Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to REALLY get Free Gems in ourWorld

by Adam

There are dozens of blogs and sites dedicated to the unending quest for free ourWorld Gems.  Many provide the latest Gem Codes and details on any Gem related offers that might be going on.  I'm going to try to list every consistent way a player can get free Gems, plus the advantages or disadvantages of each offer.  I'm not including contests, like the Webhunts, as they do not provide Gems to a large number of players.

Invite Friends - ourWorld's original free Gem offer. Invite new players to play via Email or Link (like the one to the left), and as they gain levels you get Gems. 1 per level gained, awarded every 5th level.  This can be quite lucrative, as one player who linked from this blog reached level 100, providing my account with 100 free Gems.
Advantages: Once new players accept the invite and play, free Gems just appear without any additional effort from the referrer.
Disadvantages:  Players making fake accounts and leveling them have forced us to cap how the Gems are awarded. While this has no effect on players who use the program as intended (inviting new players) players who are cheating the system with accounts they make themselves become confused then the Gems stop coming.

ourWorld Newsletter - About once per month, ourWorld releases an electronic Newsletter that includes the game's latest features and a Gem Code worth 10 Gems.
Advantages: Gem Code works once for everybody.
Disadvantages: Players under 13 don't get the newsletter. Newsletter is released on an irregular schedule. The Gem Code works once per account and expires a few weeks after the Newsletter is released.

ourWorld Toolbar - Every Monday, around 12pm PST, players who have installed the ourWorld Toolbar get a new Gem Code worth 10 Gems.  The code only works when the game is launched through the Toolbar, preventing non-Toolbar users from getting the Gems.
Advantage: More free Gems are awarded via the Toolbar than any other method.  Also, it's not a terrible Toolbar. I've installed it both at work and at home.
Disadvantage: Players who's accounts are created on Facebook and Tagged can't use the toolbar, nor can players using less mainstream web browsers.  Some players (and their parents) are afraid the toolbar will harm their computers. Despite false rumors to the contrary, the thing is not capable of harming anyone's computer. The Gem Codes work once per account and expire after one week.

Gambit & Super Rewards - Some game sites use these (and similar) programs as their sole source of income.  They are essentially sites with hundreds of promotional offers, both free and otherwise.  The companies that host the offers pay Gambit & Super Rewards when the offers are completed, and ourWorld gets a cut.  The reward for the player is paid out in Gems.
Advantage: These offers are the only way a player can get a large number of Gems without actually purchasing them. Some are very easy, requiring little more than a few minutes of attention.
Disavantage: The offers change rapidly and there is no way for ourWorld to review all of them.  ourWorld selects the 'safest' offers available, but there are still complaints about spam and other problems.  Not all the offers are truly free, so players must pay attention when selecting them. There are also many reports of 'completed' offers not paying out, though ourWorld has no say in whether or not an offer is checked off as completed. These problems have improved dramatically in the last few months, as the promo offer industry has gone through a bit of shake up recently.

TMPSocial - ourWorld's latest free Gem offer appears directly in some ourWorld players' inboxes.  Players follow the link, view the material or add the Facebook app, and up to 20 Gems are awarded.
Advantage: Easy, quick, and the Gem payout is larger than the usual Gambit or Super Rewards offer for the effort required.
Disadvantage: Not all players get the offers. New players and younger players don't get them.  Facebook has been required for most of them.  There have been a few reports of Gems not being awarded, but we haven't been able to verify the reasons. Like Gambit and Super Rewards, ourWorld only awards the Gems when TMPSocial tells us the offer was successfully completed. 

I'm sure I've forgotten something, but that's the basic list.  The business of games like ourWorld is to sell Gems, not give them away, so if somebody says you can get a lot of Gems for free, it's either a scam or there's a catch.  Even most of these offers aren't really free.  Players are being paid in Gems for performing an action ourWorld is getting paid real money for (not much money, but some.)

If you look at it, shelling out $5.99 for 150 Gems and membership is probably the easiest way to get Gems of them all.  Coming soon, $10 ourWorld Gift cards for 1 month Resident +300 Gems will be appearing in US stores everywhere! (Photo coming soon as well!)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wylde's Critter Garden

We launched a new feature on ourWorld this week which might be our best yet.  I don't want to brag, which is good because I had very little to do with this one. 

The garden uses ourWorld's existing Condo system and adds a Farmville/Farmtown style game mechanic

The game is called Critter Garden and it has a lot of things going for it.  First, everyone in ourWorld can play it, for free.  Even better, players who want the fancier stuff can pay us for fancier nests, more nests, and garden upgrades.  

Also, the new garden features some of our best art yet.  The artists, animators, and modelers really outdid themselves, and more great stuff is on the way. I work with a bunch of geniuses, and I can't stress enough how lucky I feel to be on their team.  

If you're in ourWorld, feel free to stop by Wylde's garden.

That's right, sheep eggs. Got a problem with that?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Roger Ebert, less wrong, more misunderstood?

Roger Ebert, of whom I am a huge fan, has taken a lot of heat for his "Video Games aren't art" stance.  Chris Anderson of Wired, who I am also a huge fan, has published a clarification, which if accurate goes a long way to soothing the pain of Ebert's betrayal of all I hold dear (kidding.)

Tasty Choices! Is the plate you construct art?

Chris Anderson's Clarification

The crux of the issue is how Ebert defines art. His definition centers on the intent of the artist more than the experience the person engaged with the piece.  I still disagree, but can respect his view now that I understand it better.  When I read his original article for whatever reason I missed this point entirely.  I may have been reading with emotional blinders on.

Ebert: I believe art is created by an artist. If you change it, you become the artist...Art seeks to lead you to an inevitable conclusion, not a smorgasbord of choices.

And there you go. The thing is, I still consider thought and emotion provoking games like Half Life 2 art, and I don't feel like I am the artist when I play them. Ebert may actually be giving games too much credit. Most allow choices, but the final results of the games are normally fixed, or a narrow set of fixed possibilities.  Games like Spore, where the player really does have a vast paint brush to play with, allow the player to be the artist, but the game itself is still, to my dismay, rather linear with a more or less inevitable conclusion.  Still art.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some Weapons Bad, Some Weapons Cool

I'm not a fan of guns or tanks or most weapons of war. I do find them to be intriguing machines, but I can't get past the horrible reality of thier intended purpose.  When I see a tank, for example, I see a tool for killing first and an impressive piece of machinery second.  Guns, as a rule, hold no interest for me whatsoever. For some reason, warplanes are a different story. I am so impressed by them that I easily forget their purpose, and as such really enjoy them.  Even being aware of the horrors of the Great War, WWI planes, in particular, I just love.

 Get that limey, Red Baron!

Slightly on topic, I think this explains why I prefer fantastic combat games to gritty reality. From Warhammer 40k to Unreal Tournament (yes, I'm behind the times in my FPS's)  There is one exception. I seem to be able to mow down legions of Nazis and not feel even the smallest tinge of guilt.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Roger Ebert is both right and wrong. Mostly wrong

Ebert "Games can never be art"

Edit: A wonderful response to the article from Brian Ashcroft

 Half-Life 2 stirs my emotions in a number of ways. Does that make it art?

A game itself may or may not be art, but the components, be they physical or electronic clearly are. It's not even a question.  A masterfully crafted chess set isn't art? How about the backgrounds in a Final Fantasy game?  How much art in a game does it take before the entire thing is an artistic experience?  That's up to the artists and the person experiencing the game, and not anyone else.

I define art as something that stirs emotion in the person that experiences it.  This allows things that were not originally meant to be art to be presented as such and still succeed. Andy Warhol agreed with me.  It also means that some people aren't stirred and don't recognize the artistic value.  That's fine, too. In my world, that's how it works.

Most really great art also has detractors who claim it isn't art.  I kind of like the idea that appreciation is a zero sum prospect, where others' dismissal allows the rest of us to experience an even greater level of emotion towards the piece.