Posted tagged ‘virtual world’

A Moment of Silence at the End of Winter

March 31, 2010

In the last few days there have been at least three notices of MMO or virtual world projects shutting down.  It’s hard for me not to see these as indicators of the generational change in the now-traditional “heavy” MMOs/worlds:  Stargate Worlds, There.com, and Vivaty — all very different takes on the previous age of MMOs/VWs, are gone or going away.

They’re doing so in an online game/world/app market that is growing faster than we can track — just not where they are.  Not to be unkind (any effort in this area deserves some respect), but one way to look at these worlds is that they are the very finest in hand-made carriages for the elite set — right about the time cheap autos are rolling off the assembly line.

But looking forward as well as back just a few years (as I wrote in 2007 about the potential for a “Virtual World Winter“), it may be that this isn’t the depth of winter, but its end.  In December 2007 I wrote:

While I’m still bullish on virtual worlds and MMOGs for a number of reasons, that doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily go through a deep winter before we find spring again.    I’m often asked about what comes after World of Warcraft?  Can this market be sustained?

I think we have the answer; as usual, it’s no — and yes.

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The New Killer Platform for MMOGs is… FaceBook?

November 23, 2008

Since my last post was pretty theoretical, I thought I’d bring this back to earth a bit.

The MMOG market continues to be very hot, and possibly all but impervious even to our current economic chaos.  I continue to see MMOGs in development for ever broader demographics and more obscure (or focused) niches.  Despite the difficult times for some and the demise of others, investment and development in this area continues to be strong.

And yet technology continues to be a huge thorn in the side of any developer.  There are a number of middleware suitors trying to woo developers, but recently an unusual one has appeared on the field.  Can it be that Facebook will save MMOG development?

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Introductions All Around

November 13, 2008

Okay, what’s this all about?

In this blog I write — far too occasionally — about artificial intelligence, game design, virtual worlds, massively multiplayer online games, social games, and a variety of usually related subjects.  I welcome topical, respectful discussion.

My background: I’m a Professor of Practice and the Director of the Game Design program in the Media School at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana (my faculty page). I’ve been here for three years, and some days am still surprised I live in the Midwest.

Prior to coming to IU, I worked in the games industry for more than twenty years. I was the Creative Director at Rumble Entertainment, and a General Manager at Kabam prior to that. In both companies I was able to learn a great deal and try out new directions in free-to-play games.

Before that, I ran Online Alchemy, a small games and research company in Austin Texas for nine years. This company specialized in online games, particularly those with a virtual world component.  We did a lot of work on advanced social AI for games and simulations, including working for several years with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Before founding Online Alchemy in 2002, I worked for Electronic Arts for three years as a Senior Game Designer, leading game designs for several projects including SimCity Online, The Sims 2, and Ultima Online.  Prior to that I co-founded and was the Chief Creative Officer for The Big Network, an early family-oriented social networking company.  There I designed and produced several Java-based games, and in 1998 designed our primary product, MyPlace.   Before The Big Network I was one of the co-founders of Archetype Interactive (started in 1994, acquired in 1996), where I was the lead designer on Meridian 59, the first 3D massively multiplayer online game (MMOG).

Before getting into games I worked in software engineering, primarily in developing 2D and 3D CAD systems, and in user interface design and user-centered design for medical and scientific visualization systems.  In the early 1990s I designed the user interface for the first 3D visualization system used in the operating room by neurosurgeons.

I have a BS in cogntive science and have done graduate work in AI (expert systems, neural networks, genetic algorithms, etc.)