Two SL videos, an interview with Little Big Planet, and the first presidential campaign to have an official SL presence. I suspect headline-writing is going to be the hardest thing about these D-Briefs I’ve started doing. By the way, does anyone have a “briefs” icon I can use for these? Feel free to send it along. Continue reading
The International Herald Tribune breaks the news that IBM is launching a new mainframe platform specifically designed for next-generation virtual worlds and 3D virtual environments. In concert with Brazilian game developer Hoplon, IBM will use the PlayStation3‘s ultra-high-powered Cell processor to create a mainframe architecture that will provide the security, scalability and speed that are currently lacking in 3D environments — a lack that is one of the factors keeping them from becoming widely adopted. If it works, it sounds like worldmakers working on IBM’s platform should be able to support concurrencies far above todays’ capabilities, and implement commerce systems far more secure than is currently possible.
The IHT story talks about a server system that will permit higher levels of concurrency at greater levels of rendering and realism. The machines will be priced beginning at hundreds of thousands dollars, according to the story.
While it probably won’t have much impact on the state of virtual worlds right off, IBM’s new infrastructure could make a big difference in the long run, by enabling much greater numbers of concurrent users in next-gen virtual worlds, and by creating more secure possibilities for commerce. Big media and entertainment companies continue to be interested in virtual worlds, but they are also skeptical in many cases because there is no way to support many thousands of audience members at a single event. Continue reading
I looked in at the Games + Entertainment Brands panel for a few minutes before I started feeling too rumpled and had to duck out. Here’s what I heard while I was there (some of it was even interesting):
Moderator: Robert Nashak of Yahoo! Games
Charles Merrin, VP NA Games at RealNetworks
Brian Ring, GM Interactive Content at Scope Sevem
Chris Charla, director of business development at Foundation 9 Network
As I arrived, Nashak was mentioning the importance of user-created content in building a brand around a game. Merrin, on the other hand, warned that brands were often wary of user-created content out of fear that it would hurt the image of the brand, and that this would be true for some time.
Charla talked about procedural safeguards. Sony has apparently done a lot of work on their new PS3 home service toward preventing untoward uses of user-generated content. Their Little Big World platform [which introduces something Sony seems to be calling “user-definable gaming”] allows users to create and upload levels, and to vote on other people’s levels. “Butit’s difficult to get swear words in there,” Charla said.
Ring related an experience he’d had recently when moderating a panel with someone from Whyville, who have spent years creating sophisticated technology, including nine proprietary algorithms, to filter all the chat sessions that run through the service.
Nashak: “Whyville is one of my favorite things. It’s basically a tween site for girls pretty much, and for the first time they seeded a product into the world, a Toyota car. It was the first time you could have a car in Whyville. Whyville counted on the nag factor, that girls would talk about it so much that parents would want to buy one for themselves.” He didn’t know whether the initiative had been a success.
Ring also mentioned virtual worlds like Second Life. “What we’re seeing is a lot of these things calling themselves ‘social games.’ That’s where I see a big thing happening. That’s where user-generated content has a big role to play.”
Merrin also spoke about Second Life. “It’s incredible what this tapestry allows you to do. It’s almost the brand within the user-generated content, rather than the other way around.”
Nashak: “What you’re going to start seeing is brands taking very seriously that their passionate users want to co-create the brand with them.” He advised brands to “think about creating engines for people to express themselves around brands,” and mentioned Bix.com, a Yahoo! property where users do things like create content for each other. “It’s infinitely scalable because users are creating it, you don’t have to keep feeding in content.”
Okay, my need for a PlayStation 3 just got a lot more urgent. Before you do anything else, watch the trailer above, which just went up on GameTrailers.com after being shown at GDC. It shows a PS3 service from Sony called “home,” which is, yes, a free 3D online space where you’ll be able to customize your avatar and your own private home, hang out with other users there and in various common spaces, stream your media into your virtual pad (as in Kaneva), and chat via voice, emotes, short pre-loaded phrases or with a USB keyboard, as well as hook up with other people and follow them into PS3 games. In terms of pushing the metaverse out to the mainstream, this is pretty huge news. And it’s got a great look to it, too. Many thanks to reader Victor PiÃ±eiro of pure west documentaries for sending along the link.
[UPDATE: Our spies at GDC have filed a few more details, which you can read after the jump.] Continue reading
This isn’t strictly the kind of mobile connectivity I usually cover here, but it’s right in the pocket in terms of convergence. A company called TVersity has a press release today about a new version of their Media Server that lets you stream Internet radio stations to your PSP. Now, I’m neither a PSP nor a streaming expert, but as far as I can tell this is the first service, outside of homebrew hacks that users have created, that lets you do this. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) What I like about it is that it harnesses the processing and adoption power of a games device to drive new kinds of connectivity. Anything that helps make the Internet more mobile is a good thing for the kind of 3pointD connectivity I’m always looking for: technology that helps people connect in the real world. Game devices feature some of the most powerful processing and some of the broadest adoption of any new devices out there (more than 17 million PSPs have been sold so far — though none to me, unfortunately), and have the potential to drive more generalized uses in a big way. I look forward to tuning in.
The LA Times reports that Microsoft will be sponsoring the World Cyber Games [<-- annoying music] through 2008, making Windows and the Xbox360 the official platforms of what bills itself as the "world's largest computer and video game festival." This will no doubt help push the visibility of gaming as a pro sport, but I wonder what impact it will have on the Cyberathelete Professional League, which has been around at least as long. With Microsoft leveraging its weight to box out other consoles, it seems there’s still room for some PlayStation or other kind of competition elsewhere — although almost all pro gaming takes place on PC. In any case, this could be a coup on Microsoft’s part to put the XBox360 into ever more hands. Hopefully, it won’t water down events like this.
If tracking your rankings on Microsoft’s Xbox Live service isn’t doing it for you, you can now up the stakes at the Under Ground X-Change, a Web-based service that matches Xbox and PS2 players who want to bet on the outcome of their own matches. [Via press release. And follow this link if you don’t get the headline reference.] UGX servers will match players in a variety of games, and even adds a way to distribute winnings among members of a team. What it doesn’t seem to do is allow spectators to bet on the outcome of matches. That’s something that would drive pro gaming in this country in a much bigger way.