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A Narrative Dream... The Unfinished Swan Part III - Motivation - by Eric Guadara

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 8:27am
Themes, allusions, and symbols are plentiful in TUS, emphasizing the natural wonderment felt by the player and bolstering the experience with rich content. I've chosen to break up my writings into chapters to parallel the game's structure/narrative.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Games Everyone Anticipating but Know Nothing About - by Devis Lengren

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 8:26am
Games I am Anticipating but Know Nothing About.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Auto Save for Unity - by Lior Tal

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 8:25am
A simple and useful editor code for Unity that perform Auto Save for the currently open scene every few minutes.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

100 Games in 5 Years: The Halfway Mark - by James Cox

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 8:25am
A few years ago, I set a goal for myself: Make 100 games in 5 years. This post is an update at the 2.5 year mark.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Randomly Interesting Combat - by Sam Coster

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 8:15am
Post-alpha we found the combat in our open world survival game to be a bit too monotonous. To empower the Mastery elements of its design, we went back to the drawing board and found a solution in randomness.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Page2Images

New Drupal Modules - 22 January 2015 - 7:15am

Page2Images module allows user to create a website thumbnail preview in the content using only a website URL.

This module is sponsored by: Jeney Repro Ltd.

The module requires a free or paid account from Page2Images, who is the service provider.

Categories: Drupal

Elder Scrolls Online goes free-to-play: Was Zenimax stupid...like a fox?

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 22 January 2015 - 7:12am

I'm beginning to think that repeated initial use of subscription with later conversion to an F2P option is not a failure of publishers to come to grips with reality. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Bluespark Labs: Start your content + commerce revolution

Planet Drupal - 22 January 2015 - 6:59am

Shifting to a content-driven commerce focus is a daunting challenge.

Whether you are a media company adding commerce to your site or a retail site wanting to add richer editorial, there are very different skillsets required to sell product versus those needed for writing and curating content. How do you successfully blend these skillsets — much less these seemingly disparate websites — into a single, cohesive whole?

It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.

From Media to Commerce

Adding commerce to a media site is tricky. On the one hand, product recommendations can add a new dimension of value to both you and your readers. Just like advertising, though, (and maybe more so), you run the risk of corrupting a brand that your readers have come to trust.

Promotion!

If you are making the step into content-driven commerce, you must be willing to promote products on your site. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But integrity is one of the things that readers value from media sites. And if they feel like they are being pushed toward a bad product (or even an unrelated product), they will likely revolt.

Now, the promotions don’t have to be in your face, “everything must go”, car-sales promotions. In fact, those are the exact promotions that will spark revolution. But you must be willing to add tasteful product descriptions and honest reviews and recommendations. This means putting your trusted brand behind a product that you like — and, more importantly, one that you think your readers will like.

Not selling out

There is a fine line between promoting product and selling out. Sometimes it’s easy to find. Don’t like a product? Think a product is cheaply made? Don’t recommend it no matter how sweet that affiliate commission looks.

But what about a product you love versus one that you like? The one you love, right? But what if that second product has a much better affiliate program?

It’s tricky. But you can probably find a way to promote both. The Wirecutter (and their sister site, The SweetHome) approach to product reviews is a great example of this. They write in-depth product reviews for different categories of gadgets. Each review has a recommended product along with explanations of why they did and didn’t like some of the other options they reviewed. Each product is a link to Amazon (and other stores) and every link has their affiliate code.

It’s a smart, if intense, solution that allows them to promote a lot of different products without selling out. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Readers trust the site more because they go into so much detail about so many options.

From Commerce to Media

Now, if you are going in the opposite direction (adding content to your commerce site), then you’ll experience a range of other issues that can be even more challenging. In many respects, they run counter to much of the marketing culture that permeates most retail shops — unless those shops have come to value content-marketing and storytelling as a way to increase online sales.

Content Production

Editorial content is a whole new world. Marketing content goes through a series of edits and reviews. It’s often bland and boring. Intentionally so. You need to put the best foot forward of every product you sell — no matter how much that description might gloss over hard truths.

With a content-driven commerce approach, though, using your marketing-style for your editorial content will sabotage your efforts. You need something with a voice and style that captures people’s attention and engages them on a personal level. Something that product descriptions almost never do.

Willingness to curate

Once you start producing content, you need to start curating it. What products are going to make it onto your top 10 list? Which set of widgets are you going to include in your how-to article? You know those items you promote are going to get more views and more clicks — even a bump in brand perception — that other products won’t.

After you’ve written the piece, then you need to decide what content you’re going to promote on the homepage and throughout the site. Another tough decision. This one, though, fits closely inline with your sales planning process — which sale are promoting and when.

Treating content as a first-class citizen

Another aspect of content-driven commerce that may seem anathema to many commerce sites: treat your content like a first-class citizen. Specifically: give it equal weight on your homepage, which means treating it the same as you would a sale or other promotion. The challenge for many is that this feels like you are losing sales. But you’re trading a bump in short-term sales for long-term engagement.

There are many companies that have seemingly embraced content-driven commerce as a strategy. Big brands like Home Depot, Lowes, and Brooks Brothers are producing some amazing content. A quick glance at their homepages, though, and the only hint at this content is behind a single link. Everything on these pages is focused on the latest sale and other product promotions. This may be a strategic decision or a technological limitation. Regardless, these websites have yet to really embrace content as a cornerstone to their brand.

Admittedly, there are many ways to enter a website—from Google to social media. But what a company includes on their homepage speaks volumes about what a brand values.

Gaining trust

Does your audience see you as an expert on the product you sell (Crutchfield)? Or just as a fancy storefront (Best Buy). In either case, gaining and maintaining the trust of your audience is critical — and, depending on your current relationship with your customers, may be an uphill slog.

Are you willing to write a bad review of a product? Are you willing to pull a product if there are no redeeming qualities? Are you willing to write content that doesn’t directly sell the product?

Imagine if Best Buy started producing content that actually helped their audience better understand and use the technology they were selling. As it is, the store (and by extension, website) has limited audience engagement and does nothing to pull anyone to their site — other than offer product promotions and discounts.

One of the fundamental requirements to succeeding with any kind of content-driven strategy is audience trust. You need to build trust with your audience and you can’t do that if they feel like you are selling them anything and everything.

The move to content-driven commerce

Making the decision to integrate content and commerce has its challenges. The exact challenges you face will really depend on the culture of your organization as well as the abilities and mindset of your staff. But if you’re willing to make the necessary changes to engage your audience and build their trust, you can make the transition.

If you’re moving from a media site into commerce, they key will be maintaining your readers' trust and your own integrity. If you’re moving in the opposite direction, the challenge will be gaining the reader’s trust, which means making some pretty big organizational and cultural changes.

In both cases, though, you’ll find the move well worth the effort.

Tags: Drupal Planet
Categories: Drupal

NASA, Microsoft collaboration will allow scientists to 'work on Mars'

Virtual Reality - Science Daily - 22 January 2015 - 5:58am
NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to develop software called OnSight, a new technology that will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars using wearable technology called Microsoft HoloLens.
Categories: Virtual Reality

Computer scientists improve privacy of Internet currency Bitcoin

Virtual Reality - Science Daily - 22 January 2015 - 5:45am
It is traded on special stock exchanges and is accepted not only by various online shops, but also by thousands of brick-and-mortar stores across the globe: the virtual currency Bitcoin. The users benefit from its advantages: Since it does not require a central bank, the transactions can be concluded more quickly and with reduced charges. Moreover, many Bitcoin users appreciate more anonymity while paying. Nevertheless, its popularity is also resulting in thefts with increasing frequency. Computer scientists have now presented an approach that enhances anonymity and can be applied without long waits.
Categories: Virtual Reality

Entity Print

New Drupal Modules - 22 January 2015 - 1:23am

This module provides a permission and a menu callback that allows you to enable users to view entityprint/entity_type/entity_id to get a PDF generated version on the entity.

Categories: Drupal

Service Providers (aka Freelancers, Contractors, Consultants) don't work for free! - by Sean R Scott

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 12:21am
This blog post discusses the difference in looking for partners vs service providers and how to approach service providers with a low budget.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Be my HTML5 Valentine – Video game contest - by Jose Maria Martinez

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 12:21am
WiMi5 launches a video game contest for HTML5 games related with the theme of LOVE. € 1,500 in prizes in the form of Web traffic.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Itch - A Consistent Design - by Valentina Chrysostomou

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 12:21am
Designing games and making all things work perfectly with one another to create a coherent experience.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Why You Must Test-Drive Your Game before Heading Overseas, and How to Do It Right - by Patrick Yip

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 12:21am
In this blog post, we explored why localization testing is essential for game localization, and offered some actionable tips for you to test your game right.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Superseeds: The Body Shop, Part 4

RPGNet - 22 January 2015 - 12:00am
A final look at The Body Shop.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Trip Through RPG History With Designers And Dragons

Gnome Stew - 21 January 2015 - 11:03pm

I was not around for the beginnings of the game industry. I can look at the Red Box D&D set on my gaming shelves and know that I only have it because I acquired it from a friend who acquired it from an ex-girlfriend’s father. It sits next to my D&D Rules Cyclopedia, which I picked up a few years after first publication from a used book store. I was at the tender age of 12 or so and got it because it looked cool and I loved the Hobbit. I know of much of the gaming industry’s early days only through stories I hear online or talking with people at conventions. I was born too late to have been there for it.

 

When I saw an email advertising a book called Designers and Dragons that purported to “dig deep into the lore of our forty-year-old hobby, uncovering the forgotten facts and hidden stories behind the biggest and most influential names in roleplaying games.”, well I was intrigued. I’ve watched a few forum threads and talked to some of my friends who have been around in the industry far longer than I, but those are snippets of the story. Designers and Dragons is about as close to a full history of the gaming industry as you can get. Within a few hours I had an order in for the set.

 

What It Is

Designers and Dragons is a 4 volume reworking of the 2011 Designers and Dragons by Shannon Appelcline. The current version is produced by Evil Hat productions. Appelcline still heads the books and is credited as author on all four volumes. This in itself is impressive due to the sheer size of the work, but Appelcline didn’t do it alone. More on that later. Each book is over 400 pages (6 by 9) and the total of all four volumes is just under 1700 pages. The PDFs and books are in black and white, with the printed edition I got from Drive Thru RPG being hardcover. The quality on the printed books is good and the layout is easy to read and move through. Art in the book is mostly informative iconography and scanned covers of books being talked about.

The primary focus of the series is on gaming companies and the stories that revolve around them. The book starts with a company in the decade it began, then follows it through its history, revealing the ups and downs, popularity, reasons it might have gone out of business (if it did), and where some of the designers and people behind the brand went. Nicely, if you begin reading the story of Palladium in the 80s edition, you don’t have to switch to the 90s and the 00s editions to continue the story. While there is a lot of spiderwebbing of stories between decades, you can get the majority of what happened to one company by reading its entry.

At the end of each entry is a nice What To Read Next section. If a story continues on in another section, such as a developer leaving to start their own company, then that is noted. If nothing particular leads on to the next section, then similar RPGs, companies, or gaming styles are noted. It makes reading kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but also makes reading sections and jumping about fairly easy. It is quite nice to pick up the book for a quick break. You can read a section, then jump around to another section, then set the book down for another 10 minutes of reading later.

 

 

 

What It Isn’t

Thankfully, this book is not a gossip mill. When I’ve been reading through forums or talking with friends at conventions, gossip about

who or why a certain company collapsed often comes up. Designers and Dragons doesn’t avoid the hard stories or circumstances that lead to some company’s downfalls, but it doesn’t throw blame about either. Hard subjects are tackled, but in a respectful way. Controversies are revealed, but with very little opinion in the writing.

Another thing the book isn’t is overly dry. While every form of moderately academic writing or comprehensive fact based research is going to be a bit dry, the book is written in a very human way. This is a straight and easy to read history of gaming companies and how they affected the industry, and it covers the material in an easy to read style.

It is also not an overview of gaming in general, though it does touch on many of the trends and provides a decent idea of why certain trends occurred.  By reading through a volume, a reader will have an idea of what was happening in gaming at the time, but there is no attempt to delve directly or in-depth into the whats and whys of certain trends. Trends in the gaming industry will be mentioned in relation to the companies within the industry, but the book doesn’t divert from its primary mission of showing the industry through the producers of content. That in itself is a positive point for the books as well. There is no speculation as to what gamers were thinking or why they didn’t find certain products popular, except in relation to how that affected a company. Designers and Dragons presents the facts as best as could be complied and lets you put the picture together from there. By having the pieces accessible, the reader can put together the bigger picture without any research bias.

 

How Comprehensive Is It?

As I read through sections, especially as I got to the most recent entries, I began to wonder how thorough it would be and what would qualify a company for entry into the volumes. As the means of production became more available to the public, through printing houses like lulu and selling marketplaces like Drive Thru RPG, the number of people producing role playing game related materials exploded. Needless to say, covering every single role playing game company or producer would be a task that left one with no time whatsoever. Designers and Dragons focuses on the most notable entities. Though each book is massive at 400 pages, to do otherwise would balloon each volume up to a gigantic size. Instead, the companies and trendsetters that are most notable are covered in as complete a way as possible. Part Six: The Indie Revolution (2003–2006) of the 00s talks about many of the prime movers of the Indie Revolution and touches briefly on the trends that allowed them to flourish, but could in no way cover the hundreds of publishers out there pushing products under the “indie” label. It does, however, provide a good overview of the moving forces and biggest names that would be considered indie by most gamers

How Accurate Is It?

Though Appelcline is at the head and credited as the author on the entire work, there are many people credited with creating this massive volume. Indexers, editors, project managers, etc. In addition, the appendix has a brief bibliography of books, magazines, and websites that the information was gathered from. While print books like The Fantasy Role-Playing Gamer’s Bible and Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games are referenced, the Bibliography states that:

 

This book was built from thousands of primary sources including interviews, design notes, reviews, news articles, press releases, catalogs, forum postings, and other non-fiction articles. It was also built with the assistance of hundreds of readers, fact-checkers, and scanners.

 

Paging through the four volumes, you can tell that a lot of information was collected from a lot of sources and compiled here.  My partner going through her PHD program has exposed me to the rigor of academic writing and the errors that would be unacceptable there. This isn’t academic writing, but it is a researched history pulled from multiple sources and a lot of stories. Wondering how much error might have slipped in, I was glad to find that there was a decent fact checking process at work in the creation of the books.

 

 

Whenever I finished an article, I tried to get one or more people associated with the company in question to comment on it. In one or two cases where I didn’t have sufficient company feedback, I got some help from fans as well. These people  helped to make this book considerably more accurate and informative thanks to both corrections and insight generously given. Some were kind enough to comment on multiple editions of these articles over the years. A few of these folks just answered questions for me. Errors remaining are, of course, my own.

 

 

Designers And Dragons is research, pure and simple. Its accuracy comes from the dedication that the author and the team behind him put into fact checking and ensuring their information was correct. I’ve yet to see a more complete, easy to read, or well researched compiled source of information about the role-playing game industry.

Physical or PDF?

The physical books are hardbound and are 6 by 9. They are nice coffee table books and look great on the shelves. They are good books to pull out and read small sections of, and definitely not books to go straight through in one go. The PDF copies are nice to pull up on my tablet and browse through when I’m bored. I find myself constantly jumping between books to follow down different paths or the life of a particular designer, or follow a path suggested by the What To Read Next section. I could make do with just the PDF versions, but I’m glad I ordered the hardcovers. A spare bookmark is constantly moving between the four books as I pick it up for quick reads and quest between the volumes.

 

Why I Bought It & Why You Should Buy It

This is a great book to fill in many gaps in my knowledge of the gaming industry. I’m horrible at staying constant on forums, and the only other way to get all this information would be to go through the monumental task that Appelcline, the editors, and the fact checkers went through to compile it all together. This is a great resource to collect and archive a history of role-playing game companies and the trends that shaped them. For me, it is going to serve as a great way to fill in gaps in the stories I know only a little about and provide me information I never even knew to look for.



Categories: Game Theory & Design

DIABLO III REAPER OF SOULS RECIEVES A NEW UPDATE AND BRINGS SEASON CHANGES - by Rey Mangana

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 21 January 2015 - 10:56pm
This new update, named 2.1.2, is set to provide numerous fixes and additions to your Diablo III: Reaper of Souls experience, but another main reason for creating it was that the first Season is close to an end, as the experience will finish on February 3.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Open Source Training: Add a New Moderation State Tab to Workbench

Planet Drupal - 21 January 2015 - 9:14pm

One of our members was watching our video class on Drupal's Workbench module and has been getting it set up on their site.

They ran into one problem: how to use the new moderation states they added.

They wanted add a tab so that people could easily see the content in a particular moderation state.

In this tutorial, we'll show you how to make that happen.

Categories: Drupal

Text formatter

New Drupal Modules - 21 January 2015 - 7:08pm

Provides a 'Manual text format' formatter to override the text format used on a field value.

Categories: Drupal
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