Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Jan 08 2003

We’ve seen lots of attempts by various folks to develop metaverses (read: really cool online 3D worlds). Most of them have failed miserably.

However, there’s a new one that may have some potential: There. Here’s why:

  • “There” is organized as an online vacation spot. It’s not meant to be a “home away from home;” it’s meant to be a place you go to relax. This is, frankly, what most people use these sorts of spaces for anyway. Rather than try to position “There” as the place everyone will spend all their time in the future, as some companies have, “There” is meant as an online toy. I like it when companies are realistic.
  • Computers can handle it now. Until recently, while 3D was possible on computers, it was extremely difficult for most home PCs. But thanks to 3D FPSs like DOOM, Quake, and Unreal Tournament, the technology exists to make this a fairly mundane task.
  • It’s pretty. Seriously, the environments look like they were created by artists, not programmers. They feel like detailed game levels instead of bad 3D Studio Max demos, and there’s apparently a lot of virtual area to explore.
  • The company seems to be doing smart things with the technology: You can use keyboard commands to alter your avatar’s facial expression (a room full of bland, expressionless people is so boring). They’ve extended “speech balloons” intelligently; previous bits of dialogue scroll up as new speech balloons on top of new ones, thus preserving dialogue in a comfortingly IRC-like way.
  • The company seems to have plenty of capital.

“There” still has a long way to go, but I like what I see. I’m itching to try it out, frankly.

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