Sunday, September 19, 2010

Googleoids... I'm #3. And other stuff.

So, I've been playing some more Droid games lately. And Googleoids caught my attention. I love word and anagram games and loved the idea of the game: 8 letter anagrams, each letter is encapsulated within a google image search result of each of the letters. The letter/image capsule float around the screen as you drag them into slots at the bottom, trying to figure out the 8 letter word or submitting smaller words for lesser scores.

As you can see from the screen shot, I (as Jackalshorns -- an anagram of my name) am currently #3 on the leader board.

This was exciting the first time I saw it, but then I noticed a few things that made me less excited: The leader board wasn't all that well populated (not many folks play the game and submit their scores), and there were only a handful of 8 letter words in the game's database.

Kudos for the concept, but as with most games (or movies, books, songs, etc) the execution is critical in order to get a great payoff. I certainly hope that someone takes this game to the next level.

I'm not sure how hard it would be to get a nice mix of 8 letter anagrams that vary in difficulty/rarity in order to come up with a more compelling word list for competitive play, but certainly this would make leader boards much more interesting to competitive players.

Other Stuff

I sincerely hope to start writing more frequently, especially since I'm about to enter a phase of playing lots more games... From Facebook to Droid to PC and Console games now that the holiday season is upon us.

I'll start crafting some lists soon. Mostly I assume I'll try to get my hands on the blockbuster console releases (e.g., newest Halo, Dead Rising, Ratchet & Clank, Call of Duty, etc). But then I also need to think about the next wave of motion controller (or controller-less controller) games, too.

And, of course, I need to keep up with the games here: for work and such.

But wait, there's more... Now that OpenFeint is available on Droid there are lots more quality games that I can play from my phone.

Damn it feels good to be a gamer right now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Other random krag...

I'm always on the lookout for interesting examples/tidbits of user experience failures. Mostly I feel like I should have some interesting examples to use when I give talks.

Here are some I've stumbled across in the past month or so. Not much analysis, just want to post them for my own notes.

The Name Game

What's in a name? What is the link between name and online identity? Users can have many goals behind their choice of "name" they use as their online handle/moniker. Do they want authenticity? Authority? Anonymity? Odds are they have different names for different goals. That's why getting the player's name right is important.

And getting it wrong can be a costly mistake...

Social/Casual Games and Popups

Games are all about players making decisions -- and then getting feedback on their decisions. Lather, rinse, repeat. Some games make it unduly hard for players to simply make a choice.

Not enough primary and secondary buttons here, are there... First I feel the pain in my eyes, then my brain, then back in my eyes again.

Let's Give Away Money -- People Should Love That

My wife's aunt posted this, but I'm sure she wasn't the only one:

She's a pretty typical FarmVille player. I wonder how many CS tickets have the title "user doesn't understand how to use FB Credits". I'll bet that the typical user doesn't know whether to contact Zynga or Facebook to solve the problem which can lead to further frustration if you end up contacting the wrong CS support (and add extra cost to the non-responsible party).

Anyhow, back to work!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blizzard Boofdown? It can happen...

Was trying to figure out a way to kill a few hours and remembered that I'd tried the StarCraft II beta and figured I should pick up the retail version. I'm not a competitive RTS player, but I fondly remember the single player campaign from the original and have been looking forward to doing some PC gaming after messing around with the Lego Universe MMO a bit a week or so ago.

I figured that the easiest way to purchase StarCraft II would be to simply launch my beta version... The game would present me with an upsell message and I'd start downloading the diff'd files via some sort of cool patching system.


I got this informative message instead:

Huh. Big missed opportunity for an easy sale here.

Then I figured I'd just go to and sadly, I got the following screen when I clicked "Digital Download":

I'm assuming that a few customer service tickets are being generated here...

To be fair, the site was entirely down -- there was no way to authenticate me as a user and have the website "intelligently" notice my purchase intention and ask me whether I wanted to be emailed/text messaged/etc when the site went back up so I could continue with my purchase.

However, such a bland and generic message is really disheartening to a user. Sure, the fact that the site is down means that some catastrophic error has occurred making it impossible to provide useful information like a time estimate as to when the site will be back online.

However, a simple time and date stamp -- with a notification of when the next update will occur (I imagine something like 15-30 mins) would go a lot further than this bland admonition.

Moreover, if you can post a page, you can certainly post some interesting links to other working content. Why not drive all this traffic somewhere useful where you can provide interesting distractions, build customer loyalty, and maybe even turn it into an opportunity for monetization.

Anyhow, criticizing Blizzard is like criticizing Valve... They've got a pretty sweet setup, a fanatically loyal paying customer base, and can afford missed opportunities like these as people will step over their ailing grandmothers to get their hands on new content. Just seems like a shame.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What I learned about Facebook games from my Mother-in-Law

So, I have a new job. I'm a Senior User Researcher at Zynga Game Network.

I'll still continue to play a wide range of console, pc, indie, AAA, student, free, casual, and social games. But I'll just be restricting my actual work to games we're creating at Zynga.

I'd been doing a bunch of consulting and contracting at Zynga before we decided to formalize the relationship -- and I really couldn't be happier with my new job.

Anyhow, enough about me. Let me tell you a bit about Anita, my mother-in-law. We both use Facebook to keep up with friends and family from both near and far. We also both enjoy several different Facebook games. Sometimes we even play the same game. Either way, I can expect to hear complaints from Anita when there's a bug or something exceptionally frustrating or confusing about a game.

One thing that really caught my attention the other day was her comment that she had completed a game of Cube Crash (from MindJolt games) by wiping out all of the cubes... and she never got any kind of bonus reward.

She mentioned several types of award that she would have considered appropriate:
  • Some sort of "victory" animation and sound FX that congratulated her on her achievement (wiping the screen is actually not that easy to do in the game).
  • A chance to share her accomplishment by bragging to her friends who also played the game.
She had to resort to calling me on the phone to brag -- and to complain about the above points.

I just love, love, love the fact that we can talk about games together -- and that something as "hard core" as achievements and social bragging are now wide spread and cross the generational gap.

Can't wait to have kids and have to tell them to be sure to "gift drills to grandma" to thank her for their birthday presents :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Green Zone & Career Update

I just watched the movie Green Zone last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Something that emerged early on was a feeling that it was playing out like a cool mashup between a Bioware RPG and an Infinity Ward shooter.

There were key factions, all introducing themselves and seeking to influence and direct the main protagonist (Chief Miller). One after another they would approach him, give him a key piece of evidence designed to force a moral decision, and then send him on his way.

At several key plot points in the movie, Chief Miller's decision could have gone in any number of directions (well, about 3 -- perfect for a dialog tree...) and the results of his actions brought about interesting consequences that pushed the story along.

Throw in a bunch of cool, scripted, current day/near future firefight opportunities (cue Infinity Ward) and wow. You've got the makings of a great videogame.

... Spoiler Alert ...

What if Miller decided to side with Army brass instead of the CIA? What if he decided to kill Freddy to save the general? Maybe he could have fallen in love with the sexy reporter and helped her fake evidence so her reputation would have been saved...

... End Spoiler ...

Oh, and in other news I'm going to be announcing a career update later on today.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Word Spasm -- It's no Griddle, but it'll mostly do for now

I've been taking a look at some game portals on Facebook recently and all complaints aside, I've managed to discover a game or two here and there that has captured my attention.

MindJolt brings us Word Spasm. It's like Boggle in a number of ways, and the leader board takes me back (almost) the the incredibly fun times that were Griddle before it got yanked.

Word Spasm is like a mash up between BoggleBookworm Tiles, and a gem matching game (forget the name, but it might be Jewel Quest) where you have to fill in a certain number of board tiles before you can move to the next level.

On the plus side:

  • Games are quick, so spoiled/sub par turns don't feel that painful (and there are easy ways to fail as I'll note below).
  • Keyboard accelerator is present. I'm amazed that there are still word games out there that do not let you type words in.
  • Leader boards are reasonably well designed to encourage both social play with known friends, and to provide "stranger" top scores to inspire the more hard core competitor (like me).
On the minus side:
  • The keyboard accelerator is suboptimal when it comes time to choosing a particular letter path. Unlike in Boggle where you just need to submit valid words (doesn't matter which 'L' tile you use if there are 2 or 3 valid ones), this game sometimes makes you care which tile you use when there are multiple options because you need to make sure that a certain percentage of tiles are used at least once. There is an option to Tab through various valid permutations, but this is frustrating and inefficient -- especially when time is running down.
  • When time starts running out, the game just gets plain unplayable. A huge countdown timer displays over the playing surface. Although it is translucent, it is RED AND SCARY and completely distracts me. It effectively means that I hit the Game Over point when there's 10 seconds left because I can't play at all during that time.
  • Although the basic rules are fairly simple to learn, there's no good way to uncover some of the scoring rules either officially or through embedded forums and discussion groups. Certainly I can try to optimize my score by trying different strategies, but I'd rather have a few hints or be able to chat with fellow players to collectively discuss the scoring system as opposed to having to break it down systematically.
  • The lack of forums and discussion groups also highlights the real lack of community features here. I became completely addicted to Griddle precisely because there was always a group of people playing and we could briefly chat and congratulate each other between each round as we were checking the results of the previous round.
  • More of an annoyance: The "gratz" messages the game displays each time you complete a level have spelling and grammatical errors. Kind of ironic for a word game :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Red Dead Redemption, FB Game Portals... In Brief.

They did it. Finally Rockstar invented a car that handles in a way that I like to drive and doesn't totally make me feel like an idiot. This car, of course, is a horse (of course, of course...). I'm obviously talking about Red Dead Redemption which I'm currently pretty much loving.

It makes me think of riding my horse around Oblivion but with enjoyable combat and a set of challenges and crafting opportunities that strangely interest me, but that don't trigger an OCD behavior that Oblivion did for me. I played that game for 100+ hours and spent 90+ hours just harvesting stuff for the alchemy bench and transporting things from town to town to hide in various chests and closets. Weird and creepy.

RDR just captures (for me) the fantasy of roaming around the countryside in a way that none of the GTA games ever really captured. GTA IV appealed to me for the story and I quite enjoyed the mission progression through the first 15 or so hours. But RDR represents a place where I'll just go and hang out and relax and do missions if I please.

Are there problems? Yep. There are a number of rather jarring user experience issues I have with the game. And while they're mostly niggling in nature, they really do break me out of the relaxing and immersive experience I'm normally having.

  • Sometimes (but not predictably so) when I exit a cut-scene my character decides to equip the revolver instead of the item I was previously equipped with. I've shot dead a number of poor bandits that I've meant to lasso instead, which is pretty darn frustrating. 
  • Buggy quests. Well, at least they seem buggy because I can't figure out why I failed them. I'm just mosying along, thinking I'm on track and then I get a red "quest failed" notification. This has mostly happened on random/emergent quests and Stranger quests, which makes it extra frustrating because you can't repeat those quests.
  • Frustrating weapon select model. I really only switch between a couple of weapons. Mostly it's between my Rifle and Lasso. Some encounters require use of more close-quarters guns, but most don't. I've been killed -- or let the target get away -- so many times when I fiddle around with the radial menu, wondering whether the weapon I selected has been equipped or not and wondering which weapon I have currently equipped. There are really a bunch of problems at work here: (a) can't tell what weapon is currently equipped when the weapon is NOT drawn; (b) hard to tell what weapon is equipped when there is a weapon in hand -- not big enough exaggeration in pose/animation/weapon model; (c) the selection wheel is too complex and doesn't have a satisfying "confirm" reinforcement sound and visual; (d) the selection wheel is too large - which makes my eye have to wander all over the screen while I'm getting shot at and losing sight of the enemy; and (d) there's no option to pause the game while switching weapon (a la Bioshock or DAO/ME2). 
  • Change of weapon aim model 1/3rd way through the game. Dead eye starts out as an easy to use "paint" system (paint reticle across targets and highlight them to put them in a shooting queue). Then I arrive in Mexico and have to use a new "press RB to paint the target" aiming system. Is this cool as an option? Yep. But why require this for someone like me who starts on Default (normal) difficulty and is doing fine, thank you very much. I couldn't see a "revert to previous aiming model" option, so I tried the Casual aiming mode even though I feared it would make combat completely boring. Nope. No luck there either. I just lost a very cool feature that (to me) is something that could have been taught, but reserved for players who wanted to use an Expert aiming system.
  • Too easy to get on NPC hate lists. I don't mean to grab the wrong horse (and quickly learned never to mount a horse that I hadn't whistled for). I don't mean to knock you over when I walk by you. Yet this happens constantly and is annoying because I end up in fights that I just don't want to be in.
 But enough about RDR. I'm going to still play a bunch more of it before migrating on to the newly arrived Super Mario Galaxy 2.

On to  Facebook game portals. I talked about the Konami experiment a while back:

Sadly, the two most recent portals I've checked out suffer from similar issues:

  • No effort is made to drive users into the “best” (i.e., most approachable, interesting, addictive, and fun) games. The user is left to choose from a multitude of options.
  • The home landing page feels cluttered.
  • The games mostly appeal to hard core gamers who like to also play casual games. For instance, I played the enviro-tower defense game (Bio Bots) offered on “easiest” (grass map) and had my ass pretty much handed to me.
  • They don’t handle “stranger danger” gracefully. All I see are faceless profile pictures. On the plus side, the Real Games portal does try to contextualize strangers by providing flags to indicate nationality.
    They have to deal with split communities (mocha, game house, and Facebook leaderboards are all separated).

  • The landing page is cluttered and doesn't drive players into top rated content. It's too easy to get dropped into a lousy game.
  • There are lots of categories of games -- and most regular casual game players can sort themselves into the relevant categories -- but the link to the game category view of the game is hard to find amidst the clutter.
  • Unlike GameHouse, the leader boards don't actively divide the community, which is nice (you can filter by "friends" or "world"). 

I'm also reminded by how much cooler these portals are once they start becoming popular amongst your own social graph. I love seeing updates in my feed when someone beats my score -- and I'm much more likely to try a new game if I see that a friend is playing it and likes it enough to post a feed update.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Horse Gaga... I say "neigh!"

My queue of games is stacking up, but I decided to try out Ubisoft's latest entry into the world of Facebook gaming.

The game is called Horse Gaga. I believe it is being positioned to attract female gamers who like to raise and train horses. My thoughts, of course, are based on my own experience (a non-female, non horse trainer). But I think there are still some valuable takeaways.

  • Boring billboard tutorial. Raising and training a horse should be fun and should be taught in an experiential way. If I want to read a lot of text and click only the things I'm told to click, I could go to wikipedia. I've complained elsewhere about the perils of frontloading a user with tons of information and then hoping that they'll process and remember it all (if, of course, they don't become so bored that they quit first).
  • Providing fun quests. My first post-tutorial quest was presented as follows: "Here's your first task: repeat what I just taught you and train your horse until it reaches maximum proficiency!" Task, Repeat, Train, Proficiency. Do these four words make you think "fun game?"
  • Help text that is approachable and not derogatory. Horse racing sounds pretty fun, even to a non-horse lover like myself. However, hovering over the horse race tab yields the following help text: "No Newbies. You need level 2 to enroll in this competition". You just called me a newbie -- a term that is derogatory to folks who know it, and that is probably not even known to a majority of casual and social game players.
  • Game play modes that are puzzling. I just leveled up by watering my horse and entered a race. I have no real idea how the race works (the display looks broken) but think I will know more in 30 minutes. I also wanted to breed my horse, but I have no idea what gender it is so I can't pick a mate... 
I don't mean to come down so hard on this game, but really the quality bar has been set for a while in terms of  what it takes to make a fun and approachable game. Moreover, stripping down the tutorial and writing quests and help text that are fun, approachable, and engaging is relatively cheap and easy to do. Racing and breeding seem like core game play components, but they are still pretty much a mystery to me after about 5-10 minutes of head scratching.

I look forward to seeing the next rev and will be on the look out for future Ubisoft social games.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Impossible Game: A great try-before-you-buy experience

Simple mechanics. Shallow learning curve. Frustratingly hard challenges.

The Impossible Game (a 360 Indie Game) is not the kind of game I expected to like. At all. I do like a good challenge, but don't like frustrating/maddening difficulty -- especially when a major source of "challenge" is poor usability of controls and/or game play feedback.

The use of compelling music, simple controls and patterns, instant respawns after failure (with no penalty in terms of loading time or excessive backtracking required) and a great "quicksave" option meant that I was quickly hooked and converted.

The game inspired me to keep taking on more and more difficult challenges in a way that few other games have done. A couple of the games I reviewed for the IGF competition shared similar characteristics -- they embraced player failure and made it a feature of the game. Failure was treated as a learning and teaching opportunity, not as a punishment that left me wanting to quit.

I highly recommend checking out the trial mode for yourself.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It was the best of gaming, it was the worst of gaming...

Mild Spoiler Alert if you haven't finished Mass Effect 2.

So, I played through my favorite segment of the game so far. It felt like a send-up to Left 4 Dead in terms of both game play and use of music to heighten the suspense (especially those discordant notes used to signal the approach of big baddies).

It left me wondering whether ME3 will have co-op -- because I definitely wanted to play this mission co-op style. It also left me even more anxious to finish up the game so I can try out Borderlands (co-op shooter RPG).

It wasn't until near the end of the mission that I realized what a huge and colossal mistake I had made. I shouldn't have been there in the first place...

Let me step back. Having played many Bioware games before (and other RPGs that use the same plot progression devices) I knew that I shouldn't do one specific plot-progression mission before I had completed all of the optional side quest missions.

I thought *cough* that I was launching a side quest, but didn't realize until much later that I had erroneously selected the mission right beside the optional side quest (an issue with the Galaxy Map where the pop up text from the different worlds tend to overlap). If it had been another optional side quest it wouldn't have been that big a deal.

However, it was a big deal because it progressed me in the story before I was ready to move on. Yes, I could have reloaded an old save game once I realized the error. But what a kludge.

I also experienced a similar issue when I completed the mission and then mistakenly launched the next plot progression mission by doing something I did all the time: Access the Galaxy Map. There was no "are you SURE you want to progress? or would you rather tie up loose ends?" prompt. Just throw me into the pipeline and leave me frustrated enough to reboot the game and restart at a prior save.

The obvious fix: Don't allow the player to make a major plot-progression choice (that will shut off other interesting optional content) without specifically prompting them. Bioware games generally do a good job of this, and ME2 in specific mostly did a great job of this.

Although it's a huge shame that this kind of user experience SNAFU occurred during a major plot point in the game, I'm still quite enjoying ME2 and would probably spend even more time with it if my queue wasn't so backlogged with other titles I'm looking forward to.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Febru-what? Where did January go?

Quick post, more to follow. Just need to jot down a few thoughts so that I have a writing agenda over the next few days.

  • I was accepted to speak at the Triangle Game Conference in April. I'm super excited about this, especially since I'm moving east to Baltimore. I need to get connected to the east coast game dev and publishing community. Also, the TGC has a nice mix of entertainment and serious games folks. I figure being located near DC and Virginia means that I should expand my practice accordingly.
  • I wrapped up my voting for the IGF competition and look forward to seeing who wins. I believe I'm under embargo from commenting on the games I reviewed publicly, but I'll share some thoughts when the winners were announced.
  • I have a pile of 2-3 articles I read recently that I'd like to comment on. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have no good way to track/remember print articles I read anymore. I figure jotting down some notes about them will help me in this regard.
  • Liza is playing a really cool game called: Dr. Something or Other (she can't remember the name right now). I started playing with her and I look forward to playing more and writing about it.
  • I finished the single player campaign for Dragon Age Origins and Modern Warfare 2. I thoroughly enjoyed both games for much different reasons.
  • I was also checking out Match Defense: Toy Soldiers (a Facebook game developed locally) and have some thoughts on it.
  • I'm about to check out Bioshock 2 in between packing boxes and doing some build reviews for clients. Of course, there's still AC2, Borderlands, God of War 3, and Mass Effect 2 waiting for me on the other end of the move. March is going to be super busy work and game-wise.
I'm super looking forward to our move next week. The house we put an offer in on goes to inspection on Friday and if that goes well then we should be in a new place the first week of March.

EDIT: We're in Maryland now. I've got a bunch of client work scheduled for the month and I'm falling ever further behind in my queue.

  • Darksiders
  • Demon's Souls
  • Heavy Rain

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Year: New Update. Shadow Complex, Wagons East, Dog-eared Magazine Pages, To Do List

No excuses, just no posts in the past month. I'll just jump right in and get going.

Games on my "need to play" list right now:

  • Mass Effect 2
  • Assassin's Creed 2
  • Borderlands
Of course, while I was lamenting the fact that I'll have little time for serious gaming over the next few weeks (details below) I decided to procrastinate by picking up Shadow Complex on XBLA. It turned out to be a great choice for a variety of reasons:
  • The demo was great, if a little short. It quickly got me engaged in the game and sucked me into the story. 
  • I found the controls to be pretty intuitive and really only had problems when I had multiple special items (grenades, foam, rockets, hook) to choose from. Thankfully the game seemed calibrated for this fact (suboptimal equipment switch) and really only required quick switching during one boss encounter.
  • I loved how the game approached "learn to play" tutorials. First, for the "must play all tutorials player" you could optionally choose to do some reasonably engaging tutorials. Each tutorial unit was short and units built on top of one another. You could quit at any point and start the campaign. Second, each time you got introduced to a new piece of equipment you were given the *option* of hitting the back button to read more about the equipment specs. The option text persisted on-screen (noticeable, but unobtrusive) so you could play around with the equipment first and even skip the "read the billboard" part if you wanted to. Third, tutorials were followed by challenges (completing tutorials unlocked the challenges). Challenges ramped up in difficulty and were tied into achievements in a sensible way. Finally, each time you started the game (after leaving) you were given the option to go to the "proving grounds" (tutorial) as a secondary option to continuing your campaign. The game recognized that some (many?) people tend to play in bite-sized chunks and this is a great way to offer a non-compulsory reminder to players who may have been away from the game for a while.
  • I also loved how the game incentivized hard core players by allowing them to stack the deck against themselves (go for a speed run; try to finish the game without completely powering up your character) but remained reasonably accessible to less hardcore players by letting you power up your character through additional exploration. I wasn't as interested in trying to play "tactical combat" against enemies and was glad that I got to level up my weapons to the extent that I could blow them all away with one shot. Moreover, the one shot deaths were supremely entertaining in terms of visceral feel and comedic value.
  • There was a nice incorporation of "social" beyond simple leaderboards. Kind of like Trials HD, this game showed you how you compared against your friends on various achievement-based stats. Bubble up stats would display when you increased a few key stat counters that would show how your stats compared against your friends'. Pretty cool.
  • The level of polish was quite high in terms of game play and cinematics. I actually quite enjoyed the short cut-scenes (they looked great and I'm a sucker for Nolan North after the Uncharted games). But what really caught my attention was how good it felt to engage in melee combat and how fun the final rifle upgrade felt. The team clearly worked hard on combining sound, rumble, and visuals to make combat viscerally satisfying. Melee takedowns were fun to execute and over-the-top. Ranged kills were entertaining in various ways (people screaming and falling off of things). And, as your powers increased, the physics were hammed up to comic (but immensely satisfying) levels. My wife and I shared many laughs as I mowed through my helpless enemies.
  • The game embraced humor through both story and game play. The writing and voice acting was entertaining (especially some of the main character's grunts and shouts -- it actually reduced the pain and frustration of getting foamed to hear him say "what the Fuh?"; and the NPC chatter was also quite good). More importantly, moment-to-moment game play supported the game's humor (e.g., the over-the-top violence and humorous death squeals and animations; the "whoah I'm out of control" exit from speed-dash).
Were there issues? Of course. But they ended up being fairly minor for the most part.
  • Aiming at Z axis enemies. I never quite got this right, but the game was balanced such that I didn't really have to care. I got so powerful that even if I was only half as accurate when I aimed at Z axis enemies, I survived just fine and didn't feel all that frustrated. The designers recognized that this game was a platformer and not a shooter at heart, so instead of over-solving the aiming issue they decided to de-emphasize accuracy as an important component to success in combat situations.
  • They encourage me to be completionist without giving me a chance to do so without going to This complaint is similar to the issue I raised with Batman: Arkham Asylum. I loved how the game had maps that showed me explored vs. unexplored areas and included "?" icons for areas that contained secrets. However, some of the secrets have been impossible to find -- and I'm not blocked by game play (I've obtained all gear) but by a poorly executed section of the map that I've scoured for long periods of time without having any idea where the secret item can be found. It's frustrating because it makes the game feel broken -- especially when the "completionist" achievement only rewards 100% completion without smaller rewards along the way for folks who want to get "most" but can't quite get all of them.
OK. Quick change of gears. After several months of thinking about it, my wife and I are packing up and moving east. To Baltimore. I've lived there before and it's MUCH closer to our families that Seattle. My hope is to start carving out a niche for myself on the east coast and midwest and reduce the amount of coast-to-coast travel that I do. We're super excited -- and I'll try not to use the whole "we're busy packing, moving, trying to buy a house, etc" wag of excuses for not keeping current with my blog.

And another thing... As part of the cleaning up and packing I managed to discover several Game Developer and Casual Connect magazines that I had dog-eared pages on. I have no good solution for archiving information that I find interesting at time A in a way that I can browse, search, or otherwise discover at Time B. This goes for both digital and non-digital content. The digital part is more embarrassing (I stopped trying to solve this thing by being thwarted by every bookmarking applet/browser function I've ever tried) than the analog part, but I still do consume analog information and would like to keep a record of findings somehow or other.

My less than ideal solution (for now): Adding some comments about what I read in a blog post. It sucks that I can't link to the original (Game Developer does have an online version, but it's a paid subscription; Casual Connect does not have an online version) but I guess folks can dig these articles up if they want to read the source material.

That's all for now (comments re: dog-eared articles will follow in a later post).

Oh: I also cast my AIAS ballot for the various "GOTY" categories and need to schedule some play time with the finalists for the IGF competition (I'm one of the many judges).

It feels good to write again.