As I dip my foot into the swimming pool, I discover that just beneath the surface, the mermaid avatars haven't yet been rendered by my computer.

by phil on Sunday May 7, 2006 9:27 PM

I spent the majority of this Sunday immersing myself in 3D-world-related activities.

I just discovered the Google 3D Warehouse where you can download 3D models of landmarks into Google Earth. For example, below is a screenshot of the White House:

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Google is now offering a free version of SketchUp which allows you to create your own 3D Models and submit them back to the Warehouse. While I'm not sure this will take off, the fantasy of a worldwide group effort to model the real world onto Google Earth is astounding. Like a wiki for Grand Theft Auto.

Every now and then I imagine that Moore's Law has become obsolete, that the consumer PC is so fast that there's no need to upgrade anymore. But then today, I was running Google Earth and Second Life simultaneously and my computer was lagging big time. Glad to see we're still pushing the limits of interesting digital experiences.

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That's me in the lower lefthand photo. I chose this screenshot to show how small one feels when first entering Second Life. I guess I'm in the early phases of my experience with Second Life, but I'm constantly blown away by the scale of everything. It's like if you lift up a rock and discover that there's not just an ant colony there, but an entire ant universe.

In tandem with my in-world 3D experiences, web surfing bears some interesting links that compound the mind-blowing-ness:

  • This image map of There designers is a good representation of the depth of 3D-designer culture.

  • WIRED has a short story on how a professor is mining the legal ramifications of virtual worlds: Baller is one of Second Life's most notorious gangsters, famous for hiring talented residents to script weapons that can bounce an avatar across the gamespace and bombs that produce enough smoke and fire to occasionally crash a server.

  • What avant-garde movement would be complete without its detractors? Robyn Miller, of Myst fame, says

    As a newcomer to Second Life, one is lost against the endless flat megapolis, cramped with flashing buildings and more flashing buildings. There's barely space to move: one must fly to get away. Perhaps that's because there are no paths or greenways in the city (do I dare call it a city?). Trees are instantly mowed down to make way for more flashing buildings. Not once did I ever encounter a city park or city forest, though I always enjoyed resting on random spots of unsold land (which would quickly be bought – the trees soon mowed down). Nowhere is there a Second Life sponsored monument or memorial. Not even a sponsored Town Hall or city square. There are not housing hills or house clusters or seperate shopping promanades and markets. Instead, everything is thrown together in one endless chaotic clutter. #
    But clearly she hasn't seen The Lost Gardens of Apollo, a 3D place constructed with very Myst-like intensity.

  • Habbo Hotel has "furni whores" or people who will have cybersex with you in exchange for virtual furniture.

  • Anshe Chung. Anshe Chung. Anshe Chung. It's hard to go through Second Life without hearing her name in some ad, or in some way feeling her presence. Check out her portal where she displays her 3D architecture for sale.

Where is this going to all lead? What's next? How mainstream will 3D Virtual Words go? South Korea and China are already going nuts with role-playing games. Is this the "Next Big Thing?"

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