Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Retrospective Look at the Public Building Worlds - Yellow (Part 1)

It recently came to my attention that many of the dozens of articles I submitted to AWNews still exist thanks to Gmail, and I've been thumbing through them because I'd like to find some of the good ones and repost them here. The first of these articles is a topical series -- A Retrospective Look at the Public Building Worlds -- where I visited and built in several of the big public building worlds towards the end of 2005.

To give this some context, my interest in writing this series was because every public building world except for Alphaworld and AWTeen had become derelict and neglected.  Community interaction with AWI was practically non-existent (Flagg was still away during this period) and the biggest developments on the public building front were happening in AWTeen.  AWTeen had been experiencing a cities boom, and I wanted to open the door to other worlds and see what sort of potential they had for builders.

I will post an article from the series each day in their entirety (including original images), with minor corrections for grammar.  After the article I will write an addendum paragraph that compares the worlds then to the worlds now!

Today we will take a break from the series to post an e-mail sent to AWNews in January, 2006, in response to the ongoing series.  A citizen by the name of Casay who had been a member of the Yellow community during its original heyday sent a very long e-mail in response to the series and asked us to share it.  If you'll recall, the state of Yellow world was indeed very dire before Digigurl's efforts to restore it.  The e-mail has been posted below in it's entirety, and really captures the disappointment of one of these community members who had seen a beloved location fade into obscurity.

As an aside, it should be noted that I personally don't necessarily agree with all of the views presented here.  Some I agree vehemently with and others not so much, but in the interest of impartiality I won't elaborate on that. ;)  What I do really respect from this is the insight into this past era in cyberspace (Casay describes a time in her message up to about late-2002) and as such display it here for viewing.

There's also a hidden anecdote concerning one of our esteemed readers here today!  Try to find it ;)

(Note: this e-mail has been slightly edited from its original state, to correct spelling/grammar and change formatting to better suit the blog format.  The content of the post has not been altered.)

January 10, 2006
Hello Hyper Anthony,

As one of the original people in AW, a member of that Yellowstone community, and a long term member it breaks my heart to see how the whole place has gone down hill. Yes, Yellowstone was a very close knit community as was even GZ in Alpha World. I had a pretty nice house in Yellowstone, Winter and a few other places. I can honestly say that PK's and GK's and the like was one of the main downfalls of AW along with charging a monthly fee for access to basic avatars and building. Two Avs? come on...  Oh, the gate overall... well... is terrible and Alpha GZ should be the entrance to AW. You're not 'anywhere' at the gate and have to load another place... at Alpha GZ you're everywhere and can go for 'miles'.

I don't know how long you've been around in AW as I never met a "Hyper Anthony" that I remember, but 'in the day' there were thousands.. yes, thousands....  more people at any given time of day or night than there has been for years. I and several others tried to convince the 'new' owners that they need to get advertisement and let the worlds be free to use, have many avatars for users, allow them to build freely in the main worlds and such. A long time ago there was a Coca Cola billboard at Alpha GZ. How many people saw that? Thousands back then. Now with the advent of DVR's and such advertisers are stumbling over each other to get people to see their products since people like me just skip the commercials. The user base back then was mainly professional people, lawyers, doctors, students, a few just plain geeks and the like. I'm a chemist. Hmmmmmm.... wonder what kind of advertisers that demographic would bring???? Think about it.

We policed ourselves by using peer pressure and such. It worked and it worked very well. We did a 'door' check in Yellow. Someone was always watching to see if someone new entered and we'd stop our adult conversation if was the case to check out the new comer and change our conversation as needed. We usually told jokes but were always aware of children being around. It's just how it was.... not enforced, not made to be that way..... just the basic rules of cyberspace at the time. Peer pressure..... that was the key. People didn't swear.... it wasn't socially acceptable..... unless part of a joke or something but then still rare. A lot of flirting though...... and the adult stuff that did go on was well hidden. I wasn't even aware of it for a long time as I never 'participated' in it. Then there was Gor.............. sigh......and PK's and GK's and...... then ....what you have now. :-(

The presence of the PK's and GK's seem to get people to try to push their and everyone else's buttons, esp. young kids. The mute was powerful in the day as there was no 'boot'. Usually when someone would come into AW and be a jerk, we would ignore them, tell them we were muting them and 99% of the time they would apologize, change their behavior and then have fun because they wanted to be accepted and a part of the group. If they didn't, we'd ignore them and eventually they would go away....... sometimes come back..... and usually then change their behavior. That all stopped once there were GK's and PK's..... and so did the fun.

Alphaworld GZ as it appears at 0n 0e.

At any given time there were many people at GZ Alpha World so that when someone new came in, the people there just helped them, welcomed them and almost always there was someone anxious to show them their build! There were always people almost begging someone, anyone, to come see what they'd built! New people were always exciting and having other users help as opposed to GK's was much better as the honesty and excitement was contagious. This real community has been lost. My first time in Alpha, I met a young man by the name of ByteMe that was very excited that I, a new person, was there. He then showed me his build and introduced me to a guy named Grover. ;-) I also met Wascally Wabbit, Lucretia, HenrikG and many many other people and Guilds. Yes, this was a real community of friends, learning, showing off our abilities and such. What brought us all back? We believed in its potential and future. How many years ago was that? To just sit back and see it all ruined? To watch is disinterested into a bunch of Gorian worlds?? sigh..... even ol' Eep was right at times although he had no social ability to properly state it.

Just think, a huge company like Adobe actually paid to keep their stupid Atmosphere going for awhile. Why? Not because it was good technology, but because the overall idea was there, the potential was seen. That was even after the developer of VRML had hoped and stated it should die out. Atmosphere at its best was only as good as the origional AW and still not that good. AW could and should be one of the largest communities on the Internet. It was at one time and so far ahead of it's time......... it still could be if only the owners would truelly open up their eyes to the long term and run it like it should be. Oh, they sooooo missed the best business opportunity when going to 3.0. They needed to NOT make it backwards compatible and go forward. We begged them to just go forward. Keep the old as was and let the new go on and scream from the highest mountain this is Renderware 3, the same as the 'new' Sony play station...... how many people would have came? How many awesome worlds would have been built???? How many game programmers would have developed for AW just to have a chance to show their stuff????  How could have Rick and JP ignore this possibility??? How could they not have listened?????? Not have really seen it?? Now with the advent of broadband and faster processing I can only imagine what I could do there now when I could do a lot with 64 verts and notepad! ....remembering the day 256 verts were allowed...... wow! The AW Mall..... good idea done very wrong.

Yes, the communities are gone and never will they come back if AW keeps running the way it is. I still believe in the potential of AW to be one of the most successful browsers around. It needs real, long term vision and not quick bucks off of the users, but money from advertisement and such. One example: Years ago I mentioned to Rick and JP about a 'newer' place called becoming very popular for the games. Bingo in AW eventually came about and for what it was at the time was pretty darn popular. There was no reason that a part of AW couldn't have been a with many game worlds. Look at now (over a quarter million users + at most anytime, advertisers, prizes given by large companies.... yes, paid access to 'better' games.... but free for most) and maybe they can think that some of us knew what we were talking about back then and still do. I can think of many many other ways for AW to make money hand-over-fist but the first step HAS to be that it's free to enter and build in the main worlds. It will never, ever, ever work any other way.

Why did people come back to AW in the day? Because they learned to build something and then had  something 'tangible' to come back to. Oh, and it was FREE to do that. Those people were the community. They loved showing off what they'd built or done. Others, like myself invested in our own worlds as we wanted to do more. Would I have ever bought a world if I entered the place now? Probably not, and I'm certain I wouldn't have stayed like I did. Look at SimCity! Oh..... AW was the original SimCity...... another
opportunity missed........

I'll get off my rant but it truly does break my heart to see it all so ruined. I haven't been a member for a few years now and my last membership was payed by another person in AW as they didn't want me to leave. That person was Daphne, God rest her soul..... That last year I was hardly there anyway. I still pop in now and then as I have friends there still that let me use a spare account if I want. It has changed too much, the fun is gone even though I am able to make objects, avatars, textures and even custom seqs. The community is gone.........the gate is terrible.. Alpha GZ is empty.

So, places like Yellowstone will never be again. Pretty sad isn't it? The communities and friendships, the builds, the builders..... all gone. Rick and JP..... please take a hard look in the mirror and see that you don't have the users that were there before you took over and ask yourselves why????????????? You needed us and our ideas. It's to bad so many great ideas were ignored as your company would be totally different today. I personally like you both, that has nothing to do with it. I just honestly think you really don't understand how it should and could work. You have to make it free to use..... give people avatars, places to build and it will succeed. You will then have the tens of thousands of users at any time of day or night that you need to attract advertisement and so much much more............. jeese...... it was an International community to boot! How
many years ago was it we built IHI???? Now talk about ahead of its time.........

I know I speak for many many talented, origional community builders, users and developers of AW. Why do you think we're no longer there? I know what would work. It's to bad it's not seen. Yes, Rick and JP, AW can make TONS of money.... if only you'd see.......... Why do you think so many of us invested our own time and money into it? We believed..... then it died...... If you want it to work.... I know how and so do many others. Just do it!!!

They will come...............

I'd be happy if this email was passed around there........


  1. Yeah. It's a bit strange on the timing because it seems relevant to the discussion that we're having in the forums.

    The community, for all of its faults and its small size, is *there* and can compliment any effort AWI would take to push the AW Universe... but ultimately that effort has to be initiated by AWI. This sort of sentiment echoed the successes of platforms like Minecraft years before they even existed. I thought it was a nice perspective on a "What if" scenario proposed by someone who ultimately appears to have left AW because of AWI's move away from focusing on the main universe.