Tracking Areae

 Posted by (Visited 13984 times)  Game talk
Dec 192006
 

One thing’s for sure: lots of folks noticed the Areae announcement. Herewith, a small roundup of sorts.

Susan Wu cheated. She actually works at one of our investors, which means that she actually knows what we’re doing. She was very good about not actually saying what it is, though.

Though Areae is still very stealthy, Areae sits at the intersection between Web 2.0 and MMOGs. If you think about it, the Web 2.0 and the Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming communities have largely been pretty siloed – gamer developers go to game industry conferences and Web 2.0 folks go to Web 2.0 conferences, and there has not been enough intermingling between the two communities.

But both industries have been inching closer and closer together. I predict that the successful online communities in the future will continue to more strongly resemble MMOGs. And MMOGs will continue to extend their reach and exposing their data to other Web applications.

Naturally, there has been plenty of speculation about what we’re doing. Voyages in Eternity assembles a Scooby Gang to attempt to sleuth it out, but mistakes someone named Thelma for Velma. Note, she does have a cousin named Thelma. Wow, Wikipedia is amazing. The article on Velma is multiple screens long. Anyway. His conclusion?

I’m thinking this is will be an attempt to create a “portal”-type operation, but with a focus toward enabling creation of individual realms (platforms?) by the creatively inclined. Far more of a focus on “game” than Second Life, far less of a focus on a single unifying story/mechanic than EverQuest and the like. Maybe even the type of thing that would count as filling the vast chasm between Multiverse and NWN/NWN2, between “define everything” and “everything is defined”.

Chocorisu thinks

it’s at least a partly open system. This fits in with the web-based ethos they’re hinting at. I’m going to guess it’s an architecture whereby I can host my own virtual world and link with others. I expect they’ll make money through hosting, but open the software so others can host as well and link back and forth freely.

but concludes “it’s an open-source system for making money off interactive 3D porn sites.” I fess up, ya got us.

A bit less optimistic is Kami Harbinger, who believes

he’s got nothing. No screenshots. No product description. Zilch. It’s less than vapor, it’s less than smoke and mirrors, it’s an empty space filled only with the lonesome echo of public relations bafflegab.

Kami is joined by plenty of other skeptics, of course.

Our friend Janey comments on Jeff Freeman’s dissection of the news cycle with

All I want to know is if I get to kill monsters without 30 of my closest friends, if I can spend an enjoyable hour playing the game with my husband and stop without feeling like I can’t/shouldn’t, and if I don’t have to spend twice as much time outside of the game keeping up on game info in order to be able to keep up on playing with any sort of competency.

I’m going to have to feed the baby.

Yes, she’s expecting. Our little tailor’s all grown up.

Cosmik, of course, was very proud of the fact that he noticed the company name on the GDC website 11 days ago and didn’t talk about it. A blogger with discretion, who’da thunk. (Cosmik, you have a beta slot. I promise). Fortunately for him, his campaign to get me on the “sexy geek” list has failed; else, no beta slot…

Like Jeff Freeman, places like Yoick spent time analyzing what others said about it. Several folks pointed to the non-Areae-specific yet very thoughtful post over at Inside Looking Out, which covers the whole “Web 2.0 meets games” thing from an analytical perspective:

Web 2.0 Game – n. A game or application that actively employs critical elements of both games and Web 2.0 applications, including:

from the Game world:

* Great game mechanics – rewards systems, customization.
* Great game play – actively designed staged learning cycles, re-playability, game balance.
* Immersive experience – often related to graphics or richness, but not always (e.g., MUDs)

from the Web 2.0 world:

* User generated / collaborated content
* Serious applications (i.e., communication, managing community and relationships, media sharing, but not limited to these)
* Extremely (web-based) low barrier to entry

I may just crib this and use it for the GDC talk!

Timbre of Tempests and The Corporation were a lot more interested in the board of advisors than in me. So Randy obliged them by describing all the horrible ways in which we can fail. Richard just got crankier, which tends to happen when people suggest that your being alive is merely convenient.

There were literally dozens more, and more seem to appear constantly. The news has popped up in German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese (in Brazil), Russian, Japanese, and Korean.

All in all, fun times. Of course, the single most incisive and accurate set of comments came from the inimitable Amber Night. I cannot do them justice with a brief summary, but she’ll be glad to know that she briefly incapacitated John Donham with her stunning accuracy and agile wit. For 30 seconds anyway, until he got over it.

So, for the future, I do promise that the blog will not turn into an Areae blog. I’ll continue to blog about what pleases me, and hopefully work will not be what pleases me every day. 😛 At least there’s one advantage to being my own boss: I get to write my own blogging policy. Shh, don’t tell our lawyers.

  37 Responses to “Tracking Areae”

  1. a particular social network. The second measures how much of an entire, desired audience that network has captured. These are two very different numbers, their difference is incredibly important, and we’ll get to that later in this post. I’ve been commenting recently on Raph Koster’s site on variousness related to his upcoming Areae… game? VW? Cyberverse? Who knows… When I mentioned I was working on a blog post about the next issue in my series —

  2. Introducing the “Web 2.0 Game”…

    This is the first part of a series. Susan Wu’s post about Areae motivated me to post our team’s thoughts on successful Web 2.0 and how it relates to games, and the future of Web 2.0. Over this series, I’ll talk about my experiences in…

  3. Voyages in Eternity assembles a Scooby Gang to attempt to sleuth it out, but mistakes someone named Thelma for Velma.

    Dagnabbit! I knew I should have googled that instead of trying to rely on decades-old memories of Saturday mornings glued to the tube. Oh well…

  4. I just wanna know if there’s going to be perma-death. Even if it’s just for Jedi who lose their thang.

  5. Well of COURSE we’re more interested in the Advisory Board than you, Raph. We’ve known you more personally than we know most of them…and like I said, as much as I bust on you, I still respect you.

  6. Amber’s #2 is the funnies thing I’ve seen in a long time.

    Luck with you Raph. You making popcorn for those of us in the peanut gallery?

  7. @Raph
    “At least there’s one advantage to being my own boss: I get to write my own blogging policy.”

    Yeah, thats never gotten anyone in deep scooby doo-doo, disclosure is your friend 🙂

    You know I met Susan Wu last month, she’s easily one of the most accessable and knowledgable VC types I’ve encountered in SV, shes got some mad gaming industry cred also. And besides her new blog (insightful) she actually “gets it”, not the only one at CRV either.

    To wit:

    gamer developers go to game industry conferences and Web 2.0 folks go to Web 2.0 conferences, and there has not been enough intermingling between the two communities.

    But both industries have been inching closer and closer together. I predict that the successful online communities in the future will continue to more strongly resemble MMOGs. And MMOGs will continue to extend their reach and exposing their data to other Web applications.

    Because we’re close to SF and SV I end up going to some of the 2.0 events, its a great way to see how people are innovating, so by defualt you meet VC’s and start-up’ers.

    I can stand around and talk to someone for 5 minutes about the 2.0 & games space intersection, if they are a gamer they’ll “get it” if not, if you actually have to exlain the games space and why it matters to 2.0 then the eyes go glassy….OTOH maybe I’m just boring to talk to 🙂

    Someone (Gamasutra & STIRR~~Note I’ll officially take credit for this idea later kthx) should consider organizing a Games & Web 2.0 conflagaration in SF. That would be HAWT!

  8. “Yes, she’s expecting. Our little tailor’s all grown up.”

    Yeah, well, that’s what happens after 9 years (9 years!? Holy Crap!) of life outside of gaming. 😉

  9. “Fortunately for him, his campaign to get me on the “sexy geek” list has failed; else, no beta slot”

    The competition was rigged, I swear.

  10. I fess up, ya got us.

    I KNEW it! Why else would the yellow and blue people be naked?

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  12. Raph, I haven’t seen this suggested elsewhere, so I’ll ask here: to what degree will the eventual product(s) from Areae reflect your recent thinking on game “atoms?”

    The idea of connecting atomic-level (or maybe molecular-level?) objects with well-defined interfaces to each other to create some new and interesting functionality seems to pretty neatly describe the philosophies of both Web 2.0 and atom-based game design.

    It also occurs to me that if your upcoming book is still about game atoms, it’ll make a nice PR tie-in to Areae as a W2.0 kind of entity. 😉

    –Bart

  13. where will we downtrodden pre-cu vets fit in this virtual world?
    stay tuned!:)

  14. Just stumbled on all the news today. I’ve got the entire business plan done for this… anyone want to do the competition? Raph, you want another someone in the brain trust?

    Read my take on AreaE, because if I’m right, this is something I’ve been working on a while now.

  15. In seeing people speculating about Areae (myself including), and their projections of their thoughts and desires, aspects of their personality, I am reminded and connected to my current thoughts and research on personality types.

    Raph, you’ll have to create a map cloud for all the various speculations.

  16. Frankly, I don’t see what all the hype is about this thing called Web 2.0… Sounds like a great marketing tool to get people to come to conferences and such. How is this any different than the run on e-Commerce that happened a few years ago? In the end an online site hosts and delivers data. The fact that the data is positional data behind an MMO or a video delivered over HTTP is of little importance to anyone other than someone selling you a ticket to a Web 2.0 Conference.

    I get the point of what Web 2.0 is supposed to mean but I don’t think it is different enough from Web 1.0 to be of importance. To me Web 2.0 is just a marketing hype catch phrase and nothing more. Where in your browsing experience does IE pop up a dialog indicating that your surfing version 2.0 of the web and have left the 1.0 side of the web behind? It doesn’t because the sites are all the same with different bits of data stored in a database.

    Be careful that you don’t jump on the next bandwagon fluff catch phrase, the IT industry is famous for. From thin clients to business intelligence to e-commerce to Web 2.0, its usually long after the initial hype that any of this stuff has delivered. The last thing you want to be is holding an MMO connected squarely to Web 2.0 when the music stops playing and the IT industry has moved on to the next big buzz word.

  17. It’s funny though, that using the next big catch phrase helps to get you funding. There’s a pattern there. Silicon Valley seems unable to learn from its dot.com era mistakes and seems to be chasing dumping money into anything that even mentions Web 2.0. At least that is what the media is reporting and your venture is not the only one receiving the Web 2.0 windfall. Web 2.0 is the next e-Commerce. Please don’t get me wrong, I hope everythign works for you and being in the right place at the right time to attach yourself to the next buzz word wave can only be a good thing. I sincerely hope you realize that the industry will move on and forget about Web 2.0 as soon as consultants and conferences are not selling time/tickets any more and the transition will likely happen over night like it did with e-Commerce, business intelligence, thin clients, etc., etc.

    You’ll potentially be left pushing a product in a space that no one in the IT industry wants to talk about anymore because another golden child has been found. That’s the nature of the IT world and the buzz word velocity is much much faster than it is in the games world.

  18. MMOGs and Web 2.0….

    A wishlist of things I’d like to see at “the intersection between Web 2.0 and MMOGs.”

  19. I think there’s a pretty big difference between the e-commerce dot-com fiasco and Web 2.0. The dot-com craze was entirely speculative. It was driven exclusively by “the next big thing.” The problem was that everybody had solutions to problems that either didn’t exist, or that they hoped to god the public would believe existed.

    Whereas Web 2.0 is already here. Collaboration, community, and social networking–it’s all happening right now. This isn’t speculative, it exists, and people want more of it. The only question–and it’s the very nature of Web 2.0–is if people will adopt it. Just because you make the next MySpace doesn’t mean people will flock to it. For example, MySpace has a terrible design. It’s easy to use, which is a big selling point, but even the most well designed MySpace pages look terrible. And yet, it’s the number one social networking site. Why? Heck, I don’t know. The people that are using it seem to be happy with it. MySpace works, and I’d be willing to bet if you asked 10 different people why, you’d get 15 different answers.

    And that seems to me to be the larger challenge that Raph and Co. are up against. They’re not only going to have to figure out what their target audience wants, but they’re going to have to get lucky with the intangibles, the successful aspects that people can’t really explain, but seems to contribute to its success nonetheless. Whereas the whole e-commerce thing was a windmill, I think Web 2.0 is more hydra-like.

  20. Web 2.0 not hype… How much does MySpace make in profits? I haven’t checked, so I don’t know the answer.

  21. Myspace is just another web site hosting a rather popular form of data. There have been dating, socializing, music and movie sites before it. My point is that there is no standards body classifying a web site as Web 2.0. It’s nothing but a buzz word trying to define a certain type of web site that otherwise would just be a web site. Do media serving web sites make money? Sure some of them do but does that make them a new and improved web site? It’s still a web site. Lots of Web 1.0 sites make money. The term Web 2.0 is a marketing term. If the IT industry forgets about Web 2.0 tomorrow does MySpace all of a sudden not make money? A new buzz word will replace Web 2.0 six months from now. What then is MySpace? It’s a web site. That was my point. I get what Web 2.0 is supposed to be but it doesn’t look like much more than Web 1.0 for media. Web 2.0 brings little value to what Raph is working on once the marketing term is no longer in favor with IT companies. Given an MMO development cycle of 2+ years it’s very likely Areae will be around after Web 2.0 is long since replaced by three other new buzz words.

  22. First off, why didn’t I know about Amber Night until just today? What the hell is wrong with me… What the hell is wrong with the world? And you people… my friends… what’s wrong with you that you didn’t throw me a friendly pointer before today? Or is this one of those gags where somebody (I suspect Bryan) throws up an ARG-like blog with “a year’s worth” of excellent posts in a day just to make me question my sanity again. Troubling…

    Anyway. Nice to meet you, Amber, here in the comments of someone else’s blog. I’ll see ya around, maybe. As far as the actual subject at hand.

    MySpace. Yes. I agree. As an interface, it sucks. To paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, “It’s not even ugly.”

    But Web 2.0 didn’t start out as a marketing catch-phrase, Kressilac. It started out as short-hand, coined by Tim O’Reilly, for a type, not of Web site, but more a set of experiences, business models and design philosophies.

    It is now been entirely taken over by the marketing ding-dongs. I’m in marketing, and I’m annoyed by it. Many good marketing folks I know refuse now to utter the term, even in its original usage, because it has become so cludged up with nonsense baggage.

    So when I hear that “Areae is a combo VW/MMO/Web 2.0” thingy… it kinda makes my groin ache. Except that I know that Raph is using the term in the way intended by Tim and John Battelle. It means, to me, applications that are data-driven rather than feature-driven; ie, my information moves around easily, regardless of where in the HUD, site or UI I happen to be. It means an experience that is customizable at the user and group level, and that groups and users can self-define. It means giving users more power to mash the system (APIs). It means allowing for integration of partner applications on your platform. All in all, it’s an openness of process, enabled by technology, design and policy.

    Some people equate that openness with, primarily, “social-ness.” There can, of course, be social aspects of the whole Web 2.0 thing. But it’s not a necessity. Google’s AdSense program is, I think, a great example of a very Web 2.0 concept; it spreads network advertising effects out in a huge way, enables enormous numbers of new business transactions and allows for a much greater precision of many-to-many, custom targeted ads. But it ain’t really “social” in the sense of “putting people together.”

    The same holds true of the Wikipedia. It is built by many people, but it does not enable, at its core, social interactions. I’m still dorking around with a blog post on this subject, where I’ll talk about the difference between what I call “social function” (the heart of a dating service, for example) and “social features” (what Wikipedia and AdSense have).

    Some of the tools of what we’re calling Web 2.0 have, of course, been around since early in the Web days. That’s one of the things that some of the old timer Web geeks reaaaallly object to the most about the Web 2.0 hype. But one of the key points about Web 2.0 is that some of the most significant stuff doesn’t happen until you achieve “network effects,” that only pop up when you have more and more people playing with more and more sophisticated and interactive tools.

    So while web sites, sure, have been around for a long time… blogs let many, many more people more easily post pages. And while maps and search engines aren’t, individually, new… being able to mash them up really easily so that your map of what’s important to you and my search engine of how to find your stuff can talk to each other… that accelerates more interaction.

    I’m very interested to see what Raph makes of all this. Right now, you’ve got Google with SketchUp, the free 3D modeling tool that can be used to create objects to sit on top of Google Earth maps. That, while not real “Web 2.0y” is a start. If Raph helps kick off the blog equivalent of VW’s… I’ll send him one of my kidneys.

    Well, a nice 3D rendering anyway.

  23. Why does everyone keep referring to “Google and/with SketchUp”? I must be missing something, because I don’t see why the combination is so magical. Can anyone explain?

    “blog equivalent of VW’s” – And what form would this take, and why is this good? Text MUDs are very easy to “create” nowadays, with 1700 listed on MudConnect; are they the blog-equivalent of virtual worlds? 1650 of them are copies (for the most part, including content) of a few progenitor MUDs. One thing that new blogs don’t do is copy all the content from an existing blog and then modify bits and pieces, renaming “orc” to “sporks”. 1650 text MUDs do though.

    Note: I can (maybe) imagine a workable version of “blog VWs”, but I don’t know if what I’m thinking is the same as what everyone else is thinking because words/descriptions tend to be vague and fuzzy.

  24. Andy Havens got it right about Web 2.0. People have enough experience with the internet technology to really do the things that they wanted to do 5 – 10 years ago. It’s a new generation of business and operational principles that have rewarded the people who have taken advantaged of them.

    Open system, is among the key new principles. Whereas AOL and other media companies (cable, phone, etc.) maximize closed system a decade ago, new companies like Amazon work to open their system to create an virtuous ecology and cycle.

    This is happening with the MMO space. Most of the dinos are closed systems (economy, content, etc.). The new generation embraces the open system. The transition being experienced in the console space is a controlled version. SL is a pioneer in the VW space. Araea may be a balanced combination of both.

    A few prereqs are protocols and distributions. Mike Rozak asked about blog VWs and what would be the prereqs for it and whether it is of any use in the first place. Linux (and Redhat) was one of the first commercial examples of where protocol and distribution was matched to allow people to create or use versions of the same core.

    Raph spoke of chucks (mental chunks, game design chunks, gameplay chunks) and the grammar of games. If he can define a robust game grammar and platform (OS) for their use, then it would be the new tech that would advance the new generation of VWs.

    Some of the new Web 2.0 principles have been around since Web 1.0, but collectively they are appear to be more powerful. Yes, the term is overused and hyped and I make fun of as much as anyone else – particularly at the expense of Google 🙂

    Frank

  25. Andy Havens got it right about Web 2.0.

    I wish more people did that. I really do like the term, and I wish it were more useful than it is. But I wish that about a lot of words, so I’m mostly pining for decent communication amongst humanity. Hey, I can dream.

    Text MUDs are very easy to “create” nowadays, with 1700 listed on MudConnect; are they the blog-equivalent of virtual worlds?

    This is actually the splog equivalent of VWs, or the blogs with no actual content, but a lot of links. Mashups, in a way. The key detail about blogs is that the authors are producing reasonably unique content quickly and with sizeable distribution. (Obviously, the age-old point about lots of content being crap comes up; but I don’t think it’s relevant. It’s relevant only when it’s centralized.)

    Putting it the way he does, “blog equivalent”, instead of “webpage equivalent” perturbs my thoughts. Because, while I think his focus was on the many-to-many publishing model, blogs are actually a step beyond that. They’re a periodic many-to-many publishing model.

    So, that’s either periodic changes to a VW, whether internally-driven (players affect world) or externally (patch, content add, feature tweak), periodic reporting on the VW (events, showing off different parts of it like a travel guide), or, *shudder*, periodically producing a VW. I mean, if you consider a VW to be a work of art, like Richard Bartle does…

  26. @Michael, who said: “Putting it the way he does, “blog equivalent”, instead of “webpage equivalent” perturbs my thoughts. Because, while I think his focus was on the many-to-many publishing model, blogs are actually a step beyond that. They’re a periodic many-to-many publishing model.”

    Excellent point. My main thrust about blogs is that they’re so damned easy and require almost no time to set-up, maintain or update. The barrier-to-entry is almost zero. You can get a freebie at Blogger and be going in, literally, 3 minutes. But there’s also a time-scalable ROI for people like me (who do a bit more than that), then Raph (who does lots more than me), then BoingBoing, then DailyKos, then… you get the pic. It’s not necessarily “atomic…” but it’s certainly modular. They’re all “blogs” in some sense, and share some root features, but the difference between a kid putting up a Blogger space about “I haet Britney Spaers” and what Raph does is major. On the other hand, the *content* that goes into one type vs. another doesn’t depend on the container.

    Contrast that to the barrier-to-entry for any web pages a few years ago, and the barriers right now to participate in content creation in Second Life. If you want to design even a mildly attractive 3D “thing-a-ma-bob” or script a device in SL… you gots to spend some serious time a’larnin some real skills.

    [Complete aside: which is one of the reasons I’m so completely brain frozen in my current argument on TN with Clay Shirky right now about the difference between counting coup in SL vs. other mediated spaces]

    The time-sink necessary to play any kind of “serious game” is considerable. As opposed to “casual games.” Back when I was a kid, and I’d bring home an Avalon Hill book-case game, my mom and many friends would look at me like I was mad… the instructions were 30+ pages. What fun is that? WHAT FUN!!! Indeed. But as video and PC games have become more prevalent, and PC software has invaded our offices and homes, the “event horizon” of “this is way to f**king complicated” has moved much further out. Especially the younger you get.

    So… people don’t mind spending time learning complex systems for doing recreational things… but there’s still a limit. Some will learn to prim and script and make nice textures in Photoshop. Hell, some of us learned HTML and Basic and DBase 3+ for fun. But we’re freaks.

    The non-freaks like to blog. Let’s see if Raph (or somebody) can come up with a VW that works like this:

    1. I log into they main “system site” and create an account. A starter account gives me the right to create a character and a personal space. The space is, essentially, a 3D “page” where your character “lives” when he/she/it (which I ain’t gonna say no mo’… he, cause it’s me) isn’t in a particular “world.” You’ll be able to transfer that space later… Hang on.

    2. Your personal space has a URL. All spaces have a URL. Your character has a URI (frankly… I don’t know if that’s possible; not enough of a techie. But it sounds cool; if the space has a URL, and your character goes to it, it would be nice for the system (and anointed “others” to “know” where you are by URI). To navigate to it, maybe you need client software, maybe it’s all Flash enabled. That’s Raph’s job. 😉

    3. The thing that bugs me about SL is that there’s no overriding fiction. No real magic circle. Everybody is just everybody. I can say “I’m a cat-boy from plat Mrowr.” OK. Big whoop. But the platform doesn’t support it. I’d suggest that the platform for this system — the UI and graphics and interactivity — support a universal fiction of some kind; i.e., all players are actually playing… something. I don’t know what. Like the game Everway, a multiverse setting RPG… something that says, “All PCs here are tied together.” You could even write a fiction that includes non-RP talk, a la, “Some of our Members even like to speak of a world called Earth, and a place where they ‘dial into’ these worlds using technical means.” I don’t know… I just think that it makes it more game-y. We’ve got MySpace. Which is about as game-y as drinking a Slurpee on the curb of a 7-11. More game, please.

    3.5. Coming back to this… I think it might even make sense to make “the real world” really explicit in this “magic circle,” because then you could logically connect the VW to more real world tools like email, IM, Flickr, etc. A fiction that presumes that this new VW is, in actual fact, a portal to all these other “created worlds” from ours — YouDimensionalTube — would kinda not suck, I think. You’re starting to look a bit like a VW/ARG… but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Individual users/groups could always shut themselves off from the connections they didn’t want.

    4. Anyway… So your character is in his personal room. The door of which can be opened into any other space in the system to which he has access; which would include all public spaces (created by the publisher), and all private spaces to which he has been invited and are open. Some of these private spaces could (hopefully) grow larger than the initial public spaces when modded by many players. Some could be completely open, too. Some could be semi-open. Some could be highly private.

    5. One way to describe it is “Second Life without all the damned land issues.” I’ve never understood (well I do, but I disagree) the Linden philosophy on a land-based VR economy. It limits, I think, the growth potential. It reminds me of the early wikis that tried to charge per-seat. When the strength of a wiki is in the number of people that participate… that’s just mad. Same for a VW. I would suggest that server space — which is getting cheaper by the minute anyway — be doled out by the number of users who occupy a particular “area.” And I suggest that it be doled out in advancing large chunks, and in whatever way the users want. What I mean is that the single-user space should be large enough for 10 people to “have a good time with.” Each one person shouldn’t get a spot big enough for a dinky house, but for a club. And if you can get 10 people together (whatever the next tier is), you should get an island big enough for 100 people to really get-off on. Why? Because that encourages you to build to the next level. And if you want prim-allocation rather than “land” allocation — ie, you want to keep your 10 person club, but you want to store 10X as much stuff there, because you’re a toy shop — you should have that oppo instead. And if you can get 100 people to log onto your island and party-down, that qualifies you for a full sim to mod-out to your heart’s content. Again… why? Because pulling down the barriers is what makes this stuff grow.

    6. How does the publisher make money? I can think of 3 ways. (A): make the system totally free for all, but charge a tax on all transactions. Make it usurious! What the hell! If I want to make US$8 because that’s what I think my time is worth for the prim-hat I created, and Raph says the Areae Tax is 25%… I just charge $US10. Here’s the thing about a VW with its own currency and no cost-of-entry beyond learning the system; it’s totally friction-free. As Thomas Friedman would say, it’s completely flat. If somebody else can make the same hat and doesn’t mind earning ony $US6… they’ll do that and I have to be happy. A flat tax is only a regressive tax when some things are seen as “more of a necessity” than others, and when some things are truly “more rare.” In a VW? That’s garbonzo. I think. Economists please spank me if I’m wrong.

    (B): Make it free, but advertising supported. Which is annoying, but it works for Google. Not in-game advertising, but direct marketing to characters and players. If you want to play, you need to accept some junk email and “stuff” in your in-box from various sponsors. This is my least fave.

    (C): Make it a tiered payment system, based on how much you play and participate… with the price going down the more you put into the platform. If you build it, they will discount your monthly access fee. If you just want to play and roam and have fun and do stuff… $15/month. But every time you spend $1 on good produced by another player… 20% of that purchase comes off your monthly bill. So if you spend $75 in game per month… you don’t pay your access. Couple that with a lower tax on spending, maybe. Also give people a break on access for adding to public areas, games, deposits of prims, scripts, textures, etc. Anything that makes the platform better. Reward folks who provide training, classes, tours, FAQs, learning areas, tutorials.

    7. Make some kind of easy “always on” connection to the system from the Web. This goes back to the earlier idea about real-life connections to either the system and/or the fiction. But many of us are logged on almost all day. We have IM and email and RSS feeds pinging us constantly. If there’s a way for our character(s) to also be available — either completely or partially so — to us through some kind of Web media, that makes the system less of an “on/off” thing like many MMOs. If I can just take a sec and drop into character and answer a question or buff somebody from afar or do a quick trade or what-not… a mediated “I’m not here, but I’m available for XYZ level character transactions from my bridge.”

    I don’t know. I’m just in a rambling mood this morning and now have to stop because my kid’s awake. Just some thoughts.

  27. Your personal space has a URL. All spaces have a URL. Your character has a URI

    I’ve been investigating OpenID lately, and it’s pretty slick. The essence is that you use a URL as your login name. No password; just authentication off the OpenID server. I haven’t really wrapped my mind around the security implications. But more to the point: it’s being worked on. Digital identity has been a big deal for a while, now. Considering the main line of prediction seems to be that Raph’s gig will be browser-based, you’d need URLs anyways… how better than to take those terms literally?

    I’ve got my own, too, being delegated to Livejournal. I still don’t know exactly how that works. Once my website is done, then life will start getting fun and I can start pretending to know how to be a SEO.

    The thing that bugs me about SL is that there’s no overriding fiction.

    I suspect Areae will fix this; I think that’s the entire reason why there ARE many worlds.

    I’m just in a rambling mood this morning and now have to stop because my kid’s awake.

    *innocently* You should channel that into your novel-writing, man. I wish I had something to say besides, “Keep writing!” every time I read a section.

    I really need to play with Multiverse; I’m not sure exactly how many problems it solves, but I’m pretty sure Raph already knows and this means I’m behind in predicting what he’ll do.

  28. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of an overriding fiction that would tie players’ use of a system of worlds together. I don’t like the idea, however, of a “place” that’s just grafted on to a bunch of post-created worlds so that your character from Star Wars can yakkity yak with mine from Firefly. That’s not, in my head, cool. If you and I (players) want to talk, have a players’ lounge. Fine. Characters’ lounge? If you want that, build it into the universe.

    When me and some of my boys went about building PlayByWiki, we wanted to come up with a lightweight text-based RPG system that would support travel between worlds explicitly. The one we worked on for a bit and got into kind of a beta stage is called Ninth Sigil.

    JB, my main compatriot in all that schmoo, and I talked a lot about how powers, spells, abilities, skills, etc. would translate from world-to-world. ‘Cause, like… whaddya do when a kid from a steam-punk world/plane/whatever with a raft of cybertech skills makes the leap into a high-fantasy realm? What we came up with was a system based on almost archetypal stats — sigils — that describe what a player can do not so much in specific, technical terms, but in outcome terms.

    There were some meta-sigils — mage for magic, for example — that are necessary in order to do certain things. But you always need to match those with elemental or other sigils to make stuff happen. And it would be up to the GM to decide, when moving characters from world-to-world, how to translate meta-sigil use. So, for example, a fire mage might have the sigil of Mage and Fire, and when they travel to a non-magic world, the GM would substitute Craft for Mage, making that character a powerful blacksmith, weaponsmith or chemist. These are heroes after all, eh? Step between worlds, spend a couple minutes getting adjusted to the domain — spend some time adventuring to get used to your new skill orientation — and a good chunk of your elemental wisdom comes to the fore, but through a different focus.

    It’s the difference between what you *are* vs. how you do what you do. A healer might use magic on one world, medicine/surgery/tech on another, herbal lore on a third, runes on a fourth, intercession with the gods on a fifth, etc. But the root sigil of healing would always apply.

    There is a point here related to Areae, I swear Raph…

    A true “multiverse,” I think, needs to make some kind of allowance for “what atoms pass through from world-to-world metaphorically,” and “what atoms pass through literally.”

  29. @ Andy:

    The same holds true of the Wikipedia. It is built by many people, but it does not enable, at its core, social interactions. I’m still dorking around with a blog post on this subject, where I’ll talk about the difference between what I call “social function” (the heart of a dating service, for example) and “social features” (what Wikipedia and AdSense have).

    Try the term.”social transaction” works well to differentiate.

    @Mike R

    “Why does everyone keep referring to “Google and/with SketchUp”? I must be missing something, because I don’t see why the combination is so magical. Can anyone explain?”

    Because:
    1. Its an easy UI
    2. Low barrier to entery
    3. Can be aquired easily
    4. Lets not-technical design people create 3D enumerated objects.

    Use Case Example:
    Example 1:
    I have a logo but dont know Flash to animate it, I hire a flash designer, using sketchup I can create a 3D of the logo quickly and distribute it to him via the web.
    Example 2:
    The Smiths hire an architect to design thier new McMansion, they want a change to a room but cant explain it, they can use sketchup to design the change and sent it to him, or embed it into a site for viewing and adjust it on an ongoing basis

  30. Allen: Thanks for the suggestion. I ended up using it in the blog post I’d been meaning to get around to for some time. I got around to it here: Hope you don’t mind I gave you credit for the term and pointed to your site.

  31. Allen Sligar write:

    The Smiths hire an architect to design thier new McMansion, they want a change to a room but cant explain it, they can use sketchup to design the change and sent it to him, or embed it into a site for viewing and adjust it on an ongoing basis

    What you describe is what’s good about sketchup. (It’s not unique by the way; There are a few house design programs, and I have even written my own that I’m using for my virtual world development kit.) However, why is “sketchup + google” so magical?

  32. Freely available over the Internet? =P

  33. @Mike: There are currently 733 mashups listed at ProgrammableWeb that use Google Maps. At some point (“They” say “soon”) Google Maps and Google Earth will become as one. SketchUp models can be exported into .kmz files and used in Google Earth applications and, one expects, eventually Google Maps stuff, including all the mashups using the map API. So if you put together the 3D models with the maps with the globe with the search with the mashups… you get a system that lets you model the whole frickin’ planet (given a brazilian hours of time), or any segment thereof, with any kind of 3D overlay, attached to any kind of searchable stuff.

    So… it ain’t magical because it’s SketchUp, per se. It’s magical because it will be attached to Google, which is attached to everything. It’s part of the great Monster Mashup. Google also bought Writely, which has been turned into Google Docs; YouTube; JotSpot (an application wiki provider). They’re getting into the content creation biz, so that when you make stuff, it’ll go into the great google brain in the sky. The better to crawl you, my dear.

    Not that I mind. It kinda tickles.

  34. A virtual world with explicit URLs for your personal property?
    http://www.faketown.com/bart
    That one is mine!

    In faketown you can do a lot of these things being discussed on this board, explore as a guest and sign up (for free) to create your own expression.

  35. […] This turns Linden wealth into real-world wealth. And it also takes an enormous stride towards turning Second Life residents into real citizens instead of mere customers. Citizens get to petition for redress of their grievances from a state that represents them; customers can only take their business elsewhere. Customers only ever get to love it or leave it. Citizens get to change it. Brilliant. I’ll continue to horde my Linden dollars until Mr. Trump comes knocking at my door. Yes, I’m a real-world and a virtual miser (giving it up to the Freecycle posse).And while this news has taken precedence, there’s another very exciting development in virtual worlds news. Raph Koster, designer of MMOGs since Ultima, officially announced his much anticipated project, Areae, late last year. I’ve been struggling to find the best place to put this information, and unfortunately it’s landed at the bottom of this post. James has an interview with Raph. The development appears to converge multiple universes into one game-centred Web 2.0 bucket. The list of advisors is seriously kick-ass. More from Raph (and others) is here. […]

  36. […] Raph’s Website » Tracking Areae Pingback on Dec 20th, 2006 at 12:18 […]

  37. […] : Morning Sunshine http://ferryhalim.com/orisinal/ (games fun design art) Bookmark  [Discover] Raph’s Website » Tracking Areae https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/12/19/tracking-areae/ (mmo raphkoster areae gamedev) Bookmark […]

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