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  ‘Metaplace’ Virtual World Platform Revealed  
Posted 2007-09-19 by Tony Walsh
Raph Koster's mysterious startup Areae has finally revealed what's been up its corporate skirts since last December: Metaplace, an online world platform described by Koster as working "how the web does."

According to the official Metaplace site, it's possible to create a world in "just a few minutes" using an open markup standard and "MetaScript" scripting language based on Lua. The idea is to be able to create an graphical online world that doubles as a web site, or import web data into your world:
"Every world is a web server, and every object has a URL. You can script an object so that it feeds RSS, XML, or HTML to a browser. This lets you do things like high score tables, objects that email you, player profile pages right on the player -- whatever you want. Every object can also browse the Web: a chat bot can chatter headlines from an RSS feed, a newspaper with real headlines can sit on your virtual desk, game data could come from real world data... you get the idea."

I do get the idea, and I can't wait to get my hands dirty mucking around with Metaplace (it's in limited alpha testing at the moment). My hope is that creative non-programmers like myself will be able to easily build rich, satisfying experiences without having to become fluent in yet another scripting language, but I have a feeling that's not how things are going to play out in the short term. Long-term, I'm sure there will be many "WYSIWYG" editors for Metaplace content, just as there are for Web content today. I think it took about 5-10 years before any designer or artist could easily build their own web site. No offense to my techy friends, but it would be a shame if Metaplace was largely the playground of software engineers.

[Update: James Au has posted some very specific details about Metaplace to the GigaOM blog.]
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Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
September 19, 2007 @ 1:21 pm
In reading James' report, its still not clear to me if you can host your own world _on your own server_ or if you have to use their servers... If its still limited to hosting on their farm, this isn't as great as it appears at first blush. Another possible check against it is its US-only focus for revenue generation. But so much of this is still, literally, alpha, the final product may put all these concerns to rest.

Cautiously optimistic, i'm hoping for big things.
Comment posted by Ace Albion
September 20, 2007 @ 10:22 am
A walled garden with a million gates is still a good thing- it's the accessibility that's the biggest thing, I think. Something that, for example, SL still fails on with its 30-70mb downloads and 3d hardware requirements.
Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
September 20, 2007 @ 12:44 pm
I think we will have to agree to dis-agree on the walled garden thing. The holy-grail of virtual worlds is still a fully distributed virtuality - no centeralized server farm or whatever.

Croquet ( gets this right.
Comment posted by Ace Albion
September 21, 2007 @ 10:21 am
That would be a better thing, that doesn't make a hugely accessible walled garden a bad thing, but that's in a world that isn't binary.
Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
September 21, 2007 @ 10:49 am
You are right, its not a bad thing per-say, but I'm sure its going to get mega press, and i just think its important to note that its not really that big of a step up from what we already have.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 21, 2007 @ 5:00 pm
Waiting on more specific info from Metaplace, personally. I really wasn't impressed with the video, for one. Need to see more detail. Ultimately, my investment in it will be contingent on how easily I can sell content using it. I suspect Areae will be holding all the cards in terms of hosting, how else would they be able to collect/process in-game transactions?

I'd like to be able to compare Metaplace with Whirled, but I haven't seen Whirled yet either. Seems similar in principle to Metaplace.
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