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on: September 06, 2006, 02:15:33 PM

AGC Rivebrog: The Future of Virtual Worlds

Rive Brog on "Future of Virtual Worlds"

Brief Summary:
The general consensus among the panelees is that "virtual worlds" (which for the purposes of this discussion primarily refers to 3D virtual environments consisting largely of user-created content) will very soon be much more widespread than they are now, becoming as widespread as the Web is now, and perhaps becoming in essence the new Web.


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Righ
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Reply #1 on: September 06, 2006, 02:58:47 PM

Where's the beef?

Distinct lack of discussion about gaming and fun in all that. As ever.

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Reply #2 on: September 06, 2006, 04:11:00 PM

The stuff they were talking about was (deliberately) tangential to gaming.  What it boiled down to was Second Life (or something like it) as the next incarnation of the Web, not as the next incarnation of WoW.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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Reply #3 on: September 06, 2006, 04:24:08 PM

But the web isn't just MySpace. Oh well, I'm sure they'll all attend WWW6 in Santa Clara next year and rattle sabres with the W3C folks then.

The camera adds a thousand barrels. - Steven Colbert
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Reply #4 on: September 06, 2006, 08:43:31 PM

There was an interesting bit in Popular Science recently about Second Life being used for commercial purposes, like banks setting up bank structures in Second Life to handle online banking, with a virtual teller as an alternative to the automated and text chat interfaces currently on their web sites.  So it's not just MySpace-type stuff, although that's certainly going to be a very popular use for it, just like on the Web (I think MySpace gets more traffic than Google now?).  That and porn.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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Reply #5 on: September 06, 2006, 09:01:53 PM

MySpace gets more porn than Google now? Time to brush up on my MySpace-Fu.

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Reply #6 on: September 06, 2006, 09:07:09 PM

You might want to give the scoping-fu a quick polish too while you're in there.  Although I do believe that would be true if MySpace didn't have such strict ToS.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2006, 09:10:00 PM by Samwise »

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Reply #7 on: September 07, 2006, 11:19:13 PM

I'm not hooked on this whole "virtual world" thing. At All. What happened to progressing beyond glorified chatrooms? Because that's how I essentially see "virtual worlds" such Second Life.

Devs have a hard enough time making a fun and engaging game, so making a compelling "world" may be beyond the industry's abilities at this time.


Note: I also do not do the whole Myspace/Facebook/Whatever thing. At all...so my prespective is probably skewed. Somewhat.

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Reply #8 on: September 08, 2006, 07:49:45 AM

Sounds like this panel had Gibson on the brain.

I should get back to nature, too.  You know, like going to a shop for groceries instead of the computer.  Maybe a condo in the woods that doesn't even have a health club or restaurant attached.  Buy a car with only two cup holders or something.

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Reply #9 on: September 08, 2006, 10:18:20 PM

Because camping the Froglok Sage is a lot more fun than talking to girls on MySpace.

MMOs are a damned expensive way to deliver games that can be made better other ways.  So what is the differentiator for gamey MMOs vs other games?  Other people.  So if MySpace delivers people better, and Flash delivers better Games cheaper, what is left for MMOs?  We deliver shitty games with ninja-looting assholes?  This is a selling point?  This is a future?

What was the most profitable game ever?  Hangman, as done by Wheel of Fortune. (Well, ignore poker, too many legal issues, and I still own my old roommate's speakers)  If you can deliver a simple, flashy game for focus, and find a way to allow the typical fragmented family to gather in their scattered living rooms and nursing home beds (yeah, I went to visit grandma last weekend) on a nightly basis, where you can associate with friends and family regularly, 6 million plus will be a small number for concurrent users, never mind total subs.

There are a lot of other options for this multi-user stuff than whacking foozles, and most of them will have a larger audience.

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Reply #10 on: September 08, 2006, 11:13:44 PM

Rather than personally putting this thread in the Den myself, I'll simply say that Myspace and the drama queens therein: Not my bag, baby.

Anyway, yes, I'll agree with your sarcastic remark that camping mobs sucks, or pointlessly slaughtering foozles is not fun. What I don't agree with is the notion that Myspace somehow "delivers people better." They might deliver More people than an MMO, but I would insist the general population to be just as shitty, but for different reasons.

And quite frankly, I'm not even sure what I want from MMOGs anymore. One thing I am sure about is that I don't care about the other random people who might be playing the same game as me. I either play games with groups of people from this site, or RL. I simply don't care anymore.

Hell, I can hardly form my thoughts into something coherent at this point. I just want a deep game. Fuck the player population. I can't imagine how I got by with PUGs back in the day. Maybe I'm getting too crotchety, but the average player in a MMO annoys me. The average Myspace user annoys me too, so I don't see expanding the playerbase as a solution for me either.

Just give me my fun games, dammit.

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Reply #11 on: September 09, 2006, 12:42:08 AM

I'd say that MySpace delivers people better based on the democracy of the headcount.  That doesn't mean you have to like it; I generally don't like most democratic choices, but quantity does have a quality, and so forth.  I guess I'm mostly responding to the first point, about where is the fun, and part of what I'm driving at is that fun isn't always going to be defined in ways folks around here would agree with.  But that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of people who find that fun.  Heck, even foozle whacking can be fun; I think the biggest problem with foozle whacking is the pacing of the process.  (Note, this is a stolen idea from the Writing track keynote, where the speaker addressed the importance of pacing for story;  it seems to me that not only is pacing a problem with game stories in general [eg part of why cutscenes usually suck], it is also a problem with MMO activities in general.  I get some sleep, I'll try to decifer my notes and post something.)

And I think the dismissive note I thought I heard in talking about Gibsonian thinking was a factor in my response; I think that thicker interfaces to this intraweb thing are one way some people will find more interest here.  Sort of like Dolby Surround for the mind.

And the discussion pretty well gelled a feeling I have for the whole 'Worlds Suck, Games Win' meta-thread I've been seeing over time.  Sure, there are plenty of knocks on the Virtual Worlds people have constructed, but have the gamey worlds really been all that much better?  Schild told me that he has given up on MMOs because they suck so badly; I think our criticism isn't doing much better.  Pardo's keynote sounded a lot like things that were being said clear back on LTM, that somebody finally heard some of, but the critical comments I've seen the last few years haven't broken much new ground either.  Maybe there should be a panel on MMO criticism.  Have the critics progressed any faster than the developers?

And I'm sure that some of my response was based on sitting at the gate at O'Hare, waiting for somebody to get the ramp up to the door, so we could get off the damn plane, already.  For that part of the mix, I'm sorry.

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Reply #12 on: September 09, 2006, 04:37:18 AM

Quote from: Raph
Games/worlds like Runescape and Habbo Hotel each have roughly double the WoW user base -- why? Because they aren't polished imitators; they're doing things that games before them haven't already done.
It's a possibility...but then again, another possibility is that WoW costs $15/m and the other two are (technically) free to play.
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Reply #13 on: September 09, 2006, 08:42:59 AM

Only person I've ever known who played Runescape was a 10 year old kid and his 13 year old sister, who played it because they liked online games but weren't allowed to play one with a monthly fee.

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Reply #14 on: September 09, 2006, 09:02:59 AM

My opinion is that if virtual worlds want to succeed, there needs to be a feature superset of SecondLife. Means basic things like combat, vehicles and whatever else needs to be available at the core of the engine already, bigger terrains with selfadjusting cell sizes (think BigWorld propaganda, none of that 256x256m shit) and more basic stuff like this.

The poster child is currently nothing more than a terrain shader with a scripted object spawn, all with shit performance. Virtually every functionality has to be supplied by the users. That includes basic mechanics like vehicles and combat, which usually work like shit, since an overloaded script processor and a crappy API isn't exactly the best ground to complement a game.

And for the love of god, the next SL should introduce import of 3D meshes. Modelling with primitives is annoying as hell, UV mapping impossible, and more taxing on the graphics hardware.

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Reply #15 on: September 09, 2006, 01:09:28 PM

It's a possibility...but then again, another possibility is that WoW costs $15/m and the other two are (technically) free to play.

Puzzle Pirates and Guild Wars are also both free to play, no?  How are their numbers compared to WoW's?

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Reply #16 on: September 09, 2006, 02:30:15 PM

Guild Wars has hit over 2 million box sales (this very well may include the original game and the Factions box. I don't know). How many of those two million are actually playing is anybody's guess.

According to SirBruce, Puzzle Pirates, as of April, has around 36,000 subscribers and subscriber "equivalents" (those who purchased Doubloons).
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Reply #17 on: September 09, 2006, 02:38:28 PM

So respectable, but still not at the same level as WoW, numbers-wise, much less Habbo or Runescape.  Despite being free to play.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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Reply #18 on: September 09, 2006, 02:46:23 PM

Guild Wars is more than respectable, I'd think (not WoW numbers....but what the hell).

You could slice 2 million in half, and it would have the kind of numbers we once thought were amazing (before WoW). You could cut 3/4 off, and 500k would still be better than many others. If you cut 90 percent off of it, then it'd be respectable.....And still better than what most are doing.

[edit]

I'm derailing, I think. Sorry about that :).
« Last Edit: September 09, 2006, 02:52:14 PM by Stray »
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Reply #19 on: September 09, 2006, 03:11:38 PM

That's the thing, though... it's impressive by the standards of games that are marketed to gamers, and much better than most games in that space, but still nothing compared to games/services marketed to everyone else.  At least in terms of number of users.  Habbo isn't quite profitable yet, although that's changing rapidly now that they're solidly established.  I expect that it'll change even more rapidly in a few more years when their user base gets old enough to get summer jobs and blow some of that money on furniture micropayments.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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Reply #20 on: September 10, 2006, 01:55:09 PM

Quote from: Raph
Games/worlds like Runescape and Habbo Hotel each have roughly double the WoW user base -- why? Because they aren't polished imitators; they're doing things that games before them haven't already done.
It's a possibility...but then again, another possibility is that WoW costs $15/m and the other two are (technically) free to play.
Where's William of Ockham when you need him?

The free to play and the unpolished go hand in hand, of course. It's the total package you need to look at.
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Reply #21 on: September 10, 2006, 04:58:41 PM

I think there is another important angle here - how many developers *want* to work on a game like Habbo Hotel?

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Reply #22 on: September 10, 2006, 07:05:22 PM

Saying that "MySpace delivers people better" is missing the ENTIRE point of MySpace.

Yeah, it connects you to people, but it's all about You and Your Ego and how fantastic (or crappy depending on your Emo level) the world centered around You (you special snowflake) is.  It even says it in the name, "MY" not "Everyone".

MySpace is popular because Attention whores are abundant, not because it's some fantastic content / connection site.  It actually sucks balls for that purpose.

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Reply #23 on: September 11, 2006, 09:26:23 AM

MySpace is all about whoring around. Sure, some people use it to contact old friends, and Hollywood uses it as a viral marketing tool, but most people are on there to get laid.

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Reply #24 on: September 12, 2006, 11:01:25 AM

The audio of this panel was just posted at 3pointd.com.
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Reply #25 on: September 12, 2006, 05:18:19 PM

This whole "3D web" thing is to today what virtual reality was to ten years ago.  Lots of buzz that gets a certain breed of tech-worshipper whipped into a frenzy, while other people wonder how this is supposed to be any quicker/easier/better than just pointing and clicking.

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Reply #26 on: September 12, 2006, 05:37:47 PM

When I first heard about Gametap, I imagined everything it could be. I envisioned players making an avatar and walking through virtual arcades, and playing minigames to get their quarters, and playing other minigames to go from arcade to arcade.

Then I started actually playing Gametap, and realized that would suck. When I boot up Gametap, I want to play my games, not bash mobs for virtual quarters and then drag-race down the virtual street to get from one set of games to another.

Likewise, if a 3D world is attached to MySpace, I won't use it. It would get in the way. However, I heard that we were getting MySpace-style pages for our Second Life characters. That would be awesome.

Seems to me that's kinda like trying to make a gamey-world into a worldy-world. It's okay to add a non-intrusive system to something; just don't make your users play something they didn't sign up for. What qualifies as intrusive versus non-intrusive? We're starting to find out real quick....

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Reply #27 on: September 12, 2006, 05:57:28 PM

MySpace is all about whoring around. Sure, some people use it to contact old friends, and Hollywood uses it as a viral marketing tool, but most people are on there to get laid.

You that like it is a bad thing.
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Reply #28 on: September 12, 2006, 07:53:45 PM

Likewise, if a 3D world is attached to MySpace, I won't use it. It would get in the way. However, I heard that we were getting MySpace-style pages for our Second Life characters. That would be awesome.

And how exactly are those two things different? If Myspace added Second Life and Second Life added Myspace they would be the same...

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Reply #29 on: September 12, 2006, 08:25:30 PM

Not quite.

One is a 3D virtual space being inserted into a web community. To make it fit, it'd have to be browser-based, most likely. It's pretty much an accessory, since it doesn't fit into the original user interaction paradigm for MySpace.

The other is a 3D virtual space getting an web-like thingamajig added to it that should improve the social sphere of the application; I'm not sure whether you can already browse the web from within SL, or if this is an external, web-facing addon. If it's within SL, then it sort of fits within the existing SL UI paradigm. (I know Eve has an in-game browser, but it's not so hot.)
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Reply #30 on: September 12, 2006, 08:25:57 PM

The problem with the 3D web is that 99.9% of the information in this world is in text or image form.

How does 3D make an AP story on Derek Jeter any better? 3D certainly has a place on the web. But a "3D web" doesn't make a whole lot of sense. 3D is good for object visualization, which is not what the web is about at all. Now a car-buying site where you can rotate the cars around in full 3D? Sure I'm on board with that.

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Reply #31 on: September 12, 2006, 08:30:38 PM

Because when you go to a website, you want to get to the fucking content.  Not dick around with some horseshit game-wannabe Lawnmower Man interface shoehorned in there by some numbnuts who thinks everything has to have an avatar because the unflashy convenience of point-and-click doesn't look cyberspacey enough.

Oh, and you know what else?  Second Life is not the fucking future.  Second Life is a sex-club for furries with about as many (paying) customers as goddamned Tibia.  I know the crazy avatars and shit give everyone who owns a pile of Gibson novels the giggles, but really, who gives a fuck?

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Reply #32 on: September 12, 2006, 08:51:04 PM

The point is that Second Life reached out to people who aren't hardcore gamers. Furry or not, it's a seperate market of people.  As for MySpace + Second Life. The result would be something new. It wouldn't just be MySpace + Second Life. It would be a virtual fucking proxy of the real world of people who want to live together. Just less laws.
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Reply #33 on: September 12, 2006, 09:29:37 PM

But a "3D web" doesn't make a whole lot of sense. 3D is good for object visualization, which is not what the web is about at all.

I don't agree.

Quote
One is a 3D virtual space being inserted into a web community. The other is a 3D virtual space getting an web-like thingamajig added to it that should improve the social sphere of the application;

Unless Myspace literally bought Linden Labs and merged them so you'd have Second Life characters with Myspace profiles and Myspace  profiles with embedded SL viewers.

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Reply #34 on: September 12, 2006, 10:00:55 PM

But a "3D web" doesn't make a whole lot of sense. 3D is good for object visualization, which is not what the web is about at all.

I don't agree.

 shocked

Unspeakably awesome. That technology, particularly the part that interpolates between two photos and generates a scene mesh, could do wonders for tourism. Virtual tourism. Awesome.

And damnit, I knew there were topics I kept forgetting to bring up at the interview. Augmented reality (and how it's beginning to be employed for games) was one of those. undecided
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