computer games system architecture web 2.0

Game data accessibility and XML feeds

Sometimes, it’s the little things you do that get noticed

Last year I would have ranted about how retarded it is that game data is either entirely inaccessible to the web, or only accessible to an “official” website. …This year, however, is all about the positive. Rather than rant about no one providing such a feed, this is an un-rant about someone providing such a feed.

Dungeon Runners!

I found this via a news post about character sheets being viewable online at 3rd-party sites, making the assumption this meant an XML feed was available, and then digging through the forums until I found the post with a link.

This is really cool, I should tell you, just in case you don’t get that.

Receptions like this help keep us motivated to keep doing more of them :).

10 replies on “Game data accessibility and XML feeds”

Andrew – indeed; and DAoC before even EVE.

So…why do you think only now are such things getting recognition? And only the LAST of them, not the first?

So…why do you think only now are such things getting recognition? And only the LAST of them, not the first?

Adam, I feel as though I can offer a fairly unsatisfying answer to that…

DAoC’s XML came way too soon. There weren’t many blog sidebars to put something like a google gadget on back then, nor were there google gadgets.

Also, DAOC’s XML data was/is really a guild-data sort of thing, but without the character data that (one) I’m personally interested in having access to as a player, and (two) that I think is absolutely critical to providing complete access to the data that is important to a guild in any case: the character data of its members.

That said, DAOC set the standard for web-accessibility of game-data anyway. Before anyone else had a page that you could visit to see any game data at all, DAOC rolled out what remains one of the best implementations.

It’s just, well six years later now, I can’t bring myself to praise something that I feel ought to be a min-spec sort of feature by this point. WoW Armory and EQ2’s player sites are impressive, but otherwise most games still aren’t anywhere near as good as what DAoC delivered over half a decade ago. If I should so much as try to praise any of the good jobs on that front, I’ll just wind up cursing and ranting about the bad jobs, or certainly the “no jobs” that have come since. :)

I was aware of some of what EVE has been offering in terms of game data in XML format, and it’s great stuff… I didn’t know they had character data as well. I’ve only played through the tutorial in EVE, so apart from those 16 hours I’m not familiar enough with the game to be sure what “character sheet” even means in that context.

But it’s worth noting that when you browse through, for example, the Yahoo! Widget’s library, you’ll find a few widgets for WoW and a few widgets for EVE, and that’s about it.

Now, obviously WoW has that kind of support because it has 10 million players. EVE has a *lot* fewer players than that, yet benefits from as much support and viral-marketing as WoW… no other games are even close. I don’t think that’s due to the kind of players that EVE has, or the kind of game that it is, but is simply due to the accessibility of the data.

I think there’s a clear lesson there for other games: if you want to have as much face-time on the web as WoW, you can either get 10 million players like WoW, or else make the tiniest little effort to enable players to put your face on the web.

Unsaid here, is that I’m chock full of bias due to personal preferences, and my arguments are rationales to support my wishes for how things should be rather than being presentations of evidence leading to a conclusion. I know you probably already guessed that, since it’s pretty much how 99% of the arguments on the internet go, but I’m just sayin’, so you know that I know. :)

Anyway, to answer your question: Such things are only now getting recognition because apparently the entire internet was waiting for me to deliver it, and then I only gave mad props to the latest implementation because A) They’re the only one I’ve seen announce it ever (and even this is stretching the definition of “announcing it”) and B) I didn’t do the slightest bit of research or investigation prior to posting that to my blog.

The tone of your comment suggests that I ought to be ashamed of myself, but if cable news networks can broadcast in prime-time without the slightest bit of research (or basis in reality), then I feel well within my rights to post crazy proclamations to my blog.


“The tone of your comment suggests that I ought to be ashamed of myself”

No way! Sorry if it sounded like that – if there was any implied criticism it was only of the industry in general, and how long it takes us to notice major events that are under our very noses.

But I wasn’t meaning to sound criticising – my question was genuine: I’m really interested in why it is that it takes so long for things like this to gain widespread recognition, given how cutting-edge, creative, and insightful we are in other areas. Mainly because I’d like to find ways to combat it.

Erm… tongue planted firmly in cheek, there, when I said “The tone of your comment suggests that I ought to be ashamed of myself”. :)

I’m pretty surprised at how generally not web savvy a lot of game developers are… and I pretty much only know the online game developing kind.

Mid to large-sized guilds all seem to have a network engineer on-staff, along with several members who watched the internet crawl from the ocean and evolve into its contemporary form, plus a good number of completely clueless people that they somehow manage to serve and protect – either training them up to the level of competent user, or just doing for them all the things they cannot comprehend and undoing all the things they shouldn’t have attempted on their own…

That’s almost unrelated to what you’re saying, but I just want to point out how inadequate we are compared to the standard.

We can’t do that. Even with the technical expertise… and large customer service departments with 1-800 numbers and so on, we’re really terrible at doing the web-side of things, including the social network support and maintenance that the players tend to use the web for more than anything we’ve ever given them.

Otherwise, there’s not really all that much to recognize, when it comes to this sort of thing. The players that pieced-together all the puzzle-parts to utilize WoW’s XML aren’t gonna send many kudos back for *that*.

The MMO industry really seems to be chasing MySpace’s lead when it comes to all this, with ideas that aren’t even working for MySpace any more. Looking to see what everyone else has done to determine what we could do to be “innovative”…

Which on the bright side, does mean improvements happen, slowly.

On the dim side, it also means the social networks are gonna kill us once they figure out how to make a game.

Given how long it took US to work out how to make a game … I’m not too worried :). Although I think many of the incumbents should be.

Oh, they aren’t going to acquire game dev experience the way game devs have done it. They’ll just buy it.

Studios are constantly running out of crack and so consistently back out whoring…

Even on an individual level, game development companies don’t play defense very well when it comes to human resources.

Great on offense, but they never seem to hold onto their winnings for very long.

But I guess it’s not really gonna kill us so much as it’ll just force us to work for companies with much more girly logos.

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