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"Atrayo's Oracle" @ MMORPG.com

This blog site will mostly by used as cross posts from my main blog site "Atrayo's Oracle" regarding the games industry in general. Such posts will be on probable innovations if not other generalized points of view. http://atrayosoracle.blogspot.com

Author: Atrayo

Games Industry Store Policy Concept: "Treating Game Cards Like Lotto Scratch Off's At Retail"

Posted by Atrayo Thursday November 14 2013 at 2:06AM
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Hello All,

Today's concept is more so a common sense retail store policy that is long over due. For nearly a decade now game publishers first introduced on retail store shelves like in "Walmart or Best Buy" game cards as a product. Basically a Game Card is a highly decorated piece of card board with a very much lauded crucial hidden code. The code is layered under that latex like silvery substance you see on Lotto game scratch cards. What the game card code buys is either proprietary currency from the game publisher. Or a month's worth subscription to any particular MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game they may offer. 

Here below is a picture from "Sony Online Entertainment" (SOE) game card as how it would sorta appear on a retail store shelf.




Such game cards appear in a card board deck as a promotional display usually within the video game sales department. For years this is how they have been presented and sold at retail spaces. The danger is either unattended minors or professional shop lifters just scratching off the game cards and thus stealing the highly prized codes. When I first learned about such a product within stores I was astonished that these game cards weren't placed under the sales counter. Now years later when I venture into the video games department I see littered scratched off game cards. Plundered like booty by young or older devious gamers that literally game the system (pun intended) by stealing such retail codes. What can be far worse is potentially criminal thieves stealing dozens of these unattended retail game cards and grabbing the codes. Where like a ticket scalper they hawk the codes at a lower price point reselling them creating a cottage "Black Market" before they've ever been sold!

What this denotes is a game publisher and the retailer not fully comprehending the jeopardy they're in with legitimate sales. This can drive up incidents of stores returning damaged or in this case tampered merchandise back to their wholesale distributors. Not to mention putting your customers through the ringer by having them explain at your store what happened upon returning the product.

Case in point I heard of a testimonial from a community guild mate of mine within our forum site. He went to his local "Walmart" store here in the States and purchased several SOE Game Cards like the one shown above. When he arrived home and began to input the codes he received errors that the codes have already been claimed. I'm sure his frustration only grew from there when he called the SOE customer service department in California. (note they do not have a toll-free phone number) He was told his only recourse is to return the tampered game cards to the retailer. In part as a first time buyer of these tampered game cards he certainly feels jilted which his only fault wasn't being careful. However sincerely this wasn't the customers fault it was both the retailer "Walmart" and that of SOE. Consider how many non-gamers buy these game cards as a gift for children or other adults to enjoy. Only to hand them a tampered used game card without knowing any better. A major insult to injury I say.

Thus this Store Policy Concept is born where hopefully those industry insiders or Venture Capitalists that may happen to read my unique blog site take notice. Opportunity is afoot. Below I'll explain three potential solutions that game publishers that can provide guidance to their retail partners.

First, train your sales cashiers that ring up your customer transactions to spot a tampered game card. If it's been scratched off by a thief its no good to your customer. This one step alone will save the store a drama with your customer by having to return a tampered game card. A customer service situation averted is a customer service incident saved from ever needing to occur.

Second, if game publishers or retailers insist that product placement within a video game department has to stay the same. Then train your store management, stocking employees, and electronic department attendants to keep on the look out of any tampered game cards on store shelves. To immediately remove them as encountered before a hapless customer purchases one. Also, to keep very vigilant of any store thieves stealing codes in that department. They may also take the product into the store bath room and lift potentially dozens of game card codes. Then subsequently dumping the tampered game cards into a random store shelf hallway. To be replaced by staff on its proper shelf not realizing that it was tampered. Or the code thief could just not even care by being that sneaky in effort and leave countless game cards in the bathroom area itself.

Third, this is the most Ideal Method to place the game cards behind a sales counter display or secure area shelf. Much like a Lotto game Scratch-Off that are prominently displayed next to the cigarette cartoons and porn magazines. (ie convenience stores like "7-Eleven") This way the game cards aren't a temptation for unattended minors or thieves from stealing the codes. If this means paying retailers extra to place such merchandise behind the secure sales counter it will be worth it. Saving yourselves the headache and your customers as well for being the point man in dealing with such cases of unnoticed code theft in regards to customer service incidents.

Basically this is a clear case of a lack of understanding of the gamer sub-culture in popular society. Where game publishers offering a convenience to their customers in a store retail environment. Just having them placed in an unsecured location on a store shelf. This sort of retail store neglect and free for all by thieves has been ongoing for numerous years now. Game publishers are partly to blame for not providing their retail partners clear guidance on product placement. I suppose game publishers have lacked this fore sight since they sell their game currency and game subscriptions in a secure E-Commerce outlet.

I hope this games industry store policy concept is of help to major big box retailers and game publishers. Since your small business hobby store owners probably already have the better common sense by avoiding the mistakes your committing at point of sale opportunities.

Games Industry Concept: "Multiplayer Scalability as Middleware Game Software Suite"

Posted by Atrayo Thursday August 29 2013 at 8:15PM
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Hello All,

Those of us as avid gamers be it on the PC/Mac or a video game console have had our noses against an artificial ceiling imposed by game publishers. What I mean for over a decade if not more multiplayer games as mostly FPS (First person shooters) combat games. Have only offered an upper limit of 64 (32 vs. 32) players per game round on a server. This Status Quo has created a vacuum of Opportunity for an enterprising game software company, if not a collective of grass roots coders / modders.

Game developers be they: DICE, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Bungie, etc... Have forced fed gamers an artificial scale of multiplayer game play for far too long. Their reasons however have been valid to a point, be it restrictions on game development of time, resources such as labor and money, or plain lack of will power and vision in the final game design document. This game industry attitude has been prevalent for a dozen years now since the very first multiplayer games were 8 (4 vs. 4) players. Soon they leaped to 16 (8 vs. 8) and again they doubled over the years to 32 (16 vs. 16). Here's a little history the very first modern era multiplayer was on the "Atari ST" video game console for a game called "MIDI Maze". It debuted in 1987 and allowed up to 16 players to play together. Fast forward to the classic "Doom" in 1993 that allowed up to 4 players simultaneously. Where just a year prior in 1992 the father of the modern FPS shooter "Wolfenstein 3D" debuted by ID Software and Apogee Software as the publisher.

Now let me bring you closer to our early 21st century whereby a visionary game developer known as "Zipper Interactive". On the "PlayStation 3" console created a ground breaking FPS 256 Multiplayer Game Experience server side. The game is known as "MAG: Massive Action Game" that game title came out in 2010. I'm sad to say "Sony Computer Entertainment" the ones that support all things "Playstation". Bought out the once independent game developer and have shuttered them last year or so. The "MAG" multiplayer game servers will be shut down on January 1st, 2014 for good.

Aside from MMO FPS game titles such as "Planetside 1 & 2" brought to us by "Sony Online Entertainment". If not the MMOSIM known as "War World II Online" brought to us by game developer "Cornered Rat Software" with mixed results. Are the outstanding larger scale mutliplayer game experience that are combat shooter related known to the global consumer market.

Do take heart during my research for my innovative concept today I was pleasantly surprised it wasn't original. To say a Swedish non-profit staffed by 25 people created a Middleware Game Software that includes ground breaking multiplayer scalability. They're known as "Much Different".


Much Different "Man Vs Machine" (Link)

What "Much Different" accomplished took them 2 years to build and that was a 1,000 player internet browser FPS game. (technically they only got 999 players) They have moved onward to having supported "Battlestar Galactica" by game publisher "Big Point". Besides having recently been picked by "Behaviour Interactive" for the MMO of "Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade". Press Release (Link)

What I thought up as a innovative concept still stands as a market opportunity beyond that of a Visionary non-profit Swedish game software company. I would hope a competitor anywhere on this globe of ours could give "Much Different" a run on its world class multiplayer experience. Again I reiterate a game software company or a collective of like minded grass roots coders / modders could launch a venture in this direction.

This is what I a futurist innovator had in mind a software company or grass roots group offering an open source middleware of game utility software suite. Produces a demo that provides a 128 (64 vs. 64) FPS multiplayer game server experience. The demo could even provide a bare bones simplistic FPS multiplayer game as a proof of concept of said technology. That way anyone world wide could patch together either a rudimentry or sophisticated multiplayer game experience. That would Frickin Shame Game Publishers to jump on this Middleware Band Wagon. So tomorrow's FPS or even RPG games like "Neverwinter Nights" fame could have beyond the stagnant 64 (32 vs. 32) multiplayer game server experience.

The middleware game software suite can literally scale upwards to support 256 (of "Zipper Interactive" fame), 512, or even 1024 game multiplayer experiences. Such a software game company could go on to offer consultancy services to supplement their revenue needs.

Here is the (Link) to Pikkotekk multiplayer game technology experience provided by "Much Different" as an example. I believe they are coding in a language called "Unity" for their platform of choice.

If ambitious grass roots coders / modders did come together for such a open source venture. Their offering is only open source for non-commercial usage. So corporate clients would pay market driven license fees to use the middleware game software developed by their efforts. Where everyone else in a truer open source initiative becomes the guinea pigs. To test and help develop such a middleware software suite according to their specific project needs.

Like I've stated prior the Market Opportunity is here now! "Much Different", shouldn't be the only off the shelf middleware game software provider globally. For such a game technology that would otherwise be developed in-house by game developers. "Much Different", even has launched a kiddie MMO for toddlers called "Badanamu World"(Link) for the South Koreans from what I understand.

So who else in Europe, Asia, or in the United States is bold enough to pursue such a vision to break the dozen years multiplayer artificial barrier from the games industry?

Video Game Console Concept: Tablets & Laptops as a Video Game System Platform

Posted by Atrayo Saturday September 8 2012 at 9:59PM
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Hello All,

The last video game consoles from the big three of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony arrived sometime around the year 2005. They are already 7 years old with a protracted shelf life due to our global economic Great Recession. Why not go in a simplistic manner that may be slimmer as a consumer friendly computer product offering to gamers. Instead of building a peripheral video game system that attaches alone to an existing home television hook up. Offer instead a video game console system that is based off the existing computer platforms of a Tablet or a Laptop computer?

Steve Jobs, of Apple Inc. computer fame and mentor ushered in the tablet computer device only 2 years ago. It's full retail price point is $499 US for the most recent model. Yet Sony fell flat on its face 6 years ago when it offered the PlayStation 3 at such a price point. For decades the American consumer is only comfortable of buying into a new video game platform at the $299 US offering at retail. Since video game makers consistently lose a bit off the top of selling the game hardware at a loss. Knowing full well that the games be it in disc or cartridge format sell the video game system. However nowadays so does the game download or micro-transaction as well from an existing online network for members.

I'll offer two simple no-brainer concoctions for your purvey this day on a potential next generation video game platform. Nintendo, has already spilled the beans on their next generation system with so-so responses for now.

A) Offer the next generation video game system platform to resemble more a modern laptop or notebook computer. So for instance consider the company Dell that owns the Miami, Florida based "Alienware" line of computer hardware offerings. For example lets say they come out with an Unlocked specifications laptop video game console platform. So according to the budget conscious consumer all the way to the price is no limit gamer. Dell or Alienware will build you a next generation laptop that doubles as an exclusive video game console. Being easily backwards compatible with past PC games since its computer architecture is based off the personal computer. Any number of generic or dedicated game controllers can be selected for such a video game platform. Aside from the keyboard and mouse that is native to all laptop computers. Offering a catalog of game emulators to play yesterdays games with today's laptop hardware. Besides offering exclusive game titles to its own video console members at a cheaper price. Months later such exclusive game titles are offered to other retail customers whom can buy the same game at a higher price point since it'll be played on other game systems.

B) Offer the next generation video game system to resemble more a modern tablet computer. Say for instance that Apple, Samsung, or Amazon would be an ideal company to make such a video game system offering. Recalling that the American consumer doesn't usually budge outside a $299 price point at retail. For a brand spanking new video game console model, whereas the brand new tablet computers sell at $499 US, not a problem.

An exclusive video game console presented as a tablet computer isn't so much of a stretch. Able to play the current crop of freemium game titles, Mac / PC games to a point, etc... If exclusive game titles are tossed into the mix allowing multiple game tablet systems a local adapter hook up for multiplayer game play. Not bad, this is not to say that game controllers unique to such a system can't be devised as well.

Both of the ideas above would have their own Member Online Networks that is partly Cloud based. Just in case a AAA Blockbuster game demands more performance than the local user game hardware can muster. Not a problem let the Cloud handle it on its own end.

Now envision this Cable Tv / Internet providers say I want to get into the video game console business. Say perhaps Comcast or Verizon for instance want in on this side of the games industry. They already offer 24/7/365 entertainment content pipeline streamed to your existing home televisions, VOIP & smart phones, and of course Internet connectivity. It would be a hop skip and jump just to offer a Laptop or Tablet computer to their customers as a stand alone video game console system. Today's Sony Playstation 3 and XBox 360 already offer cable Tv programming via their exclusive member networks. Besides the typical Blu-Ray or HD disc players on this current generation of video game consoles. Why can't a Cable TV / Internet provider do the same since Microsoft and Sony plunged into their pool of customers?

Back on May 25th 2008 I offered another video game console conceptualization. Of an LCD or Plasma televisions having a built-in video game console. Similar as to past VHS / DVD players and now Blu-Ray players attached to the back half of a modern flat screened television display.

LCD & Plasma TV's Doubling as Dedicated Video Game Consoles

Who's to say that the recent Ouya as a droid operating system video game platform. Won't be an equally appeasing consumer hit amongst gamers. However the "Ouya" is for nearly now and my notions are for a tomorrow that could be possible for a mogul with a sense of vision for gamers.

Electronic Industry Concept: "Augmented Reality (AR) Visors & Eye Glasses"

Posted by Atrayo Monday June 11 2012 at 4:23AM
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Hello All,

As a futurist I pride myself in taking a stab at the dark of what the next generation of technology or processes may look like in reality. When Google announced "Project Glass" a couple of months ago of a pair of eye glasses utilizing augmented reality. I thought to myself what is the next step down the line and how will such a piece of visual technology affect society as a whole? Below are my thoughts and my own conclusions with additional features such a visual tech can make use of for ease of use functions.

The days of 2D flat screen displays are numbered when augmented reality or (AR) eye glasses or visors takes the world by storm. Just like flat screens replaced the old 20th century analog television set. The flat screen televisions, monitors, and 3D televisions will become the thing of the past due to (AR) visual eye ware. Electronic makers such as Sony or others that rely heavily on the flat screen television or computer monitor market. Could very well end up like today's Kodak company behind the curve having lost out of the digital camera market they helped invent.

Building on top of whatever Google has in mind with their own personal "Project Glass" project. Here is my vision of the augmented reality (AR) visor helmet or eye glasses of tomorrow practically here today in 5 to 10 years time. Picture either a set of (AR) eye glasses or visor helm with miniature web cams on the left, right, center front, and rear center of such a piece of visual digital eye wear. If not a crown of disguised miniature web cams for a true 360 degree viewing. The web cams are to capture your very own personal environmental experience. Using a GPS tracker to provide auxiliary tracking metrics akin to a (HUD) heads up display. The scenery recorded by the 4 web cams or the crown of web cams gets blended into the lenses of the (AR) visor or eye glasses. The user will have a personal slider mechanism to graduate the Immersion Rates of the transparency of said images. Just like any user of audio input devices uses a volume control for ease of use and comfort. The Immersion slider will provide a (AR) Visor or Eye Glass wearer satisfaction to personally navigate their personal location. Such as if on the move through a throng of fellow people, around obstacles, and miscellaneous hazards. If one is in a safe and comfortable location than the Immersion slider can go full tilt with the digital landscape drowning out any sense of personal real world reality.

All (AR) visor helmets or eye glasses come with ear pads for audio inputs and a microphone boom. Since they'll work either in conjunction with your mobile smart phone or as a stand alone personal computer. Wearable computers of science fiction becomes reality with (AR) visors and eye glasses. Any additional input devices will be motion gesture based via technological jewelry or other worn cue markers. Today's "Mircosoft's Xbox 360 Kinnect" hands free motion control device may very well be considered a grand daddy to future wearable motion gesture based peripheral devices. Those augmented reality visor helmets will have additional computer circuitry behind the hard protective shell. All shaped to fit the human head, be it shielded to protect the wearer from any electo-magnetic interference to the human brain. Much like cell phones and their microwave transmissions have proven to possibly effect the human brain in certain research studies.

Gamers of tomorrow will be sporting (AR) visor helmets branded to look like their favorite games of tomorrow. IE picture a "Star Wars" Republic or Empire star fighter helmet being worn by a gamer. Much like today's gamer computer system has a notebook aesthetic skin or laser engraving of iconic Images.Where the (AR) visor helm is either linked by a wireless connection to a belt computer pack or a as a stand alone computer helm. With motion gesture based and speech recognition command inputs during game play fully immersed in their game session be it in public or in the privacy of their own home. Computer LAN's (land area networks) will take on a whole new meaning with gamer tournaments or charity marathons. Having access to 360 degree view points due to the rear center or crown web cam's on the (AR) visors or eye glasses. The old adage of having "eyes in the back of your head" will become a truism because of this technological piece of digital visual eye wear. If not the nerdy wise crack of having 4 eyes due to eye glasses will have a whole new meaning in the future.

Motor cycle drivers, mounted police patrols, and military forces will also benefit from the use of (AR) visor helmets when out navigating the world at large. Especially when out in hostile environs for security forces coordinating via their futuristic wearable computers. Today's science fiction will certainly again become tomorrow's science fact because of augmented reality visor helmets and eye glasses of digital visual ware.
 

Academic Profession Concept: "Modern Game Art & Science Historian"

Posted by Atrayo Monday January 16 2012 at 12:08PM
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Hello All,

Time to time I may produce a concept that would seem a miss or a zinger from the eye of the visionary. Today's entry is no exception to this rule. I am casting a wide net with a forecast not to come perhaps 10 to 15 years from now by my prediction. I can be wrong where it comes sooner rather than later, time will tell.

As a niche outlet of academia in regards to the modern entertainment games industry. Where today colleges and some universities are offering accredited degree programs. In area's of game design, game programming, if not game business enterprise such as marketing and public relations. Right now there are many arena's where modern gaming is finding outlets in economics, sociology, healthcare, psychology, medical research, and finally military applications. Be it physicians offering patients a game so as to instill in practice a non-local sedative throughout the course of game play. Economists drawing parallels between the wealth in a particular online game's faux currency. In comparison to a sovereign currency on a per capita basis of overall wealth. Game graphic engines being developed for modern day military grade simulators as a training aid for combat. As to most recently medical research scientists making an AID's drug design discovery last September. Where gamers via crowd-sourcing in under 3 weeks time find a solution of a molecular structure in an enzyme in the game of Foldit. That previously left scientists stumped for the last decade in how to figure out how to bind the molecule together.*

Academic pursuits are only growing in terms of the backdrop of modern games as a source of entertainment. I am going to surmise that in 10 to 15 years time as the games industry continues to mature as both an art and a science. That the most progressive and forward looking colleges and universities will offer history degree's for "Modern Games". Where the traditional Ivy League Universities (Princeton, Harvard, Cambridge, etc..) will be the last ones to jump upon such a band wagon. Since it will be commonplace and a safe bet to pursue as a degree curriculum program. Everything from the modern era on Pong down to the latest blockbuster game title would be known by modern game historians. Be it game design elements, the technologies utilized to make the games, down to best business practices put out into the marketplace.

Today many savvy gamers and shrewd investors rely on predictions from financial analysts. As to the market success of a game company or a new game title.  When modern game historians come onto the scene perhaps a colorful personality will emerge as a celebrity of sorts. Much like Dr. Michio Kaku is to modern day audiences for a physicists perspective of scientific developments. Where a modern game historian will offer up sage like recollections of past success and failures of particular game publishers. Knowing the consumer trends of what makes a good game much like a game designer could envision for their installed base of customers.

Those that are history or philosophy majors that work in the corporate environment and not in academia. Due to their educated knowledge of foresight and mature discernment in roles of corporate leadership be it in management or as an executive. Will be similar for the future Modern Game Historian finding roles within the games industry be it working for a game publisher or a game developer. Using their education and expertise as a predictor of consumer mega-trends in order to launch new corporate initiatives. Be it a new corporate policy or a new game project development cycle for an eventual wide market release. Modern game historians will be utilized as a layer of consultancy aside from many other secondary disciplines. Besides modern game historians entering roles of governmental policy or think tanks for the entertainment industry as a whole. Today's amateur game historian as an enthusiast will be delighted that their passionate pastime hobby is assimilated into academia. When the rest of society plays catch up (pun intended) to the pivotal role of the grand history of modern games. That will be offered to all of us as beneficiaries in education, scientific research, and in many other forms of commerce.

Gamers Succeed Where Scientists Fail: Molecular Structure of Retrovirus Enzyme Solved, Doors Open to New AIDS Drug Design 

Games Industry Concept: Mega Multiplayer Games

Posted by Atrayo Sunday August 21 2011 at 8:16AM
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Hello All,

What I'm proposing with "Mega Multiplayer Games" or MMG as an acronym is a scaled down version of a full blown "Massively Multiplayer Online Game" or a MMOG. Where MMO's or MMOG's consist of thousands of players per server shard if not tens of thousands together in one super shared game world. An MMG takes a single player game and regular multiplayer game mode and makes a glorified game mode together. Not to the scale of a MMO, but extending the shelf life of many single player RPG or FPS games to come.

Current multiplayer games be they FPS mostly have been stuck at either 32 to 64 players per game server as an artificial limit. Not due to technological hurdles, but economic ones of not willing to invest resources to push the regular multiplayer ceiling. The "Mega Multiplayer Game" pushes that ceiling where a standard single player game gets a backdrop conversion.

Take for instance the Bioware games franchise of "Mass Effect" as an example. Mass Effect games 1 and 2 play differently from each other as will "Mass Effect 3". Its logical since its an evolution in game play mechanics and game design to see what works and what doesn't. What if under a MMG game treatment a gamer can play "Mass Effect 1-3" with the current flavor of how "Mass Effect 3" will be presented. For example as each single player game iteration is introduced previous single player game titles under the same IP (Intellectual property) entertainment brand. Will be stitched together like a daisy chain keeping all the game encounters in "Mass Effect 1 & 2" intact. But be presented with the User Interface and game mechanics of "Mass Effect 3". Akin to when the game developer "Blizzard" redid "World of Warcraft" through the MMO game expansion of "Cataclysm". The entire MMO landscape of that one game was given a facelift.

A "Mega Multiplayer Game" offers continuity of past single player games to be assembled by a skeletal framework. Where the most recent game version gives all past game title versions a facelift in game play. So where a MMO allows thousands of players together in a game world. An MMG allows hundreds of players together to experience their favorite single player games together. Picture playing an MMG version of "Mass Effect 1-3" just with your clan or guild mates all being able to explore the galaxy on the Normandy. Where each player has their own version and custom look of "John Shepard". If not allowed to play other prominent roles of "Garrus" the Tunarian and so forth. Or allowing players to jump randomly into Npc's (Non Player Characters) of whatever race and play them out according to the game's story arc for that npc.

There can be other versions of "Mega Multiplayer Games" than just the one example I provided above. Where the latest single player game dictates the game mechanics in user interface that all games in their line up are played. There can be via the MMG skeletal frame work conversion allowing each game to be played as it was designed. So continuing with the "Mass Effect" example "Mass Effect 1-3" are played as each one is presented in game design. However they are all still glued together to form a continuous game world. Still that would mean a dizzying manner in how the game is played by user interface differences between each game title version.

Game rental service vendors can offer gamer consumers servers that are tailored towards a "Mega Multiplayer Game" environment. Just like how they are tailored towards the FPS game match server business model today. Game Publishers can offer present and future game entertainment IP's with a MMG game mode. Right alongside the vanilla single player or traditional multiplayer game modes. So instead of a game publisher investing into a full blown "Massively Multiplayer Online" game project. They can go the "Mega Multiplayer Game" route instead where gamers not needing to subscribe in a "pay to play" monthly MMO business model. Do something closer to a "Guild Wars" business model where the consumer just buys the game itself and no monthly subscription fees on the back end. The game publisher can offer a selection of its own servers so MMG games can be played. Just like they currently do with FPS game titles. It'll be the game server rental vendors by interested consumers to allot additional server rack space on how popular a game entertainment IP may be.

This is but a choice to another way how we all enjoy our games. No way I'm I spelling out all the intricate obstacles that may be encountered like any game title project in development. It is still a novel and different game mode model for our games to be played and enjoyed together.

Games Industry Concept: Breaching The 64 Player Cap On Multiplayer Games

Posted by Atrayo Thursday May 26 2011 at 9:16PM
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Hello All,

In my opinion the 64 player cap on multiplayer game servers mostly in the FPS genre is artificial. Set in place because its been done before and doesn't break new ground in software development costs. Be it set down on paper by the game publisher or the development studio with the limited resources they may have at their disposable.

If the Sony PlayStation 3 video game console now pushing around eight years old in hardware specs. Can have a game development studio of "Zipper Interactive" produce the FPS game called "Mag" (Massive Action Game). That provides a multiplayer game experience of 256 players in the FPS genre. Its because it can be done not just for video game consoles, but for PC's as well. Some game developers may cop out stating that the game could support higher number of players. But it wouldn't play right. Well the dirty little secret is they built the level map designs for only 32 or so players. That's why it won't play right to begin with from the start.

Aside from this minor rant on my part I digress and would like to provide a concept that can break new ground for game developers. That's if they have the resolve and vision to pursue the nearly decade long 64 player game server cap that has been self-imposed.

Take for instance how "Intel" the computer chip CPU maker first offered the "Dual Core" and than the "Quad Core" computer chips. I state this as a engineering barrier being broken by Intel where for decades prior it was always a mono core computer chip. Than someone or a group of computer architectural engineers came up with the simple but brilliant idea to stack the computer CPU chips.

My concept is nearly identical, why not stack several instances of a virtual 64 player game servers. Until 256 simultaneous gamers can be achieved in multiplayer game server. By Instances I mean like the instances we encounter as gamers in a MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game setting. Where if need be a zoning loading screen to cross between 64 player virtual instances if the restriction is needed. Albeit a seamless crossing from 64 player instance to the next virtual instance would be preferred in game play. Be it in a FPS or RPG genre such as a "Battlefield Franchise" game or a multiplayer "Never Winter Nights" D&D (Dungeon and Dragons) setting.

In so far the only place I've ever had the gaming pleasure to game in a FPS setting beyond the 64 player capacity. Is in the original "Planetside" MMOFPS offered by "Sony Online Entertainment". Which ironically is the same parent company that "Zipper Interactive" that provided the FPS game "Mag" for the PlayStation 3 via "Sony Computer Entertainment of America" game publisher. Not to frown on Sony, but are they the only game publisher to have the vision for gamers? To provide games that surpass the 64 player cap on multiplayer server games?

I hope not, since the leadership hasn't come from "Electronic Arts" nor from "Activision" the leading FPS genre of game publishers. I suspect it will be some Independent game studio that will take the world by storm by breaking such a barrier for the PC platform. Although technically the prize does belong to "Zipper Interactive" for the video game console of the PlayStation 3.

Its self explanatory to gamers what sheer enjoyment if the structure and game design features of a command and control. That is both fun and provoking within a 256 player game server would offer us all. If widely adopted I could envision game LAN's and game leagues alike becoming early users of such 256 player multiplayer servers. Besides the crop of game server rental vendors waiting to serve their customer base all to readily.

Just picture the single player campaign maps of "Battlefield: Bad Company 2" (By EA / DICE) each offering 32 player limit for the PC platform. (24 players on the game consoles). Eight such maps linked together via virtual instances to reach the 256 player capacity in game server multiplayer play all on "Rush or Conquest" Mode. If a game server doesn't become filled to capacity. Then only the X number of maps that are utilized where the rest are dormant until a minimum number of players login.

This can be done if only the leadership and vision was offered to gamers and the electronic games industry as a whole.

Travel Industry Concept: Gamer Vacation Packages

Posted by Atrayo Thursday January 27 2011 at 6:34PM
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Hello All,

Gamers, as a demographic group of consumers globally probably spend at least tens of billions of dollars US. (conservative estimate on my part) Now when was the last time you've ever heard of a "Travel Agency" catering travel itineraries towards that of gamers of any age group? To my knowledge Zilch, Zip, Nada.

This concept is to spark the profit motives of travel agencies to get into gear in regards to vacation packages for gamers.

Down below I'm going to remark about three potential outlets that travel agencies can market gamer vacation packages.

1) Taking tour groups of gamers to a convention that is being held to either the general public. Or get this, access special permission where only industry professionals can attend IE "E3". And take a tour operator group of traveling gamers into the convention under some supervision.

Gamer convention destinations can be the common: Comic-Con, DragonCon, Quake Con, SOE (Sony Online Entertainment) Fan Faire, and Blizzards "World of Warcraft" Faire,. The professional industry conventions as I mentioned earlier "Electronic Entertainment Expo aka E3, GDC (Game Developer Conference), CES (Consumer Electronics Show), or an event at the Academy of Arts & Sciences. These later conventions are for the gamer that cares to really geek out on the game industry. In terms of workshops, lectures, summits, all to learn more technically about how games are made.

2) The second variant a tour operator could take with gamers is hosting exclusive LAN (Land Area Networks) akin to a tournament. Let's say an area of California is seeking to boost tourism. While besides catering to business conventions, or run of the mill tourists, they can also host exclusive well marketed "Gamer Tournaments". Or sponsor an existing famous convention slash tournament like that of "Quake Con". Where the gamer tourist can be loaned a preference to a basic computer rig for gaming or a souped up machine for a LAN event. Including a goody bag designed and provided to the tourist by the travel operator as a souvenir thank you gift for attending. Inside can be a run of the mill items from the sponsors of the LAN event. Much like how celebrities get goody bags at gala events. All admittance fee's, standard meals, and non-alcoholic beverages would be covered by the tour operator for the gamer tourist.

3) This last type of a gamer tourist is more destination driven in terms of the classic tourist. But themed for the gamer overall. Many tour operators take their tour groups to particular shops. Where the tour operator has mostly prearranged volume sales commissions with the shop owners. This can still be the case but with gamers and perhaps arrange discounts on purchases that can be found no where else for the gamer consumer. (since their commissions will be based on volume sales)

There can be tour groups also taken into a "Game Developer Studios or a Game Publisher's Premises". Where current games in development would be showcased. The tour operator can provide game developer or game title specific merchandising gifts to the attendants of the tour. Like T-Shirts, Baseball caps, Hoodies, etc... If a tour group at such a game developer or game publisher visits during a beta period of a particular game title. The gamer tourist can snag themselves an exclusive beta key invitation. Much like many do today when attending a game developer booth at a convention.

A gamer tourist can be shown the sites of popular cities just like the classic tourist. But also taken as a group to local franchised locations, such as: Game Works, Dave & Busters, Chucky Cheese (if kids are brought along), or Disney Quest. (if in Orlando FL.) Where again admittance fee's, standard meals, non-alcoholic beverages, and complimentary tokens are all covered by the tour operator. (additional tokens are at cost for the tourist) If such a location isn't desirable than a local gamer Internet Cafe with complimentary time is offered to the tourist. (anything above that is at cost for the tourist)

The destination travel sites like Florida or California would be great for guild or clan get together. Where many gamers are flying into one common location to meet for the first time and have a blast.

Those tour operators that host their own exclusive LAN events with corporate sponsorships. Could also host Augmented Reality treasure hunts provided by the sponsors. Similar to an "Easter Egg Hunt" but using portable gadgets. Supplied either by the tour operator or the sponsors as a loaner for the event.

I'm sure other potential activities could be devised by a tour operator catering to gamers. Be it power leveling, or "How To's" for a particular MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game title held as a workshop. Right along a gamer tourist attending a Blizzard or SOE annual convention. The only restriction is how enterprising can a travel agency be in marketing such vacation packages to gamers. I haven't even mentioned anything about cruise ships holding similar events just for gamers.

The sky is the limit for the tour operator. For the gamer tourist many splendid lifetime memories will certainly be created and cherished throughout the years to come.

MMO Games Concept: Universal Avatar Service

Posted by Atrayo Sunday December 26 2010 at 12:36PM
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Hello All,

For those of you that are PC gamers that have played multiple MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game worlds in the course of your life so far. Will know that in each game world you play on your basically creating your avatar from scratch. What if you don't have to go that route any longer? What if you had the choice to play a "Master Avatar" that is created in your main MMO and can be transferred to other MMOG within reason. How many of you would enjoy such an option offered by a game publisher that hosts multiple MMO game titles? Let's say what if: SOE (Sony Online Entertainment), NC Soft, iJJi, Nexon, Aeria, and a lesser extent EA Games or Turbine Entertainment.

All of those game publishers if not others that offer 3 or more MMO game titles in their catalog. Could offer a value added option of the "Universal Avatar Service" or (UAS) for a shorthand acronym from now on in this description. I'll use references of SOE in my examples since I'm most familiar with their selection of MMO game titles.

Consider SOE that offers a premium subscriber plan called "Station Access" at $30 US each month. That a premium subscriber plan could offer already to its members at no additional charge minus some "up sell" Ala carte charges explained later on. For those game publishers listed above that are F2P business model mostly. Than a "Universal Avatar Service or (UAS)" can be utilized as an account upgrade option. If not for those F2P game publishers can offer a (UAS) feature at $10 to $20 US at a one time fee. Also the game publisher like SOE, NC Soft, EA Games (That owns Mythic Entertainment & Origin Systems makers of "Ultima Online") can choose to offer a (UAS) service plan as an account upgrade option. Can charge the aforementioned $10 to $20 one time fee plus an additional $3 to $5 US dollars each month. (if it wasn't offered via a premium subscriber plan like SOE's "Station Access")

Now that the general pricing scheme has been explained minus the would be "up sell" charges in getting the attention of the game publishers. This is what a "Universal Avatar Service" plan is all about.

First, continuing with SOE MMO game titles as per the examples in which they offer. That a (UAS) player account that creates a player character in their main MMO game world of choice. Can transfer or export that player race to all other MMO game worlds, no matter if the game theme or lore is utterly different. For example, picture "Star Wars Galaxies" where a player creates a "Wookie" as a player race. With a "Universal Avatar Service" plan that player can export their "Wookie" avatar into all other SOE MMO games as an exclusive option. Be it: Everquest, Everquest 2, Planetside, Vanguard, Free Realms, the upcoming MMO's of "The Agency or DC Online Universe". The only difference is how that "Wookie" player avatar will appear due to the different graphic engine's in each MMO game world. But, all the racial traits of that "Wookie" will be maintained in all game worlds that the player wishes to explore within the SOE MMO games catalog they host.

Second, a player with a (UAS) account will create a "Universal Surname" for their master avatar. Where the first name can be altered from MMO game world to game world. But the family name per say would be the universal identifier of such a master avatar played in numerous game worlds.

Third, the (UAS) account will maintain the same gender of their master avatar in all game worlds. If they wish to alter the gender of the avatar in another game world this is where one of the two aforementioned "Up sell" charges is utilized. For a fee of anywhere $3 to $5 US dollars the player can alter the gender of their master avatar for that one particular MMO game world they have just entered.

Fourth, this feature is one of the most important ones that the base player class or skill set can be maintained as a form of continuity across all game worlds. The (UAS) account will have the option to exercise by their choice to keep the base player class or skill set. Which they had in their main MMO game world, when the (UAS) first began.

So if that aforementioned player "Wookie" was a "Doctor" in "Star Wars Galaxies" they'll have the option of being a "Templar" in "Everquest 2". One base class or profession in-game if not a skill set for a MMO game world that uses a skill tree system instead. Can be transferred from game world to game world at the players discretion. Of course the player can opt to go with another class or skill set instead. Without feeling the need to being pigeon holed in game play, but at least it is an option for them to explore.

If the (UAS) player chooses to keep their main class or skill set into another MMO game world. They'll have the second opportunity of the next "Up sell" by the game publisher. That for an additional fee say $10 to $15 US a player can opt to be given a player character at a mid level range in game play. For example in a game world with a level cap at 50 can opt for a level 25 avatar in the base player class or skill set that was transferred to this new game world. What this offers is a need to avoid the newbie content at the outset of the game. But not cheating the player out of the high end game content. Which they'll still have to earn via game play achievements just like the general population in that particular game world. This also offers the player the chance to avoid at least up to a mid range player character. From replaying the same base player class or skill set in effort that was already invested in their main MMO game title.

Fifth, SOE had offered for a time a player character service called "Station Players". For their games of Everquest, Everquest 2, and Vanguard which included player stat tracking, leader board's and rankings, personal photo galleries, item database, rag doll profile picture with stats of personal equipment being shown. All of these offerings comes with a "Universal Avatar Service" plan at the outset. It will be offered on a personal web page with tabbed tracking results just like SOE "Station Players" was designed to offer. But, also other players can right click the player avatar's in that particular game world and inspect them. Seeing similar information from that one or more game worlds the (UAS) exists within. It is up to the (UAS) player to offer publicly or restrict the information or pictures that are shown in privacy permissions.

Another secondary offering of this feature is for those online game communities that have game divisions in multiple MMO games. Where 3 to 5 (UAS) players or more are listed in any one particular guild in-game. The guild stats, rankings, photo's, wealth holdings, etc... will be tracked as a courtesy. So the "Universal Avatar Service" players that belong to a mutual guild that plays at multiple MMO game worlds from that one particular game publisher. Will have this added incentive to their game play sessions in many MMO game worlds.

So to recap the "Universal Avatar Service" plan will have a player account the option to export from their main MMO game title. Their player race, class / skill set (if so desired and pay extra for a mid range character), universal surname, gender (a fee to alter a player gender per game title), and a player character tracking stats and progress service across multiple MMO's (including their guild if it qualifies). All of these features can be transferred to any number of MMO game titles that such a particular game publisher offers. Within their present to future inventory of MMO game titles.

This is a shot in the arm of premium subscriber plans for those game publishers that base their business on game subscribers. If not F2P (Free to Play) game publishers offering such an upgrade account option at an added fee via a micro-transaction store front. The days of redundancy in game play can be changed from its current model for gamers into the creation of a "Master Avatar" across numerous game world titles. It is up to the game publisher if they so wish to pursue it as an offering for their installed customer base.

Games Industry Concept: Virtual Game Publisher Conventions

Posted by Atrayo Monday October 25 2010 at 2:53PM
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Hello All,

This conceptual entry for the games industry is one I've had in my collection of notebooks. Many of us know about some game publishers throwing a convention each year for their customer base. One that comes directly to mind is "Sony Online Entertainment", which this has been going on for nearly a decade. In which case I'll use them as an obvious example as I explain how my concept will work out.

For those not aware what a game publisher annual convention entails for its customer base. Well there are various activities that are held. For example the most notable at least to me are the costume contents. That are contests held for the most note worthy costumes from one of the game worlds that players enjoy. Besides that there are game developer "meet and greets" regarding existing or new games in development from that particular game publisher. There may be some panel talks or workshops held about such and such a game world, particularly an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online). There are most famously beautiful models dressed up for certain games being marketed at the time. Where game booths are concerned that showcase playable demo's for a future new game title or expansion to an existing game. And, lastly goodies or what is termed as "Swag", which is merchandising items handed out freely at the game booths.

To be honest I've never had the pleasure to attend such a gamers convention. So if i missed out an obvious show room floor activity you the reader will know why. The reason why I've never attended such a much lauded event is basically due to financial cost. It's not in my personal budget, which may be the majority reason why many gamers only read (watch videos) about such events and not attend them personally.

My concept would change all that by giving game publishers a bridge to reach their customer base in the virtual space. Hopefully as the real world gamer convention is being held by the game publisher at a bricks & mortar locale. In Sony's case it's usually in California near their San Diego headquarters or in Nevada typically Las Vegas.

Let's take three of SOE's MMORPG game worlds as part of this example. One being fantasy in "Everquest 2", one being sci-fi "Star Wars Galaxies", and one being for the youth / children demographic of "Free Realms". This is basically the 3 basic food groups of the MMO gamer out in the world to date.

Now picture in the fantasy, sci-fi, and youth MMORPG that SOE creates in my example a exhibition game zone. That will be themed each year differently consisting for a newly created free content to the game. Such as a village for "Everquest 2 & Free Realms" and a city in "Star Wars Galaxies". For players of all levels to mingle in the shops selling exclusive in-game items for that years convention. Of course a series of story plots following that years theme to the convention will be devised for a set of quests. Next all game worlds will have low to mid player level dungeons developed that tie into the starting village / city scape's or known as the exhibition zone. There will be of course a high level player raid instances developed for all other players in "Everquest 2" or "Star Wars Galaxies".

One additional item these exhibition zones will be like a booster (action) pack using SOE's terminology. Where like a "Worlds Fair" in reality it is left behind for the local populace to enjoy for years to come. In this case it would become part of the MMO game world space delivered as free content. Courtesy of that years particularly themed game publisher convention as a thank you to its online MMO customer base.

If the game publisher wishes to get real fancy in the village / city zone. Develop a media player window set off in a virtual theater location. Where either a live streamed feed via web cams to the convention show room floor is displayed. For gamers that wish to hang out in such a spot in order to tie together the real and virtual conventions as a concept. Where such a media player can also stream "Live or Recorded" events from game developers for whatever is held that day in an activity schedule. So the online gamer in those exhibition zones can feel a part of the game publisher convention but by being logged into their MMO of choice.

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Now if a game publisher wants to showcase games that are not of a MMO genre. These additional details would allow an online web gamers convention to be showcased. To its customers at large who are not subscribers to an existing MMO or to the game media press not able to attend personally.

Consider a portal website that is developed just for that years convention. Showcasing various sections that are invite only such as to the game press in attendance. Or to customers / gamers at large that are curious enough to watch what is ongoing at the real convention room floor.

Events showcased through such a web portal can be similar to what may occur as an E3 trade show convention. But instead of getting it second hand from a plethora of the media press. The game publisher can structure it in such a way that you only see what the game publisher wants you to see. For example, any game developer panel discussions, video game trailers for new or existing games, exclusive Q&A game developer chats just for the web portal audience (usually held right after the scheduled convention floor presentation and Q&A), and lastly a game demo that is playable via a Cloud Computing" service. This last one will take more finesse to explain, picture a service like "Onlive" that is subcontracted by Sony. To tie in a playable game demo that is typically only shown as a convention game booth. But thanks to the wonder of "cloud computing" those at the web portal can play a game demo of a: Sony PlayStation 3, PSP portal game, or just some other PC game title. Web portal users can either plug in a USB game pad controller on their computer systems or use an existing PC keyboard and mouse set-up to play the game demo.

Numerous marketing promotions abound for the game publisher to offer via the MMO exhibition zones or through the online web portal. For instance a yearly sweepstakes can be held for its own customers that attend the virtual game convention. Where the prize is an all expense 3 day 2 night trip to next years onsite game convention being held. Via the web portal to the convention there can be exclusive beta codes handed out to the game press or its registered customers to the web portal for a new game title. Secondary contents held in both the exhibition zones of an MMO or the web portal for merchandising swag. (T-Shirts, Hoodies, Mugs, Hats, Posters, Free Select Game Titles, etc...)

All of this is Doable Today as a concept. It just takes the ingenuity of a game publisher to be invested in such a pursuit. For the game publisher its a "No brainer" outlet to reach their customer base via a online virtual space. This novel concept would allow game publishers that have no such annual convention in real life. To hold one each year just in a virtual online space. And, for those that do like SOE to augment they're existing game convention with this "tie in" virtual event each year.

The customers win with free content, and exposure to game titles that will exist or currently do in the MMO space. And certainly game publishers will by promoting their game title products in a unique outlet that can be celebrated each year exclusively.