Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's Corey's Turn

MyTurn is the name of a new metarati column on the Virtual World News site. Yesterday it was Multiverse Executive Producer and Co-Founder Corey Bridges' turn, and he was pretty bold and blunt.

"This is no time to go wobbly," Margaret Thatcher once famously said. That's especially pertinent advice right now. Second Life and its owner Linden Lab are going through tough times. And, nascent as the virtual world industry is, many
people confuse it with Second Life itself. To the less informed (and even to some people in our industry who should know better), Linden's current difficulties speak directly to the viability of the medium of virtual worlds.

They're wrong, of course; for those of us who work on other worlds and platforms, business has never been better."

True, Second Life has gotten more media attention than any other world and it has entered the hypecycle ahead of the flock, but I'm sure other social online worlds will start to experience this in the coming year. The more storyplay or gameplay a world has, the less affected it will be by this hype though.

"Here's some of the news that should make us all bullish on the future of our industry: according to a recent Forrester Research report, in a mere five years virtual worlds will be just as important to businesses as the Web; the ever-staid Gartner Research predicts that in four years 80% of Internet users will have avatars; and, as a sign of industry maturity, there are now many participants in each market segment of our industry--from platforms to service agencies to users of all stripes."

That's not the whole truth there Corey. Gartner has adjusted that prophesy in later researches and also, the Forrester Research report (as discussed here) also drops a few stitches.

"But it's undeniable that dark clouds have gathered over Second Life and some of the companies that have relied on it. I don't think I need to recount all the ominous stories from the last few months, but the bottom line is that many
companies and consumers are now avoiding that world. Linden Lab is going through some internal turmoil and may be on the verge of lean times itself. Even staunch Second Life cheerleader IBM has people wondering if it's hedging its bets by
mocking virtual worlds (the second article)."

Except for calling ePredator a cheerleader (can someone photoshop this?) I pretty much agree. However, I don't read Corey's column as the words of a thoughtleader in the industry. While naming a few very valid points, its tone is too agitated in my humble opinion.

Electric Sheep Company COO Giff Constable jumps on the train and steps up in defence of Linden Lab (never bite the hand that feeds you):

"It is true that Linden Lab has quite a list of challenges ahead of them: general stability, performance and usability issues… they are handcuffed by early architectural decisions (physics on the server rather than the client; many artificial constraints that limit flexibility such a sim size, spatial privacy, group limits, etc; the performance hit that comes with prims; enforced last names; centralized asset server; a limited and laggy scripting system, etc). They have announced many technical improvements with great potential but which never made it into production. Linden Lab also has many strengths, some of which I laid out here, and I think they will be around for a good while yet. Their platform has weaknesses, but it has some unique selling points which cannot be dismissed."

Giff has to conclude that Corey has a point though:

"I agree with the root of Corey’s message, however, which is that the virtual worlds industry is not in crisis. There is a lot of interest out there, and many really exciting projects."

I really hope ESC's portfolio is filled to the brim, but I doubt it as they laid off 20% of their employees just before Christmas. True, the NVE industry is not in crisis, social worlds have taken on a challenge to prove themselves fit for business.

I fully agree with Corey's last lines though:

"But the medium is much larger than any one company. To use another British turn of phrase (I've been doing a lot of business in the U.K.), "Keep calm and carry on."

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Monday, October 15, 2007

New VW tech

During the Virtual World Conference 2007 (Fall edition, San Jose) lots of companies were showing off at the Expo. Platforms like Active Worlds, Multiverse and There.com, had a stand. Then there were lots of complimentary tech stands as well, ranging from avatar creating, 3D Modelling to motion capture. Here's the Icarus Studio stand:

From their website:
Icarus Studios is focused on helping our clients launch online virtual worlds,
MMOGs, simulators and 3D collaborative and educational products. We enable our
client's vision with our unique combination of next generation technology and
services, making Icarus a comprehensive resource center for those tasked with
quickly creating all or components of these initiatives. From complete project
development, platform and tool licensing to studio services and library
resources, Icarus will work within our client's time and budget constraints to
quickly create a quality product that meets their objectives.

Another very well visited booth was the stand that IBM had rezzed


Here's what Epredator / Ian Hughes had to say over at Eightbar:

Our stand we had both SL, Active Worlds and the IQ Metaverse (the torque based
one). We also have Jacques from the SMB media and entertainment and the guys
from Vivox there. There was another part to the stand over with Icarus and that
was where Peter Finn set up shop with his alpha demo of blending virtual worlds
with a browser. That needs a whole post in its own right of course.I had a good
chat with most of the stands, though it is amazaing how little time you end up
having when you are talking to press, analysts and bumping into the metarati
that you know from in world and on Twitter.

And certainly the meterati were there. Not all of them, and not all those present considered to be on the official metarati list (but some will make it there I think as the list needs updating.)

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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
  41. There.com
  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
  54. World.com
  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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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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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Multiverse scores $4.5m funding

It´s a wee bit late to blog this, it´s more than 2 months ago that Multiverse, another 3D platform, scored substantial funding in a Series A funding led by Sterling Stamos Capital Management.

What is the Multiverse

The Multiverse was created in 2004 by a team of Netscape veterans who have the ambition to create the leading platform for Online Gaming and Virtual Worlds.

"Multiverse's unique technology platform will change the economics of virtual world development by empowering independent game developers to create high-quality, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and non-game virtual worlds for less money and in less time than ever before"
The Multiverse provided the platform for games such as Dark Horizons, Force if Arms, Forgotten Legends, Project Mars and several other MMOG's which all have a considerable track record. Yet, the Metaverse has rapidly grown to a 2.5 billion dollar market, which makes it an attractive market to plunge into. In my opinion the Multiverse is one of many contenders, and I have seen too little innovation from them to consider them a serious contender for becoming the predominant platform. They will be a serious partner when it comes to online gaming, but not in serious Web 3D

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Intergalactic news (2)

Here's another update on news from the vast expanse of networked virtual environments (NVE's) or simply called virtual worlds.

IBM

Big Blue is looking at the Torque game engine, proud product of the Garage Gamers as booster for their virtual escapades. IBM is rapidly advancing inte Virtual Revolution with a stronghold in Secondlife and in creating their own intraverse. They are also looking into the Multiverse which is still in Beta. This adaptiveness is surprising for a moloch from the days of the Digerati, the old school internet pioneers and is earning IBM's guru Irv Wladawsky a true nomination for the Metarati awards.

Shanda Entertainment

The Chinese corp Shanda Entertainment is digging into the world of Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs. Shanda is China's largest entertainment and online gaming provider, with titles such as The Legend of Mir II, The World of Legend, The Sign, The Age, Magical Land and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Shanda's move heats up the Asian Virtual World competition as 3pointD reports on nve's named HiPiHi and Splume.

Sony / Pinguin Club

The Sony entertainment group is aiming to take over the Pinguin Club according to Mashable with an bid close to $ 450.000 USD. The club is an online gaming world for children which is seeing an even more spectacular growth than Second Life.

The Canadian firm New Horizons launched the club in October 2005 and it has since grown to 4.5 million visitors in March 2007 and is subscription based. To Sony it may well be an interesting new marketing channel for their games, and perhaps merge with their Playstation Home, an alledgely superior virtual platform that will crush Second Life (according to Mashable)

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