Nov 17, 2012

Hybrid Reality

A hypereality game that #LindenLab should have thought of.


While I read so many blogs going on about Creatorverse and other games coming out of Linden Lab under their recent guise as “innovative gaming company”, I can’t help but think it’s all lackluster at best. Oh, I know there will be plenty of people proclaiming the ingenuity of Creatorverse and how well received it is among gamers, and I’m sure there are enough people willing to pay ten bucks for a pre-release alpha of a game from Linden Lab who will also say how innovative it is.


But honestly, that’s just a load of bull.






Creatorverse isn’t innovative because they have a physics engine and some tools to draw stuff. Plenty of games before Creatorverse did similar years ago online, and even the “ecosystem” of community sharing of your creations” comes from the Little Big Planet model (which is no surprise coming from Will Wright and Rod Humble).


Here’s the problem in a nutshell -


Linden Lab has this thinking as if common video games are the future. They stand on the legacy and assets of an existing community and virtual space which they immediately ignore in their pursuit of other things namely not Second Life.


With Steam integration, they are shifting the balance of the existing ecosystem that they actually have into a 3rd party ecosystem that they have to adhere to a different set of rules which are likely not in the interest of the existing ecosystem they have.


So, why am I railing against Creatorverse and Linden Lab so much?


Because they have a myopic view of the future of virtual worlds and gaming. They rightly believe that mobile is the future, but their implementation of that future is lackluster at best with rehashing other ideas in the gaming realm with a new twist. As a game on its own, it would work fine if it weren’t for the fact that Linden Lab is making it and if that same company hadn’t already been responsible for Second Life.


Which brings me to Ingress from Google.


It’s an augmented reality game that spans the entire real world, and it works via a mobile application. It shows the real world in a whole new light, and makes participation exciting and compelling. More people will be playing Ingress than will ever give a hoot about Creatorverse or other such games from Linden Lab, which is a shame because the entire point of this pivot was to position themselves as a new type of games company… to create compelling experiences.


This is exactly the sort of game that Linden Lab should have been making. They have the pre-existing Second Life platform, which is an ecosystem in and of itself literally geared toward this sort of crossover in augmented reality. Instead, you get a horse of a different color and nowhere near the amount of excitement in the rest of the world as we see with Ingress.


Imagine all the content created in Second Life, the scripts, the games, and the environments. Now imagine them brought into real life via augmented reality (even as a game) through mobile.


Create it in Second Life, experience it in Real Life.



Ingress from Google – an augmented reality game



That’s innovation.


What Linden Lab has at this point is a mentality that says “Let’s waste the platform we have and worry about trying to recapture that thunder through other games that aren’t really innovative, but they are different in a sense.” and then immediately get shown up by Google releasing a game like Ingress and showing the world what an innovative, augmented reality, experience actually is like.


In short, despite the best efforts and all that planning by Rod Humble on his secret projects, he just had the thunder taken from him by a search engine company in about 24 hours.


I don’t see Creatorverse trending on social networks, I see it creating fanfare among a niche audience while the rest of the world is talking about Ingress.


So if their entire purpose for all of this was to break out of that niche audience and appeal to the world, they were just humiliated and sent back to the niche audience by Google, and that’s just a crying shame since Linden Lab is supposed to be the leader in virtual environments at this point. It’s a crying shame because Linden Lab actually has a monumental head start in this field and just got surpassed because they were distracted with throw-away games instead of figuring out how to extend the reach of their flagship into creative and innovative ways as a total ecosystem.


This is also something I’ve said to be on the lookout for over a year ago if you go through the backlog of these blog archives. Take that with a grain of salt if you will, but the premise of an augmented reality game that spans the real world is innovative.


What would be more innovative is if Linden Lab trumped that and brought Second Life into Real Life via Augmented Reality. The ecosystem exists already, and it’s really a matter of them recognizing and putting it to use.


That’s how you diversify Linden Lab.



Apologies for the slow blog posts lately. I’ve been preoccupied with real life projects and work, aside from this being a holiday week coming up. So all in all, I’ve been buried for the most part. I’m sure I’ll have something more to write about after the holidays, but for now it’ll be slow going.





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