The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat


  • Chip Morningstar Independent Researcher
  • F. Randall Farmer Independent Researcher



Habitat, Lucasfilm, virtual worlds, virtual environment, cyberspace


Habitat is a "multi-player online virtual environment", created by Lucasfilm Games, a division of LucasArts Entertainment Company, in association with Quantum Computer Services, Inc. It was arguably one of the first attempts to create a very large scale commercial multi-user virtual environment in 1985. The system we developed could support a population of thousands of users in a single shared cyberspace. Habitat presented its users with a real-time animated view into an online simulated world in which users could communicate, play games, go on adventures, fall in love, get married, get divorced, start businesses, found religions, wage wars, protest against them, and experiment with self-government. Our experiences developing the Habitat system, and managing the virtual world that resulted, offer a number of interesting and important lessons for prospective cyberspace architects. The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of these lessons. We hoped that the next generation of builders of virtual worlds can benefit from our experiences and (especially) from our mistakes.