Planbeast is live

I can finally announce that web-based service involving games which I have been coyly hinting at in recent posts here: Planbeast, a free scheduling service for Xbox Live games.

In a nutshell, Planbeast lets you use the web to schedule times that you'd like to play your favorite Xbox 360 games online. You can use RSS or iCal to know when other fans of these same games set up matches of their own, which you can then join as a guest. When the time comes to play a scheduled game, everyone who has opted-in for notification receives an email or an IM telling them who's playing, and how to get started.

Xbox Live is a very clever and robust online game network, but - like all the major such networks - its "matchmaking" functionality is rather wanting. Depending on the game, trying to play online with strangers all too often means either finding nobody at all online, or finding yourself playing with unsavory sorts. Planbeast aims to help this by connecting fans of games with one another, and letting a game's online players know who and what to expect from the other folks at the table.

We think it's really cool, and if it proves popular enough, we'll consider expanding it to cover other online game networks as well.

I've been working on this project with my Volity Games colleagues Andy Turner and (the Gameshelf's own) Andrew Plotkin in what time we could scrounge over the last six months. There's lots of work to do still (holy cow is there), but the site does everything it says it will in its present state. It's going to be in public beta for a while, so I would be thrilled if you visited and let us know what you think. We plan on making daily tweaks and updates to the site for so long as our users continue finding bugs and making suggestions.

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