Linden Lab’s original intent was to create a standard for 3D massively connective virtual worlds, and while many Second Life users know something about OpenSim, SpotOn3D and other SL substitutes, they may not be aware of just how far beyond Second Life this technology has gone.
OpenSim was one of the first “Second Life-alike” platforms, and the only one that depended on individuals running their own servers. And now, Japen’s 3Di, Inc., best known for their browser-based OpenSim viewers, will be testing a new, free, public, Unity-based virtual world this weekend, called 3Di Cloud.
It’s browser based, meaning that individuals and groups will be able to embed a window into their private virtual world right onto their websites, like they can now embed YouTube videos. This part isn’t new — ReactionGrid’s Jibe is also a Unity-based world that runs in the browser and can be embedded in a webpage, and so can the OpenSim viewer plugin from SpotON3D.
What’s different here is that the 3Di Cloud product has a free version.
According to 3Di senior manager Norman Lin, just by pasting an HTML tag into their home page users will be able to setup a 3D shared space or chat room, using 3Di’s free cloud servers. Free users will be able to change the appearance of their avatars, and to modify their rooms in some limited ways. Text chat is included, but no voice is available on the free version. There’s a limit to how many free accounts will be made available, Lin said, but did not specify what that limit would be.
Another downside is the lack of ability to customize – to edit their world, customers will need to sign up for the paid version. And unlike Second Life and OpenSim, content will need to be created using 3D design software instead of with simple in-world tools. That creates a significant barrier to entry that will strongly limit who can create content for the new platform. Blue Mars took this approach, and it didn’t do well (though they had other significant problems).
The public test will begin at 9 p.m. Saturday, US Pacific time, or 1 p.m. Sunday, Japan time. Those interested can apply for the beta test here.
By the way, porting your appearance from one virtual world to another? Not really going to happen. It’s more a way for companies to create their own pocket universe with their own look and feel, and a carefully honed user experience.
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