New virtual world coming from Australia

I just had lunch with Randal Leeb-du Toit, CEO of Yoick, and John Wolpert, executive producer of Outback Online, a 3D virtual world that Yoick is working on.

Who said cool stuff has to come from Silicon Valley? Not these guys (main developer is in Austin, Texas, and most of the team’s management is in Australia). They are building another virtual world, similar in many ways to Second Life from Linden Labs.

Anyway, why does the world need another Second Life-style thing?

Well, here’s some reasons that Outback Online gave me:

1) The quality of graphics on Second Life aren’t good enough to do lots of things.
2) The scalability of Second Life isn’t good enough to hold really large events (only about 100 people can fit into a single island, in Outback Online they claim they can get 10,000).
3) Second Life is too restrictive globally for kids and families (in Second Life it’s OK to have virtual sex almost anywhere and only 18-year-olds are allowed into the main world and adults aren’t allowed to work with kids in the teen grid). Outback Online says they’ll have much better granularity of age controls and parental controls and community controls. If they can control the flying penises, that’ll be a big driver for many of us who want to play online with our kids.
4) They see that by focusing on Windows only at first they can push the edge of graphics (and, they are working on an Xbox version too that’ll bring lots of people into this world). It’s among the world’s most graphically intensive C# applications.
5) Instead of hosting everything on centrally-located servers they are using P2P to get more people onto islands and bring better graphical performance.

Their world is under development and is way behind Second Life in lots of aspects (these worlds are built by their inhabitants, so an empty world looks pretty dull) but I saw some brilliant things here that are worth watching. An alpha starts this summer (you can sign up to get early access on the Outback Online Website) with beta coming later this year.

74 thoughts on “New virtual world coming from Australia

  1. I suppose macbeach was correct when he said: “The other thing I learned in the 90s is that many of these “soon to be announced” systems never make it off the drawing board. The technical details of getting something like this working are HUGE, even if you are not coding the whole thing from scratch. In fact, the use of pre-existing components can lead to very unexpected surprises right around beta release time and often the underlying products vendors have no interest in changing their product for a single customer.”

    Were the technical claims a bunch of bunk? Can the work done at NICTA ( http://www.nicta.com ) be put to use for virtual worlds?

  2. I suppose macbeach was correct when he said: “The other thing I learned in the 90s is that many of these “soon to be announced” systems never make it off the drawing board. The technical details of getting something like this working are HUGE, even if you are not coding the whole thing from scratch. In fact, the use of pre-existing components can lead to very unexpected surprises right around beta release time and often the underlying products vendors have no interest in changing their product for a single customer.”

    Were the technical claims a bunch of bunk? Can the work done at NICTA ( http://www.nicta.com ) be put to use for virtual worlds?

  3. What Kami (^^32) said, plus ”Sorry, Mr. da Vinci, we don’t plan on supporting left-handers.”

    What Ryu (^^37) said, plus I’m skeptical that they can simultaneously make the place “family friendly”, interesting, and have 10,000 in a single place at the same time: “You, 4,327th from the left… quit bothering that kid!”

  4. What Kami (^^32) said, plus ”Sorry, Mr. da Vinci, we don’t plan on supporting left-handers.”

    What Ryu (^^37) said, plus I’m skeptical that they can simultaneously make the place “family friendly”, interesting, and have 10,000 in a single place at the same time: “You, 4,327th from the left… quit bothering that kid!”

  5. “They see that by focusing on Windows only at first they can push the edge of graphics”

    Great. Just what the world needs. Another bunch of idiots, who don’t have a clue that the net is supposed to be about interoperability and considers Windows to be the holy grail…

    The word may yet have to reach the outback but get a clue: Windows is yesteryear. People are switching and nobody is well served by lemmings, with an inexplicable urge to paint themselves into a corner.

  6. “They see that by focusing on Windows only at first they can push the edge of graphics”

    Great. Just what the world needs. Another bunch of idiots, who don’t have a clue that the net is supposed to be about interoperability and considers Windows to be the holy grail…

    The word may yet have to reach the outback but get a clue: Windows is yesteryear. People are switching and nobody is well served by lemmings, with an inexplicable urge to paint themselves into a corner.

  7. I applaud the effort and am appalled at the naivette.

    Soon to be discovered is that you either have a vision and a design and spend millions and years on development before beta even sees the light of day or you have a vision and a design, get loads of canned IP and make it happen quickly.

    The latter is both the curse and blessing of the design of SL. They managed to get it working faster than many out there, including WoW and EQ, but have also suffered from the inherent surprises that come from bodging someone elses canned IP together.

    And that bit about the seperation of the teen grid from the adult grid is also a good thing. Once they discover that a “child friendly” system limits the whole system to childish levels, they, too, will want to have sections of the grid for different age levels.

    I wish them luck and would look forward to something with the stated expected levels of perfoamance, even if PG for a long while.

    I say, go for it and best of luck :)

  8. I applaud the effort and am appalled at the naivette.

    Soon to be discovered is that you either have a vision and a design and spend millions and years on development before beta even sees the light of day or you have a vision and a design, get loads of canned IP and make it happen quickly.

    The latter is both the curse and blessing of the design of SL. They managed to get it working faster than many out there, including WoW and EQ, but have also suffered from the inherent surprises that come from bodging someone elses canned IP together.

    And that bit about the seperation of the teen grid from the adult grid is also a good thing. Once they discover that a “child friendly” system limits the whole system to childish levels, they, too, will want to have sections of the grid for different age levels.

    I wish them luck and would look forward to something with the stated expected levels of perfoamance, even if PG for a long while.

    I say, go for it and best of luck :)

  9. Oh yeah, going timid on the willies eh?

    One of the reasons I and others wanted to be on SL was
    due to the cultural freedoms, if it had just been about
    how cool the graphics were then we could have played
    any off the shelf games.

    We know SLs graphics are fairly poor… but the freedom
    we experience inside the game is fantastic.

    Strip that back and nobody will care.

    Kids, Phooey… not impressed (yawn)

    Wolfie!

  10. Oh yeah, going timid on the willies eh?

    One of the reasons I and others wanted to be on SL was
    due to the cultural freedoms, if it had just been about
    how cool the graphics were then we could have played
    any off the shelf games.

    We know SLs graphics are fairly poor… but the freedom
    we experience inside the game is fantastic.

    Strip that back and nobody will care.

    Kids, Phooey… not impressed (yawn)

    Wolfie!

Comments are closed.