Friday, October 12, 2007

Serious Games Set In Your Favorite Google Earth Locations

Architectural Wonders allowing anyone to create a working Virtual World


Via: CNET News.com - Google Tools To Power Virtual Worlds

Virtual-worlds platform developer Multiverse Network is set to announce a partnership Tuesday that will allow anyone to create a new online interactive 3D environment with just about any model from Google's online repository of 3D models, its 3D Warehouse, as well as terrain from Google Earth.


The idea is simple: Multiverse's technology--which gives game developers tools to design custom virtual worlds--will let those designers pick and choose from most of the millions of 3D models created using Google's 3D software tool SketchUp, and to import pieces of terrain, as defined by entering specific longitude and latitude data, from Google Earth.



If you want to build a virtual world centered on, say, New York, you could use the new technology to create the area itself and populate it with the digital versions of real-world buildings that have been created and uploaded to the 3D Warehouse.




"The goal is to grab things from the 3D Warehouse when looking at things in Google Earth and then make an instant multiverse world," said Multiverse co-founder Corey Bridges. "What we've done is provide a more streamlined interface for using (Google's technology) as a virtual-world production tool."

Until now, incorporating this kind of information from Google has mostly been the province of fantasy. For some time, Multiverse has made it possible to upload some SketchUp models into a virtual world created using its platform.

But the technology the company plans to announce Tuesday, informally called "Architectural Wonders," brings the concept to much more well-rounded fruition, and answers what some people have been crying out for as obvious and necessary technology integration.

Architectural Wonders project will allow virtual-world designers to incorporate not just models and terrain from Google Earth, but also much of the metadata that makes it so powerful: the personal notations and photographs that millions of users have added to it.


Of course, Multiverse's project is not the only one that has sprung up to make use of this data. Google is rumored to be working on a prototype virtual world, a beta test of which may or may not be under way at Arizona State University (plese find my prior posting Google Powered Serious Games: A New Virtual World? ).

Another project is SceneCaster, a new technology unveiled at last week's Demo conference that allows anyone to make 3D "scenes" incorporating models from the 3D Warehouse that can then be attached to blogs or Facebook pages or even to Flickr.

But because not much is known about Google's stealth project and since SceneCaster does not appear to be a massively multiplayer experience, Multiverse's Architectural Wonders efforts may well prove to be the first publicly available attempt to bring vast amounts of data and models Google is making freely accessible into a working virtual world.


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.