Active Members – How Do You Keep Them?

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White Oak Stables - 91 Members OnlineIf there’s one thing I’ve learned in the almost 10 years I’ve been running, creating and programming online games for girls it’s that keeping members active is a catch-22.

Change is Good

In order to keep members interested things have to constantly change. Contests, parties, special items, no matter what game it is (from WOW to Cartoon Networks FusionFall) things cannot stay static. Your members need to be constantly entertained and stimulated in order to keep their interest and to give them a reason to keep coming back day after day.

Change is Bad

I mentioned a catch-22 didn’t I? Some changes can have an extremely negative impact even when the change initially had positive feedback. Other changes will have a “trickle down” effect and as a result produce positive gameplay in the future. Then you have the “complainers,” members who object to change and try to ruin it for others. My target audience are girls, girls and more girls. They seem to form highly complex social bonds. If one member leaves it’s not unheard of for five or six of their friends to go with them.

Change is Finding A Middle Ground

So how do you keep members coming back? If I had a 100% definitive answer to this I’d be a retired billionaire already. The answer is there is no real answer. Sure compromise works to some extent  — and is usually your best bet if you had to pick either extreme — but what makes one person happy will make someone else just as unhappy. So there you have it, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

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SmartFoxServer, Actionscript (AS3), PHP & MySQL MMO References

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I’ve been programming in AS3 and working with Flash a lot lately in an effort to get my first MMO up and running. I’ve found a lot of useful links I always forget to bookmark (or can’t find where I bookmarked them) so I’m posting them all here.

SmartFoxServer Related Links

Documentation Overview – http://www.smartfoxserver.com/docs/docPages/as3/html/index.html

AS3 API Documentation – http://www.smartfoxserver.com/docs/index.htm

Forums – http://www.smartfoxserver.com/forums/

“Building an MMO” – http://www.smartfoxserver.com/docs/index.htm?http://www.smartfoxserver.com/docs/docPages/articles/build_mmo_p1.htm

AS3 Related Links – General

Accessing variables from externally loaded swf – http://www.flashmorgan.com/index.php/2007/11/11/accessing-document-class-of-externally-loaded-swf-with-as3/

MySQL Driver – http://code.google.com/p/assql/

Loading Server Side Variables – http://www.gotoandplay.it/_articles/2003/06/dd_serverSide.php

XML Sockets Documentation – https://www.adobe.com/livedocs/flash/9.0/main/wwhelp/wwhimpl/common/html/wwhelp.htm?context=LiveDocs_Parts&file=00000318.html

Flash .SWF Obfuscation – http://www.amayeta.com/shop/

AS3 Related Links – Embedding & Loading Assets From Outside .SWFs

General Principals – http://www.bit-101.com/blog/?p=853

Adobe Docs – http://www.adobe.com/livedocs/flex/201/html/embed_082_8.html#175759

Asset Loader Class (see comments) – http://www.gskinner.com/blog/archives/2007/03/using_flash_sym.html

Embed Images/XML – http://dispatchevent.org/roger/embed-almost-anything-in-your-swf/

Game World/Level Editor Related Links

PHP Level Editor – http://www.gotoandplay.it/_articles/2004/05/levelEditor_p02.php

PHP Socket Related Links

Zend Tutorial – http://devzone.zend.com/article/1086

PHP.net Docs Reference – http://php.net/manual/en/ref.sockets.php and http://us3.php.net/stream

O’Reilly Tutorial – http://onlamp.com/pub/a/php/2001/03/29/socket_intro.html

Weberdev Tutorial – http://www.weberdev.com/ViewArticle/Socket-Programming-With-PHP

Security & Protection Related Links

Swf Decompiler Protection – http://www.gotoandplay.it/_articles/2004/04/swfProtection.php

In Game Advertising & Analytics

Mochi Media (pay per view & pay per click) – http://www.mochimedia.com/developers/

SWF Stats – http://www.swfstats.com/

Flash Games License – http://www.flashgamelicense.com

Google In-Game Adsense – https://services.google.com/events/adsense_games

Game Gum – http://www.gamegum.com/

CPM Star – http://www.cpmstar.com/

Hall Pass – http://www.hallpass.com/

Game Sponsors, Marketing & Publishing

ArmorGames – http://armorgames.com/

CrazyMonkeyGames – http://www.crazymonkeygames.com/

FlashRage – http://www.flashrage.com/

Ezone – http://www.ezone.com/

New Grounds – http://www.newgrounds.com/

Big Wig Media – http://bigwigmedia.com/

Game Brew – http://www.gamebrew.com/

Cloud Development

OToy – http://www.otoy.com

Miscellaneous Links

Horse Animations – http://www.horselocomotion.com/

Set a transparent background on .swf files – http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/142/tn_14201.html