Conference with Senior Producer, Greg Oberfield - January 29th, 1997

From Reno Project

According to notes taken by Fujitsu Software Corporation staff, 25 people joined in to listen and ask questions. The conference was held in CompuServes Convention Center. Several small graphics of the Pride! world were interspersed during the talk

Judith Rubin - FSC: % Your moderator is [76710,153] Judith Rubin - FSC

Judith Rubin - FSC: Welcome to tonight's Virtual Worlds conference
Judith Rubin - FSC: Our special guest tonight is Greg Oberfield
Greg Oberfield: Hi folks.
Judith Rubin - FSC: Greg is Senior Producer
Judith Rubin - FSC: at Fujitsu Software Corporation
Judith Rubin - FSC: He helps create WorldsAway virtual worlds
Judith Rubin - FSC: WorldsAway is a technology that allows you
Judith Rubin - FSC: to exist online in real time with others
Judith Rubin - FSC: in an animated graphical environment
Judith Rubin - FSC: You live in the virtual world as an avatar
Judith Rubin - FSC: a special animated character
Greg Oberfield: (Judith is a typing machine over here folks!) :)
Judith Rubin - FSC: Ha ha I am NOT a bot!
Judith Rubin - FSC: I work with the marketing dept of FSC
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK I'm going to slip in a graphic from Pride!Universe
Judith Rubin - FSC: the virtual world Greg produced
Greg Oberfield: I'm supposed to make some kind of witty remark right now.
Greg Oberfield: But instead, I'll just wait for Judith to send over the
graphic before 
getting rolling. :)
Judith Rubin - FSC: Very nice, Greg
Judith Rubin - FSC: Soooooo, Mr Oberfield
Judith Rubin - FSC: Say hello to the folks out there
Greg Oberfield: <- is Mr. Oberfield
Judith Rubin - FSC: And get ready for the first question
Greg Oberfield: Hello folks!  I'm ready and raring to go here!
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK, first of all, the burning question
Judith Rubin - FSC: Is your job like being a movie producer?
Judith Rubin - FSC: Do you get perks? Limos?
Greg Oberfield: Heh .. well, I get all the coffee I can drink.
Greg Oberfield: Hot chocolate too!
Judith Rubin - FSC: LOL
Greg Oberfield: But seriously, it is in one respect.  I have to deal
Greg Oberfield: with all the budget stuff while working on a project.
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK, I suppose you at least get the long hours
Greg Oberfield: I know how much the client has to spend and what the
Greg Oberfield: project goals are, so I keep track of how much is done
Greg Oberfield: with what groups in our department.
Greg Oberfield: In that way, it's like being a movie producer.
Greg Oberfield: However, I'm creating a product FOR someone, which a movie
Greg Oberfield: producer is not - so I have to keep in mind that this product
Greg Oberfield: (the world) is someone else's consumer item.
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK, but what *is* a virtual world producer? Do you work
on the technology aspect of the product?
Greg Oberfield: No, I don't deal with technology, that's why we have product
managers. :)
Greg Oberfield: Although I get to harass them when I want a feature. :)
Judith Rubin - FSC: So you spend a lot of time harassing people?
Greg Oberfield: You got that right!
Judith Rubin - FSC: Besides the marketing dept., I mean
Greg Oberfield: In fact, while I'm in the production cycle for a world
everyone hates me. 
Judith Rubin - FSC: (:-)
Judith Rubin - FSC: What are the different groups you work with?
Greg Oberfield: Whew .. name one I >DON'T< work with...
Greg Oberfield: Let
Greg Oberfield: oops.
Greg Oberfield: Let's see, there's art, worldbuilding, QA, member support,
Greg Oberfield: engineering and business development.
Judith Rubin - FSC: and the world sponsor?
Greg Oberfield: I work with all of them in one way or another.
Greg Oberfield: Well, of course!  I wouldn't be working if it weren't for
them! :)
Judith Rubin - FSC: Who is the sponsor of Pride!Universe?
Greg Oberfield: I think he's in the audience right now (I'm not telling who
Judith Rubin - FSC: How long does it take to create a world?
Greg Oberfield: That depends .. really .. on the size of the project.
Greg Oberfield: Pride! actually took us a couple months to create, but it was...
Greg Oberfield: also the very first world we put together aside from our own
so it
Greg Oberfield: was a learning process for all of us.
Judith Rubin - FSC: Maybe we should clarify that Pride!Universe is a very
different place 
from the WorldsAway Dreamscape
Judith Rubin - FSC: which is better known, because it has been out longer
Judith Rubin - FSC: I'll send a picture from Pride!
Greg Oberfield: Yippee!
Judith Rubin - FSC: Greg, maybe you could sort of walk us through production
Judith Rubin - FSC: Since the second half of this conference
Judith Rubin - FSC: Will be a group effort at creating a world concept
Greg Oberfield: Sure .. let's see ...
Judith Rubin - FSC: This is a clip from the garden of Pride Universe I just sent
Greg Oberfield: There's the primary creative process, where I sit down and
talk (along 
with our creative director)...
Greg Oberfield: with the principal of the world.
Greg Oberfield: We figure out what kind of world they want, what kind of
theme they want 
to develop...
Greg Oberfield: and what their target market is.
Greg Oberfield: For example, when we were working with Pride! we got really
lucky -- 
Greg Oberfield: knew exactly what they wanted, which helped us out a lot.
Judith Rubin - FSC: The Pride environment is a space station
Greg Oberfield: They came to us with the spaceship concept which was so cool
that it made 
our lives easier during the design process.
Judith Rubin - FSC: with lots of vivid color
Greg Oberfield: Oops, space station that is. :)
Judith Rubin - FSC: Here's a picture from the lounge at Pride Universe
Greg Oberfield: Once we had the concept down, I worked with the Pride! folks
on the layout 
and the look and feel.
Judith Rubin - FSC: Sort of Star Trek looking, I think
Greg Oberfield: There were some constraints, since we used a lot of artwork
we had along 
with more from Pride! so that is why you may have noticed
Greg Oberfield: some things that are similar between the Dreamscape and Pride!
Greg Oberfield: However, Richard (the BMOC at Pride!) is QUITE adept at
making things the 
way he wants them
Judith Rubin - FSC: So he was fun to work with?
Greg Oberfield: with our tools, and has evolved the Pride! Universe into his
own creation 
with colors, new locales and art.
Greg Oberfield: Lots!
Greg Oberfield: The Pride! folks were very easy to work with.
Greg Oberfield: (BMOC = Big Man On Campus)
Judith Rubin - FSC: So once you have the concept..
Greg Oberfield: Ah .. the storyboard!
Judith Rubin - FSC: So it is like the movies!!!
Greg Oberfield: Once we have the concept, I sit down and write up this big
thing called 
the "world specification" ...
Greg Oberfield: It's basically a long document which describes the entire
world in text, 
no graphics.
Greg Oberfield: it lists it's target market, locales, art feel, etc.  I then
give this to 
the art department and they draw up...
Greg Oberfield: you guessed it, Storyboards!
Greg Oberfield: We use the storyboards to get an idea of what a world will
look like
Greg Oberfield: after it's built, so that we can talk with the client and
show them our 
Judith Rubin - FSC: You said a couple months was all it took to create Pride
Universe. Did 
this include the concept development time?
Greg Oberfield: Once they agree that it's hip and cool we start the
worldbuilding part.
Greg Oberfield: In Pride's! case, yes -- although we lucked out in that
Pride! had a solid 
Greg Oberfield: and also have been invovled in running online services for
quite a while
Greg Oberfield: so they knew what they were doing.
Greg Oberfield: That isn't always the case.
Judith Rubin - FSC: Wow! That is faster than making a movie
Judith Rubin - FSC: Folks, if you have questions about virtual world
producing please go 
ahead and submit them
Judith Rubin - FSC: We'll be happy to take questions any time
Greg Oberfield: I should say that I'm senior producer but I do not work on
the Dreamscape.
Greg Oberfield: The Dreamscape has it's own producer you may already know
him ...
Greg Oberfield: his name is Vaserius. :)
Judith Rubin - FSC: I think I've seen him lurking in the halls at FSC
Greg Oberfield: (He's got a more direct line to Morpheus than I do)
Judith Rubin - FSC: Greg is more clean-cut than Vaserius, folks
Greg Oberfield: <- doesn't have the hood and robe
Judith Rubin - FSC: A totally different kind of big shot producer
Greg Oberfield: :: buffing hand on chest ::
Passion asks: How long does it take to build a locale in the dreamscape?
Greg Oberfield: Well, any locale, Dreamscape or Pride, takes about a day to
Greg Oberfield: Someone here is shouting "define build!"
Greg Oberfield: Build basically means the time it takes for us to create an
empty locale, 
and then "fill" it with all those cool items you see as backgrounds and
objects in the 
Judith Rubin - FSC: % The floor is now OPEN
Judith Rubin - FSC: % Open chat has been turned off for the conference.  To
please ask a question.
Judith Rubin - FSC: Let me send a picture of some cool stuff
Judith Rubin - FSC: How can it take only a day to build?
Greg Oberfield: I should be more specific, I'm assuming that we already have
all the 
artwork completed for the locale.  In that case it takes a day.
Greg Oberfield: The longest part of building a world is drawing the artwork.
It's a LOT 
of work.
Judith Rubin - FSC: We've had a question about the graphics we're sending
Judith Rubin - FSC: If you aren't getting them, you may not have WinCim 2.0
or higher
Judith Rubin - FSC: You need that to receive the graphics
Judith Rubin - FSC: Greg, since we're going to practice a concept ourselves,
Judith Rubin - FSC: Tell us what we need to be thinking about
Greg Oberfield: Darn, and I thought I'd get a silly question! :)
Greg Oberfield: Well, lets see ..
Greg Oberfield: You should be thinking along the lines of concept, mainly
who are you 
building this world for?
Greg Oberfield: That is really what defines the world .. you know, "form
follows function"
Judith Rubin - FSC: If you have WinCim 2.0 and still aren't seeing the
graphics, perhaps 
you haven't clicked the button that should appear on your screen. You click
the button to 
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK let me send another picture
Greg Oberfield: Wahoo!
Judith Rubin - FSC: This is the headshop
Judith Rubin - FSC: Greg, are those blue eyes for real?
Greg Oberfield: Well, I have been compared to old blue eyes himself, Frank
Sinatra. :)
Greg Oberfield: (just kidding)
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK here's a serious question
Eärendil asks: How many separate worlds are currently in development?
Greg Oberfield: Define "in development" ..
Greg Oberfield: Marketing is telling me to dodge, but I can say this ...
Greg Oberfield: We're currently working on closing a few creative deals with
types of content providers.  I can't go...
Greg Oberfield: into details on them just yet, but they are all quite
distinct from the 
Dreamscape and Pride!
Judith Rubin - FSC: We could tell you more, but then we'd have to do away
with you!
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK we've reached the halfway point in our conference
Greg Oberfield: (do away = sink with concrete slippers)
Greg Oberfield: ;-)
Judith Rubin - FSC: LOL
Judith Rubin - FSC: So we're ready to develop our own virtual world concept soon
Louise asks: Do your "project goals" include any plans for social
development of the 
world... like maybe a democracy?
Greg Oberfield: That's a good question ...
Greg Oberfield: I've been working with and on virtual communities for a
number of years 
Greg Oberfield: and the various means of self-government have always
fascinated me.
Greg Oberfield: I would love, for example, to set up a virtual world that
was run by a 
theocracy for example to see how it works.
Greg Oberfield: But that's more of a hobby, than what I do.  Although
community is a very 
large component of designing a world.
Greg Oberfield: There are a number of things we do while developing a world
to promote 
Greg Oberfield: For example, vendos & other machines are what I call
inhibitors" ..
Greg Oberfield: meaning they actually PREVENT people from talking to one
Judith Rubin - FSC: Could you talk about how the community in Pride Universe
is set up?
Greg Oberfield: Wow .. well .. that isn't something that I dealt with
really.  Pride! 
themselves built their community.
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK Greg
Judith Rubin - FSC: Let's start thinking about our virtual world concept
Judith Rubin - FSC: Tell us where to start
Greg Oberfield: Okey dokey .. let's assume that everyone in the audience is
the "client".
Greg Oberfield: You've come to FSC wanting a world.
Greg Oberfield: First off, we need somewhere to start -- send in some
suggestions for what 
kind of theme you want.  I'll pick one or two we'll work from there.
Greg Oberfield: Go ahead and submit them now. :)
Judith Rubin - FSC: OK we have what might be the start of a concept:
Sandman asks: to hell with girlfriend wants me to ask...when
can we get 
Greg Oberfield: Well, there's nothing preventing you from getting naked
right now while 
you're in a world.
Greg Oberfield: We just don't let you strip your avatar! :)
Judith Rubin - FSC: Good point Greg
Judith Rubin - FSC: Do you think people over-identify with their avatars?
Greg Oberfield: Sometimes.  It depends.
Greg Oberfield: It really depends on the person.
~Cosmocat asks: KittyWorld...for people who are convinced they are cats. =)
Greg Oberfield: Ok .. I like it!  KittyWorld it is! :)
Greg Oberfield: Allright, now that we have a basic theme concept I get to
come up with 
some background ideas.
Greg Oberfield: How about this:
Greg Oberfield: KittyWorld, a place for cool cats to strut their stuff and
lap their 
Judith Rubin - FSC: I want a tuxedo cat avatar
Judith Rubin - FSC: Here is a remark:
Passion asks: Is technology being developed so that an avatar can keep their
identity when 
journeying between worlds?  (When Pride opened many names were stolen by
jealous avatars).
Greg Oberfield: Well, there are a number of groups working on what is called
a "Universal 
Avatar" standard...
Greg Oberfield: however, depending on what side of the business you come
from you agree or 
disagree with the concept.
Greg Oberfield: Myself for instance (and this is my own opinion) I don't
agree with 
Universal Avatar from a business standpoint.
Greg Oberfield: For example, if we had that, and I was Coca-Cola and I had a
world.  And 
Pepsi had a world..
Judith Rubin - FSC: So it would depend on the world producer
Greg Oberfield: I (cocacola) definitely don't want Pepsi avatars or Pepsi
objects in my 
world. :)
Sandman asks: no...that was a cheap shot...we are talking about a world
where we can do 
what *we* want...not what you want
Greg Oberfield: This is in regard to my naked avatar remark.
Greg Oberfield: Ok .. that's a good question.  What it boils down to is what
we call
Greg Oberfield: "editorial control", defining who has the power to determine
the course ….

Fujitsu Software Corporation’s TCP/IP went down at this time and Greg resumed the conference from Tammy Sims dial-up connection.

Louise: Greg, I understand your first priority is satisfaction of your
sponsor, but do you also feel responsibility for the people who live in your
Greg Oberfield: Sandman, in the plans for a later version we're looking at
putting in an API so people can write "plug-ins" for the worlds.
Judith Rubin - FSC: We have a question from Richard about naked avvies, Greg
Greg Oberfield: However, I WILL say that these plugins will more than likely
not allow you to modify the world since that's a security breach.
Judith Rubin - FSC: Greg (:-)
Greg Oberfield: Umm .. ok Judy!

[end of recording due to TCP/IP down again]