I’ll try and keep this short: Greg went to add badges to a just-released game. I suggested Möbius Strip as the badge name. So Greg adds it, complete with umlaut. I reload the game page, and it gives me an error. The umlaut broke the game page AND all of /badges/.
So Greg’s solution was to unpublish the game, go home, and deal with it tomorrow. I’m not sure if he knew the /badges/ page was down also… I didn’t mention it to him until about 3 seconds before he left.
Now, the obvious solution to this mess would be to just change out the ö for an o. Yet Greg did not do this… why? He’s not retarded, so I’ll infer the only logical explanation: he has no access/method to edit/delete a badge or badge name after it’s been released. As such, the only thing he could do was disable the game from being played; he has no ability to do anything about the /badges/ page… and hopefully place a frantic call in to one of the engineers or Greers to fix the problem before morning.
I could easily go off onto a whole tangent in regards to Greg’s lack of access, but that’s not my fight. Instead, let’s just bask in the awesomeness that I broke an integral part of Kong’s site and forced the shut down of a newly released, Kong sponsored, and 4.45 rated game! The bad news, however, is that that hurts me… I have a walkthrough in the game.
I want to preface this by saying that I’m not upset or angry at my panel not being chosen. I also have no clue how any other conference selects its speakers… whether FGS is doing what they all do or is doing its own thing.
So now that the speakers have been announced, I see a bit of good and a lot of stuff I’d like to see changed. There are now 2 rooms of speakers for the day, instead of just 1. That’s good. The large room seems to be focused on monetization and panels about making money. That’s expected. The small room looks to be about flash development and ways developers can make better games or make games easier. This is a start.
The major problem I have is that there is a clear conflict of interest with the advisory board. The board was made up of 6 people… and 3 of them were selected to speak, with a co-worker of a 4th speaking. The people making the choices of who speaks should not have any self-interest biasing them in their role. Going forward, anyone who accepts the task of picking the speakers should be disqualified from speaking. Frankly, this seems like obvious common sense to me… and I wrongly assumed it to be true for this year’s summit.
Another issue I have is in the submissions of panels. Granted, this year only has 3 panels (vs 9 solo-speakers), but that wasn’t the case last year. I have 2 issues. First, people should be limited to 1 (maybe 2) proposed speaking topics/panels and they must be on their own panel. I heard second-hand that someone submitted 10+ different topics, and that just seems silly. It’s a monopolization of the selection group’s time, and it shows that you aren’t focused on any one specific thing. Really, it says to me that you desperately want to speak, and by submitting a crapton of proposals… hopefully 1 will be selected. For being on your own panel, it’s the same basic thing… people shouldn’t be submitting random stuff that they want other people to talk about; they should be submitting something that they themselves can benefit others with. Second, any panel submission must include all the panel members. I know for a fact that 1 panel topic that is in this year’s FGS did not get its panel members until this past week. Greg and I worked hard coming up with members for our panel proposal. The people on your panel is a crucial aspect of the panel itself… how can a topic be selected without knowing who is going to be speaking about it. You also can’t submit someone else’s name for your panel without speaking to them about it ahead of time; again, I heard of a situation where this happened.
One more issue is that there are multiple speakers at this year’s FGS who also spoke last year. 3, specifically. Granted, they’re speaking about different things this year than last year… but let’s be realistic; they’ll likely say very similar things to what we’ve already heard. No speaker should be allowed to speak in two consecutive years. We’ve got a large enough industry where we can hear from new people on a year-to-year basis and still fill 2 rooms of speakers. Greg and I specifically made sure that everyone we considered for our panel was someone who didn’t speak at last year’s event. By re-using people who already spoke, the audience is being neglected the opportunity to hear more and different opinions/advice.
Also, can someone explain to me why we need 2 different panels on “Monetizing Your Game Outside of Sponsorship” and “Monetizing Flash Games Through Virtual Goods Model”? Aren’t they going to be saying identical things? The monetization models are, what? Sponsorship. MTs. Ads. We all know ads pay almost nothing for the majority of devs. That leaves sponsorship and MTs. And casual gamers are not likely to open their wallets for MTs unless it’s on a game that gets updates after release… which is basically MMOs. Which is virtual goods. Also, the 3 speakers for the virtual goods panel are all owners of MT platforms… GamerSafe, MochiCoins, and Kreds. Why no love for a developer who creates MMOs? Oh… because the non-sponsorship panel is 4 developers. Why was this not combined into 1, with 2 developers and 2 MT people? This could have also eliminated at least 2 (possibly all 3 if they brought on HeyZap as a 2nd MT person, or just used 1 MT person) of the speakers from last year. It also would have opened up another hour for another topic.
Finally, I’d have liked to see some panels in the developer room. The dev room will have 6 topics, and a total of 7 speakers (the Annal brothers are co-speaking for their topic). I get bored hearing 1 person speak for 30 or 60 minutes. I like to hear multiple and different opinions on a topic. Panels give this. 3 of the topics are about flash technology (haXe, pushbutton engine, and papervision3d)… so it makes sense that these are solo speakers. The other 3 are basically storytime with 3 different developers. While I’m sure it will be interesting to hear what the Annals, Sean Cooper, and AdamAtomic have to say… I’d rather have gotten at least 1 panel, so we could have gotten 3 or 4 people’s stories instead of just 1. Not to mention, no offense to Adam… but how on earth is he going to keep us interested for 30 minutes about Canabalt. It’s a fun game… it’s done very well… but it’s still just a 1-button action avoider game; it’s a wee-bit lacking in content.
I’m still excited about FGS. I can’t wait to meet all kinds of people. I’m just not so thrilled about all the on-stage discussion that will be going on.
So I submitted a speaking proposal to FGS for a panel. I wanted to have a topic that would focus on game development, and not on ways to maximize profit. Last year’s panels and speakers seemed to almost entirely focus on making money, not touching on what makes the products worth paying for. A good game is going to result in profit. I thought about what I know and would be able to tell other people about, and game polish seemed like the most appropriate topic. With that in mind, I set to work on putting a panel together and hashing out a basic framework of what would be talked about.
To me, the most important thing was to get a solid panel, full of well known, experienced, respected, and diversified people. Naturally I would be on it, as it’s my panel. I reached out to Greg to speak from a sponsor’s perspective, and he readily agreed. Together, we chatted about who else we wanted to ask to join us. Jared Riley from Hero Interactive was my first choice, and Greg quickly agreed. Jared makes high quality games that are almost always highly polished. He is also someone that I talk to on at least a semi-regular basis. He quickly agreed, seeming really pumped at the topic and people involved. The 4th member was a longer road. We weren’t sure who we wanted, but we decided we wanted a 2nd developer. It took a bit to narrow it down, and we had one or two people who weren’t going to be at FGS this year… but we eventually brought Daniel Stradwick (garin) in. After that, I felt we had a perfect group… myself from a gamer perspective, Greg as a sponsor, Jared from his dev role running HI, and Daniel as a dev who works 6+ months on massive RPGs.
I named our panel, “Game Polish – Make Your Games Shine,” which I thought was a really catchy title… always an important thing. I also wrote up a catchy session description. However, what I’m guessing resulted in our panel being passed over is the lack of fully describing the benefit of the panel. It was something I had a hard time doing, as it just seems so obvious to me how beneficial this topic is… if you don’t make a game that has all the little things done well, it’s going to wind up pissing off too many users to the point where they stop playing it. I tried to put this into more business-like terms, but I didn’t really have much substance there. There was also an option to add a secondary abstract that was much longer, but I did not include one of these. I have a hard time putting my thoughts down well into writing, and when it’s something formal I tend to be curt.
My other fear is that I am the cause of my panel’s rejection. I’m not a sponsor, I’m not a developer… I’m just a gamer. I could see some of these people look at who I am on paper and think I’m not qualified to be speaking, or am not a big enough name to be on a panel. I really hope this is not the case. Besides the fact that I have the support and ear of many of the top portal owners and developers, I did also run the most popular casual flash game ever created for 3+ years. I may not fit inside that little box of sponsor-developer… but I damn well know what I’m talking about, I provide a completely different perspective on things than most industry people, and that seems like something that other people would benefit from.
Now I am anxiously waiting to see what the speaking topics will be at FGS. Hopefully looking at them I’ll see that my panel was outclassed. I will be very disappointed if this year’s topics all deal with profit and don’t have anything to do with game design. And I am disappointed in having my panel rejected… I was looking forward to having the opportunity to share my insight with everyone. Oh well… there’s always 2011.
6:00 – Wake Up
6:01 – Overwhelming desire to break iPhone and accompanying alarm
6:03 – Sit down at computer to do a quick run through morning routine
6:09 – Shower
6:32 – Dry off from quickie shower
6:35 – Set building queues in HoG and make sure DW guild is in order
6:49 – Lose track of time from trying to squeeze in just one more daily task
6:50 – Get dressed, brush teeth, etc
6:55 – Grab pop-tart and leave
7:03 – Get stuck in traffic on the 101 nearing the 405
7:04 – Start slinging obscenities at LA traffic
7:07 – Decide it’s more fun to mock Colin Cowherd than be annoyed at LA traffic
7:59 – Finally get to downtown LA and onto the 5
8:45 – Arrive outside Armor Office
8:48 – Arrive at Armor Office, having not gotten lost in the passageway to their back-of-the-building suite like last time
8:50 – Commence with the eating of the bagel
8:53 – Give the iron armor-clad sentinels guarding Dan’s corner office dirty looks
9:01 – Get shot in the chest by nerf projectile. Realization that Jared Riley is a cool dude solidified
9:02 – Relief at not being shot any lower. Or higher, I guess
9:05 – Watch John fail miserably at converting the tile engine from AS2 to AS3
9:10 – Start going over level design for TITOL2
9:12 – Relief at my design not being as crappy in John’s eyes as it is in my own
9:20 – Begin going over my stage ideas
9:22 – I am the most creative dude on the planet
9:37 – Damnit, why does nobody else appreciate my masturbation-themed stage ideas
9:38 – Contemplate explaining why we also need a “Droppin’ Loads” level
9:39 – Decide to keep that one to myself
10:02 – Watch Joey play with amorphous cats
10:08 – Transcribe stage ideas onto post-it notes
10:31 – Begin hashing out which stages we’re keeping, and a basic sphere of difficulty
10:39 – We have exactly 30 post-it notes. Cheers of joy
10:51 – Order post-it notes from 1 to 30
11:00 – Make sure that all stages are possible within the current level design
11:20 – One more check to stages and level
11:30 – Chik-Fil-A baby!
11:35 – Arrive at chik-fil-a and continue non-stop talking
11:37 – I’m supposed to order food now, but haven’t stopped talking to look at menu
11:38 – Quickly decide on the spicy chicken sandwich
11:41 – Sit down with John and Joey and notice that all 3 of us have spicy chicken. We are badasses
11:46 – Discussions include old flash rhythm games and creative level design within iPhone crush the castle. We are nerds
12:05 – Back to the office
12:07 – My ghetto laptop turns on. Great success
12:10 – Laptop won’t connect to wifi network and John mocks my AIM 5.9
12:14 – Laptop still won’t connect to wifi, even after super genius trouble shooting methods… such as punching it and calling it a little girl
12:16 – Saved by an ethernet cable
12:21 – Begin work on naming the 30 stages
12:24 – Lament again at the lack of support for my masturbation stage
12:40 – Consult wikipedia for the 6th time as part of my stage name research
12:52 – Names sent back to John
12:57 – More mocking of John, as the tile engine still rejects AS3
1:32 – Still watching John fight valiantly against the evil of AS3
1:41 – Send sarcastic IM to Greg
1:45 – Boast about my amazing game designing skills in IiN
1:57 – Talk to Dan about secret things
2:24 – Continue to mock John’s failure at fixing the engine in AS3
3:01 – John is the man. Engine fixed and is a sexy, sexy beast
3:15 – John approves of my stage name ideas. Where are my 70 virgins
3:21 – Testing in the engine begins
3:24 – Elephants waddling to polka music is the most awesome thing ever
3:55 – More tweaks to level design to make it roomier
4:07 – Verify that all stages will work in the new level design
4:37 – Joey begins tossing out possible stage designs
4:39 – Tune out Joey’s ideas, as they are overly complex and complicated
4:40 – Request once again for my masturbation stage to be considered
5:00 – More testing with elephants and spikes
5:12 – John and I team up to send Greg IMs that amuse us
5:20 – BS out a few extra content concepts so people will play the game more than once
5:35 – Leave office for brewery / restaurant with John
5:48 – Order adult beverage
5:52 – It’s happy hour! Cheap appetizers are demanded
5:57 – Dan arrives
6:12 – Burger ordered. It has bacon, cheese, and an egg on it
6:14 – Sweet potato fries are delivered. Mouth stuffing begins. People really put ranch on fries? Gross
6:23 – John informs us of being pre-approved for his house buying
6:24 – Bad joke made about pre-approval vs approval and the ridiculous terminology used today
6:45 – Burger arrives
6:47 – Burger now also has ketchup and hot sauce on it
7:01 – Alcohol is taking its effect on Dan; he informs us about the Mickey Mouse tattoo on his behind
7:02 – I ask to see said tattoo and am sadly informed that it does not actually exist
7:18 – 1/3 of burger left. It kicked my ass
7:25 – Leave restaurant. Thank Dan many times for dinner and the opportunity to help on the game
7:31 – Arrive back at the office with John to get my car
7:44 – Still talking John’s ear off in parking lot. See annoyed look in his eyes and call it a night
7:47 – Begin drive back home
7:50 – Curse LA for caring so much about the Lakers. Do they play EVERY night?
7:55 – Back on the 5, enjoying some classic rock on KLOS
8:45 – Arrive back home. Exhausted
8:46 – Affirm hatred of LA traffic for the umteenth time
8:47 – Affirm hatred of Whorli. She has all the doors locked and gave me a set of keys with no house key on it
8:48 – Bang on window to get her attention
8:50 – Kisses
8:52 – See that not one, not two… but THREE different companies sent me emails to work on games for them while I was gone. It is a blessing and a curse
There’s more from there, ending in bed around 11:30. But not important to my day with Armor. All in all, it was a really fun day. A great experience. And it’s going to be a kickass game when it’s released next week.