Platforms and Technologies Panel at VW07
The pre-lunch panel at VW07 was on “platforms and technologies,” moderated by Jerry Paffendorf of the Electric Sheep Company. Unfortunately, I chose to sit upstairs by the coffee, which apparently inspired most of the audience to chat to each other throughout the panel.
â€¢ We’ll be open-sourcing the back end so sims can run anywhere on any machine whether trusted by us or not.
â€¢ We’ll be delivering assets in a totally different method that won’t be such a burden on the simulators.
â€¢ Very soon we’ll be updating simulators to support multiple versions so that we don’t have to update the entire Grid at once.
â€¢ We’ll be using open protocols.
â€¢ SL cannot truly succeed as long as one company controls the Grid.
Joe also had a slide showing that SL is going to migrate straight to Havok 4. Eventually.
And now, back to our panel.
Corey Bridges of
John Bates of Entropia Universe
Joe Miller of Linden Lab
Rick Giolito of Triology Studios
Jerry points out there are a lot of different kinds of virtual worlds, but we don’t live in a world in which they’re integrated yet.
The panelists first described their worlds and how they work, which I’ll spare you for the most part.
Corey: [The most interesting thing Corey said was that worlds built on the Multiverse platform could be connected to each other in a variety of ways.]
Multiverse founded by a group of pre-IPO Netscape guys. So we are platform makers. We’re at the very start of the mainstream of virtual worlds. MMO game segment is a $4 billion a year industry right now, should be over $10 billion by 2009. [Incorrectly describes World of Warcraft as having 8 million subscribers.] Application of VWs is much wider than just games.
Multiverse has a world-building technology platform available to anyone for doanloading from our site. Especailly interested in enabling independent developers to create new stuff in this medium. Business model is anoyne can download the tech and build a world-class VW. They can have as many users as they like and they never pay us a dime until they start charging consumers, when they pay us a revenue share of 10 percent. Enterprises can arrange for enterprise licensing situations if they like.
Multiverse is such a blank canvas, you can do whatever you want, just a little nightclub, or an entire world where you create all the parameters for what the experience is like.
We have a universal browser for worlds. You install the Multiverse client to access any virtual world that’s been built on the Multiverse platform. You’re always just one click away from any world built on the platform, it’s a de facto network of VWs. Worlds can be standalone worlds like World of Warcraft. We’ve also got some customers making competitors to Second Life where you have user-generated content with in-world tools. You could have these worlds connect or not connect, your choice. Some customers are letting users bring profile data, assest, avatars, economic data from one world to another. [This was interesting, I didn't realize that was happening in Multiverse.]
Rick, president of Trilogy: [Shows slides.] Trilogy is a group of 20 devs (formerly of EA). Two business areas: traditional next-gen gaming for PS3, Xbox360, Wii, PC. And world simulations, aka virtual worlds: bringing gameplay sensibilities ot traditionally community and social interaction-based worlds. Trilogy is currently working on VWs for a major Hollywood company. [These are the guys building out virtual Pimp My Ride.] MTV are working with us, we’re using the There.com technology. What could be better than Pimp My Ride for a 17-24 year old guy. When we first looked at There.com we were just blown away. Started in December, launching in April.
Most platforms right now:
Pipelines are developed by engineers for engineers.
A lack of easy graphical user interfaces.
Pipelines that need more developer-based testing and debugging.
The “wouldn’t it be cool if” development mentality.
…whereas pipelines need to be easier to use and feature more live debugging, need to feature quick prototyping. I’m working on that with Makena [the company behind There.com] to help make this happen. Need to minimize recompiling. Need end-users-based tools for dev teams and for the consumers, it’s really important for them to have good tools so they can create good content so that they don’t create crappy content that diminishes your world.
Jerry asks about demographics, are gamemakers turning toward virtual spaces? A: I don’t know of other people who have made such a radical shift. To me it feels like pre-PS1, where we were excited about 3D. But I think you’ll see more especially because of media companies like MTV who want experiences that feel professionally, seamlessly done experiences longterm, you’ll see other big media companies following their lead. They’re going to want it to look like their offline media, they’re not going to want it to look like user-generated content. It’s important, in my opinion, you have to maintain the integrity of the experience over time. If you allow people to do anything you want and have no rules, some will do good stuff, some will do crap. At the end of the day, your consumer has to wade through all that stuff to find the nuggets of goodness. It can diminish your world over time. Remember, my background is in consumer products, not like others who have been doing this longer. Our sensibilty is in creating finished, polished product.
John Bates from Entropia Universe: Shows a year-old video created by a user shot in Fraps. Entropia Universe: you’re a colonist going to Entropia colonising a new world, that’s the storyline. [The video really pushes the "opportunities to profit" idea and the fact that you can transfer profits in and out of the world.]
600,000 registered users. Currency is pegged PED10 to one $1, that’s backed by MindArk [company behind Entropia]. Platform is built from ground up to support commerce. Last year we ran $360 million through the universe.
A lot of the things you’ve heard are coming from other panelists are here in Entropia, like real cash economy, galleries where you can sell art, or pay more to have that art in the real world.
We are much more locked down in user-generated contente thatn SL, but that gives us the capability to have more secure commerce, there’s no CopyBots and things like that.
Debit card you can get to withdraw from ATM? That’s correct. [I'd thought that had been cancelled.] Or use direct bank transfers. One thing that makes people comfortable with investing in Entropia, it’s very easy to get money in and out. [Mentions Jon Jacobs purchase of the $100,000 space station, but doesn't mention that Jacobs worked for Entropia at the time. Though see comments for more.]
Joe Miller of Linden Lab: I’m actually going to talk about technology and platforms. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the background of SL. Would like to emphasize 3 key elements:
â€¢ community, far more about the people than the tech
â€¢ user-created content
This notion of creating a permanent presence on the 3D Internet deserves more attention. In Web 1.0 we’re really talking about the democratization of access. Web 2.0 is democratization of collaboration or participations. Where we’re headed with the 3D Internet is the democratization of co-creation or collaborative co-creation. [I don't necessarily agree. I think it's more about presence than only creation.]
Relationship between employees and employers is changing. Less focus on enterprise than endeavor. People being asked to behave as entrepreneurs in the organization.
In SL, it’s just like first life, but you can fly. SL is not a game. It’s unbounded space rather than living in the designer’s imagination. It’s about communities rather than NPCs. Collaborative creativity is really the killer app.
SL now 210 square miles. Over 35 terabytes of user-created conent. Many more events than we can track in a day. 520,000 unique items sold or traded per month. 15 million concurreny scripts are running at any given time. Who’s using it: 43 percent female. About even in terms of hours of use. 33 y.o. average age. 60 pct of active user base from outside North America. 8,300 simulators running.
Where we’re headed:
Very soon we’ll be updating simulators to support multiple versions so that we don’t have to update the entire Grid at once.
Delivering assets in deiffernet method
We’ll be open-sourcing the back end so sims can run anywhere on any machine whether trusted by us or not.
We’ll be using open protocols.
SL cannot truly succeed as long as one company controls the Grid.