Monday, February 20, 2006

Rise of the Casual (Mobile) Gamer

NPR had an interesting piece during Morning Edition about the challenges and potential of mobile gaming. They had a very critical point in the end - the same one I found impossible to surmount when doing trial J2ME development. You can develop an app just fine, but then how do you copy the freakin' bytecode to your phone?

For some people this is easy - the phone might be bluetooth or cradled and show up as a removable device. But, by and large, who is going to have a phone that can? And if it can, are they even going to bother?

I was working with a Samsung, and if I wanted to do some file transfers I'd have to find some weird USB data transfer cable from some off-shoot accessory dealer. And even then there's no guarantee - a consumer phone isn't made to have an easily-writable file system.

The alternative is to send files via SMS or the cellular network. This is also the most sensible way for casual users to get files... but do you always send via SMS? Does your carrier charge per kilobyte? In the end, it's still a pain in the butt.

This is on top of the per-handset incompatiblities and problems with event handling, like what Carmack found when he first started to dabble in J2ME gaming.

Casual and J2ME gaming has great potential - and a potentially HUGE market. But first it has to be easy to jump into, for developers but more importantly for consumers.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Addicting... For No Reason

Why the freak can't I stop playing this? Is it even really "playing?" More "dorking around with some particle algorithm?"

The original "World of Sand" is posted on someone's blog, but was redone at a larger size & colocated at

I attempted to find out where the original poster got the game, but Google's translation mechanisms leave something to be desired. Among the translated comments:

"Sentence of letter non-commutative field of stain coming When please insert the bomb that it hits against the fire, the kind of explosive which explodes we ask"

"When to lick the lottery or stick human can be killed with this function, pleasantly so."

"It increased in the enormous pleasure. Don't you think? good ッス petroleum W Furthermore still the element increases, because it is is, it is the pleasure.
Unless you must surround either side, as for, being a little sad, (no Please persevere even from now on."

"When you burn the slug with the water, in the picture イッパイ The fighting spirit which < burns! Slug you! > The ネ which becomes"

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Invisible Currency

I manage a team... kinda... that writes e-Commerce applications.

Can I call them something other than e-Commerce applications? I hate that name. It's a crapton of sites that sells stuff. Umm... online storefronts. Yeah. That's what I'll call them.

Anyways, I've always resisted integrating Paypal into our checkout process, mainly because of a) fraud issues b) liability issues and c) I'm busy doing other nonsense, like AJAX. I never saw it as necessary... I mean, who pays out of their Paypal account? No one. They transfer the cash to a checking account then use it from there. Right?

Well... I gotta confess... I paid for something out of my Paypal account. Someone donated something to my pet open-source project, which made me as giddy as a schoolgirl. But I didn't use the donation for anything.

Then I found out that The Office was available via iTunes. I had a steaming resentment in my belly that I hadn't seen any episodes from season 2, so I took a peek at what I could buy.

Whaddaya know... iTunes just recently added Paypal as a payment option. And I had a balance. And I had a burning in my loins to pay a deuce and watch an Office episode. So I transferred money from some stranger via another stranger to a third stranger... and was watching my beautiful episode in a few minutes.

I guess there is a use for Paypal after all. For those of us with less money in Paypal than under our couch cushion, maybe random transfers like these actually make sense.