Archive for January, 2007|Monthly archive page

Web-based MMOG Imagineering

i’ve been doing a lot of imagineering (man, i love that word) lately when it comes to web-based mmogs. lots of stuff running the gamut from super-secret ideas i can’t tell anyone about right now to general wonderings and observations.

well. i think i’ll just dump some of them out right here so i have them collected somewhere.

subscription fees are choice inhibiting.
paying those subscription fees certainly add up. i know you can say “well, just pay them for the 3 months you play and then get rid of them.”

no. it doesn’t work like that.

the thing with a subscription fee is that it represents commitment. there’s a high switching cost involved. and, since not very many people can afford to pay subscriptions for, oh, 15 games over the course of two years, you tend not to move on to those newer games. we basically have the wow effect where everyone is really only in a few games.

it really moves buying games into parallel with buying cars. you really like different models and styles, but, you have to make an informed decision about one — and only one — you’ll enjoy and use enough to make its acquisition worth it.

with non-subscription games, they are more like traditional media. more like movies or music. you just pop it in and play it whenever you want. you know that from purchase so there is no “will i use this in the future?” or “will i like this better than everquest?” or “will something better come along?”  the only factor is the “now” factor. how does buying it impact you right now?

non-subscription games are very much more pickup-putdown with no real switching cost. that lets you consume more game media.

web servers are more conducive to a persistent online world.
this one is tricky and i’m not going to try not to get too awful web-geeky on it.

the gist is that, for example, has millions of concurrent users — all of whom can be on the exact same page at the exact same time. that is absolutely no different performance-wise than all of those million people being on a million separate pages.

not only performance, but the web is better at information dissemination than a graphical, high-visual client.

for example, if these million players were all in one place on a wow server (assuming of course the server wouldn’t go chernobyl on the situation) you wouldn’t really be able to pick out any one particular player to attack or inspect or what-have-you. with something like the singular, you can just ask them how many users per page you want to see?

i mean, has anyone ever seen how many google results come up for the word “page?”

oh sure, you say, but there’s an immersive, graphical richness that can’t be achieved with this silly text and lightweight graphical environment called the web. to that, i say, use the best-of-breed parts of both. use the data layout of a web page and the graphically rich aspects of flash for your deeper spatial relation needs.

the future of mmogs is going to be about ajax-enabled rest applications.

event-based feedback consumable in sub-5 minute increments.
as you may know, signing on and logging into wow may take you a while. hell, it takes 5 minutes on a good day to get logged into something you can actually “play.”

contrast that with 3 or 4 seconds to get to a play screen with travian. your login credentials are cached so all you really need is a bookmark to your village overview.

now, with that same 5 minutes you’re logging into wow, i can check guild messages, send appropriate reinforcements, build a new building, train some additional troops and send out a spy mission — and still have time left over.

that’s a lot of gameplay compacted into a short amount of time.

and, that’s the kind of stuff you just can’t do in a 3d world.

by the time you wander over to the auction house, i’ve already hit the marketplace, scanned the available trades, accepted a trade, sent merchants and moved on to planning my next action. and that’s only if you happen to be close to the auction house when we start.

now that we’ve decided that gameplay interaction is faster with a web-based mmog, what can we do with it?

well. what makes gameplay addictive? incremental goals and achieving them, right? well. now, we can have more. more incremental goals and they can be closer together. it’s called instant gratification and it’s a goddamn drug.

and, what quality makes a game permeate throughout your life? being able to get in and get out of the world instantly. how easy is it to check your inbox for new messages? how easy is it to check the box score of the game last night? how easy is it to check what google’s stock closed at today? how easy is it to see if your reinforcements got attacked in your alliance?

answer: super-easy. mere seconds even.

that turns playing a game into a “walk-by” experience. busy working around the house? on an excel document? writing an email? tv commercialing?

multi-task gaming. pop-in. pop-out. top of mind.

and, we haven’t even touched the portability aspect.  connected to the same game on your treo 650?  yep, you sure are.

the web is the single most efficient content distribution channel in history.  mmogs, at their core, are just specialized, interactive content distribution in need of a super-efficient channel.


Spec Work

doin’ a little spec work this weekend. not gonna get around to making any hypefighter changes.

well. that, and my tablet pc shit the bed. shorted out one of the usb ports. that killed the fan. that killed the rest of it. all it does right now (without a fan, of course) is reboot, blue-screen, reboot, blue-screen.


russ has a 2.5 inch hard drive connector i’m going to borrow, so, at least i’ll be able to pull the swanky new hypefighter design out. it’s hawt. and just like the logo, very web 2.0 cliche. heh. fun.

anyway. back to my magic spec work stuff.


A 360, A Hooker and a Bag of Blow

thought this was a funny bit from one of those moments of weakness where i bust out and make fun of some little sony zealot.

basically, his brief point in this small portion of a larger conversation was that an xbox 360 with 4 years of subscription to live equaled the price of a ps3.

“That’s..ummm…200 dollars for 4 years? There goes your cost advantage”

damn! your right!

tho, since you can get all those downloads on xbox live for free, you don’t need to pay the $200 for the live subscription. tho, to help make your point, i’ll show you other ways the “360 cost advantage disappears.”

you’re right, a 360 and 4 years of live — cost advantage gone!

a 360 and 4 award-winning, exclusive games — cost advantage gone!

a 360 and 100 starbucks lattes — cost advantage gone!

a 360, a hooker and a bag of blow — cost advantage gone!

do you see the difference, with the $600 the ps3 costs you, a 360 owner can have their console PLUS other stuff. best of all? they get to CHOOSE what to spend that extra $200 on! they’re not just sitting there in the dark, wiping down their dust-magnet while NOT playing games.

hmmm…  weird.  he never responded.

one of these days, i should go count up the number of “thread-enders” i’ve written.


Encyclopedia of Video Game Knowledge

hmmm…  no.  this isn’t a link to one.  but, i think i can use hypefighter to kind of create one.  no, really.  hear me out.

so, hypefighter, aside from being a game, is basically a vertical implementation of digg (the recruiting) or (your bookmarks are your army) focusing on video games.  meaning, where those sites collect links that cover broad topics of information, hypefighter just aggregates information (news and bits) about video games.

for example, if there’s an article about water on hypefighter, well, it’s probably about rendering water in a game.  not say… the movie or the drink or the atoms involved.

so, we’re focused on video game information.  not only that, but collecting the “best” video game information as determined by our users.

so, here’s a thought:  anyone ever used google co-op’s custom search engine?

*bing*  i just saw andrew’s light bulb go on!

yep.  so, i can integrate the sites submitted to hypefighter into a custom search engine courtesy of the folks at google.  that means we can build a searchable aggregate of the best (not according to spammers or google or anyone other than us) video game information on the planet.

can i get a “word!”  going vertical kicks ass.

i totally know what i’m going to do tonight….


New HypeFighter Logo

hot off the press.  worked up a first rev at an actual hypefighter logo today.   for you guys to enjoy.

HypeFighter Logo Sample

off to watch the game.


DVD Consumer Confusion

consumer 1:
“you want blu-ray to go with your new tv!”

consumer 2, as he’s hooking up his home theatre:
“what’s a blue ray?”

consumer 1:
“it’s a high definition dvd for your hdtv.”

consumer 2:
“ok. cool. so, i can just ask for an hd dvd player?”

consumer 1:
“no, no, no. hd dvd is something different. the two formats are incompatible. you want blu-ray. it’s named after it’s blue laser.”

consumer 2:
“ah. got it. so, what color is the laser on an hd dvd player?”

consumer 1:
“um…. blue.”

consumer 2, muffled behind his receiver, plugging in cables:
“so. wait. what do i want to get again? the hd dvd format with the blue laser? or the blue ray format that’s not a high defintion dvd?”

consumer 1:

consumer 2, gets his progressive scan dvd player hooked up:
“oh, hey! check this out! look at how good my dvds look in hd now on my new hdtv! man, i love this high definition dvd stuff!”

consumer 1:


New HypeFighter Tagline!

heh. so, i’m just sitting here, having to click the goddamn “publish” button in a couple times to get it to go through (frustrating!) and wishing i could just send my hypefighter army to attack the devs when i thought of a new tagline.

HypeFighter: Social Bookmark Combat

it’s funny. i like it. makes me think my little bookmarks are marching around attacking each other. ha! that’s because they are!


HypeFighter Article Feed

you may have noticed that i added a cool hypefighter article feed over on the right.

right now, it’s just the newest articles for the whole site.  eventually, the goal is to be able to add a feed for popular stories, my stories recruited or stories i’ve submitted.  that way, when, you know, a bazillion people are using it, you will still get a fresh feed of what i think is cool.  not some 12-year old laotian boy who likes pokemon.

ben.  you’ll want to subscribe if you’re to keep up that retardedly huge army of yours.


Fun with Words

so.  some of you may have seen that text analysis done on the recent ces/macworld keynotes.  i’ll tell you what, that text analysis tool is pretty damn cool.

so, here’s what i did:  i just quickly dug up some justifiably breathy text from myself, raph koster, tycho and that famous nwn flower-power ngj review mashed them up and barfed them through the analysis.

the results?


Total Word Count: 1575
Total Unique Words: 637
Number of Sentences: 71
Average Words per Sentence: 22.24
Hard Words: 122 (7.75%) (what’s this?)
Lexical Density: 40.44% (what’s this?)
Fog Index: 11.97 (what’s this?)


Total Word Count: 657
Total Unique Words: 360
Number of Sentences: 34
Average Words per Sentence: 19.34
Hard Words: 51 (7.76%) (what’s this?)
Lexical Density: 54.79% (what’s this?)
Fog Index: 10.83 (what’s this?)


Total Word Count: 983
Total Unique Words: 409
Number of Sentences: 117
Average Words per Sentence: 8.43
Hard Words: 82 (8.34%) (what’s this?)
Lexical Density: 41.61% (what’s this?)
Fog Index: 6.70 (what’s this?)


Total Word Count: 737
Total Unique Words: 399
Number of Sentences: 26
Average Words per Sentence: 28.34
Hard Words: 66 (8.96%) (what’s this?)
Lexical Density: 54.14% (what’s this?)
Fog Index: 14.92 (what’s this?)

what does any of that mean?  well.  the fog index slays me.  heh.  or, rather, it means i’m easy to understand.

ha!  hardly.

it just means that all those short, staccato sentences i keep peppering my prose with are hurty my average sentence length.  i mean, really?  119 sentences?  whew.  (ha!  that was three right there!)

not that i care much about sentence length.  i enjoy controlling the ebs and flows of my text.

now, if only i’d figure out where the damn shift key is….


A Console Web Browser

like i’ve been saying for a while now, if microsoft wanted their xbox 360 console and xbox live compromised, they’d have put a browser on it.

the wii?  not so much.  the ps3?  yeah, it’s next.