[vworld-tech] Ultimate MMO Platform

Crosbie Fitch crosbie at cyberspaceengineers.org
Fri Apr 2 06:49:44 PST 2004

> From: Jim Purbrick
> The industry is playing 8 minute guitar solos, are 
> we going to see
> lots of little, dirty, fun, 3-chord-wonder punk rock games in the near
> future?

I think there will be a new indie generation, as the last one becomes fully commercialised, entrenched, and stagnant.

I'm biased obviously, but I reckon www.openwaregames.com is a sign of things to come.

> I'm not sure that I've seen a viable business yet, although it may be
> happening now. As far as I can see it file and music sharing 
> is still mainly copyright flouting anarchic piracy.

I think one needs to be very careful before one repeats the RIAA's mantra that this is piracy. They don't like it one bit, certainly, but think about the artists before shedding tears over the decline of the labels' empire.

Filesharing mucks up the copyright based business model sure, but if the Internet is to become ever more optimised for instantaneous content distribution (as we need for p2p games), then to punish its use for content distribution is like punishing people for slanderous gossip.

Things designed for intercourse carry out their function, often so well, it would be ludicrous to attempt to control it.

My original point was, that despite the lack of a business case, sometimes p2p systems get implemented anyway.

> > You only worry about trust when you have something to lose.
> Like hundreds of hours advancing your character. With p2p 
> sharing you go
> online if you're lucky you find something you want, so you 
> download it. Then
> you keep it safe on your machine or back it up. With an MMO 
> you expect your
> character and the bits of the world you're in to be available 
> when you want to play.

Well, even at the extremes, you can still have complete loss and still feel like carrying on. I've played RTSes and before I learnt to use the pause feature, sometimes I would leave a game chugging away by itself for a while and when I returned I'd find half my city decimated. C'est la vie.

It's a bit like building castles in a sandpit or on a beach. You go away for lunch, and if you're lucky, the tide hasn't yet come back up, and other kids haven't trampled it. Otherwise, your half-built ramparts are a now vague bump in the flat sands, or some dog has crapped all over them.

But, that's one extreme.

Even with p2p filesharing, if you put a file in your shared folder, nothing short of a raid by the RIAA will destroy, remove, or even corrupt that file.

That's the other extreme.

Somewhere in between we have a fair consensus held by the majority in permanent opposition to a vandal minority.

> Absolutely. You can probably do some really interesting games 
> p2p, I'm just not sure about MMOs.

Oh dear... Don't tell me that "MMO" has now been completely appropriated solely for the use of client/server systems or Graphical MUDs?

Maybe we need to move over to "VWorlds" ?

I though MMO meant any multiplayer game that involved a massive number of players simultaneously interacting in the same online environment (via the Internet).

> A p2p cyberspace might be the 
> ultimate X
> platform, but I'm not sure that X = MMOs, at least in the 
> form we currently
> see them.

I'd agree that X is unlikely to be like any of the current server arbitrated games.

> And the hard part with online games is ensuring that the 
> rules are adhered
> too when there are lots of people out to break them or find 
> loopholes in
> them. This is hard enough when it's just the players you 
> don't trust, let
> alone when you can't trust the judges.

There are no rules in real life apart from the laws of nature.

There are groups of people that threaten force or other penalty as a means to persuade other people to adhere to a set of rules (society+police+imprisonment), but God does not enforce these, though many would like to think so.

To some extent, in a virtual world we don't even need laws of nature. We can conspire to make our objects adhere to them, but it may well be that the occasional hacker figures out how to make an object that doesn't.

One hopes that for every black hat there will be a hundred white hats.
> Building infrastructure before the content seems to be a bit 
> like trying to
> sell TVs before there's any channels. The infrastructure and 
> content must
> develop together and there needs to be some nascent content before you
> start.

I think this is the key.

We must make it incredibly easy for people to insert any virtual scenery from other systems into the system (whether VRML, X3D, X, Quake/Unreal/Halflife map, Lego city, etc.).

> Maybe the EQs and DAOCs are the AOLs and Delphis that existed 
> before the
> web. When people start adding content to MMOs and making them 
> their own
> (which they will do in the near future), maybe you'll find 
> that they would
> rather add content to a free, global infrastructure than a 
> proprietary one.

Yes, I reckon so.

> > So, probably even before you worry about the technical 
> > details, it may be best to confront this business dilemma 
> > first: Do you want to control access to this 
> > platform/technology/environment?
> I don't much care at the moment. I'd rather have the thing 
> open, but if the
> best way to fund technological progress is to build 
> controlled environments,
> then so be it. The tech will trickle down in to the public 
> domain. I don't
> think you need to have a free or nothing attitude up front.

Yep, we could say that the system is only secure if run on Butterfly.net et al, but if run publicly is good for testing purposes but quickly descends into chaos.

> I'd rather start with the state-of-the-art in academic 
> research and build a
> system used by people from there. At the moment the best 
> place to do that
> seems to be at one of the AOL precursor companies.

Yep. But, there's those that manage to get such a position, and those that don't.

> I'm interested in general purpose 
> metaverses, but the
> best place to work on them is to work on games, because at 
> least you can charge people and so get paid.

Unfortunately, the 'charge people' bit does tend to influence the system design choices.

> Because they work in academia, had a bunch of information 
> resources that
> needed to be organised and after doing that decided to throw 
> a bone to the rest of humanity.

Where's today's CERN eh?

> The web started by linking together existing documents, it 
> seems to me that
> cyberspace needs to start by linking together existing virtual worlds.


> > It just needs the right person(s) to be in the right place at 
> > the right time and have the right resources.
> And I salute you! (and may try to help in the future if time allows)

Hehe. This ball you've left here sure does have a lot of shoulder prints in it.

It's like a huge snowball that's frozen fast to the glacier beneath it. No doubt it would roll well, but it's breaking it free that's the problem.

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