Saturday, October 03, 2009

How to cheat the beaters!

Somewhere in the Netherlands, there's a group of teenagers having fun on Monopoly City Streets. Something special about this? There are thousands of people having fun out there. There are also thousands of people who don't have fun anymore on Monopoly City Streets. Many have quit playing because all the hours spent on the game were devastated by groups of rampart teenagers like this one.

They play in gangs, handling multiple accounts and moving in on serious players. They have fun in destroying other players. It's a group of 4 to 5 players who have multiple accounts:

There is:
  1. Janneke (accounts Jannek1 to Janneke9)
  2. WZ (accounts WZ1 to WZ9)
  3. Alenka (accounts Alenka1 to Alenka9)
  4. Woody (accounts Woodski, Woodsky6 and Woodyho and probably a few others)
  5. Bl0ggertje (Account Bl0ggertje -with a zero) and Bloggertje1 to Bloggertje9)

Mind that last one, the main account is Bl0ggertje with a zero, Bloggertje with an ooh is my account! Everyday at least 20 attacks by these accounts landed on my streets. Of course, I've got another account with which I still am going strong in the game, but I've kept this one off their radar. Today I was doubting. Should I stop with this account or not? It is frustrating to work with this account everyday just to clean up the hazards and build new parks. Sometimes even selling houses just to get another chance card...

Well, today is not a good day to die. I sold every street 'Bloggertje' still owned and bought me a nice 3 Million dollar street in the middle of Oklahoma. Armed with 7 Million dollar to build and an autobuild script I set to work, cuz today is Payback Day!

I speedbuilt 140 green houses and received a stunning load of chance cards and went back to taking on all of these accounts. Mind you, in Monopoly City Streets a rampant account has an enormous destructive power. With just 10 million dollar to spend I've managed to wreck over a billion worth of streets. Here's some of today's harvest:

I really must say, I've refound the joy in the game. The sole purpose of keeping this account alive is to strike back and let them experience what they are doing to others. Anyone in for game?

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Advanced MCS Strategy: Your Footprint

In my previous blogpost I explained why you need to find long streets. But now, what's the best way to build them? Which buildings give you the best return on investment?

So, what are the figures?

Starting with the smallest building, the Green House, costing you can see it costs only 50K and returns a 50K rent. So that's a 100% return on investment! But what do you get from this building? I set out a small stretch of road, between two Blanco Bastions. Now to select the Green House. As you can see, there are 13 free markers. So for 650K I can get a 650K return in rents.

The Blanco Bastion costs 1.1M$ and returns a daily rent of 750 K$. However, there are only 3 free markers for building the Bastion. This little stretch could cost 3.3M$ and return a daily 2,25M$ with this type of building.

Now sadly, as the prices go up for appartments, the relative income drops severely. Whereas the return with a Blanco Bastion is still at about 70%, the return on a Briquette Tower is only 16.6% as it costs a ludicrous 15M$ to build and gives a return in rent of just 2.2 M$. So what's the best footprint to get?

The Cubic Quarters builds at 2M$ and returns 950K$, so nearly 50%. It's footprint allows upto 6 of these to be build on the stretch I set out, so 12M$ returns almost 6M$ in rents.

The Spear End Summit tower costs 5,000,000 $ and returns a daily rent of 1,300,000 $. As you can see, there are 7 free markers for building the Spear End. This little stretch could cost 35M$ and return a daily 9,1M$.

The Briquette Tower tower costs 15,000,000 $ and returns a daily rent of 2,500,000 $. As you can see, there are 5 free markers for building the Briquette. This little stretch could cost 75M$ and return a daily 12,5M$.

So basically I would say that in terms of footprint, probably the Spear End Summit gives you the best value for money, but it will take a lot of money to build a 24 M$ street with only Spear End Summits. I have started out building my street with Blanco Bastions and fill up the small spots in between with Spear End Summits. Seeing the numbers and the footprint, maybe it's smarter to build the Cubic Quarters all over.

Your Bonus Building Footprint

On the Monopoly City Street Headquarters blog there is an interesting comment on Strategy, namely the fact that bonus buildings have a different footprint as well:

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Your Guide to Monopoly City Streets

It's that time of year again when the days shorten and the evenings are covered in darkness. Curtains drawn and the lights on. It's weekend and the kids are finishing washing the dishes. Now the table is clear and we get out that famous old square boardgame: Monopoly by Parker Brothers. A sure guarantee for long hours of family entertainment.

At least, that's what it was when I grew up. Especially during the long winternights we spent hours of playing games (when there was no homework to do), so when Hasbro launched Monopoly City Streets, its online version of the game September 9, it was perfect timing. It's game on!

However, it turned out to be a little more complicated to get that old 'family entertainment' thing into the gameplay. This is what I'll cover in this article. For a basic howto of the game you can check out tons of websites, ranging from this blog to the respectable Mashable.

Monopoly City Streets - first release

The online game released by Hasbro was a massively multiplyer online game (mmo) in which the classic boardgame was set up on a worldwide scale using Google Maps technology. As a player you could buy every street in the world and earn rent, buy complete cities and turn into a real estate mogul.

The burdens of success

Monopoly City Streets was a big success from the start. Hasbro and their agency Tribal DDB must have been overtaken by surprise. They were handling pure gold, and that's where the danger is. Least of their worries would have been that the servers strained under the onrush of real estate brokers worldwide. Servers are pretty easily upscaled these days. No, the danger was in cheating.

It didn't take long for Hasbro to reset the game, which happened on September 17th. There have been a number of adjustments to the game, but those did not solve the cheating problem.

Hasbro has taken hardly any precaution to making the game cheat-proof. The terms and conditions do not specifically mention it is prohibited to creating multiple accounts and their is no email verification on creating an account. More specifically, they have said to allow up to five accounts per pc! The reason for doing so is that they want Monopoly to be a family game, the way it should be. Sadly, that is a little naive. Extremely sad, as cheaters are now ruining the game for tons of sincere monopoly-loving gamers like me. I know several pretty fanatic gamers who can stand a bit of trouble having given up on the game as it is almost impossible to beat the cheaters, but I will tell you how!

So as it is possible to have multiple accounts, what happens? Tons of frustrated teenagers sit down behinbd their computer and create dozens of accounts and start nagging people by making their streets worthless by destroying bonus buildings and building hazards like prisons, sewers and plants on your streets. One of my accounts was spammed severely by cheaters as well. Here's a little naming and shaming:

The bizarre part here is that my account is called bloggertje and that it got spammed by another account called bloggertje. So apparently, it is possible that an account name is registered more than once!

This particular account is now worthless, I don't get any rents on these streets, as it got spammed by bloggertje (and his doubles), janneke (and her doubles), WZ2 (and his doubles) and so on. I have reported the names to Monopoly, but although they promised to take action on the cheaters, no news so far. They are still active.

Fortunately, not everyone is hampered by these multiple accounts. I have three accounts myself (now four, as I started a new one to prove my theory, so still under the 5 per pc rule). I have noted they are regions in which the nasty little critters are more active. I had two accounts in my hometown, Ede, Gelderland, and both were severely attacked by these spammers. I have an account somewhere else, and that hardly got spammed, even if it did grow bigger in the shadows. So here's how to beat them!

How to beat the cheaters!

Before the cheaters can target you, you have to be noted. If you're a bit serious and have bought some good streets, there's a good chance that you'll turn up in the local top 10. If you're unlucky like me and tons of other players, you're in an active cheating region and you get attacked pretty bad as they see your name appear on the leaderboard. If you're very good, you'll end up in the National or Worldwide rankings, but that's probably far off.... Although, with my prime playing account I'm just under the national top 10 at 450M$ without cheating!

Which roads to buy

The trick to grow and avoid being noted is to stay below the radar, and here's how you do it. Many of us have the urge to start in our own hometowns, like I did. The Netherlands is crowded with early adapters. A lot of players and cheaters live here, so towns get crowded fast and good streets are hard to find.

Especially in the Netherlands, but probably in the US and UK there are tons of small and cheap streets in the towns, but you have to stay away from streets below 1 Million M$. Streets prices 1M$ and up give you a return of 100% on the investment for the cheap houses. A 50K$ house will bring a 50K$ rent. Cheaper streets will have lower returns.

Just after the reset, it exponentially grew on the other end as well, so a 50K$ house on a 6M$ street would give a rent of say 250K$, but that's off now, sadly as it made quite a few good bucks. One of the changes during the reset was the introduction of taxes, which means the more streets you have, the more taxation you'll get. First 5 streets are free, every other gets billed 3% in taxes, meaning if you have over 38 streets you will have no income.

The long and winding road

So the trick is to find the longest road possible and build as many houses as possible on say just 5 to 10 streets, without being noted! And that's what you see happening with the top Dutch players as well. On the leaderboard below, each of these top players has one or more long streets somewhere in Australia or Canada which are way less populated and have longer distances to cover than in the Netherlands.

NOTE: To find long roads the best chance you'll have is to find one in big, scarcely populated countries, such as Canada, Australia or in Africa. However, please note that quite often only the major roads, Highways and such are up for sale here. Lots of city streets are just not covered by the game in these areas.

And that's still possible! But you have to...

Stay below the radar

This will take some time, but scroll over the world map to lowly populated areas and look for a good street. As you start with only 3M$ (3 million monopoly dollars) you have to find a street prices just a little over 1M$ to get the best return and still have money to start building the street. There are still pretty good streets out there, just like the one below, which is priced 6M$. If you find one like this and it's still available, keep close tabs on it!

If you zoom out one level you will see 'for sale' signs popping up, scan them to see if any good street is available.

The best streets are the hidden ones. Long streets often are much longer than they appear. On the road below, somewhere near Durban, South Africa, you see the Outer Ring Rd, which seems to be uninhabited and not up for sale.

A lot of scrolling learns that it is bought by a player, but you don't see the overlay appear on the map and the street popping up in the property list as you hover over the edges of the street. So keep looking and scrolling!

Now, I've done some good business. I found a new street for 1.035 M$ and bought it. Back to the leaderboard you'll see it's empty! Only one other person has registered in this area! I've blanked out his name to protect his and my own privacy off course, but this is a spot to grow. No one will notice you growing on the local leaderboard and it will take some quiet growing to get up on the national leaderboard. Meanwhile, you have time to fortify your long and winding roads with plenty of parks, schools and stadiums to withstand a pretty severe hit later on in the game.

Strategic Roads

A long road is not only good for building, it is also good for staying below the radar. As I said, it will take some time to find out if it's built or not and harassment comes in a hit and run strategy. But there's even a more suitable road to avoid this, and that's what I call a strategic road.

I can blog this one since I sold it at a good profit a few days ago for 50M$. This road is split up into three segments. The top one appears on the radar, the bottom two stretches fall off the screen if you're in the closest zoom.

There's three ways in which you can find a street like this:
  1. Know such a street in your area
  2. Take hours or days of searching
  3. Dumb luck
The last one was the case for me when I bought this one. It was a good priced street, at 4M$ so I bought it. When I built the street one by one the pilons were replaced by houses, until there were no pilons left. Somehow, I could still built houses, but I did not see any markers left to build on! It took me several hours to find the third stretch! I had to take three different roads to get there! Now build your bonus buildings on that stretch of land and it will take time for the critters to find it. Hopefully they grow tired and move on to their next victim.

Finally, to help you find a good street, use the tool by Monopoly Street Clans and read blogs like Monopoly City Street Secrets or Monopoly City Street HeadQuarters to get some more hints on strategy. If you find the right street in the right neighbourhood and can stay below the radar long enough to grow strong, this game is perfect. It is a fantastic game to play -as long as it's played fair!

PS. The world didn't change over the past decade or so. To be honest. When we were playing the board game as kids, we were cheating as well. Who didn't slip 50K notes under te table?

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Monopoly City Streets Revamped

Monopoly City Streets has been released early September as a promotional game to support the launch of the new Hasbro Monoploy City Streets edition, but has became such an overwhelming success that performance was bad. After 1.5 weeks of gameplay Hasbro and their UK based digital agency Tribal DDB, who created the game have decided to bring the world down for a full reboot on September 17th.

Now Monopoly City Streets is back up and running with a number of gameplay changes. Here's a list of changes as published on the official MCS blog:

Streets can only change hands ONCE per day
In other words, no street can be bought or sold more than once per day. So, be wise about your street selection.

Bidding Cap Removed
For level 3 players and above, we have removed the bidding cap of M1.5 million on streets. Have fun.

Addition of "For Sale" signs
Having a hard time finding a street to purchase? Now when viewing the zoomed out map, you will see red “for sale” signs that will indicate where streets are available. Click on the sign to visit the neighborhood and buy, buy, buy.

There is only one certainty in MONOPOLY City Streets. Tax. Just like in real life, tax now plays an integral part of the game. The first 5 streets that you own are tax-free. The current tax rate is 3% per street. For example, if you own 15 streets your tax will be 30% of your total rent collected every day. If you own 25 streets your tax will be 60%, etc.

Street Protection
Many of you noticed that if there is an offer made on a street, it was protected from hazards and the bulldozer while the street is under negotiation. No longer. Streets will no longer be protected when they are included in negotiations.

Forced Repossession of Streets
It pays to play regularly. If, after 2 weeks, there has not been any activity on your account, the bank will automatically repossess ALL your streets. Ouch. So, keep buying, building and negotiating - you never know what chance has in store for you…

They have really been looking into how to avoid cheating but have not extended the Terms and Conditions, nor have they added email verification.

Monopoly City is a family board game. And, by extension, Monopoly City Streets is a family game. We are limited as to the type of information we can collect from younger players (especially internationally) and as such have not added e-mail verification.

I can undertand this, but am afraid cheaters will not care about family entertainment. After the game being open for just 10 minutes I already saw streets worth over 300 Million, whereas 3M should be the max for day 1. I hope there's just a way to see who's been cheating and who's been playing fair.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Monopoly Reboot

"We're in the process of resetting the game. We're busy behind the scenes making changes and testing. We'll be back soon." (MCS Blog)

Today is the day that one of the hottest hypes in online gaming is down for a cold reboot. It's been just over a week since Monopoly City Streets first saw it first dawn. Launched on September 9th, Monopoly City Street is a

massively multiplayer online strategy game based on the classic Parker Monopoly Game. The online MCS has started as a mere promotion for the new edition of Monopoly but has become an overnight smash hit on the internet as it puts the classic gameplay onto the real world using Google Maps.

MCS allows you to buy almost every street in the world (excluding entire North Korea and Israel and the usual backroads) and build appartment blocks to receive rent.

An overnight success it has been indeed.

"At launch, we were blown away by the sheer numbers of people who wanted to try their hand at global real estate domination (1.7 million in day one alone!). We made headlines all over the world and this resulted in even more MONOPOLY fans rushing to be a part of the action." (MCS Blog)

Success did kill performance though. Monopoly Old Style has probably been played by millions of people all over the world, all those are now flocking to the online game to build their real estate empire, based on their own turf.

In one of my previous posts I did look into the possibilities for cheating, as there were a few. We like it fair though, so I'm quite happy that they've decided to bring down the game for a full reboot. Servers are up and ready for good performance and some tweaks have been made to the gameplay. I for one am looking forward to the new MSC coming online very soon. A new round, new chances, and hopefully, less subject to cheating.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Monopoly City Streetwise

In my previous blogpost I described the new online Monopoly Game, Monopoly City Streets, based on Google Maps. I described my basic first seps and gameplay, and pointed out some possible way to cheat. Now, although that option apparently exists, I will not try to take advantage out of it. But I did create some extra accounts to see what could be different strategies to the gameplay.

Terms and Conditions

One of the first things to check was if the Terms and Conditions said anything about creating muliple accounts. Well, strangely enough, they don't. So apparently it is allowed to create more than one account.

Okay, a few accounts created and time to dig into strategy and get Streetwise.

First Time around

When you're first time around, you'd probably start buying a street near where you live, or would like to live. If the street is available, you'll purchase it and put a nice big appartment on it to get a lot of income from rents. As you build your appartment, you'll see that (especially in long streets) there are a lot of spots to place your appartment.

When that's done, and you're lucky you will receive a chance card to build a stadium or a park to protect your propert. So, I put the park into place. Then you'll probably buy some streets around your first Headquarters, because the game says connecting property is worth more. By following this strategy though, you'll leave your defenses wide open. A lot of construction sites on your property will not be filled, and they're just begging to be spoiled by Prisons, Sewers and Plants to ruin your income.

If you're lucky, you'll have a chance card to raze a building so you can take away the pollution from your neighbourhood. If not, no rents today!

Fill her up!

A different approach is to buy a pretty neat street and fill her up by building slightly cheaper appartments. That's what I did in this place. I bought a long street and filled it up. In the process I also received a bonus building to protect my property.

Hot Property Sales

A street in densely populated areas should get higher renting prices. If you turn to Monopoly City Streets now, you will find that most city centers of large, popular cities have been totally sold out already. Anyway, I did manage to find a few streets up for sale in downtown Amsterdam. The theory here is that people who've invested big time to create a hot property spot here will probably be looking forward to expand. If you manage to get a street in such an area, you will have to wait and see if you'll get offered a good price and sell your property with a huge profit.

A few tips

The more expensive an empty street is, the more you will get from rents. For example a Grid Building built on a 1M street brings in 550K per day, whereas the same building on a 150K street only brings in 65K per day.

Chance Cards are dealt pretty randomly (sofar I could find a pattern), but the more actions you perform, the more cards you'll get. So if you buy one expensive street and build two expansive appartments, your money is up and you've only performed three actions this turn. If you buy a slightly cheaper street and fill her up with 10 small appartments,, you've done 11 actions and the chances of getting a chance card significantly goes up.

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Real Estate Business Booming Again

In the last two days we have seen an enormous surge in the Real Estate business with thousands of new appartment blocks, parks and businesses being commisioned and built. It's not that the credit crunch is suddenly over, no it's the birth of Monopoly City Streets.

Monopoly City Streets is a flash based online game based on the legendary Monopoly board game we all used to play when we were kids, but immensely upscaled. Instead of the board Hasbro now uses Google Maps and you are able to build everywhere we like.

It's been two days since the launch of Monopoly City Streets, on 09-09, and I got online yesterday to check it out. Basic gameplay is quite easy: You get a stash of M 3,000,000 and you start clicking away. Buy streets and build houses to earn rent. The more streets you have connected, and the more densely populated the area is, the higher the income you get from rents.

I picked out a little old town in the Netherlands to start my real estate empire. I've bought a few streets and a couple of houses to get going and collect my rents. Basically, the game is turn based and gets updated daily. After my first day I was able to triple my networth from 3M to 9M.

As with the board game, you have chance cards; some for good, some for bad. With the chance cards you will be able to build bonus buildings, like sewers and plants that kill rents on a street, or parks and stadiums that will prevent others from placing sewers and plants on your streets.


When looking at the world rankings you see that only after a 4 days of gameplay there are people with a networth over 2 billion, so the first question that comes to mind is: How to cheat? You are able to make bids on streets owned by other players. The minimum bid you have to do is the current value of the street, so it's not possible to create multiple accounts and sell good real estate for peanuts... but, the other way around probably does work: Create multiple accounts and offer 3 million M's for a street worth 100K for instance, feeding the main account with tons of money, and I think this is what's happening. It's impossible to go from 3M to 2B in 4 days.

Top accounts are obviously the most obvious candidates to target with sewers and plants. If you receive a bonuscard to build a plant, just build it on the street of a big spender in your region so he won't get income from these streets.

Big Cities

If you start building, you obviously want to be a big real estate tycoon at a top location. Forget it. Cities like New York, Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam are already taken. Well, not all streets are sold yet, but it is getting pretty crowded here. Below you'll see an overview of New York and Paris, with a detailed shot of both as well.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dutch Parliament wants age classification for online gaming

Gaming is fun, usually. Most of us gamers have our favorites we like to play, wheter it be racing, shootem ups, role playing or strategy. To me it's pretty obvious I play different games than my 4 year old daughter. She doesn't have the foggiest idea of how Civilisation V or Ceasar IV works, whereas I get bored with Dora the Explorer. But what if your child is 10, would you let it play World of Warcraft or Command and Conquer, or even bloodier games?

As with films (movies if you like), there is an age classification for games. This classification now has caused the largest political faction in the Dutch Parliament, the CDA, to inquire about age classification for internet games on several gaming portals. Member of Parliament Mirjam Sterk is convinced the government has a role to play in giving attention to this issue and has questioned minister André Rouvoet (Youth and Family) and minister Ronald Plasterk (Education, Culture and Science) according to Dutch newssite Emerce:

Parents must be able to see when a game is suited for children of various age groups. The member of parliament asks if there have been talks with the Dutch Institute for Classification of Audiovisual Media (Nicam) about the promotion of a European guide for internet games. The organisation My Child Online concluded earlier that gameportals should introduce an age classification for violent or harmful games. The foundation also concluded that gameportals often hold a lot of games which receive a Pan European Gam Information (PEGI) classification of 16+ without notifying the visitors.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hails from the Arena (1)

Rather than trying to find a new company in Second Life I've spent my past time in playing Gladiatus the past few weeks, which is rather easy to do as it doesn't take much time. Time to do a little update on the game.

Gladiatus, the Town of Rome

The game of Gladiatus has 3 areas; the town, the province and the dungeons. In this blogpost I'd like to focus on the town as this is where the game begins. First there are the stable and the jewellers shop (image 1 and image 2). Working in the stables will get you money you'll need to buy armor and other items. At the Jeweller's you can buy (obviously) Jewels, which can be purchased with real money through paypal and other payment methods. These Jewels can be used (for instance) to hurry expeditions in the province.

A small outing to the province brings you to the hermit (image 3) where you'll be able to change your name (at a price) if you've made too many enemies, or simply if you think you need a more heroic name. With the money you have earned you can visit various shops in town. There's the armory and the weaponsmith (image 4 and image 5) where you can buy armor and weapons. A third shop houses the Alchemist (image 6) where you can buy potions and rings to strengthen your items or yourself.

A fourth shop is the Merchant's (image 7) where you can buy food, gloves and shoes. Buying items at the armory and weaponsmith comes at a price. Often these items are quite expensive and the best items always need Jewels (hence real money) to purchase. Best option to acquire good items is the Auction (image 8). At the auction, which runs in cycles of approximately 4-5 hours a new set of items is available. You can bid on these items, but plan well ahead. When you are overbid, you lose the money you've invested in the auction as well. However, there's the option to use Jewels here as well. Let's say items come at a base price of 2500 gold coins and 10 Jewels, you can start bidding at 2501 gold coins. If it is a hot item, the price may well rise to 12000 gold items. If you really want the item, you can still nick it away in a direct sale for 2500 gold coins and 10 Jewels. A second alternative to get items without buying Jewels is at the marketplace (image 9). This is where gamer to gamer sales take place.

When you're dressed for success, you'll need every bit of money you can find to visit the trainer (image 10) to work on your stats (strength, charisma, intelligence, speed etc.) and prepare yourself for the live of a Gladiator.

Living the live of the Gladiator starts in the arena (image 11). Here you can fight against fellow gamers. The arena is level based. For every 10 levels there is a seperate pool, so you'll stand a fair chance. On the particular server I played, the arena for level 1-9 was about 750 players, and the same went for the arena on level 10-19.

Final place to stop in the town is the inn, where the innkeeper (image 12) is the one who deals out quests. These quests will get you a nice reward, in money and sometimes in fine items. Items you receive in quests, but don't want to use can be sold at the appropriate shop or at the market. The innkeeper will provide you with simple quests like talking to various shopkeepers or exploring certain areas in the province, or harder ones to find artefacts in the province or win a fight in the arena.

As I said, the arena works in level based pools. The image above shows a bit more detail on the arena. It has two columns of Gladiators, first of which is the top 5 Gladiators in this level pool. Every hour you're on spot 1 there's money added to the jackpot. Beating the number 1 gladiator gets you the jackpot. The second column is a list of the 4 Gladiators ahead of you in the competition, these are the Gladiators you can fight to rise in rank. As you can see, my charachter, Verritus has risen to rank 10 in this group. I actually made it to rank 6 in this pool before I levelled to level 20 and had to start all over again.

Finally, there's the guardsman (image 10 as well) which is accessible after level 10 who can give you Dungeon related quests. Also, after level 10 your merchant has an extra tab available to purchase mercenaries, which I'll go into in a later blogpost.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Step into the Arena: Gladiatus

Yesterday I signed up at yet another online game. This one's called Gladiatus. In this MMO you log into ancient Rome and become a heroic Gladiator.

Gladiatus is a continuously evolving Massively Multiplayer Online Game where you play as one of the many gladiators of Ancient Rome. Although not mandatory, players generally compete in trying to become the highest ranked character in the Arena and/or the specific game server. Gladiatus was released in May 2007, with an online forum being launched at the same time. The forum still exists to serve as a media for in-game discussions, help and etc. [Wikipedia]

The game has two main areas, first of which the city of Rome where you'll find the inn (where you can get quests), training grounds, shops and the Arena where you can challenge other Gladiators in your claim for fame.

The other area in Gladiatus is the great outback where you can fight bandits, thieves, wolves, do mountain expeditions to gain experience and find artefacts.

It's pretty basic when compared to the slick 3D worlds out there right now, but I like the theme. Watch out, it has the potential be a little addictive. There's several thousands of players out there to fight and you can find me here on server 3.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Court Ruling in the RuneScape Case (2)

I thought I was pretty fluent in English, and my Dutch beyond question as I'm a native speaker. However, when digging into the actual court ruling in the RuneScape case as a follow up to the brief summary I posted last week, I had a lot of trouble understanding the contents in Dutch, not being legally educated and at times had even more trouble finding a suitable translation.

I did give it a try though, as the Google translation of the original document, which now circulates various blogs does not make sense at times. As it is a very lengthy document I've left out a number of things, these are:

  • Proof Recital
  • Evidence Recital
  • Proof Declaration
  • Quantification
  • Verdict Motivation

If so desired, I'll take a shot on those as well.

Court Ruling


Criminal Division
Prosecutor number 17/676123-07 VEV

Verdict of the full court for the treatment of the case of the declarant against the accused dated October 21, 2008

born on [birth date] 1992 [birthplace],
residing at [address suspect]

The court has paid notice to the investigation presented at the hearing held on October 7, 2008. The suspect appeared, assisted by RA Schütz, lawyer in Leeuwarden.

Criminal Charge

A photocopy, certified by the Registrar, of the subpoena is attached to this ruling from which the content of the charge should be considered in this ruling. Clerical errors in the verdict will be corrected in reading. These errors will not hurt the suspects' interests.

Prosecutor's Claim

The prosecutor has argued at the hearing

  1. Conviction for the primary charge
  2. Assignment of Civil Service for the duration of 180 hours or 90 days youth detention alternatively as well as conditional youth detention for four weeks with a probationary period of two years;

Consideration regarding the request of the counsel to the hearing of witnesses.

The counsel called for the case to be held at the hearing, as provided for in Article 328 in conjunction with Article 315 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as it has become a necessity that the principal, the co-defendant and the interrogators of the suspects will be heard as witnesses. The court quotes the argumentation by the counsel.

Client strongly denies the alleged conduct. He claims not to have used any violence and has not seen the co-defendent use violence as appeared on the charges. The violence and threats comitted by the [suspect] as the declarant claims does not correspond with the profile of [suspect] obtained from the report of the Council for Child Protection.. It is inconceivable that someone like [suspect] , as we have got to know him through various recommendations, would conduct such violent behavior all of a sudden. According to [suspect] the declarant has erroneously connected the acts the [co-defendant] allegedly comitted with those of [suspect] . Possibly the declarant was confused by the acts of [co-defendant] in such a way that the criminal charge may give a wrong interpretation of the facts. The file clearly shows the declarant was quite upset. The fact that [co-defendant] also incriminated [suspect] , can be explained from the fact that [co-defendant] hoped to get a better deal if he would lay off part of the charges with [suspect] according to [suspect] .

[suspect] states that he has denied all involvement at the police in a first interrogation, but when the police made clear they did not believe him and told him he would possibly have to stay much longer at the police office, he acknowledged the accusations. The charge does not reflect this first denial of [suspect] .

Concluding from the previous arguments [suspect] thinks it is necessary that the declarant, [co-defendant] and interrogators will be heard to find the truth. The declarant and [co-defendant] to review the accuracy of the charge and interrogation concerning the incriminating facts to [suspect]; the interrogators to verify if [suspect] indeed was in denial at first and whether [suspect] has spontaneously told the story as it appears in the charge or if parts in the interrogation report or the charge have been adopted from the declaration of [co-defendant] which [suspect] may have acknowlegded.

Since due to a typographical error in the address on the letters which I sent to [suspect] these letters were returned to sender (in a late stage) and did not reach [suspect] , this case could not be discussed with him before friday september 26, 2008, being 10 days prior to this hearing which was the reason for not calling for the aforementioned withnesses 10 days prior to the hearing.

The court is considering as follows. In short, the counsel has argued the reliability of the charge and statements in his request. According to the judgement of this court this request is insufficiently substantiated according to legal standards and the documents and the argumentation at the hearing, also considering ther argumentation of the suspect , no indication has risen to further hear these persons as witnesses.

The constituent 'good' as provided for in Article 310 of the Penal Code

The Public Prosecutor has, in short, argued in court that the virtual amulet and the virtual mask are goods which fall under the constituent 'good' as provided for in Article 310 of the Penal code, whereas the counsel has argued the opposite during the hearing.

The court is considering as follows. In this case we have to deal with virtual goods, namely a virtual amulet and a virtual mask from the online game "RuneScape". The following is known ex officio to the court about "RuneScape". "RuneScape is one of the larger online games and especially popular among the youth. Millions of players, socalled online gamers, from all over the world play the game "RuneScape". "RuneScape is set in a virtual world in which the players can participate with their carachters. Players may fullfill assignments ( 'quests'), fight other players and deploy other activities. To this end players can procure 'items' such as a mask or amulet. The items each have a value. This value is expressed in this game in 'coins', fluctiating on the basis of supply and demand of these items.With those 'coins' a player can train skills. The more 'coins' a player posesses, the stronger he is in the game "RuneScape".

Declarant, suspect and co-defendant each had an account, which gave access to playing "RuneScape" and were also active players of this game. Declarant had in his posesssion a virtual amulet and a virtual mask.

Article 310 of the Penal Code aims to protect the property of citizens In answering the question whether or not virtual goods are 'goods' in the meaning of that article, this aim has to be taken into consideration. There are a number of criteria that must be met for these virtual goods to considered 'goods' in the meaning of this article.

First of all, it is important if a good has value to the posessor. This value does not need to be expressed in money. In today's society, the virtual goods from the online computer game "RuneScape" have become of significance. To large numbers of online players these goods have value. The more virtual goods a player has, the stronger he is in the game.Moreover, the virtual goods are bought and sold with money, e.g. through the internet or schoolyard. From this case it also shows that the mask and amulet had value to both the declarand and the suspect and co-defendant.

Of interest is that a 'good' need not be material. It has been determined by case law that non-material goods, such as electricity and giro transfers, are labelled 'goods' as well in a criminal sense. The virtual amulet and the virtual mask as considered in the case at hand are not material goods, albeith they are noticable. Regarding case law this is no prohibition to declare these as 'goods' under the meaning of Article 310 of the Penal Code.

Furthermore, jurisprudence shows it is an important feature of a 'good' in a criminal sense that the taker receives control over the goods in theft and the victim loses actual control of these goods. The posession of a good must be transferrable from one to another. When speaking of posession in a criminal sense, it means having actual power. Case law has previously determined the foregoing is not applicable in case of a PIN number, computer data and phone call minutes in a subscription bundle. In this case the virtual goods, namely a virtual amulet and a virtual mask, were in posession of the declarant. Only he had actual control over these goods. The posession of virtual goods can be transferred, e.g. by moving these goods from one account to another.

In the case at hand these goods have transferred, namely from the actual control of the declarant to that of suspect and co-defendant. Suspect and co-defendant have transferred the goods from the account of the declarant to the account of the suspect. In this act the declarant has lost actual control over these goods and suspect and co-defendant have obtained actual control over these goods.

As the virtual amulet and virtual mask as defined in the case at hand meet the aforementioned criteria, the court is of the opinion that these virtual goods are to be included in the concept of 'goods' as provided for in Artcile 310 of the Penal Code and belonged to the declarant.

Application of laws

The court has taken into consideration articles 77a, 77g (old), 77i, 77m (old), 77n, 77x (old), 77y (old), 77z (old), 310 and 312 of the Penal Code.


Denies the request of counsel to hear further witnesses

Declares the primary charge proven, qunatifyable and punishable

Convicts suspect in this case to

Civil Service consisting of 160 hours of unpaid labor. Labor has to be done within a 12 months.

Orders, in case the convict does not carry out his civil service in good manner, alternative youth detention will be applied for the length of 80 days.

Youth detention for four weeks.

Determines this youth detention wil not be executed, unless the judge may rule otherwise in a later stadium, based on a probation period, which hereby is set at two years, if convict has commited a fellony.

Decalres not proven which is charged to suspect more or other than the proven and dismisses charges against suspect.

This verdict is ruled by mr. BJ de Jong, president, mr. MJ Dijkstra and mr. A. de Jong, judges, assisted by mr. G. Sannes, Registrar, and pronounced at the public hearing in this court on October 21, 2008.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Microsoft goes Mii Too on Virtual Worlds

Yesterday Microsoft went head on with rival Sony at the Tokyo Game Show as they presented their new immersive 3D Xbox experience, We've been seeing reports and snapshots of Soný's Playstation Home for a while now, but actual deployment has been delayed several times.
Sony Corp.'s twice delayed online "Home" virtual world for the PlayStation 3 console will be available sometime later this year, while U.S. software maker Microsoft Corp., which competes with its Xbox 360, is starting "New Xbox Experience" worldwide Nov. 19. [International Herald Tribune]

Microsoft promised to be more varied as a gateway to various entertainment, such as watching movies, going to virtual parties and sharing your collection of photos.

"Our goal is to make the Xbox experience more visual, easier to use, more fun to use and more social," he [Shappert] said in an interview at a nearby hotel. "We focused a lot on friends and other experiences outside just playing games."[International Herald Tribune]

What the International Herald Tribune didn't write is that it wasn't exactly Sony that Microsoft was taking on, they were on a collision course with Nintendo's Wii experience.

The moment MTV News revealed Microsoft was working on a Mii-like system called Avatars, accusations of copying Nintendo started flying.

That reaction only intensified when the rumors became fact at this year’s E3. Microsoft expected this reaction. At least, that’s what they told me while showing the “New Xbox Experience,” a complete dashboard revamp coming later this year.

“I remember the CES right after the Wii launched and all the [gaming] editors were asking, ‘When are you guys going to do your version of the Miis?,” Xbox director of marketing Albert Penello told MTV Multiplayer in a hotel suite interview two weeks ago. “I remember going, ‘You guys are going to slaughter us in the press if we ever do it.’ [lMTV]

Read the full story in MTV's Microsoft: Our Mii-Like Avatars Borrow From ‘World of Warcraft,’ Could Connect With ‘Gears of War’ .

Actually it's quite funny. I remember someone at Microsoft said (very recently): "Nah, social worlds don't work. No money to be made there". Remember who it was?

It was Microsoft's Craig Mundie who spoke at the MIT Emtech summit last month.

"Microsoft's Craig Mundie has dismissed the potential of "synthetic virtual worlds" like Second Life, saying that the potential for immersive environments will be likely realized through 3D tools that capture and model the real world.

Read the full story at MindBlizzard: "Microsoft: 3D Future will be Photosynth ". It isn't the first time Microsoft says something doesn't have any real future, yet buys in big a short while later on to make up for their initial misinterpretation of the trends.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Daletto World

Hello! I'm ak.

First, I'd like to thank to MindBlizzard for inviting me. I'm glad to write about Services, Developers and Trends about Virtual Worlds here in Japan (in Korea and China, maybe).

There are a number of virtual world services which have started here in Japan. One interesting trend is that Video Game Developers are trying to create their own worlds. XBOX live has been getting more social and SONY is testing HOME. Therefore it might be quite natural that others are following. One example is CAPCOM. CAPCOM is a video game developer and famous for "Residents Evil"/"Rockman".

Capcom Co., Ltd. is a leading Japanese international developer and publisher of video games headquartered in Osaka, Japan. It was founded in 1979 as Japan Capsule Computers, a company devoted to the manufacturing and distribution of electronic game machines.

Over the years, Capcom has created some of the biggest and longest running franchises in video gaming history. The company released their first arcade game in 1984: Vulgus. Their early games were mostly arcade games such as the scrolling shooter 1942. [Wikipedia]

One of their latest projects is the launch of "Daletto World". "Daletto World" is a browser based world using ActiveX components. You can walk around the world, enjoy chatting, but can't change position/angle of camera, can't create something like buildings or clothing.

Several real stores put their virtual stores on "Dalette World". "BEAMS", a popular clothing store in the real world has their own store selling shirts/pants for avatars.

TSUTAYA, a chain of DVD rental stores, has their virtual store, too. At the store, you can search DVDs and make a purchase.

I'm a little bit disappointed because there's no Residents Evil or Rockman in "Daletto World". CAPCOM seems to attract non-game-users via their own world.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Watch The Guild

The Guild is a very funny online series about the online and offline lives of four people who live in a World of Warcraft like virtual world.

The Guild has won a number of awards, like the 2007 Youtube Awards and2008 Yahoo Video Awards. From YouTube here's the first episode

Here's a couple of facts on the series:

  • The Guild has over 9 million hits web-wide for Season One (10 episodes)
  • “The Guild” won the SXSW, YouTube and Yahoo Web Series Awards in 2008
  • The show has been supported by fans with donations through Paypal since Episode 3
  • Over 400 individual donors have contributed: 1/3 women, 1/4 international viewers
  • The Guild’s YouTube Channel has over 55,000 subscribers: #88 - Most Subscribed (All Time)

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Feelin'Groovy at LoudCrowd

VentureBeat has uncovered Conduit Labs' first project, LoudCrowd, a mix of social networking, virtual worlds, and casual games. Users can create avatars that, for now, seem mostly usable on a dance floor that's part of a rhythm-based casual game. Users dance to earn points that can be used for customization items and earn more when they're chosen by others as partners.

Loudcrowd Preview by Conduit Labs from conduitlabs on Vimeo.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sogeti Engineering World 2008

This saturday I attended (and spoke) at the first Sogeti Engineering World conference, an engineering event for software engineers with various technology updates and workshops.

Today's keynote speaker was IBM's Scott W. Ambler, the practiseleader in Agile Software Development. His presentation about an agile approach to developing software and projects was very inspiring, though at times a little blunt. On the other hand, that made his points come across very well. Here are some oneliners I picked up:

"Most software development is based upon false standards and don't work that well."

You have to step back sometimes and observe what works and doesn't work, rather than just do what we've been told what work"."

"Agile challenges the religion of traditional software development"

"Business isn't really interested in 'on time' and 'on budget' projects. Yet they ask for it in the contracts because they have so little faith in the software community."

"RfP's with long lists of requirements are meant to minimize financial risk, but do the opposite: They increase risk. 45% of development generally goes to functionality that's never used at all."

"The best timeframe for development iterations are usually 1 to 4 weeks. A 2-week iteration works best for its short feedback cycle."

A question from the audience: "How much time do you take between iterations?" "I usually call it the weekend."

"We don't want to have repeatable processes, we want repeatable results. Nobody cares how you do it if you do it over and over again."

"The worst possible time to do testing is at the end of a development phase."

"Testers don't need a set of specs, they need to break the system. The defects are your requirements."

"Every product works on powerpoint slides, but the longer you wait with actually starting coding, the bigger your risks are."

"At the beginning of the project we write big documents, but in the end when things go wrong we throw them out the window and we solve the problem. So why bother to write stuff that nobody uses anyway?"

After the Ambler's Keynote there were three technology update sessions with our partners Microsoft (on silverlight, linq, wpf etcetera) , IBM (on SOA Service Oriented Architecture and there Websphere and BPM solutions) and Oracle.

The afternoon was filled with break out sessions by Sogeti on various expert technologies, such as Microsoft, Security, Oracle and Java and yours truly did a presentation on Second Life again.

The first edition of the Sogeti Engineering World ended with a very interesting presentation by Playlogic, a Dutch gamemanufacturer on how the production of a game looks like and how they are starting to approach this in an agile fashion as well to make their development a lot more effective (whereas the old approach was very much like traditional software development)

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why WOW isn't for Girls

World of Warcraft isn't for girls. It's a guy thing, and this is why:

Have a look at Justine Ezarik a.k.a. lifelogger iJustine in her first hours of WOW.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Gala-Net's gPotato game Portal

Last week I put up some charts on the VW Industry. Seeing the charts made people react more than when I'd done when asking them for input. The list needs a little revision. As I said, it ain't exact science. Today I've been cruising the net for cool MMORPG's and MMO's.

There's several platforms and studio's than bring more than just one game. My favorite of these online gaming producers is Gala-Net who brings us a set of brilliant and entertaining games through their gameportal gPotato.

About Gala-Net:

Founded in 2004, Gala-Net, Inc. is a subsidiary of global online community company Gala, Inc. Together with its European subsidiary, Gala Networks Europe, Gala-Net is a leader in the free-to-play online games market. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, Gala-Net's diverse service portfolio includes Flyff, Space Cowboy Online, Rappelz, Corum Online and Upshift StrikeRacer. Through the community portal gPotato, gamers can access all of Gala-Net's services and micro-currency, which can be used to buy in-game currency and virtual items for any of its games.


Action / Sports

Rappelz - Revolutions

One of the hottest games at this time is Rappelz which is gaining popularity fast. In no way it's close to the 8 million World of Warcraft players, but WoW has been online for some time now, and has a legacy.

Here's the game scenario:

And finally a shot of the great graphics of this game:

It's just that my time is soooo limited...personally, I like this game better than WoW.

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