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PC Games (Games) Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

There Inc. Officially Launches Online World 78

Thanks to Yahoo! for hosting the press release announcing the official opening of There Inc.'s online world. This ambitious PC-based virtual world, created "with over $37 million in funding", is aimed at the 'mainstream market' and highlights socializing and playing, as well as world object creation, since: "70 percent of all objects currently for sale in There are created by members and 80 percent of events in There are organized by members." Real-life money can be converted to in-game currency, and during the Beta, "members... voluntarily spent on average of $7 USD per month purchasing There currency and buying in- world goods." There are even some amusing advertising tie-ins: "Digital versions of Nike's AirMax 2003 and Nike's Zoom Celar have been created... members who buy these Nike shoes for their avatars will find... they can run faster."
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There Inc. Officially Launches Online World

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  • by kalidasa ( 577403 ) * on Monday October 27, 2003 @11:59AM (#7319198) Journal
    If I spend some fraction of a *real* dollar on virtual sneakers, my virtual avatar will virtually run virtually faster? Sounds to me like There Inc. has 1. invented a new way of getting people to pay for advertising - one suspects that the real-world products won't have much if any effect on one's real-world running speed (unless you're an Olympic-class runner, in which case one hopes you'll already know which shoes are best for your job), but the appearance in the virtual world of an increase in speed will "contaminate" the There user's attitude toward the real-world product - and 2. [they have] given themselves a license to print money. After all, the only thing they're selling is a certain configuration of electrons with a remarkably limited use.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do penis enlargments *actually* work there, too?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      [they have] given themselves a license to print money. After all, the only thing they're selling is a certain configuration of electrons with a remarkably limited use.

      How have they given themselves a license to print money? They are selling novel entertainment. They make money off of this. You can in turn make back some of the money you've spent.

      This is just like buying a physical item, or a piece of software, and re-selling it later when you're done with it.
      • So, if I don't like my sneakers, I can sell them back and get a refund in real money? I'd be pretty shocked if that were the case.
        • If you don't like something you buy, you can return it for a full refund within limited timeframes (currently 10 minutes, with lesser refunds as time goes on).

          You can also sell or auction anything you buy. Usually for less than you paid, but not always.

          And, to answer an earlier question...you can develop and sell (for a startup price, and a per-item 'manufacture' cost) what you developed. They have both skinning and modeling options for many items. Quite a few people are realizing good profits from thi
    • How is this any different than any other MMORPG where you spend REAL dollars every month for the ability to go around the virtual world to get virtual stuff from killing virtual monsters?

      This is just a slight variation on the MMORPG "pay for access to virtual stuff" game. The only real innovation here is that instead of getting just the users to pay for the stuff, they also get the advertisers to pay as well.

      I doubt the real world opinion of people will be changed by this advertising any more than they w
      • Its different than your average MMORPG because they are incorporating the spending of money into the gameplay.

        Paying a flat monthly fee for Everquest may not be everyone's bag, but its basically no different than cable TV.

        What this game is doing is exploiting the ugly growth of ebay sales that has plagued games like Everquest by making spending real world cash part of the in-game experience.
    • advertising? will the program still run once I add their domain to my /etc/hosts file pointing to 127.0.0.1?
  • by 2Flower ( 216318 ) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:05PM (#7319255) Homepage
    Random spotty review follows...

    I've been There for awhile now, and while the initial cost outlay is staggering for an online game (I have to pay WHAT just to get voice chat? I have to pay WHAT to get a compass? HOW much just to hear jukeboxes? etc.) once you have a decent set of clothes and a vehicle or two, you're all set for casual play without a need to buy anything else. I think they should've included more of their 'options' as game features in your basic subscription, but that's the only real money dig they get on you if you're not a fashion hound.

    While the product placement is amusing, in the end it doesn't really make a huge difference. Nobody buys the overpriced 'speedy sneakers' when you can just get a hoverbike which plows across terrain at insane speeds to begin with for cheaper. It's more fun to submit your own clothing designs and play marketer yourself rather than spend on corporate marketers; I've designed a few shirts and I'm hoping once key bugs are ironed out, I can start using gmax to make new decorative objects like arcade cabinets.

    For a more hardcore if rougher around the edges experience with better user extensibility, check out Second Life -- but I checked it out and passed on it, because at the end of the day I just want the program to work so I can relax and chat with folks. There is a very polished, very simple GUI driven chat client aimed at casual users. I'll save the technical tangles for my day job. :)
    • "I've been There for awhile now, and while the initial cost outlay is staggering for an online game (I have to pay WHAT just to get voice chat? I have to pay WHAT to get a compass? HOW much just to hear jukeboxes? etc.) once you have a decent set of clothes and a vehicle or two, you're all set for casual play without a need to buy anything else."

      Correct me if I'm wrong, as I may be confusing this with another similar game....but isn't there item decay? As in.....that vehicle will be all you need to spend

  • I doubt they mean you can get real money by playing online - They don't host a currency, they host a coupon or coin system, perhaps. You can, within their framework, convert from real to vitual, but the only way to convert money out is by working for There.

    I wonder what they'll do when people start trading stuff external to the game for real cash?

    -Adam
  • *sniff* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:18PM (#7319361) Homepage Journal
    "with over $37 million in funding",

    All that money...dropped on a worthless project...

    Oh the waste...the waste!
    • All that money...dropped on a worthless project...

      The problem isn't that There.inc's money dropped on a worthless project... is that some people are actually going to pay for it!

      On the whole, wouldn't be better build something in the real world? Go hicking in the real world? Go to the fscking Disneyland with your kids in the real world?

      What is all this craze about spending money for virtual stuff? There are already many many many free open irc channels, websites with forums, newsgroups... there is s

  • by Winterblink ( 575267 ) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:25PM (#7319429) Homepage
    The use of real world money in a virtual MMOG is not unique or new with There. Project Entropia [project-entropia.com] has been doing this for what, a year now? That's not to say it's a GOOD game per se, I've heard from several that it's actually very horrible (mostly because you have to shell out real world cash to get anywhere).
  • From what they're saying, and from what I've heard on previous /. discussions, I think There will go places. Just a place to go online, hang out with friends, play a game, etc. It's so simple and crazy, it works. $50 a year sounds fairly reasonable as well.
  • by Universal Nerd ( 579391 ) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:40PM (#7319547)
    I was reading about There a few days back and since I'm in the middle (actually, finishing off) Snow Crash, I was thinking that this online world is a lot like the Neal Stephenson Metaverse, all the capitalism and stuff.
    • I haven't looked at "There" yet, but I suspect we don't have a Metaverse yet. I really want one.

      The Metaverse in Snow Crash had real world connections. This is lacking in virtual worlds to date. I don't mean network connections for the participants, I mean connections to resources.

      In the Metaverse, I could go up to a virtual web browser and browse the web. I could make a phone call, I could access databases, etc., etc.

      Until a virtual world has real-world connections (or replacements - that database c
    • After you finish Snow Crash, make sure you pick up 'Cryptonomicon', it's a great read.

      Stephenson's book, 'In the Beginning Was the Command Line' is a good one to give to those non-tech friends who just don't get the whole 'Linux' thing. I've bought several copies over the years, but now it's a free download [cryptonomicon.com] as a text file from Stephenson's web site.
  • People with mundane, boring lives play video games to escape, and play as "someone cool." Why would people with mundane, boring lives shell out money just to role-play as themselves?
    • by 2Flower ( 216318 ) on Monday October 27, 2003 @01:25PM (#7319901) Homepage
      People with mundane, boring lives play video games to escape, and play as "someone cool." Why would people with mundane, boring lives shell out money just to role-play as themselves?

      On one hand, I'd agree with you. I don't like that There has very little social tolerance for playing as something other than what you are; I tried cross-avataring there and it caused some social problems. Nothing on the scale of X-Box Live's verbal abuse, but enough for me to finagle my way through customer support (who are not set up to do this sort of thing, but performed admirably)and get changed to male.

      But on the other hand, this isn't a game. It's basically chat, and as such, it's more of an extension of yourself than an RPG would be, where your species, gender, race, class, etc. all play into your stats in some way. Since you're not roleplaying, there's no need to go too far from your norm. For some, it's comforting to be able to drop the layers of abstraction and just TALK to someone, you know?
      • Good point. The whole being part of the "Games" section of Slashdot threw me off...

        It would be a scary future where people interact from their computers and not in "reality." Maybe that's just coming from someone who doesn't really understand the subject well, and judges a priori.

    • Maybe they're not. Maybe the target market of There is the previously un-catered to Superhero/space alien/time traveller/billionaire tycoon. There's a first time for everything.
    • My trust in your theory is seriously hampered by the success of The Sims.
  • What a great way for me to know who I can cold-call and sell absolutely nothing of value!!!

    Heck I'd like to see the numbers on who plays and pays in There and who pays for stuff from infomercials. It's gotta be a high percentage.
  • Well, it's a cool but hardly a new or novel concept or implementation. I suspect it will never reach it's full potential for the basic reason that it's elitist, non-productive, proprietary and restrictive.

    How is it elitist? Why, of course, the prices. The cost is simply too high for more than a few affluent first-worlders to afford.

    It's not very productive other than sheer entertainment. How could spending time there be profitable other than as a diversion from real life?

    As well it's OWNED. The company t
    • You should check out the totally open-source, free-software project currently being developed, WorldForge. It is still in progress, but they have a huge team and a lot is being done. Take it and run.
    • It's somewhat elitist and "OWNED", but you can say the same sort of thing about other online games. Sometimes it takes a company that's in it for the money to make a solid entertainment product. Other times, this fails horribly. Haven't tried There, so I can't say where they're headed.

      As for an open 3D worlds system, it's a fine idea, but would require a lot of focused work (far more than, say, creating a MUD or the like). VRML collapsed under the weight of 'too many cooks', although X3D [web3d.org] is alive and k
      • I agree that there's often a need for revenue in order to support professional development, but I believe that open platforms and standards spur development far more than closed or proprietary systems do. Sure, ownership guarantees profits but one only has to look at the net or OS's to see the obvious disadvantages of overcontrol. I suspect that MMOG's will never become massively popular until the those worlds become "free" worlds. This also applies to other game genres. Imagine if you will a protocol / ser
  • There has Will Harvey, the kid who created Music Construction Set way back when, also a C64 computer port of Marble Madness, and Zany Golf and The Immortal for the Amiga, on board. It's nice to see him finally get a new project.

    Also there is a guy I've talked to, not in person but online, Jeffery Hunter (I think that was the name), who was once working on WorldsAway, which was an earlier attempt at this kind of virtual world thing.

    There itself seems to be inspired (though vastly changed) by the Habitat l
  • by Cherveny ( 647444 ) on Monday October 27, 2003 @01:47PM (#7320108) Homepage
    Found it kind of funny actually. Everywhere I went, I felt like I was in a virtual simulation of a tourist trap, where the only point was to buy items, and for vendors to take your money away.
  • "IT MUST BE THE SHOES!"
  • I've been There (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theghost ( 156240 ) on Monday October 27, 2003 @02:53PM (#7320714)
    There has problems, but it's interesting. It is not the Metaverse, it's a commercial product. It's pay for play, but it's probably about 1/2 game (treasure hunts, buggy racing, hoverboard tricks, trivia contests, etc.), 1/2 3-d chat service (with amazing emotes and an incredible amount of avatar customization).

    I have fun in There. I thought it was worthwhile to invest a few $ to play around with the cool hoverboards and other stuff and to log on occasionally to chat, explore, and play with no pressure. It's no Evercrack, but that's part of what i like about it. A good way to think of it is that you are creating your own fun with the tools they provide and those tools are good and getting (mostly) better.

    Feel free to ask if you have any more specific questions. I'll try to answer honestly with the good and the bad.
    • Yeah, I've got a question.

      In the screenshots and videos, the male/female ration looks pretty even, but how many of those girls are really guys? ;)

      But seriously, it does look pretty cool, if only because of the quality of the world. Visually, it has a very nice style, and the animation and physics stuff looks really good.

      Now I've never been into MMORPGs, and I'm really not into paying for any more than an access fee, but if this is really an effective online world that doesn't involve "levelling up" and d
      • Its really easy to tell, most of the players use voice chat so its very easy to detect.

        The game is going to be open mre the 11am to 3am it was like that threw beta so they can make any maint. or fixes during down times.

        The game is a great! alot better then The Sims Online and alot more to do.

        I was lucky to get the life time membership!
      • Re:I've been There (Score:3, Informative)

        by theghost ( 156240 )
        I don't know how many people There are playing gender games. More than 0 and less than everyone, but it's not something that concerns me. I always assume that the person i'm chatting with is a 30-something fat smelly guy who lives in his mother's basement no matter what his avatar looks like. (Unless they are overtly sexual. Then i assume they're a 13-year-old fat smelly kid.)

        That said, the people There are generally pretty mature, but as with just about any community, there are people who like to caus
    • I have a question. Is the service really only open from 11am til 3am pacific time as it says on the HELP page?

      What MMORPG only runs part of the day and basically tells non-USians to go play another game? I work and can't really afford to stay up into the wee early hours just to be able to play a game that admittedly looks perfect for me.

      They even have a banner saying "Talk to friends from all over the world".
      • Sometimes they do restrict hours so they can do server upgrades, just like any online service. But i don't think they are that restricted.

        Those were the early beta hours, but i haven't had any problems logging in at any time recently. Those might be just the supported hours, which means live helpers available in-world.

        I'm pretty sure it's open round-the-clock even if helpers aren't immediately available.
        • I should also note that just because official helpers aren't available doesn't mean you're on your own.

          Newbie Helper is an actual ranked skill and people who are interested in raising their skills will actively seek out (pester?) people who look new (t-shirt and khakis is the starting clothing) or who ask questions. They will bend over backwards to help you out, show you the sights, lend you buggies, boards, hoverpacks, bikes, even give you old clothes or toys that they don't use.

          Even the people who don'
    • Try this [lifeinthere.com] for more info.
    • I'm curious as to what you get out of it that you can't get out of IRC or AIM and flash games like Bejeweled. I guess what I want to know is...why pay for what (to me) looks like feature creep on text chat and a bunch of fairly simple games?

      -Carolyn
      • Re:I've been There (Score:3, Informative)

        by theghost ( 156240 )
        If you are looking at it from a purely chat standpoint, then there's the emoting ability of the avatars and their customizability. While you're talking, they respond to keywords in your text and make gestures or smile, frown, nod, etc. In addition, there's an extensive list of emotes that you can easily and unobtrusively use that involve more dynamic or dramatic expressions and they can be used with various degrees of emphasis.

        For instance: 'yay' will get you a fist-pump salute (for male avatars - female
        • Fair enough. I was just wondering if there was "value-add," to use Marketingese. Doesn't sound like there would be for me, but I can see how others would like it. I'm curmudgeonly enough that I miss 80 character monospace displays, anyway, so I don't think I'm really part of their target market.

          -Carolyn
  • Also played the beta. I had fun with it until they made it impossible to hit people with buggies and send them flying. For a while it was as good as I'd expect an online GTA could be! They created a really large persistent land mass, which was interesting for about a week. After that, it's like... "Hmm, do we want to stand in a semi-circle and talk next to a pyramid, or in a spooky castle??" Who cares! I think There is the ideal society Hitler would have striven for if he lived now and spent too much time
    • Oh, and I completely forgot to mention the disturbing number of people who sit around and "make out."
    • For a while it was as good as I'd expect an online GTA could be!

      Not "could". Is [mtavc.com].

    • IMO they habdled griefers like you the best way i've seen in any game. Everyone has a "force field" they can turn on or off. If you feel like playing a little people soccer with buggies or boards or whatever, you turn your ff off. If you feel like doing something without bored 12-year-olds interfering, you turn it on and they pass right through you.

      Even better: if someone's chatting annoys or offends you, put them on ignore. You'll know when they're around because they appear as this hilarious stick-fi
      • Hm, that's actually interesting. I wasn't aware of the force field thing. It wouldn't make me want to play that insipid game, but I'm glad they left people soccer a possibility... it was one of the more exciting aspects of There.

        Funny, I never considered myself an actual griefer until you and another self righteous AC pointed it out. If it ever came up, I'd probably argue that the sterility created by There, as well as the lack of true goals, encourages such behavior in people like me raised on competitive
        • If it ever came up, I'd probably argue that the sterility created by There, as well as the lack of true goals, encourages such behavior in people like me raised on competitive/violent video games.

          Bullshit. The peaceful nature of There encourages cooperation, making friends, and exploration. The fact that you were raised on violent/competitive video games doesn't make you more prone to griefing any more than it makes people shoot up their schools.

          Nothing in the marketing or promotion of There suggests t
  • ...is right here: "There is the first online getaway that combines the power of chat with the fun and excitement of online games."

    Now, I haven't played many MMOs, but I have played a few. And for the most part, modern MMOs are just glorified screen savers with IRC built in. I'm not sure how this could be considred "the first."
  • Having played (and mocked) several instances of the There beta, I have to contend that this news story is even in the right place. There is not a game: there is no score, there is no goal, there is no point. There is merely a chatroom with avatars, vehicles, and pointless crap you can fritter away your money on. Would you call Habbo Hotel [habbohotel.com] a "game," because it's the same thing that There is doing, at what I assume is a fraction of the cost.
  • Since this game promotes capitalism, I should be able to open my own virtual sweatshop and pay 8 year-old Indonesian kids to log on at 8 cents an hour to make those virtual Nikes for me to sell at $120 per virtual pair. What a great idea!?!?!Phil Knight is totally going to make me a Vice President of Nike for this one.
  • How on earth are they going to be able to sell this to the mainstream market if it won't run on my Pentium 4 with 512 Mb Ram and a Radeon Mobility 7500 (problem is the video card apparently)? Lower the system specs, you fools.
  • There are a thousand chat rooms I can join on the internet. There are also Massively Multiplayer Online Games that I can play that are graphical chatrooms with fictional goals. Can anyone tell me why I'd play There? It just seems like a really badly rendered chat room where you spend real money to get fake (very fake) things. It'd be one things if say, hoverboards looked just like the ones from BTTF2 or the shoes looked like ACTUAL photographic 3d Rendered Nikes. But other than that, I just can't see a reas
  • Here is a Wired News article [wired.com] about There.

    There is even a picture of a Shopping Cart Hoverboard [akamai.net] I modeled.

  • This adds a whole new possibility to the origin of The Matrix...perhaps the machines didn't really enslave humankind but we all rather enslaved ourselves in a virtual word and the machines just took over, trapping us there. Perhaps The Matrix will come true now, as technology advances I'm sure There.com will march right aongside until you do have to hook up right through the back of your neck for the ultimate virtual experience. As people find living in a perfect virtual world is easier than dealing with re

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