I just added a new topic – conspiracy theories. Here’s the first one.
All the popular MMORPGs are actually a mechanism to roll out covert grid computing applications for secret government applications.
In comparision – these games:
Ultima Online is nine years old and still has 130k users.
City of Heros is two years old and has 170k users.
EverQuest is seven years old and claims 450k users.
World of WarCraft is two years old and is listed at 6M users.
So let’s say you’re some entity – maybe a part of the government, maybe not – but you have a need to process a lot of information. Maybe you’re doing brute force decryption of suspicious communications, maybe you’re trying to sort out one conversation from a room of noise. Maybe you’re doing advanced modeling on the next generation of anti-depressant.
Whatever… In any case, you need a lot of processing power.
Here’s how I would picture the conversations happening:
Shadowy figure one: ‘I’ll give you $1 per system per year for data crunching”
Shadowy figure two: ‘Deal’
Shadowy figure two: ‘Somebody take that open-source code from distributed.net and add it to the next patch’
There’s a nice project on distributed.net right now that is estimated to hit completition in about 1000 years. Of course, at 500 years it would have an even chance of hitting the correct solution – so it would probably be near that time frame unless somebody’s really unlucky… statistically speaking. According to the website, they have 7,180 participants right now.
Math is my weakest skill, but running the numbers around in rudimentary fashion and assuming infrastructure scaling/etc… If we hooked up a 6M user engine to this problem with current computing power – our 1000 year goal would drop to two years – with an even chance at solution in one.
The cost/computing power is almost nothing. $6M/year for the world’s most powerful processing infrastructure – that somebody else will be paying to upgrade 25% of every year? Damn – what’s not to like?
Somebody should run legit with this. $0.834 per month isn’t enough to make users do something, but in-game items are pretty much free and could be used to make sure users didn’t turn off their computers at night. All those computers sitting idle all over the world have massive untapped potential – first person to go with it will win big.