Internet 2021: A Metaverse Project on Kickstarter

In the moderation queue for the Metaverse subreddit, I came across a submission that had been withheld by the AutoModerator.

I visited the link and found something very interesting. It was a Metaverse project on Kickstarter. Their apparent crime appeared only to have been in putting too many dashes in the title, so I approved the link submission to /r/metaverse.

I am not involved in this project and I can’t provide a personal endorsement for their effort. Still, I thought it was interesting, and because this is the type of project that readers of Metaversing would tend to be interested in, I wanted to share this with you.

Technically, this isn’t the first Metaverse project to hit Kickstarter. That title probably belongs to either Surreal Adventures, or the VR Sandbox MMO called Voxelnauts. But this appears to be the first one that puts the Metaverse aspect of the project as something that is front and center, and not as an additional consideration to the side.

The traditional sales approach for a Metaverse project would show us a unique virtual world and sell backers on the sizzle of unique avatars, interesting environments, and a massively shared virtual environment. That isn’t what is happening here. They’re attempting to engage us… intellectually. Strange, isn’t it?

They start with their definition of a Metaverse, based upon the pillars of realism, ubiquity, interoperability, and scalability. They identify four major obstacles to include monetization, proprietary elements, lack of critical mass, and a premature focus on realism.

Their primary aim is to overcome the first two obstacles, which again are monetization and a proprietary platform. They propose a three year project for a core development team to work with backers to create a final project that would be released to the subject as open source.

Various levels of participation by the backers would result in increasing levels of influence in the project as well as rewards, such as a five year contract for land in the residential and commercial areas.

I’ve embedded their Kickstarter video below.


The part of their presentation that has generated the most interest begins at the 8:11 mark. They illustrate a live portal inside the world of Minecraft which would allow one to peer live into the world of Doom (and presumably, one in the world of Doom could peer in the reverse direction into the world of Minecraft). One might join their counterpart on the other side as simply as crossing the threshold. That appears to be the level of interoperability that this project hopes to enable.

The project itself is light on details, and it is something that I would like to have seen more of. Part of this may be because the goal of the project is to actually flesh out those details and implement them. Another reason may be the real threat of Brain Rape, a process where a venture capitalist or other developer seeks more disclosure, but only for the purpose of using that knowledge for themselves.

You can find out more about the project by visiting it on Kickstarter, and if you have specific questions for the project’s creator, you can always use the Contact Me link on the project’s main page.

I’m happy to see someone going in a different direction and breaking away the convention of a typical Metaverse project.

Update on the Metaverse Proposal

As of my last article, I had promised to explore the interconnect, and to provide a proposal for a Metaverse implementation that is both practical and specific. I haven’t delivered on that pledge as quickly as I had hoped, but I wanted to provide an update as to the new direction it is taking and how it is progressing.

My goal has switched from writing an article which proposes a Metaverse implementation to actually working with a team of people who are interested in exploring and actually implementing an initial specification. In the past few months, I’ve made some progress towards that.

As part of that, I’ve presented the core of the design to two different technical audiences (both skilled in the area of virtual reality). Both audiences received a full disclosure of the (otherwise unpublished) mechanism for the core Metaverse design. They got the basic Metaverse v0.1a blueprint.

The first audience didn’t have much in the way of background information, so the entirety was presented in a vacuum. They were able to see that it made sense, but other than that, there wasn’t much in the way of real enthusiasm for the project. Looking back, I can’t say that I blame them.

Ahead of the presentation, the second audience actively explored a great deal of background information on the subject. This background information explained the more global issues that Metaverse implementations have faced and some of the larger problems in virtual reality (Most of this, you’ll find in some of the earlier articles here at Metaversing.)

After explaining the core technical design, not only did they quickly understand the proposal, but they actually started selling me on the design and explained how it solved some of the issues that they themselves have run into. It went far beyond anything that I had expected from the experience.

The lesson I learned from this was that providing the technical specifics in a vacuum is a horrible way to onboard people to the project. A certain library of background information is required to help people digest the design and to understand the wide-ranging value which it creates.

At this point, my effort is concentrated on the onboarding process. Primarly, it is the documentation which provides that background information, shares the vision for what we are trying to accomplish, presents the initial design, sets a very specific project as a trial run.

An early first draft was sent out to a private review audience, and based on their feedback, I’m in the process of making revisions. I hope to have a complete and second document set to send out in the next few weeks. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to zero in on a good set of documents sooner rather than later.

So, that’s where the Metaverse proposal is at. It has taken on a more concrete form, and is inching forward quite a bit slower than I had hoped, but it hasn’t died. Far from it!

My apologies for a lack of updates up until this point, and I hope to have something more substantial to share in the near future. Thanks, everyone, for your patience.

A metaverse subreddit is now available!

I’m happy to announce that /r/metaverse is now a public subreddit which is dedicated to the discussion of metaverse issues. Do you have an article to share? A question to ask? Head on over to /r/metaverse and join the conversation.

On a more personal note, I’ve returned to my writing. I am currently drafting an article which explains Festival Blanket, an application for shared public experiences for a VR audience. Some of our previous conversations about scale and non-euclidean space end up working their way into the solution. Stay tuned!

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 jmccorm@yahoo.com agreeing to these terms and reminding me how I know you.

I’m looking forward to where this goes.

Systemic Issues in Metaverse Implementations

PREFACE

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.

INTRODUCTION

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

SPECIFIC PROBLEMS ILLUSTRATE SYSTEMIC ISSUES

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

INTRODUCTION

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="http://www.123rf.com/profile_michelangelus">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…

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