About this blog
This is a diary to chronicle the development of Fuzzlr, a gamified goal setting app.
Entries in this blog
Last month I posed a question: "should I continue on the project I'm working on or quit and focus my attention on a (slightly less fun) spin-off?"
First I want to apologize for being late (I did say I'd let you know the following week) and second I wanted to let you know what the result is. I have decided, based on the support and number of sign-ups I've received to Fuzzlr, to continue! Yay!
Since then I've been busy dropping the existing technology stack (PHP/CodeIgniter), re-designing parts of the concept and evaluating a new technology stack (settled on Angular.js for the client and Node.js/Express for the back end). I'm also now going to have to do all the artwork (at least for the initial release) myself -- unless there's any artists who would like to be a part of Fuzzlr? If so, get in touch on here or on twitter: @gamifried.
So it's going to be a hard few months ahead, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.
In the meantime, if you could choose which of the following three fuzzles you think is cutest (by leaving a comment below with the number 1,2 or 3 or by going to here to vote), I'd be uber-grateful.
Over the last few months I've been working on a new concept, blending social and game mechanics with goal management to create a fun, engaging experience to help people remain motivated to complete personal goals. Here is a little story to show how it works:
You log in and create a new goal (let's say Finish Maths Assignment for College) and add a time and date for when you would like to complete this goal (let's pretend today is Wednesday -- unless it is Wednesday when you're reading this -- and say the you want to complete it by Friday). You click "Activate Goal!" and a small box pops up showing a little fuzzle...
... about to enter a perilous situation (about to fall into a pit of spikes, be crushed by a falling block of concrete, be eaten by a carnivorous plant, etc); the screen freezes just before the bad thing is about to happen and a countdown timer appears! You have two days to complete your goal: Finish Maths Assignment for College!
Only by completing this goal will the fuzzle be saved from danger. Imagine the guilt if you fail and watch the poor, cute, large-eyed little fuzzle get impaled, crushed or eaten! Imagine the shame as a message is posted to the goal stream letting everyone know you let a poor little fuzzle die. Enough to get you motivated into completing the task?
So in a nutshell, that is what Fuzzlr is all about.
The thing is, I'm at a junction: do I Quit or Continue? I have another project (inspired by Fuzzlr) for a motivational goal management tool for the enterprise. So do I re-focus my energies completely on the enterprise tool or would you still like to see Fuzzlr completed?
If you'd like to see Fuzzlr completed, go here and sign-up: http://fuzzlr.com
And don't forget to follow Fuzzlr on twitter: @Fuzzlr
If I get enough sign-ups over the next week, I'll hit the continue button and complete it! Either way, I'll post the result next week.
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Up until now, I have released very little information about Fuzzlr other than what's on the beta sign-up page: "Complete your real world goals and save fuzzles from danger!" and the general description I give out: "Fuzzlr is a productivity app that uses game-like play to motivate you into completing goals".
Other than that there have been a few images of "fuzzles" and nothing much else besides. There have been a few assumptions as to the nature of Fuzzlr, including one where it has been assumed I am developing some crazy Enterprise application for project management!
The point of this post is to clear up some of these misconceptions and give an overview of the intended application of Fuzzlr and who it is for.
What Fuzzlr ISN'T ... and then IS
First of all, Fuzzlr is NOT an Enterprise app. It is not intended for serious task management. You could use it in business if you wanted to and, if it works, fantastic, but Enterprise is not the intended audience. Fuzzlr IS for the less serious. It is intended to be a fun productivity app for anyone who wants to complete personal goals in a fun, game-like way; particularly those of you who suffer from distractions and want to use something slightly more compelling than a bog standard todo list app or scrap of paper.
The user interface is intended to be simple and intuitive: adding and completing goals will be quick and easy and the app itself will be a pleasure to use. It will be a web app with native apps for both Android and iPhone.
Saving Fuzzles from Danger!
So what's this about saving fuzzles from danger, you ask? The point of Fuzzlr is to motivate you to complete your goals and it attempts to achieve this in several ways. The first way is to save a fuzzle. You set your goal and deadline and then are presented with a fuzzle, frozen in time, just before it falls into a pit of lava (or one of several other platform game-like perilous scenarios) and, most important of all, a countdown timer! Complete your goal to save the fuzzle or else it will perish!
When you save a fuzzle, you receive a reward in the form of in-game currency, experience points (XP) and loot. You can even set your own incentives (a bar of chocolate, 30 minutes extra game-time, watch the new box office movie).
You can level-up in Fuzzlr, just like you would in a game. Your XP is spread across various skills relevant to whatever real world goals you have completed. Skills can be anything from vacuuming and reading to brain surgery (depending on your hobbies/chores). As you gain XP in the various skills you will also unlock new titles (Master Vacuumer?) and exclusive site features. This is all stored in your profile along with all the goals you have completed to shows you your progress within Fuzzlr.
Spending Those Rewards
In-game currency can be spent on unlocking site features, purchasing accessories/upgrades etc for your Fuzzle Pet, on Pledges or to Create Challenges.
Everyone has a fuzzle pet, it is entirely up to you if you choose to engage with this aspect of the app, but it does give you something extra to spend your hard-earned cash on. You can purchase accessories, either from the Fuzzlr Shop or from other users (who may have picked up some rare loot) to customize your fuzzle. You can even customize their environment and upgrade it by purchasing a house which can also be further extended. This can then be shared with friends.
Fuzzlr will have its own social network. You can support other users or be supported by them (kind of like Twitter's follow/followers model). You can also give support to individual goals a user is trying to complete or offer pledges - this can be in the form of in-game currency, loot or real world incentives. The user can then choose to accept the pledge once they have completed the goal.
You can issue challenges to other users, either directly or by looking down a Challenge List and offer incentives in return for completing the challenge. Accepting challenges lets you earn more in-game currency or loot from other users.
And that's it in a nutshell. It's just a fun way of completing goals in a game-like way. With all that in mind, I would be grateful if you could please complete the following survey to make sure the app I'm developing is being taken in the right direction. When answering the questions, please think in the context of Fuzzlr, but also think about how you would prefer to achieve goals (whether it's the Fuzzlr way or not).
Fuzzlr Productivity App Survey
Thanks, you can also sign up to the Fuzzlr beta by clicking here and see below if you're still wondering what fuzzles are.
There's been a few new additions at the Wootanga Infosite. The first addition we have is a new member to the team, who'll be working alongside us creating artwork for Wootanga. You can already see some of his colouring work below.
Some concept art for Wootanga
We now have a ShoutBox on the front page of the Wootanga Infosite. Here you'll be able to leave comments about the game. You can read more news about Wootanga here.
There's also a new blog in the Developer Diary. You can view the article in full below.
As mentioned in the previous Blog, the focus this time is on our Non-Player Characters which, unlike most conventional bots, come equipped with Agent Technology.
Over the last few days, our NPC framework gained so-called constraints, which are conditions that are applied to certain dialogue paths. So, in effect, if you keep repeating yourself, Oraluki might get upset. He'll also remember you the next time you return to him, whether it be an hour, day, week or month.
In addition, the framework was connected to some real world and virtual world information. So it's now theoretically possible for our NPCs to know which town you're from, what time it is there and what the weather's like outside.
The nicest bit at the moment is the mode in which NPCs really communicate with each other, exchanging new information about people they like - just like real people. It may also be that one NPC isn't in the mood to talk with another. It's a really exciting aspect of the library...
As you can see, this project is much more ambitious than the usual bots in online games. Today I even went to the local Graduate School of Dynamic Intelligent Systems for a short chat about agent technology and their different scientific classes.
As you will have noticed, the Infosite has now got a shoutbox, where visitors can leave us comments and feedback.
Although this is a rather small addition in appearance, there is of course more going on behind it. In actual fact, this module might well make an appearance in our final site on House pages (Houses being what Guilds are in other games).
Serious backend work has been done on the shoutbox library, allowing export in XML as well as subscribing to shoutbox newsfeeds in more than a dozen variations (not enabled on the Infosite, sorry...)
Bad word filtering
Oh the pain! Why didn't anybody tell us that writing sophisticated bad word filters isn't fun? The code is rather straightforward, but the main problems come up with the data on which they work.
So it wasn't really possible up to now to find some nice lists of dirty words with associated severability. ;)
The simple solution to this is to come up with some lists of our own. Problem solved.
For now I won't be giving any implementation details on this "Ansarra" component so, for the moment, you can pretend it works by magic. I can tell you it's not one of these cheap "if message contains 'bleh' replace that by dots" systems. It's a much more flexible system which will be expanded into a formal text classification system during further development. Science strikes back once again!
The next part will be about the technical side of the Avatars along with Inventories and Items. So this will become a rather boring time as it won't require much science... but who knows? ;)
Don't forget to visit http://www.wootanga.com and register your email address to receive news and updates about Wootanga and be invited into the Beta once launched.
Wootanga - Play Life, Live The Game(TM)
The new "infosite" for Wootanga is now launched. You can now find out what Wootanga is all about. There is all kinds of information on the website including what Wootanga is, its history, a glimpse into what's to come, register your email address for news and updates and last, but not least, you can even check out a six day forecast of the weather in Kelweddu, the capital city of Wootanga.
So visit http://www.wootanga.com and find you what it's all about.
Wootanga - Play Life, Live The Game(TM)
We now have a now have a new blog over at http://www.wootanga.com/diary.php.
Here's the article in full:
"Hello and welcome to the very first post in the Wootanga Developer Diary Blog. The Wootanga Developer Team have been extremely busy and we've got a lot of very exciting developments to tell you about.
We're currently working on avatar conception, creating semi-final drafts on their appearance and available visual features. To keep track of these processes, we're developing a number of technical demos and inhouse tools to manage the various avatar combinations.
You will most probably get a look at some of these developments when we take our Infosite to the next phase. One possible sneak preview feature will be the ability to create an avatar and send it as a greeting card to your friends.
Our generic Non-Player Character (NPC) framework is evolving. It's intended to be the foundation of both our interactive story tellers at the Infosite as well as in the full version of Wootanga as quest-giving bots.
The development versions have already passed the scientific category of so-called "reflex agents". These just react to input the same way regardless of situation. We have now completed the next formal step which gives them various states, such as mood or work level, which will in turn affect their reactions to the players. This is roughly equivalent to the basic concept of "Factions", which are common in many online games. Thus we're moving our NPCs into the computer science arena using agent technology and assorted elements of artificial intelligence.
The next stages of development include the basic design of our Quest System as well as the first technology demos for sorting out the best working concepts. We'll also integrate the avatar creation/management and application-specific profiles into our generic framework.
Along with this there will be further progress on our avatar graphics and items, particularly those showing you Wootangians reacting to certain real-world events.
Keep checking back for the latest developments. You can also use the RSS feeds in your favourite reader.
You can head over to http://www.wootanga.com/diary.php to read the blog and look around the site. You will also find the RSS feeds there.
Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year,
Wootanga - Play Life, Live The Game(TM)
Okay you can stop holding your breath. I'm about to reveal what Wootanga is.
But first, what Wootanga isn't: Wootanga isn't strictly a game. It's a social network, like Tribe.net, or Orkut or even Ecademy. We're currently calling it a Fantasy Social Network. It's an online social network that takes elements from multiplayer online games such as Everquest and Ultima Online.
Wootanga is actually a planet from another dimension on which live a sentient species know as Wootangians. They're cute, four-armed, orange and monkey-like in appearance. In terms of it being a game, users can create characters (personalising their avatars hairstyle, clothing, accessories and personal statistics). The user can then improve their character by "playing" Wootanga - commonly know as "levelling up".
To level up a user can chat, post on forums and generally interact the way they would on any social network. The higher the quality and the quantity of the chatting and posting, the faster a user will increase in level. Levelling up can also occur through playing chat games, mini-games (multiplayer and solo) and quests.
The user also creates a profile that's attached to the avatar; this profile can be as anonymous or as detailed as they like by choosing what information they reveal and to whom. As users progress through the game they gain customisable features for their profile. The higher their level, the more customisable their profile becomes.
Other features include creating/joining communities, creating/joining houses (guilds), win trophies and gain titles and fame, explore Wootanga, find virtual items that can also improve the Wootangian experience - faster levelling, better statistics, buy virtual goods - new clothes and accessories for your avatar; buy real goods - wootangian merchandise: t-shirts, wootangian plush teddies, etc - and lots lots more.
It will be accessible through any device with Internet access with an aim to produce mobile content/games late next year including location-based gaming/social networking.
We also have a number of unique social networking technologies making it a more pleasant experience, an example being a self-modifying buddy list that removes and adds friends for you (but it does have manual control of course - so you can add and remove your friends yourself).
Although joining and playing Wootanga is free, it's also possible to subscribe to gain premium features - more customisation, free credits, etc.
If any of this sounds interesting to you or you think you might be interested in beta-testing, sign up at http://www.wootanga.co.uk.
Wootanga - Play Life, Live The Game(TM)
It's been a while since I updated this journal (under the previous title: Massively Multiplayer Social Network) and a lot has changed. Unfortunately the original Wootanga social network was never completed, however a great many lessons were learned.
Now I'm back and this time I'm developing another kind real world merged with game elements application - now more commonly known as "gamification".
I'm now working on something new and exciting. It's called Fuzzlr and is a gamified goal setting application.
It works by blackmailing you into completing your goals. You set your goal and a date/time you would like to complete it by. You are then presented with a poor little fuzzle in a precarious situation - such as about to be cooked in a cooking pot, lowered into a pool of hungry sharks or about to be cut in half by a giant saw.
The only way to save the poor fuzzle is to complete your real life goal. Fail and everyone will know what you did to the poor fuzzle. Any rewards you gain from saving fuzzles can be spent on your pet fuzzle.
If you would like to take part in the Fuzzlr beta, go to http://fuzzlr.com
You can also follow Anthony Williams (@gamifried) and/or Fuzzlr (@Fuzzlr)on twitter to be kept up-to-date with Fuzzlr goings on.
I thought I'd start this journal with a short introduction to Wootanga.
Wootanga is a new kind of online game that you'll be able to play through a web browser, mobile phone or other Internet capable device. It involves four-armed, orange monkey-like creatures. More about the game will be revealed over the coming months.
You can visit the site by clicking here.
There isn't there at the moment, but if you watch the centre of the stone for the next few weeks, you'll notice a symbol appearing. There's also box to submit your email address. We intend to select and invite a small number of people to take part in the open beta program when we reach that point.
Where are we at the moment? Well we've formed a company. We're building a small scale prototype. We're developing a modern, scalable framework and chat system and our maths guy is working on the complex mathematics involved in the system. We're in talks with several people about potential funding. And we are well on the way to reaching closed beta towards the end of September.
That's all for now, but I will be posting more information about Wootanga over the next few months. Watch this space.
Wootanga is making very good progress but we're still moving along quite slowly due to the limited manpower. The chat system has now been integrated and data replication/sychronisation has also been added to the system, but due to some technical issues it took a bit longer than expected.
We're knee deep in complex mathematical formulas required for Wootanga and the large custom framework - on which Wootanga is based - is getting the final adminstrative adjustments. This means very soon we'll be able to work purely on Wootanga specific modules.
On the business side of things it's also going quite well. We still have a lot to do in terms of working out our funding requirements and getting Wootanga investor ready. But we're getting there.
That's it for now, but look out for our next installment coming soon. ;)
Well everyone else seems to have written one, so I thought I would too.