Posts tagged "MMO"


16 Nov 2009
Social Media

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Hello all apologies for my lack bloggage, things have been terribly busy here at Onteca on my part and the development team with the preparation for the Monsteca Corral release.

For todays blogging insert i just wanted to talk about the Internet and the effects of using it to promote ones products or services. This method of using the internet for self promotion relates to Social Media.

For those unaware what exactly Social Media is, it is a media designed to be disseminated through social interaction. It is created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques e.g. Blogging, News Feeds, Forums.

Social Media supports the human need for social interaction, using Internet- and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). That is basically the wiki version of what Social Media is.

I am sure those who have followed my blogs you will be aware that i have come to Onteca to help promote their new Wiiware game ‘Monsteca Corral’. Whilst keeping in mind the mass amount of online interaction going down on the web, Social Media engagement is the best promotional tool (and lets not forget its FREE) to use when promoting the game.

Even though the Internet opens up numerous portals when communicating with your audience, it also allows the company to be susceptible to negativity. So rule one (and this one is important), before you chose to publicise your company and their product/s  within the all mighty powerful tech channel you must be aware and prepare yourself for the likelihood of negative response.

When you release information/images or even footage about your product what you are doing is displaying a nice big sign post saying “Free for all, come and pass judgement”. And what this means is, you are inviting everyone to display to all their own personal opinion.

A huge gamble you might say but there is nothing wrong with laying some of your cards out on the table.

I have included in the post a small section something i wrote about Social Media and PR, reeking the rewards the Internet can bring whilst baring in mind that lack of control you will have once you message is out there. Enjoy

Social Media – Losing Control of the message

The emergence of Social Media first materialised after the introduction of Web 1.0. The difficulty the PR industry faces today is the adaptation to Social Media practices, this is demonstrated through practitioners’ unawareness that the media and networking have always been social, however the internet has not.

Hence, the internet is catching up with reality, through new capabilities which has come to be recognised as Web 2.0.

In today’s online society the internet plays a primary role in accommodating PR professionals with a market place of conversations, this however interrupts traditional PR Communication models. Cathy Ace, of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, discusses the problematic affects Social Media has on the original communication model,

“Faced with new communication models today, it now has to adapt to new ways of reaching new groups of people. One of the most complicated problems faced by the PR practitioner today is not to get the message out there – but to monitor what messages are appearing where, and what their impact might be”. (Ace, 2002)
 

The approach PR practitioners take with digital media relations is somewhat different from the approach used in traditional PR; the digital channel is to some extent, eliminating the middleman with online spheres of influence.

The best PR efforts are not only two-way but also symmetrical, allowing the company and the strategic audience equal opportunities to participate in the discussion. (Holtz, 2002)

The Web offers the perfect place of solace for audiences to access and engage with a company directly, this can be done through the means of web sites, blogs, discussion rooms and web forums. However with the beneficial means an online society can provide for a client, it can also present the problematic matters of losing control of the fundamental objectives the company’s PR campaign originally set out to achieve.
 

Simon Collister (In Green, 2009), leading experts in Social Media, feels professional communicators are facing a loss of control over brand and messages:

“They are no longer the only voice articulating the company/clients message. In fact, passive consumers no longer exist. Individuals are proactively involved in reading or watching media; creating their own content; sharing and criticising your brand or product.”
 

Millions of network subsets contain relationship webs built from communities in which largely anonymous individuals have shared interests. Within these subsets, individuals and organisations have one or more reputations – some isolated and others exposed, some helpful and some harmful.

Reputations of large companies and well-known individuals transfer from other environments to online because of longevity and branding communications. Reputations of smaller known firms or individuals are built on the internet by what others say about them online.

As the internet moves toward the centre of communication, risks to reputation are greater, even for well established individuals and organizations. Hence, Social Media outlets do not hold the guarantee of a safer reputational haven that the print industry can offer.

Jim Horton, internet and online PR practitioner, considers that reliability over audience impairment cannot overcome human behaviour. “Humans defeat any process when it is in their interest to do so. As a result, reputation systems are never perfect: they work more or less well.” (Horton, 2008: 1)
 

A recent case study that demonstrates the possible side effects that the internet can have on an organisations reputation, when Social Media tools are not used effectively and monitored is that of British Airways.

The company British Airways learned why online reputation management should be a top priority to their company’s infrastructure, when it appeared a group of employees in London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 create a chat forum protesting their annoyance with the company on the social networking site Facebook.

“Thanks to the power of social networking, the workers’ rude comments about passengers caught the attention of the press.” (O’Hern, 2008) Watson (2009) discusses his experience with regards to the management of online facilities within Rainier PR.

“There is always a risk that people might make negative comments or remarks, but this risk is lessened if the company is offering a good product or service. The internet simply takes the conversations that customers have always been having and broadcasts. If the company had a bad product or service, then those conversations will be negative. Therefore the conversations will be negative online too.”
 

Social Media tools present organisations with a transparent analysis of their brand, therefore facilitating them with immeasurable exposure through conversations generated by the public on social networking sites. Rather than a company having only one voice, Social Media incorporates the traditional method of publicity through word of mouth, however working via Social Media means.

Further comprehension of the PR industry adapting to the changing towards the Social Media phenomenon was established throughout my placement with PR and Social Media Company, GREEN Communications.

The company demonstrated a clear understanding of the changing communicative market structure and embraced new forms of technological Social Media tools. GREEN interrelated with their clients’ active audiences by association of online conversations – through blogs and social networks. The company showed a clear understand of the problematic areas involved in Web 2.0 technologies, however took the stance of engaging with them and shaping them to accurately reflect their clients brands.
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02 Nov 2009
Event Preview: Develop Liverpool

7820_146337498548_509638548_2857868_3796245_n Hello everyone, i thought i would insert some information about the Devlop event this Thursday which i will be attending along with some other members of the Onteca family. See blog for full event programme.

This Thursday sees the popular Develop conference make its debut appearance in Liverpool.

Set to bring together the best and brightest game developers from across the UK for a day of learning, sharing ideas and networking, Develop in Liverpool boasts an impressive range of sessions and panels. Below are details of the currently confirmed panels.

Highlights include the keynote by Michael Denny, senior vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, Europe, and speakers from Bizarre Creations, Natural Motion, Team 17 and Jolt.

Those interested can still register here; tickets currently cost £265 plus VAT. The event takes place at Liverpool’s Arena and Convention Centre, and offers a unique opportunity in a city many consider the cultural capital of the north.

The sessions:

OPENING KEYNOTE: Quality, Relevance, Innovation
The talk will provide a visionary insight into what Sony Computer Entertainment First Party studios are looking for now and in the future when commissioning Original IPs from Independent developers.
Speaker: Michael Denny, senior vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, Europe

EVOLVE: Turning Browsers into Gamers for Fun and Profit
The biggest platform with the most potential isn’t owned by a manufacturer or run out of Redmond. Web browsers and social networks host tens of millions of games a day, bring gameplay to new audiences, allow innovative new gameplay ideas, come with a diversity of business models, and are wide open to new entrants. But what can traditional games companies bring to the party, and where should you focus your efforts for maximum impact and reward?
Speaker: Dylan Collins, Jolt Online Gaming

CODING & PRODUCTION: PlayStation: Cutting Edge Techniques
The talk will provide an overview of the current state of the PlayStation platforms and games from a technical perspective. There will be a coverage of several real-world examples of cutting techniques as used in recent and soon to be released PlayStation3 and PSP titles developed by Sony Computer Entertainment worldwide studios.
Speaker: Neil Brown, senior engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

ART & DESIGN: Blocking to Rocking! The art of LEGO Rock Band
Travellers’ Tales has won endless plaudits for the distinctive and humorous characters in its LEGO games. But having mastered a plastic fantastic take on much-loved cinematic heroes, how would its artists tackle real life musical legends for LEGO Rock Band? Matt Palmer, Head of Animation at TT Fusion, gives us a unique insight into capturing the essence of Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and the game’s other rock gods in LEGO guise while operating within the constraints of the Rock Band format.
Speaker: Matt Palmer, head of animation, TT Fusion

EVOLVE: Five App Stores Under the Microscope:
iPhone, Blackberry, Android, DSiWare, PSP Minis
There’s plenty of excitement around digital distribution of mobile and handheld games, but it’s early days – the various stores are finding their feet, while developers figure out how best to approach them. This session will look at five key digital stores: iPhone’s App Store, BlackBerry App World and Android Market, as well as DSiWare and PSP Minis. What are the trends in terms of pricing and categorisation? Which games are doing well and why? And how are developers increasingly looking to release games across several or all of these stores?
Speaker: Stuart Dredge, online editor, Mobile Entertainment

CODING & PRODUCTION: Role of the Production House in Game Development and Marketing
Created during the early development stages of a video game, concept movies can often lay the foundation in the creation of new games. They can be used as an influential selling tool by developers to gain universal buy in from international publishers whilst also giving the development team a vision of what they’re working towards, helping lock down important factors such as the overall look, style and feel of the game. Some of these movies never see the light of day once the game is complete but others serve a multifaceted purpose and are used as a powerful internal and external marketing tool. Tony Prosser, Managing Director of Lancashire based CG Production House RealtimeUK, will be speaking about the role of concept movies in games development. He will also discuss how they created some of their most well known concept movies and marketing trailers including Motorstorm for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Split/Second for Disney Interactive Studios and Napoleon: Total War for Sega.
Speaker: Tony Prosser, managing director, RealtimeUK

EVOLVE: What the Music Industry Can Tell Us about Digital Distribution
The last few years have been turbulent for the music industry as it grapples with the transition from physical goods to digital distribution. What can the games industry learn from the music industry as the sales and delivery of interactive entertainment increasingly move online? Simon Watt of Universal Music reprises his very popular Brighton talk with an updated explanation of what the music industry has got right – and wrong – and what it means for games.
Speaker: Simon Watt, vice president technology, Universal Music Group

CODING & PRODUCTION: How to Get More From your Music and Audio Team (panel)
Harry Potter, Project Gotham Racing, Heavenly Sword, The Getaway, and Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix series are just a few of the titles covered by the careers of an illustrious panel of leaders in their field. Whilst managing hundreds of thousands of game audio production dollars, procuring music, dialogue and sound design services from both in-house and external game and movie sound resources, these senior players fully recognise the commercial imperative and inextricable link of what they do in audio provision with corporate goals, gameplay objectives and console technology. Drawing on their years of experience seeing the good, bad and downright ugly of audio in games, they will distil critical insights for producers, programmers, artists and designers about how to get the most from their audio team and thereby realise the maximum potential for sound, music and dialogue to rock their game production.
Chair: John Broomhall, independent audio director
Panelists: Dan Bardino, SCEE; Adele Cutting, EA; Nick Wiswell, Bizarre Creations

ART & DESIGN: Resurrecting the Alien Breed franchise
If you’re lucky enough to have a much-loved retro game to work with, how do you bring it up-to-date without damaging its DNA? Team 17’s design manager John Dennis outlines some of the challenges and opportunities the studio has faced in bringing its classic Amiga game Alien Breed back to life in the form of Alien Breed Evolution, which it is set to self-publish for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Speaker: John Dennis, Team 17

EVOLVE: Keeping Northern games development on the map (panel)
Game making has a long history in the North of England and much to be proud of, but there’s no denying recent years have been tough, with key studios closing and others fading from prominence. What can be done to ensure the region remains a hub of game development excellence, and what help is already available? Could local studios do more to support each other, or is it better every studio fights for itself? A panel of leading insiders debates the issues.
Chair: Toby Barnes, MD, Pixel Lab

CODING & PRODUCTION: A Bizarre Way to do Real-Time Lighting
The talk focuses on the techniques used in the real-time lighting implementation for Blur, but with a particular bias for how things were done for the Playstation3. Beginning with a high-level discussion of the problems at hand the swiftly talk moves into how these were initially solved in a cross-platform way, but then later optimised for Playstation3. Along the way the speakers share their thoughts on light pre-pass rendering and SPU programming techniques, and offer a helpful ten-step guide to migrating your lighting to the SPUs.
Speakers: Stephen McAuley and Steven Tovey, Bizarre Creations

ART & DESIGN: Why is Playing Games Fun?
Recent research in neurobiology reveals multiple ways in which the “pleasure centre” of the brain can be tripped, and thus multiple ways that players enjoy games. This research also dovetails with the latest player satisfaction models, which show that different players enjoy very different aspects of play. This session explores seven different ways in which the brain responds to play, each corresponding to a different play style, and thus different kinds of videogame. By understanding the variety of ways that a game can provide enjoyment, developers can learn why their games are fun – and how to make them more fun for a greater number of players.
Speaker: Chris Bateman, MD, Hobo International

EVOLVE: Digital Distribution: From Blue Sky to the Bottom Line (panel)
Signing a deal with Steam is no longer enough. From branding to social media marketing; from price discounts to community management, this panel will address what developers need to do to maximise revenue from their digital distribution strategy.
Chair: Nicholas Lovell, GAMESbrief
Panelists: Mark Morris, MD, Introversion Software; Tero Virtala, CEO, RedLynx; Oliver Birch, account director, PlayReplay

CODING & PRODUCTION: 6 Ways to Get More Bang for Your Buck
The bad news: budgets are tight and time is short, yet everyone still wants quality. The good news: there is no shortage of talent! Outsourcing, offshoring, contractors and freelancers – thousands of externals are ready to help you stay under budget and make better games, or, if handled badly, to wreck your project. From formal outsourcing to co-development and remote teams, Beriah’s Kevin Hassall reveals six tricks to get the very best from this wide world of talent.
Speaker: Kevin Hassall, Beriah

ART & DESIGN: Open Mic – Voice Control in SingStar the Method and the Madness
Applying cutting edge technology to casual games in a way that enriches the end user experience in a non disruptive way. Voice recognition technology is notoriously unreliable and most user experiences with existing technology have been poor. The voice recognition technology in SingStar was designed to allow users to select songs and navigate menu options. This presented its own set of unique challenges from both technological and usability standpoints. This presentation will cover the challenges and pitfalls of using voice recognition technology in SingStar.
Speaker: Charlie Hasdell, designer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

EVOLVE: We’re All Indies in This Together
Digital distribution, downloadable content, and casual and social games are fast re-writing our ideas about what a game can be. Leading this charge are a new wave of small, innovative and entrepreneurial developers with very different business models – and often different aspirations – to the conventional games industry. Enter indievision, a new trade body for a new breed of studio. For the first time in public, founder Robert Swan outlines why the new indie sector needs to work together, and what joining indievision can do for you.
Speaker: Robert Swan, co-founder, indievision

CLOSING ADDRESS: The Ups and Downs of Backing 60 Start-Ups
Richard Farleigh, High Tech Entrepreneur and Dragon (from Dragon’s Den)

Networking Party!
After the conference, you will have the opportunity to network with delegates from an event running alongside Develop – Software City – designed to showcase the region’s dynamic technology sector. Now running in its third year Software City attracts an international audience and is an opportunity for businesses and investors to make valuable connections, share ideas and hear from world-class entrepreneurs.

Develop in Liverpool and Software City have teamed up to host a joint post-conference networking party for all their delegates. The party will be held in PanAm on the Albert Dock.

Your Develop pass will allow you free access to the party where you will have the chance to meet attendees and speakers from both events, including Software City’s star speakers Richard Farleigh of Dragon’s Den fame and Julie Meyer co-founder of First Tuesday, CEO of Ariadne Capital and one of the recently announced ‘online dragons’.

Information supplied by Develop.com event article

25 Feb 2009
Liberatis – an early alpha version of an MMO produced by a group of Young People

Onteca is proud to announce the unveiling of a playable Alpha of our Mediabox Project, ‘Liberatis’ (a name thought of by a young person working on the project). This is an MMO created by young people, for young people. It involves some violence, within a Tolkienesque ‘fantasy’ setting, because that is what the young people called for. It is still at an early test stage, but is playable.

Given the theme ‘Freedom’ this is what a group of 14-19 year olds came up with

A screenshot from liberatis

A screenshot from liberatis

Over 50 young people worked for four months to make this game. First the young people planned out an overall story, a premise, a series of characters and detailed paper-based maps and Level Design Documents for each section . Next they had to painstakingly learn the skills they would need: Maya to create the 3D assets; Photoshop to create the mood-boards and textures; the Torque level editor to create landscapes full of trees, mountains, valleys and towns in which the game could be played. Onteca provided support and training at every step.

Onteca then worked on integrating all these elements into a playable game, to the design of the young people and under the direction of their representatives.

Some of the most academically inclined young people on Merseyside worked alongside young people from a local Special School who had learning disabilities. Everyone addressed themselves to the same tasks and were expected to prodice the same results. Sometimes the young people would work alongside each other, sometimes they would split into school and project based groups. Standards were high across the range of schools, with genuine talent and IT ability coming from all groups involved.

Areas worked in were amonst the most economically disadvantaged in the country. That said, the young people who involved themselves in this project were eager, polite and creative. Hopefully, they will learn from being part of the making of Liberatis, and consider a career in the North West’s still healthy Games Industry.

Thanks to all the young people involved, and Onteca hopes you like the game you helped create.

An alpha version of the game is available to download here to install it, just download and run.

if you get an error message mentioning python when running the game on certain versions of vista you will need to run the game as an administrator

24 Feb 2009
Of noobs and leets and crossing over…

Alison’s Blog.

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Being the noob amongst the leet at Onteca has its pros(everyone assumes you know nothing about their stuff)and its cons (normally because you erm don’t).Working with Onteca this year, attending Crossover Kids and working on an MMO created by young people, has been great. Challenging what I know as a writer and pushing me to think about what I need to. This blog is about ‘Crossover.’


So, ‘Crossover’ is:


‘…an extraordinary series of ‘innovation labs’ for creative professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds: game developers, tv and film producers, web designers, animators, theatre practitioners and others. Each Crossover lab is an immersive, five day incubator fostering new collaborations and original ideas for cross platform media content and services.’

Jon and Max put me forward for: Crossover Kids (Dec 1 – 5).‘Crossover Kids’ said it would:


explore the future of children’s media and develop original ideas for cross-platform projects. Based on the knowledge that:


‘Children have always loved TV, but the days when passive viewing was their only option are well and truly over. They’re media literate and demanding more sophisticated, interactive content which is fragmenting the market. So what does this mean for content creators? A decline in traditional TV commissioning and falling budgets? Or a framework for innovation and collaboration?’


I wasn’t sure on the idea of being incubated with a load of content creators. But, on the promise of a paid trip down south,(Thank you North West Vision and Media) a hotel spa and a country walk, I bought myself a nice new networking cardigan, packed my bestest walking boots and swimming cossie and set off to deepest, smartest Sussex to find:


non-stop work and no time for a sauna, or even a stroll around the grounds. But it was jolly good work, planning, pitching and thinking a lot about how multi platforms can be used with a young audience. I spent time thinking about how creative ideas can be best delivered to an audience of children who probably don’t even think about the word ‘virtual’ because to them it just is.

‘Crossover Kids’ comes highly recommended. Over the five days I worked on ideas involving Bluetooth mapping, MMO worlds and erm robot alien ponies. Obviously it was the alien ponies idea that I chose to develop. (See Recon Ponies Blog to follow.) It was constantly relentless, equally rewarding and hugely funny. Mentors were excellent and networking opportunities allowed for me to make some good contacts with lovely folk, specifically:


Childs Eye
Mustard Corporation
Unexpected Media
Red Bedlam
Tuna Technologies
Grierson Awards
Wak Studio
Poddington Peas
Milky Tea
and Capsule films


Friendship and creative seeds were planted in December and as we turn into spring I’m pleased to say they are growing.


Following the Crossover week, I also attended the first Crossover Kids pitching event, which was held at the Princess Anne Theatre, BAFTA, London on Thursday 11 December. We saw a couple of new CBeebies ideas including a great news programme aimed at 4 year olds ‘What’s your news?’ I pitched along -side virtual world creator Kerry Fraser Robinson(Red Bedlam), producer Emma Hindley (Grierson Awards) and animator Sara Quick (Tuna Technology) our multi platform animated cartoon/ website/robot: ‘Recon Ponies’. We’re still looking at developing this idea. Interest and funding most welcome. We thinks it’s got legs (and a nosebag.)


Crossover enabled me to extend the thinking that I had already been doing on my work with Onteca, specifically working story narrative in MMO and developing cross platform ideas. I am still very much a noob but with leet aspirations.

02 Feb 2009
Best Free MMO Engine

This one might be a work in progress, kind of a toss up between

tmmokit – www.mmoworkshop.com

This one is really free to use, no royalties at any point.  A bit rough and ready but does work.  Uses Torque as its render client

multiverse – www.multiverse.net

Royalties but no up front fees, the tools are nice but keep crashing for me.  Good in theory but seems to be a bit glacial in its progress.  Uses Ogre as its render client

monumental – www.monumentalgames.com Maybe a different focus for this tech as the two internal projects are not RPGs.  Have had a pile of investment recently so will watch with interest.  Not a lot of community on the site though.

More …. must be but i haven’t found them yet.

29 Jan 2009
Performance in MMO Engines

Generally i can’t find any information about the way in which World of Warcraft is put together, but through some lightweight spying, looking at their jobs page you can see that the whole thing is coded in C++ which must have been a hell of an engineering effort, hence their enormous budget for production.  Obviously C++ is the fastest possible code for raw speed but i don’t fancy we have the budget to go that way.

We are currently using the Tmmokit which will max out at around 200 players per server.  I am keen to move forward incrementally and come upon an interesting article about Eve online (which claims players in the thousands on individual shards).  Eve uses Stackless Python.