Virtual Worlds start to grow up

Lots of interesting news coming out of the Virtual Worlds 2007 San Jose conference…

First up it’s the announcement of a joint partnership between IBM and Linden Labs to work on VW interoperability standards and technology. The official press release can be found here.

“As the 3D Internet becomes more integrated with the current Web, we see users demanding more from these environments and desiring virtual worlds that are fit for business,” said Colin Parris, vice president, Digital Convergence, IBM. “IBM and Linden Lab’s working together can help accelerate the use and further development of common standards and tools that will contribute to this new environment.”

The second piece of news that caught my attention was the upcoming release of a custom SecondLife client from The Electric Sheep Company. Who have tied in the release of their viewer to a cross-platform initiative around CSI: New York.

Usability of the current SL client has long been an issue and is one of the factors blamed by many for the high attrition rate of new users to SL.

The SL client has actually been open sourced for a number of months now, so it might be surprising to some that the release of an alternative or modified client has taken so long. However when more closely examined the reason is fairly simple, the open source client base has been a moving target for the OS development community with Linden making changes to the underlying network protocol used. This has now changed and the protocol template is now static, hopefully allowing alternate client developments to proceed with more confidence. Thats not to say the OS community haven’t made some fantastic contributions to the client, mainly in the areas of bug fixing and stability.

Now that the SL protocols are more stable and OS efforts such as the client, libsl and opensim are gathering momentum we’ll start to see some real progress towards a more cohesive story for VWs. The main thing now is to try and reduce the barriers to entry, and that means easy installs, better UIs and better integration with web browsers; so who’s going to be first to create a VW client running in a browser plugin ? Metaplace seem to be taking up that mantle currently.

2 Comments

  1. javierlf

    What are you asking for, my God? ISO 14772:1, aka VRML97, aka COSMO, (Microsoft’s WorldView)… Of course there are same. Ask Jim Carey, Gavin Bell, Java and Javascript enabled. Need even more?

  2. Rob (Post author)

    sorry Javier, not sure what your point is. I’m talking about standards for linking virtual worlds, usability, the movement of people between them and the way things like chat, economy, societies are handled. You’ve just thrown some standards names at me, want to clarify your thinking a bit more?

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