Clickable Culture   Official Research Blog of Phantom Compass
  Onward and Upward  
 
 
Posted 2008-09-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I've been blogging for 9 years this month. Well, maybe 8 considering I haven't posted much since my baby arrived. She's a year old now, and her blog has withered as well.

Here's the deal: I'm not likely going to be posting at Clickable Culture any more. Instead, I'll be moving the conversation to the Phantom Compass blog, where I'll be talking less about myself, and more about the kinds of things my game-making company is up to and interested in. On the plus side, you'll get less navel-gazing meandering. On the minus side, you'll get less navel-gazing meandering.

Hey, if it's meandering you want, I do it 140 characters at a time on Twitter.

Longer-term, I'll be migrating on-topic entries and articles from Clickable Culture over to the Phantom Compass blog, but plan to keep the rest of the Clickable Culture content right where it is. Comments will be locked on the older material eventually.

Thanks for your patronage over the years, I'm not dead, I'm just running a company :)
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Spam Headline Uncovers ‘Productive Play’ Dungeon  
 
 
Posted 2008-08-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Got the following spam email today:

"BREAKING NEWS: Video Game Designer Forces Children to Play Mini-Game for Lunch Money"

At first I thought it was an auto-generated email, but then I searched for the phrase on Google and found the real article (or a copy of the real article). Summary: Game designer tests out game mechanics on his family members.
"Mr. Neil's wife says he finally crossed the line when he made their children put the families CD's back into their proper CD cases in order to earn lunch money for the day. The task had to be accomplished before the school bus arrived at 7:30 a.m."
Evil taskmaster, that Mr. Neil.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  ScreenBurn at SXSW Game Design Competition  
 
 
Posted 2008-08-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I've joined the SXSW ScreenBurn advisory board for a third year, and will be helping with the public panel selection process. This year, ScreenBurn seems to be wrapped a little tighter into the Interactive component of the festival, and is bound to get more exposure as a result.

ScreenBurn announced its first game design competition yesterday, aimed at "emerging designers," who merely have to write and package/present a 200-word pitch for their game. The contest opened yesterday. Semi-finalists will be announced in mid-January 2009. These semi-finalists will then construct a 3-minute slideshow presentation that graphically illustrates their concept. Finalists will be chosen to present at the event after the jury reviews these slideshow presentations. There is no fee to enter the Game Design Competition, however, each person may only submit two proposals.

Wish I could play along, I've got a back pocket bursting with ideas. Oh, wait. Those aren't ideas...
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  More iPhone Gestures, Please  
 
 
Posted 2008-07-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Despite being a surprisingly liberating piece of technology (in terms of getting me away from my desk where I can actually think about things), I'm still grouchy over a handful of iPhone oversights. Number one at the moment--the stunning lack of a copy/paste feature. Which leads to a few related thoughts:

1) Why does the iPhone, a mini-computer, insist on pretending its just a phone?
2) Let's please have a toggle between "Power User" and "Hapless N00b."
3) More iPhone gestures, please.

I get that the screen is small. I get that there aren't supposed to be buttons all over the place. But for us interactive-literate types, why not provide another layer of functionality? For example, at least one iPhone app I've heard of erases something when the phone is shaken gently back and forth. Nice. More gestures, please. And not cop-outs like plain old sliding or dragging, either. Here's my proposal for copy/paste:

Put your finger on the thing you want to copy, keep your finger down, and draw a "C" shape. The thing is copied. Then, put your finger where you want to paste the thing you copied and draw a "V" shape. The thing is pasted with a couple finger-flicks. Was that so hard? Christ.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  Free iPhone Games Are Awful:  Strategy?  
 
 
Posted 2008-07-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Nearly every one of the dozen or so free iPhone games I've downloaded and tried are just plain awful. Most are barely games at all, or are simply slight variations on classic (boring) games such as Pong or Simon.

I had (seemingly incorrectly) understood there was some sort of quality bar that Apple set for its first round of developers. Clearly the bar was set very, very low. I don't understand the strategy here: my entire outlook on iPhone games and small developers is now tainted. Why pay for a game if the free ones are terrible? Is Apple trying to boost the major brands by allowing this indie crap into the App Store? Confused. Disappointed.
 
     
 
   
 
  5 comments  
  Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock  
 
 
Posted 2008-07-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
TechCrunch reports on the release of WebFlock, a hosted, in-browser virtual world service offered by The Electric Sheep Company. Formerly Second Life-obsessed (weren't we all at one point), the company brought a number of major brands into the overhyped virtual world (such as Major League Baseball, LEGO, and Starwood Hotels). Now, the Sheep have cut out the middle-world by starting up their own.

Because WebFlock is Flash based, it's accessible by over 90% of the web browsers out there: in other words, everyone can get in easily (unlike the recently-launched Google Lively, which requires a large plugin download and only runs on Windows-based PCs running Internet Exploder). Gotta like low barriers to entry.

Sheep CEO Sibley Verbeck reportedly puts the price of basic private-world hosting at "under $100,000" for a year of service. Well out of the range of any but rich corporations. Showtime is coughing up for the service, bringing an extension of its L-Word TV property to WebFlock after a successful splash in Second Life. I suspect many major brands will follow suit, as controlled spaces are much more attractive than "anything goes" sandboxes.
 
     
 
   
 
  6 comments  
  Phantom Compass Partners With IT GlobalSecure  
 
 
Posted 2008-07-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I'm happy to announce that my company Phantom Compass has partnered with IT GlobalSecure to offer security features integrated from the ground up into our digital and cross-media games. Phantom Compass is in the business of "productive play," and with IT GlobalSecure, we're going to be able to offer our clients and end-users expertly-crafted safeguards against hacking and exploitation. What's the good of a "serious" game if it hasn't accounted for security? From the press release:
Social gaming is growing rapidly and faces increasing security challenges: educational games include high scores that can be hacked, advergames and social games collect sensitive personal and demographic information, and many games need secure payment processing. The partnership between Phantom Compass and IT GlobalSecure brings the best in innovative game design and security to our clients and their customers.
Thanks to IT GlobalSecure's Steven Davis (author of the fantastic Play No Evil blog) for his support. With IT Global Secure, my company can offer a level of secure game data and systems design that other boutique developers aren't even thinking about, let alone capable of offering.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  EA Grabs Your ‘Spore Creature Creator’ IP  
 
 
Posted 2008-06-28 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Talk about harshing my buzz. Electronic Arts is going to let us design creatures with its long-awaited Spore game and stand-alone Creature Creator, but in using the game and creator, we agree to hand over all rights in our creations to the megalithic publisher, including the right to "further modify" the creations. So much for using Spore as a sketchpad for creature concepts.

In my legally-ignorant view, EA should have no IP rights in how I assemble the building blocks it supplies. That's like LEGO claiming ownership over everything we build, or Adobe claiming ownership over images run through Photoshop. The way I see it, creature designers are creating new IP with a tool set they paid for--why should we give EA our work, except for the exclusive purpose of sharing with other creature creators in the way the game was designed?

Continue reading: EA Grabs Your ‘Spore Creature Creator’ IP
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  Where Is Dr. Horrible’s Blog?  
 
 
Posted 2008-06-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Joss Whedon's latest side-project appears to be a made-for-the-internet musical romp about "a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he’s too shy to talk to." It's called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I just learned about it today.

Note: the official site does not actually contain a blog.

Disappointing! Inexplicable! Bam! Pow! Joss, I realize you've got zillions of rabid fans ready to lap this thing up, but how cool would it be to pave the way to a blog-related video series with, you know, an actual blog? Maybe there is a blog, and I just can't find it. I'm thinking of an in-fiction blog here, not the behind-the-scenes sort of thing. Let's get a glimpse of this latest Whedon universe from the first-person view of Dr. Horrible. Joss, if budget is an issue, I'm sure we can work something out.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Dipping Into Toronto’s Flash Pool  
 
 
Posted 2008-06-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Toronto's Flash user group 'FlashinTO' held a public meeting last night that included brief presentations from a handful of local Flash designer/developers, including yours truly. Although I've been working the new media trenches here in Toronto for almost 15 years, and have been working with Flash since version 2, I'm way out of the loop in terms of who's doing what with Flash locally (aside from my clients and a few others). Glad to have had a chance to get a bit up to speed.

Other presenters included Andy Tipping of Mischief Media, Tim Willison of Oddly Studios, Tom George of DesignAxiom, and a dude who gave us a preview of an in-browser media viewer called "Radar." Good to be able to get a nice cross-section of what's going on around town, and meet some folks Flashing it up in Toronto.
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
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Clickable Conversation
5224 comments
on 4159 entries

Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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