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Reader Comments (10)

Posted: Mar 22nd 2008 8:43AM (Unverified) said

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Hey Akela,
Sure I have friends that are exclusive to SL but I use it as an extension to the 2D web, not as a gated community. As far as I can tell Linden Labs has developed it (despite a few unfortunate tech choices) to be fairly plug & play with the traditional net. In games with goals, plots and scripted quests I wouldn't want to be bothered by messages from AIM or Twitter because I wouldn't want the distraction from that experience. In non-goal oriented environments like SL integration is far more acceptable and in most cases essential. Flipping to my browser when gtalk dings from SL eats up enough CPU cycles to nearly lock up my macbook pro, so having a built in SL/AIM client/HUD/tool would be fantastic.

So basically it depends on the environment and the user's intended use of the environment. Not all MMOs can be clumped together, at least not in this instance.

Posted: Mar 23rd 2008 1:37PM (Unverified) said

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I should clarify that Linden Labs' initial development direction was to go for broke in creating a semblance of a world and using the funding that came in from that to develop the world further, rather than having a totally well-planned and tested development process (which cost time and money that the LL of 2000-2004ish did NOT have)

Any stupidity in SL that can be traced directly back to this phase that you witness in the system is more often than not due to this "dying of hunger" developer mentality than any inherent stupidity or malice on LL's part. Basically, if a smarter tech choice cost more to implement short-to-middle term than it paid back in scalability or openness, it was not economical to consider.

Of course, that excuse is mostly gone now that resources for development at LL have become significantly less tight (though it must be remembered that a career with LL is still primarily about belief/fanaticism about building the future metaverse rather than professional advancement or financial benefits - witness the low pay-rate for equally-qualified Moles.)

The last Massively Online title I participated in with IC/RL crossover was pre-SOE The Matrix Online. Until its surrender to SOE, one of MxO's key selling points was its providing all paid-up accounts with a AIM address keyed specifically to the character's name on the MxO domains.

What I found in three or so different episodes was that the people I worked with were more liable to use this AIM to communicate out to required known talents about urgent problems in the grid rather than as a form with which to view the world external to the game. MxO was (and still remains) a relatively high-tempo and computer-intensive game, so the ability to avoid tabbing out of it (especially in the middle of a heated confrontation with several Agents suspiciously, but not quite, resembling Smith) was probably much welcomed.

I'm not sure how MxO players took to the removal of AIM from MxO following SOE's takeover. Any takers on this? (Personally, I quit because my laptop was equipped with a FX 5200 Go. - simply too wretched to handle any games)
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2008 8:44AM (Unverified) said

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Well, of course, like so much else, it depends on thigns like personal taste, how you use it, and so on.
Games are pretty straightforward, you play them to get away or relax, and maybe you don't want your Skype buddies knocking while you are busy slaying orcs. Of course, nor here is there a clear cut case.

But Second Life and virtual worlds are different, since while they contain games (several, in fact), there are many other aspects.
I play in SL, even if I don't purely roleplay. I am in dogfights, naval battles, En Garde tournaments, etc, etc.
But I also use SL for socializing with friends from across the globe as well as have RL work meetings inworld.
Would I want WWW integrated while flying a Nieuport 17? Probably not that important.

When socializing? Definitely, I already use the web tab in profiles for at least some rudimentary integration.

In relation to work.. and a hundred other aspects of the diverse SL experience I have? Abso-blimey-lutely, with no doubt whatsoever.
I want World Wide Web integration, I want mobile web integration, I want it all to mesh, because in my head it IS already meshed.
It is frustrating when I know a colleague is inworld and I am on a bus that I can't send him an IM and direct him to a Google Doc but have to use llSkip and llJump to circumvent the current limitations.

Of course there are security aspect with all their if's and but's, but that is not what we focus on here, right? :)

Posted: Mar 22nd 2008 8:57AM Scopique said

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You're also only looking at it from one direction: the web INTO the game. What about the game INTO the web?

I like EQ2, Vanguard and WoW's web-based character presentations on the web. While you can't really DO anything with these to affect your in-game character, they do help for guilds who want to hook their own websites into their member's profiles (WoW is expecially good, since the Armory is entirely in XML).

I don't see any point in having outside email, stock tickers, etc., available in game for all the reasons stated above. I like the idea of something like Xfire, which I use, for getting together with friends who aren't yet in the game.

But I can see extending the game to the web as a useful feature. There have been a lot of rumors of mobile platform clients for MMOs which allow players to manage their auctions or production queues, but so far, nothing has appeared. Having a webpage chat widget that integrates with an in-game guild chat channel might be nice. I would appreciate being able to manage my skill training in EVE without having to log into the game.

SL is entirely different because it's not so much a game (so no real immersion to break) as it is an experience of "life", but extended. There's no reason not to have the web coming IN to SL, and I think it's a very wise decision to do so.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2008 10:12AM GRT said

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"But think about it -- when you're playing your favorite game, do you really need to do any of those things? Isn't that the reason you play in the first place, to get away from other concerns?"

I absolutely do not need or want any of those things while playing a game. I find the very idea horrific. But then, I'm of the older generation who can't grok the desire for things like Twitter. I prefer to focus on what's in front of me.

My fear is that even if I don't use these things, other people will, and getting together a group for a raid will be even *more* like herding cats since there'll be even more potential distractions. AIMWipe will be the new buzzword, caused by your main tank getting an IM in the middle of a pull.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2008 10:47AM (Unverified) said

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Folk may well argue that "just because we can doesn't mean we should" applies to web integration in virtual worlds, but I'd say that very much depends on application.

With a world such as WOW, taking content out of the world (such as character profiles) doesn't destroy immersion. Taking web content into the world however would.

Secondlife however is quite a different thing - the content is user generated, and people bring in all manner of stuff from the outside world. When used to link real people in far flung destinations it may well be augmentation, but that doesn't exclude immersion as well. We're quite happy to call streamed music a part of the environment, or other types of media, and it's not unusual to see these reality twisting elements in fully immersionist sims such as rp communities.

Bridging SL and the web allows augmentationists to practice immersion. We know the increased engagement one feels from sitting their avatar in an audience while a speaker presents on a topic and shows some slides on the subject - it has a very different feeling to simply browsing an article on a website. We should not deny the utility of this in business, education, or even entertainment (though the entertainment applications are less obvious at this early stage).

Personally I see myself as completely immersed in sl - my character has a full time job and feeds me IRL, but is my character - fundamentally me but fundamentally different. Just as reading blogs about steampunk (a decidedly non victorian way to read about the subject) doesn't destroy the imaginative aspect, I don't believe the web in SL must always destroy our collective dream. It's just another media - and a useful one.

It seems silly to me that I can go online and pull up a website and order a tshirt in real life, but in sl i have to either go out of the world (to somewhere like lsexchange) or order it out of a box. Sure there are vendors, but are massive malls full of massive textures (and thus lag) the most economical way for us to run our cottage industries? The alternative is to break immersion unless we have better tools.

Similarly it seems to me, the inability to read a proper book (though there are good facsimiles, painstakingly created), view a complex presentation, type some text into something without proceeding it with "/231" like some 20 year old bbs system, or scrutinize a museum display with some writing on it without downloading megs and megs of textures.... well it's somewhat silly. That in world, running on machines capable of pushing millions of polygons onto your screen per second we can't simulate a trs-80 or vic-20 or ibm xt to play with in world. We can't properly format a paragraph of type.

It kills immersion if we must fight tooth and nail to simulate the most basic tools of our real lives. Publishing is one of those tools. The Gutenberg Press has been around since 1439 or so, yet publishing tools in SL are still cumbersome and primitive by comparison. The web, as a publishing medium is the natural progression of those early tools. We don't need to invent a new and primitive system for publishing in virtual worlds when a perfectly suited medium already exists and is ubiquitous, cheap, and accessible to all.

People may well do stupid things to break immersion with the web - it's highly likely - but like voice, there will be parcels and places where it just won't be available. These restrictions allow us to develop strategies as a community to police its use, and conventions as to how it can be politely deployed.

The grid hasn't collapsed due to voice - quite frankly I've been happy to tell people I'm not listening from the outset: "Yes I can hear you, I just don't wish to :P" It's not going to collapse due to web either...... though i'm sure it will go through a goatse period lol.

Well that's my two cents.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2008 11:47AM (Unverified) said

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You know I never thought of this until now. When I'm in world I have Notes, Skype and my cell up and running. All seemed necessary evils. To have that functionality built into SL would be a goddess send. I can't talk about other 'games' (I don't consider SL a game, more a playground) as I don't play them. Of course its fine when I get IMs from other residents - but only a small part of my contacts is in SL. I would love to have my email and Skype messages show up in a small comms window somewhere. And yes I too am old school - what is the point of Twitter? But I am totally behind further intergration. And the cell phone? I keep breaking them but they just give me another lol

Posted: Mar 22nd 2008 6:45PM (Unverified) said

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Interesting debate! I'd say it really depends on how you're using virtual worlds. It also depends on being a multi-tasking person or not.
Some people like integration between email, web, instant messaging into the same interface, while others don't. This usually relates to which kind of tasks you're after while using these tools.
Virtual worlds _are tools_ - for some users. Other users just totally immerse themselves in the virtual world experience. The virtual world software they're using provides all they need for that experience, so probably there isn't any need for integration with other applications.

Actually, while I'm reading this article I am in Second Life too, and it happened that a few minutes ago Torley Linden wrote on Twitter about Flickr being down. I read it as a Second Life chat message because I'm wearing a scripted object that relays Twitter in SL. Instinctively, a second later I sent my reply from inside SL: http://twitter.com/oobscure/statuses/775561133

The script I'm using is Twitterbox, by Ordinal Malaprop that made a great work by providing some useful, free resources to integrate SL and web: http://ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/contents

Posted: Mar 22nd 2008 9:18PM (Unverified) said

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don't forget one can always set their online status on those services for when they need to work or play or for some other reason not have distractions, as for email and web, many people have the programs for those running on the backgroudn while using SL (I know I do), would only improve things having it all builtin, don't want to use? don't use it, it is that simple

Posted: Mar 23rd 2008 1:23PM (Unverified) said

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I'm mostly doing work related things in Second Life, not Game related things. As it becomes more mainstream those who use it for work related rather than leisure related things will increase and they will desire and benefit from more web integration.

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