Friday, December 12, 2008

A Cool Virtual Yule

It's that time of year again, not only in this world, but the entire metaverse is gearing up for christmas. Time to put up the Christmas Tree and turn on the snow on Sogeti island in Second Life.
Here are some images from other virtual worlds getting ready for christmas:

Christmas in Runescape

Christmas in Club Pinguin

The worlds largest 3D chat, IMVU, is known for heavily advertising its service throughout the web, so small wonder they've put up special christmas ads.
Christmas in World of Warcraft

Through email I received a christmas teaser from Twinity

Also in the World of Entropia things are getting dressed up for christmas. In the Entropia Forum (clothing section) I found a number of christmas pants, jackets and hats.

No doubt christmas will be celebrated in more worlds. Please send your images to veejay [at] mindblizzard [dot] com to have your christmas posted here and a link to your site.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

LHC, Higgs, Hicks, Asimov, Creation and Entropy

Yesterday I blogged about one of my favorite stories, "The Last Question" by the late great grandfather of Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov, which raises the question whether or not entropy can be reversed.

The word "entropy" is derived from the Greek εντροπία "a turning toward" (εν- "in" + τροπή "a turning"), but it's a slightly different matter than the virtual world of Entropia we're talking about here (but may have been their inspiration). What we're dealing with here is:

"As a finite universe may be considered an isolated system, it may be subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, so that its total entropy is constantly increasing. It has been speculated that the universe is fated to a heat death in which all the energy ends up as a homogeneous distribution of thermal energy, so that no more work can be extracted from any source.

If the universe can be considered to have generally increasing entropy, then - as Roger Penrose has pointed out - gravity plays an important role in the increase because gravity causes dispersed matter to accumulate into stars, which collapse eventually into black holes. Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking have shown that black holes have the maximum possible entropy of any object of equal size. This makes them likely end points of all entropy-increasing processes, if they are totally effective matter and energy traps. Hawking has, however, recently changed his stance on this aspect." [wikipedia]

In Asimov's story, all energy is consumed at the end, time no longer exists and the universe is once more cold and void, as it was in the beginning, Creation has expanded untill it could no more and returned to it's cradle. This is why the story came to me after first blogging the LHC testrun.

The LHC, or Large Hadron Collider is supposed to simulate what that 'cradle' looked like, how the universe looked like just after the 'big bang' (if you buy that stuff - I'm more a Creationist), hence I wondered if the LHC would answer Asimov's question: What happens when the lights go out, how do you turn them back on? Surprisingly, Asimov an immensely laureated scientist and outspoken atheist gave the answer, using the words of Divine Creation:

"Let there be light - and there was light."

I decided to ask Dr. Kenneth Hicks from the Ohio University (a well respected scientist, yet humble enough to point out it's the Higgs Particle we're dealing with, not the Hicks particle):

"Regarding Asimov's short story, The Last Question, this is a great one to think about. While the LHC will not answer all of our questions about the Big Bang and the eventual fate of the universe, the LHC's results will get us a
little bit closer to a fundamental understanding of what happened at the earliest moments of the Big Bang.

Actually, Asimov's story is much more relevant to the people who study black holes, such as Stephen Hawking, who at one time claimed that some entropy was lost near a black hole (later, it was shown that entropy is still OK even in the highly distorted space-time of a black hole).

Progress in sience is slow when it comes to answering the big questions, like those posed in Asimov's story. Still, it's a great story to read, and very thought-provoking."

Whatever happens when the LHC is fully up and running, it won't produce a functioning red button that says: 'Switch light of the universe back on', but maybe bring us a wee bit closer to understanding how this magnificent universe works.

For now, I think I've said enough on the LHC (or Doomsday Device as you like) and the Higgs particle. Thanks to Dr. Hicks for his immediate response. Perhaps I'll return to Asimov's "Last Question" once more as I'd like to see how Asimov's Biblical conclusion to the story (let there be light) holds up against these hardcore scientists. Finally, again, the link to the online version of Asimov's short story at Multivac.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Big Business Money based on trust

Thursday, 4:30pm - 5:30pm

Virtual Currency / Virtual Business = Big Business Money

(Virtual currency) exchanges promise the opportunity to stimulate virtual economies not just throughout individual virtual worlds but across worlds. Join us for a discussion on what the future will look like as these exchanges take off and how users will conduct commerce. What does it take to build and foster a thriving virtual economy?

John Bates of Entropia was double booked, so he started off with a little insight on Entropia. This virtual world is the only one that has it's currency really pegged with the US Dollar at an exchange rate of 1 USD to 10. Entropia is a mixed world with gaming and social elements and when things cost you real money, it changes the came. Buying guns and bullets that cost you (even if it's nano-payment) makes the game take on a new dimension.

Anshe Chung Studios now is one of the largest of 45.000 profitable companies in Second Life, with total assets going up to the region of 800 islands / sims. What would happen if they withdrew all their assets at once? Both John Z of Linden Lab and Guntram Graef aren't afraid it would blow the economy. Linden Lab is putting on about the same amount of servers every month. Stop that for a month and the economy will stabelize.

The same happened with the banning of Gambling, said Zdanowski. We had to do this because of US regulations or run the risk of being shut down. Overnight the user to user transactions dropped with 40%. Was gambling such a large part? Not really. Zdanowski estimates that gambling was only up to 3% of the market. The exchange rate never dropped and within 3 weeks the stock exchange was level again. The Linden Dollar has been very stable in the past year and a half, leaving not much room for money traders and fluctiating only a couple of Linden cents to the dollar in this period.

Zdanowsky doesn't see the Linden Dollar as a real currency though, but more a licence to use certain aspects of Second Life. Residents have to have trust in the currency, it's stability, in order for Virtual Worlds to create successfull economies. Earlier this month Linden had to add VAT to their game for European Users. This also because of international monetary regulations, and the Lindens are fully aware that this puts European users, about 35% of their community at about a 20% disadvantage. User to User transactions aren't taxed though.

I asked John Z and Guntram how to make the economy safe, as in the Netherlands we've seen a story extortion and abuse over Runescape money several weeks back. Also think of money laundring between virtual worlds through the Anshe Chung Exchange. No problem here again, according to Linden's CFO. They're monitoring transactions and if there's a resident wanting to buy Linden dollars worth say 10.000 USD he'd personally invite them to fly in and find out what the heck they would wanna do with the money. This economy is based on trust. One fundamental rule for us is to know our residents. We know who makes money. It can happen that all of a sudden you're a new sucessfull virtual entrepeneur, but then I'd like to personally meet you and get to know your business. He expects the next wave of regulatory action to take place in the banking sector in Second Life and Linden have hired a hotshot laywer and former internet crime prosecutor to be up to speed with all the world wide regulations regarding this.

There is a lot of scepcis, a lot of resistance against Linden playing a strategy that's so much hands-on on the economy. Yet Virtual Worlds do take a new place in the world of global economy. They're dealing with micropayments all over the world. The European VAT regulation was never designed for this, it was designed to protect the local market in the 80's as US based companies like AOL started pricedumping their ISP services on the European market. Now Linden has to deal with it, or again risk shutdown in Europe. In my personal opinion, they're on the right track. John's solid performance was a sign of confidence on behalf of the Lindens that they're on top of the game.

Final tidbits:

  • Chung obtained an Entropia Banking Licence earlier this week

  • Chung is now implementing an interface to exchange IMVU credits

  • Chung also provides Venture Capital for virtual startups.

  • It took Peter Philips, former Linden Lab employee less than three weeks to program the Lindex

  • Entropia has a Swedish banking licence

  • Companies have to closely watch the market to stabalize it. Neither inlation or deflation is a good thing for an economy, even if it is virtual.

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VW Conference buzzwords: Interoperability and Portability

Christian Renaud's keynote this morning was generally received as an outstanding analysis of the Virtual World industry and the challenges that lie ahead of us if we want it to go mainstream.


What it all boils down to is that the web, and especially the social web is getting very confusing. We need to have multiple identities, and now there are virtual identities to juggle as well. You've gotta go nuts if you have to juggle all that. This isn't much different from what I've blogged midway june (VeeJay juggles web 2.0 chaos). Like Christian said, we've failed to get openID into place when it comes to the web, let's try to get it right for virtual worlds.

Thought Leadership

In order to get this right for the Virtual World industry, several thoughtleaders met the day prior to the VW Conference, amongst which Cisco, IBM, Linden Lab and Philips. Linden Lab and IBM put forth a press release stating they are working on interoperability and portability. Other terms to describe this are unified communications between Virtual Worlds, or setting new industry standards (is it going to be VHS or Betamax?). IBM has made no secret of the fact that they have been pursuing this for months, the only speculation and blogosphere fuzz at the moment is that it's now an official tie-in with Linden Lab.


So the market needs convergence, standards of portability to go mainstream. I personally feel this is a very, very good thing. In fact, I've been saying so for months. The real big challenges are:

  • How do you asses the value of virtual goods on various platforms in relation to other platforms
  • How do you get a sound Identity Management System in place

No consensus yet

In the beginning I said Christian's keynote was generally accepted as outstanding. Here's a few thoughts from the business

While talking to Craig Sherman on this he let me know that Gaia is pursuing its own target group and has no intention whatsoever to even start thinking about portability. pretty much the same goes for Habbo Hotel, as Timo Soininen doesn't see much chances to asses the value of goods for portability.

John K. Bates of Entropia / Mindark noted that value is generally based on user demand for goods and in a lot of instances World-specific. Like in Entropia you've got dung. Absolutely of no value if you return it to the Entropia caretakers, but a must have for landowners who need dung to fertilize their lands so they can grow monsters and tax those who come to their land to hunt monsters. So in entropia you might wanna be a dung-baron if you don't want to pay for stuff and still get rich.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Intergalactic News update

Time for another blogosphere-update of the metaverse. Some nice newsbits passed by last week. So here's another hails from the VERSE

KZero reports:

Secondlife Blogo gives a nice addition to the metaversemap with an overview on VW's 4 Kids:

They also report on the article from the New York Times saying that Club Pinguin has been sold for 350 Million USD, with another 350 Million to follow after certain requirements are met.

Nick Wilson over at Metaversed reports:

  • Multiverse v1.0 Released!
    The long wait is finally over. After years of planning, volumes of hype, and the input of thousands of beta developers, Multiverse has finally released v1.0 of its platform. The Multiverse Platform is "a comprehensive software solution that gives development teams the technology, tools and assets to create virtual worlds for almost any purpose, including games and business tools." Basically, you can make worlds with it...
  • The XTR 3D Human Machine Interface
    A company called Extreme Reality (XTR) announced last week the creation of XTR 3D Human Machine Interface, an advanced motion tracking software designed to work with a regular commercially available webcam. Head and arm movements would be tracked automatically, and no more complicated equipment is needed other than a relatively blank wall behind the user. It even detects when the user reaches forward, toward the camera...

3PointD reports:

Last but not least the Belgian Second Life Crew reports that where Linden Lab bought Windward Mark to boost graphics, they're outdone by MindArk, producers of the Entropia Universe who incorporated the CryEngine2.

Here's the Mindark press release:

"Entropia Universe, the safest virtual world utilizing a real cash economy, has signed a license agreement to use the stunning high-tech game engine CryENGINE 2®, from German developer Crytek, creators of “Far Cry®” and upcoming “Crysis®.” This will make Entropia Universe the closest-to-reality looking massively multiplayer online game ever seen. The transition to an Entropia Universe platform built around this new technology is expected to be finished by mid-2008, and will be available to all Entropia Universe partners. Creator MindArk PE AB’s CEO Jan Welter Timkrans explains, “The upgrade of Entropia Universe will be built around the spectacular features supplied by CryENGINE 2®, offering a complete and immersive experience to Entropia participants. It will create synergies between the proven and safe Real Cash Economy backbone, the Entropia storyline with colonists fighting to establish a new world, and the very life-like visuals supplied from CryENGINE 2®.” He continues, “When we saw what the engine was capable of, we immediately understood that it would be perfect for Entropia, as both MindArk and Crytek are pioneers in their respective fields.”

Avni Yerli, Crytek’s Managing Director says, “We are thrilled to have been chosen by such a well regarded and successful industry leader as MindArk to be their future engine provider for Entropia Universe. We think the combination of our CryENGINE 2® technology and their extremely popular virtual playground will result in a new kind of rich and immersive experience that has not been possible until now. It will also expose a wide new audience to the stunningly realistic graphics, environmental physics and believable animations which are made possible by the award winning CryENGINE 2® together with some of the most recent advances in PC hardware and operating systems.”"

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Metaverse Map v1.1

Here's the updated Metaverse Map with an overview of 2D and 3D virtual worlds.

The large image (1024 x 1024) can be found here.

Use the map freely, links will be appreciated though ;-)

In alphabetical order:

  1. Active Worlds
  2. Areae
  3. Croquet
  4. Cybertown
  5. Cyworld
  6. Deamville
  7. Disney Toontown
  8. Dubit
  9. Eccky
  10. Entropia
  11. Everyscape
  12. Forterra
  13. Frenzoo
  14. Gaia Online
  15. Google Earth
  16. Habbo Hotel
  17. Hipihi
  18. Immersive
  19. Kaneva
  20. Manor, the
  21. Microsoft Virtual Earth
  22. Mini Friday
  23. Moove Online
  24. Multiverse
  25. Muse
  26. Nasa World Wind
  27. NGI World
  28. Ogoglio
  29. Open Sim
  30. Outback Online
  31. Palace, the
  32. Planet VM
  33. Playdo
  34. Questville
  35. Second Life
  36. Shanda Entertainment
  37. Sims Online
  38. Sony Home
  39. Sparter
  40. Stagespace
  42. Towerchat
  43. Trion
  44. Uonenet
  45. Virtual Ibiza
  46. Virtual Magic Kingdom
  47. Virtual Worlds SIG
  48. VP Chat
  49. Vzones
  50. Webkinz
  51. Weblo
  52. Why Robbie Rocks
  53. Whyville
  55. Worldbridges
  56. Worlds Unlimited

I know I left out Club Pinguin and Three Rings (couldn't find any good logo's) and probably missed out on a few barbie-worlds....

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Metaverse Map

The metaverse rollercoster keeps on rolling. Next week I've got to do a presentation on Second Life and the metaverse. I've been looking around a bit and decided to throw in a few logo's of Web 3D / Metaverse initiatives.
Which ones did I miss?

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Metaverse news this week

Here's a short overview of intermetaversal news:


3pointD reports on EVE online:
"With the news a few days ago that MMO space opera EVE Online had hired an in-game economist, most commentators focused on how much fun he would have compared to all the other economists in the world, and how curious it would be to read quarterly reports from an imaginary universe. I think it has broader ramifications than that, particuarly when it comes to economies such as that of Second Life and Entropia Universe, which are explicitly tied to real-world currencies. Though Second Life pushes itself as a place where real money can be earned, it has consistently done a very poor job of making any useful economic information available. Its reports don’t resemble traditional economic and business reports, and in any case lack clear explanation of their methodology. They’re useful as far as they go, but they don’t go nearly far enough — which is an inexcusable state of affairs for a place that’s advertised as a capitalist paradise. The presence of EVE’s new economist should provide at least some distant motivation for Second Life to get its economic act together."

read full article at 3pointD: EVE Online Raises Bar on Virtual Economics.

Also read on 3 pointD:
"Huge global marketing and communications company Publicis and big 3D design company Dassault have teamed up on a new plugin-based 3D browser tool called 3dswym, which will “offer a collaborative Web-based platform allowing marketers to connect directly to consumers in order to jointly create and adapt new consumer goods and new retail environments using advanced Web and 3D tools.”

read full article at 3pointD: Publicis and Dassault Dive In for a 3dswym.


Nick Wilson at Metaversed is keeping his eyes open as well

Metaversed reports on Cyworld
"According to SK Communications, the company behind the massive online community of Cyworld recently merged with Empas, Korea's largest search engine. A quick look at SK Communications' revenue profile for 2006 shows that Cyworld is their biggest earner, having cleared them US$80 million last year. The sale of virtual assets beat out both advertizing and the sale of real-world assets via e-commerce. This is a clear demonstration of the potential of the micro-payment model in social networks of all kinds."

and on NGI:
"Network Game Interaction (NGI), a two-year old company specializing in ad insertion into both MMOG and casual games, has just secured US$10 Million in first-round venture capital funding from GSR Ventures. Currently NGI places ads in about 50 top Chinese online games, claiming a 70% coverage of the gaming populace."

read the full article at Metaversed: NGI Secures US$10 Million In VC

and even more on China:
"The most public argument for this would be Cyworld China. Since launching in June 2005 they've reached 3 million subscribers and are growing by 15,000 a day. Add to this Tencent's QQ with its half a billion registered users, and you have an audience that is accustomed to purchasing virtual items and "forming deeper connections via immersive environments."

read the full article at Metaversed: Is China's Virtual World Space About to Go Super Nova?


Tish Shute has made another one of her famous lengthy and thorough reports, which as always is filled to the brim with the latest need to knows.

"I met Eolus McMillan from Implenia on Second Life yesterday. And, I heard the extraordinary story of how creative minds from different backgrounds, IBM, SAP, Wago, Zumtobel and Implenia amongst others, have come together to make a major leap towards 3D internet. The fruits of this collaboration will be unveiled on July 6th, on Second Life. The picture above shows a birds eye view of EOLUS One on Second Life."

Read the full article at Ugotrade: EOLUS Makes Leap To 3D Internet On Second Life

Ambling in Second Life

Finally there's a nice message at Aleister Kronos' Ambling in Second Life blog -again on the Virtual World business in China -
"I came across an article in the Asia Times, that you might find interesting. It concerns the burgeoning appetite - and market - for 3D virtual worlds in China. Rather than focusing on the Mindark deal, which will see Entropia entering the marketplace, it looks in more detail at the (for me) more intriguing prospect of HiPiHi. This is a "home grown" Chinese virtual world, still in Beta test, that apparently bears uncanny similarities to Second Life (although no decision has yet been taken concerning the implementation of an inworld currency)."

Read the full article on Ambling in Second Life: China and Virtual Worlds

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Metaverse news

Okay, sometimes it's hard to keep up-to-date, so here's a few quick links

Linden Labs releases New Betagrid Viewer
The excellent 3PointD runs several stories on various NVE's this week on Ogoglio, EVE Online, and MindArk's Chinese virtual World (Entropia)

The other Second Life bloggernaut, 57 Miles from Metaversed runs stories on Korea's possible regulation of Virtual Content, PS3 Home, Entropia and the Multiverse Millionaire. Last but not least he askes himself if Meet Me is a new Japanese Second Life.

More on the Japanese getting setup for the metaverse can be found at the Virtual Worlds Blog.
Then there's EMAC reporting on spectacular growths in Kids-metaverses (like club Pinguin, Stardolls and Webkinz)

Last but not least in the series of links is Advertising for Succes, a business blog running some more links on the Metaverse.

Metarati update

Then there's the Metarati, a term I supposedly coined, which is rapidly being picked up by blogs like Ugotrade, 3pointD and by the Electric Sheep Company and a few others as well, such as the Click and gives about 300 results in Google Search right now.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chung boosts virtual finance

Earlier this month I've blogged about Anshe Chung getting a banking licence for the Entropia universe. It seems like that this was just a starter for our Metaverse Mogul, according to a press release on the AC Studio website:

"Anshe Chung Studios is preparing to launch a virtual financial market, financial products and a set of services that are going to, for the first time, allow direct capital flow and investment across virtual world boundaries. This step will be the first of many in the creation of an open, cross platform Metaverse economy that transcends individual virtual worlds. "Some virtual worlds like Second Life (R), Entropia Universe (R) and IMVU (R) have demonstrated the enormous economic potential that exists when key sectors of a virtual world economy such as content creation, trade, banking and services are privatized. This has lead to a boom in each of these worlds that has yet to be matched by any other economy, real or virtual", says founder Ailin Graef a.k.a. Anshe Chung. "Now the time is right to go further and link these exciting spaces together, to begin with the creation of the global Metaverse." [read the full article @ Anshe's site]

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Intergalactic news

Here's some interesting news from other media

Second Life resident demographics

Both 3pointD blog and the Dutch webwereld report on the current statistics for Second Life. For the first time the US visitors were not the most active SL users, in march 2007 SL was visited by 207.000 US citizens, but were topped by the Germans with 209.000 residential immersions.
Numbers 3 to 5 are France, UK and the Netherlands. These figures were produced by a comScore research.

Based on the comcast publication, serious Dutch Press (Nu, De Pers and Elsevier) reported that about 9% of the Dutch have stepped into Second Life already. Linden Labs says otherwise, more like 2%). Anyway it would all wrap up to about 40.000 active Dutchmen in SL.

Hails from a different Galaxy

RuneScape, an MMORPG, reports that it has hit 1.000.000 (one million) subscribers. In the Wild Wild West only World of Warcraft can boast more subscribers. Of course, Cyworld Korea has many many more.

Thene there's news from yet another Virtual World, this time it's Entropia who's auctioning banking licenses. One of the most remarkable new bankers in Entropia is Second Life's inworld mega real-estate dealer Anshe Chung who acquired the licence for a lousy 60 US bucks. Superchung is perhaps one of the most cross-reality entrepeneurs at this moment, having commercials ties with IMVU and as well.


Some of this blogs readers have pointed out that there was a serious error in this post. They're right. Chung purchased the licence for US$ 60,000 -and that ain't lousy anymore.

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