Defined and Explained: Creating the Metaverse in the Real World

Virtual world image. Copyright 2015 by kran77 / 123RF Stock Photo

Two years ago, I restarted my effort to make sense of the Metaverse. Today I can confidently tell you that I understand what the Metaverse is in the real world, and how it actually works. You’re about to understand it, too.

  • What is the Metaverse?
  • What purpose does it serve?
  • Where do we begin our efforts to build it?
  • What new applications can we make to take advantage of it?

Have we cracked the code? See for yourself if this article delivers those answers in a meaningful way.

What is the Metaverse? The real Metaverse?

No, not the one we’ve seen portrayed in science fiction. Also not the large software project which creates connected spaces for people to design their own worlds in. Not the intellectual notion which claims the sum of all media, yet offers no direction on how to get there.

So many of us say that we want the Metaverse, yet this decades long journey has been so frustrating. For the most part, we’re able to agree on something that is so clearly illustrated, yet we’re unable to say what it really is and how to implement it. Why? Read More…

Private Review of an Upcoming Article

As many of you know, I am working to do something more than just analyzing, commenting, and reviewing virtual world and metaverse issues. I am actually proposing a viable metaverse design.

I have an upcoming article, currently titled, “The Metaverse. Actually Explained.” It is the first article that directly advances that effort. It provides a definition of what the Metaverse is, demonstrates a whole new market for applications, illustrates the real-world value the Metaverse provides, and gives us a starting point on how we actually go about implementing it.

I’m making this article available ahead of time to a limited number of people for the purpose of a private peer review. You get an early look at the article and a chance to shape where it is heading. In exchange, you agree to provide your feedback on what you see, and you promise to keep the article confidential until published. Simple as that.

I’m wanting to keep the circle somewhat limited at this time, so I’m going to restrict it to those who have at least had some sort of interaction with me as of yesterday. Twitter follower, online discussions, etc. If you’re interested, send me an email at agreeing to these terms and reminding me how I know you.

I’m looking forward to where this goes.

Systemic Issues in Metaverse Implementations


This article is much longer than I would have liked, yet I wasn’t able to dive into each of the subtopics in as much detail as I would have hoped for. Still, it provides some foundational material for a later examination and proposal for a metaverse implementation. If you are a serious virtual world or metaverse enthusiast, this article is probably for you. The more casual reader may want to skip this article.

If you are involved in a metaverse project, you may find it referenced below. Nothing you read here should be considered a harsh criticism of any one particular approach. In most cases, these implementations are named to illustrate an example or a counter-example. This article doesn’t attempt to perform a complete review of platforms or to call winners.


Previously, we identified seven issues which hold back our current metaverse implementations. Can a metaverse actually break through all of these issues to become a major platform?

What if we build on a distributed services architecture? Should we position the desktop client as a 2D/3D content browser? What if we use open standards, or build upon a proven engine? These and other suggestions may turn out to be very good ideas, but we don’t know. We’re still trying to understand the underlying issues which are holding us back.

Image Source: Intland Software, Using Root Cause Analysis to Drive Process Improvement

Image Source: Intland Software, Using Root Cause Analysis to Drive Process Improvement


Clearly, there are more problems than the original seven which were provided in the first article, but those seven create a pool from which we can look for more systemic issues. Read More…

Experiencing Presence in a Text-Based Virtual World

I’ve been invited to participate in an online panel on MUDs, MMORPGs, and the Metaverse which includes Edward Castronova, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University. He was heavily involved with the early MUDs and virtual world scene, and has written both papers and books about virtual worlds and their economies.

The DikuMUD Family Tree

The DikuMUD Family Tree

As part of my pre-panel research, I brushed up on my own involvement with MUDs during the 1990s. Much of my time was spend in the DikuMUD family tree, and mostly with ROM, the Rivers of Mud variant.

In the early 1990s, it was easy to sum up the MUD experience in just a sentence. You could say, “It is just like Zork, except, multiplayer” and most technical types would nod their head in quiet appreciation. Today, it is much more complicated to explain only because text-based games are unfamiliar to most people. Read More…

Book Review: Designing Virtual Worlds

It has been over a year since my last review of a vintage virtual reality book. I’ve recently come across a good one that I’d like to share.

In 1978, Richard Bartle co-authored MUD, the very first virtual world. In 2003, he shared his twenty-five years of virtual world and MMORPG experience in the book Designing Virtual Worlds. Here are some excerpts from the preface:

Too much virtual world design is derivative. Designers take one or more existing systems as foundations on which to build, sparing little thought as to why these earlier worlds were constructed the way they were.

Are designers even aware that there are decisions they can unmake? Although a good deal of design is evolutionary, that does not mean designers can’t be revolutionary, too.

The key is in recognizing the face that what seems eminently logical to you from your usual perspective might turn out to be disastrous when viewed from another angle — and then realizing that the worlds you’re drawing inspiration from almost certainly contain elements designed by people who didn’t recognize that fact until it was too late.

Obviously, the preface resonated with me on the topic of metaverse design.

The book is an incredible seven hundred and fourty-one pages, filled with decades of experiences and observations in virtual worlds. According to Wikipedia, it has been called “the bible of MMORPG design”. Read More…

Quantity versus Quality: Fifty Pounds of Innovative Yet Broken Clay Pots

There is a story retold in the virtual reality community which emphasizes reaching perfection through a quantity approach over a quality approach. The text originally came from the book Art and Fear, which is about the process of making art. I like Derek Sivers’ shortened version, so I’ll repeat it here.

The ceramics teacher announced he was dividing his class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right graded solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an A.

Well, come grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Sure, you have to question the authenticity of the story, but for most people, the lesson rings true. This is the lesson that we should walk away with, right? Quantity trumps a quality approach when trying to reach perfection?

No. Not at all. It is critical to understand the story in its original context. Read More…

Fundamental Problems with Metaverse Implementations


We can define a metaverse in a number of different ways. At a minimum, a metaverse must allow users to experience and perform actions with others in shared virtual spaces.

Years ago, we should have recognized and learned from the painful problems associated with a social metaverse platform which focused on user generated content. Today, a new crop of companies are gearing up to repeat those same mistakes.

As we look back, it was never really the user generated content that was the problem. It was the metaverse platform itself. It couldn’t live up to the hype. The platform was not capable of capturing a large audience, much less living up its roots in science fiction.

The Metaverse (image copyright 2015 by <a href="">michelangelus</a>)

The Metaverse (image copyright 2015 by michelangelus)

The concept of a metaverse (or even “The Metaverse”) is something that might yet deliver a compelling experience, but not in its current form. The design in use today needs to be shelved and replaced with something better. Read More…

Publishing Articles at UploadVR

Going forward, some of my more major articles may be published through UploadVR. Articles that are published through UploadVR will appear on the Metaversing site shortly thereafter.



You may wonder what is behind this agreement. Have I decided to start writing for financial compensation? No, not at all.

From my side, this arrangement is practical. I gain access to an editor to review and enhance my work, I receive a better insight into the process of writing for a public audience, and I reach a far greater number of viewers than I would on my own website.

From their side, they gain first access to some very unique material, since most of my writing contains original research. I’m already seeing the value of this partnership, and I’d expect this arrangement to remain in place as long as it works out well for both of us.

So, this is just a heads-up. If you see some of my work promoted on UploadVR and linked to their website, that’s just fine by me. We both benefit from working together.

IBM Patent Claims to Invent Group Travel, Except “in the Metaverse”

IBM is no stranger to virtual world patents.

Last year, we looked at how we would implement travel between unrelated virtual worlds, when we accidentally stumbled across an IBM patent from 2013 which touched on that very concept. IBM described a system that would read your personal profile (friends, interest, age, etc) and teleport you to a region in your destination that compliments your profile.

This month, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a new patent application from IBM, called System and Method for Group Control in a Metaverse Application. In short, it looks like a standard method for online group travel, except, “in the Metaverse”.

The concept is simple. The patent details an innovation where a “group link engine” allows users to be invited into a group. Once inside the group, a leader can control their actions. They then add in additional obvious claims, such as the ability to transfer leadership, to temporarily remove a member from the group, to send out invitations to the group, and to record movements.

Are we witnessing the start of patents which take an obvious concept and then claims that it is something new because it is “in the Metaverse”? One can only hope that the USPTO can see through such obviousness.

A Review of Portals in Virtual Worlds


A year ago, we started to look at how we might travel from one virtual world (anything from a simple program launcher to a more complex program like JanusVR) into a completely unrelated virtual environment.

As I searched for some consensus on how portal should look and operate, I wasn’t able to find any good guides which cover the topic. (The extensive use of the word portal by web-based companies has made it a particularly difficult topic to search.) This article is a (non-exhaustive) review of portals as a popular method used in virtual worlds today to transport the user to entirely different regions.

What are portals? Portals are typically objects or areas in the environment which advertise the ability for a user to approach and engage them in order to be teleported to a new location. Traditionally, they are placed vertically along a wall (and walked into), but they can be placed horizontally along the floor (and stepped onto). An additional action may be required, before or after moving an avatar into the aperture, to actually engage the portal.

Portals won’t be the exclusive means of long-distance travel within and between virtual worlds. What portals have going for them is that they’re already commonplace in virtual worlds, they can be visually integrated into many themes, and they’re easily understood by players.

In JanusVR, portals take center stage as the method used to connect otherwise unrelated virtual worlds.

In JanusVR, portals take center stage as the method used to connect otherwise unrelated virtual worlds.

Read More…


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