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Galactica MMO Probably More Popular Than Old Republic

Battlestar Galactica MMO 9 million users

Web-based, free-to-play MMO Battlestar Galactica Online recently reached 9 million registered users, which made me wonder how many retained users it currently has. According to Google Ad Planner, the Galactica website gets 2.9 million unique visitors, and because it's a web-based MMO that's been on the market since February 2011, it's likely most of those visitors are registered users. So I'd say a fair guess is about 2 to 2.5 million people are now playing Galatica online. That's pretty impressive for a couple of reasons:

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Was This Absolut Vodka Ad Inspired by AM Radio's Second Life Work?

This commercial for Absolut vodka is full of steampunk style and virtual/augmented reality elements, and it sure as hell looks like it was inspired by Second Life. Watch:

It was sent to me by Ms. ColeMarie Soleil, who spotted similarities to this and some of Second Life's greatest user-made content, particularly that made by the metaverse artist known as AM Radio. Specifically, as she enumerates:

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Play Plink, Real-Time Collaborative Music Creation Web Toy

Plink real time music game

Plink is a pretty fun real time interactive multiplayer music creation experience you can play with 3 friends (if they're online at the same time) or 3 strangers, or combinations of the two.  Your avatar is basically a musical instrument of your choosing, represented by your username and a trail of colored light, and the sound of the music you make is changed by the position of your mouse (up for higher octaves, down for lower tones). Multiplayer end-result: simple real time jam sessions online with people from all over the world.

Hat tip: My friend game design doyenne Ms. Robin Hunicke, now working on the MMO Glitch.

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Top Ten New World Notes Posts from Last Week

Gw054

Gaming/tech news and opinion:

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 10.53.56 PM

Second Life news and opinion:

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I'm Writing a Book on Game Design for iOS, Facebook, and the Web: Readers, Get a 40% Discount Code -- Developers Reading This, Get in Touch With Me!

Game Design Secrets Wagner James Au

I promised an announcement on Monday, and now here it is -- I'm thrilled to say I have a new book coming out later this year: Game Design Secrets for iOS, Facebook, and the Web, with a focus on design elements key to marketing and monetization. All three platforms have opened up huge opportunities for low budget/indie game production especially, and my hope is this book helps developers turn their passion for games into a full-time profession and thriving business. It'll include expert advice and insights from many successful designers, including some developers you'll recognize from their work in Second Life. I'd love to include many more, so:

If you're an SL game developer interested in expanding or exporting your game to the Web, iOS, or Facebook, please get in touch with me -- I want to know about your plans, and possibly include them in the book. E-mail me at wjamesau at well dot com.

And thanks to the folks at Wiley, the book's publisher, anyone reading this can get a pre-order discount of 40%:

Preorder Game Design Secrets from Wiley.com and get 40% off of the print version. Enter “GDS12” at checkout. Offer available through 8/31/12.

More info on the book in coming months. Meantime, if you're a developer, please hit me up -- and if you're friends with a developer, please send them this link!

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Guild Wars 2: The 1st MMO to Get Avatar Individuality Right

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Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world fashion

I'm incredibly excited about Guild Wars 2, which has its first beta event for players who've pre-ordered the game this weekend. This is also the first beta event being run that doesn't have a non-disclosure agreement hovering over it, so I can finally gush about why I'm so madly in love with this MMO. It boils down to one thing that Guild Wars 2 does better than any other MMORPG: It makes you and your avatar feel like an individual, even in a crowd, right from your very first level.

That's thanks to these three innovative features:

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Shadow's Claw SL Sim Seems a Sliver of Skyrim

Shadowclaw SL Skyrim

Shadow's Claw is a new Nordic-themed sim in SL that's part of Fantasy Faire 2012, and good lord, it sure seems to hold up well to Skyrim. Built by Laufey Markestein and Rosanna Llewellyn, proprietors of the TRIDENT brand, the Claw pic above is from Prim Perfect, which has a post on the place here. More pics on SLife Fantastic here. No sign of dragons yet, but hopefully they're tougher than that chump Aludin.

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Minecraft Makes Collaborative Creation a Matter of Survival

Minecraft Caledon

I'm enjoying the journal entries Emilly Orr is writing from and about the Caledon Minecraft server, recently launched by steampunk land baron Desmond Shang, comprised of SLers now frontiering in this new world. The Caledonians are building a colony there, but because it's Minecraft, the world is not just a minimally interactive canvas, like SL -- it's full of creatures with their own AI behaviors, and a lot of them want to kill your ass. So building in Minecraft is not just about collaborative creation for its own sake -- it's also about survival:

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First World Problems, Meet Second Life Problems

SL Problems Meme

You've probably heard of First World Problems (of course you have), but that meme's so 2011. Have a look at Second Life Problems, which come to think of it, are basically First World Problems magnified to the Nth degree.

Second Life Problems are the brainchild of Harlow Heslop and Aemeth Lysette, who spun them from some silly-ass dilemmas of their own. "We were joking about having nothing to wear," Aemeth tells me, "and she said 'second world problems!'" Then one thing led to another, and now there's a whole host of those. Here's one more of my favorites, in a Funny Because It's True kind of way:

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Watch This Awesome Machinima Tribute to SL Avatars

"It's a Wonderful Second Life 3: Avatars" is the latest in a machinima series by SamLowry Hawks (YouTube page here), and as you'd expect from a master like Mr. Hawks, it's beautifully shot and edited -- this latest installment a tribute to SL avatars, and what they make possible for us:

Be sure to keep watching when the credits roll, because SamLowry added some impressive post-production effects and animations there too. I asked him to share his thoughts on making this machinima, and his artistic vision in general:

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