Day 2 of Virtual Worlds 2008 and Other News

I can’t resist starting with the “other news.” In case you didn’t see it, we got a nice mention in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

    “Sun Microsystems Inc., meanwhile, has developed its own software, called Project Wonderland, and a simulated building called MPK20 that employees of the computer maker can use to collaborate.

    Sun teams from around the world attend simulated meetings, at which their avatars may view presentations and videos and hold discussions. The biggest value of MPK20 is stimulating the kind of collaboration that comes from chance encounters, like those employees might have in a real hallway, says Nicole Yankelovich, who manages Sun’s collaborative environment team.”

Back on the topic of the conference, our focus for today’s exploration of the exhibit floor was on tools, content creation, and services. We learned about a marketplace for buying and commissioning 3D models called Turbo Squid and a tool similar in concept to the Wonderland World Builder, but much more fully-featured, called SceneCaster. To address the issue of how to populate a virtual world, two vendors were selling solutions. The Masa Group had an impressive AI system for creating intelligent bots which can be used as tour guides, as “extras” to wander around a world, or as characters in a simulation. They’ll work with customers to integrate these bots into any virtual world. The Metaverse Mod Squad had a very different approach to the same problem. They provide “avatar staffing” for virtual worlds. In other words, you can hire live people to populate a world to help with greeting visitors, orienting newcomers, or just providing buzz or friendly people to chat with.

In the afternoon, I was on a panel about open source virtual worlds.

The conference organizers included the panel on the schedule posted on the web site, but accidentally left it out of the printed schedule. Additionally, each of us brought videos to show, but the room had no A/V setup. Our panel organizer, Tish Shute, went above and beyond the call of duty by lugging a large-screen monitor from her home office to the conference so we could have a display to use. Notice it sitting on a chair in front of the panel table. Despite all these issues, we had a great turnout for the panel.

Other than Wonderland, the other projects represented on the panel were Qwaq, OpenSim, and realXtend, which is based on OpenSim. Perhaps not surprisingly, all the audience questions and discussion focused on OpenSim, spurred on by Philip Rosedale (former CEO of Linden Labs) who was in attendance. Remy Malan from Qwaq and I discussed after how Wonderland and Qwaq are facing a very different set of issues than OpenSim and SecondLife. The focus for our developers and users is not as much on money exchanges, marketplaces, and regulating user behavior, but much more on collaboration, accomplishing real work, data visualization, and connecting with enterprise data or information feeds from the web.

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2 Responses to Day 2 of Virtual Worlds 2008 and Other News

  1. I really enjoyed seeing the audience’s response to the video of you carrying a sphere representing a phone participant around from conversation to conversation.
    It was also interesting how one member responded to my suggestion that it would be easy to integrate your open-source voip/virtual world gateway with OpenSim…
    "we’re working on one for OpenSim"
    which is a perpetuation of this mentality of building monolithic virtual worlds. Why not instead mix and match open source components? What if elements (not just code but protocols and architectures) of Open Croquet, Darkstar, VoiceBridge, OpenSim, etc. could be used together?

  2. Adam Frisby says:

    Ben raises an interesting point – speaking from a personal perspective as a OpenSim developer – I’d love to be able to mix and match components, that’s partly our architectural design. I guess a lot of it is a matter of getting the communication lines open and making sure we can license in a way everyone can use it.

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