Archive for the 'Virtual Worlds' Category

Google’s Second Life Competitor?

September 24th, 2007 | Category: Second Life News, Virtual Worlds

Word has been circulating for awhile now that Google has been preparing a virtual world that will use Google Earth, especially since you could already create 3d models using Google Sketchup and then add them as a layer to Google Earth. The thought was, all that was missing was an avatar and a virtual economy. Oh, and probably loads of new servers to actually allow the avatars to roam Google Earth. Here are the pics on Flickr of the questionnaire the student saw, here and here. I hope those avatars have nothing to do with it, that’s all they would need right there to drag more pedophiles inworld.

Now, pictures have surfaced from a student at Arizona State University who got an email with a link to MyWorld, I assume you have to be logged in to see that page, and a questionnaire that asked if the student had a Gmail account, it said there was a “major internet company” behind this and it included hints relating to social networking, 3D modeling and video games. From Google Operating System,

So where’s Google in this picture? One of the questions from the form asks you if you have a Gmail account and if you are willing to get one. The product’s name is “My World” and the logo shows a globe - this could be related to Google Earth. Google also owns a 3D modeling software that could be used to create avatars.

Arizona State University has a very close relation with Google: it’s one of the first large universities in the US that uses Google Apps, the site search is powered by Google Search Appliance, the university uses Google Maps and the ASU campuses already have 3D models in… Google Earth. But there’s actually more than this: the university offered photos for the Google Mars project, Google employees serve as guest speakers or adjunct lecturers at ASU and Google has an office on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. Source: A Social Network for Google Earth?

So, ASU definitely has a big connection with Google. Duncan Riley at Techcrunch says,

We know for certain now that Google has big plans for social networking, from SocialStream to Google’s planned November 5 launch of the mother of all open social networking platforms. Whether the planned service will be a true Second Life competitor is still to be seen, however I suspect that if Google is prepping a virtual world it will be closer to IBM’s Virtual World chat platform than Second Life. To deliver a full UGC world is a not an easy step where a basic 3D world which builds on Google Earth, SketchUp, and existing Google social networking platforms including Orkut would seem more likely. Source: Google Prepping A Second Life Competitor?

Hey Duncan, what’s your avatar’s name? Would like to meet you inworld sometime. Anyway, I seriously doubt this will be an actual competitor to Second Life, but, it could surely help people move over into virtual worlds, if this is just some form of mashup between the web and Google Earth, tied together with avatars and social networking. One of the founders of Google Earth, Avi Bar-Zeev, has this to say on the subject.

But I do know that their CTO has publicly stated that Google Earth will remain true to the real world. In other words, it won’t turn into Second Life with new islands, fictional fantastic places, furries, and so on.

He didn’t rule out avatars at some level, and I do think they’re likely at some point — specifically, when GE offers the ability to walk down the street and enter virtual stores. Once you can do that, it makes sense to be able to do that with friends, or just meet on a street corner in virtual Paris and go sightseeing. Street View is a step in that direction. The same data could be used to make 3D models at street level. And there’s an effort paying people to digitize the insides of stores in major cities, at least in 2D. I’d give it two years or less for the technology issues to be worked out and for this to be possible.

However, I still don’t expect that to be a full-blown social network. The next generation of 3D social networks will have the concept of your “home” in the virtual world in the same way that MySpace offers you a home on the web (or at least a bedroom, messy as it may be). You need some kind of anchor point to tie all of your social links together and form a big social space (a graph without nodes is just a bunch of lines). And making a virtual home for yourself is most likely to be a highly creative (read: fictional) activity, not in GE’s main mission to represent the real world. Source: A Social Network for Google Earth?

So, everyone here seems like they are on the same page, big changes would need to be made for Google Earth to scale a virtual world based on the real world, millions and millions of servers would need to be added, and scaling issues would need to be sorted of to cover the inevitable crowding of avatars into the more popular sims. I guess if anyone has the funds, the knowledge and the horsepower to do it, it would be Google, but this seems like a big project for anyone to attempt so early in the evolution of 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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Second Life and Twitter

August 13th, 2007 | Category: Twitter, Virtual Worlds

Second Life and Twitter one would think would be an odd combination, but they work perfectly together, today it’s not about blogging anymore, who has time to read this and hundreds of other blogs a day, it’s about micro-chunking, squeezing the info into micro portions that you can “digest” easily. Twitter is perfect to use while in SL, as you can just get straight to the point and not have to worry about the whole story, a friend has even created a HUD just for Twitter, it’s at SLTweets and it’s free, so I was surprised after reading this article from Zdnet.

At the end of last week, I attended a Second Life event organized by Metaversed. ‘Second Life? That’s so 2006,’ I hear the Facebook crowd squawk. It may be old hat to some but enterprise players like Sun, Xerox, SAP and Amazon think enough of it that they, along with about 60 0thers turned up for the hour long event. On the panel was Jeff Barr from Amazon, Jonas Karlsson from Xerox, Fiona Gallagher from Sun and Craig Cmehil from SAP.

The best way to describe the event is a cross between a webinar and conference call but with the added twist of having the Second Life ‘immersion’ experience. The discussion, which centered around Second Life usage in a corporate setting was both thought provoking and of a high quality. Fiona Gallagher waxed lyrical about the ROI from training opportunities alone arguing that once executives ‘get it’ Second Life events roll very quickly into the organization. All agreed there are internal issues persuading IT to punch a hole in the corporate firewall but I can see those objections evaporating once people see the value delivered.

I was so impressed that when Craig Twittered he was back in Second Life on Sunday evening (CET), I hopped over. Much to my surprise, I found he’d created a script that allows you to Twitter from inside Second Life. There’s a few wrinkles to iron out but after a couple of false starts the service worked flawlessly. Almost immediately, Ramana Rao, one of my fellow Irregulars joined in the Twitter conversation. Source: Second Life plus Twitter for enterprise?

Try out SLTweets for yourself, hell, you may get to where you don’t even need a web browser open. ;)

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Grid World News to Cover Second Life

August 13th, 2007 | Category: Media, Second Life News, Virtual Worlds

LivePlanet is launching Virtual Worlds Productions, a media organization that covers virtual world news in Second Life and World of Warcraft, much like CNN does the real world. Are the residents of Second Life ready for their own version of CNN? I wonder if the SL version of Jerry Springer and Heraldo are next.

LivePlanet, the multiplatform production company behind HBO’s “Project Greenlight” and MSN’s “Fan Club: Reality Baseball,” is launching Virtual Worlds Prods., a media organization that will cover the burgeoning space of virtual worlds.

Two of the biggest online environments, Second Life and World of Warcraft, will get their own branded news services. Their respective publications, and, also will serve as beachheads for launching other virtual-only entertainment and community offerings.

The goal is to position LivePlanet as the dominant media force in virtual worlds the way Time Warner or News Corp. approach the real world, LivePlanet president and CEO Larry Tanz said. Source: LivePlanet makes virtual worlds news

There will be a total of 30 journalists embedded in Second Life and World of Warcraft, creating serious and tongue in cheek coverage of the many residents who live there. James Root, a former business development manager with Microsoft Corp.’s digital media division, will lead the organization and Tina Courtney, a former Walt Disney Internet Group producer, will serve as editor in chief. More news at 10.

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Possible Second Life Competitors

August 03rd, 2007 | Category: Virtual Worlds

According to Wagner James Au of Gigaom, Second Life finally has some virtual competition, Multiverse has launched, and while I agree they can become some competition, it sounds like Multiverse is more for people wanting to create their own SL competitors, so we could see a lot of competition come from their servers, or maybe not. Multiverse is not exactly a “metaverse”, but rather an application that will allow you to create your own metaverse or virtual world.

  • Multiverse lets you to build an MMOG or virtual world for less money and in less time than ever before.

  • Multiverse technology is scalable, extensible, and highly customizable, enabling you to build your world with its own unique look and feel, game play, and mechanics.
  • Our active developer community is creating a wide variety of worlds.
  • Make money through subscriptions, item sales, and/or advertising, and pay us only 10% of your gross revenue.
  • Download our client, server, tools, starter assets, and sample worlds for free and start building your world today!

Multiverse screenshot

The brainchild of several ex-Netscape execs, the Mountain View start-up Multiverse, as the name suggests, isn’t a single online world, but a platform for creating games and other 3D experiences with the company’s development tools, which are then run on its servers. (Like Dark Horizons, a sci-fi MMORPG pictured here.) Version 1.0 was just rolled out yesterday, and though it’s too early to know how it’ll fare, one thing is official: after 4 years of being the only user-created 3D online world on the commercial market, Second Life now has competition. The system and revenue model is markedly different from SL, however: instead of fostering user-created content in a single world, Multiverse is a network of worlds accessible by the client software. It comes with e-commerce tools built into the system, so developer’s can earn an income, while Multiverse makes money by taking a 10% cut of that revenue. Source: Second Life (finally) gets a direct competitor: Multiverse

An employee of Multiverse chimed in the comments to straighten up some confusion on the Gigaom commenter(s).

Our developers will provide their own servers, we aren’t in the business of selling server space. We are currently hosting Worlds in progress to give people an idea of what they can do on our platform, but that isn’t intended to be how the worlds will be deployed.

We do have a single install client that patches individual worlds. The worlds can extend the client with their own UI using an XML based system. World downloads include the media assets the worlds use and scripts used in the client.

The server architecture is extensible with java and python scripting. The sever architecture is very modular to allow our developers the ability to replace components with their own code, while easily maintaining compatibility with our Client.

Here are some of the worlds that have already been created:

Dark Horizons: The Awakening from Max Gaming Technologies

Force of Arms from Wardog Studios

Project Mars from Mars Colonization Authority

Forgotten Legends from Doomsberg Entertainment

Black Ice Tales from Moonshine

Planet X from Planet X

Ancient World Online from Solar System Studios

Uvigi * from Bulgra

Pb3d from Team Pb3d

Triathan Games Unannounced Title from Triathan Games

8dCafe from Studio SFO

Harper College TECH Game Developer Program

Victoriana Online

Enchanted from Laumania

DarkBane from Dark Bane Online

Infernal World from Forever Interactive

Islands of War from Neojac Entertainment

Colony 105 from Team 105

Arden from the Synthetic Worlds Initiative

Mermaids from Georgia Institute of Technology Emergent Game Group

Frequency from Frequency Pattern, Inc.

Empire of Domains from Kilo Gaming

Notorious Criminals from the Notorious Criminals team.

The Eolis are human-like winged creatures

Check the description and links here.

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