Thursday, June 29, 2006

Fury's First Fan Site

Sorry to keep posting mostly Fury press stuff but honestly nothing much else is happening. Being the middle of Summer down under it is freezing and I spend most of my time shivering while wrapped in blankets and wishing my computers generated more heat.

RPGVault has a small post with a video of our game: Fury. The video shows two in game characters slugging it out. It really overly impressive as they are just standing there dishing out damage, but it shows off some of the effects in the game.

Firing Squad has an interview with Paul Whipp our producer.

I was reading through the comments on the MMORPG interview with our Lead Designer Adam Carpenter that I posted last week and found out that we have our first fan site: The Fury Sanctuary.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Magic the Gathering Online Crap

Warning!!! Long Rambling Post!!! Warning!!!

So I decided to check out Magic the Gathering Online. They had their booth next to ours at E3 and were giving away copies of their retail box but by the time I was able to get over there they were all gone.

I found that I could just download the game from their site and didn’t need the box. Normally I like having a box because if I am going to shell out money I want something I can hold in my hands in return. But I’m slowly getting over that. It was the beginning of a lesson in how not to set up your game service.

Before I begin here is how their game works as far as money goes. You pay $9.99 for the account and then you can play for free but you have to buy the cards online. I believe once you are in the game you can buy the booster packs and pre-made decks from inside the client but since I haven’t gotten into the game I don’t know that for sure.

I also have to ask what kind of sign up system they were after when they designed this. I imagine what they wanted is a system where they can easily grab a casual player who is curious about the game and then hope to hook him into continue playing, pretty standard stuff. But what they have set up has way too many hoops. They aren’t really difficult hoops and you can’t expect a hoop free system, although that is possible if you design it right, but this one has annoyed me enough that I’ve decided to ramble on complaining about it. I hope your not bored enough to actually read this. Just so you know I probably won't be proof reading it either. You were warned...

First I downloaded the self extracting zip file. No problem there. I execute it and it unzips itself into its default directory and then launches the game. Now I don’t know what was in that zip file which was only 39mb in size but it wasn’t enough. The game spent over an hour patching. OVER AN HOUR!!! It might have even been two hours I didn't really pay attention to when I started.

Okay so now it has finally finished patching and the log in screen pops up. It does have an option for a free trial but I decide to just shell out the $9.99 and get an account. Now here is another big hoop: their online store. It isn’t built into the client it is a web page store. Now this is just a little thing, but remember we are trying to “grab a casual player”. I have to figure out what I’m buying which is the Magic the Gathering Account. Its kind of an esoteric concept that might lose Timmy’s dad who just bought little Timmy the game for his birthday.

But that isn’t it. I HAVE to fill out their little survey before I am allowed to buy this item. I am thinking okay this data is important to them I guess… but obviously not since it looks to have been several years since they update it. One of the final questions asks me what other online MMO games I play and none of the options are any game that has come out in the last two years. World of Warcraft isn’t mentioned, No Everquest II, etc.

Now I have bought an account. I don’t remember the exact steps here but I believe it sent me the account email at that point where I get my password. I am not sure though because when I look back at the text that I saved from the store it says:
Congratulations, you are now a registered player of Magic: The Gathering Online. Launch your Magic Online program, enter the user name and password you created at the beginning of this process and click "Log In" to begin playing!
I didn’t create a password at the beginning of the process. The password was sent to me in the email"

Thank you for requesting an account at the Magic Online Store. With
thousands of creatures, ever-evolving strategies, and 24/7 access to
opponents, Magic Online is the ultimate online competition.

Now that your Login Name and Password are created, we need to complete your account setup. Listed below is your Login name and a system-generated password. For full, step-by-step instructions on account creation, please visit
System generated password, not password I created. And do you see any problem with that link? The period is part of the link which brings you to a page not found.

Somewhere in the activation process I also had to detail how I got my account as either from a retail box, the online store purchase, or something else. I’m not sure why.

What ever it was I figured it out and tried to login to the game.
Cannot establish a connection to the server. Either the server is offline or you have lost your connection to the internet. If the server is offline, try again in a few minutes.
My internet connection is fine. But I am wondering if the server is down or it needs me to open a port on my router. Now there isn’t a help or website link on their launcher. So I navigate back through their maze of Wizard of the Coasts website to the Magic the Gathering Online site not to be confused with the Magic the Gathering normal website. I find their forum and see a sticky thread on the top of the general forum list. Here is the first post by the Moderator WizO Jabberwock who uses a picture of Chuck Noris as his avatar:
Title: The “Is the Server Up?” Status Thread

In an effort to help with the boards slow down and searching we have closed the old thread and starting a new one.
This thread is a running list to check and see if the server seems to be up or down.

Please remember that there is usually a planned downtime every Thursday and the server will be unavailable for a period of time.
Check the announcements forum for details on the planned downtimes.

Check this thread, usually the last couple of pages, and the dates of the posts to see if there are connection problems to the game server.

Also note that the online status checker on the Magic Online page seems to be contradictory in many cases. This is likely caused because it reports whether the server itself is up. Even if the server itself is up, it may not be accepting user logins. So rule of thumb:
The status thing says down = down for everyone
The status thing says up = may be up but you can't log in, give it time
You get that? There was another thread, one that I gather had somewhere around 4000 posts was closed and this new one was started. I don’t know how many posts this one has but it is up to 27 pages already. Notice too that their “online status checker” is often wrong. I’d say what’s the point of having one then but since I can’t find any such thing on their page I guess it’s a moot point. If you find it please feel free to tell me where it is.

So then there is a this post in the announcement forum which I probably should have gone to first.

It basically says there is a one hour downtime on Thursday at 8 AM PDT. It is Thursday for me… but I’m way ahead of PDT and I don’t’ think its 8 AM yet. It also said it would last only and hour and I have been trying to log in for several hours.

I did get another email from them giving me a $9.99 credit in their store that can be used to buy cards.

Okay so now here is the how I would do it differently part.

The zip file should be updated. As long as it is under 1 gig that is fine for somebody who wants to download it. It would really piss me off if I had started to download before going to bed or something thinking when I got back to it I could just install and run it only to have to wait another 2 hours for it to update.

At best I would build the purchase of the account into the client at worse I would at least remove it from the web store. It could still be a web store behind the scenes but hide that part from the user. Just have a special page where he can enter his billing information and click for the one time purchase of the account. The selecting of the item to buy from the store and being force to take useless survey are just hurdles to them getting my money and getting me addicted to the game. Remember currently you can play the trial game without buying an account so having it set up so that I can be playing the trial and instantly click the "buy a full account" link inside the client would be the easist for the user.

When I create my account, THAT is when you send me the survey in email and tell me that if I fill it out you will give me the store credit.

The launcher needs lots of work. First you need a link to your website which should have an actual working server status display right there on the main page. Second a “help” link that takes you to the customer service web page. It should also have a little news announcement section that has links to the latest news and happenings. These are all the standard things you find on the current MMO launchers.

I would also update their title and launcher artwork as it is looking a little early 90’s.

Okay I am done rambling. Its 11:30 and I still can’t log into the game… well let me try… nope still can’t get in.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

IGN Part 2

Part 2 of the IGN interview is up.

Aw crap, found a typo in one of mine!

Another Interview and some footage from our Both at E3

RPG Vault has part 1 of an interview with Adam Carpenter, Paul Whipp and myself. It has been up for a few days now and I expect part 2 to follow pretty soon. has 4 videos of our both from E3. They show lots of FURY game-play footage, our booth babes, and an occasional shot of me from behind or on the very edge of the frame. The first two are just general shorts and the next two are the 4 versus 4 finals and then the 1 versus 1 Grand Championship of the Show!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Australian Gamer

Just got back from my hair stylist (little trim fixing up those roots) and found another sneak-peak review of Fury over at Australian Gamer. It even has some shots of the Auran offices.

I mention the offices because Auran's lease is up at the end of the year. There has been some discussion about possibly moving. I know the people that own the building would probably love for us to go so they can convert the top floor into luxury apartments. The pictures on the site don't do the office the injustice it deserves. The place is old, dirty and impossible to heat or cool. However the location is great and a lot of people, me included, live within walking distance. I would like to see them move into new digs, but only if it is close by. Right now I live too close. Walking to work isn’t really a walk; it is shorter than the walk Bellagio hotel employees have to walk from the employee parking lot to various departments inside the casino. I wouldn’t mind a distance that would make riding my bike in worth it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fury Press

Two more sneak peak reviews of our upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online game FURY have popped up. A small one at Gamespy (on page two) and a more detailed one at MMORPG.COM.

Fury also got a really nice review in this month's PC PowerPlay. Though it is also the issue where they list the Top 100 PC games that you could boot up and play today. I mention this with sour derision as there are a few titles they should be shot for not including. Where is Eye of the Beholder? Where is The Secret of Monkey Island?

Share and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bob Saget Renaissance

I just saw a hilarious hardcore rap video about Bob Saget (NSFW). Yes that’s right, Mr. Bob – American’s Funniest Home Videos & Full House – Saget.

A few weeks ago I caught his guest appearance on the Showtime show Huff where he played an actor who is famous for being the Dad on American’s most loved family sitcom, only off the show he is a cokes up wacko who likes midget hookers. I say I caught it a few weeks ago as in I saw it here in Australia as part of their late night television and I have no idea how far that episode is behind the actual show on Showtime.

I also hear his version of ‘the joke’ in the movie The Aristocrats was great, but I haven’t seen it. If you haven’t heard of this movie, the set up is one hundred comedians tell the same very, VERY dirty, filthy joke--one shared privately by comedians since Vaudeville. I’m told it’s a standard joke told backstage as a warm up before comedians go on with the game being to drag it out as far as you can while making it as dirty as you can. Bob's version is supposedly not only the funniest but also the longest and dirtiest in the movie.

He had a small but shocking bit in the movie Half Baked where his line "I used to suck dick for coke" has become legendary.

He is also writing and directing a parody of March of the Penquins titled: Farce of the Penquins. It is the story of "one penguin's search for love while on a 70-mile (112-km) trek with his libidinous buddies on their way to a hedonistic mating ritual." The tag line being "What happens in Antarctica…stays in Antarctica"

Bob Saget started out in L.A.'s world famous Groundlings improv troupe! I am told his original stand-up routines were pretty hardcore and has never been the straight arrow those two shows painted him as. I don’t mean that in any sort of negative way. I’m just picturing what a rut he must have gotten into after those shows, though I'm sure the money was pretty good especially with them in syndication.

I don’t what’s going on now, if this sudden resurgence is some slick Hollywood PR firm doing an image make-over of he is just doing this on his own. I hope it works for him. I think there might be some really good entertainment in Saget that I would like to see.

Bob Saget - Wikipedia entry

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

HTML Tinkering

It may have looked like I’ve been slacking and not doing anything with the blog, but the truth is I’ve been tinkering with the HTML. Thanks to the help of my friend Cameron if you view the blog in 1024x768 or smaller the content won’t be printed on top of the blue left border anymore.

There was a bit of a fight getting it to work in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera. It looked like a fight we had lost but it would appear that we were just testing on an older version of IE at work because it all seems just fine from every other machine I’ve looked at it on.

The only thing still funky is that if you squish the window the “Working As Designed” logo shows that it is drawn on a white square. I think I can live with that since making it a .GIF file with a transparent background would limit the number of colors which in turn would make the subtle shading and drop shadow on the letters look like crap.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Game Informer Leaks More Wii News

I started to title this "Game Informer leaks Wii" but it is amazing how quickly the Wii jokes are getting old.

Digital Battle is reporting that a leaked article from an upcoming issue of Game Informer details that the Nintendo Wii will include a Camera, Physics Processor, and Headset.

It goes on to mention that the built in camera is to allow you to take snapshots of yourself so you can put your own face on character models in the game. This is supported by a previous interview Shigeru Miyamoto did with MTV.
I am involved in the "Wii Sports" series. Although these really aren't new characters so to speak, the "Wii Sports" series features these little models which you can put your own faces on ... and then you may start to see those characters, with faces you've created, appearing in different games on the Wii system.
The post is only 4 paragraphs but does mention some other specs of the machine. I am not sure where the actual leaked article was posted but it would seem that it has been taken down.