Jul 12, 2006

What is a Metaverse?

I would like to point out that the main reason this world exists (VR5) is to advance the concept of the Metaverse in the direction that many people (including myself) have written extensively on.

An electronic representation of a real world environment, populated by real people and programs (known as bots or daemons). Within such an environment it is possible not only to interact with the scenery as you would in real life, it is also possible to interact with other system users in 3D real time

This definition is taken directly from the Quicksilver Metaweb, where you will also find a pretty good full length description of this media and what it is expected to do. The analysis also covers corresponding technologies and their advancement curves set by Moore's Law, and as far as I am aware of, has been cited in a handful of College Thesis based on the subject.

The reason I know this is because I wrote it, and those college students emailed me to let me know they are citing my work. The professors have also emailed me (and in some cases called me personally) to verify who I am and why I am important enough to be cited. You can read it HERE

And unlike prior writings, has survived unedited, for over two years on an open source wiki system. There are college professors and IT specialists who periodically scan that entry and make appropriate changes to make sure of it's accuracy (mostly) and to make sure of it's overall relevance to the definition.
I have over 6 years of experience in Internet Environment systems as well as a well versed Internet Sociology background spanning from 1995 onward to today.

To put it bluntly, I have learned alot about Metaverse systems, chaos theory and virtual environments and their construct/destruction at the hands of unwitting corporations who didn't understand the media or the crowd mentality behind it. There are probably other people out there with a better knowledge of this media than I have, but only because they have been around years longer than me.

I am looking to make a real Metaverse, or at least contribute to it's growth and acceptance. What we have now is nothing more than a mere beginning, and of all the technologies availible to me I have chosen Active Worlds to work with. Not because Active Worlds has more eyecandy, or because Active Worlds as a company is doing something right by itself or by it's userbase. I chose Active Worlds because the technology itself is not living up to it's potential, regarded as a mere 3D Chatroom. This browser is capable of so much more than people give it credit for, and I look to show off everything it can do.
My biggest hope is that people around the world have the same ambition and dream as I do, instead of wasting the time of others trying to bash these explorations of technology.

Meanwhile... Back at the ranch.

Second Life Under Attack?
It seems according to the following blog that the Second Life grid is increasingly under attack by various people all over the world. From what we are reading, people are making self replicating objects (because you can scripts stuff) and setting them loose in the world until the entire grid is choked and the server dies.
It was a matter of time before somebody created a virtual reality equivalent of a Denial of Service attack. I've personally always wondered what such a thing would actually look like.
I think next we should be expecting to see something like Particle Popup Ads :) I shudder to think of this... especially in the Active Worlds universe where this can be created with apparent ease.
New Ratings and features
Alot of new things have been added to the world as of recent. One of which is the Eclipse Evolution security system (thanks to Mark Randall). This has allowed us to set up a much better security system for our upcoming concerts (around the stage and staff only areas). Also included with the Eclipse system is the ability to setup jump points around the world for easy transportation.
We have already setup a handful of jump points around the world to the more interesting places to check out. If you want to know what's around you simply type ^jump/near in the chat field and you will be given a list of the six nearest locations. Or for the more adventurous, try typing in ^jump random() to be launched to a random location in world.
Also added to the world is the Hermes Extended Chat Network. Now nobody will be out of range for chatting in the world. If you would like to have a private conversation and not be global, simply type h:end in the chat field to leave the extended chat network. To rejoin, type h:begin.
The official rating (yes we finally figured it out) for the world VR5 and the City of Nidus is now NR, meaning that the world itself is Unrated Content. It's possible to argue that the world is technically rated as PG in the Active Worlds universe, but because the web embed defaults to PG we are unable to rate the world to something like X or R. If the world rating is changed to something other than PG then whomever comes into the world using the web embed will automatically be bounced to AWGate. Normally we don't have a problem with this, except that during the times we were promoting the Metaverse EX 4.1 browser on Download.com, people who downloaded it were being bounced to AWgate (as well as the web embed users).
Just in case you were wondering, yes I just said we are listed on Download.com. For all of the users who have been accusing us of trying to spread malware, spyware or virus with a "hacked" browser, this is proof that it is a clean program.
Also of note: Metaverse EX is not a hacked browser or universe. We've had a number of people accusing us of hacking the browser or universe and releasing the Metaverse version illegally. At no point did we modify the executable or DLL files for the Active Worlds client to achieve the look and features that we made. In fact, everything availible in the Metaverse EX version was accomplished by simply editing the open ini files and graphics.
We made our own toolbar graphics, modified the ini files, and setup the content in the additional folders included with the install. These steps are in no way prohibited by Active Worlds, nor does it break any licensing agreements. No more than the AWE version would break these agreements.
What the Metaverse EX version of the browser actually accomplishes is that it streamlines the browser and makes it simpler to use and navigate. Unlike the standard AW browser which clearly uses the Winamp icon on their toolbar to represent Builder Mode, we chose to use the image of a hard hat to represent this mode. Couple of the features are new to the browser, but use old nearly forgotten commands to accomplish them. Everything in the EX version is done through the INI files.
Aside from that, our version listed on download.com (search for Metaverse) shows that 340 + users around the world have downloaded it. That's 340 + new users to Active Worlds. I remember the old mantra "Think AW Rocks? Tell a friend!", and that's just we are doing. We've exposed AW to 340 + people so far and are looking for ways to expand the range.
On the flipside, the last version of Active Worlds browser shown on Download.com happens to be Version 3.2, and has horrible reviews from the users. We would like to turn the old way of thinking around and possibly win back some users AW has lost over the past couple of years.
I would like to state for the record as well that anyone in our world shouting that the browser is hacked or illegal will be shot on site. Period. Just because the world is NR now doesn't mean you get to be obnoxious or outright beligerant.
So here's the deal. Only one rule for our world (as usual): respect others. If you do not respect others in this world you're out. No questions, no "just kidding". First offense is banning for a week, second time I'm making up a rediculously high number for the security bot to automatically bounce you. Third time I'm permanantly banning you from the world. Just because the world is open for rating G - R doesn't mean you can't act like a semi-respectable adult.
Some Works in Progress
Meanwhile.. back at the ranch. There is a new warning at our gate explaining that we are now NR rated. There is also an Accept and Decline hyperlink to make sure visitors have read and understand this.
The second thing is that the Accept hyperlink actually bounces to a new PHP on our server (custom written) called scatter.php which will randomly place visitors around our gate and try to keep people from piling up (like they do in AWGate).
Which leads me to... another PHP project to customize HTML content based on fields entered by a user. Linked with the Active Worlds Embed for websites, this should allow users to customize the embed control script for their own location or world. In other words: Any user can goto that page, fill in fields like "World Name", "Location" etc and the PHP will add them properly into the HTML code for you to copy and add to your site.
I hope that was simple... oh well. It'll be cool when we release it...
Another thing we're looking into: Ability for a PHP code to redirect properly to a website address in time with another PHP which is used to display static images in Active Worlds (PHP TV Systems).
Let's see... umm... Oh yeah. Aztech Rising is returning to VR5 for an encore concert July 29th 2006, 10 PM VRT. Again, price of admission is FREE and first come first serve. this tme around we have massively updated the arena with a new stage, new gift shop, and an awe inspiring amount of custom eyecandy for the concert. The first concert was jus a test, now we're going all the way!
Hope to see everyone there :)
Looking to the future - MPL Knight

Jul 3, 2006

News That Matters (or not)

Working with the Ratings... thingy...

You may have noticed over the past few weeks that we have been screwing around with the world rating. We can't quite decide whether we want the world to be PG-13 or R rated. On one hand, we don't really like to censor people and are not happy about having to babysit and play chat police. We have the mute feature for a reason, we need to learn how to use it.

On the other hand, with people swearing we don't want to give visitors the idea that we are rowdy or a bad place. The truth is, we treat our world like the real one. People swear in here, make off hand jokes, scream yell, and whatever. It's part of life, and just like if you went down the street in real life, there isn't somebody following you around to make sure your kids don't hear bad things.

It's up to the parents to make sure their kids are ok in real life and online. Not a complete stranger's responsibility. So until Active Worlds creates an NR rating for the browser, we'll leave our world rating at PG-13, as long as you don't expect us to stand around and uphold it... lol

The People have Spoken! (for other people)

With all of the hard work put into our world this year, it would have to figure that we were beaten in the Cy awards by the Easter Egg Hunt. I guess live rock concerts just aren't as interesting as wandering around and looking for virtual eggs?

No worries, we lose gracefully and are sure to knock your socks off in the 2007 Cy awards! Capri Primal has been making more progress on the inside of the Starbucks, and we have been busy planning out some more concerts (Aztech Rising is returning at the end of July and Myndkill is scheduled to play a live concert in August), as well as looking into some possible rides and amusement things...

In other news

Server maintenance is complete, at least as much as we could muster. Only a few minor blackouts of the world here and there in the wee hours of the morning.

Metaverse 4.1 (if you didn't already know) has been released to the public. Now, I know many of you simply do not install stuff unless it comes directly from Active Worlds themselves, but I can assure you that this is free of virus and spyware and has been tested to work.

Don't believe me? We're listed on Download.com as a popular download :)

Click here for the link

So, no virus, no spyware, nothing bad for you. If there were, Download.com would refuse to list our version of the browser... because well... they are completely against all that type of stuff now :)

The current listing is for Metaverse 3.6c on the download.com site but the link will give you EX 4.1 Dowload.com is a little slow in updating the information we sent them for the new release, they said it should be updated on their site by the 18th of this month.

Renovations to the Arcade

If you haven't been in world over the past few weeks, you may have missed the expansion of the arcade. We cleared out the old Fedx store and knocked down a few walls to increase the size of our arcade. We are now around 28 games playable with a more on the way (just as soon as I find the will to continue). Eventually I'll get a working version of Street Fighter II...

Looking toward the Future - MPL Knight