Worlds.com CEO Thom Kidrin seems like a rather opportunistic chap. He has a patent on a "scalable virtual world client-server chat system" and a "system and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space" that he claims any massively-multiplayer game is infringing.
His first target has been NCSoft, a Koreak publisher that's responsible for the fantastic-but-aging City of Heroes, and the no-subscription-fee Guild Wars. If that litigation is successful, then Thom says he "absolutely" intends to follow up with lawsuits against Activision-Blizzard and Linden Lab, who run World of Warcraft and Second Life respectively.
Thom says he doesn't want anyone to go out of business, he just wants to be paid for his intellectual property. It's going to be difficult for him to prove this one, though, given that these patents were filed in 1996 and 2000, and that most virtual worlds can trace their roots back much further than that, to MUDs, MUCKs, MOOs and MUSHes that date from the 80s.
We'll keep an eye on this story and report back any developments, because victory in court for Kidrin could see the fledgling virtual worlds industry being cut down in its infancy.
(via Silicon Alley Insider, WoW Insider and Massively)
It's not unreasonable to assume that whenever you meet someone in a virtual world or MMO with enormous, gravity-defying breasts, they're probably a man in real-life. But it seems that in Second Life, female users are flocking to a virtual store called Smashing Prims that's selling realistically bouncing breasts for their avatars.
2007 was another big year for gadget-heads, with a wealth of new tech to get to grips with, some intriguing industry developments, and the usual fanboy warz between Apple, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo addicts. We've been rounding up the key trends from 2007 over the past week, but if you missed them, here's a guide to the tech happenings that we thought were important in the last twelve months. Roll on 2008, when we can find out what's next in line to excite our minds (and drain our wallets).
Part of our series of festive posts looking back at the key happenings in 2007... At the start of 2007, we were in the midst of Second Life mania in the media, with newspapers and cultural commentators queuing up to rave about the virtual zeitgeist. Meanwhile, brands were piling into Linden Lab's world, hoping to share in the euphoria.
I still think the Martians killed President Kennedy. It makes sense if you think about it: maybe they did possess magic bullets capable of zinging around right angles and defying the laws of physics. And if the shots came from space, that would explain why they couldn't be traced. Really, it makes perfect sense. I'm writing a book about it. But in the meantime, conspiracy theorists wanting a new spin on the Kennedy assassination can now visit a virtual version of Dealey Plaza in Second Life.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that there are real thieves going about their nefarious business within virtual worlds. It's inevitable once people start spending real money on virtual items for their avatar or room. If those items can be stolen, then there'll surely be people trying to steal them. Such is the case in Habbo Hotel, where a group of Dutch teenagers has been accused of nicking more than 4,000 Euros worth of virtual furniture from other users.
The latest celebrity to venture into Second Life is Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoon strip. He was promoting his new book by fielding questions from SL users (including one Dogbert avatar), and allowing guests to, er, kick him in the nuts. You wouldn't get that at a Waterstones signing.
So, I spent two days soaking up presentations, viewing demos and talking to people at the Virtual Worlds Forum Europe conference in London last week. I'd label myself as an interested participant - I'm enthusiastic about the potential of virtual worlds - but nowhere near as steeped in their culture as most of the other attendees.
With that in mind, I've compiled a list of 20 trends and ideas that I picked up at the conference, which seem to be the most important and/or interesting ones affecting the development of virtual worlds right now. They're entirely subjective, of course, but I think they're all valid points. See what you think...
1. Shedloads of virtual worlds will be launched in 2008. Although the conference saw a lot of discussion about Second Life, Habbo Hotel, Club Penguin and other existing virtual worlds, there's clearly more where they came from. There's a number of virtual worlds in closed beta, or still effectively technological demos, but they all seem to be targeting next year for launch.
I tried to run the Second Life application on my much-loved Mac Mini the other day: you could practically hear its gears grinding. And I didn't even know it had gears. It's fair to say that you need a fairly ninja computer to get the most out of Linden Lab's virtual world.
However, not for much longer: it appears someone's working on a mobile phone SL browser. Check this on the TokyoZERO website. Yes, it's entirely in Japanese, but you should be able to make out that a.) it concerns Second Life running on a phone, b.) Sun is involved (the people behind J2ME), and c.) it's got something to do with mobile operator NTT DoCoMo too.