Monday, October 31, 2011

Seasonal EQII Homage: Norm Baites

There is so much homage in EverQuest II, it is almost ridiculous to continue pointing out examples, although it is nice to have some visuals in the blog. Here is one I think is seasonal, given the name of the character, Norm Baites, obviously playing on Norman Bates from the famous film Psycho. I'm not sure the character is usually there. Norm is wearing an EQII Halloween mask (Halloween is renamed "Nights of the Dead") of a nautilus-like creature and ends up looking like something from a Lovecraft novel. Given it's The Nights of the Dead in EverQuest II currently, Norm makes sense as a seasonal homage. You can see his name floating on the top of his head.

Survey Results: Age and Industry Job

A lot gets made of how some modders hope to get a job in the industry. When talking to my friends at Sports Mogul about the survey, they theorized that this might correlate with age, where younger modders have this idea while older modders are more established in career tracks. Indeed that is what we see, although younger modders (at least in this sample) have a range of opinions about it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"I Told You So"

About five years ago I told a major market research firm the following:

Currently the Zune is too problematic to be part of the digital near-future.

I said that Microsoft had to "fix it." I don't think the market research firm liked that I said that, since they blew me off after that. Something happened earlier this month that was so barely noted I missed it until earlier this week: Microsoft cancelled the Zune. It is actually difficult for me to find a news outlet that I am used to using which reported it (but there is always Wikipedia).

I could say that it feels good to be right, but I've been right the entire last five years and I've always known it. As for the market research firm in question, well, they don't know what they are doing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Survey Results: Motivations

Here are five of the motivation questions from my game modding survey (not a random sample), re-ordered and shown as a bar chart in percentages. Motivations about the industry in reddish tones on the left of each grouping, green in the middle is other players, and on the right of the groupings is fun and "improve the game for yourself". I know the colors aren't optimal but the chart does a good job of showing that people aren't motivated in relation to the industry. I don't think this says modders are selfish, I think this is a reflection of how people get an idea to improve a game (their own idea), and then make that idea via a mod since they want to improve the game based on their idea, and, it's fun.

Even zoomed out, you can see the pattern (but that could be a fabrication based on the questions, however, I did group the questions and the pattern is the end result, not the other way around). (The image/chart should really have a title, but it isn't meant to stand on its own. "Modder Motivations", perhaps.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One Quick Result - Modders' Survey

Been busy filtering out spammer entries and trying to get the write-up done for ICA (due Nov. 1st), and I haven't pulled all the numbers but here is one I made a nice little graph for. The nice thing about the graph is the curve, which was unexpected -- I expected a decline, but the "No" response on this question set roughly doubled with each proceeding question, so the curve is rather visually appealing.

Here is the rough table, I haven't formatted it completely. Numbers are % and # of respondents. N=111.

What is also cool is that the numbers are fairly high, although it is possible that I got a lot of pro-community modders in my survey since I advertised for it on mod forums (a form of community) and the respondents may be slightly more helpful than the more general mod population (since they were helping me by taking the survey, although perhaps they were feeling curious).

Interactions with Other Modders

No Yes
I have told a modder I liked their mod or thanked them for making it. 7.2 (8) 92.8 (103)
I have made comments in order to help someone improve their mod. 12.6 (14) 87.4 (97)
I have contributed code, scripting, voice, visual elements, or other content to someone else’s mod. 23.4 (26) 76.6 (85)
I have co-authored a mod with others. 43.2 (48) 56.8 (63)
I have taken ownership of a mod someone else stopped working on. 82.9 (92) 17.1 (19)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sometimes You Feel Like Homage

Another example from EverQuest II. Many don't fit Kaveney's "geek aesthetic"(1) like this one. Geek aesthetic is mostly sci-fi/fantasy nerd/geek culture. If you Google "sometimes you feel like a nut" you'll see why this is homage (although it isn't trademark infringement). This example is from EQII's version of Halloween, going on in-game currently, "Nights of the Dead".

1. Kaveney, R. (2005). From Alien to The Matrix. London, UK: I. B. Tauris.

Survey Drawing Winners!

Ok after weeding out the big fraudulent entry and a few other obvious ones via data cleaning, I was able to...

  • Make a list of the valid emails.
  • Use NeoOffice's "random" function to choose three numbers.
  • The numbers were 66, 75, and 60, which were all a little high and close together but indeed that's random.
The winners are... Well the initial parts of their emails, so they can probably recognize themselves but no one will be able to send them spam (so not even complete to the @ sign), are:
  • Rolanxxxxx
  • Shirtxxxxxx
  • Twilightxxx
Later this afternoon I will be completing the Amazon side of things--I'm a little behind due to the big survey spammer and their 20+ entries, since I really didn't expect that--and then maybe I can do some analysis as well.

THANKS to everyone who actually took the survey for real, there were a lot of you and I am really grateful for your time and your help with this project. Thanks also to Ambrosia Software and Sports Mogul for advertising the survey on their boards (and boo to the three sources that didn't help, you know who you are, your name could have been here!).

eHarmony Pimps the Virgins Again

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Game Modders' Survey Now Closed

I had some preliminary results up, but Survey Monkey alerted me to the likelihood that a fraudster hit my survey and took it over 20 times. Survey Monkey is working with me on it, but until I get those responses out of the results I can't do anything. (This also means I can't yet run the drawing for the Amazon gift certs, although those were apparently enough of a draw to lure in the unwanted fraudulent respondent.) Sucks. This person is not a modder, they are a fraud! Boo! You have been caught and will not be "winning" a gift certificate (winning in your case equals cheating). Everyone ELSE did not cheat, and I am really honored that they all took my survey.

I have used the HTML comment tag to make it so you won't see the previous and now-invalid write-up, but you can view the page source if you really want to see it. If the fraudster answered "male" every time (I don't know yet), then the male-female ratio will be severely distorted (with the fraudster, it was 33F/109M, so maybe it's more like 33F/85M).

Well, it is internet, I knew this might happen, I just didn't think it would.

Edit: Or, bummer, almost all of the female responses were from the fraudulent respondent. Perhaps the findings from this survey, once the data is cleaned up (amazing what some people do), will show that the % of women who mod is more in line with the % from the IGDA survey (10% or so, mentioned in the part I have now commented into invisibility).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Game Modders' Survey: 100+!

I would like to thank all the respondents who have completed the game modders' survey, since as of this afternoon over 100 people have completed it! Awesome! Thank you everyone! (117 as of right now!)

If you are a game modder and would like to take the survey:

The survey runs until Oct. 19th.

If you aren't a game modder but want to look at the survey, this link will put your responses in a different "collector" so you can peruse the questions:

It is really awesome to see that 117 people will complete a survey from some random person (me) who they don't know. And, it's about modding, which is very exciting stuff (mods are cool, modding is making and playing and usually there is a sharing element to it so there's a community angle -- modding is a the middle of the Venn diagram of several awesome and important things).

Hopefully I can get it analyzed and written up for ICA, due Nov. 1st, that's the plan.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Because Fun is Important

Fun. It's important. It's enjoyment, it's learning, it's playful, it's related to sharing which relates to community, I would say it's everything but I just said design was everything (although I'm sure the two are related).

Let's play connect the dots:

  1. Because it's fun.
  2. Because it is fun.
  3. Just for fun.
Which we will give context to with some sources:
  1. "Bob, why do these bears play?".... "Because it's fun." (Italics in original.) Stuart Brown's convincing and moving book, Play, from p. 28, about why bears play (the book is about play and much more than bears, which are just a few pages). Brown is an MD and a play researcher; in other words, he's an expert and knows what he is talking about. (A national bestseller.)
  2. From a small survey of computer game modders, one respondent's answer to "WHY do you take spend your time and effort into developing an idea on how to make the game better and/or developing some user-generated content?" 
  3. The title to Linus Torvalds' book about why he started what became linux and why he codes.
I keep insisting that this is deeply-rooted human behavior and I get academic reviews by people who have no idea what I am talking about, look, people, it's all the same.

Steve Jobs and Design

Design is really an important part of the Steve Jobs story, and it isn't one that a lot of people understand. Some do. So, although it isn't an understanding that comes quickly or easily--it's more like riding a bicycle, you have to learn it by doing and falling over sometimes--it is one worth understanding.

So, here's a NYTimes article on Jobs and design, and here's the text of Jobs' Standford address from 2005, where he discusses calligraphy, and lastly here is one about Jobs and what is not there in terms of design, called ma, or what is not there, which I think is a vital part of the picture (the author of that article, Jeff Yang, explains it well).

Everything is design, design is everything.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

I only saw Steve Jobs once, since I didn't live in the right places or do the right things to meet with him or see him at a Keynote. I saw him at the NeXT building, in 1993 or so, and he was running a meeting. I remember the building had a cool glass staircase in the middle, just like many Apple stores do today. So I don't have any stories about Steve Jobs, but I do have a story about the Macintosh, interfaces, and understanding the Mac, because Steve got it, and a lot of other people didn't.

Freshman year I got my first Mac, a Mac Plus. Previously we'd had a family Apple IIc, which was awesome. The Mac was so different at first I didn't even really know how to use it. One following year, perhaps sophomore year, as a computer room TA I attended a meeting where the new student computer lab was announced, or something like that. This wasn't the computer science computer lab, but the one where students would all write papers (amusing, there used to be computer labs where the only things students did on computers was write papers). The person in charge announced that the only computers in the lab would be brand-new IBM PS/2 (somewhat strangely, Sony would later use the same name, at least as spoken, for their second Playstation, but really almost no one remembers IBM's little odd computer line).

I knew this was a horrible decision, so much so that I had a look of shock on my face. I probably would have forgotten this entire event, except the computer person looked at me and said, "You're a Mac person, aren't you?" somewhat smugly.

The problem was Macs cost more -- in the immediate, this financial quarter, short term view.

But what I knew was that the GUI that Apple had started to make viable was the future, and needed to be the present, and that the DOS-based world of IBM and Microsoft was on its way out.

Instead of a GUI, which is vital for word processing -- think of formatting like centering, italics, and bold, all the things that students do in papers -- we got... some hackneyed CLI and a word processing program with an almost unusable interface. This means the TAs were always busy answering the same formatting questions, and students wasted thousands of minutes sitting there trying to figure out the command for italics or save.

There was no mouse (actually, there might have been, but a mouse without a GUI is somewhat stupid). There were no menus. What you saw had nothing to do with what you got. I don't remember exactly, but text in italics was probably highlighted a little. Text in bold, perhaps moreso. To find any command, instead of using an easy menu-system, there was the horrible set of function keys. If you're old enough you'll remember those horrible plastic templates that you had to put over the function keys to see how to get any command you needed. F4 did something, shift-F4 something else, ctrl-F4 a third thing... Probably alt-F4 and maybe even alt-shift... An entire massive template, with tiny text and absolutely no order to the commands at all.

The computer lab was horrible for both students and TAs. The college's computer buyer had no idea about computers, she only knew about the bottom line for that term. I knew what it should be, because Steve had showed me: he a vision, he pushed for it, and made it happen.

Later, I had a NeXT cube for a while. Even with an 040 processor (after-market) and only four colors (black, white, and 2 greys), there was a great ease and simplicity to the design of the GUI. Not a simplicity of poverty, but one that gave you everything. I think this is what people are talking about when they talk about how Steve Jobs knew to focus on what to take away, and what wasn't there.

XKCD's tribute:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Game Modders Survey - Live!

My Game Modders Survey is now live, through Oct 19. Are you a game modder? I would like to learn more about your sense of community and your motivations. Your help is awesomely appreciated, and, three random respondents will win $20 Amazon gift cards.

My survey has already been picked up by my friend Clay over at Sports Mogul, which is a great help.