Virtual Goods Update

Neptun is growing. After the basic functions are complete, we started implementing an experimental version of virtual item interactions. Interactions enable simple work flows. Later we will extend these work flows, add more complex work flows and graphics for objects on web pages.

This sounds very theoretic. Lets make an example: you can have a coffee machine. You put the coffee machine from your inventory down to your web site. You can add stuff to the coffee machine, say coffee beans, water and a power source. Then you can tell the coffee machine to make coffee for your friends.
Your visitors can use a cup to take coffee from the machine, which results in ... (I will tell later). You will get the water somewhere on the web from a fountain. The water can also be used to grow plants on your web site. Plants need seeds. Some plants can be harvested for wood. This is just an example.

Virtual goods on the Web will work like in other games. But now they can be everywhere. Not just inside a facebook game. They can be on your homepage, on your community page, your forum, anywhere you go. We will take care, that plants will not overgrow web pages. Hopefully you will help us. And plants are not the end. All you can do INSIDE of games will be possible OUTSIDE on the Web. Not inside an artificial world, but on the real Internet.

And yes: we feel a little bit guilty for programming virtual goods now, before you have avatars. But I admit, that virtual goods are so much fun and we want to research this segment a bit further before we go back to the client and the avatar. Please be patient. In the meantime: the community version of weblin is still running. You can grow the community by offering the download on your Web site.

For programmers: This is how Neptun looks like in Firefox. It is just a list of controls for programmers. Neptun has now 40 test functions (the portal has 69). The large blue text shows links for these tests. Each link execute a single test. The "All Test" link executes all at once. At the top is a link ("Items") to the item list as before and a way to stop the server ("Quit").

Neptun: Virtual Items Server

Avatars will have an inventory of virtual items. They will be able to buy, sell, build, trade and loot virtual items. A server manages all these items and everything you do with items. Over the last 3 weeks we implemented such a component. This is our first version of a virtual item server. It is called "Neptun".

In October and November we implemented a first version of the web portal and a simple form of an inventory. Back then, we simulated our items. Now, they are real.

The inventory is now populated by the item server. In other words: items are alive inside the item server. If you see them on the web portal, then the portal fetches all it needs to display them from the item server. As usual, items are also stored in a database for safety. But in the database they are only passive. In the item server they are active and you can do something with them.

What you can do comes later. For now these items have a place to be seen (the inventory of the portal) and a place to live (the item server). It is actually much better to see virtual items on a web page of the portal, than in the item server. On the portal they have translated text and images.

Developers can also see items in the item server, but this is much more bare bone. So, this is how Neptun looks like. It has a web user interface, but it shows only technical data. There is a list of item numbers and item properties. Not much for the user, but very informative for developers.

For the programmers: Neptun is implemented in C#. We program, debug and test in MS Visual Studio 9. Then, we run the program on Linux with mono.