Raph Koster's Areae studio has taken the wraps off its awaited first project: a technology platform called Metaplace that lets users create their own interconnected online worlds and games.
An alpha version of the web-based software and tools have been launched at the official site - with the company asking developers to take part as well - letting users create Flash-based 2D worlds.
Described as "virtual worlds for everyone" by former SOE designer Koster in an interview with The Mercury News, the approach tries to integrate familiar web functions with virtual worlds - so games or environments created in the software can be searched and rated. It also integrates with MySpace and Facebook.
A blog post on the official site says: "We think there are all kinds of things on the Internet that would be improved if anyone could have a virtual place of their own. Right now, there aren't enough good games, for example, and they all seem to be about elves in tights or soldiers in battle armor. Metaplace allows more diversity. Right now, there are lots of people who want to use virtual worlds for research, or education, or business, but it's just too darn hard to get one going. Now you can create a world in just a few minutes and start tailoring it to your needs. Basically, we wanted to democratize the process of making online spaces of all sorts.
"We fully intend to be customers of our own product. We've already started work on our first big game - a "worldy MMORPG" with what we hope will be a ton of fun game play. What's more, we figure that some of you who have been looking for a game like that might want to help us build it."