Following the Lab’s move to axe Creatorverse, dio and Versu, I raised the question with Emily Short and the Lab on whether it might be possible for Versu to continue. I wasn’t alone in cogitating the idea, several others raised the same question, such as Ciaran Laval.
At the time I made my enquiries, Emily confirmed that discussions were underway while the Lab were reticent to comment – understandably, simply because discussions were in progress.
On Saturday March 8th, and true to her promise that she would blog on the matter when she was in a position to do so, Emily issued a brief update, stating:
So for those who were curious, Linden has now given me a definite no about selling me the codebase and IP.
In reply to a comment expressing the hope that this won’t spell the end of Emily’s forays into social IF, she replied in part:
This is definitely not the end of my trying to build more socially-focused IF [interactive fiction], and we did learn a huge amount about how to make that work, not just in terms of a technical engine but in terms of authoring approaches. So there are things that can be built on even without access to the code or IP.
There is understandably a huge amount of disappointment involved here as well. Blood and Laurels, the latest title Emily had been developing for Versu, represents the culmination of a concept she had been periodically working on for some fifteen years, and she acknowledges that she was really excited to see it finished. Even so, Emily remains pragmatic:
Still, on a total scale of possible bad things to have happen to one, it’s not very far along the bad thing spectrum. So we go on to the next.
Whether the Lab’s decision was based on them seeing a possible means of using the IP and code elsewhere is unknown. However, as Tateru Nino points-out in a further comment, that while regrettable, the decision by Linden Lab is actually a logical business decision, as whether it is used or not, the Versu IP represents a company asset. Even so, if the IP and code is destined to sit on a shelf unused, it is a shame a way could not be found to allow the project to survive. While it may not fit the Lab’s “shared creative spaces” model, the IF market does represent a viable niche market, and Versu itself represented a unique approach to presenting IF – and of even reaching beyond it into other fields of use.
While I never got to use Versu, of all the initial new product offerings from the Lab, it was the one that intrigued me the most; I’ll miss it.