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When Virtual Worlds Collide

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the just-need-an-answer-to-the-genre-hurdle dept.

228

Wired is running an interesting article on the realization of past predictions with regards to online gaming and where we are headed for the future. The author predicts that the separation between online worlds like Ultima Online and World of Warcraft may be headed out of style, making your in-game persona as pervasive as an email address. From the article: "Because the current metaverse evolved largely out of videogames, it makes sense that it should be composed of fiefdoms - after all, you wouldn't expect a Grand Theft Auto crack dealer to drop in for a barbecue with the Sims. But there is reason to believe that the divided metaverse is merely a transitional phase, and that its component worlds will coalesce."

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228 comments

Yawn... (3, Funny)

smoor (961352) | about 8 years ago | (#14989421)

And those of us with jobs and lives will STILL not be a part of it...

Re:Yawn... (3, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | about 8 years ago | (#14989451)

... and yet you post on /.

Re:Yawn... (1)

smoor (961352) | about 8 years ago | (#14989485)

touche...

I fell off the Edge of the World today (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | about 8 years ago | (#14989589)

And landed in another.
More "realistically", the Game Designers could, at the boundaries of each of their virtual worlds, offer "portals", which are of course technomagical devices that you walk through, to enter some other virtual world of your choice.

Re:I fell off the Edge of the World today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989671)

While portals would open up a whole world of potential fraud, it would have the advantage of relative simplicity to implement.

It would also have odd effects on your possesions - a vorpal blade might act differently in one zone versus another. With different effects come different values and the whole basis for smuggling and black markets.

Ahh.. to live in the birth of a new age

Re:Yawn... (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 years ago | (#14989609)

I'm sure there was a time when the average person thought the same thing of TV. And yes, there are still people who don't watch TV, but it doesn't mean the TV watches are antisocial bums... Well maybe they are..

Short-sighted. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | about 8 years ago | (#14989850)

You obviously use the web. Eventually using virtual reality will be a lot like that. Instead of clicking links to move from one world to another you might have to trigger some special type of object but it'll still be mostly the same. It all might start out as a game system but eventually it'll be a powerful tool for getting work done and sharing information. Spatial representation can be useful in many types of problems.

It's all waiting for the client and server programs of significant power and ease of use to be made available for free and as an open standard. When that happens it'll be similar to when the web was introduced. The differences between gopher and the web were minor but enough to be the difference between something that was merely out there to something that changed the world.

Something like Second Life would seem prime for this to happen if they'd just see that they could profit more by becoming a standard than by sticking to being a game world. Imagine if eBay had a VR interface where people could buy and sell real, or virtual, items for Linden dollars. A built-in cash system is something the web has been missing since inception so the new system could already be a leap ahead. It'd be a chance for a whole new market to pop-up to make taking 3D images of objects as easy as taking a digital photo and uploading it. Lots of money to be made.

Since we're headed toward 1 avatar (1)

outcast36 (696132) | about 8 years ago | (#14989425)

I call best swordsman.

Re:Since we're headed toward 1 avatar (3, Funny)

Neologic (48268) | about 8 years ago | (#14989674)

Sorry, I think Hiro Protaganist is one step ahead of you.

Re:Since we're headed toward 1 avatar (1)

Rodness (168429) | about 8 years ago | (#14989840)

Outcast36 was too busy trying to FristPsot to consider that. But maybe he'll listen to Reason.

Snow Crash (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 8 years ago | (#14989426)

Perhaps we could all drop by the 'Black Sun' and discuss our differences. It all sounds very much like Neil Stephenson and William Gibsons ideas.

Re:Snow Crash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989555)

It all sounds very much like Neil Stephenson and William Gibsons ideas.

Oh yes, absolutely, speculation and fiction about virtual worlds began with those guys.

And you are how old?

Re:Snow Crash (1)

'nother poster (700681) | about 8 years ago | (#14989601)

Well, one of them did coin a word concerning them that became popular, so therefore they must have invented all of it. See. QED. ;)

Re:Snow Crash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989727)

Good book! That's the first thing I thought of, too.

Re:Snow Crash (1)

aniefer (910494) | about 8 years ago | (#14989877)

Can I be the guy who writes the sword fighting code and as a consequence is nigh untouchable with a blade?

Games too? (5, Insightful)

MacDork (560499) | about 8 years ago | (#14989441)

So gaming worlds are going to coalesce just like instant messenger serviced did years ag... oh, nevermind ;-)

Re:Games too? (2, Insightful)

IAmTheDave (746256) | about 8 years ago | (#14989554)

Too true. Proprietary information is too important. Heck, Blizzard sues the shit out of anyone even trying to interop. Thinking that they would allow their servers to host other game metadata, allow interoperability, or anything of this degree is pretty stupid.

Although, "who needs more than 64k of RAM?" was uttered several times, so I could be completely wrong. I just don't see for-profit companies, who use and abuse every law on the books to protect their systems and intellectual property allowing this to come to pass.

Re:Games too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989658)

I think the point is that, as with the proprietary internet ala Compuserve, Prodigy, and to a lesser extent AOL demonstrated, at some point the public internet took over.

Consider the parallels with games like Ragnarok Online, where it's entirely possible to run your own server.

Perhaps this is what the discussed phenomenon will resemble, more than the utopian companies-suddenly-interoperate-because-they-love- us scenario.

Re:Games too? (2, Insightful)

ADRA (37398) | about 8 years ago | (#14989879)

You're looking at the wrong companys to 'lead' a united approach. You will see The Microsoft and Sony (PS divison) leading the charge to 'join sonys metaverse! Be an orc today, tomorrow a jedi!' Its all a very slight variation on what Sony already has today with its universal pay scheme. The hook is that It'll also look a lot like MS live arcade.

Basically, you'll pay for the service and be given unlimited access to all realms (verses) that the service hosts. MS will come up with some nifty lauch titles to make people go ooh and ahhh all over. They'll start building a player base. When 3rd party XYZ, a young budding startup wants to get into the MMO space, instead of building a market from scratch, they could opt into a contract with Microsft to host their service on the MS live-type service. Once hosted, MS will pay XYZ for the time and use that the players waste on that particular game. Thats just what I think the pay scheme'll look like. It seems pretty plausible to me. It benefits everyone pretty equally. Obviously MS gets the advantage cause their holding the player base. But, the little guys can scrape by and get some money for their development costs without worrying about 'where's our audience?'.

Now how the in-game behaviour works is another question. Assuming the above example of the 'business of multi-versic games', we can assume MS would have a lobby-type area that you have some kind of common ground that all player base will reside in. It'll have crub like IM/Top score boards/Rankings/Game-entry areas/Mini-games/diverging visual themes depending on what genre we're going to log into.. portals, oh gods. There's so much that can get put into whats effectively the 'openning screen' that its too pointless to talk about all the cool things that could come from this.

The drawback of course is that it takes away from the immersion of 'that' game so that you don't really relate to the in-game avitars in the same way you would in a stand-alone game. Also, having a multi-versic system will mean universal sign-ons and trying to come up with an original name in a virtual world of millions and millions of people will be an issue first and foremost. Maybe passport signon anyone?? *shudder*

Re:Games too? (1)

Yst (936212) | about 8 years ago | (#14989797)

Interestingly, they seem to have done so within particular regions and cultures fairly completely. It seems that in much of the United States, AIM is the universal standard, and if one wants to speak to one's friends, one will need AIM. Here in Canada, I have never known a Canadian to use AIM. Virtually all use MSN, with some holdouts still sticking with ICQ. IM services seem to tend to gain monopolies in particular regions and cultures. It is merely thanks to the division of the world into a variety of for the most part non-interacting communities that no consolidation is necessary.

And why not? (5, Funny)

Buckler (732071) | about 8 years ago | (#14989443)

I think the GTA crack dealer would be a hell of a lot more fun at my sims bbq than, say, headcrabs.

Re:And why not? (2, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 8 years ago | (#14989583)


And why would you say that? At my last Sims BBQ party, we had headcrabs with drawn butter, and they were a big hit!

The trick to preparing headcrabs is proper tenderizing. A crowbar works best (thanks for the top, Gordon).

The party would have been a total success, except for two things. Tommy Vercetti got drunk (again) and started mouthing off about how he 'owns this city' (again), and Sam Fisher refused to be sociable at all, instead insisting on hiding in dark corners of the yard, blowing out my tiki torches, and grabbing and 'interrogating' anyone who tried to relight them.

Man, that guy has issues...

Re:And why not? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 8 years ago | (#14989698)

I saw that and thoguht about being the guy in GTA getting health back (you know how) at my freinds all lesbo sims house - yea that would be kinda weird

Sims and GTA (5, Funny)

phorm (591458) | about 8 years ago | (#14989466)

after all, you wouldn't expect a Grand Theft Auto crack dealer to drop in for a barbecue with the Sims

When I pictured this in my head, it was one of the funniest damn concepts I'd seen in awhile. I wonder if somebody could make such a similar game, where various groups work happily at creating little people and families and others play as the carjackers and dealers. Imagine that you log on onto to find that your car has been jacked by local online-gaming hoodlums, or perhaps your wife abducted, and you could persue a form of quest in which you have to hunt them down a-la hollywood style. This could be fun for both those playing the 'criminals' and those playing the 'citizens'.

Perhaps one could through legitimate playing work up to the level of mayor or congressman, making you a target of the darker elements but also allowing you to hire bodyguards and/or accept bribes. Interesting ide.

Re:Sims and GTA (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 years ago | (#14989543)

And then you'd have players play police and jailers. You could then see this as a way to model real life attempts at stopping crime. Untill of couse its realized that jailed playrs simply quit playing or buy another character from some asian farmer (effectivly buying their way out of jail).. Oh yea.. guess it is like real life.

Re:Sims and GTA (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | about 8 years ago | (#14989656)

guess it is like real life
Nah the graphics engine for Real Life(tm) sucks, this proposed game would have much better special effects and the FPS would be higher too. Also the physics engine in Real Life(tm) is to "real" and does not allow for effects we've come to love in video games.

They have that game. (5, Funny)

raehl (609729) | about 8 years ago | (#14989563)

It's called Real Life. Graphics and sound are EXCELLENT.

There's a lot of time spent mindlessly earning gold though, and the biggest problem with it is the lack of a save feature.

Re:Sims and GTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989625)

Until somebody hunts you down in real life and kills you because you raped and smoked their on-line wife.

Re:Sims and GTA (1)

CheechBG (247105) | about 8 years ago | (#14989633)

I am also curious to see how the social effect would play out. Let's say you had a neighborhood of moisture farmers growing food to trade for stuff (I don't play MMO's, so my terms could be way off) and next door someone arbitrarily sets up some miltary outpost or something that disrupts the activities of the group without causing them harm (like something a HOA would regulate in real life) Would the masses form something along the lines of a HOA and settle it civilly, or would they try to go after them in a video game style, hiring assassins or leet ninja warlocks to kill them?

Wait, isn't this all covered in Sims 2?

Re:Sims and GTA (1)

jammindice (786569) | about 8 years ago | (#14989636)

you wouldn't expect a Grand Theft Auto crack dealer to drop in for a barbecue with the Sims

Funny i didn't picture anything like the parent, i was wondering what kind of happieness boost you would get by making your sim do crack? i mean friendship would go up from doing it with friends obviously... and probably sleep less, letting you work out longer to get better strength.... maybe a few other little bits, but helth drops quicker or someting as a result....

Would be interesting to be able to play both sides of the fence though, all of these happy-go-lucky games are kinda making me sick.

Not to bring up a token star-wars reference, but there was a jedi game that you could play as the good side or the dark side, depending on choices you make throught the game, that was cool. I played that a couple times through, different every time, made it alot more interesting...

Re:Sims and GTA (1)

Slider451 (514881) | about 8 years ago | (#14989737)

There has to be a reward for everybody to allow PVP to work in this context. Games are supposed to be fun, afterall.

It's almost an axiom that nobody wants to roleplay the victim, unless it's a plot device to facilitate an eventual victory. And 'evil' roleplayers are rare. It's more likely the thieves are just griefers who won't continue playing when their characters are eventually caught, thus denying the victims a reward (justice).

no it won't (5, Insightful)

Joseph_V (908814) | about 8 years ago | (#14989467)

Analogy: I'm going to wear my DnD gear to work because of my persistant avatar. I'm going to be a professional lawyer even though I have a degree in medicine because of persistant avatars.

This is stupid, different people have different ways of escaping, and just because it COULD happen (which would require a level of industry cohesion that will likely never exist) doesn't mean it will.

1/10 for being a bad idea and not even being funny.

"There is reason to believe..." (4, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | about 8 years ago | (#14989496)

Translation:

I've made up a few reasons while ignoring all the reasons it won't happen. By not giving you a source of the reasons, you might buy this as being anything other than attention whoring.

Re:"There is reason to believe..." (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | about 8 years ago | (#14989709)

I don't even think he gave any real reasons why it would happen. He just more or less said it would because it would be nice.

Someone get out the anti-aircraft rockets and shoot that pie out of the sky.

Re:"There is reason to believe..." (2, Interesting)

brundlefly (189430) | about 8 years ago | (#14989798)

Exactly right.

I used to work at Wired, and the ways in which these types of stories come to light are highly suspect. In this case, somebody probably has a friend who used to play Everquest and now plays World of Warcraft. The author finds out that half of this guy's Everquest guild migrated to WoW, and suddenly we have a feature-length article about how walls between virtual worlds are bound to dissolve.

Yet another reason I stopped reading the mag. Their neato factor is in slow decline, and their relevance is long dead. Too bad, because in the beginning it was a great rag.

First Contact! (1)

bohemian72 (898284) | about 8 years ago | (#14989497)

I can't wait to fly my big ass freighter ship from Vendetta-Online [vendetta-online.com] into the World of Warcraft. Maybe I'll knock down a couple of those nasty spidery things with my afterburners. ;-) I'd probably crash though as I doubt the Linux client would work anymore in that world.

Croquet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989500)

The Open Source Croquet Project [opencroquet.org] is the future. It's a platform that is will be very well suited for creating virtual worlds of all kinds when it's a bit more functional. It is very flexible and extendable. Objects can be coded in OpenGL and the graphics engine is very extendable and new features and support for vendor specific extensions can be added. The networking capabilities is still pretty early in development. Currently you have to use a VPN if you want to connect to other people over the internet, and the content servers are only in experimental betas.

Re:Croquet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989591)

Each Croqet Space can have it's own user interface and other elements that makes it possible to make entirely different virtual worlds inside different Croquet Spaces. A user can have different permissions for different object inside each Croquet Space and moving from one Croquet Space/Virtual World to another is a simple matter of walking through a portal that will embed the new user interface etc. Anyone who is interested in helping with getting this working can do so. Croquet is written in the Squeak dialect of Smalltalk. There is also a wikipedia page [wikipedia.org].

Re:Croquet (1)

ringbarer (545020) | about 8 years ago | (#14989854)

Nothing Open Source can ever be considered 'The Future'. At the very best it can be considered a piss-poor copy of software that people charge money for. (i.e. IP Theft)

Unless you sincerely believe Linux is ready for the desktop. Over a decade, and you psychopaths still keep spouting the same bullshit.

Theme (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989504)

Just how well will my futuristic soldiers from Star Wars Online or AO fit into some MMO like WoW or DAoC?

Well, I guess if we throw theme totally out the window, it's managable.

Besides, it might be fun to take laser weapons and force fields into the past and pwn those n00bs using pitiful swords and bows...

Re:Theme (2, Interesting)

engagebot (941678) | about 8 years ago | (#14989546)

Hmm, so now your ranking comes not from your skill at a game, but which game you play. I mean, a Command and Conquer player comes over to the WoW world? A big swarm of humvees and nuclear fallout could change the landscape pretty quickly. Or how about a character from the Matrix moving over to a counterstrike server?

Fun untill... (1)

Colosse (522266) | about 8 years ago | (#14989672)

That forsaken mage raise out of the dirt and reduce you (and you lazer gun) to a pile of cinder and melted metal with one of his fireball... But, it let me wonder, mage, priest and jedi... they all weave some 'magic'... it could lead to an point where you find out that jedi and sith are just the few last remnants of great schools of arcanists.

Re:Fun untill... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989766)

"it could lead to an point where you find out that jedi and sith are just the few last remnants of great schools of arcanists."

Wooo - too geeky for even me.
Reminds me of the scene in Animal House where the guy was stoned and looking at his finger, and talking about how all the atoms in his finger were like planets, and that our planet could be an atom in a really big finger.

There is a certain point of your life where these speculations and questions like, "could superman beat up the incredible hulk" stop being a meaningful investigation into the nature of reality.

Or you could become the comic book guy from the simpsons....

hmm (3, Insightful)

engagebot (941678) | about 8 years ago | (#14989505)

"making your in-game persona as pervasive as an email address"

I think the closest we'll get to this is the kind of thing MS does with the Xbox gamertag. Maybe you have the same gamer id for all games, but that doesn't mean the game universes will all intertwine.

Re:hmm (1)

TobyWong (168498) | about 8 years ago | (#14989712)

Have you checked out XFire?

www.xfire.com

It's along the same lines as the Xbox gamertag but for PCs. Will show what game you are currently playing, allowing your friends to join you in game, IM you in-game, voice chat, share files, etc.

I can't wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989508)

I'm going CT.

Hopefully we still we have some separation (1)

ffnogoodnik (812414) | about 8 years ago | (#14989519)

I do different things with my SWG char then my WOW char. As an example, I have been playing SWG since launch and have never joined ro were interested in joining a guil, in WOW I am going to join a guild and experience what that is like. Hopefully people will not have to think if I do something evil in this game I will end up paying for it in another.

Time To Revise the Employee Handbook (1)

u16084 (832406) | about 8 years ago | (#14989529)

You shall NOT wear Composition Armor while on company property, All Rifles including the T-21 are to be left in your Bank/Storage Compartments. You agree you shall not Sell / Trade or purchase additional armor componenets while on company time.

Lack of imagination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989531)

So games have become so unimaginative that you may aswell play the same character in each game, or at least the same two legged, two armed, mammal like creature.

It's like 50's sci-fi all over again, where every monster was a man in a rubber suit or a girl in a bikini.

Too much Snowcrash (4, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | about 8 years ago | (#14989535)

Yet another person who needs to spend less time re-reading Snowcrash and more time in the real world.

Hi, my examples disprove my theory! (2, Funny)

raehl (609729) | about 8 years ago | (#14989544)

What's amusing is the article cites examples of "convergence" like 80's PC platforms, and then uses that to say online games will "converge" so you can migrate from one to the other.

Anybody freely moving software from their Amiga or Commodore to their PC?

Yea, didn't think so. MMORPG's won't converge - at best many will simply die and one will "win".

This article is nothing but "Need to write something for this issue to keep my job. Hrm, how about baseless random future predictions?"

Re:Hi, my examples disprove my theory! (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about 8 years ago | (#14989762)

While you're basically completely right, I do have an amiga emulator for my PC and mounted my old amiga HD (upgrade, of course) in a linux box to move all the text and graphics over. It was surprisingly easy, but as far as programs go, would be unsurprisingly pointless.

Where do they get these writers? (3, Insightful)

brucifer (12972) | about 8 years ago | (#14989545)

Its great to post speculative articles and all, but seriously, I'm not buying into using the word "metaverse" no matter HOW many times you use it in one paragraph.

Re:Where do they get these writers? (1)

engagebot (941678) | about 8 years ago | (#14989569)

Remeber that Jet Li movie The One? Jeez, they had a 'multiverse', and that was way back in like '01.

Hes Not.. (1)

u16084 (832406) | about 8 years ago | (#14989548)

But virtual reality has failed to conform to forward-looking visions in one crucial respect. We don't live in the Matrix, but in the matrices Hes Not ready to be unplugged... Looks like he took the blue pill.

Step away from the crack pipe. (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | about 8 years ago | (#14989571)

I seriously doubt it.

Apparently the author has no understanding of why these games appeal and why the differences between how they appeal to different segments of the gaming populace is what stands between what is now and what he is dreaming of.

First players would want to have some kind of convergence and I doubt only a few do. If people want to communicate between games its not hard to IRC/AIM now with other applications. Trading between games? As in skills, items, etc, - he is smoking way to much crack. First most game companies probably could not get their own products to talk to each other let alone find a viable means of exchanging persona or items between the two. Can't imagine the hell that would be there for communication between two different companies. Like they would really want their customers playing a competitors game.

Uh, this guy saw the Matrix and believed it. Some people just buy into the idea of Virtual Reality and then seek to apply it to anything that they don't understand or any group that is managed/organized via a computer. Throw the word internet in their for good measure too.

Whatever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989572)

The author seriously misinterprets online gaming. While some people might think Azeroth as a representation of a virtual world and in fact will spend more time there than the real world reality is more mundane. These so called worlds are little more than a thin backstory to provide at least some minimal motivation to primary goal of entertaining ourselves by engaging in a particular type of escapism. MMOG are created first and foremost as a platform to entertain people sufficiently to encourage them to seperate themselves from at least some amount of their disposable income. In this respect there is hardly anything revolutionary about MMOG. Blizzard, SOE, NCSoft and Turbine may say they are creating a virtual world but in reality they are just creating a medium for entertainment designed to keep you playing and paying. Just like TV, movies and books MMOG allow you to escape your reality and entertain yourself for a few hours. Moreover I highly doubt that any of these companies have any interest in merging their respective intellectual property into one multi-verse simply to achieve some utopian ideal of a virtual universe.

The real mistake in this article is the writer mistakes MMOG for some sort of virtual world and not just the medium of enterntainment that it is.

My other issue with the article is that the author assumes that players create their one avatar and are that thing for the life of the game. The only reason I see people having one "main" character in MMOG is because creating more than one is either impossible (original swg) or simply too time consuming to maximize two virtual characters. Given the opportunity to create more than one character players will happily do so. For example in DDO.

I have to wonder if the writer of this article has even played an MMOG or if he just read a steven gibson novel and then did a google on virtual worlds and let his imagination get the better of him.

wishful thinking (2, Insightful)

kisrael (134664) | about 8 years ago | (#14989576)

Yeah, when i saw this in the print version it struck me as a giant batch of wishful thinking, powered by a way overstrained metaphor (80s computer networks vs. the later internet)

The only way this works is by boiling everything down to the lowest common denominator, and taking out the unique worldmaking which makes each game spcial.

Like someone else said, this might be an XboxLive-ish "gamer tag" across games, or maybe even some kind of shared standard UI for First Person games, but beyond that, it's just too many nights spent reading "Snow Crash"

Not Likely (1)

metaltoad (954564) | about 8 years ago | (#14989580)

Part of the fun for a lot of people is creating new characters. You can commit virtual-social-suicide and then come back a few minutes later a new man. Not to mention that people LIKE to play different roles.

I don't see this happening any time soon (1)

Control-Z (321144) | about 8 years ago | (#14989585)

Games are developed by different companies. What is the motivation for companies to work together on any sort of standard? Sony wouldn't particularly want Everquest players to pay for other online RPGs.

If it's going to happen, I think it will first happen between games made by the same company.

Metaverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989593)

Maybe now a platoon of elite marines and some tanks can help me down Nefarion in World of Warcraft. One 120mm APFSDS > WoW boss.

good example of this.. (1)

tont0r (868535) | about 8 years ago | (#14989596)

Spore [google.com] is a good example of a game where players from other worlds would come into your game. The way the game works is it downloads 'creatures' that other players have created on their machine, and populates your galaxy with them. From there, the computer controls them.

I'd say yes and no! (1)

arthurh3535 (447288) | about 8 years ago | (#14989599)

No, this won't happen directly, but I can see game companies allowing you to use your "meta-data" and in-game appearance to be used as a cross-pollinating interface in the future.
Meta-tagged icons to be used in a shared 3D virtual interface.
Probably at least five years away if you can convince companies to do it.

No. This is no good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989618)

Obligitory Seinfeld reference:

You have to keep your worlds seperated. If worlds collide, you'll kill Independent George.

This is a ridiculous idea (1)

XXIstCenturyBoy (617054) | about 8 years ago | (#14989619)

I don't see my undead priest flying my EVE ship more than I see myself using my /. karma to impress people on Fark.
Anyway, after RTFA, it seems more like someone had a pot induced idea than anything serious.

It won't happen for a number of reasons. (4, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | about 8 years ago | (#14989644)

This is one of the silliest things I've heard in a long time for a multitude of reasons.

First, it assumes that companies are willing to share their gaming technology and infrastructure. That alone cancels it out. Do people really think that EA is going to make the server and game specifications, possibly the source code itself, for Battlefield 2020 available to be licensed by competing gaming companies so that Diablo VII can interact with it - and vice versa? After all, if you're going to cross into another games' realm, that realm would have to look as though you were playing it through the other game for it to be convincing.

Also, would all of the worlds in this "common architecture" and their graphical components (models, textures, and so forth) have to be loaded on my system or will I have to wait while several hundreds of GB are downloaded? I personally don't want to see "Now integrated with Common Architecture(TM)! Comes on seven BluRay discs with all of the components of other Common Architecture(TM) games right on your system!" This would of course require the necessary system requirements of 400 GB of hard drive space.

Then comes the corporate politics of who will be responsible for connectivity between the various games. "Well, it's not our problem that our game servers are not communicating. Contact the other company." "No, our network is running fine! It's a connectivity problem on their end."

Of course, the cost of development must come into play. Does it make sense to have to disparate games that communicate together and effectively end up looking and playing the game and risk the inter-corporate political BS that will undoubtedly ensue?

But on a more practical level, if I want to play a Star Wars game, I obviously want that kind of environment! To even suggest that I'd want to take a Star Wars character and interact with an EverQuest character is nonsense! If I want EverQuest, I'll load EverQuest.

And shall we guess how a bug in one developer's coding might disrupt the gameplay of the other developers' products?

I can understand perhaps bridging the gap between play systems, such as allowing players of the same game on the PS3, Xbox, and PC game together. In fact, EA is already exploring that possibility based on a few customer surveys I've received from them. I can even understand different games from different developers under the same publisher, but only as a fun, side benefit that does not encompass the entire game.

But bridging the gap between games and companies in order to form a "common architecture"? I'd rather just have a "common artchitecture" under one game company with the inherent benefits (and drawbacks) of only having to deal with that company instead of the massive potential for the blame game to kick in. Otherwise, how is this "common architecture" going to be nothing more than the same damned game from different publishers?

No, thanks. I'll pass. I don't know what the author of the article was smoking, but that must be some really good shit.

Don't think we want this... (1)

venicebeach (702856) | about 8 years ago | (#14989657)

Aside from all the other reasons why this won't happen, which other posters have mentioned, it seems to me that one of the big ones is that we don't want this to happen. One of the biggest advantages of these individual virtual worlds is that they are isolated - that's what gives them their unique character. Part of the fantasy of playing in one of these games is that you get to be someone different in each one.

My level 60 mage does not want to steal cars in GTA!

Re:Don't think we want this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989783)

Yes we do. 400% Movement Speed FTW.

Re:Don't think we want this... (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | about 8 years ago | (#14989826)

My level 60 mage does not want to steal cars in GTA!

Mine does!
Cops comin hard on your tail?
Try jumping out let them surround you. When they say put your hands up, insta cast [Frost NOVA] TM, run down an alley, hop the fence, blink from the next fourway intersection, drink an invisibilty potion, and sigh "that one was close!"

then your mana takes a week to recharge...

Maybe it could happen (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | about 8 years ago | (#14989685)

Hmmm, perhaps my son's goal of being a virtual cop in the online worlds could be a good career choice after all.

It could be done... (1)

Biomechanical (829805) | about 8 years ago | (#14989691)

As a kind of an online version of GURPS [sjgames.com], but the problem is that it would be a complete rewrite of the existing MMORPG's we all know and love to fit a more universal playing system, and very unlikely to happen.

I think the closest we're going to get to a "pervasive avatar" is a unified website where everyone can see how Jim Bob is doing in WoW, Vendetta Online, and GTA, at least until quantum computing and AI creates a computer that is able to be the electronic equivalent of the Uber-GM - but maybe without the weight problem and slightly cheesy odour.

I'm having serious difficulty imagining this. (2, Insightful)

tukkayoot (528280) | about 8 years ago | (#14989694)

I've read people make similar claims before, but I am having a difficult time grasping this idea. I read this article thinking it might provide some sort of satisfactory explanation of how any architecture could do an adequate job of resolving the serious differences (and contradictions) between different types of virtual worlds and the avatars, environments and challenges that populate them.

I don't understand how you can mix together such differing genres as Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto and The Sims all together in such a way that does not completely wreck any sense of immersion the player might hope to achieve, for one thing.

Game mechanics and balance produce another problem. Unless all of the unified games utitlize an extremely similar set of game mechanics, interplay and competition between avatars from different "realms" would seem impossible, or at very least, potentially massively unbalanced.

Sorry, I'm just having a horrible time wrapping my head around this one. I'd like to think this is a cool idea, but I'm not really grasping what the advantage to doing this even is. Having an open standard for e-mail works because if there were not a standard, as communications tool it would be a lot less useful. Do games need to be part of a standard to be fun? Do standards make them more fun? Doesn't this present a danger of further homogenizing the already somewhat redundant MMO space?

I'd love to understand why people think this is so inevitable, and why it's a good thing. I think I want to be able to escape to discrete worlds, different worlds for different moods, experiences and challenges, and I don't see the big deal in not necessarily having to create a new avatar for each world (which I've always considered to be part of the fun in playing a new game).

I don't think so, Tim (1)

esampson (223745) | about 8 years ago | (#14989719)

Is this guy for real? Anyone who pauses for 30 seconds to think will realize that the idea of the games coalescing is completely unfeasible.

The idea of an avatar that goes from one game to another, taking with them all their skill and items, makes as much sense as allowing a football player onto the basketball court in full pads and say it's ok for him to tackle whoever has the ball.

Certainly a football player can remove his padding and play basketball with the same rules as everyone else, but at that point he's not taking his rules (which would equate to an avatar's skills) or equipment from one game into another.

The examples he gives to support his theory that the world is going to move this way are laughable. The software worlds of the Matrix and Snowcrash are fictional. Just because someone has envisioned them doesn't mean they will occur as soon as technology permits. People have also been envisioning and building amphibious cars for decades but the last time I drove my Honda into a lake it didn't do very well. What's more, even in their fiction they are really a communication method, not a game.

Combat occurs in the Matrix not because the computers wanted to make the virtual world fun and competitive but because they were trying to fool people into thinking it was real. Combat in Snowcrash on the other hand only existed because of the implausibility of the world. Imagine the chaos if I could go to any email or web post anywhere and click on a button and 'kill' the original poster, kicking them off the Internet for a period of time. It would cut down on flame wars drastically but you'd have kids abusing it just for fun all the time.

Of course there is some precedent on the author's side. Just look at table top RPGs. Originally they were all separate systems. When GURPS came out all those other systems went away since there was now a single system to handle everything. I'll tell you, it sure made it a lot easier for me to find RP groups since I know my fusion cannon wielding cyborg is compatible with what everyone else is playing, even if they were doing a medieval campaign.

Article written by a barrel of monkeys (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | about 8 years ago | (#14989724)

One way or another, consolidation is all but inevitable.
Only in the virtual world he lives in.

Diverse and incompatible standards - CompuServe members could only email other CompuServe members - gave way to a common platform that allowed everyone to connect.
I fail see this as an example or an indication of how gaming worlds will or should interoperate in any way. There is no standard way for games to communicate or operate, and unlike other forms of communication, there is hardly a *need*.

The different rules are part of the fun (1)

Infonaut (96956) | about 8 years ago | (#14989730)

People play games as much for the rules as for the worlds or the characters they create. Games are not just stories, they are systems. For example, even though the d20 System in the pencil and paper game world has been successful, there are still many other game systems. In business computing, figuring out new rules (how does this damned app work? Why is this OS different?) present annoyances. In the world of games, these challenges are part of the exploration and fun.

I don't know about this (1)

east coast (590680) | about 8 years ago | (#14989751)

you wouldn't expect a Grand Theft Auto crack dealer to drop in for a barbecue with the Sims.

I don't know what kind of parties this guy throws but at my house the crack dealer is a manditory attendee.

Laughable prediction given the current situation (1)

svkal (904988) | about 8 years ago | (#14989755)

The writer seems to describe how he would like the situation to be as a cyberpunk fan, and then using this as a basis for some rather outlandish predictions. He is ignoring that there is an important distinction between "virtual worlds" as predicted in various science fiction works, and online games as we play them today - the latter are games, played largely for entertainment and/or escapism and designed and balanced to form a more-or-less coherent universe suitable for these purposes. (I am aware that "worlds" that can only peripherally be said to be games exist - such as, IIRC, Second Life, but these are hardly as mainstream as the numerous MMORPGs that "millions of us commute to".)

If convergence between worlds were to happen, the "game" aspect would have to be marginalized or entirely eliminated: either one would have to reduce the rules of the game to the rules that are common to all the merged games, essentially ending up with a glorified chat room, or one would have to merge sets of rules for games modelling entirely different things, resulting in the kind of chaos that might be fun to read about in science fiction novels, but would probably not be very playable. Thus, unless something happens to create a demand for massively multiplayer non-games which is not there today, convergence between games will not happen.

I'd argue that virtual worlds such as described in fiction have not actually caught on, because context is important here: "virtual worlds" are not actually worlds in the sense of having functions parallel to those of the actual world unless people actually look upon them as such, and for now, the people who do are by far outnumbered by the people who look upon them as games where they strive to improve their avatar's abilities.

Load of codswallop! (1)

mr_rizla (758012) | about 8 years ago | (#14989756)

This is never likely to happen beyond one sensational marketing ploy. Users play because they want to escape. Not everybody wants to escape to the same place - otherwise we're just in Real Life(tm) Mk II!

This happened to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14989763)

There I was with my druid, contemplating the ruins, when some WWII-style tank came blasting through. I didn't know what was going on, but suddenly the tank got sucked into a genie bottle, then sold to some gangster figure as drugs. They didn't seem to know what was happening either.

Things got too weird and out of control. I stopped playing in that multiverse.

This subject, no verb (1)

Astin (177479) | about 8 years ago | (#14989778)

I find it an interesting idea, albeit a somewhat unrealistic one. It requires a bit of revisualizing the universes these games take place in. The Sims takes place in a neighbourhood. GTA takes place in a city. Warcraft takes place on a continent. Sci-fi worlds tend to take place over solar systems or galaxies... you COULD combine them. You have a Sim in your neighbourhood, and the car theif from Vegas comes through. Maybe he robs your house, maybe he hides in the shrubs. Meanwhile, in a different galaxy, intergalactic war is raging. Technically, if one of those ships pointed themselves at the Sim/GTA planet, they could eventually get there... but make it take YEARS, so it isn't a very appealing prospect (hence stopping one battalion of Stormtroopers from taking over Earth).

Yes, people play different games for different reasons, but there's no reason you couldn't have multiple characters sharing the same universe, but in different areas. If GTA and The Sims was combined, it would add a new dynamic to both games. If a player of the Sims' portion is driving to work, and gets carjacked by a GTA player, then there's now a real player behind that "crime". It opens up economies for neighbourhoods (why live in LA if your're going to get carjacked?), security businesses, etc... Too keep balance, then simply make the distances between unbalanced games unreasonable to travel.

Anyway, not going to happen, but an interesting thinkpiece.

What I'd be MORE interested in is a "Drawn Together" type of idea. A game containing all the stereotypical characters under one "roof". Alien soliders, crack addicts, film noir detectives with mad kung fu skills, scientists with guns, lone marines, and the lesbian couple that lives in a house where the pool has no ladder to get out with. Obviously with the proper safeguards in place to avoid any great inbalance in abilities.

Anyway... enough rambling for me.

Heads up: Sometimes people don't want convergence (1)

Badgerman (19207) | about 8 years ago | (#14989804)

Pretty much after reading my article,I began wondering if this guy even plays the games or hangs out with people online, and how the hell he's extrapolating this.

Games produce worlds. World's have certain rules and bounds. Different worlds have different systems. Converging these worlds kind of wrecks the individuality and specificity people want out of them. Starting over? That's part of the fun. Different personas? The same thing - we don't always want ot be the same person.

Sure, there will be convergence. It's going to happen. It'll be interesting (SL seems to be part of it in a way). But its not what everyone's going to want. Social elements and gaming elements can intersect, but the way he forsees it removes the uniqueness of worlds.

I of course suspect there will be some convergent systems. I can see, for instance, an OS MMORPG project with multiple divergent worlds. I can see expandable systems. I can see MMORPG tech used for social tech (hell, it is anyway). But shared worlds? I don't buy it.

World colliding theory (2, Funny)

Ced_Ex (789138) | about 8 years ago | (#14989806)

Here's the theory according to George Costanza

Relationship George versus Independent George. Who will win?

Relationship George is George when he is with Susan.

Independent George is George when he is with his friends: liar George, for example.

If the two meet...Relationship George will destroy Independent George.

Is this really so far-fetched? (3, Interesting)

DrVomact (726065) | about 8 years ago | (#14989823)

People seem skeptical of this article's prediction--and I have to admit there wasn't much attempt to outline how such a "metaverse" would work, or counter obvious objections. Still, I think something like Neal Stephenson's metaverse would be fun--and maybe even useful and possible.

One obvious objection is that each online "fiefdom"--let's just call it a "fief"-- currently has its own set of rules, and that these rules are incompatible--you can't mix a high fantasy RPG with Grand Theft Auto--or even Star Wars. That would make about as much sense as mixing chess with baseball. But why couldn't there be a neutral layer that connects all these now-closed universes? You could regard online games as a set of conventions that are adopted by a certain subset of those who inhabit the metaverse. Indeed, the metaverse could provide a meeting place where potential players gather to design and implement games. (I'm making the assumption that game engines and design components will be made accessible enough in the future so that it doesn't take years of heads-down coding to make a game.)

The metaverse could also provide a forum for the adherents of different fiefs to negotiate a common interface--which could involve agreements about what powers or artifacts can be transferred from one fief to another, how a certain level of achievement can be translated from one fief to another, and so forth. Games could become open-ended, with players moving on from one fief to another without losing everything they gained in the last one. Avatars might be allowed to play in more than one fief at a time, or might even gain status in the metaverse depending on their achievements in fiefs.

In time, the metaverse itself could become a very interesting place--a place where people meet to talk, plan expansions or vote on changes to the metaverse, or just hang out. Hey, can I call dibs on the lot across from the Black Sun?

Reboot (1)

Gyorg_Lavode (520114) | about 8 years ago | (#14989825)

When I think about persistant online worlds I always think about the way it worked in Reboot. They all lived in the local computer and then jumped into the game blocks in which they received unique attributes. I think in the future we'll have a similar setup, (much like croquet [opencroquet.org]) where you will have a local 3D world, (probably of your own design), and be able to 'step' into the other worlds owned by other people. In this new world you will have whatever presence the owner of the world grants you. Currently these worlds are MMoRPGs, but who's to say in the future you won't simply step across into your friend's world on his local computer to say 'hi'.

Metaverse = Clueless author (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | about 8 years ago | (#14989845)

Take a look at the Croquet Project run by Alan Kay.

I wonder how many /. users can think as to why Croquet is better long term than WoW or whatever? My guess is less than 1%.

               

This was the original vision for There (1)

Animats (122034) | about 8 years ago | (#14989849)

Remember There? [there.com]. The original concept of There was a seamless planet-sized world where you could play. Technically, that was achieved. But it turned out not to be much fun. "There" does, though, try to have areas with different styles. A "Renaissance Faire" is going on right now. So at least one system mixes styles. Not too well; you can buy a "chain mail dune buggy" and drive it to the Renaissance Faire.

"There" had business model problems. At one point, the big thing was buying real-world designer brand clothing for your avatar. With real money. That wasn't a big success. The company has been resold twice. For a while, it was owned by Foreterra Systems [forterrainc.com], which used the technology to build military training sims.

I was briefly involved with There in its early days. I tried to convince them that it should be broadband only, but they were hypnotized by dreams of being "the next AOL", back when AOL was a leading dialup provider, and insisted that There work over dialup. As a result, it's a rather low-rez environment.

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