Category Archives: Facebook

The Notch Timeline

Remember when Facebook announced they were buying Occulus Rift back in March?

Well, the outrage or discomfort or whatever passed with time it seems.

I am sure getting over that event had nothing to do with the current rumor that Notch is selling out to Microsoft for something like two billion dollars, something that surely must have been in play for at least a month now.  Mojang may soon be taking orders from Redmond.

Powered by Microsoft

Powered by Microsoft

This is why I mark these sorts of moment in time.  It is interesting to see how things change.  I am going to bet he is over his problems with Windows 8 as well.

I am not particularly concerned one way or another about Notch cashing out.  Big companies tend to destroy the little companies they buy more often than not, and that fate for Mojang wouldn’t make me happy.  And I am sure a legion of his fans are pissed, but they were pissed about his EULA already, calling him literally worse than EA at one point.  But it is his company, if he wants to cash out, he should go for it.  He can buy himself a whole bunch of new socks with that pile of dough.

I am mostly interested to see that his attitude seemed to soften a bit as a dump truck of money loomed in his direction.

Addendum: And Notch sells it all for 2.5 Billion.  Here is his statement, where he says it is not about the money but about his sanity… though I am betting the money helped a lot.

Items from the Mail Bag – Barrel Scrapings and the Like

Mail bag was going to be a regular monthly feature, but frankly the mail I have been getting on the blog account really hasn’t been living up to the role.  Still, I do get something amusing now and again.  A pity none of it showed up recently, so this is all you get.

Three Kias, One Cup

The Kia Motors Overseas Communications Team ( 해외커뮤니케이션팀) wants me to go connect with their Facebook page so I can play a flash based tennis game featuring players that are, if I understand this correctly, anthropomorphized versions of their cars.  The SoulSorento, and Cerato to be specific.  Except I think that last one is sold as the Forte here in the US.

Totally not ripping off Disney/Pixar

Totally not ripping off Disney/Pixar

All because Kia sponsors some aspect of the Australian Open… which is a tennis tournament.

I had to look that up.

I almost want to go play this, just to see how they get that lumpy Sorento to move its ass around the court.  But a surge of apathy has stayed my hand so far.

Still, don’t let me stop you!  You can find the page on Facebook here.  Just be quick, as the game only runs from January 16th through the 31st.  Of course, they only sent me this note on the 29th, so clearly my participation was not all the important.

Aventurine Fails Again

Aventurine sent me a “Media Alert” to invite me to come and explore the world of Agon, which I am afraid always brings up images of Larry Storch.

A little whackier than this though

A little whackier than this though

Unfortunately for Aventurine, all they actually had for me was a link to a dev diary video about their upcoming (some day) Darkfall: Unholy Wars reboot.

Then they listed out the price of the game ($14.95 if you are a Darkfall Online returning player or $29.95 (25% off) if you are new to this game) like they expected me, a member of the media (who else gets “media alerts” right?), to actually pay for it myself.  This is how you get 2/10 reviews.  (Though I still suspect there was a method to their madness.)

Haven’t we all learned by now that companies can get game journalists to degrade themselves and their profession with a few simple freebies?  Playing it straight is a mug’s game.

The Soda Sipping Inside Joke?

I keep getting press notices about a game called Soda Drinker Pro, but cannot tell if this is just the internet yanking my chain or not.  The quotes sound tongue in cheek.

Soda Drinker Pro is the most advanced soda drinking simulator ever created

While sites like Gamasutra have reprinted the press releases due to contractual obligations.

Mashable has a brief write up, but it still ends up sounding like an internet goof.

I have to think that the only reason I got this was that I have written about soda, and soda experiments, here in the past.

Somebody Sued Facebook

Which probably isn’t news, but the announcement showed up in my email.  It was something about sponsored stories.

Why did I get this notice? This Notice relates to a proposed settlement (“Settlement”) of a class action lawsuit (“Action”) filed against Facebook relating to a particular Facebook feature called “Sponsored Stories.” According to available records, you may be a “Class Member.”

What is the Action about? The Action claims that Facebook unlawfully used the names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities of Facebook users in the United States to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories without obtaining those users’ consent. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever. No court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination of any liability.

You can read more about it here.  If Facebook used your likeness without your consent, it could be worth a sawbuck to you.

Meanwhile if the suit succeeds the lawyers will all get paid for the hours they billed and Facebook will have to change their terms of service so that by accepting them you allow Mark Zuckerberg to do whatever he damn well pleases with your likeness.

Oh, Mark, you crazy!

Oh, Mark, you crazy!

So who is going to win here?

Raptr Has a List!

Raptr sent me a list of awards they made up and gave out for 2012 based on their game tracking stats.

  • Most Played New Game – Borderlands 2
  • Most Played Game (Released Anytime) – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • Biggest Boost from User-Generated Content – Portal 2
  • Most Played Long-Awaited Sequel – Borderlands 2
  • No Bathroom Break – Borderlands 2
  • Most Played XBLA Game – Minecraft
  • Most Played New IP – Dragon’s Dogma
  • Most Successful Paid to Free-to-Play Game – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Some of those make sense, while others… I am not so sure.  The “Bathroom Break” bit probably relates to a measurement of play sessions, but how did they come up with “Long Awaited Sequel?”  Was Borderlands 2 really that long in showing up?  Relative to what?

Meanwhile, their last category almost always reflects a sentiment of “crap, we’d better mention MMOs!”  They used the same category as 2011, but this time they managed to combine it with an attempt to suck up to EA/BioWare.  Or does somebody think if you were going to mention MMOs that there weren’t other categories or titles you might choose?  “Most played MMO” or  GuildWars 2 certainly springs to my mind.

Anyway, you can read their full post here, which includes some additional details.

The Rest

Finally, I seem to be getting more and more messages asking me if I would like to come write for other sites.  These invites are rather transparent requests to please provide free content for such and such a site to exploit for ad revenue.

It is the sources of these requests that are getting more interesting.  I had one from a web media group from everybody’s favorite Germans, ProSiebenSat.1 and another from a group that purports to run the largest MMO gaming site in China.

All I can think is, “China?”  My Larry Storch jokes are probably too obscure for Cracked.com, how would they possibly play in China.

Anyway, send me something interesting that isn’t about your 99 cent iPhone app and maybe I’ll make fun of it.  As always, contact info is on the About page.

The Zynga Business Plan Moves Forward

My daughter and I were watching Spongebob together when we saw a commercial for this:

Hungry Hungry Herd

Technically, it is not a simple rip-off of some other company’s idea, the classic Zynga approach, because Hasbro owns Hungry Hungry Hippos, and Zynga and Hasbro are in bed together on this one.  But it certainly feels like a poor recycling job to me, with 50 Farm Cash thrown in as a “Digital Value for Parents Inside!”  I suppose at least they are pretending to feed adult addiction to the game rather than overtly suggesting the kids go log on and play.

Of course, in looking this up, I found that Hasbro and Zynga have recycled a few other classic games with a FarmVille theme.

I would add that there is even a CityVille version of Monopoly… but what brand hasn’t gone for their own version of Monopoly at this point?

With the Empire Crumbling, What of Darth British?

Zynga’s Emperor Palpapincus had only just recruited Lord British, turning him into Darth British (yeah, I decided to go with that just to keep things simple), with the promise of teaching him the dark arts of monetization and giving eternal life to half-baked cow-clicking games.

You’re right Mark, these helmets are great!

In the words of recently turned gaming jedi:

“Not just Zynga’s, but lots of social games use monetization strategies that, as a hardcore gamer, I find offensive, frankly,” Garriott admits. “I really don’t like games that constantly pester me to pay. I find it radically interferes with my suspension of disbelief. So, I’m devoted in the Ultimate RPG game to finding novel monetization strategies that don’t offend me like some of these do. Yet, it’s still really important to learn those lessons, and there’s no better place to learn them then by having Zynga as a partner.”

Richard Garriott de Cayeux (Darth British), on his partnership with Zynga

How often has a hero fallen in an attempt to learn the tricks of his foe by becoming what he opposes?  It certainly seems to come up a lot in juvenile pulp novels, so clearly it is a menace.

Failing to heed the warning of… well… many people… that once you start down the dark path with Zynga, forever shall it haunt your resume, the newly minted Darth British swore fealty to a new master.

And then, as the recruitment of this gaming luminary was nearly complete, Zynga totally took a dump on the living room floor.

There were $52 million in losses, layoffs, and the whole “EA is pissed and coming to sue you” dimension to what can only be seen as a setback for the Zynga empire.

Emporer Palpapincus issued a statement declaring, “While the last several months have been challenging for us, Zynga remains well positioned to capitalize on the growth of social gaming.”  He was then heard to mutter something about the second FarmVille being “fully operational” and there being “no civility in gaming, only ARPU” as he stalked off.

Which leads us to the next cliff hanger.

What course will Darth British choose?  Is he in too deep?  Has he signed in blood?  Has he committed his Ultimate Collector and Ultimate RPG to the fires of the Zynga sweatshop?

And is it ironic that EA, who he was totally trying woo… at least in the press… not only thwarted his Ultima aspirations, but has taken up arms against Zynga?

For whom will our hero(?) show a fondness next?

Lord British and Zynga – A Match Made In…

I am really having trouble completing that sentence… CrazyVille?

All systems go!

So, according to a very short piece at Gamasutra, Zynga, whose wave of mindless click games has crested and begun crashing to the point that it is bringing Facebook down with it, and Richard Garriott de Cayeux, the once mighty Lord British, who is getting pretty deep into the “what have you done lately?” column these days, are teaming up around the Portalarium game Ultimate Collector to bring it to Facebook, Zynga’s new self-run platform, and to a TV show hosted by Garriott de Cayeux himself?

My first thoughts were “April Fools,” followed quickly by “rebound affair after being jilted by EA and EA rubbing his face in it.”

But I think I have to go with this response:

In what “Ville” do you think this belongs?  And where does his Ultimate RPG end up living?

Games I Mentioned Once and then Totally Forgot About – Playboy Manager Edition

Back in May of 2009 I posted about a press release for Playboy Manager, Playboy’s attempt at an MMO, which they christened a  “Massively Casual Online Game.”

They might have actually been a bit ahead of their time on that one.

And, after that, despite my signing up for the mailing list, I never heard a single thing about the game.

I mentioned it a year later in my month in review post  (so I guess I mentioned it twice) where I said:

And a year ago Playboy’s “Massively Casual Online Game” Playboy Manager was announced.  The game was supposed to launch in the summer of 2009 according to the press release.  The site for the game is still there (go Google it) but it still mentions signing up for beta invites.  Casual might refer to the development plan I guess.

The game looked to be on the same trajectory that Planet Michael is now; all talk, no rock.

However, the game did eventually launch.  Or so I hear.

In an astonishingly bad use of captured email addresses, Jolt Online Gaming and/or Playboy apparently failed to alert those who expressed an interest in the game that it had actually gone live.  You would think after all that work, they might have put some effort into publicizing it.

Seriously, I would have logged in just to experience it, had I but known.

Their effort went live as a Facebook game, under the name Playboy Party, back in November 2010.  Of course, since it went to Facebook, it was probably flagged as Beta like every other Facebook game, so maybe they felt it wasn’t time yet to go to the public.

However, time was of the essence, as the game closed on September 12th of this year.

In the middle of that, in March 2011, things go so messed up that the game had to be reset and everybody had to start again from scratch.

Brilliant!

And so the game has come and gone, having garnered all of 400 actual players during its short life span.  It may now aspire to be a footnote in the appendix of an unpublished volume of esoteric video game history.

Thanks to UnSubject over at Vicarious Existence whose post on the subject, which has more detail and actual screen shots from the game,  reminded me again that the Playboy Manager/Playboy Party even existed.  Plus there is a bonus mention of another failed Playboy online game project, Poisonville!

Items from the Mail Bag – I’m Full and Feeling Generous Edition

It is Thanksgiving Day here in the US, a favorite holiday of mine because I happen to like turkey… and most of the traditional staples of the day aside from yams… and because there is no giving of gifts or sending of cards involved.  That can wait until tomorrow.  Plus we always host, so there is no need to leave the house, though we are expecting a mere dozen around the table this year, down from double that number in some past years.

So in a fit of tryptophan fueled generosity, here is some of what has dropped into the blog mail bag.

  • BioWare let me know I am in again for the SWTOR beta. Maybe playing a jedi this coming weekend can redeem what failed to charm me with blaster combat.  A pre-order hangs in the balance.

Already installed... just need to patch

  • Mike sent me five (5) special keys for their Facebook game D&D Heroes of Neverwinter to hand out to readers.  The first five people who follow me on Twitter and tweet to me the phrase “Gimme gimme gimme I can’t help myself” in reply to the twee that links to this post will get those keys.  Figuring out my Twitter account is the only mild barrier to entry.  (It is in the side bar.  And you must follow me so I can reply directly to you with the key. You can unfollow me once I give out the codes.  I probably would.)
  • The above mentioned Mike is also trying to connect with me in Linked In.  While I have created a net persona for Wilhelm Arcturus, I haven’t really gone that far.  I did, however, continue to build such a back story for a persona I create in high school.  It is easy in Silicon Valley.  I just had him working for companies like Taligent, General Magic, and Silicon Graphics.  People from those places have actually connected with him too.
  • Violeta from Best Games Media Group Ltd. wanted me to mention a new site called Gamingator.com, which looks like it sells games.  It is probably some sort of scam.  Sure, fine, just pass me some more pumpkin pie.
  • I have a note from The Sims Social offering me 2000 simoleons (one of the in-game currencies… and not the good one) if I will come back and play, proving that no matter how many ways you tell Facebook to disconnect you from an external app, once that app has your data you can never be rid of them.
  • On the same thread of never being free from a game once you play it, Night Owl Games wants to let me know that Dungeon Overlord, their Facebook game, has left beta and launched a new world.  They even have a video on YouTube.  I tried this game back in June.  I could have sworn it was an SOE game.  Was SOE just publishing it, or was this related to the great big downsizing at SOE this summer?
  • Tracey, who might actually read the blog, wanted to know if I had seen anything about Continent of the Ninth Seal, a Korean MMO action MMO that might make it to the US next year.  Timing-wise, this might have be related to comments I made about blaster combat in SWTOR.  Amway, the answer is… well… I have now!
  • Christine Kane wanted to tell me about her article comparing Facebook to Tag.  However, the analogy breaks down really fast (when did the “cool kids” ever play tag?) and, frankly, aren’t we a little past something that says, essentially, “Hey, Facebook is popular!”  Sorry Christine.
  • And then a number of people… bots… mailing lists… whatever… somehow I got a bunch of press release about iOS or Android games which I am not going to bother to link because I do not own a device that runs either operating system… though if I had to pick one, it would be the Atari’s Greatest Hits because it works with the iCade.

That’s it.  Time for some more pumpkin pie.