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

Will Harvey On Virtual Worlds, Technology Curves 94

CowboyRobot writes "Slashdot's former editor Chris DiBona has an interview with videogame creator Will Harvey over at ACMQueue. Harvey has had a hand in lots of stuff you've used, from Zany Golf to Adobe AfterEffects, and now runs There, a kind of online 3D 'virtual world' game. Their conversation covers games in general, as well as specifics of the challenges that There is facing. From the article: 'You have to project the curves: the rendering curve; the CPU speed curve; the money spent on the Internet on online games curve; the number of people who play online games curve. I think we guessed right on almost everything, but we underestimated Moore's Law and we overestimated the low-end graphics capability'."
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Will Harvey On Virtual Worlds, Technology Curves

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @07:34AM (#8354896)
    Many of the highest-flying companies (from Organic's record-setting one day IPO, to Electronic Arts) have people at there []

    In some ways success was so easy for them, they may have been overconfident too.

  • by I Hate Jesus ( 751654 ) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @07:37AM (#8354900) Homepage
    "There" only runs on Windows. "There"'s download page also requires IE 5 or later.
  • I wonder (Score:4, Informative)

    by rotciv86 ( 737769 ) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @07:49AM (#8354913)
    How fast the old 3-D games would run on modern day technology. I remember playing the origianl Wing Commander on an old 486. Would it even be playable on say an athlon with a geforece card?
  • Re:I wonder (Score:5, Informative)

    by FisterBelvedere ( 754614 ) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @07:57AM (#8354926)
    No, most of the older games run at blazingly fast speed in windows on modern computers (if they run at all that is)

    If the game runs too fast, here's what to do:

    Find the game's executable file (the file you run, usually
    {somename}.exe) using Windows Explorer. Right click on the file, and
    choose "Properties".

    Click the "Program" tab. Click the "Advanced" button.

    Check the "Comaptible Timer Emulation" box. Click "OK", then "Apply", then "OK" again. See if that fixes the games speed.
    If that doesn't fix the problem:

    A utility called "Moslo" can help solve this problem. Read the FAQ on Moslo here: FAQ #3: Moslo [].

  • by Mindcry ( 596198 ) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @08:27AM (#8354982)
    I'll say a couple things about it...
    First, the company really has it together, I received the lastest version of the beta on CD mailed to my door with no questions asked every three weeks or so, with a couple spare accounts to give to friends to try... Of the other MMO games (AC,AC2, horizons, SWG) I've beta'd, I had to download over 500mb+ to start, and Sony would send you a beta CD, provided you paid them $12 to do so...

    Second, there is more like a giantic chat room with lots of activities etc etc... its not really like the old "lemme kill 80000 rabbits so i can use the screwdriver to kill 80000 "mildy greater rabbits, but not by that much"... its really much more of an opened ended social atmosphere more towards the sims then hack and slashes...

    and there's plenty of premade stuff in there ;) and it does avoid a lot of the pitfalls you mention (but if you like killing stuff and killing foozles, then that'd be its pitfall)...

    either way, it was pretty smart of them to create their own space instead of trying everquest #42, which i doubt they would have ever made...
    sorry if i sound like an apologist, but your post struck me as lacking background in what exactly is in There, which is actually pretty common ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @09:26AM (#8355096)
    == clip ==
    We've noticed that you're currently using a non-supported browser.

    Please switch to Internet Explorer v. 5.0.1 or later to continue.

    You can get the latest version of IE free at p.

    After downloading and installing Internet Explorer, please launch it and go to:
    in order to continue the registration process (you should cut and paste or write this link down for when you're ready to return).

    You do not need to switch your default browser settings.
    ==end clip==
  • My experiences. (Score:5, Informative)

    by CFBMoo1 ( 157453 ) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:20AM (#8355221) Homepage
    No pun, I've been in There and it's amazing to me. I personally like hoverboarding over the 3D landscape they got going there which is nice how it blends from one type to another. You could be atop of a clear hill and pretty much land surf down in to a valley thats not so bright and heavly forested.

    The tricks you can do on a hoverboard are fun. Nothing like about 8 backflips as you fly off the rim of a valcano down to the valley floor on a hover board. Or using small mounds of dirt or small hills to get some nice huge air time. :P

    At first the transitions seemed slightly odd but after reading the article and seeing how different areas are handled from different servers it makes sense and now I think it's nicely done given the challenge of keeping things in sync between multiple servers.

    The paingun battles are fun and cute but definatly not up to Quake or UT feel. They're still fun to pelt someone from the top of a mountain with a well placed shot and watch them fly across the valley floor. No scope or zoom so you have to have skill. ;)

    The only thing I really feel disappointed on in There is the fact that the water is as solid as the land. I can litterly dune buggy across the bay to the next island or walk like on dry land. That was a big disappointment for me, but the other aspects of it don't let it dwell on my mind long.

    They recently launched 2.0 of There and from what I can tell you can play various card games now in a social setting. There is a few other things they added as well, have to check out their site for it.

    Overall I feel like I'm in a big cartoon more then a video game. Which I think is neat. One thing I have to wonder about is their ability to hold on to name "There" especially with the Windows trade mark up in court right now. I don't know what kind of hold the company that runs There has on the term "There" but thats a little aside thought I had recently.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:26AM (#8355248)
    > I want to jack in and have a more synesthetic experience than just watching pixels on a flat screen. Especially with that one brunette.

    No problemo.
  • by WhodoVoodoo ( 319477 ) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:30AM (#8355261)
    "That's like saying that the Internet will never work because what most people want is to just sit in front of a TV set and watch."

    Not quite on the head, but as close as you can get in describing MMORPG mentality. Here is what my obserations have been, on MMORPG's (I have played quite a few, including two from this company [], one in about 1994. Yeah, it's still making money.

    basically here is it: People who play online RPG's for the most part Do Not Seem To Roleplay. Go into Anarchy Online and start asking around about george bush or something, nobody is going to say, "George who? Is he a new planet overlord?" or whathaveyou. Because they are probably not getting into it that way.

    Fine, whatever.

    But when you trust those same users to entertain themselves, you tend to end up with Missions or Quests or whatever that go like "Kill rabbit, get GiantGlowingSwordOfExplosionNess" Or just crap that isnt that entertaining to ME, or to anyone else for that matter. Why? They'll say "It's just a game." or more likely "d00d itz jus a game, U R GAY how dos you dad lek it??".

    The games I've played from Nexon Inc, Including one named "Darkages" (NOT DAoC) was very different. When it was released, they players were put in charge basically. They made laws for the various cities (Only two had governments, but there were like... 8 cities in all that you could go to. They just didnt have an established gov't) These players, as one of the first rules or laws if you will, stated "You have to actually Roleplay in this game or you get kicked out of these two bigass main cities with all the good hunting/commerce places"

    There were very complex rules regarding punishment for breaking the laws, including capitol punishment by the hands of these wierd wraith looking things (called Sgath), being kicked out of one town or another, and so on. There was also Organized religion. 8 of them. Yes, all handled by the players, because they wanted to, they were dedicated to the community in some way, and certain features were implimented by the developers.

    On Commerce, The players will make their own comemrce system. Im a whateverclass and I need a whateverstick to hunt with people this way at this level, so I get one. Then I sell it to someone in my own position later. Or I need a magicgreenringthingy to give to the giant crab as part of a BigMagicSword Quest, theres a market for these items. Fairly simple if you ask me, markets create themselves among players if conditions are right. You even see inflation and recessions!

    Now this is drawing on, and theres more including guilds, guild/religion quests, and a buttload of player created content and contests including a very, very, VERY vibrant community consisting of: Art, poetry, music, stories and anything inbetween including webcomics.

    Nowadays it's changed quite a bit and some law have been 'repealed' if you will, and the RP aspect isnt so nazily enforced by the PLAYER ELECTED OFFICIALS.

    This is an example of a game kinda done right. The only thing it needed was more content created by the developers in the form of Hard Coded Item Giving Quests and Events. But nonetheless, players carried on doing things that you might do in real life and having a blast doing it.

    Now FINALLY getting to my point (and I'm sorry). I believe equal shares of Developer Content and Player Content and Community Encouraging Activities are required to produce a game that is fun, and will stay fun/fresh for YEARS.

    You cant let players loose in a box and expect them to play tag. You also can't yet players loose in a roped-in-line of quests and level hunting either. You need it all if you expect to make cash for a long time. Though if you sell each copy of the game for 50 bucks, you make your money either way. What a system!

    This is why these games are ridiculously difficult to get right, and make it last. (In adition, Not charging 50 bucks for a game Im going to pay monthly to play AN
  • Second Life (Score:5, Informative)

    by EssenceLumin ( 755374 ) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @12:15PM (#8355720)
    The article briefly mentioned Second Life, dismissing it more or less as too complicated. Bah humbug. Second Life is a great game where you can create anything you like immediately. None of this "Ooh, I can make a tshirt, and maybe they will approve it" junk. I am currently building a house full of twisty corridors with a music room full of instruments and another area with a dinosaur that moves and roars.

    The way things are built in Second Life are from a small number of primitives such as cubes and cylinders which can be stretched and twisted. You can apply textures to these primitives which are any jpeg or targa file you wish to upload. There is also a scripting language and you can upload .wav sound files.

    And there is loads of social interaction too. There are events ranging from bingo to slave auctions (Oops, they made the event owners change that, now they are pet auctions). If you agree to be a pet you have to do your master's bidding but you get to keep the auction money.

    It's a blast, check it out.
  • by BStorm ( 107974 ) <> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @02:03PM (#8356318)
    To quote the article "Before founding There in 1998, Harvey was at Adobe Systems where he ran dynamic media products, including AfterEffects and Adobe Premier." Adobe licensed the technology from ImageWare in 1989. I used to work for ImageWare back from 1988 to 1990. The AfterEffects is based on the GalleryEffects.

    If you bring up the about box for any of the "painterly" aftereffects, you will see the Portions copyright Imageware 1989-1995. If you do the lookup of the Patents 5063448, 5245432 and 5325200 you will see the names Ian Jaffary and John Bronskil the principals of ImageWare.

    The product was licensed to a number of companies back then such Cubicomp, and AT&T for their Targaboards. I wrote the GUI for ImagePaint using MetaWindows and was the sole developer inhouse. I took over the GUI from an other developer and essentially rewrote the GUI from scratch.

    I was uneasy about them applying and getting the patents at the time. There was a book published from Bell Labs 1988 called "Beyond Photography: The Digital Darkroom" by Gerard J. Holzmann. This books is a whimsical recap of the work done at Bell labs in previous years. There is a delightful picture of Dennis Ritchie as a photograph and again as an "oil painting." In the early eighties there was an article in Byte magazine about digital image processing and 'paint' like effects. That article was the inspiration for ImagePaint.

    Image processing filters would be combined and the most promising visual artifacts would be indentified. This would continue until an image processing pipeline for a given 'painterly' effect was identified.

    I had an interesting time working there however it was stressful.

  • again, by Will Harvey (well, The Immortal was by Sandbox Productions, I think it was.)

    I was of comparable age (very young) at that time he did the C64 game, so I've always kind of looked upon Will Harvey as a kind of patron saint of kid programmers.

    I'd love to ask him how the hell you're suppose to beat the secret level in Electronic Arts' versions of Marble Madness.
  • Re:I wonder (Score:2, Informative)

    by S.Lemmon ( 147743 ) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:51PM (#8357156) Homepage
    I doubt it. Those really old DOS games were *long* before accelerated 3D so any 3D driver vsync options will do absolutely nothing. Remember we're talking VGA or at best VESA video here, just to switching into these modes (if your card still supports them) will usually jump to a lower compatible vsync rate. Even so, many of the older games like the early Wing Commanders just ran as fast as the CPU would allow.

Air is water with holes in it.