Archive for March, 2007

New Jeff Han Video of their Multi-Touch Display

New Jeff Han Video – Multi Touch UI | The Last Minute Blog

It’s looking pretty good. I was a little saddened to see them resorting to menus and hotspots, though it was probably inevitable. The magic of the early MT demos was that you could simply touch the screen and the computer would have enough information from your fingers to know what you meant to do — move vs. zoom vs. rotate, for example. The holy grail of GUI design is a completely mode-less system, where you don’t need to be in "edit" mode vs. "drag" mode and the number of tools is minimal. But now that they’re doing much more complicated tasks, like windowing and overlaying data, the controls get more complicated too. Read the rest of this entry »

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Great Corey Bridges Interview

I thought this was a great capsule of what Multiverse.net is all about.

Gamasutra – SxSW: Corey Bridges, Master of the Multiverse

“We’re trying to enable the independents to be able to get in and innovate in this space, whether it be for games, or other non-game virtual worlds. But the fact that this has struck such a cord within the game industry itself, speaks to the fact that…you go into game making, and for many people it’s this irrational passion, like wanting to be a musician. It’s like ‘I’m called to do this, this is what I’m on this Earth for, I’m going to follow my bliss, boom – off I go!’”

I think their business model is right on. I love the idea of having independents be able to hit the ground running with low up-front costs (in this case, zero, at least for software) and only pay if they make money. I’m a huge fan of that approach, and I really want it to work, for both selfish and ideological reasons.

And with 9000 development teams apparently using it, I’m pretty sure that even if version 1.0 contains a few technological dead-ends or hard-to-use features (and it is inevitable for a first generation SDK), they’ll have enough feedback and enthusiasm to make version 2.0 really spectacular (of course, I may be one of those 9000 registered downloaders–but only to evaluate it for a client of mine).

If it does take off, it could form the basis of a new Netscape Navigator for 3D — a ground-breaking 3D client that opens up the web to new possibilities. Never mind the fact that Netscape was ultimately eclipsed by strong market currents. It really did set the stage, and many of the standards, for what has come. Of course, if you read this blog, you also know that my personal take is that we should get existing browsers, like Mozilla and Explorer to add the fundamental 3D systems to make this work without a whole new client, since a lot of Web3D will want to be hybrid 2D layout and 3D. But that’s another story…

BTW, not to be critical of a fine product. But the biggest present limitation of Multiverse (or benefit, depending on your POV), and the main reason my client chose not to use it is the client [software, not to be confused with the client, paying.] was that like the early Navigator app, it was not that well suited to custom or niche applications, at least not until a wave of 3rd party plugins arrived.

In this case, generic MMOGs (with guilds, quests, experience etc..) are the main focus I see. If someone wants to drop in, say, a new rendering engine or better linkage to the 2D web, it’s not yet simple enough, from my cursory investigation. I could be wrong, but even if I’m right, I expect that’ll be fixed in time, and ultimately their complete source code will be released (or reverse-engineered) for developers to roll their own.

I certainly hope they get far enough along before Microsoft tries to muscle in this time. Ssh. Don’t tell anyone that 3D is just about here.

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More Detail on Skyline v. Google

Google Copyright Blog: Google Prevails in Earth Patent Dispute

FYI, the Google Copyright Blog, linked above, contains links to the parties recent motions and the judge’s final ruling in the case. I just read through the judge’s decision and it’s fascinating, though I’m not sure how to explain why without getting into much tech talk and approaching the limits of my old NDAs. However, since the ruling is now public, I can comment on things that are public. Read the rest of this entry »

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Alternatives To Second Life?

Alternatives To Second Life « Second Life Games

I’m not sure I’d call all of these competitors to SL, but they each have their strong points. Raph Koster has his own list here.

There are quite a few more in the pipeline that I’m aware of but can’t name. Most don’t allow real object editing — some customization or selection from a catalog. Some try to let you pick objects from the web itself.  I haven’t seen any that truly solve the problems I addressed in my recent "Anti-Social Worlds" post.

And now, I have to get back to work. I just wasted 2 hours posting to the OpenGL boards about how the new object-oriented API should actually support C++ directly instead of being so C-like, as the current versions are…

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More on Home and LittleBigPlanet

Here’s a better writeup of the PS Home features, which do include some customization:

Gamasutra – GDC: Harrison Keynote Reveals Home , LittleBigPlanet

And then this interesting tidbit:

The final announcement is for LittleBigPlanet, the new Media Molecule-created game from the creators of Rag Doll Kung Fu. It’s a customizable multiplayer environment with physics, a sandbox environment where you can make "tactile and highly interactive environments".

Now that sounds interesting.

You know, I almost liked it better when there were only about 50 people in the world who understood 3D graphics and VR well enough to attempt building a big virtual world. Now that there are tens of thousands of developers working on this stuff, we are about to be inundated with the same stuff and the same painful lessons learned over and over again.

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PlayStation Home, the free virtual world of PlayStation 3

PlayStation Home, the free virtual world of PlayStation 3 – Joystiq

Comparable to Second Life, PlayStation Home is a virtual community of PS3 owners living together in both public and private environments. Users will be able to login, chat with both text and speech and play casual games together such as pool, bowling and even embedded arcade machines. And when the old stand-bys grow stale, users can invite one another into other PlayStation Network titles outside of PlayStation Home.

I hate to nitpick, but unless PlayStation Home allows the world the be edited, it’s not comparable to SecondLife — perhaps There, though with nicer shadows.

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Patents and Game Development

Gamasutra.com – The Trouble With Patents

Pretty good article, but not as in-depth as I’d like. I wrote this comment to the author of the article:

David, I do have some direct experience with that “Crazy Taxi” patent you cited, as I interacted with EA’s lawyers on the case. From my perspective, it’s all the more ironic because I helped develop a “Wild Taxi” game design at Disney, which was pitched to Sega execs years before their “Crazy Taxi” game was made. The Sega game designers might have come up with concept on their own. But just about everything in the Sega patent was part of the original Disney concept (esp. the people jumping out of the way). Whatever the origins, the patent was entirely stupid.

I’m also familiar with this Skyline vs. Google/Keyhole patent suit, which could also impact game developers. Skyline, who has an inferior implementation of “earth streaming” IMO, is suing Keyhole, which I was part of, and which has done very well as Google Earth. The patent suit seems to center on the mysterious concept of “quadtrees” or some sort of hierarchy to store and stream a big 3D database… Google is currently challenging the patent’s validity, which is the best possible course of action IMO. The Skyline patent also seems a bit short on implementation details, which _should_ matter, as one of the main rationales for patents was disclosure.

IMO, a patent which simply tries to stick a stake in the ground without disclosing a useful, novel invention is not worthy of a 20 year monopoly. Patents are an exchange of public protections for a real public good, not some sort of anti-competitive corporate welfare system. And with the cost of litigation, they’re certainly not doing anything to help individual inventors anymore.

I could write much more, but I’m busy inventing stuff. Funny how all that fighting over who invented what tends to result in nothing new or useful coming out.

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