I hope you will agree with me that this tw0-part guest blog post describing the work of a group of students in China is remarkable in many ways. First, over the course of a single semester, these four students implemented over 15 Wonderland modules! Some of you may have noticed the large influx of new modules contributed recently to the Wonderland Module Warehouse, most of which are an outgrowth of this Xland project. In addition, they have produced THREE demo videos. In part two of this article, which will be published in several days, Jiang Yufei describes each module and provides links to not only the source code for most of the modules, but also a considerable amount of technical documentation. To me, perhaps the most astonishing thing is the quantity of English-language text the students have produced, included this lengthy, but very informative, guest blog post. Please join me in congratulating these students on their fantastic accomplishment and also thanking them, their professor, and their university for this generous contribution to the Wonderland community.
What is Xland?By Jiang Yufei, Nanjing University
We designed the Xland project as a 3D immersive blog. Xland was part of the CHIPS (CHina Innovation Program for Students) program sponsored by Sun Microsystems and the Chinese Education Department. Xland received a CHIPS “excellent project ” award. Our team, working under the direction of our mentor Professor Zheng Tao, is from Nanjing University in China and included Jiang Yufei, Gao Ruizhi, Feng Tao and Huang yuan.
This article will briefly introduce you to the chief features of Xland. The video “Xland based on OpenWonderland trailer” is a promotional video which gives you a first impression of our work.
Parts one and two of the video “Xland based on OpenWonderland Demo”, guide you through the details of this virtual space with 16 minutes of explanation and vivid animation to show you how the system works.
Why a 3D Blog?
According to psychology theory, all user interface and online operation should simulate operations in everyday life, like the e-book tries to simulate the experience of reading a real book and the Macintosh desktop copies the way we put items on a desktop in the real world. You can think of a blog as our online domicile. A 2-dimensional display cannot adequately simulate the sense of house or home. A 3D space, however, has the potential to improve the users’ experience of reading text logs, viewing pictures, and appreciating music.
All social networking systems have six basic properties: identity, relationships, presence, sharing, conversation, and on-line activities. Specific social networking applications tend to concentrate on one or two features. For example, Flickr and YouTube focus on sharing, Facebook focuses on identity and relationships, and Twitter focuses on presence. We noticed that on-line activities haven’t been adequately exploited partly because of the difficulty in representing them. With the exception of on-line games, we lack ways to socialize on-line. We believe a 3D immersive blog can improve the experience of on-line activity.
The essence of a blog is to show a person’s distinct personality. It is often difficult to do this using language alone. In the real world, we can get an impression of a person by observing his or her gait, apparel, and rooms’ decor. In contract with an ordinary blog, our 3D blog provides hosts more freedom and individualization, allowing them to change almost all aspects of their 3D space.
How does this blog system work?
From the point of view of a user, here is an overview of how the system works:
- After the server starts for the first time, there is only a Public Zone. No 3D blogs – represented as small rooms – exist yet in this world, since there are not yet any registered users.
- Once a user registers, he or she logs in to the world and his or her avatar appears in the Public Zone. We created the Public Zone model from scratch, using Google Sketchup.
- When the user walks through a portal in the public zone, the system automatically initializes a new, empty room (but where? Don’t worry, we will explain below) and the user emerges from the portal in the center of this room.
- To leave this room, the user just walks through the door of room, which leads back to the public zone.
- Even when the user exits Xland, the system maintains the room so that when they log in again and go through the portal, they can continue their work.
- You can easily visit your friends’ 3D blog by clicking on the name of your friend in the Friends panel. With the help of this panel, you can add/delete friends, send/receive messages, and share music, pictures and logs with friends.
Note that we put all rooms under the horizon of the public zone, so users cannot see where these rooms are. When a server is filled with a maximum number of rooms, we can take advantage of Wonderland’s federation capability to create a new empty world on a different server to accommodate more rooms as new users register to create 3D blogs.
For more information on Xland, please contact: