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Comment Re:Welcome to real world (Score 1) 542

It's actually not as much of a gamble as the article makes it out to be. I couldn't say how it is outside of the games space, but if you have connections to the right distributors, and a reasonably decent business model, you can be relatively confident that you're going to make a profit.
The problem really comes with developers that don't consider things like monetization or marketing. If your entire product strategy consists of Programming, Motherfucker, then it's likely that you won't succeed because apps don't usually market themselves, and if you want to have a successful app, you need people who are focused on making money and user acquisition.

Comment Re:A good reason to stay with indie games (Score 3, Interesting) 47

Once you understand the methodology, it's not too expensive. The expense comes from paying for a product manager who understands the metrics, and for the analytics package itself.

Really the wonderful thing about metrics is that it allows you to tailor the game to the player.
Right now this is used entirely to help increase bottom line factors like monetization, retention and virality, but there are a couple of us who are interested in using metrics to increase the overall quality of games as well.

Expect to see some really scary and some really amazing things in the next couple of years.

Comment Re:wow (Score 2) 47

They're not the next big thing, they're already huge.
If you have a product in the social games space and you aren't using analytics, you've already failed because they're the only way you can measure the success or failure of individual features and content.
It requires a great deal of agility to succeed in social games. Metrics enable that agility.

Comment Re:In other words (Score 1) 517

Though i'd tend to agree with you, there's an argument I've been debating by myself about ISK and Gold not being fiat currencies. I'd like to apologize ahead of time for my half-assed deconstruction.

The currency is created by fiat, but within the economy it's backed up by the amount of time that the players have spent playing the game in order to acquire the currency (or in some cases, the amount of money they've spent on it). ISK and Gold are ingame currencies, but really 'time' is the real value.

I work as a product manager on social games, and what social / viral games largely base their monetization on are time-based currencies. Players can grind through the game without paying for it, but it will take much longer than people who are willing to spend. Any amount of money spent in these games will work to advance the user through the game more quickly (unless the user is buying a vanity item).

Assuming you're employed, when you go into work, you're being paid for a specific set of skills, and the application of those skills over a set of time. You undoubtedly acquired those skills through the application of other skills over a period of time, and I would bet real money that your salary is in some way correlated with the amount of time you spent acquiring those skills in the first place (i.e. education / experience).

From my limited understanding of real-world economics, the value of a currency is based off of the country's deficit because the deficit is reflective of a country's "credit" relative to the rest of the world. This is most likely a vast oversimplification, but what it really comes down to is that a time-based currency doesn't look too absurd when you compare it to the way the real economies work. Especially when you throw things like derivatives into the mix - at least time based currencies trace back to something of value in one or two steps.

Comment Slashdot Users != EA's Target Demographic (Score 2) 439

You aren't EA's target demographic. Please don't forget while people are properly outraged on the internet against things like DLC and the death of LAN gaming, they are actually the vocal minority, compared to masses of consumers who don't necessarily even know that LAN exists, much less what it does. Really the point here is that while a person from EA might read, and even agree with what you're saying, it's not going to change their business strategy one bit.

Comment Re:I love and hate (Score 2) 76

Mass is the currency of space travel, and more space = more mass (for structural integrity). Unfortunately it doesn't look like this is going to be changing anytime soon, so it's doubtful we'll be seeing space stations with tons of unused space anytime soon, if ever. There's no problem with dreaming about it though.

Comment Re:Minigames (Score 5, Insightful) 228

I agree with you in the principle of the thing, that people playing games don't usually like being reminded that they're not the avatar (in games that have avatars), and I can see where you're coming from when you say that gamers have twisted the definition of immersion, but I think you're mixing up the cause of loss for the definition. The real issue is one of consistency. It's the same thing as the concept of the fourth wall in theatre and film; games of most genres need to maintain a certain internal consistency or in many cases the enjoyment and level of engagement with the media is reduced. When gamers talk about immersion, they're not talking about how consistent or inconsistent the game world is, they're talking about the feeling that it evokes.

Comment Re:No way (Score 1) 250

As an indie developer, a good rule of thumb is that anyone on an indie development team who cannot code, create art/sound assets, or manage the other two groups effectively is effectively just dead weight. There are exceptions to this rule, but they aren't very common. Really, if you don't have the skills to contribute anything that directly furthers the process of going from concept to actual game, you're just going to confound and step on the toes of the people actually doing the work. If you do have the necessary skills, and you're looking to have the concept get picked up by some larger publisher you'll need at least to create a prototype game. For this I'd recommend Unity3d over the Blender Game Engine; it's a highly usable and freely available commercial game engine with extremely quick development turnaround. You might also consider the UDK, but as an indie the cost of publishing and the royalties can be a little high.

Comment Show me the Article (Score 1) 587

I haven't read the actual study, so I can't speak as to it's validity or not, but as someone who conducts research into the interplay between video games and psychology, I find it most concerning that Professor Anderson is advocating policy in order to prevent children from playing violent games. This is the job of the parent. If there is any measure that should be suggested, it should be one to promote better parenting, not censorship. Again, please note that I have not read his study, but I am concerned with his display of the game "Manhunt," on his poster and his desk. Manhunt is already a controversially violent game, and was was given a Mature (18+) rating in the United States. As a fairly prolific gamer, I can qualitatively state that the majority of games, including most modern first person shooters, do not depict the level of violence and brutality shown in that game. The main point is that if games like Manhunt were used in Professor Anderson's studies, they are not representative of the majority of video games, and therefore his study may exhibit bias. From the numerous (and often contradictory) studies I have read, I would not be surprised if violent videogames increased aggression, but given the general content of media these days I would tend to think this was more a symptom of greater problems within our society than an issue in-of itself.

Comment Re:Waste MORE time!? (Score 1) 1073

In his book, Outliers, Malcom Gladwell discusses this topic at length. As it turns out, the amount of time spent in school actually does make a difference, regardless of the quality of the teachers. You can say that the system is a meritocracy all you like, but the truth of the matter is that upper/middle class children are generally at an advantage as opposed to those in lower income families because they have greater access to resources like books and the internet during the Summer. This discrepancy in learning starts out small, but widens over time, which leads to what we call the "achievement gap." It's not a problem of motivation; you'll find lazy students from all different sorts of backgrounds, it's a problem of practice. Students coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have less of an opportunity to practice things like reading and mathematics than their peers, and thus fall behind. I know Obama isn't exactly popular with a lot of people right now, but on this issue he's absolutely correct.

Comment (Score 1) 463

Thanks for you comments guys they really help a lot. I have a bit of revision to do now, but I'm glad to see that Blizzard addressed some of those issues.

I remember when I used to play WoW that Blizzard catered a lot to the classes that were most vocal, so I'm not really surprised to hear that it hasn't changed any.

I should also mention for credit's sake that I didn't come up with the phases. They were proposed by Williams, Ducheneaut, Xiong, Zhang, Yee & Nickel in their 2006 paper titled, "Building an MMO with mass appeal: A look at gameplay in World of Warcraft."

Unfortunately I had a hard time finding any contemporary articles about MMOs, so I ended up with some data with was a bit dated. Either way, I suppose looking at what went well, and what didn't go so well is still useful. Thanks again everyone.

Comment (Score 1) 463

The problem with WoW is that classically, once a character reaches the maximum level, the content is really only catered to a small percentage of really hardcore players in ultra large guilds. The average guild size is around 11-17 players depending on server type, so WoW really isn't as casual as it claims to be. In fact empirical research done in WoW surmised that it was probably the smooth gameplay at early levels that was responsible for WoW's popularity, not so much any catering done to casual players.

I wrote an article about this a few days ago, but the problem is that all of the studies are from 2006, and a lot has probably changed since then. I used to play WoW myself, but this was years ago before any of the expansions were released, and I really don't have any clue what endgame is like anymore. One of my co-workers told me that massive raids have been replaced with smaller ones, and that the massive ones are fairly rare now, which kind of screws with the premise of my article. If anyone who currently plays WoW could be so kind as to give me a brief overview of what endgame is like today, I'd be really appreciative.

In relation to TFA, when I was writing my article I came upon a study which developed a typology of guilds. They determined four different types; social guilds, player-versus-player guilds, raiding guilds and roleplaying guilds. Really I interpreted this to mean that people in primarily social and roleplaying guilds tended to have a more casual outlook towards the actual core game mechanic than people in PvP and raiding guilds. Now, this isn't always the case, but really people in the raiding and PvP guilds are required to be more knowledgeable about how the game works than their more social counterparts.

Overall it depends how you define skill. If skill is how well a player takes advantage of the system of rules given to them, then these people can be very skilled as they do everything they can to maximize their ability. On the other hand, if skill is associated with how creatively a player makes use of their in game abilities, potential for skill is significantly lower. Personally I tend to think it tends towards low skill, given that anyone with eyes and a brain can read posts on the WoW forums about how to make an ultimate character build. The people organizing the huge high end raids are the people with real skill; that takes a lot of coordination.

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