Tag Archives: Gaming

Roblox, Massive Tween Gaming Platform, Goes Public

Popular tween gaming platform Roblox filed to go public on Thursday. The company declined an interview, citing a quiet period.

Source: Roblox, massive tween gaming platform, goes public – CNN

My son and I, OneWildRide,  are hooked on the Roblox game Theme Park Tycoon 2   I’m fixated on building out my park.  For beginners, there are the “out of the box” rides you can buy, and the amount of items you can use to accessorize your park is staggering.    Not only can you add “canned” rides, such as the Gravatron, but the theme park builder can add all different types of roller coasters, water rides, park transportation, etc.

Users of the Theme Park Tycoon 2 are Graded by:

  • number of active users in your park
  • the amount of money you make based on park admission, pay per ride, and concession stands
  • People can “like” your park, and provide feedback at the entrance

Commoditizing Roblox Games

I will shamefully admit that I purchased Roblox Bucks, with real dollars, that can be used on a plethora of items to build my Theme Park.  For example, the Theme Park has a height limit for how high you can build your roller coasters, so naturally, the builder/user has the ability to purchase to lift the height requirements.  You can also purchase additional “packs” that provide the builder enhancements to their rides, such as running the ride in reverse or looping the ride three times instead of the default single loop.  There’s also the conversion of USD to Roblox $$ because builders need to buy the components to build water rides or roller coasters.  You can even purchase concession stands (e.g. Popcorn Vendors).  The builder of the amusement park must also buy/build restrooms and spread out trash cans throughout the park.  There is also the concept of day and night, so make sure to buy/place lamps across the park.

Pay to Play – AI Bots = Theme Park $$

These “auto” bots/characters paying to play in your park may leave if they are dissatisfied, such as no bathrooms.  Also, without trash cans, there will be visible trash on the ground that must be painfully cleaned up, pile by pile, or left there to pile up.  On the flip side, these AI amusement goers will pay:

  • Park Entrance Fees
  • Pay Per Ride
  • Pay to use the loo
  • Pay for Concession Stands, such as Soft Drinks, Popcorn, and Pizza
  • Pay for Theme Park Memorabilia, such as Santa Hats, Tis the Season!

The Theme Park Builder sets the prices for EVERYTHING.  The AI Bots have “thoughts”, such as “This ride is really cheap.” to help you gauge your ride pricing, or “I’m Hungry”, to imply you should buy/place concession stands throughout your park.

Minecraft Anyone?!

I should say someone should have seen this coming, several someones.  You build this Theme Park at the “block” level, very similar to Minecraft, however, it seems, as far as I can tell, the graphics of Roblox seem somewhat superior to Minecraft, although this is a very debatable topic.  Minecraft has lots of 3rd party “mods” or customizations/modifications to the game.  Minecraft has had a lot of time to cultivate its userbase as well as a marketplace for users to buy these modifications.  Roblox as an application/gaming platform seems intriguing in light of the IPO.  I wonder what the highest-grossing games are on the Roblox platform.

Availability

Roblox Theme Park Tycoon 2 is available on Xbox, iPad / iPhone, and Windows to name the environments we use, jumping from device to device wherever is convenient.

Multiplayer Environment

My son constantly wants me to go over to his Theme Park, and go on rides he has just built.  It’s really a lot of fun to go to other builders’ parks.  There is a basic transit system to move between amusement parks.  You can get LOTS of ideas by looking at other builders’ parks, some of these parks put the “real world” amusement parks to shame.  So far, I’ve seen six (6) people playing concurrently, where you can see who has the most Roblox Bucks, and who’s park has the most visitors currently.  Naturally, if you’re not the big kahuna, you’ll want to stroll by the other builders’ parks.  If you are in close proximity, if you time it right, you can log in to the same server, and play with friends.  Doesn’t always seem to work quite right when people jump on and off the game.  There is probably a feature I’m not using to guarantee the same server with friends, maybe the “Premium” version of Roblox?

Build Your Own Roblox Games?  Monetary Incentives?

Wow, I really didn’t contemplate it that much.  I didn’t even think about the possible monetary returns from building one’s own Roblox game.  Not sure what the requirements would be to be a developer, how easy or hard it would be to build Roblox games, i.e. is there a coding language to use, a proprietary language, or just a simple graphical tool to build games.  No clue if there is a “developer/partner” annual cost, which is what I paid when developing applications for the iPhone / iPad.  Also, playing on the iPad / iPhone Roblox platform hosting the Theme Park game, would Apple get a percentage of “In-App” purchases for Roblox dollars?  We purchased Roblox bucks from the PC, and XBOX, so it didn’t occur to me there would be margin paid to the platform on which it runs.

Disclosure – I am not a “Premium” Roblox member or a “game” builder.

When a Game Graduates from a Smartphone to a Console

A short time ago, we had fewer avenues to produce and distribute games, either game consoles or desktop personal computers. When a console game came out that was insanely good, it may have been distributed to the personal computer as well.

In this era, we didn’t see the channel of distribution go massively wider, or consistent with their graduation.  There may be a time when a game gets so massively popular,  a major game label company picks up the smartphone game company for their intellectual property or licenses the game to produce it on other mediums, such as consoles. and expands the experience of the game by leveraging additional inputs, keyboard-less, and mouse-less mist screens where users user literally pinches the air, and it’s like clicking the mouse on a coordinate on this screen/input device. Or, maybe expands the game to the XBOX 360 and Kinect is used to interact with the game objects.  A whole new world of opportunities may open up to the fan of the game, so instead of selling less consoles, and making the shelf smaller for game makers, we could look at the game board of opportunities as a larger, not smaller funnel of opportunities.

Minecraft Phenomena: Amazing Tale of Subtext Education through Fun

I am about to purchase 50+ custom Minecraft tee shirts for a party, and I was just thinking, how did this Minecraft craze get started?  Two of my pre-teens love it, and are addicted to playing this game all the time.  If you look on YouTube there are tons of videos made by adults on Minecraft, some are the ‘how to’ videos.  It is simply amazing that this guy from Sweden created this game craze.  The game even has a once a year expo, a gathering for the fans, which was sold out in a matter of hours. So how does it relate to education?

The game, Minecraft, allows the user to create worlds from basic building blocks.  It teaches the user basic concepts of creation, building upon objects from other objects, and interaction of objects with other objects.  Instantiation of objects is a concept in object oriented programming.  Concepts working within two dimensional space with emulated three dimensional objects, and those objects interacting with each other.  Each of the basic components are cubed objects, which fit in nicely with the creation of a world.  These concepts also translate to concepts in computer artificial intelligence, rules engines. Minecraft also presents the user with concepts in this world, such as mining for minerals, and using these minerals to create, or craft complex objects in this imagined world.  Some of the elements include: coal, charcoal (i.e. burn wood to create), gold, iron, and diamond.

There are also planes of existence which allow users to interact with one another in the cloud type gaming worlds (i.e. LAN/WAN), in some circumstance they can work together to construct worlds, as well as do battle with one another.  There are also user modifications which vary from altering your player existence, to changing your user created worlds.

Mobile Phone Carriers Sponsor App Portals with GaaS

The phone carriers like Verizon are putting out their own storefronts to distinguish themselves from other Android based phones from other carriers. So far, with little success.

The secret might be in the game architecture, and not in the storefront to both attract customers and developers.  NVIDIA at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show conference was touting their new gaming as a service.  This architecture enables game developers are able to develop and host their games using hosted cloud gaming servers to maximize the game performance and consumer experience.  The carriers could host these racks in their data centers and offer these services to their developer partners: super fast gaming,  with state of the art technology. The lure for their customers: amazing blazing fast games.

The lure for game developers?   They will be able to access high end graphics capacity, and if the carriers keep pace, and upgrade as new revisions come up.  Developers may salivate at the opportunity to get the access to the latest cloud tech computing.  The chip advantages are not only with the on demand cloud capacity for the gamer’s lighting fast experience, but the abilities of the graphics processors are leading edge in the industry.

Futuristic MYO Armband Lets You Control Your Computer With Gestures

Futuristic MYO Armband Lets You Control Your Computer With Gestures.

Personal Opinion: Based on the article, there is great potential in this technology, and probably worth the investment to explore and commoditize the paradigm.  Based on the photo, the technology looks like it is based on muscle movements, such as a Seismometer instrument measure motions of the ground, the devise looks like it is sensitive to specific motions of the muscles in the arm.  Although this is a great step toward progress, the measurement of neural impulses is the ultimate progression, and accuracy of detecting synapses firing from the brain to indicate movement in muscles.

Consumer Electronics Show Highlight: The Chipset Challenge

Today I talked with a few brilliant engineers about their latest, to be released Chipsets, and was I blown away by the brilliance of these product engineers and managers.  Two chips I would like to briefly highlight today are the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, and the Nvidia Tegra 4 Chipset advancements.

Qualcomm

The Qualcomm Snapdragon Chipset is so off the charts amazing from a consumer standpoint, they had a room with a tablet plugged into a large high definition headset, and the room encapsulated a complete set of surround sound speakers, as well as each chair was equipped with a common headset.  The tablet was plugged into the HD system through an HDMI cable, and that was it.  I won’t bore you about 2K verses 4K High Definition upgrade standards, but what I can tell you was the video sequence they played on this Android tablet was of such high caliber quality and no lag whatsoever, and the sound was so superb, it would in fact give ANY of the movie theaters I have been to ever, a run for their money.  I have been to quite a few movies in my lifetime.

The Nvidia team had us put on the headsets, which were your basic headsets, nothing special, but the same N channel surround sound that came out of each channel, e.g. center, front & side left, front & side right, and back channels was emulated through the headsets with the same superior sound quality, and power.  The demonstrators had us remove our headsets as they were blasting sound through each channel, and we couldn’t believe the sound was not coming through the speakers, but was coming through the headsets themselves.

Qualcomm is looking at the second half of this year for general release to be pushed to their partners, and/or the consumers.  That part was unclear, however, what was clear, was the amazing power you will have in your Android tablet coming soon.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800

Nvidia

I had the rare pleasure to speak with an amazing engineer at NVidia that took the time and patience to go through advancements of the Nvidia Tegra 4 Chipset.  Instead of giving you the granular tech jargonese that we went through, I will sum it up in two ways.  The Nvidia Tegra 3 Chipset already had an efficiency with a 5th core that primarily remained idle, and was used to gain battery life in mobile phones.  What it did, and continues to do in the Tegra 4, at an idle period of the phone, instead of using these four massive processors to burn up the battery life, this 5th ‘light weight’, low power consumption core would handle the idle times, and give the four massive boys a rest.  This extends the battery life significantly.  Well, now the boys and girls at Nvidia said, after Tegra 3, hey, we have this 5th core, let’s allow ourselves to push the envelope slightly, not only use this core for battery life efficiency on your phone, but let’s let the mobile applications have access to this core so now you have 4 mean, powerful cores hard at work, and one slightly advanced core being used for both efficiency and graphical applications, like games.  Brilliant.

Nvidia Tegra 4
Nvidia Tegra 4

Finally, Nvidia doesn’t stop there, it is now in the business development phase of bringing you cloud gaming, essentially Elastic Computing for Graphical Calculations in a cloud with an exponential set of these Chipsets, where you can subscribe to this gaming service, and all of the hard core tough calculations of rendering graphics at lighting speed is done in the cloud, and just the basic pixels get pushed to your phone, relatively a really light weight signature. Your phone or computer becomes a terminal emulator, which can focus on your inputs, instead of graphic rendering, and the cloud does all the hard work, again, brilliant, and the future of gaming.  The engineer and I just looked at each other, and we knew, this was the pie in the sky for the gaming industry.  Hold on to your hats, this is going to be a wild ride.  Now, they are still in the stage where they must solidify the details with a cloud company that hosts these servers, and provides the gaming service, e.g. business development, but the technology has arrived.  In addition, engineering and science packages like Mathematica may also use this type of Elastic Computing High Yield for massive calculations.

Nvidia Grid Cloud Gaming
Nvidia Grid Cloud Gaming