Archive for the 'Standards' Category

Universal Avatars to Roam Virtual Worlds

October 10th, 2007 | Category: Standards, Virtual Worlds

In an announcement before the Virtual Worlds Conference actually began, IBM and Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life, have pledged to create Universal Avatars that will allow users to roam freely between all of the virtual worlds, like There.com, Gaia, Entropa and others, without having to create an avatar for each and every virtual world. This could be huge in getting people to start using more virtual worlds, or even just making the first trip inworld, as it would be easy to move from platform to platform until you found the right fit for you and your avatar.

The Internet is based on open standards, and closed systems like we have now will only slow down the adoption of these virtual worlds. Now if they could only make it easier for someone to make a nice looking avatar, if you need help with your avatar I know many people who can help, so drop a comment and I will put you in touch with someone.

Designing a detailed avatar can take well over an hour, so a closed system discourages customers from abandoning that investment. But it is also a barrier to growth since few people bother to start the process anew in multiple virtual worlds.

An open system would let people create one avatar that would keep the same basic appearance and customer data no matter where it was in cyberspace.

“It is going to happen anyway,” said Colin Parris, IBM vice president of digital convergence. “If you think you are walled and secure, somebody will create something that’s open and then people will drain themselves away as fast as possible.” Source: Second Life, IBM in open borders for virtual worlds

Yes, if these creators of the virtual worlds, like Linden Labs, don’t do it, someone else will, and if someone else can design an open system for everyone to use, then they can probably design a better virtual world as well. We have already seen many different companies creating their own clients for Second Life, such as the one mentioned in todays News post by the Electric Sheep Company, they will be launching this as part of the CSI:NY show that has a cast member going into Second Life. This new browser is supposed to mesh SL and the web better, with a back button for previous teleports as an example.

But such a virtual passport system may be years away, if it doesn’t first fall prey to the kind of conflicting interests that occasionally bog down efforts to draw up standards in the fast-changing technology industry.

IBM’s Parris said the effort would first focus on studying situations where the ability to travel between virtual worlds is most in demand. The nuts and bolts of how to make different software work together will come later.

IBM and Linden announced the partnership ahead of a virtual worlds conference that starts in San Jose, California on Wednesday and is expected to discuss the formation of industry standards and other issues. Source: Second Life, IBM in open borders for virtual worlds

Creating the standards will definitely be the most important and hardest part, as they have to operate between multiple systems and also allow for easy adoption by the newer platforms that will eventually become the latest virtual worlds.

The companies speak of “a truly interoperable 3D Internet.” Think of it as passports for avatars. So that pink-headed cutie you made for Second Life can also take up residence in There.com, The Lounge, Virtual Laguna Beach and Entropia, for example.
“Now, for every world I touch I have to build an avatar,” said Colin Parris, the I.B.M. vice president in charge of virtual world technology. “It’s an obstacle to the development and spread of virtual worlds, both in the consumer and corporate space.” Source: Free the Avatars

While there are many obstacles in getting a user to use Second Life, avatar creation and navigation are some of the biggest deterrents to adoption by new people who aren’t as technically savvy as others. As has been said before, what Second Life really needs is to be AOLified so that anyone and everyone can use it. Linden Labs is betting that they can pull in more users, in one statement they said that an open system will reward the most interesting worlds with new and repeat visitors, while the dull ones will leave for the better virtual worlds. Hopefully, it won’t go in the other direction for them, but, if everything is based on open standards, then it will certainly be easy to move to the most popular one.

Everett Linden has posted about this on the Second Life blog, calling it the next step in advancing virtual worlds.

In general, Linden Lab and IBM will collaborate on integrating virtual worlds and the current Web, improving the stability of the platform, increasing interoperability, securing transactions, and bringing us closer to the creation of universal avatars. Source: The Next Step Toward Advancing 3D Virtual Worlds

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Connecting the Virtual Worlds

August 21st, 2007 | Category: Standards, Virtual Worlds

This is what HiPiHi, a virtual world in China similar to Second Life, wants to do, connect the virtual worlds by creating standards in hardware and software to allow development that will work on them all. This sounds great and all, especially if you can pop into Second Life and then jump over into HiPiHi, but, this will surely not be easy, some virtual worlds will be resistant, for fear of loosing avatars to a competing virtual world, as will some users. But, if everything was easy, what fun would it be?

“First, HiPiHi will cooperate with global leaders in the Internet and communication industry to establish a set of relevant hardware and software standards for the development of the 3D platform. Second, HiPiHi will cooperate with other major 3D virtual worlds to finalize these standards, and bring the possibility for users to interact and transact between different virtual worlds. Lastly, HiPiHi will actively build its “Global Market Partnership Project”, “Third Party Developer Project” and “Community Partnership Project”, to establish a HiPiHi virtual world global value chain. ”

Last month we reported that ngi was forming a virtual worlds software development division. It’s already working to develop Second Life applications, so there are certainly money ties between HiPiHi and other major virtual worlds. It remains to be seen which other virtual worlds will want to collaborate with HiPiHi on standards.

Hui Xu, founder and CEO of HiPiHi, anticipates the future of this global strategy. “It is just a beginning of the globalization of the 3D virtual world. It is our pleasure to cooperate with our strategic partners such as ngi group to witness the birth of China-oriented virtual world and contribute to its growth.”

Satoshi Koike, CEO of ngi group is also happy with their cooperation. “We are very glad to participate in this fast-growing and promising HiPiHi virtual world. We believe that the cooperation between ngi group and HiPiHi Ltd. will become a milestone in the development of virtual worlds. It is an innovative cooperation in the global virtual world market.” Source: HiPiHi Announces Global Strategy, Investment from ngi

This of course will bring all kinds of problems to be dealt with, as Metaversed said, “The second goal of cross-platform interaction is exciting, but one has to wonder what oddities might develop when a virtual economy intersects directly with another. What would happen if I could buy Linden Dollars with Therebux, which are available at various degrees of discount?” And as Techcrunch mentions,

Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life has recently taken some steps towards opening its platform, including open sourcing the code for the Second Life client, however the Second Life world has remained closed to 3rd party servers. Linden Lab has previously said that they have “a vision of a globally interconnected grid with clients and servers published and managed by different groups” (indeed, they called it inevitable) so it will be interesting to see whether they join HiPiHi’s initiative. Source: HiPiHi Seeks To Standardize 3D Worlds And Develop Interoperability

So, even the Lindens have talked of opening up Second Life to allow others to house some of their servers to make a truly distributed environment, but how far would they be willing to go to work with other virtual worlds?

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