Universal Presence and Interaction in Virtual Worlds
Melanie gives a nice introduction for an interesting virtual world platform Multiverse Network, where I’d see a good fit also for a common interaction platform. I’ll be discussing the actual subject below, but, as a side-note, I’ve been long waiting for a platform with a common data model, where there would be e.g. Civilization and some FPS implemented on top of the same information – also, a mobile front-end for World of Warcraft would be a somewhat restricted example of this. You’d control the exact same entities from all different types of perspectives. This would probably require multiple players on both sides, as someone should manage the strategic level while others are doing some fast-paced shooting in first person. However, a deeper abstraction of roles is already provided in Battlefield 2/042, so the concept surely is feasible.
To the point… As there’s the ‘universal sign-in’ already provided in the Multiverse (OpenID, pretty please), I only hope they’ll use an universal and open XMPP network for interactions. And why not, since so many web services already do, at least internally. It would be such a nice feat for being able to interact with those worlds outside of the actual game interface, e.g. with mobile IM clients. Logging in with a simple IM client would produce some rudimentary presence to the virtual world, for others being able to ‘see’ and interact with you. This would bring at least some ubiquity to those worlds, and it would cost about nothing to implement if the system was already using XMPP. Perhaps there could also be some basic exchange features provided over IM so that one could do mobile bartering… (Or, why not use the standard platform.) XMPP could also open up many other types of interaction beyond text messaging, like VoIP. Naturally, it would also enable cross-world communication, like WoW <-> SL; VoIP etc. included. I see all this interaction-ability especially significant as the social aspect of online worlds is becoming more important.
Isn’t all this very trivial? Why I’m not seeing any discussion on this?
Btw., if you happen to know a decent mobile IM client – comparable to the very comfy Google Talk – please give me a hint. All the clients that I managed to find were relatively crappy. How come it’s taking so long to come up with a mobile Google Talk client with VoIP and video? I just fail to understand. There’s even the Flash-platform in new Nokias (my E70 included) which could be useful for creating a sleek interface.
Virtual utopia, here we come! That Orwellian utopia is so yesterday’s news.