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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Download XBLA Creator games before Tuesday!

I don't normally just post a press release, but I haven't had a chance to jot down my GDC thoughts, and this thing's time-sensitive.

If you want to download, play, and review XBLA Creator Club games, you need to download them before midnight Monday (12 am Tuesday), and play them before March 9th.

Press-release below:

Play and Review Community Arcade Games

Want to check out some of the fun and exciting community-created games announced at the Game Developers Conference? Here's how to download and play the XNA Community Arcade games.

The games are available until midnight Pacific Time on February 26, 2008. The games will expire on March 9 at midnight Pacific, so get them while they're hot and play them before they're gone!

Before you download and play, first you need to download the launcher.
To download the XNA Creators Club Game Launcher:

1.    Go to the Marketplace Blade in the Xbox 360 Dashboard

2.    Go to Games Store/All Games

3.    Scroll down to XNA Creators Club Game Launcher

To download the Community Arcade Games:

1.    Go to the Games Blade in the Xbox 360 Dashboard

2.    Select Games Library

3.    Select My Games

4.    Select XNA Creators Club from the top "twist" menu

5.    Hit the Y Button to see the Community Arcade games

To see this process in action, check out Major Nelson's video interview with XNA Program Manager Michael Klucher on the XNA page of our GDC coverage.

Reviewing Community Arcade Games

Once you've tried them out, we want to hear how you like them. Submit your mini-reviews (no longer than 100 words) to with the subject: Community Arcade Review. Make sure to include your gamertag and your hometown. The best reviews could be featured on and Inside Xbox!
You can also discuss Community Arcade Games in the forums.

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SOURCES:,,,, IGN, GameInformer, Official XBox Magazine, CNN,, and others.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Come see Emergent at GDC!

I'm in the final throes of getting ready for my first Game Developers Conference. And though I'm new to the game industry (at least on the non - voice - acting - and - blogging - professional side of it), I'm not new to trade shows, biz dev, meeting great new folks, and making something happen through all of that.

I think Emergent's going to make a really strong showing, and I'm stoked to be a part of it.

I probably won't be liveblogging that much. Between me being booked with meeting licensees, prospects, partners, and biz folks throughout the day -- and the HTC Touch not being as great as my Treo at liveblogging (or maybe I'm not used to it) -- you're probably better off with catching updates at or

I will probably be Twittering, though, so catch updates there.

If you are going to be GDC, swing by and check us out Emergent's booth (Booth # 5716 in the North Hall). I'll be previewing stuff and doing joint presentations with one of our amazing licensees.

See me presenting Wednesday (10:30am, 1pm, and 1:30pm), Thursday (12:30pm and 4pm), and Fri. 1pm and 1:30 p.m.).

Of course, feel free to come by our booth and talk to folks any time, and shoot me an Email, IM, text, or call if you want to meet up and talk middleware, game engines, and the future of gaming.

Um, the dark, blurry pict below? Some talented guys burning the midnight oil to put some additional polish on a finished GDC demo -- something with which I think you're going to be pretty impressed -- even if my last-minute voice over hadn't make it in.

Oh, and Sony PLAYSTATION®3 developers? We have something for you.

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SOURCES:,,,, IGN, GameInformer, Official XBox Magazine, CNN,, and others.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New models for MMOs

So, I'm bummed Microsoft and Marvel pulled the plug on the Marvel Universe MMO.

And I'm not just upset because I've Made Mine Marvel for more than two decades. It's not just because I'd like to see a quality, heavy backed version of City of Heroes with 50 years of backstory.

Naw, I'm bummed because the MMO space needs some innovation, and this franchise was a chance to see that happen.

But let's back up -- why cancel the game?

From Microsoft's Shane Kim:
For us we look at our priorities and all of the things we have to do. It’s a tough space. It’s a very competitive space. And it’s a space that’s changing quite a bit. …When we first entered into the development and agreement of the development of ‘Marvel Universe Online,’ we thought we would create another subscription-based MMO. And if you really look at the data there’s basically one that’s successful and everything else wouldn’t meet our level or definition of commercial success. And then you have to look [and say]: ‘Can we change the business model for that? Is that really viable given how far we are in development? And so forth. Does Marvel want to do that?’ There’s a whole bunch of factors.”

Wait -- "there’s basically one that’s successful"? Seriously?

And whether Kim's saying there's one successful financial model or one successful MMO in the
form of World of Warcraft (the interview is a bit vague), both assertions are a crock.

And it shows short-sightedness counter to the "Can we change the business model for that" question.

Companies need to leverage licensed IP to create innovation and revenue streams from the existing fan base, and create a cross-over hit with non-fans. Not just milk it shoddily when a movie based on the franchise launches.

So, how could you leverage a licensed IP -- aside from doing it non-craptastically?

Play to the limitations.

I'm guessing there are a lot of folks that all want to be the Hulk, or Wolverine, or the Punisher, or Spider-Man. But they can't all be Spider-Man (unless you want to do a Clone Saga thing -- and if you tell me you want to, I will find you and rip out your fingernails).

Same problem exists for my proposed Transformers MMORPG (still waiting for that call, Activision). Or the recently announced Hasbro / Electronic Arts G.I. Joe (which, really, you could take all of my Transformers ideas, and reskin them with the Joe equivalent -- with factions galore (COBRA divide among Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Dr. Mindbender, Tomax / Xamot, and Destro).

What if these limitations are a good thing? What if that's how you divide up your worlds? What if servers /farms are load-balanced across a geography (or even worlds) limited to one of each character (that's what, two thousand with Marvel? Rolled out over the course of years?), and you get your friends together and pick who wants to be what in your little click, and it's more accessible for folks who don't want to do massive WoW raids, but it also panders to the MMO hoard whores.

You could do the same with any of the big franchises (Marvel, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Sony's upcoming DC MMO, etc.) -- and this could actually increase your user base.

Say I want to jump into the Marvel MMO and play as Captain America. What, Captain America's taken on existing world servers? Well then, I'll take my shield and go start up my own instance with my friends who lost bets with me and get to tag along as anything from Rick Jones to D-Man.

But here's the big opportunity for IP holders -- Hasbro (and Warner Brothers and Marvel and everyone else who owns large-cast IPs) should be begging to do these games. Not in the craptastic - minimal - dollar - game - budgets - to - create - a - mediocre - game - across - a - billion - platforms - so - they - - can - milk - a - few - more - dollars - from - the - franchise - during - the - movie - tie-in kind of way. But in a market research kind of way.

Do people not get the goldmine a focused online game could bring? Does Marvel not see how they could mine surprising data as to how many people are playing as Frenchie, and how few are playing as Ben Riley? Don't toy manufacturers think -- in much the same way Hasbro in the 80s could introduce a G.I. Joe character as a toy or in the Marvel comic book or on the TV series -- they could now do so as a new playable character (or NPC) in the game, and find out if it floats or sinks with the fanbase? That they could allow for some "character customization" (that is really only a version of the remaining options available from their focus group efforts as they try to figure out whether the Buzzer redesign should be more Mad Max or more Village People)?

Marketing gold people. Marketing. Gold.

I've got other ideas for MMO mechanics, too. Like say you've got a level 35 Hulk, and you jump on a server and Hulk's already taken -- but you can jump into an unused character of the same class (bruiser, say, the ever lovin' blue-eyed Thing), and take a slight "penalty" (say, to level 30), which let's you play as another character, incents you play more (rather than not at all, because your character's not available), and doesn't make you redo the grinding for the class you've chosen.

I personally think there's a lot more to mine from MMOs. We just need to tweak the models and memes -- like adding bits of this and that from other genres, vertical markets, and geographies (take a nod from Korea, for example, with their casual massive online games, or hard-core, constrained worlds games).

Marvel -- bring back Marvel Universe Online -- I know you must be itching to get into the game publisher biz.

Hey, how about a Captain Britain MMO? You could populate that solely with Captain Britains. I bet Alan Moore would love that.

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SOURCES:,,,, IGN, GameInformer, Official XBox Magazine, CNN,, and others.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Going to GDC?

Going to the Game Developers Conference in a couple of weeks?

I am, and I'd like to chat.

I'm booked pretty solid with meeting licensees, partner meetings, IHV hookups, and doing presentations.

But if you want to hang out or talk with other folks at Emergent Game Technologies, let me know. Or let us know.

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