Lively Disappears

My colleague Bruce Lehmann, the Administrator of WBandD, told me that Lively was going to disappear from the virtual worlds scene. This December 31, 2008 Lively will be shut down, as you can read on their official web site.

For worldbuilders, this means that their works will disappear too. For this, they tell you:

"Embedded rooms in blogs and other web pages will continue to show an image, but users will no longer be able to enter Lively rooms and interact.

Between now and the end of the year we encourage you to capture all your hard work by taking videos and screenshots of your rooms." (Lively website)

This is something that is not enough for creators, as Len Bullard says on his site. I agree, people should be able to download their creations, but this is something, as Len says, that happens when one doesn't build using open standards like X3D: when there are problems, you can't take your work and re-publish it.

Other interesting article that speculate about the reason of closing can be read at RealityPrime. One of the possible causes that this article considers is that Lively was just an experiment for Google, and when they faced the complexity of virtual worlds they just closed it. The complexity of sane behavior (why people do what they do) and of insane behavior (how to stop the problems).

Worlds In Motion also offers an official answer that says that they just want to focus "on our core search, ads and apps business." This coincides with what RealityPrime suggested.

Many groups, forums, sections in big associations like the AVW where created featuring Lively and its users. Even virtual worlds gateways like Myrl have added support for Lively. All this work is now lost.

How Did This Happen?

Everybody knows that when I reviewed Lively months ago, it was one the worst of the options selected. I was forced to include it in my 6 systems review because it was so widespread since the beginning that not doing it would have been a crime. In addition, it was promising, because Google was behind it, and Google has great products like Adsense, Blogger...

The reasons are explained in the articles that I referred, but I can add that Lively had entered into a dangerous spiral that was damaging Google's brand itself. This is why they abandoned the project.

The reasons:
  • Google is a too popular, big and reputed company that can't risk damaging their brand launching poor quality products. For this reason, Lively should have been kept in closed beta (invitation only) for a long time before releasing it.

  • The excess of hype was unavoidable by Google. Everything that Google does provokes a lot of buzz. This worked against Lively, because we all expected a smashing app that may compete against the best ones, and Lively was just an early alfa application.

  • No one at Google wanted so much hype. It get out of their hands. It was too soon.

  • High expectations and the many bugs originated lots of bad critics to Lively. This, joined to the lack of security to control the kind of contents posted, damaged Google's brand.

  • Google realized that they would need a lot of resources (not only economical but also workers) to fix this quickly.

Lively would have lasted if they had perseverated, added original features, some sense of community... Also, even if it is not too much orthodox, returning to closed beta may have helped.

As others have said, Google realized the enormous task that developing a virtual worlds platform is. And competing with big established platforms or well-rounded solutions meant a big inversion of money and work. There was not enough motivation, so they just closed.

Developing a virtual worlds platform is not only making something that looks like a 3D game. It has to do with human behavior, and how we act in community. This is a very complex task that is not done in our free time.

-Jordi R. Cardona-

© by Jordi R. Cardona. Link to this post without copying the text.

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McFly said...

"Developing a virtual worlds platform is not only making something that looks like a 3D game. It has to do with human behavior, and how we act in community. This is a very complex task that is not done in our free time."

hear hear!

Jordi R Cardona said...

Thanks McFly, that's what I really think. It was said that Lively was done by Google engineers "in their free time", and that's not serious.

oriste said...

The Livelyzens (Lively users) are coming together to appeal to Google to keep Lively alive.

Lively is a great platform for interaction as well as creativity. It is easy to use, browser based, embeddable on webpages to bring a 3D experience right on your website. While Lively has been in beta and has limited capability in terms of the objects and avatars available, the Livelyzens have been able to come up with very creative ways to create art from what is available. All this in a "clean" 3D world thanks to Google's vigilance in getting rid of rooms with inappropriate content. More than anything, Lively has become a place to make friends for life – from all over the world with wonderful people.

Please visit our website and participate in the Lively Machinima contest we are conducting to show the creative potential of Google Lively. Please also sign our online petition

We kindly request netizens to support us in reviving a wonderful 3D world that is a kid friendly and a creative space for art and interaction amongst adults.

Jordi R Cardona said...

This is great. I hope you succeed in making Lively persevere. Don't forget to send many emails to Google support or the Lively team. Maybe, if they're going to close it, they may release it as opensource, so you could run your own servers.

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