Metaplace is a software platform to the development of virtual worlds.The platform is developed by Areae (now officially changed to Metaplace Inc.), the company established by Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies designer Raph Koster. According to the official website, virtual worlds developed on Metaplace can be accessed using any device that connects to the Web.
With Metaplace, almost anyone can build their own custom virtual world. Its tools make it simple to script any object with various actions. And every object and world in Metaplace has its own URL.[credit:metaplace].
Metaplace employs a simple, 2D, Flash-based graphics system that fronts for a fairly sophisticated set of content creation tools.
If the virtual worlds industry has elder statesmen, Raph Koster is definitely one of them. It’s a term he probably dislikes, but the reality is he’s had a direct involvement in some key milestones from text-based worlds (MUDs) through to the present day. After spending some time with his latest project, Metaplace, we took the opportunity to ask Raph some questions about its development as well as discussing some wider challenges and opportunities for virtual worlds. If you ever doubted that Raph Koster was a content creator to his core, pay particular attention to his response to the final question.
Lowell: Let’s start with your baby, Metaplace. How’s it progressing?
Raph: It is going well — we are expanding our closed beta now, and we’ve had a lot of big changes going in and more to come as we accelerate towards opening up. Among recent changes have been the addition of a tool that allows you to select models from the Google 3D Warehouse and bring them into your world with just a few clicks. This has led to a huge explosion in the variety of things found in people’s worlds.
Lowell: Content creation is key to Metaplace – what excites you most about what Metaplace has to offer in that regard?
Raph: I think what is most exciting isn’t so much the power of Metaplace – that’s there for sure, and it’s hugely exciting and fascinating and great things can be made. But I find special attraction to the ease and simplicity, the fact that we’re unlocking very complicated stuff for a lot of people who don’t know how to 3D model, or script, or code. So I think for me, it’s the lowering of barriers that is most exciting.
Lowell: 2009 is being touted as the year of the avatar – what’s your take? Has the avatar gained enough traction to be a true aspect of popular culture?
Raph: I think avatars became commonplace a while back. They have morphed into profile pictures and gravatars and they’re simply everywhere. So I don’t know what “year of the avatar” means except to say that something ubiquitous has become universal.
Lowell: Back in 2007 you were quite emphatic that the games industry was overlooking the power of the web as a platform – do you think there’s any greater level of insight now or is there still a significant blind spot there?
Raph: I think it is evident that the game industry has caught on. EA now distributes on Steam. All the consoles have web browsers now. We have now seen multiple games conceived and developed on or for the web jump over to consoles. Web integration in the form of sharing achievements, exposing APIs, posting to web services, and so on, is becoming far more common. I think the pace of these developments is simply going to increase.
Lowell: Where do you see Metaplace gaining its market share from?
Full interview on:Metaversejournal (Source:metaversejournal.com).