Thursday, October 12, 2006

Life after Second Life

Why be content with Second Life when you can join ...the Multiverse Network... and access and interact in hundreds of virtual worlds all via one portal? Multiverse Network sees itself as the browser of metaverse worlds as users gatewaying through their site will have a universal sign-in, unified billing and centralized marketplace commerce. Interworld communication and travel is planned, as well as social mechanisms for world discovery and collection with personalized "world playlists,” user rankings and contests.

The few hundred development teams in the Multiverse Network's closed beta are finding the virtual world platform to be a unique, fun and high-functionality way to create MMOG worlds. The platform, soon to be in public beta, is being used for traditional game development (Force of Arms) as well as non-gaming work and learning applications (Project Mars which includes Mars-like gravity) and is described in more depth here.

The Multiverse Network's push in releasing worlds to end-user consumers in 2008 will likely trigger a further explosion in synthetic world commerce. One implication is that vendors making avatars, objects, textures, animation scripts, etc. for use in on-line worlds would no longer have to be tied to just one world, as the Electric Sheep Company, SLBoutique and Aimee Weber are to Second Life. Network content developers would have a panoply of potential customers and leveragable products and services.

Interworld connection will allow massive cross-world collaboration networks based on affinities to evolve; what would it be like to be with 1000 avatars online in the same space? While virtual space allows for smaller avatar form factors, communications challenges will likely abound with multi-channel chat streams erupting with some predictable asymptote of crowd participants.

Identity (that temporary and anachronistic human construct) will be different in a multiverse network with larger identity and avatar portfolios to manage (this theme is already occurring in Second Life whose nearly 1 million "residents" correspond to far fewer biological equivalents). Identity experimentation will be fun in multiverse worlds too, such as by being able to be multiple avatars in multiple worlds simultaneously and by permissioning avatars for independent tasks and activities with low-level AI methods.