Archive for July 2010

Two Great Company Letters

July 10, 2010

Company culture is important to me, and it’s a hard thing to get right.  Every company has a different feel, a different vibe.  I think it’s important to communicate this internally and externally — it’s how you determine who and what your company is.  Every now and again CEOs manage to do this by breaking out of the mold of dreary sameness in their public communications — somehow managing to not be bound by or afraid of their Board, their shareholders, or just looking foolish.

Two recent great examples of this kind of communication came from the CEO of Woot and the crafty pastamancers behind Kingdom of Loathing.

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Guildwars 2 Breaks the Mold (li’l bit)

July 9, 2010

MMOs have by now evolved a canon of how to deal with combat roles, death, and getting back into play after dying (“resurrection”).  This canon has become so fixed that it’s common to hear about tank/healer/dps as the “holy trinity” of MMO combat that many games just do, well, sorta because that’s how it’s been done.   Every now and again though, some game comes along and pushes the boundaries forward a little.  It looks like Guild Wars 2 is doing that with their approach to combat, dying, and the flow of gameplay.

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Why Blizzard and Zuckerberg Are Wrong

July 8, 2010

or, The Persistent Case for Social Scientists

There are some lessons people in online businesses persistently don’t learn.  A lot of these are grouped into the area of “social concerns are just as real as technical ones” or “social issues do not have technical solutions.”

Recently a couple of major players in the online space have shown a stunning lack of regard for social concerns in ways that have long-term effects and that can safely be filed under “Lessons Learned.” (more…)

The Early Game

July 3, 2010

I’ve talked a bit here about the need for depth in social games — the need for an elder game that keeps you playing after you’ve grasped the primary gameplay.  This need is showing up in the “dangerous curves” we’re seeing in many of the first-gen social games topping out and drifting downward as people tire of the same-old gameplay.  There’s no doubt that it’s important to “avoid the VOID” in game design — where VOID is Varies Only In Difficulty (coined by Dan Arey, I believe).  In other words, if all you do is dial up the difficulty as the game moves along, it gets boring pretty quickly.

But on the other end — the nearer end, the one you have to get through to be able to worry about an elder game — things are heating up too.

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