Game talkPlaceness is a feature, not the point

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Feb 242010

so rather than worrying about getting a virtual world in a browser has #slviewer2 side stepped by becoming a mixed media browser?

– Ian Hughes aka @epredator


Plenty of analysis is out there now on the new SL viewer — which is, undoubtedly, a big step forward. Full web functionality on a prim including Flash — check out Habbo Hotel running on a wall inside SL! A usable interface! Non-programmery design!

But the answer is still no, because for better or worse, virtual worldness is increasingly a feature of a website, not a destination in its own right. Placeness is a value-add to something else — a game, a community, etc. And adoption is driven by the something else, not by the placeness.

To phrase that differently: The new viewer makes Web integration a feature of SL. Which is a great value-add for SL people. But it is not a value-add for Web users. Wagner James Au breaks it down into a series of questions, but fundamentally the question a new user asks is “why?” And for a web user, the first question is “why go somewhere else?”

The SL experience might be a value add for Web users, but for that to happen, SL would have to be a feature of “something elses” on the Web, and as Mitch Wagner points out, it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong — a great step. But I would be surprised if Linden isn’t working on the larger problem.

Game talkA whole bunch of news tidbits

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Jan 052010

Boy, have I neglected the blog. Here’s some stuff I said to myself, “I should blog that” that flew by.

Game talkPhilip Rosedale leaves Linden

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Oct 162009

As a full-time job, anyway. There are theories as to what he’ll do and elegiac meditations on his legacy, and among long-time users of Second Life, there are crises of confidence.

Philip is a crazy dreamer, so I am positive that whatever he does, he’ll keep doing that much: dreaming crazy dreams, and more power to him. 🙂

Here’s the link to his official announcement.

Game talkA glimpse into SL’s CS calls

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Sep 302009

Tyche Shepherd has posted some great analysis and charts that give a glimpse into what it takes to run Second Life in terms of customer service.

Last week I mentioned that I had been storing Second Life Incident Reports since the beginning of the month to build up a database similar to my Region Survey Database. A forum lurker who wants to remain anonymous, who read this , contacted me in-world and sent me the full past 28 months worth of published incident reports (21600+). I cannot thank the person enough for providing this data…

In total I now have data which seems complete from 7th Jun 2007 up to the current time, at the moment this comes to 21665 published incidents.

What did the naughty people do ? – SLUniverse Forums.

For contrast, I just saw a Tweet from the #nygames hashtag (NY Games conference of some sort?) saying that

#nygames Playfish uses 3 support people to support is 50 million players – focused on users helping users to hold costs and scale up

Obviously, very different circumstances, but it still makes you think…

Game talkImitating life TOO closely

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Jul 282009

Spotted via New World Notes: Ryker Beck’sTutorial For Photoshopping Avatar Skin Imperfections.

Yes, that is right, we are now to the point where we not only have to cover over the imperfections in real people, but also in non-real people.

This is a good example of what I mean when I talk about the fact that we have imported a bit more of real life into virtual worlds than may be strictly healthy. On the Internet now, people now know you’re a dog thanks to voice, increased realism, etc — but at least you’re an airbrushed dog.

Jun 252009

The headline reads, “Confirmed: Second Life, online adult games to banned outright in Australia“. But I don’t know enough about the issue.

If true, it’s boneheaded. I dont think Australia bans books and movies intended for ages 15+, do they?

A spokesman for Censorship Minister Stephen “Goebbels” Conroy confirmed to Fairfax newspapers that “under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.” In Australia, the MA15+ rating means that the content is restricted to those aged 15 and above. Australia does not have a R 18+ or similar rating for computer games, with all adult games automatically being classified as RC (Refused Classification.)

A commenter in the thread notes,

The reason it’s news now is because Conroy just got around to answering the latest batch of Senator Ludlum’s questions on notice in which he confirmed that games will be blacklisted – prior to this, many knowledgeable people in the debate assumed that they would somehow make an exception for games. See QON 1496(13) from the Hansard of Monday, 22 June 2009.

Jun 022009

Still confused about this use of the word persistence; coming here with the dictionary meaning and trying to understand a seeming contradictory concept.

— David, in a comment in the earlier post

The technical sense of the term arises from “persisting something to the runtime database.” The base states are usually in a template database of some sort, along with all the other static data. The template database is read-only as the game is running, and only developers get access to it. The runtime database is where everything that players do goes. (See here and here for more).

The base data in the static template database doesn’t count as “persistent” or “persisted” because it’s actually baked into the world’s rules in some fashion, as a starter state. Delete everything in the runtime database, and that map will still be there, usually. You will have playerwiped WoW, but the world of WoW will still be there: every loot drop, every monster, every quest, every house.

The virtual world definition of the term means “to save changes on top of the base dataset.” So a base character starts with no real gear and newb stats, and a designer sets that up in the template database as the definition of a newbie character. But we save their advancement. That’s persisting a character to the runtime database. The stats and gear might go up OR down, but they are different from the base.
Continue reading »

Apr 102009

I’m going to at this Idea Exchange: Emerging Trends in Game Development virtual event in about an hour.

The Basics:

When: Friday, April 10th, 12:00PM PDT
Where: or
Topic: Emerging trends in game development.


This event will be an informal group discussion loosely led by Raph Koster, Adri Haik, and myself. We will present some trend that was discussed at GDC, discuss our experience with the trend, how we see it playing out, how it impacts our work, etc, and we will take whatever opportunities we can to engage the audience and encourage group participation in the discussion.

Possible trends to discuss:
– Microcontent
– Social game development
– Free-to-play MMOs
– Engagement and retention

This event will be held simultaneously in Metaplace and Second Life. I will be in both virtual worlds simultaneously, but chatting (via text) through Second Life. Raph will be chatting from Metaplace. Adri will be chatting from Second Life. Attendees will participate from both virtual worlds and will include both people working within the virtual world/gaming industries and consumers interested in emerging trends in game development. You are welcome to invite anyone you like.

Game talkChat between Metaplace and Second Life

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Apr 092009

As the news has hit a few blogs in the last couple of days (New World Notes & DIP’s Dispatches from the Information Age), I thought I might as well elaborate a bit on something cool that has been going on in Metaplace lately. We’ve had a fair amount of Second Life users coming in lately, and one of the things that is much on their minds is interoperability.

In short, we have had not one but two users make real-time bridges to SL chat lately. The first was by KStarfire, who used Metaplace’s ability to act as a web server to create a simple object-based chat bridge. I asked him a few questions about it:

Continue reading »

Apr 072009

Boy, am I neglecting blogging lately. Even my Twitter has gone mostly silent.

There have been several stories that caught my eye. For example, this one about musicians making decent gig money in Second Life was interesting, in part because some of what a virtual environment provides is an easier way to do marketing. As I have said before, I think the future of a lot of the arts is around personal relationships with their fans because of the way the landscape is shifting around information and money, and there’s something about virtual worlds that helps build fandoms.

Speaking of personal relationships, while at the IGF and GDC awards, I was struck by the clear signs of “celebrity” that some of the event had. Some of this was due, no doubt, to the fact that Tim Schafer’s performance as emcee was funnier and more entertaining than that of the emcees for any televised awards show. Some of it, though, was the evident fact that the creators of indie games are getting known as names, in large part because they produce quirky and individualistic games at a rapid rate. Which brings me to mention The Croopier, just because it’s a neat project.

Which reminds me that there’s a new documentary premiering on journalism in virtual worlds — talk about a profession that is in upheaval thanks to changes in business models and the value of information! I’m halfway through a galley copy of Cory Doctorow’s upcoming novel, in which a journalist figures pretty prominently… and struck by how prescient Bruce Sterling was when he said “information wants to be worthless.”

Which leads me to idly speculate… if anything that can be digitized will be, and anything that is digitized becomes worthless, then what will eventually remain both undigitizable and therefore monetizable?