Metaplace is a next-generation virtual worlds platform designed to work the way the Web does. Instead of giant custom clients and huge downloads, Metaplace lets you play the same game on any platform that reads our open client standard. We supply a suite of tools so you can make worlds, and we host servers for you so that anyone can connect and play. And the client could be anywhere on the Web. - Metaplace.com
Basically it allows you to create your own MMO's that you can share on your own webpage/blog/cell phone/MySpace/Facebook etc. 'So what? There's plenty of MMO's I can play at the moment without the hard work of creating my own.' I hear you cry! However, it's not easy to get your friends to join in; their system might not be able to cope with the increasingly steep requirements of modern MMO's, the game might not appeal to them in the first place or, simply put, they may just never have the time. With Metaplace you can create simple MMO's in your own vision that anyone can run and join in. The virtual worlds you create can be linked with other virtual worlds your friends have created forming a whole social network of games created in the vision of each individual person. Pirates are Ninjas? There's a place for both in Metaplace!
The YouTube of MMO's? Possibly. I see it as a new social network that can interact with the endless iterations of social networks available on the Internet today. Sure, there are applications available that will work on many social networks but nothing even close to Areae's vision exists. The cross-compatibility capabilities of Metaplace are just immense (imagine popping through a door in this blogs world and reaching the world of Gnomes Lair, for example) . However, will it just be the flavour of the month? Many Facebook applications, for example, become extremely popular but are largely forgotten a week later as many of your friends have already moved on to the next big thing. Of course that's the nature of the Internet and many new products will also suffer this downfall. However, since Metaplace is said to flexible with what you can create we could see many of these hot new applications and games coming from the same place.
Will the tools to create your MMO be any good though or will the novelty wear off after a day or so? Apparently the tools are there for anyone to create a simple world without programming knowledge (let's be honest, most of them will suck). Whether or not this means there's also an option to create more advanced MMO's for those with the skills is not really made clear. The site does make clear that you'll be able to express a great deal of creativity through the tools but how tough is the limit (if any) imposed on that creativity?
I'm looking forward to seeing all that Metaplace has to offer and I do believe that it's something to be excited about. In my opinion the MMO genre is a bit stale at the moment and this could be the thing that kick starts it again. Since the games will work on sites like Facebook it will also mean MMO's are subjected to a much wider and, as was probably the aim, much more casual audience.
The majority of products fail to live up to the hype but I guess there's no harm in putting a little faith in reserve for those things you believe may be the next big thing.
More coverage that I would have included in the post if it weren't for my bed singing me its sweet song:
Short video preview - YouTube.
Feta in your meta - The Common Sense Gamer.
Metaplace - Where is it's Niche? - Keen and Graev.
Metaplace - Why Should Gamers Care? - Cuppytalk.
Metaplace Unveiled: Raph Koster Brings Virtual World To The Web - GigaOM.
Metaplace Madness: 5 Questions - The Server is Down.