So close, So tantalizingly close.

Posted on October 10, 2008. Filed under: Dealing with problems, World Updates | Tags: , , |

Kaneva is fun. Or, rather, it can be. The drama that circulates within it is annoying and reduces the fun levels more than a clown with his pants off, but the thing that really annoys me about my time in Kaneva is… Kaneva.

If the place royally sucked, like, I dunno, IMVU, or Bud Light Lime, I would be ok with it. It’s the fact that they are so tantalizingly close! Argh! If they would quit the work they have wasted on time-sucks like DanceBoring3D and Kerflop, and actually fix the bugs and improve the usability of many features, this place would be rock and roll awesome.

What’s wrong with those games? You have fun with them? OK, sure, let’s pretend that they are fun and the activities in them weren’t better on Sega Genesis or even a key chain I got in the bottom of my Kellogg’s Smacks. Let’s just pretend, ok. Seriously, I know it’s hard, but follow me here, ok? Alright. So, what is Kaneva? Easy, before you answer, I will for you; it’s a 3D social network. I don’t know what all the marketing campaigns say, or what the board meetings pitch it as. But Kaneva is MySpace where you run around and say hi and meet people or keep up with the friends you have. Kaneva is all about the conversations, the interactions, the building your personalized space and having 100 people come see it, telling stories, learning about people, even in some really odd cases, falling in love.

So, naturally, the big featured game activities embrace that, feature it, improve it, right? Oh, but of course not. When you play the dance game, you have to pay strict attention to the arrows, not your fellow dancers. And you have no idea how well they are doing, or how well they did. You can’t challenge someone, you can’t play jointly, and you can’t talk in more than 6 word blasts between levels. And the shooting game? Yeah, no chatting in there at all. Run around, shoot people. You remember Duke Nukem? Yeah, the cool part of that WAS the gore and blood, so naturally that’s all been taken out. And where do these shooting fests take place? By secret ambush while in a club you built with your friends? In the mall? NO! In a completely separate location, away from everyone and everything.

Both of the featured games completely abandon what Kaneva IS, and just throw a simple game structure at you. Why didn’t anyone think of this? Why hasn’t anyone asked for a social game, like automated trivia, card games, even just a simple random number generator to allow people to make up their own games while in world? Oh, that’s right… people ask for that on a weekly basis on the forums. Huh. Well, I’m sure the next big thing to come out of Kaneva’s game minds will surely be one of those, or maybe something even better, like a memory game where you have to guess items people were wearing, or spell their convoluted 9 number usernames correctly, right? Nope. Its gonna be a driving game. Imagine there will be any chatting while you drive?

There are staunch defenders who will tell you, “Oh, the fifty-leven bugs you just mentioned are ok, because it’s Beta.” In all the copy in all the pages in the entire Kaneva website, in exactly zero places does it tell me that the software is beta. Now wait, you are thinking, I know I’ve seen the word beta somewhere. Well, you have, but not only on GMail for 3 years. “Beta” appears just to the right of the logo at the very top right on the 2d pages and launcher. Never anywhere in the actual game. And in text smaller than 8 point font. That really drives home the Beta point, huh? Or, how about the fact that you have to give Kaneva REAL currency, real money, for certain features of the game? That you spend real cash on building supplies, AP passes, costumes, clothing, deeds? Know of anything else in the history of software that took money while in beta? They give Google a hard time for being in beta so long, but at least they have the courtesy of making their stuff free.

This is simply the introduction of a many part series on the “area of opportunity” in the Kaneva software. I’m sure they are aware of most of them. I just think they are of the mindset that people want new and exciting instead of stable and functioning. Or new for the sake of new instead of able to be used easily.

As a usability guy, I believe the complete opposite way, so you can expect more posts on this subject.

Comment for me, and tell me what little annoyances or bugs or usability flaws you see in the same every day. I’d like to eventually have a comprehensive list of not just the flaws, but recommended solutions. I’ll go so far as to make mockups, because when it comes right down to it, I DO care. I DO want Kaneva to be the most awesome online experience ever.

It’s so close right now.

– Paynomind

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