Virtual Lower East Side

 Posted by (Visited 11254 times)  Game talk
Jun 132007

Speaking of Viacom and MTV, here’s their fifth (!) virtual world in the last nine months.* The Virtual Lower East Side looks like it uses the Doppelganger technology also used for The Lounge — the cel-shaded avatars are a dead giveaway. (BTW, The Lounge just announced digital currency sales…)

VLES is a painstaking replica of all the storefronts and clubs in the real Lower East Side. And it looks like its intended to be MySpace all over again — there’s a prominent sign-up for bands.

Here at the office the question was asked “Are they [Viacom] winning?” And  the answer was “Nobody else is even playing.” The way in which these guys are looking at virtual worlds simply isn’t the same way anyone else is.


* Virtual Laguna Beach. The Hills. Pimp My Ride. Nicktropolis. And now VLES. You can make a good case that VLB and The Hills are actually two zones of one world though. 🙂 Fine, four.

  16 Responses to “Virtual Lower East Side”

  1. MTV announced its dedication to the idea of One Avatar, One World in Jeff Yapp’s presentation at the Under the Radar Conference. CNet has the video of the presentation where Yapp outlines MTV’s goals for the future. He first goes over the Lower East Side project with Doppelganger from earlier in June, but then the video shows the same avatar with the caption “2008 ?…” Next we see the avatar strolling through various Viacom-owned 2D websites in what look like small, virtual world banners, and on to two wireless devices before

  2. was it (expectedly) distinct from VLB, but a separate registration from Doppelganger’s other virtual efforts; even though The Lounge and Tyra Banks’ worlds shared registration. Some of you might have caught my calling attention to this disconnect in a comment on Raph Koster’s blog (Link) since I had hoped that vLES would use my Lounge registration and actually incorporate the concept of avatar portability… something I’ve been discussing more and more (reLink). Consequently, when Yapp says

  3. Personally, I like Doppelganger’s the cell-shaded avatars. That was partly why I was interested in “Seed”. Guess I’ll have to check this out.

  4. Doppleganger was using Torque last time I got under the hood their ‘Lounge’ product. I’d be interested to know how much they’ve tweaked the engine since the Pussy Cat Dolls called the Lounge home.

  5. Definetly near the top of my “must-collaborate-with” list.

  6. Jeff Yapp at MTV explained Virtual LES as a tool for music (and art, and lifestyle) promotion. There is a ‘game’ aspect – players (acting as virtual A&R and promoters) will compete to get their bands noticed in the virtual world; the bands that get the most ‘attention’ get real live shows in in real live LES clubs. Apparently MTV is getting deeply connected with actual club owners, really interesting angle. Virtual achievements equal real life recognition. Why is Viacom so interested in virtual? Because they’ve got every monetization opportunity covered.

    The platform was built by Doppelganger, who will be presenting at the Under The Radar conference on June 28th. Coincidentally, Jeff Yapp will be the keynote speaker (how do you think I got my inside information 🙂

    Drop me a line, Raph, if you’d like to come… we’d love to have you

  7. I tested this last night. It’s a big download at about 118Mb. Still in alpha. Few things bothered me:

    – too dark and claustrophic (i.e. the scale may be accurate but it’s tough to manuever in those tight spaces)
    – same basic app as The Lounge and Tyra of course, but I needed a new account to log in. Bummer that.
    – even with the download, teleporting from club to club took a while for everything to load. I suspect some of that comes from textures not being optimized as the geometry didn’t seem heavy. Speaking of which, I found the environments a bit too disconnected from the cell-shaded avatars. I liked the Lounge, but this pushed it too far, imo. A bit less realistic and somewhat more stylized would be nice.

    (I should cut-n-paste this for the devs)

    The web-based side was interesting. They provide users with a blog and whatnot. A bit like Kaneva in that regard.

    Oh, and American Apparel is in it. Figures.

  8. Adding on to csven’s criticism of the Web side of vLES…

    * Invincible widgets. I’d like to remove many of the widgets on my pages.

    * Divided profiles. I don’t like having a user profile in addition to an artist profile. I would have preferred simply an artist account.

    * Trendy lingo. I’m not keen on the trendy localization. Let’s be BFFs? No thanks. I don’t even like "Add Friend".

    * Profane localization. The "Us, Us, Us!" widget includes a section titled "Tell us a story about the most fucked-up show you’ve ever played." Couldn’t this have simply been "Tell us an interesting story"? Or how about customizable section headings?

    * Bandocentric. Artists are referred to as bands. I’m not a band. I’m solo.

    * Male-ific. BFFs/Friends are called "Bros". I don’t think that term is gender-neutral.

    * No stats. Where’s my profile/music metrics? Maybe AudioStreet spoiled me. If vLES is going to be used to promote artists, there should be tools for that purpose.

    The more I think about it, the more I don’t like the Web side of vLES. All that stuff should be integrated into the client. When you view someone’s profile from the client, the external browser opens. The website should just be a place to get people started.

    I know vLES is still in alpha, but I’ve tested alpha games before and there was a lot more done in them than what vLES provides.

  9. […] on the act. Virtual visit to Stanton Social, anyone? Seen and Heard:Famed game designer Raph Koster blogged about VLES last night and  concluded [of Viacom/MTV]:  “The way in which these guys are looking at […]

  10. Heavily-trafficked Web 2.0ish site Mashable reported on this and included the following:

    Having an open source format for the continued development of VLES

    I asked Mashable to clarify but there’s been no response. I’m guessing this is a mistake, but has anyone heard something like this coming out of Doppelganger?

  11. […] has launched its fifth virtual world in a year, “Virtual Lower East Side,” a very detailed replica of the actual Lower East […]

  12. […] guys are looking at virtual worlds simply isnt the same way anyone else is. READ IT ALL HERE:… […]

  13. MTV: One Avatar, Their World…

    I caught an entry over on Virtual World News (Link) calling attention to a clip on C|Net (Link) that smacked of public relations bull. From the short write-up on VWN:
    MTV announced its dedication to the idea of One Avatar, One World in Jeff Yapp&#8217…

  14. […] to be known as The Lounge, which was itself PCDLounge before that, I think. Doppelganger also did the Virtual Lower East Side for MTV; the old link for that seems to be gone behind a password. They opened in the summer of […]

  15. […] to be known as The Lounge, which was itself PCDLounge before that, I think. Doppelganger also did the Virtual Lower East Side for MTV; the old link for that seems to be gone behind a password. They opened in the summer of […]

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