Scoble points to a new virtual world that is yet to launch “Outback Online“. The main developer is apparently in Texas, with the rest of the team residing in Australia. From Scoble’s account, they’ll kick Second Life’s you know what with better graphics and the ability to host up to 10,000 people in a single space/ server. As an Australian I’m naturally inclined to say lots of good things about the project, particularly a start up with a strong Australian presence. But there is just one, very small problem. The Outback sucks.
This isn’t the fault exclusively of the developers. The romanticism in relation to the Outback goes back many, many years, to the writings of Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, and the poetry of Dorothea Mackellar (I love a Sunburnt Country). But the developers are stating that their graphics and capacity will be far greater then that of Second Life. Let me share a secret with anyone who has never visited the interior of Australia, which is the real reason why “Outback Australia” can and will be far superior to Second Life.
The outback consists of red dirt and scrub…did I mention red dirt already? According to Wikipedia, red dirt is iron-rich soil, which the “outback” shares with Hawaii, Africa and Afghanistan. Short version: there is hardly anything to render, so of course Outback Online will work a whole lot better. Compare and contrast the extremely rich environment of Second Life to red dirt and scrub. There is no comparison.
Unlike many Australians, I’ve actually visited the outback…once. I hail from Sydney, literally the US equivalent of New York. Like 90% of all Australians I lived on the coast, and as much as I’ve traveled the East Coast extensively, those trips never managed to get further inland than Armidale, Dubbo and the Hume Highway to Melbourne. Not long after I first moved to Western Australia, to live with my very shortly there after wife, she who must be obeyed took us on a trip to stay with friends who owned a “sheep station” outside of Mount Magnet. Being from the East Coast I naturally took “sheep station” to mean rolling green hills and sheep grazing on them. What I found out, after a roughly 5 hour trip from Perth that at the speed limit should have taken 7 hours, was that “sheep station” meant 1 million square kms (386,000 sq miles) of red dirt, scrub and a few thousand sheep, that to feed involved mustering (moving) 50 km’s (31 miles) in a different direction every second day through red dirt and scrub. And that was the extent of the adventure. As far as the eye could see: red dirt and scrub. This is the Australian outback, land that stretches nearly as far as the entirety of the United States that consists of red dirt, and scrub…but mostly red dirt.
The red dirt itself is difficult to describe. It’s not like normal dirt. Red dirt clings to you. It gets in everything and is hard to wash off…and it’s everywhere….but I probably said that already :-)
Outback Online is going to represent the outback…which consists of red dirt and scrub. Let’s hope they get a decent user base, because the scenery won’t excite :-)
Tags: Outback Online