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Koster's Areae Unveils Metaplace 84

Some nine months ago veteran MMOG designer Raph Koster announced his new game company, called Areae ... but not what they were making. To go along with the TechCrunch40 Conference, the company has finally taken the wraps off of their project: Metaplace. Essentially, Metaplace is going to be a virtual world toolkit. The whole thing is built on open standards, and attempt to 'bring virtual worlds to the web', instead of keeping them boxed away in a separate little garden. As the site puts it: "We knew it was all coming together when one of our team made a game in a day and a half. And then stuck that game on a private MySpace profile. You can inherit someone else's world (if they let you) and use it as a starting point. You can slurp whole directories of art and use them as building blocks. Cut and paste a movement system or a health bar from one world to another. Use an RSS feed for your NPCs. We made puzzle games, RPGs, action games... and set up doorways from one to the other." Virtual World News and GigaOM have writeups of the presentation at the TechCrunch Conference, while Areae's Community Manager Tami Baribeau writes in a post why gamers should care. Over at his site Areae President Raph Koster just breaths a sigh of relief.
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Koster's Areae Unveils Metaplace

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  • Ewwww (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:58AM (#20665477)
    "The whole thing is built on open standards, and attempt to 'bring virtual worlds to the web', instead of keeping them boxed away in a separate little garden."

    That sounds like VRML :`(
  • hmm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @07:08AM (#20665527)
    More like many virtual worlds full of many virtual rolling tumble weeds and exaggerated population figures.

  • Real info? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @07:16AM (#20665569)
    Has anyone got any -real- info on this? Does it include physics? Is it DirectX based? How flexible is it? Do you run the server, or do they? Can you do commercial apps, or only free ones? Can you restrict access to your worlds?

    I can think of quite a few fun little physics-based games to make, but it would totally depend on how flexible this system is. I've been thinking about getting into game programmer for quite a while, but with the current frameworks out there, it's not a trivial task. This kit makes it sound trivial.

    I've signed up for the alpha, of course... But I'd rather have some real information now.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @07:18AM (#20665579) Journal
    Okay, what about the guy who wants another person's level 60 to be impotent when imported into their own world. Do magical elves loose their powers when imported into a Halo Clone, or do they become god-like?
  • Re:MMOG 2.0 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @07:24AM (#20665617)
    What this guy is saying bothers me:

    "Destroying the traditional walled garden: An MMO accessible through Flash apps, 3D clients, cellphones, etc. Up to now, most MMOs have been "walled gardens", requiring an extensive client install. Metaplace, by contrast, is "A Web browser with virtual world capability.""

    So, it won't be a separate client, it'll be a browser plugin and there will be API-s that provide RSS/data you can put in your MySpace/Flash/3D client/cellphone.

    This is either huge (unlikely) or nothing at all.

    It looks like it's just trying to be the MySpace of games. They claim they're build on open standards, but it's still THEIR servers that host the entire thing.

    This is like saying "hey, MySpace is built on open standards - JS, HTML and CSS". What good is it if you host it on a central server anyway?

    For this to work, they'll need some sort of definitive client, to, you know, deliver the damn world presentation.

    They say:

    "And it's a browser that comes with its own tool kit, for people who want to build worlds, and a community/marketplace where developers can give away or sell their templates, scripts, and so on, hosted on the Areae network."

    So this goes right against what they said earlier, and it requires a special client after all (browsers are, as we know... clients).

    "Thanks to the underlying HTML-style code by which Metaplace defines each individual world served by its network, you can literally copy and paste attributes like graphic appearance and user interface from one Metaplace world to another."

    This sounds bad and reminds me of VRML and Second Life rolled up into one. Now we can define flying penises and virtual brothels in HTML markup. Phew.

    And here's the most revealing part:

    "(Metaplace will launch with this 2D isometric graphics view as standard)"

    It's not even an immersive 3D world.

    His business model? Ads:

    "Areae only starts charging users for hosting their Metaplace world when they begin generating heavy traffic [..] There'll be sponsored worlds from advertisers and/or Areae partners [..] Adsense-style ad network will track user behavior based on what Metaplace games and worlds they play, and feed them appropriately targeted ads [..] A mini-Metaplace world can be embedded within a web ad, creating instant brand engagement to promote a sponsor's products."

    Uhmm, right, the best part of open standards is that we're force-fed ads, while using 'em! Uhmm, wait, there's something wrong here.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.