Time to catch up

I thought I’d use this blog entry to try and catch up with what has been happening over the past six months. I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet because otherwise you could write a small novel about what all has happened since the last real blog entry, so here are the important things.

Back in July I became “Uncle Sam” when my sister had a cute little boy named Adrian:

Adrian

He’s been a blast to help take care over the last six months and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of his life. I look forward to making sure he likes good music, taking him to fun things with his uncle and making sure he gets an introduction to video games. I did my duty as a nerdy uncle and bought him a “Level 1 Human”jumper from Jinx.com and he should be able to wear it some time this summer.

A few weeks after Adrian was born I flew out to the SOE Fan Faire in Las Vegas. Through some convincing of the community management team for SOE they agreed to pay for my plane ticket out to Fan Faire. Las Vegas was a lot smaller than I thought it would be and it was ridiculously hot…when there was a breeze it felt like you were standing outside an oven. Since I was only 19 years old at the time I couldn’t really take part in the drinking and the gambling so that made the trip kind of lame, not to mention the Rio is a pretty boring hotel that is off the strip.

Overall, though, the trip was awesome and I got to meet tons of people in the MMO industry and the community around SOE games. This was my first chance to finally meet John Findlay who at the point of our meeting was the CEO of Uberguilds and I had only talked to on the phone and exchanged emails with. I also got to meet Ian Jones, the server/hardware guy for The Uberguilds Network. The guys were nice enough to let me stay in their room at the Rio, where I slept on the fold out couch and got up early every morning to setup our Uberguilds Radio booth.

Fan Faire Oh yeah, the whole point of us going to Fan Faire was that Uberguilds Radio was going to have a booth setup in the main Fan Faire hall and broadcast live all week. The broadcast went great and it couldn’t have been such a huge success without the help of TxTurbo who was our knight in shining armor and came in to make our broadcast what it was. TxTurbo came with a video camera, his laptop, mixing board, several mics, an LCD screen, speakers, a little marquee and more. This dude really made our booth stand out and we absolutely blew the competition out of the water. We filmed interviews with people all weekend and it put Uberguilds Radio on the map as a great source for MMO coverage. What we did in Vegas really showed the potential for what we could do with a relatively small amount of people, some hardware, and a love for video games. You can bet we’re going to be doing more of this stuff in the future…hopefully later this year.

I wanted to also mention that I met a lot of awesome people at Fan Faire, all of them being people I had either talked to online and become friends with or never talked to at all. Scott Hartsman was an awesome dude to meet and was so nice to me, it was unbelievable how cool he was to me..just some internet radio kid 😛 I also finally got to meet Steve Williams, who I interviewed back in March of 2007 about Vanguard’s Diplomacy and he too was an awesome dude. I want to give some shout outs to Silas Morse(Vanguard programmer), Troy from Voyages of Vanguard, the Flying Labs guys(Jess, Troy, Rusty), all my old friends from The Matrix Online(and even some guild mates), Brasse, and everyone else that we met at Fan Faire!

After that I went to Gen Con in Indianapolis, Indiana and filmed several interviews with game companies, with the help of Dan Salters from Uberguilds. There we got to meet Cuppa Jo from NCSoft, Theresa Prudenz and the rest of the Flying Labs Studios people, more Warhammer Online devs and that was about it. I hated Indy because it sucked to try to find a parking spot and if I had a choice I’d probably get a hotel room and walk next time because it was just absolutely shitty trying to park there.

Fast forward a few months and I started and ended a job from hell at Subway, I registered for the winter semester at Franklin University to study Marketing, and I started a job at Best Buy in the media department selling video games.  On November 21st GuildCafe officially announced that they had acquired The Uberguilds Network and Findlay and Ian now work for GuildCafe full time.  Dan and I both still don’t work for a salary and we’re currently considered volunteers.  Uberguilds Radio is still in operation and we’re currently making business plans for the future that will hopefully include it becoming a part of the GuildCafe business plan and become a full time job for me.

Right now I’m taking a business principles class at Franklin that is all online and I’m reading a ton of books about internet radio, radio, and marketing.  I’ve been told that GuildCafe is very interested in me working for them full time and possibly moving out to Boston to work directly with them.  I’m just concentrated on being as qualified as possible for any job that they want me to do and coming up with a solid plan for the station.  While this has caused a lot of stress on me because I want to work for them so bad I’m trying to stay patient and work hard to prove to them that I’m worthy of being employed.

Well that’s about it….besides the fact that I was let go from Best Buy(I was seasonal), I’m out of a job and I bought an Xbox 360 for myself for Christmas.  Maybe I’ll write some other time about the 360 😛  Until then I hope you can read my ramblings and have a good day :)

MMO Industry, why aren’t you mobile yet?

I realize I’m a bit late but I wanted to comment on this apparent rumor that Blizzard is interested in making some sort ofWoW Gone Mobile World of Warcraft mobile application for your cell phones, iPhones, etc. The reason I wanted to add my two cents is mainly just because I’m so excited about the possibilities with this. Everything is going mobile these days, from internet browsing to internet radio, people want to stay connected and our technology is allowing them to do so.

I want to echo what Pocket Gamer said, with this:

“Forget mobile games, and make a mobile application instead. Something that gives you access to guild chat, or other admin aspects of the PC version of WoW. Instead of selling it through mobile operators, Blizzard might tack this onto the regular WoW subscription – pay a quid/dollar extra a month, and get the mobile app.”

I agree, everyone should probably forget about hoping to raid Onyxia on their iPhone. They should instead be excited about how they could manage that raid on their phone, how they could check up on their sales in the auction house, work on crafting a new item, or maybe just chat with their guildies and friends. I doubt these applications would be super complicated to build, definitely not as complicated as trying to fit WOW on a mobile device and have a graphical version playable.

I think in general as video games go more and more online that they should be making mobile tie-ins to their service. To me it’s all about surrounding yourself with your hobby and with something that you love and enjoy. After all, that’s why I do internet radio for gamers. This could do all sorts of good for your brand royalty and after all, the more time people spend in your game the better, right? If you could provide tools for your players that could make it easier for them to do things, like coordinate raids for example, I bet you’d make them quite happy. I’d much rather send out a message on our integrated mobile device raid function than have to coordinate a last minute main-tank change via IM or phone call.

This isn’t the first time that MMO companies have talked about doing stuff like this but I do wonder why WoW has been so slow to act with regards to this. SOE’s The Agency has talked about possibly integrating game features into mobile devices, for instance getting a text message from your own Q when your new car is ready. I’m pretty sure 38 Studios has also talked about integrating into mobile devices, as well as a slew of other things like movies and other media forms. In my opinion more and more companies need to be thinking like 38 Studios and be proactive about the future and lead the way. I think this is the future of MMO/Online gaming and I don’t understand what is taking developers so long to act.

Is Raph Koster’s MetaPlace talking about this? Why hasn’t Second Life done something yet? It’s time to start thinking outside the box and creating an entire experience(in marketing terms, your brand) for your players. It’s just a matter of time and I can’t wait :) What do you think MMO companies should do to break outside the mold and do something new and unique, beyond just adding new ways to PVP and raid?