I’ve been holding off on making a blog post about Areae’s announcement due to honestly not knowing where to go with my feelings on the topic. Raph Koster, known mostly for his work on Ultima Online and SWG, has a new project on the horizon. I am still unsure of where to even begin on this topic so bare with me as I try to work myself in here. I suppose a great place to start would be to share with you guys what this game is, and the best way to do that is to quote their site.
“Metaplace is a next-generation virtual worlds platform designed to work the way the Web does. Instead of giant custom clients and huge downloads, Metaplace lets you play the same game on any platform that reads our open client standard. We supply a suite of tools so you can make worlds, and we host servers for you so that anyone can connect and play. And the client could be anywhere on the Web.”
Basically, Metaplace isn’t really a game. I think that’s where I’m struggling with this one. Metaplace is the foundation for other people to be creative and do the work. Metaplace can only be as good as it’s community chooses for it to be – and that’s my biggest concern. We currently in a very dense period of MMORPG gaming. World of Warcraft is still in full swing and ready to cut the throats of any MMORPG trying to be different. There are several blockbuster titles that are just about ready to hit shelves and propel the MMO community into our next generation. What we have to do now is look at Metaplace and decide where it belongs.
I can’t look at Metaplace and consider it a MMO, just as I couldn’t for Guild Wars. Metaplace is breaking out of the mold and going for a very unconventional approach to bringing user created content and “make it whatever you want it to be” gameplay to everyone. Can you tell it’s a Raph Koster game yet? Common Sense Gamer put it very well.
“The idea that I can create my own game, attach it to this blog and have you guys play it would be just be a great feature. The idea that I can have a doorway that opens to Brent’s site, or Cuppy’s or Wilhelm’s would be something that I think would work for all of us…and honestly, would be quite fun. All of us bloggers have been screaming from our armchairs about “innovation” and “insert buzzword here”, this gets us to put our money where our mouth is…so to speak.”
Imagine walking through a door on our blog and entering into Keen’s Land – a beautiful medieval world where players can get property and build a castle.. or something cool like that. I have no idea if this is even possible, but imagine having a realm war with another blog. Is there PvP in Metaplace? Can we go to war with other blogs or other worlds? What are the rules? What are the limits of our creativity; there has to be some limits. The graphics on the front page seem to hint at very innocent looking happy places – are those just the product of someone’s imagination and we can make whatever we want?
I really love the potential this project has and that’s saying something. There are so many games out there that are full blown MMO’s that can’t and never even will have potential. Check out the video up on youtube where Raph demo’s Metaplace.
So we see right here that the game has the MOST potential for chat room and socialization. I can’t help but think of Playstation’s HOME where players get a living space to decorate and socialize with others on the network in a town/lobby. In the video we are told that you can do anything in Metaplace that the internet can do because it works just like the internet does. Woah there! That’s even more potential than I think even they are ready to deal with. I can only imagine the intellectual property conflicts when someone creates Warhammer Online – the Metaplace experience! Anyone else remember Active Worlds? Metaplace is alarmingly similar, but that can be a good thing. So far everything I have seen and heard from Metaplace is nothing ‘new’. We have virtual chat rooms and we have user created worlds. I KNOW there’s more that sets Metaplace apart.
It’s just too early. That’s the other half of the problem for me. It’s too early to pass judgment on Metaplace for better or worse. I can’t say it’s going to be the innovation we’re waiting for nor can I say it’s going to be successful. I can’t say it’s going to bomb because no one wants to go to the effort of playing a web based online game without structure that reminds them of a virtual chat room. The possibilities are there and the potential as astronomical. Show us more Areae!