<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d23307957\x26blogName\x3dE-Spire+Entertainment+News\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://e-spire.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://e-spire.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d4266829708869687405', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

E-Spire Entertainment News

A place where we inspire to bring you the best in entertainment news.

EA's Top Black Game Developer

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Myspace Conversation With EA's Top Black Game Developer
By Jim Neusom
The City Lights Reporter
http://www.citylightssoftware.com/reporterindex.html
May 31 2006


Los Angeles - Anthony "Otacon" Inman (www.myspace.com/anthony561) is a
lead developer for EA Games. Anthony Is a graduate of MIT, he is a
child prodigy game designer, currently working for EA Games. Anthony
has worked on gamer classics like Halo, Madden, and he just put the
finishing touches on what's sure to be everyone's favorite Christmas
stocking stuffer...Superman.

Believe it or not, I met him casually on Myspace! As many of you know,
I've been exploring the world of Myspace lately (see
http://www.myspace.com/jimneusom). Trying to decide what's all the
commotion about? The following is one of many reports I plan to write
on my Myspace experience.

************

JIM: Good Morning Anthony, I am so glad to meet you. Bella Donna
(www.myspace.com/thedeadlynightshade) has told me all about you. Thank
you for this opportunity to interview you. You are the type of Black
man, I encourage our youth to follow. Your career has only just begun,
and you have achieved so much...

I joined Myspace because of all the media publicity (good and bad) it
was receiving. What is your impression of Myspace?


ANTHONY: Hello Jim, yes I have done a lot in my career, I can't really
say my career has just started, because I've been in this for a few
years now. I would have to say I've been developing video games for
about 5 or 6 years! I started when I was about 17 years old (my 2'nd
year at M.I.T.), but I have to say, I have done a lot in this industry,
from my graphics work, to my A.I. (artificial intelligence)
programming, but I feel as if I'm not really looked at like one of the
best developers in the industry today, because of my skin color...but
that's another story! I was the lead developer in the Superman
Project.. that's my role at EA games Lead Developer!

Now as far as Myspace goes! Old America don't like what they don't
understand! Myspace has gotten so much spot light why? because it has
74 million users on it? I feel as if corporate/governmental America is
mad at the fact they can't get a profit out of it? That's how I feel...
I mean Myspace is a very good way to Network... there's a lot of
companies on here. The company I work for EA Games, is in the works of
putting up a Myspace page, so our fans can have a 1-on-1 type thing
with us! I mean, was there ever this much spotlight on Black Plant.com?
No Why?

Everything in life has its pros and cons but I feel like Myspace is one
of the best things that has happened to Technology.... I have found
friends that I haven't seen since the 5'TH grade on here. So it's a
keeper in my book.... But like I always say; Most people don't
understand the LOGIC of things... that's why I guess I'm smarter then
most people...

JIM: I tell people; if you want to reach Black youth, you have to hit
them on their hip! They may not all have access to the Net, but they
dam sure have portable gaming devices and cell phones. Can you give us
a quick overview of the opportunities in developing games for mobile
devices?


ANTHONY: Multiplayer games are a natural fit with mobile devices, due
to their inherent potential for communication, such as buddy lists,
messaging, chat etc. Because they bring so many elements together
(gaming, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, location based services etc), they are, by
definition, more complex than mobile single player games.

While single player games have been popular on mobile devices, I
believe that the real potential of gaming on mobile devices lies in
multiplayer games, simply because a mobile device is all about
communication and successful multiplayer games are based on user
interaction (hence communication)

JIM: As a game developer, how do you define multiplayer vs. single
player?

ANTHONY: Obviously, from the name itself the game must be mobile and
more than one player can play it. But, that definition hides many more
aspects, for example; is a game which spans the Internet and mobile, a
mobile multiplayer game, or an Internet based game with a mobile
component? Mobile multiplayer games also have some unique issues such
as latency, the involvement of community, the impact of IP changes, and
so on.

Gaming, in general, originates from the video gaming industry. The
video gaming industry is already mature, and rivals the movie and the
music industry in terms of revenue. Traditionally, there have been
three ways video games have been played Console gaming (PS2, Xbox etc),
PC gaming, and handheld games (Nintendo gameboy device). Mobile games
were seen as a fourth platform for video games.

Most mobile games today are single player games developed using Java or
BREW. The game is downloaded on the mobile device as an application,
and costs under $5. Many popular games are based on brands, such as
Harry Potter/Lord of the ring etc. Popular genres include arcade games,
sports games, and fast action games. Similar to gaming on console, and
the PC, the players are predominantly male. Many mobile games seen
today have been straightforward conversions of more popular games, such
as older arcade games. The industry model is also similar to that of
console gaming, aiming for a few big hits, but also include a large
number of titles selling modestly.

JIM: OK, now you're getting into the business of mobile gaming. Can
you expound?


ANTHONY: Within the mobile applications industry, mobile gaming is a
relatively mature segment. There are well defined channels to market,
distribution models and aggregators. As the industry matures, it is
undergoing consolidation with a spate of recent takeovers (for example
infospace taking over www.iomo.com and Sorrento merging with
www.macrospace.com).

In contrast, the market for mobile multiplayer games are still nascent,
even in mature markets like Japan and Korea. In comparison to single
player games, multiplayer games also require a much higher rate of
initial investment. In spite of these two factors I believe that mobile
multiplayer games offer potential for new entrants because of the
following reasons:

a) Although there are still many limitations in place, mobile
multiplayer games could benefit from the network effect

b) The potential of creating communities around multiplayer games,
offers competitive advantages to the early entrant

c) Localized gaming via Bluetooth is possible which overcomes many of
the problems associated with deploying a game at an operator (although
Bluetooth introduces its own set of problems like the lack of an
integrated billing system, dependence on location etc)

d) Many mobile multiplayer games also have a web component. Thus, the
game itself could be distributed from the Internet with the mobile
component as an addendum.

e) Unlike the PC and console gaming models, mobile gaming has a much
larger player audience. In fact, simple, casual games targeting a large
section of the population offer the best chance for success.

Let us consider some key factors that influence the industry at the
moment and the opportunities for new entrants. We're discussing mobile
multiplayer games in greater detail, because they combine many
different facets of mobility for example community, location etc.

JIM: Is the mobile multiplayer game a separate category or is it an
addendum to the existing gaming platforms on the web?

ANTHONY: Certainly, many mobile multiplayer games also have a web
component. Adding a strong web component, enables the game to be far
more interesting, and potentially targets a larger user base. In
addition, the combination of mobility, location based services,
multiplayer games and social networking, has the capacity to produce a
new type of game which utilizes a virtual environment mapped to a
physical environment (often a city). Typically, the virtual environment
comprises players using a combination of a mobile device, and the web.

One of the best known examples is the Magi game (Japan)
www.mogimogi.com . The basic idea is simple - Its a game 'on the move'.
You pick up 'virtual' items. You trade them with other players. It also
uses a combination of the web and mobile experience. The web is used
for functions such as chatting.

Mogi is also unique in the use of the web to differentiate between
casual gamers, and hardcore gamers. Essentially, the casual player is
the one on the move, while the hardcore player is the one who directs
the casual players from the web console. Effectively, this brings a
greater number of players into the game.

I believe that the mobile multiplayer game is not a distinct category.
It will be an offshoot of gaming on the web. This categorization is
important, because it determines the channels to market, and also the
relative importance of the mobile operators in the equation. The
combination of the web, and mobility will be beneficial to all players
in the industry.

JIM: I have written extensively on portable gaming devices (see
http://www.citylightssoftware.com/reporterindex.html) and agree with
you completely.


ANTHONY: Ok, I'm sorry I have more to say about next generation
portable gaming devices. While we have discussed mobile multiplayer
games as an evolution of existing mobile single player games, a whole
new class of games are entering the market. These originate from the
console industry, and include portable gaming devices like the Sony
PSP, and the Nintendo Gameboy DS (we will call them portable gaming
devices to distinguish from mobile phones used to play games).

Benefiting from the experience of the console gaming industry, portable
gaming devices already have a rich interface and a catalogue of games
that they can draw on. Crucially, they use WiFi for the multi-user
communication (as opposed to the telecoms network). This allows them to
bypass the vagaries of the telecoms network, but at the same time they
are hampered by the limitations of Wi-Fi, because they can only operate
within short distances of the WiFi access point.

Its difficult to say how the market will evolve. My view is these two
classes of games (i.e. mobile multiplayer games, and portable gaming
devices) will end up serving different classes of customers. Mobile
multiplayer games will lean towards casual gamer, whereas the portable
gaming devices will attract the more hardcore, immersive gamer.

JIM: As you are aware, applications such as gaming, drive hardware
advances. But in the mobile industry, Cellular and Internet Service
Providers (CSP/ISP) are trying to create walled gardens, exclusive to
their service. What impact do you see technology having on this
paradigm?


ANTHONY: Operators have a love / apathy relationship with mobile
multiplayer games applications.

On one hand, mobile multiplayer games could generate a lot of traffic.
But the operators want to keep all the traffic charges. But developers
would like to share a portion of that traffic revenue. Currently, since
developers do not get a share of any IP traffic, they try to get an
upfront fee from the customer. As a result, the uptake is lower.

Secondly, the increased use of the web, means that the role of the
mobile operator is reduced when it comes to the multiplayer game.
Bluetooth gaming, also has the same impact on the mobile operators.

Hence, overall, you don't see many in the mobile operator community,
too enthusiastic about mobile multiplayer gaming. As far as the impact
of technology goes, the mobile multiplayer games industry, is impacted
in three ways:

Critical mass: Single player mobile games differ from multiplayer
mobile games in their emphasis on technology. For single player games,
the rich user experience is important. For multiplayer games, the
community/interaction is important. Thus, the winner of the game in
multiplayer mobile applications - is the one who achieves critical
mass. In general, simpler technologies lend themselves more to a
critical mass application. In Europe and USA, at the moment, that is
SMS/WAP.

Latency: Latency is the time difference between the time a machine
makes a request to the time it receives a response. Latency is critical
in fast action games. Many successful PC and console games are fast
action games. When the request/response occurs over the air network,
latency is high i.e. the amount of time is longer. This means, fast
action games are not suitable for mobile multiplayer gaming with the
exception of Bluetooth based games. In case of Bluetooth games, latency
is acceptable enough for mobile multiplayer games. Other genres are not
affected by latency such as turn based games.

Devices: Briefly, the key issue is will players buy gaming only
devices? A gaming only device (which may or may not function as a
phone) would appeal to the hardcore gamers. Hardcore gamers have
traditionally driven the console gaming industry, setting off a
virtuous cycle of richer features and more expensive hardware. Its too
early to say if this would play out on mobile devices

Hardcore gamers have always driven the uptake of console gaming.
Cinematic, immersive, richer games have led to better hardware.
However, the mobile device does not lend itself well to immersive,
extended game play. In the section on the impact of brands, we also
pointed out that casual gamers are becoming more important and popular.

The casual games model is much more suited to mobile gaming, due to its
simpler learning curve, familiar concepts etc. By extension, we believe
that casual gaming will also be popular with multiplayer games.
Multiplayer versions of casual games are already popular on the web and
can be easily extended to the mobile device.

JIM: What about specialized mobile gaming devices?

ANTHONY: The console gaming industry is driven by the hardcore gamers,
who are increasingly more demanding in their desire for richer, more
impressive games. This sets off a virtuous cycle with more powerful
hardware, richer graphics etc.

Most handsets are not mobile gaming devices i.e. they are not built
ground up for the purpose of playing mobile games. The first serious
attempt to create a mobile device whose goal was primarily to play
games (rather than as a phone) was the N-Gage from Nokia.

Gizmondo is another such device. Other devices such as Sony PSP and
Nintendo GameBoy are handheld gaming devices but provide connectivity
through WiFi and not the cellular network.

The console gaming industry is well defined and predictable with
hardware upgrades every four years and well defined channels to market
(mainly retail). With richer interfaces and powerful hardware, the play
times for console games are increasing. They are also becoming more
immersive and cinematic. In contrast, the mobile multiplayer games are
more suited towards the casual gamers. Currently, the companies
displaying an interest in mobile multiplayer games have their roots in
PC, or console gaming. The initial single player user base for mobile
games is also familiar with PC/console gaming.

The N-gage from Nokia, was the first attempt to create a gaming only
device. N-gage received a lot of negative press at its launch mainly
due to its awkward taco like shape and its requirement to change game
cards. However, the N-gage was an experiment at many levels and a
worthy one! The N-gage introduced many features for the first time
Bluetooth gaming, multiplayer gaming, a different channel to market
(retail), richer device capabilities needed for a good gaming
experience etc.

I believe that there are two separate market segments here; the
hardcore gamer who could be attracted to the specialized devices, and
the casual gamer who will use their phone to play simpler games.

The lack of unlimited use pricing is hindering many applications,
especially mobile multiplayer games. Indeed in many markets, we do have
unlimited use pricing today, but the price point (monthly fee) is very
high for general consumer adoption. Operators are playing a delicate
balancing game here. Clearly as 3G becomes more prevalent, the
available bandwidth exists. But, allowing people to use all the
bandwidth they want at a cheap rate, may lead to totally disruptive
applications, such as mobile VOIP, which can cannibalize existing
revenue.

Thus, unlimited use data pricing is a critical issue and should be
watched carefully. The market in which we see unlimited data use at low
cost, is going to see a hockey stick effect in mobile data usage, and
applications such as mobile multiplayer gaming.

JIM: Thank you Anthony, I'm sure my readers appreciate this short
course on Mobile Gaming 101.


ANTHONY: We have covered many aspects of mobile multiplayer games.
Mobile technology is an ever growing market and the applications are
getting bigger! Mobile technology will always be around. I prefer a
mobile game, then a platforms game. I mean, look at the prices for an
Xbox 360. Its price around $450-500, and the P3, is around 650. So now
you understand the need, and demand to make mobile technology better,
and applications designed to fit the needs, and the standers of the
users......

As an application, I find it very interesting, especially because
mobile multiplayer games can span both the web, and mobile. They also
offer a larger scope for new entrants. Any company who can get mobile
multiplayer game rights, stands to make a lot of money, especially if
they can create a successful community (which offers a strong barrier
to entry).

JIM: Lastly, is there anything else, you would like to say to my
readers?


ANTHONY: Most youth do not really understand the logic of technology,
and the big role that technology plays in our world to day! When I have
the time, I try to teach kids all about technology, and the logic of
technology! Even though I'm only 22 years old! I have done a lot in
this industry....... But what I'm really trying to say is, young kids
in today's time like what they see on TV... Most kids don't know what
technology is? They want to be rappers, athletes or something.

I think we all have to take responsibility and actively try to mentor
and interact with our youth. I really look up to a person who mentored
me, and taught me everything I know to date about gaming (and making a
good game)...Hideo Kojima. You might know him as the founder of Metal
Gear. I had the honor to work with him on one of his Metal Gear games
(Metal Gear 3) So I have to say he took me under his wing...this is
what I want to do for others.

All companies should promote Technology a lot more...... Especially to
our youth!

###

--------------------------------------

About The Author:

James I. Neusom, II is the founder and publisher of the City Lights
Reporter an online news journal that focuses on afrocentric and
multicultural technology based, issues, people, and websites. He is
also an e-commerce software developer, Webmaster, and Internet
promoter.

His stated corporate goal is to assist African Americans and people of
color in the achievement of social and economic equality on the Net. He
is a credentialed freelance writer and his opinions and insights can be
found on websites, community publications and many international
publications.

He is a national speaker, and donates his time to teach and encourage
small, minority and women owned business to get involved in Internet
technology.

Regular Freelance Contributor to;

The Black Web Portal
http://www.blackwebportal.com/wire/AuthorContent.cfm?PartnerID=57

Manhunt.com
http://www.manhunt.com

BlackPress.org
http://www.blackpress.org

Afromerica.com
http://www.afromerica.com/columns/neusom/

Black Filmmaker Magazine
http://www.bfmmedia.com/

You can find more detailed information on his website
http://www.citylightssoftware.com
or read his daily posts at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/The_City_Lights_Reporter/
( on Myspace go to http://blog.myspace.com/jimneusom)
posted by Shelia, 12:14 AM

0 Comments:

Add a comment