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When Virtual Worlds Collide 228

Wired is running an interesting article on the realization of past predictions with regards to online gaming and where we are headed for the future. The author predicts that the separation between online worlds like Ultima Online and World of Warcraft may be headed out of style, making your in-game persona as pervasive as an email address. From the article: "Because the current metaverse evolved largely out of videogames, it makes sense that it should be composed of fiefdoms - after all, you wouldn't expect a Grand Theft Auto crack dealer to drop in for a barbecue with the Sims. But there is reason to believe that the divided metaverse is merely a transitional phase, and that its component worlds will coalesce."
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When Virtual Worlds Collide

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  • Yawn... (Score:3, Funny)

    by smoor ( 961352 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:18PM (#14989421)
    And those of us with jobs and lives will STILL not be a part of it...
    • Re:Yawn... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:22PM (#14989451) Journal
      ... and yet you post on /.
    • I'm sure there was a time when the average person thought the same thing of TV. And yes, there are still people who don't watch TV, but it doesn't mean the TV watches are antisocial bums... Well maybe they are..
    • You obviously use the web. Eventually using virtual reality will be a lot like that. Instead of clicking links to move from one world to another you might have to trigger some special type of object but it'll still be mostly the same. It all might start out as a game system but eventually it'll be a powerful tool for getting work done and sharing information. Spatial representation can be useful in many types of problems.

      It's all waiting for the client and server programs of significant power and ease of us
      • Imagine if eBay had a VR interface where people could buy and sell real, or virtual, items for Linden dollars.

        Sounds like a clunky complicated interface for a system that is already more efficient in 2D. Other than the "wow" factor that would wear off after the first time someone uses the system, what is the benefit of moving to 3D?
    • Interesting concept, however they would need to standardize a lot of things between these worlds before it would be possible. I guess an XML format for items, knives would work in fantasy and tech relams, guns would work in tech relams but not in fantasy, similarly with potions and magic items. Magic swords would turn into plain swords in tech. High tech cyberswords into plain swords in fantasy. Characters would have to be broken down to some kind of XML format as well that would be compatible between relam
  • Games too? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:21PM (#14989441) Journal
    So gaming worlds are going to coalesce just like instant messenger serviced did years ag... oh, nevermind ;-)
    • Re:Games too? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IAmTheDave ( 746256 )
      Too true. Proprietary information is too important. Heck, Blizzard sues the shit out of anyone even trying to interop. Thinking that they would allow their servers to host other game metadata, allow interoperability, or anything of this degree is pretty stupid.

      Although, "who needs more than 64k of RAM?" was uttered several times, so I could be completely wrong. I just don't see for-profit companies, who use and abuse every law on the books to protect their systems and intellectual property allowing th

      • Re:Games too? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ADRA ( 37398 )
        You're looking at the wrong companys to 'lead' a united approach. You will see The Microsoft and Sony (PS divison) leading the charge to 'join sonys metaverse! Be an orc today, tomorrow a jedi!' Its all a very slight variation on what Sony already has today with its universal pay scheme. The hook is that It'll also look a lot like MS live arcade.

        Basically, you'll pay for the service and be given unlimited access to all realms (verses) that the service hosts. MS will come up with some nifty lauch titles to m
  • by Buckler ( 732071 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:21PM (#14989443)
    I think the GTA crack dealer would be a hell of a lot more fun at my sims bbq than, say, headcrabs.

    • And why would you say that? At my last Sims BBQ party, we had headcrabs with drawn butter, and they were a big hit!

      The trick to preparing headcrabs is proper tenderizing. A crowbar works best (thanks for the top, Gordon).

      The party would have been a total success, except for two things. Tommy Vercetti got drunk (again) and started mouthing off about how he 'owns this city' (again), and Sam Fisher refused to be sociable at all, instead insisting on hiding in dark corners of the yard, blowing out my tiki to
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:24PM (#14989466) Journal
    after all, you wouldn't expect a Grand Theft Auto crack dealer to drop in for a barbecue with the Sims

    When I pictured this in my head, it was one of the funniest damn concepts I'd seen in awhile. I wonder if somebody could make such a similar game, where various groups work happily at creating little people and families and others play as the carjackers and dealers. Imagine that you log on onto to find that your car has been jacked by local online-gaming hoodlums, or perhaps your wife abducted, and you could persue a form of quest in which you have to hunt them down a-la hollywood style. This could be fun for both those playing the 'criminals' and those playing the 'citizens'.

    Perhaps one could through legitimate playing work up to the level of mayor or congressman, making you a target of the darker elements but also allowing you to hire bodyguards and/or accept bribes. Interesting ide.
    • And then you'd have players play police and jailers. You could then see this as a way to model real life attempts at stopping crime. Untill of couse its realized that jailed playrs simply quit playing or buy another character from some asian farmer (effectivly buying their way out of jail).. Oh yea.. guess it is like real life.
    • by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:37PM (#14989563) Homepage
      It's called Real Life. Graphics and sound are EXCELLENT.

      There's a lot of time spent mindlessly earning gold though, and the biggest problem with it is the lack of a save feature.
      • by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek@m s c i g a r> on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:57PM (#14989742) Homepage
        "biggest problem with it is the lack of a save feature."

        actually, there IS a save feature, it's just that no one in the US knows how to use it..... []

      • MMORPGs don't have a save feature either.
        The main point is permadeath. If you die, you lose the character.
        • > MMORPGs don't have a save feature either.
          > The main point is permadeath. If you die, you lose the character.

          Um, no. You've never played an MMORPG, have you? Permadeath is just about unheard of. If you die, you reappear at your bind point (save point, local hospital, clone location, whatever the MMORPG uses for that concept). You generally take some sort of penalty, often lost experience (in WoW, you don't even lose that, just some damage to your equipment, and not always that).

          Chris Mattern
          • That's exactely my point. "REAL LIFE" has permadeath, you die - you're gone.
            "Save" means that the whole world state is saved and "loading" means returning to THAT point.
            Resurrecting is completely different, as the rest of the world keeps going.
            You've never played an MMORPG, have you?
      • It's called Real Life. Graphics and sound are EXCELLENT.

        Except it's a little low on consequence-free shooting sprees, dungeon-raids and sword fights.

      • Wouldn't that be a kicker, eh? I'm so engrossed in playing this online game known as "real life" that I don't even realize the real me is sitting in a dark basement in some other universe playing on a computer. Boy am I gonna get a surprise when I die.

        The main problem, though would be the fact that, after I died in this life, I'd have to go back to my "real" life, which must be a lot worse than this one since I spend all my waking hours playing this one. Man, that's gonna suck.

    • I am also curious to see how the social effect would play out. Let's say you had a neighborhood of moisture farmers growing food to trade for stuff (I don't play MMO's, so my terms could be way off) and next door someone arbitrarily sets up some miltary outpost or something that disrupts the activities of the group without causing them harm (like something a HOA would regulate in real life) Would the masses form something along the lines of a HOA and settle it civilly, or would they try to go after them i
      • I think you look into the telescope until the aliens come, and then you hire them to take over the army base.

        Hope they have the KillSoldiers Gold Badge.
      • A home owner's association for video games? What leaps to mind is a Dark Wizard with a towering Impregnible Fortress of Suffering, encircled by a moat of molten lava, guarded by skeletal demons and fiery red dragons, all surrounded by a blasted landscape of wasted desert and thorn trees... and then right next to it, some asshole goes and builds a ranch-style home complete with a garage, a minivan in the driveway, and a well-tended lawn and COMPLETELY ruins the neighborhood...
        • "And, oy, his WIFE...some of my orcs went over to complain to her about their dog always doing his business RIGHT ON blasted thorny heath--do you know how hard it is to make those come in right?--and now they're afraid to even leave the Cavern of Eternal Torment..."

          Chris Mattern
    • There has to be a reward for everybody to allow PVP to work in this context. Games are supposed to be fun, afterall.

      It's almost an axiom that nobody wants to roleplay the victim, unless it's a plot device to facilitate an eventual victory. And 'evil' roleplayers are rare. It's more likely the thieves are just griefers who won't continue playing when their characters are eventually caught, thus denying the victims a reward (justice).
    • I'm not a huge Sims fan, but I remember my character (in they Sims the brought out for Linux) was doing pretty well on the Life of Crime career track. I think he was a low level soldier for a Mafia orginization by the time I gave up. He was also having an affair with the wife of a local neighborhood guy, and I think he had a pinball machine...

      Those were good times... good times... sigh...

    • You rich guys and your high-falutin' "houses". You want to come to a REAL barbeque, head on over to my trailer. You can join me, Postal Dude, Gary Coleman, Leisure Suit Larry, and some of the chicks from the C64 version of "Strip Poker" in a little paaaarteee.

      And I know what you're thinking. Yes, some of those Strip Poker chicks might be a little past their prime. But let me tell you, once you get past the stretch marks and wrinkles, they're still not bad. And if you give them a little meth they'll do a lot

    • Actually, I had a similar thought.

      I was thinking, though, that you're in the middle of your Lord of the Rings style quest to get to Elfendale or wherever when, suddenly, an Imperial Storm Trooper and a Halo Master Chief show up in their 4x4 Evolution 2 SUVs and offer to give you a lift. Of course, during the trip, these Carmageddon guys show up...

      Of course, I have weird taste in comics [], too, so that probably explains these thoughts...
    • But why stop at a mashup of GTA and the Sims? Lets throw in a little EVE, WoW and Lineage! Now lets say your family of Sims finds someone jacking their car....nothing a little Meteor Swarm can't handle! Upcoming spellbattle with a rival gang-banger? Get the edge and surprise him by bringing your Battleship to the show for a little orbital bombardment!

      Personally I'd love to see a turf war between the Crips and an army of several hundred Korean power-gamers from a clan I can't pronounce.

      Come to think of i

  • no it won't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joseph_V ( 908814 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:25PM (#14989467)
    Analogy: I'm going to wear my DnD gear to work because of my persistant avatar. I'm going to be a professional lawyer even though I have a degree in medicine because of persistant avatars.

    This is stupid, different people have different ways of escaping, and just because it COULD happen (which would require a level of industry cohesion that will likely never exist) doesn't mean it will.

    1/10 for being a bad idea and not even being funny.
  • Translation:

    I've made up a few reasons while ignoring all the reasons it won't happen. By not giving you a source of the reasons, you might buy this as being anything other than attention whoring.
    • I don't even think he gave any real reasons why it would happen. He just more or less said it would because it would be nice.

      Someone get out the anti-aircraft rockets and shoot that pie out of the sky.
    • Exactly right.

      I used to work at Wired, and the ways in which these types of stories come to light are highly suspect. In this case, somebody probably has a friend who used to play Everquest and now plays World of Warcraft. The author finds out that half of this guy's Everquest guild migrated to WoW, and suddenly we have a feature-length article about how walls between virtual worlds are bound to dissolve.

      Yet another reason I stopped reading the mag. Their neato factor is in slow decline, and their releva
  • hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by engagebot ( 941678 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:29PM (#14989505)
    "making your in-game persona as pervasive as an email address"

    I think the closest we'll get to this is the kind of thing MS does with the Xbox gamertag. Maybe you have the same gamer id for all games, but that doesn't mean the game universes will all intertwine.
    • Have you checked out XFire?

      It's along the same lines as the Xbox gamertag but for PCs. Will show what game you are currently playing, allowing your friends to join you in game, IM you in-game, voice chat, share files, etc.
  • by Hamster Lover ( 558288 ) * on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:29PM (#14989514) Journal
    "When basement worlds collide".

    Ah, that's better.
  • Project Interreality - Virtual Object System (VOS) []

  • Too much Snowcrash (Score:5, Informative)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:33PM (#14989535) Homepage Journal
    Yet another person who needs to spend less time re-reading Snowcrash and more time in the real world.
  • What's amusing is the article cites examples of "convergence" like 80's PC platforms, and then uses that to say online games will "converge" so you can migrate from one to the other.

    Anybody freely moving software from their Amiga or Commodore to their PC?

    Yea, didn't think so. MMORPG's won't converge - at best many will simply die and one will "win".

    This article is nothing but "Need to write something for this issue to keep my job. Hrm, how about baseless random future predictions?"
    • While you're basically completely right, I do have an amiga emulator for my PC and mounted my old amiga HD (upgrade, of course) in a linux box to move all the text and graphics over. It was surprisingly easy, but as far as programs go, would be unsurprisingly pointless.
    • I suppose it all depends on the MMORPG.

      I could easily see a MMORPG system based around G.U.R.P.S []. Yes, it could technically be multiple "play worlds" each devoted to a specific genre (magic and sorcery, cyberpunk, space fantasy), but the underlying mechanics could be set up so that a character COULD transfer between them (although it might be painful as prized skills might now be useless due to technology ... or lack there of).

      Yes, it would require co-ordination (perhaps at an unprecedented level), but its
  • by brucifer ( 12972 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:35PM (#14989545)
    Its great to post speculative articles and all, but seriously, I'm not buying into using the word "metaverse" no matter HOW many times you use it in one paragraph.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:38PM (#14989571) Homepage Journal
    I seriously doubt it.

    Apparently the author has no understanding of why these games appeal and why the differences between how they appeal to different segments of the gaming populace is what stands between what is now and what he is dreaming of.

    First players would want to have some kind of convergence and I doubt only a few do. If people want to communicate between games its not hard to IRC/AIM now with other applications. Trading between games? As in skills, items, etc, - he is smoking way to much crack. First most game companies probably could not get their own products to talk to each other let alone find a viable means of exchanging persona or items between the two. Can't imagine the hell that would be there for communication between two different companies. Like they would really want their customers playing a competitors game.

    Uh, this guy saw the Matrix and believed it. Some people just buy into the idea of Virtual Reality and then seek to apply it to anything that they don't understand or any group that is managed/organized via a computer. Throw the word internet in their for good measure too.
    • TFA is working with a sound premise, but the author just didn't spell it out very well. I have been saying the same thing, and I will offer odds that it will happen in the next decade or so.

      Here is what I think he was trying to say: Given that MMORPG games have become an established genere onto themselves, and their basic design archetecture is very similar, when will the developers get together and design a basic MMORPG API to aleviate the need to reinvent the wheel for each game? While the game mechani
  • wishful thinking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:39PM (#14989576) Homepage
    Yeah, when i saw this in the print version it struck me as a giant batch of wishful thinking, powered by a way overstrained metaphor (80s computer networks vs. the later internet)

    The only way this works is by boiling everything down to the lowest common denominator, and taking out the unique worldmaking which makes each game spcial.

    Like someone else said, this might be an XboxLive-ish "gamer tag" across games, or maybe even some kind of shared standard UI for First Person games, but beyond that, it's just too many nights spent reading "Snow Crash"
  • Games are developed by different companies. What is the motivation for companies to work together on any sort of standard? Sony wouldn't particularly want Everquest players to pay for other online RPGs.

    If it's going to happen, I think it will first happen between games made by the same company.

  • Trust me - you'll thank me later!
  • I don't see my undead priest flying my EVE ship more than I see myself using my /. karma to impress people on Fark.
    Anyway, after RTFA, it seems more like someone had a pot induced idea than anything serious.
  • by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:45PM (#14989644) Homepage Journal
    This is one of the silliest things I've heard in a long time for a multitude of reasons.

    First, it assumes that companies are willing to share their gaming technology and infrastructure. That alone cancels it out. Do people really think that EA is going to make the server and game specifications, possibly the source code itself, for Battlefield 2020 available to be licensed by competing gaming companies so that Diablo VII can interact with it - and vice versa? After all, if you're going to cross into another games' realm, that realm would have to look as though you were playing it through the other game for it to be convincing.

    Also, would all of the worlds in this "common architecture" and their graphical components (models, textures, and so forth) have to be loaded on my system or will I have to wait while several hundreds of GB are downloaded? I personally don't want to see "Now integrated with Common Architecture(TM)! Comes on seven BluRay discs with all of the components of other Common Architecture(TM) games right on your system!" This would of course require the necessary system requirements of 400 GB of hard drive space.

    Then comes the corporate politics of who will be responsible for connectivity between the various games. "Well, it's not our problem that our game servers are not communicating. Contact the other company." "No, our network is running fine! It's a connectivity problem on their end."

    Of course, the cost of development must come into play. Does it make sense to have to disparate games that communicate together and effectively end up looking and playing the game and risk the inter-corporate political BS that will undoubtedly ensue?

    But on a more practical level, if I want to play a Star Wars game, I obviously want that kind of environment! To even suggest that I'd want to take a Star Wars character and interact with an EverQuest character is nonsense! If I want EverQuest, I'll load EverQuest.

    And shall we guess how a bug in one developer's coding might disrupt the gameplay of the other developers' products?

    I can understand perhaps bridging the gap between play systems, such as allowing players of the same game on the PS3, Xbox, and PC game together. In fact, EA is already exploring that possibility based on a few customer surveys I've received from them. I can even understand different games from different developers under the same publisher, but only as a fun, side benefit that does not encompass the entire game.

    But bridging the gap between games and companies in order to form a "common architecture"? I'd rather just have a "common artchitecture" under one game company with the inherent benefits (and drawbacks) of only having to deal with that company instead of the massive potential for the blame game to kick in. Otherwise, how is this "common architecture" going to be nothing more than the same damned game from different publishers?

    No, thanks. I'll pass. I don't know what the author of the article was smoking, but that must be some really good shit.
    • But comeon...WoW would be so much easier if I could bring in a tank from Battlefield 2. And Battlefield 2 would be much easier if I could bring in a few spacecraft from Star Wars. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. Why are you so resistant to change? You luddites make me sick.
      • I can see it now....

        Guy A walks into virtual ebay world to buy a stick of memory.
        Just as the auction runs out Guy B outbids him and wins the auction.
        Guy A walks over to guy B and says "WTF man, that's messed up!"
        Guy B replies "Wtf u gonna do noob."
        Guy A kicks Guy B's ebay-avatar in the nuts.
        Guy B pulls out a Desert Eagle and caps guy A.
        As guy B starts walking away, an undead preist rides in from WoW resurrects Guy A.
        Guy A spawns as a light infantry and takes down guy B with his M-16.
        Guy B is on vent and cal
    • The problem with your argument is that it's demonstrably wrong, because you're engaging in a trees/forest problem.

      Of course you don't want to have the same character in every MMORPG, that would suffer from all the problems you've pointed out. But the character in any given game is one of the trees, the "metaverse" they're talking about will end up being the forest.

      As it is right now, I'm an XBox Live subscriber. Which means I'm "Control Group" when I play CoD2, I'm Control Group when I play PGR3, I'm Contro
  • Aside from all the other reasons why this won't happen, which other posters have mentioned, it seems to me that one of the big ones is that we don't want this to happen. One of the biggest advantages of these individual virtual worlds is that they are isolated - that's what gives them their unique character. Part of the fantasy of playing in one of these games is that you get to be someone different in each one.

    My level 60 mage does not want to steal cars in GTA!
  • Hmmm, perhaps my son's goal of being a virtual cop in the online worlds could be a good career choice after all.
  • As a kind of an online version of GURPS [], but the problem is that it would be a complete rewrite of the existing MMORPG's we all know and love to fit a more universal playing system, and very unlikely to happen.

    I think the closest we're going to get to a "pervasive avatar" is a unified website where everyone can see how Jim Bob is doing in WoW, Vendetta Online, and GTA, at least until quantum computing and AI creates a computer that is able to be the electronic equivalent of the Uber-GM - but maybe witho

    • I think the closest we're going to get to a "pervasive avatar" is a unified website where everyone can see how Jim Bob is doing in WoW, Vendetta Online, and GTA

      I'd like to see the ability to design your own character model, within limits (height requirements, opacity, grab points for hanging stuff off of it). You'd see people running around as a giant penis, but dammit, that's what some people want!

  • by tukkayoot ( 528280 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:51PM (#14989694) Homepage
    I've read people make similar claims before, but I am having a difficult time grasping this idea. I read this article thinking it might provide some sort of satisfactory explanation of how any architecture could do an adequate job of resolving the serious differences (and contradictions) between different types of virtual worlds and the avatars, environments and challenges that populate them.

    I don't understand how you can mix together such differing genres as Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto and The Sims all together in such a way that does not completely wreck any sense of immersion the player might hope to achieve, for one thing.

    Game mechanics and balance produce another problem. Unless all of the unified games utitlize an extremely similar set of game mechanics, interplay and competition between avatars from different "realms" would seem impossible, or at very least, potentially massively unbalanced.

    Sorry, I'm just having a horrible time wrapping my head around this one. I'd like to think this is a cool idea, but I'm not really grasping what the advantage to doing this even is. Having an open standard for e-mail works because if there were not a standard, as communications tool it would be a lot less useful. Do games need to be part of a standard to be fun? Do standards make them more fun? Doesn't this present a danger of further homogenizing the already somewhat redundant MMO space?

    I'd love to understand why people think this is so inevitable, and why it's a good thing. I think I want to be able to escape to discrete worlds, different worlds for different moods, experiences and challenges, and I don't see the big deal in not necessarily having to create a new avatar for each world (which I've always considered to be part of the fun in playing a new game).

    • I didn't bother to RTFA, expecting that the commentary would be the most interesting part. That said, I suspect if anything like this did come about, it would be more from interface designers building clients based on MMO technologies rather than game companies suddenly deciding that singing Kum-ba-yah is a good idea.

      It's taken us ten years to get from "web as extended text document" to "web as a unique presentation model", and we're not really realizing the fullness of it yet, but we're at least getting t
  • One way or another, consolidation is all but inevitable.
    Only in the virtual world he lives in.

    Diverse and incompatible standards - CompuServe members could only email other CompuServe members - gave way to a common platform that allowed everyone to connect.
    I fail see this as an example or an indication of how gaming worlds will or should interoperate in any way. There is no standard way for games to communicate or operate, and unlike other forms of communication, there is hardly a *need*.
  • People play games as much for the rules as for the worlds or the characters they create. Games are not just stories, they are systems. For example, even though the d20 System in the pencil and paper game world has been successful, there are still many other game systems. In business computing, figuring out new rules (how does this damned app work? Why is this OS different?) present annoyances. In the world of games, these challenges are part of the exploration and fun.

  • you wouldn't expect a Grand Theft Auto crack dealer to drop in for a barbecue with the Sims.

    I don't know what kind of parties this guy throws but at my house the crack dealer is a manditory attendee.
  • I find it an interesting idea, albeit a somewhat unrealistic one. It requires a bit of revisualizing the universes these games take place in. The Sims takes place in a neighbourhood. GTA takes place in a city. Warcraft takes place on a continent. Sci-fi worlds tend to take place over solar systems or galaxies... you COULD combine them. You have a Sim in your neighbourhood, and the car theif from Vegas comes through. Maybe he robs your house, maybe he hides in the shrubs. Meanwhile, in a different ga
  • Pretty much after reading my article,I began wondering if this guy even plays the games or hangs out with people online, and how the hell he's extrapolating this.

    Games produce worlds. World's have certain rules and bounds. Different worlds have different systems. Converging these worlds kind of wrecks the individuality and specificity people want out of them. Starting over? That's part of the fun. Different personas? The same thing - we don't always want ot be the same person.

    Sure, there will be conv
  • by Ced_Ex ( 789138 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @03:06PM (#14989806)
    Here's the theory according to George Costanza

    Relationship George versus Independent George. Who will win?

    Relationship George is George when he is with Susan.

    Independent George is George when he is with his friends: liar George, for example.

    If the two meet...Relationship George will destroy Independent George.
  • by DrVomact ( 726065 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @03:07PM (#14989823) Journal
    People seem skeptical of this article's prediction--and I have to admit there wasn't much attempt to outline how such a "metaverse" would work, or counter obvious objections. Still, I think something like Neal Stephenson's metaverse would be fun--and maybe even useful and possible.

    One obvious objection is that each online "fiefdom"--let's just call it a "fief"-- currently has its own set of rules, and that these rules are incompatible--you can't mix a high fantasy RPG with Grand Theft Auto--or even Star Wars. That would make about as much sense as mixing chess with baseball. But why couldn't there be a neutral layer that connects all these now-closed universes? You could regard online games as a set of conventions that are adopted by a certain subset of those who inhabit the metaverse. Indeed, the metaverse could provide a meeting place where potential players gather to design and implement games. (I'm making the assumption that game engines and design components will be made accessible enough in the future so that it doesn't take years of heads-down coding to make a game.)

    The metaverse could also provide a forum for the adherents of different fiefs to negotiate a common interface--which could involve agreements about what powers or artifacts can be transferred from one fief to another, how a certain level of achievement can be translated from one fief to another, and so forth. Games could become open-ended, with players moving on from one fief to another without losing everything they gained in the last one. Avatars might be allowed to play in more than one fief at a time, or might even gain status in the metaverse depending on their achievements in fiefs.

    In time, the metaverse itself could become a very interesting place--a place where people meet to talk, plan expansions or vote on changes to the metaverse, or just hang out. Hey, can I call dibs on the lot across from the Black Sun?

    • People seem skeptical of this article's prediction--and I have to admit there wasn't much attempt to outline how such a "metaverse" would work, or counter obvious objections. Still, I think something like Neal Stephenson's metaverse would be fun--and maybe even useful and possible.

      While I agree the article itself is so much fart gas, I also agree the core concept is sound. It's certainly not going to happen tomorrow, and the winner will likely be the last one standing, but the metaverse concept will even

  • When I think about persistant online worlds I always think about the way it worked in Reboot. They all lived in the local computer and then jumped into the game blocks in which they received unique attributes. I think in the future we'll have a similar setup, (much like croquet []) where you will have a local 3D world, (probably of your own design), and be able to 'step' into the other worlds owned by other people. In this new world you will have whatever presence the owner of the world grants you. Current
  • Take a look at the Croquet Project run by Alan Kay.

    I wonder how many /. users can think as to why Croquet is better long term than WoW or whatever? My guess is less than 1%.

  • Remember There? []. The original concept of There was a seamless planet-sized world where you could play. Technically, that was achieved. But it turned out not to be much fun. "There" does, though, try to have areas with different styles. A "Renaissance Faire" is going on right now. So at least one system mixes styles. Not too well; you can buy a "chain mail dune buggy" and drive it to the Renaissance Faire.

    "There" had business model problems. At one point, the big thing was buying real-world designer

  • I think the idea of MMORPGs coalescing is interesting, but not because of the conclusions a lot of people are jumping to. I agree it's ridiculous to expect a character from EverQuest to suddenly just show up in World of Warcraft, with migrated skills and whatnot. It's not something game developers would really want to do.

    However, for those that play a lot of MMOs and regularly jump from game to game, there often is the notion of having "one on-line persona". Already there are guilds that span multiple games
  • Of course UO and WOW will go out of style! Who wouldn't want the number of users of WOW with the famous stability of Ultima Online?

    No, seriously. I think it would be neat to combine some genres. Sniper rifles make any game better -- especially golf.

    And who wouldn't want to do Grand Turisimo Online while Turok Dinosaur Hunters are driving herds of wild brontosauruses across the I-5?

    Could be very fun, but obviously if companies can't even keep their own games debugged (WOW has greatly declined in stablility,
  • Yeah. No. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jaybill ( 73939 )
    I think this line of thinking is absurd. It makes no sense from a gameplay perspective. To use the aformentioned example, if the crack dealer from GTA shouldn't drop in on the Sims BBQ, why have that ability? Even in MMOs, one of the major points of the game, ostensibly, is to experience the world. If the worlds are all the same, or can be transversed easily, why bother? There has already been an attempt at this, it's called Second Life []. You can, in fact, have a magic castle next to an urban wasteland
  • making your in-game persona as pervasive as an email address

    Hello sir,

    I am interested in a position in your great organization. Attached is my resume. You can find my contact information at the bottom of this correspondance.

    I hope to hear from you soon.


    Level 28 Night Elf, Hunter
    Lothar Realm
    World of Warcraft
  • ... Online RPG based on Westwoods old Torg [] game? It could work, basically the way it worked was this:

    There are a bunch of alternative universes, high-tech, high-magic, gothic-horror, techno-horror, pulp-fiction, each one is ruled by a bad guy and all of the bad guys have to listen to a master bad guy.

    The rulers of these universes invade earth, and set up reality zones [], which mostly conform to the rules of their reality. When someone from a high-tech reality goes to a high-fantasy zone, for instance, h

  • My Star Wars AT-AT vs your bedwetting lvl20 Elf Archer.

    I can't wait to see drug dealers, drive bys, and ho's in WoW.
  • That about sums it up for me. While this may be a neat experiment that will happen with a few similar games in the same genre now and then, I don't think I'll be playing my Animal Crossing character in a Star Wars universe anytime soon.
  • "Sometimes futurists get the future right." Yes, and twice a day a broken clock shows the right time. Here are just a few hopefully perspective-inducing observations...

    First, a mistake so common among Wired futurists and theorists: they confuse the relatively tiny group of well-off, young nerds who are in with the latest gadgets with humanity. "People" are by no means living in cyberspace. Humanity is in approximately the same place it was 30 years ago, i.e., a majority of people don't own a telephone. No o
  • The article was pretty vague, but to suggest that one day people will just be able to move their character from game world to game world is absurd.
    Aside from obvious "What is a hobbit doing on the deathstar" problem, gamers would never go for it.
    one of the best aspects of a new mmo is that it is new, not just new to me but new period. I'm starting out fresh just like the world is, just like everyone else.. The "level race" starts over, I have the option to be a pioneer in the game.
    By simply moving a c
  • Economic Incentive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @05:25PM (#14990913)
    What exactly is the economic incentive for them to coalesce? Last time I checked, the whole point was to pump gamers for money on a monthly cycle, rather than just up front with each release.
  • Can't wait to lay some totems and frostshock some punkass CT's in Counterstrike!
  • I think it's possible, just as an operating system can have 90% of the marketshare, I believe that a single company can come out with a "game" that incorporates different genres and experiences into a single world and take control of 90% of the marketshare for MMO games. Lot's of people seem to say this idea is an impossibility because companies won't reach a compromise and share their own technologies, which is true today. The way this would work though, is using the operating system analogy and having 1 c
  • I'd love to see a "passport" app that reads one VR avatar's properties, then converts and registers it in a different VR, mapping properties across. Of course earned experience, wealth and status have to be earned anew. But one's "basic persona" could be available in the new game.

    The major problem is probably the avatar's name. Each VR has its own namespace, and sometimes naming prohibitions. There's no guarantee that one's name will be registrable in the new VR. But an interesting case can be made for trad
  • EXCELLENT! (Score:3, Funny)

    by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Friday March 24, 2006 @10:50PM (#14992364) Homepage
    My 15th level mage casts Enhanced Charm on Lara Croft.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.