Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Virtual World Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Today at 5PM Pacific Standard Time, the virtual world Dreamscape running on the VZones platform will be officially 10 years old.

Dreamscape circa 1995

From 1995 to 1998, I was one of the community managers and honestly, I didn't expect the place to still be around. Fujitsu had sunk several million dollars into a new version of the Habitat world. The idea was that it could be a platform which could be licensed to others who would build and maintain their own worlds. In order to convince the world that the platform was a place for viable online communities within a virtual environment, a flag-ship product was planned. The profitability of this flag-ship community was always on the mind of Fujitsu and there were times the whole project was almost scuttled before it launched.

Oracle Uni, Oracle Teresias (Me) and Oracle Vaserius welcome Brother Echo (bald man in the back) to being a World Manager (1998)

So, it's really wonderful to see that, 10 years later, much of the central planning over user created content has been decentralized. When we started, there were few objects that did things and little artwork to keep the illusion of variety fresh. 10 years ago, there were 3 Oracles inside the world "managing" the social and physical layout of the world who oversaw about 20 volunteer Acolytes helping settle dispute and handle serious troublemakers. Today, the official staff roster includes Director, World Managers, Senior Oracles, Oracles, Acolytes and Acolyte Painters, or roughly 60 people.

But that's not all, some of these staff are responsible for helping guide Pans, Proprietors, Mages, Muses, Creators, Natives, Welcomers, Security Bears, Jesters, Thespians, Sprites. I don't know how many people are on the rosters of each of these. But that's not the important bit part. These volunteer subgroups fall into two basic categories: content creators and support. Mages, Muses and Natives and the other fantasy named groups create stories of the world, often retelling events that actually happened. The Proprietors, the Welcomers and the Security Bears support the trade of objects, the integration of newcomers and crime prevention education.

While it's not fully decentralized, the inverse pyramid of support where the world director supports, the world managers who support the volunteer groups who support everyone else is much, much bigger and more capable that what we were doing 10 years ago. The key to this little virtual world hanging in there for 10 years is that the people inhabiting the world have many more opportunities to have a lasting effect on the world and others who come after them. The world is much more vibrant than when I was there 7 years ago and it shows.

Dreamscape in 2005

You've come a long way baby. Here's to you!

Monday, November 07, 2005

It is my sad duty to inform you...

That I am home. Yeah, it took a week for me to post. I survived the Prepetually Screaming Child (three cheers to my mp3 CD player and rechargable batteries), jet lag and even my first week at work. For those keeping score:

- I did not check my bag once during my entire trip. It was worth all the fussing over what to pack and handwashing every night just to breeze through the "nothing to declare" gates at every airport.

- My most worrisome moment was not Berlin con-men, but having the German passport control wonder why I didn't have an entry stamp for Germany. Luckily, they make a joke about Italian passport control and let me go.

- According to my passport, I have entered the UK twice, but I have never left. I haven't left Italy, but I definitely left Germany without ever having been there. Way to go security forces of the EU!

- After three weeks of driving in Germany, I am still driving at 130km/h and highly annoyed at people who are simply cruising in the far left lane.

- My cell phone is still dead. I'm trying to swap out the battery. Grrr.