I’m off Monday for the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference in San Jose next week (online registration ends tomorrow! see below), where I’ll be moderating what should be a very cool roundtable on the future of virtual world platforms. We go on Thursday at 11am, on the strategy track, with a very flattering title: Visionary Panel: Where the Platforms Are Going Next. The panel features Christopher Klaus, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kaneva; Raph Koster, President, Areae, Inc.; Michael Wilson, CEO, Makena Technologies; Hui Xu, Founder & CEO, HiPiHi Co., Ltd; Stephen Lawler, General Manager of Virtual Earth, Microsoft; and Corey Bridges, Co-founder, Executive Producer, & Marketing Director, The Multiverse Network. Should be some pretty fascinating talk flying around about what’s going to happen in the near and far terms, and where all of the things these people and others are working on are headed.
As noted, online registration for the conference (of which 3pointD is a media sponsor) ends tomorrow, Friday, October 5. The online reg price is only $795. After Friday, you’ll be able to register onsite at the show beginning 7:30am, Wednesday, October 10, for $995. Reg now and save your cash for drinks with Corey!
Areae, the start-up virtual world-maker run by veteran MMO developer Raph Koster, is looking for a “senior 3D client engineer” to “lead the development of a cross-platform 3D client” that’s currently planning to use open-source graphics engine OGRE. There had been some doubt as to how 3D Areae was going to be; would it be 2D, isometric 2-1/2 D, 3D, or some combination of those dimensions? Seems Raph wants to go all the way with it, or with some component of it, and hopes to go with OGRE — though according to a post on the OGRE forums, much will depend on finding the right lead dev: “Honestly, we aren’t sure that’s our final solution or not – it’s likely highly dependent on the person we hire. If the perfect person comes along and they have deeper experience with a different engine and want us to switch, we will.” One interesting thing to note about the Help Wanted posting: candidates are invited to “help develop the next generation of online gaming.” I’m not sure if that’s a reference to the fact that Raph sees Areae as primarily a game world (or series of game worlds), or whether it means something else entirely. Interesting that he’s not characterizing it as a non-game world, though. Raph has talked in the past about the fact that social worlds need game-like orientations to them, which is my bet for Areae. That would imply less game and more world, though. Change of course, or just semantic hair-splitting from the 3pointD office of virtual Kremlinology? [Thanks to cw for sending that news!]
The presentation I gave in Berlin on Thursday was ostensibly on “virtual worlds, media and identity,” but as I’ve been going over it I’m finding it’s extending itself into a small picture of what the next generation of virtual worlds might look like and how we might get there. A lot of it was stuff that’s probably pretty basic to 3pointD readers, but it might be worth going over anyway. And since it marked my first PowerPoint presentation (and hopefully my last), I can even paste in some slides below. (If you want the full set, send me an email.)
I started out by comparing what can be conveyed via traditional communications media, or rather, what tools are at our disposal when we work in various media. In SMS text messaging, of course, we’re very limited in how we communicate (despite the fact that a lot can be communicated via SMS). In instant messaging, we have a little more leeway, and in email yet more. Voice adds a great deal of breadth to the channel, video conferencing expands it further, and of course the broadest channel through we communicate is face to face, since we have access to facial expressions, gestures, proximity and other “messages” at a higher “resolution” than in any of the other media in the chart. I actually thought this would be pretty unremarkable to most people, but more than a few audience members were quite excited to see things arranged like this — which means I’m going to stick with my habit of pointing out the presumably obvious; sorry, guys. Continue reading
The acronyms are flying this month, and I am too. First to the South by Southwest Interactive festival, where I’ll be running a panel in the Screenburn track on microcontent and user creation in online games and how that’s beginning to change the face of gaming. This should be fun, especially as it features Raph Koster, who’ll be able to talk a bit about Areae, the lovely Betsy Book of There.com, Corey Bridges of Multiverse, and Reuben Steiger of metaverse services company Millions of Us, who has been creating cool opportunities for user-generated content as part of corporate marketing schemes in the virtual world of Second Life.
Later in the month I’ll also be on a panel on the future of virtual worlds at the new Virtual Worlds 2007 conference here in New York. This is looking like a great conference, with panels that go beyond the usual fare and actually look closely at what’s happening in virtual worlds and where they might be going. There are four interesting keynote speakers lined up as well, including Matt Bostwick and Jeff Yapp from MTV (both of whom were featured in my Wired article on Virtual Laguna Beach, Steve Youngwood from Nickelodeon, and Colin Parris, VP of Digital Convergence at IBM. What I love about this roster is that it doesn’t include any world-builders. Instead, it features voices from the sectors that are going to drive virtual world development in future: media, entertainment and business. We need more conferences like this. See you there.
Pirate Daniel James’s Three Rings, responsible for the hugely popular multiplayer Puzzle Pirates gamespace, is developing a game-making platform to support Flash and Java games within a larger virtual world, according to a session description from O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology Conference at the end of March. That’s news to me, though I’m not entirely sure it hasn’t been mentioned elsewhere. It sounds like the session features Three Rings co-founder Michael Bayne rolling out the toolkit for attendees to use in making a game during the session: “Three Rings is developing a platform for building multiplayer online games in Flash and Java that operate as part of a larger virtual world where people do things like talk about their cats, decorate their virtual living room, and most importantly, play games. With an aim toward fostering user creativity, we’re opening up all of the tools for creating the world and the games in it. In this workshop we’ll have people collaborating in small groups to think up a game and build it. . . . We’ll provide the toolkit and useful advice.” Continue reading
No, none of the names in that headline are misspelled. That’s virtual worlds researcher and journalist Aleks Krotoski, who has a nice interview with veteran games designer Raph Koster about the idea behind his new start-up, Areae, Inc. (from which I’ve stolen the image at left), on Friday’s Guardian GamesBlog. Don’t expect to read about just what Areae will be, though. Raph is remaining mum until he appears at GDC in early March. (Speculation is that it will either be a Second Life-like world with a better new-user experience or a tool to allow the creation of one’s own 3D space — both are things Raph has wished for in the past — or something similar or else completely different.) Instead, Raph talks about what virtual worlds can learn from Web 2.0 apps, and vice versa. And see below for another argument for interoperable virtual worlds. Continue reading