Terra Nova began on September 11, 2003 and maintained steady intellectual activity for a good 7 years afterwards. For about 4 years now the site has been kept alive out of a sense of good will. I think though for the good of the world it is time to let it pass. All this means is, I won't be auto-renewing the credit card payment. I assume the content will stay here.
It's interesting to reflect on why TN existed and why it went away. For a time in the last decade, there was a sense that an immersive 3D communal place was a substantial thing unto itself, and likely to become an important media offering. That has not happened. Instead, we've seen an unbundling of the parts of virtual worlds. Sociality went to Facebook. Complex heroic stories went to single-player games. Multiplayer combat went to places like DOTA and Clash of Clans. Economy games went to Farmville and the F2P clones. Virtual currency went to Bitcoin. As these applications grew in popularity, the need for a core intellectual group about virtual worlds themselves waned. The community dried up and the conversation dwindled.
In closing - and I invite other authors to close too if they wish - it seems to me this morning that there was one factor of virtual worlds that did not "go" anywhere but proved irremediably toxic to the medium itself: The people themselves. It proved impossible to make everyone feel like a hero in a world populated by millions of would-be heroes. It proved impossible to construct mechanisms that allowed people to find fulfillment from their fellow-players rather than frustration. In the end, the concept of a multi-player fantasy world broke on the shoals of the infinite weirdness of human personality.
Perhaps virtual world designers were the latest incarnation of the utopian community builders of the 19th and earlier centuries. "If only we set up the rules correctly, people will naturally have a blast together!" No; I guess they won't. Not even if the utocrat can control physics down to the very atoms. Not even if the art and sound of the world is heavenly. Not even if people are given thousands of meaningful missions and wonderfully uplifting stories. Perhaps the mere presence of Others breaks whatever dream people are trying to have.
Ah well. The goal of designing perfect human communities remains unmet. Someone will take a crack at it again soon, I am sure.
Until then, good-bye, Terra Nova!