Is "space" the Place? Readers Weigh Pros & Cons of New Virtual World from SL/OpenSim Veterans

Space MMO virtual world SL

Last week's post on "space", the new Unity 3D-based virtual world lead developed by Adam Frisby/Zauis, a pioneer of Second Life/OpenSim development, generated a lot of interest and visits to its homepage, not to mention a lot of conversation -- much more, surprisingly, than the new demo video of Sansar. Readers are mixed on how important it is. Weighing in skeptically (as he often does), JohnC says:

I think this demonstrates the huge problem that exists. This is a perfectly good attempt to create something to rival SL. But why on earth would any SL user transfer there in order to start all over again in a project that may or may not succeed; you just get the Blue Mars label thrown at you. Besides, you need to be able to use Unity to really make the best of this, and if you are that good with Unity, you could most likely have a go at the whole project yourself, or at least make a decent game without the unnecessary front end viewer.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, except it is competing in a market that already has perfectly good functioning tried and tested Virtual world, SL, plus a totally free version which uses exactly the same tools and viewer, Open Sim. SL users are the virtual world equivalent of hard core gamers in the outside world. You kind of need a few of them to get your world on it's feet. 

And this also illustrates why Sansar and Hi fidelity are pushing their products as VR headset platforms, because they know they cannot compete with SL on a none headset level. This is not a criticism, just a comment on the huge mountain anyone wishing to compete in the non-headset world, has to climb.

Mentioning Blue Mars makes me wince because, well you know, but it's a fair point. On the other side, Cindy Bolero, longtime SLer, makes a strong case for space:

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GoofBlocks: New iOS Game from Creators of Second Life's Popular Zooby's Brand

Goofblocks Prim Zoobys

GoofBlocks is a cute and wacky-looking free new iPhone/iPad game with an interesting backstory for NWN readers: The game is developed by PowerPrim, LLC, and as that name suggests, it has a Second Life background -- they're the same developers behind the very popular Zooby's virtual babies and animals, who invested the money they earned from their Second Life inventions to finance development of mobile games too:

"The games have the same creativity we brought to SL," says Carrie Mandel, co-founder of PowerPrim. "They are from the same focused team that listened to players and provided enjoyable content... GoofBlocks is a puzzle game that is fun, creative and addictive from the same artist that designed all the baby faces [for Zoobys]. We plan to add new levels, features and characters to GoofBlocks and a social feature where players can challenge friends."

Goofblocks gameplay trailer below. Zoobys creatures, Carrie adds, will continue thriving in Second Life:

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Virtual Hype, Real Numbers: Total Projected VR Install Base for 2016 Under 6.25 Million

This is what a niche of a niche of a niche looks like:

VR HMD sales 2016 SuperData

From SuperData Research, for my money the best game industry analytics firm out there, an even factoring in the just-announced Google Daydream, the total install base for all mid to premium VR HMDs is projected to grow to way less than 7 million. With console and mobile-based devices, from Sony and Samsung respectively, way ahead of the Vive and Rift, which still get way more publicity.

I say this is a niche of a niche of a niche, and there's a very good reason for that:

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In Jane Austen-Themed MMO, Telling Lies is a Player vs. Player Mechanic

Ever Jane Austen MMO Lying

Ever, Jane, the Jane Austen-themed, still-in-Beta MMO lead-designed by Linden Lab alum Judy Tyrer, has an amazing game mechanic I've never quite seen before in an MMO: Telling lies about other players' characters to cause player damage.

"The lies come from Pride and Prejudice," Judy tells me, citing the Austen novel that inspired this. Willoughby lies about Darcy. "We haven't sufficiently impressed stats on players yet but gossip affects your stats, so if a lie is spread about you, you start to lose reputation. If you catch the liar, the loss comes back to you double."

Which is fricking brilliant... and, I bet, likely to cause player vs. player ragequitting as brutal as when players shoot crossbows into each others' face. So you know this Jane Austen game is hardcore. (Video below.)

Judy tells me they're still integrating lies and the consequence of lies into the game's content:

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Kickstart This: Dual Universe, Single-Shard MMO With Voxel-Based User-Generated Content

Dual Universe is an intriguing MMO on Kickstarter which has everything to fit my gold standard of a next gen MMO: It's single-sharded, it enables voxel-based user-generated content, and it puts the focus on emergent gameplay in which player behavior impacts the world in unpredictable ways.

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Jane Austen MMO from Linden Lab Vet Featured on Kotaku!

Ever Jane Jane Austen MMO

If you're still not convinced enough to try out Ever, Jane, the Jane Austen-themed MMO from Linden Lab veteran Judy Tyrer, Kotaku's Cecilia D'Anastasio has an in-depth (dare I say "embedded virtual journalist") profile up now. Don't forget that Ever, Jane players can get a special-to-NWN 100 Pounds Sterling Regency bonus if they post their username in this post.

Meantime, read how Ms. D'Anastasio captures the flavor of the gameplay:

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Pokémon Has Been Playable in Second Life for Over 8 Years -- in Full 3D!

Pokemon Go SL Arccanine

About to catch an Arccanine

The Pokémon franchise has been around in various forms for twenty years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a team of Second Life users have created a playable version of the game. What is surprising is how long the game has existed, and how ambitious it is -- and how few players even knew it existed, until the Pokémon Go phenomenon. For the last 8 or years, in fact, the three creators have been building and maintaining a full Pokemon roleplaying experience on the island of Ravenlock. Only recently, thanks to the new augmented reality mobile game hit, foot traffic from random visitors in search of virtual Pokémon has spiked.

“On average,” lead creator Mindy Runo tells me, “we get roughly ten new players a day prior to Go. And now it’s about twenty to thirty [a day].”

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Here's the Inevitable Pokémon Go in Second Life Machinima

Because every Internet-powered trend inevitably winds up in some form in Second Life:

Created by Mistell Production Film, the answer to your first question is no, this is not actually a version of Pokémon Go that's playable in Second Life, but a fan-made tribute machinima to the augmented reality game/TV show/etc. However, according to one viewer, there is at least one playable Pokémon Go game for SLers currently in production:

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Play Urja: First-Person Strategy Game by Famed Anonymous Second Life Creator -- Now On Sale for 99 Cents on Steam

Urja is a strange and beautiful-looking first-person strategy game that came out a couple years ago but is now on sale on Steam for just 99 cents here.

As it happens, Urja was created by a famous Second Life creator whose avatar name I can't mention for reasons of privacy, but if you're a longtime SLer, you almost certainly know about him (or her). I will say Urja looks like it draws from similar fantastic visuals and sense of surprise and wonder this artist was renowned for in SL. Anyway, instead of belaboring that point, here's some more about the game:

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What Pokémon GO Needs to Keep Thriving: Veteran MMO Game Designer Raph Koster Explains

Pokemon Go Raph Koster MMO

"Augmented Reality is an MMO" is a widely-discussed analysis of Pokémon GO by veteran MMO game designer Raph Koster, explaining why the AR-based blockbuster is basically a massively multiplayer online game that's soon to encounter many of the problems MMOs face, with those problems now threatening to impact the real world even more. (As they're starting to already.) Since this is the first augmented reality hit and since so many play it (including me), I asked Raph what Pokémon GO's developer, Niantic, should do to keep its virtual economy stable and help insure the game itself doesn't become a short-term fad.

"They need to create a sense of interdependence between players, so that other players are always seen as a mutual benefit," Raph tells me. "They need to provide support/redress facilities for problems, and anticipate that the problems will arise."

But how to build interdependence? "Roles is the classic way." He means something like classic MMO classes such as tank, healer, etc, but “it doesn't have to be those. After all, goalie, striker, midfielder, defender are also roles.”

Perhaps an even greater concern is how Pokémon GO's virtual economy is managed:

"Seems clear it's an inflationary system right now, very few drains," says Raph. (A drain or "gold sink" is a game mechanic which removes virtual currency or valuable items from the game economy, to reduce inflation.) "If [player-to-player] trading comes, real money trading will happen instantly... Once there is trade, it's classic Mudflation." (I.E., where the value of virtual items in a game become grossly over or under-valued based on player supply and demand.)

"It's pure faucet. The creatures never die. That's where value pools. Mudflation ahoy."

As for maintaining Pokémon GO usage over the long term, Raph has a very interesting suggestion there:

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