Raph Koster brought us Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies.
He is now launching Areae with the aim of…taking the tired old virtual world and making it into something fresh and new…new tech that will literally change how virtual worlds are made…something anyone can jump into. Something where everyone can find something fun to do or a game to play. Something where anyone can build their won place o the virtual frontier.
Together with John Donham, Raph has “a cool world or two incubating on the backburner”.
Areae is Latin for “many places, many worlds” and Chocorisu extrapolates what Ralph is cooking in stealth mode…
Given the people involved there’s obviously a strong basis in virtual worlds, so we can immediately imagine something along the lines of Second Life. But instead of one muddled, incoherent mess of boxes with streaming video on them, something more intricate and web-like: a series of inter-connected worlds. Say I want to make my own Dungeons and Dragons themed world: I can choose to link my valley to another D&D fan’s world–and I wouldn’t necessarily be stuck next to a furry sex club just because of arbitrary geography, like in 2nd Life.Given the involvement of Cory Doctorow, one of the founders of Boing Boing who whines on and on about DRM and open source all the time, I’m guessing it’s at least a partly open system. This fits in with the web-based ethos they’re hinting at. I’m going to guess it’s an architecture whereby I can host my own virtual world and link with others. I expect they’ll make money through hosting, but open the software so others can host as well and link back and forth freely.With the various MUD and social world advisors involved, I can imagine a strong social element. Consider the explosion of the blogosphere, and community sites like Flickr and MySpace: there are huge lessons to be learnt in bringing people together. Traditionally it’s been through common goals like fighting goblins and getting to level 60. With SL there’s the goal of earning millions in fake money. MySpace there’s the implicit goal of having a shag.So, in conclusion, it’s an open-source system for making money off interactive 3D porn sites.
Hmmm, Chocorisu has some good points there, but also some crazy non sequiturs. We’ll just skip the sex-related references.
Areae is funded by Crescendo Ventures and Charles River Ventures. We can glean more sense regarding Areae from one of its investors, Susan Wu…Areae sits at the intersection between Web 2.0 and MMOGs. If you think about it, the Web 2.0 and the Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming communities have largely been pretty siloed – gamer developers go to game industry conferences and Web 2.0 folks go to Web 2.0 conferences, and there has not been enough intermingling between the two communities.
Susan goes on to predict what these two communities can learn from each other:
Here’s what the 2 communities can learn from each other: Game designers have been creating rich, fully immersive environments for years. All of the design principles that I thought about when I was designing MUDs are identical to the issues facing Web designers today – how do I create more immersive environments? How do I give participants -equity- in this virtual world? How do I make users feel like real citizens in my social ecosystem? How do I create better scale around world and object creation? How can I expose building tools that were previously available only to Admins and Devs to the end users – and make them dead simple to use? How much content should I pre-seed and what content containers do I think users are going to be more likely to want to customize and make their own?
Yet, the Web 2.0 crowd knows a lot that the game devs don’t: how to create massively scalable, low barrier to entry, micro-chunked experiences. How to create appealing, mass market products that are appealing to a diverse demographic. How to iterate quickly and create production processes that give you tremendous economies of scale around innovation.
Susan makes some profound points…points which resonate with us at Yoick – expect to hear more from us in 2007 about the intersection between the web and persistent worlds.