Playyoo goes beta

Today Playy­oo went beta. Playy­oo is a mobile games com­mu­ni­ty I have been involved with as a free­lance inter­ac­tion design­er since july of this year. I don’t have time for an elab­o­rate post-mortem, but here are some pre­lim­i­nary notes on what Playy­oo is and what part I’ve played in its con­cep­tion.

Playyoo's here

Playy­oo brings some cool inno­va­tions to the mobile games space. It allows you to snack on free casu­al mobile games while on the go, using a per­son­al­ized mobile web page. It stores your high scores and allows you to inter­act with your friends (and foes) on an accom­pa­ny­ing reg­u­lar web site. Playy­oo is a plat­form for indie mobile game devel­op­ers. Any­one can pub­lish their Flash Lite game on it. Best of all — even if you’re not a mobile games devel­op­er, you can cre­ate a game of your own.

It’s that last bit I’ve worked on the most. I took care of the inter­ac­tion design for an appli­ca­tion imag­i­na­tive­ly called the Game Cre­ator. It allows you to take well known games (such as Lunar Lan­der) and give them your own per­son­al twist. Obvi­ous­ly this includes the game’s graph­ics, but we’ve gone one step fur­ther. You can change the way the game works as well.

Screenshot of my lolcats pairs game on Playyoo

So in the exam­ple of Lunar Lan­der you can make the space­ship look like what­ev­er you want. But you can also change the grav­i­ty, con­trol­ling the speed with which your ship drops to the sur­face. Best of all, you can cre­ate your own plan­et sur­face, as easy as draw­ing a line on paper. This is why Lunar Lan­der in the Playy­oo Game Cre­ator is called Line Lan­der. (See? Anoth­er imag­i­na­tive title!)

At the moment there are six games in the Game Cre­ator: Tic-Tac-Toe, Pairs, Revenge, Snake, Ping-Pong, and the afore­men­tioned Line Lan­der. There’s long list of oth­er games I’d like to put in there. I’m sure there will be more to come.

Since today’s launch, peo­ple have already start­ed cre­at­ing crazy stuff with it. There’s a maze-like snake game, for instance. And a game where you need to land a spi­der crab on the head of some per­son called Rebec­ca… I decid­ed to chip in with a pairs game full of lol­cats (an idea I’ve had since doing the very first wire­frame.) Any­way, the mind bog­gles to think of what peo­ple might come up with next! That’s the cool part about cre­at­ing a tool for cre­ative expres­sion.

Screenshot of a Line Lander game in progress in the Playyoo Game Creator

So although mak­ing a game is very dif­fer­ent from play­ing one, I hope I man­aged to make it fun nonethe­less. My ambi­tion was to cre­ate a toy-like appli­ca­tion that makes ‘cre­at­ing’ a game a fun and engag­ing way to kill a few min­utes — much like Mii cre­ation on the Nin­ten­do Wii, or play­ing with Spore’s edi­tors (although we still haven’t had the chance to actu­al­ly play with lat­ter, yet.) And who knows, per­haps it’ll inspire a few peo­ple to start devel­op­ing games of their own. That would prob­a­bly be the ulti­mate com­pli­ment.

In any case, I’d love to hear your com­ments, both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive. And if you have a Flash Lite com­pat­i­ble phone, be sure to sign up with Playy­oo. There is no oth­er place offer­ing you an end­less stream of snack sized casu­al games on your phone. Once you’ve had a taste of that, I’m sure you’ll won­der how you ever got by with­out it.

Plazes gets a major overhaul

My favourite social web app gets anoth­er makeover, and this time it’s major.

The most impor­tant change I’ve noticed is that they’ve ditched the bud­dy list alto­geth­er (which was get­ting imprac­ti­cal due to large amounts of users) and have start­ed focussing more on maps. This is a change I can only applaud; as now it’s even clear­er plazes is all about loca­tion, loca­tion, loca­tion.

A look at the new plazes

Ondergrond.org — HKU-studenten aan de folksonomy

Via com­men­taar op een recent artikel op open.info.nl kwam ik op de site Onder­grond – een folk­son­o­my voor / van street art. De site is een EMMA-afs­tudeer­pro­ject van een aan­tal HKU-stu­den­ten. De site daagt bezoek­ers met behulp van stellin­gen en vra­gen uit om bij foto’s van graf­fi­ti en stick­ers tags achter te lat­en. Een inter­es­sante manier om het dilem­ma “waarom zou een bezoek­er taggen” te tack­e­len – het principe doet me in die zin denken aan Hot or Not. Het plezi­er zit hem in foto na foto hersen­loos te voorzien van meta­da­ta. Het risi­co is natu­urlijk dat hier­mee het ontstaan van “metacrap” alleen maar in de hand wordt gew­erkt! Aan de andere kant zijn de vra­gen soms wel wat moeil­ijk, dan moet je goed nadenken, en is het effect van de laag­drem­pe­ligheid weg.

Ik weet niet of Maarten en Sjors Inter­ac­tion Design hebben ges­tudeerd, maar op dat vlak ver­di­ent de site wel nog wat aan­dacht. Het is flink zoeken geblazen in het onder­grondse, de nav­i­gatie is eigen­lijk bij­na niet aan­wezig. Miss­chien dat dit niet de focus heeft in hun project, maar het zou toch mooi zijn als het de tag­ger makke­lijk wordt gemaakt zijn weg te vin­den naar inter­es­sante con­tent!

Remix en auteursrecht (open.info.nl)

Onlangs ver­scheen een aardig artikel in het Tijd­schrift voor Mar­ket­ing van de hand van Fer­ry den Dopper, waarin een aan­tal web 2.0 aspecten wor­den uit­gelegd aan mar­ke­teers. Eén van die aspecten is remix – het fenomeen waar­bij één of meerdere web­sites wor­den gebruikt als basis voor een nieuwe dienst. Den Dopper staat daar­bij heel kort stil bij de juridis­che impli­caties van deze waardeto­evoeg­ing door der­den. “Some rights reserved” schri­jft hij en citeert daar­bij het Cre­ative Com­mons-ini­ti­atief.”

Lees verder op open.info.nl »

Plazes sidebar redesign

Plazes, my favourite under­hyped Euro­pean web appli­ca­tion have updat­ed their side­bar. I like the fact that they changed the ranges shown (here, 1 km, 3 km, 10 km, 50 km). Now I can see all the way to Utrecht from Ams­ter­dam. I also like the new “friends some­where else” sec­tion (see the screen­shot). They’ve also clus­tered peo­ple at the same plaze, and (all the way at the bot­tom) have now includ­ed a tag cloud-esque city list. Very web 2.0!

plazes sidebar outtake

Rojo redesign

Rojo has redesigned. It all feels a lot clean­er and more com­pact (as well as slight­ly faster). Head­line scanning’s improved quite a bit.

The one glar­ing mis­take I’ve noticed is that head­ers no longer link to the orig­i­nal sto­ries, but are some kind of perma­link to the post inside Rojo. You have to click a link beside it, labelled “via [feed name]”. Sil­ly choice!

Trying out new web apps

I’m giv­ing Rojo a spin right now.

I trans­fered all my feeds from Blog­lines yes­ter­day and, after an ini­tial feel­ing that the app was bloat­ed, I must say I quite like it. The tag­ging is well-imple­ment­ed, and for some rea­son I feel I can scan my new sto­ries much faster here than in Blog­lines. The only glar­ing ommis­sion is a noti­fi­er!

I’ve also signed up for 30 Box­es, and have been play­ing with the real­ly cool nat­ur­al lan­guage event input sys­tem. Once you get used to the forced AM / PM syn­tax, it’s quite nice. The only thing I’m miss­ing here is a way to import an iCal export (.ics).

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I get invited to a good beta (Newsvine)

Guess I won’t be need­ing that shirt — today I got an invit­ed to the pri­vate beta of Newsvine.

In the words of Mike David­son (pre­vi­ous­ly known for his work on sIFR, now of Newsvine):

We believe in turn­ing news into con­ver­sa­tion, and every page on Newsvine.com is designed to do pre­cise­ly that.”
Haven’t had the time to actu­al­ly give it a try, but here’s a screen­shot of this morning’s world news home page.

Newsvine

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Google Reader

While I was still wait­ing for Feed­Lounge to launch and release me from the agony that is Blog­lines’ user expe­ri­ence — Google launch­es their Read­er. I quick­ly import­ed my feeds, and am toy­ing with it now. At first sight, their inter­face encour­ages quick brows­ing of new entries. I’m still not sure about how easy it is to label spe­cif­ic feeds though…

Google Reader

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