Archive for the ‘Social’ Category

Spy-mail – Secret Message Service

December 9, 2005

Quite an interesting game, Spy-mail lets you send messages to people and if you do not protect the message or forget to protect the message, then other players can spy on it.

Even before we launched Spy-mail, we sent a Spy-mail message to the president of GameSpy, the very large multi-user gaming site who happened to have the URL spymail.com. We made them a branded site and asked if they would be interested in using it. After a while, we spied on the topic and sure enough, there was a message from another employee back to the president that was unprotected. We got to read the initial message from the president saying “what do you think about this…” then “well, we already have our upcoming gaming network mail…”

Do a spy on Agent Dan Zen and you will find a number of interesting uses of Spy-mail.

Given the right codes, Spy-mail also acts as a full fledged Web-mail account – not bad for a few months of partial programming.

Rich Deck – Web Application Trading Game

December 9, 2005

Rich Deck is the Dan Zen card game where you buy and sell zany companies and make millions of Deck Dollars.

Rich Deck is a full Web application equivalent in complexity to large sites like e-bay. If you own a company, you make money from people buying franchises. If you have a franchise, you make money by e-mailing friends and having them accept the card. Different bonuses are given to different franchise owners for logging in, for players accepting the card logging in, for every 100 players logging in, for every week you own the franchise, etc. The technology is Flash – PHP – MySQL

Rich Deck was the prototype for Zen Deck. So with small modifications, Zen Deck was built. Zen Deck is a “card viewer” and works well as a portfolio tool or site interface.

Several other games along these lines are being considered – Spy Deck is one of them where you use agents to get at people’s secrets. In this case a group of people would start a Spy Deck game and play it amongst themselves.

Zen Motto – Philosophical Focus

December 9, 2005

Zen Motto is an attempt to pierce the physical world. One of the most viewed yet empty spaces in our society is the border around the computer monitor. Zen Motto is set up so that you can print a motivational motto and tape it on your monitor.

You can use an existing motto or submit your own. The mottos are two words which often leads to multiple interpretations in a Zen sense. Almost 3% of the views have led to a printing. Perhaps you should try it!

Zen Motto also showcases the Flash grid component for sortable tabular data. It makes use of a full e-mail publishing system where people’s mottos are submitted, an e-mail is sent to the editor who can accept, modify or decline at which point the motto is processed and may show up on the site.

Blimp Race III – Viral Marketing Game

December 9, 2005

One of Dan Zen’s most successful game was Blimp Races. In the first race, people created their own blimps and then e-mailed friends to join their blimps. The blimp with the most people is winning the race. The first race had about 700 people all having fun and cursing other blimps in the forums.

Six degrees of separation were explored as who people invited and where they came from were displayed. In the second race, two years later, it really exploded when invites went into silicon valley and reached out to India, Hawaii, the Netherlands, etc.

The third race two years later was more difficult as distrust in e-mail had grown to a maximum. People were being overwhelmed by spam and just not in the mood to click links in e-mail. This situation may have gotten better with spam filters and it might be worth a try to hold race four.

The race was almost sold and set to run on the large Bell/Sympatico portal but a change in management and a reduction of original content resulted in a no go.

Save Earth – Sci-fi Pattern Matching Game

December 9, 2005

Save Earth is a massively complex game with a simple pattern matching skill game at its core. The story and the data tracking however are quite extensive.

The site is set in 2020 and features some loosely projected technologies. We probably will not have screens or perhaps even text by then so the predictions are not particularly serious.

There is a part 2 of the game for when the over one million patterns are mapped and the invisible sphere surrounding Earth is shattered. It looks like we are about 11% of the way there but there certainly have been some dedicated pilots with several flying hundreds of times and tagging thousands of patterns!

Shrink Ray – Viral Marketing Game

December 9, 2005

Shrink Ray came at the dawn of Web mail and was a very interesting viral marketing game.

You arrived at the first screen asking you to fill in some information to play. If you did, you got shrunk! As you were shrinking you had time to e-mail your friends and tell them how to avoid the trap in which you were caught – in this case, your message would tell them to not fill anything in – only press submit.

Soon, people started passing the first test, and they were taken to a barnacle registry page with six panels. The panels were set up to register barnacles – barnacles are Dan Zen’s helpers. Each step of the way, if the player did things out of order or chose the wrong option, they would be shrunk and would have the last minute opportunity to send a message to friends telling them not to do what they had just done.

All the shrunken people got to talk in a bottle which ended up with over 3,000 posts. Click the link for more of the story and some screen shots although the site is no longer active.

Password Paradox – Addictive Password Game

December 9, 2005

The most addictive game on earth – well, for some people. Password Paradox lets you guess people’s passwords as you attempt to gain access to a secret worth a Billion Dollars!

Hundreds of players have guessed the 21 passwords and entered the Billionaire’s Den – some arriving there dozens of times.

The game is self modifying – the passwords are different each time a new Billionaire succeeds. See if you can surmise how it is done.

Hip Cats – Beatnik, Psychedelic, Goth, Surf, Urban, Cyberpunk

December 9, 2005

Hip Cats was originally going to be a work of artificial intelligence called e-male. E-male was an idea floating around for some time. It would let you construct a person with various visual components and characteristics.

In the end, the community and creative writing aspects were deemed more important than the visual aspects so default visual people were used. Also, the name e-male left out a gender.

As Dan Zen explored the modifications of characteristics, it became interesting to see various translations of the same text into different moods or genres of speech. Playing with the slang or vernacular of various movements an idea was born. Why not let what the people are saying be translated into Beatnik, Psychedelia, Goth, Urban, Cyberpunk, Surf, etc.

In general these were all fairly hip environments and miraculously, http://www.hipcats.com was not taken.

To avoid excessive download the new technology of DHTML was used to only load the text that changed as questions were asked and answers given. This technology is a combination of iframes, layers and JavaScript which each browser handled differently leading to 1,200 lines of different code for each.

Perl is used for the backend to keep track of logins, question and answer creations, mood translations, ratings, who hangs out with whom, who dates whom, messages, purchases, personal translation moods, various buzz postings in multiple categories, Hip Cat Top Ten letters, different templates, etc.

Translations and linguistics were extensively researched along with histories, music, books and films of the genres. These works can be purchased through an affiliation with Amazon.

Of the thousands of Hip Cats, there are indeed some very interesting ones but also very many lame ones some of which have dropped off the scene as they are rated more than five times with less than a fifty percent average.

If you would like to have a Hip Cat Scene (templated) then please look up our ambassador, Sador Ambas.

Blimp Race II – Viral Marketing Game

December 9, 2005

One of Dan Zen’s most successful game was Blimp Races. In the first race, people created their own blimps and then e-mailed friends to join their blimps. The blimp with the most people is winning the race. The first race had about 700 people all having fun and cursing other blimps in the forums.

Six degrees of separation were explored as who people invited and where they came from were displayed. In the second race, two years later, it really exploded when invites went into silicon valley and reached out to India, Hawaii, the Netherlands, etc.

The third race two years later was more difficult as distrust in e-mail had grown to a maximum. People were being overwhelmed by spam and just not in the mood to click links in e-mail. This situation may have gotten better with spam filters and it might be worth a try to hold race four.

The race was almost sold and set to run on the large Bell/Sympatico portal but a change in management and a reduction of original content resulted in a no go.

Spirogram – Spiral Encryption

December 9, 2005

Spirogram was the second feature (after Utopia) to be singled out on Dan Zen. It claimed that you could quadruple your visitors by adding a Spirogram to your site.

Spirogram lets you send spiral encoded messages and send them to people who then come to the site to decode the messages.

Although the campaign was targeted the Web masters to pay for a Spirogram, Dan Zen visitors could also use the Spirogram on Dan Zen and many have.

Dens – Atmospheric Online Community

December 9, 2005

The Dens are set in the Great Wall of China and represent early atmospheric forums / blogs. You can no longer create public dens but they are still active and act like a legacy to this time of communication online.

Note the subscription feature (the bat icon), a feature still used today in forums but invented by Dan Zen – although it is unknown if other subscription systems predated them.

The Den technology was also later used for communal story telling in the Blimp Race series where people hurled curses at other blimps and planned their strategies. And in Shrink Ray where players were shrunk and stuck in a bottle. And as forums for games like RichDeck, Motogami and of course the Billionaire’s Den in Password Paradox. The Hand Game was a collaborative effort that used the technology.

Prediction Train

December 9, 2005

Prediction Train lets you make predictions in different categories and vote on whether you think other predictions will come true. You can track when votes were made as the predicted date approaches. This potentially would give an indication of the social climate.

Some interesting things have occurred – Dan Zen predicted Bill Gates would step down as head of Microsoft and in a sense he did.

The game is self-modifying in that viewers can vote to remove certain predictions.

Blimp Race – Viral Marketing Game

December 9, 2005

One of Dan Zen’s most successful game was Blimp Races. In the first race, people created their own blimps and then e-mailed friends to join their blimps. The blimp with the most people wins the race. The first race had about 700 people all having fun and cursing other blimps in the forums.

Six degrees of separation were explored as who people invited and where they came from were displayed. In the second race, two years later, it really exploded when invites went into Silicon Valley and reached out to India, Hawaii, the Netherlands, etc.

The third race two years later was more difficult as distrust in e-mail had grown to a maximum. People were being overwhelmed by spam and just not in the mood to click links in e-mail. This situation may have gotten better with spam filters and it might be worth a try to hold race four.

The race was almost sold and set to run on the large Bell/Sympatico portal but there was a change in management and a reduction of original content

Gorgolon – Underwater Civilization RPG

December 9, 2005

Perhaps one of Dan Zen’s most elaborate games, Gorgolon is a sci-fi role playing spot-the-artificial-intelligence group-writing adventure. Here is the background in a nutshell:

The planet was experiencing polar melting and had to come to terms with living under water. They set up computer systems to determine the best way to start anew. Origin 5 was chosen which said to mine a vast pool of glass between the ocean floor and the molten core and live in glass bubbles. They were to run connected air towers up and down and heat the up tower with the furnaces to create circulation and create a large gorgle sound – welcome to Gorgolon.

This turns out well and there is more story in the help section. But, every day at 12 noon, a fire ivy, nurtured by static charge, grows up the towers to the surface where it discharges and causes a static storm which garbles signals between saucer fliers and Origin 5. The fliers, must identify which signal is Origin 5 or else their saucer will crash.

The game can be joined at any time (see the help section to become a Gorgolonian) and you will report to Origin 5 to help it monitor the progress of the civilization by answering a series of questions. It turns out that the leaders of the game get to read all the answers to the questions as a reward for their valor. There are over 5,000 lines of communal sci-fi from over 1,000 Gorgolonians.

But, the actual game play happens at 12 noon where anyone that is flying a saucer gets to see multiple channels. For a period of two minutes, they can talk to the others and try to pick which other channel is Origin 5 or the artificial intelligence as opposed to another player.

The game is a Turing test. But a complex environment has been woven around it. An environment that was inspired by a Dan Zen Space Rock concept album (with Thee Gnostics). Two apparently different concepts were brought together and a story was told as to how they relate. This is the same technique for creativity that is discussed in the Tower of Babel.

Salamander – Master of Disguise

December 9, 2005

Salamander was first played as an offline game where a number of Dan Zen’s 80 hats and various accessories were dispersed around the house. Under each was a clue and party goers went around trying to match their clues to player’s disguises.

The online game works well because it just keeps going. As soon as the Salamander is caught, he slips away and the park builds again. The Salamander has been caught 230 times with over 11,000 players.

The online game also provides for light role playing and multiuser feel.

Strategies are available to catch the Salamander – two hints: watch the dots and sit on the stones.

YesUmNo – The Voting Game

December 9, 2005

YesUmNo is a voting game where you click on the logo to vote yes, um or no. Polls or voting is one of the most basic forms of communication.

Many find the collapsing menu to be odd and the interface is a little exploratory. But it can be played – just type in a question and then everyone takes turns clicking their opinion and finally hit the equals sign to tally the votes.

This game harkens to board games played with family or friends. To accommodate multiple players around the computer, multiple mouses are envisioned. The mouses plug into a hub which then goes to the regular mouse port. The person moving the mouse has control until the mouse is stationary and then the next person to move gets control.

The hub would of course take the form of Swiss Cheese with the holes being where the cords plug in. Mind you, infrared would probably make more sense.

An off-line version of YesUmNo has been made with three pouches in an apron. Beads, buttons or pennies are used as the voting chips at a party. This version is depicted by the Kirputnik Cam

Chains – Publishing Game

December 9, 2005

Chains was a communal publishing game where people would pay $10 to write a commentary on what the previous person had written on various topics. Then once 100 people had completed the chain, they would get to read it.

An interesting concept and perhaps should be moved into the realm of a free game.

Here are the categories:

PHILOSOPHY

A. Is it better to float down stream?

B. Does the sleep of reason produce monsters?

C. What is beyond an echo?

D. Is a game better when it portrays real life?

EXCUSES

A. Why are you late?

B. Did you do that?

C. You dress like a slob.

D. You were going 60 over the speed limit.

OPPOSITES

A. The land of Fallovia has many graves which relentlessly remind Jade of her mortality.

B. Sheldon shoved the envelope in front of his crooked boss at the annual meeting.

CIRCUMSTANCES

A. Metaphorically kill three birds with one stone

B. The big blue thing was in the small red thing

C. The forth lever was finally pulled first

D. The moustache is lost, adjust your wrist band


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