Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Games Entertainment Technology

Are We Headed for a Virtual Winter? 84

Elixir creator and digital avatar evangelist, Bruce Damer, believes that a downturn in Virtual Worlds may be leading to a "winter" in the near future. "Is the coming of several new VW platforms going to balkanize a limited usership or grow the user base? In looking at broader scope of user interactivity demographics, will the move of more people to do their primary computing on mobile platforms reduce the number of people using VWs on big screens or put a cap on the growth of the VW market? Is the fact that there are now so many options for real-time representation of people online (Skype, Twitter, etc) means that VWs are always going to struggle for visibility? Is interaction in a VW that much more enriching and valuable than the simpler modalities available in other platforms? Will VWs ever really go mainstream? I continuously hear complaints about VWs not being worth the trouble, especially from people much younger and hipper than me (I am 46) who prefer much lighter weight forms of interaction. What does this portend?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Are We Headed for a Virtual Winter?

Comments Filter:
  • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <gundbear@nOSPAM.pacbell.net> on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:17PM (#23712841) Homepage
    Why shouldn't WoW or SL be able to integrate directly with Skype, AIM, email, Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter?

    It's probably the next step of increasing MMO/VW usage.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by holmedog ( 1130941 )
      alt + tab works just fine for integrating them for me...
      • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <gundbear@nOSPAM.pacbell.net> on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:24PM (#23712947) Homepage
        You mean you would rather do this:
        Take a screenshot
        Alt-tab to an editor
        Save picture
        Select picture
        Upload picture to a website

        Over
        Take a screenshot
        Select in-game photo app
        Upload picture to a website

        This applies to everything: LiveJournal, WordPress, Twitter, Flikr, .Mac, YouTube, GMail, etc.
        • by Kuvter ( 882697 )
          You have a valid point, if he was talking about how they are currently integrated (used in corelation). However I assume he was asking why you couldn't integrate them together in one package. (ie. WOW having Skype/Myspace inbedded in the game.) With that functionality you could possible right click on the WOW UI and select set as wallpaper, or save image to a specific myspace pictures gallery, and on top of that talk to people in game over Skype.

          To answer that question there is no technical barrier stoping
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pla ( 258480 )
          You mean you would rather do this: [...snip...]
          This applies to everything: LiveJournal, WordPress, Twitter, Flikr, .Mac, YouTube, GMail, etc.


          Yes, actually, for one simple reason - The first method doesn't depend on SL staying on good terms (in the corporate sense, ie, money flowing both ways, usually from us-the-users) with Google or LJ or whatever.

          Additionally, you've ignored the fact that the "easier" method allows those two companies to know that those two accounts most likely belong to the same hu
          • I imagine with that kind of integration, the game itself is FREE. Ad supported even.

            You can think of it as another internet, but instead of Google Earth, it's Google Azeroth, instead of Yahoo! Mail, it's WoWoo! Mail, etc.

            Why is it more problematic in a game than in real life?
          • While you are technically right, your reaction is the same as we've seen before.

            Speaking of slashdotters, how many thought that:

            Direct net connection was less private and more dangerous than a BBS?

            Always on broadband was less private and more dangerous than connect on demand?

            Automatic updates the same...

            MMORPGs the same....

            Cookies...

            RHN...

            We all know the technical implications and what it means for the info available to the service owners, but you need to understand that not everyone cares about this stuff,
            • by pla ( 258480 )
              Direct net connection was less private and more dangerous than a BBS?

              I don't know about your area, but in mine, all the BBS admins had CID, so that seems a moot point.


              Always on broadband was less private and more dangerous than connect on demand?

              And do you run without a firewall that blocks everything inbound except possibly a small number of ports bound to specific external addresses?


              Automatic updates the same...

              ...Which I disable on any machine I use. I can pick my own updates, thankyouver
        • by Bieeanda ( 961632 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @03:25PM (#23713979)
          Yes, actually. Second Life's snapshot function is shit, EVE Online's internal web browser has (or at least had) a gigantic security hole in it, and most games' internal screenshot functions don't have the ability to crop, adjust colours for proper contrast, or anything else that I habitually use Photoshop for when showing in-game stuff off to friends.

          Virtual World developers can barely be expected to get their core code right. Tacking web browsers, photo editing software and the like on is reinventing the wheel at best, and inviting novel intrusion schemes at worst. I can alt-tab and fiddle with a picture in an editor a lot faster and a lot more cleanly than some underpaid coder can hack a gimped Gimp together.

          • You're arguing against stupid implementations, not against implementations.

            I imagine if Blizzard did it, things might not be so sucky.
            • Given the development of World of Warcraft's UI, they'd add in bare bones hooks, wait for the player base to come up with something, then clone the code internally and make it official with a patch.

              Meanwhile, outside the realm of ridiculous suppositions, Blizzard knows better than to waste money and manpower on something totally non-germane to their product.

              • Just like McDonald's knows better than to add gourmet coffee to their menu, right?

                Anything that would force a player out of the game gives them an opportunity to take a break, and the more breaks a player takes, the less they play.

                Which gives them more willpower to stop playing and paying.

                So if adding a couple high profile features like Skype, AIM, email, IRC, Flikr, or Picassa support keeps the players in longer, it doesn't seem like a waste at all. Programmers have to program something, after all.
          • Yes, actually. Second Life's snapshot function is shit

            I lol'd in rl when I read this.

            Srsly.

            Second Life's $function is shit for almost all values of $function that you could possibly think of.
        • by hey! ( 33014 )
          I'm looking at your question, and while it's clearly quite incisive in its scope of relevance, I've come to the conclusion I don't want to bother thinking about how to answer it.

          In fact, I am even regretting the time I spent considering whether I should think about answering it.
          • It would have been simpler to say, "No".
            • by hey! ( 33014 )
              And equally simple, not to mention more accurate, to say "I don't know," but we're not the kind of people here, that take the easy way out.
        • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @04:53PM (#23715463) Journal
          Yes of course. Remember the UNIX philosophy, tools should do one job and do it well. Complex tasks are accomplished by chaining these tools together.

          We have high quality applications for just about any task on the desktop. Do you really expect Second Life or whoever to reimplement these functions as well as real world application programmers? Do we really need a virtual OS inside our virtual world running on a real OS?
          • No, but why wouldn't simple autoboxing of displays not work? You can screenscrape IE or Photoshop already, the next step is conning the OS to paint these apps to a random 2D plane inside a 3D engine. The technology is certainly in place for it.

            Who says it needs to be 2D? Why not wrap a virtual IE around a virtual telephone pole or table in SL?

            It's not a matter of technology, but of will and necessity. That, and screen resolutions aren't really there yet. When we're all using 60" widescreen displays to
          • You don't think Blizzard could integrate a task manager and openGL surface and have IE, AIM, or Picassa running "natively" inside WoW?

            No re-implementation, not virtualization, just using existing resources and capabilities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bsDaemon ( 87307 )
      Somehow, I think that integrating WOW and the "real world" might not exactly be the best idea. Having to play a character 24/7 because people are constantly calling you "Balkor" instead of "Billy," being part of a "quest" even when you're just going to 7-11, etc, would just serve to further blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

      Even if it didn't lead to a new spike in game-related (or game-blamed, at any rate) deaths like the Vampire: The Masquerade stuff back in the day this guy [trutv.com].

      Not that I'm anti-ga
      • I know some parents/spouses who go to work for escapism. Why shouldn't games/life be like that?

        I imagine it's a choice, and if you don't want to use it, you don't, and if you do, it makes the game more convenient and accessible.

        SMS integration with WoW would be neat: especially if you can remote your character via SMS.
      • by Joe U ( 443617 )

        Having to play a character 24/7 because people are constantly calling you "Balkor" instead of "Billy," being part of a "quest" even when you're just going to 7-11, etc, would just serve to further blur the lines between fantasy and reality.
        BBS users in the 80's used handles for everything, including user meets, this isn't much different.
        • by neomunk ( 913773 )
          Yep. I still run across people that call me "Reaper", short for The Reaper, my longtime handle from my teenage years. It's been about a decade since I've gone by that name, but there are still people that associate it with my RL face.

           
    • by Gwala ( 309968 )
      They should in theory - a swedish company a while back did a prototype facebook integration with OpenSim [opensimulator.org]* a while back which did a login, messaging and contacts sharing. It would be very cool to see a major player take it and integrate it into a big existing VW.

      * - Open Source virtual worlds server (can run out of the box a second life environment, full disclosure: I'm a developer on the project)
    • Why shouldn't WoW or SL be able to integrate directly with Skype, AIM, email, Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter?

      Oh Dear God, No! The very last thing I want is a phone call from a character in WoW. Besides, imagine trying to sneak by some sleeping horror when you Cell Phone of Aetheric Communication goes off with a nice Hendrix ringtone.

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      So we have website apps with special features meant to be used with certain browsers, with certain plugins (i.e. flash), with certain devices (mobiles), and now within certain games?

      If well integrating different "virtual" worlds (if you call the web a virtual world, at least) could have interesting results, probably could have some conflict with economic interests behind. And, of course, there is the people too... you will literaly interacting with people of other (virtual) worlds, or the actual one, withou
    • Well, the thing is, most people don't play a MMO for ever. A lot approach them with the idea that they'll live the rest of their life there, but eventually they finish the game, do the end grind 100 times, get bored, move on.

      And a lot seem to have trouble grasping the idea that, basically, "it's ok. I played it for so long, I got bored, time to move on." They feel somehow betrayed and cheated, and throw tantrums that everything that kept them there for a year, now suddenly sucks. And please someone make a g
      • I certainly would love to get into the minutia of running a shard ala Civ or SimCity style. Waging wars on my enemies, rallying PCs as generals, spies, etc.

        Battlefield 2 sort of did for the FPS what you envision for MMOs. Commanders can control the battlefield to some extent, squad leaders give tactical advantage in respawning capability.

  • Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:23PM (#23712929) Journal
    Rich virtual worlds are one of those things that sound good in theory, but don't work out so well in real life. I spend a lot of time on IRC, and I just don't see the need for anything more than a nickname and a topic to have meaningful interactions with others online. And even the topic is optional.

    Is there really a point to having a 3d avatar?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2nd Post! ( 213333 )
      You can't try on virtual clothes at an Amazon.com VW in IRC. Nor can you mock up your garden at a Lowes.com VW in IRC.

      You can also assembly virtual furniture in your virtual house at a Macy's VW, test how a new dresser might fit in your bedroom, etc, and your 3D avatar would tell you, "It's too tight!"

      That would be the logical extension of 3D, don't you think?
      • by Hatta ( 162192 )
        But what's the point of doing all that? IRC(and IM, email, etc) is sufficient to create and maintain long term close personal relationships. THAT is the killer app for this internet thing. Making the online world richer doesn't really make forming relationships any easier or better, so what is the point?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by EggyToast ( 858951 )
          The point is that using IRC by itself doesn't get you to buy anything. I'm sure incorporating a VW/RW gardening simulator, sponsored by Lowes, will include many links to "buy this plant now." And outfitting your personal avatar on Amazon.com can not only include one-click purchasing for your real life "avatar," but also include micropayments for those electronic representations.

          I'm only mildly surprised that the "quest to 7-eleven" mentioned above didn't include that the quest involved buying a [new so
        • You are assuming P2P interaction is the only point of the internet. I just gave you several non P2P examples.

          It is like you saying, "Why do we need businesses/malls/stores? We can just interact directly with the tailor/furniture-wright/cook directly to get our goods."

          There are entire "universes" of non P2P interactions available, such as shopping, building, and playing that are easier/cheaper/faster/better in VW than in real life, and IRC does not allow any of those.
          • by maxume ( 22995 )
            Trying on clothes at a virtual Amazon or laying out a garden at a virtual Lowes are not things that I would consider easier/faster/better than going to a store to try on clothes, or braving the daystar to go scratch lines in the soil. Laying out the virtual garden is probably even a more expensive use of time (not driving to a store to try on clothes is a small win though).
            • Do you garden?
              It takes weeks to plant and years to grow a plant; by which time you may discover that the rose in that area doesn't get enough sun, the lilac over there is too invasive, the bachelor buttons are weedy, and the maple tree is sucking all the life out of the tulip bed beneath it.

              Whereas a virtual garden? Minutes to setup, a couple hours of virtual plantings, and instant feedback on microclimates, plant water compatibility, plant to plant compatibility, and even visualization of what colors/heigh
              • by maxume ( 22995 )
                I would call anything involving a tree landscaping. I'm not sure how it takes weeks to plant a plant in the first paragraph, and a week to have someone else do it in the last, but again, the idea that the virtual garden is going to take minutes to setup and work better than the experienced eye of a landscape designer just doesn't work for me.
                • The first example it takes weeks because you need to buy, plant, re-assess, buy, plant, re-assess.

                  In the second example all that is done within an hour, instead you just buy and plant once. No iteration involved.

                  And no, this will not work better than a landscape designer, it just allows you to become a landscape designer, even if you are a bad one.
    • We've been stuck in Eternal September [wikipedia.org] for decades now. About time it's moved on to winter!

      Is there really a point to having a 3d avatar?

      Yes, there is a point to having 3D avatars, if you can interact and share desktop apps and 3D renderings of designs, products, or complex real-time processes at the same time.

      http://www.qwaq.com/ [qwaq.com]

    • Is there really a point to having a 3d avatar?

      For entertainment purposes and interactivity... Yes.

      But the immersion factor hasn't been met with success at this point so IRC works just fine if your only concern is transferring text.
    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      3D avatar per se could have no point. What have a point is to have an environment where interaction with other people is richer than i.e. IRC. Play games, collaborate in a text, or painting, or making a photo gallery.

      Ok, there are websites that does that, and you can link them from IRC, but dont need to be the same people that you have present. A virtual world is a good way to represent a meeting, and what you do to use all the potential of that (including whatever implies having a phisical-like representat
      • by FLEB ( 312391 )
        A virtual world is a good way to represent a meeting,

        My inclination is to disagree, at least if we're talking about "meeting" in the sense of a business meeting. I doubt that much more useful information would flow within a VW meeting than would flow within a suitable non-spatially-represented method of teleconference. Perhaps when the day comes that some sort of camera or motion capture can represent avatars to the point that body language comes through, VW will have an advantage, but as it stands, I don't
  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <<slashdot> <at> <uberm00.net>> on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:24PM (#23712937) Homepage Journal
    To reiterate: What?
    • Seconded. Could somebody PLEASE explain what the hell this article means? What "VW" stands for? (My guess: either Virtual World or Virtual Winter, but since I don't know what the latter is that's not very helpful.)

      Oh, and most importantly: Why should I care?
    • To reiterate: People seem to like AIM better than Second Life
      • Actually, I don't use either. I far prefer email to IMs for online communication (yes, I'm an old guy), and while SL sounds interesting, I'm much too busy with my FirstLife to try it.
        • Your reply is pretty much the point of the article. People seem to prefer interacting with one another through e-mails, chats, blogs, whatever instead of logging onto a "virtual world." Your statement that you're too busy is probably a big reason why people prefer FirstLife.
    • by n3tcat ( 664243 )
      I concur. Unilaterally, no less.
    • Say "what" again motherfucker, I dare you!
  • Why are you asking all those questions about Volkswagens?

    Is it really that difficult to avoid overloading common acronyms?

  • by McNihil ( 612243 )
    Volkswagen

    Virtual Worlds

    Virtual Winter

    Profit!
  • are we talking... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by razorh ( 853659 )
    air or water cooled VW's here?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:37PM (#23713131) Homepage

    I continuously hear complaints about VWs not being worth the trouble, especially from people much younger and hipper than me.

    Well, yeah. If you're near San Francisco, go to Burning Man, went to Thunderdome last weekend, and have friends in Vau de Vire, real life has about as much drame, and as much bare skin, as Second Life. If you're stuck in Outer Nowhere, Second Life looks like a good option.

  • I was thinking (oh god no) the same thing. I've seen some of the virtual worlds out there and they are very resource intensive. I wonder if there was some lighter weight protocol we could use? I wouldn't need an avatar image.. maybe just a label to differentiate speakers. Of course, avatars allow you do express other emotions that sometimes don't come across well with pure messaging.. Maybe we could devise a system of text-based shortcuts to show when the "speaker" is joking or smiling, etc..

    The VWs do have
  • "Worlds"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday June 09, 2008 @03:37PM (#23714211) Journal
    There aren't multiple World Wide Webs. There's just one.

    There aren't multiple "Email Networks" -- again, just one.

    Why are all the exciting, new, "Web 2.0" technologies all such walled gardens? I understand why I can't take my World of Warcraft character to Age of Conan. I don't understand why I need one login for Slashdot, another for Myspace, yet another for Flickr, and so on -- OpenID, people, please!

    I've seen a few attempts to make this happen, but it seems that the most open virtual world we have now is Second Life, which is entirely controlled by the whim of one company (Linden Labs). Where's my general-purpose, open source Virtual World Browser? Why can't I simply walk from one "virtual site" to another -- each controlled, run, and maintained by different people?
    • There aren't multiple World Wide Webs. There's just one.

      And it took years of work to make that happen, to bring together TCP/IP, UUCP, BITNET, BBSes, FIDO, the various online services like Compuserve and Delphi, and later AOL and MSN, and have it all fall together into the World Wide Web.

      There aren't multiple "Email Networks" -- again, just one.

      In the '80s your email address could be "USER AT MIT-AI", "c.user%ucbcory@UCBVAX", "cn=Random User, ou=Staff, o=Your Company, c=us", "...!ihnp4!mhuxa!user", and so o
      • And it took years of work to make that happen, to bring together TCP/IP, UUCP, BITNET, BBSes, FIDO, the various online services like Compuserve and Delphi, and later AOL and MSN, and have it all fall together into the World Wide Web.

        Actually, you're talking about the Internet. There's a difference.

        3d is a pretty complex problem

        And it's pretty solved. Read triangle from file here, upload to OpenGL here. Add lighting, shaders, effects. Add scripting.

        I mean, yes, there's the problem of collision detection, all the various types of culling (occlusion, backface, view frustrum), and so on, but these are really implementation details. That's like putting off the HTML spec until we have antialiased fonts.

        the technology to make arbitrary constructs and avatars from different sources work well with any kind of realism

        I'm not quite sure what you mean here. "Arbitrary constructs" mean

        • by argent ( 18001 )
          Actually, you're talking about the Internet. There's a difference.

          Oh, OK, you're talking about NAPLPS vs that French teletext system versus ANSI graphics? Or are you talking about finger vs FTP vs gopher?

          And [3d graphics] is pretty solved. Read triangle from file here, upload to OpenGL here. Add lighting, shaders, effects. Add scripting.

          2d graphics was pretty solved by the mid '80s. We were still having Battling Browsers in 2000... um, make that 2005. Arguably even 2008.

          That's like putting off the HTML spec
          • Oh, OK, you're talking about NAPLPS vs that French teletext system versus ANSI graphics? Or are you talking about finger vs FTP vs gopher?

            ...what?

            I'm talking about TCP and IP, which you've mentioned, which are low-level Internet protocols. It's right there in the name -- Internet Protocol. I'm not really sure what the rest has to do with the WWW.

            We were still having Battling Browsers in 2000... um, make that 2005. Arguably even 2008.

            And all those battling browsers spoke some dialect of HTML over HTTP over TCP over IP. And most websites will work on all of them -- and would in 2000.

            That's like putting off the HTML spec until we have antialiased fonts.

            Who's "putting it off"? The first hypertext formats

            Hypothetical analogy.

            Arbitrary texture libraries

            We already have this -- the <img> tag on the Web. Just point the texture at a URL.

            arbitrary skeletons

            This just involves working out a comm

            • by argent ( 18001 )
              I'm talking about TCP and IP, which you've mentioned, which are low-level Internet protocols. It's right there in the name -- Internet Protocol. I'm not really sure what the rest has to do with the WWW.

              Well, the first set of names I gave you were precursor networking protocols and platforms. You objected to them, so I came up with some higher layers. The point is that at EVERY layer there is ALWAYS a period where you have competing proprietary and public schemes, some of which eventually become standards.

              [r
              • PDF, OOXML, Flash
                How are these hypertext? PDF, in particular, seems like a strange choice -- it's mostly GhostScript, right?
                • by argent ( 18001 )
                  How are these hypertext?

                  They are structured document formats that support hotlinks both internal and external. They implement the concept envisioned by Vannevar Bush and prototyped (and given the name hypertext) by Ted Nelson.

                  PDF, in particular, seems like a strange choice -- it's mostly GhostScript, right?

                  Ghostscript is an open source implementation of one of the technologies underlying the original design of PDF, but no... PDF is not just encapsulated postscript. PDFs can contain all kinds of content, inc
                  • Flash might be considered more questionable than PDF, except that it's basically a collateral descendant of hypercard and is widely used to implement websites.
                    That it's used to implement so-called "websites" doesn't qualify -- you could implement a "website" as an ActiveX control, but I don't think that qualifies either. At the very least, it wouldn't be a good target for a standard.
                    • by argent ( 18001 )
                      That it's used to implement so-called "websites" doesn't qualify

                      That it's basically a better hypercard, however, does.

                      you could implement a "website" as an ActiveX control, but I don't think that qualifies either. At the very least, it wouldn't be a good target for a standard.

                      You mean like Silverlight?
    • by AySz88 ( 1151141 )

      I've seen a few attempts to make this happen, but it seems that the most open virtual world we have now is Second Life, which is entirely controlled by the whim of one company (Linden Labs). Where's my general-purpose, open source Virtual World Browser? Why can't I simply walk from one "virtual site" to another -- each controlled, run, and maintained by different people?

      People (including Linden Lab) are working towards this, and are having some preliminary successes [wordpress.com]. (For context there, OpenSim is an open-source implementation of the Second Life server, which hasn't been opened by Linden Lab, yet.)

      • Ok, question, though: Is this actually moving towards a world where I could actually walk through a portal in which opposing sides of the portal are actually on separate servers -- and through which I can see the other side?

        Or one-way links, functioning essentially the way, oh, a Quake 3 teleporter does? (You can see what's on the other side, and when you step through, you instantly go there, but there's not necessarily a way back.)

        Because that's another thing I like about the Web -- in theory (if people ac
  • I continuously hear complaints about VWs not being worth the trouble, especially from people much younger and hipper than me (I am 46) who prefer much lighter weight forms of interaction

    I had dinner with Bruce about a week and a half ago, shortly before his article was posted. I mentioned to him that "Virtual Worlds appear to be more for entertainment; if I want to communicate with someone, I use Skype or the real world. I see Virtual Worlds eventually becoming mainstream when we get augmented reality."

I program, therefore I am.

Working...