Slightly Mad Avians: Humble talks Creatorverse, Versu and Dio

Update, February 19th, 2014: Creatorverse, Versu and dio were discontinued by Linden Lab on February 19th, 2014. Links to their websites, etc, have therefore been removed from this article.

Looking through the pingbacks on my blog comments, I was curious to see one show up on the 23rd October 2012 linking to an article I wrote back at the start of the year. Curious at to why someone would be linking to an old article, I went to have a look.

Turns out the article linking to me is from Kotaku, a games-related blog run by Gawker News – and the article itself is an interview with Rod Humble. (which came to me via Kotaku’s Australian site) Needless to say, I was more than a tad surprised to have someone interviewing our own Rodvik linking to my blog (oh, be still, beating ego!), so I decided to have a read through.

The piece itself is obviously about the Lab’s new and upcoming products, and it gives some interesting insights into the thinking behind them.

“Just about everybody I know who isn’t in the games business or programming business comes to me with a game idea or a website, and the truth of the matter is, quite often, they can’t make it.”

the article quotes Humble as saying. He then goes on:

“There’s this big barrier. They look at something like C++ [programming] code and, frankly, it looks like a big equation. It just looks like gibberish.

“The more we can make tools that are just fun to use—all of a sudden you are making something you wanted—you can focus on the creativity than mastering this arcane set of symbols. We can hopefully bring more people into that fold of ‘hey, you made something!'”

Thus is the broad thinking behind Patterns, Creatorverse and the still-to-be-seen Dio and Versu, which are apparently going to be appearing something in the next month – if not before the end of this one, depending on how you read quotes from elsewhere.

Creatorverse itself comes in for some attention in the piece – Humble describes it as being his five-year-old daughter’s favourite game at the moment, and it is referred to as coming out “later this year”. Whether that is a result of the interviewer misunderstanding Humble (the interview was via ‘phone), or whether it is because the release date may have shifted while the wheels at Apple (or elsewhere) turn slowly, isn’t clear.

What is clear, however, is the novel way Creatorverse is pitched in the interview:

In the near future, his company will put out a program for iPad called Creatorverse, which will let people use shapes and physics to create basic 3D systems and, yes, games, then share them for anyone else to download and play. Think of making a game that lets you fling shapes into other shapes—your own “Slightly Mad Avians”, he offers as an example, if you get what he means.


While Slightly Mad Avians could stand as a title in its own right (along with Perturbed Pigeons, a name Darien Caldwell suggested to me the other evening in an entirely unrelated conversation…), it’s nevertheless a curious hook on which to hang a description of Creatorverse – but an interesting one in terms of mental images….!

What is of greater potential interest, however, is the comments about the upcoming Dio and Versu.

Dio is described as: “A website that lets people create rooms out of their personal images and videos, connects them to other people’s rooms and lets people share the space.”

While it has previously been described as “A room creator, in which players can do everything from construct a choose-your-own adventure to develop an interactive wedding album,” and Linden Lab managed to accidentally give people something of a quick peek at an early iteration of a website connected to Dio back at the start of the year, the comment in the Kotaku piece implies that the website appears to be the product, rather than in support of it. It’ll be interesting to see how people react to this.

Versu, meanwhile, gains a little more flesh on the bones given in an interview with Giant Bomb, with Humble describing it as, “A platform that lets you make real interactive drama” by giving you “the ability to create characters within a story and then, thanks to the AI, see that “those characters will have emergent properties as you play through the story.” He goes on to admit that this is pretty ambitious and admits to an element of “Tilting at windmills” in order to bring it to a wide audience.

The article goes on to talk in more detail about Patterns, which many of us – and many more in the gaming community – are enjoying even in its nascent (or as Humble puts it, “not even pre-baked”) form. It also talks about Humble himself and his arrival at Linden Lab, which leads to a good mention of Second Life:

It makes perfect sense that Humble would wind up at Linden Lab, the company best known for the virtual world Second Life. It’s as successful a canvas for the communal creation of a virtual world as there’s been. It’s been a viable digital canvas for about a decade now has been populated by users who make their own buildings and vehicles, who design contraptions, contort physics, stage elaborate events, form societies, and pioneer the art of inhabiting elaborate second skins that express inner or otherwise impossible creativity and desires.

It’s a positive read, and well worth taking a few minutes out to read through.

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One thought on “Slightly Mad Avians: Humble talks Creatorverse, Versu and Dio

  1. I’ve noted many times that this same issue is why Flash was such a success, and is a critical flaw of HTML 5’s attempt to replace it.

    Anyone can open up Flash and draw pictures, then hit the publish button.

    HTML 5 can do it for free… if you take 4 years of college level programming classes. Programmers think this makes it superior – because they don’t have to buy an art program to do it, and can look at the ‘real code’. But that is exactly why it is a failed notion.

    From this angle, Rodvick has a point (up near the top of the blog). If you can make an art tool that hands you something wonderful when you hit ‘save’ at the end – that’s a winning product.

    Make it simple for a regular person to get the thing they desire – hide all that code, keep people from needing to know it exists. That makes is accessible.

    In this sense, if Creatorverse is an art tool that produces games… its really a competitor to Flash and HTML 5 – and that’s a market that might actually have room for a timely new entrant given the messy state its in right now.


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