Playable Worlds: A Brief Introduction

Playable Worlds is a new virtual world, still under construction and as yet unreleased, but I wanted to talk a bit about it, because it sounds as if they are doing some interesting things.

In a Sept. 9th, 2021 blogpost, CEO Raph Koster revealed a bit of the technology underlying the Playable Worlds platform:

We have built a metaverse platform. Oh, it’s not done. We’re probably going to be working on this for years. But I say “built” because, well, we have the basics of this stuff working.

We have a working massively multiplayer server. Further, it’s a true persistent state world, where everything you do is saved. Worlds change, evolve, and develop based on player actions (or AI or simulation, for that matter). It’s running on the cloud right now.

But it’s not just a server. It’s a network of servers. Whole MMO worlds can bubble up and go away on the fly based on player demand. It’s a heck of a lot more efficient than something like a headless Unreal server.

And you’ll be able to hop between worlds without needing to switch clients. It permits a single, shardless, ever-expanding, ever-changing online universe.

We’ve already got it working with full server-side game logic. Meaning – each world can have completely different gameplay, without needing to change code or take the server down for updates. We’ll even be able to map your controls from the cloud, because when we say different gameplay, we mean it.

This unlocks things that AAA games haven’t been able to do before, like A/B testing. It means that someday, we can let users write their own code for those servers, and they could earn money from their creations.

When you visit different worlds, or even different parts of worlds, everything comes down on the fly to a thin client. We don’t need to patch to add new content. Every world can look completely different – one might be ours, one might be a 3rd party creator, or a branded world, or built by users. For that matter, it won’t eat your hard drive: assets go in a cache, and the cache throws away old stuff you don’t need.

Raph goes on to day that the next step is to start building a modern sandbox MMORPG on top of this platform. And he is to be credited for his candour:

Look: saying you are building The Metaverse(™) is silly — that’s a project for many people over many years, and any one company that promises it anytime soon is probably biting off more than they can chew.

If you want to make online worlds, you better build a re-usable platform that scales with modern technology. It’s the sensible thing to do.

If you want others to use your tech someday, you better prove that it can deliver high quality content first.

And if you want people to actually show up, you better provide something fun from day one. That’s one of the lessons I’ve learned from decades of online worlds.

That’s why we decided not to talk about our platform until it was already working. There’s enough hype out there already. Most of you shouldn’t care! Most of you want a fresh experience, not a whitepaper about plumbing.

(Of course, if you happen to be someone who does care about plumbing, well, drop us a line. We do think what we have built is pretty exciting).

It’s all good to talk about metaverse dreams. But we’re practical people here at Playable Worlds. We’re not in this for virtual goods speculation. We’re not in this for acronyms.

Given some of the truly ridiculous promises which some metaverse platforms have made (“live forever”, anyone?), this is truly refreshing. This blogger approves!

For further information about Playable Worlds, please visit their website, read their blog, or follow them on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I will be duly adding Playable Worlds to my comprehensive list of social VR and virtual worlds.

Thanks to Dr. Fran for the heads up!