i'm not sure what the guys did over at, but, my feed is correct again! they must have gotten that temporal black hole removed from my account. no more 'smash tv' in january being the last game i've played.


Game Information Syndication

so. one of you smart guys who reads this drivel i write (goldstone) had a fantastic question in the comments a few posts back. i just wanted to address his question here with a full post too.

goldstone asks:

I’m interested in as to the reason for providing your api for others to use. I was under the assumption that your business model for this particular project was based around getting as many page views, and therefore ad view, as possible?

Doesn’t ‘opening your api’ (vomit 🙂 ) negate that? Or do you believe this will generate enough goodwill that will in effect act as a driver of traffic to your site? If I can play most of the game from another site, a site that doesn’t show ads and may offer a nicer gaming experience, why wouldn’t I do that?

to which i responded:

fantastic question. my guys have grilled me incessantly on how that works. (none of them are web 2.barf guys.) but, since you can’t eat goodwill, here’s how it’ll roll out: sort of a mix of free and paid services.

so, that means, if you are a site developer, you can buy access into the suite of web services that do all the heavy lifting. basically, for a fee based on traffic, they can build a game on top of our ‘engine’ if you will.

the bonus there is the direct revenue-to-bandwidth translation.

for everyone else, there’s read only access to all the fun stuff. so, you’ll be able to pull what’s going on in the world, just not directly affect it. that’s where all the histories and profiles and stuff live.

so, you’re guild can have a web page that pulls real time guild member status or who’s currently in your guild hall. or your own profile page. or your challenge history info.

the benefit for that stuff is 1) publicity and 2) real-time updates in the world so you know when to come back to our site and play.

now i want to expand on that a bit….

so, we're really building a couple things by making certain design choices up front.

by opening up our developer api (i know that's cliche, but, the web is turning into one huge api that everyone can build cool applications on) we're essentially turning our little game into the engine that could. maybe an offline parallel would be the unreal engine. so, think of it as a distributed, web-based gaming framework.

we can do that because we've built it to be a white label sort of thing. devs can basically create their own 'zones' to play our game. so, maybe they want a narrative rich version. or, a more combat tournament style game. they can do that. heh. and those super web geeks can prolly build something pretty quickly with ruby on rails or whathave you since it's just a bunch of web services.

it'll just be a subscription fee based on traffic.

second, the cool community support part of the game. pretty much anything that can be represented as data along a timeline will be available. a few examples off the top of my head:

  • challenge history. who/what you've challenged and, more importantly, what's challenged you while you've been away.
  • guild membership. who are the latest guild members. who's leaving.
  • location populations. who's currently visible to you in your current location?
  • world news and events. there is an ongoing, global 'storyline.' what's going on in the world?
  • current profile. your stats and figures — or stats and figures of other players.
  • current xp. yes. you gain xp while you're away. people can challenge or attack you and, if your character successfully defeats them, you get the xp.
  • friends' tales of adventure. think blogging for xp.
  • friend requests. who wants to be your buddy?
  • guild bank. yep. a guild bank. balance. transactions. who's taking, who's giving.
  • quest journal. what quests have you completed? what quests has your friend completed?
  • merchant for sale items. lists of the weapons and items a particular merchant will have for sale.

all of those things will be available for subscription outside the site. they are really just trawlers out there fishing to bring people back to the site. site traffic in an ad supported business model is always good.

allowing people to subscribe to your 'calls to action' is a good thing.


Making Your Xbox 360 Blog

this get's tossed into the bin that holds all the coolest ideas in the world: let your 360 write a blog.

holy crap that's awesome.

i'm signed up in there. feel free to subscribe to my 360's feed. tho. i wonder how that works with the whole misaligned gamercard issue i've got going.

gonna have to see. if it thinks the last thing i've done was play smash tv in january, we'll know.


That’s It! Brilliant!

so, i just figured out how to finish our game on time! we can just rent a developer!

er. no.

what the hell are you going to get done in 3 months? you'd have to have your 60 page game design doc (with only 3 months, you're limited to arcade/casual games) fully fleshed out, concept illustrations done and milestones planned.

pretty much, if you've done all that work already, you might as well just keep going. save yourself $200k.

that's just silly.

tho. i'm sure someone will take them up on it. if only to get a demo or proof of concept out the door. that's really the only way it makes sense.

spec work to get funding.



so. it's after 2 in the morning and i'm sitting here, cold crusty coffee in the cup, thinking: damn. it's been a while since i actually wrote something worth reading. so. here goes.

travian is boring.

don't get me wrong. i like the game. i was actually ranked in the top 100 at one point before i started to get bored with it. it's just i'm not a huge rts fan. travian + darkthrone might be fun tho. but, something like that just doesn't exist. i mean, you're lucky to find a playable web-based mmog, much less one that is anything more than one dimensional.

how would you go about combining them? would combining mmogs help? web api mashup stuff is all the rage these days. wouldn't be hard. really, what would make it less boring? maybe add some sort of social software to it? yeah. i think that's it!

so. let's say, you had this thing that was pretty similar to myspace. (or pick any of those types of web sites) what would happen if, instead of just a loose theme like 'music' — what if you had slightly more niche memes? like a persistent world maybe? a fantasy world? a vampire world? arg! me hardy! pirates even! blarg!

now we have this social site that has a game attached to it. the hardcores can play and show off their 1337 skills. the casuals can hang out and chatter. add a few real-time, turn-based rules and we passive players (those of us with real lives who detest advancement through time invested rather than skill) can have a good time too.

all of a sudden we have these avatars that are these super expressive, persistent representations of self that can be competitive and yet inter-conversational at the same time.

this is something you can't do in a 'full immersion' game. it just doesn't work. when you logoff, you're gone. on the web, your profile — what you build, create or display — is persistent. it's the reason things like blogging, myspace and photo sharing are so huge. it's that killer combination of self expression, conversations and something to focus it. something like a game.

a real world equivalent? that genius who first decided to put a pool table or a dart board in a bar. how you look? what you drink? do you play? just watch? catch up on life? meet friends of friends?

yeah. we're building one of those….


We Finally Have an Artist!

just got the signed contract back, so i can finally spill the beans on the artist who'll be responsible for the look for our magical-passive-web-game-social-software-thingy-ma-bob.

his name's jason chan and you can check out his stuff right here:

send him a note and let him know how bitchin' you think his art is.

welcome aboard jason! woot!



so. we just got denied from going to e3. wtf? we’ve been going for the last 4 years. evidently a site, business cards, pay stubs, a magazine ad and a business license aren’t enough to get you into e3 anymore.

what the hell?

i guess it’s time for me to stop putting off our igda membership.


Workin’ For a Livin’

so. we (t.j. and i) are just now finishing up a pretty complex part of our web-based mmog. it's the 'adventure authoring' part. basically, it's a big part of the community aspect of our game.

here's an example:

so, we have a 'bard' class in our initial release. this class can craft 'adventures' (or quests, if you like, tho, i like to think they are larger in scope than a simple quest) in an interface we've designed for them. think of it kind of like the neverwinter nights aurora toolset, only a helluva lot easier to use. (mostly because of the non-3d medium we're working with)

so, this class can attribute narrative to the world at large. they can also create game locations. basically, they can craft their world how they like it. and, other people share in that vision.

right. they can 'craft' locations. i.e. a town. a valley. a farm. spin yarns and tell legends and attract populations, if you will.

people can travel there and hook up with others. take over a town and turn it into their guild center. all kinds of fun emergent-type play.

anyway. my point was, this small part of the larger goal — this 'adventure authoring' tool — just the code itself, mind you — weighs in at about 300kb. or, about 8000 lines of code.

yeah. that's the stuff that's keeping us busy over here. heh.


p.s. did i mention that bard get xp for every player who plays one of the adventures they crafted?