Who Am I?

Toney, Alabama, United States
Software Engineer, Systems Analyst, XML/X3D/VRML97 Designer, Consultant, Musician, Composer, Writer

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When Worlds Collide

An interesting development in the commercial virtual worlds sector is the heartbreak of the communities when the brand sponsor of a world decides it is time to close the doors, shut down the servers, turn off the avatars, in other words, pull the plug.

You can hear the screams through the screen.

Here and elsewhere, the junkyard dogs of open IP-unencumbered 3D technologies have preached the problem of the long-lifecycle, that content can outlast technology and technology can outlast vendors. Closing doors to the communities that develop there is another facet to the same problem: virtual world citizens feel like they have invested their lives into something that disappears when the electrons stop flowing.

When commercial interests and community interests collide in a nightclub, The Boys burn it down and cash out on the insurance. Patrons find another bar, often one opened on the proceeds of burning down the last one. What can virtual world patrons do?

Really, the heart of the world is the meat, the real people who login and have fun together. They can always find another world. But the magic of the community is in the content. There isn't much one can do if The Mouse deflates the Magic Kingdom because that is branded content and they own it. For other worlds such as Faketown, it can be bought but if the tech is all proprietary, the costs of that can be prohibitive.

On the other hand, the 3D content built with X3D can be moved. Content builders can own it, can rehost it, can create worlds that do rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of yet another web business gone firesale.

If these communities really do want to fight back, they should consider fighting for worlds based on these open standards for content and others such as OpenSim to enable hosting of a virtual world to be as easy and cheap as hosting a web page on Apache.

Screw the Mouse. Minnie did and many will again.

1 comment:

Omind said...

Unfortunately, it seems that right now a lot of speculators are scrambling to find the "killer app" for Web3D. That will mean more propriatary platforms and interfaces. When some of them fail, AND THEY WILL, we will still be left with VRML, X3D, Second life, etc. The answer is right under their noses and I think sometimes they are so involved in worrying about protecting their platform, or the game engine they're using to run, that they miss the boat. Unfortunate for people that sign on to these and use them and even get to like them, when they go away, the users are left hanging.

Content is important, IMHO, I have said before in other conversations that without quality content, it doesn't matter how "cool" your platform is.