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Raph Koster speaks on Metaplace's new functionality and the state of virtual worlds


Metaplace introduced the world to a brand new technology two days ago -- the ability to embed a fully functional virtual world into any website or forum, anything that can handle HTML.

This upgrade allows Metaplace to act like a more enhanced version of Google's old Lively service. All you need to do is make a world, take the embeddable HTML code from it, drop it into your website, and you now have a full virtual world running in flash right inside of your blog post or forum thread. The world can be edited to your whims through the Metaplace builder, letting you create whatever you want to create inside of your space. Think of it like Second Life Lite.

We had more than a few questions for Raph Koster, the founder and creator of Metaplace, about this new upgrade for his virtual platform, so we caught up with him to pick his mind on Metaplace and virtual worlds at large.

So, Raph, what are some of the ways people have utilized the embeddable function of Metaplace already?

Users are certainly already taking advantage of it. We had one user, an early tester, implement a WordPress plugin so you can just add a tag to a blog post and it will insert the world right in, making it super trivial. Ming is another example, as I know there's a group using that.

The range of things people can use it for is pretty interesting. At the low end, people can just stick it on a blog page, but at the higher end people can do some pretty complicated and interesting things. One cool example is embedding a Metaplace world inside of the popup bubble in Google Maps API. This way, you can use a virtual world to annotate a real world location.

This isn't just a step forward for Metaplace, but for the integration of virtual worlds into the web in general.

"This isn't just a step forward for Metaplace, but for the integration of virtual worlds into the web in general."

Can anyone just jump into this new feature, or do you still have to sign up?

Right now you do still have to sign up, but we embed the registration process right into the popup window once you click on the world. Guest support is something that is on our roadmap though. We're just worried about placing a heavy load on our servers, so we're starting it out this way and will slowly work up towards that.

So, are these worlds limited to just one world being embedded into a web page?

No, not at all! If you would click any portal visible in a world, you can teleport right over into that next world while still staying in the embedded viewer on the web page. Users will also still gain experience and coins for any surfing they do in the embedded worlds, just like they would if they were on the main Metaplace website.

Now, this isn't the first time this has been tried, with Google doing something similar with Lively. How do you see this as being different from Lively?

You know, I don't know if Lively is a virtual world or not. It was pretty limited in capicity. We're offering users to embed a full virtual world right into their web pages! If you grab a subscription from us, you can even have up to 100 people sharing the same virtual space. This is a very significantly sized environment that you could have.

I don't think it's a virtual apartment thing like Lively was. It's much more significant than that. We also have worlds that have been made by users that aren't what people have come to expect. We have worlds that are side view, worlds that don't look like worlds, worlds that look like plain text chat, worlds that are platformers or puzzle games.

The flexibility of the Metaplace platform, in my mind, means that what we'll see is a really wide range of possible use cases. You can have a Metaplace that's designed to look like it fits right on your page. I think that's right where it gets really interesting.

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