After spending so much time on the negative aspects of There.com, I thought It only fair that I also talk about the good in it, and the stuff that brings me back.
I was born as an avatar of There in Zephyr, this was back in the days when your “birth” was random, and to be honest, I hope they bring that back. It encouraged people to get out and explore the new world they find themselves in, and the whole idea of Noobie Islands is so last decade.
I recall my avie eyes opening on a world so beautiful, the bright sun glinting off yellow sand, large balloons floating in the air, and then BLAMMO I got hit by a buggy! Welcome to There! It was marvelous, even as my body slid, arms flailing across the sand a large hoverboat mysteriously appeared and it landed with its protective circle around me, the pilot hurriedly explained how to get on it, and as soon as I did, off we flew into the sky! A knight is shining armor on a big blue flying boat.
So, yea, what was right about the World….
The community of There has always been the best part of There. People I have met in There have become my life long friends in RL and I am not the exception, but the rule. For many people There was social media before social media was “cool” so to speak. Before There became “free to play”, (which I really designate as the beginning of the dark days of There) There was a deep sense of connection in the community of users. Most were kind, and even the griefers (for the most part) were not cruel, per se, but more cantankerous and mischievous. Later the griefers were more the usual trolls, idiots and infantile flaming cretins that have been around the net since it was held together with duct tape and bailing wire, and the “noobie islands” were especially filled with their ilk. But wait I was talking about the good things in There, wasn’t I? I guess you have to include what went wrong with what was at first, very right to get the full picture.
In the beginning before “the rules that punish all for the few” were enacted, it was possible to spend your days finding and helping new people, giving them a little money, a few articles of clothing to get them started, loan them a buggy or a board. But then in a (mostly vain) effort to control exploitation the ability to be “nice” was taken away, and the community lost a way in which we bonded with one another. ‘sad
Before fixed zone ownership, There was filled with many wonderful and creative events hosted by various users. This too, was a great way to meet people. With the advent of ownership of zones, the Zone Owners began to use them to exclude others from using them and in the end many were empty and dead. I hope that when the World comes back, Event Zones (especially stages and bars) will not be owned by people but be available for hourly “rent” (at a reasonable rate) to prevent them from becoming dead zones again, and return them to the wonderful days of trivia games, fashion shows, lectures, poetry readings and concerts.
EXPLORATION AND ARTWORK
The artwork of There is amazingly detailed for the “cartoon aesthetics” that it is created in. There are so many large and small and intriguing secret spots in just the Three original islands, that it can take you months to fully explore them. Add to that the continual creativity of the community through the developer program and the world was changing all the time and was always fresh and new if you took the time to look around. This too, however had a down side when excessive use of “no drop” zones to “protect” the aesthetics of There became so prevalent that exploring became so frustrating that people tended to just be summoned to places, rather than using a vehicle to find them.
AMAZING WORLD PHYSICS
I could go on for days about the fun of playing with the physics of the world of There, but suffice it to say, the Vehicle physics alone are some of the best in any game ever, and it was a source of endless joy just driving around in a buggy that “felt real”. The physics of the world itself is fun to discover, and is pure genius. The ways in which the community built and created things that used the physics of the world was always surprising and joyful.
AVATAR INTERACTION AND VOICE INTERFACE
The voice interface with the avatar is still to this day the best voice program in any virtual world. The avatars of There were created with a deep understanding of what truly makes an avatar feel “real” to the user, and is a testament to the core of what There truly is: Avatar Centric Communication.