Aerodrome news: 4th of July skydiving

On this holiday weekend, I upgraded the L-18 Lodestar with a new feature — skydiving. Using chat commands, the pilot can open the door and drop passengers. Hopefully they’ll have a parachute.

I’ve also added an altimeter (in feet) and speed indicator (in knots) to all models.

The basic model is on display on Level 1 at the Aerodrome. Contact me if you’d like the tan camouflage or “stars and stripes” paint scheme.

Introducing CubeyTerra.com

For months, I’ve wanted to make a catalog of every vehicle that I’ve made, but for all the wonder and complexity of the Second Life metaverse, there is so far no elegant way to serve information from a central source in-world. Second Life has no equivalent of the World Wide Web.

Rather than just wait until we can store attractive and usable catalogs in-world, I built this — CubeyTerra.com. I hope you enjoy browsing the categories — aircraft, hovercraft, watercraft, and accessories. If you have any questions about this website or any of the vehicles, please don’t hesitate to send me an instant message in Second Life or send and e-mail to cubeyterra@cavers.ca.

The airplane business

The average age in the metaverse game, Second Life, is somewhere around 30, according to a straw poll in the Second Life forums. The minimum age in the game is 18, and the oldest players to admit to it have been over 60. There are, apparently, minors who manage to slip into the game on their parents’ credit card. This is painfully obvious in some in-world “business transactions” (the “L$800” in this conversation is roughly equivalent to only $3.25 US):

Davo: Yo

Me: Hi Davo.

Davo: Hi

Me: You said hi first :) What’s up?

Davo: Is It Possible For Me To Get A Plane Now That Is L$800 And i pay you Lets see L$150 a week

Davo: i pay L$200 right away

Davo: Erm u know the LODESTAr is it possible for u to write a contract or sumtin for me where i paid L$150 a week and i pay L$200 right away

Me: I’m sorry, but I don’t sell stuff like that Davo. I’m sure that you can just save up, though. Or maybe buy a less expensive plane?

Davo: Darn

Davo: U can trust me dude

Davo: ull pay 250 right away

Davo: ill apy L$200 a week

Me: For any new player, I’d suggest not spending more than you earn. If you really want a good plane, save up for it. Have a look at Busy Ben’s in Oak Grove. There are some good, smaller vehicles that cost less.

Davo: Erm

Davo: hang on me consult sum friends…

I really don’t want to take money from this kid. The Lodestar is my biggest, most expensive plane — the luxury model. This is like a teen who walks into a Dodge dealership and asks to buy a Viper on his weekly allowance.

Sigh. Part of me wants to just give him a copy. The other part wants to send him off to There.com to play with other kids his age. Who let him in the front door, anyway?

Building the metaverse

When I tell people that I subscribe to the metaverse, Second Life, I get a lot of blank looks. And when I try to describe Second Life, they think it’s either a role-playing game or another The Sims Online. The most unusual response was from a friend who thought it was some kind of kinky sex-chat program. (sigh)

If you’ve read Neal Stephenson‘s Snow Crash, you know what a metaverse is: it’s a computer-generated shared reality that is built and inhabited by its users. Stephenson’s Metaverse is a virtual world where people conduct social and business interactions much as they do in reality, but without reality’s constraints. Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life, have clearly followed this vision.

In an article on the New York Law School’s website, Cory Ondrejka, Linden Lab’s VP of Development, describes the role of user-created content in the metaverse and how it relates to Second Life.

Link: Cory Ondrejka: “Escaping the Guilded Cage: User Created Content and Building the Metaverse” (PDF)

As an aside, back in ’94 or ’95 when I tried to explain the World Wide Web to people, I got the same kind of blank looks as I do now when I try to explain the concept of a metaverse. “Well, what’s it for?” Since then, the Web has become the single most recognized element of the Internet, and it facilitates human interaction in ways that the Web’s creators never dreamed.

Is a metaverse going to be our next Web? In ten or twenty years, will we do our online shopping in a 3-D representation of a brick-and-mortar shop? Will teleconferences and distance learning happen in virtual seminar rooms? Will we chat with far-away friends and family as if they were in the same room?

Golly, but that would be swell.

IBM launches product for virtual commerce

With so many gamers earning real money playing online games like Everquest, Ultima Online, and (my favourite) Second Life, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the big blue is trying to get a piece of the virtual action. IBM has introduced an e-commerce server named Business Integration for Games, or BIG, to help game publishers (and players) set up shop in virtual worlds.

It’s not clear to me what BIG offers that the in-game economy and transaction accounting doesn’t offer already. In Second Life, for example, lots of players already run businesses and earn real money.

(Note: Second Life isn’t mentioned in the text of the article, but if you click the images, there’s a screenshot and caption.)

Link: Wire News: Interreality Business Machines