We’ve announced a nifty new feature, the Golden Egg, which serves as a sort of case study of crossworld entertainment on Metaplace.
One of the interesting challenges with something like Metaplace is that users all build separate worlds, and then they scatter to them. Getting people to both visit all the worlds that are interesting, and also to meet up in worlds, can be challenging. There’s a discoverability issue, and a social cluster issue. Cool worlds can get “forgotten” as they slip down the feature lists, for example.
We have all sorts of tests going, and one of them is this Golden Egg. Basically, in Metaplace Central you see this blue egg. Click on it, and it will tell you “if you find a golden egg in a world, you can click on it — once! — and get 500 coins.” It will also suggest one such world where an egg might be found. In fact, you can click right then and there to go visit that world — though you likely won’t appear anywhere near the egg. And when you do find the egg and claim your coins, the egg you found will suggest another world which you might want to hunt through, and so on…
Any worldbuilder an install an egg in their world — it’s closed source, so they can’t get at the code that runs it, preventing exploits.
It costs a fortune — like, 25,000 coins, which let me tell you put a serious dent in my bank account yesterday, since I bought 10 of them. But it’s totally worth it from a marketing point of view, and the price limits it to users who have already had success building, increasing the odds that the worlds you are sent to are interesting. Every egg becomes an inbound link, and it provides an incentive for users to come visit your world. You can make eggs easy or hard to find, and even wrap gameplay around them. Eventually, we may expand this to have variable reward eggs — perhaps based on how hard or easy the egg was to get.
Each egg is actually doing some rather nifty crossworld communication. Every egg notifies the central egg as to where it has been installed, and every egg asks the central egg for suggestions of other worlds. The central egg even manages a high score table of the most successful explorers. All this is an example of using Metaplace’s web capabilities — the eggs communicate with each other using simple web services implemented entirely within Metaplace itself.
They are also a demonstration of the power of a common platform. Eggs could be found in all sorts of worlds — hangouts, games, shops… you can see stuff like this becoming used as a virtual webring, for example. Some of the gameworlds on Metaplace as using the egg as the final reward for beating the game, or getting to a certain level, so it is a way to drive engagement. And once you have Metaplaces embedded in various websites, it starts getting rather interesting.
This particular example is rather gamey, but bear in mind that any sort of data could be communicated across worlds in this way.
It’s too soon to say whether this is an interesting notion or not, really — the eggs went in yesterday. But in the meantime, I know some of my older worlds are getting tons more traffic than they used to. 🙂