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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…

Why consumer technologies succeed and fail

SOURCE: Mike Rowe "Death of a Video Game"

Image Source: Mike Rowe “Death of a Video Game” on Flickr

I collect full-sized arcade games. Most of my games are from the 1980s, but occasionally I’ll find something newer that I like and I’ll add it to the collection. Arguably, arcade games are a decent enough example of how forces conspire in us to choose when a consumer technology succeeds and when it fails. Of the many possible reasons, we’re going two focus on two: novelty and utility.

In the picture above, this arcade game had lost both its novelty and its utility. In the end, the only novelty it had left was to burn, and the only utility it had left to have its picture taken as part of a photo collection. The remaining pile of ashes had no significant novelty or utility to offer us.

The Dimension of Novelty

YouTube: 1983 Atari Starwars Arcade Highscore Run

YouTube: 1983 Atari Star Wars Arcade Highscore Run

If you played arcade games in the 1980s, you’re going to relate very quickly to this example.

Why was this Star Wars game so popular? It had amazing high resolution three dimensional color vector graphics. It had digitized speech from the actual characters. It was based on events in the real Star Wars movie! So it had two cool new technologies from the period, and it was still very uncommon to see an arcade game with a movie tie-in. This game had novelty written all over it, and that was a good thing. It pulled you in and got you to play it. Read More…

A small break

You may have seen my interest security issues in articles like The Metaverse and the Virtual HomeRepresenting unknown avatars in high traffic public spaces, and especially Griefing and the Metaverse. This isn’t by chance.

In addition to my day-to-day job, I am taking some graduate level computer security courses as part of my continuing education. I’ve been able to explore how these general computer security concepts apply to the Metaverse in interesting ways.

The academic year is finally coming to an end, and I need to buckle down and get some assignments turned in. I’ll be taking a week or two off to wrap those things up, and then I’ll be back to writing more articles.

I’m trying to decide if I want to talk more about the Virtual Home, or a proposal for the structure of a modern Metaverse. If I talk about a modern Metaverse, I’d probably want to lay some more groundwork first. Thoughts?

On another note, I received an old book in the mail today. $7.22 shipped. As always, I embed no referral code, and I claim no relationship to the book, author, publisher, or seller (other than having purchased the book).

Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality

Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality

I’ve only had time to skim over it today. It has fourteen different articles written by academics in the 1990s. So far, it looks pretty good. It has some good sections (communications theory, applications, immersiveness), and a few dated topics (location-based VR entertainment, cyberpunk culture).

My copy is lightly annotated by its previous owner and, actually, that’s something that I appreciate because they’ve picked out some of the good bits for me. If you can pick this one up cheap, it is probably worth adding to your library.

That’s all for today. See you again shortly.

An old source for new inspiration

Amazon search: "virtual reality" in Books

Amazon search: “virtual reality” in Books

Perhaps you’re surrounded by virtual reality enthusiasts. If so, you’re one of the lucky ones. For many of us, there are very few people that we can hold conversations with on the subject of virtual reality, yet alone the Metaverse. It is hard to find inspiration in a vacuum.

If you find yourself looking for ideas, you might consider the wealth of old books that are out there. They’re mostly from the 1990s. Sure, they’re a bit dated, but that isn’t all bad. You may be able to look at old ideas with a fresh perspective. Some of the old ideas have gone unreviewed, and are waiting for easy solutions and new applications. Read More…