I spent a frustrating 45 minutes on Cloud Party last night, lured there by a blog by the awful Hamlet ne Linden Au touting it as now a frontier populated by artists like Max Graff of Rustica (originally in Second Life).
I remember what a huge fuss Max made some years ago when his island was copy-botted and he blamed Linden Lab for poor response. I sympathize and I'm a big champion of intellectual property rights. What was more murky was why he didn't get a lawyer and fight in court -- but it may have been too expensive or required exposing his real identity -- that's the problem with trying to protect IP in SL. He stormed off to the open sims, although somehow, I think he remained in SL.
Now he has built a sim -- or a ...whatever they are called in Cloud Party -- a cloud? -- and it's -- well, ok. OK if you like scanning a postcard on line. That's what these non-SL worlds always feel like to me -- just going to gawk at something that doesn't involve me. You can't even gawk very well in Cloud Party, as there is no pan that goes easily all around the sim like control-click for panning easily in SL. You can't fly, which is the biggest frustration you constantly feel in CP. So you just sort of look at somebody's cut-outs they made on some third-party graphics program.
Or should we call it CCCP. One of the worst things -- THE worst thing I've discovered about Cloud Party is that every single object that is rezzed out displays a notice "CREATED BY" and then it puts the *owner's* name.
This is terribly confusing and wrong and in fact pernicious and should be fought tooth and nail by creators and anyone who cares about IP. When I first visited Philip Linden's home in Cloud Party -- yes, he's there with his Facebook sign-in so it's him -- a home identical to all the homes with their twisty uncomfortable stupid staircases up to silly boring houses -- I saw all these beds rezzed out that looked like the cherry wooden bed in the Library in Second Life. I clicked on them and they said "Created by Philip Linden" and I chuckled thinking he had made something like what he might have made early in SL. The beds were all ranged around as if he had a big sleep-over at his CP house.
Actually, what was more likely, is that he had the same trouble any of us had in dragging stuff out of the library in CP and getting it to set right in your house. And he didn't make those beds -- they're in the library.
I couldn't rez anything to test it myself, so I went back to my own home base, looked at my couch, taken from the library, and it said CREATED BY me. Not *owned* by me. CREATED BY.
If this is what is going to happen to everything taken out of inventory, existing as stock or sold or exchanged, then this has GOT to stop. They simply have to have "created by" and "owned by" or they really fuck up the metaverse on principle. And it's a principle I wouldn't be surprised Cory Ondreijka (a CP investor) has, since he was always for open source cultism in SL, didn't care about copybot or the reverse engineering even of his own proprietary code, and he was reputed to have left Linden Lab over a dispute with Philip that may have involved the question of how much LL was going to fight for copyright or not -- or some variation on that theme of whether the server code should also be released and everything should just "be free". We'll never know because no one is talking about what happened there.
While this "glitch" may not affect items being sold on a marketplace going forward, if Max and company really care about IP as much as they claim, they have to care about what objects say and about who made them. I did not create that couch.
In fact, I couldn't create a couch or even a covered cube or painting. That's what's so fucking frustrating with CP, you cannot intuitively, easily do the things that even as a newbie of a few weeks in SL, which I could do even without any skills -- like rez out something, upload a texture, put the texture on it. I struggled and struggled with the menus. They have completely non-intutive names for the various functions, which is just some geeky affectation. There is some sort of "mask" which *might* be layers on an object, who the fuck knows. I finally managed to upload a texture, but then there was no way to drag it on to the prim, or get the prim in "edit" mode to select a texture. The "mask" bar kept giving me error messages demanding I "do something," but there were no tutorials and no little instructions on the little stupid cellphone icon which I had once clicked on to move through a set of annoying tutorials forcing me to build before the game would even give me a house.
And that's just it. These people are doing it ALL WRONG. Just like they did on SL and a dozen other words. The theory of their Metaverse is first to have all the geeks and tekki-wikinistas to come and open source-cult-it-up with their junks and their cultist culture, and then have "content" that the rest of us will come and "consume", presumably, for a price.
That the "content" is going to be stuff like these strange greasy leaden "bubbles" in a "bubble factory" that somebody means nothing. That the "content" consists of evil-looking California suburban cul-de-sac neighbourhoods with awkward houses on stilts means nothing. They aren't about making homes, they are about making sandboxes.
These developers ALWAYS do this wrong. They should first FINISH THE GODDAMN WORLD and MAKE IT EASY TO USE! You know, they say Guild Wars did that -- took their time finishing the game -- and it came out better as a result.
Yeah, I get it that open-ended virtual worlds are "different". But...why? No reason except politics and ideology. They want the "developers" to come work for them for free in the alpha and the beta. Then comes gamma. Gamma is...what? (I'm not surprised to see c3's charming grumpy face in a discussion about this sort of thing.) Delta is...what? Endless change. Endless. It never finishes. Software is never done. That's why it is hard to build a civil society with it. But still. They could finish it enough so that ordinary people can come into it comfortably.
You shouldn't be forced through a routine learning how to build just to get a house. You should get the house, immediately. You should be able to right click and buy any private island or perch or place where you can set up shop as easily as you buy something on amazon.com, with one click into your shopping basket attached to your PayPal or credit card.
The world should be for people, not geeks only. Having geeks means the entrance areas are filled with show-offs and goofs and lifers and griefers spewing particles and rezzing penises. Having geeks means DISCOMFORT for the rest of us -- and for a good long time, probably forever, because once you let this destructive hacker culture take root in a world, it's almost impossible to eradicate it.
In fact, as Ahab Qvetcher was noting the other day (and it's something I've said before), before you code the world, you really should get the people together who want a world, and ask them what they want in a world, and how they want it governed. When that is decided, democratically, then you make the world as a technical exercise, not a political science exercise starting with the political science decision to make an open source cult as prior, infecting the world. As Ann Otoole has put it, the coders should start with the *customer requirements* first, not their own.
Now, back to Maxwell's build. Well, it's pretty and all, but you can't interact with it. You can't click on things. You can't click and see the "edit" mode and who made it or anything about it. It has this feeling of static post-card life like you are trapped in an old-fashioned stereopticon, without real *life*. (Blue Mars had that problem). For a world to have life, it can't just be moving itself, like the water there moves after a fashion in Max's build. *You* have to experience the sense that you have mastery over the world even as just an ordinary person.
And you don't have that in CP. You have the helpless feeling of being trapped in a geek's stereopticon that you can't modify or make home. I hate that. That *they* can sandbox in it is no comfort to me -- I don't care. I don't care for their culture or art most of the time.
I DON'T CARE THAT IT IS IN BETA AND IT PLANS TO BE DIFFERENT. Der, we heard all that and again, from Hamlet who is a total suck-up to this sort of hacker culture.
What matters is that NOW, when it's "open to the public," it is uncomfortable, stupid, annoying, and depressing. You can't make it home. You can't even put up a picture. You can't go shopping. You can't find other people.
Avatar camera tools aren't as important (although the ability to cam is crucial to making a world feel like "home") as being able to easily use tools to set up your house. Why not even have furnished houses? Chairs you can actually SIT on? (You can't sit yet there). Houses that you don't have to FIGHT in order to enter and see (like these ridiculous houses). Stuff that rezzes out quickly and easily to look at.
And the ability to make simple cubes with textures VERY EASILY.
The bow-legged avatars borrowed from Toast Bard aren't especially fun, and while they are going to have more choices for the avatar's "look" they really need to think about THE HOME part. HOME. It's really important. Linden took six years to get to LINDEN HOMES and make it easier for newbies to land in a place of their own easily. Cloud Party should get to this way faster. Like now.
Anil Dash says you can't make the revolution from the country club. What I point out to him is that the revolution IS the country club and you have to stop making geek revolutions that are not hospitable for anyone else.
PS I couldn't even find my own home I eventually painfully had worked my way up to through the forced march of the skills tutorials.
Now I'm back struggling to find it again. I stumbled on it last time through "last place visited".
I had to click through a bunch of named islands looking for "Catherine's Home". There's no "teleport home".
Oh well, in Second Life I bought my first land and then couldn't find my way back to it. I actually bought a sim on the auction before I finally found the "my property" section on the wonky SL dashboard.