RPGDot Network    

Lost Continents
Display full image
Pic of the moment
pics from the gallery

Site Navigation


   Games Database
   Top 100
   Release List
   Support Files



   Staff Members
   Privacy Statement


There Review
Dialogue, 2004-03-11

When you play a game for review purposes, part of the review process is considering the audience the designers were aiming for when they began work on the project. The designers of There had too many goals in mind when the work on this world began. There is a sprawling world with lots of shiny graphics and some amusing pastimes. It has it's own economy, a variety of sub-culture specific groups and as of recently a future in the military. Yet, it comes off as a grasping attempt at relevancy, with artificial attempts at community and an underwhelming level of greed apparent in the cynical approach to the in-world economy. There presents some interesting ideas, but overall what I have reviewed is less a virtual world than a technology demo.

Getting Started

Beginning your experience in There is as easy as downloading the client. There integrates with Internet Explorer (other OSes need not apply) such that logging in at the site loads the world client. Once you are in-world, you can do basic customization of your avatar. Some characteristics of your facial features, height, and skin color can be modified when you begin the game, and any time you wish at small kiosks the world refers to as "spas". Other than these basic facets of your appearance, any changes to your avatar must be purchased. In fact, the avatar modifications are entitled with names like "The David" for a hairpiece or "The Davin" for a soul patch beard. As is quickly apparent once you enter the world, everything in There has a price.

The Almighty Buck

One of the big selling points that endears There to economists and designers is the in-world economy. As of this writing the "Therebuck" is the strongest virtual currency in the world. The ratio of Therebucks to real world dollars is on the order of 1200 T to $1. That may seem like a good deal until you consider the fact that a pair of pants costs around 7000 T. Just like real life, the citizens of There are separated between the haves and the have nots. Entering into the world and actually signing up for the service nets you around 15,000 Therebucks to spend. That's enough to buy a new hairstyle, a pair of pants, a shirt, and some cheap shoes. If you buy right from the company, that is. In addition to the "Shop Central" feature they have integrated between the There site and the game, players can skin objects and offer them up for sale at auction. One nice feature they do include is the ability to "try it before you buy it". Browsing from the Auction or Shop Central areas, you can choose an object you'd like to see on/with your avatar. You then have access to the item for two minutes. Everything may cost, but at least you can be sure of your purchase. Beyond that, if you're interested in any of the actual features of the There world you will have to purchase additional Therebucks. Renting spaces to host parties, buying or renting furniture, housing, vehicles, toys, all have a cost in Therebucks and thus real world dollars. I find this decision on the part of the There designers to be questionable from a design standpoint, and from the standpoint of a Massively Multiplayer Gamer. There is quantifiably not a Massively Multiplayer Game by all of the criteria on which I base my understanding of MMOGs. It is at best a highly commercialized virtual space with dubious community value. At worst, There is a toy.

Display full image Display full image Display full image

Graphics & Game World

There, for all its faults, doesn't look bad. The avatars are appealing in their appearance and the animations are fairly fluid. There are a wide range of emotes available to players, and they are all context sensitive. There features small conversation areas in the form of tables to chat at, bars to lean against, and hot tubs to recline in. When in these conversation areas the emotes default to a variety of choices meant to ingratiate. The emotions the designers seem to feel are appropriate here range from goofy to sly to flirtatious. Beyond the avatars, the scenery is fairly attractive as well. There exists on a desert island covered in dunes, coconut groves and waterfalls. In addition to the "natural" settings there are several themed mini-villages. One area built entirely with wooden planks to resemble a tower of ramps is in an area built with extreme sportsmen in mind. There is a crashpad style bar meant to evoke an casablanca-esque establishment, and a tiki hut that abuts a series of hot steam baths. All of these places have conversation areas as well. In addition to the social areas, there are "exploration" zones that you can visit (for a nominal fee). These show some degree of imagination and are fairly well constructed. A Giza plateau recreation, an ominous area of dark grit with a foreboding tower and a deep moat, and a mini-village consisting of floating islands connected by rope bridges are some of the places you can explore in There. The designers spent a significant amount of time on the visual reality of their world. I can't say the same about the auditory experience.

Display full image Display full image Display full image

Sound & Music

It must be a thing with virtual worlds built to be social spaces. Unlike in a game world, in a social virtual world you evidently don't need to be entertained by a musical experience. I was told by a resident that the assumption is most There citizens will be listening to music via an mp3 player of some sort. I think a small amount of musical accompaniment to some of the austere, visually interesting zones they've created would have gone a long way towards immersion. Immersion not being a goal, one of the primary ways to get music into There is via out of game Internet streams that can be accessed via stereo and boom box objects (for a price, of course). There does have some relatively interesting sound effects. The vehicle sounds are convincing, as are the blats and blasts from the paintball guns. In other words, the most attention was paid to the activities in the game.

Stuff to Do

If you are on your own, There only offers one or two things to occupy your time. Modes of transportation are the easiest to get into, and for at least a few hours, pretty entertaining. Dune Buggies, Hoverbikes, Hoverboards, and Jet Packs are the fastest and most entertaining way to get around in There. Some areas of the world are predisposed to a certain type of craft. The sandy dunes of the islands are natural places to enjoy dune buggies, while the islands in the sky are a good place to try out your jetpack. All of these things (of course) cost money to purchase, but in addition to the "try it before you buy it" option I mentioned above, there are kiosks that will let you borrow a vehicle for a period of two (real world) hours. This is usually enough time to enjoy a given area in the way the designers intended, as the borrow kiosks are usually themed to the area. Exploration is your alternative to juking and weaving around on the vehicles. There are some shiny sights to see if you enjoy the thought of looking at virtual scenery. For the more social, you can try to strike up a conversation with the natives. Regrettably, I have to report that my experiences in There were almost universally short and rude. Instead of societal interaction, the biggest activity in There appeared to be changing your appearance. What options you do have to customize your avatar (should you be willing to pay for the privelage) is fairly limited. Most of the "off the rack" options you have will tend to make you look like a surfer dude or a sorority chick. When I did talk to people, I observed a lot of cliquish behavior, and if you aren't in good with one of the established social clubs or design groups you're going to spend a lot of lonely time in There.

Display full image Display full image Display full image


To be frank, as far as I can tell this massively multiplayer space was designed for bored frat boys and sorority girls. While Second Life has the appeal of being able to substantially change the world once you're inside, There is a static place. You can rent areas to put up pre-made objects in a configuration of your choosing. You can re-skin the objects. But you can never really create. Once you've made the thirteenth t-shirt, what is the point? Additionally, while the immersion factor of virtual worlds can be very thin at times, it is nonexistent in There. The real world intrudes in full force through the gimmicky ill-conceived Therebuck and the constant references to pop culture via social groups and conversation areas. If the residents of There were attempting to make something of themselves, to form an identity of their own, I could understand the appeal. As it is, the residents of There come off as a test group in a giant marketing study. A bored group with some flashy toys and nice looking sunsets to distract them. I simply cannot recommend the virtual world known as There as a good use of your time.

The Verdict
Graphics (10%) 85%
Sound (10%) 30%
Control (10%) 70%
Community (15%) 40%
Game World (15%) 50%
Fun (40%) 45%
Overall 50%

Reviewer's System
Version: 02/2004
CPU: 1.8 Ghz
RAM: 512 Megs
Graphics GeForce 4
Sound Soundblaster Live
OS: Windows XP

Average Reader Ratings: 6.5 (2 votes)
Rate this title and view comments     Game Info     Printer Friendly Version

All original content of this site is copyrighted by RPGWatch. Copying or reproducing of any part of this site is strictly prohibited. Taking anything from this site without authorisation will be considered stealing and we'll be forced to visit you and jump on your legs until you give it back.