> *Tuesday February 10th at 11:45 AM*
> *Corey Bridges
> *
> *An Introduction to Virtual Worlds*
> Corey Bridges is co-founder, Executive Producer and Marketing Director
> of the Multiverse Network, Inc., a company founded in 2004 by a team of
> Netscape veterans, and aiming to become the world’s leading network of
> Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and 3D virtual worlds.
> Multiverse has pioneered a new technology platform designed to change
> the economics of virtual world development by providing independent game
> developers with the resources they need to enter and compete in the $2
> billion online game market.
> Corey was a member of the original launch team for Netflix, and a
> pre-IPO employee at Netscape, where he worked as product manager for
> the company's flagship Internet browser.
> Corey also has written and directed a number of short films, and
> produced commercials and TV specials. An award-winning writer, he
> has collaborated with well-known technology expert John Dvorak on
> multiple books. He has spoken internationally about the future of
> virtual worlds.
> Corey, who oversees business development and developer relations with
> thousands of game development teams, ranging from garage developers to
> Fortune 100 companies to Hollywood legends, will introduce the concept
> of virtual worlds and describe Multiverse's unique technology platform,
> which is expected to change the economics of virtual world development
> by empowering independent game developers to create high-quality,
> MMOGs and non-game virtual worlds for less money and in less time than
> ever before.

Corey began his summary of the history back in the 1980s, when Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs) began appearing. They were text based approximations of the dungeons and dragons role playing games that many kids of the time were already familiar with. You moved by typing "go forward" or whatever. This would produce a few lines of text describing your new situation. Later they got more elaborate, adding graphics and more sophisticated user input.Ultima Online was the first massively multi player game where emergent user behaviors produced an interesting culture. That idea has since been run with by many other developers.

World of Warcraft is now the 800 lb. gorilla of MMOGs. Their system consists of backbone servers that the company controls and client applications that users buy for $50ish or download (about 6 Gigabytes) and then play from their home computers, paying about $15/month for connect time. This works out to about $1 Billion per year, and makes World of Warcraft the #1 media property in the world. Typical users play for about six months before moving on to other things. Not only does the company make a lot of money off the system, but there is a healthy aftermarket for things like weapons and developed characters on eBay and craigslist that results in many millions of dollars changing hands every year.

Lately products like Second Life have shown that MMD can be used for non-game applications. Multiverse has stepped into this relm by designing a system that makes it easy for developers to build up whatever kind of multi player universe they want. Many of the designers worked at Netscape on their famous browser and servers, so the Multiverse system is built starting with many of the lessons learned from that experience. Like most such systems it boils down to client software on the user's computer and a server where everything is orchestrated.

Corey explained that the company gives away its developer kit and client software. Then when a product gets good enough that it develops a revenue stream they take ten percent. Multiverse began developing their technology about four years ago now. At this point in time they have about 25,000 users in a variety of settings. He expects client applications to be developing revenue streams this year for the first time.

During Q&A a number of interesting things came up:

Multiverse gets its funding from angel investors. A lot of the development was done on the cheap, with a lot of the key people working out of their homes etc. Hopefully now it will start paying off. At this point the stock is informally worth about a buck a share. So far they have raised and spent about $4 million.

A college in Florida designed a game where you could "level up" your character by demonstrating a detailed understanding of the laws of physics.

There have been several religious groups that have used the system to do something. One group made a simulation of Jerusalem so that you can visit a historically accurate simulation of the place as it was at various times in history. A Christian group did something else a bit more tongue in cheek.

If you want to play with their software to try it out please visit: