FreeToPlay.biz The Business and Design of Free-To-Play Games

15Jul/100

Speaking and Working at Casual Connect

A bit late on this update, but if anyone would like to "connect" at Casual Connect 2010, I will be in Seattle all week.

Here is what I'm up to:

* Speaking at a roundtable on third party development issues at the Gamesauce event on Monday

* Organizing a partnering event for a provincial interactive agency later in the week (pairing up developers in the social/casual/iPhone sectors with leaders in those sectors)

* Doing business development work for one of my clients (a large consumer electronics company) - scouting out talented games content partners

* Producing a post-show report for a multinational, multiplatform games client

* Taking any meetings that come my way!


Please drop me a line using the contact form on my consulting site if you'd like to get together during Casual Connect!

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9Apr/083

Preview: Warrior Epic from Possibility Space

Warrior Epic is a new free to play online RPG being developed by Possibility Space, a company founded by Gage Galinger and Feng Zhu; a pair that share a wealth of experience between them, from Starcraft to Gears of War.

As a free to play game it comes across as competent and quite polished, and it’s just leaving closed beta. Essentially a dungeon crawler, players own a great hall that stores their characters and serves as a meeting place for quests.

There are a number of different warrior classes (and some that must be paid for), but the hook is a sort of metagame wherein players can choose to harness the spirit of one of their fallen warriors as a power for their next warrior. It’s well scoped and well designed to be a free to play RPG, but what’s most interesting is how they plan to handle paid content and digital downloading.

While the usual cosmetic items are part of the plan, Warrior Epic is taking a refreshing stance towards satisfying both free players and paid players – a problem Flagship’s Hellgate London ran into when they offered paid players better gear, bigger inventories and faster travel times.

Brice Lukas, Community Manager for Possibilty Space had this to say about sustaining that balance:

“In Warrior Epic you cannot purchase power or progress. The best gear and items can only be obtained by playing the game. There is also no exchange of earned items with paid items. So anything that a user buys with real cash cannot be obtained with in-game currency.”

One of the things a player can purchase (for a small price) are buff items that will help players get through dungeons and closer to the real loot.

“Each mission in Warrior Epic is designed to be roughly 15 minutes long, and the number of these buffs you can carry is limited, so they will not unbalance the play.”

Last but not least is Possibility Space's distribution model, what the company has dubbed “Download on Demand”. Players register on the site and then download a small .exe file that will stream content from seed servers. The whole system is similar to torrents and is expected to allow the game to be quite portable. Since account information is stored on the seed servers, players can download the same .exe on any computer, which is run from the folder it’s in rather than needing an install.

We’ll have to wait and see if Warrior Epic proves to be a game that lets players download and start playing within minutes, but it’s safe to say that players will appreciate the lack of usual hoops to jump through. The more players get exposed to a free to play game the better, and with an approach like this there is a good chance that a significant amount of players will at least consider getting involved enough to start paying for items and warriors.

“Our intention is to expose a much larger set of people to the fun of online gaming. We want to take all the fun parts of games that hardcore gamers enjoy, and package those up in a product that everybody can experience. The key behind this is to lower the barrier to entry.”

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20Mar/080

Quick Update: GDC, SXSW, ICE 08

Is there a season for conferences? If so, it feels like it's upon us.

GDC and SXSW went well. Here are some links to coverage of my talk at GDC and my panel at SXSW.

GDC
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    SXSW
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    Random local press
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    Next up for me is ICE 08 in Toronto.

    I'm on a panel there called "Worlds @ Play" moderated by Lucie Lalumière (VP Interactive, Earth Rangers) in discussion with Leigh Alexander (Editor, Worlds in Motion / Staff, Gamasutra.com), Matt Daly (Cofounder, Metaversatility.com) and Barbara Lippe (Art Director & VP International Relations, Avaloop). I'm only in Toronto from Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon, but if you want to grab coffee at the conference, let me know!

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