Is this the time that 3D sticks?

We’ve all heard about Second Life. I loved it, but it didn’t “stick” for a whole bunch of reasons. Meaning, it didn’t go mainstream, even though it had a HUGE amount of hype. Why not? Well, it was an island that you had to go into. Problem is, only gamers do that and Second Life wasn’t enough of a game. World of Warcraft came along and took a lot of the gamers away from it. My son used to be really interested in Second Life and for the past year he’s been playing World of Warcraft.

Another reason? It wasn’t accessible from the Web. You couldn’t get into a Second Life scene from a Web site until you downloaded the app, signed up, and all that. Even then it took forever to start up and just wasn’t a Web-compatible experience.

Another reason? Each island could only have 75-100 people on it. Company after company told me they were really excited by Second Life, but after they hit this limitation their excitement went way down. Why? Because few companies were going to spend the money to build a really compelling island to only have 75 people able to partake. The ROI just wouldn’t be there.

So, what’s next? Well, a variety of companies are trying to come up with 3D schemes that will overcome these issues.

Vivaty, today, comes out with one answer. It’s too early to claim they’ve nailed it (they haven’t yet, especially because they haven’t gotten a Mac client out yet) but they get very close to building something really interesting that’ll get a lot of corporate types interested.

Last week I interviewed Vivaty’s CEO with my cell phone during which he gave me a demo of how it all works. It’s very cool. My blog or Facebook page could have a 3D scene embedded on it, and you could “dive into” the scene and walk around. These scenes are very graphically rich. I could put videos, photos, and other details around, along with prebuilt furniture and other things.

One disappointment? Right now it’s a Windows only thing and requires Internet Explorer. Firefox support is coming “within weeks” and Macintosh support is being built out, but probably won’t be here until sometime around the end of the year. That alone will keep the hype down on Vivaty, because most of the top bloggers I know are now using Macs.

Anyway, this is worth checking out, just to see the latest in stage of the art 3D worlds.

What do you think?

115 thoughts on “Is this the time that 3D sticks?

  1. An engine this post didn’t mention is Unity3D (http://unity3d.com). After doing a lot of work with Adobe Director (horrible) trying to find a good way to create 3D content and games for the browser, I was turned on to Unity.

    This is the one to watch people. It’s a Mac only development environment right now (but that is soon to change) and games and 3D content can be published to any platform (Windows, OSX, iPhone, Wii, browser). I’ve been working with it for several months now and have found few downfalls. Amazing workflow, incredibly simple interface, and you don’t have to be a game programmer to put together some amazing things. If you know JavaScript, you’re good to go. And if you want to get more advanced you can throw in some C# (uses Mono) and Boo (Python), or even develop plugins using C++. To top it off it has an incredible shader pipeline that allows you to create pretty much any shader you can imagine. And the compression of the published files is incredible. A prototype I created in Director was 15mb when it was published and sloooow. I recreated the same prototype with Unity and the published file was only 2mb and the quality was way better than Director!

    Some people may disagree, but I think that the web browser is the next big gaming platform. And in my opinion, Unity is THE best solution out there right now. If you’re wanting to play around with 3D in the browser, then do yourself a favor and check it out.

  2. An engine this post didn’t mention is Unity3D (http://unity3d.com). After doing a lot of work with Adobe Director (horrible) trying to find a good way to create 3D content and games for the browser, I was turned on to Unity.

    This is the one to watch people. It’s a Mac only development environment right now (but that is soon to change) and games and 3D content can be published to any platform (Windows, OSX, iPhone, Wii, browser). I’ve been working with it for several months now and have found few downfalls. Amazing workflow, incredibly simple interface, and you don’t have to be a game programmer to put together some amazing things. If you know JavaScript, you’re good to go. And if you want to get more advanced you can throw in some C# (uses Mono) and Boo (Python), or even develop plugins using C++. To top it off it has an incredible shader pipeline that allows you to create pretty much any shader you can imagine. And the compression of the published files is incredible. A prototype I created in Director was 15mb when it was published and sloooow. I recreated the same prototype with Unity and the published file was only 2mb and the quality was way better than Director!

    Some people may disagree, but I think that the web browser is the next big gaming platform. And in my opinion, Unity is THE best solution out there right now. If you’re wanting to play around with 3D in the browser, then do yourself a favor and check it out.

  3. Jamie: Macs have a lot more market share for consumer computers than that.
    How much please… Figures numbers to say macs are relevant to the greater majority

    And, anyway, all you have to do is attend a few conferences to see how Mac-heavy the early adopter/influencer crowds are.

    and early adopters are not always the final say. their numbers aren’t indicative of the populous as a whole. They are a small slice as is the late adopters.

    They are the ones who decide whether something else is “hot” or “interesting.” If these crowds don’t tell the less tech passionate, they won’t hear about it. Hence, fail.

    A small slice of the pie decides for the rest of the pie..interesting analogy but if that had been the case beta would of been the vcr of choice. HD-DVD would be the choice over blu-ray. The case of lcd vs plasma is still being played out. There are lots of things that early adopters have used that come mainstream, but you are making it as everything that early adopters users use are made into mainstream and everyone has to conform or buy into it. Just wont happen that way.

    The mac audience has always been a niche audience. Always has. Always will. I owned a Imac G3 and G4 and my first thought of these were “cute” I am a a FPS and virtual world gamer. SL has a large learning curve and for right now because of the way SL’s infrastructure is and the current technology is the way it is. The current limit on a private island is 100 and while that wont work for larger companies. I dont see anything of compable program on the horizon anytime soon.

    Sure there are plenty of immersive 3d type chat and private messenger programs out and ones that will embed into you web viewer. this is all in its infancy, but to call Virtual worlds irrelevant is not the case. Yes for now its a niche because of the learning curve and limits placed on it by the technology out right now. Give it time and better technology and it will be better, everything grows slowly in this upcoming area. But to say one is better than the other is not correct. Since each program type of 3D serves a slightly different purpose.

  4. Jamie: Macs have a lot more market share for consumer computers than that.
    How much please… Figures numbers to say macs are relevant to the greater majority

    And, anyway, all you have to do is attend a few conferences to see how Mac-heavy the early adopter/influencer crowds are.

    and early adopters are not always the final say. their numbers aren’t indicative of the populous as a whole. They are a small slice as is the late adopters.

    They are the ones who decide whether something else is “hot” or “interesting.” If these crowds don’t tell the less tech passionate, they won’t hear about it. Hence, fail.

    A small slice of the pie decides for the rest of the pie..interesting analogy but if that had been the case beta would of been the vcr of choice. HD-DVD would be the choice over blu-ray. The case of lcd vs plasma is still being played out. There are lots of things that early adopters have used that come mainstream, but you are making it as everything that early adopters users use are made into mainstream and everyone has to conform or buy into it. Just wont happen that way.

    The mac audience has always been a niche audience. Always has. Always will. I owned a Imac G3 and G4 and my first thought of these were “cute” I am a a FPS and virtual world gamer. SL has a large learning curve and for right now because of the way SL’s infrastructure is and the current technology is the way it is. The current limit on a private island is 100 and while that wont work for larger companies. I dont see anything of compable program on the horizon anytime soon.

    Sure there are plenty of immersive 3d type chat and private messenger programs out and ones that will embed into you web viewer. this is all in its infancy, but to call Virtual worlds irrelevant is not the case. Yes for now its a niche because of the learning curve and limits placed on it by the technology out right now. Give it time and better technology and it will be better, everything grows slowly in this upcoming area. But to say one is better than the other is not correct. Since each program type of 3D serves a slightly different purpose.

  5. Does anyone know how many simaltaneous users can fit into one of the Vivity rooms? I’m curious about brand issues mentioned in the post re: not enough ROI.

  6. Does anyone know how many simaltaneous users can fit into one of the Vivity rooms? I’m curious about brand issues mentioned in the post re: not enough ROI.

  7. You guys might want to do your research. Google just started a 3D service a few days ago called Lively. The main use is to embed rooms into webpages – mainly social networking sites. 3D is slowly coming around, and it’s evolving quite nicely.

  8. You guys might want to do your research. Google just started a 3D service a few days ago called Lively. The main use is to embed rooms into webpages – mainly social networking sites. 3D is slowly coming around, and it’s evolving quite nicely.

  9. I tested both Lively and Vivaty last night. Vivaty wins by a considerable amount. The two impressive bits with Lively was the security and the fact that I could drop a world on my blog and it just worked. But for all the features that count in terms of a 3D experience, Vivaty was much much better.

    Sometimes the bigCo flops and the startup with the pedigree gets it exactly right. Sometimes business models are not nearly as important as good technology and real media chops. Hesz is exactly right about the echo chamber. The original Vivaty basis in X3D/VRML is vindicated. The A-listers blew it this time.

  10. I tested both Lively and Vivaty last night. Vivaty wins by a considerable amount. The two impressive bits with Lively was the security and the fact that I could drop a world on my blog and it just worked. But for all the features that count in terms of a 3D experience, Vivaty was much much better.

    Sometimes the bigCo flops and the startup with the pedigree gets it exactly right. Sometimes business models are not nearly as important as good technology and real media chops. Hesz is exactly right about the echo chamber. The original Vivaty basis in X3D/VRML is vindicated. The A-listers blew it this time.

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