Linden Labs has decided that they should propose "definition of a extensible core protocol and layers of agreed functionality as they are developed" for virtual worlds.
From charter http://trac.tools.ietf.org/bof/trac/wiki/MmoxCharter
Virtual Worlds and other Massively Multi-Party Online Applications are of increasing interest to the internet community. Innumerable examples exist of such applications, most using proprietary protocols. With their roots in games and social interaction, Virtual Worlds are now being increasingly used in business, education and information exchange. With a user base expected to grow to beyond 50 million by 2011, creators of such systems have begun to look at ways to make such systems interoperate. There have have been several ad hoc efforts since 2007 to develop interoperability. We believe the process would now benefit from a formal, established process.
The objective of the MMOX working group is to provide an application-layer wire protocol for Virtual Worlds to a) enable interoperability between applications, b) provide for access and exchange with other systems on the internet such as web services, e-mail and other information storage systems, c) allow network layers to recognize VW traffic and make routing decisions based on its characteristics.`
If you are intrested to participate or follow development you might want to join mailing list https://www.ietf.org/mailman/listinfo/mmox
Draft item is http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-hamrick-llsd-00.txt
Open Grid Protocol is http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Open_Grid_Protocol
good to reading material too.
"Insider" group - or predecessor group for open protocols is "architecture working group" http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Architecture_Working_Group
. It's goal was/is "develop the protocols that will open up the Second Life". Results were mixed - high quality, but very slow progress. Architecture Working group is still very active (maybe now more active than ever) and it is working mainly inside Second Life (get in to Second Life and send IM for Saijanai Kuhn to get more info). It would be great to get some inputs from developers of MMORPGs for that group.
Currently "Second Life platform" is far from gaming platform - but it is slowly gaining support from educators and other social interest groups (instead of just being ultimate cybersex platform). 3rd party members development has slowly becoming more intense when open sourced servers are maturing. So who knows... maybe someday someone starts developing real MMO games for it too?Some Basic Background
Loooong time ago, far far away, a bunch of hackers started to reverse engineering Second Life protocols so that they could develop bots and other applications connected to Second Life. Their work did gave birth for open source (BSD) library called "ibsecondlife"(http://www.libsecondlife.org/wiki/Main_Page
). Lindens did see this, and they realised that they couldn't stop development anymore - also they probably did see some benefits in hackers work. So they opened their Second Life viewer to open source (GPL) - which practically made Second Life's protocols open for everyone. This spawned multiple different branches of viewers with different feature sets - and sparked life for open simulator (http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Main_Page
Open simulator is "3D Application Server" that is compatible with Second Life. Basically it is direct open source competitor against Linden Lab's Second Life Grid. Open simulator is far from mature software, but it is fast gaining speed, because it allows hosting your own Second Life compatible simulators much more lower cost than Linden Lab's $195 / month. Also same time, it offers much more higher customization and integration options with other systems than Linden's Second Life Grid simulators. Linden's grid is still superior in stability, size and other technical areas - except one...
Linden Labs did see early that these Open Simulators are going to stay and they are slowly becoming mature enough for real use. To avoid scenario where they would be AOL of virtual worlds, they started group called Architecture Working Group. AW's goal is to develop open protocols that allow Linden Lab's Second Life, Open Simulator and other virtual worlds to interact with each others. Group did gain some success and first avatar teleportation between Linden Lab's and IBM's grid was made last summer. This technology however did have serious shortcoming - avatars teleported to another grid couldn't get their assets (inventory) with them. Basically it was just "automatized logout and login between two servers". However, Open Simulators group did better - few months after Linden-IBM-teleportation they introduced technology called "hypergrid" (http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Hypergrid
) that allowed avatars to move between grids seamlessly - and bring their assets with them. Basically it means that Linden have maybe couple years time to intergrate hypergrid technology to their own technology or they would become AOL of virtual worlds.
... I hope that clears bit situation...