On the horizon (Community)

On the horizon // Community

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canopus

Jul 3, 2000, 11:47pm
Activeworlds just published a new list of World Server prices. But AW
still seems to be going with its traditional "rent a browser, rent a
server" model. I reported last month that the new generation of
role-playing games are becoming more and more competitive with AW.
Vampire is out now--it looks as good as or better than AW 3.0, has lots
of cool Nonplayer Characters, & an involving storyline, with options for
online multi-player and gamemaster story-involvement. Lots of items
(objects) can be picked up & moved & used in the horror gameplay. (There
are problems with the save system & the AI.)

Vampire has delivered (free) a set of world-editing and world-scripting
tools, & I thought some people would be interested in some first
impressions, since this is the part that would be in competition with
AW. The editors do have the ability to design worlds as fascinating as
Vampire's medieval Prague & modern Vienna, & you can quickly recompile &
test out what you did, using the Vampire installation on your hard disk.
But to use the same tools that Nihilistic used, you need patience to
read lots of instructions & willingness to become sort of a computer
artist/designer. For $34.99 & a free download, you have everything you
need to make your own worlds, but it's not easy to do.

Likewise, the scripting tools let you do almost anything you want
within the animation capabilities of the game engine, but you need to
understand the Java programming language, or some other modern language
like it, such as Object Pascal (Delphi) or C++. Not only are these tools
free for the download, Nihilistic is making its own scripted maps of its
game world available for free. On the minus side, if your friends (or
anyone else that can dial you up over the internet) wants to visit your
new world & play one of the characters in the plot you have created,
they have to download your modified version of Vampire, & reinstall key
files. Still, they get a new world, & everybody only pays $34.99 once,
because from then on, all the new worlds are free to make & free to
visit directly over the net.

Next year Neverwinter Nights should be ready. It promises to be much
more serious competition for AW. Bioware, the makers of Baldur's Gate,
are doing it, & have been unusually forthcoming about its development.
Even though nine months is a long time, you can see from the preview
(http://www.dailyradar.com/features/game_feature_page_856_1.html) why so
many people are excited about it. NWN will give users free tools for
editing their own worlds, but as you can see on the preview movie, these
will be easy to use. (Like Worldcraft/Starcraft, you paint down scenery
or buildings--'artifacts' in the AW sense--but these are 3-D objects,
not just 2-D objects.) NWN will not only have a C-like scripting
language for manipulating the NPC's, monsters, movable items, status
points, etc. that constitute your world story, but it will also have
scripting Wizards that will do the C-like hard part for you. (Bioware
expects that 90% of users will work through the scripting wizards, & the
other 10% will want to get down & script with the C-like language.)

NWN is going to have a full story of its own, but the story has been
designed from the start as a model for game-buyers to use, after they
play the game & begin to build their own worlds and storylines. Bioware
will make money after it sells the gamebox by selling new objects, new
monsters, new textures, new items, etc. But once you've bought the game
($49.99?), from then on, even ordinary folks can design worlds & invite
people to come visit over the internet--for free. (8-64 people at a
time, depending on your internet connection, modem-cable.) You won't be
able to build while people watch; but you will be able to have dozens of
Non-Player Characters, move furniture & beermugs & dragonsteeth around,
& above all, involve your friends in a story that you composed yourself.

I wonder if AW will be able to match this kind of competition. Course
it might turn out not to be what it sounds like. But: if we can run
worlds off our own home computers for the cost of a single game, if we
can have as many bots as we want, with built-in AI facilities that we
can script ourselves, if we can have doors that move & gold coins that
we can carry, all for free, why should we pay to rent one of AW's new
world servers? What I think I see is still a cloud, small as a man's
hand, on the horizon. I hope by the time it gets here, AW will be ready.

=?iso-8859-1?q?eep=b2?=

Jul 4, 2000, 5:05pm
Yup, it's happening all the time...each new 3D game that has a level editor with more and more integrative built-in features like 10six has and Neverwinter Nights and other games will have, it's only a matter of time before AW is obsolete. AWCI doesn't have much time to start focusing AW's development on gaming and level (world) editing before it is completely surpassed by a MUCH more developer- and resource-intense gaming company... I wonder when Rick and JP will start paying attention...

[View Quote] > Activeworlds just published a new list of World Server prices. But AW
> still seems to be going with its traditional "rent a browser, rent a
> server" model. I reported last month that the new generation of
> role-playing games are becoming more and more competitive with AW.
> Vampire is out now--it looks as good as or better than AW 3.0, has lots
> of cool Nonplayer Characters, & an involving storyline, with options for
> online multi-player and gamemaster story-involvement. Lots of items
> (objects) can be picked up & moved & used in the horror gameplay. (There
> are problems with the save system & the AI.)

....

> Next year Neverwinter Nights should be ready. It promises to be much
> more serious competition for AW. Bioware, the makers of Baldur's Gate,
> are doing it, & have been unusually forthcoming about its development.
> Even though nine months is a long time, you can see from the preview
> (http://www.dailyradar.com/features/game_feature_page_856_1.html) why so
> many people are excited about it. NWN will give users free tools for
> editing their own worlds, but as you can see on the preview movie, these
> will be easy to use. (Like Worldcraft/Starcraft, you paint down scenery
> or buildings--'artifacts' in the AW sense--but these are 3-D objects,
> not just 2-D objects.) NWN will not only have a C-like scripting
> language for manipulating the NPC's, monsters, movable items, status
> points, etc. that constitute your world story, but it will also have
> scripting Wizards that will do the C-like hard part for you. (Bioware
> expects that 90% of users will work through the scripting wizards, & the
> other 10% will want to get down & script with the C-like language.)
>
> NWN is going to have a full story of its own, but the story has been
> designed from the start as a model for game-buyers to use, after they
> play the game & begin to build their own worlds and storylines. Bioware
> will make money after it sells the gamebox by selling new objects, new
> monsters, new textures, new items, etc. But once you've bought the game
> ($49.99?), from then on, even ordinary folks can design worlds & invite
> people to come visit over the internet--for free. (8-64 people at a
> time, depending on your internet connection, modem-cable.) You won't be
> able to build while people watch; but you will be able to have dozens of
> Non-Player Characters, move furniture & beermugs & dragonsteeth around,
> & above all, involve your friends in a story that you composed yourself.
>
> I wonder if AW will be able to match this kind of competition. Course
> it might turn out not to be what it sounds like. But: if we can run
> worlds off our own home computers for the cost of a single game, if we
> can have as many bots as we want, with built-in AI facilities that we
> can script ourselves, if we can have doors that move & gold coins that
> we can carry, all for free, why should we pay to rent one of AW's new
> world servers? What I think I see is still a cloud, small as a man's
> hand, on the horizon. I hope by the time it gets here, AW will be ready.

chris waddell

Jul 7, 2000, 11:43pm
The thing is gentlemen, is those are all RPG games. "Games" being the key word.
I don't ever recall AW calling it self a game or marketing or packaging itself as a game.
As far the graphics and all, well hell,it would be wonderful if, AW ran on a Quake III type engine. Or if AW would openly give anyone and everyone the source code to the Browser.
I think that AW should be above and beyond what it is now. But AWCOM isn't a Game Developer or Packaged and sold in a box.
Its a download able "VR" browser.

I don't see myself joining Never Winter Nights to build a nice lil city.
RPG Gams sure may look better, but their development is focused on something completely different.

Now if you are talking about one of these Production companies taking their technology and making a browser based on AW's idea, and we could build, and have all the similar AW functions as we do now, with the NWN graphics.

Then heck yeah.

But as for now, and as someone who works for a major game developer. i don't see any of those, as you put it, Competition.

There is no freedom in those game. Just hack and slash and fight the Ogres.

Z!

[View Quote] > Yup, it's happening all the time...each new 3D game that has a level editor with more and more integrative built-in features like 10six has and Neverwinter Nights and other games will have, it's only a matter of time before AW is obsolete. AWCI doesn't have much time to start focusing AW's development on gaming and level (world) editing before it is completely surpassed by a MUCH more developer- and resource-intense gaming company... I wonder when Rick and JP will start paying attention...
>
[View Quote]

=?iso-8859-1?q?eep=b2?=

Jul 8, 2000, 1:55pm
[View Quote] > The thing is gentlemen, is those are all RPG games.

Um, no. Most of the games with level editors I mentioned are NOT RPGs, although I could argue that, technically, most 3D games have RPG elements (you play a character).

> "Games" being the key word. I don't ever recall AW calling it self a game or marketing or packaging itself as a game.

Right; that's the problem and why AW isn't very popular.

> As far the graphics and all, well hell,it would be wonderful if, AW ran on a Quake III type engine. Or if AW would openly give anyone and everyone the source code to the Browser.
> I think that AW should be above and beyond what it is now. But AWCOM isn't a Game Developer or Packaged and sold in a box.
> Its a download able "VR" browser.
>
> I don't see myself joining Never Winter Nights to build a nice lil city.
> RPG Gams sure may look better, but their development is focused on something completely different.
>
> Now if you are talking about one of these Production companies taking their technology and making a browser based on AW's idea, and we could build, and have all the similar AW functions as we do now, with the NWN graphics.
>
> Then heck yeah.

Duh. That's what I've been saying for years.

> But as for now, and as someone who works for a major game developer. i don't see any of those, as you put it, Competition.
>
> There is no freedom in those game. Just hack and slash and fight the Ogres.

Perhaps you should go try one of the many 3D game level editors out there and see just what you can make with them. While most are limited to the original 3D game's genre/gameplay, you don't HAVE to go around killing and blowing up things once your level is created. The problem with current 3D game level editors is that levels can't be created IN-game (real-time) as in AW. The point about Neverwinter Nights, 10six, and other multiplayer games is that their "levels" (worlds) CAN/WILL be created (for the most part) in-game, although (10six at least) is still very limited compared to AW and even 3D game level editors--but it's a start!

As more game developers add more real-time, in-game level editing/world building features into their games, AW becomes less and less popular. It's only a matter of time before game developers allow it more towards a "3D holodeck"...it's just too bad Rick and JP can't (or don't want to) push AW toward that before they (AW) are beaten out of yet another niche market...

[View Quote]

nornny

Jul 8, 2000, 1:55pm
I think what they're trying to say isn't about the game or objective itself,
but rather the worlds and their capabilities compared to AW. They're saying
that world creating/editing in AW seems meager compared to what they have in
such upcoming games, I believe. :) You're right though, AW isn't the same
basis as NeverWinter Nights and such, and I think they should be considered
different, but the fact is, we still have stiff competition on the VR Chat
level and AW could do a lot more to be on the top. :)

Nornny

[View Quote]

canopus

Jul 9, 2000, 6:39pm
Yeah, I am talking about one of these companies taking their
technology & making a browser based on the idea of using a set of
objects & avatars with NWN graphics, namely the company that is working
on NWN. You're in game development, you know that if you can stage
realtime battles over the internet, you can use the same technology to
stage soccer games or classical ballet. If you can buy a set of 200
avatars & hundreds of objects in a box, & a browser/server engine that
allows you to create as many P-30 worlds as you want for free, why
continue to rent your browser & your server, AW-style?

Nobody who builds these P-30 worlds has to roleplay. But if you can
have hundreds of bots that you script to fill your P-30 worlds with
background characters, why not? Particularly if the browser/server
engine has an AI that pathfinds for the bots, organizes their behavior,
etc. It's up to you what you have the bots do: some people might want
hacking & slashing; other people might want buying & selling, or dancing
& making love. AW gives us the ability to build things: why not add an
ability to build characters? That's what 'game technology' can do.

In AW, if you own land, you can put objects on it & move them around.
Someone at AW once designed a great browser/server system for object
ownership, & it still is the best. The next logical step is to allow
owners to designate objects that visitors can move around. That's what
NWN is promising: owners can tag swords or chairs or gold coins for
visitor movement. Maybe NWN's developers have in mind a web of beautiful
goblin-infested, action-oriented worlds. But the toolsets in the NWN box
can be used to build any kind of world. Just look around AW & you'll see
how innovative people can be, if you only give them the technical means.

[View Quote]

chris waddell

Jul 9, 2000, 6:39pm
I am sorry gentlemen, its till isn't the same, Eep seems to think that everyone
will just go and pay like 40-60 some odd bucks for a boxed game, cause it looks
better than AW.
Most ppl in AW have probably never even hear dof most of these Games, and
chances are they wont.

Also with these type games, you are stuck to the original theme... EQ woodelves
(lol)... Vampire..(self explanatory), NWN ...( D&D type characters).
I am sure the option for the terrain and map editors would allow you to build a
Mars World or AW type world. But with AW not everyone has to be or have
knowledge in 3d creation.

I agree that AWCOM should and could push the gamut and if they had money to have
a development team, instead of one person ( I think), then they could look into
a convergence of some type of better engine then what is currently in use.

Its Apple and Oranges... If you want to go play or hang out in EQ, or Vamp, Or
NWN, in a custom made "map" go ahead.

Plain and simple... unless AW gets a considerable shot in the arm with some
major funding, then we will have to wait for this technology to expand.
Yes, it is cumbersome, but I believe sadly they do not have the resources anyhow
to pull off anything like you gentlemen are suggesting.

Who knows, maybe a Gaming company might see the potential in AW as an online
Chat program and buy AWCOM.

After all the internet is fast becoming the biggest form of communication and
commerce.




[View Quote] > I think what they're trying to say isn't about the game or objective itself,
> but rather the worlds and their capabilities compared to AW. They're saying
> that world creating/editing in AW seems meager compared to what they have in
> such upcoming games, I believe. :) You're right though, AW isn't the same
> basis as NeverWinter Nights and such, and I think they should be considered
> different, but the fact is, we still have stiff competition on the VR Chat
> level and AW could do a lot more to be on the top. :)
>
> Nornny
>
[View Quote]

john viper

Jul 9, 2000, 8:56pm
I am still sticking to it.. the day AW becomes to much like a game I leave

_________________________
John Viper
http://www.jtsoft.net <-- Coming Soon!
[View Quote]

=?iso-8859-1?q?eep=b2?=

Jul 11, 2000, 11:41pm
Good riddance to close-minded twits! What part of OPTIONAL don't you understand? God damn...

[View Quote] > I am still sticking to it.. the day AW becomes to much like a game I leave

dataman

Jul 14, 2000, 7:43pm
Folks folks...

Yer arguing semantics.

"Game" is a relative term. Gameplaying is something that everyone does every day in RL, and
in fact in AW I know people do Role-Playing as they also do in RL. Games theory is intrinsic
to understanding human behavior and incorporates the latest in knowledge of who and what we
are, individually and as cultures etc.. Actually AW is a lot like a very crude SimWorld-type
thing with multiplayer capabilities. :)

If you think that AW has things for you that "games" do not...well, yah there is no game that
is marketed as such which has everything that AW has. However, between different games you
could put together all the features of AW. And lemme tell ya, as far as the community thing
and social interaction, AW is far behind many of the games.

Wanna see some real community stuff happening, check out Ultima Online. One interesting thing
about interaction in Ultima is that they have a real economy. So you can loan yer friends
money, you can work hard and save up to buy things, etc.. The creator of AW planned things
like this, he just never got around to em. In fact UO has many features that were planned at
one point for AW. Folks there can dress up (without switching avatars) and even dye
clothing. They can lock their houses. The feature list goes on...many of these things AW
could use, but of course as options within each world.

There's a lot more about UO (and other "games") that is in many ways *more advanced* for a VR
environment than AW. The big difference that might put off many of you (besides not being
able to have your own world or use your own artwork) is that there is magic, there are
monsters, and the whole thing has a medieval theme. But that's just the THEME of UO. Step
back a bit and imagine that you could use the same engine that UO uses but create your own
world where you supply your own artwork and your own rules. Then you'd have a true superset
of AW. An IMMENSELY greater feature set.

Basically we don't have terms for this stuff yet. At present a "game" is something that sells
better than AW. :) And has a lot more bucks behind it, and knowhow too.

DM

[View Quote] > I am still sticking to it.. the day AW becomes to much like a game I leave
>
> _________________________
> John Viper
> http://www.jtsoft.net <-- Coming Soon!
[View Quote]

dataman

Jul 14, 2000, 7:44pm
Folks folks...

Yer arguing semantics.

"Game" is a relative term. Gameplaying is something that everyone does every day in RL, and
in fact in AW I know people do Role-Playing as they also do in RL. Games theory is intrinsic
to understanding human behavior and incorporates the latest in knowledge of who and what we
are, individually and as cultures etc.. Actually AW is a lot like a very crude SimWorld-type
thing with multiplayer capabilities. :)

If you think that AW has things for you that "games" do not...well, yah there is no game that
is marketed as such which has everything that AW has. However, between different games you
could put together all the features of AW. And lemme tell ya, as far as the community thing
and social interaction, AW is far behind many of the games.

Wanna see some real community stuff happening, check out Ultima Online. One interesting thing
about interaction in Ultima is that they have a real economy. So you can loan yer friends
money, you can work hard and save up to buy things, etc.. The creator of AW planned things
like this, he just never got around to em. In fact UO has many features that were planned at
one point for AW. Folks there can dress up (without switching avatars) and even dye
clothing. They can lock their houses. The feature list goes on...many of these things AW
could use, but of course as options within each world.

There's a lot more about UO (and other "games") that is in many ways *more advanced* for a VR
environment than AW. The big difference that might put off many of you (besides not being
able to have your own world or use your own artwork) is that there is magic, there are
monsters, and the whole thing has a medieval theme. But that's just the THEME of UO. Step
back a bit and imagine that you could use the same engine that UO uses but create your own
world where you supply your own artwork and your own rules. Then you'd have a true superset
of AW. An IMMENSELY greater feature set.

Basically we don't have terms for this stuff yet. At present a "game" is something that sells
better than AW. :) And has a lot more bucks behind it, and knowhow too.

DM

[View Quote] > I am still sticking to it.. the day AW becomes to much like a game I leave
>
> _________________________
> John Viper
> http://www.jtsoft.net <-- Coming Soon!
[View Quote]

dataman

Jul 14, 2000, 7:44pm
Good points...can ya stop calling the client a "browser" tho? :)

A browser is something you use to look thru documents. The whole browser paradigm is way overloaded now even when it comes to multimedia websites. The only reason anyone ever called the AW client a browser is because the dolts
at Worlds, Inc. were not capable of marketing what they had. So they marketed what they thought they could sell...

DM

[View Quote] > Yeah, I am talking about one of these companies taking their
> technology & making a browser based on the idea of using a set of
> objects & avatars with NWN graphics, namely the company that is working
> on NWN. You're in game development, you know that if you can stage
> realtime battles over the internet, you can use the same technology to
> stage soccer games or classical ballet. If you can buy a set of 200
> avatars & hundreds of objects in a box, & a browser/server engine that
> allows you to create as many P-30 worlds as you want for free, why
> continue to rent your browser & your server, AW-style?
>
> Nobody who builds these P-30 worlds has to roleplay. But if you can
> have hundreds of bots that you script to fill your P-30 worlds with
> background characters, why not? Particularly if the browser/server
> engine has an AI that pathfinds for the bots, organizes their behavior,
> etc. It's up to you what you have the bots do: some people might want
> hacking & slashing; other people might want buying & selling, or dancing
> & making love. AW gives us the ability to build things: why not add an
> ability to build characters? That's what 'game technology' can do.
>
> In AW, if you own land, you can put objects on it & move them around.
> Someone at AW once designed a great browser/server system for object
> ownership, & it still is the best. The next logical step is to allow
> owners to designate objects that visitors can move around. That's what
> NWN is promising: owners can tag swords or chairs or gold coins for
> visitor movement. Maybe NWN's developers have in mind a web of beautiful
> goblin-infested, action-oriented worlds. But the toolsets in the NWN box
> can be used to build any kind of world. Just look around AW & you'll see
> how innovative people can be, if you only give them the technical means.
>
[View Quote]

goober king

Jul 15, 2000, 4:49pm
Hail the return of the DM! :)

Glad to have you back, chief! But don't knocking Worlds, Inc. It's not
like COF did/is doing any better than they did. Guess they both don't
get the idea :P

[View Quote] --
Goober King
Who's next? Protag?!
rar1 at acsu.buffalo.edu

decade

Jul 17, 2000, 5:00pm
I see Aw as a community environment. It's a chat engine with (3D) visual
components. The fact that you can customise the visual components is what
makes it special. It doesn't replace the web, it doesn't replace games. It
does replace (irc/java) chat and to some extent homepaging.

I don't see vast potential in the Aw interface for games right now, but
there are a LOT of gamers out there.

Gamelike features that I think non-gamers would most like to see (once V3 is
working 100%):

1) movable objects
2) a new world subscription with free setup and limited space hosting
included for a nominal fee ($50/year and/or ad driven).
3) user-friendly (idiot proof) bot scripting tools.

Will it compete with NWN worlds for hardcore gamers? Nope, but NWN/etc
wouldn't be able to compete with Aw for the softcore/community.

This post probably belongs in wishlist but the _point_ I'm trying to make is
that to be economical each change should benefit the maximum number of
users.
I don't think that's too much to ask.

[View Quote]

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