20 September 2007
Video of Raph Koster giving a brief overview of setting up a MetaPlace virtual place. From the looks of it, creating a basic “metaplace” will be just as easy as creating something like a MySpace page. Just a couple of clicks and you’re done. In addition, to visit a metaplace all a user will need to do is visit the URL in a Web browser.
If Raph and the folks at Areae can make this work as he describes, it will really raise the bar for virtual world user experience. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about when I continually lambaste Linden Lab for the poor initial user experience in Second Life.
I recently had a friend who works at Columbia College here in Chicago describe her initial user experience with Second Life and it was as depressing as you’d imagine: difficulty in figuring out how to navigate the world, little direction as to where to go in-world, a rabbit hole of sim after empty sim except for a couple cybering, and, after a couple of confusing teleports, landing in an erotic art gallery where the proprietor was none to friendly. Eventually she was trapped and just logged off in frustration. She then complained that logging in again brought her to the same place where she was trapped. And that was the end of her Second Life.
Obviously we don’t know what the user experience of navigating each metaplace will be like. To a certain extent it will be up to the individual creator. But given that MetaPlace is so integrated with the Web and Web Services, I have to think that it will also leverage existing Web UX and UI patterns. In the video it appears as if there will be “stylesheets” or templates for creating a world. This will allow novice creators to use pre-built worlds that are ready to go, which lowers the bar, well, just about as low as it will go. Advanced creators will of course be able to use Lua, Web Services, and whatever other building tools Areae provides. I imagine there will also be a healthy business for good metaplace stylesheets.