What will the Metaverse look like when it dies and how to keep it alive

Whether we like it or not, the metaverse craze is on the rise. From flaming Travis Scott towering over players in Fortnite, to suitably dressed avatars debating spreadsheets in Teams, to Facebook swapping its faces for Meta — it looks like there’s an attack. The ferocity of new virtual playgrounds is brought to life. But for every new virtual world that is born, there is a digital graveyard of the dead realms.

These days, “Metaverse” is actually less definitive than it sounds. Science fiction author Neal Stephenson originally coined the term in 1992 in his book Snow, describes a giant cyberspace of computer-generated characters, controlled by humans, and connected by the internet. In Stephenson’s book, there is a virtual world to rule them all. But our reality is more mythical. David Bohnett, creator of GeoCities, an iconic connected society of websites since the mid-90s, told The Daily Beast that Metaverse is “how you define your online presence in the community.” virtual currency or virtual world”.

GeoCities is revolutionary because it allows users to create digital real estate organized by geographical and physical identity. It almost maps the internet by preference. “I was able to set up a website in Nashville because I wanted to talk about country music. Or I could set up a page in Area 51 because I want to talk about UFOs,” Bohnett said. “There is not just a metaverse, it is like not having an internet. There are several segments of the internal networks, and there will always be parts that are blocked, go offline, or exist in different corners of the space. GeoCities is a great example of that.”

As internet speeds increased and users became interested in creating their online identities, the story and gameplay started to take hold, which created new swaps. The first is the MUD, or multi-user dungeon. These are text-based online games, like LamdaMOO and LegendMUD, that invite players to search, battle, and share rewards together. Then there are games with crudely rendered graphics like The Shadow of Yserbius and Neverwinter Nights. In the late 1990s, metaverse designers began experimenting with evolving worlds, monsters, seasonal contests, and player-versus-player arenas. But like everything that is born in cyberspace, what is online must also be offline.

““There is not just a metaverse, it is like not having an internet. There are several segments of the internets and there will always be parts that are blocked, go offline, or exist in different corners of space. “”

– David Bohnett, creator of GeoCities

There’s a lot that can go wrong in cyberspace and ultimately lead to the demise of a metaverse. This is mostly about keeping the money going by adding new patches, stories, and characters — elements that make the world feel fully alive. But once the rope has been decided, how will that ending play out in the game’s theater?

A famous event was detailed by Richard Garriot, President of the Explorers Club and creator of Ultima Online, in his book Discover / Create. In 1997, Ultima Online, a fantasy role-playing world where players could slay monsters or fight each other, was one of the most successful multiplayer games on the market. But when the project moved from Beta to Open Market, Garriot ran into a problem. He will need to reset the server and delete all player data. This means that everyone in the game will lose their homes, weapons, and hard-earned experience levels. It is the end of the beginning.

To commemorate the death of the old world and the birth of the new, Garriott planned to travel with his immortal avatar, Lord British, from town to town to give a speech. , thank you everyone and goodbye. Players sometimes react in hilarious ways like Garriott described in Discover / Create, “When I arrived in Moon Glow Town, I saw the players lined up facing us. And then, all the characters simultaneously took off their pants and bowed. We were in Moon Glow. “

However, his tour was not all moon parades. When he appeared on the wall overlooking Trinity’s town square, Lord British was hit by a common fireball sent from a common player – and was killed on the spot. The supreme hero of the game, immortal and powerful. Dead. This is not how Garriott planned to end the world. It seems that he forgot to code in the divine mode of the British Lord for the final ceremony and now his hero has been killed in front of all his followers.

“There’s really only one thing to do,” says Garriott. “Killing them.” He and the rest of his staff put down fire and brimstone, summoning demons, demons, and dragons — eventually destroying the last of the players with a raging thunder storm that scorched the earth. As soon as the server is restarted and everyone starts from scratch.

While not planned, the mass extermination events in Ultima Online set the tone for the next wave of metavers that will bloom and die. In 2004, Warner Bros. and Sega released The Matrix Online, a multiplayer experience set in the world of the popular cyberpunk movie. Matrix Online has all of the right elements: a huge fan base, top production studios, and the luck of the film’s director, the Wachowskis, to continue the story within the rules the film left off. again.

Things didn’t go as planned. Ben Chamberlain, who ended up working full-time on the game, told The Daily Beast: “The game launched with not a lot of fixed content and never really had much more than that, and the content is there. different from what people are used to in other multiplayer games. “

There is also the shocking fact that the main writer at the time, Paul Chadwick, decided to kill Morpheus, the intelligent network prophet of the series, in the game. Morpheus is not in the latest Matrix movie, and there is speculation that it is because he died in The Matrix Online.

By 2009, The Matrix Online had dropped to less than 500 subscribers and had to close down – but not without buzz. Chamberlain recalls that he quit before the last servers went down and the lightning apocalypse killed the remaining Matrix players. A “Meatwad” effect was used, which caused the characters to roll up into small shadow-like objects. With all the lifeless, scorched, and flesh-cut characters on the ground, the game eventually fell into darkness.

Perhaps the best fantasy ending to the Stars Wars Galaxies multiplayer costume in 2011. When players logged in 24 hours before the final disconnect, they were greeted by the fiery message, “The forces of freedom have finally overthrown the tyranny of the Galactic Empire. “The good guys won in the end…at least in the game. In the event of the closure, the dark side of intellectual property rights caused the game’s license agreement to be terminated to make room for the next iteration of the franchise, The Old Republic.

The winner’s declaration empowers players to live the final minutes of Star Wars Galaxies according to their own story of good and evil. Some have tested the X-Wings and Tie-Fighters, cinematically mounting it on Theed and Cornet’s worlds to take control of the Death Star. Others jubilantly set off fireworks on the Millennium Falcon. A few — most notably a specific player named Ron Burgandy — attacked NPC Luke Skywalker, eventually assassinating the Jedi Master in a massive show of firepower.

It’s hard to call out an apocalypse when your metaverse is less about cinematic good and evil and more about socializing through the many nuances of life. This was the case with The Sims Online (later named EA Land). There is no fire and brimstone. Instead, players send sobbing goodbyes before the game begins to pixelate — not with explosions but with whimpers. The final days of Sims Online were chronicled by Henry Lowood, an archivist at Stanford and the head of a project called How They Got Game, which sought to capture what happens inside the metaverses. “The Sims Online is not a great experience, but the community is,” Dr Lowood told The Daily Beast. “There is a lot of writing out of space, a lot of scholars and experimenters. So when the community is taken away, it’s more painful than just having the game disappear. “

Lowood is part of a growing team seeking to save the obsolete digital world through digital archeology. In 2009, when GeoCities finally closed, every GeoCities website was stored as a 652GB torrent file. Meridian 59, the first 3D multiplayer game, released in 1995, encountered a dwindling number over the years but eventually persisted through an open source mod, allowing for new narrative updates due to community created. In a similar (albeit unauthorized) manner, a rogue programmer has made it his mission to keep The Matrix Online alive — possibly in a slightly more raw state with very limited playability. . And Myst Online, the online cooperative arm of the popular puzzle game, seems to have found new life through Machinima or using video games to create cinematic creations.

Chris Kirsme, co-creator of Meridian 59, has researched what it takes to keep games like his alive for so long. He believes that one of the most important parts of any metaverse is the economy, “which needs to maintain balance and bring joy to the players.”

“Most companies hire chief economists to keep track of everything,” Krisme told The Daily Beast. “They report on how much gold was created yesterday and used today. Every persistent world game sends their economy into a tailspin. And then it’s not fun. People seek to mine and clone a rare item and essentially render the item worthless. So you need to constantly repair the economy to keep people playing. “

Kirsme also believes that life in the metaverse is becoming more and more complicated when dealing with crypto and web3. In a traditional multiplayer setting, “if the company disappears, it all disappears,” he said. “Meanwhile, at least conceptually, if it was all publicly stored on a blockchain, someone could still use that data to do other things with it.”

But while the raw data still lives on the blockchain, Kirsme also points to the fact that you’ll need the social aspect of the game to keep it alive. In particular, Meridian 59 is a player-heavy game compared to other players, meaning there’s always the potential threat of bandits jumping into the woods or dungeons. So to be safe, the players travel in packs and take care of each other. “Everybody in the band Meridian gets through tough areas together, they also have to come together to avoid them,” Krisme said. “They need each other a lot of time just to survive.”

That is the heart of the matter. Whether expired metavers are stored, reused, or cannot be deleted, at the end of the day the player really decides whether the world exists or not. After all, if no one participates in the experience, perhaps being forgotten is the closest thing to actually dying.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/what-will-the-metaverse-look-like-when-it-dies-and-how-to-keep-it-alive?source=articles&via=rss What will the Metaverse look like when it dies and how to keep it alive

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: russellfalcon@interreviewed.com.

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