Hiperia3D News proudly presents a series of conversations with one of the driving forces in Web3D. He is an early pioneer in virtual reality, and someone that is admired by many of the 3D community as an example of enterpreneur, developer and researcher: Tony Parisi.
In the first chapter we were talking with Parisi about virtual worlds and related technologies. Here comes the second part on this topic, but stay tuned, as many other conversations are to come, and will be published every Monday.
- Apple's devices have awesome 3D capability. I have seen and played countless iPhone and iPad games that were very engaging and made great use of the 3D pipeline. I can see big potential for virtual worlds there - assuming a company can build a business on it based on ads or virtual goods. I also think that Android-based devices will slowly build to a competitive, if not dominant position. It is not as clear whether those devices will all have enough 3D capability for virtual worlds. Unfortunately there is no way to tell right now, and the field is so fragmented because Android is an open platform with literally dozens of hardware manufacturers and a host of network providers. So, almost anything can happen with regard to which Android devices become popular for which applications, and what hardware/software capabilities those devices will ship with.
- Is 3D tied to virtual worlds always? We see some 2D worlds amongst the most popular ones, like Habbo and Gaia.
- No, 3D is not tied to virtual worlds at all. Habbo and Gaia are the most successful virtual worlds to date and their graphics are very primitive and 2.5D. Zynga, the kingpin of social gaming, calls its flagship games like FarmVille and YoVille, "virtual worlds" even though they are 2.5D and are not free-form worlds at all, they are highly structured games (one friend has dubbed them "hamster wheels" :-> ). To anybody who knows graphics, such "worlds" are weak graphically, and they don't feel immersive -- but this is from the standpoint of production value. Because the games are compelling, and addictive, and because there is at least a minimal sense of personalization, Zynga can rightly call their games "virtual worlds" and the experience "immersive." And their customers don't seem to be complaining about that.
- Downloading a client software in a DSL connection just lasts seconds or few minutes. Aren't people too lazy? are lazy people future customers? too much fast and free?
- Great question. I think there is a lot of confusion on this point. This is not an issue of time or laziness. Users spend minutes, even hours, downloading iTunes updates, games, music. The real issues are two: desire and trust.
If a user wants to download software, s(he) will do it. One key is for the content providers to message the download properly to the user, e.g. "Download software X now to instantly stay in touch with your friends world wide," or whatever the value proposition is. If the web site has clear language about why a user should want to download the software, and the reason is compelling, i.e. s(he) really wants to do that thing, then the download is going to happen.
Secondly, the user has to trust the source. People will naturally be resistant to downloading unknown software from a new, unproven developer, vs. a company like Adobe for a Flash update. That resistance takes time to overcome, as the developer build brands equity and awareness.
- We see some virtual worlds use standalone application clients (SL, AW), and others use the web. What do you think is the way they should go, and why?
- As you can imagine, I believe this is all going to the web. Even after over a decade in this field, and my most recent startup's failed attempt to do just that, I still believe it is the right direction. The web holds all the data, the web is where the world socializes, the web is where people get their information. The web is also where millions of consumers are playing casual games, social games, Flash games. Why would virtual worlds be any different? This is inevitable; it is not a matter of if (or why), simply when and how.
- In your opinion, does it have sense the opposite: embedding the web into the client app, instead? Like pages embedded in virtual tvs and things like that.
- This is actually just word play. I see no difference between apps on a web site, and the web "embedded into the client app." Nearly all iPhone and iPad apps have some kind of networking built in, and the distinction for the end-user is blurry. What, really, is the difference between a web-enabled "rich client" like you see on the iPhone and an "internet application" running on a web site? Each has presentation, data, media, asynchronous and/or real-time communication. Some of the presentation happens with a complex client running on a phone, some in simple pages on a web site. The data is mostly in the cloud, with some data maybe stored locally on a device. The communication is all on the web. So, I see no difference between the two, and thus I imagine we will see virtual worlds represented equally well on TVs, phones, tablets, etc. as they will be on the web in the near future.
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