Game Industry

NASA MMO Workshop

I attended the NASA MMO Workshop on Monday in Baltimore. I have a few comments on it that I’m going to post here, but first, I want to point you to my blog post over at killtenrats.com  There is a lot of misreporting about the NASA RFI/RFP and the project in general, and I thought it would be better to comment on that over there (more traffic hah).

Anyway, my overall analysis is that more than half of the attendees simply did not pay attention to either the original RFI, the website, or even the slides shown at the workshop. I guess everyone was expecting NASA to cut a fat check to fund a whole MMORPG and get a free ride. I was surprised at how few people there still seemed excited and full of ideas by early afternoon and the sheer amount of whining and complaining people who just didn’t get it. Not really shocking I guess if you have had any experience working in the industry. I complain about the stupidity a lot, and there is good reason for it. I’m not just being bitter, I speak from experience.

So, if you can look beyond the misinformation and all of the “space cadets” out there, the NASA MMO project is actually a pretty sweet opportunity for the right company, consortium, or team of people. 

I think the larger picture here is the chance to do something entirely different than the usual generic crap the game industry has been feeding us, and really make a difference. It isn’t every day that you get an opportunity to get deep access to NASA like this for one thing…and second, Space is one of those things that has a vast potential to really captivate the imagination. If done right, NASA and their partner could have a real blockbuster on their hands, as well as the chance to really make a difference and inspire kids and teenagers to aspire to greater things.

It won’t take $50M or $500M to make a solid successful MMORPG, and there are probably a dozen non-game industry companies that would be more than happy to join a consortium and provide funding…for either a percentage of the royalties, or simply the chance to contribute to a worthy educational effort (tax deductible maybe? or purely for the PR?).

The big risk here isn’t the business model, or even the graphic engine, but rather how fun and engaging it will be. There are half a dozen ways to approach this (I have my own ideas here, and yes, I have a team that is submitting a proposal…we welcome any interest in partnering from developers, publishers, or aerospace companies interested in funding)…the trick is to make it fun and engaging without *directly* teaching (no one wants homework right?). Also, scripted repetitive quests are a no-no. While there should be some guidance and direction, there has to be an equal amount of “sandbox” and freedom to experiment. And finally, the winner here will have a easy to use intuitive suite of tools that any educator or game designer wannabe can use to make their own content, missions, whatever. 

Facilitate! Learning will occur on its own in the right environment with the right content. Don’t shove it down the player’s throats, and make it fun.  I guarentee that the market is actually larger than just high school kids, particularly if it is designed *properly*.

Maybe we will get lucky and my team will get a shot at this. We have been building a killer platform (for augmented reality, mmorpgs, virtual worlds, and simulations) that would make this NASA project just SING. Seriously. I really want to talk more about the tech, but I can’t (at least not yet).

Ah well. Soon enough my friends, soon enough.

I’m going to be out of town for most of the next two weeks. I’ll blog more when I can.

Emotive neural interface at GDC is nothing really new...and it doesn't read your mind

After an “unveiling” at the Game Developers Conference this week, Emotive Systems is making a lot of waves in game industry press and it is starting to crest into the mass market media.

Here are some samples of what people are saying about “Emotive Epoc Neuroheadset”:

“It was the hottest thing on the show floor and people were shocked.” (here)

“Startup Emotiv Systems is hoping to crack the code on human-computer interaction with a unique technology, based on “unfolding” the cerebral cortex (here)

“…World’s First Brain-Controlled Video Gaming Headset”  (here)

There is more but I don’t feel like linking it all. 

The emotive technology is nothing more than a lightweight and cheap EEG (electroencephagraph) that measures electric signals in the brain. This technology, used in interactive applications and games, has been around since the early 90s. I myself had hands-on experience with at least two systems around 1995/1996. The cool one was controlling a skiier going downhill.

The technology doesn’t read your mind. Do I need to repeat that? It doesn’t read your mind. It doesn’t connect to your brain, and it has no idea what you are thinking or feeling (press materials notwithstanding). What it does do, is measure electric signals, of which there are different types, locations, and strengths, that can be assigned (think key binding in your favorite FPS) to particular inputs.

So yes, it is absolutely possible to use this tech to do basic control of a game, but not much beyond that. You have to learn basic biofeedback techniques (breathing, concentration, temperature, and brainwave *type* generation) which is fairly easy to do with a decent feedback loop and sensitive equipment.

One of the things the technology is not suited well to, is movement. That is, getting accurate signals when YOU move around. Even flicking your finger fires off electric signals in the brain, and this can confuse or overload a typical EEG…this is why when you get your brainscanned (been there, done that) you have to stay completely still. Now, you might see the Emotive guys demoing their tech and moving around while doing it…that *might* (I don’t know, I haven’t seen their stuff first hand) be indicative of sensors that aren’t that sensitive, and the massive electrical impulses generated by movement might be needed to be registered. This would actually be a good thing, particularly for living room-based games on a console that require jumping around playing air guitar.

Their ability to measure “emotions” is a little high-tech fakery as well. They aren’t reading your emotions at all, but they are measuring verious signals generated by your body that change during different emotional states. Remember mood rings? Same thing. The electrical conductivity of your skin changes based on a number of emotional and psychological factors, as does your temperature, and a gazillion other factors.

All in all, the big thing to take away here, is that the Emotiv headset is a simple EEG that works, is very cheap (finally), and can be used as a gaming peripheral. I fully expect some VC to go nuts over this and throw a lot of money at them, but I caution you…this type of technology has a very high risk of becoming nothing more than a fad…remember the nintendo virtual boy? The Emotive headset can be used as a controller for just about any game (and I mean that in the loosest sense of the word) but what it really needs is a killer app (game) designed specifically for the interface. This is the same challenge that the wii had with its unique controller. You MUST have games designed specifically for the technology. Do that, and the market will adopt it much faster and you gain a lot of ground in avoiding the pitfall of becoming a gimmick or a fad.

PS, I would suggest releasing a free or opensource SDK. Let the innovators and hackers get their grubby hands on this and let’s see what they come up with. I’d like to see some easily accessible motion tracking tech out there as well (no, not limited infrared stuff like the wii…I need 360 6dof control!).

Seriously people…the reason we don’t have flying cars, true brain interfaces, and a massive virtual universe that is directly integrated with reality is because it is so damned hard to get funding to innovate or do R&D. Everyone is too busy trying to throw billions at things like myspace, youtube, facebook, etc.

Anyway, congrats to the Emotive folks…but don’t buy the media hype. 

NASA MMO RFI

As you may have heard, NASA has put out an RFI (Request For Information) in regards to developing a MMO (well, MMOEG…Massively Multiuser Online Educational Game). The deadline for submissions is tonight at 11:59PM eastern, but for some reason the webpage with all of the submission information and link went offline much earlier today, and the page is now password protected. I’m beginning to wonder if someone made a mistake and turned things off at 11:59AM. Fortunately for us, I had already written down all of the information and successfully sent of our reply this afternoon. Hopefully we will make it to the next stage, which is invitation only RFP (Request for Proposals).

NASA has a unique opportunity here to do something new and truly “next-generation”. Looking at their requirements, it seems that they want to build an MMORPG (MMO Role Playing Game) that has strong educational elements, but they also require significant features and functionality for simulations (emphasis on realistic physics) and collaborative tools. This can be construed as either abilities for users to collaborate on missions (content related quests) or collaborative tools in the vein of what you would expect from your typical virtual world…shared files, integrated media (video, voice, etc.). My guess is the latter…especially if they want a platform where their own scientists and engineers can use for various simulations, meetings, and so forth. Now that I think about it, the RFI specifically states: “This new synthetic world would be a collaborative work and meeting space…”. Again, what they are looking for is more than just a NASA themed MMORPG.

Most game developers (and other interested parties) will likely respond and suggest something that is heavy on role-playing game elements and miss the larger picture of what NASA wants, and what could potentially be developed here by saavy designers. For more than a few years now, I have been evangelising the convergence of virtual worlds, MMORPGs, social networks, collaborative tools, and a few other things. To some people, this may seem either nuts or visionary. Personally it all seems pretty common sense. I mean, really. MMORPGs are nothing more than Virtual Worlds with engaging and immersive content, story, and gameplay, while virtual worlds are like barren MMORPGs but with better tools for collaborative features (to some degree) or user generated content. Other things like advanced collaborative tools (which the corporate sector really wishes Second Life actually had and did correctly) or robust social networking features and intuitive drag & drop user content creation are things that should be part of the standard set of both virtual worlds and MMORPGs.

Anyway, NASA has an opportunity to bring about industry shattering convergence…but only if someone is smart enough to tell them about it. After glancing around the internet, I’ve found some interesting comments and ideas (both perplexing and depressing to me in several degrees). On one forum, a poster implied that NASA and Linden Labs (makers of Second Life) were in discussion to build a research corporation inside of Second Life for the purpose of researching the viability of a NASA MMO. One of the commenters that replied to the post expressed some befuddlement at why NASA would even consider building anything “virtual” outside of Second Life, and that SL would be the perfect platform for having a space station that had information about NASA programs in it. Did these guys even bother to read the RFI that NASA issued?

Another thing that surprised me, was that Penny Arcade mentioned that they had been contacted by someone at NASA to announce the RFI and post it on their site. This really surprised me. Penny Arcade is (among other things) a community of gamers (yeah yeah, I know about the webcomic and PAX). The RFI is explicit that “The purpose of this RFI is to solicit information from organizations with proven immersive synthetic environments expertise who are interested in potentially forming a MMO platform development partnership with NASA.” Wow, that really describes the Penny Arcade community, doesn’t it? What NASA should have done, IMHO, was go directly to the International Game Developers Association and reach out to developers there, or even through other venues like gamasutra.com. I’m willing to bet that NASA got a lot of responses to their RFI from “Joe Gamer” talking about space boobs, missions against aliens on mars with weapons and ships, and probably suggestions about making the MMO(RPG) like Halo, Eve Online, Tabula Rasa, World of Warcraft in Space (Starcraft?), Star Trek Online (RIP), or even Jumpgate.

My fear is that most (if not all) of the respondents are going to miss the point entirely, and even worse, NASA will be snookered by a publisher/developer that does a real nice song and dance on paper, but will ultimately deliver another miserable and mediocre excuse for a MMO or a Virtual World. I’ll probably puke my guts out if they seriously consider something based on the SL platform.

In my opinion, the ideal approach is a hybrid one. The NASA MMOEG should first be designed as a robust Virtual World platform loaded to the gills with powerful content creation tools and collaborative functionality (both of which better be damned easy to use and intuitive). This makes it easy for users (players, academics, scientists, whatever) to continually create new content, areas, missions, etc. and share it, as well as help both NASA and the eventual developer partner, quickly prototype and deploy new content. Second, the world should have the most kick ass physics, artificial intelligence, and artificial life built in. This should be server-side based, and not client-based. I won’t go into the reasons for this, but it is the way to go. Taking this a step further, some sort of easy to learn scripting language (think LEGO Mindstorms or Actionscript) should be developed as well. All together, this makes creating dynamic content much easier and puts a lot of power into the hands of designers, developers, and end-users. The ability for anyone (NASA Engineer or High Schooler across the street) to play around in a virtual sandbox with scriptable AI-driven bots and creatures, or setting up mini-environments (think instances combined with nested worlds) is incredibly powerful…nothing like this exists, and if it is done correctly, it would be the dream app for many educators and future scientists. Hell, I’d love to play around with something like this. Anyway, this is key for making very interactive, immersive, and engaging educational content…particularly when it is tied into the fourth part…the game content.

NASA can go in multiple directions here when it comes to the game. If I was NASA or their partner developer, I would simply do it all, and segregate it. Over here, we have historical content…let players run through simulations of historic events, launches, and missions. Lots of fun, plenty of educational value. You could also do current day stuff combined with near future…lunar base, mars base, explore planets, fly the shuttle, etc. etc. The list goes on and on, but I’m not going to give you all my ideas haha. And finally, future…what happens if we introduce faster than light travel? Biodomes on Mars? Rogue AI taking over mining droids in the asteroid belt? Ok ok, what about ALIENS? I’m sure there are many people out there that would kill for a well designed Star Trek MMORPG (perpetual screwed that up royally, and I don’t think it will see the light of day anytime soon, and if it does get released, I have zero expectation for it). Anyway, my point is that there are a lot of fun, interesting, and really badass things NASA could pull off here with a bit of imagination and some great designers.

So what is left? One of the key goals (apparently ignored by most of the posters and bloggers that have commented on this) is that the NASA MMOEG needs to provide opportunities for players to explore and investigate career options in STEM fields (that is, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This is a challenge to be sure. Personally, I don’t think that any MMORPG developer out there has the right combination of talent and skillsets to pull this off, especially from a design standpoint. Seriously, imagine trying to learn about Engineering or Math through World of Warcraft or Eve Online styled gameplay. You must solve this equation 200 times before we will let you solve the next equation, and then you have to wait 14 days to earn a point in your Algebra IV skill. Great, gee thanks. I do think that this is where casual game design can come into play (pardon the pun). Take a look at some of the puzzle games over on kongregate.com…many of them teach things like physics without really trying to, and they are fun and replayable to boot.

Many “traditional” design methods for contemporary MMORPGs will not work well for a MMOEG, particularly one that needs to emphasize collaborative meeting spaces, educational elements (i.e. things that TEACH math, physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, etc.). Slapping on pseudo educational elements on a traditional MMORPG platform is a very bad idea. Similarly, trying to ram gameplay elements onto a typical virtual world platform (all of which are severely lacking in multiple areas in my opinion) is just begging for failure.

I’ll be interested in seeing what NASA and their eventual partner end up creating here. I think it will either be a dismal failure (giving NASA another black eye) or it will be something utterly spectacular that energizes innovation and new design in the interactive media sector. I’m hoping for the latter.

Robert Rice 

Back from San Francisco

I’m back from the conference at San Francisco! It was totally worth the time and resources to go out there. We made a lot of solid connections to the west coast venture capital crowd, as well as some other companies that are worth talking to in the future for strategic relationships.

While the overall conference was awesome, I must confess that a few things surprised or disappointed me. For starters, there weren’t very many presenters that were exciting and only a handful qualified as “interesting”. I’ve said before that I think that, as a country, we have lost our taste for innovation. More than a few of the presenters felt like the same types of companies getting funding during the dot com boom. By that I mean I said “huh?” more than a few times…weak business models, “innovative” concepts that were half-baked, and “new” ideas that were simply a rehash or a “me too” version of something else. At the end of each day there was a panel of venture capitalists that talked about what they had seen during the day and what they thought. More than a few of these guys said they saw some interesting things, but not much that was exciting or felt like a home run. Sure, many of the presenters had companies or ideas that can and probably will be profitable, but nothing mind-blowing.

We did get a fair amount of attention and more than a little interest, but it will remain to be seen how many people really want to take things to the next step beyond “interest”. All that aside, I can’t stress enough that we met some great people and some seriously smart individuals.

One of the highlights for me was getting the chance to meet Travis and Adam face to face for the first time. I still find it amazing how much you can do and accomplish online these days without meeting people face to face. Ten years ago people would think it was impossible to work from home and be productive or even manage teams remotely, but today, we have people in several states and a few countries and we get stuff done just fine. It actually works to our advantage in many aspects.

You know, one of the things we heard repeatedly was that funds are only interested in technology plays…content seemed to be a bad word. Sure, content is king, but there is a perception that content is way too risky. Technology is good, platforms are good, but content is an automatic “business plan goes to trash can”. The same people that would say this would also say they would invest in another Habbo Hotel or Club Penguin in a second…but aren’t these content plays? Can you really define these as social platforms and ignore the obvious content? What if people hated penguins? Wasn’t that a possible risk factor in the early days of development? How does this different from the content of a MMORPG? Maybe hindsight is 20/20…how many of these “content = bad” venture funds would say they wish they would have invested in Blizzard for World of Warcraft, knowing now how successful it was?

I have two more complaints before I sign off…

The first was a comment that a senior level exec from EA said (I may have misheard, but the look of shock on several other people at the table I was sitting at makes me think I didn’t). He said (and I am paraphrasing here because my memory sucks) something like “online games and distribution is nothing more than a rounding error as far as EA is concerned”. Yeah. I did a double take too. He was asked by a moderator (or was it from the audience?) what EA thought about online distribution methods and the future of the market. While I generally think that EA survives and makes money simply by luck, brute force, and momentum, I am one of the people that thinks that the EA house of cards is due to fall over pretty soon. I’m still shocked they had the nerve to blow $800M to acquire Bioware and Pandemic and then turn around and lay off people with the excuse that they need to cut back on expenses…well duh, you just added close to 800 people to payroll. How long before they destroy those studios too?

The second was the interview with Curt Schilling from 38 Studios. I’m still amazed he was invited to a recent harvard panel thingy with other “MMORPG veterens” (he is most definitely not a veteren). Most of the questions he was asked were totally softball questions and relatively useless. Total waste of time. I mean, I’ve knocked 38 Studios before, but after the interview I felt like Curt was a really nice guy with a total passion for online games. I’ll give him some kudos and respect for that…I would work with him given the chance. However, the whole thing felt like a total ass-kissing episode where Curt and 38 Studios was getting a lot of attention and credibility because of who Curt is (and to a lesser degree because McFarlane and Salvatore are involved). Neither of the three have any real background in MMORPGs beyond playing them. Sure, Curt is a great baseball player and he has leveraged that for some exposure in the game industry (never as a developer or designer, more like a brand). Todd McFarlane is a brilliant artist (I’ll fight anyone that says he didn’t do the best spider man artwork EVER), and of course Salvatore is extremely well known for his fantasy writing. Ok, so what? Good storylines and concept art does not make a great MMORPG. Maybe they will get lucky with the rest of the people they have brought on to the team to make the game…I’ll have to reserve judgement until I actually see something.

But why are they out raising funds? All three of the founders are pretty damn wealthy (I’d be stunned if they weren’t). I suspect that they hired too many people at a premium rate too soon and their burn rate is probably shocking. Maybe it is time to use other people’s money. Anyway, I digress. The bulk of Curt’s responses to the questions usually came back to “I have a passion for games and I have a great team”. I think the conference would have been better served with any of a half a dozen other MMORPG CEO’s out there that could talk about the industry, innovation, technology, business models, global markets, trends, or whatever. Sure it was nice hearing from someone famous like Curt Schilling, but this was a consumer technology innovations conference loaded with VC’s. While the interview didn’t do much to hurt the industry or people like us out raising funds, it didn’t do us any favors.

So, summary! The conference was great, and I would totally do it again next year. To the organizers I would say if you are going to have any emphasis on online games, social networking, virtual worlds, and simulations, do some homework and find some companies/presenters/speakers that have something valuable to add beyond “I love games and we have a great team!”. 

Dow Jones Consumer Technology Innovations Conference

I’m flying to San Francisco on Monday to attend the Technology Innovations conference. Naturally, I will be networking like crazy and getting the word out about what we are doing at Neogence. Our funding deal with the Pakistani venture fund seems to have gone up in smoke with all of the problems and instability other there, so we have been scrambling around trying to reorganize and find alternative funding sources.

So we have been in the early stages of reaching out to several venture funds, making new connections, getting several introductions, and so forth. This is not an easy process by any means, and quite a bit more difficult because we are “on the wrong coast”. I know some others think that this “east cost/west coast” thing is a bunch of nonsense, but I have definitely encountered it on multiple occasions, and not just with this venture. I might blog more about this later.

We have a killer team in place (with experience on most of the leading MMORPGs, as well as virtual worlds and simulations), great content, perfect market positioning, several amazing partnerships and strategic alliances, and some incredible technology that no one else has. We have figured out how to break away from the closed loop, linear, and static grind-fest that most games are. Our worlds are living…they will evolve, adapt, and grow based on user actions (or inaction). It is pretty damn sweet.

So I think it is just a matter of time before we are back on track and the funding gets sorted out. In the meantime, we continue to do what we can with a small core team and I will spend some of my time working on several other projects that are quite interesting on their own, and actually dovetail into what we are doing. Expect to see more strategic partnerships and relationships emerging for us over the next six months.  If all goes as planned, we should be launching a tech demo (and probably a light demo of the first game world) by mid-late summer.

I need to figure out what I’m going to do for business cards at this conference. I was going to get some printed at Kinkos this afternoon but they refused to print on the card stock I provided. Really stupid. I got mad and walked out. Why the hell won’t they print on user provided stock? They totally lost money. 

 

EA does it *again*...layoffs at Mythic?

Uhm, wow.

Ok, so EA recently acquired Bioware and Pandemic from Elevation Venture Partners for about $800M. The currentCEO of EA (John Riccitiello) was one of the founders of Elevation Venture Partners, and formerly the EA President/COO.

EA will pay up to $620 million in cash to the stockholders of VG Holding Corp. (Elevation Venture Partners) and will issue up to an additional $155 million in equity to certain employees of VG Holding Corp.

Now, this obviously raised a lot of eyebrows for several reasons (wonder who really cashed out on this deal eh?).

EA has a terrible reputation of destroying studios after acquiring them, and an equally bad reputation in the MMORPG space. There were some doubts when EA acquired Mythic, but promises were made and the world generally had happy thoughts that EA/Mythic would deliver Warhammer Online and have a nice success.

Oddly enough, after the acquisition, EA tasked Mythic with giving good ole’ Ultima Online (over ten years old now!) a cosmetic facelift. Ok fine, but aren’t these guys already busy with a MMORPG project?

So, EA picks up two extremely well respected studios, and more promises are made…they won’t be dismantled, EA is looking for hot new original content, Bioware is rumored to be working on a sweet Star Wars MMORPG (even though Sony already slaughtered that franchise and Lucasarts annoyed lots of people with the crappy last three movies), etc. etc.

Ok, fine, maybe EA has turned over a new leaf since Riccitiello returned earlier this year. But oh no! Rumors are flying about EA laying off a lot of staff (many of them from Mythic), and relocating the Mythic team to Virginia. What the hell?

If they can’t afford to be paying staff and need to cut costs, why the hell did they just blow $620M in cash to acquire two studios (800 employees) and take on the long term financial burden of all that staff? Is EA losing confidence in Mythic/Warhammer? Is this in any way related to the recent beta delays for Warhammer?

What is going on at EA? Are they going to use the acquisition for some accounting trickery for the end of the quarter? I dunno…

I do know that if I was an employee at EA, I’d be damn nervous and I’d start farming my resume out. That company has been a house of cards for too long now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if their stock starts tanking relatively soon. Sure, maybe acquiring Bioware and Pandemic will inject enough new blood to influence and catalyze some change, but EA (and all of their studios) are notorious for burning out talent quickly and replacing it with inexperienced college grads they just farm out of “game design” programs at various Universities.

It seems that EA has been playing the “increase valuation through acquisition” game for a long time..new studios in multiple other countries (including China) have been launched in the last 24 months, and there is even a brand spanking new one here in Raleigh that will be working on a NASCAR title (cause, you know, North Carolina = NASCAR, so developers here would naturally be better at design…it’s a southern thing).

I’m giving EA a big thumbs down. Booo.

"If this is such a good idea...

Why aren’t the big companies doing it?”

This is, perhaps, one of the most frustrating questions that I have been asked by investors, venture capital funds, and colleagues/mentors kind enough to take some time to look at my business plans over the last decade and a half.

The mentality behind this question assumes that big companies are naturally successful, smart, and have both the will and the resources to continually push for bigger, better, faster. If the “big boys” aren’t doing something, than it probably isn’t worth doing…because of course, you have to assume that they already thought about your idea and have discarded it as unworthy.

Ok, this sounds like it makes sense, but it is a very weak assumption. Big companies are naturally slower than smaller ones, and usually bogged down in bureaucracy, policy, or conflicting interests. More often than not, it is simply easier (and cheaper) for a big company to sit back and wait for someone smaller to do something new and innovative, and then acquire them.

In the game industry, most of the “big companies” are either publishers that made a lot of money with a particular business model (put games in boxes on retail shelves) or they are other large media conglomerates that have bought into the industry through large publisher acquisitions. In both cases, these companies are very successful in their own rights, but are out of their depth when it comes to innovation or different business models. MMORPGs for example are still “new and mysterious” and not quite understood.

EA, arguably one of the most successful game publishers ever, has a horrible and dismal record with online games. They destroyed Origin after acquiring them and nearly destroyed Ultima Online as well. They have a long history of acquiring companies and then dismantling them. I’m not going to get into how they treat their employees or the terrible corporate culture they cultivate, and I’m not going to make a long list of all of the massive amounts of money wasted on funding projects and then canceling them at the last minute (remember battletech online?).

EA’s latest foray into MMORPGs (again) is through their acquisition of Mythic and Warhammer Online. Shortly after they acquired Mythic, they put the team to work on updating the graphics for Ultima Online and give it a facelift. WTF? I still don’t understand why you would divert a team working on a large project like Warhammer to spend time on a completely different game. This is just one example of the odd and backwards things that EA tends to do.

So why isn’t EA making multiple MMORPGs? Why is Sony picking up a lot of half-dead MMORPGs (cough, Vanguard, cough) and aggregating them instead of trying to innovate and push the industry forward? There are other companies, but I think I’m making my point.

The big companies “aren’t” doing X or Y because it simply hasn’t occured to them, or they are too focused on other things than hunting out every new opportunity. Or they are just sitting on the sidelines waiting to make an acquisition play. That is why our ideas are great and why the big companies aren’t doing the same thing.

Big does not equal smart or all-knowing.

Big is risk averse and will continue to do the same thing day after day because it is safe.

Small is where innovation and creativity occurs. Invest in small things, sell out to big things.

I’m not sure I feel like making a list of small ideas that challenged industry goliaths and found success. Anyone familiar with capitalism and industry in America can figure that out on their own. Just look at all of our inventors and scientists, or companies that revolutionized entire industries with a simple idea or process.

The next time you are looking at investing in a small team of people with an idea, don’t ask them “why aren’t the big guys doing this”, instead ask how they will execute and take their idea to market to knock the big guys off their horses, or at least make themselves a hot acquisition target.

Shout out to RevolutionG

Yo!

The really cool folks over at RevolutionG interviewed me not too long ago and the podcast is going live in the next couple of days (or sooner). I had a great time talking to them, although I wonder if I was a little too ranty and longwinded at times. Hey, what can I say, I am pretty passionate about this industry and I have some very strong opinions.

Anyway, they were kind enough to plug my book and mention I blog here. Thank you guys! Also note that I blog under the pseudonym “Nicodemus” over at KillTenRats.

I’ll write more later. I’m still at the beach and heading home tomorrow. Wheee. Back to the grindstone.

Feel free to comment here and say hello, particularly if you landed here after hearing about it at RevolutionG.

kongregate.com

So Im sitting here at my desk working away like crazy when Shepard Smith (FoxNews!) mentions something about this new site that is like youtube for gamers. My ears perk up and I start paying attention.

They do a segment on kongregate.com, which is still in beta and barely launched…it takes me over an hour to actually get to the site and register. It is the middle of the day and a brief segment on Fox News gets them enough traffic to overload and crash the servers. Remind me to launch something on a Fox News broadcast.

Anyway, check out the site and sign up. I think this is bloody awesome and will kick casual games, as well as independent and amateur design in the pants big time. Did I already say this is awesome? Great business model too.

Sigh…why the heck didn’t I do this already.