Thursday, September 25, 2008

Playware Studios & Magic Lanterns

I was at some corporate events when I was introduced to Playware Studios, a company who blends games with education, and develops applications for students in schools. Here's a brochure that I took from the event. Of course, they do develops casual games as well.

Out of curiosity, I search for one of their products, Magic Lanterns. Through the different articles, it seems that Magic Lanterns has garnered quite favourable reviews. Magic Lanterns has its own site, and interested readers could look at the screen shots or even try the game for free (it's a shareware, i.e. you need to pay for a permanent full version). One of my colleagues had obtained a 'cube' from the earlier games convention, and it features magic lanterns!

Schools and educators are starting to appreciate that games can play a favourable part in imparting knowledge to students. Through games, students can learn the softer aspects of group participation, leadership management, and resource planning. We see these important soft skills surfacing in guild leaders of various online games (e.g. World of Warcraft). The trick is to partner the correct games developer to create games that requires (and rewards) such soft skills. Unlike project works that attract points / marks from teachers, games could be more informal, and thus less stressful for the students.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec - Free Posters!

Like the cube above? Cute right? There are many other designs available, and this cube is among the freebies that one could get at the Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec City. There are plenty of other freebies, and I've collected quite a number of posters. Let me share the pictures of some of these posters.

Cherry Credits gave away quite a number of posters (pics below), Rohan, Trickster, Habbo, Fresbo, Bots...etc.

Nope, I do not play all of these games. So far I've only tried Trickster Online. :) Posters are also given for other non Cherry Credit games, for example Baja (racing game) & Zeng Tu (their official website not working somehow). I didn't take a photo of the Elan Online though they also gave away free posters and bookmarks. Too many freebies.

Other than posters, free installation disks, post it notes, notebooks, nicely designed cubes...etc, there are also free magazines. I got these two magazines, both featuring Star Wars (on Wii) on their covers. Yupz, there are demos of this game at the convention as well.

Like the above goodies? Get them at the Games Convention! The last day is this Saturday, i.e. today! So hurry while stocks last, lol.

Related Posts:
- Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec - Short Tour
- Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec City Convention

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec - Short Tour

Games Convention Asia 2008 is here! Today I popped by the event during lunch, and spent quite some time on the 4th floor of the Suntec Convention centre. There were a lot of games, covering online MMOs, standalone PC based, consoles (XBox, Wii), handhelds, and even card games.

This year the exhibitors are quite generous with their posters and game disks, and I've collected a pile of these items. Will likely share them around since I would not be interested in playing all of them.

Let me show some of the photos taken today, and perhaps snapshot of those posters / freebies in another post.

Here's the booths of Cheery Credits and MOL. I'm quite glad that these companies exisit to fill the gaps of micro-credits for online games. Their existence will help players, especially those young players with no credits cards. These companies allow for consolidation of game credits that can be used among different games. Essentially, buy 1 card from them (I got a free Cherry Card!), and you can use it among their supported games.

Here's the booths for others, e.g. card games, handhelds (yes, that is a handheld game about SpongeBob). It is useful for gamers to try out these games before deciding if it is worth it to buy. Different games suit different people. More importantly, one could try out the different game consoles (which will determine what are the games one can play) before committing to one.

With all the craze about Formula 1 night racing, of course there are game booths about racing.

For students considering their future education paths, there are also education providers like the polys in this event. Guess the event covers almost all aspects of gaming. Those high level issues of laws, virtual properties, social behaviours ...etc etc are covered in the conference. There were also news articles about games development locally, including one where they mentioned that there are now more female games developers. I guess that explains why there are now more games targeting female players as well?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec City Convention

Games Convention Asia (GCA) 2008 is here! It will be held in Suntec Convention (Singapore) from 18th to 20th Sep 2008. The full schedule can be found here. General public visit to the convention is free, but you will have to pay about S$ 200 plus to attend the conference.

They have also organised a special Students' Day on the 20th Sep, where students get to enjoy a separate conference for free. Topics include 'Free to play MMOs' and 'The future of games', 'GAMBIT Internship', 'Assassin Creed' ... by speakers from Nexon, MIT...etc.

Well, while public visitors can attend the event for free, some folks have given me the pass which I could also use for the event. Wonder if entry to the event via this pass would entitle me to any free goodies? I know last year they gave away some rather cool t-shirts, but any other types of goodies, e.g. free installation disks for MMOs, posters...etc are equally welcome!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Littles Lives, Pencil Farm, & National Day Parade

One of the games developer which I visit occasionally is The Pencil Farm. This developer creates very simple games that are easy to learn and play. The interesting part is that his games have attracted the attention of different national events organisers.

Previously his game was 'referenced' by the Beijing Olympics website, i.e. a somewhat negative development I would say. I covered that story sometime back.

More recently and definitely more positive, was the fact that Singapore's Little Lives engaged The Pencil Farm to develop this Singapore National Day Parade game. Little Lives is a social interaction portal set up for schools, students, and their parents, features include the 'poke' function that we commonly see in facebook. It is not sure what is their definition of students, and whether non-students can also join in.

I think the relative success of The Pencil Farm is a proof point that games' popularity is not necessarily linked to the complexity or sophistication of the game mechanics, and sometimes simple games with good ideas are all that is needed to make the game (and their developers) popular.

Related Posts:
- Beijing Olympics versus The Pencil Farm

Monday, September 1, 2008

Update about Smallworlds

Smallworlds has added more features to their service, which will be released in early September. With the new release, Smallworlds players can (thru the new Arcade Game Widget) design, build and submit their own games. Features of games ratings, high scores ladder and search capabilities will also be added. Those in-world games developers can gain fame and the in-world tokens for these player generated games, and potentially earn real money for these production. This design capability is extended to allow players to design their own missions, i.e. in-world quests / tasks.

Smallworlds players can also add 'spells, potions, stinkbombs...etc as part of their interaction with other players. It should be fun to throw stinkbombs at other players. Take a look at this YouTube for the demos on stinkbombs and rockets.

More interactivities will also be added to enable players to 'fly around', with special wings and gears. Players can also set up portals and doors to lead to different parts / extension of the players' rooms. These doors and portals could be activated via different puzzles like equipments. Players could also embed flash-like widgets to their own websites, including blogs or MySpace. I'm not sure how large (in kilobytes) or how 'smooth' would the interaction be, in the event when the website visitors want to interact with the SmallWorlds widget.

Last but not least is the function to buy and sell in-world spaces (i.e. properties), and items. This brings Smallworlds to the same level as other virtual worlds like Second Life. It is not clear whether such sales proceeds could be 'legally' converted back to real world cash subsequently. Smallworlds has a lot of potential due to its browser based concept with enhanced integration with other browser apps / sites (e.g. embedded YouTube), and hopefully they can achieve some level of mainstream recognition.

Related Posts:
- Simple Review of SmallWorlds - New Virtual World
- Smallworlds application in Facebook