Metaplace – final concert

As discussed last week, Metaplace is closing its doors. That closure comes into effect in the next few hours, and as a farewell founder Raph Koster is holding a farewell concert. It’s just started, with REM’s ‘End of the World’ the opening song. How many virtual world execs would get up in front of an audience of people who are losing their world and put it on the line musically? Not many, but I’m not surprised that Raph Koster has done so.

If you want to spend some time in Metaplace, now’s the time to do it. The concert location is here.

Update: I managed to hang out for the majority of the show and it’s an understatement to say Raph Koster out his heart into his show. As one audience member stated, he should consider performing as a musician in Second Life. I captured one song, Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing, which shows the passion of the performance:

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Metaplace announces its closure

In what can be pretty comfortably considered a shock move, Metaplace has announced it is closing in January 2010.

The announcement alludes to a lack of uptake as a reason for the closure, but no significant details are given. A FAQ has been provided and founder Raph Koster has confirmed refunds for December subscriptions and stated that a website for Metaplace residents to continue communicating with each other is on it’s way.

He’s also appealed for the last few weeks of Metaplace’s existence to be one of celebration. It’s hard to imagine there’ll be wall-to-wall joy given the enormous effort the user community have put into creating content on Metaplace. 2009 has seen the platform evolve significantly, and given that the open beta has only been in place a few months, this really does seem like a premature decision. The announcement does say that Metaplace Inc will continue operation and that they have “big plans” – let’s hope those plans are able to bear fruit because the damage of closing a service like this so early on can’t help any company’s credibility. Having interacted regularly with the Metaplace crew over the past year, the decision won’t have been taken lightly but it doesn’t take away from the impact it will have on the user community.

The biggest shame of it all is that Metaplace is an engaging, complex virtual environment that offered enormous content creation options. That this is lost when there are so many cookie cutter 2D worlds with limited creative options is sad, but the history of virtual environments is littered with examples of promising developments that didn’t reach their full potential. Metaplace is one of them now, but hopefully the technology behind it appears in another form in the future.

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Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

markettruths 1. September 10th 2009 at Noon PST (that’s 5.00am, Friday the 11th in Australia) sees an in-world screening of the documentary “Another Perfect World: In Search of Virtual Paradise,” by Femke Wolting & Jorien van Nes. There’ll be a Q&A with the filmmakers afterwards. You can see a preview of the movie here.

Whilst we’re talking Metaplace, NZ-based Market Truths also has a presence well under development, which I stumbled across today (as pictured).

2. If you’re interested in policy, politics and virtual worlds, then you might enjoy Pixels and Policy, “a new website and blog dedicated to the study of how virtual worlds impact real-world policy, politics, and culture”.

3. Tateru Nino has some interesting graphs on the median concurrency in Second Life i.e. a daily figure showing the middle of the distribution of Second Life residents logged in at one time.

4. If you’re a writer or interested in writing, you might like to check out The Written Word in Second Life or get an intro on their website. There’s also Meet An Author broadcast on treet.tv.

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Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

metaplace-avatar 1. Metaplace are previewing some new avatar customisation options on their forums. Don’t forget anyone can register for free to test out Metaplace now.

2. If you ever needed proof of how Relay for Life in Second Life is going from strength to strength, here it is:

Leaders of the Relay For Life of Second Life travelled to Dallas, Texas this past weekend to participate in the 2009 Relay For Life Nationwide Leadership Summit. The Summit is an annual activity bringing together Relay staff and volunteer leadership for 2 days of training to help each Relay improve and grow. Attendees from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa were joined by Second Life as honored guests. The summit goers attended various workshops designed to arm them with the newest innovations and ideas, reinforce basic Relay activities and share individual ideas and successes.

Relay For Life of Second Life was represented by incoming Event Chair Tayzia Abattoir, co-chair Nuala Maracas and Trader Whiplash. They were joined there by Staff Partner Stingray9798 Raymaker.

Reuel Johnson, the American Cancer Society’s Vice President for Relay For Life specifically cited Relay For Life of Second Life during his opening remarks, noting that the virtual Relay had exceeded its target, raising more than $274,000, had attracted more than 120 teams, and had over 750 years of survivorship represented on the track during it’s opening lap on July 18th.
The avatar of Trader Whiplash, co-winner of the 2009 Spirit of Relay award in Second Life, presented a 3 minute video to the nearly 500 attendees, as part of the Quality portion of the summit.

(Thanks to Belle Loll for the heads-up)

3. Skribe Forti has produced a tasty machinima based in a world called Blue Mars, which is currently in beta:

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Metaplace: worlds embedded

Raph Koster has announced the ability to embed a Metaplace world within a webpage. Significant? Indeed it is. One of the reasons video sharing services like YouTube, Vimeo and Blip.tv have become ubiquitous has been their embed features. By offering the same portability, Metaplace has further established a firm foothold in the virtual world sphere.

At this stage you’ll still need a Metaplace login to view an embedded world but the plan is for that to eventually not be the case. A WordPress plugin already exists, which is how I’ve embedded a favourite world of mine:


A range of uses have already been identified (integration with Google Maps anyone?) and the virtual performance one in particular should gain some serious traction. Without wanting to sound like a slobbering fanboy, Metaplace to date haven’t put a foot wrong and it’s hard to see anything but some serious success ahead for the platform.

What do you think: does the ability to embed Metaplace on your site make it more likely you’ll use it?

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Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds


1. Looking for alternative to the now Linden Lab-owned online shopping option? Slapt.me has launched and has a fair sized inventory already. Given the ever-improving integration of the incumbent in Second Life, it’ll be interesting to see how much support there is for a competitor.

2. Metaplace have been focusing in a big way on enhancing the community aspects of the platform – earning coins for visiting other users’ worlds was a big step in that direction. Founder Raph Koster talks about the introduction of the Golden Egg.

3. Tateru Nino has a superb summary of why media releases get passed over.

4. Camp Pete is a new kids world aimed at USA-based juniors given the use of the work ‘football’ all over the site in context of their version of the game. It may be quite a fun world, though i always get nervous with statements like this:

University of Southern California Head Football Coach Pete Carroll has been called the ‘coolest 57-year-old kid in Los Angeles.’ He’s more in touch with technology than most teenagers. He was one of the first head coaches with his own Web site, the first to embrace Facebook, the first on Twitter, and now, Coach Carroll is the first Coach to have his own Virtual World for Kids.

Obviously the proof will be in the experience itself as to how kid-centred it is.

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Metaplace impressions

At The Metaverse Journal, we’ve followed Metaplace closely and covered its beta phase previously. Senior contributor Tateru Nino was asked to put Metaplace through its paces to ensure we haven’t been too starry-eyed about its potential – Editor.

Still in beta, Metaplace still has some rough edges and glitches, but it is certainly coming along very nicely.  The look and feel of Metaplace mostly calls to mind the isometric 2D games of the mid 1990s. That’s very much the look and feel of much of it, though it is in a considerably higher resolution than the game titles of yesteryear.

You could be forgiven for thinking its areas as strikingly similar in some ways to the tactical maps of the old X-Com game series. It runs conveniently in a browser, and is entirely Flash-based, downloading what it needs, when it needs it.


Metaplace is divided into worlds. Each world being more or less a variably-sized map, viewed in a variety of ways and interconnected into a larger, multidimensional abstract geometry. There’s no broader landscape, and no particularly enormous spaces. Like – say – Richard Garriott’s Ultima VII, there’s an internal sense of the three-dimensionality of objects, but it is primarily a two-dimensional experience. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Metaplace’s strengths appear to be largely organized around social and gaming. Metaplace strongly supports the creation of spaces, particularly gaming spaces. Objects are almost trivially easy to create within metaplace, and the system actively supports a variety of relatively painless ways to get content into the system.

If you want, for example, a boat, the system will offer to take your search to Google 3D Warehouse, where you can simply select one of the available models, and Metaplace will do all the heavy lifting to import it for you. A useful variety of behaviours can be added to objects with just a few clicks, and no-scripting, and there’s support for more intricate systems as well.

tmj-tan-metaplace3 Views of spaces can be customized, UI widgets can be added. There’s a great deal of support for building game-spaces, and if I were able to spare the time for making a game, Metaplace is definitely where I’d want to be doing it.

Metaplace tracks experience (‘metacred’, actually) and assigns levels, keeping track of the basic types of activities you indulge in. People can tell at a glance if you’re a socializer, explorer or builder by nature – though hardly anyone actually seems to pay attention to that. You gain metacred and presently also coins (for the economy prototype) by, well, socializing, exploring and building, basically.

Some issues still present themselves, of course.

The economy and monetisation of the platform is still in the early stages. It’s “soft-launched”, if you like, and users are still in the early days of getting to grips with the potential of the platform. Much of the content you’ll see is still under construction.


The urge to right-click – for context menus and the like – is almost overwhelming, but of course that just brings up the options for Adobe’s Flash Player. Some of your basic tools can be a little erratic. Sometimes your mouse scroll-wheel will function to zoom in or out of a scene, and sometimes – well – it just won’t. Even left-clicking on things can be somewhat erratic.

tmj-tan-metaplace5 Likewise, we’ve had a few issues with setting properties on objects and getting those to actually stick. The further you are from Metaplace in network terms, the more erratically it seems to behave.

That said, Metaplace is still early in the beta stage, and we’ve got every confidence that its various teething problems will continue to sort themselves out. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing how the platform, the economy and the user-generated content all develop.

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