SLG Exclusive – HiPiHi & Areae Insights!

April 13, 2007

by Onder Skall

Since posting the latest iteration of “Alternatives To Second Life” late last night, new details have come to light. To be honest there are dozens of things that can wait until I do the next iteration of the list, but these are too hot to wait:

First, Bruce Chen, Business Development Director at HiPiHi was good enough to get back to me on a few points. Answers are sic so excuse the esl:

  1. Is your in-world currency open to real-market trading? – Definitely it is. The residents in the HiPiHi World would push the exchange between in-world currency and real money.
  2. Are residents able to upload textures and other content? Is there a review process like “There” has, or is it immediate and open like “Second Life”? – The residents can upload textures and other content under a manageable mechanism.
  3. I’ve noticed several resident videos already on your website. Is there a video recording tool in the client? – The videos you mentioned were made by the residents themselves. HiPiHi World client has not a video recording tool yet, and it is really cool a feature which we should consider later.
  4. Will there be a version open to the West? – The multi-language versions including English, Japanese, are under planning.

Thank you Bruce Chen! I can’t wait to play HiPiHi myself!

Also, Raph Koster of Areae Inc. (thanks Torley!) did the whole “well you don’t really need Onder’s Big Three in virtual worlds” thing, and was brilliant and insightful about it as usual (even if I’m not talking about all virtual worlds Raph, just SL). In so doing he let a few hints slip about what we might find in Areae as far as real-money trading:

#1 is probably the most problematic (do you become a bank, terrorists laundering money, tax implications, illegal business activities, and on and on and on).


FWIW, I think that #1 is a bit of a red herring. The point of a metaverse world, or indeed any sort of world including the real one, is not to make money. Money is an enabler, a convenient tool. I suspect that the current explosion in “metaverse service bureaus” is a sign that RMT is not the key ingredient involved in making big bucks with a virtual world.

So from the sounds of it, we’re not going to see much in the way of integrated RMT in Areae’s plans for the future. It’s still up in the air if this is going to be a “send some folks to jail” policy like WoW’s, or a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy like There’s. Either way, for those of us who love the way Second Life handles the issue, it’s a bit of a shame.



  1. This fellow from HiPiHi sounds like he’s hedging a bit. He sounds to me like he’s saying “Well, we aren’t officially incorporating RMT into our game, but our residents will push it and sure, go buy from them on their gaming sites”.

    When he says “manageable” about uploading content, he also sounds like he is doing some tap-dancing — that probably means that he has a clearing-house or committee that vets content like There.

    I remember back when The Sims Online was in beta, people kept clamouring to have custom content. Even just textures. Even just the stuff they made for the offline game etc.

    And the reason the game devs kept citing then was NOT that there’d be porn or gambling or objectionable content, not at all.

    No, what they said was that they were concerned that anyone could copy the expensive objects, let’s say there’s a 10,000 simoleon grand piano or something — once custom content is available, anyone can make that object and then sell it for 100 simoleons. So they had a very early awareness of the Copybot problem and the need to preserve the membrane.

    They just kept arguing in every discussion about this that they couldn’t figure out how to prevent forgery of expensive items. And in fact, it’s funny to think that in SL, people from TSO made and uploaded simulations of the TSO furniture, but of course, it never sold for any high value, because it was hard to make 2-D look as good as the SL-oriented furniture.

  2. Onder, it’s “Raph Koster” (not “Kostner”) but you did the same thing like me, at least we didn’t misspell him as “Ralph”! 🙂

    Also, I do think there’s too much emphasis on “money”, esp. when we live in a knowledge-based economy with jobs that would’ve seen ludicrously useless or impractical years ago, but currently carry such weight due to a “currency of what you know” intertwined like Siamese twins. (Bluntly Tofflerian — I admit, I am a fan of Heidi + Alvin!) Sometimes, I muse: “money is a byproduct”, which isn’t telling the whole story, but it does make for a good story, and as long as people are living our real lives indulging in fantasy (and in some cases, having those dreams come true), it’s an acute point.

    I wonder how those Habitat resurrectionists are making due. =D

    Re: HiPiHi “manageable mechanism” for uploading, that sounds like moderation. I wonder if it is?

  3. The term “manageable mechanism” is quite dodgy, but I think this is one of those cases where we have a translation problem. The message was probably meant to be “through an upload tool”.

    Having said that, I’m leaning more towards the probability of heavy moderation. China isn’t shy about censoring things, after all. That doesn’t mean we should discount them (after all, “There” is expressly PG), but it does mean that they won’t steal too many users from SL.

    Torley – I realize the rudeness of my monetary assumptions. Intelligent folk don’t like talking cash in the West. It’s supposed to be “beneath us” or something. Still, we have to face facts: SL and L$ trade are inextricably linked. That’s why it’s on the list.

    To be honest… I really should have included something about a lack of censorship too…

  4. @Onder: I didn’t feel it was rude, money is important. Important enough to be a part of something so much larger.

    “Onder’s Even Bigger Four”? =o)

  5. Anyone get to try the Hipihi beta yet?

    I’ve installed the beta but it crashes right after displaying the loading screen. Hoping to hear from Hipihi, I’ve responded to their request for system specs.

    Are there any English language Hipihi forums anywhere?

  6. I’ve been testing the Hipihi world successfully now and having a good time doing so.

    To use the Hipihi beta, you have to be using Win XP as your OS, you have to have Chinese loaded, typically with the East Asian language pack, enable Chinese PRC and Chinese Simplified, and set the Hipihi shortcut to turn OFF Advance Text Services.

    The Hipihi company has made a file with screenshots of the interface with English language notes added. This should make it much much easier for non-Chinese speaking English speakers to give it try. This file will be announced on the company’s web site tomorrow, and it’s already in the Hipihi forums, if you can find your way around in the Chinese language forums.

    However, you might find it easier to go file area at http://groups.google.com/group/hipihi-group , where I have already placed a copy of this English language Hipihi interface translation.

    The English language registration page for Hipihi is at http://www.hipihi.com/application/application_en.jsp .

    The Download page is http://www.hipihi.com/download_client.html

    I hope to see you in Hipihi!

  7. Areae is vaporware at this point, correct? No outside observer has seen any evidence of it’s existence, is that correct?

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