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MetaPlace

Raph Koster on the future of Metaplace

Real-Life, MMO Industry, MetaPlace, Virtual Worlds

January first of this year brought about the closing of Metaplace, sad news for everyone involved. Shortly before the announcement was made, Eurogamer had an interview with game designer Raph Koster regarding Metaplace. In the end, they made the decision to release the interview in spite of the closing, as it contained some very good insight into the goals of the staff as well as information about the inner workings.

The interview is especially interesting in light of the fact that Metaplace has repeatedly stated that it is not going anywhere, and that we should expect to see more very soon. "Metaplace Inc. isn't about to go away. In fact, we have some pretty exciting plans to announce in the not too distant future," Koster stated. Since we can assume that the basic philosophy and overall goals of the team remain the same, the interview is definitely still relevant for anyone who was a fan of Metaplace. Take a look at the full interview here, and enjoy!

Marketplace traction with the UGC model and the closure of Metaplace

Betas, Business Models, Culture, Opinion, MetaPlace, Virtual Worlds

As you read last night, the UGC (user-generated-content) virtual environment side of Metaplace is shuttering on New Year's Day, 2010, just a scant couple of weeks away.

"The reason?" says company president Koster. "Well, it just hasn't gotten traction."

Nor should it have at this stage, really. Metaplace only went into open beta in May this year, meaning that it is closing before it really launched. We believe that is several years too soon for traction with its (now canceled) model.

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Metaplace announces January 1st shutdown

Betas, News Items, MetaPlace

The Metaplace development team made the announcement today that no fan of a game likes to hear: "Today we have unfortunate news to share with the Metaplace community. We will be closing down our service on January 1, 2010 at 11:59pm Pacific." The bottom line to the reasoning behind the decision is that Metaplace simply is not making enough headway to be a viable (read: profitable) product. Fans will surely have a number of questions about this, and the community team has provided a FAQ to answer most of them.

While it's sad news for both staff -- a significant number of whom have been laid off due to the closure -- and fans of Metaplace, the community team is holding their heads up and maintaining an optimistic outlook. The goodbye party on January first is being treated as a celebration of the fun that's been had, rather than a gathering to mourn the ending. Community Manager
Tami Baribeau also shared some hopeful news in a blog post: "Metaplace, Inc. as a company (and as a tool) isn't going away. We have whole new shift of focus ahead of us and a smaller team set out to accomplish some big goals."

Our sympathies are with the staff members affected by this, and with everyone who has invested their time, creativity, and effort in Metaplace. However, we join their team in looking forward to the good things anticipated by the company.



Massively's 2009 Winter Holiday Event Guide

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Aion, City of Heroes, Dark Age of Camelot, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EVE Online, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, MapleStory, Culture, Events (In-Game), Warhammer Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, MetaPlace, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Dragonica Online, Cities XL

It's that time of year again -- whatever holiday you are celebrating, the denizens of your favorite MMO are sure to be celebrating it too. Whether it's Festivult in Dungeons and Dragons Online, Wintersday in Guild Wars, or the Starlight Celebration in Final Fantasy XI, the theme is the same. There are presents, some sort of sugary treats, and tons of fun. Follow along with us as we check out who's partying in your favorite MMO and what you need to do to get in on the fun.

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Metaplace: Halloween, hold the zombies

Events (In-Game), MetaPlace

It's time for Halloween in MMO Land: the usual contingent of zombies are running amok and panicked NPCs are everywhere, requesting that you go deal with it for them. Virtual Worlds are not immune either, it seems.

For those who prefer their Halloween without a side of gore, there is no shortage of games taking a more lighthearted approach. Metaplace is one of them as they're celebrating Halloween with cute pumpkin masks and pirate costumes, ghost stories, and parties. Costumes and masks are available now in The New You, and the Halloween festivities kick off today. Metaplace is celebrating fall with a fashion show and dance party this afternoon.

The festivities don't stop there, though. The New You will have their Halloween gear available until November 5th, Friday the 30th is the official Halloween party, and the 31st sports a full calendar -- Metaplace fans will be celebrating from morning until night.

In between these events are decorations, gifts and prizes, and there are even rumors of the Great Pumpkin handing out special treats. Not that one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Watch "Another Perfect World" live in Metaplace at 3 PM ET here on Massively

Video, Culture, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, MetaPlace, Academic, Virtual Worlds


"Another Perfect World", a documentary featuring some of our favorite MMO developers, is going to be shown today in Metaplace at 3 PM ET, 12 PM PT. Jump in with other virtual users and watch the video live via streaming connection, all from the comfort of your home computer.

The documentary focuses on the creation of virtual utopias and how man strives to create the perfect world, even if it's only a virtual one. Speakers in the documentary include Raph Koster from Metaplace, Philip Rosedale from Second Life, Jae-Kyung Song from Lineage, and Hilmar Veigar Petursson from EVE Online, making this an interesting tale for many MMO users.

The best part about all of this is that you don't even have to leave Massively to jump into Metaplace! We've embedded The Stage here after the break, so you can watch the movie and chat with fellow virtual world enthusiasts (and Massively readers) right from the comfort of this very post! It can't better than that! So make the leap and continue reading to log into Metaplace and watch "Another Perfect World" today at 3 PM!

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Raph Koster speaks on Metaplace's new functionality and the state of virtual worlds

MMO Industry, MetaPlace, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Interviews (Massively's)


Metaplace introduced the world to a brand new technology two days ago -- the ability to embed a fully functional virtual world into any website or forum, anything that can handle HTML.

This upgrade allows Metaplace to act like a more enhanced version of Google's old Lively service. All you need to do is make a world, take the embeddable HTML code from it, drop it into your website, and you now have a full virtual world running in flash right inside of your blog post or forum thread. The world can be edited to your whims through the Metaplace builder, letting you create whatever you want to create inside of your space. Think of it like Second Life Lite.

We had more than a few questions for Raph Koster, the founder and creator of Metaplace, about this new upgrade for his virtual platform, so we caught up with him to pick his mind on Metaplace and virtual worlds at large.

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Raph Koster speaks on Metaplace's new functionality and the state of virtual worlds pt. 2

MMO Industry, MetaPlace, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Interviews (Massively's)

Metaplace is quite large now, with well over 30,000 worlds created. How does Metaplace avoid spreading the population out too thinly, as, after all, these are social worlds? Is that a challenge for you guys?

It is. It is a challenge. Many of our worlds are empty at any given time. Many of them are people's "apartments" or "personal spaces." Everyone gets a world when they start out in Metaplace, and a large majority of them are unimproved.

What we've found out is that people really congregate in the well done worlds. Because of that, we've spent a lot of time on searching algorithms to find the worlds that people consider to be the best and the worlds that are the most populated at that point in time and then bring them up top to the user. We're also working on expanding our support for events, so when something interesting is going on in Metaplace all users will get a notification. This way they can click the link and go and check it out quickly. Yet, sometimes great worlds get lost for a time, but then they get rediscovered as people re-find them.

"Virtual worlds need to make that jump to become "ordinary," in a way"

We've also included a new feature, called the golden egg. This allows veteran users to market their worlds to others by purchasing this new item. The egg, which is 25,000 coins, can be placed in your virtual world for others to find. Once they find it and click on it, they get 500 coins as a present and are also given the location of another world that has a golden egg. Every world that has a golden egg in it is also listed in the golden egg world list. There's also a golden egg in Metaplace Central that "kicks off" the quest, so to speak.

Where do you see virtual worlds going in the future?

One of the big questions at the last convention I attended was, "What's next?" In some ways, we've already accomplished a lot of the dream. A lot of the things that people expected out of virtual worlds have come true.

We have mass marketed virtual worlds that aren't extremely popular, but, you know, popular enough. We've reached a level of penetration in entertainment that's quite high. But they haven't jumped to total mainstream acceptance yet.

I think that's the next step. Virtual worlds need to make that jump to become "ordinary," in a way. Having them become a key part of the web would be a key part of that. It's always been a mistake for us to think that virtual worlds will swallow the web. I don't think that's the way things are going. But I do think we'll be seeing a much tighter integration between virtual worlds and the rest of the Internet. I really think Metaplace is kicking the ball forward, in regards to that.

So what's the future for Metaplace, specifically?

We're always focusing on making it easier for users, in addition to hosting building classes so people can learn how to build new worlds. We also have a roadmap on our forums that contains a list of proposed features that anyone can check out, all of which is scheduled to come out in the next few months. We're still in the early days -- second month of open beta with a very soft launch -- and we're gonna keep building on what we got and make it easier for everyone to have a virtual world of their own!

Thanks for your time, Raph!

A closer look at revenues in free-to-play MMOs

Puzzle Pirates, Interviews, MMO Industry, MetaPlace, Free-to-Play, Casual


The free-to-play business model in the MMO industry is one that lets users play a game for free in hopes that a percentage of that userbase will opt to embrace microtransactions, allowing F2P game operators to potentially bring in more revenue per month than they would maintain through subscription fees. We periodically see announcements of yearly revenue from some of the larger companies, but these figures are typically announcements of average revenue per paying user (ARPPU), emphasis on 'paying'. But how much money are free-to-play MMOs really making? This is the subject of an article at Gamasutra written by Paul Hyman titled, 'What Are The Rewards Of 'Free-To-Play' MMOs?"

Hyman catches up with Raph Koster (Metaplace), Daniel James from Three Rings Design (Puzzle Pirates), and Jeremy Liew from Lightspeed Venture Partners (a funding source for F2P MMOs) to discuss the microtransaction model.

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MetaPlace open beta is on

Betas, New Titles, News Items, MetaPlace, Browser, Virtual Worlds

Are you fond of world or story building? Maybe you're thrilled about trying your hand at creating items. Do you have an idea for a great game, but no place - or way - to design it? Are you fascinated by the concept of in-browser-only (not browser/spawn another app like FusionFall or Free Realms) games. Or maybe you're just the type of person who loves to check out new and interesting things created by other people. If any of the above sounds interesting to you then you'll likely want to pop over to the MetaPlace site and check out their shiny new open beta test!

MetaPlace, designed to be a place full of infinite possibility where players can meet, game together, and socialize, has been in closed beta for quite some time. We're curious to see how this world evolves, considering Raph Koster's view on avatar rights to their own created property versus other virtual world platforms like Linden Lab's Second Life. Between that and the basic concept for MetaPlace, we suspect virtual world and MMO afficinados alike will be keeping an eye on this.

Metaplace offers new round of beta keys

Betas, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, MetaPlace, Browser


Raph Koster and the Metaplace team are offering yet another round of beta keys for their web-based open platform virtual world. This is a limited use key, according to an announcement on their brand new Facebook page (which you should totally join). Simply visit www.metaplace.com, enter the code "MPWELCOME" into the "redeem your invite key" box, fill out a bit of info about yourself and you're in!

If you're not sure what Metaplace is, you can head over to their website, our tag page, or a recent interview we did with Raph for more information. As Raph says on his own blog, "Quick, hurry!"

Raph Koster on Metaplace part 2

MetaPlace, Free-to-Play, Virtual Worlds, Interviews (Massively's)


Obviously what that product offers up is ease of use. From the sounds of things Metaplace is going to offer more powerful tools, though still you're striving for an easy experience. Can you give people who are interested in the project how heavily they're going to need to invest in learning languages or scripting in order to make Metaplace worlds?

Metaplace is designed to be both easy and powerful. The goal is to expose the power gradually as people are ready for it. At the low end using it is a lot like using The Sims. You have stuff you can put down, purchase from a marketplace – it's primarily map building. If you're someone that isn't really technically savvy, you can get going in a pretty straightforward way that's a lot of fun. And of course, it's a multiplayer world. Your friends can come visit you.

As you start exploring stuff you can obtain, these things come with functionality out of the box. Spawners are something you can buy and place. Even at that low level you can get interactivity right away. Some of the things you buy are systems. You can buy the 'shoot fireballs' system, and now every player can shoot fireballs. We actually had a user buy that, buy some zombies, and in about three hours had snapped together an undead version of the game Robotron.

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Massively interviews Raph Koster on the State of Metaplace

MetaPlace, Free-to-Play, Virtual Worlds, Interviews (Massively's)


We've spoken before about the Metaplace property – an ambitious project to make everyone an online game designer. As we just announced earlier today, the company is now moving into a new phase of development! They've got a new name, are inviting in hundreds of users to try out their in-development product, and (as we learned) have a whole new round of funding to see them through! In honor of the occasion we were thrilling to sit down with Mr. Raph Koster, one of the founders of the company.

Raph has been a friend of Massively since we launched and, indeed, is well known to MMO gamers for his work on a number of high profile titles. Mr. Koster and the folks at Metaplace are working to put you in the developer's seat now, though, and it was an interesting experience being able to explore the outline of their ambitious project. Read along with us as we talk about the challenges of even 2D, a bit about the Metaplace marketplace, and discuss some of the amazing projects that average folks decide they want to do in their own virtual spaces!

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Massively is giving away 100 Metaplace invitations!

MetaPlace, Virtual Worlds


We've got all sorts of great news today about the upstart startup Metaplace! They've got a new round of funding, a brand-new name, and company founder Raph Koster sat down for us for an in-depth conversation about their plans. They've offered us the unique opportunity to get you involved in the fun, and as a result we have 100 invites to pass out to participate in the grand expiment of Metaplace.

Just like any of our giveaways, entering couldn't be easier. This time entering is just crazy easy; all you have to do is head over to the Metaplace.com website and enter this code into the input box there:

MPMASSIVELY

Once your invite code is in, you'll be able to avail yourself of the really excellent Metaplace experience. You'll be able to test the service and start your own world in the next iteration of the virtual space concept! But hurry! There are only 100 codes available for Massively readers, and first come first serve! Head over there, get signed up, and make sure to tell us how it goes! We'll check back with you in a month or so to see how it's going.

For full details on the new round of Metaplace funding, read on below the cut.

Update: From comments it looks like we're all out folks. Try again next time!

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Metaplace: Now accepting beta applications

Betas, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, MetaPlace

If you missed the first round of beta applications being accepted last year, now's your second chance for an early look at Raph Koster's Metaplace. According to an announcement today, their brand new temporary website is up to promote an expanded beta and their mailing list, both of which you can sign up for quite easily.

To sign up, simply go to the main webpage and click on the "Apply Now" button on the upper left-hand side. From there, you just enter your name and email address, and they will contact you when they're ready. It's as easy as that! Also, look for their newly-designed website to launch soon, as they prepare for what might just be the long-awaited final stages of Metaplace's development.

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