Jun 302009


I’m doing a fireside chat sort of thing with Cory Ondrejka as part of the Metaplace Creative Series. You can log in to TheStage above at 2pm Pacific to participate — we’ll be taking audience questions too. We’ll be having a nice conversation about the future of virtual worlds. Cory, of course, was a prime mover at Linden Labs, makers of Second Life, and today is at EMI (yes, the record company!). The chat will be embedded on his blog as well.

Embed virtual worlds anywhere

 Posted by (Visited 12698 times)  Game talk
Jun 302009

Today is a big day. We’ve released a feature that I personally think is highly significant for both Metaplace and for virtual worlds in general. As of now, you can embed a virtual world on pretty much any webpage, just like any other widget. It’s a small embed code, much like a YouTube video — and in fact, it’s smaller than a YouTube video in terms of download size. And because of the capabilities Metaplace offers, you can do some very interesting things with it:

Check out the CNet Webware write-up of the feature here! Or you can head to the Metaplace Wiki to learn more about it.

There are some limitations yet, of course; you can do communication between the world and the web, but it’s still a bit hard. There’s no SNS apps just yet. And yes, you do need a Metaplace account at the moment. But as more usecases emerge and we get more virtual worlds splattered all over the Net, I expect we’ll see these limitations fall away as we keep marching towards making virtual worlds a first-class citizen of the web.

I’ll be talking about this and other virtual world issues live with Cory Ondrejka (EMI, formerly Linden Lab) at 2pm Pacific on TheStage — and I will have it embedded right here! 🙂 In the meantime, stop by my place in Metaplace, embedded here using the freshly released WordPress plugin by Dara Roesner (Miki in Metaplace), which makes it incredibly easy to drop a world onto a WordPress post or page:


Press release after the jump:

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China Bans Gold Farming

 Posted by (Visited 8031 times)  Game talk
Jun 292009


In addition to its ongoing crackdown on Internet porn, the Chinese government has declared that virtual currency cannot be traded for real goods or services.

Virtual currency, as defined by Chinese authorities, includes “prepaid cards of cyber-games,” according to a joint release issued by China’s Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Commerce on Friday.

— China Bans Gold Farming — InformationWeek.

This is going to have huge ripple effects.

Jun 292009

My wife and I used to joke about making a mixtape of nothing but versions of “All Along the Watchtower,” with the Michael Hedges version, the Hendrix version, the Indigo Girls version, the Richie Havens version… (I know, I know, the very notion of a “mixtape” dates us… sorry!)

It’s hard to come up with many covers of Michael Jackson songs. It’s something that has been on my mind since he died; after all, there’s all these encomiums calling him the most significant musical artist of the last 40 years. And yet when you think back on it, it’s a very different sort of significance from someone like Bob Dylan, whose songs have taken on a life of their own well beyond the performances of the original artist.

Oh, there’s the few “Billie Jean” versions, of course, and a few others scattered here and there. But by and large, there’s a paucity of great Michael Jackson covers. Maybe it’s attributable to nobody being able to do it better than he did, but I suspect that’s not the reason. To me suggests that there’s a paucity of great Michael Jackson songs. And yet, the original music is still incredibly compelling.

The right production on a s0ng can make a tremendous difference, and changing the tone of the bass guitar could make the difference between an enduring hit record and one that fades away. Several times on this blog, I have mentioned the song analysis stuff done by both for-profit companies and audio engineers as they look for the sonic characteristics of hits. All of this leads towards optimizing music recording towards a particular goal.

A recording is of course the capturing of a specific performance, and with the rise of the recording industry we got the notion of “studio bands,” musical performers whose goal it was to create a specific performance in the studio, rather than a piece of music to be reinterpreted. When we look back at the work of Michael Jackson, the comments that come up are always about what an amazing performer he was, about the collaboration with Quincy Jones, about the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo in “Beat It,” about the videos. It was about the shaping of the music, not the music itself.

This makes me think that most of the game industry is about music production, not about songwriting.

I usually use the analogy of the salad and the dressing, and say that the game design is the salad: the interplay of mechanics and rules, the mathematical structure that makes a game a game, and not an interactive story or a movie. There are relatively few games on the market, if we ignore the dressing. We could regard Far Cry 2 and Half-Life 2 as being different performances of the narrative first-person shooter, for example, ones stamped with the particular performance qualities brought to them by their bands, er, teams.

This isn’t a bad thing. I’ve always advocated for more attention given to the “songwriting,” because, well, it’d be nice to hear some new music from time to time. But the art of a great cover, a great performance, is an art nonetheless. And we can spot a “karaoke” version a mile away, can’t we?

3d printing can do metal now

 Posted by (Visited 4857 times)  Game talk
Jun 292009

Shapeways just announced they can do 3d printing in stainless steel.

It is pretty cheap too! The future is rushing in at an astonishing rate!

I suppose I don’t need to elaborate on the huge significance of this. Just think “open source objects of all sorts, made from most common materials, printable by anyone, some assembly required.”

[via ReBang, who tells me “In case you weren’t aware, 3D printed metal isn’t a new development. This is infiltrated. There are laser melted versions.”]

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