Posts Tagged ‘china’

What’s It Like To Launch An Indie Game From China?

The first thing you notice about Lost Castle, an enjoyable 2D side-scrolling action RPG, is that the art style makes the characters, heroes and villains alike, kind of cute. Bosses aside, some look almost cuddly, in a macabre sort of way.

Underneath this visage lies an action-packed, challenging and enjoyable game in which more than a few deaths are inevitable, even when playing with a friend. Gary Ho, one of the Hunter Studio developers who accompanied the game from China to Kyoto, Japan, for BitSummit, a yearly indie game festival, in early July, said he wanted to make a “cute Dark Souls.”

The game’s underlying difficulty is apropos given the inherent challenges of indie development in China.

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Chinese Prisoners Used As Gold Farmers?

Funny alt-text joke has been given the afternoon off

This one’s a little disturbing, so if you’re in a good mood then proceed with caution. The Guardian has spoken to a Chinese man by the pseudonym of Liu Dali who claims that during his spell in a prison in North-East China, among the traditional back-breaking labour of breaking rocks and “whittling chopsticks and toothpicks from planks of wood”, the guards also made him and the other convicts play massively multiplayer games in twelve hour shifts, in the interest of selling the gold online. I’ve never bought MMORPG currency online, but I imagine if I had I’d currently be feeling quite ill.
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World Bank Estimates 100k Gold Farmers

A report over on the BBC website highlights research done by the World Bank on virtual economies. The report, which can be found here (PDF link, and full of other stuff about the virtual economy), suggests that gold and item farming in MMOs was worth $3bn in 2009, and employs up to 100,000 people in China and Vietnam. That’s a lot of virtual shoulder pads, eh?

It’s interesting that this stuff actually generally supports Western players’ predelictions to spend on virtual items (the report claiming that a quarter of MMO players spend money on virtual goods, although it’s not clear whether than includes free-to-play stuff as well as farmed stuff, I assumed it does) and whether the move to free-to-play will cause Chinese gold-farming to disappear again, as their activities become less profitable.

Op Fap Red River: Shifting Focus Trailer

How much man could a manshoot shoot if a manshoot could shoot man?

Here at RPS, we love the Chinese. Steam buns? Alright by us! The Great Wall? Heck of a wall, that. Mr. Miyagi? What a guy. But what if you hated the Chinese? Well, then I guess you’d get a kick out of the latest Operation Flashpoint: Red River trailer, which awaits you below and introduces the Chinese army as enemies. I want to go on the record as saying that while RPS will shoot the Chinese in Red River, we won’t enjoy it. Nuh-uh. Not one bit. Thanks to Bigdownload for the video.
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China Bans Foreign MMO Investment

The exploding MMO market in China is being cut off from Western economic influence as Chinese regulators ban foreign investment in virtual worlds. This Reuters report states that: “The new directive also disallows foreign firms from indirectly influencing Chinese gaming firms through agreements or technology support.” This is a move which presumably has something do with predictions that the Chinese MMO market will be worth $3.5-4 billion this year. I wonder what the ramifications of this will be for China’s game culture, and whether we’ll see them having a rather isolated and unusual MMO focus like South Korea has done in the past.

Spotted over on VG247.

China And The Future Of Gaming

In this latest guest post on RPS Chris “Evo” Evans looks at China, the net, its politics, and the future of censorship. Plenty of China-facts await.

It’s the most populous country. It’s record in freedom of speech is, to politely refrain from using the full range of ours, patchy. China’s net-censorship is amongst the worst in the world. They also really like their MMOs. They’re big on gold farming – the biggest, in fact. So there’s a lot we know about China, but we don’t often think how it all ties together. For the past twelve months, as part of my degree in Modern History and Politics, I have been living in a world of Chinese Whispers, writing a dissertation on Chinese Internet censorship. I didn’t have a chance to properly examine games, censorship and the Chinese Government during that project, and so I’m grasping the chance to do so now.

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CoH As “Persistent RTS”

1UP are reporting some interesting tactics by Relic to get into the piracy-warped Chinese games market with the most excellent Company Of Heroes. Apparently they intend to turn the game into an “’experience for online gamers where players will be able to build their character up from private to general through new multiplayer cooperative missions, gameplay modes, and player-versus-player combat’ in a persistent RTS. Presumably, they have a quirky pay-to-play plan to match.”

Presumably. Hard to know though, especially when most RTS games remain free and details are still pretty sketchy for Relic’s plan of attack. The persistent RTS has long sat just over the horizon for developers, and it’ll be interesting to see whether commercial pressures like this force it to happen.

Cultural, Environmental Footprint Of A New PC

Only joking, it's much worse than this
In a revealing post over on New Scientist’s Environment blog, correspondent Fred Pearce recounts some of the cultural and economic back story to his being able to buy a new, handmade PC from Dell:

To keep the lines running, Asustek trains a staggering 7000 new operators every month. Right now a new influx of young girls is heading for Suzhou and the other computer cities, part of China’s rapid urbanisation – a process demographers are calling the biggest human mass migration ever seen.

I don’t quite know whether it is the dynamism or the heartlessness of the Chinese economy that I find most stunning. But in my small way, with my purchase, I am part of it.

Disturbing, and mildly thrilling. (And what he doesn’t tell you is that consoles are made in the abyss by the ravaged souls of tiny old ladies.)

China To Curb Foreign MMOs?

I just spotted this over on Massively: Chinese policy is set to make it easy for local developers to hamper foreign competition. The article explains:

Unfortunately for developers in the U.S., Korea, and elsewhere looking to cash in on this burgeoning market, recent regulations imposed by the Chinese government will allow domestic Chinese gaming companies to effectively postpone the release of foreign-developed games indefinitely by submitting a complaint to GAPP, China’s censorship agency. Curious that they’d run a protectionist racket on an industry that they recently likened to “spiritual opium,” but the Communist government didn’t take power in order to be a bedrock of consistency.

Also related, this post on how China’s online gaming community will pass 59 million players in 2008. I hope for their sake that the Chinese MMO developers manage to come up with something more nourishing than more Lineage clones. PC gaming: swelling up like a hungry termite colony in 2008.

China, Gambling, And Virtual Conflict

GameSetWatch points the way to a documentary examination of ZT Online, one of China’s biggest MMOs. The article is introduced on the Chinese culture blog Danwei and then translated in full from the original Southern Weekly article by Cao Yunwu. The article contains numerous illustrations of how Chinese gamers experience MMOs and how their attitudes and behaviours in online environments differ to those of European and American gamers.

“Chinese gamers are an unwelcome species on European and American servers,” said a game manager who once worked on World of Warcraft. Chinese players always have ways of quickly ascending levels that leave European and American gamers in the dust, and on group missions they do not like to respect the tacit rules of profit division. For those “pedantic” European and American gamers, Chinese players are like fearsome pagans. “European and American games do not encourage unlimited superiority of power; they put more of an emphasis on balance and cooperative support.” The former WOW manager said, “Perhaps this is because of the influence of traditional culture and the current environment; truth be told, Chinese gamers are better suited to jungle-style gaming.”

I think he means “law of the jungle”. Anyway, the core of the article details the life of 27-year old Lu Yang and her relationship with the hugely popular Chinese MMO. It’s a piece of classical journalism of the kind that gaming needs to see more of. If you have an interest at all in the cultural context of MMOs then this is an essential read.

China Demands: Prove You’re A Lady

I join you live from a secret location in the United States, on a secret mission for Rock, Paper, Shotgun that will hopefully become a lot less secret very soon. But I’d get excited now, just to be prepared.

Meanwhile, I bring you news of a more immediate nature. Fearsome-looking news site Pacific Epoch reports on a Chinese MMO that has started freezing the accounts of male players who play as female characters.

The game, King Of The World, (possibly better translated “World Of Legend”?) is going to demand proof of your gender if you want an in-game VJ. According to Pacific Epoch,

“Aurora stipulates that only female gamers can play female characters in the game, and it requires gamers who chose female characters to prove their biological sex with a webcam, according to the report.”

Which is bad news if you’re me or Kieron, as we both habitually play as women in games. Make-up and wigs for us then.

Further RPS research suggests that the game might have ‘husband and wife’ roles, which might explain why they’d wanted genuine females to play the wives. As this website explains:

The World of Legend is the first game in our trilogy, The Genesis Of The Century. Inside the World of Legend, user’s characters exist in a virtual community where they experience unique lives as masters or apprentices, husbands or wives and members of a guild.