Metaplace -- a virtual world creation system that lets anyone make their own multiplayer games, link them and share them -- has just launched, at the Techcrunch 40 event. Metaplace was created by Raph Koster, the architect of Star Wars Galaxies and Ultima Online -- and the author of the incredible Theory of Fun. Metaplace is a world-creator that runs right in your browser, and that makes it incredibly simple to share objects, characters and entire worlds. I joined the advisory board as soon as Raph told me what he was working on and why -- this is one of the coolest ideas for gamespace that I've ever heard of.
Our goals are sort of idealistic. We think there are all kinds of things on the Internet that would be improved if anyone could have a virtual place of their own. Right now, there aren't enough good games, for example, and they all seem to be about elves in tights or soldiers in battle armor. Metaplace allows more diversity. Right now, there are lots of people who want to use virtual worlds for research, or education, or business, but it's just too darn hard to get one going. Now you can create a world in just a few minutes and start tailoring it to your needs. Basically, we wanted to democratize the process of making online spaces of all sorts...
We speak Web fluently. Every world is a web server, and every object has a URL. You can script an object so that it feeds RSS, XML, or HTML to a browser. This lets you do things like high score tables, objects that email you, player profile pages right on the player -- whatever you want. Every object can also browse the Web: a chat bot can chatter headlines from an RSS feed, a newspaper with real headlines can sit on your virtual desk, game data could come from real world data... you get the idea. No more walled garden.
(Disclosure: I am on the advisory board for Areae, the company that makes Metaplace)