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Dec 07, 2003



Of course, you could always become a member, which according to their somewhat confusing membership page, is anywhere from 1,000 to 50,000+ extra and THEN you could go for a measly 300 or so.

Flipping through their activities for the day it seems like exactly what Richard said, a rehash of the past 10 years or so for anyone in the gaming industry who fell asleep at the keyboard ala Rip Van Winkle. Not only has this stuff been gone over before but just about all the information shown is freely available over the internet.


To take Kuhnian perspective, when thought paradigms are about to shift, it can still take an awfully long time before everyone "gets it," even when "it" is an obvious truth. As Max Planck said, science progresses funeral by funeral. For some reason, conversion to new ideas is hard. For those of us already thinking about the new things, one feature of this pre-revolution time period is that people in authority tend to dismiss and ignore what we're doing (been thinking about that one fairly frequently lately :/ ). But Richard's pointing out another, which is that we will have to spend a long time dealing with new people walking up and saying "Wow!" I don't think Kuhn wrote much about that, the effort it takes, *before* the thought revolution happens, to keep validating the enthusiasm of new people.

I'm sure Copernicus got sick of young students coming up to him saying "Woah, dude! You're absolutely right! The Sun really IS the center!!!" His first thought, I suspect: "Great, thanks for the support. Why aren't you the Pope?"

Of course, Richard's been doing this longer than anybody. Since 1978. In April 2001, if I had run into Dr. Bartle, I would have been the one going "Woah, dude! These virtual worlds are really something!"

You see it on the faces of people when you give a talk to a general audience. You show them the hours of time put into these worlds, the numbers of people, and the prices on eBay, and they start to scrunch up their faces, shake their heads.

Go back to 1915 and imagine how hard it would have been for the first people learning about the growing popularity of radio and film technology. Some of them would have seen the world we live in today. A bunch of others wouldn't have seen anything at all. And then there'd be that group who could only sense the change and felt, well, a little freaked out by it. I think many of those folks wander away and then have their road to Damascus experience over coffee somewhere. "Goodness, this radio thing will sweep the world! And there will be pictures some day too. People will sit in their homes all day and all night watching stuff. And - I guess they won't spend nearly as much time at dances or playing their own music will they? Wow."

Well, if that person ended up running yet another conference on the "New Amazing Future With Radio," you'd probably have to roll your eyes a bit, and wish that he was a University president instead of a car salesman. But believe me, it's the technology that spreads the word. Many, many little people will eventually see the light. And as society changes, thought paradigms will crumble and eventually collapse, to be replaced by something more appropriate. It just could take a very long time. And while we're waiting, we should tirelessly welcome anyone interested in these ideas with our arms open very, very wide.


Yeah, it brings to mind visiting MMOG forums, and seeing someone start the "It's just a game" argument for the first time, and watching everybody meddle through that one. (I tend to say something like "Let's just skip to the end where we all realize it's a world to some, a game to others, and a social environment to still others, and the only thing we can possibly agree on is we all have to inhabit the same space together and try to get along.")

Maybe one of these days, virtual worlds might catch on! Ya think?! ;)


By coincidence, the call for papers for the annual MUD-DEV conference arrived in my email box this morning. As usual, the conference is alongside CGDC at San Jose (Saturday/Sunday, March 27/28, 2004). Also as usual, I shan't be able to attend (damn damn damn!).



So do terranovan’s (core group, wannabe’s, hangers-on, flakkies, twinkers, twinkees, innocent by-standers et al), hence forth to be referred to as the Terranova Hive Mind, actually agree on anything?

Are there any articles of faith that we hold to be self evident, that we can proclaim with a resounding “doh !” whenever the next group happens upon virtual worlds and proclaims them to be un-charted territory ? If nothing else we will save people some time.

The two that immediately come to my mind (as one is referenced above) are:

Virtual items as property – virtual or real ?
- Move along now, no interesting metaphysical questions here.

Games or worlds
- Worlds that some people play games in and some people don’t

Anyone see any point in clarifying these \ adding a few more ?


ren>Virtual items as property – virtual or real ?
- Move along now, no interesting metaphysical questions here.

But there are some good legal issues to debate.

ren>Games or worlds
- Worlds that some people play games in and some people don’t

But the difference may be significant not just to the players but also to the developers in terms of applicable law and/or how the law treats the VW. (See the EULA-topia comments for more on designer intent.)

See? I think we can agree to disagree just as well as anyone else can. (Maybe that should be one of our "articles of faith?")


Richard wrote, "By coincidence, the call for papers for the annual MUD-DEV conference arrived in my email box this morning. As usual, the conference is alongside CGDC at San Jose (Saturday/Sunday, March 27/28, 2004). Also as usual, I shan't be able to attend (damn damn damn!)."

A shame, too. Perhaps one year you will be able to make it and give a great talk about the future of virtual worlds. :)

I'm helping to organize the MUD-Dev converence, so I found this little entry interseting. I think one reason why it seems like a time warp is because people NEED to hear these basic lessons. Even with my brief time (well, compared to Richard) in the industry, I've seen multiple groups dive into online world development head first thinking, "How hard can it be?" only to realize later, "Holy crap! It IS hard!" Until developers put more stock into learning from others, we're gonna see the same mistakes repeated over and over.

This presents an interesting issue for the conference organizer. Do you review the basics for the people that are going to be there? Do you shoot for the stars and try to tackle new issues? Do you do some mix of both? I think you can't really ignore the fact that there's gonna be some newbie in the audience that hasn't studied (or made) history as much as the rest of us. Trying to confuse them with advanced topics like what is regularly discussed in this venue is probably not the most profitable from a conference or an industry standpoint. Catering to the newbies gives you the current problem with the GDC: a group of people in lectures saying, "Wow, creating games is HARD!" without any new ground being covered. Catering to the old hands is a great way to make sure that few people attend your conference, especially if some of the old hands can't make it!

My goal for the MUD-Dev conference has been to provide a much needed conference that focuses on online game worlds. I'm hoping we have talks that are a bit beyond the elementary stuff people usually talk to. I also hope that there's some time for some good networking between people. ;)

Anyway, my thoughts,


Hell, even the professionals who have been in or around the virtual world/MMP industry for a while forget all this stuff. That, or it never sinks in. I first talked about these issues at the 3rd CGDC in 1989, which was the first one not held in Chris Crawford's drawing room. Since then, any number of people have spoken about them at professional conferences and I'm still amazed at A) the number of repeat attendees and B)the number of repeat attendees professionally employed at developing a virtual world/MMP and making the same mistakes they were warned about in 1989, 1990, 1991, etc..

That's one reason I stopped writing Biting the Hand after over 6 years at it; I got tired of crying at the same mistakes being made over and over again.


Heya, Jessica! :)

So, here's a practical question (I won't get ostracized for this, will I?): What's the solution here? Harping on the same issues repeatedly just gets the writer tired, as in Jessica's case. Trying to focus on the actually advancing the state of the art limits your audience. Plus, those at large companies have NDAs and lawyers to deal with when discussing the cutting-edge things they're working on. Plus, as Richard pointed out in his book, it takes a bit of an ego to believe you can create a world; people with such egos aren't known for working well together.

Is there a solution here? Are we doomed to watch others repeat history on a regular schedule? Are we similarly doomed to sit in conferences hearing the latest group of people that tried to build an online world say, once again, "Wow, that was harder than we first through!" I'm afraid that the answer looks a bit hopeless given that two of the most experienced on the developer side of things are throwing up their hands and rolling their eyes at the hopelessness of it all.

I think I speak for a lot of developers when I say I'd like to see the state of the art progress somewhere meaningful. (Of course, if we could agree on what is "meaningful", we'd have half the battle won right there....)

Ah, enough intellectual meandering. Replies encouraged.


It seem' more and more people are discossing the mmorpg' as are. I find it reader amussing. I'm one of the one' from back at the early day' were mmorpg' ware txt.bsd.evd and the first GUI came out. I read about it in a .NET magazin and emeadatly hack' a credit card to get to play online(what young floks don't do). Sins then the mmorpg' or 'more;' has come to fill a great deal of "space" on the net. I predict thay, in any form, will be the fundament for the CS Gibson promist us. MUD was first, DNI will be last!

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