Saturday, December 08, 2001

Thinking Out Loud -- 8 Dec 2001

... Lord British did a round of interviews over the last couple of days. In the one where he talks about "Tabula Rasa" the most (which is still only about a paragraph), what he describes sounds a lot like what I described in my MMORPG email. I remember the word "instantiated" being very important to my understanding of what he's doing. (This article was also interesting in that there's some jabs at LB from EA.)

OK, now, thinking aloud.

It seems to me that the successful sites on the net are the ones run by the people who are insanely dedicated to their causes. For example, if I was a particular fan of tomatoes and thought it would be good if more people ate them, I might (on a whim) punch "tomatoes" into a search engine and see what I got. Hmm, bad example; a lot of sites would likely be porn. Anyway, a fair number of the (non-porn) tomato sites would be amateurish sites that publish "Ma Graham's Tomato Soup Recipe" or a bizarre diary account of a fellow who lived for a year on nothing but tomatoes. Both of those sites are interesting (if only in the sense that a traffic accident is interesting), but there's nothing on either site that would keep people returning to the site, and thus, neither site will make money.

The successful tomato site, it seems, will collect zillions of articles and recipes and so on about tomatoes, and facilities for people to write their own tomato articles (probably with notes from the moderators which detail the specific areas of tomato lore that are in particular need of articles). There would also be fora (I refuse to use the word "forums") which allow people to discuss tomato history, legends, recipes, crossbreeding, and pretty much anything else people care to do with tomatoes.

I can't believe that I've gone this far with such a silly example.

In short, one will have created a tomato community. For gaming examples of this, see www.apolyton.net (Civ and its brethren) or www.stratics.com (MMORPGs). This community can be advertised to, and make people money.

I'd like it if it was possible to do this in the area of gaming. However, I think now that the big gaming sites (particularly GameSpy with its www.planet(game).com sites) are doing this, one would have to go up against big money to compete, and, well, fail.

So: What other areas of the universe can communities be built around [to make money]?