There Myths

I’ve seen a lot of myths about floating around, and I thought I’d take some time to dispel some of them.

Myth #1: closed because the “Physics” in the world made it too expensive to run
Truth Rating: Not Entirely

One big difference between There and other virtual worlds was it’s “distributed physics“, which basically made sure that everyone saw the same thing happening at the same time. This isn’t to be confused with “Physics”, which many game engines have, but few (if any) have true distributed physics (There’s distributed physics are patented, by the way).

To do this, There has to simulate the activities of all the objects in your “sector” (the area of the world you were in) (including all other avatars) and distribute the results to everyone around you.

This meant that, for example, the Cosmo Girl server(s) had to simulate the 50 or so avatars that hung around there, along with any other objects which happened to be in the sector like benches, buildings, fire pits, trees, you name it. We have to simulate the physics of the stationary objects like trees because you could collide with them.

It is kind of dumb that that tree is an object, and not part of the terrain, but the current terrain system didn’t support that. It was a mixed blessing. More on that later.

(Trees weren’t so hard, since they knew to be still and not slide down hills. Things like buggies, feelium balls, etc – they were always being simulated when they were “out and about”. Buggies used to have this problem too — actually 5X the problem since it simulated the 4 wheels and the buggy body independently (actually they were called “Diphy Balls”) — but SamSyn fixed that by making “sleeping buggies” which didn’t do so much when they were standing still).

Many people have claimed that the reason There closed was that we had to run too many servers because of this.

This wasn’t true. If the world had been tremendously (uncomfortably, even) crowded, it might have been true, but the fact was, many sectors were huge (since they had so few objects and avatars to simulate), and most sectors had very low occupancy, most of the time.

Also, by 2009, or even 2005, hardware costs had fallen so far that the simulation costs ceased to matter. In another post I’ll make, I’ll explain how, if we re-bought all the hardware for There today, it would cost a lot less, take a lot less space, and consume a lot less power.

I might have been responsible for this myth. In the last week There was open, I spent time in world talking to people, and to illustrate how expensive it is to run There, I talked about the monthly ISP bills, which is what it took to run those servers. That was a big number, but we also had to pay salaries, rent, etc, etc. Just getting rid of the physics wouldn’t have kept There open.

So, no, the cost of physics is not why There closed. See below – all told, servers and bandwidth were less than half our expenses every month.

Myth #2: closed because it used too much bandwidth
Truth Rating: False

One of the design points for There was that it had to be able to run on 56Kb dial-up lines. Remember, when There was designed in 2001, there was far, far, far less broadband than there is today. If anything, it’s better than it was then because since 2005 we made several improvements to how we used bandwidth.

Where did this story come from? When you go to a new area in the world, or see new content, There would download the content (a.k.a. “assets”) so you could see it. This uses bandwidth (even though it tries to not interfere with your experience), and it could cause a problem on lower speed lines. There has to be able to download fresh content if you want to have dynamic content in the world.

You don’t see this in video games because all the content comes on the CD (though WOW is introducing this feature in the upcoming Cataclysm release).

(I find it very amusing that people called There “obsolete” yet World of Warcraft just introduced the idea of streaming content into the world, 9 years later. Not to say that WoW isn’t a fine game.)

The traffic between your client and the servers (your client was talking to it’s Avatar Manager, the server for the sector you’re in, and perhaps the servers for one or more surrounding sectors at any one time) may be what people are talking about when they talk about “too much bandwidth”. This still bothers me, because all that was was physics and visibility updates which were sent in a highly compressed form (not long sentences like “Your Avatar moved 4 feet on a heading of 237′ 15″ and you can now see that tree”)

Practically though, bandwidth was a tiny fraction of our expenses. So, that’s false.

The moral of Myths #1 and #2 “No, it wasn’t that the There software was too expensive to run”. All of There’s infrastructure costs we less than 50% of our costs of operation.

Myth #3: There software was a mess
Truth Rating: Sort Of

This myth is probably dependent on your perspective in the company. Here are some things which are true:

. By necessity, There’s software is very complex. It is a 3D Game engine, a distributed physics engine, a distributed content provider (so everyone could see new, changed, or removed content, or objects in the world), an event manager, a commerce engine, an IM system, etc, etc, etc. It’s was composed of millions of lines of code, and was very complex.

Did that make it a mess?

It made it complex, that’s for sure, and we had lots of pieces talking to each other, and we didn’t spend a lot of time on documentation (just like any software company). All this complexity made it hard to make some changes to There, which might lead anyone to decide it was a mess in frustration.

. There’s software did a lot things which had not been done, or done well, until 2003, or even now.

Take an example: Crossing Servers. Imagine you’re on a hoverboard, going full speed across a sector (which is on one server). At some point, your avatar, and your vehicle, and anyone riding with you, will have to cross over to another server. So, not only can you see across the line to the other server, you’re going to cross it in a fairly smooth fashion, and alll your information is going to migrate from one server to another. Trust me, that hadn’t been done before, and I’m not sure it’s being done now. Did that all work perfectly the first time? No. Did we sometimes think it was a mess and wish we hadn’t done it that way? Yes, but when you’re frustrated, that’s what happens. At the end of the day, if it wasn’t hard to do, There would have not been There.

. Some things written from scratch which could have been gotten off the shelf. More things than I was comfortable with, that’s for sure. It could have been that, when those parts were written, the off-the-shelf solution wasn’t quite mature, or well-known, or even documented properly. In 2001, or even 2003, the Open Source community wasn’t as robust as it is today, so it’s not surprising we missed some opportunities there.

. When we first launched There, and right up to Black Friday, we were still learning how to run it, and those same brillant engineers were still learning how to write software which could be run in a production environment. Thinking back, Second Life and There were about equal in that regard, so everyone was learning about these things then.

Many of the folks who took over There in 2005 were from production environments, so one of the first things we did was focus on stability. It was only a few short months from going from scores of server crashes a day, to none. We continued to improve the product’s stability over time, but don’t take my word for it: When the economy was good, it was good enough for MTV, Coca-Cola, and a few others. Virtual MTV, which ran on the There platform, appeared regularly on the big screens in Time Square live. Not bad for “a mess”.

I can see on of the ways the “mess” myth got started. One of the things which There was, and still is, bad at is the Art Path. This is how artists get content from their tools (3DsMax, Maya, etc) into There. This applied to all art, from the Terrain engine to models to layouts to houses to avatars to…well, you name it.

Actually, no, “bad” isn’t a strong enough word. Let’s say “horrible”. Or even, “getting art into There was like trying to remove your own appendix without anesthetic using nothing but dull pencils”.

Everyone who has worked with There knows it’s a nightmare.

Why is it like that? Because, at the time, the management (which wasn’t me, I was just busy investing at the time), focused engineering resource on the user experience and product, and unfortunately sacrificing artists in the process. So, if you were an artist, you might get the impression the Art Path was just a mess for No Apparent Reason.

Trust me, not a universally loved direction at the time.

(To be fair, again in 2001, or 2003, things like standards for 3D graphics formats (such as Collada didn’t exist, so we had to “roll our own”.)

(Also, to be fair, while I hated the fractal based terrain engine (see info here and here) — also part of the Art path –it’s the fastest way to generate a large amount of terrain quickly).

I have worked with There’s code base since 2001 (when I started investing and working at There). Is it perfect? No. Would I change it? Of course. Are there things in it which are just plain wrong? Of course (and I probably put most of them there).

In my experience, software that is a “mess” is software you can’t improve, or fix. I’ve known of such software, and suffered through trying to fix it, before just throwing it out and starting again. Given that we spent 5 years at Makena improving There, it’s doesn’t qualify as a “mess” or an “unfixable mess”.

Myth #4: There software is outdated and obsolete
Truth Rating: False-ish

What does “obsolete” mean?

Long ago, I worked at a then-tiny company called Oracle, which made databases. We released a new database about once every 2-3 years (I was there for Version 5 and Version 6). Do you think Oracle replaced every line of code with each release? Of course not! In fact, I’ll bet you if I pulled Oracle off the shelf today, I’d find code from Version 5 still in it (probably the dreaded UPI interface, come to think of it), and maybe some from earlier. And guess what? Oracle is still doing SQL-based Relational Databases, 15 years later.

Is Oracle obsolete?

Lots of people look at There’s graphics and say “Wow, There is outdated. The graphics on my XBox or even in Half-Life are much better”.

Well, of course they are. There’s target platform was any PC you could buy in 2003, with even with integrated graphics. To make a product which worked on those machines, and at 56KB dial-up, we had strict, strict, strict limits on the complexity of the art (vertex counts), and texture memory.

But that was the art. Let’s look at the other pieces:

. Rendering engine. There’s rendering engine supports Direct X 8, Direct X 9, and OpenGL on Windows and OSX. Other engines, like the Crytek Game Engine, support…Direct X. When we did DX9 support, we also re-did the engine’s innards, so everything is now a “material” and we support things like specular reflections and modern shaders. Sure, if we were on DX10 we’d be “even more modern”, but what other “virtual world” supports DX10 today? I guess we could try and make There run in Flash, but that doesn’t seem like a step forward.

. Terrain Engine. Ok. When There was built, we used a fractal based terrain engine, which was all the rage at the time. It was good for “automatically generating” lots of terrain, while giving you some control over how it looked. I say “some” because, since it was fractal based, pulling on one bit could have…unexpected affects on other places, like trying to tighten a cover on a bed — it straightens out in one place, but wrinkles up in the other. It was computationally not ideal either, for both the client, and server.

In 2008-2009 we had the engine re-built, and they built a brillant model-based engine which is now used in Olive. We never got the chance to convert all the terrain in There, but that engine is available for use.

So Terrain engine, obsolete? Well, not-what-we-would-choose-today is what I’d say.

. Object system. Everything in There was an object. Why? Well, remember, there has physics, and objects needed to interact with each other and avatars, and that was done by making them objects. Also, remember that every object in There could be replaced on the fly. If we’d melded every thing in There into one object, then we couldn’t very have done that, could we (it would be kind of like melting two pieces of ice together into one piece, and then trying to precisely unmelt them later to take them apart). I’m sure that today there might be algorithms we could use to do this, or even declare some objects “not replaceable” but that wasn’t an option at the time.

Objects? Obsolete? Well there are lots of way to make them better — in fact in 2005/2006 we introduced new lighter weight objects so we could build denser environments for MTV — but I’m not sure that’s “obsolete”. If you think so, go build a system which can replace items on the fly like There can, and report back on how you implemented it. I’ll bet you used objects.

I could go on forever about each piece of There which people have called “obsolete”, but my answer is always the same: Yes, there are pieces which need to be upgraded, sometimes to keep up with technology, sometimes to keep up with how they are used (like inventory, for example), sometimes because they never deserved to live. Does that make them “obsolete”. Hmm. Well, I guess so. The alternative to “obsolete” is you re-write or upgrade the entire engine to make it “more modern” (whatever that means). It took several hundred man years and millions of dollars to build There the first time. I’m not sure that you’d be justified in doing that again so you could say it was all now “modern”.

Myth #5: There’s Developer Sale systems were terrible
Truth Rating: True!

Disclaimer: I wrote all of There’s Auction software, and the Developer selling systems (and a lot of other bits).

Let’s look at how the Auctions, and it’s evil twin, the Developer Program, came into being: Sometime late in There’s pre-Black Friday Life, we decided we needed a developer program, and a way for people to sell those developer items. And we needed it now. There were enough folks to work on StyleMaker and Previewer, but no one to work on the selling end.

So, they came to me, and said “Could you somehow make auctions do this in one month?”. I thought about it, and said “Sure, I can do that”. Of course, I’d forgotten I was about to leave on a 3-week vacation in Asia when I made that promise, so most of the Developer Sales system was written in Asia, not Palo Alto. There are actually pictures of me sitting in a hut in Phuket, Thailand, working on the auction code.

When you understand that it was based on the auction system out of necessity some of the stupid things begin to make sense:

. Auctions are design to run for a fixed interval of time and there are lots of things going on under the hood to make sure that works well (I knew a little bit about building auction systems). Unfortunately some of these things were the opposite of what you’d want in a Store-like system, or a system where you only listed something once.

. Auctions were built around re-selling things in the There store. Thus it was tied very strongly to the There catalog hierarchy. This worked ok for a while, until the developers starting using the developer system to make things which weren’t anything like what was in the There store. But, since it was all tied up in this long chain between “Ok, you used a thing which looked like a buggy model in the beginning, so we’re going to make you put it in the category with buggies, even though it looks like a flying horse”. That’s why the categories were so messed up.

. Remember my story about “Art Tools”. Well, Commerce got it too. Instead of getting proper tools to manage the categories, etc, we ended up with this huge spreadsheet, and this byzantine, error prone process called “SCHMO” to manage it. PLUS the whole tie-in to the Previewer, etc, made it even harder to maintain developer categories.

(I didn’t work on the last two bits, just the auctions)

So, at the end of the day, we had to build the whole thing in a month, and then we didn’t have time to really do any major upgrades so we moved on to other things.

In 2009, we actually did a redesign of the There WebSite, including Auctions, and I actually implemented a lot of the code for the auctions changes. There’s a branch of the code base out there that solves a bunch of these problems, including things like bundles of products, picking categories properly, using tags (keywords), etc. Sadly, we never got the time to do all the CSS and HTML work for the front end side. Code with no clothes.

So yes, I agree that bit was all broken, and it was my fault.

(In a small defense, the Auctions and Commerce system were, mostly because of the Developers, one of the major ways There could make money).

Myth #6: There was forced to close by Law Enforcement
Truth Rating: False

This is completely false. We enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Law Enforcement, including the FBI, and always cooperated with them when asked, not even waiting for the subpoena to produce information. We were mentioned favorably (well, as favorably as any other virtual world) in the FTC’s Report on Virtual Worlds, in fact they were shocked that we were so eager to work with them.

At the end of the day though, the whole myth is just, well, stupid. Do you think the attorney general would spend thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars to investigate There, and then “let us off” if we closed the service? Not likely.

So, no, There was not forced to close by Law Enforcement.

Myth #7: There made millions of dollars in profits
Truth Rating: False

I’ve said this before in comments, but I’ll say it again: never broke even.


From the day it was founded until the day it closed, it operated at a loss every day. Thanks to it’s investors who believed in the service, and employees who were willing work at start-up wages, and members who had faith in us, it was able to stay open, but it never made a profit, much less millions of dollars.

I’ve talked about this in replies to comments to my other posts ad-nauseum, so I won’t cover that ground again here.

Myth #7: There can be run on one server
Truth Rating: False

There can be run on one server. If you’re an engineer working on There, and want to have one, maybe two avatars in the world.

Otherwise, here’s what you need:

  • An “Avatar Manager” for every 5000-10,000 members.
  • A database server with RAID storage (so you don’t lose all your content if a server goes down
  • A physics server for each sector in the world
  • A visibility server for each sector world
  • Web servers for web apps and static content
  • A load balancer to sit in front of the web servers.
  • Spares to swamp in when one of the above fails
  • Backup servers to catch and store the backups each night, especially for the database servers
  • Secure servers for billing.
  • Firewalls (real firewalls, mind you)
  • Etc, Etc

You could combine or eliminate some of these, but you would regret it eventually. For example, if There ran a pay service, and was down for 24 hours because there were no spare servers handy and one failed, I guarantee, people wouldn’t “just understand”. The same would happen if you “eliminated” the firewall, or had insecure billing servers, etc, etc.

Some people who illegally stole There Beta software have claimed that they could run it on their computer with no lag, and therefore we should have been able to do that with the service. Since the stolen software did not have a physics server, a visibility server, a proper avatar manager, or any of may other pieces in it, that would have been kind of difficult.

If There could be run on one server, or even just one rack, it would be open today.

Myth #8: Many offers were made for There, but Michael Wilson turned them all down.
Truth Rating: False

I did not get a single legitimate offer for There.

I did get an offer from someone who wanted our member list for an adult-oriented virtual world for free, but that was it.

I’m not sure why anyone would think that, after investing millions of dollars in There, I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to recoup at least some it through a legitimate sale. If someone believes we turned down offers for There, they really need to prove it or stop saying it, because it’s a lie.

(In the interests of complete disclosure, there is at least one group who is so morally bankrupt, we’d be hard pressed to accept their offer. I’m not going to say who they are, but I think everyone here knows who I’m talking about).

Myth #9: The fact that There did refunds and Therebucks BuyBacks when it closed is proof it was profitable.
Truth Rating: False

As above, the investors wrote checks every month to keep There open. The refunds and buybacks came from the same place.

Myth #10: There should have refunded every cent people spent on Therebucks when it closed.
Truth Rating: False

I understand why people feel this way.

Let’s look at where that money went. All the money that people put into There then went to paying things like ISP fees, utilities, rent, paychecks, insurance, benefits, hardware costs, software licensing costs, attorney’s fees, you-name-it.

In order to “pay back” all that money we would have had to go back to the ISP, the Electric company, employees, insurance companies, hardware vendors, software companies, and attorneys, and say “Sir, can we please have that money back? We need to give it to back to the members.”.

We would have loved to be able to do that, but I think everyone agrees that wouldn’t have worked. There’s no business in the world that I know of who can retroactively refund all the money you’ve spent if it closes. If they claim they can do that, then they must have some pretty unique relationships with their ISP, electric companies, … you get the idea.

I’m not trying to be flip here, but that’s the reality of the situation.

Myth #11: There could have stayed open if it had just…
Truth Rating: False

There are lots of ways people think There could have stayed open. Popular ideas were:

  • Convert to a Pay Site.
  • Shrink the world to one island.
  • Drop the P.G.-13 rating.
  • Allow copyrighted content
  • Pay people to refer their friends.

Sadly, none of these would have worked. We know because we tried many of them. Some of the other, well, it’s not in our DNA to make an adult site, or a site that ignores people’s intellectual property rights.

In 2005, when Makena took over There, it was a pay site, and it was much smaller. And it still didn’t break even.

We attempted a “for pay” Refer A Friend program in 2005 or 2006 and got I think one referral. We tried it again in 2010, with the same results. Personally, I would have loved for that kind of program to work (which is why we invested in the backend support for it).

The fact is, to run a PG-13 world, and provide you with things like Community, Operations, Customer Support, Developer Support, ongoing engineering, QA, etc is not free, or even cheap.

We could open a world without one of those things, but not for pay, since customers would rightfully take umbrage at the fact we didn’t have quality “…name your service here…”.

There could be a way for There to work, but it would take investment in new hardware, and significant changes to the platform. I’ll outline those in another post.

Myth #12: There could have stayed open if it had just gotten more sponsors
Truth Rating: False

We actually had full-time salespeople and business development people who did nothing but pound the pavement looking for sponsors. Here’s the cold, hard, facts: Sponsors are looking for advertising-levels of impressions, or eyeballs. That’s not thousands of people, or even tens of thousands, it’s millions of impressions. I’m sad to say that no, or very, very few, virtual worlds offer millions of impressions to advertisers, that’s why so few survive.

If that wasn’t a big enough obstacle, the recession absolutely clobbered ad revenues, everywhere. You can imagine, that if your revenue is down 25% or even 50%, are you going to spend on a known, traditional ad platform, or a new, unproven one?

Again, I wish we had more sponsors, especially cool ones like museums and zoos and you-name-it, but they just weren’t there to be had.

Myth #13: There closed so it could making millions working for the Government
Truth Rating: False

Anyone who thinks this is clearly not familiar with how the economy has impacted Government Funding, especially for education. Ask a teacher if you don’t believe me.

How bad? I’ve been waiting for six months for a new license plate from the State Of California due to budget cuts.

Myth #14: There didn’t care about it’s Members, that’s why it closed
Truth Rating: False

This is one of my favorites, along with “There didn’t even try to stay open”. There tried to stay open for seven years.

I think all we can do in response this is point to the evidence here, and everything else we did, and after that, it’s up to you to judge.

Myth #15: 3rd Party Currency Resellers had no impact on the There economy
Truth Rating: False

In an analysis we did in 2009, we found that 25% of the currency purchases in world came from Third Party Resellers. That means the revenue didn’t go into There’s pockets, it went into someone else’s.

All I will say about this is that we should have taken a stand on this much earlier than we did, and I take responsibility for not doing so.

Third party re-sellers can play a part in a Virtual World’s ecosystem, the question is whether you let them play it, or you do it yourself. I just provided you free research data on what happens if you let them do it for you :-).

If you decide to open your own virtual world, please take note. I’ll be happy to talk to you offline about how you’d eliminate this impact on your economy while still giving people a way to get real money for virtual goods.

Myth #16: There will never reopen
Truth Rating: Who Knows?

If you know this, then you can either see into the future, or it’s wishful thinking on your part.

I don’t know that There will never re-open. I spend time every day thinking about what it would take to re-open it, which I’ll talk about some day. But it’s not a simple matter of just making it smaller, or making it a pay site, it’s a lot of things.

There has been in the Virtual World business for ten years, some of us for more than that. If we need to think hard about how to make it economically viable, then it must not be a very simple problem (either that or we’re really, really dumb).

As I said, I don’t think anyone knows if There will ever re-open. I keep it open in my mind and my heart, and maybe we can find a way to open for real again some day.

P.S. Here’s a list of other myths which I didn’t have time to expand on:

  • “There was based on Internet Explorer” (IE). False. IE was, and may still be, the only browser which gave us COM-control access to “drive the browser” from a program at the time. IE was also the only browser which supported XSL at the time, which we used for the site. Finally, in 2003, Netscape/Mozilla was kind of a mess, and needed for the emergence of Firefox to become a legitimate rival again.
  • “There’s text chat was just a patch till we developed voice”. This is one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever heard. We went through something like 32 iterations of There’s ACC (avatar-to-avatar communications, which is “Text Chat”) to get it right. As it was, Voice was developed using off-the-shelf software in about a month, and only because the then-CEO slipped and told a reporter we’d open with voice chat. As it is, we’re really glad we did voice, but ACC is one of There’s crown jewels of technology and creativity.
  • “There closed because of Forterra….(fill in the blanks here).” If you read our closing notice, this isn’t true at all. There acquired the complete and unfettered rights to it’s platform in 2009. Forterra had nothing to do with There’s closing.

P.S.S. Wow. 5016 words. Sorry it took so long!

  1. #1 by Chris Alderman on 2011.05.06 - 6:51 am

    Micheal wilson? are there plans to ever re-open there cause No other virtual world that can compete

  2. #2 by meena on 2011.04.30 - 3:02 pm

    sorry i had a typo in my last post
    if u were to open when would you?

  3. #3 by meena on 2011.04.30 - 12:46 pm

    I f you were to re open when would u?

  4. #4 by EveGirlz on 2011.04.27 - 4:44 pm

    Myth #3: There software was a mess
    Truth Rating: Sort Of

    This myth is probably dependent on your perspective in the company. Here are some things which are true:

    . By necessity, There’s software is very complex. It is a 3D Game engine, a distributed physics engine, a distributed content provider (so everyone could see new, changed, or removed content, or objects in the world), an event manager, a commerce engine, an IM system, etc, etc, etc. It’s was composed of millions of lines of code, and was very complex.

    Did that make it a mess?

    It made it complex, that’s for sure, and we had lots of pieces talking to each other, and we didn’t spend a lot of time on documentation (just like any software company). All this complexity made it hard to make some changes to There, which might lead anyone to decide it was a mess in frustration.

    . There’s software did a lot things which had not been done, or done well, until 2003, or even now.

    Take an example: Crossing Servers. Imagine you’re on a hoverboard, going full speed across a sector (which is on one server). At some point, your avatar, and your vehicle, and anyone riding with you, will have to cross over to another server. So, not only can you see across the line to the other server, you’re going to cross it in a fairly smooth fashion, and alll your information is going to migrate from one server to another. Trust me, that hadn’t been done before, and I’m not sure it’s being done now. Did that all work perfectly the first time? No. Did we sometimes think it was a mess and wish we hadn’t done it that way? Yes, but when you’re frustrated, that’s what happens. At the end of the day, if it wasn’t hard to do, There would have not been There.

    . Some things written from scratch which could have been gotten off the shelf. More things than I was comfortable with, that’s for sure. It could have been that, when those parts were written, the off-the-shelf solution wasn’t quite mature, or well-known, or even documented properly. In 2001, or even 2003, the Open Source community wasn’t as robust as it is today, so it’s not surprising we missed some opportunities there.

    . When we first launched There, and right up to Black Friday, we were still learning how to run it, and those same brillant engineers were still learning how to write software which could be run in a production environment. Thinking back, Second Life and There were about equal in that regard, so everyone was learning about these things then.

    Many of the folks who took over There in 2005 were from production environments, so one of the first things we did was focus on stability. It was only a few short months from going from scores of server crashes a day, to none. We continued to improve the product’s stability over time, but don’t take my word for it: When the economy was good, it was good enough for MTV, Coca-Cola, and a few others. Virtual MTV, which ran on the There platform, appeared regularly on the big screens in Time Square live. Not bad for “a mess”.

    I can see on of the ways the “mess” myth got started. One of the things which There was, and still is, bad at is the Art Path. This is how artists get content from their tools (3DsMax, Maya, etc) into There. This applied to all art, from the Terrain engine to models to layouts to houses to avatars to…well, you name it.

    Actually, no, “bad” isn’t a strong enough word. Let’s say “horrible”. Or even, “getting art into There was like trying to remove your own appendix without anesthetic using nothing but dull pencils”.

    Everyone who has worked with There knows it’s a nightmare.

    Why is it like that? Because, at the time, the management (which wasn’t me, I was just busy investing at the time), focused engineering resource on the user experience and product, and unfortunately sacrificing artists in the process. So, if you were an artist, you might get the impression the Art Path was just a mess for No Apparent Reason.

    Trust me, not a universally loved direction at the time.

    (To be fair, again in 2001, or 2003, things like standards for 3D graphics formats (such as Collada didn’t exist, so we had to “roll our own”.)

    (Also, to be fair, while I hated the fractal based terrain engine (see info here and here) — also part of the Art path –it’s the fastest way to generate a large amount of terrain quickly).

    I have worked with There’s code base since 2001 (when I started investing and working at There). Is it perfect? No. Would I change it? Of course. Are there things in it which are just plain wrong? Of course (and I probably put most of them there).

    In my experience, software that is a “mess” is software you can’t improve, or fix. I’ve known of such software, and suffered through trying to fix it, before just throwing it out and starting again. Given that we spent 5 years at Makena improving There, it’s doesn’t qualify as a “mess” or an “unfixable mess”.

    Can you explain about doesn’t qualify as mess or an unfixable mess. Do you mean programmer code number?

  5. #5 by EveGirlz on 2011.04.25 - 3:07 pm

    Interesting what you explained about Code to building any pictures. You need good programmer to building right image. I know nothing. LOL.

  6. #6 by EveGirlz on 2011.04.25 - 2:45 pm

    Can you get fresh software to add up whatever you have past expirement with messy or unable fix the messy?

    • #7 by Michael Wilson on 2011.04.25 - 5:25 pm

      I have no idea what you’re asking. Can you re-phrase it?

  7. #8 by Kendra on 2011.04.18 - 8:03 pm

    For those that wish to re-claim their avatars, would we be able to change their name, or do we have to keep the same name? There’s a name that I always wanted in There, but it was taken by someone who didn’t seem to have logged in for years, and didn’t even have a premium account (according to their profile). If you give a time limit to re-claim avatars, and therefore names, like you suggested earlier, then, if we wanted to, could we choose a different name? Y’know, without having to create a whole new avatar, and keeping all the stuff that you had in your inventory and what-not.

  8. #9 by kudosRetalian on 2011.04.13 - 8:32 pm

    How can i contact you?

  9. #10 by Codrod on 2011.04.08 - 1:50 pm

    Hey Michael, The survey you put out about There2 was very interesting and I agree and disagree with multiple things in it.
    But I think if it did come back, making it 18+ would be a huge mistake.
    A large amount of the counts before were below 18, you are probarly thinking of 18+ plus because of legal issues, but didn’t we agree to the terms and conditions about something along those lines?
    I am 15, mature and have my own debit card and I think most 15 plus year olds have debit’s as well.

    Just a thought.

  10. #11 by Amber Phillips on 2011.04.04 - 4:11 pm

    michael wilson,
    im very depressed that had to b shut down it was like my 2nd life D: i met so many wonderful & awesome pepole. D:
    the day i saw it was closeddd my heart broke into pieces and still is broken till you open THERE again.
    i watch memory’s on youtube like every day. and look at the pictures of the great times and the inside jokes i had with all my friends & there family that i became very close with.
    if u open again my life will b complete again but for now my heart is crushed….. u made a big compact in so many lives and for us all to see it go it was just a sudden crashhh. D:
    pleaseee ! you have no idea how many pepole u would make happpy thats all we are asking is to just maybe sell the company or try and find the money D: thanks again
    amber. ( aerobabi1295)

  11. #12 by Doug on 2011.03.23 - 5:55 pm

    I do not know if this was a rumor or not, but…

    Could avatars go invisible? Staff avatars specifically?

    Thanks in advance!

  12. #13 by rick caldas on 2011.03.21 - 5:25 am

    Hey Michael i strongly believe there will re-open even tho i know it wont be anytime soon but i know wel have it back and for sure a monthly fee for premium , one thing i liked about it was the payment options is that there had every possible way of paying since i couldnt use credit card i allways would have to buy a ultimate game card so , do you think if u re opend youd have the same sponsors and that stuff? i dont rlly know how the payment options workd just wondering cuz most “virtual games” i try only have either paypal or credit card thanks for reading.

  13. #14 by Mmmm22222222 on 2011.03.14 - 5:19 am

    Hello Michael, I am so glad you made this post, I have shown a number of friends who had negative views towards you after the closure of

    I’m currently on my iPhone so I will make it short.

    1. Why was There not released as a open source?
    All I can think of is because like you said the source code was a mess and too complex.

    2. Like virtual congress, will there be any other educational worlds build using the There platform, be released to the public?

    Thanks in advance to the comment and once again thank you very much for keeping There’s doors open so long, it helped me keep in touch with my brother 80miles away

    • #15 by Michael Wilson on 2011.03.14 - 7:42 am

      1. There was developed and supported by investors who invested millions of dollars in it’s development. It would be incredibly irresponsible to just give that investment away by making it “Open Source”.

      2. Virtual Congress isn’t released to the public. It’s a private educational world. And I can’t talk about other projects at this time. Sorry!

      • #16 by mmmm22222222 on 2011.03.14 - 9:10 am

        Thank you very much for your reply Michael, I know that vCongress is not public I was just curious about other projects but if you cannot discuss them, then thats ok!

        I will wait until you make your post about possibilitys that could bring There back with certain ways in getting money, It will be interesting to read.

        Now that I know you are willing to read my questions along side other peoples questions which a lot of CEO’s to other companies dont normally do because they get overwhelmed with them.
        I have another question (if you dont mind me asking them)

        If There cannot be re-opened or is in the process of finding possibilitys to re-open. Is there no way that There IM could be releashed instead as a small part of There? I realise that requires servers, which also requires money, but it doesnt need all the physic servers or a lot of the sector servers (I don’t think) which would be required for Theres World and would save a lot of money compared to completely opening There again. Maybe There IM could have a few adjustments to it to reduce the cost of the servers? Maybe removing the auction, shop and a few other features that are no longer used. Would that maybe make it possible to maintain? And at least give Therians the ability to talk again using There IM and using the avatars that we all love?

        Once again thank you for your previous reply, looking forward for a reply to this

      • #17 by mmmm22222222 on 2011.03.15 - 2:50 am

        May I also just add that you will not need all the servers to store all the users as you could make There IM only avaiable to previous members of There and keep the sign up disabled… It allows us to talk and also means you dont need other servers to run it, unless There IM runs on other servers all together

      • #18 by Brandyn_1 on 2011.03.17 - 12:48 pm

        I know you might not reply to this comment, but I will ask anyways. On question #2 When you say “And I can’t talk about other projects at this time. Sorry!” Is there other projects? Not asking what they are or what they have to do in what part of There, but just asking if there are any projects going on right now.

        Thank you for reading at least 🙂

  14. #19 by iParty on 2011.03.04 - 5:13 pm

    I have another question. What is to come from vMTV if any? Are you still working with it? I was just wonder beacuse i know there is a 2d site of vMtv but for one I cant even get to the URL and also its kinda lame. No offense lol. Will there be any chance of the return of vMTV3d? Just curious.

    • #20 by No on 2011.03.11 - 3:10 am

      No, because vMTV was stupid. You may ask why? Well, think of every way something can be worse than the original, and it was just that.

      • #21 by iParty on 2011.03.12 - 4:02 pm

        its just vmtv didnt have a problum like bc vmtv was sponsered by Mtv, Pepsi, Sunkist, and some others i cant think of. money didnt seem to be a problem also for vmtv bc of the mothly price of 4.95 a month plus other little expences, so we are clearn im just stating my oppion and i think they can do some very good things with it. “they” being Mtv and MW.

      • #22 by Michael Wilson on 2011.03.12 - 4:14 pm

        I think you need to be careful about broad statements about the finances of sites like VMTV, or any other site which hasn’t discussed their financial conditions.

      • #23 by No on 2011.03.12 - 8:55 pm was sponsored by (I think, feel free to correct Mr. Wilson) Scion, Cosmo Girl, various other companies, was on the news and even on Dr. Phil, and also had twice the member base (and quality of vMTV in my opinion.) was leaps and bounds better than vMTV.

        Mr. Wilson, I’m not going to sit here and babble on about how There has changed my life, how much a new server would cost to start up, or anything of that sort. I want to know just a few simple questions that will sit my wandering mind at ease.

        1. Are you still working on the system/platform as we speak?

        2. If was to “re-open” would it have the same inside games we all know and love (buggy racing, paintball, hover-boarding) with the same interface?

      • #24 by Michael Wilson on 2011.03.14 - 7:39 am

        1. Yes. Well, not “as we speak”, but yes.

        2. Yes.

  15. #25 by SMZ Greenie on 2011.03.04 - 2:27 pm

    Mr. Wilson, In a word… NO

    • #26 by Michael Wilson on 2011.03.04 - 4:06 pm

      Sorry, that’s just what I had read somewhere. Sorry if I misunderstood.

    • #27 by There_forever on 2011.03.05 - 6:52 am

      Your name was widely advertised in the Vonira forums – old and new – and your were listed in the Designers page in the website. It seems your name isn’t there anymore. It would be nice for you to explain what happened and you are no longer a member of the team.

      • #28 by Michael Wilson on 2011.03.05 - 11:48 am

        Huh? What? I’ve never been associated with Poddy-World in any way, shape or form (even though I sent in my application many, many times) (Ok, that’s a lie). So what should I explain?

      • #29 by There_forever on 2011.03.05 - 8:59 pm

        In reply to “Huh? What? I’ve never been associated with Poddy-World in any way, shape or form (even though I sent in my application many, many times) (Ok, that’s a lie). So what should I explain?”
        I’m very sorry, it is a terrible misunderstanding MW. The question was for Greenie not for you. I posted it as a reply to her very clear “NO” that she isnt working with them at the moment.
        Once again… sorry sorry sorry!!!

  16. #30 by iParty on 2011.03.03 - 4:44 pm

    Hey Micheal Wison! I notice you said to someone else if there came back you “the custumer” would pay monthly anyway i was wondering since i piad for premi back in 2007 does that mean ill still pay monthly or what bc I know you said something about lifetime beta membership which is where im confused. Thanks for everything!

    • #31 by Michael Wilson on 2011.03.04 - 4:05 pm

      If There were to come back, the only people who get it for free would be people with the

        Beta Lifetime Memberships

      . Letting new, or prior, premium, or, for that matter, any other, members play for Free would be a road right back to where it was since 2003. Sorry.

    • #32 by iParty on 2011.03.04 - 5:06 pm

      oh thats fine good to know thanks

  17. #33 by sn3aky on 2011.02.27 - 7:30 pm

    I played There from 2003 and loved it, I am a younger male with a wife and kids and was sad to see when I got home from Afghanistan that There had closed. I understand how the world works and nothing can last forever.

    There was a great way to get people into the gaming/online lifestyle. I truly think There did great things for brining people closer. I know if I could show my wife what there was she would love to spend time in the world, and she dislikes games very much.
    Second Life just doesn’t cut it, sure you can do anything, but it cuts off the world of people who don’t want to spend 10 hours learned advances commands/scripts/ect.

    There was simple fun and great. I would pay to play there at a monthly rate in a heartbeat.

    Hopefully one day can and has the means to do so to re-open. I would love to get on my old Avatar again and introduce my wife to the world.

    In any case, I am a network engineer and am more then willing to volunteer services to if the re-open ever does happen. I would be willing to sacrifice time in order for There to be given back to the world. \
    Michael you did great things and keep my information for your CIO if you ever do reopen.

    Thank you

  18. #34 by BringThereBack! on 2011.02.20 - 4:06 am

    Michael, you said the revenue of there has to be increased by a 100%. how do you intend to do that? it does sound unrealistic and we need to know if the return of our home is unrealistic so could you please share with us some of your ideas/thoughts on this.

    • #35 by Michael Wilson on 2011.02.20 - 5:56 am

      That was at least 100% under the old company structure, which may or may not have been unrealistic. If the company was structured differently, it might be less. In any case I can’t say today whether There will ever re-open or not.

      • #36 by SMZ Greenie on 2011.02.28 - 11:32 pm

        Mr. Wilson,

        I joined in it’s BETA infancy and remained as an active member until the very last day. Being a part of Sight UnSeen! and the THERE world was such a gift!

        I’d be “THERE” for in whatever capacity I’m capable of and would be a dedicated force towards a re-birth. I enjoyed the people and the platform and would very much like to contribute to projects that you might have using OLIVE, even those not related to our lost world.

        I have not “landed” in any other virtual worlds at this point beyond exploring possibilites in Blue Mars, for lack of opportunity to work with and/or the OLIVE platform.

        Trilogy Studios:
        “Our Value System is based on five key components:
        Creativity, Innovation, Integrity, Loyalty and Fun”

        Your Trilogy Studios could benefit on each of those levels and more having me on the team.

        SMZ Greenie
        Greenie Blue on facebook

      • #37 by Michael Wilson on 2011.03.01 - 7:35 am

        Aren’t you the Art Director or something for it’s called?

  19. #38 by Mark on 2011.01.25 - 8:20 pm

    Ok ill admin was the best 3 years of my life but i was wondering if you guys did reopen it would people be able to get there membership back for same price?

    • #39 by Mark on 2011.01.25 - 8:20 pm


  20. #40 by there_forever on 2011.01.11 - 4:40 am

    Any virtual world that wants to be successful needs, clothes! Lots of clothes. Shirts, pants, jackets, coats, shoes, socks, underwear, belts, scarfs, hats and anything else than can be worn.
    It also needs hair. Lots of hair. Any hairstyle you can imagine.
    And earings and bracelets and necklaces and handbags and anything else that can be considered an accesory.
    It also needs avatars that can change their look. Change their skin and shape. It needs lots and lots of those options.
    I’m sure EVERY girl who reads this will agree with me.
    Why will ALL you lovely ladies agree with me?
    Of course because you all LOVE SHOPPINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!
    Any virtual world that has unlimited shopping options will keep ALL you girls happy.
    And if you keep the girls happy they will stay and continue to spend money there
    And if there are lots and lots and lots of girls, the guys will also follow!!! I dont think guys wouldn’t go where there are lots of girls!!!
    Does anybody disagree?

    I was talking to some virtual friends the other day. We are discussing the lag and the crash issues on SL. At one time i said that in ‘There’ we rarely had these issues and that they would have loved the place. But then I dunno why but i said without any thought that the only thing the girls wouldnt like would be that there arent so many shopping options since there were less items needed to dress up an avatar. They they all said with one voice that they wouldnt like it!!!!! They were half serious half joking about it but I think a message was sent out clearly!!!
    “If u want to keep a girl interested, make sure she can enjoy shopping!!!” hehehe

  21. #41 by Crystal Py on 2011.01.09 - 6:47 am

    Hiya Michael, great post!!

    Been spending far too much time on FB lately but it’s given me an idea of something to suggest your way and maybe think on.

    A few friends and I were chit chatting about how games on FB like those by Zynga and Playfish are making multi-millions from selling pixels. Then we sort of thought ‘geez, what if There had done that’. Once you plugged the huge T-bucks profit leak to outside sources, offering special limited edition items and themed sets for things like halloween and christmas etc, would probably helped up your profit margin considerably. Just think, it’s Valentines and you’ve offered say, 2 sweet new romanticly themed cottages and a line of cards/flowers/heartshaped bed/cuddle couch/etc/etc, available for the month of February. People would buy it, of this we are certain, Heck we would!! And, people sure do in say, Pet Society (playfish game) every week!! They offer new items every week, (which is a bit often but hey, they sell loads of PF cash only items) new themes and people go nuts getting the items AND they are spending loads of REAL cash for Playfish dollars in order to purchase there more exclusive things!! They just don’t have profit headed out the door never to be seen again. :\

    FV does the same, though all these companies DO have coin items that you earn the coins for ingame, the really COOL stuff is exclusive for whatever the game currency is. FVBucks or SocialCity cash or whatever. I have friends who budget (in one case) up to 200 bucks, REAL dollars, a month to spend over 5 games she plays. Others 100 a month, though they confess they have gone over more times then they’d like to recall. lol

    It’s not that developers couldn’t have a place in There, we’ve all bought loads of items from auction, it’s just that official lines would work I’m sure of it. People seem to be packrats by nature, we love our “stuff” and we don’t mind paying for it even if it’s pixels for some reason. Have a look at the stuff these games offer. And really they’re less a “game” then they are decorating plates. Seriously, limited gameplay, loads of decorating and new items for CASH, themed or not. Selling ingame pixels is big money for them, no reason it couldn’t be for There as well.

    Thanks for reading, we love There SO much and miss it every day!!

  22. #42 by Lilly Francis on 2011.01.08 - 5:04 pm

    This was a very interesting read and I appreciate the time you’ve taken to post it. 🙂

    I have to say that I always wondered how in the heck could make any money with so many people buying T-bucks from other sources. My suspicion is that your 25% is a tich on the low side. I was in a ‘hood with avid decorators and nearly ALL of them purchased their T-bucks from in-world developers. Several of the ladies in my hood told me they easily spent several hundreds of real dollars a month on the TB for the decorating elements for all of their projects and never got ANY from There/Makena, ever. I recall saying at the time that I couldn’t see how the game could support itself if every hood had even a handful of residents doing the same thing and I can honestly say that every TB I ever purchased on 2 accounts went from my pocket into Theres, only amounted to a few thousand over a few years but still. Only one person in my hood ever said, after the close was announced, that they probably made a mistake spending their money on developers TB’s but they really didn’t think it’d make a difference. Um … what? If it were one person, sure, but it was many, many more than that. Anyway ………. I realize that developers near and far are gonna have strokes from the blood pressure rise from me saying that but, it’s how I have always felt about RMT being a game buster and showed that to be a factor in it’s demise.

    For what it’s worth, Michael, I loved, I followed a large group of friends there migrating from another dying game, and discovered a world, a true virtual world, that was incredible to explore, and more fun that I’ve found anywhere else. I know it had that cartoonish nature but somehow the experience of it all went beyond it to it’s unique beauty and all of the things to do that it offered. It was just so expansive, I could travel virtually unhindered anywhere while exploring. I “fell” from a space PAZ once just to see how long it’d take me to hit the ground. It took a couple of hours to drop that distance!! It was a true world, not some flat backdrop, and I landed in the water not far from Frosty’s Island, STILL amazes me!! Plus, I met so many people from all over the world and some I am still friends with even now. To say I miss is understating the feeling sometimes, as it was such an important part of my social life …. such an odd thing to say about a place I visited nearly daily from my living room, but it WAS! And yes, I DO have many real life friends and a fun social life as much now as I did then. LOL There was just so much to do, so much to explore, so many people that I genuinely enjoyed mucking about with. 🙂

    Thank you for the experience, it was worth every dollar spent, and worth more that gold for the pleasure I got for the time I spent there. I dream about it every once in a while, so odd, and a part of me always hopes still, just a little, okay a LOT, that it flings wide it’s doors again as I’d be delighted to return to see if my avvie is still sitting on her bench watching the sunrise …. just where I left her when the plug was pulled.

    Best wishes, Lilly 🙂

  23. #43 by Nobody on 2011.01.07 - 7:33 am

    I just want 2 say thenk u for the freedom to have fun with or without people with you. and the skilling up part as well… If.. very big if… There or similar was to come back … if you made it samller.. less islands… would it decrease the cost by a considerable margin?

  24. #44 by YankeeintheSouth on 2011.01.04 - 11:17 am

    Ok, I’m crossing path’s alot lately of quite a few therians and it’s making me miss There. It’s crazy to think a site can stay in your heart or mind after month’s of it closing, haha. But it did… I haven’t found the quality in other world’s so I’m not on any of them and don’t plan to but if There was reopen, I’d probably be camping out the night before at it’s door to be first one in, haha. If it does not reopen that is fine also, Michael has to do what he has to do. I was one of those cursing and bummed when the doors closed but now that the dust as settled and I looked on here with his responses, it’s understandable. I thank you for the experience on There and the fond memories, (some not so fond, lol ) Do what you have to do Michael.. as for everyone else, I hope you found peace with it. Life does move on. 🙂

  25. #45 by Dante on 2010.12.15 - 2:06 am

    😀 legit for sure.

  26. #46 by Dante on 2010.12.06 - 5:16 am

    I know this reply is pretty late but when you posted this i didn’t have my internet, But now as i do i would like to know only one thing.. You said if reopened members would have to pay monthly.. Did you mean pay monthly for premium membership? Or like pay monthly to play ? I know my Questions quite stupid 😀 .

    Now off topic,
    I really want to thank you and everyone with you for giving me and everyone such a wonderful time when it was the best darn virtual world that makes the members see it as a real world. Paintballing,racing ,etc etc all those stuff i really want to thank you and everyone for helping to achieve that Thanks alot ^-^.

    • #47 by Stephanie on 2010.12.13 - 11:01 am

      Ya ikr! Ppl who think sucks are pathetic losers with no taste!

  27. #48 by Mj There on 2010.12.01 - 11:27 am

    Hi Michael!

    Just one comment: Why would anyone choose FB games over There. Maybe There had some problems, but not like the daily goof-ups on FB.

    Really, really hope There can come back, I paid for it and would be quite willing to pay a monthly fee. Gosh I just quit Pirates of the Caribbean and I was paying $9.61 for that a month; alot of fun for a while, but just the same thing over and over. There had so many more things to do, and never a dull moment for me. Thanks for the time we had in There.

  28. #49 by Nitroray on 2010.11.28 - 9:25 am

    One short question, Is there an ability to make run P2P (Peer-to-Peer) ? I think that’s a great way to handle bandwith for now and I hope it works.

    • #50 by Michael Wilson on 2010.11.28 - 10:17 am

      Bandwidth wasn’t an issue for There. Even if it was, P2P has a number of problems which don’t make it a good option:

      • It immediately exposes your IP address to other players. Normally, this wouldn’t be big deal, but given a few member’s propensity to misbehave (read: hack into other people’s accounts), it’s an unacceptable security risk.
      • It removes There as a gatekeeper for assets, models, etc, which means that there’s no telling what kinds of things would end up on your computer.

      Even if these problems could be solved, as I’ve said, bandwidth wasn’t an issue for There’s servers, so we’d be better off spending our time (if we were to spend it) solving other problems.

      Thanks for reading.

      • #51 by there_forever on 2010.11.29 - 4:21 am

        Hey Mike! I read a recent comment of yours where you mention that Real Life Plus is Vside version 3. I’m just wondering, perhaps you might know, is RLP virtual world being built on the same platform as VSide is made on? I was always curious to find out but nobody has ever been able to tell me.

      • #52 by Michael Wilson on 2010.11.29 - 6:56 am

        Last I heard, they’re using Unity3D

  29. #53 by Srvnt on 2010.11.27 - 8:26 pm

    Thanks for clearing all that HYPE up….

    Question: What would be a resonable price for THERE?

    • #54 by Michael Wilson on 2010.11.28 - 10:12 am

      I’m not going to negotiate the price for There on a wordpress blog. If you’re a serious buyer, then feel free to contact me.

  30. #55 by _Taz on 2010.11.16 - 2:18 pm

    Great read, thanks, it is really great to know you still discuss There.

    I just keep thinking what a waste it is to throw away this much demand on a product, people who are longing to use and spend money on it. Many people say virtual worlds are the next big thing, and one that has gotten THIS amount of love, really…there is no way in figuring a way to make it work? Someone- makena or another entity- should be able to continue a product with so much demand.

  31. #56 by dakotaman on 2010.11.14 - 8:47 pm

    Thanks MW!!

    Your post and the followup discussion was very imformative and enlightening ‘peek’ at the world behind the operation of There. It’s gratifying (and heartening) to know that you remain engaged with There (and its former inhabitants). I’ve never doubted that it has been a labor of love with you and know that if/when the time is right, There will exist once again.

    This has been a time of change for me as well……having lost my job of 20+ years at a non-profit education/training center due to federal/state budget cuts. As a person who is still in search of my next job (challenge), I have been reminded of another important function of There: as a professional networking platform. I have always been amazed by the diverse members I met and the vast variety of careers they have in RL. And even though it was not formalized, there was a lot of new-age networking going on (There as the new ‘Golf Course’??). I have always thought that There could have been enhanced for business use by the inclusion of a ‘white board’ like function (an extension of the video capabilities). The voice chat function of There already makes for probably the best virtual interaction using voice of any system yet created and could easily be used in conferencing situations.

    Regardless, I miss the informal network that I developed on There and like a lot of things, I didn’t know what I had, till it was gone. It was always interesting to go into There at times when world events were happening. Invariably, I believe you would find (if you could study the traffic pattern) an uptick in traffic, caused I believe by people coming into the world to connect with others/friends during times of shared stress or excitement. Consequently, There would have been an interesting place for pollsters, in that it (in many ways) is a microcosm.

    The more I look back at There in retrospect, the more complexity it reveals about the community that was built there.

    Thanks again, Michael!


  32. #57 by TherianLove on 2010.11.09 - 8:33 am


    Will you please answer my question?

  33. #58 by Stephanie on 2010.11.09 - 5:01 am

    I want to ask something why dont u sale to the people? are you afraid it will change things??

  34. #60 by Stephanie on 2010.11.09 - 2:47 am

    Hello. I really hope will reopen! Everyday i go on my computer i say oh please REOPEN and check the site! I hope you earn moneyyyy byeeee ❤

    • #61 by Stephanie on 2010.11.09 - 4:55 am

      Sorry but that would TOTALLY ruin the game! This isn’t sims 2 guys! is better than sims >:)

  35. #62 by Joeydantonio on 2010.10.29 - 12:36 am

    First off, I wanna start off by saying the guy above my posts name is ‘Bobby Bobo’ and thats awesome. You are the man Bobby Bobo… Now with that being said, here is my post:

    I think these suggestions arent as common as the ones you posted in this post and they may be helpful to your daily brainstorming. Multiple minds thinking together can create crazy things.

    -Make monthly payment $20.00 and not only will this help solve the financial side of things, it will get rid of non-dedicated members just wasting space on the names list and/or causing trouble. Have a expiration date for how long the people can go ‘unpaid’.. This will encourage the urge of the members to pay so they dont lose there items.

    -Have a expiration date for how long people can be basic members. I believe one of the reasons never experienced a profit is because of this issue. Many members joined as ‘basic members’ and played as basic members for years upon years and never paid for premium. To be honest, this may surprise most people but on vMTV I was a basic member for the majority of its time open and would just install the game when I was bored and hoverboarded LOL and then I would uninstall it once I got bored with it, didn’t really talk to anyone… just used it to hoverboard and look at stuff. I was a ‘n00b’ for some great time. I never realized the benefits of being premium. If there was a expiration date on how long you could be a basic member and maybe a follow up contact/email saying “you have ____ days to become premium, sign up today for premium and get this great prize or these free items or whatever the perk you want to choose for that, I truly believe it would be beneficial.

    -I say you don’t let the coca cola members and the beta and the whatever else members- coca cola beta- this beta- that beta- beta beta- we beta- whatever the beta keep there memberships. At a time like this, cutting deals isn’t really the top of the agenda. What is at the top of the agenda is getting There back and making it profitable. If There itself is profitable, us as members aren’t gonna just sit there and receive no updates or our own ‘profits’ in return. What I am saying is…. you can’t just go to a baseball game in pajamas, take the metro to the game, not buy the foam #1 finger, not buy the infamous hotdog or nachos & cheese, brign your glove for the pop flys and then wonder why the game wasn’t any fun for you… Well, to all those people who always complained “there is the same. its so far behind. There isn’t as advanced. etc.”, well my question has always been… “what do you do to get these benefits you want in return? How much do you pay There?”… they obviously go “i paid 9.99 for premi” and I have the same reply each and every time, “ok…. 9.99 is….. well… basically 20k… and what 20k is to There is basically…. well, you can’t even rent a 1 acre lot with a house for a month with 20k… So that should give you an idea of the space you are paying for in the game. So if your not even paying for that… what is your premium paying for?” and they go “woah woah thats so complicated i don’t get it.. what do you mean?” and I just sit here behind my computer screen with a evil smirk and usually teleport away or go idle until they teleport away. LOL

    -I don’t know if this makes a difference at all.. but it still would be nice even for organization… I know myself I had over like at least 8 million worth of tbux of items in my one account and that means a TON of items. I never kept my developed items either.. I usually either gave them to my girlfriend or gave them away to members of my designs group as a contest of some sort. So I think if There cut back on the limit of items in the closet of each member, and limit it to some amount… based on item quantity, not worth.. it may clear some space up?

    -Newsletters. I know so many people who left There and just fell off the face of the earth for like half of a year and then logged back in “oh hey its been a while”…. If There sent out newsletters in a email form maybe or whatever you chose, “We miss you! Come log back in today and get a ___ bonus!” or “extend your premium monthly membership and receive ____” I think keeping tabs on members and showing them they aren’t just a number as far as log-ins go has a big impact on there returning dedication to your service. For example, I have a site hosted with GoDaddy. As you probably know, GoDaddy isn’t the best web hosting service. Well, I am about to switch to probably InMotion.. then *ring* my iPhone goes off…. it’s the GoDaddy customer support “hey just checking up on you, hows everything?”… it sent a good message and made me feel better about GoDaddy all together. Yeah, I probably still will switch web hosting providers just because the InMotion support is superb and I like there offerings better… but at least GoDaddy called and showed they arent just taking my money and buying trips around the world with it

    -As for the 3rd party tbux sellers/buyers- I agree 100% with you. This was the main reason (I believe) There didn’t turn a profit.. And I am probably going to burn a lot of bridges saying this.. but whatever. Profit to me isn’t as important as it is to There itself.. because honestly, all I ever wanted in There was a neighborhood and the biggest house possible. And I did that already, so now all I want is to play it lol. I think what you did towards the ‘end’ of Theres running was excellent– You supplied a service with buying tbux back from developers as well, and that was a great decision.. The only issue was it was too late at the time. If this was strictly enforced from the get-go if There ever returns, that would eliminate a lot of issues. And as far as stopping others from being 3rd party re-sellers, just ban them. Once you make an example of one, they will all follow the rules.

    -Neighborhoods/Pazs/Funzones: Well increase the price. Honestly, it was so easy to maintain one of these and the price was more than generous. If you increase the price and leave it at that price, its either pay it or dont have one. Pretty self explanatory. A little extra suggestion for the neighborhood side of things, maybe make a own more hoods/get discount and have There still make a profit.. This will increase the money flow all around that much more and make a profit as well. 2 birds, one stone.

    -Developer Program: Increase submission price, lower wholesale costs. Why? Well, it would make perfect sense. Many times I would just make stuff to make stuff and then never sell it or wear it or whatever the case. Submitting items wasn’t that expensive, it was fun to submit stuff, and etc. Many people would want stuff for teams, groups, etc.. but they wouldn’t pay the submission fee’s because they knew there would be follow up wholesale costs of a higher price for each member there was. Well, maybe make a feature that includes this and has a ‘group proof’ or whatever space. to prove they are in fact being used for a group and not for profit.

    -Submissions times. The submissions process was very frequent I believe. Thats a lot of money from employees that can be put into the game. A feature vSide has is once a month and it works well for them. Increases the suspense of new stuff! And everyone loves new stuff.. I’m not saying do once a month, thats a little extreme and people might become bored, There isn’t the same set up as vSide or even the same fanbase. Maybe once a week instead of 3? That would cut the costs 1/3 and everyone would still be happy.

    -Subtract amount of Island Guides, focus on the key members and pay them. Why so many members of Island Guides? It’s like 99.9% of them are just Island Guides for the star anyway, like the rent-a-cops in the mall. They are hungry for that ‘ha, i got power’ even though they dont really. lol. 😉 Have just the best of the best and pay them in richer rewards than n00b hoverboards. I’m not saying real money as the other employees, because that would cut profits… I’m saying increase the game money flow, keep dedicated members who know what they are doing and how to do it well IN THE GAME. Again, 2 birds- one stone.

    -Sponsors. Yeah, There had some great sponsors. But why didn’t they own any neighborhoods themselves and pay a monthly fee for it for even more profit and publicity? Yeahhhh, there was CC-Metro.. A.K.A. lag universe… no one went there other than basic members and you always got hoverboards thrown at you by naked avies. (don’t ask) But hey, for example.. A neighborhood with a shape of there logo and basically one BIG virtual website/store displaying who they are and what they offer. This would increase the interest of both the sponsors, the players, and the game itself. And even add some profit along with it.

    -Monthly payments on pets and increase there functionality, benefits, features. Yeah, the naming the pet is cool or whatever.. Why not add health? Add years? Adoption center for ‘rarer breeds’ of the pets, colors changes with a item you give them, size changes with the items you give them (STEROIDS! YEAH! lol jk) but really, add features! Charge people for it. They want to own a pet shop? Well, your gonna have to pay. We will all make profits from it, everyone’s happy and we even got some really cool pets along the way.. And who ever disliked having something others didnt have? I know many members of There who wanted ‘rare’ items, including myself. Adds even more revenue, potential profits.

    -Events benefits. I know There did this to a extent. Offer items only for THAT one event and limit them. Even maybe charge for the events if the item is real valuable? More money flow. Profits. Determination for that product=more money being spent.. more money being bought.. more money for There.

    -Emotes and buying MORE. Yeah, have some extra made and charge for them.. some limited, some cheap, some expensive. People LOVE this stuff. I know many people were bored with doing the same emotes all the time, using the same ‘giggles’ since they joined 5 years back. If I could make my avie do a head-stand and start break dancing and no one else could unless they paid what I did to be able to do it, I’d pay the extra. Wouldn’t you?

    -A hair sponsor. Have a virtual salon/barbershop. I know vside has this to an extent. People love it. Its a easy way to make money, keep money flowing with tips and hair changes and tools being bought for each haircut, etc. A lot of people were bored with the hair styles on There.. this would add even more interest and again, money flow and potential profits.

    These are just suggestions.. I don’t know the complications of the financial situation obviously, but just some food for your brain for your daily brain-storming. Maybe you can collaborate with some of it and hopefully it will help go towards a successful plan for the possible re-opening one day.

  36. #63 by TherianLove on 2010.10.28 - 6:32 pm

    Greetings Michael,

    I’ve been reading these posts and have been delighted to see you have replied to many. Like many here I was a major THERE fan. In my last two months I was an Island Guide and loved every minute of it. I even found LOVE in THERE.. I married my THERE Love in NOV of 2009 and sad to say with the end of THERE came.. the end of US. We had a communication issue and couldn’t find eachother. Of course none of this is your fault I believe we would of stayed together if our AVIES didnt DIE. lol.

    With all that being said I am one of many that would love to come back!!

    I do however have a question, and I may not be as intellectual as some here when it comes to platforms and such.. but i do understand the basics.

    If you were to reopen this, you meantioned you would try to get back our therian belongings…

    My question is this.. some of the therians I know were so down and out they actually sold 99% of their things thinking THERE was gone for good and used what they sold in other worlds.. Do you think you could even bring their things back even after they sold them back to THERE.. Kinda like a restore feature on a cpu, I have seen many virtual worlds after a bad patch they would restore to a previous one. Is it possible to restore the ones who went a lil dramatic and sold things back to there.

    Thanks again ,

    Therian Love

    • #64 by Michael Wilson on 2010.11.09 - 8:36 am

      I doubt it would be possible to do this, since some people would want their stuff restored, some people not, and some people even tried to return / sell their stuff, and redeem the Therebucks as if they had made it as developers. It would be impossible to do this equitably or fairly. You’d still have any T$ in your account at the time we closed, however.

  37. #65 by Biljana on 2010.10.27 - 7:15 pm

    Wow! I was so surprised to find this posted on Facebook! I think this clearly shows all the people who didnt think you cared,that you truly did, and for you to think about this everyday is truly amazing, I would have and I bet many others would have thought you would move on from this to new ventures and not look back, I am truly impressed with you as a person and I can see that you truly loved as we did. This post makes me tear up thinking about my “Biljana” wearing her fav outfit..Riding off screen in her favv buggy as I signed off for a final time..In my heart she is still riding around.. hair in the wind..buggy antanna bouncing….sniff..sniff…..It was a great 5 years for me…
    Thank You MW ‘hug

  38. #66 by Matt on 2010.10.27 - 3:43 pm

    I would like to dedicate a song to and to Michael Wilson. The lyrics of the song truly describe what did for me and many others. There’s really nothing better once you’ve had the best.

    The song is titled “If there hadn’t been you” , by Billy Dean. Listen at


    A man filled with doubt, down and out and so alone.
    A ship tossed and turn, lost and yearning for a home.
    A survivor barely surviving, not really sure of his next move.
    All of this I would have been if there hadn’t been you.

    If there hadn’t been you, where would I be? If there hadn’t been you here for me..
    I made it through times I never would of made it through if there hadn’t been you.

    A man filled with hope who finally knows where he belongs.
    A heart filled with love, more than enough to keep it strong.
    A life thats alive again, no longer afraid to face the truth.
    All of this I would have missed if there hadn’t been you.

    If there hadn’t been you, where would I be? If there hadn’t been you here for me..
    I made it through times I never would of made it through.
    If there hadn’t been you on my side, you in my life..
    All my dreams would still be dreams if there hadn’t been you.

    All my dreams would still be dreams if there hadn’t been you.

    And just one more please!

    This one is titled The Dance, by Garth Brooks. Listen at


    Looking back on the memory of the dance we shared beneath the stars above.
    For a moment all the world was right.
    How could I have known that you’d ever say Goodbye?

    And now, I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end.. The way it all would go..
    Our lives are better left to chance.
    I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.

    Holding you, I held everything.
    For a moment wasn’t I the king.
    But if I’d only known how the king would fall.
    Hey who’s to say, you know I might have changed it all..

    And now, I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end.. The way it all would go.
    Our lives are better left to chance..
    I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.

    Yes my life, its better left to chance.
    I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.

    • #67 by whitefeatherbeth on 2010.11.02 - 10:24 am

      Thanks for sharing these two videos… made me recall the wonderful time I had while in THERE, and the wonderful man I met there as well. Tears in my eyes as I think about, and missing THERE. But, we have found ways to keep that friendship going post THERE… would we go back if it reopened? You betcha! Thanks Michael for taking the time to post your “there-myths”. Keep the dream alive… I believe if you build it, they will come! 🙂


  39. #68 by Zoombah on 2010.10.27 - 10:19 am


    I did not get the honor of speaking with you before There closed, but let me say that I am grateful to you and the developers for creating this wonderful place. I met many wonderful people, some of whom I am still in touch with, and would never have had the blessing of knowing them if it weren’t for you and your staff. Like everyone, I was sad, and even cried when There closed, but took some wonderful memories away and for that I am eternally grateful.


    “Bobby Bobo”

  40. #69 by Brandyn_1 on 2010.10.26 - 6:48 am

    MW I was wondering on how many hoods Joey Shadow had I mean wasn’t that lots and lots of money coming in for There i mean of course it wasn’t even close to enough to Break even we all know that but If there was maybe more advertising on owning a hood do you think you would of mad more money? P.S. i know if There does reopen im getting a hood same with a couple of my other friends =D

  41. #70 by there_forever on 2010.10.25 - 7:29 pm

    I’d like to make a comment on the resellers issue. It is true that if you banned the resellers you would lose developers since they wouldn’t be able to cash out their TBux for real money.
    I think that if you reopen the virtual world you should have a cash-out option like in Second Life where everybody is allowed to sell their Lindens directly to Linden Labs. That way you can hunt down resellers and still keep everybody who wishes exchange their TBux for real money satisfied.

    • #71 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.25 - 8:38 pm

      Yes, we would of course offer a way for folks to cash out, or perhaps even support secure, member-to-member money exchange, with There extracting a small transaction fee.

  42. #72 by Bethany on 2010.10.24 - 11:49 am

    What i love is how you think about it everyday, about how you could reopen it. That proves you cared about us all!
    And thank you for posting this, it cleared up a ton of rumors!! 🙂

  43. #73 by AquaFresh on 2010.10.24 - 1:12 am

    Hi MW, first thanks for taking the time to write all this, its very interesting read. I for sure will enjoy the day, should THERE reopen.
    There isn’t any alternative out there that comes close to THERE, so I went to play startrekonline, since that was what I allso saw THERE as, a kind of “holodeck” 😀

    I was wondering about cloud based gaming service, I don’t know if the future of that is bright, but the service onlive where you can connect their box to your TV or iPad (WIFI) and play some extreme hardware demanding games is fascinating. So it seems they are on to something.

    I was wondering if this kind of service could be a future for
    I believe you have earlier mentioned the difficulties of users downloading and installing and updating the game, and the fact that the more browser based games like we see them on FB are simple to start and take with you, where ever you go.

    Could this type of service in anyway make and it’s need for servers more profitable?
    Maybe require server resources from the cloud as needed, to keep the true feel of a whole planet, you could explore in one continuous travel.
    Plus the distributed physics you mentioned in this document.

    Or would the extra layer of provider just make the whole thing more expensive to your company, to run THERE as a service, and in the end us as your costumer?

    Maybe the complexity of THERE and all its servers isn’t possible to mix with how FPS based games work on this type of cloud platform, since you have the whole backend of the auction and eventsystem etc.

    There are different kinds of this type of service, some just stream direct to your PC so you don’t need a box, this would make it more suitable for portable devices.

    Services like OTOY, Gaikai.

    Good luck to us all, I hope we one day again can meet in There and enjoy the fantastic world it is.


    • #74 by RRTT on 2010.10.25 - 7:59 pm

      Mr. Wilson, would you consider a 100% revenue increase to be unrealistic? And do you mean 100% increase after decreasing expenses some first, or 100% revenue increase with no expense cuts? If you were to try and re-open the world, How much would you try to cut the company’s monthly expenses?
      – RRTT

      • #75 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.25 - 8:39 pm

        I’m just going to call it “even with expense cuts”. Why? Well, to re-open, we’d have to make significant capital investments, which would have to be paid back.

        As for the rest, that’s a whole other post.

  44. #76 by Thereian Fan on 2010.10.23 - 10:45 am

    I first would like to thank you for taking time in writing this for us. There was a lot that we didn’t know, and it pretty much answered most peoples question.

    I do have some questions myself if that’s okay with you?

    1. The neighborhoods that were out not being sold, did it take a lot of server spaces?
    2. Sponsors you had, ie: Coca-Cola, one of the largest corporations in the world, there wasn’t enough revenue from them to support There?
    3. 3rd Partry Resellers was I believe one of the reasons There closed, but back in 2005 or around that time didn’t you or There make a No Third Party Resellers? I could have swore There had a No Third Party Resellers, and if you did have that policy why was it never effective?

    Also, I found this article about There’s failure. Someone held an interview with Will Harvey about There. What do you think about this interview?

    • #77 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.23 - 1:29 pm

      1. No.
      2. No.
      3. I was led to believe that 3rd party resellers were somehow important to the community. The ability to “cash out” was certainly important to the community, especially the developers, but the 3rd party resellers, not so much.

      I don’t think much of that article.

      • #78 by Rebecca McArthur on 2010.10.25 - 3:55 am

        I wonder why you don’t think much of it. The business model sounds great. Do you just not believe it? Sexy avatars *is* what sells this product and to a large extent I believe that drove There as well. It was a tightly controlled environment compared to a bunch of social games (virtual worlds), but the beautiful avatars (and frankly for me their natural flow with each other) is what kept those who stayed. I could be wrong, but I believe it.

        I really believe that virtual worlds appeal to a limited group of people, though I’m not sure why. I’m certain that it would appeal to a much larger circle of my real life friends than say Bioshock (one of my all time favorite games btw lol) would. However, here’s the key, I have almost no real life friends who are even willing to try them. These same people will spend chunks of time (that certainly accumulate) on Facebook every single day. They’ll play Farmville constantly and annoy me to the point of no end with their endless invitations and requests. Don’t you believe that ease of entry has something to do with this? Almost no learning curve? The viral nature of Facebook? The appeal of burning small pieces of time at once rather than the 7 hours you might spend learning heroic ICC25 in a day?

        Serious gaming is an investment of time and resources that most of the larger population isn’t willing to commit to. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t play games. They clearly do. They just play them differently. You can charge a small group of people a good deal of money or you can charge an enormous group of people a very small amount of money. Microtransactions are really where its at for these folks. Four bucks just doesn’t seem like a large amount of money to try something that you may like and it probably doesn’t piss you off too badly if you didn’t. It’s only four bucks. Gotta love those apps! Even a game like wow wants to appeal to a large base and I believe they’ve been able to do this because they have linked your progression to a friend (who likely is a committed gamer), they have eased entry significantly from vanilla, and created a viral nature by clearly establishing the game as a part of the pop culture.

      • #79 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.25 - 5:56 pm

        Hmm, I’m not sure how to answer your questions.

        I’m not impressed with the article because I don’t think it accurately reflects the history of There, not the contribution of others which made the platform what it is. I think it’s also a “Fail” because, though we weren’t happy with the ending in 2010, the time between when he left the company and 2010 weren’t failures in my mind (again: MTV, Coca-Cola, Cosmo Girl, hundreds of thousands of new members, etc, are not “Failure” in my book). If he wrote that in 2010, and accurately reflected the history, and contribution of others, and the members, then I would be impressed.

        Don’t you believe that ease of entry has something to do with this?

        Oh yes, I’ve said that before in different ways. Fact is, it’s much easier to sneak a quick bit of Farmville at work (being at the office, or at home taking care of the kids) then it is a session of There. I’d think that would be something we’d want to solve some day.

        The appeal of burning small pieces of time at once

        “Burning time”. That phrase bugs me sometimes – not the words, but how accurate they are. I live on Southern California where plastic surgeons and all kinds of Doctors promise all kinds of extra time in our lives, and I’m still not sure we have enough to “Burn”.

        I hope that answered your questions.

      • #80 by Thereian Fan on 2010.10.25 - 4:59 pm

        To reply back on the response regarding third question. What doesn’t make sense, if you knew about the effects on Third party and kept it going would you say it’s resellers fault for running there currency exchange or is it your fault for not enforcing the policy? I understand that it hurt There with the resellers, but in a way, you allowed them to continue to do it, and no enforcement happened until the very end which was too late. If you kept the policy enforced back in 2005, would you say that There would have been a bit more stable, than currently? Also, wouldn’t promotions be a good idea to run. If you buy membership we will add 2000 tbux, but you must be here for the first 30 days or something like that or, for a limited edition you will receive a special drink for those who purchase a premium memebrship or therebucks as well. i feel that there wasn’t anything in return when you purchase tbux or a membership. All we received is more access, but i felt that there needed to be more things in return.

      • #81 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.25 - 6:00 pm

        Two answers to that:

        First, the input I had, as the CEO, was that the World As We Knew It would end if we put a stop to 3rd party resellers (well, maybe it wouldn’t end, but All The Developers Would Leave). I was not a good enough CEO to push back hard on that and either get that belief validated, find a replacement, or just enforce it. So, yes, it’s my problem it wasn’t correct.

        Second, I’m not sure it was always 25%+ of revenue, but in the end, 25% wasn’t enough to save There. Revenue would have had to increase at least 100% for There for break even, much less be profitable.

  45. #82 by Richard Hallock on 2010.10.21 - 7:52 pm

    “Take a look at this link:

    It is a scaled map of ‘There’ created by a Thereian. I don’t know who he is but he did a good job.”

    I was a bit surprised you had forgotten him. Tablatronix was a very resourceful and creative member that was contracted, it I recall correctly, to develop those card games you mentioned earlier.

    Thank you again for posting this! I too would love to be able to access this technology again. If you ever need anything designed for a world, or presentation etc., just let me know.

    • #83 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.21 - 7:53 pm

      Huh? How did I forget Tablatronix? Eh? What?

    • #84 by Austin on 2010.10.22 - 6:36 pm

      That was a post by another member, not MW.

      • #85 by there_forever on 2010.10.22 - 7:53 pm

        Yes, I’m the guilty one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ‘blush

      • #86 by Richard Hallock on 2010.10.23 - 7:53 am

        ‘doh! That what I get for posting when I am so sick with this cold! Sorry bout that Chief!

  46. #87 by Sunny Music on 2010.10.21 - 4:55 pm

    Big hugs to you MW! 🙂

  47. #88 by Taelos Katran on 2010.10.21 - 3:45 pm


    This was an EPIC post. Truly a work of love, just like everything you did to keep There going for as long as it did. Thank you for writing these things down and then, editing, revising until you were revised out.

    I agree with AMX that there are a lot of us out there that you can call on to help. Some pretty talented people for sure.

    So for your next “myth buster” posting I offer the following to be included:

    Myth #17: was closed down so that Makena would be in a good position to take over Second Life when the time was right.



  48. #89 by Amxscott on 2010.10.20 - 2:27 pm

    Michael, I want to Thank You for taking the time to explain all of this to us. It really helps us understand what kinds of issues you were dealing with and why you had to make that final decision to close.
    I also am hopeful that you may find some way to reopen There in the future and that there might be a way for us to reclaim our Avatars and possessions. I would happily pay a monthly fee to be able to start off where I left off in my There adventures.

    Again Thank You and know that there are a lot of us out there that would do anything we could to help get There open again.

    Amxscott 🙂

    • #90 by Brandyn_1 on 2010.10.21 - 5:29 pm

      Wow thats what i was going to say ^^^^^ Rofl xD

  49. #91 by CarCus on 2010.10.20 - 8:13 am


    The entry was very informative and I could tell that when closed it may have had more of a effect on you than other realize. You feel the most responsible that it was your fault that it never was profitable. Any good person would feel the same way if they were in your shoes. You did the right thing by closing it and not bankrupting yourself, although others would have wished you would have gone to that extreme.

    I think that you beat yourself up a tad too much over some of the items. They were flawed from the early beta years and couldn’t be fixed without possibly a shut down and a total overhaul. I could speculate as other have on what could have been done differently but I will not go crazy here with a million things.

    I will however comment on one small aspect that I felt kept it from growing. That is the developer sale system. It was basically impossible to make more money than the system allowed due to the resales of items. I could make an item, sell around 50 of them and expect very few new sales of that item afterwards. Thus I would have to created another item and repeat the process again. I could never get ahead. Others felt the same way and gave up. This left a bad taste in their mouth so they quit designing new content or they plain quit playing all together. I know having this process in some ways kept new content flowing into the game but I also feel that it impeded it as well. I also know this was beneficial to the user since they could get a certain percentage back when they were done using the item by reselling it but it didn’t help in the buying of new tbucks as well.

    All in all, without having a in house art team creating new content to help retain the users it was left to us and it didn’t work well at all. There were few if not any tutorials for new members to learn from and yes, the UOT did their best to fill in the gap but this should have been addressed in the early years when the art team was let go. As we all know, without massive amounts of new content continually being added casual users just leave because there is nothing new to do or see. We can all see this with places like World of Warcraft and other games. The casual user will leave once the company quits adding content on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, the card tables and items sponsored by other companies were a nice addition but it wasn’t enough to retain a good user base.

    I could go on and on but why beat a dead horse. was a great place and I will miss it dearly.


    • #92 by Transporter on 2011.04.29 - 6:05 pm

      A great deal of people miss it including myself. I always loved looking at the creations made by users such as yourself CarCus and really being able to enjoy the people in game, and explore.

      Can’t wait to see if There will re-open since the survey asking us users about what we think.

  50. #93 by Brandyn_1 on 2010.10.20 - 8:02 am

    First of all i want to Thank you tons MW for clearing up all these myths kinda makes me understand a bit more.. One question i want to ask you if your able or would like to comment on this is.. The 2004 There Beta that was leaked out, The physics on that why wasn’t any part of those put on The regular… Also if i get it correct its illegal to have the files right? .. one more thing is If you know what went wrong in There have you tamped with it and got the few things in what needed done?

    • #94 by Brandyn_1 on 2010.10.20 - 8:05 am

      Ok that’s 3 questions but they have been bugging me for a while lol Thank You again for making it clear on this post about the myths!

      • #95 by there_forever on 2010.10.21 - 7:41 am

        MW thanks for putting up with us. I know we can be frustrating at times but it really means a lot to us to be able to still discuss about with you after so many months.
        If I have frustrated you at all (quite possible with some things I say or ask you) I apologise!!!! ‘smile

        The three questions our friend is asking are:
        1. Why weren’t the physics in the leaked 2004 Beta version not included in the actual world. He is probably reffering to the super fast hoverboard that was available to ride.
        2. He is asking if it is illegal to have that Beta installed on a pc today.
        3. Since you know what went wrong and lead to the closure of ‘There’, have you tried to correct them yet?

        I happen to live in Europe so it’s easier for me to understand no english people easier lol

      • #96 by Brandyn_1 on 2010.10.21 - 8:46 pm

        Bahaha Thanks for wording that right for me =P lol and also Not just the Super fast hoverboad in the BETA i mean the way you would buy the lots/property in the 2004 BETA =D

    • #97 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.21 - 7:10 am


      I don’t understand what your questions are. Can you repeat them?

    • #98 by Brandyn_1 on 2010.10.21 - 5:27 pm

      Sure =D Lol sorry for the confusion.. i answerd my own 1st 2 qestions by reasearch so thats not important but My qestions i have is Since you know what you need to do to fix have you put any of those things in There? also 2nd qestion is What are the things that need to be put in There to make it more profitable?

      Thanks , Brandyn_1

  51. #99 by BABS on 2010.10.20 - 7:49 am

    Along with so many others, I still am pining for my home. When I think it’s not possible, I miss it even more after these reads.

    Even so, thank you for your continued posts.

  52. #100 by NoBioN on 2010.10.20 - 2:16 am

    This was a very interresting read.

    I was very suprised by the fact that the game have never been profitable. Also i have been having alot of thoughts about the reselling part, and also been thinking about how big impact that had on the game’s financial state.

    Im interrested in hearing your thoughts on a zone based world?, But at the same time i can already say that one of the best things about was the fact it was one big seamless world. And in comparison to for example Second life. People would come by your place on their exploring trip, where in Second life, You teleport to places, on a map that is a big mess, and most places hardly ever gets visited by strangers because of this.

    If you made zone based, Which gives you the possebillity to add / remove terrain / servers based on active population. How would that help your finances?. I been thinking it through alot. By simply creating hot spots. Which makena host’s and runs, And let the world extend or shrink again by people opening/closing hoods , Your ISP / server cost would be covered at all times.

    But i think one of the strong points on was the possebility to host & run a hood at pretty good prices. Compared to similiar games, Was great and should remain, also the Lot / Portazone concept was really great & easy!, and would also have to remain possible.

    There is no doubt about that was unique, and still is to this day. I had several dreams involving playing just after it reopening. and seeing my avatar and all its belongings again. But realize when i wake up, That it most likely will stay at the dreamings. (i sure hope not)

    This is maybe hard for you to answer, But in case would re-open, would you use the backups of the avatars/objects, and give people their accounts back to use. Or will the world start from “scratch” with no designs or objects besides the stock ones?.

    I really hope the first, I started my days in in 2004 and have come to be very attached to my avatar and everything i had gathered and created through the years. Im also pretty sure, That if you sent out a email to all old members, About reopening with their belongings still intact, you’ll have close to the same size Popularity back in the game, Very fast. at a hopefully If you figure it out. Way cheaper running way.

    Another concern i had, Is if you re-open, If people will hold back on the deposits in fear of it not going well, and closing again?. I can only speak for myself when i say i would deposit even more to make sure it stays open. :). I did deposit a great deal of money into, and was clarified about that i might loose it all because i would never quit before the day it closed down, due to the impressive world & game and community. i Just had expected it would close in some years. I was insanely shocked it already closed in 2010 ;).

    I admit and regret being one of the people, That was very frustrated and sad, and also have have believed in some of the myth’s to be true. I hope you understands that much of the hate you might have experienced repeatly from people is based on frustrations and no chances to really understand why it closed. in a world where money is behind alot of cruel decisions, Its easily one of the things people would think is the only reason, But from what i have read on your blog the past months, I fully belive you put loads of effort and work into, and that you either havent given up fully, and also have a hope for the future :).

    This post clarified alot of things for me. Thanks!. i hope you figure out a way to get things back again someday!. I’ll be there 😉

    Im sorry about the half-bad english, But my native language is different from english.

    • #101 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.20 - 7:32 am

      If There re-opened, we would make every effort to restore people’s prior Avatar’s and possessions. We’d probably do something so you could “claim” your old Avatar and possessions for a reasonable amount of time, after which we’d release the Avatar name back into the pool (we had thousands of avatars in the system who hadn’t logged in in years).

      If There re-opened, I’m sure it would be a pay-per-month site, with the exception of those who held lifetime Beta memberships.

      And finally, I’d like to stick with a contiguous world. I know how to do it and still solve the “servers simulating nothing” problem discussed below, er, above.

      • #102 by Thereian Fan on 2010.10.23 - 10:51 am

        If you do re-open There and you choose to have a pay-per-month membership, What about the members who came from CokeStudios and received a free premium membership. Would they still keep there lifetime membership?

      • #103 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.23 - 1:28 pm

        They would still be premium, but they would still pay month-to-month. Everyone would, except for Lifetime Beta members.

      • #104 by Thereian Fan on 2010.10.25 - 6:12 pm

        Why should coke members have to pay for a month-to-month membership? The membership was payed by Coca-Cola and it was a Premium Membership. It would be a bit strange to charge members a monthly membership if membership was given for free, by Coca-Cola.

      • #105 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.25 - 8:36 pm

        The contact with Coca-Cola ended when There closed on March 9th.

        If we’re imagining ways for There to re-open, and stay open, I can’t imagine starting out by offering anyone free access. If There didn’t make money in 2005 as a paid site, we’ve all learned that free access is directionally incorrect.

      • #106 by Thereian Fan on 2010.10.26 - 9:43 am

        Which is understandable, and I would do anything to keep There running; however, if a account that has been payed for by another company, why should the members who have been offered with a free membership have to pay for it, even though the contract was ended when There closed. It’s like saying, the beta lifetime membership was developed before Makena bought the property of There inc, but the game is closed, so it’s pretty much the same way as the members of Coke.
        But even with the free accounts that was provided, it still pretty much gave everyone free stuff as a premium membership would get, but besides not able to make a event, or living or using voice, the basic accounts has a lot of free stuff now, which should have been a lot less.

      • #107 by Brandyn_1 on 2010.10.27 - 7:13 am

        How much do you think it would be if There was a pay site how much would it be a month like $20?

      • #108 by Therian avatar on 2010.11.26 - 6:40 am

        If There re open,you considered use this time an online net server instead a whole software to download?,as example of this Friendshangout and until now RealLife Plus both use the internet to play,in the case of Friendshangout it supose to help to do the game cheaper.

        Also many people think in the last week of There why don’t give us the option of a month membership a year before There have to close,because was very clear for many people the percent of basic members who become premium was lesser each time,if There re open also you must think in a limit of accounts because other of the problems are the people who made tons of avatars,Second Life put a limit in 3 and Friendshangout in 5 i guess 3 is a very reasonable number,i guess that can work and about costs i dunno but maybe $10 dollars per month or a year in $100 can be a good option.

      • #109 by Michael Wilson on 2010.11.28 - 10:22 am

        What do you mean by “online net server”? RealLifePlus (a.k.a. VSide Version Three) doesn’t use an “online net server”, it uses a 3D plugin game engine which runs in a browser. You still have to download the plugin. Also, it lacks a few things as of today, such as the ability to do multiplayer (even they call their current state of development “Massively Single Player”), or large environments like There. I’m sure they’ll get there some day, but they don’t use a “net server”.

  53. #110 by Majandi on 2010.10.19 - 9:47 pm

    Thanks a lot for giving us these insights.

    I still miss There a lot and I still haven’t found a world, that can only come close to the same feeling There gave me every time I logged in. I think it was mainly due to the distributed physics giving me the feeling of truly sharing this world with all the other members.

    In the company I worked for, we just had an important meeting in Paris and someone presented a brand new idea for a mobile app and complained about the fact, that it was so hard to spread the news and make people actually use it, because he was intending to make it a carrier for all sorts of services people could profit from.

    A very silent man sitting in a back seat and not having said a single thing during the whole two day meeting before then asked him, why he wanted to walk through the desert and the jungle and swim through the ocean to make way for others rather than using the carriers of services that already had done the same work before.

    The presenter meant, either they were too expensive or not interested or simply competitors.
    A woman from a totally different business then suddenly felt, that he probably was focused too much on how to please his users, rather than finding a reason for combining the resources of his ideas and projects with already existing 3rd party services, helping them both.

    Maybe the question is not, if the members of There can profit from the service or if partners like Coca Cola or MTV can profit from it, through it, as they also only target the members.

    Maybe the question is: Is there a carrier that already reaches out far enough to hit the target but could also profit from a technology like There to strengthen this bond.

    To be honest: I think the TOYOTA agreement was a nice try, but the automotive industry is a slow thinking dinosaur. They still haven’t fully understood the potential of social network services, though they do have understood that 3D car configurators are a handy thing to have on their websites.

    Volkswagen brought out a Golf GTi app for the iPhone. Funny advertising thing, but guess, who stumbled over the real potential of this idea!

    Google tried to establish an own 3D chat room service some time ago but failed.

    We had someone from Google France in that meeting and she tried to encourage us to take at least three things from totally different areas of life, forget about all our first impulses to drop it as crazy, impossible and not worth trying and just MAKE them work together and profit from each other.

    One of the most asked goods nowadays is plain data. A system like There should be a data collector XXL.
    The automotive industry is suffering but ready to think different and take new approaches to bind their customers to after sales business and desperately needs data.
    Facebook and co. too collect data and provide a lot of services to their members in return, but none of them can offer

    distributed physics

    and the experience of sharing the same virtual space at the same time in real time.

    What else could There do for the automotive industry and their clients?
    You see? We are not talking about There members. We are talking about car owners (maybe especially used car owners), who the car manufacturer doesn’t even know at all.
    But they need to know them, be able to contact them, be able to make sales.

    What if a There member and car owner had the chance to get all necessary services for his own RL car through There?
    – Warranty Extensions
    – Service Plans
    – Basic technical information like: Where’s my spare wheel? How do I turn off the air bag?
    – Where can I get assistance?

    OK, hard to think of as stationary desk top solution, because no one really needs this at home.
    But technology is rapidly developing, especially for mobile devices.

    There is quite resource friendly and navigation systems, mobile phones and any other kind of mobile data device should be able to handle it in the near future, especially if there were some kind of special mobile version (There IM?)

    Of course there might be many many more opportunities and different businesses one could think of supporting through There technology:
    – Education (Schools, Universities)
    – Food and Cooking
    – Public Services

    The question to a potential partner / carrier remains:
    How can There help you with your clients?

    and not:
    How can you help us keep There open for our Members?

    I mentioned it before and (Michael will recall) we already started in this direction.
    In Germany people are very suspicious about all kinds of social networks. SL is more or less considered generally bad and folks don’t really know what to think about Facebook, especially parents worried about their children doing things on the Internet, neither of them really understands.

    One of the most popular social networks in Germany is it’s a service only for school pupils from the age of 12 to about 20.
    They are very strict about the content offered there and people trust these guys and are even happy to see their kids use it as they give the impression of a rather safe environment for their sprouts to make their first steps in the wild of the Internet.

    Though of course their “little ones” already know a lot more and probably could take their own parents by the hand and guide them through the jungle more safely than they again might want to believe.

    I could go on like this, but I just wanted to say that I still think there is not only still room for There but maybe also a certain need.
    All we need to find out is: Who needs it and how can we make them aware of it and the obvious solution?

    BTW: It is quite comforting to know that Michael is still out there somewhere being at least emotionally attached to There and the There community, instead of just having vanished from this worlds surface.

    Thank you, Michael.

  54. #111 by RRTT on 2010.10.19 - 5:40 pm

    Reopening costs, i mean.

  55. #112 by RRTT on 2010.10.19 - 5:38 pm

    Many thanks for the reply Mike, again, looking forward to your post about reopening. And yes, Go Giants! MLB CHAMPS 2011!

  56. #113 by RRTT on 2010.10.19 - 3:24 pm

    I really liked your post, it is interesting to here the truth behind There’s closing from the one person who is qualified most to make such a post. There is, however, one question I would like to ask. Is the Virtual Congress program being run on the same hardware that ran There? or is it simply running off of the platform? Also, is that a profitable venture for the company?

    Okay, so that turned into three questions. I look forward to your post about the Investment that it would take to get new hardware and upgrade the programming of There to make it economically viable. Thanks again for taking the time to write this.

    • #114 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.19 - 4:02 pm

      Hi WildGiantsFan,

      1. No, we sold the hardware used to run There. Virtual Congress is running on a much smaller (smaller than the old Beta, even) cluster.

      2. Yes, it’s using approximately the same software, sans some features, of course (though I think there are all times we’d like to Paintball Congress).

      3. I can’t comment on that. We’re very excited to be able to provide it as a way for kids to learn about how our government works.

  57. #115 by Richard Hallock on 2010.10.19 - 2:33 pm

    Thank you for being willing to share this.

  58. #116 by Austin on 2010.10.19 - 1:55 pm

    Thanks for the post Michael. It honestly did clear some things up, although I was shocked to see that you bothered with others.

    I just have 1000 more questions. For the sake of time I’ll only as one. 😛

    I was thinking about marketing, as was “There_forever.” More specifically, I was wondering why no news agencies were contacted. Msn, Yahoo, etc. Internet news sites have a similar demographic to, and it’s free advertising. Give them a synopsis on the future of entertainment and virtual worlds, offer them a backstage pass, and the next slow news day, you crash zona with new members.

    Also, while on this topic, I did come across two ads online. One was on the bottom of a YouTube video. (As we all know, it takes each viewer a full 2 seconds to close the ad.)

    The other was on a Childs entertainment website which has a demographic of below 13…
    (the website features Lego-like blocks and building).

    Thanks again for the post, the memories, and There,

    P.S. If you need money to reopen there, charge 1 dollar to read hatemail. I think you might beat pet rock for fastest million made. 😛 😉

  59. #117 by there_forever on 2010.10.19 - 1:05 pm

    Very interesting post Mike. Long awaited for and very enjoyable to read – emotional though, I must admit. To be honest, 5016 words wasn’t really that long! hehehe!!! I was reading and reading and hoping it would never end.
    Most of what you have written, I had already thought of since the day the announcement was made. Almost all queries I’ve had have now been settled (apart from one or two which I will mention later).
    I remember trying to explain a few things in Cosmo to others but unfortunately nobody really wanted to listen. Totally understandable if you consider the emotional stress that everybody was enduring in that last week in ‘There’.

    Just for the record I’ll say that I agree with everything you have posted above and to be honest, I find a few of those myths ridiculesly amusing. (I hope nobody is offended by this comment)

    One thing I was always wondering was how the servers worked. So correct me if I am wrong, but from what I have understood, the amount of servers running was determined by how many people were online at any given time, how many vehicles were dropped, how many dogs were running around ect ect. So perhaps for example one server would be needed host the whole space between Egypt and Coke Island if there were 15 avatars with 5 buggies driving around in that area, but the same area would be divided into two equal parts if two servers would be needed to host 70 avatars with 15 buggies scattered around in that same region. Perhaps funzones and hot spots like ‘Cosmo’ had their own server rules, if that is a good way to express it. Have I understood right? I had the impression that each server controlled a certain area of terrain and was always up and running regardless if anyone was there or not. If I am wrong with my assumption that unfortunately means that a ‘smaller’ world with less islands and sea wouldn’t really work to keep it open. Ah well…

    One other thing I am now wondering is that if you were to open ‘There’ again, would you still use the same physics or perhaps improved physics, but more importantly, you wouldn’t give up on the distributed physics. Right? Of course this is a theoretical question, but it would be nice to know that the distributed physics would still be there. I hope I would get a positive answer because the truth is that the physics and distrubuted physics were the main reason ‘There’ was so magical and unique and so much better than almost any other virtual world. I mustn’t forget to mention the chat bubbles!!!!!!!!!!!!! And many other things…

    I think that in order to reopen ‘There’ again you would need to start from scratch:
    – Rebuild the platform from the beginning in order to solve all its problems
    – Use new and up-to-date software
    – Buy brand new equipment in order to reduce operating expenses
    – Create a better in world economy model since the Auctions were terrible
    – Get the investers back perhaps by offering them something that will make it worthwhile for them to spend their money on you
    – Ask around and see what Thereians didn’t like in the world and improve it
    – Improve your marketing strategies. Rarely, I go on Second Life to kill time. I often talk to users there about I can assure you that 90% of all the people I talked you never heard of before.

    Of course all of the above are easier said than done, I know, and maybe this isn’t the right time to reopen a virtual world due to the recession, but maybe when the time is right, these thoughts can be taken into account (if they haven’t already of course!!!)

    Before I end this comment I feel the need to say a few words about the morally bankrupt group you mentioned. I know very well who you are talking about, I have participated in their forums for a while but decided to leave after not being able to tolerate all their “garbage” anymore. The CEO’s narcissism has gone beyond all limits. If I was you I wouldn’t sell a treasure like ‘There’ to them, even if my life depended on it.

    Thanks for the post MW, I really enjoy reading your blog.

    P.S. They say that a newspaper article should be around 600-650 words in order to be easy to read. My comment is 749 words if i counted right (without this P.S.). Was it too long???

    • #118 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.19 - 1:18 pm

      Here are some quick answers:

      (If you thought this was “emotional” you should have seen the first drafts 🙂 ).

      • Yes, the servers were always up, all the time. So, yes, we had hundreds of servers simulating terrain with no one in it (most of the time). You have no idea how much that bugged me, and felt me think it was kind of odd, all at the same time. I almost wanted to create simulated animals, just so they’d be simulating something interesting while no one was there.
      • We wouldn’t have to rebuild everything. We’d just have to introduce one or two key improvements to the physics “problem” to make the business more viable without losing the charm of the physics where it counted, and not dedicate machines to simulating big empty places.
      • I was the investor, so that part should be easy.
      • I don’t think I agree that the economy was so flawed, there are a few tools I’d improve, plus some basic economic levers I’d add to make sure the developers were really incented to make and sell cool stuff. I’m not going to say those out loud here, but if you read between the lines you might figure it out.
      • I’m more than happy to ask anyone anything, but we need a better system. We asked what people wanted, and spent quite a pretty penny making lots of new card games (because people specifically asked for them). I loved the new games, and was very happy we built them, but in the end they were a financial loss, because we never sold enough cover the development costs. It might be that selling a one-charge-one-time card table isn’t the right way to do it. Anyway, we’d have to tune the experience.

      P.S. This WordPress template really messes up my lists. Sorry about that.

      • #119 by there_forever on 2010.10.20 - 3:44 am

        Having so many servers up all the time and doing nothing was a big money waster thats for sure. The main problem was that there were too many servers wasted on unneeded empty space that was rarely occupied. What do I mean?

        Take a look at this link:

        It is a scaled map of ‘There’ created by a Thereian. I don’t know who he is but he did a good job.
        Click on south Caldera on the top of the webpage. You will see a close up of the island on the map.
        Once that is done, scroll out till Coke Island is visible on the right side of the map.
        What you should see is the main islands in the middle of the map and around it the other islands (Kansas, Comet, Coke, Tyr, Aurora).
        Just compare the ocean and land area. Ocean is taking up at least 80% of the whole world. People rarely went there unless they were trying to drive or fly from one island to another.
        I tried to drive from Caldera to Coke Island. It took me a few 2 hour sessions on cruise control saving my position every time I got bored of waiting to get there!
        How many servers were needed to keep the sea open and running for nobody to go there? If the number is ‘a lot’ (I have no idea how many were needed), then this was probably the biggest waste of servers which ended up raising operating expenses way higher than needed.
        Imagine how much money would have been saved if the outer islands were so much closer to the main islands. Maybe outer space could have been a little closer to land!

        Perhaps you didn’t do it right with card games and other activities. one thing I would have done would be to take advantage of all the activities availabe to make income for the company.
        One example is that Makena could have organised card game tournaments which the users would pay a sign up fee to participate and the winner would win a trophy, his name on a winners board and 20% of the earnings. The same could be done with buggy races, hoverboards and any other activities that would have been available in the virtual world.

        One other thing you could have done was have vehicles with special features. A super fast hoverboard for example which would cost more to buy but would also need to be refuled so it can be driven. Something like refills for paintguns.

        The truth is that ‘There’ was very cheap for the average user if you compare it with what it had to offer and what it could have offered. I know that there is a VW that costs $20/month just to get pixel sex and not much more. That world will never be half as good as ‘There’ was!!!

      • #120 by Michael Wilson on 2010.10.20 - 4:20 am

        “Sectors” didn’t have to be rectangular: the ocean was all pretty much one very irregular sector.

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