It’s been a while since I commented on a virtual world. With the demise of Adobe Atmosphere (Which I still think is a huge shame) Second Life seems to have the genre pretty well sewn up; but (and it’s a big but) to do anything in terms of creating your own personal space to your own specification, you have to pay.

Now comes the early Aplha version of Metaplace. Users can build 3D online worlds for PCs or even a mobile phone without any knowledge of complex computer languages.

The web-based program is the brainchild of Raph Koster, one of the developers of massively multiplayer online games such as Ultima Online. So far, the only look we’ve had is a few publicity stills but I’ve just found the demo video below.

Users make the virtual spaces from simple building blocks. The results, which could be used for gaming, socialising or e-commerce, can be embedded in a webpage, facebook profile or blog.

“We are out to democratise virtual worlds and bring them to absolutely anybody,” said Mr Koster, founder of Areae, the company behind Metaplace. “You can come to the site, press a button and have a functioning virtual world that supports multiple users in about 30 seconds.”

Personally, that “30 seconds” worries me a bit because I’m used to putting in hours or even days creating graphics and 3D worlds. My concern is the results won’t be worth looking at. I am cheered however by the news that more competent visitors to the site can build a world from scratch using the tool’s own programming language known as metamarkup. Best yet, the language is “platform agnostic”, according to Mr Koster, which means that it can be used to create worlds which can run on anything from a powerful PC to a mobile handset.

So, if it gives me the ability to create a “World” and embed it in my Facebook for example, or create a 3D space you can see on your mobile phone, I’ll give it a try!

I’ve asked for a Alpha test membership – if and when I get it, you’ll see the results, and maybe even be able to “play” inside it, on this page first!


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