Video of Raph Koster giving a brief overview of setting up a MetaPlace virtual place. From the looks of it, creating a basic “metaplace” will be just as easy as creating something like a MySpace page. Just a couple of clicks and you’re done. In addition, to visit a metaplace all a user will need to do is visit the URL in a Web browser.
If Raph and the folks at Areae can make this work as he describes, it will really raise the bar for virtual world user experience. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about when I continually lambaste Linden Lab for the poor initial user experience in Second Life.
I recently had a friend who works at Columbia College here in Chicago describe her initial user experience with Second Life and it was as depressing as you’d imagine: difficulty in figuring out how to navigate the world, little direction as to where to go in-world, a rabbit hole of sim after empty sim except for a couple cybering, and, after a couple of confusing teleports, landing in an erotic art gallery where the proprietor was none to friendly. Eventually she was trapped and just logged off in frustration. She then complained that logging in again brought her to the same place where she was trapped. And that was the end of her Second Life.
Obviously we don’t know what the user experience of navigating each metaplace will be like. To a certain extent it will be up to the individual creator. But given that MetaPlace is so integrated with the Web and Web Services, I have to think that it will also leverage existing Web UX and UI patterns. In the video it appears as if there will be “stylesheets” or templates for creating a world. This will allow novice creators to use pre-built worlds that are ready to go, which lowers the bar, well, just about as low as it will go. Advanced creators will of course be able to use Lua, Web Services, and whatever other building tools Areae provides. I imagine there will also be a healthy business for good metaplace stylesheets.
Recent news gives promise to the idea that one will be able to model outside the Second Life viewer in a more traditional 3d application and import to the grid. This has always been possible for at least a year with Jeffrey Gomez’ Prim.Blender and Blender, but while Jeffrey’s work is a technical achievement nonpareil, I’m not a fan of Blender and it wasn’t an easy process for complex models.
Recently, though, some projects have been quite encouraging, including, of course, sculptie prims. Even more exciting are some of the complex models that can be created using sculpties and a recently created uber sculptie exporter for Maya: qLab.
Also on the horizon is a new script from TU Delft that will aid in importing complex models from Maya.
The TU Delft Second Life working group has now written an import function for doing this from Maya. So now all technically drawn objects such as buildings or cars can be converted in one go into Second Life.
Update: just saw this weblog post from last Autumn over at eightbar about a Sketchup importer. Looks like it’s only useful for very simple models and doesn’t appear to have been enhanced any further. (via Vint Falken).
Finally! I’ve completed moving my PDF tutorial to HTML; now it’s lightweight, accessible, and easily updated. Here’s the last piece:
I’m still looking for volunteers to translate any of my tutorials. I notice a lot of people using Google and Babelfish to translate them. Feel free to contact me if you have some time.
I noticed recently that Linden Lab still has not fixed the individual template downloads on their templates page to include the UV Map layers I mention in my tutorial(s). I think I pointed this out around the time 1.1 came out, which was, well, a long time ago (October 2003). So make sure you download the entire set of templates—the UV map layers are in those files.
Or, alternatively, you can do what I do and use Chip Midnight’s fantastic, high resolution templates which include more detail (like where eyelashes are found).
Update Linden Lab once again changed the location of their template files without leaving a URL to forward requests, so I’ve updated where appropriate on my site.