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Archiving the History of Virtual Worlds

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the future-generations-deserve-my-avatar dept.

Role Playing (Games) 127

eldavojohn writes "Some members of the University of Texas are trying to create a repository to store the histories of online virtual worlds. They hope that game makers will take advantage of this repository as they define standards of how to save interactions not only between players and the virtual worlds but also other players. How many times have I destroyed you in a duel? Let's check the records!"

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127 comments

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Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24648863)

Some alien beings have partially downloaded the Enterprise's computer files. The files contain a history of a made up 'world' from a game that Wesley Crusher had been playing. The aliens believe this to be the true history of humans.

Of course the aliens believe that Wesley is the captain. Captain Crusher saves the day by traveling through time and re-writing the history file to show that he is actually the Alien's God and they should be friendly to the Enterprise. The aliens go on there merry way. Worf then kills, slaughters and eats Wesley.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (4, Funny)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 6 years ago | (#24648907)

Worf then kills, slaughters and eats Wesley.

I'm sorry, but that sounds like the finale of the best Trek episode ever.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (2, Funny)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#24648987)

No, that would be the one where Kirk dies, twice. Pity that was in a novel instead of onscreen.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 6 years ago | (#24649161)

Followed closely by the one where the Enterprise-D explodes at the end of the pre-title clip, then over and over again during the course of the episode. The first time was shocking, but by the end of that one we were rolling on the floor cackling.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (3, Funny)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#24649387)

That was 3 the third lamest 3 time travel 3 story ever.

Talk about a traumatic episode (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649423)

The first time I saw Cause and Effect, which is the episode you're referring to, I was three years old and watching with my parents. Needless to say, I started bawling because everyone was DEAD! My parents frantically tried to calm me down, and had pretty much succeeded by the end of the commercial, when they were able to say "Look, there they all are!" And then the ship exploded again, with exactly the same results. And again. And again. By the end, my parents were cracking up, but I wasn't allowed to watch Star Trek again until Voyager started.

Re:Talk about a traumatic episode (5, Funny)

lukas84 (912874) | about 6 years ago | (#24649507)

I wasn't allowed to watch Star Trek again until Voyager started.

Your parents must have hated you.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | about 6 years ago | (#24649265)

Sadly, I believe "Star Trek: Generations" applies to that... Kirk died, twice. And it still sucked.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24648923)

Worf then kills, slaughters and eats

I think you mean "kills, butchers and eats" - slaughter implies a particular meaning of killing. Rather than butcher, you can also use "dress" which doesn't have the "kill" connotation associated with it.

I used to be a butcher assistant. Sorry.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649019)

I noticed that after I posted. For some reason slaughter has equaled butcher in my brain for a long time though I felt the difference..

Thanks for being kind in the smackdown.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (1)

Chyeld (713439) | about 6 years ago | (#24649403)

I'm sorry but due to the Geneva Convention of 2005 but you can only use the sentence "Worf then kills, dresses and eats Wesley" in terms of a slash fanfic as it has an entirely different connotation.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | about 6 years ago | (#24650075)

You forgot Ensign Gomez. He beams over to the Alien ship and gets killed, slaughtered and eaten by them.

Re:Reminds me of the best Star Trek episode ever (1)

Loibisch (964797) | about 6 years ago | (#24651131)

The basis of this sounds a little like Galaxy Quest :P

Members of the Congregations (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24648935)

Please open your BlizzardBook to the Gospel of Warcraft.

Re:Members of the Congregations (1)

DCstewieG (824956) | about 6 years ago | (#24650267)

Haha...

A reading from the letter of Thrall to the Orcish Horde.

Authorship (5, Interesting)

VorpalRodent (964940) | about 6 years ago | (#24648943)

It is said that history is written by the victor. In a completely virtual world, where no one is ever truly destroyed, how is history impacted?

It looks like they are discussing recording the primary in-game events (they list the WoW plague outbreak and the death of Morpheus). This makes it sound like they really just want a nifty little wiki dedicated to each game. When they start talking about interactions between players, significance starts becoming very important. Are we talking statistics? Chat logs?

With real world history, we have the benefit of a (somewhat) objective viewpoint from which to determine how much the world has truly been impacted. With these games, and I say this carefully, who cares?

The statistics are important - how many people stopped playing after Morpheus died or the outbreak made them think the game was unfair. But do they represent history in a virtual world, where death is mutable and guilds form and die in weeks instead of years?

Re:Authorship (0, Redundant)

VorpalRodent (964940) | about 6 years ago | (#24648969)

More importantly, if I succeed at first posting, but the "historians" come along and mod me down, does that mean I never really first posted?

Re:Authorship (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | about 6 years ago | (#24649197)

It would be interesting to see a time line showing subscribership change with markers for in and out of game events.

(btw, meteors and bullets impact things, events have an effect)

Re:Authorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649501)

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

    Impact \Im*pact"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Impacted; p. pr. & vb.
          n. Impacting.] [L. impactus, p. p. of impingere to push,
          strike against. See Impinge.]
          1. To drive close; to press firmly together: to wedge into a
                place. --Woodward.
                [1913 Webster]

2. To affect or influence, especially in a significant or
                undesirable manner; as, budget cuts impacted the entire
                research program; the fish populations were adversely
                impacted by pollution.
                [PJC]

          3. To collide forcefully with; to strike.
                [PJC]

Re:Authorship (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#24651241)

We don't use the word "affect" in the United States any more. We banned it along with the fatty foods.

Re:Authorship (0, Flamebait)

Toll_Free (1295136) | about 6 years ago | (#24649489)

With these games, and I say this carefully, who cares?

People with no social life that have to create a life 'virtually'.

See, the only people that stand to lose if they are not archived, is the people who don't actually have much of a life outside the 'games'.

What a bunch of crap, archiving games. People REALLY are taking games TOO far. Fuck, go outside and get some of this beautiful sunshine!!!!!

--Toll_Free

Re:Authorship (1)

bendodge (998616) | about 6 years ago | (#24650127)

Recording the history of virtual worlds is about as important to me as everything else as virtual worlds - nil.

An accurate and concise history (5, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | about 6 years ago | (#24648949)

Jan 3, 2007 12:42:35 Qzukk killed a rat!
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:37 Qzukk killed a rat!
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:52 Qzukk killed a rat!
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:53 Qzukk killed a rat!
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:55 A rat killed Qzukk!
Jan 3, 2007 12:44:23 Qzukk killed a rat!
Jan 3, 2007 12:44:24 Qzukk killed a rat!
Jan 3, 2007 12:44:24 Qzukk is now level 2!
Jan 3, 2007 12:45:38 Qzukk killed a spider!
Jan 3, 2007 12:45:52 Qzukk killed a spider!

Re:An accurate and concise history (4, Funny)

pak9rabid (1011935) | about 6 years ago | (#24649205)

Or if we're talking about Ultima Online:

Jan 3, 2007 12:42:35 Qzukk builds a box
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:37 Qzukk builds a box
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:52 Qzukk builds a box
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:53 Qzukk builds a box
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:55 Qzukk builds a box
Jan 3, 2007 12:44:23 Qzukk builds a box
Jan 3, 2007 12:44:24 Qzukk builds a box
Jan 3, 2007 12:44:24 Qzukk gains more box-building experience
Jan 3, 2007 12:45:38 Qzukk builds a bigger box

Re:An accurate and concise history (0, Redundant)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 6 years ago | (#24649227)

Playing Nethack, I see.

Aww man... (2, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 6 years ago | (#24649297)

Remember that time that rat killed you? You totally got served by that rat! Yeah... those were the days...

Re:An accurate and concise history (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24650117)

Or if we're talking about Runescape:

Jan 3, 2007 12:42:35 Qzukk places Gank1238 into Ignored.
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:37 Fhurd83: qzuk zuks! quzk u nooob! nooobbb!
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:38 LordBl00d3486: sauk **** u |31tCH35!!
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:41 Qzukk places Fhurd83 into Ignored.
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:41 Qzukk places LordBl00d3486 into Ignored.
Jan 3, 2007 12:42:55 Halo2Halo: sellen lev 129 acct
Jan 3, 2007 12:43:05 Xxx2Hot4uxxx: Need bf
Jan 3, 2007 12:43:10 MichaelPhelps786: I died 3k plz need 3k
Jan 3, 2007 12:43:11 Xxx2Hot4uxxx: Need bf
Jan 3, 2007 12:43:12 Xxx2Hot4uxxx: Need bf
Jan 3, 2007 12:43:13 Xxx2Hot4uxxx: Need bf
Jan 3, 2007 12:43:14 Qzukk places Xxx2Hot4uxxx into Ignored.
Jan 3, 2007 12:43:31 MichaelPhelps786: hey qzuk do you got 3k?

Eve Soverignty Maps (4, Informative)

zerocool^ (112121) | about 6 years ago | (#24648971)

In EvE, if you add this:
http://www.eve-iss.com/external/maps/territoryanimated.gif [eve-iss.com] (1.7MB animated gif)
with this:
http://eve-files.com/media/corp/CRII/ [eve-files.com] (map jpegs have dates)

You can get a relatively accurate look at what's happened in player controlled territory since 2003 in New Eden.

For the un-initiated, eve has it's NPC-controlled sandbox, it's all the space in the middle of these maps. In this space, you can do your mining, crafting, running NPC missions / quests, invention, market trading, etc etc. Space in EvE is given a security rating 0.0 ~ 1.0, with 1.0 being tightly controlled by NPCs and 0.0 being lawless. For the adventurous, 0.0 space has different rules. There's no penalty for shooting someone else's ship, there are stations that can be captured, sovereignty to be gained, bountiful assets to take advantage of, and all the PVP you can shake a stick at - from the small 5 man roaming gangs to the laggy 300v300 fleet battles (these are usually over territorial control).

Anyway, in a nutshell, there's the history of eve. At odds with each other for years in EvE are the Band of Brothers alliance (mostly UK, Euro, and US), and the Red Alliance (Russian speaking players, mostly).

~Wx

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | about 6 years ago | (#24649167)

i've heard that in Eve one spends most of their time gathering and flying through empty space with bugger all to do. When you've built your bad ass ship that took you weeks, someone can destroy it in a matter of minutes. Is that the case? i've mostly heard about it from people who disliked it. Can't recall talking to anyone who did like it.

Is that the same 'Band of Brothers' as the 'Band of Failures' in PlanetSide?

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#24649307)

I love Eve. It's a great griefer magnet that helps cut down on their time spent in better MMO's.

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | about 6 years ago | (#24649389)

LoL. i'm going to share that with my PlanetSide outfit. They'll get a good laugh.

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649969)

Ignoring the fact that all MMOs are terribly crummy games for people with limitless spare time and no impulse control, I'd love to know what your notion of a "better" MMO is.

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24650303)

Either you're trolling or you are incapable of separating fact from opinion. Either way, you've proven beyond all possible doubt that you are brutally retarded.

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (4, Informative)

zerocool^ (112121) | about 6 years ago | (#24649463)

i've heard that in Eve one spends most of their time gathering and flying through empty space with bugger all to do.

In a way, that's true; in a way it's not. Usually you end up calling a certain part of eve "home". I.e. a few systems, or part of a region. It does take a good bit of time in eve to move assets, but this is one of the realism aspects of the game. Unlike other games where you can check something into a "Vault" or "bank", and pull it out halfway across the world, in eve, assets are *some place*, and to get them from A to B, they have to be moved. So, then it becomes "Do I want to spend more money and buy X item here, or do I want to fly 10 solar systems over and buy it for X-30%?". Lots of people make money buying things low, moving them to the fringes, and selling them high.

When you've built your bad ass ship that took you weeks, someone can destroy it in a matter of minutes. Is that the case?

Yes. Death in eve has meaning. Don't fly it unless you can afford to lose it. There's a trade off between expensive items and their added benefit, and the cost of replacing them if they are lost.

Case in point: Estamel's Modified Invulnerability Field - most expensive and rarest module in the game. Adds a 50% resistance bonus to all damage types for shields. The last one that sold I think sold for 11 billion isk. You can almost buy a Mothership for that. So the question is how much will this increase your survivability versus the 6 million isk Tech 2 invulnerability field, or even the 300,000 isk tech 1 invulnerability field (30% and 25% resistance, respectively). Cost vs. Benefit.

i've mostly heard about it from people who disliked it. Can't recall talking to anyone who did like it.

I can't speak for everyone, but I like it. I've been playing for 2.5 years now, and have 2 characters. It's not for everyone, but it's really got some heart-pounding PVP if you go look for it. There's anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people logged in (to the same world, eve is not sharded) at any given time.

~Wx

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | about 6 years ago | (#24649647)

+1 Informative. Thanks :)

PlanetSide manages the 'vault' thing by saying everything is built out of nanites that arrange themselves into the desired pattern.

Also, everything is very replaceable (spawn another one, or take someone else's) and everyone has access to same stuff, more or less. A newbie can get a tank, a 5 year vet can get a tank. And it's the same tank per empire (faction). The difference is that the 5 year vet can also get an Air to Ground attack fighter, hack enemy vehicles and so on. Rank gives you flexibility. This way there's no ganking of the n00bs, the n00b's tank is just as good. Whether he knows what to do with it and if he has friends, determines the outcome.

Death is fairly meaningless in PS, it just sends you to the back of the battle and delays you a bit. But it is an FPS. Death comes pretty quickly in 100+ vs. 100+ vs. 100+ battles.

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (1)

zerocool^ (112121) | about 6 years ago | (#24650311)

Right; the player levels in eve are handled in such a way that being a vet does give you an advantage, but it's greatly diminishing returns.

(In eve, skills are learned in real time, not by play time or experience points gained by in game actions)

For example, for a given skill X that has a rank of "1", the first level of the skill will take several minutes, the 2nd level perhaps an hour, the 3rd level maybe 6-8 hours, the 4th level 1.5 days, and the 5th (and final) level, 5 days. For each level, this skill X may grant you a 5% bonus to some stat or item or whatever. A common example is a 5% damage bonus to $weapon, for instance.

The difference between the new players and the old farts is that the old farts all have it trained up to level V. But most of the new players will have it trained to III - IV anyway. So, old players get the bonuses associated with that extra few percent, but at the expense of much more time.

The other main advantages of "older" characters is that as your skills increase, you can use additional ships / modules. This allows older players to have a greater variety of the ships they can pilot, though you can only pilot one at a time - so this is mainly for variety to the older player. It also allows for players who are vets to use "better" equipment, i.e. so-called "tech-2" modules. To be honest, though, most of the fitting skill requirements for T2 mods (other than guns) are "Skill X, level IV", so even that's not out of a new players' reach.

The only major advantage of being an older player is access to cash; a lot of older players (much older than me, I'm thinking 2003 - early 2004 character creation dates) have access to things that don't exist anymore, like Tech 2 blueprints that can build infinite numbers of their corresponding modules. These essentially are a license to print money, which is why their random lottery-system giveaway was removed from the game. Honestly, though, it's not that big a deal. So you'll never be able to afford 140 billion for a Titan + fittings - meh. Fly cruisers and be happy.

~W

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (2, Informative)

LordMyren (15499) | about 6 years ago | (#24651259)

If you are part of a large alliance, theres usually jump bridge routes to connect up all of your empire's assets. Inside of your network, transit really isnt an issue, aside from time roaming through enemy space. And theres always plenty to do then.

I'd pin anyone not in an alliance as someone who spends "most of their time gathering and flying through empty space with bugger all to do". Theres usually some sort of long term goal that has you floating through space, but the goal boils down to some static repetitive variant of "make money".

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (1)

Das Modell (969371) | about 6 years ago | (#24652285)

Yes. Death in eve has meaning.

Too bad it isn't actually any fun, which is something of a bad thing in a video game.

Don't fly it unless you can afford to lose it.

Hell yeah man, this sounds like a blast.

Seriously I think I'd rather play with Excel than go anywhere near EVE.

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649807)

When you've built your bad ass ship that took you weeks, someone can destroy it in a matter of minutes.

If you play stupidly yes. Eve is like poker, no one can stop you from going all in with a pair of 3's.

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649943)

In Eve, the oft-repeated golden rule is "don't fly what you can't afford to lose". Most pilots learn this early on, some do tragically late.

Re:Eve Soverignty Maps (1)

LordMyren (15499) | about 6 years ago | (#24650635)

Theres two ways to play eve.

1. Stick to "safe" space and either run missions or do "industrial" tasks like building and inventing.

2. Join an alliance and exist on the edge of space defending and attacking.

The first I find to be insurmountalby boring. You're investing your time in building a richer character with no real ties to the universe, aside from market interaction. The second is whats fun, because you are part of a large collective action and are frequently playing with the other players towards large goals. And its fun precisely because the stakes are so high, because its to easy to get blown up and to go blow up others.

As for cost/investment;

For any given ship type in EVE, there are two variants: Tech 1 and Tech 2. Tech 2 costs 5-10x as much, and are across the board a bit better and have considerably better armor. EVE also has insurance. Insurance will usually cover a moderately equipped Tech1 ship pretty well, and insurance payouts dont vary between Tech1 and Tech2. If you dont mind flying mildly equipped Tech1, losing your ship in EVE is really not a bad loss at all. Generally, the role your ship is playing is more important than how good it is at its role as you are almost always just a small part of a group effort, so Tech1 is very viable.

The breakdown is that in PvP its a fine balance between shooting Tech1 ships which are easier to pick off and knock out of the fight versus picking on Tech2 ships that take longer to kill but put considerable financial hurt on the enemy player.

Are we running out of stuff to do? (4, Insightful)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#24648981)

There aren't enough real events to chronicle, so we're moving on to virtual worlds? We've perfected news reporting with CNN and FOX so now we're going to start working on current events in WOW?

What is wrong with us?

Degrees of control. (1)

khasim (1285) | about 6 years ago | (#24649125)

So the average gamer has no influence on real-world events ... but they do have some degree of influence in game.

Therefore, document the influence you have in the game! It's kind of like making it into the history books ... kind of.

Hardly an exhaustive list... (4, Funny)

Skye16 (685048) | about 6 years ago | (#24649139)

Well, for starters, my shoulders hurt like hell first thing I wake up in the morning. I can't find a position that doesn't cause them to hurt so much.

Another pressing matter: I just rubbed my eye after eating a banana pepper about 2 hours ago, without having washed my hand. I look like somebody shot my dog right before my eyes.

I've got a lot of weight to lose, I'm starting to get a bald spot, and I have a yeast infection on the end of my trouser trout that I'm seeing a doctor about on Wednesday 'cos the Cloromotrinasdlkjasdf;ljasdf;lj stuff isn't working.

And that's just for starters.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649143)

There aren't enough real events to chronicle, so we're moving on to virtual worlds? We've perfected news reporting with CNN and FOX so now we're going to start working on current events in WOW?

What is wrong with us?

I totally agree. Also why are all those authors, filmmakers, etc. wasting time chronicling completely fake events, when there are so many real events going unchronicled?

Won't somebody please think of the real events?!

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | about 6 years ago | (#24649225)

"Perfected news reporting with CNN and FOX"?

Are you fucking kidding me?

*incoherent, stunned disbelief that someone typed that seriously*

Or wait, are you really Colbert in disguise? Calling the reporting of CNN and FOX 'perfect' is something that only a satirist can do without coming across as silly.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649319)

That was sarcasm, I think. Whoosh.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

Walkingshark (711886) | about 6 years ago | (#24650295)

"Perfected news reporting with CNN and FOX"?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Holy shit. The ice cream girl from the "Lost Blogs" book review [slashdot.org] posts on slashdot!

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#24650907)

*incoherent, stunned disbelief that someone typed that seriously*

In the future, if you find yourself writing something like that on the internet and especially on slashdot, assume sarcasm.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (2, Insightful)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | about 6 years ago | (#24649243)

Didn't you hear? They redefined news reporting as sock-puppetry and regurgitated talking points. So yes, FOX news is absolutely a pinnacle of news reporting.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24650977)

Didn't you hear? They redefined news reporting as sock-puppetry ...

This just in: Glen Greenwald to join FOX News.

In addition Greene Glenwald and Walden Greenglen will also joining FOX News.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1, Insightful)

Kingrames (858416) | about 6 years ago | (#24649263)

Your nerd card is hereby revoked.

Just because you're not "into it" doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. It's a safe bet nearly every hobby of yours would be considered a waste of time by most people.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#24650955)

It's a safe bet nearly every hobby of yours would be considered a waste of time by most people.

Yes, that's why I'm not trying to document them. These guys on the other hand...

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

Kingrames (858416) | about 6 years ago | (#24651821)

I would say documenting virtual events is quite a bit more interesting than documenting say, the mating habits of honeybees. I'm fairly certain there are quite a few in the scientific community who'd disagree, but there is definitely an interest. If you don't like it, you don't have to participate. Nobody's pointing a gun at your head and forcing you to participate.

Nuh uh (1)

Nerdposeur (910128) | about 6 years ago | (#24650969)

Just because you're not "into it" doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. It's a safe bet nearly every hobby of yours would be considered a waste of time by most people.

No, because my hobby is saving babies.

Solid gold babies.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#24649283)

The day the National Archives agrees to preserve an oral history interview with Leroy Jenkins is the day Armageddon will begin.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

snarfies (115214) | about 6 years ago | (#24649327)

I can tell you that the ending of, say, Chrono Trigger, had more immediate bearing on my life than any major news story of the same year, and probably any other year to boot (except, perhaps, 9/11). Why? Because _I_ did it. I was there, I made it be so - in my own little world, that was news. And that news certainly gave me more happiness than any news story of the same era.

Anyone can go back and play Chrono Trigger through the magic of emulators, and have almost the exact same experience I did. But, and this is a major weakness of MMO games in general, you cannot say the same of, say, Ultima Online. I wasn't there, for example, the day Lord British was assasinated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_british#Assassination_of_Lord_British), and epic though it may have been to any witnesses, it was one-time and fleeting, never to be seen again.

So, this project is an attempt to help prevent all these moments from being lost, like tears in the rain. Time to die.

A Saving Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649369)

Whenever I see projects like these, I see how computers effect the lives of everyone. In the past with paper records, important documents like deeds were kept indefinitely, but general information like water bills etc. was kept for a few years, then destroyed. Now, everyone wants to keep every tiny aspect of our lives in some way, be it photos of kids every day for their entire lives, to Paypal keeping all of my transactions forever, etc. If this trend continues, eventually certain groups of society will be able to log and examine every second of everyone's life. While some documents including deeds and the occasional family photo are important, it shouldn't become an extreme burdon that I could be fined for J-Walking in 1983. I don't want someone knowing that I have said hello 7326 times in my life versus 203423 times I said hi. Humans are an imperfect species, and monitoring everything we do to then be punished/rewarded/fill the curiosity of others is rediculious.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (4, Insightful)

Lewisham (239493) | about 6 years ago | (#24649505)

I know this is Slashdot, and actually RTFA is rare, but had you actually done so, you'd have read this:

'"When you are trying to preserve anything you are trying to preserve the most important things about that artefact," she said. "With video games we do not yet know what is important."'

CNN and Fox are being archived very well already. But we have large gaps, and it's important to keep as much as we can, just in case.

We've been very good thus far at preserving our culture for studies by future generations, but that was because everything we made was stored in a physical entity. It didn't matter whether the creators thought it important or not, we at least could come back to it in later generations if we needed to.

The Digital Age has meant we're losing huge swathes of information because we can't keep up. Archive.org is going to be amazingly important, but it'll take later generations to figure out why.

I'm very pleased that someone has realized that the beginnings of virtual worlds will also be important. We can't possibly contemplate where they're going to go in just 50 years. We're going to want to know how they started when we get there.

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#24651003)

"We don't know what is going to be important" can justify me keeping records on my bowel movements just as easily as it can for documenting online games.

In both cases though you can be sure no one is going to be interested in that shit.

Archive.org already important (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | about 6 years ago | (#24652119)

A student interning at my workplace was writing a thesis on communication via the internet (e.g. HTML forums) across great distances in rural Africa a while back, when the site was suddenly removed.

Thanks to me finding it on archive.org, she could still complete the thing and not look like an idiot.

To have something similar for gaming, we'd need not only promo-trailers and cover shots, but actual video (of recorded gameplay) or demos of the game.
But I'm an FPS'er and when it comes to roleplaying I'm all pen & paper, so it may be different for these MMORPGs or whatever. What happened to MUSH anyway?

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

SL Baur (19540) | about 6 years ago | (#24650059)

>quote>... now we're going to start working on current events in WOW?

GNN, Gnomeregan News Network, "Crisis at Da Portal!" with Mar'Lee reporting. http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/downloads/movies.html [worldofwarcraft.com]

There's also a Gadgetzan Times http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/gadgetzantimes/archives.html [worldofwarcraft.com]

Re:Are we running out of stuff to do? (1)

rhyre417 (919946) | about 6 years ago | (#24650879)

There aren't enough real events to chronicle, so we're moving on to virtual worlds...

What is wrong with us?

Why would you ask this question of people reading /.?
That pretty much defines people with nothing better to do right at this very moment.

In August 2008, the real activists aren't passively waiting for news from the 'real world'.
They are out working for real change, either by working on political campaigns or other causes.
Well, some are probably watching the obama-girl mccain-girl olympics on
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbDY7VYM158 [youtube.com] ) or other venues

our planet is a virtual world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649015)

too many stories to tell

and our planet is really becoming a virtual world
http://twinverse.com/

Who really cares? (-1, Flamebait)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | about 6 years ago | (#24649055)

Anyone who does really care about this, really does need to get a life.

Re:Who really cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649101)

Yeah, the online gaming industry needs to get a life. All those damn CEOs with all that money, probably a new hooker every other weekend. They're such losers.

Re:Who really cares? (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#24650133)

Yeah, the online gaming industry needs to get a life. All those damn CEOs with all that money, probably a new hooker every other weekend. They're such losers.

Actually that's just the thing: those stereotypical EA and Sony CEOs probably care more about the money, than about each time M33tm1ss1le ganked PigBenis in their game.

Even for a game designer, you're just a statistic. Even the guy scratching his head about balancing priests in the next patch, probably cares more about the percentage of times a priest won against a rogue. Not about the individual events.

Heck, even looking at RL history, we're only really interested in the big picture. We may be interested in the fact that Brennus's Gaul army crushed the Roman army by totally pwning the newbs on the wings and then enveloping the centre. But nobody gives a fuck about exactly which Celtic warrior killed exactly which roman, and viceversa.

The saying that comes to mind is: not seeing the forest for the trees. That's the problem with looking at the details of billions of data points, as opposed to the big statistic.

So basically even if it were RL events, nobody would want to know it in the detail that the summary implies. For online games? Heh. In UT alone there were many millions of deaths per week after launch, or more death per second than at Kursk or the famous wipe at Cannae or Teutoburg. Nobody sane is interested in _that_ kind of level of detail.

At best, a few people will be deluded enough to think that someone else gives a flying fuck about how many times they pwned who. As the summary seems to imply. You know, that all will bow before the mighty PigBenis because of his score.

So, yeah, it's a shame that the OP will probably get modded down, because that's exactly what it is: anyone thinking that humanity is interested in knowing the how many times PigBenis won against M33tm1ss1le, needs to get a life. Not because it's a game, but because it's that fucking stupid even from the perspective of a games addict. Again, nobody is interested in that kind of detail even for RL battles that (arguably) changed the course of history. And that goes double for anyone who thinks that _he_ personally is that important and worthy of having his online exploits documented for all to gasp in awe.

Re:Who really cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649247)

I care, but only a little, as a previous poster linked to a nice quick and simple animated image of land territory (IF) I was playing that game it would be a nice tidbit of information.

The only thing this tells me is, if you're going to make a game, keep logging/recording in mind nowadays (not to mention this helps being an admin against bug abuse). Since some games (growing) actually do allow replays to be saved for review. You don't have to be a nerd to find it interesting, you just have to play the game enough, or want to learn how to play and review what happened.

Strategy games are the best games to save replays in, because then you can view the opponents strategy and tweak his to yours. Whereas MMORPGs, a statistical report/highscores list would be better (I don't need to know every detail of what I did, and I'm sure others don't care either, just that I gained x amount of XP doing y task)

Some will like the logs, some won't, and that's based solely on whether you play for FUN, or play to WIN.

Re:Who really cares? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 6 years ago | (#24650071)

People who always tell others to 'get a life' need to find something better to do.

Re:Who really cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24650993)

Athiesm is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

OT, but you know it's spelled Atheism, right?

A Brief History of Grief Play (5, Informative)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 6 years ago | (#24649119)

People talk about the death of Lord British, and the Corrupted Blood plague, and the antics of Fansy the Famous Bard [notacult.com] not because they're turning points in MMO history, but because they're fucking funny. Who really gives a shit about official lore like Morpheus getting cacked, when there are records of Bael'zharon flirting with female PCs and eating emoted twinkies [gamespy.com] during his plodding reign of destruction? Or how about the early days of WWII On-Line, when Lum the Mad Taxiied to victory [onlinegamers.org] -- or even better, the tanks whose code was lifted from planes, flight mechanics and all, bringing forth the unholy reign (rain?) of flying flakpanzers?

Seriously. Nobody really gives a shit about the official stuff. It's the impromptu weirdness (including Rainz' murder of Lord British) that they remember and celebrate.

Off-topic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649221)

Seriously, what? That is precisely what this story is about, archiving the history of MMOs, how it's been done in the past, and why.

Re:A Brief History of Grief Play (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 6 years ago | (#24649383)

Who modded the parent offtopic? This is spot on. Unexpected awesome events and tweaks are the only things people really do care about, not A to B scripted NPC storyline from the developers.

Duplicate effort? VMK (1)

OpenYourEyes (563714) | about 6 years ago | (#24649179)

This seems like a strange attempt. You mean there aren't already tons of message boards that contains peoples personal experiences, wikis that provide in-game information, and tons of indexing by google of both of these? The best example of this I've seen was the effort by the Disney's Online Worlds [disneysonlineworlds.com] wiki to document information about VMK while it was running, and then the frantic effort to preserve as much as they could before the game was shut down.

Was doing this in 1996 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649209)

The ability to store 'demo' captures has been in Unreal since UT1 in the late 90s. I discovered this when I ran a server for deathmatch games and decided to keep a log of every game played. The format is a timestamped delta encoding of every movement, entity and actor in the level. Of course it occupies quite a lot of file space.

Many years later I stumbled upon a few gigabytes of this data on a backup disk. Watching through old games from different player viewpoints was very entertaining. Then it occured to me that certain players were behaving strangely. In my spare time I started thinking about how to analyse this data and eventually discovered it was possible to tell with a *high level of certainty* that some players were cheating all along.

Now I don't play online computer games much any more, but I still see the same problems and chuckle at games like WoW trying to detect and defeat cheats with client solutions. This will never work. But, given enough server side data you can easily see that some players are way outside the statistical norms for certain actions. Distributions show a typical curve from the worst to the best players, and then a separate, clearly identifiable peak of weird data bound to about 5% of players. My reckoning is that these are the cheats.

For example, one of the oldest cheats is a wall hack that allows you to see other players that should not be visible. What is the chance of a player being able to regularly track another within a few degrees of their location without this knowledge? When you run the sums on enough old games the cheats stick out a mile.

Re:Was doing this in 1996 (1)

icegreentea (974342) | about 6 years ago | (#24651211)

Most RTSs have the save reply option as well. They store every action that takes place, including mouse clicks and where they were looking. For example, Starcraft had them, and part of that made certain forms of cheat detection trivial. Map hacks were the most obvious, cause your opponent would be staring at unexplored areas of the map for long periods of time. Or if they were really dumb, they actually clicked on units or buildings out of view.

Re:Was doing this in 1996 (1)

Das Modell (969371) | about 6 years ago | (#24652235)

Doom had recordable demos too. I'm sure it wasn't the first game to have them.

Griefers are already doing this (3, Funny)

Jailbrekr (73837) | about 6 years ago | (#24649211)

Just do a search on youtube for secondlife. Guaranteed you'll find lots of historical SL footage. Free hugs, Harry potter, and flying penises are all there.

Re:Griefers are already doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24650089)

Flying penises with mono pretty soon

Re:Griefers are already doing this (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | about 6 years ago | (#24650183)

Snapzilla http://www.sluniverse.com/pics/ [sluniverse.com]

There are a few genuinely interesting people in Second Life still, and some of them do genuinely interesting things.
Yes the game is full of total whackjobs and idiots, but people with their heads screwed on straight tend to gravitate
toward / build locations that are simply too boring (to the griefers) to ever be messed with.

Of course, I tend to ruthlessly avoid interaction with players who hide their Real Life identities. That pares the field WAY down, which suits me fine.

I'm a musician in SL. It's really difficult for an artist with a recognizable style to hide his or her identity, and I consider it folly to do so.
I also think it's funny that people are actually concerned about the fact that, whatever the numbers are, X% of the avatars are female and X+Y% of the players are male. When you narrow your interactions down to only those players who are willing to be upfront and honest about their Real Life identities, those things are no longer a subject of consideration, and then you are simply dealing with interesting people, just like any other social networking or what have you.

Server Issues? (1)

EchaniDrgn (1039374) | about 6 years ago | (#24649289)

Would rollbacks be like an alternate reality?

Restarts are like mass amnesia?

DANG IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24649377)

Aren't there already enough permanent records of all the stupid stuff I do in the real world? Now I have to go back to single player.....

Something like Activeworlds (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | about 6 years ago | (#24649431)

Would be interesting to document from because while there is a lot of garbage in the old AW world, there is also a lot of history of the users that did things in that world.

Users were allowed to build virtual areas where they could hang pictures, sounds, and text. Pretty much a gussied up 3D web site of sorts in a world. There were various levels of creativity in designed plots of land.

The URLs to the sounds and pictures most likely don't function much more, but all the signs with text people left could be interesting to document along with the URL histories.

Shadowbane... (1)

brxndxn (461473) | about 6 years ago | (#24649447)

In the mmo Shadowbane (currently free) that emphasized pvp, gvg and total player city control, the map changed significantly. Though, some cities stayed for years.. Others last mere days.

Achieving the History of Virtual Worlds (4, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | about 6 years ago | (#24649989)

The title of the story is wrong. The problem isn't Archiving history, the problem is Achieving history.

Shadowbane is one of the few games that really had an opportunity in this arena. I was in the beta for it long long ago, and if it hadn't had such a huge glut of bugs and horrendous launch, it really would have had a chance.

There can not be a history in WoW because nothing ever changes. Sure, there are occasionally 1-time events. The opening of AQ 40, or the Scourge invasion, but honestly, these 1 time events aren't a history, they are just a 1-time thing that you either got to see or didn't. For the vast majority of players, there is no imapact they can have on the world at all. They've killed hundreds of thousands of radiated gnomes, but Gnomerangan will always be inhabited by more of them. They've slaughtered Illidan over and over and over, yet he'll pop right back up again after the next weekly reset.

That's one of the big reasons why Warhammer online has a nice draw to it, there is a story that can be told, a battle between rivals where the map changes. An on going fight where every player is making a difference as to where the battle is being fought.

The down side though, is that it is a PvP game, which is a turn off to a lot of people. If it were possible to design a PvE MMO such that there was a progression over time in driving the borders of your empire forward (or retreating!) was possible, the effects could be huge. As players level they delve deeper into the un-civilized lands to find more challenging enemies, but as they slaughter more enemies, the enemies they face retreat, increasing the land mass of the empire, and pushing the battle lines out. Imagine riding through a farmers field on your steed and saying to a newer player, "When I was your age, this place was goblin country, we spent weeks clearing them out and months more patrolling before these farmers took hold here."

Just a thought.

-Rick

Re:Achieving the History of Virtual Worlds (1)

LordMyren (15499) | about 6 years ago | (#24651609)

Yes.

Eve obviously has a big player controlled world building aspect (galaxy building); I guess my qualm is there is the lack of ability to shape much besides sovereignty and a handful of special-purpose player owned structures. Yes its entirely player run but the extent of what in game influence lets you do is pretty limited.

Tabula Rasa has "control point" bases that the NPC's swarm and take over. To get the point back you've got to get some people together and go take back the control point. The "epic" virtue of the notion is lost, in that control points will change hands twenty times a day and that aside from access to a handful of NPCs theres no game impact at all. Still, its a mild version of the game world influence you are talking about, and its damned fun sitting inside a base mowing down hordes of advancing npcs.

Someone mentioned Shadowbane as having really sweet player controlled cities. As its free, I'll have to check it out.

Did Planetside have anything to offer here?

What else needs to go into the catalog of games that have history?

Re:Achieving the History of Virtual Worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24651731)

I would suggest checking out Battlemaster (http://battlemaster.org). It has a nice combination of PvP and PvE but with a very heavy roleplay component.

Re:Shadowbane... (1)

LordMyren (15499) | about 6 years ago | (#24651355)

Are you familiar with any other games where players are involved in world building?

Electronic privacy (3, Interesting)

FilterMapReduce (1296509) | about 6 years ago | (#24649535)

If this proposed archive does contain information about individual players, it could turn into an interesting little case study on privacy and modern technology. Many of the newer threats to privacy are about technology that can retain and search little details of your life online: the details individually may be public, but when they're all available at once they may start to feel like a breach of privacy. An MMO is a microcosm where the technology is already sufficiently advanced for this.

This can happen with the WoW Armory [wowarmory.com] , where anyone with Web access can pull up game data on any World of Warcraft character. From this, others can infer things like how much time you've spent playing lately. A player might wind up embarrassed over a WoW addiction ("Level 70 already?!"), or be bugged to play more by less casual-playing friends who want a high-level buddy to go raiding with. (I have experienced the latter and I believe there was a "Penny Arcade" strip about it once.) What's interesting is that your character level is not secret information—it's publicly visible every time you log on—but the dynamics of privacy do shift when it's a "matter of record" for anyone to look up on a website, rather than observed only by others on the same server when you're actually logged in and playing.

Time-Travel Research? (4, Interesting)

bmajik (96670) | about 6 years ago | (#24649781)

Suppose that events in a virtual world were transactional and were logged to a change log, ala a DBMS system. Suppose further that you could rollback the state of the virtual world to a known point in time, apply a different transaction, and then replay the remainder of the transaction log. Obviously collisions would happen.

A popular topic in science fiction is "what would happen to the future if you went back in time and messed with the past?"

Why speculate? Why not simulate it using virtual world technology?

Obviously this is more interesting in some VWs than others (2L comes to mind as an interesting place to try something like this). And obviously, the meat of the discussion is deciding how to apply conflicting transactions..

I think it would make a fascinating research project for grad students. For a collision policy X, what is the total measured discontinuity between world W and W' based on a given historical modification. Have a few differing conflict resolution policies and see what the ramifications of each are.

Infact, there's probalby some sort of innovative gameplay dynamic that could be built around history modification. Assuming that time travel is atrociously expensive (in terms of in-game cost) and there's only a limited window of opportunity or impact while you're "in the past", how can players maximize their future outcome by manipulating world history?

(Yes, I'm aware of the Microsoft game that had a token "time travel" component in it. Obviously I'm talking about something more grandiose)

Re:Time-Travel Research? (1)

Haoie (1277294) | about 6 years ago | (#24650361)

Call it the Butterfly effect [and yes, that so-so movie was similar to this]. Small changes in the past lead to exponential changes.

Still, it's just theory. And virtual worlds are still nothing like reality.

Re:Time-Travel Research? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 6 years ago | (#24650561)

I will been finding your ideas intriguing, and will have been wishing to subscribing to your newsletter.

Re:Time-Travel Research? (2, Insightful)

merreborn (853723) | about 6 years ago | (#24651717)

Suppose that events in a virtual world were transactional and were logged to a change log, ala a DBMS system. Suppose further that you could rollback the state of the virtual world to a known point in time, apply a different transaction, and then replay the remainder of the transaction log.

The interesting component of history and time travel is not logged in transaction logs, and that's choice.

You're essentially asking, "What if someone had assassinated Hitler in 1938... and then everyone made exactly the same choices, regardless?"

The idea of simulating time travel is interesting, but it's critical that you then also simulate each actor's decision making process.

Replaying (all?) virtual world events, and RL too (1)

Morgaine (4316) | about 6 years ago | (#24649951)

The article seems to be mainly concerned with recording the history of high-profile global events in virtual worlds, but this technology can go a lot further than that. Every single event can be recorded, and replayed later for our delight, amusement, education, and for less savoury purposes as well (like tracking and stalking people).

Many gaming environments have replay systems available, most commonly associated with their PvP side. Guild Wars provides a good example: with a keystroke you can enter Observer Mode, and choose which tournament or battle to watch from a large selection of recent events of different types. It's quite engrossing to watch the tactics of expert teams pitted against each other, and since you can control the camera yourself to follow a player (or leave it on auto) and monitor the skills that they use during battle, it's very educational for players within the game as well, and a good spectator sport.

If Observer Mode can be used to replay PvP tournaments, then it can also be used to replay every other event occurring in the Guild Wars world and any other virtual world or online game, and in principle this data can be stored forever, much as suggested in TFA. What's more, we're not talking about massive amounts of data either, because no video needs to be stored but only the stream of event data, which is hugely more compact. (And as a bonus it's a lot more flexible than video, since camera control is left to each observer and not decided at the time of recording.)

This event replay technology clearly has huge potential. Indeed, one day it could provide the "new TV", as this approach is not limited to virtual worlds alone. At the present time we can't really display real-world events in this manner photorealistically, but in a few years or decades that ability will come. And with that will come full digitization and replay of all events, in all our worlds. First we'll see virtual events that just look like real-world ones, but it's quite inevitable that there will be a convergence of the two.

It's very early days of course, but it already hints at a very interesting (but somewhat scary) picture of where we're heading in the area of event digitization and recording.

Because it's not bad enough to fail in real world? (1)

pippadaisy (196729) | about 6 years ago | (#24650039)

Seriously... history is hard enough to keep track of what with the country names changing and walls falling and whatnot. Then again, I suppose if some folks move to a WoW history class from a real-world history class, they might find it easier to graduate. Dumbing down America to match our fearless leader FTW!

Note to self... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24650331)

No more cartoon sex!

But why? (1)

LordMyren (15499) | about 6 years ago | (#24650499)

Theres very few game worlds with history worth tracking. "First 1000 players to complete XYZ quest"? Yeah whatever. For the most part these virtual worlds are totally static, modulo periodic content updates.

I'd be interested to hear what games have good data to track. Eve has outpost data [eve-maps.com] and sovereignty data available via an API that tells you the status of the universe, although theres no long term historical data available from the company.

Planetside and maybe DAoC might have data worth tracking, but I have not played either. Anything where player controlled PvP regions make up a large part of the game world probably is similar.

What games do you think have data worth tracking?

Waste of resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24650779)

I already get sick by those "in popular culture" entries in Wikipedia...

This a perfect example why humanity will fail to survive: collecting every peace of crap, unable to find the important informations, instead of solving _real_ problems some university nerds waste resources.

Go and work hard for your money!

Terrific... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24652447)

Now we can carry virtual wars into the real world! Won't that be wonderful? Why do people intentionally TRY to create conflict? What is the point of history? We do not learn from it anyways, so that cannot be its purpose. Its only possible purpose is to obfuscate what actually happened, and create further tensions.

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