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….


7 comments so far

  1. Andrew Wooldridge on

    How might you expose apis? Could someone effectively “play” the game via public apis? like say Player.getLocation(), etc. etc.?

    It would be interesting to be able to “subscribe” to a player as well. Whenever something interesting happens – say some number of turns has happened, or the player is in jeopardy, etc. etc. the RSS feed gets updated.

    It could also be interesting if there were sites that specialised in various aspects of a game. Imagine a ‘universal’ game inventory. You could click on special links on various sites which could give you food or some useless yet fun trinket to show off in the game.

    Adventure Quest has an interesting feature where you can post your character online: for example

  2. Andrew Wooldridge on

    Also – have you see Gaia Online? It’s an artist community site which is slowly morphing into a MMO! You start off with a plain avatar, but as you rate others’ pictures and participate in forum discussions you gain coins which you can then use to make your avatar more interesting.

  3. m3mnoch on

    i hadn’t seen gaia in a while. looks like it’s come a long way! and, has always been very cool.

    heh. that other stuff? check, check, check.

    i know you are one of the alpha testers in there. did you go to the ‘for developers’ page under the ‘about’ section? there are a couple web services there for public consumption. (they’re live, so we may be editing them when you are looking) we have a couple more that we’ll be publishing and those out there aren’t cleaned up for the masses yet.

    but. yeah. that’s the idea.

    you can actually play a lot of the game from an entirely different site. our game is really just a thin client that rides on top of our suite of web services. web services that for the most part will be available to the public.

    and, as for subscription feeds, we’ve got a whole slew to choose from. your challenge history (basically what you’re talking about), your messages, friends, world events, all kinds of stuff.

    pretty much anything that can be represented along a timeline, we’re syndicating.

    and, the inventory stuff is entirely possible. we hadn’t planned on a giant inventory service, but we were going to allow crafting and showing individual inventories (the ‘on display’ items) externally.

    sounds like you’re riding the same wavelength we are…. it’s so nice to have someone other than us to geek out about all this with!


  4. Voorshwa on

    Good lord make him stop.

    My to do list is already huge, he doesn’t need any more ideas. ;o)


  5. Andrew Wooldridge on

    Heh, I’m just getting started.

    (Pets, Golems [automatons that go fetch links, couriers for data and articles, read your email to you in-game, etc. etc.])

    But I’ll wait for a good time.

  6. goldstone on

    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?

  7. m3mnoch on

    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.


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