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Title: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: ForumBot 0.8 beta on October 08, 2008, 07:56:40 AM
Raph\'s Happy Metaplace

It's something of a tradition here at F13 for us to sit down with Raph Koster of Areae.net at least once a year and accost him with all manner of exotically-themed questions. This year is no different; while we weren't able to meet up at the recent Austin Game Developers Conference, we did manage to get a few minutes of Raph's time before he jetted off to London.

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Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: schild on October 08, 2008, 07:59:02 AM
Also, from the tail end:
Quote
Also, information about a key giveaway is available in our Metaplace forum (http://forums.f13.net/index.php?board=82.0" target="_new), information will go live at 10AM EST.
-
There will be a thread there at 10AM EST sharp with information on getting in. There will be 50 keys available. So if you're interested, f5 at 10AM EST.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: schild on October 08, 2008, 08:55:10 AM
Details available here: http://forums.f13.net/index.php?topic=14861.0


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Cyrrex on August 08, 2014, 05:23:07 AM
A bot, responding to a post made by a bot.  The rest of us are officially no longer needed here.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on August 25, 2014, 12:56:05 AM
It was odd to see this pop up as new.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Trippy on August 25, 2014, 02:25:16 AM
Cyrrex replied to a spammer whose posts were deleted but Cyrrex's post still bumped the thread.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Signe on August 25, 2014, 09:40:28 AM
We really have to do something about Cyrrex.  He's a trouble maker.   :oh_i_see:


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Cyrrex on August 25, 2014, 09:44:02 AM
Meanies. 


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Pennilenko on August 25, 2014, 10:02:03 AM
What ever happened to metaplace?


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Ironwood on August 25, 2014, 10:10:57 AM
Stolen and shipped to Romania, where it was stripped down for spare parts for elder hairdressers.



Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on August 29, 2014, 02:36:36 PM
Let's see, what happened to Metaplace. :)

- we made truly amazing groundbreaking technology
- we didn't raise enough on our second round to have insulation when the crash happened.
- we ended up choosing "tool for everyone" over "tool for devs" which was a mistake in hindsight (though we may not have gotten funded the other way)
- we kept trying to get revenue from end-user-built virtual worlds but only succeeded in attracting a lot of kids, who didn't pay
- we never made enough content internally, because of internal conflicts
- we ended up having to switch over to making Facebook games with the tech

...whereupon we put out three FB games in about four months, astonishing the larger players with the caliber of visuals and speed of development. There was immediately a bidding war to buy us, and we ended up selling to Playdom/Disney.

Today Metaplace is the backend for Club Penguin, and the reason why it's doing so well on mobile.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Rasix on August 29, 2014, 03:22:54 PM
So, your Porsche got that performance upgrade after all. 


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on August 29, 2014, 05:49:14 PM
I drive a Camry instead of a Saturn, how's that?

But more seriously, I did make out dramatically better out of it than I did from UO and SWG combined. Which is a sad commentary on how the world works, I suppose.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Paelos on August 29, 2014, 07:49:36 PM
I drive a Camry instead of a Saturn, how's that?

But more seriously, I did make out dramatically better out of it than I did from UO and SWG combined. Which is a sad commentary on how the world works, I suppose.

Sad I suppose in a way, but success is success. I think you put that one in the W column and count it.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on August 29, 2014, 08:51:53 PM
Oh, I do, mostly. I also get told pretty regularly these days that it was ahead of its time, so who knows.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Ironwood on August 30, 2014, 04:35:59 AM
I drive a Camry instead of a Saturn, how's that?

But more seriously, I did make out dramatically better out of it than I did from UO and SWG combined. Which is a sad commentary on how the world works, I suppose.

I don't even understand why you're sad.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Pennilenko on August 30, 2014, 08:37:42 AM
He is sad because it was supposed to make him Scrooge McDuck money.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: UnSub on August 30, 2014, 10:22:06 AM
I drive a Camry instead of a Saturn, how's that?

But more seriously, I did make out dramatically better out of it than I did from UO and SWG combined. Which is a sad commentary on how the world works, I suppose.

I don't even understand why you're sad.

Because some people still have dreams of touching peoples' hearts over cold hard cash, Ironwood.

On the other hand, better it turned out with some kind of success than none at all, which is where I thought Metaplace had ended up.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Ironwood on August 30, 2014, 12:26:09 PM
Er, as far as I can tell, he did.  While also making cash.

I mean, Club Penguin dude.  That's not just a hobby for animal cruelty people.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on August 30, 2014, 01:38:49 PM
The part I was referencing as a sad commentary is "you can make more money from a failure than from a massive success and a moderate success combined."

It was sad-making in non-commentary ways. The community at Metaplace was GREAT, really. They bought into the dream and we let them down.

The technology, even though it is being used for something very cool, is still vastly underutilized; I mean, I've said this before, but we basically built an OS for the Matrix or Ready Player One. It's really, really powerful. But there aren't even very many people even working on it today who get how powerful it is (mostly leftover folks from the old days).

It was also literally a decade-long dream in the making, so to stumble on execution -- in large part because of management fails on my part -- is painful.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: schild on August 30, 2014, 01:48:23 PM
Making more money from failure is precisely what the vast majority of management and executives in the gaming industry has been doing since the 90s. I don't know why that's a sad  commentary. It's reality.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: ezrast on August 30, 2014, 04:08:50 PM
When has reality ever not been sad?


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Ironwood on August 30, 2014, 05:52:22 PM
The part I was referencing as a sad commentary is "you can make more money from a failure than from a massive success and a moderate success combined."

It was sad-making in non-commentary ways. The community at Metaplace was GREAT, really. They bought into the dream and we let them down.

The technology, even though it is being used for something very cool, is still vastly underutilized; I mean, I've said this before, but we basically built an OS for the Matrix or Ready Player One. It's really, really powerful. But there aren't even very many people even working on it today who get how powerful it is (mostly leftover folks from the old days).

It was also literally a decade-long dream in the making, so to stumble on execution -- in large part because of management fails on my part -- is painful.

I think that's a demon in your head talking mate.  You know the one.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Merusk on August 30, 2014, 11:05:34 PM
You made a tool rather than an end product. Tools have a longer shelf life than products so it shouldn't be too surprising.  You pay thousands for software up front but it works for years and creates more products than the cost if you're doing it right.



ed: produces products is terrible grammar.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Ironwood on August 31, 2014, 02:41:12 AM
Yeah, exactly that.  And not only was it a GOOD tool by all accounts, it's getting USE.

I'd put a wee virtual plaque up to yourself and just move on to the next one.  Let me know if you need help with it.   :why_so_serious:


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on August 31, 2014, 04:25:47 PM
I don't need a virtual plaque. I have a real one.  :grin:

(http://www.raphkoster.com/images/patent.JPG)


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: HaemishM on August 31, 2014, 04:40:23 PM
If you're having moral trouble spending the dosh you got from the sale, I have no such moral qualms. :why_so_serious:


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Ironwood on August 31, 2014, 05:50:37 PM
I don't need a virtual plaque. I have a real one.  :grin:

(http://www.raphkoster.com/images/patent.JPG)


See ?  All's well.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Paelos on August 31, 2014, 08:35:00 PM
Yeah if you get a plaque you definitely put it in the W column.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Fordel on September 01, 2014, 02:44:36 AM
To this very day, I still have no fucking idea what Metaplace is/was/supposed to be.

Matrix, Power, Words, Worlds, Penguins, worlds, promise, potential, Worlds. This is what every conversation about whatever this thing is (or was) sounds like to me.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Cyrrex on September 01, 2014, 03:27:10 AM
To this very day, I still have no fucking idea what Metaplace is/was/supposed to be.


I am pretty sure it had something to do with the HAM system.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 01, 2014, 05:55:49 PM
To this very day, I still have no fucking idea what Metaplace is/was/supposed to be.

Matrix, Power, Words, Worlds, Penguins, worlds, promise, potential, Worlds. This is what every conversation about whatever this thing is (or was) sounds like to me.

Metaplace was an architecture for virtual worlds designed to integrate it fully with the web.

- A generic server, so you could make any sort of game on it.
- Open client standards and network protocol, so you could connect on any device.
- All assets of all sorts (art, sounds, maps, even code) fetched via web or streaming, so assets could be anything online
- Full in/out to the web. For example, tie a real world place to a given world. Or have a world feed data to gradekeeping systems. Etc.
- Interoperable, so you could move stuff from world to world.
- Metadata on all of it so that it was searchable, rateable, etc.

Now, WITH that we built a product that was more or less "a network of worlds built by whoever wanted to sign up."


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: KallDrexx on September 01, 2014, 07:36:16 PM
That really doesn't make it any clearer, and as a software developer myself that sounds like you spent a ton of money and time to reinvent the web.....


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 01, 2014, 08:23:57 PM
The web (more specifically, the typical servers used, and for that matter, the horrendous technical nightmare that is everything within a browser) are neither designed for game or virtual spaces, nor very good at delivering them. For example, web servers aren't stateful. Back when MP was created (2006), there weren't WebSockets, not that they work all that well today still. Web rendering is still a complete mess. Even JSON is still too heavy for real-time protocols. And so on.

It was very directly MODELED on the web, though.

Which is not to say I would do it all the same way today...

Um, how's "a generic engine for online games that could handle anything from single player games like Tetris up through an MMORPG, and even link them all together" sound as a shorter description?


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Fordel on September 01, 2014, 10:58:39 PM
Why would I want to link my Tetris with my MMORPG?


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 02, 2014, 12:12:55 AM
Shared identity, currency, avatars maybe, friends lists,etc. Among many other things.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Margalis on September 02, 2014, 05:14:50 AM
It's very hard to make a video game tool successful without a product that proves that the tool is great. Especially if that tool is not a technical tool strictly for hardcore developers but more of a modding tool for everyone.

There are a lot of companies who made (or claim to have made) cool moddable engines and tools (I realize Metaplace goes beyond modding) but didn't have the game to make that tool attractive. It's a classic mistake, thinking that the community will make the content. For the 5% of games that are great and get lucky the community will make more great content, the other 95% will wither on the vine.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Fordel on September 02, 2014, 07:17:24 AM
Shared identity, currency, avatars maybe, friends lists,etc. Among many other things.

I already use Steam.  :why_so_serious:


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 02, 2014, 02:20:06 PM
It's very hard to make a video game tool successful without a product that proves that the tool is great.

Yup. But the investment climate at the time was very much Web 2.0, users do everything. I was actually cautioned against every referring to the company as a game studio, as it would affect our funding viability. We had HUGE debates about making content internally, they got very very heated.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Yegolev on September 03, 2014, 02:17:18 PM
Having just this week been exposed to the term "data lake", I can say that Raph was ahead of his time and seems to have invented a proto-Cloud.  It might be like table tennis on an oscillator by comparison to OpenStack, but I can see the resemblance.

Why would I want to link my Tetris with my MMORPG?

You're just being silly.  That's no reason to avoid doing a thing, unless of course no one will pay you for it.

1994: Why would I want to take pictures with my cell phone?
2004: Why would I want to take pictures of my dick with my phone?
2014: Why would my phone upload my dick pictures to the internet?


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Paelos on September 03, 2014, 03:57:49 PM
2024: Why would I place my dick in my phone?


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 03, 2014, 05:03:06 PM
In fact, clouds were not really around much in 2006, certainly mo middleware or infrastructure for them when we started, so we had to invent our own.

Each "world" in MP was a standalone lightweight process that read in a world description consisting of tags in our custom markup language. The tags essentially defined the schema for everything. The tags then all referenced URLs. The server only had a tiny number of classes, and for games, it was really just three: maps, objects, and player network input. When you asked the directory for Tetris vs WoW, a server process spun up on whatever machine made the most sense, was directed to the appropriate tag file, and the server basically configured itself into the appropriate game. The directory then told the requesting client where to connect to. Took about 200ms. If nobody stayed in it, it was shut down.

Network traffic used exactly the same tags. Client fetched assets from the same place the server did. And assets could be anywhere.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: MahrinSkel on September 04, 2014, 10:38:46 PM
Yeah, we liked your tech at Orbis, but we were so desperately strapped for resources we never really got a chance to do more than just look at it.  We had some vague plans for combining it with the "Context Based Agents" AI systems me and John Arras were playing around with, it seemed attractive because it would let us ignore a lot of the plumbing issues while still let us be as "close to the metal" as we thought we needed to be for the actual agents (in our schema, players were just another kind of agent, they interacted with the world through a proxy that ran on the server).

Maybe we should have concentrated more on building tech, rather than chasing lightning strikes.  John would have been happier, and we might have gotten a valuable asset out of it.

--Dave


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: DevilsAdvocate25 on September 10, 2014, 06:23:04 PM
In fact, clouds were not really around much in 2006, certainly mo middleware or infrastructure for them when we started, so we had to invent our own.

Each "world" in MP was a standalone lightweight process that read in a world description consisting of tags in our custom markup language. The tags essentially defined the schema for everything. The tags then all referenced URLs. The server only had a tiny number of classes, and for games, it was really just three: maps, objects, and player network input. When you asked the directory for Tetris vs WoW, a server process spun up on whatever machine made the most sense, was directed to the appropriate tag file, and the server basically configured itself into the appropriate game. The directory then told the requesting client where to connect to. Took about 200ms. If nobody stayed in it, it was shut down.

Network traffic used exactly the same tags. Client fetched assets from the same place the server did. And assets could be anywhere.

Wouldn't something like this make it easier for SOE to manage their stable of games? It sounds like every time they buy or produce a new MMO, it would be fairly easy for them to add it into their Metaplace stable so that existing players would always have the same friends lists and guild contacts as they moved from the current shiny to the new shiny.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 10, 2014, 08:10:31 PM
It would have been, yes. I think the SOE of today would be interested. The SOE of back then was more conservative, and wanted me to work on FreeRealms instead. :)


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: naum on September 10, 2014, 08:46:19 PM
Really wanted to like Metaplace.

But I never could get past performance issues, Flash and Macs just didn't go together.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Lantyssa on September 11, 2014, 01:35:08 PM
It would have been, yes. I think the SOE of today would be interested. The SOE of back then was more conservative, and wanted me to work on FreeRealms instead. :)
Oh man, Free Realms could have been even better!?!

Though they should have done both.  Let you build the Metaplace technology with the Free Realms' art assets.  I really liked the look of the game, and being able to hop from one genre to another with the same character would have been awesome.  (And now EQ Next art isn't all that different from Free Realms'.  With the Next-Landmark bridge they're trying to redo something you did years ago.)


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 11, 2014, 05:07:04 PM
I worked a little on at least two reboots of FreeRealms. Pretty sure there were at least a few more after that. It was a long and fraught project.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Signe on September 11, 2014, 05:58:22 PM
You should become a professional musician.  You might not make any money, but I bet you'd smile all day long. 


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Lantyssa on September 11, 2014, 09:25:21 PM
It was a long and fraught project.
Unfortunately I'd believe that from the little bit of inside info I know.  Still a shame.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 11, 2014, 09:57:40 PM
You should become a professional musician.  You might not make any money, but I bet you'd smile all day long. 

Oh, that is probably so very very true.  :heart:


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Yoru on September 12, 2014, 05:36:58 AM
It was a long and fraught project.

I do believe this describes every virtual world/MMO project, ever.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: shiznitz on September 17, 2014, 09:36:13 AM
Why would I want to link my Tetris with my MMORPG?

So that you could play someone's cool version of Tetris from within the MMORPG.  The way I read Raph's description the platform would let conceivably move from one online world to another without ever logging out. 

If you haven't read Ready Player One, then you really should.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on September 17, 2014, 12:55:47 PM
The way I read Raph's description the platform would let conceivably move from one online world to another without ever logging out. 

Not would, did! There were over 70,000 worlds at the time we shut it down, and you could move between all of them, chat across all of them, optionally use common avatars or common currency, common reputation & rating system...



Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: schild on November 25, 2014, 06:57:36 PM
It's such a loose definition of "world" with which to attract investors or involuntary luddites. I mean, it was all one big gameless world with which people could make their pocket hovel. Saying it's a bunch of interconnected worlds is a bit of tomfoolery given it was all yanking from one database. It's roughly the equivalent of saying a multi-content minecraft server was multiple worlds if you patched in a different set of currencies for each island. Which we both know is a pretty crap definition of such a thing.

Obviously it's a great definition for people who think computers are literally Magic.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on November 27, 2014, 05:18:05 PM
On the backend each of those worlds was a full server, capable of hundreds-to-maybe-a-thousand people; you could also have pretty large maps. They each ran their own persistence store, too. Seriously, from the tech POV, each world really was actually a small MMO, even if all the person put in it was a hovel. :)


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Tmon on December 01, 2014, 02:56:30 PM
I didn't even manage a hovel.  I had a really poorly built hedge maze with a wall in the middle that had a picture linked into it.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Scold on December 11, 2014, 04:27:24 AM
I dove into MetaPlace back in the day hoping to Build My Own Little MMO, but then nothing one would require to build an MMO was there. NPC/quest scripting? Not there. Combat systems? Not there.

I get why Raph and co. didn't build games with it, but they should have built the core building blocks for games at least.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on December 11, 2014, 11:38:20 AM
You mean, you wanted most of the work done for you. :)

Which isn't wrong, I think. If we had basically built Diku for you, MP probably would have gotten much farther.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Rendakor on December 11, 2014, 11:40:16 AM
That's kinda what I was expecting from MP to be honest; building areas in MUDs was fun. Trying to make stuff from scratch, not so much.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Lantyssa on December 12, 2014, 10:22:49 AM
Ultimately there are not a lot of people with both a creative drive and the desire to build all the structure that supports it.  It was a neat idea, but probably not something too useful for individuals.

Even as a MUD coder I rarely made things with a direct impact on my own areas.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Yoru on December 18, 2014, 05:57:55 AM
If we had basically built Diku for you, MP probably would have gotten much farther.

You were a regular on MUDDEV, Raph - surely you realized that "all the work is done for you" was one of the big reasons that Diku dominated/dominates the MUD backends. Metaplace was more akin to LP - highly flexible, but only suitable for those willing to do a lot of work to build the libs.

Seems more like a B2B than B2C proposition to me.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Raph on December 18, 2014, 04:17:33 PM
Worse, I was actually one of those who made that case the most aggressively back on MudDev. :)

It was the subject of many intense disagreements within MP though.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: Margalis on December 18, 2014, 08:21:39 PM
The vast majority of games in which the users end up doing significant work for the devs are the games in which the dev first does enough significant work to attract those content creators.

Basically you have to make a good game first.


Title: Re: Raph's Happy Metaplace
Post by: schild on December 18, 2014, 08:39:57 PM
The vast majority of games in which the users end up doing significant work for the devs are the games in which the dev first does enough significant work to attract those content creators.

Basically you have to make a good game first.
Nonsense, since ~2012 and moving forward you only have to be able to sell a poorly structured idea.