Entropia Universe


Entropia Universe
Entropia Universe
Entropia Universe logo.png
Developer(s) MindArk
Publisher(s) MindArk
Engine CryEngine 2
Version 12.2.1
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) January 30, 2003
Genre(s) MMORPG/RCE/FPS
Mode(s) MMORPG
Media/distribution Download (Free)
System requirements

Microsoft Windows (XP & Vista; Windows 7)

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 2.8 GHz Intel P4/AMD Athlon 64 or better CPU
  • nVidia GeForce 7800 series/ATI Radeon 1900 series or higher
  • 10 GB hard disk drive space; ~4.67 GB for client part files
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
  • Broadband internet connection (ADSL or better)

Entropia Universe is a massively multiplayer online virtual universe designed by the Swedish software company MindArk, based in Gothenburg. Entropia uses a micropayment business model, in which players may buy in-game currency (PED - Project Entropia Dollars) with real money that can be redeemed back into real world funds at a fixed exchange rate of 10:1.[1] This means that virtual items acquired within Entropia Universe have a real cash value, and a participant may, at any time, initiate a withdrawal of their accumulated PEDs back into real world currencies according to the fixed exchange rate, minus transaction fees, the minimum amount for a withdrawal is 1000 PED. It generally takes several months for a withdrawal to be made, and as a result players often discouraging players from making such withdrawals, and revenue of the business is therefore largely generated from activities within the virtual universe.

The Entropia Universe is a direct continuation of Project Entropia. Strategic partnerships with media companies and financial institutions combined with the addition of new or enhanced developer tools in 2008 are expected to allow for the construction of new planets, to exist within the financial structure of Entropia Universe, for third party content providers to develop and market independently.

The Entropia Universe entered the Guinness World Records Book in both 2004 and 2008 for the most expensive virtual world objects ever sold,[2] and in 2009, a virtual space station, a popular destination, sold for $330,000.[3] This was then eclipsed in November 2010 when Jon Jacobs sold a virtual resort on Planet Calypso for $635,000; this property was sold in chunks, with the largest sold for $335,000.[4][5]

Contents

Development

Development of Entropia Universe (formerly Project Entropia) was started in Sweden in 1995 by Jan Welter Timkrans and a group of colleagues. During its initial testing phase in 2002 the offices of MindArk were raided by court officials following a complaint by Microsoft that MindArk was using unlicensed software. MindArk has stated that this may have been an attempt by Microsoft to derail the game's development because of its threat to their game Asheron's Call. The game was launched commercially at the start of 2003.[6]

Gameplay

The backstory of Entropia Universe is that of a distant science-fiction future. The specific settings vary a little bit on each planet. On Planet Calypso participants assume the roles of colonists who must develop the untamed planet of Calypso and explore its two continents, Eudoria and Amethera. Populated with fierce and dangerous creatures, the perilous wilderness on Calypso is also rich in minerals and ore, both of which can potentially be a source of income for would-be colonists.

There are two space stations in orbit over Calypso. Their names are - Club NEVERDIE (CND) & Crystal Palace (CP). In order to travel to them, players either need to own a hangar which contains a working spaceship, or alternatively, players can pay other participants acting as pilots to fly them there. As of 2009 all pilot services are disabled, so temporary teleports to and from the space stations are being provided for a fee of 40 PED.

Since the beginning of 2010 two new planets have been added to Entropia Universe. The first planet released was Rocktropia, which is a rock & roll themed planet. The second planet released was Next Island, which is a resort planet. Next Island is, as of December 29, 2010, in beta."[7] 24 May 2011 Planet Arkadia was added.

The outposts, cities, and auction posts on the planet serve as trading hubs where virtual items such as tools, weapons, and minerals are bought and sold by colonists. The wide range of professions available to colonists makes the accumulation of skills and resources a lively business. The cities also serve as social and cultural connection points for the colonist community. Some colonists on a rare occasion participate in the project only socially without engaging in business, such as beggars and priests of Lootius.

Cost to participate

The service can be downloaded and played for free, following an account registration procedure. However, a new player receives only a damaged orange jumpsuit, a pair of grey shoes and a tool for gathering vibrant sweat from creatures. As such, although one is able to participate for free, more involved gameplay is difficult without depositing funds. Players with little or no money are initially limited to the following actions:

  • Using the service as a 3-D virtual chat room or exploring the virtual universe.
  • Using an in-game process called "Sweating" or "Sweat Gathering" to extract bottles of "Vibrant Sweat," which can then be sold to other players for PED or changed to items. The 2010.06.03 VU release may introduce 2 new types of "sweat".
  • Collecting "fruit", "dung", and 6 sorts of precious rare stones which can be sold to other players to raise funds.
  • Performing numerous "jobs" for other players – for example, acting as a trader, or buying pre-defined amount of crafting materials at specified rate for crafters.
  • Performing several missions (quests) that can be completed without any in-game equipment or money.
  • Trickery: cheating, and stealing.
  • Finding abandoned items or PED lying on the ground.
  • Begging, which is largely frowned upon.
  • Take part in newbies missions in order to receive free tools and ammunition.

Players may purchase items needed to kill Entropia's tougher creatures—which are often likely to yield a higher number of valuable items than their weaker kin—or they can participate in the "Mining" and "Crafting / Manufacturing" professions, which can produce saleable items to fund further gameplay. However, an element of risk is involved in all of these activities, and the expected payback is usually less than the funds required to initially partake in them.

Many players attempt trading as a fun and seemingly attractive method for acquiring PEDs, but has typically low margins.[citation needed] One exception to this is trading so-called "uber" items, which are rare and efficient versions of normal devices. Such items can retail in-game for the equivalent of thousands of US dollars.[citation needed]

Other ways of earning PEDs have included: organizing ticketed events within Entropia, operating a player-owned shop (such as a beauty salon), managing a shopping mall for its taxes, piloting others into space, virtual real estate agency, providing a clothes/furniture coloring/texturising service, or promoting those enterprises.

Character creation

Before beginning the game, the player's character model can be manipulated in a variety of ways. The model's skin, eye and hair colour can be selected in addition to altering physical dimensions of the body and facial features. After initial creation further physical modifications can only be achieved through the services of other users acting as hairdressers or plastic surgeons, for example.

Partnerships

The cultural city of 'New Oxford' within Entropia Universe offers participants the opportunity to purchase real world items, such as contemporary art and clothing.

Some of the companies that have partnerships to sell real world items within the Entropia Universe include 'Vexed Generation Clothing Ltd' of London, England, '21st Century Fine Art' which has its real world offices in New York, USA. 21st Century Fine Art have also opened a gallery in the heart of 'New Oxford' within the Entropia Universe.[citation needed]

Next Island, one of the EU planets, has licensed Transformers 3 images for virtual goods. http://nextisland.com/planet/2011/press-releases/second-wave-arrival-sandy-lutra-offers-transformers-3/

Significant events and virtual property sales

Entropia morning landscape

On December 14, 2004, the game creators MindArk announced the conclusion of the first "Treasure Island Sale". This was a virtual island put up for auction. The winning bidder, an avatar named Zachurm "Deathifier" Emegen, paid 265,000 PED (US$26,500) for the island. At the time this was the highest price ever paid for a virtual item. According to the press release, it is "a large island off a newly discovered continent surrounded by deep creature infested waters. The island boasts beautiful beaches ripe for developing beachfront property, an old volcano with rumors of fierce creatures within, the outback is overrun with mutants, and an area with a high concentration of robotic miners guarded by heavily armed assault robots indicates interesting mining opportunities."[8]

On October 24, 2005, a virtual 'Asteroid Space Resort' was bought by Jon "Neverdie" Jacobs for a sum of 1,000,000 PED (US$100,000), greatly surpassing the sale of Treasure Island. Jon Jacobs is also the writer and producer of a song played within the Entropia Universe called "Gamer Chick". The Asteroid was named Club NEVERDIE after Jacobs's own in game Avatar and has made headlines around the world for the high price of the purchase and his own ambitious plans to turn the resort into a venue for "Live Entertainment in Virtual Reality" Although, TO create this Virtual Entertainment for us, he took the huge gamble of mortaging his own house in order to purchase the Space Station. He later reported that his investment had almost tripled in the 2 years following. Some also believe this was a publicity scam made up by MindArk.[9]

On November 9, 2005, the BBC reported that "Deathifier" had recouped his investment in under a year. He made money by selling virtual homes as well as taxing other gamers to hunt or mine on the island. "The money made to date is only a taste of what can be achieved with my virtual island purchase," said Deathifier.[10]

On May 2, 2006, MindArk announced the introduction of an ATM card enabling players to withdraw the real-world currency equivalent of their PED funds directly from any real-world Versatel ATMs. As reported on the BBC newsfeed users could sell virtual items online and then go purchase a dinner for themselves down the street in real life with this cash card technology. It was stated that $165 million had "passed through the game" in 2005 and that this figure was expected to double in 2006.[11]

Mike Everest, a home-schooled high school senior from Durango, Colorado, and his mother earned $35,000 in 2006 by constructing and selling weapons in Entropia. Of this, $12,000 will be used as college funds for his siblings. Everest spent an average of three hours per day playing the game and intended to continue playing to fund his own college education.[12]

On October 17, 2006, MindArk announced that Entropia Universe had achieved the milestone of over 500,000 registered users. "The growth of Entropia Universe is an enormous achievement for us and the members," said Jan Welter, CEO of MindArk, developer of Entropia Universe. "As the world of video games evolves to become more than just a means of two-dimensional entertainment, we are seeing a demand for the integration of real-world features in virtual environments. Individuals are joining the Entropia Universe community to interact, meet new people, learn new ideas, reach entrepreneurial aspirations, create societies and even foster new relationships in everyday reality."[13]

On May 8, 2007, MindArk announced the results of the world's first virtual Banking license auction. These two-year exclusive licenses aim to integrate real world banking systems into Entropia Universe. The virtual Entropia Universe banks will work similarly to real world banks, or pawn shops.[14] Initially, they will be provided with secure systems enabling them to lend money to participants and collect interest, design and name their own virtual bank building(s), and make their own personnel available through avatars. Each winner must add a further US$100,000 as working capital.[15] MindArk CIO Marco Behrmann said, "The five banks will have integrated services within the mechanics of Entropia Universe and will not just be virtual advertising spots."[16] After months of bidding the five licenses sold for a total of US$404,000,[16] to:

  • Avatar “Janus JD D'Arcwire”, representing Wirecard Bank AG, who paid US$59,060.[17][18]
  • Russian Internet Payment Provider MONETA.ru, with avatar “Yuri iNTellect” who paid US$99,900.[18]
  • Entropia celebrity “Jon NEVERDIE Jacobs”, who paid US$90,000.[14][16]
  • Second Life virtual celebrity and entrepreneur Anshe Chung, who paid US$60,000.[18]
  • Avatar "Jolana Kitty Brice", an Entropia Universe participant and entrepreneur who paid US$95,000.[15]

On December 8, 2009, the sale of the Crystal Palace Space Station was announced. A public auction held from December 14, 2009 through December 28, 2009 determined the new owner.[19] It was won by Buzz Erik Lightyear who paid 3.3 million PED, or US$330,000 for it.[20][21]

On June 15, 2010, parent company MindArk AB released its 2009 annual report. They reported a cash flow of -18.6 Million SEK (-$2.4M). In the report it states that the real life bank they were planning to start is on hold due to a lack of funds. MindArk also says they have a signed letter of intent to sell their original virtual planet, Planet Calypso, for a price of $6,000,000 USD to an unnamed company.[22] This company was later on announced to be SEE Virtual Worlds, which was already a partner with the intention to release at least two planets in the Entropia Universe (Planet Michael, a virtual world celebrating the life of Michael Jackson, and a second planet featuring monsters from Universal[23]) but in June 2011, MindArk released a statement announcing the end of the partnership with SEE altogether.

References

  1. ^ Planet Calypso Planet Calypso official web site Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Features". Entropiauniverse.com. Retrieved on 2007-11-18.
  3. ^ "Man buys virtual space station for 330k real dollars". http://www.joystiq.com/2010/01/02/man-buys-virtual-space-station-for-330k-real-dollars/. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  4. ^ "Planet Calypso Player Sells Virtual Resort for $635,000.00 USD". http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/planet-calypso-player-sells-virtual-resort-for-63500000-usd-107426428.html. Retrieved 2010-11-13. 
  5. ^ "And the asteroid goes to". http://www.entropiaplanets.com/forums/entropia-news/3739-asteroid-goes.html?highlight=NEVERDIE. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  6. ^ Noah Shachtman (June 28, 2002), "Pirate cops raid MS gaming foe" Wired.com. Retrieved on 2007-11-18.
  7. ^ Bunker 37 Gaming Article: "Entropia Universe: Not a normal mmo"
  8. ^ BBC News Article: "Gamer buys $26,500 virtual land."
  9. ^ "Gamer buys virtual space station". BBC News. 25 October 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4374610.stm. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "Virtual property market booming". BBC News. 9 November 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4421496.stm. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  11. ^ "Cash card taps virtual game funds". BBC News. 2 May 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4953620.stm. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  12. ^ Neha Tiwari (October 10, 2006). "Teen pays siblings' college fees by selling virtual weapons". cnet News. http://news.com.com/2061-10797_3-6124572.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  13. ^ "500k Users Press Release". gamedaily.com. http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/news/?id=14132. 
  14. ^ a b "NEVERDIE Bank Interview". 2007-05-04. http://www.virtualmindhive.com/component/content/article/7-features/8-neverdie-bank-interview.pdf. Retrieved 2010-05-21. "Some may say they are like pawn shops, but in Entropia they are banks. There is no other way to get money forwarded or loaned securely." 
  15. ^ a b Chloe Albanesius (2007-05-09). "Tycoons Buy In to New Virtual Banks". http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2127853,00.asp. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  16. ^ a b c "VIRTUAL WORLD ENTROPIA UNIVERSE ISSUE FIRST EVER VIRTUAL BANKING LICENSES FOR $400,000 MindArk Announces the Five Winners of the World’s First Virtual Banking Licenses; Real World Banks and Celebrities Among the Buyers". 2007-05-08. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2127853,00.asp. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  17. ^ "Fox News Article". http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007May09/0,4670,TechBitOnlinePawnshops,00.html. [dead link]
  18. ^ a b c C. Albanesius (2007-05-25). "Wirecard Explains How Virtual Banking Will Work". http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2136510,00.asp. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  19. ^ SOURCE: Planet Calypso (December 8, 2009). "PR: Planet Calypso Announces Online Auction To Acquire Massive Virtual Space Station - UPDATED". http://www.planetcalypso.com/news/pages/2009/12/11/7536/index.xml. 
  20. ^ ANP (December 30, 2009). "Recordbedrag betaald voor virtueel ruimtestation". http://www.nu.nl/games/2153280/recordbedrag-betaald-virtueel-ruimtestation.html. 
  21. ^ entropiaplanets.com (December 28, 2009). "Crystal Palace - And the winner is...". http://www.entropiaplanets.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6658#post6658. 
  22. ^ http://www.mindark.com/press/financial-reports/documents/MindArk-arsredovisning-2009.pdf
  23. ^ http://www.g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/708294/universal-monsters-mmo-incoming/

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