EdTech

Create virtual worlds using Metaplace

While I am intrigued by virtual worlds like Second Life, I still find there are real barriers to using it.

First, the Second Life learning curve is steep and, in my limited experience with it, intimidating to novice users. You have to invest a lot of time before you can do even the most rudimentary of tasks. Why Second Life needs a credit card when you create an account is off-putting (but this may have changed since I created my account a year and a bit ago). The Griefers on Second Life also seem particularily unpleasent when compared to the Trolls you find in other online communities. And finally, I do not like downloading and installing client-side app’s on my PC. I much prefer to have my virtual experiences in the familiar enclave of the browser.

The browser based virtual world is one of the reasons Metaplace looks promising to me. Similar to the (now defunct) Lively by Google, Metaplace is a browser based virtual environment. While it looks a bit cartoonish, some have already begun to wonder about the possibilities that Metaplace has educational potential as a browser based virtual environment.

I appreciate the user-friendly language Metaplace is using on their website to describe the service: It’s not just for techies anymore — it’s for everyone who uses the Web today. Sounds to me like the goal of the Metaplace developers is to lower that steep learning curve that so many novice Second Lifer’s experience.

While the options for creating your world will be fairly limited when compared to Second Life,  it looks like you will be able to pull and push content from other sources into and out of your Metaworld virtual environment, which leads to all kinds of mashup possibilities.

I have not tried Metaplace as they are currently in private beta right now. I’ve signed up and am now playing the waiting-to-be-asked-to-the-dance game. Hopefully I’ll be able to take Metaplace for a spin because it looks like a promising tool. Here’s the video.

Photo credits: Second Life: For all your WTF moments by Torley. Used under Creative Commons license.

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CC BY 4.0 Create virtual worlds using Metaplace by Clint Lalonde is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Comments

  1. I hear what you are saying and in no way would I expect Metaplace to be anywhere near as feature rich or as immersive an experience as a product such as Second life. But I prefer simple to complicated and it greatly simplifies things for me to work within the browser, at least until I run into limitations with a product, at which point I start looking for alternatives.

    I also look for products that have low thresholds. I often work with people who are coming to these technologies for the first time. Taking someone directly into Second Life who has no previous frame of reference to virtual environments is not an easy task. Something that runs in a familiar browser and is fairly simple to use appeals to me from that perspective.

  2. Tech to run ANYTHING in a browser exists. Just use an ActiveX control. But none of it is native. That is why the 2d worlds are currently overrunning the internet — no installs required, no barriers, embeddable just about anywhere.

    It really is NOT about "performance, speed, smoothness, rendering engines, framerates, and getting to the level of games like you see on Xbox or Playstation" for most people. It's about the community, the other people, the sharing.

    1. I think you hit it on the head, Raph. It's not always about the features and the performance. In the end it is about developing a community and sharing.

  3. At the moment technology has been developed allowing any computer game, MMORPG, virtual world etc… to run in a browser. Comparing something like Metaplace with Second Life or World of Warcraft for example. When you will look deeper into virtual worlds and how they function, what they require you won't pay so much attention to the fact that the world runs in your browser or in a different application. It's about performance, speed, smoothness, rendering engines, framerates, and getting to the level of games like you see on Xbox or Playstation. 2.5 D games that run from your browser, well there is a market for them but they have enormous restrictions in regards to what is possible.

    1. I hear what you are saying and in no way would I expect Metaplace to be anywhere near as feature rich or as immersive an experience as a product such as Second life. But I think Metaplace has a role in getting people to Second Life. As an introduction to virtual worlds and what they are capable of, Metaplace might be a good starting point.

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