Gametech Virtual Worlds KeynoteVivisecting Virtual Worldsvia a time machineBruce Joy – Founder, VastParkImage: H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, book cover
If a VW platform was a vehicle…Source: http://www.kk.org/streetuse/archives/2009/07/scooter_contraption.phpA creative tool forprototyping,collaboration,social, etc: It is a“Jack of All Trades,Master of None”.That’s the oppositeof the new breed ofpopular tools onthe Web today!
First, the bad news• In 2007, $1 bill was invested in VWs– Excitement in virtual malls, virtual land, virtual goods,avatar identity issues, stories of people making millions inSecond Life and other virtual “Kool-Aid” craziness• 2008-2011 OUTCOME: CATEGORY FAILURE– Low investor return on *VW platforms*Diagram: secondtense.com/2009/01/virtual-worlds-game-worlds-and-user.html
Casualties of the Virtual Tech WreckWave 1 was ‘90s• Blaxxun, etc• Adobe Atmosphere• VRML (“dead on arrival” yet still around)Investment wave 2• Metaplace• Multiverse• Vivaty• Webflock• Twinity• Various venture backed ones• Google Lively• Blue Mars• There & Forterra• Teleplace (as a VC-backed co.)• Etc
Image: Koen van Gorp, 2007 www.koenvangorp.beMuch of the promise of VWs has beendelivered by various web tools.
Why Virtual Worlds now?The old vision of virtual worlds hasstumbled and needs to be supersededImage: http://thenextweb.com/lifehacks/2012/12/29/13-web-apps-you-need-to-start-off-2013-right
Let’s go back in time… 30 yearsImage of Rod Taylor from MGM’s “The Time Machine”, 19602013200720031997199319871983
Even in 1983 there was a sense that this wasa new medium that could touch our psychesin new ways– Reflect “I chose who I am”– Explore “I chose my way through the story”– Socialize “I hang out with my tribe” (NPCs!)– Reward “I’m king of the world”– Experiment “I hack my own experience”– Build narrative “I create worlds for others”– Connect “We can weave this as a community”Back then, community was via User Groups & PC mags.My dream at the time was that one day we’d be able tofilm our dreams and broadcast them like TV channels.Adventure Gaming
Image of Rod Taylor from MGM’s “The Time Machine”, 19601993
Habitat to WorldsAway to Vzones“a variety of possible experiences within the cyberspace”Randy Farmer & Chip Morningstar, lead designers on Habitat25+ year old virtualworlds platform
History – Fujitsu WorldsAway1996199719981999Reached 17,000 subscribers in 3monthsReached $10 million run rate insubscription revenueSecured marketing partnershipswith Virtual Vineyards, Xoom,CompuServe, Reel.com, Barnes &Noble, Digital River & othersWent from 0 to 33,000 visitorswithin 4 monthsAverage user session reaches 3.1hoursPurchased division from Fujitsu;began trading publiclyChanged name from inworlds.comto Avaterra.comOpened first virtual zone(Dreamscape)First of several patentsissuedOpened second virtual zone(Club Connect)Debuted first commercial“AdObject” on the InternetOpened third virtual zone(New Radio World)
1993: Doom starts 3D FPS genreThe 3D environment became a place wherewe could imagine living within. It felt real. Anew medium beyond gaming might be born.
Image of Rod Taylor from MGM’s “The Time Machine”, 19602003
What were we thinking? 2003 perspectiveWhat we thought we knew:• Don’t be CompuServe: VWs are the natural futureof the Web and will “swallow the Web”• Social is important and VWs are beating the Web– The web will never be multiuser because it is aboutserving pages of content. People search forinformation and consume it without caring who else islooking at the same page• People understand bricks and mortar so virtualmetaphors get dragged back to real lifeequivalents
What virtual worlds promised• Experiential: Compelling interactive experiences• Co-Creation: Together we shape the world around us• Productivity: Do and see more, faster• Crossing distance, time and culture: To access otherpeople and places on-demand, on our own terms• Micro-economy: Trust-based economies of interest• Games: Fun casual activities alone or in a group• Gamification: Leveling up within a community• Co-presence in events: Something beyond WebEx• Emergent behavior: Freedom enables the unexpected• Social identity: People can experiment with identity
Web 2.0 wasn’t dominant yetUntil 2007:• The phrase “User GeneratedContent” didn’t exist• Users did not expect thepower to interact withbrands, celebrities, etc• Facebook had less than100,000 usersI find it amazing tothink that YouTubebegan in 2005 andnow influencesglobal culture!
2007: Investment in VWs went crazyDiagram from GMO Venture Partners’ 2007 Virtual World Investment Fund
Metaverse paradigm2007UGC + 1 open MMO = a big messWhy I always loathed the
If the Metaverse isuser generated...Metaverses grow intoBIG places where youwalk or fly a lot(even with teleport)
It would requirea lot of moderation.Someone has to govern and police itbecause there are so many communitiesof interest in the one Metaverse
No onrampOne of the reasons VC funded VWs platformshave not survived is because no-one got theonramp right!For example, any organization (new to virtualworlds) that wanted to suddenly get thousandsof staff into an Enterprise virtual world soondiscovered the hardware, network andonboarding challenges were problematic.
Collaboration HATES FrictionFriction is everything that slows down or preventsparticipants to interact together in a satisfying waywhen and how they want. Friction includes:– The need for training/expertise to succeed socially– Time spent configuring & learning new apps– Downloading & installing software– Internet, port and firewall issuesIf collaborators meet together and a key decision-maker is missing that meeting is usually a waste ofpeople’s timeImage: Bob Kolar whoop-dee-do.blogspot.com
SL proved to be the user generatedVW high-water-mark, but did it passthe “Mom test”Image: Wings of Love Inc. Bird ShowIf she feels it takes this much skill to make it work, it’s a FAIL
Passing the “Mom test”International calls2005: 2.9%2012: 34%2012 Report50% call growth in 1 quarter600m users
Failing the “Mom test”The differences add up:• More complex to setup & run than Skype orFacebook• Higher hardware andnetwork requirements• SL’s own reliabilitychallenges• No perceived need:Both FB &Skype are free andenables your mom tosee her grandchildrenDo you think any VW could pass this test yet?
MinecraftWEEDfaction mod. Source: pcgamer.comIt is being adopted by kids in drovesIt might have got the balance right
And so a meta-bomb has gone off• The Web became fast, social and scaled well• Facebook & Skype & new niche tools dominate• Mobile platforms don’t suit VWs with social avatars• “Reality” imposed: Investment dried up, GFC, Fed cutsChanging the Virtual World landscape forever
VW developers lost a major platformFlash was the universal interactivity platform.It’s clear VWs need a Web-First philosophyand minimize plugins & desktop apps.
Does this affect you?In 2012 it made less and less sense to talk about "theInternet," "the PC business," "telephones," "SiliconValley," or "the media," and much more sense to juststudy Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon andMicrosoft. These big five American verticallyorganized silos are re-making the world in theirimage.Bruce SterlingThese behemoths are no longer responding to anyone customer’s needs no matter how big (e.g. Fedgovernment needs for Flash on mobile are meaningless)
Ok, what was I up to through all this?Now that I’ve critiqued the whole approach toVWs, was I doing any better? Did VastPark passthe “Mom test” for example? Absolutely not.• What started as an experiment with one staffmember in 2003 grew into a dozen or sodevelopers and designers creating a platform• We wanted to utilize what made the Web greatbut add in features like smarter content caching,reusable smart objects, replayable experiences,sharable micro-experiences that could beplugged together. We got part of the way there.
In 2003, I imagined micro-worldswould be part of a future multiuser operating system.
3D Windows Desktop demo, 2003The concept was of multi-user visual O.S.where gamers had their own “home”that they could share with others andaccess multimedia and start up games
Infinite Corridors, 2004An experiment inusing XML treestructures that wererepresented ascorridors and doorswhere a door couldbe a local orexternal link.Outcome: Wecreated an infinite3D world that couldconnect to anyone’ssimilar world filehosted on the web.
Worlds built with IMMLare like building blocks
Worlds connectusing simple URLrequests that canbe generatedbefore or duringruntime.Worlds built with IMMLare like building blocks
Worlds connectseamlessly together.Connections can beredefined duringruntime to suit theworld owner or theuser’s desires.Worlds built with IMMLare like building blocks
Worlds as widgetsWorld 1 World 2Various connectiontypes includegeometric connections,tele-connections andembeddedconnections (widgets).Worlds inside worlds are “widgets” subject to physics, etcWorld 3 widget
Distributed (independent) world serversIf a server fails,users can still walkaround and enterother worlds, butwithout anyhandover of gamestate informationbetween servers.X
Each server ownercan choose theenvironments tolink to. Onceaccepted byanother serverowner, thegeometric link isbi-directional.
AR can make 3D instantly engagingAR demo in VastPark
• BCI began in 1970s funded by NSF & DARPA• Close to ready for mass market:– Emotiv– Necrommi by Neurosky– InteraXon• Lots of innovation occurring– “Neurogaming” has game devs excited– Research: Brain-to-brain communication– OpenViBE FLOSS library– Emotions, cognition, sensory & behaviorsBrain–computer interfaces
Real becoming virtual?Real world objects not yet addressable & responsive.When will most things have virtual identities?Wearable deviceswill augment our world viewand connect the real world tometa & virtual worldsPebbleGoogleGlass
The real purpose of Google glasseshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8UjcqCx1Bvg
Perceptive Pixel• 82” multi-touch• Support up to 4 stylus pens at once
Augmenting collaborationMultiple screens, one experienceMicrosoft SmartGlass isone example of this.
• 3D virtual reality – Oculus• Touch tracking– Perceptive Pixel• Gesture tracking– Microsoft Kinect– LeapMotion– Intel’s perceptual platformImmersive UX peripherals$300 kitUp to 82” multi-touch displayNative support in Win8Version 2 coming!
Striding into the Uncanny valleyWe are fastapproachingperfectrendering ofhuman avatars,but is it criticalfor learning?It adds to thecost of eachproject thatcreates newcontent!Activision R&D.
Source: Jorge Jimenez www.iryoku.comReal time 3D is looking REALLY good
Fidelity in HealthcareThe fidelity needs are different from Military. Focus on the learning outcomes 1st.
Passing the “Mom test”Image: Marius Watz - Web Science
Passing the “Mom test”No barrier:• Every smart device has abrowser• Web applications can useFlash and WebRTC(immature) to createweb-based alternatives toSkype with no download– E.g. Lowering the friction• Skype may open up itsplatform to compete andso websites will connectusers via Skype’s RTpresence service Image: Marius Watz - Web Science
Ergonomic Web• Adaptive web elements that can build intopersonalized applications that suit the device,screen and input devices– Automation supports greater personalization, “flow”,feedback, and big data• Diverse web technology ecology: Massive choice!• Multi-device delivery• Bring people into “my reality”• Collaborative vs. Presenter mode when desired• Workflow structures
Build your reality = SearchThe future of building virtual worldswill be via custom search requests
In the future,widgets entertain us(or we delete them)In Facebook, widgets annoy us and are hardto opt in and out of. This won’t scale!
A viral mediumIf you got a scare and you liked it,you recommend it to another friend.
Opportunity on top of a wider web stack:• Short term value: Apps that use Unity3D (orsimilar) to be available across more devices• Microformats, SCORM2/TinCan, etc• Web pipes such as "If this, then that" (ifttt.com)• New devices and input methods• New web friendly virtual world libraries that worknatively on the web.– VWF is a good effort in this direction– Forget standards, focus on choice & immersion– We’re working on VastEvents based on IMML in JSNew vision: VWs living in the web
It’s up to us to answer“Why VWs now?”Good luck & thanks for your timeBruce Joy – Founder, VastParkbruce.firstname.lastname@example.orgImage: H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, book cover