Saturday, August 09, 2008

YoVille, a few days later

YoVille did an update yesterday changing a couple of things.
  1. Added a chat filter, replacing many swearwords with 'yadda'. This has created my favorite YoVille term, 'motheryaddaer'. While not empirical, I've noticed swearing (by dodging the filter) increase by a huge margin since the filter has been put into place, though it is likely the newness of it has spawned a lot of boundary-testing. I found the lack of a filter refreshing, but am not at all surprised it has been added. I guess teens will have to satisfy their swearing needs in real life.
  2. Added Trades. The concept of virtual world trading has a lot of pitfalls, but my naivete shielded me from a big one. "16yo for sale", meaning a bit of cybersex for some virtual coins. Virtual prostitution, it seems. Either the offers are scams, or they're not. For once, I hope there's a lot of scamming going on. When we add trading to ourWorld, I am going to be on this issue like a motheryaddaer.
Now, I'm 38. What that basically means is I have no business being on YoVille according to most of the inhabitants. The usual coversation is:

Where you from"
"How old are you?"

At that point I have to lie, be evasive, or fess up and the conversation is OVER. I've decided never to lie about my age (or anything) in a VW, so I have a lot of short conversations. Thanks to "Grown Up" parties in YoVille, I've experienced some nice chats with nice people, but outside of those chats, my presence is unwanted. I think I come off as creepy.

Truth is, working on ourWorld has got me a bit addicted to Virtual Worlds. I usually like the few kids who tolerate my presence after knowing I'm an oldster. I like gaming online. I just need to get over the fact that even though I work on a Virtual World, they aren't for me (at least not any I know of.)


Thursday, August 07, 2008


I've stepped up the chat monitoring on ourWorld this week, making sure the site's Code of Conduct is followed by our many, many members. I've sent many warnings, and deactivated a few people's chat functions. The thing is, most of them don't know what the CoC is.

The question is, how do you provide that info to players who aren't the least bit interested in it?

Here are the basic rules, in no particular order:
  • No sex talk. Nobody really knows the age or gender of any of the players. We just can't have it. This sort of talk in the public areas is a more serious offense than private chat (though as I write this, I wonder if my priorities are straight.)
  • No abusive chat. That means no racism or personal attacks (though if I eliminated everyone who used the terms Biitch, ghey, or a$$hole we wouldn't have any players left.) From a practical standpoint, I'm shooting for PG-13.
  • No sharing personal information. Asking for Emails, phone #s, names, and photos is a major no-no. Providing it is also prohibited. Requesting to meet in person gets your account deactivated immediately.
Thems the rules. I just need to communicate them somehow. Suggestions welcome.



Yoville is one of two facebook virtual worlds I've started playing this week. It stands out in a few ways, and doesn't stand out in a few others.

Stand out features:
  • Runs straight out of Facebook. As somebody who's on Facebook daily, that's nice.
  • No chat filter at all. You can debate the value of this, but it's nice to just say F*** every now and then.
  • Money -> Food -> Energy -> Dancing. It's all tied together in simple, fun little bow. Other things you can do with money:
    • Get drunk. It's hilarious. Drunk avatars sway from side to side. While drunk the entire screen is blurry. If you're really drunk, it's too blurry to read the chat text. The effect is quite temporary.
    • Buy coffee. You avatar moves faster. More coffee = more speed. Also temporary
    • The usual new clothes, new furniture.
  • Events. Players can label events and (I think) put restrictions on who may attend. Girls only, for example. There's always a huge list, thanks to the Facebook bump of players, I'd guess.
  • Money options
    • Job - show up once per day and get money
    • Casino - Just a slot machine for now. I've doubled my money with it, so I like it.
    • Play simple one-on-one games with other players. Tick-Tac-Toe and Rock Paper Scissors are the choices. Meh.
    • Buy fake money with real money. I'm tempted to drop $20 so I can have a tricked out place. We'll see. If I'm still playing it in a week I may take the plunge.
I am so0 wasted (13% drunk)

Less than stand out issues:
  • Not too many games to play. Tic-Tac-Toe doesn't quite cut it. If I wasn't winning with the slot machine, I'd never go back.
  • Avatars look stupid. Little body/huge head design. Combined with the fully open chat,booze, gambling, and a lot of adult themed parties, it creates a weird toddlers-cruising-for-action vibe, that I find off-putting.
  • Ho-Hum choice of features, so far. Aside from the booze, coffee, and the ability to say f***, it's very vanilla. If they expand it rapidly, I see a lot of potential, though.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I said, he said, he said, he said.

This is funny to me, as Chris Anderson wrote a post basically saying the same thing. Essentially, "This is what I meant, and Seth said it better."

What I said. What Seth said. The best part of his post was:

"Great design is intuitive. Great design eliminates confusion. But not for everyone, not all the time. The words and interactions you use often have a sophistication that will confuse some portion of your audience.

Why not consider making it easy for the confused to ask for help? And treat them with respect when they do. If you don't create a little confusion, it's unlikely you've built something remarkable.

And to go one step further: sometimes it's okay to lose the n00bs. Not in an arrogant way (except for some brands) but in a way that says, "this might just not be for you..."

What Chris said was in his book, the Long Tail. What Seth said regarding that.

Good stuff, all around.


Monday, August 04, 2008


" Wendy's®, we're unrivaled in our passion for giving people what they want — and uncompromising in giving people what they deserve."

Apparently this statement does not apply to the sour cream in their sour cream and chives potatoes. For the second trip in a row, my local Wendy's has failed to include this portion of the potato ensemble with our family meal.

When we called the restaurant , the 'manager' offered to provide the sour cream if we returned to pick it up. Wrong answer.

I wrote Wendy's to complain. The response is supposed to come in the next two days.

The correct answer is: Come back and we'll give you your meal for free, and your next meal is free.

The sour cream isn't really a big deal. Me being pissed about it IS a big deal, and I am pissed.

In case you were wondering which Wendy's is hoarding their sour cream, it's:

(425) 271-6251


Dizzywood's Arbor Day Foundation Event

Dizzywood is rapidly becoming the coolest play site for the under 12 crowd. Since it's very much a kids-only site, I'm pleased that I can talk it up so freely without worrying about undercutting our work on our teen-oriented ourWorld.

Three months ago (around arbor day, I think) one of the Forests in Dizzywood was chopped down by a villain. The event centered on an activity allowing the kids to get seeds and fertilizer and grow the trees back.

Yesterday, several months later, they just updated the Forest, fully grown back. The entire thing designed to show that the kids could help improve the world by growing trees. Awesome.

This is the message I received:

Hi Adam,

Here's the latest Dizzywood news to report to you (not exactly earth-shattering, but earth-impacting!):
As you may recall, about three months ago, we started an event in Dizzywood, where players were challenged to replant the trees of Wildwood Glen. (The area had been destroyed by Emperor Withering, Dizzywood's arch-villian, and players were asked to plant a tree to help the cause.)

Thanks to the efforts of Dizzywood citizens, we're thrilled to report that 15,000 virtual trees have been planted in Dizzywood, which will translate into 15,000 real trees to be planted in forests that needs them most through our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. (Press release attached, which will go out tomorrow.)

This accomplishment was celebrated with a party in Wildwood Glen today - and the unveiling of a statue to commemorate the hard work.

I've attached a "before the replanting" and "after the replanting" screen shot to give you some idea of the lush new landscape in Wildwood Glen. We hope this activity has shown the players of Dizzywood how each person can make a difference -- and that as a collective group, anything is possible.
And here are the pictures:


After (much better!)

I'm pleased that I planted and nurtured my share of trees as part of this whole thing. It really was fun, and this payoff puts it over the top. Once again, well done Dizzywood!


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Dungeons and Dragons, a humble suggestion

Only Wizards of the Coast have the resources and the customer base to support a major online initiative for an pen and paper RPG.

Make the D&D website essential, and make the books the key to unlocking it.

Players Handbook
  • A character generator that is updated with any and all errata.
  • A database of characters uploaded by users. Think Spore. Players enter the stats, skills (whatever they call them now), etc. and all characters that meet the criteria come up.
  • When errata is issued, players can opt-in to updates. All characters they've got online are automatically updated.
  • Using the massive collection of artwork already available, character portraits are available from the entire history of D&D.
Dungeons Master's Guide
  • When used in conjunctions with the PH, characters may have lists of magic items (assuming items are still in the DMG)
  • Map, scenario editor and database Similar database to character editor, allowing players to build and share rooms, lairs, or whole adventures.
  • Magic Item editor and database.
Monster Manual
  • When used in conjunction with the map, scenario editor, monster stats are included as statblocks or whole descriptions.
  • Monster editor and database.
Here's the kicker. Don't give it away. Put a code in every book that unlocks that book's content on the site. Players who don't buy Monster Manuals don't get access to the Monster Manual content. Players who don't by Player's Handbooks, don't get the character generator.

Suddenly used books are far less valuable than new books. P2P versions are also compromised.

Releasing a new Monster book? Add some featured content to wet the player's taste, but require the book's code to get all the new monsters in their database. Releasing a Forgotten Realms book with new character content? Do the same thing. Give them a little, but only customers with the codes get all that new content.

Make the D&D website essential, and make the books the key to unlocking it.