Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day - Mollusk Style

Octopus Blind Date on Saturday, 2/14 at noon. Witness what happens when sixteen arms, six hearts (three hearts each) and two giant Pacific octopuses meet on Valentine’s Day. Aquarium biologists set the mood with decorative hearts, roses and romantic music at the Octopus Exhibit. But it’s up to the octopuses to decide whether or not love is in the water!

"Hey baby, you got a sweet set of tentacles..." (Totally G-rated)


Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day (for fun and prizes)

We're almost done with the ourWorld Valentine's Day photo contest. We've had thousands of entries, and I expect close to 200 finalists by the time Valentine's Day has come and gone. From there we'll whittle the best down to a few choice images, and then the winners.

To see the best entries, check out the ourWorld Photos Flickr page.

Happy Valentine's Day!


P.S. You are all bitch for doing that

This blog boils down the difficulty of handling online support for kids into a pure, uncut, resin: COPPAKids

For your entertainment, I'll post a bit right here:

I cant make a [COMPANY NAME] acoiunt, why. Its says Im 12 years old or younger
but IM NOT. I want to make a Acount. Please let me.PPPLLLEEEAAASSSEEE!!!
hey [WRONG NAME] my name is [BLEEP] like the car but i am not a car i love all kinds of sports do you think we could be friends and i am a great singer in the school and how did you become famous please write back

Dear [COMPANY] Feedback,

It says that I am under 12 when I am not. I am 13, but please don’t tell anyone that. I hope all this feedback is kept private. Please let me become a part of [COMPANY], I really want to! =]



hey [company name] people can you erase the thing on my computer that says you are under the age of 13 because im 20

p.s. you are all bitch for doing that

There's more, all 100% awesome.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

All Hail the Emperor of Humanity!

My past seems to be taunting me in unexpected ways this week. 10 years ago, this would have been the coolest thing ever. Now...well, it's still pretty darned close!

I want one!

WarHammer 40k was my obsession of choice for many years. I still have all the old mini's tucked away in my closet, just in case the galaxy turns out to need defending after all.


Rules Are Made To Be Broken

...and thank goodness.

One of my tasks is to manage the ourWorld photo contests. Of the 950+ Valentines Day contest entries we've received so far, I've reviewed roughly 600 of them. Happily, I've been able to discard about half of the entries because they didn't follow the contest rules close enough to be considered.

The theme of the contest was couples (Valentine's Day, after all) so I required that there be a couple in every photo, and the names of the couples be either visible or provided in the text of the entry. This rule has a simple purpose. I want to give both people in the winning photos a prize. As it turned out, the rule DQ'd about 30% of the entries. We said we wanted the photos to not be from the in game photo-studio, again because the names of the Avatars would not be visible (also because those photos tend to look the same.) Another 20% out the window. A few players didn't get to the bottom of the rules where we imposed a 5 photo per player limit, designed to keep individuals from spamming us with entries. It's hard to enforce, unless players sent us 6+ photos in a single Email entry, as many did.

Could you imagine 900+ worthy entries? What a nightmare that would be! I'm torn on whether I want to keep these 'complex' rules as a filter, or make sure that future contests are as easy to enter as possible. Most of the best photos follow the rules closely, thus maximizing the chance of winning. I had to let a few good ones go, though.

If anyone reading this is thinking of entering the contest, also take note of the judging categories. Of the remaining 300 valid entries, about half didn't meet the specific judging criteria close enough to be put in one of the three finalist categories.
  • Fashion - Both avatars are dressed up and looking cool (or unique, or silly, or something!)
  • Dancing - Both avatars are performing a dance move. Some of my favorites have features avatars photographed dancing in sync. These are hard shots to capture, but worth it.
  • Quote - The avatars are saying something sweet or funny. This is the least populated category. Of 600 entries, I have less than 20 finalists in this categories. Emotes, 'I love u', 'wanna be my gf', aren't quite sweet, funny, or original enough to make the cut. With only two more days left in the contest, this category is wide open.
Read the ourWorld Photo Contest Rules on the ourWorld Blog


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In Another Life...

Graphic design is what I went to school for, and a couple of years back I took one last stab at getting back into that business. To get back into the swing of things, I decided I'd do some free logos for Battlebots teams that requested it. I was a fan and many of them really needed better logos! I had a couple of takers and was generally pleased with the results. While most of the teams are long gone (though Battlebots may be back soon), logos are forever. Case in point, Infernolab's reuse of my work:

I couldn't be more pleased that Jason thought enough of my work to reuse it after all these years. I'm also pleased it blew up without serious pixilation. My designs were too focused on web applications back then (but hey, that's why I was working for free!)

More pics of this sweet arcade cabinet.

My obsession with combat robotics is still alive and well. Our club, Western Allied Robotics, will be holding its next event at the Seattle Center House on April 12th, Easter Sunday! I designed the WAR logo and site graphics well.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Update Day

I love update day on ourWorld. That's the day, roughly every two weeks, where we update the site and add new features.

This last update occurred on a Friday (normally it's on Monday) and instead of adding new features, we actually did some system house cleaning, which for many players, actually had a negative impact on their experience. It's been rough on many of those players. I agree with everything we did, but I totally understand how they are reacting. I'm sure I'd feel the same way.

Membership cancellation - We hadn't been turning off lapsed subscriptions. In some cases we provided a free coupon last year and those players had enjoyed most of the paid member benefits for months and months. Lots of players assumed they were keeping those features indefinitely, without subscribing.

Super Rewards - One of two features allowing players to earn free Gems (which normally cost real $) wasn't working out for us the way we wanted. It was deactivated. Now friend referrals and links like the image posted on this blog are the only ways to get free Gems.

Friends Limits - Some players in ourWorld have accumulated thousands of friends. It was drastically slowing down our system. Now free accounts can only have 200 friends, paid memberships can have 1000. This is causing the most pain for players.

Notice how all three of these features only (seriously) impact non-paying players. I'm being told repeatedly that players are leaving because of the changes, but how should I feel about that? If they aren't willing to become members, we're losing their contribution to the community, but little else. At least on an individual level. New players are still coming in record numbers, and they'll never know that players ever could have over 200 friends, that Super Rewards was ever there, and that back in the day, a one month membership could provide months of premium benefits.

The question remains, is the free experience of ourWorld good enough? I'm confident it is, as we keep adding to what is available to free players, just not as quickly as the premium features. Non-playing players don't consider what they bring to the table, and they shouldn't. Their job is to play and to come back if they like it, not come back if they don't. Our job is to try and keep them coming back in numbers large enough that a tiny percentage that do pay, will pay. Then, once they have paid, make sure they get their money's worth. Easy! (If only...)