Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Milla Digital is hosting a virtual world construction workshop from June 29th-July 3rd at the Centro de Historia in Zaragoza, Spain. The workshop will focus on the use of Open Cobalt as a tool for developing and deploying P2P-based virtual worlds. Zaragosa's Milla Digital is an urban space designed to support creativity and innovation. It is sponsored in part by the Centro de Arte y Tecnología (CAT). Click here for more information about Milla Digital.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Saba Kawas from Jordan has been working on an Open Cobalt-related project for her Masters in Design at North Carolina State University. Her focus is on Animation and International Media. She recently presented a poster session at SigGraph on "hyper-learning interface developing navigation toolsets for virtual environments. Working with Open Cobalt, Saba's poster session discussed two core areas of her research: the design and development of a media explanation generator and the process of enabling contextualized hyper-linking Open Cobalt virtual exhibit spaces. This work has been published at the ACM Portal as part of Siggraph proceedings. It is great to see that, even before its alpha release, the Open Cobalt technology is starting to be used as a tool to enable such exploratory work with virtual worlds.
Nickolay Suslov has recently contributed code for a stereoscopic 3D anaglyph filter to the Open Cobalt contributions repository. These changes make it possible for the user to view images are made up of two color layers, superimposed, but offset with respect to each other to produce a depth effect. This will allow you to view Open Cobalt workspaces in stereoscopic 3D using red/cyan stereo glasses (anaglyph glasses).
Saturday, April 3, 2010
On March 31st, Vivaty announced that it will completely shut down its social virtual world operation on April 16th. Co-founder and CEO Jay Weber said that the company will give users "about 2 weeks for our creative users to take snapshots and videos of their awesomely decorated scenes — once things shut down, the 3D content will be gone". Too bad all those assets are not retrievable...
Like many other companies in this space, Vivaty planned to make money through an in-world currency. Jay Weber continues: “Vivaty.com is a rather expensive site to run, much more than a regular web site, and Vivaty the company has been running out of money for some time. Our business model was to earn money through Vivabux sales, but that has never come close to covering our costs. We tried for months to find a bigger partner that would support the site, but that didn’t work out.” He goes on to say that "we understand that some of you have recently bought Vivabux on the assumption that Vivaty.com would be around for some time, so we are going to issue refunds for Paypal purchases made since February 1, 2010. I’m sorry we can’t refund any transactions through Gambit offers, including cell phone purchases."
Vivaty's closure is the latest in a string of virtual world shutdowns that have included Lively, Forterra, Metaplace, Wonderland, and There.com. These are tough times for virtual world businesses that find it hard to generate adequate revenue in an online world where people have become accustomed to getting things for free.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The GENI Collaborative Interactive Infrastructure (GCii) is a prototype network operations center (NOC) being developed by RENCI Senior Research Scientist Chris Heermann and others at both RENCI and at Duke University. Based on Open Cobalt technology, GCii visually presents a research network and all of its components in a collaborative, real-time virtual space. This allows researchers, engineers, infrastructure providers and system administrators to come together in a virtual environment containing shared views of various resources so that they may manage and monitor both networking and distributed system resources. GCii is designed to make it easier for GENI experimenters to more easily and efficiently share network resource information across administrative domains using a set of common communication tools. This application is an excellent example of how the flexible Open Cobalt system can be used to support serious scientific research and collaboration.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
There.com CEO Michael Wilson just announced that the company is pulling the plug on its website (There Central) and its seven year old 3D immersive virtual world simulation at 11:59 PM on March 9th. The platform was geared to a younger user demographic with entertainment as the core value proposition. Its cartoon-like virtual reality environment provided users with free access to a very entertaining and nicely implemented virtual world-based social network.
The virtual world product created revenue by leveraging an in-world economy driven by managing participant access to simulation capabilities. In other words, they would charge participants for virtual goods such as clothing, pets, houses, vehicles, mustaches, furniture etc. They even charged participants to take part in virtual events/activities such as paintball and racing matches. Those who paid for a premium membership, could develop and sell virtual goods to other participants. There were many tens of thousands of items for sale within the simulation - of which many were made available by premium member developers. There's whole economy was based on an in-world virtual world currency called Therebucks with one real dollar converting to about 1,800 Therebucks.
Unfortunately, the company announced that it will only provide full refunds for Therebucks purchased after Feb 1. Otherwise, as is the case with the collapse of any other economy, the Therebucks in the virtual hand of a basic participant will likely be worth virtually nothing after the 9th. The company is, however, providing a short-term currency buyback program for developers. It will be interesting to see how they manage this or if it causes a run on the virtual bank. Check out this posing from there's shutdown FAQ:
You can only redeem Therebucks you have made by selling developer items. Therebucks you have collected from Sparkles, Tips, or give trades from other members are not eligible.
Please do not attempt to game the system. It is not fair to There, and it is not fair to other members. Also, you will not be cheating There out of virtual currency, or virtual goods, you will be cheating us out of real money. Fraudulent transactions will not only put you at risk of permanent banning from There but may also qualify for escalation to law enforcement as well.
And what about all the in-world assets that many many participants thought they owned? Well, if you are a developer then all indications are that you'd better hurry up and get them. Again, from the FAQs:
If you wish recover the textures, catalog images and model files from your developer submissions, please send a request to email@example.com. Please provide a list of Submission IDs of the material you wish to recover.
On the other hand, if you are a basic user who invested heavily in the trappings of There's virtual world, then you may be out of luck.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Last week the virtual world community received some more bad new. With last week's finalization of Oracle's deal to buy Sun Microsystems, Oracle quickly pulled financial support for Sun's Project Wonderland. Wonderland was not an official product of Sun Microsystems, but rather a Java research/demonstration project that had gone fairly far in advancing a very capable open source toolkit for creating collaborative 3D server-based virtual worlds.
Nicole Yankelovich, Principal Engineer at Sun Labs and Project Wonderland team leader did a remarkable job of advancing the Wonderland technology over the past few years. The present v 0.5 release is an elegant early implementation of a virtual world toolkit with integrated audio, application sharing, VoIP, and some very nice avatar developments. I am quite grateful to Nicole and her team for their deep commitment to advancing interoperability between virtual world platforms. Over the past year, members of the Open Cobalt and Wonderland development teams met on several occasions at Duke and elsewhere to advance a joint strategy to ensure interoperability between Project Wonderland and Open Cobalt virtual workspaces. It is a shame to learn of this setback since the project appeared to have so much momentum. In my experience, interoperability is something everyone seems to talk about and few actually act on. Nicole and her team were acting on it.
Oracle's move is not entirely unexpected since open source software is not something the company is known for promoting. I wonder what all this means for the future of Java...