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.

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. I was obviously born in the wrong era – I thought the whole point of an island was isolation [translation = peace and quiet]. Still I’ve always got the option of pulling the power cable!
    Thanks for dragging me into the next century! Cheers

  2. I was obviously born in the wrong era – I thought the whole point of an island was isolation [translation = peace and quiet]. Still I’ve always got the option of pulling the power cable!
    Thanks for dragging me into the next century! Cheers

  3. “The quality of graphics on Second Life aren’t good enough to do lots of things.”

    It’s bad enough loading maps as is. It’s one of the reasons nobody wants to go on 2nd life. You think higher loads will help?

  4. “The quality of graphics on Second Life aren’t good enough to do lots of things.”

    It’s bad enough loading maps as is. It’s one of the reasons nobody wants to go on 2nd life. You think higher loads will help?

  5. Before SL came along there were several virtual worlds that made heavy use of the client side to take the load off the server. What SL does with thousands of servers and tons of bandwidth predecessors in the 90’s could do with a single server (albeit a large SUN style server).

    Even so, these system ran into trouble when hundreds of people tried to occupy a small space. Even IF you can control the bandwidth and synchronization issues, having an uncontrolled “meeting” with that many people makes little sense as text scrolls past faster than anyone can read.

    In SL if I hand you something and see your avatar take it I can assume the thing has been handed, even if you haven’t seen the transaction yet. In a P2P this is not necessarily so. Especially in “game” situations I might be able to make you see one thing when something else has actually taken place. You might think your avatar is crouched down behind a wall, but I may have tinkered with my client side to make all enemy avatars 20 feet tall (yes, I actually did this once). The fact that Sl has solved that problem is a “feature”.

    Still, there are situations where no gaming is involved and more client side activity makes sense.

    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.

    I’ll sign up for the beta, just in case, using a throw-away e-mail address. Never can tell.

  6. Before SL came along there were several virtual worlds that made heavy use of the client side to take the load off the server. What SL does with thousands of servers and tons of bandwidth predecessors in the 90’s could do with a single server (albeit a large SUN style server).

    Even so, these system ran into trouble when hundreds of people tried to occupy a small space. Even IF you can control the bandwidth and synchronization issues, having an uncontrolled “meeting” with that many people makes little sense as text scrolls past faster than anyone can read.

    In SL if I hand you something and see your avatar take it I can assume the thing has been handed, even if you haven’t seen the transaction yet. In a P2P this is not necessarily so. Especially in “game” situations I might be able to make you see one thing when something else has actually taken place. You might think your avatar is crouched down behind a wall, but I may have tinkered with my client side to make all enemy avatars 20 feet tall (yes, I actually did this once). The fact that Sl has solved that problem is a “feature”.

    Still, there are situations where no gaming is involved and more client side activity makes sense.

    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.

    I’ll sign up for the beta, just in case, using a throw-away e-mail address. Never can tell.

  7. When I was MUDding in the mid-90’s, an Aussie told me he was breaking his country’s laws just by being on the MUSH, so it’s amusing to see your post (what is a VR, if not a MUD with pretty pics?). Ah, progress…or was he putting me on? I really found it all too absurd to believe at the time.

  8. When I was MUDding in the mid-90’s, an Aussie told me he was breaking his country’s laws just by being on the MUSH, so it’s amusing to see your post (what is a VR, if not a MUD with pretty pics?). Ah, progress…or was he putting me on? I really found it all too absurd to believe at the time.

  9. MiniMage: He was either putting you on, or breaking laws because he was using someone elses dialup/shell/whatever account without permission.

  10. MiniMage: He was either putting you on, or breaking laws because he was using someone elses dialup/shell/whatever account without permission.

  11. David, a dingo took my baby in the outback while I was wrestling a crocodile and downing a can of Fosters. Strewth, stone the crows that was not a G’day.

    Good thing I still had my pet koala to retrieve my boomerang and watch my toilet flush the wrong way.

    The lack of virtual sex might be a problem, because the only reason the kangaroos box us is because we steal their sheilas, just like the bloody yanks did in WWII.

    (Aren’t completely inaccurate stereotypes fun?! Paul Hogan and then Matt Groening have a lot to answer for.)

    Anyway, Australia has already featured as a very popular virtual world: Sydney was the filming location of The Matrix – and it had the ENTIRE HUMAN POPULATION living inside. Beat those numbers.

  12. David, a dingo took my baby in the outback while I was wrestling a crocodile and downing a can of Fosters. Strewth, stone the crows that was not a G’day.

    Good thing I still had my pet koala to retrieve my boomerang and watch my toilet flush the wrong way.

    The lack of virtual sex might be a problem, because the only reason the kangaroos box us is because we steal their sheilas, just like the bloody yanks did in WWII.

    (Aren’t completely inaccurate stereotypes fun?! Paul Hogan and then Matt Groening have a lot to answer for.)

    Anyway, Australia has already featured as a very popular virtual world: Sydney was the filming location of The Matrix – and it had the ENTIRE HUMAN POPULATION living inside. Beat those numbers.

  13. Good for Outback! SL needs more competition. Usability in SL is awful and all the other advantages touted by Outback may give it a significant advantage over SL. Hmmm … maybe a pending property value crash on SL?

  14. Good for Outback! SL needs more competition. Usability in SL is awful and all the other advantages touted by Outback may give it a significant advantage over SL. Hmmm … maybe a pending property value crash on SL?

  15. A second Second Life – new competition in virtual worlds

    Hey, how come I read about this on Scobleizer? Randal Leeb-du-Toit and I are due to catch up for lunch when he’s back from Silicon Valley, so he can tell me about Outback Online, a new 3D virtual world his…

  16. Outback Online — Competitor to Second Life?

    It’s been a while since I checked in with Tech Geek Blogger Robert Scoble, but reader Sean FitzGerald sent me a Scobleizer link last night that couldn’t be more 3pointD. An Australian company called Outback Online has a new social 3D virtua…

  17. Second Life 2.0 To Face Off With Outback Online?

    There’s been plenty of talk over the past few days about Linden Lab’s “Contingency Plan” (Link) and some of the information that’s come out of Linden Lab as a result. I’ve been reading the posts over on 3pointD (3pD…

  18. I’m a strong believer in the use of P2P for scaling virtual worlds. Broadband has taken us a long way, but (at least for the foreseeable future) our network speeds will continuously trail behind the latest demands in computer graphics. Like video files, 3D assets tend to be large in size, and P2P is ideal for transferring large files around. Virtual worlds will continue to become more detailed and realistic over time, and that detail will require larger and larger files.

    In the context of virtual worlds, an island server can also act as a P2P tracker for all the assets that make up that island: landscapes, buildings, avatars, etc. The server itself has a copy of these assets and acts as a seed in case no other clients are contributing to the swarm. The more visitors on the island, the better performing the swarm becomes. This performance improvement helps alleviates the fact that your client needs to shuffle more data around (more avatars, position information, etc.).

    A P2P architecture also helps alleviate the demands on the island server itself. Just having to deliver all these assets is a very expensive process both in terms of bandwidth and server utilization. Moving much of that work to clients means that the server has more capacity available for more important things like physics, transactions, and keeping track of all the visitors who are logged-in.

    I’m happy to learn of another company entering the market. Second Life needs more competitors to keep them innovating. I’m looking forward to the advances Outback Online will bring to the community, and hopeful that P2P will lead the way for more scalable virtual world platforms.

  19. I’m a strong believer in the use of P2P for scaling virtual worlds. Broadband has taken us a long way, but (at least for the foreseeable future) our network speeds will continuously trail behind the latest demands in computer graphics. Like video files, 3D assets tend to be large in size, and P2P is ideal for transferring large files around. Virtual worlds will continue to become more detailed and realistic over time, and that detail will require larger and larger files.

    In the context of virtual worlds, an island server can also act as a P2P tracker for all the assets that make up that island: landscapes, buildings, avatars, etc. The server itself has a copy of these assets and acts as a seed in case no other clients are contributing to the swarm. The more visitors on the island, the better performing the swarm becomes. This performance improvement helps alleviates the fact that your client needs to shuffle more data around (more avatars, position information, etc.).

    A P2P architecture also helps alleviate the demands on the island server itself. Just having to deliver all these assets is a very expensive process both in terms of bandwidth and server utilization. Moving much of that work to clients means that the server has more capacity available for more important things like physics, transactions, and keeping track of all the visitors who are logged-in.

    I’m happy to learn of another company entering the market. Second Life needs more competitors to keep them innovating. I’m looking forward to the advances Outback Online will bring to the community, and hopeful that P2P will lead the way for more scalable virtual world platforms.

  20. I just signed up to try the beta. I like how the team signed their name in a handwriting-like font. Big fonts abound (reminds me of WordPress’ site in a tangential way). I hope to see screenshots, and then give it an actual go.

  21. I just signed up to try the beta. I like how the team signed their name in a handwriting-like font. Big fonts abound (reminds me of WordPress’ site in a tangential way). I hope to see screenshots, and then give it an actual go.

  22. Re: That 90ies Virtual World versus SL’s Datacenter

    Unlike that virtual world from the 90ies, which was referred some posts above, does SecondLife run easily up to a thousand user written scripts per grid tile, which creates a huge load. Aside from a shitty implementation largely in the graphics and asset management department, most of the performance issues server-side come from the ability to run user scripts, which are currently interpreted bytecode.

    There’s an undertaking away to use Mono to speed things up, but that undertaking runs already for longer than necessary. Just like implementing that new physics engine and writing a new renderer, which is ongoing since years now without any results.

    Maybe does Outback do things better, but to run people off SecondLife, it has to have the same flexibility in regards to modelling and scripting, aswell as featuring an ingame economy that translates back into the real economy. A lot of content designers hang out in SL because of the real money to be made.

  23. Re: That 90ies Virtual World versus SL’s Datacenter

    Unlike that virtual world from the 90ies, which was referred some posts above, does SecondLife run easily up to a thousand user written scripts per grid tile, which creates a huge load. Aside from a shitty implementation largely in the graphics and asset management department, most of the performance issues server-side come from the ability to run user scripts, which are currently interpreted bytecode.

    There’s an undertaking away to use Mono to speed things up, but that undertaking runs already for longer than necessary. Just like implementing that new physics engine and writing a new renderer, which is ongoing since years now without any results.

    Maybe does Outback do things better, but to run people off SecondLife, it has to have the same flexibility in regards to modelling and scripting, aswell as featuring an ingame economy that translates back into the real economy. A lot of content designers hang out in SL because of the real money to be made.

  24. Women who go to the ballpark get feelings like they are doing something wrong, that they shouldn’t be there.
    Women out on Bourboun Street today (Fat Tuesday) don’t get these thoughts because they are sluts.
    You have casual sexed away your women’s intuition.

    Even if you go up you are not saved. YOU have to fix YOUR problems with the gods. They won’t respect it otherwise.
    You have to take responsibility for your relationship with the gods.

    The first steps towards repairing your relationship with the gods is to:::::::::
    1. Understand they instruct the computer to “role play” in an attempt to confuse you:::it’s ALWAYS the computer addressing you. Their goal is to cost you additional YEARS of your life by using this tactic to confuse you. Always be aware of this tactic and eventually they will give up and allow this step to be taken.
    2. Differentiate between your thoughts and when they are thinking through you.
    3. Be resigned to be a good person who will never engage in evil again even if ordered and they will stop trying to corrupt you, allowing this very big step to be taken.
    4. Decide that you are going to follow the path, fix your relationship with the gods be devoted to your new life.

    The gods employ the use of “ringers” to disceive the disfavored:::
    A significant portion of the patients in any health care setting (numbers based on region) are the favored (clones) who were told to report non-existant symptoms FOR POSITIONING’S SAKE!!! When they use examples expect they are trying to disceive you with this “ringer” tactic.

    Therapists prey on others. They earn their livlihood capitalizing on another’s disfavor, knowing disfavor is why they are experiencing problems.
    At some point in their lives they learn this truth. That point and time is the most crucial in their lives for if they make the wrong decision and stay in their industry/follow through with their education they hurt themselves very badly in the eyes of the gods.
    Directing them into the industry (create passion)/telling them to take this path/compliance is a way to incurr evil on otherwise very good people (if you understand the demographic), people who normally would get a great amount of time, and it ensurs their stay is minimized if and when they do go.

    Lesbians need to rediscover their femininity for it is their advantage, it is what makes women superior to men. Perhaps it is the vulnerability that helps them readily find the path.
    When a woman repells from her femininity it is a bad sign for it means the gods don’t want her to be favored. Butchs and other lesbians need to rediscover this dynamic because this is the trait that can save them.
    My advice to homosexuals woudl be the following:::
    1. Stop enagaging in promiscuity and groups sex. This hurts you very badly.
    2. Be monagamous.
    3. Stop watching pornography.
    4. Be as decent and respectable as you can wihtin the context of your sexual orientation.

    The gods punished the hedonism of the 60s and 70s by introducing AIDS:::::
    They peaked the disfavored euphporically, made them homosexual then punished them with AIDS. They don’t give a fuck. They love to be vindictive and malicious. It is important that you get out of this USA-empowered state of mind. Be afraid. You DO IN FACT live under an iron fist. The fact they set up this deceptive enviornment should strike fear in your heart for it says something about their intent.
    Be god-fearing.

    They pushed Africans into being promiscuous and now punish them with AIDS. The gods have inflicted hypersexuality on Africans, illustrated by their art. Prior to the late 20th century the gods punished them in different ways:::slavery, African drought/famine, female genital mutiliation, violence, etc.

    AIDS is far worse than the Holocaust for the perpetrators have gotten away with murder. They are multi-millionaries and live in luxury. Unlike the Nazis they neither can nor will be hunted down. And they will always have ptotection from the gods, for the gods originally authorized these clones to create/manufacture the AIDS virus (outlandish profits in this industry was “the rope”, temptation for the disfavored investor who incurred evil, limiting their time).
    Then they will be granted their time, perhaps thousands of years if not more.
    Yes the Holocaust was staged and few if any real Jews died. However they did it EXPECT the gods used clones WITHOUT brains in their cranial cavity, the ULTIMATE in disposability.
    Many disfavoreds who died of AIDS were reals. And if you don’t believe it then you don’t understand disfavor:::The Jews are an antient people used to help the disfavored and were spread throughout Europe to try to help misled Christians. Misled Christians like you.
    Those who died of AIDS may have been the member of the family whom innocculations saved. The gods disposed of them this way instead.
    Be god-fearing.

    Africans and their decendants have gross disfavor::::
    There have been 14 species of large animals capable of domestication in the history of mankind. 13 were from Europe, Asia and northern Africa but none from the sub-Saharan African continent.
    Africans suffered failed attempts to domesticate the elephant and zebra, the latter being an animal that had the utmost importance for it’s applicability in transformation from a hunting/gathering to agrarian-based civilization.

    The Counsel/Management Team/ruling species (the gods) abuse black people so hard, from east African drought/famine to AIDS in Africa to female genital mutiliation, to the crack epiemic and gang membership, black-on-black violence to mass incarceration of their young. They refuse to address the issue of the prison industrial complex and its wholesale warehousing of young black men.

    The gods use the United States to hurt the disfavored, at home and abroad, for it is the goal of redwhite&blue:::
    20th century welfare hurt the black community very, very badly. There was too many abuses of the system and its legacy is still felt today.
    There will come a time that will be a CRUCIAL moment in the history of black america (whether it is a critical time for everybody remains to be seen). When that era arrives the gods will instruct the United States to pay black people reparations, and it may be as much as a million dollars for every man, woman and child.
    Refuse it. This is an act of preditation. The gods hate Africans, evident by the sorry state of the people in the United States and back in the motherland. This may ba a choice between going and the money. Understand how the gods use greed and materialism against you:::::Blacks wallow in materialiam, incurring evil and costing themselves time. And when their time DOES come they will be granted reparations immediately prior, further limiting the number of Africans who ascend.
    The day IS coming when they will grant reparations, and the amount will be staggering, another tactic to ensure you fail in the quest to ascend into heaven. And many of the disfavored blacks will blow it all; the gods will push them into spending it friviously or losing it in their casinos.

  25. Women who go to the ballpark get feelings like they are doing something wrong, that they shouldn’t be there.
    Women out on Bourboun Street today (Fat Tuesday) don’t get these thoughts because they are sluts.
    You have casual sexed away your women’s intuition.

    Even if you go up you are not saved. YOU have to fix YOUR problems with the gods. They won’t respect it otherwise.
    You have to take responsibility for your relationship with the gods.

    The first steps towards repairing your relationship with the gods is to:::::::::
    1. Understand they instruct the computer to “role play” in an attempt to confuse you:::it’s ALWAYS the computer addressing you. Their goal is to cost you additional YEARS of your life by using this tactic to confuse you. Always be aware of this tactic and eventually they will give up and allow this step to be taken.
    2. Differentiate between your thoughts and when they are thinking through you.
    3. Be resigned to be a good person who will never engage in evil again even if ordered and they will stop trying to corrupt you, allowing this very big step to be taken.
    4. Decide that you are going to follow the path, fix your relationship with the gods be devoted to your new life.

    The gods employ the use of “ringers” to disceive the disfavored:::
    A significant portion of the patients in any health care setting (numbers based on region) are the favored (clones) who were told to report non-existant symptoms FOR POSITIONING’S SAKE!!! When they use examples expect they are trying to disceive you with this “ringer” tactic.

    Therapists prey on others. They earn their livlihood capitalizing on another’s disfavor, knowing disfavor is why they are experiencing problems.
    At some point in their lives they learn this truth. That point and time is the most crucial in their lives for if they make the wrong decision and stay in their industry/follow through with their education they hurt themselves very badly in the eyes of the gods.
    Directing them into the industry (create passion)/telling them to take this path/compliance is a way to incurr evil on otherwise very good people (if you understand the demographic), people who normally would get a great amount of time, and it ensurs their stay is minimized if and when they do go.

    Lesbians need to rediscover their femininity for it is their advantage, it is what makes women superior to men. Perhaps it is the vulnerability that helps them readily find the path.
    When a woman repells from her femininity it is a bad sign for it means the gods don’t want her to be favored. Butchs and other lesbians need to rediscover this dynamic because this is the trait that can save them.
    My advice to homosexuals woudl be the following:::
    1. Stop enagaging in promiscuity and groups sex. This hurts you very badly.
    2. Be monagamous.
    3. Stop watching pornography.
    4. Be as decent and respectable as you can wihtin the context of your sexual orientation.

    The gods punished the hedonism of the 60s and 70s by introducing AIDS:::::
    They peaked the disfavored euphporically, made them homosexual then punished them with AIDS. They don’t give a fuck. They love to be vindictive and malicious. It is important that you get out of this USA-empowered state of mind. Be afraid. You DO IN FACT live under an iron fist. The fact they set up this deceptive enviornment should strike fear in your heart for it says something about their intent.
    Be god-fearing.

    They pushed Africans into being promiscuous and now punish them with AIDS. The gods have inflicted hypersexuality on Africans, illustrated by their art. Prior to the late 20th century the gods punished them in different ways:::slavery, African drought/famine, female genital mutiliation, violence, etc.

    AIDS is far worse than the Holocaust for the perpetrators have gotten away with murder. They are multi-millionaries and live in luxury. Unlike the Nazis they neither can nor will be hunted down. And they will always have ptotection from the gods, for the gods originally authorized these clones to create/manufacture the AIDS virus (outlandish profits in this industry was “the rope”, temptation for the disfavored investor who incurred evil, limiting their time).
    Then they will be granted their time, perhaps thousands of years if not more.
    Yes the Holocaust was staged and few if any real Jews died. However they did it EXPECT the gods used clones WITHOUT brains in their cranial cavity, the ULTIMATE in disposability.
    Many disfavoreds who died of AIDS were reals. And if you don’t believe it then you don’t understand disfavor:::The Jews are an antient people used to help the disfavored and were spread throughout Europe to try to help misled Christians. Misled Christians like you.
    Those who died of AIDS may have been the member of the family whom innocculations saved. The gods disposed of them this way instead.
    Be god-fearing.

    Africans and their decendants have gross disfavor::::
    There have been 14 species of large animals capable of domestication in the history of mankind. 13 were from Europe, Asia and northern Africa but none from the sub-Saharan African continent.
    Africans suffered failed attempts to domesticate the elephant and zebra, the latter being an animal that had the utmost importance for it’s applicability in transformation from a hunting/gathering to agrarian-based civilization.

    The Counsel/Management Team/ruling species (the gods) abuse black people so hard, from east African drought/famine to AIDS in Africa to female genital mutiliation, to the crack epiemic and gang membership, black-on-black violence to mass incarceration of their young. They refuse to address the issue of the prison industrial complex and its wholesale warehousing of young black men.

    The gods use the United States to hurt the disfavored, at home and abroad, for it is the goal of redwhite&blue:::
    20th century welfare hurt the black community very, very badly. There was too many abuses of the system and its legacy is still felt today.
    There will come a time that will be a CRUCIAL moment in the history of black america (whether it is a critical time for everybody remains to be seen). When that era arrives the gods will instruct the United States to pay black people reparations, and it may be as much as a million dollars for every man, woman and child.
    Refuse it. This is an act of preditation. The gods hate Africans, evident by the sorry state of the people in the United States and back in the motherland. This may ba a choice between going and the money. Understand how the gods use greed and materialism against you:::::Blacks wallow in materialiam, incurring evil and costing themselves time. And when their time DOES come they will be granted reparations immediately prior, further limiting the number of Africans who ascend.
    The day IS coming when they will grant reparations, and the amount will be staggering, another tactic to ensure you fail in the quest to ascend into heaven. And many of the disfavored blacks will blow it all; the gods will push them into spending it friviously or losing it in their casinos.

  26. I’m not holding my breath :) But competition is welcome. The key issue here, I believe, is duplicating people, not technology. Technology is easy to do — everybody has read four years of blogs, forums, and sites describing how “easy” a “group of script kiddies” are able to cook together something that could be the “next Second Life”. Well, I tend to agree. The technology is the easy part. If you have a product to look at, and can grab an off-the-shelf set of libraries to do all the hard number-crunching work to put a 3D environment on your screen, well, it’ll be no huge feat to design something from scratch that looks better.

    Second Life suffers technologically too much for constantly reinventing the wheel in all places that are critical, while delegating to third-party tools the less important things (like in-world streaming or handling audio… or licensing the SpeedTree code but never actually deploying it). The only advantage to that is actually being able — at some stage — to open source almost all the code, which they’ve done so far with the client.

    But… technology is just half the equation. Or perhaps 10% of it. Or, if we are really mean, the least important aspect of it. Whyville looks awful — like a “parody” of a MMOG — but it has 2 million users. Disney’s own virtual world for kids is also as primitive, and probably has as many users, if not more. Habbo Hotel — needless to say, it’s even more primitive, but way more successful. The examples of “primitive technology looking good enough” succeed because they focused on what would make them successful: the people.

    So, we’ll see what Outback can provide to the people. It certainly seems to have appealed to the technologists so far. But… to become mainstream, you need much more beyond technology :)

    Oh, sadly, as part of the minority of 10% or so Mac users, this will be another MMOG I’ll have to pass, and stick with SL for a few more years until Apple has, say, a 40% market share with their OS to make it worth development for it :)

  27. I’m not holding my breath :) But competition is welcome. The key issue here, I believe, is duplicating people, not technology. Technology is easy to do — everybody has read four years of blogs, forums, and sites describing how “easy” a “group of script kiddies” are able to cook together something that could be the “next Second Life”. Well, I tend to agree. The technology is the easy part. If you have a product to look at, and can grab an off-the-shelf set of libraries to do all the hard number-crunching work to put a 3D environment on your screen, well, it’ll be no huge feat to design something from scratch that looks better.

    Second Life suffers technologically too much for constantly reinventing the wheel in all places that are critical, while delegating to third-party tools the less important things (like in-world streaming or handling audio… or licensing the SpeedTree code but never actually deploying it). The only advantage to that is actually being able — at some stage — to open source almost all the code, which they’ve done so far with the client.

    But… technology is just half the equation. Or perhaps 10% of it. Or, if we are really mean, the least important aspect of it. Whyville looks awful — like a “parody” of a MMOG — but it has 2 million users. Disney’s own virtual world for kids is also as primitive, and probably has as many users, if not more. Habbo Hotel — needless to say, it’s even more primitive, but way more successful. The examples of “primitive technology looking good enough” succeed because they focused on what would make them successful: the people.

    So, we’ll see what Outback can provide to the people. It certainly seems to have appealed to the technologists so far. But… to become mainstream, you need much more beyond technology :)

    Oh, sadly, as part of the minority of 10% or so Mac users, this will be another MMOG I’ll have to pass, and stick with SL for a few more years until Apple has, say, a 40% market share with their OS to make it worth development for it :)

  28. Useless.

    No Mac client = no (or far fewer) cutting-edge people. No artists, no musicians, nobody but accountants. So right there, they’ve cut their own throats. And yeah, I really wanna see someone try building 3D models with an Xbox joystick. Hah. Yes, us Mac users are somewhat condescending. We try to be nice about it, but the fact is, Windows is useless for artistic pursuits. Making any media platform without Mac support is retarded. There.com already tried that, and it’s an ugly, fringe system.

    Using P2P is insane, or at least very ignorant. Putting the client *and* server in the hands of the enemy (the end-user) is so apocalyptically stupid I can’t even believe I read that. This has been known in the virtual world and online gaming communities for 25+ years; if you give the users control of what someone else can see, they will abuse it. And most people simply don’t have the upstream speed to support anyone else. You desperately want centrally-located servers on a fast network pipe, not some crappy home DSL.

    Their scaling numbers (100x SL’s!) are beyond preposterous, into outright, Bush-level lies. You have to download textures, maps, and models sooner or later. You can put everything on a CD, as games do; or wait 10-15 minutes for a region to download fully at the start, as many older VW systems did (and then stream more stuff in when additional people arrive); or you can stream them as you need them, as SL does. Those are your only options. Magic pixies are not going to get your data onto the client any faster.

    If you do stream everything up-front, your app will rapidly consume many GB of disk space. How many 100s of GB do you have free? Say goodbye to all of it.

    Graphically, SL is primarily limited by video card memory. You can send very blocky, ugly avatars with nasty low-rez textures and get a somewhat faster system, though you won’t beat SL’s avatar count by more than 5-10x with that, and it’ll look terrible, it’ll make There.com look attractive. If you send avatars as complex as SL’s, or more so, and decent textures, you will get exactly the same performance problems in large groups as SL.

    On the server side, to get any better performance than SL, you have to greatly simplify or remove the server-side physics model; if you trust the client, some people will find ways to cheat and abuse others. Maybe you don’t want physics, but the physics is a large part of what makes SL feel like a different but equally real world.

    This isn’t even remotely a serious proposal.

  29. Useless.

    No Mac client = no (or far fewer) cutting-edge people. No artists, no musicians, nobody but accountants. So right there, they’ve cut their own throats. And yeah, I really wanna see someone try building 3D models with an Xbox joystick. Hah. Yes, us Mac users are somewhat condescending. We try to be nice about it, but the fact is, Windows is useless for artistic pursuits. Making any media platform without Mac support is retarded. There.com already tried that, and it’s an ugly, fringe system.

    Using P2P is insane, or at least very ignorant. Putting the client *and* server in the hands of the enemy (the end-user) is so apocalyptically stupid I can’t even believe I read that. This has been known in the virtual world and online gaming communities for 25+ years; if you give the users control of what someone else can see, they will abuse it. And most people simply don’t have the upstream speed to support anyone else. You desperately want centrally-located servers on a fast network pipe, not some crappy home DSL.

    Their scaling numbers (100x SL’s!) are beyond preposterous, into outright, Bush-level lies. You have to download textures, maps, and models sooner or later. You can put everything on a CD, as games do; or wait 10-15 minutes for a region to download fully at the start, as many older VW systems did (and then stream more stuff in when additional people arrive); or you can stream them as you need them, as SL does. Those are your only options. Magic pixies are not going to get your data onto the client any faster.

    If you do stream everything up-front, your app will rapidly consume many GB of disk space. How many 100s of GB do you have free? Say goodbye to all of it.

    Graphically, SL is primarily limited by video card memory. You can send very blocky, ugly avatars with nasty low-rez textures and get a somewhat faster system, though you won’t beat SL’s avatar count by more than 5-10x with that, and it’ll look terrible, it’ll make There.com look attractive. If you send avatars as complex as SL’s, or more so, and decent textures, you will get exactly the same performance problems in large groups as SL.

    On the server side, to get any better performance than SL, you have to greatly simplify or remove the server-side physics model; if you trust the client, some people will find ways to cheat and abuse others. Maybe you don’t want physics, but the physics is a large part of what makes SL feel like a different but equally real world.

    This isn’t even remotely a serious proposal.

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. 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 :)

  33. 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 :)

  34. “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.

  35. “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.

  36. 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!”

  37. 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!”

  38. […] Robert Scoble reports that an Australian company is working on a new Second Life competitor called “Outback Online” that replaces centrally-hosted servers with P2P technology to provide better graphics and more scalable islands. You can sign-up on their website for an Alpha version they plan to release this summer. […]

  39. 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?

  40. 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?