23. Februar 2009

IETF MMOX WG

The ITEF is discussing to charter a working goup about MMO/Virtual World Interchange. The WG shall be called MMOX in the Applications area.

"The objective of the MMOX working group is to provide an application-layer wire protocol for Virtual Worlds to a) enable interoperability between applications, b) provide for access and exchange with other systems on the internet such as web services, e-mail and other information storage systems, c) allow network layers to recognize VW traffic and make routing decisions based on its characteristics."

The effort ist very Second Life centric. It is driven by people from Linden Lab, IBM and OpenSim. In other words, they have the Second Life glasses and try to standardize Lindens protocols and formats or something very similar.

Our approach to virtual worlds comes from a different direction. We build a web of virtual worlds based on chat protocols and small extensions. This is much leaner than the legacy laden protocols of existing 3d virtual worlds. I doubt that the RFCs would be fun to read, because the specs will be huge. It might be worth to look at a VW-interoperation protocol from the "lean" perspective.

We get a feeling for the essentials of a virtual world, if we use a chat room as communication channel for a region domain and then extend it to create a world. We should start with a small base and add features rather than starting at complex systems and protocols to find a common denominator.

But the current effort is so Second Life oriented, that I doubt they accept any other approach. I am a bit afraid, that the sheer man power of IBM at the IETF will bring us a very un-IETF-like standard for virtual worlds interoperability.

According to the frst charter proposal the WG will standardize LLSD, OGP Base, OGP Virtual World Primitive Object Formatt, OGP Authentication, OGP Teleport. The WG should be called OGP, not MMOX. I remember the IMPP WG where several early instant message companies tried to get "their" protocol standardized under the name of a general IM and Presence protocol. Long discussions were ended by re-chartering the WG to only define requirements. Later there where 2 WGs with appropriate names, which defined real protocols: SIMPLE and XMPP. That's probably a good idea also in this case.

We have many strong VW protocols and one of them tries to get the standards approval under the very general label MMOX. MMOX should create just a requirements RFC and then there will be time for real protocols. Interoperability is not really limited by the lack of standards. Currently it's the lack of interest. Until there is real interest from more than one virtual world community, there is really no need to hurry. If the SecondLife/OpenSim community wants to be interoperable with themselves, then they should just do. A MMOX requirements WG would give the time to find out if there is interest from others like Everquest, WoW, There, EVE Online, Runescape, Google Earth (?), etc.

_happy_chartering()

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