Time to look around the smaller 3D Virtual Worlds and see whats happening.
First up is news from back in January I failed to hear about until recently. Blue Mars has apparently stopped development of the PC client, which essentially means the beginning of the end of that world. As I pointed out before when I reviewed Blue Mars to begin with, the real promise of the world is a gaming platform in a common world. What I believe really dragged the world down was the push to turn Blue Mars into another Second Life. There was a lot more promise in making games on the CryEngine2 platform and allowing common avatars to jump from game to game, but somehow that direction never really got developed.
Instead what we got is an iphone app, and in the transition it lost its virtual worldliness. Its a free app for avatar building and sharing your avatar with your friends, and 3D chatting. Instead of chasing Second Life, they are now chasing IMVU.
I got the app for my ipod touch and discovered that my PC login worked, and my avatar moved to the ipod just fine. I just do not find the app to be that interesting. I’m not holding out a lot of hope for the new direction. It works as a novelty, but I do not see any long term success.
The PC version still works, and the various cities are still open, but who knows for how long? I would not be surprised if the plug is pulled on the PC virtual world by years end. With CryEngine3 SDK being released for free, Blue Mars’s advantage as a game platform disappears.
Ah well, not all metaverse experiments are destined to succeed.
And speaking of metaverse experiments, a booth at the local mall caught my eye. I took a picture of it with my ipod.
Yes it is a booth promoting Onverse.com, one of the many 3D Virtual Worlds I have played around in.
To see a booth dedicated to promoting a virtual world at a gaming convention is not uncommon, but to see one at a shopping mall, is very uncommon. Onverse is based out of Tempe, Arizona where this booth happens to be. Probably the only one around anywhere. The few times I went by there was no one manning the booth, just a promotional video playing on a loop and four computers with the game running on them. Interesting marketing strategy anyways. I believe I mentioned in my Onverse review from a year ago, that the world is built by five guys working out of a garage.
A Quick Peak at Nuvera Online
NuVera Online can beat that, though. The development team consists of a couple of people working in a bedroom.
I only recently found out that the program went open beta last fall. (I used to be so up to date on these things, now months behind). NuVera Online is marketing themselves as an adult oriented virtual world, but not in a porn way like Utherverse, more like in a no kids allowed so the adults can hang out kind of way.
Whenever I review a new 3D virtual world that still labeling itself as beta, I do not like to focus on glaring bugs that will likely get fixed eventually. But the bug I encountered as I launched the world for the first time is too funny not to mention.
Just to show you there is still some work to be done on Nuvera, I signed up for an account (I’m Ariane there too), downloaded the client and logged in for the first time. As I was loading, I get a message “Asset not available” and it did not explain what asset. Then when everything loads, I see this:
As you can see I loaded up not wearing pants (and yes the avatars are anatomically correct, at least the female ones), and when I attempted to put some pants on, I get “No owned products of this type”. Yes that is one way to get me out of my pants… don’t give me any.
Luckily, I was in my free apartment where nudity is allowed. I tried to get to “Tutorial Island” but it would not let me go to a public location without pants on. A couple minutes passed before the freebie starter pants finally showed up. Once I put them on, I was allowed to travel and try out the tutorial, where I learned how to change my avatars clothes. (Thanks guys, I think I figured that out on my own.)
NuVera Online is designed to be a player built world. For $15 you can become a developer and submit textures or 3D models into the world, then sell them for profit. With only two people building the program, they are likely going to rely heavily on player created content. This was the founding philosophy of Second Life and it worked out for them eventually. NuVera hopes to make money in the virtual real estate business.
I bet they at least do better than Blue Mars has.