Sunday, March 25, 2007 store goes "Fat Free"

We just switched to "Fat Free" shopping cart from e-junkie. It supports PayPal and Google Checkout (we didn't add this one yet). The cart screen doesn't load into a new page, but works on a separate layer on top of the website. So it doesn't get in your way. It's very light and easy to use. So just go ahead, give it a try and buy something in our store.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Learning to play Blackjack

If you ever go to Vegas, I have a tip for you - stick to Blackjack. It gives you the highest chances of winning, and you have some control over the game. Nothing will drain you faster of money as the mindless pulling of a "slut-machine" handle. As an alternative, you can just sit by the bar, play video Blackjack and rotate your ten bucks for half an hour. The drinks are free while you are playing! Just don't forget to leave a tip.

In order to lose your money slower (forget about winning in Vegas) you have to learn the Blackjack rules. The basics are simple, but when it comes to double ups, split hands and things like that - there is more to remember. You can find the complete table with all the right moves for every possible combination on the web. The best way to engrave them in your brain is to practice playing. You can do it online and for free at:

We created this version of Blackjack for the History Channel website. It will give you tips on each hand and will help you remember the right moves.

Good luck!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Office Space Diary

"March 17, 2003 Monday
The luck ‘o the Irish! Yeah baby! Can’t wait to tip back some green beer…in celebration of my Irish heritage. So what if I’m not Irish…"
No, this is not a note from my personal diary. It's from the dairy of the main character of "The Office Space" game we did back in 2003. It's a map-based game, and each new map represents a new day at work. The idea is to "survive till vacation", which is on July 4th. There are 131 maps, and each starts with a short diary note. All together they create a sad-and-funny story of a generic, middle-aged office worker trapped in his cubicle.

We thought it would be nice to have this story leading the character through the game. It's all about details, though I didn't think anybody was really going to pay attention to these texts. To my surprise, when the game got a silver award from I.D. Magazine, they did mention the diary entries.

You never really know what details will appeal to the end user. We just like to play with details like that and at the end it pays off.

For those who want to check these diaries without playing the game, we are attaching them below.

Office Space Diaries

January 2, 2003 Thursday
The new year celebration has come to an end. Your carpet is soaked in alcohol, there is a mountain of dishes in the sink, and nameless faces are passed out in your living room. As you race to beat the clock, you can’t get your car door to unfreeze, and you spill steaming, hot coffee down your wrinkled suit. Once you get your “mileage” care warmed up, you slide to work listening to “Everybody Hurts”. You startle from your daze as you realize it’s the first day of the work year…and 4 th of July is far, far away.

January 3, 2003 Friday
Well, I guess it’s time to suck it up and make my New Year’s resolutions. Last year, I was a mess…didn’t even make it a week. This year will be different! I will succeed. Firstly, I will lose 25 pounds. I will quit smoking. AND I will not drink during the week. It’s Friday, so I’m giving myself the weekend off – will start full steam ahead on Monday!

January 6, 2003 Monday
Okay. I am ready to go. No cigarette with my morning coffee. No smoky treat on the commute to work. Had a huge breakfast of eggs and bacon – I am LOVIN’ this Atkins thing!

January 7, 2003 Tuesday
Chewed a whole pack of Nicorette after I beat the living daylights out of the copier. Is it too much to ask for a stupid machine to copy front and back?

January 8, 2003 Wednesday
Last night I strangled my dog Tootsie. I NEED a cigarette!!! Just one little puff. One tiny little hit off a Marlboro, and I will be satisfied. NO! I can’t do it. Will buy the patch and join an on-line support group. At least I’ll have someone to talk to at work.

January 9, 2003 Thursday
I have a savior! Found low-carb bread. Can you actually believe it?! I am sooo gonna stick to this diet. Doc Atkins is my hero!!!

January 10, 2003 Friday
Feel like crap. Went out with a few guys I use to bowl with. I didn’t drink. Took some crap for that. I smoked. I caved in. I couldn’t help myself! I have to look on the bright side – at least it’s pay day!

Read the rest of the diary here:

Monday, March 05, 2007

How fast is our Flash isometric engine

A lot of questions on our Flash isometric engine ( are about performance. The most common one is: how many characters can we have on one map, without a significant slowdown. We did put together a simple performance demo:

It's a large map with 20 characters moving simultaneously and using collision detection. As you can see, it runs just fine.

This test doesn't do any network synchronization (which is used in mutiplayer games and chats). It just tests the Flash rendering/calculation speed. In out TheoAvatar chat we limit the number of users per room to 10. It's not because of synchronization issues, but because having overcrowded chat rooms makes it very difficult to communicate. It's better to have multiple smaller rooms.

If you want to create your own Flash games and chats using our engine, check the information on TheoSDK and TheoAvatar SDK pages.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Valentine's Day ecard numbers

It's time to share the results of our Valentine's Day e-card campaign.

The numbers aren't so high as for Christmas, but still look very good. The traffic it generated nearly reached 30K visitors some days (second after Halloween e-card). The percentage of sent ecards (out of all viewers) was the highest. It could be just love, but the fact that we are donating a % of our advertising income to The Salvation Army may helped also.

Income from Google AdSense was half from the one generated for Halloween or Christmas. Still we had one day with the income over $100.

All the numbers show that Valentine's Day has the shortest attention span - the interest jumps up and then drops back pretty fast.

Here is the traffic graph that covers all three of our e-cards:
It gives a very good idea about the traffic our ecards generated. Notice the flat traffic area before Halloween. The boost the ecards are generating is amazing.

Consider this: a major(!) traffic increase for a period of 5 months, covering October to February. That's the combined outcome of a viral marketing campaign using our three ecards: Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's Day.

If you are interested in using such campaign for your own business, find more on: