Posted by: vivatymarkh | September 22, 2009

Vivaty in Flash (Sneak Preview)

We know a lot of you want to experience Vivaty, but are on Macs, or maybe don’t want to install any plug-ins. We heard you! Today, we’ve launched an early PREVIEW edition of Vivaty that works in Flash. You get the 3D Vivaty experience, but without any unique installs (since nearly everyone already has Flash installed).

If you’re not already a Vivaty user, you can preview the lightweight version of Vivaty here: http://www.vivaty.com/lite

flash_chat

This is an early version of our experience. There are a lot of cool additions coming to the experience in the coming weeks, but we wanted to get this to customers as early as possible to begin getting feedback, and helping us refine the experience. So pardon our dust, as it’ll be a little bit rough, but thanks in advance for all your helpful suggestions and feedback. You can share feedback in our forum, or also email it to us directly there, too.

While it’s early, we think this version of Vivaty is a great way to get introduced to the Vivaty community and the overall experience. It’s very easy to upgrade your experience at any time so you can go party with groups of people, customize your own scene, and fill your closet with the latest hot fashions.

There are a few more technical challenges to conquer, so we’ve limited this experience initially to be more focused on 1-on-1 chat, providing a narrower set of clothes and customizations. Those will increase over time, but this will help us deliver a better initial experience. For those technical folks in the audience, you’ll know it’s no small feat to get full 3D experience into Flash, without any other plug-in or software, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure the technology doesn’t get in the way of having a fun, social experience in 3D.

You can learn more about this preview version of Vivaty in our FAQ. Stay tuned for lots of additional news and features.

Thanks!

Mark Hull
VP Product Management

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Responses

  1. This is a very sad day for open standards on the 3D web.

    I’m devastated to hear that the X3D poster child that is Vivaty has stooped to shoe-horning a feature-limited version of its service into a proprietary 2D graphics plugin as a misguided attempt at achieving cross-platform support.

    Yes, I’m a Mac (and Linux) user who would like to be able to use Vivaty, no I don’t want to use a stripped down version hacked into Flash.

    I wonder what great things could have been achieved if the engineering effort put into hacking together a 3D application in a 2D graphics engine had instead been ploughed into supporting and improving Unix/Linux-based implementations of X3D, the ISO standard for 3D graphics on the web. The Web3D community would benefit considerably from Vivaty’s contribution to standardising and promoting the innovations they have made with the Vivaty Player, AJAX3D being one example.

    I’m not angry at Vivaty’s misguided efforts which were no doubt driven by business decisions, I am instead disappointed that they felt that the open standards route was not a viable cross-platform option for a company which has previously championed the standards movement.

    Ben


    Ben Francis
    http://tola.me.uk

  2. Very sad day indeed.
    What use are standards if they don’t get the chance to get used?

    I am very disappointed that Vivaty chose this meager workaround to provide “cross platform availability”.
    Nothing to be proud of, let alone brag about.

  3. As I posted in another place in response to Ben:
    “I would only guess that the main reason for a Flash version is to lower the barriers to entry for those that don’t like downloading plug-ins. The “download a plug-in” is a big killer for most virtual world companies. Vivaty is going for tween and teen girls, dont know how many are mac users in that demographic.

    Again I see it first as more a way to get people past that barrier of getting a plug-in, second for the bonus of that small audience of mac users and run the app cross platform. I give them mad props for enticing people with a lite version. Hopefully the experience with their platform will get users hooked for the X3D player download. We need more of those out there.”

    With that being said, I do look forward to when you will be running this on a mac. Small audience or not, they deserve the full coolness of Vivaty as well.

  4. […] Vivaty is going Flash so all you Macs can get your virtual on – Vivaty […]

  5. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments thus far. I think “metaverseone” is close to capturing the spirit of our goals here.

    Our fundamental vision is to provide a compelling, social 3D experience for as many people as possible. For more than two years, we’ve poured all of our energy into the Vivaty Player experience, which many people love and use every day. Our commitment to that experience has not waned or changed.

    That said, we know a living, growing community needs to be as accessible as possible for the widest possible audience. We believe the fastest way to get there, and to also give people a taste of an experience that will help lead to them to upgrading into the Vivaty Player experience is with our lightweight version of Vivaty.

    Just in a few short hours that it’s been live, we’re seeing a lot more people get access to the experience that likely wouldn’t have done so previously.

    Also, we’re still a pretty small startup, so we have to look at what projects will have the greatest impact with the most affordable cost — standard cost-benefit stuff. My hope is that the insights we gain from our preview version will help guide decisions for additional investment.

    I’m going to invite one of our cofounders in here to discuss more of the 3D standards part of the discussion, but the one thing I’d throw out there is that we’re already seeing a lot of interest on how we’re able to do some of the things in Flash that we’re doing. That ultimately could mean greater access and distribution of 3D to a wider audience with fewer technological barriers, which I believe would be a greater success.

  6. @Ben

    I will let history judge whether today is a sad day, or the beginning of something new and exciting for X3D. I am personally hopeful that this application is going have a positive impact toward our goal of building an open 3D web.

    For past several months I have led the development team that built our Flash application. From day one, we have kept two goals front of mind:

    1. Create an application that can reach millions of Internet users with no additional software installation;

    2. Never compromise on the visual quality, interactivity and fun that our Vivaty users have come to enjoy.

    To achieve #1, we could have slapped together a 2.5D world with billboarded avatars, i.e. your typical Flash-based virtual world of today. It’s cheaper, faster and easier to do that. But we decided to take a different path. Earlier this year we started analyzing what could be done in Flash 10 using the built-in 3D support. I will admit that it’s rudimentary and limited– it can only push a fraction of the polys, textures and skinned animations that we can do in our native plugin– but at the end of the day that may be enough. 3D isn’t about the number of polygons; it’s about interactivity. So we decided to give it a try.

    From the outset, we made a conscious decision to use X3D as our delivery format for the 3D. As you can imagine, that made the task of developing our Lite application much easier, essentially a port. And of course since so much of our service is driven by the back end, it was really just a client port plus a slight simplification of the content. The results stand before you, and I for one am extremely proud of the accomplishment. And while that may be a testament to the strength of the Vivaty technical team and our robust system architecture, it is also in part a statement about X3D itself. The fact that we could build a totally different player, on an essentially 2D rendering system, play the majority of our content without modification and leverage our entire web back end, is a proof point of the true value of X3D.

    X3D is X3D, regardless of the underlying technology used to render it. We use X3D as our 3D delivery format because it is the best for that purpose– just as we use COLLADA as our export format from the professional modeling tools, XML and DOM for our application’s object model, and LAMP technologies on our back end. Each technology to its purpose.

    Finally I want to comment on the platform issue. It is true, our Lite application now enables us to reach Mac users. (And, as it turns out, Linux users. Last night Mark Pesce told me he was able to run our application on Ubuntu.) But that is a secondary goal. When the time comes and we can prioritize platform ports of our native Vivaty Player to those other platforms, we will do them. We just haven’t gotten there yet.

    Thanks for listening and participating.

    Tony

  7. […] Vivaty in Flash (Sneak Preview) « Vivaty Blog. […]

  8. Thank you for your reply Tony,

    I have no doubt that what Vivaty has achieved is an impressive feat of engineering. To put my apparent criticism in context, I should explain that Vivaty’s software (Vivaty Studio & Player) enabled me to create a 3D web application which led to me publishing a paper which I presented at the Web3D Syposium and won me an award at university. I have been spreading the word about Vivaty’s work ever since, through academic and commercial work, including a UK government funded feasibility study. I like Vivaty!

    I now work at a very small tech startup and I more than understand the business issues of barriers to adoption. From that point of view, I do understand the move you made. From the technical point of view it’s interesting to hear that you’re still using X3D in the pipeline for the Lite version. I’d be interested to hear more about that, are you saying that you’re able to render X3D using Flash?

    My main frustration is that it’s still necessary to use a proprietary plugin in order to deliver 3D content to a wider audience. I think a lot rests on the collaboration between Web3D & W3C to create a 3D standard which can be included as a part of HTML5. That would allow declarative 3D to become a native part of web browsers in the future, thereby solving the problem you currently have. I’m sure Web3D’s work would benefit from Vivaty’s continued involvement in such an effort.

    Congratulations on your product launch, I hope that history judges you favourably.

    Ben


    Ben Francis
    http://tola.me.uk


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