It’s no secret that I have been fairly impressed with Unity3D. I find it extremely liberating in comparison to Second Life’s (and any other MMO) pre-packaged notion of what online 3D environments should be. I had to give a talk yesterday, so I used that talk as an excuse to taking my knowledge of Unity3D to the next level. I decided to make my presentation in Unity3D, and have the audience be part of the presentation at some point — similar to what we see in SL/OpenSim, but with the experience on the Web browser and under my complete control. Go here to see the result. Let me explain what you see there.
I was sick-ish last week, so I decided to use my idle cycles to finally learn Unity3D. I thought I’d share my impressions, given that (a) I’m not a 3D modeler, not even an amateur one, and (b) my only experience with 3D environments has been Second Life / OpenSim. I suspect there are lots of people like me. Being an OpenSim aficionada, and fairly ignorant of everything else (mainly for lack of time), I always felt like I was missing the big picture. Indeed, I was, and I’m glad my cold last week gave me the opportunity to explore a completely different point of this large design space. The picture above shows one of the environments I created. The bottom line, if you don’t care to read more, is this: the Unity3D ecosystem feels like Second Life for grown ups.
I do a fair amount of work with people in urban planning. Realism in those virtual environments is the starting point for the imagined plans they have in mind. The very first thing they want is the realistic terrain of the area. It has proven difficult to get the elevation data of specific areas, but we always end up finding it in some obscure place or other. Unfortunately, the terrain by itself doesn’t quite give the feel of the area as it exists today. Instead, it gives the feel of the area as it might have existed 10,000 years ago! — no signs of human civilization. Which, as nice as that may be, doesn’t quite do the job for urban planning. This weekend I was finally able to generate realistic terrains in OpenSim overlayed with a realistic image. Here is the story.
Today, while we were doing load tests in Wright Plaza, I was also doing another kind of load test on my standalone. This one relates to server-side bots. I was able to have a 3×3 megaregion with ~2,000 prims, 200 bots and my client connected to it!
My client was quite happy. The only thing that didn’t seem to be working was the walking animation. Apart from that, I was able to walk, fly, chat and generally interact without much lag. Pushing it to 300 didn’t quite work well yet, I was stuck in 10, 10, 10 on login.
Goggle has announced its 3D Building maker for Google Earth. It looks really nice and simple. I think Google is getting that most people aren’t expert 3D modelers, and as such, simple tools that produce simple models will go a long way in modeling the entire planet.
Google’s intention is great at face value. However, I can’t help but wonder what will Google do with all that content produced by thousands of people around the world. If Goggle ever monetizes Google Earth, will it give back to the creators of those buildings? Or, like what Google does on the Web, will it take the content and run its own business without paying back to content producers?