Friday, January 15, 2010

Augmented Training with Lego

Yesterday I saw a neat video on Augmented Reality using Lego at Games Alfresco

Homo sapiens are visual creatures. We receive 75% of our information through our eyes. Explaining how to do something can be tedious and inefficient. Augmented reality offers a visual medium for explanation. This quick demo on how to assemble a LEGO tower using ARToolKit illustrates how effective this technique can be. If you don’t believe me, give a friend a pile of LEGOs and then try to explain how to create the tower in the video. Time your result and compare it. I’ll guarantee the AR method will win.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dutch Parliament wants age classification for online gaming

Gaming is fun, usually. Most of us gamers have our favorites we like to play, wheter it be racing, shootem ups, role playing or strategy. To me it's pretty obvious I play different games than my 4 year old daughter. She doesn't have the foggiest idea of how Civilisation V or Ceasar IV works, whereas I get bored with Dora the Explorer. But what if your child is 10, would you let it play World of Warcraft or Command and Conquer, or even bloodier games?

As with films (movies if you like), there is an age classification for games. This classification now has caused the largest political faction in the Dutch Parliament, the CDA, to inquire about age classification for internet games on several gaming portals. Member of Parliament Mirjam Sterk is convinced the government has a role to play in giving attention to this issue and has questioned minister André Rouvoet (Youth and Family) and minister Ronald Plasterk (Education, Culture and Science) according to Dutch newssite Emerce:

Parents must be able to see when a game is suited for children of various age groups. The member of parliament asks if there have been talks with the Dutch Institute for Classification of Audiovisual Media (Nicam) about the promotion of a European guide for internet games. The organisation My Child Online concluded earlier that gameportals should introduce an age classification for violent or harmful games. The foundation also concluded that gameportals often hold a lot of games which receive a Pan European Gam Information (PEGI) classification of 16+ without notifying the visitors.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Crowns of Power

I ran into quote a number of new (or rather new) online games this week and must admit my bandwidth has been tested a number of times yesterday in downloading several clients. Of the dozens of trials I ran, there's one particular game I’d like to highlight: Crowns of Power by Rampid Interactive.

When I first read this title, my mind wandered of to some of the great games of the past, such as Lords of the Realm, a great medieval strategy game. That would mean it would fit past weeks ranting on virtual history perfectly, but it turned out Crowns of Power isn’t a historic online game, but a fantasy game.

The tease was good enough though to give this game a shot. With all the fantasy games coming online day after day you might start to wonder if they’re serving us out of the box games but Crowns of Power has gone through a thorough development cycle. Early 2008 they finally went into public beta which closed august 2008.

8/17/2008 - Beta Has Officially Ended.

After a long successful open beta test, we are packaging the game for its first live release. Thank you to everyone who participated and helped out in Beta. As a reminder, all beta characters have been wiped. We will be awarding special prizes to active beta testers at the start of the live game. Check back soon for news on when we go live with our first real game world, Synge

We look forward to seeing you in game!

You probably don’t have to tell anyone what world of warcraft is about, but new arrivals on the scene need a good introduction, a narrative that captures your imagination and takes you along on the journey into the roleplay the game offers. Crowns of Power has an extensive introduction story that gets you on the road.

You wake up on a forest floor, naked and cold with very few possessions, if any. You are uncertain how long you were asleep. In fact, you aren’t certain who you are, where you came from or of anything for that matter.

Time passes. You’re cold and think that your safety might be jeopardized if you remain where you are. So you start to walk. It doesn’t take long before you find a group of humans, like yourself. You are relieved. You beg them to tell you what has occurred. Where are you? Who are you? Why are you without possessions?

They urge you not to worry. You are in a state that everyone experienced at what they call… Restoration. The memory loss, the uncertainty, everything is normal. You start to calm, thankful for companionship during this strange state of mind.

Then you meet the storyteller who introduces you to the world of the game. This world is ruled by magic, which is divided into 5 colors or classes of mana/magic - green (nature), red (fire), blue (mind), white (healing, protection), black (death).

Totally off topic, I’d say we could use some standardisation here too. Part of the classes make me think of elemental magic, like in the books of David Farland (The Runelords), and part of it makes me think of another legendary game; Heroes of Might and Magic (keep taps on this one as they’r working on an online version too).
The storyteller introduces you to the world, which is called Arder.

“To answer your question, you are on a planet called Arder, a planet fortunate enough to be located in the absolute center of the universe,” he begins. “Because of this centrality, Arder is a place of infinite power, where magic is commonplace and extremely potent. You see, the entirety of the universe is divided into five regions. Each region is the creation of one of five Gods, and ruled by this specific God. The names of the Gods and their particular powers, I will come to in time. Because Arder is located in the exact center of everything, all five of the God’s have an affinity for our planet.

Although Arden is also reminiscent of David Farland’s Runelord series in which the world is called Arden, it also sparks memories of Roger Zelazny’s epic “Amber” series in which Amber is the one true world, and has thousands of spin offs.

Getting into the game it takes a while to discover the unique selling points of this MMORPG but one that stands out is the community feel of the game. In most games, the community sense comes from being in a guild but albeit Crowns of Power also offers Guilds, it is somewhat more subtle.

In Crowns of Power, players will have the power to govern themselves in a volatile world where PvP (Player vs Player) combat can be engaged in nearly everywhere you go. With smaller world populations, there will be a sense of community unlike any other game on the market. Players will earn their reputation and role on the server, and be held accountable for their actions. Death will come with a steeper price, and make people think twice before committing acts against the community. As guilds develop, they'll be able to display their power by obtaining Guild Halls that they must maintain and protect, adding another social and contested element to the game.

That’s how it’s described in the “getting started”. As guilds develop isn’t a USP, the thing which attracts me is the smaller world populations. This is also emphasized by the description of the game objectives (also in the FAQ section);

The objective of the game is to evolve your character through adventures and quests while obtaining rare and unique items, spells and powers. As you progress, your role in the social and community aspect of the game could take on important roles as people elect fellow players into positions of power. Diplomacy, public relations, and mutual interests of the community will play a huge part in the players experience in Crowns of Power, and provide other means of entertainment that go beyond killing computer controlled monsters and raid encounters. Guilds will also be able to strive towards and obtain guild halls where their guild can meet, train, and even store arsenals in times of war. Guild halls will be able to be attacked and contested by rivaling guilds.

This is the type of gameplay that brings back memories of Swirve’s Utopia online which I’ve played quite addictively for several years being an alliance diplomat, Battlefield General and King,. Rather than bashing computized beasts it is about interaction, diplomacy and tactics.
If you’re in to fantasy along with a good sense of human interaction I’d invite you to give this one a try.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oriental Dispatch: ai sp@ce, iA, ARis

Konnichiwa(hello!). I picked up some interesting services in Japan.

ai sp@ce

Dwango, a game developer for mobilephones, has launched this week. "ai sp@ce" is a virtual world. It's kinda lobby for game lovers. You can't create buidings or clothings in this world, but create game-scenarios and can sell them. Quite interesting.


Sega, a famous videogame developer, is testing an avatar service called "iA(Internet Adventure)".

It's similar to weblin or RocketOn, but at iA, avatars appears on your desktop(like wallpaper). When you change URL of your web-broser, the place in iA will change automatically. I mean each URL has its own place.

iA is still in closed beta.


Last one is not a virtual-world-thing. But I guess many readers will have an interest in it.

"ARis" is kind of a virtual pet using Augumented Reality. A small girl appears on PC via web camera. You can poke her with sticks or give clothes.

Its price is 9800 yen(US$9.8 US$98.00). A little bit expensive?

UPDATE: Sorry, i made a mistake at the price of ARis. Thanks to shiela-san for letting me know that.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Microsoft goes Mii Too on Virtual Worlds

Yesterday Microsoft went head on with rival Sony at the Tokyo Game Show as they presented their new immersive 3D Xbox experience, We've been seeing reports and snapshots of Soný's Playstation Home for a while now, but actual deployment has been delayed several times.
Sony Corp.'s twice delayed online "Home" virtual world for the PlayStation 3 console will be available sometime later this year, while U.S. software maker Microsoft Corp., which competes with its Xbox 360, is starting "New Xbox Experience" worldwide Nov. 19. [International Herald Tribune]

Microsoft promised to be more varied as a gateway to various entertainment, such as watching movies, going to virtual parties and sharing your collection of photos.

"Our goal is to make the Xbox experience more visual, easier to use, more fun to use and more social," he [Shappert] said in an interview at a nearby hotel. "We focused a lot on friends and other experiences outside just playing games."[International Herald Tribune]

What the International Herald Tribune didn't write is that it wasn't exactly Sony that Microsoft was taking on, they were on a collision course with Nintendo's Wii experience.

The moment MTV News revealed Microsoft was working on a Mii-like system called Avatars, accusations of copying Nintendo started flying.

That reaction only intensified when the rumors became fact at this year’s E3. Microsoft expected this reaction. At least, that’s what they told me while showing the “New Xbox Experience,” a complete dashboard revamp coming later this year.

“I remember the CES right after the Wii launched and all the [gaming] editors were asking, ‘When are you guys going to do your version of the Miis?,” Xbox director of marketing Albert Penello told MTV Multiplayer in a hotel suite interview two weeks ago. “I remember going, ‘You guys are going to slaughter us in the press if we ever do it.’ [lMTV]

Read the full story in MTV's Microsoft: Our Mii-Like Avatars Borrow From ‘World of Warcraft,’ Could Connect With ‘Gears of War’ .

Actually it's quite funny. I remember someone at Microsoft said (very recently): "Nah, social worlds don't work. No money to be made there". Remember who it was?

It was Microsoft's Craig Mundie who spoke at the MIT Emtech summit last month.

"Microsoft's Craig Mundie has dismissed the potential of "synthetic virtual worlds" like Second Life, saying that the potential for immersive environments will be likely realized through 3D tools that capture and model the real world.

Read the full story at MindBlizzard: "Microsoft: 3D Future will be Photosynth ". It isn't the first time Microsoft says something doesn't have any real future, yet buys in big a short while later on to make up for their initial misinterpretation of the trends.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Can You See Me Now?

These days many of us are wondering what the real use of virtual worlds is. There's a slight shift towards augmented, or mixed reality. Mixed reality, in which the real world and the virtual come together isn't new. Have a look at this video.

"Can You See Me Now? is a game that happens simultaneously online and on the streets. Players from anywhere in the world can play online in a virtual city against members of Blast Theory. Tracked by satellites, Blast Theory's runners
appear online next to your player on a map of the city. On the streets, handheld computers showing the positions of online players guide the runners in tracking you down. "

This game dates back to 2001, there's more on Blast

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Civilisation IV - Beyond the Sword

Not feeling in the mood to explore the Metaverse, I've spend some time playing the latest Civilisation game, one of my old time favorites.

The first Civilisation game (which came in a 3 floppy disk edition) was an instant classic when it hit the market in 1991. I remember playing the game untill way past bedtime during college. This first edition was of course pretty basic in graphics and gameplay. You had a world, a number of civilisations you could play and so on. After a little while Civilisation II hit the market, and Sid Meier started exploring new Civilisations. This 2nd edition centered in the near east, primarily adding the Carthagens to the game. I really missed out on the big world map so I was happy when Civ III was released and we were back to normal gameplay again.

Civilisation IV (by Firaxis Games) is the 2005 release of the game and has been severely upgraded, not only in graphics, but also in a number of other areas:

The concept of religion is new to Civilization IV, where in previous games players built generic temples and cathedrals to contribute to happiness and culture. There are now seven distinct religions in the game: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism. Each religion is associated with a specific technology on the tech tree; the first civilization that gains the technology founds the religion. The four later religions (Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, and Taoism) begin with a free Missionary unit for reasons of game balance; missionaries can later be trained at a city that has constructed an associated monastery. Other than this, there are no special traits or bonuses associated with any particular religion
in order to avoid controversy.

Religion factors into a number of existing game mechanics. Civilizations that share a common state religion will find themselves more agreeable in their diplomatic dealings; conversely, civilizations with differing state religions will not be as close diplomatically. The religion's founder may also receive an economic benefit: if that civilization expends a Great Prophet at their religion's holy (founding) city, they will construct that religion's most sacred building, and it will generate 1 gold per turn for every
other city that hosts said religion. Once a religion has spread to a city, there is no way to remove it from said city. Finally, if a civilization has a state religion and owns that religion's holy city, they will receive 'line-of-sight' in every other city hosting that religion.

The new civics model of government also has a strong effect on religion. Players can found a state religion, declare religious freedom, restrict non-state religious adoption, or take other actions that have profound impacts on the religious lives of their subjects. These civics can provide a great incentive to spread a state religion throughout one's empire, as the best bonuses will only be applied to cities in which the religion is present." (Wikipedia)

Another new feature of the game is that you've got more civilisations to chose from, and a number of civilisations have more than one leader to choose from, each with their special traits and special units.

The main concept of the game is to build your nation: explore, found new cities and build them into little paradises for your population. In Civ - IV there are a ton of new buildings to build, like groceries, forges, drydocks etcetera.

An important gamefeature is the ability to build World Wonders. These wonders bring extra happiness, culture, productivity or other benefits to your nation. In Civ IV the number of world wonders has been expanded drastically as well. There are new additions such as the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and a whole range of religious and Asiatic world wonders.

When you work your way through history, it's unavoifable to run into a war at times. In this case I got dragged into a war two times because vassal nations decided to hammer eachother, drawing me in as well. Fortunately, World wonders such as the United Nations, or the Apostolic Palace give you tools to declare worldwide peace soon enough.

In the early Civilisation editions the world was cramped. You had to expand fast to secure your place in history. To speed up your development it's vital to share knowledge with your neigbours before trying to reinvent the wheel everytime yourself. In the old games, you had to have a little luck there, it largely depended on which continent you landed on. Sometimes, the civs on the other content had a faster development rate and you fell behind. In Civ IV every civilisation starts on the same continent, and there's a second continent (If you play world-like map) called "The New World" which has to be discovered and colonised as well.

Not being a big fan of "Shoot 'em up" games, I prefer to win by technological dominance, rather than destroying my opponents. This time I was way ahead of the competition and started building my spaceship when the neighbouring countries were researching how to build Railroads. On earlier occasions, the spacerace was a closely contested project and needed numerous sabotage efforts to stop the competition for achieving this victory before me.

And victory is there... We've gone where no man has gone before and started a colony. Here ends the 'Normal' Civilisation game, now let's have a look at the "Beyond the Sword" expansion pack.

This release of Civilisation comes with a number of expansion packs, such as "Warlords" and "Beyond the Sword" which bring a number of new features to the game as well as a range of scenario's to play.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Taking it Slow - Living the Life

Taking it Slow

It's been about a month since I last posted here at the MindBlizzard blog. Some havhave thought it for audacious reasons, like 'banning Second Life' because of the new Trademark Regulations, and I wish it were true.

Prime reason for my absense is that Real Life needed a lot of attention. My mother has been diagnosed cancer and has been on and off into the hospital. It puts a little strain on my family as well as we have to go over regularly and help out. Since winter has been long, and we're all dying to get some warmer, sunny weather, my own health has been failing a little as well, being floored by the flu twice in a month.

Live the Life

What spare time I had, I spent outside the Metaverse -in private gaming. One of these adventures I'd like to share with you. In the early 90's I played a lot of Sid Meier games, like Civilisation (1991) and Railroad Tycoon (1990), which would fit onto 3 floppy disks at the time. I've been playing Civilisation a lot over the years, upgrading every version as soon as it came out. There was one more game which I played for a little while, which was "Pirates! Gold" (1993)

Last year I already tried out the new Railroads version, but aside from improved graphics, I think the gameplay didn't match the original. Some two months ago I ran into the new Pirates version, titled "Live the Life" (Official Site)

"Sid Meier's Pirates! is a 2004 strategy/action/adventure computer game developed by Firaxis Games and published by Atari.[1] The game is based on Sid Meier's earlier 1987 game, also named Sid Meier's Pirates!. Overall, the gameplay remains similar to the original game, though it features a 3D game engine (NDL's Gamebryo). Some elements such as sun sighting have been removed, but other features have been added, such as a ballroom dancing mini-game and an improved turn-based land combat system." (Wikipedia)

As with "Side Meier's Railroads" (2006), this new Pirates! version isn't much more than a brush up of the graphics, but its been fun to play for old times sake. A couple of screenshots:

Most importantly, as a pirate, you sail the caribbean seas, chasing Spanish galleons laden with treasure, troops or spices. Visit the various Governors regularly to get promotions, and be sure to marry a Governor's daughter, as this is where the real money is. Once you're married, she'll give you clues to Lost Cities of the Aztec, Incan and Olmec empires which will yield great treasures.

Here's a screener of the retirement page. Final rankings, Pirates defeated, treasures found etc.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Future of Gaming

The first keynote of todays NGI convention on Serious Gaming was given by Marc Overmars, not the soccerplayer, but a professor at the University of Utrecht. Here are my notes:

The future of gaming

First computergame: 1958 brookhave national laborotory: tennis for two.

Development from 1958 to Wii :

  • Better graphics

  • Computer opponents (AI)

  • Storyline (gaining experience, buying better equipment)

  • Internet Play (no hotseat)

  • Interface (1st interface very simple, then lots of settings and now back to simple controls).

Platforms :

  • Consoles

  • PC

  • Handhelds

  • Mobile Phones


When we talk about games we talk about a variety of games. It is not only hardcore shooters.

  • Puzzle

  • Sports

  • Strategy

  • Shooters

  • Etc.

NL Most popular games 2006:

Most popular games in the netherlands are relatively innocent games, only GTA could be considered as agressive.

  1. Braintrain (Nintendo)

  2. Fifa 2007

  3. New Super Mario Bros

  4. Grand Theft Auto

  5. FIFA Street.


  • Average age 33, and growing older.

  • 48% female

  • Gaming is a social activity (like in the old days)

Gaming Industry

  • Revenues: 30 billion a year.

  • Making a good game: 10 million +

  • 20 – 100 developers per game.

Serious Games:

  • Education

  • Training and Simulation

  • Decision Making

  • Marketing

  • Arts & Culture

  • User Interface

Why use games:

  • Motivating
    o Storyline
    o Challenges
    o Rewards

  • Adaptiveness
    o Reduction of frustration
    o FLOW

  • Direct Feedback on decisions
    o Better cognitive learning process

  • Always and Everywhere
    o Use of lost hours
    o Use at home
    o More time available for learning

Ingredients of a good game:

  • Storyline
    o Global motivation
    o Suspense or disbelief

  • Gameplay
    o Rules, rewards, challenges
    o Lasting interest

  • Simulation
    o Feedback on decisions
    o Not necessarily realisticE.G. Learning to drive: necessity to watch the rearview mirror, play a shooting game where every assassin comes from behind, learn to watch your back…

  • Social Interaction

In a good game these ingredients are well balanced.

Fields of application :

  • Training use of tools
    - Flightsimulation
    - Driving simulation
    - Simendo (medical)

  • Training procedures

  • Training facts and skills

  • Stimulate behaviour (Remission, Glucoboy)

  • Gaining insight in processes (Social, communication, businessprocesses)

  • Distraction (Pain reduction, Snow World etc)

  • Keep in touch (patients, elderly)

  • Marketing (e.g. America’s Army)

  • Etcetera

Making a serious game:

  • Don’t think you can design off hand, use professionals

  • It takes a lot of money

  • Think about implementation process

  • Train the trainers

  • Evaluate

The better the graphics, the more attention you pay to realistic behaviour. You have more freedom to act outside the storyline, but then the world doesn’t act the way it should anymore. (E.G. Destroy a complete shop in Oblivion and there’s no reaction from the shopkeeper, steal a feather and you will get arrested.)


  • World Interaction

  • Adaptive Gameplay

  • Physical Interaction

  • Brain – Machine interaction

  • Location Based Gaming (GIS, GPS) – Frequentie 1550, Triangler (TNO, mobile gaming award 2006)

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Charting the new Worlds

UPDATE: The numbers in this blog are old. There will be an update shortly.

This blogentry was posted first at the Virtual World blog powered by Sogeti Sweden. As it is a new blog I gave an outline of the market we're dealing with. Several bits and bytes have appeared on this blog before - VeeJay

It's a brave new world out there, the question is which world? We've seen the industry of virtual worlds explode in this past year with billions of dollars of capital funding, takeovers and corporate builds. Over the past year Second Life has drawn more media attention than any other virtual world, respectively positive and then later ill-informed negative publicity has driven the world of Second Life into a hype cycle (as defined by Gartner).

Networked Virtual Environments

There's more to it though. There's not only a brave new world out there, it's an entire universe. It was also Gartner who did a short report on virtual worlds in december 2006 and introduced the term NVE, Networked Virtual Environments as an overal term for the industry, their definition:

An NVE is an online platform in which participants are immersed in a three-dimensional representation of a virtual space. Other, analogous, terms for
NVEs in the market are metaverses and virtual worlds.

It's not a 100% definition as the industry also includes 2D spaces. I'd like to use it as a term for the entire universe whereas I would reserve the usage of the metaverse for a specific section in the industry.

So how big is the market we're talking about?

A very good kick off was given at the Virtual World Conference in San Jose (10-11 October 2007) by Christian Renaud. He put in some good effort to come up with a list of about 75 Virtual Worlds with subscription numbers.

This subscription pie is based on the number of subscriptions per virtual world. Adding up to a grand total of 465.000.000 registered users. Wow, that's huge. That's the entire population of North America, or the entire population of Western Europe. And this is not even counting the Asian (Ralph Koster estimates the number to be close to 2000!).

This might be an unbelievable number. We have to put that into perspective. People do sign up a lot, then drop out. The current number of registered users in Second Life is about 9.2 million of which close to 2 million are active. Christian Renaud estimates the total number of active virtual world residents to be close to 50 million. Still, the number of signups is impressive. Let's take a look at the Social Network list on Wikipedia; it gives a list of 85 community sites totalling 1 billion registered users. Like web 2.0 sites, we do travel a lot. We sign up, play around and then move to the other world / site. And there's people like me. I'm registered at about 15 Virtual Worlds.

A division by Universe

This is the division of the NVE's I'd like to make

How do we use these worlds?

A quick and easy split up is to say we use these worlds for social activities (i.e. Social Network Worlds) and for personal recreation (online gaming). But we also start to use these worlds for business purposes: online meetings, training, simulation, promotion, recruitment etcetera. Where does the business fit in? There's a number of platforms out there that could be considered as being typical business environments. Like Qwaq with office applications and Forterra which focusses on training and simulation. And then there are the intraverses. These have a business oriëntation as well. The chart below shows the division by usage focus. There is business on Second Life, but Second Life is not focussed on business.

What is my audience?

Each world has its own culture and its own demographics. The chart below gives an overview of agegroups. It's not a demographic of the VW residents but an overview of worlds focussing on a specific agegroup. Teen Worlds are growing fast in the sector. There's no world yet that has a focus on elderly people yet. The virtual residents are generally young people. But there will be a market for elderly people, I'm sure. One of the problems of a lot of elderly people is a lack of social contact. We'll be seeing our first virtual elderly home in a few years time.


In a virtual world there probably is no discrimination by gender. For example. Construction is an industry in which we usually find very few women. Perhaps it's prejudice, but the genereal thought is that women can't carry a load of bricks. Physical inhibitions don't count in virtual worlds. Another point is that we use avatars, representations, choosing whichever form we like. I know enough men dressing as women or vice versa in Second Life. Likewise, most worlds are open to both man and women without specifically aiming at a gender. There are a number of worlds however that are specifically targeted at teen girls. I've called them Girl Worlds. They're usually running on an extraverse, being brand driven. Examples of these are

Here's a chart of the marketshare these worlds have:

Finally, it's an enormously varied landscape. Different cultures, people and habits. A wide variety of engines are used to drive these worlds. Some are java-based, some are desktop applications that connect to grids and some are using streaming technology. It's almost impossible to try and define these worlds, let alone find ways for unified communications, interoperability and portability for the sector.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Defining the Virtual World Industry - input needed

Last week Nick Wilson started to try and define the virtual worlds. It's a pretty hard job to try and categorise this stuff. Currently I'm writing a few chapters for a (Dutch) book on Web 2.0 and emerging trends and am faced with the same question. Could you help out in making some educated guesses?

Defining the worlds

Here's some of the definitions I'm using:

Web 3D seems the most applicable generic term, but there is no such thing as a universal format for Web 3D and it comes in various guises, some more and some less likely to be used as a business platform.

Terms which are most commonly used are Virtual Worlds, Metaverse and NVE’s (Networked Virtual Environments). Virtual Worlds are not 3D by definition, there are many 2D platforms which are also considered as virtual worlds.

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit and interact via avatars. This habitation usually is represented in the form of two or three-dimensional graphical representations of humanoids (or other graphical or text-based avatars). Some, but not all, virtual worlds allow for multiple users.[1]

The term NVE was first used by Gartner in a quick study on Second Life, but residents of various virtual worlds prefer to call it the Metaverse, as coined by Neil Stephenson in his 1992 cyberpunk classic ‘Snowcrash’

Another section of web 3D consists of the socalled Paraverse, sometimes also dubbed mirror worlds, since this world is most akin to our own reality.

The Paraverse Parallel Universe is a virtual environment that is based on real
world data such as GIS and satelite information that is overlayed with 3
dimensional objects representing the objects in the real space. Examples of a
paraverse include Google Earth, Microsofts Virtual Earth, Nasa's World Wind and

A large and booming business in the web 3D environment are the online gaming worlds, the socalled MMORPG’s (massively multiplayer online role plaing games) such as World of Warcraft, Runescape etcetera.

Finally, there are all sorts of variations and hybrids such as:

  • Interverse A term used to describe a globally integrated NVE, accessible through a single common client and integrated by a common back plane.

  • Intraverse A term to describe the 3D equivalent of the intranet, a private or corporate NVE residing on an internal network and accessible to users within that network environment only.

  • Extraverse A term used for the 3D equivalent of the extranet which is privately or corporately owned and resides on a private network but accessible by one ore more organisation, but not by the general public.

    [1] Virtual Worlds definition by Wikipedia

    [2] Paraverse definition by Wikipedia

Sizing the worlds

Now it's time to get into numbers. A first excellent start by doing a raw headcount of registered users was done by Christian Renaud at the Virtual World Conference. Now let's see if we can split up some other things:

  1. Networked Virtual Environments can be split up 2 ways: Online Gaming and Social network worlds. How are they divided? 50-50%?

  2. They can also be divided by 2D and 3D, what's this pick 40-60%?

  3. How much of Online gaming worlds are 2D, is that 40%?

  4. How much of Social Network Sites are 2D, is that 50%?

  5. What is the division between Metaverse / Interverse, Intraverse, Extraverse and Paraverse?

    I'm using Extraverse as term for corporate sites, like themed sites, Laguna Beach etc.

  6. I'm also looking at our usage of the web. Like web 2.0 stuff we use it at three levels:

    1. Personal (like gaming)

    2. Social (like Second Life)

    3. Business (like Qwaq or dedicated training platforms)

      What's the spread for these in Virtual Worlds?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dragons of Autumn Twilight

It's not World of Warcraft, not even a virtual world or online gaming experience, but a plain animation that caught my eye today.

This is the Paramount announcement:

"Dragonlance fans -- We’re sorry that it has taken this long to get a trailer
out. We had been waiting in hopes that we could show you the final trailer but
unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e. key talent issues etc) we
have not been able to cut the final trailer together and get 100% approval. Ever
since we showed this piece at GenCon and DragonCon there has been a huge demand to see the trailer so we figured it’d be best to show you the rough version
instead of having everyone wait even longer. We appreciate your patience.

It's been a while since I read the Dragonlance Saga by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, must have been somewhere near 1999 while I was working on my thesis "the Alternate Word" a study in correlation between bible, mythology and fantasy literature. It'll be fun watching the tale again. Really looking forward to it.

Also from a virtual world and gaming aspect I've been keeping an eye on Margaret Weis as she's got a new startup, MWP (Margaret Weis Productions - obviously) which is bringing the Battlestar Galactica roleplaying game.

see also the Dragonlance website here

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

VeeJay @ San Jose Conference

Real Life has been very stressfull and very very busy this last month. Since there's Mrs. V and the Kids to keep in touch with I haven't really had time to dig into Second Life, let alone blog it.

Sorry folks.

The good news is, I'm getting back up to speed, starting with visiting the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo next week in San Jose, California. I'm really looking forward to it, especially since I've got an appointment with a Linden Lab employee on tuesday.

On wednesday and thursday you'd probably be able to catch me on these tracks:

Wednesday (10th):

  • Business Strategy & Investment --Economics of Virtual Worlds
  • Entertainment, Media & Marketing -- ROI How the rules are changing
  • Entertainment, Media & Marketing -- Entertainment in Virtual Worlds - It's Not Games. it's Not TV. It's....
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Applications that Work

Thursday (11th):

  • Business Strategy & Investment -- The Future of VW's
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Best practises for employees in VW's
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Creating a user community
  • Business Strategy & Investment -- Finance in a VW

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Guild Wars Eye of the North

I was a bit slow to pick this one up, but there's a new, cool looking expansion coming to Guild Wars. There's more good looking to this than the spicey dressed vikings that show on the covers. Adding a little spice seems to become the trademark of these games and no doubt it'll help sales more than listing the new features.


Brighton, England, July 2nd, 2007—NCsoft® Europe and ArenaNet® announced that Guild Wars: Eye of the North™, the first ever expansion to the subscription-free Guild Wars® franchise of fantasy online role-playing games, will be released to the public on August 31, 2007. The Guild Wars: Eye of the North expansion will be available for an expected price of £24.99 / €34.99 from retailers in the United Kingdom and across Europe, as well as through the NCsoft store at and in the Guild Wars in-game store.

Guild Wars: Eye of the North will continue the no subscription fee model pioneered by ArenaNet, and will provide new content accessible to players who own both the expansion and any one of the three previously released Guild Wars campaigns (Guild Wars, Factions™, or Nightfall™).

The Guild Wars franchise has sold more than 3.5 million units since the release of the original Guild Wars campaign, in 2005, making it one of the most popular online role-playing games of all time.

The story behind Guild Wars: Eye of the North follows up on events told in the original Guild Wars campaign, and is set in previously unexplored areas of the continent of Tyria. The expansion contains a host of new features that will appeal directly to veteran Guild Wars players, including 18 large, multi-level dungeons, 150 new skills across all ten Guild Wars professions, ten new Heroes, 40 new armor sets, and more items, weapons, and titles.

Additionally, through the innovative Hall of Monuments, Guild Wars: Eye of the North creates a path for players to carry the legacy of their characters into the upcoming Guild Wars 2. The Hall of Monuments will allow players to preserve their accomplishments and titles from Guild Wars, Factions, and Nightfall, which can then be claimed in Guild Wars 2.

“Guild Wars has one of the most committed and loyal player bases I’ve ever seen, and Guild Wars: Eye of the North is our way of delivering prized content to veteran players and creating a link to the future of Guild Wars,” said Jeff Strain, co-founder of ArenaNet.

For more information on the Guild Wars franchise, go to: The award-winning Guild Wars campaigns can be purchased from retailers or downloaded from the PlayNC store at

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Intergalactic News for July

Here's some newsbits I didn't have time to blog in the past weeks:

Second Life Blogo reports (in Dutch) on:

The Belgian Second Life Crew reports (again in Dutch) on:

3PointD seems to be too busy to keep up blogging, but a few interesting posts did come through:

Nick Wilson at Metaversed seems to be gearing up in Challenging 3PointD as the buzzplace and reports on:

KZero reports on:

Finally, Scobleizer -who's not been in Second Life for over a year now, did a blog on SL again; Second Life is trying to get rid of the nasties, which turned out to become a lively discussion between Robert Scoble, Spindoctor Eric Rice and Information Week's Mitch Wagner.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

A Brave New World

"Brave New World" is probably Aldous Huxley's best known novel, written in the 1930's about a dystopian future based on eugenics and mind control.

75 years ago no one would have expected it to be gaming stuff, but South Korean developer Webzen made it into a really impressive-looking Huxley, a MMO first-person shooter.
Here are some screeners:

More info:

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

SL games: Danger Zone

Okay, we're closing in on midnight here in the Netherlands, but some fun is happening in Second Life at last. I went over to test a new game with 57 from Metaversed and Onder from Second Life Games. This game's called the Danger Zone. Quite lame, but sure fun!

The rules are easy: Pay the dough and sit down. The game has five rounds and in each round a number of cubes come down, either containing gems or disasters. Take the gems, and keep away from the disasters is the device. So you've got to decide to stay or run.

We've seen people getting killed by buzzsaws, dynamite, sharks and thunderbolts, all very cool to watch. Let's wait and see what happens when it gets on the market.

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