Monday, September 09, 2013

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Virtual World Vs. Virtual World Network: Raph Koster on SL, Metaplace & the Metaverse (Comment of the Week)

Grace in SL and Metaplace

Online world pioneer and Metaplace founder Raph Koster came by New World Notes last week to add his comments on the comparison of Metaplace and Second Life to OASIS of Ready Player One and the Metaverse of Snow Crash, a post inspired by his on blog post on the subject. "I wasn't trying to create a comparison," Raph first notes. "That said, Metaplace had separate educational spaces too." (Other NWN readers had argued Second Life was more like OASIS because it has areas devoted to education.)

Raph went on to conrast the two virtual worlds in an interesting way:

"Really, there were two fundamental differences between Metaplace and Second Life. The first was the graphics. Metaplace in theory supported 3D or 2D, and many devices. In practice it ended up being 2D and web. SL of course is 3D and actually doesn't have very good 2D support. The other difference is that SL is a world with sims and Metaplace was a network of worlds. This is a pretty big difference that isn't all that visible at first. Of course now with OpenSim we do see some aspects of that in the larger SL universe..."

He expanded more on the "network of worlds" concept on his Twitter account (which you should follow here:

"Second Life still feels to me like a single product not a network of worlds. That is actually what was at the heart of Metaplace: a markup language for virtual places. Markup was both description of the world and the network protocol."

I remember well when he imparted that markup vision to me back in 2007. OpenSim does have a network of worlds of its own, which is an impressive achievement in itself, but the total user base remains extremely small. I think the idea is more likely to gain real traction in Minecraft, especially since it's a goal the lead creator has expressed wanting.

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Raph Koster (@raphkoster)

That tweet should have read "markup was both desc[ription of the world] and [the network] protocol." Basically, like HTML is. Curse you, 140 character limit!

Wagner James Au

Thanks, Raph, fixed! I had wondered about that, thought you were referring to a desktop client or something. :)

Arcadia Codesmith

You need anchors. It's like a shopping mall -- strong anchor stores draw in all the little boutique outlets between.

Metacam Oh

Lets not really forget that the OASIS was a corporately owned entity that while was at a threat of being taken over by far worse, didn't really embody anything of the current virtual worlds. You couldn't do much in the OASIS unless you had some cash, including traveling to different OASIS locations. There was a fundamental "game aspect" that was the basis for the OASIS. You couldn't just log in and do whatever you pleased, you had to level up you had to earn/buy things. Perhaps if SL had some underlying game theme it could be more interesting, but I am definitely not of the opinion that virtual worlds are only for the rich or the person with 100 hours to level up their avatar.


activeworlds redux c.1994.

Arcadia Codesmith

AlphaWorld was a brilliant breakthrough. When the metaverse finally coalesces, as I believe is inevitable, I hope it has the capability to incorporate milestone virtual environments that were designed as walled gardens... not least of all because my first virtual build is lost somewhere in that chaotic maze.

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