If you’re a fan of The Last Starfighter, you’ll remember the “beta unit”: an artificial doppelgänger sent to take Alex Rogan’s place in his real life while Alex was bamboozled off (by the greatest bamboozler of all, Robert Preston) to become the last Starfighter pilot, and “…defeat Xur and the Kodan Armada.”
I’m about to become a beta unit of a different sort — to be more precise, a beta tester — for two different start-up ventures, more or less simultaneously. In chronological order of their anticipated start date, they are:
“Project X” by Micazook
Maybe it could be called “Twinity on steroids”: Web-browser-based 3D world mapped on (over) the real planet Earth instead of a flat fiction… from a company who seem, so far, to make 3D games for mobile phones. Here’s their blog page about Project X. Part 2 makes some effort to outline what will not be available during closed beta. To begin, only NYC, DC, and LA will be open — which already makes me wonder about non-US participants with no familiarity with those cities. Also, textual IM and voice are not part of the initial package; i.e., typed Local Chat only. They do promise customizable avatars, a mistake for which Blue Mars Beta has been notorious.
I’m interested, in this case, in what can be built and the tools provided to do so, and whether there will be room for fanciful constructions or if it’s meant to strictly correspond to the real sites. Long term — if there is a long term — my urge will be to leave the cities and see what can be done on, and with, the wide-open spaces. Under-sea habitats, anyone?
Oh, and they need a permanent name for it, too; “Project X” is a placeholder.
This site has been up for a while now, in its alpha phase. They already have a news feed aggregator in two languages, English and German, and this blog made the cut. The recruiting call for beta testers arrived a day ago, as a tweet.
It looks to potentially be a “LinkedIn” for virtuality, rather than a “MySpace”; in other words, everything Avatars United is not. They will also, I gather, be running a transworld (a.k.a. cross-platform) marketplace for buyers and sellers. That could be a very important feature for content creators looking to take their businesses to more than one world — for example, to OSGrid, where there is no in-world currency or economy, which is a huge stumbling block to many creators.
Why am I doing this?
I’ll mention my availability only in passing, because I hope it’s substantially reduced soon by a resumption of employment. Beyond that…
- My immersion in Second Life’s history has made me fascinated with what it was like in the Elder Days;
- Entry into OSGrid and building a region from scratch has given me a taste for pioneering and virtual self-sufficiency;
- I believe I have enough experience in both in-world and “meta” aspects of virtuality to provide useful feedback to the start-ups;
- I will enjoy the opportunity to report here, in a “gloves off” manner when necessary, about my experiences.
Both of those sites are still open for beta volunteers — if you have the time and/or inclination, I invite you to join me. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.