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Reader Comments (7)

Posted: Feb 25th 2008 10:16AM (Unverified) said

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It is certainly a little strange that Raph Koster is equating the appearance of a virtual room to the creation of a new mmo world. Go back a month or two and you'll find the metaplace site introducing ideas on game design (underlining the fact, lest we ever thought any differently, that designing and building a game world is as simply as clicking a button).

That said at a ime when the innovation debate is raging in the game industry, some of the ideas brought about by metaplace are worth testing and realising. Low-fidelity worlds already have an appeal to one area of the market, I'm certain low cost developments also will have, and the use of Flash is (to some degree at least) a smart move and worth pursuing.

I reckon metaplace will be an interesting part of the next iteration of game development, even if it doesn't become the new king.

Posted: Feb 25th 2008 11:20AM Scopique said

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Being a MetaPlace alpha tester and having seen the spiel that Areae spins to the public, I can safely say that you're only getting about 1/1000th of the picture from these presentations.

MetaPlace is a platform for people to use. They've been showing the same apartment demo for months, and it's NOT about the apartment itself, but rather that before MetaPlace, putting that demo together would require graphics programming and client-server expertise. The fact that all that needs be done to create this in MetaPlace is to drop in some graphics and employ some of the library scripts is the real point. While the aprtment demo is underwhelming, the idea of it, how it's modified and how it's used in a potentially larger project -- all without a massive team, a massive amount of money, and a massive amount of technology -- is what MetaPlace is about. Don't dismiss the platform because of one of the oldest demos they've been running for it doens't make your pants dance.

As with any community content, there will be really excellent projects, and really crappy projects, to be sure, but the dividing line between the two is in the eye of the beholder. I think a lot of MMO projects (and MetaPlace isn't just about "WoW-esque" MMOs) would LIKE to ditch the inevitable comparison to the 800 pound gorilla of WoW, but financial investments need to be recouped and shareholders need to be made happy. We get legion of WoW clones as a result.

With a dedicated team using MetaPlace, though, no money needs to be expended up front. Like mods for PC games, these folks can create something thanks to the framework that was built by others, at no cost to themselves. If it tanks, then at least they tried to make a go at it (which is more then a lot of arm-chair developers and critics can say). If it's good, then yes, there could be another Portal or Counter Strike waiting in the wings. In the end, though, creators can take risks that big name developers can't, and they can supply diverse titles (and there are a lot of diverse, non-WoW and non-anti-WoW titles being discussed in the MP community) to niche markets which have been waiting for someone with the balls to take chances that the big-league developers are afraid to take.

The take-home message is that MP is really something that you need to USE to get the real experience, either as a developer or as a user. When you employ Raph's phrase "works like the web" rather then just hear it for the umpteenth time, then you might think differently.

Posted: Feb 25th 2008 11:44AM (Unverified) said

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"Having your game's chat system look and behave just like everyone else's is either laziness or adopting a standard that works. Either way, it's tiresome, and a good indicator that change is necessary."

Ummm, what? We're supposed to change everything that works just because it looks like something else? Quick, call the guy who makes our ATMs. We need the keypad to only have six buttons. And they need to have klingon symbols on 'em instead of numbers...

Posted: Feb 25th 2008 4:24PM (Unverified) said

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Another Metaplace fan here:

As far as the games I'm interested in making, instead of WoW I'd want to do something like Puzzle Pirates or Dofus. They could be thought of as a graphical chat client that links to different 'places' and minigames/combat in a web-like way.

That communal chat area could have scripts to add in sword combat functionality, or be able to throw tomatos at each other for some team deathmatch. It's about the modular assembly of scripted objects, but it could look like whatever you want it to(just change the url to the art).

I'm an artist and not a coder, so any infrastructure that's set up for me is a big help. Modders like me are looking for a way to plug in our art, do some mash-up with scripts and functionality, and have something playable with a team of one or two people.

Posted: Feb 25th 2008 4:44PM (Unverified) said

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I have not (as yet) been able to get access to the Metaplace alpha, but I can tell you that it is the only thing apart from SL that actually interests me in the virtual world environment at the moment, and the only thing that I can see that might take me away from SL.

It may be that the demonstrations are a bit underwhelming, and certainly, I can think of few things I would like to do less than launch YouTube from a virtual world - apart, perhaps, from launching Facebook. But that sort of thing may well just be to give people something in terms of integration that they can understand. (Or it may simply be misjudged.)

Personally I am a lot more interested in the principles behind it, which I think are sound and derive from an observable base. Innovation in the games market is increasingly coming from casual games, small developer games, people writing simple things with Flash and Ruby/SDL and RPG Maker. The problem with this area is that there is no easy bridge to online collaboration at the moment, as well as the basic tools being actually a bit tricky, and anything which can help with these is building on a huge wave of people desperate to create something.

Perhaps he does need a better demonstration though.

Posted: Feb 26th 2008 1:31AM (Unverified) said

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I think he meant with the chat interface, that it is rewriten every time. Metaplace has the opportunity to let you reuse such basic features. Either provided free or being sold.

A other point that isn't touched, is that it also speaks Internet out, so you can very easily bring game info and stats outward.

Posted: Feb 28th 2008 12:06AM (Unverified) said

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i've seen Raph speak many times (including 2 other times over the course of the GDC week, both of which were much more engaging than this one) and this was unfortunately the most uninspiring of all. the talk he gave during the Worlds in Motion Summit was much more interesting, although he didn't actually talk that much about MetaPlace in it:
http://www.massively.com/2008/02/19/gdc08-raph-koster-gets-sentimental-about-virtual-worlds/

i too am fan of MetaPlace and looking forward to trying it out, but this talk was extremely developer-oriented and technical -- which is sort of understandable given the venue (they don't call it a developer's conference for nuthin' and all :)).

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