CNET: Google goes Multiverse

Well, wow.


CNET has the scoop on partnership between Multiverse Network and Google to be announced later today that will let you drop Google’s 3D Warehouse models into your own 3D virtual world that you can then walk around in with avatars. You can even drop in terrain from Google Earth.

All the info is in the CNET article, so do read it first. Some observations:

  • What Multiverse Networks has been developing is middleware, a virtual world 3D engine that developers can customize to create their own worlds for end users. Their Multiverse product has been seen as a potential competitor to Second Life because each of these different worlds created by different developers can be visited by the same 3D client. Now it appears that with content from Google Earth, the developers or even end users will be able create their own virtual worlds with elements from the real world.
  • The main reason usually given for why there hasn’t been a good software-based importer of 3D models into Second Life is that it is very difficult to do so while minimizing the total number of prims used for the version inside Second Life. Prims are the basic building blocks of all content in Second Life, and there is a limit to how many can fit on a “sim”, or island. There is also a limit to how many avatars can be on a single Second Life sim/server before it bogs down — 50 is a good number; much above it, and a sim becomes slow as molasses.

    Multiverse Networks would have had to solve this scaling problem for imported 3D content, and if the article is to be believed, it would appear to have done so:

    Multiverse’s technology has reached the point where it can support as many as 1,000 users per server, meaning any virtual world built using its platform and incorporating the Google Earth and 3D Warehouse models could see hundreds or even thousands of users running around inside it.

  • According to the article, this is not Google’s mooted play for a 3D open-standard social application to compete with Facebook and/or Second Life. What’s looking more plausible, suddenly, is that the fevered speculation from just a few weeks ago regarding Google’s plans in the 3D space was actually based on the conflation of two separate projects. There is this partnership with Multiverse Network, and then presumably there is something like an open Facebook. Or not.
  • Good to see Jerry Paffendorf and Mark Wallace surface over at Wello Horld.

I can’t wait to see the details of the announcement later today. Will I be needing to make a virtual Stockholm soon?

3 thoughts on “CNET: Google goes Multiverse”

  1. Stefan, the scalability profiles for Multiverse vs. Second Life are very different. SL _should_ be able to handle more avatars — the reasons it can’t have a lot to do with how far you can customize, how “fat” they are in terms of data, and when/how-often they can change. Same goes for objects — the ability to edit the world at any time makes it very hard to optimize. That said, importing real terrain + buildings probably doesn’t need as much editing capability.

    But no one should be under the illusion that they’ll be able to import a big section of the Earth into Multiverse. I don’t see any hint that they licensed GE’s engine to handle the massive level of detail issues in rendering the earth.

    I’ll probably blog more about it later, but my initial comment is that this was unofficially possible using the open-source GL-Extractor project two years ago, albeit without a nice interface.

  2. Something to keep an eye on for a while. I’d imagine CASA will go knee-deep into this — so it should be interesting to see what they come up with along the way.

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