[ July 27, 2006 ]
A long time ago (a couple of years) I considered going to market with a gaming idea. The idea was fairly simple, and it’s coming to fruition in many ways already today.
The idea was to create a generic virtual world that could have modules built on it — modules for various different kinds of gaming interface. Examples would be driving, FPS, hand-to-hand combat, knife-fighting, swimming (SCUBA), flying, dating, shopping, makeup, clothes, cars…the list goes on and on.
Isn’t Everyone Doing That Already?
So, at first glance this sounds exactly like a number of different projects out there right now. I think there’s a major difference though. My idea is to have different interfaces, i.e. different games, within this world. So it’s not like you just have these various elements in the world, but rather you see the world through this preferred perspective. There is a business model built right into it. Here’s how it’d go:
People sign up for the base world — we’ll call it ALTAR (a play on ALTERnative). This interface is very basic. Basic looking objects, general physics, etc. When you do things in this world everything looks rather generic. When you drive a car it looks like … a generic 4-door sedan. The wheels are nondescript, no branding, etc.
But when you pay for the “EA Drive 6 Module” (like an additional $.80 a month), you get a different view of cars when you interface with them. When you’re in the regular world you see them as generic, but when you are close to them, or are interacting with them in some way, you move into the module you’ve paid for. Now, all cars have branding, the proper paint for the year, the proper engine sounds, and even the handling when you’re driving it.
More On The Model
So, the whole idea of the world is to substitute for the failing one that exists in reality. The one where most people are weak and powerless. So people will go to work just to pay their gaming subscription, and they’ll subscribe to the modules that they enjoy. The women will get all the latest clothes (the real clothes), the shoes, the makeup, trips to the salon, etc. Plus they can hike and spend time with friends online…whatever…only they’re doing it in a body that they love…
People can decide what kind of life they want to lead. Want to be a gangster sports star? Fine. Buy the sports package of your choosing. Compete. Based on real scores in the game, you gain rank in the world and, as a result, gain wealth. With wealth comes women and cars. Bling.
So now that you’re a sports star, how about making a rap or rock album? Great, record it on some software at home and upload it. It’ll go through a review process and you’ll get a real ranking. There will be real #1 hits, and the fame will be associated to your character online. Glowing hues — whatever.
So now you’re in the club, hanging out. Talking to some women due to your newfound fame. The women are real characters, by the way — wearing real clothes they picked out. So some punk comes in (NPC or a player) and starts doing whatever to piss you off. You decide to reach for your gun.
The moment you do, the entire game changes. Colors change, objects change, and now you have a life bar for everyone. Oh, and a crosshair. You’re in a first-person shooter.
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This module you’re now in is a separate game entirely, but it’s receiving it’s location information (it’s sense of reality) from the underlying engine. You simply have this interface because you paid for “ID FPS 4.5” as part of your monthly subscription.
While most will want to be gangsters, sports stars, cops, or other high-action roles, many will elect to just get together in this world and experience things.
How about getting together with your new potential lover and flying overseas and touring the Pyramids together? Think VR. Think true, seamless voice communication and amazing character rendering. This is basically spending time with that person, only in exotic parts of the world. How about a ski trip? Only with a ski module that lets you teach and learn how to ski. As you’re going down the hill, you’re saying “Hold on….! Left! Left!” …as you’re both flying down a hill experiencing the same thing together.
You can go on SCUBA trips and see real fish. Go flying with real planes (using the real controls) and look down at the world according to the latest Google Earth snapshot. Remember, that’s using a flying simulator from Microsoft, that you paid for in addition to the basic ALTAR subscription.
So anyway, that was the basic idea. A base world with a multitude of modules developed by third-party companies that tied into the base API.
Why I’m not pursuing it
I dropped the idea a long time ago and resolved to do nothing more than write about it. This post fulfills that.
The reason I’m not going to do anything with it is pretty simple. Many people have likely had this idea. The reason nobody’s done it is because it’s not technically feasible. Not only that, but the business model is wrought with problems. How could you get all those third-party game companies to dedicate so much time to the ALTAR world unless they’re getting paid enough? One danger would be that a competing base-world would emerge and destroy their investment. There are many other issues as well.
One thing I know for sure is that this is the future. It will happen and perhaps people are starting on it already. The problem is that it just requires so much computing power and so much interoperability between vendors that it’s totally unfeasible right now.
Anyway, I did what I came to do. That’s the idea. Now I can destroy all the copies I created and mailed to my friends via UPS. 🙂