Dec 30, 2006

Do You Speak My Language?

Minor update for the company website, and this was born out of boredom. Wrote a quick javascript to detect the ISO Language of the browser and redirect according to language settings. Nothing phenomenal, and truth be told, the translated versions of the site are nothing more than Systran translation (machine translation).

So it is more than likely that the site in other languages is just shy of gibberish. But it's better than nothing, really. With the company website being accessed by countries around the world (yes we have seen visitors coming in from Japan, China, Australia, and France) then a machine translated version of the website will at least give them a very basic idea of what we are trying to say.

Either that or try to sell them used underwear... But... umm.. still better than nothing.

It's something I've wanted to do for a long time anyway. So here's to multi-lingual VR5!

In Other News

Menus...yes we've all seen them in the MacOSX or Windows Operating system... but in Active Worlds? Yep, another midnight building binge led me to resurrect an old concept - building a Button Menu in Active Worlds with elaborate visible off, name=, etc in order to control a media device (namely a stereo).

In layman's terms: Consolidated alot of visible buttons into a visible on demand menu system. Looks better and doesn't have alot of buttons floating around detracting from the build. Also allows me to control the volume of the stereo while it is playing, as well as switch stations, and turn the stereo off.

Very useful for implementation in future builds, and I have saved the menu configuration for later use in other areas.

Well.. I guess that is it for my update. I'll try to get another one of these blog entries in after the New Year.

Selling Used Underwear in Japan - Darian Knight

Dec 19, 2006


I apologize for not posting in awhile... we've been bogged down with a lot of things lately.

Where to begin... Recently redesigned the website (yay) and immediately had to go back and "fix" it because Internet Explorer has no idea what the term "Web Standards Compliant" means. Seriously, Microsoft needs somebody working for them who's soul purpose in life is to point out the obvious to their designers and programmers - "So, this browser doesn't stay with standards online?"

In other news... finally got around to updating the site (yes I just said that, but there is more) and made use of the MP3 Player widget available from Capri Graphic Arts (its free) as a demo on our site. Some nifty music (creative commons, permission from the bands or free download).

Finally decided to just give up and use PNG images on our website. I tried so hard to stay with GIF because it is more widely accepted online, but 256 colors just wasn't doing it anymore and to make JPG images that sorta mimicked a transparent background and anti-aliasing for the transparent edges would have been design suicide.

So the website uses PNG images... Firefox 2 and IE7 more or less display them well enough (but the transparency sometimes renders wrong or glitched depending on the computer). The lesson learned? PNG is a superior format for the web, and was designed specifically to replace GIF as the standard - so for the love of god people... make a browser that can actually handle it - ok? There is no excuse anymore, the makers of the PNG format have given every reason to do this... follow suit already... it's almost 2007.

So yeah.. umm.. I redesigned the website :)

What else since last post... ummm... (you can tell this stuff isn't professionally written and run past a PR department, can't you?)

Working on various projects here and there... custom Corvette model by Wes is coming along very well... near photo realistic. Redesigned my old apartment in the world (also got a new neighbor Justin Eyres). Getting toward the end of the project time line for LIN Systems - and yeah... very little has yet to be accomplished by no fault of us.

Seriously... As media designers, we understand the client's needs to actively participate in the design and implementation of your website or media project, but we'll let you in on a secret: If you have no material ready to put on a website, please save your money until you do. We don't pull stuff out of thin air, and we don't expect you to either. But if your project runs past an initial 2 months without completion (no content from the client to use), we reserve the right to start billing a monthly retainer (which is about $500 per month with or without work).

I've seen some really inflated prices for web design as well, so don't dare say we are charging too much. Some places have the audacity to charge $95 an hour with a 1 hour minimum. We don't charge that high, and a monthly retainer of $500 is dirt cheap for professional designers (5 hours a month by normal pricing).

Now, this is why having your materials ready will save you money. When we quote $1,000 for a custom website with all the trimmings, we mean "Done in a reasonable amount of time" not "Done over the course of 12 - 18 months with additional changes throughout to the design and four redesigns".

Do the math - $1,000 and finished in about a month (or less) with your materials ready, or 12 - 18 months at a retainer fee of $500 a month. Honestly, we don't mind taking your money... but it's in your best interest to be prepared before contracting us. Could have even done the entire website yourself for about $60 if you went with our affiliate Design2U which allows you to build your entire website online.

Ok, mild rant finished for the month. Also, The Holiday is upon us. Depending on what religion you are, these holidays mean different things. Little secret for the year, Christmas is a pagan tradition, as is a Yule log, Mistletoe, Santa Clause, New Years, and many others.

Does this mean you should stop celebrating? I wouldn't. There is nothing inherently wrong with multicultural traditions, and if Pagans can celebrate peace and the exchange of good will - maybe Christians could learn a thing or two from them? Celebrate simply to do so... you never needed a reason.

As yet another side note, I would like to say Hello to Harmony Clark - creator of the HARU OMFG comic. Been on this kick where I am promoting her for the sake of doing so. She's a good artist, and getting better, and for the most part I would say she deserves some exposure. So here it is again - go buy her stuff! (I know this will prolly piss her off too, lol)

Well.. I guess thats the update for (looks at the calender)... jeez... what lazy person is in charge of this blog anyway!?... oh.. umm... that would be me.. hehe.

Ok.. I'll try to post more often... maybe...

Being Lazy During the Holidays - Darian Knight

Nov 13, 2006

ASCII Memorial Park

I would like to take a moment and introduce the newest addition to the City of Nidus - ASCII Memorial Park. Located just west of our ground zero, ASCII Park is a fairly normal park like you would see elsewhere, except that the games at the park all work :)

There are currently four multi-player games available (board games) and are not the normal Chess or Checkers like you are used to. Hosted by Atari, the games are Monopoly, Scrabble, Sorry and Battleship. A slight departure from the normal, but then again that's what we do in VR5.

The games will probably need you to create a login (but it's totally free) after which you can play the boardgames against other people online.

The other addition is our recent award from the Flight Festival 2006, given to us by OneSummer for our effort to serve the community during International Community Week. There were probably a number of worlds that received this award, but we are still grateful for it none the less. The award is proudly on display in ASCII Park for all to see.

Why the name ASCII Memorial? Well, I was thinking of the old school chat rooms and the BBS systems that came before all this graphical eye candy and decided to name a memorial park after the efforts. Hopefully we'll receive a Cy Award in 2007 so we can display it at the park as well... provided we don't get beaten out by another Easter Egg Hunt at the last minute. ;)

Again, as always, everything at the park works. You can sit on the benches, the chairs, play the games, etc... because well... we're in the habit of making things work and not just for looks. There will most likely be some additions or some tweaks to the design of the park as time progresses, but for now we're happy with the current design.

Looking To The Future of AW - With Zen In Mind - Darian Knight

Nov 7, 2006

The Weather Forcast....

In other news, it seems an unusually cold front has moved into the City of Nidus, causing some light snow showers around ground zero. This coupled with some ice in some areas may make for hazardous travel conditions, citizens please be advised.
Some holiday decorations have been hung, with expectation of more decorations in the coming month.

Oct 29, 2006

AW Pricing

This is a repost from the AW Forums from a thread about pricing in AW and it's effects that I had written explaining my stance on this issue. It will also help to clarify my train of thought when reading the "Interview with Inactive Worlds" (which is posted directly below this post for those who have come to read it). Both are the same topic, and both are worth your read.

This post appears (or may no longer appear depending on when you read this) in a thread concerning statistical graphs charting the massive losses in user base since 2001. For those who do not know, the main address for the active worlds forums is simply: and for as long as the thread exists, you may click on this link here to follow it's recent progress in the community. I thank you for your time in advance.

If the people in here are willing to keep it civil - meaning no total rampages or loss of tempers, then I'm more than willing to discuss this like a rational human being, this also applies to AWI (stonewalling, aggrevation, closing this thread, deleting this thread)This is an issue, and just because it's been ignored for nearly six years now doesn't mean it went away, it simply means it was ignored for six years while somebody hoped it would go away.

Whenever the topic is raised over the past years, it always leads to the same results. I have yet to see an overwhelming response saying that they thought the prices were fine.I also wanted to clear this up ahead of time - the people in the forums constitute the active and diehard users of this software. The opinions in this thread (at least by myself) do not mean I hate AWI or are trying to spread negativity. I am voicing my concerns, discussing rationally and bringing hard data to the discussion of why the prices are too high. This is a seperate concept than "I Hate AWI" or "We're trying to destroy the community".

We are clearly not doing either if we are backing with numbers, offering reasons for change, and doing so showing that these methods can actually be beneficial for both the community as well as the company. I fail to see how this is detrimental in any fashion - so I beg all involved (including AWI) to leave that baggage claim at the door.

There is a definite correllation between the numbers on those graphs and the price hike. The other thing I was thinking of while looking at those graphs was that they represent around 250 - 300 citizenships a month at $70 a year for nearly six years.

One observation from that is at their peaks they were charging $20 a year but had citizenships nearly at 3,500. We currently see an average of 150 - 400 users in here at any given time. So this indicates that the turnover for citizenships is also much higher since the price increase (whereas 300 new citizens a month for six years didn't seem to add to the overall user base).

What this leads me to is that when they are seeing 1/10th the userbase and subscriptions at quadruple the original price, while at their best before they raised the pricing they were seeing ten times the subscriptions at 1/4 the price. Some basic math with these figures shows they are making much less revenue from the higher citizenship prices than when they were lower.

One possible reason, and I can understand this to a degree, was that during that time there was indeed an open letter to the community about how they would not be able to create a version of the browser past 3.3 (indicating they were possibly about broke at the time). So for a short term gain, and to return to fiscally responsible numbers, they opted to raise prices and cut back on some of the features (like tourist access). For a short term gain, this was just fine, but they should not have decided to keep this as a long term strategy because it would have (and has proven to) do more damage than help in the long term scenario.

One of the other concerns I have are with AWI's assertion that:

1. They have no competition
2. They are not Second Life, nor are they trying to be.
3. AWI is successful.
4. The pricing is comparable to other MMORPGs

Without going on a rampage or screaming obscenities in this thread, I would like to address these point for point. These are not taken out of context, but simply in some visible order so we may discuss these things and maybe see their line of logic (at best).In a manner of speaking, all four of those points are directly interconnected and rely on each other in some fashion. If you were to call AWI today and ask them personally, I am sure they would agree to those points and that they believe in them.

Here is why they concern me; This topic came up again after the original thread was deleted in an area of outside discussion. During this discussion the following graph was also presented. Presented by, this is a statistics site that deals with Massive Multiuser Online Game statistics comparing all of the major MMOG game based on Users participating.

The thing here is that, in one breath AWI claims to be comparable to other MMORPGs (at least in price and if you ask them they feel also in quality and experience). This is a fine stance for a company, but there comes with it a major problem to their line of logic.

On a statistics site which tracks the major MMOGs, there is clearly representation for Second Life (with around 70,000 users as of that update) and also There (for which the graph abruptly stops possibly due to lack of activity). So, we now have a problem with the line of logic, being that AWI says they are not Second Life and they are not trying to be Second Life - which is fine. But they are also saying they "have no competition" and that they are comparable to MMORPGs (again, at least in pricing though they feel this experience is also worth it which leads to a direct comparison with other MMOG)

The problem is, on this graph, Active Worlds, in any form, is not listed. Even if it were to be listed (simply do a side by side comparison of this graph with the other AW specific graph in this thread) you would realize that as an MMOG they are dead last in most respects.

Again, I reiterate that I have no desire to ridicule AWI about this, or as I have been accused before, to "tear apart the community or hold this browser hostage". To say I am gravely concerned with these numbers, and be willing to voice these concerns in public means I do not fear the problem, nor will i deny there is a problem.

As a citizen of this system, I am willing to discuss it with others in a calm and rational way - while possibly finding solutions. I want only to see that the company involved is also willing to do this, and I may add that stone walling the issue or marginalizing it as a non-issue does nothing for finding reasons or solutions - those are merely tactics of an entity that have no useful arguments for their point.

Secondly, this is far more than a simple "temper tantrum". I would like to get that out of the way early in this thread as well. Tantrums have no reason and no proof to explain why things should change. Discussion and rationalization requires a little research and proof, of which we have, and I am sure we can easily find more if the need arises.

To summarize my points:

1. AW is not the current leader in the market.
2. They have competition
3. The current pricing has been shown to be excessively high
4. Current pricing has shown to be actually creating a long term loss
5. The original $20 per year was shown to have brought in more money than current $70 per year.
6. If AW wishes to compare to MMOGs, that is fine though they should face the reality that they are absolutely last in the active market.
7. AW can learn alot from it's competition.
8. AW is successful, but only through the sales of servers which is now it's real revenue source.

They may not be Second Life nor do they want to be, but if they are implementing the same types of features as Second Life, Saying they are comparable to MMOGs, and pricing in that realm - they might as well take a good look at how Second Life and other MMOGs are implementing these type of features too. (Walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck then it's a moose?)

Just because you stopped charging tourists automatically didn't make it free if you started charging world owners to allow them in the worlds. Changing my shirt more than 3 times a year doesn't cost me $30 for a review process. I can buy virtual clothing in other programs for about a dollar and change up as much as I want after the initial price of the item for no additional cost.

Please face the facts, AW is in competition with the likes of Second Life. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Just learn from your competition and prior mistakes in order to move on and be better, that's all.

AW Universe is also a flagship product. When people search for Active Worlds, this is what they normally get in the results. If you are trying to sell this product, it's a good idea to make your floor model the best it can be. When potential server clients see a bustling, happy and large user base with the floor model - it's easier for them to visualize what it can do for them.

I feel that if I were actually willing to walk away and leave this topic alone, then that would contribute to tearing apart what community there is left and abandoning the environment that I have been a citizen of since 1998. Many good years. I cannot ignore it for that sake alone.

Oct 28, 2006

Interview with Inactive Worlds

Explanation: A few years ago, we wrote a parody of what an interview with a fictitious company called Inactive Worlds would be like. Obviously this is a parody of Active Worlds and their very real responses. While some of this may seem quite absurd, keep in mind that these are very real assumptions made by AWI from 2001 to the present day, regardless of the actual proof involved to the contrary. I would also like to mention here that neither VR5 or I hold any ill-will against AWI or it's browser - but I feel the need to point out the absolute absurdity of their stance on these issues for the public to plainly see. Above all else, take this with a grain of salt, some things are exaggerated in order to make the point, but are based entirely on real replies to these questions.


As we walked up to the offices that cold October day, I couldn't help but remember the situation we were in the last time we had been invited to do an interview with Bob Stoll, CEO of Inactive Worlds. While the issues we brought up were incredibly valid, and in most cases has proof to back them, the interview itself seemed pointless. That and we were kindly escorted off the property by the very real security at the time.

I could only wonder what this trip would be like, and if we would finally get some straight answers. This is 5 years later, and Inactive Worlds still has the same issues it did the first time. The general consensus seems to be among most of the active and oldest users of this software that the pricing is still out of control. I knew this was going to be a touchy subject, so I simply prepared myself to be escorted again off the property...

Darian Knight:
So, Bob... long time no see :)

Bob Stoll: Who let you in here!?

Darian Knight: You invited us for the interview... remember?

Bob Stoll: Oh, that's right. You actually got past the security guards? [mumbles under his breath]

Darian Knight: Umm yeah. So shall we get on with this interview?

Bob Stoll: Of course! Inactive Worlds is always glad to be of service to the community! [smiles]

Darian: Ok then. I guess the thing that is burning in people's minds is "Why are the prices for Inactive Worlds so high, and why are features that are a given elsewhere being considered "an additional option" for a price in here?

Bob: First, I would like to state that we do not charge for extras. There is a simple flat price of $6.95 a month or $69.95 a year for citizenship. I am not sure where you are getting your information from, but it is wrong. Our pricing is comparable to other MMORPGs today.

Darian: Actually... I was referring to things such as Voice Chat in worlds, Customized Avatars, Personal Avatars, and Tourist Access. These are all "optional" add ons for a world or user correct?

Bob: Mostly for world owners, yes. Voice Chat is not vital to the user in operating the software, nor is a personalized avatar. Therefore they are deemed optional and thus will have an additional charge involved.

Darian: But in places such as Second Life, Voice Chat is not additional, it is a part of the entire system as a given. As well as being able to personalize your avatar - for instance in SL it may cost me a couple of dollars to change my shirt whereas by this browser it may cost me $30. The difference being that in Second Life I keep my other clothes that I have bought and can change into them whenever I want for free. In Inactive Worlds, I would be charged $30 for the review process for each change, even if it was a shirt.

Bob: While that is an amusing comparison, Inactive Worlds is not trying to be Second Life. In fact, Inactive Worlds has no competition at all.

Darian: Didn't you just say that Inactive Worlds is comparable to other MMORPGs today?

Bob: Yes, that is correct.

Darian: And wouldn't that put you in the same market as them?

Bob: Sure, but Inactive Worlds has no competition, so it's not our concern.

Darian: Well, judging from the numbers, Second Life is considered an MMORPG. Which in turn puts you in the same market as Second Life. Though saying Inactive Worlds has no competition seems slightly skewed. In this market, it seems the competition doesn't view Inactive Worlds as competition in the least.

Bob: How do you figure?

Darian: We are referring to the updated graph and tracking of MMORPGs found here. [hands him the graph]

Bob: So what is this supposed to prove? Inactive Worlds isn't even listed on this graph.

Darian: Well that's mostly the point I am making. If you are comparing your services to MMORPGs and saying the pricing is on par, don't you think the browser itself should be on par with your competition? At least have comparable numbers for users? Your user base is so low it would barely register on that graph compared to any other system listed.

Bob: I already told you, Inactive Worlds doesn't have any competition. And besides, we are working on rebuilding our user base, you know that right?

Darian: It's very possible that the pricing will play a large part to hinder your attempts in that direction.

Bob: I disagree.

Darian: Alright. So how do you justify the inflated pricing that is still in place, six years after the price hike devastated your user base numbers? According to the numbers, Inactive Worlds has yet to recover from that day, where you used to have nearly 3,500 new users a month, since that time (six years now) the company is lucky to break 300 new users a month. You are operating at 1/10th the user base for four times the citizen price. According to the numbers, you are taking a huge loss every month for the past six years in the revenue from citizens versus what you were making with the pricing set to $20 a year.

Bob: Amusing. And what do you have to back that claim?

Darian: This graph here

Bob: We will not change our prices. They are comparable to other types of MMORPGs out there. Are you saying this isn't worth $6.95 a month?

Darian: Yes.

Bob: Why do you insist on dredging up a six year old grudge against Inactive Worlds? Do you not like the community so much that you would try and tear it apart, and hold the company and it's software hostage? This is just yellow journalism, that's what this is.

Darian: Well, first off, I'm not simply dredging it up. It has been an issue since day one and has not been sufficiently addressed for nearly six years now. It is painfully obvious simply from the numbers alone that after six years, the 90% of your user base did not return and you are at the same levels as when you increased prices. Secondly, I love this community or I would not be here - that I have the tenacity to call you out on obvious delusions does not make me a yellow journalist, nor a hater of Inactive Worlds or the community (whatever is left of it), it simply makes me a very concerned customer. As for trying to hold the software and company hostage, the only time in history when this has been actually done was during the price hike itself by Inactive Worlds. [at which point I hand him this set of letters].

Bob: We didn't have a choice back then. We had to increase the prices because we were on the verge of closing down operations.

Darian: I understand that fully, Bob. And Inactive Worlds as a company were right in asking for the support of it's community during it's darkest hour. Everyone in the company were once citizens just like us, and part of the community. Back then, when there was an issue in the community we had a voice and Inactive Worlds listened. Back then you remembered your roots. But after that increase in pricing, many of the community voiced that they could not afford such payments and over 90% of your user base left. Now those of us who stuck it out are being ignored with the now (still) important issue you never addressed to begin with. You are a stable company now and in the black, and suddenly we no longer have a say. Or we have a say if it agrees with your company and only then. We feel hurt and betrayed after 6 years.

Bob: You're lucky we even listen! How many companies actually listen to their customers? We don't need to listen to any of you! It's a privilege just to get a response from us.

Darian: I am sorry you feel that way. I feel Inactive Worlds is lucky that only 90% of the community walked out on them and not 100%. They are lucky they didn't get swallowed by an investor when their stock nosedived and they were delisted. You are lucky that you have a community that is so devoted to your company that they are willing to pay you quadruple the price for a product that doesn't even come close to it's competition. You are lucky we stuck around for another six years, patiently waiting for a product that was comparable to other MMORPGs of the day. You are lucky we try to tell you what is bothering us instead of doing what most customers would do and just walk away and leave you to go out of business. You have no idea how lucky Inactive Worlds is for having us as a community. We are not just a couple of people throwing a temper tantrum - we are the ones who kept your company alive when it was ready to cease operations.

Bob: So what are you trying to say? You act like we owe the community something.

Darian: At this point, you owe them your job and company. But all they actually want is fair pricing. If they do not get it, you will lose your company. You lost 90% of your user base on your flagship universe, you are slowly losing the other 10%. If you cannot compete, your company will fold - and this time your community will not be there to save you. There was a time when you actually listened and this was driven by the community because you were an active member of the community yourself. Why not try going into the community and asking them , one on one, if they believe the pricing is too much.

Bob: We don't need to. The pricing is completely fair and will not change.

Darian: Even if you are taking a massive loss comparatively from $20 a year? Why would you advocate financial loss and a 90% loss of user base for a short term gain? The gains you must have seen back then to enable you to reach fiscal responsibility surely have worn off maybe a year after the fact, thus creating a long term loss. It doesn't make sense.

Bob: We don't make our money from the citizenships in Inactive Worlds, we make the bulk of our revenue from the sales of servers to corporate clients and businesses. So whatever loss you are talking about due to pricing is inconsequential.

Darian: Wait... your main source of revenue is from the sales of servers, which justify taking a consistant and massive loss of user base and citizenship revenue for nearly six years and running? Why take losses when you clearly do not have to? Especially if returning the fee to it's original level would dramatically help to increase the user base to the levels they were at before the price increase?

Bob: We cannot afford to lower the prices of Inactive Worlds citizenships. And besides, $6.95 a month is comparable to any other MMORPG on the market today. This is a free market, if you don't like the prices why don't you go where you think your dollar will be better spent? You don't have to be here, you know.

Darian: Inactive Worlds has got to be the only company in history that is dumb enough to tell their customers to leave if they are not happy with their product. Did you learn nothing the first time around? You lost 90% of your original customers.

Bob: This isn't the only server, you know. We have hundreds of galaxies and universes around the world for many clients. So it's not like this community really matters. We could shut it down today and continue on with our clients.

Darian: What makes you think other clients would trust in your company's ability to effectively run a successful 3D environment system for them if you can't do it yourself? You have already lost most of your credibility as a company, you have lost 90% of your base citizens and not gained them back and if you treat the people who stuck by your side in your darkest times like this, how are you treating just mere clients?

Bob: This means nothing to us. Inactive Worlds is the leader in 3D Internet Environments and has no competition. Our pricing is more than fair and will not be lowered, and that is that.

Darian: Ok fine. Can you explain then how since 3.2 of the software (possibly earlier) it has been possible to create photo realistic models and avatars, yet the closest thing anyone has seen to this is in a world called VR5? They are not associated with Inactive Worlds are they?

Bob: No they are not. They are a third party company and have no association with Inactive Worlds officially, I would like to make this perfectly clear.

Darian: That is fine. So how is it possible that a third party company with no association with yours and a dedicated three person staff for that world manage to vastly increase the quality of the system in ways that your own company have not in over six years with budgets of a quarter of a million dollars, but in a matter of 12 months with orders of magnitude lower funding? I mean, we're talking quality levels that are beyond your best competition - photo realistic. This is ten times better quality than even Second Life using a browser that was thought to not be capable of such detail.

Bob: I will not comment on that other than to say that we are looking into these methods.

Darian: You mean copying them, right?

Bob: No, I mean we are looking into making this software better and more comparable to other MMORPGs today. We are currently working with another company to create a MMORPG named Piko Island, which will have many advancements over our current 4.1 release of the software.

Darian: Yes, I read some of their forums prior to this interview. One of the testers had mentioned that the graphics look blocky and that they hoped the new version would look better. So tell me, are the new avatars for Piko Island going to rival the quality of the Adam Experiment in the world VR5?

Bob: I am not at liberty to say. Piko Island is a closed project.

Darian: Well, with the amount of money involved with a server like Stagecoach Island, I would have imagined that the environment would have looked a little better - or at least the avatars. Tell me, how is Stagecoach Island doing these days, surely they must be filled to the hilt with users like I saw around when they first opened up.

Bob: Well it is mostly empty now with a handful of users trickling in now and then.

Darian: So who were all those people I saw in there around when they first opened?

Bob: Those were mostly the original Inactive Worlds community checking out the new features of 4.1 before we released it for our main universe.

Darian: Wow, must have made your client think that the advertising capacity and claims you made were true. They must have been completely amazed at the traffic they were seeing. I wonder how they feel now that they have a nearly empty system after the majority of the Inactive Worlds community came back here... I wonder if they think the money was well spent...

Bob: I refuse to comment on that, and it is none of your business.

Darian: Ok, Bob. All I'm trying to say is that even after six years, the prices are still considered too high. It was painfully obvious in the thread for Inactive Worlds forums that the majority felt this way.

Bob: What thread? I don't see any thread about pricing.

Darian: That is because it was deleted by Inactive Worlds staff.

Bob: Besides, that wasn't the majority. We received hundreds of emails and messages from the community saying how much they were enjoying the environment and that they love our software.

Darian: More than likely because they were expressing that the prices are too high, but this doesn't mean they hate the company of the software. They want to make sure you know that these are two separate issues and should not be intertwined for the sake of making people look like they hate the company or it's product. You would never try to create a correlation between dislike of the prices and hating the company and community, would you?

Bob: [...]

Darian: Or attempt to pin the actions of the entire thread on a single person in order to marginalize it's importance as just somebody trying to tear apart the community, would you? It's not like you accused somebody of being a ringleader... did you?

Bob: [...]

Darian: I see. So an honest question was asked, and a large number of people showed up to answer both honestly and constructively. Offering both their voice that they felt the pricing was too high, but also many ideas (many backed with solid proof) on how to correct the situation. Some were very angry (which is expected) and others just trying to be useful by doing what the community did best - coming together to try and solve a problem put in front of them. Many solutions were offered with what seemed to be very good research behind it. Some of the ideas were trivial at best, while others could have been considered just plain logical and sound business. The majority of that thread agreed with each other on the one point that the prices were too high and -

Bob: It wasn't the majority! We have plenty of users who go about their daily use of this software completely oblivious to your little war in the forums. They are very happy, and don't need to hear about the negative attitudes you portrayed against the community and the company in that forum. You did a larger disservice to everyone by even saying you were unhappy with the pricing and the current state of the company. You should be ashamed of yourself!

Darian: Would you care to wager that?

Bob: What are you talking about?

Darian: Open a thread called Inactive Worlds Pricing. Place a link to it from IWGate so a larger amount of people even know they can say something. And If I and even StrikeMan agree to say only one post, do you believe people will agree the pricing is fair?

Bob: Of course.

Darian: Then open the thread :)

Bob: We don't have to. We already know the pricing is fair and comparable to MMORPGs which is why we will not be lowering it. We are a successful company and we do not have any competition. This subject is done and I refuse to talk any longer about it.

Darian: Ok...

Bob: If you have any other suggestions besides those concerned with pricing, we will be glad to listen. Thank you.

Darian: [...]

Bob: Ok then. I think I have proved our point very clearly now. I'll have securi-

Darian: That won't be needed. We'll show ourselves out. Thank you for your time.

So six years later, and still no concrete answers. At least not from the company themselves. For the rest of us, we have the real figures and numbers involved and are not afraid to address them. I left that day in total amazement that after even this many years of not recuperating from that initial loss, that they would still outright deny anything was wrong.

I sat back in the van as we pulled out of their parking lot, the snow flurries beginning to fall. "Ya know, CP." I said to my colleague, "I can't hold it against them any longer". CP turned to me as we drove, "How could you not?".

I finally had found the answer I was looking for after all these years. I took a sip of my coffee and replied "I simply think they have never recovered from their delusions of grandeur from when they were the only company doing this. They simply do not see the real world like the rest of us anymore, that there is competition and they are being beaten. They simply refuse to see it".

CP kept driving, apparently in thought. "Ya know... that makes sense." he said, "I guess after all of those years on top, none of them could stand to accept that they are now dead last, a kinda shell shock so to speak...". I took another sip and gazed at the gently falling snow... "Too bad this will probably be the last time we do an interview with them..." I replied.

Without breaking his gaze on the road, came the reply I was waiting for: "But you have to admit. We had a hell of a time."

A smirk appeared at the corner of my mouth... yeah, we had one hell of a time. And the memories are more than worth it.

Looking To the Future - Wherever it Leads Us: Darian Knight

Oct 16, 2006

Virtual NES

Some testing in our current arcade will be going on over the next few weeks concerning the new Virtual NES system for use in the Active Worlds environment. So far, such included games are:
  • Super Mario Brothers
  • Metroid
  • Marble Madness
  • Kung Fu
  • Pacman
  • Rad Racer
  • Legend of Zelda
  • Castlevania I

These games require the latest version of Java which can be downloaded here in order to play.

Again, these games are extremely experimental in nature, as a Nintendo Emulator has really never been run within the AW environment. So far, it is not entirely likely that you will crash when using these games, though because AW itself is 4.1 and still buggy, the two running together could cause a problem.

If you are experiencing problems running any of those listed games in our arcade (BSOD or whatever) please send a telegram to Darian Knight (me) and let me know what was going on when it happened so I can relay this to Jamie Sanders (the programmer). Some older video cards may experience problems while running both AW and this emulator, so please make sure all of your drivers are updated before giving this a try.

Over the next week or so, it is anticipated that some new features will be worked into the Java Emulator specifically with Active Worlds use in mind (sound toggle, etc).

The most answered questions so far:

Q. How to I quit a game?

A. Just like any other game from our arcade - click the X button in the top LEFT of the browser itself. Not the X to close the browser, there is another X button that will exit the HTML from the 3D view. I may ask Jamie to implement the close button on the pages themselves. For those who have lost their X button on the top left, simply teleport someplace to get out of the screen.

Q. Help! My computer just randomly had a Blue Screen of Death!

A. Depending on the age of your video card, this could happen. Nothing serious, we assure you. Running two applications that are vying for graphics capabilities (or sound) can be demanding on a system of lower specifications. I have had this happen randomly on my 6 year old laptop because of the Nvidia GForce2Go card installed. There may be an update for your card availible to correct this (in my case there isn't an update for this card).

Q. Are these games legal?

A. The only definitive answer we have found is Yes. No ROMs are being copied to your local hard drive, so no copyrights are being broken. There is another Java Emulator that uses this technique for profit called NESCafe (they have advertising built into the emulator), and Nintendo of America has yet to give them a cease and desist order (after years of business). Virtual NES uses the same technique to load the games dynamically, so we are within the legal clear.

Q. What is so special about this version of Virtual NES? I mean, why couldn't we just link to games from his page and just bypass you?

A. Jamie has the main individual pages locked out for direct linking. He is slowly creating pages formatted for use in AW_3D target (meaning 1x size, lower sound requirements, etc). As well as retooling the actual emulator itself to be optimized for use in an AW environment (as opposed to the original which is optimized for a web page and has higher requirements).

Q. Big deal. So you are adding games to a virtual arcade in AW, it's been done before.

A. Sure. When was the last time you played the entire Nintendo library from within AW? The answer is never. This is a first in AW history, not just single flash games or a singe java game on a machine, but a single emulator Java code that can play the entire Nintendo library from a single site. That is the revolutionary part.

Q. What keys do I use to play these games?

A. The A and B buttons are the letters A and Z on the keyboard. The Start button is ENTER and the SELECT button is the Right Shift key (under the ENTER key). You also need to click on the game once to activate control of it.

Q. Original NES games? That is so old...

A. I don't see you making anything better...

As testing continues, I will add more games to the arcade. There are currently 350+ titles availible to play, so I am sure this wll keep you incredibly busy for many hours :) Enjoy! And when we are finished implementing and testing, we will make all of the links availible for all builders to use across Active Worlds.

Looking to the Future (With my Game Genie close by) - Darian Knight

Oct 6, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Anchors Away!

Testing our recent idea of anchoring an entire building to a small mover placed underground in order to make the building visibility independant.

Of the buildings so far using this in our world: Ground Zero and Starbucks. Works nicely even when you drop visibility to 30, they remain visible well past 30 meters of your visibility. Also using this idea - the rain particle effect around GZ. Extending the visibility of the rain farther than normally posible with a Particle Effect on it's own.

This proof of concept was put together to show the use of an Anchor ability for objects and particle effects - while the anchor option for Particle Effects should also allow the creator to arbitrarily set its visibility manaually (for effects like weather).

The Anchor checkbox would obviously only be availible for CT and as an option in World Properties (Enable Anchors).

Change of Lighting

Have been tweaking the lighting in our world so it's a bit more realistic for night time (or twilight). You will now notice a Moon in the sky as well as things looking a bit different in our world (we have been working on making the lighting properly reflect night time and moonlight)

Fixed the Arcade

The arcade was mostly not working as of recent, due to the secondary domain address being down. I quickly corrected this and switched the games over to the first domain prefix.

New arcade building sits behind the current one, and is being worked on by Wes to take the place of the one we have now. Hopefully we get a photorealistic arcade machine to go with it :) We'll see.

Oct 5, 2006

Bad Mojo Be Damned!

The secondary domain is offline for an extended period of time ( due to compliations concerning the privacy system. I other words, the company screwed it up and we as well as they are unable to reset it properly.

The solution for this is to simply allow it to expire lock, stock and barrel and renew from scratch. In the meantime, the main domain is very much operational, and there should be no real drawbacks to the temporary loss of our secondary domain.

In Other News

Autolook is now enabled on the majority of our avatar selection. I know it took us long enough... but finally it's enabled, so your avatar should now move a little more realistically. It definitely made a difference versus the older, stiffer movement.

As a side note, I noticed that the Formal Butch avatar we "borrowed" from COFMeta as well as the Becca avatar look so much better with Autolook enabled on them! Btw- when I say we "borrowed" those COFMeta avs, I mean that they are not resident on our servers, but instead being called directly in the avatar.dat file from the COFMeta OP.

This was done not for the purpose of stealing content from AW, but to demonstrate the ability of reversing the avatar replacement that the SWCity patches do for ActiveWorlds where they add avatars with extra animations for use in Alphaworld, but only people with that patch will see it.

The COFMeta folder in our Avatars list is a working proof of being able to add animations to avatars from other servers and make them also universally seen in a world (as opposed to needing a specific patch).

Just one of the many successful experiments from the City of Nidus ;)

Galaxy Update

It'll take us longer than expected to move over to a galaxy - but we are trying to do this before our world expires in 2007 June. Alot of things going on in VR5 leading up to this, so please be patient. I'll try to keep everyone up to date as I get the information...

Emulation Nation!

Jamie Sanders of vNES fame is currently working with us closly to implement his now popular Java NES Emulator within our world as his own arcade! What does this mean for you? Literally *hundreds* of classic NES titles at your disposal to play in Active Worlds, making the Nidus arcade *the* most comprehensive arcade in any virtual universe!

What about the legality? Well from what we understand, it is illegal to offer ROMS to *download* from a website, thus proliferating piracy. The Java vNES loads the rom files dynamically and allows the user to play the library of games without requireing them to download the files locally, thus remaining legal to implement.

One popular incarnation of this concept is NESCafe, another Java NES Emulator that does essentially the same thing, but with advertising built into the app (which sucks when playing Super Mario 3).

Jamie has expressed interest in building a custom arcade in our world using his vNES, so as time goes on we'll be putting together the pages and files to begin implementing all of the titles :)

Look for it coming soon!

Sep 25, 2006

For the love of....

One of our domains is currently "down", which isn't a huge deal at the moment. We have switched some of the more important things over to the main domain so that they continue working in the meantime.

Our website is only half working at the moment because of this, but we are working as quickly as possible to resolve the issue. This more than likely means that the download links for Metaverse EX are non functional at the moment as well as anything past the first page of our website.

Again, I apologize for the incident and will keep everyone up to date as to when we start getting things back together again.

In Other News

Starbucks is now considered 99% complete. There are a few minor things to still accomplish but for now we are moving ahead with some other projects that need to begin. Namely the new Arcade (which has been put off for so long now it's just not funny)

What's Happening in Nidus?

Nothing, really. Not that we have abandoned the world - we're just in another one of those "planning" stages where the place goes silent for a few months. Rest assured there is alot on the table right now.. just a matter of getting it together.

And Finally...

I have finally given up on the Forums. You heard it here first. Trying to make a point is like pulling teeth or talking to a wall. If you haven't been reading the forums, then don't. It's a god aweful waste of your time.

If you aren't agreeing with AWI then you are apparently wrong - no matter how much you prove your case. Complete ignorance at it's best. I can't wait to get out of this universe and onto the second half of our project.

Sep 8, 2006

We have normality :)

The time is 11:49 pm EST and we now have normality :)

The website and OP are back online. This includes all services and content availible from this domain - Google Modules, Downloads, Textures, Objects, Website, and other hosted materials.

If you didn't notice we were down for the day, good :) If you did as promised the system is back up and running before Midnight.

Thank you for your patience - MPL Knight

Server Outage :(

We are sorry to inform you that our Object Path and Website are currently experiencing technical difficulties. (We think Mr Clark spilled coffee on the server again...)

This server outage will effect both our main website and Object Path. For users of this system, we are happy to report that this outage should be temporary, and we expect to get things back online by midnight tonight (Eastern Standard Time).

Again, this looks like a temporary problem on our side and we are hard at work to correct it.

This does not mean the browser is a total bust (for New Users). While you are waiting for our world to return, why not check out some of the other worlds in this universe?

Active Worlds Gate: Click Here

Metatropolis: Click Here

Alphaworld: Click Here

Our deepest apologies from VR5 Online - We would love to see you again under better circumstances :)

Kicking the crap out of the servers - MPL Knight

Aug 28, 2006


It started off simple enough, I wanted to see if there was an existing AIML Module for the Google homepage. I checked all of the search keys I could think of that would relate to it (chat, chatterbot, AIML, Alice, AI) and found nothing at all relating to this subject.

I would usually not do anything about this, except that Google provided a well written tutorial on how to write XML formatted for Google Modules. So I got to reading and eventually said to myself "Well, how hard could this be to make a Google Module for the homepage?"

A couple of hours later and the world has been given what can only be the worlds first AIML Chatbox for Google Personal Pages and Google D
esktop. I could be wrong, but none of the directories had one in their database. So now Serena has the option of being there on your Google start page to welcome and have a chat with you.

What is the point of this? Well, there are millions of people (thats an understatement) that now have access to Google and these user created modules. If a fra
ction of them add this module to their homepage and chat with her, there will obviously be hundreds of thousands of conversations in the database for me to make her smarter with. It's a theory, anyway...

Want to test drive this Google Module? It's as simple as clicking >> ADD AIML MODULE

And the Insanity Continued

What?! I couldn't stop myself... what started as a test to see if I could get an AIML module on my Google Page turned into dissatisfac
tion as I continued searching for other useful Modules. Next there were a handful of games from our Nidus Arcade. Games like Hexxagon , Donkey Kong, and Qix joined my growing army of Homebrew Modules.

After a few hours (ie: most of today) I felt pretty confident of my ability to create modules that would load external content, and decided at some point to do a Module search for Streaming Radio.

Again I was disappointed with the results. I was presented with some stupid looking childrens radio module, and the only other serious looking streaming radio module was Real Player Rhapsody and that Module took up too much screen real estate.

So what was I to do? You guessed it... I opened the FTP for our server and grabbed an old copy of the HTML for The Edge Radio (which still works) and modified it to work within it's own customized Google Module. It still uses the ActiveX Embed for Windows Media Player, so out
of all of the modules I made today, The Edge Radio is probably the only one that is Windows Centric. But - there are links in the module so you can click on the website and also make requests (which is another feature I saw severely lacking in every other radio module listed) so the user can click for the website and grab a stream more compatible for their own setup.

So, to recap how I managed to waste my day today: I built Google Modules for Donkey Kong, Qix, Hexxagon, Serena AIML, and The Edge Radio.

In other words, my A.D.D. allowed me to focus solely on making Google Modules today in order to better the world (or waste your time).

All in all, I'd say good deal for everyone involved :)

Looking Toward the Future (With Google Modules 4 All!) - MPL Knight

Aug 19, 2006

Information Highway to the Metaverse

Sometimes futurists like myself sit around and wonder if the technologies needed to fully implement a real Metaverse, like the one described in Snow Crash, will ever exist. Here we are in the tail end of 2006, and staring down the barrel of 2007. I like to try and keep my Wikimedia entry updated to reflect modern achievments, and am willing admit when I am wrong about my predictions for technology.

One of the funniest things I hear from pessimists about why a Metaverse will never really happen is because computers simply cannot handle that kind of data transfer, and will take processrs that are hundreds of times faster than they are today to come close.

I disagree. About the part where it will never happen, that is. As time marches forward, I find that Moore's Law does indeed effect every aspect of technology (not just computers but the entire related industry). I have seen systems that require less central bandwdth the more popular it became (which in 1995 was thought impossible but now we call it P2P and Torrent), and recently I have seen the answer to our processing problems.

No I'm not talking about these Intel Duo chips, or the AMD Quadro chips... these are merely the industry's way of stalling until they figure out how to make things actually faster. A Duo core chip is like when Intel released a Dual Slot P4 motherboard. You knew darned well they were stallin for time, while allowing you to get more speed. That's what the Duo Core crap is about. Yes, they are technically faster. Slap two or three processors into a machine and yes it will run faster (But Linux users already know this because Linux can theoretically use as many processors as you can give it in unison).

The same holds true for the seemingly quiet eradication of the clock speed specification. Remember when you went to a computer store and they told you how fast the computer was running? "This is the top of the line Pentium 4, running at a blistering 1.2 ghz" has turned into "It's a dual core processor, so clock speed really doesn't doesn't matter."

Really, we're looking at clock speeds that are still around 3 ghz or slower, but because it's a dual core chip we are made to believe it's effectively a 6 ghz system. No, Johhny-boy, it's still the same as your old 3 ghz you bought a few years back - they just slapped a second processor to it to keep you from foaming at the mouth due to their lack of innovation.

But what does that really mean to the normal users of the world? Well whenever the microchip manufacturers like Intel and AMD resort to piggybacking more processors it usually means they are reaching a point of breakthrough where the Exponential Return will carry on into a new paradigm.

Moore's Law was only applied to semi-conductors and transistors, but even they have a top end limit. The funny thing is, that the formula can be applied indefinitely past the age of transistors and silicon. I guess Intel hasn't figured out what to do next to get back on track.

And this, of course, is the point of today's entry. What we need is a processor capability to increase the speed of our computers 100 fold, near instant 100 gigabit data transfer, and we need it at the size of a human hair and consuming something like... 1 volt of electricity.

Why does that sound familiar.... hmmm... [here's a hint]
That's right, folks. Such a technology already exists and does nearly everything I just said. Imagine if such a processor was the size of a normal computer chip today? I bet we would have no problem with completely photorealistic Metaverse systems. Just some food for thought, really.

Why would such a system not be out in the stores yet? Because a computer processor that is capable of doing realtime Holographic processing is best used for Internet2 (I2) which is a super fast darkfiber backbone. What does Internet2 look like? You may already be using part of it now, though not nearly to it's capacity. Clicking that link will bring you to a page where you can install a detector that will let you know if you are connected to an Internet2 Network.

So generally speaking, when I wrote the article about Internet 2.0 and what it's uses and interface would be, I already knew about these technologies. It's not really mainstream information - and until recently alot of it classified information. Let's say I know just a tad bit about the future of technology than I let people assume about me. When I say this is the future, just learn to believe me.

Looking Forward to The Future (Resistance is Futile) - MPL Knight

Aug 17, 2006

Metaverse EX Reaches 997 Downloads!

I was randomly traversing the Internet today, mostly reading some of the older entries for The City of Nidus and came across the blog entry when I had first gotten Metaverse EX on Back then I was happy to see the first milestone of downlads in the range of 300 + downloads (I mean, the fact that other people around the world were checking this out). So today I decide, "What the hell", and go to and check the status of the downloads.

Hot damn! 997 Downloads!? Wow, I'm greatful that I caught it before it passed the 1,000 downloads mark :) I know comparatively 1,000 downloads isn't much on the Internet, but remember - this is 1,000 more people that have been exposed to Active Worlds as a result of our promotions. Pretty cool, indeed, but nowhere near the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of downloads the original AW 3.2 listing had. Of course, Active Worlds 3.2 has been listed on for a timeframe of years whereas Metaverse EX has only been listed for a few months.

I believe we are doing pretty good for a lonely little world in the AW Universe :) We aren't totally packed to the hilt, but then again, nobody is. I would also like to point out that the listing for AW 3.2 on D is packed with horrible reviews. At least the few reviews we have are mostly favorable :) Anyways, just thought I would share this little milestone with you, our residents.

Stormclouds in a Cup :P

I know you are looking at the heading, and then at the little picture of what seems to be... a Starbucks Coffee Cup? And saying... Huh? Ok here's the deal. Particle effects like rain have a very small effective range, and thus use for large scale weather effects is really a pain in the butt. I know when we first were working with it, we had to place a particle effect every block just to create proper overlap. This was nearly 10 seperate particle effects just for the area surounding our ground zero. Imagine if we wanted rain for the entire world?

So over in another universe where I like to test my ideas we were screwing around with rain but the problem with range came up again. Some of the Beta people who may read this know what transpired already, but I'm going to spell it out for the people who aren't guessing already. Movers have a much larger visibility range than a normal object, roughly 20 meters from the object itself (which is pretty far) and is independant of the selected visibility of the user. So, we thought, why not attach the rain particle effect to a small object like crate1.rwx and place the object underground?

Viola! There we had rain that extended 20 meters in radius. Actually it extends about 30 radius coming from the object but only 20 when walking toward the object. So to play it safe for overlap, go with 20. Generally speaking, this allows the world VR5 to use only 5 particles effects to cover our entire P-40 with rain.

Useful? More than likely. Did you know about it already? Maybe.

Hey, the concept and idea was new to us and I have yet to see anyone else use this idea in their space or world. Anyway, that's my advancement for the week. Nothing spectacular, but hopefully this is useful to you as a world owner or builder :)

Looking to the Future (With working Mirrors) - MPL Knight

Aug 7, 2006

The City of Nidus (Part 2)

Went to Otakon

For those who didn't know, I recently attended Otakon in Baltimore Maryland. Otakon is basically a really huge Anime and Japanese culture convention covering a myriad of subjects from anime, video games, design, fashion, etc. I left around Thursday and got home around Sunday night, so if anyone was missing me, you now know where I disappeared to :)

This year it was slightly disappointing as most of the interesting things had lines around the block to get in. I did happen to see the premier of the new Full Metal Alchemist movie as well as a new series coming this fall called Trinity Blood. Met some voice actors (the voice of Master Roshi and Piccolo from DBZ) and got some really kewl autographs from some of my favorite webcomic artists.

My favorite so far are the artists for a series called Megatokyo and also Applegeeks. I was fortunate enough to get both of their autographs, as well as Sarah's autograph (Sarah is Fred Gallagher's wife who also is a character in his web comic series).

Some Disappointing News

I am sorry to report that the planned concert for August (Myndkill) has been cancelled indefinitely. There were circumstances beyond our control with this, so please understand. The band Myndkill moved to Pennsylvania recently and (apparently) lost their lead singer. With the various band members scattered to the wind, it would have been impossible for us to get them all in the same studio for a live concert.

This doesn't mean that Myndkill will never do a concert for us, it just means it will be some time before they are prepared enough to follow through. We would rather bring you an awesome concert rather than a rushed and half assed production. In the mean time, we are using this free time to look into other bands who would like to perform for the AW community. We'll keep everyone posted as we find out.

Some Interesting News

While I was at Otakon, I attended a Video Game Development panel wherein I was to learn some of the recent advancements and techniques used for video game design. Some interesting people showed up to this panel (most from larger companies like Square/Enix or something) but what caught me off guard was that the gentleman who was running the panel knew little to nothing about game development.

Which is why I was incredibly happy when an exec from Atari pretty much took over the panel. Not that he was scheduled to talk or anything, he was attending the panel just like me. Well, in the end of the panel we got to talking outside of the room (away from prying ears) and swapped information and cards.

I would very much like to assist Atari in their coming campaign (though I'm not going to let anyone know what that is), so I am hoping to hear further from him when he gets back to NYC and settles in. By the way, for those of you rolling your eyes and saying "yeah right" - the gentleman's name is Adam Poots and can be reached at

A little bit of information about what he's trying to do: At some point in time, Adam made a YouTube video more or less demonstrating the fact that such a legendary company as Atari no longer has any true brand recognition. In fact, nobody even knows if they are still around. Atari must have seen this video and decided to give him a job doing the one thing he was bashing them about: re-establishing a link to the gamer community and creating a project that would involve this community in it's creation.

I think this is an excellent idea and would like to help him out. It never ceases to amaze me what kind of people I run into when I go on vacation... mater of fact, I think I should start running the entire company based on this fact. (lol)

While I was Away

I'm also amazed at what kinds of stuff happens while I am away. For instance; when I left for Maryland we had just finished a huge concert in world for the community with Aztech Rising. (Dear god the effects for that concert were rediculous...)... anyways... I come back from maryland (and among other things) find that VR5 is now listed under "Worlds to Watch" in the AW Newsletter.

Well, ummm... Thank you? Didn't see that coming, really. Unfortunately we had to cancel concerts for awhile, but we will be using this free time to collect ourselves and get some work done. I mean, we can't build that Starbucks forever... no matter how sexy that building is.

Which leads me to the last topic...

Revenge of the AIML

I'll admit I'm a sucker for Artificial Intelligence systems. That's really where I got my start back in the day - programming multi-layered AI chatterbots with natural voice TTS. So I guess I'll be working on this for awhile longer in my spare time.

I have recently done a massive update for our bot Serena (running on Pandora Bots). Alot of AIML files were recently converted over from the CORe directory (with the exception of a few that don't seem to compile correctly), making Serena just a tad bit smarter than before. I'm not going to say she's a genius, but at least she has taken a step forward.

I also added the /version command to her database so if you want to know what the last update was for her you can see. I will also be transposing the CORe AIML set over to The AW AIML bot directory at some point and giving her another test run. Not that I'm taking this as a serious project, it's now back to what it originally was - my hobby ;)

Looking toward the Future (with a Rum and Coke in Hand) - MPL Knight

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, 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 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 (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 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