metaplace_logo_rgb_low_rez.pngRaph Koster, formerly of Sony Online Entertainment and now working for Areae, has announced his new project at last weeks Techcruch40 conference. MetaPlace is being touted as a ‘Virtual World Toolkit’, using open standards to bring virtual worlds to the web.

Building on the current trend for user-generated content and social networking, MetaPlace is designed to work in a similar way to the web, playable on any hardware that supports the platform. Koster says in the developer’s blog:

“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.”

MetaPlace is nothing if not ambitious, aiming to bring the ability to create games and virtual worlds to as wide and diverse audience as they can, with users sharing resources such as art and mechanics to augment their own games and linking their games to other’s in new and interesting ways. Imagine playing a game of poker which one player has developed and then using your virtual winnings to buy a casino and running that in a sim style game created by another player, which has many other user created games running within it. Or being able to step between a space simulator and a medieval fantasy at the touch of a button, with the same character. Not only will dedicated users be able to create more hardcore titles, MetaPlace will cater to casual gamers too with people setting up puzzle games for each other and challenging friends with unique mindbenders.

In the comments on Raph’s blog, people are already looking at the educational and entrepreneurial applications for something like MetaPlace, users will be able to charge for their games, it will be free to make small games but anything more hardware and software intensive may incur some charges from Areae (though these will be negotiable on an individual basis). All in all it looks very promising and if take up by bedroom game makers we may see some really interesting and innovative stuff come out of it.Areae themselves are not shy of using the tools they are providing themselves, with an MMO currently in developement using the MetaPlace platform.

Metaplace is in the Alpha stages of testing at the moment and applications to take part closed today, though Areae promised to try and appease those that didn’t make the cut with possible places in the beta.
(From Gamesindusrty.biz and Kotaku.)

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