Activeworlds

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jan 6, 2010

Filed under: Personal 39 comments

In my Reset Button post, Volatar asks why I’ve never mentioned my employer before.

For the record, I work for Activeworlds. It’s a virtual world kind of thing. It’s not a game as such. It’s more a place for building and socializing. There’s no economy or set goals. It’s very sandbox-ish. There are several public building worlds we maintain, where any user can find some open land and build. But most worlds are user-run. People buy a server license and run their own world where they make the rules and control the art assets.

The largest world is Alphaworld. As I mentioned in my comment the other day:

It's about 655360 meters on a side, so it's 429,496,729,6002m in total. It's been running since 1995 (and it shows, sadly) and that space is open build-able space.

So for my day job I write code and documentation for Activeworlds. We’re a small company so I also have a lot of other things I do on a regular basis. As for why I don’t usually talk about it…

One of the things I do here on this site is pick apart technology and examine how it works and how it could be made better. I naturally focus on the negative not because I’m mean, but because that’s where the interesting discussions are. But it would be extraordinarily unwise to have those sorts of conversations about my own company. Imagine what would happen if one of the coders at Blizzard (let’s call him Bob) posted a 1,000 word rant on all the little flaws that bugged him about World of Warcraft. Bob’s bosses would be displeased at him airing internal concerns in public. It would also make them look bad because Bob’s critique could imply, “Here is all the stuff I would fix if only my idiot bosses would budget the time to do so.” Bob’s friends wouldn’t like to see their work criticized in public either. Bob, if you’ve got a problem with my work why didn’t you come talk to me instead of tearing apart my work on your blog? And finally, the users would have a field day with Bob’s post:

1) People have been asking for feature X ever since LAUNCH, and yet Bob doesn’t even mention X on his list. This is proof that Blizzard doesn’t care what we think!

2) This is just proof that Blizzard hires lousy programmers. If Bob can’t fix these problems, he should quit his job instead of complaining about it on his blog.

3) Now we know who the programmer is. We should all directly email him with all of our concerns, rants, complaints, suggestions, compliments, demands, job applications, bug reports, chain letters, friend requests, LOLCat pics, abuse reports, technical questions, password recovery requests, and profane screeds.

In short, no good would come of it and everyone – users, bosses, coworkers, and even Bob himself – would be unhappy.

I could talk about our software but only mention the good things, but that would make me sound like a shill. It would sound dreadfully dishonest when compared to all my other reviews where I was detailed-focused and nitpicky. So in the end I’ve decided to just avoid the subject.

So that’s my day job and why I don’t write about it outside of 500 word explanations about why I don’t write about it.

 


From The Archives:
 

39 thoughts on “Activeworlds

  1. Drakey says:

    Im subtly presuming you signed on to confidentiality as well?
    I suppose you sorta explained that in a round about way. Heres to the day job! Im sure your awesome at what you do! (still missing you Star On Chest :)

  2. Zeta Kai says:

    Well, that explains it. I always wondered what you did exactly. Now I know. I know too much, & my life is forfeit. Thanks for signing my death warrant.

  3. rofltehcat says:

    Somehow I thought your job was more awesome…
    but I guess jobs like ‘Mastermind and Dark Emperor of Nerd Industries©’ don’t exist :(

    (and it shows, sadly)
    Oh noes, a negative comment about your job!

    Nah, just joking… it is always interesting to get a small look into what people do for their living.

  4. neothoron says:

    @Drakey: While Shamus has likely signed a confidentiality agreement (what happens in Activeworlds stays in Activeworlds), it wouldn’t prevent him from writing an extensive review/commentary of his company’s product on this blog.

    Good to know about what your day job is anyway. Good luck in these endeavours.

  5. TSED says:

    Makes perfect sense.

    I always figured you avoided it for want of privacy, go figure.

  6. Henebry says:

    A few years ago, I recall you making brief reference to an rpg you were doing work for. You posted a few screenshots. Looked like an 8-bit throwback. (I glanced through the archive, but didn’t find it.) What happened with that?

  7. anonymous says:

    striked out on reason 3) there. now if only you’d told us more about activeworlds it’d be easier to make relevant lolcats…

  8. Volatar says:

    Wow! I feel really special to get a specific response to my question!

    Thanks for explaining Shamus, and I totally understand why you don’t go into more detail.

    Very cool nonetheless, thanks for explaining. I’ll check it out :)

  9. Abnaxis says:

    You get to fiddle around with code all day, fixing issues and documenting a service that goes in a direction no one else has gone in for a small company where you can work from home and set your hours? That job sounds awesome!

    Where I once looked at you with an equal mix of incredulity and admiration, now I know only envy and cold, hard resentment. Curse you!

  10. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Personally, I am more than okay with the fact that Shamus keep his professional and public life separated as much as possible. More bloggers/commenters should do so.

    What disapoint me more than anything, is that Shamus doesn’t play Dwarf Fortress. Seriously, what the hell man?

    ;)

  11. silver Harloe says:

    Now when I start playing around on an ActiveWorlds server, I know I can reply to this blog post with all my concerns, rants, complaints, suggestions, compliments, demands, job applications, bug reports, chain letters, friend requests, LOLCat pics, abuse reports, technical questions, password recovery requests, and profane screeds.

    :)

  12. Girl Gamer says:

    I thought like TSED, that you just wanted a bit of privacy. No explanations needed.

  13. chabuhi says:

    ActiveWorlds … SecondLife without all the gratuitous porn

    ;-p

  14. Selifator says:

    I wonder how much the traffic to Activeworlds will increase now that it’s mentioned here.

  15. TSED says:

    “What disapoint me more than anything, is that Shamus doesn't play Dwarf Fortress. Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell man?

  16. illiterate says:

    @Henebry — Shamus said pretty clearly he has his fingers in a lot of pies, as activeworlds doesn’t keep him busy full time. Presumably one of these pies was another programming gig.

    Personally I would love to see more time devoted to making awesome portable tilegames, but my taste run more to turn-based strategy than RPG. Also, and I’m looking at you Fire Emblem, at not feeling like I have to spend twenty minutes between battles on my character roster.

  17. SoldierHawk says:

    Makes a lot of sense, Shamus. I’m glad you let us peek behind the curtain a little bit in to what you do all day when you aren’t entertaining us with posts here! Thank you. :D

  18. Freebeema says:

    Sheesh. A day job, two blogs and a comic…and playing all those games….

    Makes me feel like a bit of a failure.

  19. “second life without all the gratuitous porn?”
    I thought the concepts of social media and gratuitous porn were inseparable…

    Shamus, if you can’t tear apart your own company, can you at least tear apart your competitors? Second Life, for one, has arseloads of issues (although I still enjoy the hell out of it), and I know you could do it funneh!

  20. UtopiaV1 says:

    I’m guessing this is like Cybertown, but… okay, it’s Cybertown… no, i’ll never do that shit again, I’LL NEVER JOIN YOU, YOU KILLED MY FATHER!!!

    Wow, sorry, might have overreacted there…

  21. Old_Geek says:

    Not slamming your boss is called not biting the hand that feeds you.

  22. Blake says:

    I was curious what you did but figured you simply didn’t mention it as it’s not terribly relevant to games of either the video or table top varieties.
    Sounds interesting though. Hope you enjoy it there.

  23. Samopsa says:

    Sounds like the Metaverse. Cool.

  24. Joe says:

    “”What disapoint me more than anything, is that Shamus doesn't play Dwarf Fortress. Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell, man?

    At least, I’m assuming that this reiteration is/will become the common way to encourage you to play DF, Shamus.

  25. Scipio says:

    “””What disapoint me more than anything, is that Shamus doesn't play Dwarf Fortress. Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell, man?

    At least, I'm assuming that this reiteration is/will become the common way to encourage you to play DF, Shamus.”

    Seriously, what the hell, man?

  26. Document says:

    Henebry: Black Sigil? The link in the latest post seems to be broken, but apparently it’s been released.

  27. toasty says:

    Your job sounds incredibly boring, in my opinion, so I’m glad you won’t be talking about it more. :p

    #1 reason I don’t want to be involved in software? Programming. Its hard and annoying.

    Thanks for the note though, I have always wondered what exactly (beyond, “I program”) you do.

  28. vede says:

    toasy: That’s not true! Programming is fun! (And it’s only hard if you’re using a hard language.)

  29. toasty says:

    I think its boring. Well… more hard than anything… I didn’t enjoy my Visual Basic class I took last year at least. Though its shame because I can see so many use so of being able to program.

  30. blue_painted says:

    @Toasty

    Programming is like learning a lot of things … (was for me anyway) … start out with “This is impossible, how does anybody do this stuff?” and then … bit by bit … “Oh, I get it. Duh. Simple really …”

  31. Amstrad says:

    I was incredibly surprised to see you actually name your employer at all Shamus, I really didn’t expect that to happen, and in a comment none the less.

  32. evileeyore says:

    “”””What disapoint me more than anything, is that Shamus doesn't play Dwarf Fortress. Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell, man?

    At least, I'm assuming that this reiteration is/will become the common way to encourage you to play DF, Shamus.”

    Seriously, what the hell, man?”

    SRSLY WTH MANG?

    No really, Shamus doesn’t play DF? Boggles the mind….

  33. Volatar says:

    “””””What disapoint me more than anything, is that Shamus doesn't play Dwarf Fortress. Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell man?”

    Seriously, what the hell, man?

    At least, I'm assuming that this reiteration is/will become the common way to encourage you to play DF, Shamus.”

    Seriously, what the hell, man?”

    SRSLY WTH MANG?

    No really, Shamus doesn't play DF? Boggles the mind….”

    Really… what the hell Shamus, why no Dwarven love?

  34. krellen says:

    Okay, I think the Dwarf Fortress stuff has officially gotten out of hand now.

  35. me says:

    no, I think he really needs to play dwarf fortress.

  36. MisteR says:

    Well, if we don’t hear from Shamus for a year or so, we’ll know why… The addictiveness of dwarf fortress, especially to a sandbox-gamer like him, is ridiculous.

    but still…

  37. SolkaTruesilver says:

    @MisteR

    Which is the very single reason he said he won’t play it. Remember his post adressing that issue?

  38. Peter White says:

    Just found your website. A colleague of mine and I have been building in ActiveWorlds very regularly since 2007. Are you still involved with them? We have worked mainly in a world called Yellow (stone), and also in a world called Ludus. Trying to find out info about AW and where the staff is has become extremely difficult. Just wondered…

    1. Shamus says:

      Sorry to say I left the company a few years ago.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *