Talking With Parisi: Immersive Talks

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 entrepreneur, developer and researcher: Tony Parisi.

green stairs

Photos by extranoise

Tony Parisi was the co-creator of VRML, alongside with Mark Pesce, in 1994. They also made the first VRML browser, Labyrinth. In 1995 he created his own company, Intervista, and as a Chief Technical Officer developed WorldView, the first VRML browser for the PC. He worked closely with Microsoft, Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems, Macromedia, and others to make this protocol as much widespread as it was, and is even today, as we see it being used in medical, scientific, and architectural applications, as well as in 3D printing services, visualization and virtual art.

He was also a fundamental mind in the birth of X3D, years later, as main editor of the X3D specification. He also founded Mediamachines and developed the first X3D browser for PC, Flux, and an experimental platform for multiuser X3D worlds, that was the seed of Vivaty, the company that he co-founded. In Vivaty, he developed the first X3D and COLLADA-based multiuser platform integrated with Facebok.

Now that we live with realities like virtual worlds and 3D on the web, we must remember that this dream has become true because of the hard work of people like Tony Parisi, that conceived the Internet as virtual places were one can be immersed. The Internet not merely as a collection of documents, but as a meeting place, as an experience.

I'm sure most of the readers of Hiperia3D News, as anyone involved in 3D and virtual worlds will follow this series as we talk with Parisi about all the topics that always interested us, from the past, present and future of everything related to 3D.
Every Monday a new episode will be published, starting today.

Nothing better than starting with the virtual worlds topic. Today, the International Day of Internet, we publish the first part of this topic. Stay tuned next Monday for the second part.

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- In which areas do you think 3D is going to be employed in the near future?

- Understand that my orientation is purely consumer and entertainment. So please take my responses in that light. I can't really comment on enterprise and vertical uses of 3D technology as I have not been focused there for over a decade. Here goes :-)...
We are seeing a resurgence in web gaming based on new plugins such as Unity, and Flash-based 3D tools like Away 3D. Just as with desktop gaming in the 90's, 3D is becoming a driver of new development, and the games are incorporating higher production value "sizzle" and novel forms of interaction.
Mobile gaming shows a fast growing use of 3D. The iPhone leads the way in bringing true 3D to phones. Many if not most of the iPhone games make extensive use of the OpenGL rendering built into the SDK.
Several casual and social games currently employ some 3D, and this will continue to increase as the games trend toward higher fidelity and more real-time interaction. Even "2D Flash" implementations at the forefront of social gaming, like Café World, use some 3D in them, e.g. for rendering avatars.
I believe we will also see several experiments in new forms of display advertising. Advertising is largely about catching the eye with production value, and as 3D development becomes easier, and simple 3D rendering capability has come to Flash, we will see marketers try these new technologies to reach audiences.
"Virtual Worlds" as such will also form a part of this new landscape. However, it is sad that market interest is currently on the wane. We may instead see features we commonly find in virtual worlds (e.g. avatar customization) subsumed into game play, advertising, corporate communications, etc. At least for now - until the world is ready for a fully-customized, user-generated world experience. I believe that will happen again… someday.


Photos by extranoise

- And what about p2p virtual worlds? Companies seem to avoid them because of differences of bandwidth problemss and they tend to be out of control and unprofitale, but why not hybrid software (p2p controlled by a central server that for example serves ads)? May they be a new kind of communication between people, were everyone can run a home p2p world?

- I see no problem with P2P worlds from a technology standpoint. As you rightly point out, there may be business issues  for companies who want to control access through a central server. But I can just as easily imagine making a business around P2P-based world serving, especially when combined with centralized services for ads, or identity authentication, etc. We might see a move in this direction as we see growing concern about privacy on today's social networks like Facebook, and as projects emerge like Diaspora that attempt to decentralize social networking.

- You say games will take some features from VWs, but aren't vws who have taken some features from games and communications, and not the opposite? what features do you mean a game can incorporate from vws?

- I am referring to the personalization and social features you typically find in all virtual worlds or social networks: an avatar, a user profile, chat, messaging. These are essential in a virtual world but not always present in games. As games continue to evolve more toward social- and multi-player, and as game developers start to build a longer-lasting relationship to customers and attempt to build "networks" and cross-sell titles, we will see these lines blur more and much of what we have traditionally thought of as "virtual world" features will just become commonplace in games, game networks and game platforms such as consoles and phones.

blue spiral

 Photos by extranoise

- What conditions should be present that are not today for a serious widespread of virtual worlds in the future?

- Two things. First, a ubiquitous client. Either Unity, or a Unity competitor; or WebGL (maybe not version 1.0 because it might not have all the features). Or Adobe finally takes graphics seriously and puts hardware-accelerated 3D into Flash. Second, game play. In my experience, the single biggest reason users leave, or fail to return to a virtual world, is that there isn't enough to do. They declare "this game sucks," and leave in frustration. The subtle concept that this environment is an open-ended 'world' to be explored at their pleasure, and in which they can display their creativity in new ways, is lost on most casual users. The thing looks like a game, but it doesn't play like a game. They get bored, and leave.

- Social games: are still on the buzz or is the big public loosing interest?

- From where I sit in the Bay Area, social games are still very much the buzz. The public seems to be showing no sign of losing interest - for the moment. These apps are still the hottest things on social networks, with millions of daily active users, extremely high engagement and generating millions in annual revenues.
But I imagine that we will reach a saturation point sometime in the next 18 months, and that the social gaming market will undergo evolution. Eventually it will have to go in novel directions: rising production value on the one hand i.e. 3D, and/or more rich personalization and support for user generated content. The current crop of social games is pretty weak in both of those respects. Or something more location-based might disrupt the current status quo. We'll see.

(To be continued…)

Photos by extranoise

-Jordi R. Cardona-

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

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Jae Xavier said...

Thanks for this interview with Tony. It is always interesting to see what is going on with Web3D/VW's/AR. Look forward to your next post.

Jordi R Cardona said...

Thanks Jae, this is only the beginning

Joe said...

"The subtle concept that this environment is an open-ended 'world' to be explored at their pleasure, and in which they can display their creativity in new ways, is lost on most casual users. The thing looks like a game, but it doesn't play like a game."

"... personalization and social features ... an avatar, a user profile, chat, messaging."

Notice the mismatch between the toolset integration to create and deliver the transactions to personalize and socialize a particular "open-ended 'world'" with the typical interfaces offered to that initially casual or even experienced individual or group user of the environment.

Jordi R Cardona said...

Do you mean that the interfaces are too limited to express their creativity? Not sure if I understand.

Anonymous said...

I think this was a great interview and I agree that avatar customization and identification is important. I believe in and use 3D virtual worlds as a media broadcasting platforms. I have originated & produce shows, series, shorts, training films and more.
The question of virtual worlds and the public's ability to participate in them requires a time commitment and an investment as well. We only have so much, and our attention level is already split into near atomic level.
I like Second Life because there is already a thriving community there of scientists, educators and people on a futuristic edge able to use the creation process to develop something larger than their outworld life.
The tools for film making are varied and the look is fresh.

Jordi R Cardona said...

Thanks Pooky. Great comment, too. You point to 2 important things.

One is that there are many virtual worlds and many users belong to more than one, many times more than 3 or 4, and are not really integrated in none of them, so the effort needed to attract and keep is bigger.

The other, when you list the features of Second Life that made you choose it as your development platform and main world, you are really saying which is the key for the success of Second Life: features. SL joins good graphics with better features, and lots of user content generated by very active members.

Pooky Amsterdam said...

Thank you Jordi!
Also want to make sure you are aware of this
It is an International Festival with Machinima Artists who use a variety of game engines and an excellent film festival.
It will be hosted on Second Life, an I wanted to make sure you are aware of it. We are currently calling for submissions.

Jordi R Cardona said...

Good to know!

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