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Apr 20, 2005



I've always thought There demonstrated what happens when dot-com silliness meets MMO, no offence to the principals intended.



Amen, Matt. The year There approached the ending of its interminable beta it was the award winner at my GDC tutorial for most over-hyped, most wrong-headed approach to an MMO product that year. (Previous years had featured Majestic and Sims Online.) Soon after, I received a call from Amy Jo Kim, who was then working... there... She put me in touch with their VP of Something, a man whose name now escapes me (maybe if Amy Jo is reading this she can remind me). He spent an hour and a half trying to convince me There was a good idea. He didn't. I was somewhat interested in the engine as a development tool (something they were actively promoting). Every time I asked if it supported this or that feature that I might find useful, he said no, but it would before it launched. It didn't.


Hi Matt,

I think this is fair criticism.

Hi Lee,

While I don't have the authority to talk for the company, (and in reality, all of my bloging is done as an individual not a corporate rep,) but for what it's worth, I'm sorry that's how you were treated. Looking at the work you have done in the past, clearly There had something to gain by doing less talking and more listening when we had the chance.

Having been a member before being hired by There, and being a long-time hard core gamer myself, I think I would be the last to say that There is anywhere close to where I would hope it would be at this point.

That said, this week was a significant milestone for my colleagues and I. As you know last year the team was significantly reduced from well over 200 of the industries best (based on who picked them up after they left There), to a team of about 15. The fact that we even kept the service running this last year was like betting green at a roulette table.

Now, we have a few investors that have looked at the business plan, current revenues, current new member sign-ups, current member base, core technology, etc, and decided that there was enough of a case to make a significant investment. This is like betting green and winning.

In any case, again, sorry for how you were treated.



Good luck with turning it around, Bruce. For whatever it's worth, my take on There was that there was a lack of understanding on how to create a context in which the virtual stuff you wanted to sell would have enough value to enough people.




No apology necessary. I was not treated badly. I certainly didn't mean to imply that. I was given a series of ephermeral arguments in defense of the concept that failed to win me over. It reminded me somewhat of a first year philosophy student's attempts to defend existentialism. He was polite. I was polite. He told me to check back closer to the end of beta. The end of beta became a perspective point forever receding into the horizon.

I felt-and to this day feel-that the There model looked like product placement with nowhere interesting to place the product; and no guarantees concerning the efficacy of the product. Yet again a developer depending upon the kindness of strangers to create their own reasons to participate. And in this case the-I like Matt's word-context was absent with leave.

Also, as a sidebar, I remember feeling that the engine would not be able to produce and track the kind of content-generation I'm most interested in. That made it unsuitable for our needs at the time. Don't ask me for specifics though. It's been awhile.

Good luck with it. I will watch your resucitation attempt with interest!


P.S. Oh and as to "well over 200 of the industries best"... if only that could guarantee success. In 1850-something, during the Crimean War, over 600 of Britain's best charged in the wrong direction. Sometimes... often times... it isn't the cavalry's fault. It's the generals who lose the battle.


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