Friday, December 10, 2010

Exploring the Metaverse

Virtual Reality is one of those things people used to think was cool, but now is almost universally acknowledged as a stupid idea. Even putting aside the silly goggles and huge gyroscope equipment made to make you feel in the game, which isn't necessary anyway because, as anyone who plays games seriously will tell you, it's easy to get caught up in the experience on your own (I have felt the heat of Norfair plenty of times without fancy neural interfaces). Despite (or maybe even because of) all the silly Hollywood crap where people become trapped in some virtual reality, the interest in that kind of thing is rapidly draining away. Maybe I will feel different when there is a non-invasive full neural interface that let me feel sex over the internet or something, cause goodness knows I am not getting any in real life. Also I would be a girl of course. Er I mean... anyway moving on...

But although the idea of hooking yourself up to a computer sounds sillier and sillier, using computers to make neat virtual worlds to play around with has not. Games seem to be going more in the wide open sandbox direction, and MMORPGs are becoming as much if not more for the social interaction then the game it's self.

But sometimes it goes farther then that. There are programs like Second Life which, while they have gameplay elements, really have no game to them at all. A long while ago, I played around with Second Life. It was fun to build and script things and occasionally to play with people in various role playing games that people liked doing. The problem was in my mind that it didn't really go anywhere. Everyone I met there I only knew from in the world, and while I fiddled around designing stuff I had no real goal or artistic vision. So I got bored and left, as I tend to do with all online things after a while. I lasted longer then some games though. Maybe cause I liked building stuff.

Second Life had some noticeable problems though. For one thing all the world is user constructed and almost everything can be brought with real money. I guess MMORPGs are doing that too and you can often find players selling in-game things for money, but in this system your not paying for something you have to grind to get, your paying for essentially art and/or tools.

A fairly interesting digital rights management system is in place that remembers the owner and creator of each type of object, and assigns permissions to them. The owner can restrict your ability to change or copy the object as they wish (along with other things). There is one important difference between this system and most digital rights management systems. Most others try and control something you have on your computer, but this only is for connecting to the shared world. Honestly if digital rights management worked in such a way with other things it might not be a problem.

Surprisingly enough, it actually sort of WORKS this way, although some programs can capture copies of the object, but I am not sure if all the information can be retained. Scripts are run on the server, so you may never see them, but almost everything else can be captured on a client I guess. But if you abuse copying other people's stuff, they will just kick you off the world and won't let you back in.

For this reason, whole companies can spring up providing virtual world content, and even some real life companies get into it, especially clothing manufactures and fashion designers. The problem is, almost everything sold is useless. Not only is there a lot of free stuff that does the same thing, it's a frigging imaginary world for goodness sake. Do people really care about making up their digital avatar that much? I guess so but it seems silly to me. Even some of the more "useful" tools really aren't worth any thing. The most useful thing I ever made was a special invisible ball that could let me hear things people said from far away and could also say things so I could make it look like something else was talking if I was clever. I also made commands to make it vanish with a command if I needed. Honestly it was a pretty cool thing, but I am sure others have made something better and I never got all the bugs worked out. Even still about the only think I could use it for is spying and pulling pranks.

And that brings me to another problem. The users. Half of the people in it join stupid little clubs and spend time dressing up and doing stupid stuff. A few play games, but they arn't really very interesting ones and most of the users are either sex freaks who like to do things with fake 3D dongs and fake vaginas, which you can buy in vending machines... beat that Japan! You may have panties but Second Life has whole private parts! Others usually sit around and talk about stupid stuff or just do nothing. Sometimes you can even earn money by sitting and doing nothing. No joke. But it takes forever so unless you want to stay online 24 hours a day for a dollor, don't bother.

And worse, Second Life has such a bad reputation and people have nothing better to do so there are often waves of greifer attacks which fill the map with self replication penises or send people in to orbit. You think the first would be easy to fix by having replication limits and commands to mass delete items for admins, but apparently they never thought that far ahead. Also there is a combat system but no one ever uses it because users are basically unrestricted with what kind of objects they can make and how powerful they can be. Funny thing, objects and users do have an "energy" number that is used when they do something, and in theory you should be able to use this to enforce some sort of limit on things, but they don't.

Still, I have often thought about looking into it again, now that OpenSim exists. It is nice to make things, but if I could do that by setting up a private local OpenSim server to play with is there a point to the whole online thing? And without some game features and such I think I will quickly be bored. Maybe I should look more into Gerry's Mod instead, I hear that has interesting movie features, but I would have to install steam and stuff again.

Eh too lazy for both anyhow. Should get back to hacking.


  1. Killo you should just play minecraft with me, it's way better than all that other stuff :P

  2. Minecraft costs money as far as I know, otherwise I would have tried it by now. Dwarf Fortress is still better though. :P

  3. Minecraft was well worth my money and there is a classic version which is a perma creative mode with fewer blocks these days than the latest release. This is from a guy who you should know doesn't normally put money into online games. WELL WORTH MY MONEY.

    1. Sorry doomy, the reason you were having problems is I have it set to need to approve comments on old posts. As for Minecraft, I am mostly interested in it for modding, but not so much for playing, so I kinda am reluctant to get it.