Tag Archives: Meta

The Metaverse Standards Forum is Now a Thing

Yesterday I stumbled across the Metaverse Standards Forum, and it isn’t even a complete sham.  I mean, for specific definitions of the word “sham” I guess.

I saw a post about it over at VentureBeat which, given their editorial policy, prepared me for it to simple be a another vector for blockchain to try and infect the world, a Trojan horse follow on as the crypto crew had been trying to co-opt the metaverse as a Web3 concept.  But it appears to be more than that, if not everything it might be… or even anything of value.

The Metaverse Standards Forum

The first clue that it might be more than a crypto front was the membership list.  The list is long enough that the page on their web site has a search function.  There are a lot of groups on that list.

Some of them you could guess.  Meta is on there.  They are still trying to make Horizon Worlds a thing, now with kids, even as they are laying off people from their Reality Labs group.

Then there are big platform players, like Sony and Microsoft on the list.  And a few big games industry names, like Electronic Arts and Epic Games, and media groups like Comcast and creation tools companies like Adobe and and processing concerns like Inetl, Nvidia and AMD.

And there are some complete randos, like the NBA and Ikea, who are probably in there to make sure their stuff doesn’t get used without them getting a cut, along with the wannabe financial outfits looking to make bank on a trend.

Then there are the rest, and there are a ton of little names and logos… and the list is a good example why the name of your organization should be part of your logo… for a plethora of concerns, including the usual blockchain crowd.

Not on the list: Playable Worlds.

I guess Raph and his team are too busy actually MAKING something akin to a metaverse to be messing around with this stuff.

But what does the Metavervse Standards Forum?  Well, they have a FAQ for that, and that is the very first question on the list.

What is the mission of the Metaverse Standards Forum?

The Forum aims to encourage and enable the timely development of open interoperability standards essential to an open and inclusive Metaverse.

Oh, we’re still working on that interoperability fantasy, the idea that there will be one metaverse and we’ll be able to take our collection of virtual garbage from world to world across companies.  Despite every serious financial discussion of this ending at the conclusion that no company will ever be incentivized enough to participate in such a scheme, it remains a goal. (But maybe AI will fix that? No, it will not.)

And what do they mean by “encourage and enable?”  Aren’t they going to DO something.  Well, the second question on the FAQ covers that.

How will the Forum pursue that mission?

The Forum is a venue for discussion and coordination between standards organizations and companies building metaverse-related products. The Forum does not itself create standards but instead generates domain and technical reports, use case and requirements recommendations, pilots, testbeds and plugfests, open source tooling, best practices and guidelines, and other data, insights, and visibility to enable standards organizations to accelerate the development and evolution of standards that will be essential to building the metaverse.

So no, it won’t actually be creating any standards.  Instead, reading between the lines and using my own experiences on standards forums back in the day (I was deep into the VXML standards group for my company about 20 years back, and spent some time on VoIP groups.  Some day I will write a blog post about the great failure of VXML.) what they are planning to do is act as the publishing arm for any member of the group to publish a whitepaper or study or wild ass opinion piece of vision of the future under the auspices of the organization.  You pay your dues and you get your get your endorsement.

And they get right out there and say it is not, in fact, a standards group.

So, is the Forum a new standards organization?

No, the Forum will simply coordinate requirements and support for existing standards organizations developing standards relevant to the metaverse under their existing governance models and intellectual property frameworks.

No standards… which is what seems to be applied to their membership list.   Like I said, a lot of no-name wannabes on there.

Now, I don’t want to be completely unforgiving about this venture.  It may have started off with good intentions.  I am sure somebody’s vision was of serious organizations publishing well researched studies into the deep issues of the metaverse and the technologies behind it.

However, if the barrier to entry is too low, and that membership list screams a warning about it being way too low, then you end up with what you get at the App Store; self-serving garbage will become the norm unless the forum maintains very strict editorial control.

But if the editorial policy is too strict, if members start bitching about being shut down or locked out, then they’ll stop paying their dues and walk away.  The forum will want to protect its funding stream, so they’ll likely err on the side of publishing more things.

Anyway, we shall see.  I would say there is about a 40% chance that after a few headlines we never hear about this not-a-standards group again.

20 million Quest Headsets Later is VR Dead at Meta?

There was an item in the news this past week that declared that Meta had sold just about 20 million Quest headsets so far.

That kind of seems like a win.

I mean, you sell 20 million of any expensive electronic gizmo without a killer app to drive demand and you’ve done pretty well.  Right, because there remain no killer app for VR, no title that people would throw down for the hardware just to play.

I mean, Beat Sabre is cool, but not that cool.

Time Magazine on VR 7 years ago

It also at least implies that there is a market out there, an installed base ready to jump on board should somebody finally find the sweet spot for VR titles.

Granted, there are some holes you can poke in that vision.  How many people are still using those early generation units, if they are still viable?  How many of the subsequent generation units have been purchased by die hard VR lovers who replaced early units?  And how many were purchased, used for a few hours, then stuffed in the back of a closet only to be forgotten.

Still, a lot of companies would love to have sold 20 million of any of their products.  So the Oculus team deserves some credit.

Of course, if the division that made the 20 million things ended up losing $1,200 for every one they sold, that might take a bit of the edge off of any envy you might feel for Meta.

In just 2021 and 2022 the Reality Labs division within Meta operated at a $24 billion loss.  And, sure they did a lot more than just the VR headsets, but VR is the cornerstone of the whole metaverse VR reality that Zuck has been championing.  You can blame Horizon Worlds and whatever hare brained schemes that never saw the light of day over in Menlo Park for the losses as well, but it was all predicated on the idea of VR being the enabling tech.

Now, however, Zuck is out telling people how he is putting together a team to work on AI, that being the latest and greatest of buzzwords, which has seen Microsoft and Google pouring cash into, so Meta is going to follow suit.

But the unstated side effect seems to be that his ardor for the metaverse has cooled.

Zuckerberg goes to VR France and Spain

There hasn’t been any big announcement to that effect.  But John Carmack, maybe the only person on the Reality Labs team with the vision and sense to know where VR ought to go, has been in the wind, gone from Meta for about a year now.

The layoffs that have hit the tech giants, each shedding at least 10K staff in a show of something, have reportedly hit the Reality Labs staff particularly hard.  So now the group is a shell of its former self being run by the VP who worked on the Juicero (and no, I am never going to let that go) to carry on with whatever the plan is now that AI is the shiny new paste gem in the dime store tiara that is most of Meta.

Will Horizon Worlds users ever get legs at this rate?  That was all promised before the great cuts and the chase after AI.

Not that the Reality Labs group is dead.  They still have a roadmap with hardware objectives including new VR headset models and some AR gear.  But it seems possible that Zuck’s obsession with the metaverse might be well and truly over.  Still, something came of all that cash.  It isn’t like he did something really dumb, like buying Twitter for $44 billion.

Reviewing My 2022 Predictions

We are back once again for another review of some really bad predictions I made at the start of the year.  I have engaged in an almost annual experiment in proving how wrong I can be about the future for a good fourteen years now.

2022 is what we get

While we are still a good two weeks shy of the new year in my book, if it hasn’t come to pass by December 15th, it probably isn’t going to happen.  So it is time to see how off base I was.

As usual, I will score by giving myself 10 points for each correct prediction, with partial credit available… because I often write rambling predictions with multiple points of contact.

Looking back at the questions from the start of the year… well, I seemed to be in something of a mood, especially about EVE Online.  Though not without reason on that front.  After declaring an “age of prosperity” they went and announced a plan to keep the economy strangled going forward.  “Prosperity” was nowhere in the cards they were dealing out.  But I was also moody about a few other companies.

Anyway, let’s get to the scoring.

1 – Activision-Blizzard will drop “Blizzard” from the Corporate Name

I backed myself into this one, having made a declaration about this in August of 2021, when it seemed as though the company could sink no lower in its scandal ridden tales.  It seemed like they had run the name through enough mud that it might be time to go back to Silicone & Synapse.

But it did not come to pass.

Now, I could make excuses about how the Microsoft acquisition, which showed up less than three weeks after my predictions, locked everything in place, so no major name change was likely to occur… but, in hindsight, no name change was likely to happen either way.  When you have Bobby Kotick at the helm, Blizzard would have to work a lot harder to eclipse the stink on him.

Zero points.

2 – No WoW Expansion in 2022

Man, I was not on a hot streak for 2022 was I?

Okay, this one did not look that outrageous a year ago.  Blizzard seemed to be in disorder, Shadowlands was flailing about without content updates, and there was some word about retooling their approach.  It seemed likely that they wouldn’t get out an expansion this year.

But they managed it.  The jury is still out on Dragonflight… I mean, I loved Shadowlands for about a month, before I found the quick trip to level cap meant and endless endgame treadmill… but it launched at the end of November and is still running along.  I haven’t seen the traditional glowing “current expansion exceeds all past expansions” press release about any sales metric yet.

In the end though, even if it dies in a month, they still shipped an expansion.  Zero points.

3 – The Arthas Hail Mary

I’m going to have to quote this one, just to avoid having to recount it point by point.

Wrath of the Lich King Classic will be announced to great fanfare.  This will be the big 2022 announcement for the WoW franchise, and it will be as stale as you expect.  While I love the whole retro server scene, and WotLK as well, there is a reason that Daybreak doesn’t put out a press release every time an EverQuest progression server unlocks a new expansion.  And it will be tainted by the same things that hurt Burning Crusade Classic, like a special deluxe package with a horrendous mount to single you out for ridicule.  It will be more popular than whatever is going on with Shadowlands, an admittedly low hurdle, but it won’t launch until Q4 so we won’t see any financial impact during the 2022 calendar year.

I mean, sure, Wrath Classic, big fanfare… but Dragonflight was probably the bigger announcement, if only because it was new and unexpected.  We all had no doubt Wrath Classic was going to show.  It also made it into Q3, just barely.  But it counts.

It did, however, get the ugly mount that singles you out and it was sure as hell more popular than Shadowlands this year.

I am going to give myself 4 points for this one.

4 – Immortality is Overrated

Okay, I am getting a little better as we go along here.

Diablo: Immortal will finally ship in time for summer… after all, NetEase is the one doing the work here.  It will get a lot of hype from the company because WoW Classic and Hearthstone updates can only carry so much water for them.  It will be briefly popular, because we do in fact all have phones, combining as it will everything Blizzard promised (something like Diablo) and everything fans feared (cash shop from hell), but the Q3 2022 financials will only mention it in passing.

I mean, isn’t that pretty much what happened, right down to shipping in time for summer?

You can split hairs on that one, but I am giving myself the full 10 points.  I rarely get this close to the mark.

5 – Activision Will Settle with the State of California

Okay, after that riding high on that last one I am brought low again.  I, not for the last time I am sure, invoke the Microsoft acquisition to explain this away.  Zero points.

6 – Bobby Kotick Will Remain in Charge at Activision

And, just to switch things around, the Microsoft acquisition pretty much made this a lock.  Not that I thought Bobby was going anywhere otherwise.  He has set himself up to suckle at the company’s teat, sucking down a huge amount of cash while he runs an entertainment sweat shop.  Why would he step away from that?  10 points.

7 – Enad Global 7 will Announce Marvel Universe Online

Oh EG7, you had such a potential winner here.  Even the hint of this project got the company more press than it had seen in a decade.

Massively OP declared Blizzard’s problems with its NetEase contract the biggest MMO company blunder, but when we measure the potential upside lost relative to the size of the company, this one dwarfs the NetEase deal.

Yeah, in case you hadn’t heard, all they announced was that the project was cancelled.

Zero points.

8 – H1Z1 Will Remain in Limbo

Sometimes I need a gimme.  H1Z1 is Schrodinger’s battle royale, neither dead nor alive.

10 Points.

9 – LOTRO Old and New

I was predicting a split in the product, with a new branch to support the console plans that EG7 kept talking about.  But we didn’t get anything really about the whole console thing.  I suspect the tepid response to Amazon’s Rings of Power, which was supposed to ignite more Tolkien interest, might be on the list of reasons.

Zero Points.

10 – Nothing New in Norrath

EverQuest and EverQuest II rolled on as before, and no new Norrath titles were launched, announced, or even hinted at.  Kind of a gimme.  But I need all the help I can get.

10 points.

11 – Ji Ham Confirmed as CEO of Enad Global 7

This is a complicated one.  Technically I think Ji Ham is still “acting” CEO of EG7.  His linked in profile still has “interim” on display.

On the other hand, the Daybreak team completed their reverse acquisition and now pretty much run EG7, so the idea that he is going to be asked to step down from the position seems pretty silly.

I am going to give myself 4 points because he is the CEO and they aren’t going to replace him.

12 – CCP will Circle the Wagons to Defend Against Player Feedback

Yes and no.  CCP management certainly came into the new year saying they knew better and would do whatever they wanted.  But push back from players got them to declare against crypto in EVE Online (for now), and they eventually began to relent on some of the things dragging down the New Eden economy, like capitals and battleships being too expensive to bother producing and the stranglehold on minerals… things that were pointed out as problems the day they were announced.

The economy is still not perfect, but things are at least better now… a year later than they could have been… should have been… but better.  I’m giving myself 2 points for the beginning of the year.

13 – New Eden Economic Times

This is basically part 2 of the previous item, only more about the in-game economy.  CCP eventually relented on many things that players had been complaining about since they were introduced, so I feel like I would be double dipping if I gave myself more that zero points.

14 – New World on Consoles Announcement

Sorry, no.  They spent most of 2022 trying to fix the game so people would play it again.  Their expansion saw a brief spike, but fresh start servers are really what brought people back because they could at least play on worlds that had not been screwed up economically by the company’s bumbling management of the game for the first few months.  Zero points.

15 – New World Store Update

None of these things came to pass.  Zero points.

16 – Crypto Mania will Continue and yet Yield Nothing of Value

I mean, unless you can assign value to schadenfreude I guess.  10 points.

17 – Metaversary Rhymes

Part two, the whole crypto metaverse idea of being able to bring your car from Mario Kart into Forza or whatever.  It didn’t go anywhere either.  10 points.

18 – Non-Fungible Fiascos

My ongoing bets against crypto seemed solid, but my guesses as to which company’s we beshit their games with it… well, this was the list:

  • EVE Online
  • Star Citizen
  • Black Desert Online
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Wild Card: Some Gamigo Title

None did however… which, given the talk a year ago, means crypto must have really taken a dump in 2022.  I was never happier to get zero points.

19 – Chapter and Metaverse

I was predicting that Zuckerberg’s own personal metaverse, Horizon Worlds, would gain no traction.  They were making managers force their employees to log in.  Hell, it was all they could do to announce legs… and even then they didn’t show the actual in-game legs, but specially rendered ones on the virtual Zucks.  10 points.

20 – A Better Metaplace

Raph and Playable Worlds did not deliver anything in 2022.  Zero points.

21 – Non Starters

My usual gimme list of games that won’t ship.  Basically 10 points for free.

Extra Credit

These are bonus, usually outrageous guesses for some additional points.

The first guess was that CCP would get fed up with players electing the CSM and just appoint their own council, the way Blizzard did.  Like I said, I was in a bad mood.  That did not come to pass, so zero points of extra credit there.

Meanwhile, I also guessed that Blizzard would get bored of their own WoW Player Council, thank everybody for their service after a year, and forget about the whole thing.  While the WPC has been a giant nothing burger so far as I can tell, I just went to check its special forum and it still exists.  So zero points of extra credit there as well.

The Final Score

I had a total of 210 possible points for my main predictions.  From my scoring above, I managed to get a total of 90 points.  That gives me a nearly 43% success rate, which is far better than I have done in some past years.  I guess the lesson here is always bet against crypto.

That is all I have.  Another year down.  Now I have to decide what I will do for 2023.  Predictions?  Questions?  Demands?  Something else?  I have two weeks to figure it out.

Meta Horizon Worlds Stands on Legs of Lies

My name is Zuckermandias, King of the Metaverse
Look on my Legs, ye Critics, and despair!

-Zukermandias, with apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelley

The tragic tale of Horizon Worlds, where a boy entrepreneur just wants to spend his billions in an effort to be popular continues.

Zuckerberg goes to France and Spain in search of friends

Back in August, in an effort to promote Horizon Worlds, they put out an announcement that they were expanding to France and Spain, featuring this picture of Mark Zuckerberg as he was rendered at the time in the product.

This wasn’t something from the bottom of the page, this was the primary image in the announcement, apparently something they were very proud of given its place of prominence.

The announcement and Zuckerberg were, of course, roundly mocked for the low quality effort this represented.  Obviously stung by this reaction, he was back online that week showing higher resolution images of Horizon Worlds and himself.  Always himself in the pictures, front and center.

The posted updates

This response itself generated its own round of mockery, not the least of which was asking why, if they had this available, did they lead with the garbage they chose?

Then, of course, the fact that Mark Zuckerberg’s bland features don’t translate well into a lifelike digital avatar.  But he is writing the checks, so he gets to be on the front page of everything, even if it hurts the product more than it helps.

A couple of weeks back we then saw news about leaks from Meta and how the employees don’t use Horizon Worlds and that the company is keeping track of that and set to make managers accountable for forcing employees to play in their virtual world.  Dogfooding dashboards for the win I guess.

Also in the mix during that was the fact that Meta had spent $10 billion on VR in the last year, with an eye towards spending even more over the next few years.  A brave move in light of how the stock price has been going this year.

Whoops, the Meta is shrinking

All that money and the avatars don’t even have legs yet!

I am going to guess that the ongoing mockery about legs and the lack of them has been stinging as well, because this past week Meta posted a clip on various social media platforms about legs coming to Horizon Worlds.

The appearance of legs

Once again I want to talk about the image they decided to run with on this.

Here we have one of the richest couples in the world, Mark and his wife Priscilla, hopping around on new found legs while the legless masses… or the legless dozen by my count…  look on, cheering wildly for their lord and master.

Is this a metaphor for the world now or what?

Also, do we have to lead with Zuck every single time?  I know he is the main shareholder and what he says goes and he wants to be something like popular, but still, can’t somebody talk him back.  I’ve seen his unblinking visage testifying before congress and he lacks graphical fidelity in real life, so he is never going to make the product look good.

But at least they have legs on the way.  The users of Horizon Worlds will have legs to stand on.

What form those legs will take remain a mystery however, because Meta admitted shortly thereafter  that “To enable this preview of what’s to come, the segment featured animations created from motion capture.”

Legs in the preview may bear no resemblance to whatsoever to the legs that will some day grace avatars in the VR paradise Mark Zuckerberg is trying to will into existence via prodigious spending.

And so it goes with the ongoing saga of Horizon Worlds.

At least they have stayed away from crypto and that garbage, which was in the news as well when it was announced that Decentraland, a blockchain title trying to stake some claim as a metaverse, had just 38 active users one day.

Even the Team at Meta Doesn’t Play Horizon Worlds

Wherein we learn, among other things, that Meta has “dogfooding dashboards.”

The word going around this past week was that Meta’s entry into the fight to be the Metaverse… for whatever definition we’re currently using… Horizon Worlds has problems.  Lots of problems.  Problems beyond poor graphical fidelity and a lack of legs.

This image of virtual Zuckerberg will never go away

Internal memos leaked to The Verge… because you know the team is on board when they’re sending pics of the company’s dirty laundry to the press… say that the product is on “quality lockdown” in order to fix bugs and performance issues that currently plague the product.

Among the information leaked was that the people on Reality Labs team, which includes both the Oculus hardware group and the team making Horizon Worlds, barely spend any time using the Horizon Worlds product.  The “dogfooding dashboards” say so!

What is a “dogfooding dashboard,” besides a grammatical usage offense?

There is a term in business about “eating your own dog food,” which means using the products you actually make because they’re useful and you believe in them.  If you work for Ford and drive a Toyota, you are guilty of not eating your own dog food.

I have worked at companies that have studiously avoided using their own products.  My last company had a whole division that ran a phone and video conferencing system, but our division used WebEx instead… because our own dog food kind of sucked.  That is usually a sign that something is wrong.

So a “dogfooding dashboard,” from the context of this leak, is the company keeping track of how much time the team is spending with their product.  It is something very reminiscent of the Dave Eggers novel, The Circle, which I wrote about back in 2013, where a social media company was very much into ensuring the dog food being consumed by its employees was strictly its own and consumed only in the recommended and approved fashion.

So that is your dose of dystopia for the day.  I am sure those dashboard aren’t just for the Reality Labs team.  Do Meta employees have a Facebook posting quota?

Meanwhile, the response to this lack of taste for the Horizon Worlds brand of dog food is to hold managers accountable for getting their teams to use the damn product.

Everyone in this organization should make it their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds. You can’t do that without using it. Get in there. Organize times to do it with your colleagues or friends, in both internal builds but also the public build so you can interact with our community.

The force feeding of dog food will continue until you learn to love it!

Meanwhile, it has been news for a while that Meta has spent at least $10 billion so far on VR and metaverse related work and is on track to have spent as much as $70 billion total by the time 2026 rolls around.

That is a lot of money being spent in pursuit of a goal that one of the key designers says doesn’t have a very realistic chance of coming to pass.  Of course, the Reality Labs team has talent from all over, including one of the execs who helped make Juicero… well, not a thing, but a mockery of a thing… so it isn’t clear if everybody is pulling the same direction over at Meta when it comes to the metaverse.

But at least they’re not jumping on the crypto bandwagon.  I will at least give them that.

Meta Putting its Best Foot Forward in the Metaverse

I saw this image getting plastered all over social media, mocked by all and sundry, related to Meta announcing that they they were expanding the Horizon Worlds metaverse product into France and Spain.

Zuckerberg goes to France and Spain

That is such a “Welcome to the Uncanny Valley!” picture that I was sure it must have been some old bit of test material or something somebody mocked up in order to poke fun at the dubious vision Mark Zuckerberg has for the metaverse.  I mean, there are probably more polygons in play there than in something from Second Life back in 2003, but that just seems to prove that it isn’t the polygon count that matters, but how you use them.

I was convinced that no sane company would lead with that image.

And then I followed the link to the announcement and, there it was, front and center, the anchor image… the only image… for the post.

AYFKM?  I am still half convinced it was a mistake and you’ll find that my link to the post directs you to a copy on the Internet Archive because I feel like somebody will realize their error and fix it.  I mean, even The Onion is having a go at him over this.

But it has been several days now and nobody has updated the image.  That was the look they were going for.  I mean, I guess it doesn’t draw as much attention to the fact that he has no legs.

Anyway, as noted, I am hardly alone in calling this out as a joke.  John Carmack wept.

In fact, the feedback has been so consistent in ridiculing this that Zuckerberg had to get out on Facebook and Instagram to announce that they would be doing major updates to Horizon and avatar graphics.  I like the Twitter reaction better.

That is certainly better than the original, though now I think Zuck might look more like a real boy in Horizon than he does in real life.   The scenery is good though.

The posted updates

No word on the whole legs thing however.  Legs are probably still off the table… meta-phorically speaking.

Of course, he’s getting dragged for the updated version as well.  He’ll be meme fodder for a while.

Answers to My Questions for 2021

Back at the start of the year I eschewed the usual predictions post and instead went in for a round of questions.  After 2020 I was clearly feeling unprepared to predict anything, though this was not the first time I went down that path.  Now we have hit the middle of December and it is time to see if any of my questions got answers we like.

2020 plus 1

There is a long pattern of me making such posts on the first of the year.

Anyway, let’s get tucked in and see what I can come up with.

What will a return to normalcy bring to the video game industry?

Right off the bat I am going to have to object here to the assumption that we’ve returned to anything like normalcy.  We’re not in 2020 anymore, but we’re not not in 2020 anymore either.  The shadow of that year lay heavily over this one, its poison seeping in.  People who can are still working from home, Covid is still spreading, the economy is still in a bind from the pandemic, and the world still seems to be going to hell at a rapid pace.

Will Shadowlands hold players?

Well, at least we have an easy one here.  The answer is “no.”  There are a few reasons, not the least of which is Blizzard not releasing much in the way of additional content and Blizzard being revealed as a nightmarish Dickensian workhouse of misogyny and intolerance.  Also, maybe “run Torghast every day for the next two years” wasn’t the winning plan that somebody thought it was.

Will Diablo Immortal ship?

Another easy one!  And another “no.”   Wyatt Cheng once asked if we had phones.  Many of us probably have new ones since he asked that question at BlizzCon 2018.  Now does he have a game?  That seems to be a more pertinent question at this point.

Does Blizzard have anything new planned?

Three for three here on the easy questions, with another big “no” on the tally.  Diablo II Resurrected is about as “new” as they got, and they had Vicarious Visions do the remaster of a twenty year old title for that.  It was a good remaster, but it wasn’t new.

Along with that we had Burning Crusade Classic and WoW Classic Season of Mastery, also not new.  Even the solo mode for Hearthstone didn’t feel very new.  I guess their bigger company issues got in the way for some of that, but it still feels like they came into 2021 just winging it and hoping something would come up.  And, honestly, they don’t seem to have much lined up for 2022.  How can such a big studio… more people work on WoW than most MMO studios have total employees… deliver so little?

What does Daybreak under EG7 really portend?

A reverse merger, with Ji Ham now at the helm?  I wouldn’t have called that one.  Otherwise there has been some promises for the future, but the first year really seemed like business as usual for Daybreak… except maybe they didn’t lay so many people off in 2021.  That’s a plus.

Will Norrath continue to boom?

Kinda, maybe, sorta.  As noted above, things were mostly business as usual.  That has generally been good for the Norrath titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II, which get an expansion in November/December and a major content drop in late spring/early summer every year.  So things roll on there.

But when it comes to doing anything new, it is LOTRO they want to put on consoles, DCUO they want to update, and an unannounced Marvel IP MMO that gets all the headlines.  They even keep bringing up H1Z1.  But EverQuest as a franchise?  Any plans for that look to be dead.

What happens with H1Z1?

Nothing.  As I wrote above, EG7 keeps bringing it up when they talk about the important IPs they control.  There is clearly some wishcasting going on about the title returning to the top of the battle royale genre. But actual progress?  There was some mention that they had a few people look into being able to run a build, but otherwise nobody appears to be working H1Z1 in any meaningful way.

At least they stopped renaming it I suppose.

Where is Cold Iron Studios?

Not with Daybreak and EG7, we know that much.  Somewhere between the announcement that Daybreak was purchasing Cold Iron and the launch of their game Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Cold Iron went somewhere else.  Details are hazy, the story is mostly inferred, but Cold Iron never made it into the EG7 stable of studios.

What does ArenaNet do after all the departures?

Pretend nothing has changed and announce an expansion?  This is the problem with bringing up studios and games I do not watch closely.  A bunch of key people left ANet last year, but back in August they announced the End of Dragons, slated for February 2022, so I guess everything is good.  Maybe?  I don’t really know.

Where does CCP go next with New Eden?

Nowhere?  Seriously, after the Triglavian story cycle the company has been been focused on the new player experience and trying to force the in-game economy into a form that they believe is best for the long term survival of the game, ignoring the short term “hey, can you give us something fun?” requests from the players.  Short sheeting the economy isn’t fun.  Even if you don’t care about the economy and mock miners and industrialists who are complaining, you have to admit that there is very little fun in what CCP has been doing for the last year.

Will CCP stop strangling the New Eden economy?

No.  There was a promise over the summer that the end of scarcity was coming.  But the Q4 quadrant, New Dawn: Age of Prosperity, involved very little prosperity.  For every relaxation of the economic restrictions there was some matching nerf to offset things, often hidden behind some oppressive new game mechanic.  CCP said they were listening to feedback, but they mostly slowed their roll a bit (compression will be in 2022 now) and tried re-arranging the deck chairs some (“waste” got renamed to “residue”) as they carried forward with the goal of resetting the economy to some past halcyon state.  I am sure this will end well.

How Will World War Bee End?

The side with the 3:1 numbers advantage got tired and went home.

There are many ways to spin who “won” the war.  PAPI can claim that they forced the Imperium down from four regions to one constellation and destroyed trillions of ISK in ships and structures.  The Imperium can claim that they held out, denied PAPI their stated victory conditions, and in the end destroyed as much in ships and structures as PAPI did.

As for losing the war, that award generally goes to the group that loses their space and has to move elsewhere.  That makes Legacy Coalition, the main instigators of the war under Vily, the losers.  TEST, the leading alliance in Legacy, lost their old space, couldn’t hold their new space, and ended up trying to live as far away from the Imperium as they possibly could.  Brave gets a special mention for losing hardest of all, as not only did they lose their old space and their new space, but now the rest of PAPI is attacking them because Brave sold structures to the Imperium so they could at least asset safety their stuff and get some seed ISK in the bank to carry on.

Really though, the honor of ending the war goes to CCP.  It was already somewhat obvious after the second battle of M2-XFE that their servers were not going to be up to a final mighty battle.  And then CCP made changes to resources and production that made capital ships too valuable to expend freely, so the attackers were limited to subcaps.  In the choice between investing a lot of time and effort in a real blockade of the final Imperium constellation or just going home, they opted to go home.

Will Nintendo announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?

Yes, goddammit, yes they did.  About freaking time.  And it has shipped and there is a copy for me and my daughter under the Christmas tree.  We’ll see how that plays out soon enough.

Will crowd funded MMOs finally find their way?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  I mean, Crowfall went live I think.  I am not sure it will survive, but it shipped.  And they are a stand out in the stable of crowd funded MMOs, which mostly promised things they couldn’t deliver.  Don’t spend money on things that you cannot play today.

Project: Gorgon is the right path, as it was in playable form from the day of the first monetary ask. Camelot Unchained is the wrong path, asking for money, blowing through every promised date ever, and starting a new project before the promised one is even in beta.  And then there is Star Citizen… well, they certainly know how to milk a community.  Star Citizen is a lot of things, but being an actual video game seems to be a few bullets down the list.

Is there anything new possible for MMORPGs?

The metaverse maybe?  That seemed to be the topic for 2021.  I don’t know if it is Raph Koster’s desire to remake the simple days of MUDs in the 90s or Mark Zuckerberg’s dystopian vision of an all controlling metaverse that turns our very desires against us, but I guess either might be something new… at least for MMORPGs.

Oh, and something about crypto and NFTs.  But we’ll probably burst that bubble in 2022.

Will I play anything new this year?

Valheim.  That was a bit of a left field star, but ended up being our main game for about two months earlier this year.  New World showed up and, once the initial chaos settled down, the instance group got into the game.  And then there was Forza Horizon 4 & 5.  Open world driving for the win.  There were a couple of other small titles that were new, but nothing that I invested more than a couple of hours in.

That I played three new games made 2021 a departure from the usual routine.  In 2020 80% of my game time was spent in WoW, WoW Classic, and EVE Online.  The year isn’t over yet, but so far those three titles represent less than 50% of my tracked play time.

Will VR get a killer app this year?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  VR will remain a niche so long as it requires a real world obscuring mask strapped to your face… oh, and the motion sickness issue gets addressed.  Ready Player One and Zuckerberg’s idea that we’re all going to live in his ad laden VR metaverse hell is a pipe dream.

Will the industry be smart enough to keep regulators away?

Not really.  The industry’s best defense so far has been regulators being interested in other things to further their own interests.  It has to be a slow news day for lockboxes to make the headlines of late, so politicians and regulators have mostly been busy elsewhere.   Except for Blizzard.   Yeah, Blizzard is having some regulatory issues, though not over lockboxes and that sort of thing, just mundane things like running a hostile, discriminatory work place.  The usual corporate thing.

But the industry keeps on trying to get the government to come down on them hard, with cryto and NFTs on their list of things to try next.

Will We lose Section 230 Protection?

Not yet, though Facebook seems to be pushing to have that taken away, because they have the money and the staffing to deal with any new regulations which would help them cement their place in creating our dystopian future… and present… and recent past.

What will I do when the blog turns 15?

Write a post about it.  That is my answer for most things I suppose.

So that was the list for 2021.  As those were just questions rather than predictions there is no score.

I think I’ll be able to warm up to doing some predictions for 2022.  I have a couple of weeks to get on it.  But first I need to make a 2022 graphic.

Facebook, the Metaverse, and John Carmack

The metaverse is honey pot trap for architecture astronauts.

-John Carmack, Consulting CTO for Oculus VR

The metaverse has been much discussed in our little corner of the world here in 2021, largely due to Raph Koster and his Riffs by Raph columns over on the Playable World site where he has been writing about virtual worlds, multiverses, and the potential for a metaverse.  While he is clearly selling a vision as much for investors as for us, his self-promotion contains plenty of valuable insight.

There has also been something of a wave of NFT and blockchain proponents hyping their favored tech as the key ingredient for some future metaverse, though they can hardly drag themselves away from destroying the planet and scamming people with the virtual goods version of the property flip scam to be taken seriously.  They are are just modern incarnations of those who would sell the Brooklyn Bridge or investment opportunities in perpetual motion machines.  George C. Parker would be very much at home among them.

Steam went so far as to ban all titles that have NFT or cryptocurrency ties. (Scott Hartsman has a Twitter thread about why Steam might not want the liability that comes with those titles.)  Epic went the other direction immediately because Tim Sweeney’s idea of an argument is the automatic gainsaying of whatever his opponent says.  But Tim Sweeney says a lot of things, and he carefully caveated his statement to give the Epic Store an out.

But the big bombshell this week was Mark Zukerberg announcing his intention to create the metaverse and being so invested in the idea that he has changed the name of his company to Meta.

The memes based on this image are quickly becoming meta

My gut reaction to a Facebook owned metaverse requiring me to strap their Oculus hardware to my face and let them watch and exploit everything I do in their Horizon virtual world sim is a pretty strong negative.

The pitch has been put together in this 20 minute video which features Zuckerberg himself explaining how he wants to co-opt the metaverse idea and make it something he controls.  He isn’t so much promoting a metaverse so much as a “Zuckerverse” where he’ll be king.

Part of me sees evil based on what Facebook has become, but part of me also sees somebody who peaked in their 20s with an astounding success, becoming a billionaire over night, who now wants to top that.  Oh, and I also see somebody who has no idea what real people want or need… and maybe a bit of distraction from the bad odor Facebook is in right now as well.  Lots going on here.

And I am one of those people who read Snow Crash in the late 90s and have been hearing about the idea of VR since the mid 80s, so I am still in the target zone for online world ideas.  But Facebook driving it… well, a lot of people were annoyed/dismayed when Facebook bought Oculus back in 2014, and we were only angry because Facebook hosted crappy spammy social games and harvested our data. (Some fun links in that post. I think the Raph Koster one might be the most on the money, which doesn’t surprise me.)

More interesting and refreshing though has been the take by John Carmack, Consulting CTO for Oculus, which Facebook owns (and which is also losing its name), who gave the keynote speech for Zuckerberg’s event.  He seems much less convinced that the metaverse is an achievable objective in the way that is being presented.  The video of his presentation is embedded below, dialed up to just where he begins to speak about the metaverse idea.  He is a strong proponent of the idea, but not so much of the path it is on, and is keenly aware of the complications it faces.

The “architecture astronauts” he mentions in the keynote, from the quote I have at the top of the post, are those who like the big picture ideas of the metaverse while skipping over the details of how to actually make those big picture ideas work.

Carmack is very much about those details and points out quite a few issues with the idea of an Oculus VR based metaverse, not the least being the problem of the headset itself.  He compares it to the ubiquity of our phones and the challenge of reaching that level with hardware that you have to strap to your face and which blots out the real world, not to mention the whole motion sickness thing.  I mean, he still seems all in on a Facebook metaverse, he just just comes across as skeptical that they’re going about it the right way.

Anyway, there is a bunch there to digest and news stories abound about the Facebook announcement, so use your favorite search engine to find them, though if you want the best headline to come out of this, Vice has you covered.

Ars Technica also has a summary of the Carmack keynote if you don’t want to watch it, though I think watching it has much more impact.  There is also a nice Twitter thread that brings up key Carmack statements which is a quick read.

As for Facebook changing its name to Meta… does anybody actually call Google “Alphabet” now?  And what happens to The Meta Show, the weekly EVE Online Twitch show?  Does this help it or hurt it?

We’ll see what this looks like a year from now.

Addendum:  The Meta Show rebrands in light of the changes over the past week.

Fountain Frank announces The Facebook Show