DescriptionMetaplace was a massively multi-player online project assembled around one central tool: a quite complex virtual world builder written in Flash. This tool was embedded within a social network where people, after a free sign-up and besides building their very own world, could create an avatar and travel the worlds of other players, commenting and rating them in the process, socialize with other players, and of course, play games. While doing so, every action would gain the player some experience points and virtual currency that could be spent for fancier clothing for the avatar or additional objects for the player's world, just to give two examples. Of course, as Metaplace was a commercial project, real world money could be exchanged for in-game currency, and a VIP membership was available that offered a constant stream of income and additional content.
The game world tracked three basic fields of action in which the player's avatar would gain experience points for:
The virtual world building tool of Metaplace offered numerous options that enabled the players to create worlds completely different from each other. The basic size-adjustable terrain available could be raised and lowered as the player saw fit, then floored with all kinds of tiles, and populated with buildings and a wide array of other objects both alive and dead, originating from nature, space, mankind, or whatever. It was even possible to import self-created content into the system. With all these options, lush southern islands could be created, stony extraterrestrial wastes on far away planets, residential areas at the peak of civilization, the player's personal nightmare, or nearly everything in between and off these. Furthermore, the player could place gates in his/her world linking to other player's worlds, a simple feat to amplify the feel of a social network.
Even more important than the great variety of the available building content were the advanced features of the world editor, features that could add interactivity to the otherwise passive rooms, thus turning them into a small video game at best. For instance, any object could be assigned a wide variety of properties so when a visitor clicked on it, it would play an MP3 or video file, throw a text message or even a dialogue tree at the visitor, would run away, attack the player, produce a constant stream of birds, or whatnot.
Metaplace offered all the bells and whistles of a modern graphical online community. Players could chat and make friends with each other, present themselves on their profile, play small two-player games, or even throw snowballs and tomatoes at each other.
Experience points were also granted for just exploring the virtual worlds offered by others and do the things presented there. The starting point of many players was the official content designed by the developers. These rooms were specifically built to show the advanced features of the world builder, and to provide a single stop for socializing, playing games and altering one's avatar.
Metaplace was shut down effective January 1, 2010, due to "not gaining enough traction to be a viable product", as the publisher put it.
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TriviaThe official closing announcement went like this:
Metaplace.com is closing downOver the last several years, we here at Metaplace Inc. have been working very hard to create an open platform allowing anyone to come to a website and create a virtual world of their own.
Unfortunately, over the last few months it has become apparent that Metaplace as a consumer UGC service is not gaining enough traction to be a viable product, requiring a strategic shift for our company.
We're sorry to announce today that Metaplace.com will be closing to the public at 11:59pm on January 1st, 2010.
This is a bittersweet moment for us. Metaplace Inc the company will be continuing on -- in fact, we have big plans -- but what you the users have known as Metaplace will be going away. We are also losing some friends and colleagues here as part of this strategic shift.
We'd rather dwell on the good than the sad. You, the users, have done amazing work here, and we want to celebrate it. We may not have managed to reach our goals with Metaplace.com and Metaplace Central, but we still had a lot of fun, watched creativity flower, visited amazing places, and made a lot of friends. We've had amazing guest speakers, more parties than we can count, live concerts, movie premieres and art shows; we've seen you make adventures and schools and churches and games and countless other sorts of worlds that would otherwise never have been created.
In that spirit, we want to treat these next two weeks more as a celebration of the good times. We invite you all to come back to see all of the amazing worlds that you have made. Registration will remain open, so you can show off to your friends. Remote embeds will remain active until the last day as well.
We'll be turning off billing immediately, and refunding everyone for all purchases in the month of December as well as subscription payments that apply to December and future months. This month is on us. We are suspending regular customer service, but the support site will remain open for now in case there are any critical billing issues.
We know many of you have done work here that you would like to preserve. Please do use this time to capture screenshots, data, scripts, movies, and assets. We have a FAQ that explains how to retrieve assets from the service.
When other worlds have reached a sunset point, people have lost touch with each other. We've made a lot of friends here and we're sure that you have too, so we don't want that to happen. We have created a forum site at http://www.metaplaceveterans.com that will be operational soon, so that you can all keep in touch with one another.
Finally: we want to treat the 1st of January as a celebration, rather than a sad moment. Please join us on that day for a party, starting at noon Pacific time. If Metaplace.com has to go, we want to go out with style, with joy, and with the same sense of fun that we have always had. Let's celebrate the journey, not the ending. There will be meeps -- count on it.
We're sure you have many questions about all of this -- and there's a detailed FAQ that we hope answers them. Click here to read it.
In the meantime, we want to thank you all for your support, your effort, your creativity, and your loyalty. We know that many of you will be disappointed by this outcome. We are too. We are embarking on a new and exciting direction, and it feels strange not to have you all along for the ride.
It has been a privilege to have had you here with us on this great adventure, and we hope that this community -- this wonderful, engaged, passionate, friendly community -- lives on and on.
We'll miss you -- and we hope to see you again.
Related Web Sites
- metaplace.com (official game website)
- Metaplace Memories (A Facebook community for former players. Contains lots of screenshots. )
- Metaplace's Raph Koster (interview with Raph Koster about the environment, prior to the closure of the project, on Eurogamer (5th January 2010))
- Metaplace Veterans (A web forum for former Metaplace players to keep in touch.)
- On The Closing Of Metaplace (A post mortem analysis of the service.)