Archive for April, 2009

Introducing Packed levels

Some of you may have noticed that we’ve implemented a points-based level system for users. The level system is used to recognize player achievements in three different categories:

Gamer levels

Gamer points recognize skill and effort in Packed gaming and can be earned in two different ways.

  • Making a top 10 score in a particular game. This is worth 10 points and will be awarded for either a new or an improved score, up to a maximum of 1,000 points. Each board on a game that has multiple score-boards (example: Powerpool 2) will be treated as an individual game.
  • Completing a quest (quest section coming very soon!)

Community levels

These are awarded to users who contribute something to Packed. The community point system works as follows:

  • Posting a comment - 1 point
  • Rating a game - 1 point
  • Thanking a user - 1 point
  • Writing a tip - 3 points
  • Writing a walkthrough - 5 points
  • Getting a ‘thanks’ from another user - 20 points

You may gain an unlimited amount of points and levels from getting ‘thanks’ from other users. However all other forms of gaining points are capped at 1,000 points. This means that after you’ve gained 1,000 points from posting comments, rating games and writing tips, the only way you could gain additional points and levels is to get thanked by other users for tips and walkthroughs you have written.

Developer levels

These would recognize accomplishments of users who build games at the Packed factory. More details on this will be announced once the factory is open to the public.

You will gain gamer, community and developer levels automatically and concurrently, but only one of them will be displayed next to your name when you post a comment or tip. You can go to your profile page to see more information about your current levels and how many points you need to advance to the next level. Currently we display your highest level next to your name when you post a comment but soon we will allow you to choose which level to display.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 News No Comments

Packing flash games with a new dimension

Like the mobile phone forever changed the way you communicate on the go, Packed3D™ will forever change the way you play flash games. Packed3D is capable of taking an existing compiled flash game, and turn it into a fully functional 3D game. Classic flash games like Bloons and The Last Stand can now be enjoyed with beautifully rendered 3D objects. Packed3D is currently in closed beta, but today we have released this video demonstration of the classic game Bloons converted into 3D.

The “magic” works in a two-step process. First, all 2D vector game objects are analyzed and 3D models are created based on a ‘guesstimation’ of how a 3D version of the object might look. Then, camera angels are calculated at random for different parts of the game. This process typically takes under a minute and afterwards the game is ready to be played in 3D. Naturally, the rendering engine doesn’t always gets the 3D models right the first time and the camera angels don’t always make sense initially. This is where the self-improvement side of Packed3D comes into play.

While players are playing processed games, Packed3D monitors player activity and watches for signs that 3D models or camera angels are not right. Several data points are analyzed such as player performance (poor performance may indicate poor camera angels) and time played. But by far the most significant data point is player facial expressions during play. Packed3D uses webcam data from the flash player to record player facial expressions and eyeball movements (players must first consent to this) and analyses them to determine which 3D models require improvement. Humans have a very distinct “this doesn’t look right” facial expression and when Packed3D detects this expression it records which object the eye was tracking at that exact time and then changes it slightly for the next player until it gets it right. This is made possible largely due to research conducted at the DIA of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s School of Computing last year. 90% of the improvement happens in the first 1,000 plays, after which players report the graphics feel very realistic.

Gameplay isn’t affected by Packed3D conversion, only the game visuals. Currently, over 40% of the games we’ve tested were fully functional after conversion. Games that pose difficulty are flash games that are already in 3D or games that use mostly bitmap graphics. Dr. Klaun, the lead engineer behind Packed3D, believes that we’ll be able to get our success rate to over 60% before the scheduled launch in August.

Two business models will be available upon launch. The first will be geared towards developers and will allow them to submit their games for Packed3D enhancement in return for a small portion of ad revenues (several negotiations with in-game ad companies are currently taking place). The second business model is geared towards portals and will allow them to offer part of the gaming catalogue in 3D. The portal offering will use a licensing pricing model based on the size of the portal. A licensing deal with has already been signed and more portals are expected to sign-up in the coming weeks.


Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 News 6 Comments