In October and November (2010) Second Life was testing browser based viewers… or saying, replacing the viewer with your browser, may be more accurate. See: Second Life in a Browser. Today New World Notes has an article (Jibe, a Unity/Web-Based Virtual World from ReactionGrid) about another Linden Lab alumni opening a new virtual world. This world is a Reaction Grid world and uses a browser in place of the specialized viewer we normally use.
Also this new world is being competitive with Second Life. Hosting a world in one of Linden Labs server is $300+/- per month. This new world offers something similar for $47 per month. You can find the hosting details on Reaction Grid’s web site. This new product is called Jibe Harmony. You can get more details in a PDF file they provide: Reaction Grid Jibe.
It is interesting that they appear to be targeting this product at businesses. The opening paragraph on the site reads:
Starting at just $47 monthly for 10 concurrent users Jibe is a virtual world platform for conducting online 3D meetings, training sessions, creating educational spaces, scientific visualization, collaborative engineering, medical simulations, disaster training and more.
Another interesting feature is the announcement that versions for Android & iPhone/iPad/iPod will be out this year.
These new worlds are able to use simplified building tools; the Unity 3D Editor and Sketchup. Of course the more advanced tools like Maya, 3DS, and Blender can be used too. I plan to take a look at Unity 3D Editor. It is a 400+mb download, but may be interesting.
One of the funky things about OpenSim worlds is the physics engine, generally ODE. Jibe uses nVidia’s Physx.
These worlds can also be self hosted… now there is an interesting possibility. I self host my four OSGrid regions, which are mostly offline this month while I complete a iRL project. However, reading the licensing agreement (here) I am confused about whether worlds one creates can be shared, if not hosted on one of Reaction’s servers. With OpenSim one has a choice of ‘self’ storing assets and login information or using a service like OSGrid to host the assets and handle login information. I’m not clear on how Reaction is handling that.
Whether this is worthwhile or not can be decided by walking around in a Jibe world. The Test World.
I tried it using my Chrome browser. I recommend using Firefox.
You have to have the Unity plugin, but I think it automatically installs if you don’t. I have it from other tests of Unity 3D worlds, so I can’t really tell.
The user interface is limited. The WASD and arrow keys move you around. I couldn’t jump. The camera controls are simple, LMB = SL’s Alt-LMB, RMB = SL’s Ctrl-LMB, and LMB+RMB = some type of mouse steering, that I found sluggish. There are some icons in the upper right that provide some help.
I think this is definitly a step forward. For schools and businesses this is probably going to be an interesting option. I doubt SL and OpenSim residents are going to find it overly attractive. This means SL will hold the majority of residents and businesses, which have to stay where the customers are.
When the user interface improves, it could be more popular.