Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mission Accomplished: Change has come

World of Warcraft insider just flashed a very nice image:

Here it's mission accomplished. He is the first black president, but the mission is only starting.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dutch Dwarf to take on World of Warcraft

A "Dutch Dwarf to take on World of Warcraft" was the general gest of a newpaper article earlier this month in the Belgian newspaper 'de Standaard ', which applied to the newly released Chronicles of Spellborn, released by Dutch game producer Spellborn N.V.

Such a claim gives rise to big expectations as the market for quality MMORPG's is getting very crowded with excellent games and you need tons of investors to get into serious competition, and Spellborn N.V. isn't a big-buck-backed company. Yes, they have had several investment rounds, but since Spellborn is their only title this is a make or break game.

Spellborn N.V. is a rather small company, based in the Hague, Netherlands and has put together a team of 40 people to work on the Chronicles of Spellborn. The game has been highly anticipated, for instance by Massively who wrote in may this year:

The team at Spellborn NV continues to entice with its latest screenshots from its closed beta for The Chronicles of Spellborn. These depict various cities and other places on the Shards of Parliament and Quarterstone, as well as some of the creatures who will be more than glad to help you test your skill at bleeding. After looking at the new screenshots, forum regulars wondered if the landscapes are too empty and flat when compared to World of Warcraft's lush richness.

Spellborn NV recently showed the game at the RPC Münster role-playing convention, where players reportedly loved the character creation system and combat systems best. Similarly to NCSoft's City of Heroes, the gear and outfits worn by Spellborn characters don't affect the gameplay -- you can look however you wish and still fight at your best. The Spellborn combat system is similar to first person shooters and Age of Conan in that you don't target anything specifically; if something is in range of your attacks, it will be hit. It also is uniquely based on a grid on which you arrange your possible attacks that moves to allow you to use different sets of all your abilities as the fight moves on, adding a "deck building" element to battle.

According to Dutch gamers magazine Inside Gamer, the Chronicles of Spellborn, or TCOS in short is a highly original game with unique graphics. The graphics are drawn in quite a darkish style, but above all it is an MMORPG with a good story.

Here are some screenshots of the The Chronicles Of Spellborn, more can be found on the TCOS site here.

Dutch band Within Temptation, a gothic metalband, has written exclusive tracks for the game. The sounds of which naturally blend in with the mood of the game, although not everyone will be a fan of this type of music. The word goes that most programmers liked to listen to the music of Within Temptation while working on the game. Barry Hoffman, Spellborn's marketing manager said:

"Their music has given a whole new dimension to our fantasy world. When we received the opportunity to work together, we got very excited. Gamers very often listen to music while gaming and it was an easy choice for us to work with a band that can give such a good mood to the game."

The affection was mutual, as Within Temptation's guitarist Robert Westerholt said:

"Actually, almost all Within Temptation members are fanatic gamers. Both at home and when touring we play fantasy oriented games to relax and get new inspiration. when we heard about Spellborn and that it was a Dutch company we were very thrilled to work together to write tracks especially for this game. The partnership will go beyond writing tracks, but we'll let you know about that later."

Spellborn sure is about to stand out in the crowd, it's graphics make it an original as well as the cooperation with Within Temptation, as it is the first time that a game has worked dedicated with a popular rockband to create the tracks for the game. The fact that it is an original may be the key to their success; It's different and cool and it becomes a smash hit, or it's too different from mainstream MMORPG and it will become a proud, but niche player on the market.

Happy Gaming.

Labels: , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Large Hadron Collider does create Black Hole

Earlier this week I ran into a highly succesfull build, of which I blogged the real life counterpart a number of times. What I'm talking about is the Large Hadron Collider, the multimillion dollar project that has about every scientist going crazy at CERN, Switzerland. A group of performance artists recreated the LHC in Second Life and got it to work before the real thing actually launched.

The Virtual LHC was created by Second Front, with special credits to Man Michinaga for this specific story and build, which was primarily done for the GOGbot Steampunk Festival in Enschede, Netherlands.

Yesterday I had an extensive talk with Man Michinage to find out more on the build and the work theyre doing at Second Front.

The install was for the international RL media fest Gogbot (gogbot.nl) and the theme was steampunk. Therefore we had to come up with something, and the hadron collider was a current event. We work in context of the situation we are asked to perform in.

One cannot compare the works of Second Front to a normal theatre group of actors who perform their works over and over again. Every performance is a unique event and requires a unique setting.

None of our work lasts in SL, usually no more than a couple days and we usually only do performances once. This is very unusual. Most of our work is documented in print, video and painting, along with blog for RL audience. Also we create so much stuff we woudl need a lot of sim space.

Let's have a look at this particular build and the performance.

Fau Ferdinand created the first part of it, the torus and the landscape given that this woudl be a very bare stage from which we woudl create the story. I thought of Jules Verne, Goeorge Pal's The Time Machine, and I am currrently reading the Difference engine by Gison and Sterling. The script was improvisation, out of my head

The story as it played out was the actual activation of the Large Hadron Collider to find out about the origins of the Universe, the Metaverse in this case.

Its real life counterpart in Switzerland has been powered down for an unknown period due to some technical problems. This one actually passed the tests and ready to let some particle beams collide. Find out about the creation of the Universe or the existence of the Higgs particle.

Critics in the real world fear experimenting with the higgs-particle may be a bad idea, as it may create a black hole. Well, the test proves they're right.

About Second Front

Second Front was originally formed as a seven member group of artists from Canada, the US, UK and Italy who create performance based work in Second Life and other realities.is the pioneering performance art group in the online avatar-based VR world, Second Life. Founded in 2006, Second Front quickly grew to its current 8 member troupe that includes Lizsolo Mathilde, Man Michinaga, Bibbe Oh, Fau Ferdinand), Great Escape, Gazira Babeli and Tran Spire.

Taking their influences from numerous sources, including Dada, Fluxus, Futurist Syntesi, the Situationist International and contemporary performance artists like Laurie Anderson and Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Second Front creates theatres of the absurd that challenge notions of virtual embodiment, online performance and the formation of virtual narrative. Created in 2006, they have already performed extensively, including in Vancouver, Chicago, New York, and has been featured in publications including SLate, Eikon, Realtime Arts (Australia), and the popular The Avastar magazine.

Most of the artists have real life experience in Performance Acting, but as a group they work primarily in Second Life, although they've done performances in other worlds.

We are primarily on SL, although we have used Opensim and World of Warcraft. I think the difference is whether we're installation artists, SL artists or conceptual artists who use SL. We love the SL community, but we're contemporary artists before SL.

What is so special about the Second Life community, how does it differ from the World of Warcraft community as an audience?

Different aims. Pretty basic, SL isn't so much a gaming community - it's much less homogenous. You have everyone from the evangelized to the casueal user whereas in Wow, everyone is there to play in the WoW universe.

Our Real Life audience is much more specific. Then we're really talking to the contemporary/performance art crowd. The SL crowd, many have no idea who Marina Abramovic or Guillermo Gomez-Pena is.

Me neither, so to exit this blogpost, a quick defintion of Performance Art.

Performance art is art in which the actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work. It can happen anywhere, at any time, or for any length of time. Performance art can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body and a relationship between performer and audience. It is opposed to painting or sculpture, for example, where an object constitutes the work. Of course the lines are often blurred. For instance, the work of Survival Research Laboratories is considered by most to be "performance art", yet the performers are actually machines.

Read the Original Snapshot Story at the Second Front Blog, or view other performances at YouTube

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 06, 2008

Watch The Guild

The Guild is a very funny online series about the online and offline lives of four people who live in a World of Warcraft like virtual world.

The Guild has won a number of awards, like the 2007 Youtube Awards and2008 Yahoo Video Awards. From YouTube here's the first episode

Here's a couple of facts on the series:

  • The Guild has over 9 million hits web-wide for Season One (10 episodes)
  • “The Guild” won the SXSW, YouTube and Yahoo Web Series Awards in 2008
  • The show has been supported by fans with donations through Paypal since Episode 3
  • Over 400 individual donors have contributed: 1/3 women, 1/4 international viewers
  • The Guild’s YouTube Channel has over 55,000 subscribers: #88 - Most Subscribed (All Time)

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, October 04, 2008


The people I hang out with are either dedicated gamers (people that play World of Warcraft, Warhamemr, Lord of the Rings Online or Rapelz), or metaverse enthusiasts that explore virtual worlds and do interesting blah blah on interoperability and portability. In neither community we take 3D chatrooms very seriously and why should we? Those are just chatrooms, not entire worlds. When we chat, we use twitter, msn or skype.

I guess that's not fair on the chatrooms. Let's be honest. What have we seen of corporate use in virtual worlds sofar? Most users to Second Life do little else than using it as a social hangout to chat or do other social stuff which could easily have been done just as good in a 3D chatroom.

We can laugh at most of these 3D chatrooms and wave them away as being niche things in the industry. This is true for a number of these environments, as some can barely reach 2.5D or have a sole focus on sex, like Rapture or Naughty America, but there's one that stands out among its peers: IMVU.

I Envy You

You just can't miss IMVU these days. Whereas the majority of 3D related ads was taken up by World of Warcraft about a year ago, lately the ad market for 3D products seems to be dominated by IMVU. In the picture below a screenshot from the IMVU website, and 5 different IMVU ads I encountered in the last 5 hours at technorati.

Aside from the addvertisements, I don't hear a lot about IMVU, but it's serious business out there. In the past year they've grown rapidly - without much fuzz overtaking even Second Life in users - growing to over 20 million registered users, with about 600K active users every month. So what is IMVU exactly and why is it so succesfull

IMVU is a graphical instant messaging client with over 20 million registered users, and over 600,000 active monthly users, as of June 6th, 2008. Currently, it is in public beta, and has been available since April 02, 2004. It is developed by IMVU, Inc., founded by Will Harvey, a video game developer and founder of There.

IMVU has world’s largest catalog of virtual goods with over 1.5 million items, produced by over 100,000 content creators. It has generated $1 million in revenue per month, 90% of which comes directly from consumers who buy IMVU credits and virtual goods.

The primary focus of IMVU is the ability to use personalized 3D avatars and environments that let the user interact with the person they are chatting with. The secondary focus of IMVU is allowing the members to develop content that can be purchased by other members for use in personalizing their avatars and environments. [Wikipedia]

In general the presscoverage for Virtual Worlds has been dominated by Second Life, both positive and negative. The people I've spoken to, working at other Virtual Worlds generally feel most impact of the negative publications about Second Life, and feel they have hurt the industry and hampered growth. Yet again, this does not seem to be true for IMVU. They've mainly steered away from the press and did their own things. IMVU started up in 2004 and it took them four years (!) to release their first press statement, or as IMVU's CEO Cary Rosenzweig said last June:

"Today we take a big step for IMVU as a company - we’re issuing our first-ever
press release.

We are starting public relations (“PR”) activities for the first time in order to tell the IMVU story to a larger audience. We want to reach out and attract even more people to IMVU so that you have more people to meet, more people to have fun with, more people to buy your items from the catalog, more people to become content creators themselves."

And this was only after they've hit the 20M user mark.

In November last year I made a short overview of chatroom. To see what elkse is out there, check out this blogpost.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Massively presents: Mines of Moria

Ever since I read the Lord of the Rings, in the early 90's, I've been a huge fan. When Peter Jackson made an epic movie out of it, I drooled. Now, we've got Lord of the Rings Online. The Guys and Gals over at Massively also have taken a liking of LotRO and put up a series of articles on the latest expansion to LotRO, the "Mines of Moria"

By this time you've scoured through our 43-image visual tour of Lord of the Rings Online's Mines of Moria, our PAX08 Moria preview gallery and our main Mines of Moria gallery, but you're ready for more! Guess what! You're in luck, because we now present to you an exclusive video of footage shot during our dev tour. This video was created by Massively's Features Editor Dan O'Halloran and showcases the expansiveness of the Mines of Moria. You'll find it just after the jump below.

If you still can't get enough Moria, keep your eyes glued on Massively over the next few weeks for more information, news, in-depth guides and more!


Now I'm moving into dangerous waters, but I think I'll pick Lord of the Rings Online ten times out of ten over World of Warcraft. The graphics are outstanding, but so are those in WoW, so is the gameplay. The absolute winner for me is the whole background, the history, the heroic battles of Middle Earth, the epic tales of the Valar and the Maya, the treason of Boromir, the regalness of Aragorn, the desolate walls of Gondor, the tales of Theoden King and so on. This is a history, a background, a legacy that World of Warcraft can never compete with.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Revival Of Consumer Virtual Worlds

During the weekend topnotch research agency Forrester released a new paper on Virtual Worlds: "The revival of Consumer Virtual Worlds -- Virtual Worlds Emerge From Their Initial Boom/Bust Cycle". Here's the executive summary from the 6 page paper:

"The two years since virtual worlds went "mainstream" have been a roller-coaster ride for all involved; for every success like World of Warcraft, there have been negative developments such as the media backlash against Second Life. Now, as a number of new worlds are appearing, the technology is improving, and interest levels are growing, virtual worlds are ready to enter their second phase. Forrester recommends that consumer product strategy professionals watch the space carefully — if they are not involved already — as we expect the next 12 months to be momentous for consumer virtual worlds. Much-heralded new worlds will arrive, marketers will return to the medium after initially being burned, and Web3D elements will start to creep into consumers' lives. "
The first sentence makes me extremely sceptical immediately, since Virtual Worlds are far from being "mainstream yet" Especially with the market behaving as it is (The Dow downed severely today after the US Governments bailout failed in congress) I predict there won't be many consumer product strategy professionals out there that will take a shot at immersion.
In short, Im not yet up to paying $ 280,- on this paper yet, will have to wait for it to become available through my office.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why WOW isn't for Girls

World of Warcraft isn't for girls. It's a guy thing, and this is why:

Have a look at Justine Ezarik a.k.a. lifelogger iJustine in her first hours of WOW.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Scalability of SL

The major concerns the residents of Second Life had in 2007 were probably Scalability and Stability, and these were addressed in the Project Open Letter sometime mid 2007. In those days Second Life got laggy when there were more than 30K people online at the same time.

Yesterday Massively wrote on Jan. 15 stats for Second Life:
A peak concurrency of 61,560 (a new record!) at 1:45PM, and a minimum concurrency of 34,399 at 11:55PM. Median concurrency for the day was 46,627.

So where does this put Second Life in terms of maximum concurrency? In the same blogpost Massively provides some data for comparison:
For comparison purposes, Everquest's record concurrency is reported to have been approximately 90,000 which puts Linden Lab's virtual world more than two thirds of the way there in terms of usage.

People always boast about World of Warcraft, but those have different servers (serverclouds) for different continents, so you can't really test how much one grid can hold before falling down. A little while ago Aleister Kronos reported some concurrency stats for a number of worlds:

Scalability, max concurrency are all relative categories though, as each and every world uses its own technique (streaming, download client, java, flash and whatelse there is in variation). Second Life islands can hold 50 to 90 people at the same time, other NVE's can run 8,000 on a single server. It's architecture, infrastructure and all these little things. The bottomline is do we have a good experience when the world we're in is pushing its limits?

Some noticed a slight downfall in performance last weekend on Second Life, as they were pushing their max concurrency. Scripting, rezzing etc slowed down a bit. So perhaps it will be July 2008 before Second Life pushes beyond 80 K and year end may see 100K, but I know they're getting there. The new Windlight Client that's available is going to be the best tested client ever and the Linden QA team is trying to get rid of all that resource sucking stuff in there. I think 2008 shows promise for Second Life.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Second Life in Full 3D

Yesterday I came across a review of the all new Vuzix iWear VR920 video eyewear on Ars Technica. The line that especially caught my eye was:

"At the moment there are only a few games that support head tracking, such as World of WarCraft, Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Second Life, and a few others."

What it all comes down to is that the goggles prices at $ 400,- you've got real VR within reach. However, as they point out, it's still pricey for a thing that is supported only by a dozen or so games. But if your life is totally about Second Life, you might wanna give this a shot.

Ars Technica primarily tested it on Flight Simulator and this is what they thought:

"I've picked a lot of nits, and at this stage I've been wrestling with drivers and trying to put a shirt over my head to block out incoming light. I'm kind of cranky that way. All of that annoyance was gone, as I found myself inside the cockpit. Like, inside it. I look down and see the instrument panel. I look left and see out the window. I look up and see the rivets holding the metal plates of the plane together. I took off, looked out the right window over the empty seat, and banked hard so I could see the ocean beneath me. Amazing. The sense of flight and actually being there is almost overwhelming. "

Labels: , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Linden gets a light

One of the funny things of taking a 1-week holiday is that it seem like you've got a year of catching up to do once you get back. One of last weeks noteworthy tidbits is a post in the Boston Globe that Linden Labs purchased Windward Mark Interactive LLC, a Waltham company founded in 2003 by five Harvard University students.

So what do the windward souls do? They're in the business of creating highly realistic three-dimensional environments for use in computer games and flight simulators, and lighting is one of their strong points.

There are people out there that look down on Second Life as a "game with bad graphics", and true enough, it's not as slick as World of Warcraft and Cory Ondrejka, Linden's CTO believes that making the environment more visually realistic will attract and hold more users.

However, there are serious points to validate a "crude" graphic engine. Linden's USP is that Second Life is a world with easy tooling, generating vast amounts of user generated content. Sculpted prims and enhanced graphics may 'beautify' the world, but it will require more skills and perhaps even put more stress on datatraffic.

And then there's the Project Open Letter to remember. Linden's key focuspoint should be scaling, stability and adding test strategy and release management before getting into introducing all kinds of new slick things.

At youTube there's a vid of a new Second Life sky to demonstrate the power of Windward.

Labels: , , , ,

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 There.com 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.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,