A few Second Life bloggers are covering Cloud Party, a new 3D virtual world on Facebook. Hamlet at new World Notes has posted an interview with Cloud Party’s CEO, Sam Thompson.
The current version of Cloud Party is a beta version. They are 9 months into development, which I think is pretty awesome.
There is a notice up today that says the Facebook links have stopped working. You can use your Facebook login stuff, but I can’t get to Cloud Party from my previous links. If you link to CloudPartyTime.com from Facebook while logged into FB, you are automatically logged into Cloud Party.
WARNING: If you attempt play using Internet Explorer 9, you will need to install a Google Chrome plug-in. I recommend using Firefox or Chrome to play.
Additionally if you login anonymously, you are very limited in what you can do.
I find the avatars in Cloudy party a bit cartoony. For now they are limited in appearance and clothes. So, like Blue Mars in the beginning, everyone looks alike. That will change with time.
All building in Cloud Party (CP) is via mesh. There are no primitives, meaning no parametric objects as we have in SL, think cube with its parameters twist, hole, taper, and etc. CP has basic building shapes one can rez just as Blender has basic building shapes. Still the cubes and spheres are mesh objects.
In-world you can scale and rotate things very much as is done in SL. Some of the move interface I find clumsy to use. To move things one needs to adjust the ‘increment’. Basically the ‘increment’ changes the ‘snap to grid’ increment for movement. All movement is ‘snap to grid’. I can see where that would make fitting standard size things together easier. But, it threw me a curve for the first things I was moving. It took a minute to figure out how to position a TV on a table.
The first I really miss in CP is camera controls. There are other camera control modes; Free Camera, Focus or Tethered Camera, and Maya Camera. You can find and explanation of how these work within build mode here: Cloud Party Camera Controls in Build Mode.
I think they are still way lame, but give them time. This is a beta.
It helps a great deal to read the documentation. Duh! Of course finding it is a bit trick. For building it is here: Cloud Party Forum: Building Controls. This video is done using Maya. But it is possible to use Blender. The steps for making mesh clothes in Second Life and Cloud Party are pretty much the same.
When you want to make clothes, check out the video here: Video tutorial for creating a simple dress. (21 minutes) This is mostly about modeling in Maya. At time mark 13:00 the part about importing into CP starts.
There is an shorter video of just the import part. See: Creating New Costume Pieces in Cloud Party Tutorial. CP calls clothes costume pieces.
You can get the avatars here: Cloud Party Custom Content: Avatars download. They come with the skeleton/armature in Collada format and FBX. There is a Maya file included too. I was not able to do anything with the files. Blender is not cooperating this morning. It’s FBX import is not showing. I’ll try another time when I have more patience and can mess with the FBX converter. Text-Enhance has invaded my browsers and I’m rather pissy this morning.
Cloud Party uses Collada format for their imports. So, Blender theoretically has the tools to use with CP. This may help expand interest in Collada in the Blender community, which is a good thing for SL.
CP has a simplified avatar and no real body shape controls, at least for now. So, making one dress fits all avatars.
CP has a materials system, something we lack in SL. Materials systems allow creators to use normal maps. You may know them as bump maps, but there is a technical difference between bump and normal maps. These maps allow creators to add detail to models they build.
We have bump map ability in SL. We are limited to only a half dozen different maps. That limit makes it a nearly useless feature of SL, at least for me.
I don’t know if we can make skins. The default skin wears underwear. No nudity. It will be interesting to see if they add or block the more adult content.
Animations and Skeletons
In Second Life we have one skeleton or in 3D modeling terms: an armature. We cannot upload other skeletons. In CP we can. There is a video using Maya showing how to make a simple skeleton and animation for a cylinder. See: Cloud Party Animation Tutorial. This is the same page we looked at for the short video on importing clothes.
In Second Life we have facial expressions we call emotes. We can’t do much with them other than play them. Our emote-huds just play the built in emotes. We also have gestures, which are a sort of simplified scripts that we can use toplay emotes (smile or frown), animations to dance or whatever, and say things in chat.
In CP their emotes do not appear one to manipulate the face. But, that could just my impression and lack of knowledge. Otherwise, CP Emotes are like SL Gestures, but a bit more complex to do. They start building the emote in Maya. Don’t freak. That is just a tutorial. In SL if we want to add an animation we have to work outside SL to build the animation too. CP has the tools, abet primitive now, to build there emote from an inventory of animations.