All posts by TheBlackFin

Chief Digital Officer, Agency at Epsilon & Principal at Blackfin360, LLC.

Tellicast – Halo 3 Launch Event

Recently I talked about the Halo 3 Pre-Launch Event at the Microsoft campus in Las Colinas. Me, Scott Dockendorf, Karthik Hariharan and Adonis Bitar (disguised as Jason Alexander) attended the event. It was a great time and our resident film maker Adonis Bitar put together another great Tellicast chronicling the misadventures of various Telligenti. Enjoy the craziness that was the Halo 3 Pre-Launch Event!

Game Review – Halo 3

Halo3finallogoIf there was any doubt as to what the game of the week is for me this week it is Halo 3.

Last night Rob Howard, Deryl Dorsett, Elijah Hardin and I all joined forces to blast our way through 2/3 of the campaign mode. The best part of it was that we did it with the phenominal 4 player campaign co-op option.

This is an unprecedented feat for a console based game as Gears of War and Crackdown before it offered some of the best co-op play that I have seen on a console. The 4 player Halo 3 co-op surpasses them both. With a seamless approach and the ability to easily invite your friends all 4 of you can blast the covenant and flood while easily maintaining where your teammates are. The best part for me was the ability to get very aggressive with my play style knowing that someone will survive while a few of us charge in and take out as many enemies as we can.

The Bungie team really did a great job with the game. From the graphics, weapons, and vehicles to the matchmaking system for the online multiplayer matches…the game definitely lived up to they hype. But to me the best feature of the game is the ability to seamlessly play with 3 of your friends through the campaign mode while occasionally causing an incident of “friendly fire“…. sorry Rob it was an accident… really :)

Other games I am playing this week. Skate, NHL 2K8 and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam with my 5 yr. old son.

Microsoft Dallas Halo 3 Pre Launch

Last night I was one of the lucky few to attend the Microsoft Dallas Halo 3 Pre-launch event. This was an invite only gathering to preview and play Halo 3 before the launch and to just have a good time fragging people left and right. The event started with the obligatory swag bag with Halo T-shirt and led to the waiting area prior to entering the gaming lounge.

Once inside the smoke machines were going, the Halo soundtrack was blaring and rows of chairs facing large screens with team slayer mode running for multiple 8 player per sessions. Tournaments, multi-player, and campaign were all options that you could participate in. There were also many door prizes from Microsoft Vista and Office Ultimate to Halo branded goodies. It was great to have early access to the Microsoft team as well as playing one of the most anticipated titles prior to its release.

The graphics were amazing, the new weapons were fun, the controls were sensitive and the ability to customize your Spartans was one of the features that I definitely enjoyed. One of the highlights of the night was going old school in the warthog as the gunner and fragging people left and right. The “beat down” melee attack is still one of my favorite ways to take down an opponent.

I was not one of the few waiting at midnight for the title. I had a good fill during the event to hold me over to the next day, but this morning I did pick up my reserved Legendary Edition of Halo 3 and look forward to once again taking the controls of Master Chief.

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Me at the Microsoft Dallas – Halo 3 Pre Launch Event

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Legendary Edition Halo 3 Helmet on my office shelf

Target & Halo 3 Early?

While making a quick stop at a local Target to pick up an office copy of NHL2k8 something interesting caught my eye. I looked at the top shelf behind the plexiglas and to my surprise and bewilderment I saw what appeared to be actual copies of Halo 3 (This is a week prior to the official launch). They were pristine and neatly displayed, ready to be bought. I immediately asked the associate if I could see one of the copies to confirm that they were in fact the real deal… They were…

As he handed me one of the most highly anticipated releases in recent memory a voice went off in my head…. I HAVE to tell him the release date… So as I stood there with the game in hand and 20 feet from a register I say the following… “Isn’t the release date the 25th???” With that said a look of shock then horror came over the associate. Within a minute we were bombarded by a team of Target employees each one grabbing all the neatly stacked copies and taking them to an undisclosed location.

From what I understand the copies had just been placed into the case and no units had been sold. Also, the pre-sale of major releases can be met with fines, and possible firing from some organizations so I felt as though I had to clear my mind and reiterate the date. I was later told of a thread regarding Xbox Live and Halo that threatened to ban Live accounts that were not authorized to play the game prior to the release date which has subsenquently been refuted by Microsoft.

Regardless, the early Halo 3 titles are now safely locked away for another week without a single thank you from the team that almost made a monumental mistake.

How Do I???

While traveling to London meeting with some of our European clients some common questions arose that we get quite often. How do I measure what is going on with my community? How can I calculate the health of my community? How do I identify key influencers in my community? How will this data help me develop a profile about my users? How do I back up my request for additional budget when it comes to social networking solutions vs. traditional marketing avenues? These are all great questions and ones we at Telligent are happy to answer.

I have talked in the past about calculating B2C return on investment. Prior to calculating return on investment, a common understanding of measurable business objectives needs to take place. This can come in the form of basing your analysis on such things as incremental value of the community, to trending the current userbase over time. The key to this is that the variables selected are measurable.

Once you have defined the measurable business objectives it is now time to analyze the data. With this in mind we have focused on developing a new framework to report on the data within Community Server implementations in the form of an Enterprise Reporting Suite. The new Enterprise Reporting Suite will ship with over 60 different reports and charts to help you understand exactly what is happening in your community. The reports will quickly show you such vital user information such as users by day, roles, points, posts, registrations, activity, country. The remaining reports are directly tied to which applications are currently enabled. This will allow you to quickly build a user profile and discover what information is truly valuable to your community.

The data in and of itself is invaluable, now you have the means to manipulate the data based on your measurable business objectives as well as easily writing new reports specific to your needs. Once you have the data in hand then it is a matter of defining which ROI scenario makes the most sense for your given situation, B2B, B2C, or E2E (Employee to Employee) or leveraging a metric such as the conversation index (Total Posts/Comments + Trackbacks + Ratings) to calculate impact of blog posts. I will be posting more about the ROI scenario’s in future posts but note if you need immediate assistance in defining ROI around your current community initiative please do not hesitate to e-mail me.

A comprehensive demo of the Enterprise Reporting Suite is available athttp://reports.communityserver.org/demo/. The reporting package will begin it’s beta testing in early October and will be a must have for any marketing or community manager running aprofessional or enterprise instance of Community Server.

Wii Have Lift-off

Being the avid Xbox gamer and achievement points connoisseur that I am it may come as a surprise that we recently acquired a Wii. Granted it is for my son and I will not be giving up my Xbox anytime soon, but the direction Nintendo is going with the product and the market they are serving does warrant attention.

The image of my 5 year old son coming down the stairs dripping from sweat after playing Wii boxing is one I will not forget anytime soon. I definitely approve of activities that require physical interaction over button mashing, at least for my son :). The kids also like the concept of the Mii. A Mii is essentially you represented in various Wii games. My 3 year old daughter laughs hysterically each time we pick up and shake a Mii around the screen.

The fact that you can play Nintendo Gamecube games is also a big plus. Titles like Mario Cart and other kid friendly titles give me as a parent a level of comfort around the titles that I expose my kids to. I would recommend the Wii for anyone who is a casual gamer or has young ones in the household. For your Bioshocks, Halo’s and Gears of War, I would stick with the Xbox as the console of choice.

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Star Wars 30 Years Later

I was a young guy in 1977 and my very first movie in a theater was Star Wars episode IV. I have been hooked for the past 30 years. Of course I bought into the merchandise and had quite a collection back in the day. I was never a fanatic or superfanboy, but I did enjoy all of the films and I have shared the Star Wars experience with my kiddos. My five year old son in particular is now a big fan. From the Lego Star Wars franchise to action figures to legos, he loves all things Star Wars as I did at his age.

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So this past week we hopped in the van and made our way to Ft. Worth to visit the FW Museum of Science and History. For a few months they are housing a special Star Wars exhibit called Star Wars where science meets imagination. In the exhibit are actual props and models from the various films. Everything from the land speeder in episode IV, to an actual destroyer droid, to anakin and obi-wan’s costumes and lightsaber hilts from episode VI, Wookies, and Stormtroopers, X-wing models, and of course Darth Vader! There were also hands-on labs where the kids could build their own robots and a green screen where you can be placed into a photo remaking some of your favorite moments from the films.

If you are a fan of the films and want to share some of the history with your kids or to just take a trip down memory lane for yourself then I highly recommend going to the exhibit. Wow, I cannot believe it has been 30 years since I first saw a Star Wars movie.

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Game Review – Bioshock

Bioshock gets my “pick of the week” in terms of games I am currently playing. I am very impressed by the Unreal engine powering the game as the motion is smooth and the controls are tight for a console based FPS. I highly recommend picking it up.

The premise is you are a plane crash survivor who discovers a hidden underwater city called Rapture. Rapture represents an idealistic society that goes astray when the inhabitants become obsessed with genetic manipulation which turns them into something else entirely. The game is unique in that it is a mix between the RPG and FPS style of games. There are clear goals and objectives but you have the freedom to roam through to look for all of the extras or play straight through. The mini games compliment the story and you have an option to buyout or autohack an object if you are not interested in running through the process of hacking the device. It is more on the horror side and rated M so no playing with your small kiddos in the room.

The achievements associated with the game are feasible. There are a number of secret achievements but there is a good reason for the secrecy as they coincide with events in the game. One of the features I most enjoy is the save anywhere function. I like that I can be in the middle of an event in the game and save at that exact moment and pick it up again later without missing a beat. One note, be sure to concentrate on the gathering all of the elements for achievements on each stage as you will not have the option to go back to a previous level once you leave it. Also, when you complete the game that is it there is no going back. That would be my only negative associated with the title. So be dilligent in your searches and research!!!

Recent games worth mentioning are Overlord (love this game), NCAA08, Madden08 and the EA Skate Demo. Speaking of Skate, check out my latest vid capture from the demo.

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Fun on a Friday – Part 2

A few months ago we introduced the world to “Cardboard Rob“. Today, we unveiled “Bobblehead Rob”. In the ever escalating pranks on Rob Howard, CEO of Telligent Systems a.k.a. our fearless leader, I crafted a plan a few months ago to come up with the ultimate, tasteful office prank. Careful planning and multiple iterations went into the creation of “Bobblehead Rob”. From the clay models to the final paint approval. Each step of the way focusing on authenticity and realism. I was very satisfied with the end result.

This morning, Rob walked into his office only to be greeted by an army of… “Bobblehead Rob’s”. Yes, he has been immortalized in small ceramic, nodding statues. His initial reaction was one of shock and bewilderment as a future Telligent tellicast will reveal. But today Rob came face to face with…. well.. himself.

If you act in the next 7 days, you too can own your own Rob Howard Bobblehead. Supplies are limited.

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OXM… Really?

haloIt all began when I started receiving random friend requests via Xbox Live. I was suddenly hit with a flood of new requests from people I didn’t know. Then came the news that my gamertag TheBlackFin and blurb were included in the October #75 edition of the Official Xbox Magazine.

There is a section of the magazine called “Live Spaces” it is a page dedicated to highlighting a few of the Xbox Live community members (pg 95). You write in about the achievement you are the most proud of, games you are looking forward to playing and a little bit about yourself.

I am definitely the most proud of the 100% completion achievement (This is a single achievement in the game, not a 100% completion of all achievements) on Lego Star Wars II as it was me and my then 4 year old son Gavin playing co-op together almost every night. We searched every level as we built, smashed and jumped our way through the game. I really liked the fact that we can spend time together and have a lot of fun without worrying about the content of the game.

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