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Will Harvey On Virtual Worlds, Technology Curves

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the microserfs-incarnate dept.

PC Games (Games) 94

CowboyRobot writes "Slashdot's former editor Chris DiBona has an interview with videogame creator Will Harvey over at ACMQueue. Harvey has had a hand in lots of stuff you've used, from Zany Golf to Adobe AfterEffects, and now runs There, a kind of online 3D 'virtual world' game. Their conversation covers games in general, as well as specifics of the challenges that There is facing. From the article: 'You have to project the curves: the rendering curve; the CPU speed curve; the money spent on the Internet on online games curve; the number of people who play online games curve. I think we guessed right on almost everything, but we underestimated Moore's Law and we overestimated the low-end graphics capability'."

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fist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354891)


beego ogeeb (-1)

beego ogeeb (753899) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354893)

meenp meme me kaka ka ak kakakakak
kakamemememem ka meneenp
kekameenp me

I wrestled with a peanut! My friend who is a girl gave me a peanut for my birthday. She said this about it, "Peanuts are special because they signify the protection of a sacred yummy". I didn't understand what that meant at the time, but now I do. Yummy does not mean taste delicious! Yummies are dependents! So it's my birthday, and I'm hosting a party of 11 people. All the gifts are very similar! I knew they conspired against me. They've always hated me because I can spot light sprinkles in the dark! One time my friend named Tom, who is gay, invited me over to his house to watch a movie. He turned all the lights out before he turned on the television!

He silently walked towards me, as I was seated on the couch. But I saw his hand down his pants. He was going to unload a wad right then, and maybe shake my hand! But I said to him, "Sprinkle, sprinkle, little star, I see the light provided by this wanking gaydar!". He was embarrased and he cried. I consoled, so I had to touch him anyways. I said no skin-to-skin though! There was more that my powers enabled me to do. Another time in the dark early morning, there was me and a small squirrel on my back lawn! He chirped-chriped, and said he was a birdy. I did not believe him. I'm not gullible! I used to be. Chalk it up to light sprinkles!

At the party, when my friend who is a girl, handed me the peanut, she yelled out. "I hearby declare, this peanut shall hand you an ass whoopin'!" The others laughed excitedly. I was scared, and replied, "I just want to clarify. I've never cracked a peanut open in my life, so this is all new to me." They sensed my fear, and laughed at that too! I did not know that there were official rules. There were! The dominant arm of the human is tied behind the back. And the other arm's hand is wrapped in duct tape. Nothing but the fist smash is allowed! They brought outside the kitchen table, with a layer of grease spread on it.

Before the match started, I had an important thought! I complained to them, "how can this be considered wrestling? smashing is not wrestling!". They booed me for being a spoilsport it seemed. I will kill them, I thought! It came to me like a lightening bolt. I am a yummy! The light sprinkle protects me. And the peanut is my friend! I wiggled my arm free from the rope holding it against my back. I sprinted as fast as I could go, and jumped into a head first slide onto the table! I grabbed the peanut and squeezed. The shell shattered and the nut flew out at substantial mach^n! It headed towards the sun, and caused an eclipse. Light sprinkle power! I chopped a piece of wood off the table. While they were blinded, I attacked with repeated blows to their skulls!

Victory was mine, and my friend the peanut made it back safely! I asked him about his time in space, and he had this to say:

meenp meme me kaka ka ak kakakakak
kakamemememem ka meneenp
kekameenp me

A cult classic was born!


Re:beego ogeeb (-1, Offtopic)

Justabit (651314) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354953)

Please can someone tell me what drugs or drug gives this affect. I'm thinking that he can type so its not alcohol, and well... he could have a voice typing program but the words are not typed slured so... at least he's not alergic to peanuts.

Re:beego ogeeb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356481)

That, sir, is a work of motherfucking genius.

There has interesting people. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354896)

Many of the highest-flying companies (from Organic's record-setting one day IPO, to Electronic Arts) have people at there []

In some ways success was so easy for them, they may have been overconfident too.

Spoiler (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355105)

Amidala is killed by Boba Fett

Don't waste your time (0, Informative)

I Hate Jesus (751654) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354900)

"There" only runs on Windows. "There"'s download page also requires IE 5 or later.

Don't forget... (0)

Gil2796 (585952) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354901)

... to protect the need to protect the curves curve!

Re:Don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354906)

Well, whether your protecting them or projecting them, them's a lot of curves to deal with

One Curve to Rule them All! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354911)

I for one, continue to welcome our curvaceous, female overlords...

And in the darkness *bind* them? (1, Insightful)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354915)

I for one, continue to welcome our curvaceous, female overlords...

Sounds good :)

Re:One Curve to Rule them All! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355028)


Re:One Curve to Rule them All! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355069)

I prefer it when I have the upper hand. Their place is in the kitchen. Once they've finished there then the laundry. Then once they've finished there the bedroom.

Re:One Curve to Rule them All! (1)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355187)

"I for one, continue to welcome our curvaceous, female overlords..."

Where is the 3D porn? []

Re:One Curve to Rule them All! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355496)

3D animated porn? 2funky4u []

I wonder (4, Informative)

rotciv86 (737769) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354913)

How fast the old 3-D games would run on modern day technology. I remember playing the origianl Wing Commander on an old 486. Would it even be playable on say an athlon with a geforece card?

Re:I wonder (5, Informative)

FisterBelvedere (754614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354926)

No, most of the older games run at blazingly fast speed in windows on modern computers (if they run at all that is)

If the game runs too fast, here's what to do:

Find the game's executable file (the file you run, usually
{somename}.exe) using Windows Explorer. Right click on the file, and
choose "Properties".

Click the "Program" tab. Click the "Advanced" button.

Check the "Comaptible Timer Emulation" box. Click "OK", then "Apply", then "OK" again. See if that fixes the games speed.
If that doesn't fix the problem:

A utility called "Moslo" can help solve this problem. Read the FAQ on Moslo here: FAQ #3: Moslo [] .

Re:I wonder (5, Funny)

bircho (559727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354975)

No, most of the older games run at blazingly fast speed in windows on modern computers

Just turn the Turbo key off... oh wait...

Re:I wonder (1)

FisterBelvedere (754614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354997)

Actually the first sentence in that FAQ on MoSLow is the following:

A: The easiest way to slow down old games is to hit the Turbo button on your computer, if it has one.

Re:I wonder (4, Interesting)

Tweaker_Phreaker (310297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355011)

Or you could just do the smart thing by turning vertical syncronization (vsync) on in your graphics drivers so that it will only render as many frames as your monitor can display. I'd recommend never turning vsync off when playing games; only turn it off for benchmarking.

Re:I wonder (2, Informative)

S.Lemmon (147743) | more than 10 years ago | (#8357156)

I doubt it. Those really old DOS games were *long* before accelerated 3D so any 3D driver vsync options will do absolutely nothing. Remember we're talking VGA or at best VESA video here, just to switching into these modes (if your card still supports them) will usually jump to a lower compatible vsync rate. Even so, many of the older games like the early Wing Commanders just ran as fast as the CPU would allow.

Re:I wonder (1)

notsoclever (748131) | more than 10 years ago | (#8357268)

However, a lot of those older games were coded such that they'd run at the same speed (if not the same framerate) on all systems. Hey, just like today's.

And a lot of them just used vsync for polling anyway.

Re:I wonder (1)

S.Lemmon (147743) | more than 10 years ago | (#8357373)

Several were patched afterwards for later re-releases, but quite a few released in the 286 era and before really had no throttling at all. I remember even on my 486 the original Wing Commander was unplayable. That's why programs like moslow were developed.

Re:I wonder (1)

notsoclever (748131) | more than 10 years ago | (#8360360)

True. I was just saying that not *all* older games are prone to those problems. Also, many games from that vintage won't even run in WinXP DOS boxes anyway, and so you need something like dosbox [] to run them, and since that has customizable emulated CPU speed it doesn't really matter which speed it runs at. :)

Old Games, New Hardware. (1, Interesting)

Tei (520358) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354956)

Will be not really much faster, and buggy. Because will be not optimized for really fast framerate, can crash. Because will not include code for new features the hardware will provide (like new OpenGL extensions) will not use that features, and will not benefict from that. If the game was compiled for 486, will not use MMX, so will not benefict from that CPU feature.

A old game in new hardware sould run faster, but not too much faster. If you need a old game to run faster, you have to rewrite some code, add hardware features, rewrite more code, and recompile for the new architecture. Thats too much rewrite, and old games sould be closed source, and the source is lost forever (closed source end losing the source, while open source live forever).

Re:Old Games, New Hardware. (3, Interesting)

S.Lemmon (147743) | more than 10 years ago | (#8357462)

Have you ever tried any? Remember most of these rendered via software directly to the video card - no acceleration at all, but they were designed to be playable on systems of that time.

Since then everything from CPU to memory, bus, and video speed has increased dramatically, and the later DOS 3D games do play much faster and smoother on a modern system (if they play at all). You can usually crank all GFX up to full and never see any slowdown.

The main "problem" I notice is just that the software rendered 3D looks so ugly by today's standards. Supported resolutions are usually very low with none of the filtering and effects we're used to.

Also since many had no speed throttling, earlier 286 era games can be completely unplayable without something like moslow. It's actually a bit comical to try. By the 486 era PCs varied in speed enough that games at least were written to throttle their max speed. Many won't go above a certain framerate.

Re:I wonder (1)

ameoba (173803) | more than 10 years ago | (#8357262)

Well, Wing Commander is a bad example; it's a DOS game with hard-wired timing loops. I remember trying to run it on my PPro-180 and frames went by too fast to even play; you blink twice and you've been shot down or crashed into asteroids or something.

On top of that, it wouldn't be taking advantage of anything other than the raw CPU speed; it wouldn't have any idea how to use the amount of RAM a modern system has or any of the hardware 3D's capabilities.

A Joke (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354918)

How many Jews can you fit in a VW Bug?

4 in the seats, 39 in the ashtray.

Re:A Joke (-1, Offtopic)

ShipsToday (752056) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354939)

You've heard about the big controversy on when life begins. In Jewish tradition the fetus is not considered viable until after it graduates from medical school.

Moore's Law (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354922)

In the spirit of Goodwin's Law, I propose a new law called Moore's Law - any time someone brings up Moore's Law in a technology discussion, the discussion is over.

Re:Moore's Law (-1, Offtopic)

ShipsToday (752056) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354925)

How about the Slashdot law... If you read Slashdot, you turn gay. Any supporters out there?

Re:Moore's Law (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354932)

Yeah baby.

News for Gays. Studs that matter.

Re:Moore's Law (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354942)

I once had a wife and two kids. Then back in '99 I found Slashdot. Now I suck cock every night and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

Roadtrip! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354949)

Slashdot roadtrip to San Fran anyone???

Music Construction Set on Apple II (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354928)

by Will Harvey.

It used precisely timed 6502 assembly to get 4-voice polyphony out of the system address $C030, which only toggled the speaker diaphragm from one state to another. Amazing.

No Dickhead (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354941)

not amazing, obvious. Assembly language is very easy. It is moronic MCSE scum like yourself that caused the dot com boom. Bastard.

Also: Commodore 64 Marble Madness and The Immortal (2, Informative)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356679)

again, by Will Harvey (well, The Immortal was by Sandbox Productions, I think it was.)

I was of comparable age (very young) at that time he did the C64 game, so I've always kind of looked upon Will Harvey as a kind of patron saint of kid programmers.

I'd love to ask him how the hell you're suppose to beat the secret level in Electronic Arts' versions of Marble Madness.

The same prolem for all new MMORPG (5, Interesting)

S3D (745318) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354934)

That is the comon pitfall of all latest MMORPG: desiners rely on player created content and player-driven economy. The problem is - it never work. Worlds designed for player created content are blan and empty. Player-driven economy unwieldy, inconvinient and is not fun. To be creative players have to be provided with a lot of extensive tools and abilities, and that kind diversity usually destroy balance. No balance = no fun. More restrictive tools - no players creativity. The "There" seems too abitious - they want all genres in one game. Too much framework usually mean too little premade content, and that usually spell disaster...However there's always a hope that this time they will manage to do it right...

Having been in there since an early beta... (5, Informative)

Mindcry (596198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354982)

I'll say a couple things about it...
First, the company really has it together, I received the lastest version of the beta on CD mailed to my door with no questions asked every three weeks or so, with a couple spare accounts to give to friends to try... Of the other MMO games (AC,AC2, horizons, SWG) I've beta'd, I had to download over 500mb+ to start, and Sony would send you a beta CD, provided you paid them $12 to do so...

Second, there is more like a giantic chat room with lots of activities etc etc... its not really like the old "lemme kill 80000 rabbits so i can use the screwdriver to kill 80000 "mildy greater rabbits, but not by that much"... its really much more of an opened ended social atmosphere more towards the sims then hack and slashes...

and there's plenty of premade stuff in there ;) and it does avoid a lot of the pitfalls you mention (but if you like killing stuff and killing foozles, then that'd be its pitfall)...

either way, it was pretty smart of them to create their own space instead of trying everquest #42, which i doubt they would have ever made...
sorry if i sound like an apologist, but your post struck me as lacking background in what exactly is in There, which is actually pretty common ;)

Re: your logic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356260)

The fact that There isn't charging you $12 for the beta CDs only shows that they're burning through their cash faster, which = going out of business sooner.

Re: your logic (2, Insightful)

Mindcry (596198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356476)

right, exactly, i'm so glad you brought me to the light oh glorious AC...

I was saying if someone is gonna ask for your help and you're money, well... that just doesn't seem quite right...

hey bob, fix this computer for me, and while you're at it, give me $20...

come on :P can't be that dim. a $1 CD to every beta tester probably isnt even close to there bandwidth charges, and considering the air force (i believe, could be another branch) is contracting them now for their platform for millions upon millions, i doubt it'll matter too much in the long run. but thanks anyways...

Re:The same prolem for all new MMORPG (4, Interesting)

cmacb (547347) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355002)

" That is the comon pitfall of all latest MMORPG: desiners rely on player created content and player-driven economy. The problem is - it never work."

That's like saying that the Internet will never work because what most people want is to just sit in front of a TV set and watch.

There ARE online activities that you would like to just be a passenger in, but there are also things where you want to be the driver too. Why else would so many people have their own web pages, spend so much time creating textures and flash presentations, or post messages to something like Slashdot for that matter?

Early online games were tightly controlled because the technology didn't allow it to be otherwise. I think MOST, not just a few, 3D online content of the future will be open-ended. Once you have the proper infrastructure in place there is no reason to separate user created content from that provided by the infrastructure vendor.

Second Life is where There plans to be in two or three years. It needs a broadband connection and 3D graphics card, but if you have those there is no reason to be using a more primitive system such as There, or Sims Online. Might want to give it a try, if you have the hardware.

One small step... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355060)

The article says that they saw the failures of other games that tried to create a metaverse ala Snow Crash due to not enough computer power in the majority of households. They realize it's probably 10 years away from being a graphically rich (life-like, stunningly realistic and fully customizable metaverse) experience and their main goal is to have a zone where people can hang out and do neat little things with their buddies, while still allowing average pc's and possibly phones/PDAs and other things to connect at the same time.

Re:The same prolem for all new MMORPG (5, Informative)

WhodoVoodoo (319477) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355261)

"That's like saying that the Internet will never work because what most people want is to just sit in front of a TV set and watch."

Not quite on the head, but as close as you can get in describing MMORPG mentality. Here is what my obserations have been, on MMORPG's (I have played quite a few, including two from this company [] , one in about 1994. Yeah, it's still making money.

basically here is it: People who play online RPG's for the most part Do Not Seem To Roleplay. Go into Anarchy Online and start asking around about george bush or something, nobody is going to say, "George who? Is he a new planet overlord?" or whathaveyou. Because they are probably not getting into it that way.

Fine, whatever.

But when you trust those same users to entertain themselves, you tend to end up with Missions or Quests or whatever that go like "Kill rabbit, get GiantGlowingSwordOfExplosionNess" Or just crap that isnt that entertaining to ME, or to anyone else for that matter. Why? They'll say "It's just a game." or more likely "d00d itz jus a game, U R GAY how dos you dad lek it??".

The games I've played from Nexon Inc, Including one named "Darkages" (NOT DAoC) was very different. When it was released, they players were put in charge basically. They made laws for the various cities (Only two had governments, but there were like... 8 cities in all that you could go to. They just didnt have an established gov't) These players, as one of the first rules or laws if you will, stated "You have to actually Roleplay in this game or you get kicked out of these two bigass main cities with all the good hunting/commerce places"

There were very complex rules regarding punishment for breaking the laws, including capitol punishment by the hands of these wierd wraith looking things (called Sgath), being kicked out of one town or another, and so on. There was also Organized religion. 8 of them. Yes, all handled by the players, because they wanted to, they were dedicated to the community in some way, and certain features were implimented by the developers.

On Commerce, The players will make their own comemrce system. Im a whateverclass and I need a whateverstick to hunt with people this way at this level, so I get one. Then I sell it to someone in my own position later. Or I need a magicgreenringthingy to give to the giant crab as part of a BigMagicSword Quest, theres a market for these items. Fairly simple if you ask me, markets create themselves among players if conditions are right. You even see inflation and recessions!

Now this is drawing on, and theres more including guilds, guild/religion quests, and a buttload of player created content and contests including a very, very, VERY vibrant community consisting of: Art, poetry, music, stories and anything inbetween including webcomics.

Nowadays it's changed quite a bit and some law have been 'repealed' if you will, and the RP aspect isnt so nazily enforced by the PLAYER ELECTED OFFICIALS.

This is an example of a game kinda done right. The only thing it needed was more content created by the developers in the form of Hard Coded Item Giving Quests and Events. But nonetheless, players carried on doing things that you might do in real life and having a blast doing it.

Now FINALLY getting to my point (and I'm sorry). I believe equal shares of Developer Content and Player Content and Community Encouraging Activities are required to produce a game that is fun, and will stay fun/fresh for YEARS.

You cant let players loose in a box and expect them to play tag. You also can't yet players loose in a roped-in-line of quests and level hunting either. You need it all if you expect to make cash for a long time. Though if you sell each copy of the game for 50 bucks, you make your money either way. What a system!

This is why these games are ridiculously difficult to get right, and make it last. (In adition, Not charging 50 bucks for a game Im going to pay monthly to play ANYHOW is a good way to get people interested. Free Trials are great too)

Or, like I said, you can make a mediocre MMORPG, sell the box for 50 bucks. Then simply charge people monthly to recoup network costs until it flops. But I guess I'm just bitter about various crappy MMORPG's. There sure as hell is no shortage of those.

Re:The same prolem for all new MMORPG (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8357355)

Please, sir, for the love of God, use English capitalization rules when writing english and save the German ones for writing German. "Developer Content" is not generally considered a proper noun.

I understand it's somewhat 'hackish' to ocassionally capitalize words for Added Effect, but you've gotten carried away.

Re:The same prolem for all new MMORPG (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8357223)

It already has worked: the average female player in There spends a little over $200 per month on virtual clothing. Last I heard, There's demographic is over 75% female and rising; that adds up to some significant revenue. It's a shame the article focused so much on the technical aspects of the world, when there's some really interesting anthropological things going on.

I wouldn't even put RPG into There's label. In my opinion, it's more of project to divert consumerism from the real world into their own virtual construct. Style has no prerequisite of material goods; you're simply buying status when you purchase designer labels. All There did was remove the material goods and keep the status. It already has in-demand designer labels--some of the hottest labels are even starting up real-world production efforts. Typical MMORPGs and social games like There are different beasts altogether...

Re:The same prolem for all new MMORPG (2, Insightful)

sholden (12227) | more than 10 years ago | (#8357567)

MUDs used plater created content just fine. Of course creating content wasn't usually done as part of the "game" but by hacking whatever language the MUD used for writing objects. Players who showed themselves to be contributing to the game would usually be given object authoring priviledges soon enough. Balance is achieved by other players with sch priviledges removing stuff that was unbalanced.

Player driven economies seem wonderful in theory. I love the idea, and that's what used in the perfect MMORPG that exists in my head as I guess it does for all those who have played MMORPGs and been disapointed. In practice it doesn't work because there simply aren't enough players online at any time to run a working economy, plus players don't like the money sinks that are needed (such as paying rent) if you break the economy by having unlimited money sources (such as monsters which drop gold when killed and when killed spawn again a short time later with more gold).

Such a player driven world would work well if you managed to get the right kind of players. However, intelligently enough most people/companies when creating as exepensive a game as a MMORPG want to attract the large bulk of players who just want to hack-n-slash.

MUDs were nice because they were reasonably low on resources (at first with few players) and easy to develop for with free (as in beer usually) engines easily downloadable. That let university students run them on university machines (and hence good connectivity) and other university students play them. I'm sure the university's didn't like it much, but that's how all the good MUDs I played started - created by people who wanted to play such a game and not by those who wanted to be paid by others who want to play such a game.

Machine's with good connectivity are cheapish now, and open source code is fashionable so maybe players will start writing MMORPGs. Of course creating the pretty graphics is harder than writing the networking code or the object scripting which I suspect is the current sticking point. Of course MUDs are still just as fun.

Companies like player created content because it is cheaper, they don't have to pay as many people to come up with new content if players are paying them for the priviledge.

Re:The same prolem for all new MMORPG (2, Interesting)

jafuser (112236) | more than 10 years ago | (#8358514)

Second Life and There are not MMORPGs they're not even technically 'games'. They are MMOEs.

MMORPG : MMOE :: Windows : Linux

You can play with a lot more of the innards in an MMOE like SL & There.

I don't know much about There, but in SL you can build 3d objects, create custom textures & clothings, write scripts, and even great games within the world. And you don't need anyone's permission to build things, upload your textures or sounds, or approve your scripts.

You can't do those sorts of things in most MMORPGs like EQ, SWG, DAoC, etc. Sure they have crafter classes, but you only earn the right to "craft" premade objects that have already been modeled, textured, and scripted by the creators of the game.

Personally, now that i've gotten a taste of the freedom in SL, I don't want to go back to the restrictive MMORPG genre.

Player Created Content for The Sims (2, Insightful)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 10 years ago | (#8361830)

I've heard cries of "it will never work" before. But player created content is the driving force behind the top selling game of all time, The Sims.

I believe that one of the major reasons that The Sims Online has failed (in stark contrast to EA's expectations, and the success of the offline version), is that The Sims Online doesn't support player created content. It's been promised, but EA never executed on Will Wright's vision.

The Sims was originally designed to support player created content. Thanks to the enormous quantity of player created content [] (on the order of millions of unique skins and objects, many of them excellent quality [] ), The Sims is anything but bland and empty.

I know people who actually make a full-time living and support their real families, by creating original, high quality Sims objects. There's a thriving cottage industry [] of publishing Sims objects and skins on many web sites [] , and selling subscriptions to Sims players who love to pay for downloading all kinds of original content [] !

But "bland and empty" does accurately describe The Sims Online: once you've played for a while, you get tired of the sparse selection of character skins and objects to buy. But that wouldn't be the case, if The Sims Online supported player created content like The Sims offline, as EA has promised but not delivered.

Player created content makes the economy richer, interesting, dynamic and personal, because it enables creative players to bring actual VALUE into the economy, and truly invest in building the virtual world.

Contrast that with The Sims Online economy, which has been flooded by Simoleans generated with MazeBots by people selling them on eBay. 100 million more Simoleans dumped into the Sims Online economy isn't going to improve the game play or the richness of the environment one bit -- in fact it just makes it worse.

But enabling players to add new skins and objects to The Sims Online would substantially increase its quality, while earning the creative players respect and Simoleans, and entertaining everyone.

If the enormous amounts of energy that players were putting into implementing MazeBots and generating Simoleans to sell on eBay, were put into implementing content creation tools and generating skins and objects, then The Sims Online might someday be even more successful than The Sims Offline.

It doesn't require "extensive tools and abilities" for players to create content. And it's not necessary for the tools to be built into the game itself. The content creation tools should be factored out into an SDK [] and released, so third party developers can extend them and integrate them into other tool chains and web services.

The Sims Transmogrifier [] is an external tool for The Sims, which enables players to create their own objects, by cloning existing objects and repainting the 2D graphics with programs like Photoshop. It doesn't require 3D Studio Max or any advanced 3D skills. Lots of kids and adults use it every day to make their own objects.

But it's certainly possible to make useful content creation tools that are easier to use than Transmogrifier. After all, not everyone knows their way around Photoshop, but many people want to make objects with pictures [] they download from the net or take with digital cameras.

I've developed an easy to use tool called RugOMatic [] , which enables players to create rugs for The Sims by simply dragging and dropping images and text.

A special thing about the RugOMatic rugs is that you can read the text description in-game, by selecting "Describe" from the pie menu [] . By including text that's readable in-game with your custom Sims objects, you can make objects that tell stories, use them as gifts, mementos, picture postcards, love letters, and for many other creative personal purposes!

An interesting data point I've gathered from RugOMatic: It's well known that about half of The Sims players are female, but what about Sims content creators? I've just started distributing the beta version of RugOMatic to a hard-core group of Sims object creators [] , and so far the registered RugOMatic users are more than 80% female!

These are people who are already using Transmogrifier, so they have excellent Photoshop skills, and many of them publish the objects they create on their own web sites.

I don't know if RugOMatic users will still maintain a 4:1 female:male ratio, after I start distributing it in the wild. It's aimed at a much wider audience than expert Transmogrifier users. But the 4 to 1 female to male ratio certainly says a lot about the hard core Sims object creation community!

[If you're interesed in beta testing The Sims Transmogrifier 2.0 [] or RugOMatic [] , please send me email [mailto] .]


Well THANKS A LOT! (-1, Offtopic)

rylin (688457) | more than 10 years ago | (#8354948)

"Slashdot's former editor Chris DiBona. . .

Fscking 'ell!
Someone of us live in different timezones you know, I thought he was still with us! :P

creators' newclear power vs. unprecedented evile (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354951)

you know which way the curve runs on that won?

consult with/trust in yOUR creators.... this stuff is unbreakable, wwworks on several (more than 3) dimensions, & there's never any payper liesense subscription fee/cover charge. see you there?

Serious question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8354961)

Why does canned crab meat taste so terrible?

Don't think I (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355075)

In There, imagine that you're driving a dune buggy, with a passenger who is shooting a paintgun at another person with a paintgun. And a dog is heeling behind the dune buggy.

Wow, that sounds great. Just like my dreams.


IE no Linux boxes playing here (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355096)

== clip ==
We've noticed that you're currently using a non-supported browser.

Please switch to Internet Explorer v. 5.0.1 or later to continue.

You can get the latest version of IE free at p.

After downloading and installing Internet Explorer, please launch it and go to:
in order to continue the registration process (you should cut and paste or write this link down for when you're ready to return).

You do not need to switch your default browser settings.
==end clip==

Re:IE no anti-MS players either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355239)

With all the security holes in MSIE, they won't have me playing either (currently using Opera 7.23).

Screw companies who force you into using Microsoft products, there's LOTs of other choices on this planet.

My reaction to There(tm) (4, Interesting)

alumshubby (5517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355117)

I looked at one of the demos, and it's pretty cute, but this mediated reality stuff still leaves me cold. William Gibson spoiled me; I want to jack in and have a more synesthetic experience than just watching pixels on a flat screen.

Especially with that one brunette.

Re:My reaction to There(tm) (1)

mutewinter (688449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355217)

I predict that the next "big thing" for gaming is going to be the immersive experiance. Sure, you can go out and buy some big goggles with a 640x480 resolution displaying a 3d screen for $4000, or you drop $20,000+ on a piece of military equipment. However, just like 3d cards used to be only for high-end graphics workstations, this technology is going to mature and come down in price. Whichever company successfully and cheaply can produce fully immersive technology is going to make a killing (hint: time to start looking into stocks.)

Re:My reaction to There(tm) (2, Funny)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355284)

fully immersive technology would be cool. Imagine Quake 15 with full body sensations. You don't only see, or hear the gunshot, you'll actually be able to feel it! On second thought that might not be such a good idea.

FIT pr0n would be great, I guess. Until someone writes a virus that replaces "Hot erotic massage" by "hard gay BDSM". Although, that would give people a damn good reason to install and actually use and update their virusscanners.

Re:My reaction to There(tm) (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355248)

> I want to jack in and have a more synesthetic experience than just watching pixels on a flat screen. Especially with that one brunette.

No problemo.

Re:My reaction to There(tm) (3, Interesting)

gaijin99 (143693) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355326)

My reaction to There was quite simple. I know that they don't want me around. How do I know this? Because simply trying to look at their freeking website gets me kicked to a "we dedected that you aren't using IE, go download it right now before we condesend to let you see what's happening". So to heck with them. It just isn't that damn hard to make a web page that works for all browsers.

It did immediately answer my question about what platforms were supported though: Windows and nothing else...

Re:My reaction to There(tm) (1)

euxneks (516538) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356838)

Shows up fine in Opera [] ...

Re:My reaction to There(tm) (1)

genmanath (577922) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356846)

Indeed. Very annoying.

But, for the sake of gathering information, I used IE. I noticed that some of the links display differently. In Moz1.6, the 'download now' button reads "Free trial". In IE6, the same button reads "Public Free Beta Sign-up." Why the difference, I wonder?


Windows 98 SE/2000 SP1 (or later)
800 MHz Pentium III CPU (or faster)
At least 256 MB RAM
56K Internet connection (or faster)
400 MB free HD space
Any ATI RADEON graphics card, any NVIDIA GeForce, or NVIDIA nFORCE graphics card with at least 32 MB of video memory

If you have a Pentium III 1.2 GHz or faster, you can also use the following graphics cards: ATI RADEON VE, ATI RADEON 7000, ATI Mobility RADEON/M6, NVIDIA TNT2 (with at least 32MB of video memory), or Intel Extreme 3D Graphics (including Pentium-M notebooks and the i845, i852, i855, and i865 adapters)

Music Construction Set (4, Insightful)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355139)

"Will Harvey...?"

Goddammit, I KNEW I recognised that name. Music Construction Set is one of the best apps I've ever seen, on any platform. That thing was amazing.

Re:Music Construction Set (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355196)

Yeah, I remember putting "Crazy Train" into it on my PCjr. Played pretty well, too. :)

Actually, you can still download and run it - just look in the abandonware sites. I was playing with it a couple months ago, but I couldn't get the sound to work, which detracted from the overall experience somehow...


and... learning curve? (4, Insightful)

Tei (520358) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355148)

Ok, CPU will get more cycles. So you will able to put more particles, for smoother rocket trails, and more polys, for far frustrums, and more complex characters. But you will still able a limit around 64 players for FPS internet games. Will suck. Also games will not be x2 fun if become x2 faster. Gamers will use bigger resolutions, that itself eat x4 more horsepower. I think gamming is more complex than CPU power, has also about social problems, gameplay habits and videogames evolution. The view "woow, more particles better game" is too simplistic. I think.

Obligatory Joke. (-1, Troll)

Tei (520358) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355173)

I feel like this will speedup finally development of Duke Nukem Forever!

Doing my part (0)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355180)

we overestimated the low-end graphics capability

I finally replaced my old Rage-II video card, does that help? (Then again, it just moved downstream to my P1-266, but the SVGA from that box is definitely gone!)

My experiences. (5, Informative)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355221)

No pun, I've been in There and it's amazing to me. I personally like hoverboarding over the 3D landscape they got going there which is nice how it blends from one type to another. You could be atop of a clear hill and pretty much land surf down in to a valley thats not so bright and heavly forested.

The tricks you can do on a hoverboard are fun. Nothing like about 8 backflips as you fly off the rim of a valcano down to the valley floor on a hover board. Or using small mounds of dirt or small hills to get some nice huge air time. :P

At first the transitions seemed slightly odd but after reading the article and seeing how different areas are handled from different servers it makes sense and now I think it's nicely done given the challenge of keeping things in sync between multiple servers.

The paingun battles are fun and cute but definatly not up to Quake or UT feel. They're still fun to pelt someone from the top of a mountain with a well placed shot and watch them fly across the valley floor. No scope or zoom so you have to have skill. ;)

The only thing I really feel disappointed on in There is the fact that the water is as solid as the land. I can litterly dune buggy across the bay to the next island or walk like on dry land. That was a big disappointment for me, but the other aspects of it don't let it dwell on my mind long.

They recently launched 2.0 of There and from what I can tell you can play various card games now in a social setting. There is a few other things they added as well, have to check out their site for it.

Overall I feel like I'm in a big cartoon more then a video game. Which I think is neat. One thing I have to wonder about is their ability to hold on to name "There" especially with the Windows trade mark up in court right now. I don't know what kind of hold the company that runs There has on the term "There" but thats a little aside thought I had recently.

Zany Golf! (5, Interesting)

BobWeiner (83404) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355231)

Now THAT was a fun game -- I remember playing it on my Apple IIGS many years ago. It was simple in concept, fun to play, and absolutely frustrating at the higher levels. Whatever happened to these type of games on today's machines? Despite the brilliant graphics and sound on the new first person shooters and RPGs out there, I prefer games of yore that were simple, yet challenging.

Bring back Zany Golf, Bubble Ghost, and Droll!


Re:Zany Golf! (1)

commander salamander (256114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355806)

Hear hear! Bubble Ghost _rocked_.

XBox rules!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355275)

first post!!! you lame assholes... I can post first because my XBox is a american product and my pride in my great country and my great XBox accelerate everything...

If only they would make games for that bitch... IAve played Metroid Prime and it ruled... I hope M$ will buy those japanese bastards and port Metroid to my great american console system!!!

Join the fun!!! []

Do you know []

Second Life (5, Informative)

EssenceLumin (755374) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355720)

The article briefly mentioned Second Life, dismissing it more or less as too complicated. Bah humbug. Second Life is a great game where you can create anything you like immediately. None of this "Ooh, I can make a tshirt, and maybe they will approve it" junk. I am currently building a house full of twisty corridors with a music room full of instruments and another area with a dinosaur that moves and roars.

The way things are built in Second Life are from a small number of primitives such as cubes and cylinders which can be stretched and twisted. You can apply textures to these primitives which are any jpeg or targa file you wish to upload. There is also a scripting language and you can upload .wav sound files.

And there is loads of social interaction too. There are events ranging from bingo to slave auctions (Oops, they made the event owners change that, now they are pet auctions). If you agree to be a pet you have to do your master's bidding but you get to keep the auction money.

It's a blast, check it out.

Re:Second Life (3, Insightful)

mutewinter (688449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356867)

The highly the learning curve, the more amazing the creation (relative to other skills such as creativity of course.) I'd rather have something complex and amazing than simple and kind of cool. I've been in Second Life, and I was impressed. I haven't been in There yet, but from what I've seen I haven't really been motivated to check it out yet. I think Second Life is going in the right direction. I think that if they don't screw anything up financially they have more of a future than There.

Re:Second Life (2, Interesting)

jafuser (112236) | more than 10 years ago | (#8358588)


SL is much closer to metaverse-like qualities than There or Active Worlds, but I will concede that There has it's place too for those who don't do so well with a technically complex world, and just want a simple place to hang out.

I think SL has greater system requirements too because *everything* in the world is dynamic. Every single primitive shape in every object, the ground mesh, the sky, the trees, particles, etc. are all dynamic and can change right beneath you at any time if the owner is around and editing it or if he/she has scripted the objects to change. You even see the changes happening in real time.

There's no way to do the traditional compiled 3d scene with baked textures like you get in most games. Therefore the system requirements are higher to make all this dynamic content possible in a real-time environment.

Will Harvey in AI (2, Interesting)

po8 (187055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355891)

Will Harvey is quite the genius. We were briefly graduate students together before he got his Ph.D. His thesis on a method for complete combinatorial search (with advisor Matt Ginsberg) is still widely cited in the AI literature.

I knew he'd done some game stuff before reading this interview, but never how much. With Will at the helm, I'd take There very seriously.

There, where is my linux client (1)

wobedraggled (549225) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356026)

I was a beta tester in There. I love the concept but thier IE/Windows only decision is no good.

They run on Linux servers, would it kill them to give us a client?!?! I switched out of XP for good, so I guess ic an't play for now, even triedn in vmware and it complained.

Ah well....

Re:There, where is my linux client (1)

replicate (670039) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356084)

I believe There uses DirectX and IE pretty heavily, making a Linux port nearly impossible barring a significant rewrite of the renderer. If you want to check out a 3D-VR world under Linux, give Second Life [] a try. It only has Windows and OSX ports, but runs under WINE almost perfectly. There are instructions on the SL forums for getting it up and running. At $10 for a lifetime subscription, how can you go wrong? :)

Re:There, where is my linux client (1)

jafuser (112236) | more than 10 years ago | (#8358605)

It only has Windows and OSX ports, but runs under WINE almost perfectly.

They say there's a Linux version in the works as well, so keep your eyes open =)

At $10 for a lifetime subscription, how can you go wrong?

SL is the first MMO that I've seen that has a one-time (non-recurring) rate to play. The fact that it's $10 instead of $50 is even more impressive.

The 56Kb/s wall (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356027)

I visited There in the early days. They were trying to recruit me. I was impressed.

I felt, though, that they should have gone broadband only. Trying to squeeze the experience through 56Kb is too limiting. In There, 56Kb users can only type to each other. Broadband users can talk.

While only 18% of all US online users are on broadband, 50% of online time and hits are from broadband users. So half the target market for There, heavy users, is already on DSL or cable.

Re:The 56Kb/s wall (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356712)

These things may be true.

However, *I* am not on broadband, and have no opportunity to be on broadband in the near future, so I hate your argument, very much. As will the other 82% of dial-up users.

(Heh, not trying to dis ya, it's just human nature to dislike be denied experiences like this.)

Re:The 56Kb/s wall (1)

Doug-W (165055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8357136)

Do you have a source for that statistic? I haven't heard it quoted before...

Will Harvey and AdobeEffects for the record (2, Informative)

BStorm (107974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356318)

To quote the article "Before founding There in 1998, Harvey was at Adobe Systems where he ran dynamic media products, including AfterEffects and Adobe Premier." Adobe licensed the technology from ImageWare in 1989. I used to work for ImageWare back from 1988 to 1990. The AfterEffects is based on the GalleryEffects.

If you bring up the about box for any of the "painterly" aftereffects, you will see the Portions copyright Imageware 1989-1995. If you do the lookup of the Patents 5063448, 5245432 and 5325200 you will see the names Ian Jaffary and John Bronskil the principals of ImageWare.

The product was licensed to a number of companies back then such Cubicomp, and AT&T for their Targaboards. I wrote the GUI for ImagePaint using MetaWindows and was the sole developer inhouse. I took over the GUI from an other developer and essentially rewrote the GUI from scratch.

I was uneasy about them applying and getting the patents at the time. There was a book published from Bell Labs 1988 called "Beyond Photography: The Digital Darkroom" by Gerard J. Holzmann. This books is a whimsical recap of the work done at Bell labs in previous years. There is a delightful picture of Dennis Ritchie as a photograph and again as an "oil painting." In the early eighties there was an article in Byte magazine about digital image processing and 'paint' like effects. That article was the inspiration for ImagePaint.

Image processing filters would be combined and the most promising visual artifacts would be indentified. This would continue until an image processing pipeline for a given 'painterly' effect was identified.

I had an interesting time working there however it was stressful.

Experiences There (1)

sixpaw (648825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356674)

The 'original prototyper' Will Harvey mentions in the article is another brilliant software guy, Jeffrey Ventrella [] ; I worked with him at Rocket Science too, and he had basically the same job there -- sit in a corner office and work on cool shit, then let the company figure out how to turn it into a product. All around, There has some of the brightest engineers I've ever met, and some of the best management I've seen, and I'm still not sure how they managed to turn out a product that's so shaky from a software engineering perspective. For instance, users can submit new models for hoverboards, but not for buggies, essentially because buggies were hardcoded into the initial version of the engine rather than being built on the Animob engine that Mr. Harvey mentions, so a buggy will break if it doesn't have exactly the same buggy model. It's a striking example of how shortsighted design decisions can come back to bite you.

The big issue they haven't solved yet is scalability. It's good to talk about thousands of servers the way he does, but last I checked the service was bogging down whenever more than a couple dozen people started clustering together too closely; I can't imagine them handling much more than 2x the number of people they've got now without collapsing under the weight. I definitely wish them the best and I hope they can pull it off -- it's a great concept -- but I'm not optimistic about their prospects.

There Inc. (2, Interesting)

CrystalCut (307381) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356701)

First, I applied for beta access to THERE early LAST year. I had a fairly decent Windows system, with enough ram. But was told that Windows machine didn't meet the required specs. This bothers me, because this was a newish "low-end" machine..but still not good enough.

Now I'm a There user. Using a much newer Windows machine. I've got enough power to access better graphics then THERE offers. I've got broadband, and plenty of it. And There is pretty cool. The system is interesting, the people are cool, and there are some fun things to do.

But I can't use Firefox to access There, and the submission process is horrible.

Having read many sci-fi authors take on "Metaverse", I'd say we are years away from having something like There, Uru, Second Life and The Online Sims work for everyone, on any computer, over any sort of connection.

But it's coming. And maybe people like Will Harvey will be the first to create those brave new worlds.

Re:There Inc. (1)

EssenceLumin (755374) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356843)

It sure won't be Uru. They called it quits on their online idea.

Re:There Inc. (1)

CrystalCut (307381) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356895)

True. But I assume just about everyone knows that. Thing is, I know several people who were CRAZY about it. I was too busy figuring out There Inc, and missed the chance to check Uru out.

Uru had a good thing going. And there is no reason that they won't return in a year or 3 with a model that will work.

Would I switch? Who knows. I'd certainly enjoy better graphics, and my online pal who I play games with is ready to switch from There to something else, because of There's low-end graphics. SUCKS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8357822)

have been there :) was a beta tester, as a virtual world it is silly simple and stupid...

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8358404)

when will we hear the rest of the story?

800 MHz? Oh well. (1)

Bambi Dee (611786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8359434)

I've just downloaded "There", but my computer is *way* below the minimum system requirements for either it or Second Life so I'm not expecting much. Besides, "There"'s installer doesn't install, and registering was a pain. Sigh.

Does anyone know anything vaguely like these that'll cooperate with a 450 MHz P3 (okay, let's pretend it's 600 MHz. That usually works, too) and doesn't require a credit card just to sign up for a trial period? (Windows or Linux, don't care.)

Maybe I should check out Furcadia again. Or go outside or something.

Re:800 MHz? Oh well. (1)

Bambi Dee (611786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8359500)

Me: "There"'s installer doesn't install

...because it bumped into the firewall. Ahem. Sorry.

Re:800 MHz? Oh well. (1)

Doctor Cat (676482) | more than 10 years ago | (#8360594)

Don't go outside. Play Furcadia and we'll arrange for someone else to go outside for you. Then they'll come back in, log on, and tell you all about how it was out there. ;X)

Re:800 MHz? Oh well. (1)

dr_leviathan (653441) | more than 10 years ago | (#8365709)

Rumor has it that Second Life will run on a 450 MHz computer as long as you've got an nVidia GF3 Ti or better, however you will have to scale back draw distance and some other rendering optins. At least 512 MB RAM will help you out A LOT.
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