Good point from JohnC, looking at the latest from virtual world companies:
It always seems strange to me that companies that create virtual world platforms never seem to create actual virtual worlds. To me it is as if in real life you were to go to an estate agent to buy a house and you find just pictures of plots of land with a stack of bricks and some sacks of mortar standing in the middle of them. Even if the whole idea is that this virtual space is to become a place for people to express their own creativity, there must surly be some kind of show homes to demonstrate all the possibilities. And these show homes must be spectacular. Linden Lab never did this with Second Life, so even now people outside the walled garden still think that it is incapable of great looking graphics.
In fairness, Linden Lab has always had starter areas, but to his point, they've never been very extensive. And in recent years, Linden Lab has been expanding on the "world" aspect with full-fledged game experiences. And in the very early days (2003-2005), there was an attempt to make the Second Life mainland seem like a world, with a "Governor's" mansion, an official public auditorium, the free fire Outlands, a prim-spewing oil rig, and so on. But in my view, Linden Lab didn't devote enough consistent efforts to this project, then let go of their world-building duties too soon, leaving new users to wander, confused and frustrated, in a big empty.
Anyway, more on this theme from John, and how it applies to new virtual world platforms Sansar, High Fidelity, and "space":
I mean what is a virtual world if it is not a visual experience, it may as well be a text chat room. Same goes for avatars. If you look at a few YouTube videos of cutting edge avatars in up and coming games, they are beautiful works of art and the comments will be full of drooling players longing to become these characters.
But what do we find when it comes to virtual world companies? The avatars are always what looks like bad after thoughts. SL has some decent looking mesh avatars now, after 10 years! But all people wanted ever was a decent base character male and female mesh to work with, and a good animation override.
I know that people go to virtual worlds ultimately for the social experience, community etc. But if you want to attract juicy kids to put in your stew, you first need a spectacular gingerbread house -- ask any half decent hungry witch. Then once you get them in the house you have to keep them entertained. The gingerbread house effect only lasts a very short while. So your amazing drool-inducing virtual space has to immediately contain something to entertain your new visitors; Ideally this is other visitors or at the very least, greeters, even if you have to pay them.
There is nothing in the world that looks worse to a new user than empty virtual space, even if it looks spectacular. All virtual worlds suffer from the ghost town effect. Then you must entertain your visitors. You have to give them something that they are going to want to return for more of -- good conversation, friendship, sex, violence, money, challenge, or combinations of these are what all standard games consist of. They just have to be there right from the start.
You should also not forget that your audience are adults. The attitude that, all this will come in time when the user base and community is there is a dodgy game to play --chances are your world will die before this happens or sink into niche mediocrity. For me Space suffers from a lack of the majority of the above right now; the developers have done a fantastic job to get it this far, but at the moment it seemed like a pile of Bricks and Mortar looking for the builders. High fidelity and Sansar look pretty much the same, but they have a huge gingerbread house effect courtesy of the VR headset wow effect.
Or like Gertrude Stein said about Oakland (which is unfair to Oakland, but not to most virtual worlds): "There's no there there."
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