Category Archives: other stuff

What makes MMOG’s so popular?

I used to love playing Sid Meier’s Civilization back in the child free, care free days of being able to spend 3 days solid in front of a computer screen fighting for world domination.  So I can understand the mass appeal with Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG’s) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG’s).  I have come across these terms whilst researching online games for my PhD.  I want to know why people play online games?  What motivates them to play a certain type of game?  What features of the game sustain gameplay for long periods of time?   And what makes a player keep returning to play the game?  Once I know this I want to see if any of these features are present in existing tagging games and what features could be applied to the design of a tagging game to make them more successful.  The findings of the VideoTag experiment revealed the main user motivation to be one of ‘just trying it out’.   Is it possible for a tagging game to harness a proportion of the people power playing MMOG’s and transfer all that online game time into participation in a useful task that is still fun to play?

In the nature of research and also filling a night where there was nothing on TV, I registered to play the MMOG Civ-Online.  Initially I was impressed and panicked that I had found a new way to procrastinate and spend all my time instead of working/sleeping/eating.  However unlike Civilization, Civ online runs in real time, so if something takes a game hour to do, it takes a real-time hour to do.  So whilst in the very early stages there is a fair amount you can do getting set up, pretty soon you run out of gold and have to wait a day (a real time day) for your resources to accrue again.  You can buy and sell resources, but you have to wait an hour for the tradesman from the next village to arrive with your resource.  There is a gimmick that allows you to vote for Civ-Online with MMOG Top 10 sites, you can vote once every 24 hours and you get gold or crystals for doing so!  So for me it is impossible to sit and waste a whole day sat playing the game as you are forced to find something else to do whilst you wait for enough resources to accrue again.  As I am not a hardened game player, it is very likely I will get bored of this game quickly.  Unless you fully embrace all of the features, invest time in the stategy behind the gameplay, make armies and go start wars, I don’t think there is enough to sustain interest.  But that’s me, I can see why there is plenty to sustain interest for a lot of game enthusiasts.   Civ-online is one of many, the biggest most well known MMORPG being World Of Warcraft.

The key things I have gleamed from my short foray into MMOG playing are the cleaver features they use to make players come back.  The game exists in its own world, the game continues after you have logged off, your workers farm your land, chop down trees and make wood, mine for coal and pay taxes while your off living your real world life and are ready to come back and deplete those resources again.  By playing the game you are rewarded with resources that keep you coming back and playing the game more.  During gameplay you are immersed in a solitary interaction, but there is opportunity to be social if you want to be, with forums and comments boards and an option to add buddies.   There is of course also the league table and the main goal, becoming the most powerful kingdom in the game.  How can the fun and addictive qualities of MMOG’s be applied to a video tagging game?  Can any features be adapted in a video tagging game to encourage players to log in once a day and tag some videos?

N.B  Whilst writing this blog I managed to generate enough gold to build my level 7 house and am now waiting for enough to build my level 8 lumbermill.  I’m wondering if linking to Civ-Online and reviewing it (kind of) warrants me some free gold?  I need to get my claypit up to level 8 as well.

Google Chrome – my 2 cents

Well as everybody else seems to be blogging about Google Chrome, thought I wouldn’t miss the boat.  Maybe I can be a webometric statistic, if not a day late.  But I was busy having my first day as a PhD student yesterday, it started with me having to give a presentation of VideoTag, nothing like being thrown in at the deep end.

So I have been playing with Google Chrome, I have noticed it’s a lot quicker opening, Firefox takes an eternity, I can go make a cup of tea while that loads.  My iGoogle page with all my rss feeds loads instantly, again it takes a few attempts in Firefox and I see little description pop ups that Firefox never got round to loading.  It easily imported all my bookmarks and history from Firefox.  But, as I’ve noticed other people have commented on, it imported my passwords too, whilst this is handy for me, I get the browser to remember them anyway and I did have to enter my username to match the remembered password, this is a security breach for shared computer users.  The history is very easy to access, maybe a bit too easy, again for shared computer users.  There’s no way to delete just one entry it seems.  One thing I like is the incognito mode, in fact I really like that, obviously just for those times when planning surprise birthday parties like Google suggests!  I like the idea I can browse secretly without every Tom, Dick and Harry knowing what I’m looking at.  Do you reckon Google keep a sneaky record of incognito browsing?  Would they be allowed to do that?  Mind you the sites will still get my IP address, nothing’s private anymore, good old data trails!

One thing that it doesn’t seem to have, that I have found annoying, is the drop down on the address bar so I can quickly access the sites I have recently typed in.  I use this a lot when developing websites as I always have this long convoluted test address that I type in and change page names etc.  I have to type the first few letters and I get suggestions, either from Google, my history, or have the ability to search Google, I guess that’s OK, I like to be able to do things with mouse clicks though.

Another nice touch is the visualisation of my most visited pages – I can see at a glance how little time I’ve spent working and how much time I’ve spent looking at a whole heap of other stuff!

I have realised playing with it, some things I was looking for, home button, Google toolbar are just for my browsing habits and actually Chrome makes the reason I used these things,to start a new Google search, a lot easier.  I also like the fact that it has broken the general software usability rule of having a bar at the top with file, edit etc I rarely use this, it is comfortable having it there and yes at first you do find yourself thinking “ah how will I print a page, or change my options without a handy bar at the top”, but you find out how to do it very quickly and easily.

All this said – actually I hate Google Chrome, VideoTag doesn’t work properly, the video doesn’t play, which means maybe the iframe musn’t be loading correctly, but the website I am currently developing uses iframes with no problems, so maybe it’s the object/embed tag, or the YouTube code?  Arghhhhh just when you think you’ve got to grips with browser compatibility between Firefox and IE, out comes a new browser to give you a challenge.  That was my main concern.  Safari and Opera have never really caused a problem.  I am sure most people out there will still be using IE anyway for a while to come.  Talking of iframes I do like the little pop up status at the bottom of the browser that tells you the location of the iframe page.  How useful that is, not sure, but I like it.

Also it looks like maybe I’m a nerd as I now realise through the task manager why iGoogle takes so long to load, 21mb in one page.  Ajax has a lot to answer for.  I like stats for nerds, that statement alone tells me there’s some data in there I may find interesting.  I was a bit disappointed actually, does that mean I am not nerdy enough to appreciate it, or am I so nerdy, the data wasn’t enough?

I will have to continue testing in Firefox too as I can’t live without firebug.  In fact I will still be using Firefox for a while I think, probably mostly out of habit, I may use Chrome to check my RSS feeds though.

I thought I’d check YouTube before panicking about VideoTag, turns out non of the videos play in YouTube either.  Now as Google own YouTube, seems that might have been one of the sites they made sure worked in their new browser!!!

Connecting a laptop to the TV with S-Video

How did anyone solve problems before they invented Google? Given, most problems I’m trying to solve are based in and around computing so there’s more info out there. I’m always pleased to stumble upon a useful forum, discovering that lots of other people have exactly the same problem as me and some more knowledgeable folk have offered solutions. Sometimes they don’t work and then there’s the occasion that you find really useful fixes…like this one…


I have bought myself a shiny new laptop and was looking forward to hooking it up to the TV, make the most of my broadband connection, all I need is an s-video lead I thought. But no the picture was black and white. Apparently this is a very common problem something to do with using a scart adapter as my tv doesn’t have an s-video in so only the luminance signal was being carried to through the scart and the chrominance signal which carries the colour wasn’t getting to the TV.



Then, thanks to Google I followed a link on this forum

to this website

and I now have a colour picture on my TV – yey! I was put off by the idea of butchering my scart adapter, then thought well it only cost a couple of quid it’s worth a try. My husband volunteered his soldering skills as I don’t have a clue.


I just wanted to post a recommendation for this solution. It really does work – sometimes you try fixes on forums and still have the same problems but this did work. OK you do need or know someone with a toolbox and soldering kit. Husbands come in useful sometimes!


I’ve got quite knowledgeable about cables since buying my laptop – I set up my first wireless network so my PC and laptop can communicate (I learned the benefits of Ethernet compared to USB – thanks virgin media for the dodgy installation!). I also worked out that by utilising the lead for my video camera I can get sound from my laptop on the TV too! I’m nearly ready for my Saturday job at Maplin or other good cable retailer.


So no tagging research recently but i know a lot more about wireless networks and cables.