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A big one? Snack Time, WoW iPhone, WoW Addiction

Uh-oh – This Could Be A Big One

So, yesterday I get an email from a major game publisher.  Basic message:  What are you working on these days?  Give us a call.

When it comes to game development, I’m in an odd position.  I’ve been around long enough to start acting like an old timer in the field (first game was in 1999).  I still sell some copies of the old stuff from time to time, but I don’t put any effort into marketing.  I’ve got some stuff on “slow burn” mode for development, but, I’ve been focusing on the meat and potatoes money lately (since it’s less risky than independent game development) like industrial automation, and slowly building up website development clients.  But I still host the Software Engineering Game Development mailing list, which makes me look active in the field still, plus well, the old games keep me relevant on Google searches (last time I looked, “Midnight Ryder Technologies” thrown in google would land about 1800 links back to my site.)

But beyond what I basically consider to be research projects, I don’t have anything active in development.  Boulder Panic! 3 is still in the “This is a great idea, but needs tweaked”, and the biggest project I have in mind is basically just a white paper on how to affordably develop and maintain an MMO client-server system using old concepts in a new way (which I’ll never release unless I write a product that actually USES the system – I’d loose too much edge if I did 🙂

So I call ’em back, and we chat for a bit.  I explain that BP!3 is only a tech demo at the moment, but I explain the approach I’m using to gameplay and how it differentiates the projects from other games of it’s type.  He was intrigued, and wants me to send him something to look at when I’m ready.

Then I laid the big project on him, and a “teaser” for the tech backend.  Because the word MMO was used, he was both interested sounding and apprehesive (MMO’s are EXPENSIVE to develop.  Like, millions to just get it off the ground expensive, and millions a year to operate it.  And the MMORPG market is glutted – but I’m avoiding MMORPG entirely, which between the teaser and the field, makes it an interesting project.  But apprehensive because it’s still MMO and not a currently served field.)

The publisher wants two things:  A product, and a team.  Product I can actually do all by my lonesome if I want to – it’s not the first time I’ve done it.  And the tech demo is far enough in development it doesn’t really need a huge team to support it.  But, gotta put one together anyway.

Why?  Well, my inital plan is this – deliver product A (BP!3) as a demo, and see if they want to take it (it’s pretty much up thier alley, matching some of thier existing product line).  If so, move on it and finish.  Then pitch the big project.

And yes, I’m being evasive as to what the big project is as the moment.  This is still a somewhat public area, and until I’ve got final docs written on it, I’d rather not tell everyone about it (though a few people will know, since I want to get them involved 😉

This is an interesting curve ball throw in the middle of a rather work heavy time.  And will it actually lead to anything?  No one knows at the moment.  They’ve approached me, not the other way around, so the interest level is there on their part.  I’ve been to the point of having a signed contract with a publisher on another product before.  Even delivered the final binaries and installers for it.  They put the project on hold for 6 months.  Then a year.  Then nothing.

So I’ve been at this point before.  But I’d better take the shot – as long as I don’t interfere with my main income streams, I’m ok with taking a shot at much bigger deals. 🙂

Snack Time

OK, I’ve developed a bad habit recently when I play WoW.  When Tammy was working with me off and on, I started accumulating candy at my desk and her desk.  I don’t normally eat candy, but I’ve found myself in the last two weeks or so munching on candy while I play.  BAD idea.  Very bad.

My first problem is, I’m munching on it as a substitute for whatever it is my body is actually asking for.  Ususally my body wants meats and protiens.  If I eat something that doesn’t contain what my body wants, I’ll continue to eat and eat and eat trying to fill that void.

OK, time to change this habit.  Went down to WalMart tonight and bought natural peanut butter, celery (those two items go together :-), cheap lunch meat, fat free cream cheese, and salsa (those items go together).  All easy fix items, and almost all of them semi-healthy. (lunch meat is too processed to be really healty, and anything fat free is never truely healty in my opinion, even if I am a big user of Butter Buds for a fat free butter substitute.)

Taking in too much sugar in the form of candy always ends up upsetting my stomach anyway, so having a nice convenient set of snacks like this helps.  It’s nice when bad situations have simple solutions 🙂

There’s Insanely Cool, Then There’s Insanely Cool But Stupid

Yeah, gotta praise my iPhone for a moment again.  One of the big things I’ve been waiting on is a full-bore VNC client for it.  (VNC – let’s you see a remote computer’s screen, control the mouse and keyboard, etc.)  There’s been a working one for a while now, but, it’s keyboard support was non-existent.  Kind of important when you take control of a remote computer and need to type something 🙂

My client in Kenosha uses VNC alot for remote support, so having a complete working solution on my iPhone becomes another avenue for me to support my customers / make money.  Well, it finally works.  Now, in my pocket, I have a complete support platform for my customer base – email, web, VNC, etc., etc., etc.  It’s now definitely the most insanely cool thing I’ve ever purchased.

But I had this… moment.  I realized I could do more than insanely cool on it.  I played WoW on it.  Hehehhe.  Yes, I was playing World of Warcraft on the iPhone.  I set up my Mac Mini as a VNC server, then VNC’ed into it.  OMG – it worked.  So I played WoW for like, oh, 10 minutes on there.  The performance sucked, and there’s no sound (VNC doesn’t transmit sounds).  But it worked.

A while back Brandon and I were chatting, and he was asking “How long do you think before we can play WoW on one of those things?”  I said 2 to 3 years at the earliest.  Looks like I was wrong 🙂

If I wanted to, I could do some tweaking and get some serious performance upgrades out of the system to play WoW on it a little better – a tweak here, a tweak there, etc. and it would be fully usable.

But I’ve done about all I want to with it now 🙂  Proving it can be done is good enough 😉  (I’ll send the screenshot above to a couple of the Mac rumors / news sites just to rile some people up about the idea that you can play WoW on it 😉

More WoW Addiction Stuff

In the middle of getting all this work done, I’m also playing WoW off and on (played for too long tonight though.)  So, I’m trying to get gold to buy an epic flying mount.

Ya know what?  This shit takes way too long.  My character has 1400 gold, and I need 5000 for my training for the epic flying mount.  I make about 50 gold an hour if I’m working at it (until now – get into that in a second.)

I actually from time to time measure how long it takes to preform certain actions within the game.  It’s kind of a business thing – I’m used to measuring how long it takes (for instance) to install VM Ware, install the VM, configure the machine, and get it ready to ship.  Time is money – I directly bill customers for my time.  So I kind of apply that to WoW sometimes.  I’ve got a mod that I use to track how long it takes to me to gain experience (so I can project how long until I hit the next level, and compair it to the things I want to get done that do.  No kidding, I really do make WoW part of my task scheduling sometimes.  That’s so I can get maximum lazyness to work ratio without affecting projects 🙂 

Tonight I found a major money maker – after in-game expenses, my character pulled in 200 gold in an hour.  For me, that’s doing majorly good.   And it’s easily repeatable without risk, and so far I haven’t seen anyone else doing it.  So it’s a good way of pulling it off.

But here’s the reality of that damned game – even if I’m pulling in 200 gold an hour, no including things like flight times, etc. I’m still looking at 18 hours to get enough gold to buy my training.  And then I still have to buy my mount (because I’ll be taking up engineering again, which allows me to build my own kick ass mount 🙂

One thing Blizzard did that’s both mean and nice at the same time – they put in the /played command.  It tells you how long you’ve played WoW.  Not, like how long you’ve had you’re account, but an actual amount of time you’ve been IN the game.

    /Played:

    40 Day, 21 Hours, 13 Minutes

That’s right, 40 DAYS of my life have gone into playing a damned video game.  Wow.  And I’m not a hard-core player, I’m tame compaired to like Brandon.  I haven’t asked him in a while what his /played time is – I’m afraid to know!

It does make me question things sometimes – is it really worth such a large time investment?  I’ve yet to ever really find an answer to that within myself.  If it was interfering with me completing the projects I have, the answer would be no – it’s not worth it.  But when it’s used to fill in the spaces to have fun, I guess it’s ok.

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