Monday, May 14, 2007

Bible Fight

At we just launched our second original game, Bible Fight. So far it's gotten a lot of attention, though the buildup of traffic has been slower than it was for Five Minutes to Kill (Yourself).

The road to this game was actually very long. When we decided to do original games, we put out a call for original pitches from some of our more trusted game developers. One of our best developers, Pop&Co., came back with a number of pitches for original games. One of the standout ideas was Bible Fight. Lazzo liked it and it seemed like it was a go. But then there was some internal disagreement and some personnel reshuffling and all in all the game was almost a year from conception to launch...which is incredibly long for most Flash games.

I've been googling the game and reading some of the comments people have about it, most of which are very positive. A lot of the very Christian replies were the most interesting, as some take it in stride and actually find it funny, while some are mortally offended. I won't try to convince anyone about it, but I found it funny and thought it was a worthwhile game to pursue. There were actually some very vocal internal disagreements about it, though, so we didn't make it lightly. We discussed it for hours on end, but I think we made the right choice to go ahead with it.

Anyway. I'm proud of the final result. I think it's one of the better fighting games on the internet. I just hope everyone who plays it can just have some fun with it and not take everything so seriously. ;)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Xbox Live Account Lost

So about a month ago my Xbox 360 started getting the infamous Red Ring of Death. It wasn't completely surprising -- mine was one of the earlier 360s and more prone to malfunctions than the later ones, though up to now I'd had no problems -- but dismaying, since I'd just gotten back into playing Gears of War online. I'd remembered that Costco had a fantastic return policy that I figured would be easier than sending the console away (thanks, Costco!) so I switched it out for a new one. The problem was that they wouldn't let me keep my hard drive. Something about serial numbers needing to match. Okay, whatever. I didn't care about old game saves and any Live Arcade stuff I'd gotten I could just re-download, right?

Yeah. I get the new box home, set it up and start inputting my Xbox Live info. Wait...what password did I use again? Jeez, it was like a year and a half ago that I set this up... ah ha! It was my old Comcast email account I used back when I had Comcast! Crap! What's the password? I tried all the passwords I could ever remember using, and nothing. Then I get locked out. I've tried logging in too many times and now I'll have to reset my password. Which would be fine...except I no longer have access to that email! It was a Comcast-provided email address and I'd switched to BellSouth about seven months ago.

Okay. So I call Xbox. They can't help me, it's all run through their Windows Live ID service. Alright, I go to the website they direct me to, fill out all the forms and wait for them to get back to me. The answer I get is a very obviously cut-and-pasted "To reset your password...blah blah blah." I write back that I can't reset my password, which is the real problem here. I get someone new as a response and I explain the situation again. I get another -- yes ANOTHER new person and by now I'm getting exasperated. I plead with them to verify any other information they want, credit card, phone number, whatever, just please, switch my account to my current email! They respond -- I should call the XBox people. They could verify my credit card number.

And of course they can't. I spend half an hour speaking to a very nice Customer Service supervisor, begging to be connected to anyone who works at the Windows Live ID service, but she has no phone number for them. It's like they're this ghost department that no one can really contact except by email. I demand to speak to someone further up but it becomes clear that they're just an outsourced company with no real ties to Microsoft. They don't know anything.

So I send a long, impassioned plea back to the Windows Live ID people. And apparently they've stopped replying to me. I decide to bite the bullet and even subscribed to Comcast internet for a month to get access to that email account back. Turns out that somehow during the time that I've no longer had Comcast, someone's come along and taken that email out from under me. SO that's a bust.

After I got back from my vacation today I called the direct Microsoft number and got directed to literally seven different people. Please, I said. Just connect me with anyone who happens to have a phone at their desk in the Windows Live ID department. The last guy I speak to tries to lay on me that the Windows Live ID service doesn't have phone support because it's a free service. I have to ask if so little support is going to be made available for it, why tie it into services that are NOT free? I'm out a year's subscription to XBox Live and several games and TV shows. So he offers to put me on the line to Microsoft Corporate. I say great! Let me talk to the suits. So I hear "Please wait while I transfer you to 1-800-Micrsoft!" and I almost squeeze the phone apart. That was the number I called to begin with.

I mean, jeez, am I being unreasonable here? What's worse, is that it's actually part of my job to play these games. I run the games department for and it's actually fairly imperative that I stay on top of what's going on in gaming. I just don't know what else to do here!