from preliminary planning to leaunching in business. A step by step guide to creating a world of your own.
Defining your Desires
So, you want to create your own world? Well, the first, obvious question is: What do you want? The answer isn't as easy as it might seem. Long before you decide on what Codebase you want, long before you start to plan your world, you need to sit down, and decide what you want from a world. What sort of world do you want? What era are you medelling? What research do you need to do? Can you afford it? Is your own world really what you want, or do you really want a better position in someone else's?
The Thing in Itself, Part 2
Continuing on from the above article, this one looks at the differences between online worlds, and text adventures. Obvious, perhaps, but still worthy of note.
Acting Casual About Casual Gamers
A nine year old article, whose advice is still ignored by many big studios, to their detriment. Casual gamers do not have the time to throw 40 hours a week into a given experience grind gameworld, but their total spending power far exceeds those who do. Perhaps there should be a place for this type of person, as well?
Dump Alignment Now
?I just don't think any ORPG implementation of good/evil/neutral that I've seen really works. They all come off as contrived, simplistic, shallow, and poorly conceived. So let's just throw out all this alignment nonsense altogether!?
Licensed Games & Novelistic Worlds
Seven great issues to be faced witha licensed world for yours to be set within. Whether it be Pern, Star Wars, Discworld, or anything else. Setting a realistic world within another's theme can be a challenge indeed. Are you prepared?
This disc is not one of the film disks, but it is a 163 minute long documentary covering the concept of the Matrix, the making of the films, and the impact it had on eceryone involved in a project of this size and scope. Definitely a worth watch for anyone.
The Thing in Itself
Multiplayer worlds aren't like any previous worlds, whether text-based, or pen and paper. This article looks at the falicies of thinking of your world as a multiplayer RPG.
Designing your Dream
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A Case for Complexity?
What do players actually want from a world such as a MMORPG? Could it be that we are getting too complex in modern designs, and are turning them off, or is content too linear, too structured round the shared activity to be truly appealing? Decide for your self in this fascinating article.
Authored by Raph Koster, Chief Creative Officer of Sony Online Entertainment, this brilliantly illustrated book is a storyboard filled with inspirational ideas for all designers.
Blogged Out: Snow Crash Mountain
A look at the growing push towards the metaverse, from a game development perspective, and at how social virtual worlds have to break away from the 'skills and levelling paradigm'.
Case for Multiple Experience Games
An interesting article, on the track of creating multiple entertainment experiences in a single product, rather than different titles ? allowing individuals to explore the same gameworld, even if their interests often diverge.
Using the LARP model as an example, this article offers ways out of the standard experience levelling treadmill whilst actually increasing player enjoyment and longevity. After all, at the end of the standard experience treadmill, there is nowhere to go but out?
Choosing a Setting
?Choosing a setting. It can be a problem for any administrator, and it is my opinion that there is no more pivotal decision when creating a game. Everything one does, everything added and created from beginning to end, will be within the framework of what is chosen now. Such a choice is never easy to make, this decision delaying many potentially great games - indefinitely in some cases.?
This book is essentially the direct outpourings from the designer?s mind on the foundational skills behind the design and architecture of a game, or gameworld. Of course, since virtual environments, even non-gaming, share many albeit not all of the same design features, a designer lacking these skills, risk overlooking usability issues and immersion values, without which users may struggle. This is especially true in persistent VR.
We strive to avoid clich? elements in our worlds, but what about those aspects that aren't clich? themselves, but, when taken as a group, are? Read this one.
Death and Taxes
A proposed method of eliminating virtual item trading outside of the world by means of invisible taxation upon trade.
A creation of Richard Bartle, the man who made the first MUD back in 1979, this book is the most comprehensive coverage of the design of virtual environments and virtual worlds to date. Covering everything from MUDs to MOOs to MMORPGs, from text-based to graphical virtual worlds, this whirlwind, non-stop tour examines economic, social, psychological, physical, literary, technological and ethical keystones and undertones of designing a world.
Encouraging Social Worlds
One of the issues many developers seem to run into again and again with a VR world that is not game-based, but is on the internet, and hoping to attract visitors, is what to do to encourage people to come in.
GDC 2002 - Future of MMOs
An excellent overview of the proceedings of the GDC 2002 conference discussion of the future of MMOs.
Growing Your Idea
A lovely piece on how once you have an idea ready to implement into a virtual environment, you have to nurture and grow it over time, first.
Instant Combat: Just Add Fudge
A suggested method for getting past the numbers systems, and belief in protracted combat, to fudge the system to allow a more realistic model of swift combat, where desired.
Keep on Dreaming
A tactful back-down-to-earth reminder of just how huge any world is to get going from scratch. If it seems depressing, just remember, all this is true, yet tens of thousands of such worlds exist out there, to this day. If you dream it, you can try it, but it will take work.
Landscape of Virtual World systems
A 60-slide slideshow, produced by Tim Holt in 2008, describing for non-industry professionals, the basic requirements of setting up a VR platform, the work expected, and a few examples of others? success.
Laws of Online World Design
Raph Koster maintains a link of online world design 'laws'. These are guides, rather than absolutes, but are immensely useful nonetheless.
Lost Techniques: Remort
Remort is a strange term, at least at first. It comes from the MUDding communities, and refers to a means of sidestepping level restrictions in gameworlds, and allowing admins to increase player retention for relatively little work.
MMORPG.com's series of polls on what the userbase really desires in any, and all aspects of MMORPGs. Continually ongoing.
Morrowind: Learning from a cRPG
The Elder Scrolls series: Elder Scrolls, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, these single-player cRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game) VR Gameworlds have set the bar so high, why do persistant worlds set it so low? maybe MMOs could learn from cRPGs after all.
An excellent article on creating a balanced game concept.
Order and Planning
The importance of pre-planning to start thinking logically, and thinking forwards. Essential skills to any coder, yet one the eager often forget.
Two irritations at the designers of the virtual worldlets of today, both still all too true (Online Game Definition, broadband design).
Pleasures of the Flesh #1: An Introduction
Finally someone says it; something we have all really known for years, but never admitted: "Being unaware of the world around you will not make you more creative or ensure originality. It will instead render your creations shallow, and your ideas uninformed." Make sure if you read nothing else today, you read this one!
Programming for Administrators
A watered down intro to developing virtual world coding, designed for those whose calling it is to manage and to organise, not to create themselves.
What is real innovation? This short article tells you what it's not
and lists several worlds that truly are innovative - and what makes them that way. Read this, to avoid becoming just another 'same old'.
As pop culture, games are as important as film or television--but game design has yet to develop a theoretical framework or critical vocabulary. In Rules of Play Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman present a much-needed primer for this emerging field.
So, You Have Cool Game Ideas?
A good article on how to get your design doc made into a commercial product. Its not as straightforward as it seems. Read this one.
Creating any virtual environment from scratch is a mammoth project, likely to involve a large team of coders, modellers, builders, and support personnel. Like any large project, having a design is critical. Just as critical is knowing how to analyse the problem and design a solution.
The Designer's Notebook: Why Design Documents Matter
?Like the phone book, most design documents aren?t intended to be read but referred to. Nobody reads them cover to cover, but managers and developers look things up in them that are relevant to their particular tasks.?
The future of RPGs
The product of a great deal of intense debate on the gamedev forums, this outstanding web document is filled to overflowing with ideas on how to make RPGs more immersive, and satisfying.
Want To Be A Game Designer? Learn To Code.
A short article from forbes on how game designers (and simulation designers for the same reason) are better at designing if they at least understand how programming works, and have some idea of how to structure code. It feeds back into their understanding of how to design something that is actually possible.
You Play my Language?
An exotic stranger smiles at you. You approach with a coy ease, looking up and down at the gorgeous visuals this person is putting on, intrigued by the prospect of an intense interaction. You say hi, casually introduce yourself, maybe tell a joke, but there is a problem: This person does not speak your language.
Designing round language problems in virtual worlds.
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Well, you've designed the type of world you want to have, you've thrashed out the concepts you want, and the types of interaction. You know why your players will come to you, now it's time to create your own world.
IThis section is here to help you do just that. Each codebase is different, with different challenges, and different player-interface styles. Some are good for PK, others ideally suited for role-play. Of course, you could just discard all of these, and roll your own...
When do you reinvent the wheel? When do you use existing solutions? As a good coder you should understand these things, and when each should apply.
Virtual World Exchange Language
The virtual worlds of today are essentially hierarchical systems. A small number of servers which hold the data for the worlds, and an innumerable number of client connections, largely untrusted. This resource, half article/half rant, looks at the virtual worlds of tomorrow; at distributed systems, and world browsers.
Why do a 3D mud?
A ten year old article, useful from a historical perspective, on one company?s justifications for first creating three dimensional gameworlds. At the time, there was a lot of industry resistance to the idea. So to it may be, for any other paradigm shifting idea which you plan perhaps, to launch.
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Between a rock and an interface
A lovely piece from BBC columnist Bill Thompson on the oft-overlooked by commercial developers, psychology of interface design.
Book Quotes: Games as The Forebears of VR
Ironically this quote from Neuromancer, was not true at the time. Now, whilst VR lags behind gaming in some respects, games themselves are starting to look at the VR field and take many aspects on board, to offer player customisation and increased sensory stimulation.
Coping with change
A guide for virtual environment administrators in dealing with playerbase issues with changes made to the world. Ideal for new and small worlds alike.
This book is very much a holistic first-timer?s guide to creating a hideously complex system ? a full virtual reality. The book describes a VR system as ?a system that provides a synthetic experience for its user(s)?, a definition which could not possibly be any broader.
Yes, this is a game design book, rather than a simulation design book. However, the disconnect between simulations and games technology wise, does not really exist.
For those who remember them, the gamebook was (and still is) the print world's answer to a computer role playing game. Perhaps surprisingly, these older forms of interaction still have much to teach the VR gameworld. Perhaps every developer would do well, to read one while planning their creation out.
First created in 2003, Gender Inclusive Game Design: Expanding The Market deals with the ever-present problem of game and virtual-space designers assuming, incorrectly, that young males, typically 13-25 years of age, dominate the market.
How I Did It: Philip Rosedale, CEO, Linden Lab
An interview with Philip Rosedale, CEO of the company behind Second Life gives a valuable peak into just how to go about funding the unfundable - creating a virtual reality, even when every investor says no.
Just Give Me a Game, Please
An attempt to explain the predominant disconnect between designer and participant in all too many gaming virtual environments. The player sees it as a game, the designer sees it as a masterpiece of artwork, and naturally these two mindsets tend to clash, violently.
Large Image Display: AWGate 5.0: Inside the Main Dome
It can be seen quite clearly here, how the world haas been designed essentially, like an exotic travel port. On the outside it is all awe and mystery; tranquil beauty urging yet preventing exploration. Yet, when you get inside, everything is business-like, clean lines and simple elegance.
Leaving the Best Memories of Your World
A study commissioned by researchers at Ohio State University, intended to look at consumer feelings on holidays and vacations, has an unexpected direct bearing on virtual world administration.
The premier site on the internet for finding MUDs, MOOs and MUSHs. 1,801 listings, last check. Also several good developer, and player forums.
Production Testing and Bug Tracking
It's standard in the software development timescale, to leave bug-tracking, and problem solving until the Alpha development phase, when balancing is usually handled. This article from the game development professional's point of view, looks at why that is a bad idea, and strategies for handling bugs before they get to that stage.
What senses are needed to make a world a world? Is it any less a world if we cannot see it, cannot smell it, cannot touch and taste it? At what point do we experience too few sensory inputs to judge a world a world?
Separating Interface from Content - Why?
Not everyone dreams of immersing totally within the virtual; casting off the physical body like yesterdays clothes, and embracing digital life. Not everyone desires a full-blown interface. It is undeniable that those who do desire it, do so for good reason, but choice is paramount in life and it should never be forced. Certainly not if you desire to keep paying customers.
Skotos is a site with a fairly wide coverage, but it's resources go very deep. Oriented mainly towards designing, scripting, running, managing, and playing online worlds, it also manages to include a healthy amount of M** specific coding advice.
For almost three decades, Roger Pressman's Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Approach has been the world's leading textbook in software engineering. The new seventh edition represents a major restructuring and update of previous editions, solidifying the book's position as the most comprehensive guide to this important subject.
The Mud Administrator
A short, sentimental article from the turn of the century, lamenting how even back then, once the bar for world creation was lowered, the net became full of low-quality worlds. Some things it seems, never change.
This is very much a gameworld creation book, not a VR in general, so level design, scripted pathways, how to create the illusion of a living world around the player, all these resources are given detailed inspection in the book.
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The initial beta development of your world - the time when it is first available to players on a grand scale - is truly the 'rite of passage' for your world. This is the time that actual players first encounter your ideas and implementations, when the hidden system bugs, and fallicies first rear their ugly heads. This is the time when either you sink, or you swim.
The Sims Online Evolution: A Case Study
The team behind The Sims Online
reflect on their world's launch, and all the issues they encountered in their first few months. Looking at how they could grow the possibilities without losing existing players, playerbase desires against actual content, and other such issues this is a very good reafd indeed.
A Revisitation of Help
A mildly ironic article about the impossibility of having up to date, fully working help files on an actively growing world.
Another Day, Another Lawsuit
This article from 2000, is still relevant today, looking at the online services industry as the only one on the planet that employs 'corporate volunteers'.
Frag that Knight
A short intro to the fun of creating games and mini virtual worlds, inside larger games or virtual worlds.
Got a License for That?
The state of Telnet-world technology is appaling. Virtual stagnation as vival codebases, rival each other for how long they can go without updating. Decade old code, still treated as fresh, things slipping into the shadows. Unnoticed, unloved, unhelped...
Guns & Flaws
Sticking to your guns, and continuing to surge forwards with your goals for your world, one of the most important dedication aspects. On the other hand, admitting when you are wrong, is just a must, if you'd like your world to survive.
I See in My Crystal Ball...
Not an artile easy to sum up, this is essential reading for anyone thinking of going commercial - a look aheard at the battles that are going to be fought between worlds, in the near future. Of the views that have got to change, and the services that will have to be in place. Read it, or splash around. You have been warned.
If You Build It They Might Come: Critical Mass & Other User Buzzwords
This article examines the myth of ?instant success? in online environments, and how things are going to be boring for a while, there?s no escaping that, until you hit your magic ?critical mass? and things finally become interesting for the participants. It concerns itself with the known ?plateaus? of users, and suggests common-sense ways to double growth without really trying.
Large Image Display: AWGate 5.0: Music Appreciation
ActiveWorlds Gate 5.0 launched on November the 26th 2009, in readiness for the launch of ActiveWorlds 5.0 on December the 1st 2009. Here we see one of the rooms off of the main concourse, where the company nods politely to all the independent radio firms that operate within it's platform. Eight platforms are available. To hear the music, just stand in the column-shaped invisible zone on top of each disk, and the music will start streaming, assuming the radio station lives long enough of course. This location brings home another problem the platform is trying to hide - the steady decline of users.
Large Image Display: AWGate 5.0: Self-Assembing Logos
This is the entrance world for ActiveWorlds, which every newcomer to the various worlds sees when they come in. It is thus in their interest to make it as flashy and awe-inspiring as possible. Those trees are all around the outside of this small world, and if you look at them and then conclude that they are nothing more than an irregularly shaped rock retextured with a leaf pattern, masked, and then dropped on top of a bark textured flagpole, you would be dead on the money. That is precisely what those are.
A small web service, dedicated to mapping the statisics on practically every MMO out there: Subscribers, active subscribers, market share, and a whole lot more. Comparisons available in xls format.
How do you train people to use your new, and innovative system, without talking down to them, and making it feel like work?
On the Treatment of Coders
A manifesto on the treatment of coders for any VR environment. Treating them correctly whether they are paid or not, is key to the world?s continued growth.
Polish in MMOs: Completing the Dang Product
World of Warcraft is a popular topic in the persistent, online world sphere. It?s a popular topic because it continues to succeed massively, year in, year out. People are keen to know what it does so well. The answer may be, polish. (polish (v): to render (an object) finished).