Monday, September 24, 2007

Metaplace: Virtual Worlds Meet the Web

Innovation happens when ideas are combined. What do we get when Virtual Worlds meet the Web? Second Life on the Web? Areae has unveiled Metaplace on the Techcrunch conference. It has the potential to change the way how virtual worlds are made.

Metaplace is a next-generation virtual worlds platform designed to work the way the Web does. Using a suite of tools anyone can make worlds and put them on their web pages.

The differences: Metaplace vs. Second Life

Second Life is a rich client based immersive 3D metaverse. It is a walled garden although Linden Lab plans to open it up to some extent. Metaplace on the other hand is a web-based network of online worlds right from the start. It is an open metaverse that looks more like the web.

Metaplace: the web-based metaverse

The open web like nature of Metaplace is present on the technical level as well. It is not a walled garden. Every world is a web server, and every object has a URL. An object can be scripted in MetaScript so that it feeds RSS, XML, or HTML to a browser (imagine a newspaper with real headlines can sitting on your virtual desk). MetaScript is based on the Lua programming language that is also used by other MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft.

There is a huge interest for the alpha application for Metaplace which will close today. The open beta is planned for spring 2008.

Open source metaverse projects

Immerse 3D environments are getting more and more popular. There are two major open source projects in this space:

Croquet is a software development environment for the creation and large-scale distributed deployment of multi-user virtual 3D applications and metaverses. The Croquet architecture supports synchronous communication, collaboration, resource sharing and computation among large numbers of users on multiple platforms and multiple devices.

The OpenSource Metaverse Project was created to support virtual worlds that allow customization by the player and creation of custom worlds. It aims to provide an open source metaverse engine and a client that is flexible, scalable.

The OpenSource Metaverse Project is analogous to the web. You can create hyperlinks to any other metaworld running on any metaverse server worldwide. In this aspect it is similar to Metaplace.

Let there be new virtual worlds!

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