computer games conferences massively multiplayer web 2.0

GDC08: Web 2.0 + Games meetup

After the success of the totally unofficial and informal meetup at AGDC, I thought I’d ask around if anyone wants to do another one of these at GDC…

a couple of us are going to get together and chat about the head-on-collision between games and Web 2.0. Come along
and see if you can outdo everyone else by picking an even larger number and sticking it on the end of a word (why stop at Games 3.0? Let’s go to a hundred!).

There will be no free drinks. No free food. And definitely no cabaret/live entertainment/superstar DJ’s. But hopefully there will be some interesting and friendly people with a shared interest here.

Have a look at the quick report I did for the AGDC07 meetup to get an idea for what this might be like.

At Austin GDC, I expected about 5-10 people, and we had about 30. I have no idea yet how many people would be interested at GDC.

EDIT: details…

Time: 20:00-22:00
Day: Wednesday 20th February

Courtesy of Mike Leahy ( The space is called “The Bubble” @ 73 Langton St. SF 94103 which is near 7th/Folsom.

If you’re coming and haven’t emailed me (amartin at please drop me a mail to say so – we should have plenty of spare room, so RSVP isn’t required, but on the off-chance we get lots of people, RSVP’d will get priority.

Nice and easy from the convention center: go south-west along Howard St for 3 blocks, then take a left on Langton St (circa 10 minute walk) :

Google maps directions

alternate reality games computer games photos

Perplex City 2005 launch

I was just formatting an old hard disk over xmas, clearing out old junk, and found some files from when I was working at Mind Candy on Perplex City – probably a backup of my USB key when I was re-formatting it while still working there (we tried a couple of different keys for doing passwordless auth which we were thinking of rolling out to all staff to make life easier and in some areas more secure).

computer games games industry web 2.0

What Web 2.0 means for the games industry

“In reality, one size has never fit all, but when players didn’t have so many choices, they had to put up with it. Now they don’t. No longer can publishers rely on retailing strategies designed to make money by forcing players to buy what the publishers want them to buy, when and where the publishers want them to buy it. These strategies are aimed more at wooing retailers with slotting and promotion allowances than at wooing customers, and they just won’t fly anymore. In the future, retailing strategies are going to have to be like those of or the one-hour eyeglass shops, which are designed to sell the consumers what they want to buy. And they do it by making it easier, better, less cumbersome to do so.”

agile computer games programming

Estimating timescales and effort for software and games projects

Is it a completely hopeless task, caused by a fundamental lack of understanding in how to ask the question appropriately?

computer games facebook games design

The rest of the world is not like us…

Andrew Chen has a great post on how people use Facebook and why MySpace pages are so ugly

I particularly liked the straightforward comparison between the opposing viewpoints on design, i.e.:

Facebook / Google / “modern” web companies:

  • Simple, Functional, Easy

Myspace / GeoCities / “poorly designed” web presences:

  • Lots of options – perceived as complicated
  • Entertaining – perceived as lacking a point
  • Layers of complexity – perceived as difficult

So. Scrapbooking. A $2.5 Billion industry, huh? Serious food for thought for game designers trying to think up ways to take advantage of Web 2.0, but struggling to break out of the boring “chat”, “friends lists”, and “character pages” ideas…

computer games conferences games industry

Games industry conferences versus blogging

I’m not happy with the direction games industry conferences are going in; I specialize in online games, and I’ve worked at the forefront of monetizing online entertainment, I’ve actually *made money* out of Web 2.0 – so I have real expertise in making use of the internet – and I really think we (as an industry) are missing a trick with our conferences. There’s an opportunity to do something really valuable and re-invigorate the conferences.

The previous entry outlined what conferences profess to offer their speakers, and what it costs the speakers to attend. Now I’m going to talk about the real, untapped, value of conferences to the speakers, and what we as speakers should be demanding, and how in the end it benefits all of us, including the organizers just trying to turn a healthy profit.

computer games conferences games industry

Problems of speaking at games industry conferences

I go to GDC every year, and also to 2-3 other conferences, but apart from GDC I vary which exact ones from year to year. These days, I’m a speaker at nearly every conference I go to, and I’ve never yet been paid for speaking, so it’s fair to say I have a pretty big time investment in each of them. I don’t make the choice to go to a conference lightly (especially given how long I’m out of the office for a typical conference, and how exhausted I am by the learning, the networking, the partying, and the international travel).

But I’m getting increasingly dissatisfied with the conferences themselves, especially as a speaker. And it seems to be getting worse, not better – and that’s particularly worrying. The conferences are still great, but the problems are significant.

First up, the costs of speaking, and the ever shrinking advertised benefits…

computer games games design programming

More SFE Screenshots…

Another couple of days since the first one-day effort, and SFE single player is now working, albeit with a seriously crap AI:

Eggs dropping

computer games games design networking

Screenshot of Super Foul Egg remake

Years ago, I found the spritesheets + source code from the author of SFE, who was offering them up if anyone wanted to improve it, make it 4 player multiplayer again (like on RISC OS) etc (or something like that).

Last Sunday afternoon I was very bored, and found just the spritesheets lying around on an old disk, so I wrote the gamecode from scratch. Didn’t quite finish it that day, but I think one more boring Sunday and I’ll have over-the-internet multiplayer and highscores server working, which would rock.

Kevglass asked for a screenshot, so…

computer games conferences games industry

3D Business: Reality or Fantasy?

Speaking at this panel session tonight. Should be interesting. I get to be the bad guy, the one saying that online businesses in other people’s virtual worlds are morally corrupt, and that all Gold Farmers should be hung, drawn, and quartered, and that the world will end, fire and brimstone, cats and dogs living together, etc.

Or something like that :).

computer games massively multiplayer networking programming system architecture

Some Myths of Writing Networked Multiplayer Games

Networked games use the internet, and the difficulties of making these games evolve on Internet Time, which means that the articles people wrote as recently as a year ago on how to make a networked or multiplayer game are already out of date. Most of the literature is more than 5 years old, and some as much as 10 years old – hopelessly out of date in the modern world of internet and online gaming.

Anyway, to get you thinking (I’m not providing definite answers here, but just some stuff to make you think about more carefully about how you’re doing your networking), here are some common rules that perhaps no longer apply the way they used to:

amusing computer games conferences photos web 2.0

Sulka gets Angry…

Sulka Haro’s keynote at AGDC07. What happens when a Lead Designer gets heckled, and things turn nasty…

computer games mmog links networking system architecture

Thousands of Clients per Server (Game Programming Gems 4)

…was my section in the fourth GPG book from Charles River Media. And, sadly, although I tried to put some resources up on the web, a series of unfortunate events led to that all disappearing.

But now … they’re back! (and I’ll be adding more followup stuff in the coming weeks/months)

computer games conferences games industry web 2.0

AGDC 2007: report for Web 2.0 + Games meetup

The informal meetup for Web 2.0 and Games at AGDC turned out a lot more popular than I’d expected. Looks like we need to make this an official thing next time:

computer games games design games industry web 2.0

RPG Vault – Online Worlds Roundtable #15

Inteviewed for RPG Vault’s latest Online Worlds Roundtable –

“Web 2.0 businesses compete directly with the games industry on multiple levels, and anyone who doesn’t spot that and act accordingly will suffer. If your game doesn’t embrace – or deliberately and carefully reject – Web 2.0, you’ll that your users have created the space you *didn’t*, and someone else is monetizing it. And they’re probably making more revenue than YOU are from providing the core service in the first place!” – Adam Martin

computer games entity systems games design massively multiplayer networking system architecture

Entity Systems are the future of MMOG development – Part 1

A few years ago, entity systems (or component systems) were a hot topic. In particular, Scott Bilas gave a great GDC talk ( – updated link thanks to @junkdogAP) on using them in the development of Dungeon Siege. The main advantages to entity systems were:

  • No programmer required for designers to modify game logic
  • Circumvents the “impossible” problem of hard-coding all entity relationships at start of project
  • Allows for easy implementation of game-design ideas that cross-cut traditional OOP objects
  • Much faster compile/test/debug cycles
  • Much more agile way to develop code
computer games games industry networking

How to Become a Great Network Programmer

An article I wrote for Gamasutra’s Game Career Guide:

Part 1 – What to study
Part 2 – Practice and Experience

…hopefully this will be useful to some of the many people interested in network programming but not sure where to start.

Also, you might want to have a look at my post on Career Progression for Games Programmers