Clickable Culture   Official Research Blog of Phantom Compass
  In Conversation With Will Harvey, Part 1  
Posted 2005-09-08 by Tony Walsh
In Conversation With Will Harvey, Part 1
Venerable video game developer and There founder Will Harvey is now at the helm of IMVU, an avatar-based 3D chatspace. IMVU features customizable à la carte content sold not only by the company itself, but developed and marketed by IMVU users. Dressed in a lime baby-T and charcoal mini-skirt, Harvey met me at one of IMVU's many Buckstar coffee shops, where we chatted over steaming soy lattes about IMVU's place in the greater Metaverse.

IMVU Tony Hey Will, nice skirt.
IMVU Will You mean you assumed in RL I was a guy?
IMVU Tony Presumptuous, I know. Ok, I was wondering about your transition from There to IMVU in terms of the concepts behind each project…
IMVU Will btw, did you try dragging the bubbles around? It looks cool. :-)
IMVU Tony [Drags bubbles around.] Yes it is very cool. Did There morph into IMVU or does IMVU exist as a stand alone project?
IMVU Will IMVU is related to There only insofar as I founded and I also founded IMVU. IMVU is a new thing, with a different vision. When I started There, I thought that one company could become the Microsoft in a sense, or the predominant OS, for the whole metaverse and virtual world.
IMVU Tony [Nods]
IMVU Will I created to be that company, so we built extraordinary technology to support a massively scalable world with 100's of thousands of users in a physically simulated virtual world -- a platform or OS for virtual reality. IMVU is a different vision.
IMVU Tony [Nods]
IMVU Will I no longer believe that a single company will own the metaverse or the OS on which the metaverse is built. The internet is just fundamentally different from an OS for desktop applications. The internet advances through the combined efforts of a plurality of companies, each of which provides one part of the overall picture.
IMVU Tony What part would you say that IMVU provides, that, for example, There or Second Life might not?
IMVU Will IMVU fits in by providing the world's best avatars. That's our vision.
IMVU Tony Ah, thanks.
IMVU Will and Linden lab both have massively multiuser physically simulated worlds. They both have fantastic technology in those areas.
IMVU Tony There are very few companies founded on the principles of cooperation, at least in terms of commercial virtual worlds
IMVU Will Yes, you are right.
IMVU Tony Will you be open to playing a role in the greater "metaverse"?
IMVU Will It is not inconceivable that down the line IMVU avatars could be used in There or SL, or other video games. Few companies are founded on the principle of cooperation. Nevertheless, it is also true that few companies succeed in complete isolation. So as you can see, cooperation happens, even if it isn't premeditated or planned. Companies need to be open to that philosophy to succeed.
IMVU Tony I'm not really aware of many strategic partnerships in this space, can you give me an example? Or, if you prefer, are there any IMVU partnerships you care to discuss?
IMVU Will LOL, I can't think of a non-example. Where would Intel be without Microsoft or vice versa? Where would yahoo be without Netstape or IE?
IMVU Tony Oh, sure -- I mean in terms of virtual world "owners." I'm talking about something like There and Second Life teaming up for something. I can't see that happening.
IMVU Will Ah, the virtual world is not as mature as other areas. Companies need to carve out some success on their own first. There, SL, IMVU are all doing that now. But in the long run the success of all these companies will be related to how they fit into the ecosystem of applications and services that the users use, everything from IM to social networking, email, web browsing, etc. In the fullness of time, 3D avatars and 3D worlds will touch upon a lot of things that people do online.
IMVU Tony Do you see IMVU moving more or less towards competition with other virtual worlds?
IMVU Will IMVU doesn't have any plans to make a virtual world.
IMVU Tony Right, I should have backed up and asked about whether or not you consider IMVU a world. It seems world-like...
IMVU Will I love virtual worlds, and I think they are extraordinarily interesting from almost every angle of engineering and computer science, not to mention other areas of academics. But no, I wouldn't want to try to reproduce what There and SL have built. Of course, you could define "virtual world" to encompass the kind of things that IMVU does, but I don't think such a definition captures what most people mean and think of.
IMVU Tony I would say one of IMVU's chief strengths is its compactness as opposed to what SL and There are up to.
IMVU Will Yes, the compactness of IMVU is definitely one of its strengths. Sometimes less is more. In some ways, that is the case here. People can use IMVU without having to commit to a video game like experience in time, focus, and screen area.
IMVU Tony Could we talk a bit more about the potential for interoperability with other software applications? I notice, for example, that IMVU is built on some Open Source software... Can you talk a bit about the rationale for the Open Source tools?
IMVU Will Yes, IMVU uses many open source applications and libraries, and we have contributed to the efforts. Interesting you should mention this, kind of comes back to the point about collaboration. ;-)
IMVU Tony Yes that's what I'm getting at. Would the use of Open Source software give you a long-term competitive advantage?
IMVU Will When running a company, you have to decide what you do better than anyone else, and then your highest leverage is applying all your efforts to that exact thing. Of course, you usually have to a variety of other things also to provide a complete package or product or solution, but the more you can focus on what you do best, the better you'll do.
IMVU Tony Is it fair to say that what IMVU does better is avatars?
IMVU Will Yes, IMVU's thing is avatars and all the trappings that make avatars interesting and useful.

In my next conversation with Will Harvey, I hope to discuss IMVU's avatar trappings, user-driven economy, and business aspects further. If you've got a burning question you'd like me to relay, please post it as a comment to this entry and I'll see what I can do. In the mean time, I encourage you to explore might not be a virtual world, but it's one of the most compelling 3D chatspaces I've come across. For additional reading about Will Harvey, I recommend this recent interview at Gamasutra.
  ... share via email digg bloglines fark reddit newsvine simpy blogmarks magnolia  
[ Detailed Search ]
Clickable Conversation
on 4159 entries

Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'

yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please

Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool

Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please

It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy? get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock

Clickable Culture Feeds:

RSS 2.0 ATOM 1.0 ALL



Clickable Culture
Copyright (c)1999-2007 in whole or in part Tony Walsh.

Trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments owned by the Poster. Shop as usual, and avoid panic buying.