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Google Businesses The Internet Communications

Google Launches Lively, an Avatar Based 3D World 358

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the get-a-first-life dept.
no.good.at.coding writes "Google has launched a Windows-only, in-browser (you need to install a client first, though) 3D avatar worldLively — that you can embed in websites and use to interact with other people. It's not as expansive as Second Life yet, but expect things to get better."
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Google Launches Lively, an Avatar Based 3D World

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  • The Shark... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tommertron (640180) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:39AM (#24115183) Homepage Journal
    Has officially been jumped at Google.

    What's next, a program to install animated smileys to your Outlook e-mails?

    • by cowscows (103644) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:43AM (#24115261) Journal

      I for one can't wait for google to replace their homepage search bar with a friendly, brightly colored, animated search assistant avatar. It'll be the next revolution in user interfaces!

      • by mikkl666 (1264656) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:49AM (#24115351)
        I recommend a paper clip.
        • by Oktober Sunset (838224) <[ku.oc.oohay] [ta] [301egapds]> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:38AM (#24116229)
          no, a purple chimp would be better.
        • Ok, honestly... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bill_kress (99356) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:12AM (#24119047)

          I know that it's cool now to hate google and all, but I have NEVER seen anything from them that I didn't admire at least somewhat, and for most things I find them unbeatable.

          If they came out with gClippy I'd have to give it a try, and I'll give you 3:1 odds that it would be surprisingly useful.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Locutus (9039)

            I too have been running across a bunch of people who seem to really dislike google but I'm also finding that they just suck at using the search engine. It reminds me of how neophytes will come up with all kinds of things to put down computers and how they don't need them.

            "gClippy", now wouldn't that just piss Bill Gates off. :-)

            LoB

            • Re:Ok, honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by bill_kress (99356) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:34PM (#24127039)

              I think it's something else. There is something that makes certain people hate things that other people love if the first group sees the love as unreasonable.

              I've seen groups of people with an unfounded hate for iPhones, VWs, Google, cell phones, text messaging, social websites, instant messaging, ...

              So honestly, I think there is just a blind reactionary backlash when some people don't understand why a product, service, company or concept has "Fanboys".

              I try to avoid both sides, but I admit that in the 70's-80's I felt a little irrational hate for VWs now and then (even though I've owned more than one). If you're talking this century I've got a hell of a lot of love for Google, and lately I get a little warm fuzzy for Apple every now and then--but I try to be realistic and criticize them as much as praise (something fanboys seem completely incapable of doing--I think that would be the definition of a "Fanboy", the inability to seriously criticize the target of your infatuation).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Narpak (961733)
        Just hope your Friendly avatar doesn't get infected with the "sarcastic-meanie-virus" and start making snarky comments about your websurfing habits.
      • by xtracto (837672) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:11AM (#24115719) Journal


        "It seems to me that you are searching for porn"...

        My I suggest you the "Kleenex Ultra Smooth" link?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:46AM (#24115317)

      The term "jump the shark" is so yesterday. The current correct term is "nuking the fridge".

    • Re:The Shark... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:19AM (#24115869) Homepage

      Seems right to me. I get that we, as computer geeks, are supposed to love the idea of having 3D virtual worlds, alternate/virtual reality, etc. But can someone please explain to me what benefits these things actually have? Whenever any of these are announced, it always seems like either (a) there's nothing to do; or (b) they allow you to do anything, but it's pretty complex to do anything interesting, and the world ends up filled with penises.

      I can never figure out what you're supposed to do with these things if you're not a pervert.

      • Re:The Shark... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by glueball (232492) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:35AM (#24116159)

        I agree with the social site disappointment.

        I use a 3D site (expo3d.com) to hold conferences with customers on product updates and use the 3D feature to really demonstrate what I'm saying, holding up objects, pointing at on the object with my avatar and can use my voice to offer more commentary than texting could accomplish. Texting is sooo 1990's. Use your voice. It really helps.

        In my business, some customer updates are mandatory. We used to fly people in and out for the update meetings but now we can, for the smaller updates, use this software and in 15 minutes be done. We still all meet face to face a couple of times a year but it's not a monthly obligation.

        We've had 100-200 customers routinely join us for our updates. We place our own teams in the audience to answer questions one-on-one via text or voice. We circulate documents. We post advertisements. And the customers love it.

        So I've found a way to save money using this type of application with no perverts or gambling.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by techpawn (969834)

        but it's pretty complex to do anything interesting, and the world ends up filled with penises.

        You know, it's much easier to call it an apathetic sausage fest... Wait, you meant literally?!


        Eeeewww.... I knew I liked the real world better.

      • Re:The Shark... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kelbear (870538) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:21AM (#24117041)

        You're not really the target audience. If you poke around in it or check out some screenshots, the design is really geared towards teenagers, much like IMVU.

        There are benefits, but in my opinion they do not justify the relatively high overhead on the computer relative to a simple chatroom.

        There isn't much persistence in Lively, it's just a 3D chat room. It offers context-conversations from the positioning. In a simple chatscroll all conversation is given the same weight and carried out in a linear fashion. However, for greater numbers of people there can be more than one topic within the room which interrupts all topics at hand. In the 3D chatroom, avatar-positioning provides context for who is included in the convesation and the chatballoons appear closer and in colors matching those in the immediate group. Of course a log is critical and a standard chatscroll is available on its own tab.

        It's like carrying out a conversation everyone in a restaurant vs. carrying out a conversation with others at the same table.

        Also, they are supplied with a few animations and inter-avatar animations. The visual aspect is pleasing, but not really useful. /me in IRC allows for much more variety. I also noted that :) and :O resulted in a corresponding animation from your avatar.

        Aside from that, it has personalization of the chatroom space. While this is stupid to me, the others in my IRC chat have already "personalized" the text chatroom, pretending we're in a virtual terrarium/spa replete with cabana boys and fruity drinks. Some people might actually enjoy the room-building aspect.

      • Re:The Shark... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by databyss (586137) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:27AM (#24117177) Homepage Journal

        Well on a 2D webpage, your ad-space is limited... especially in the confines of a chat room.

        Now a 3D window, you can fit many many more ads.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bennomatic (691188)
          Wish I could give your comment another "insightful" mark. That is exactly what this is about. I saw one room when testing it where there was a YouTube video playing on a wall screen. Why not put ads on just about everything? Text, image, video, interactive...

          Heck, they have lots of props; it'd be smart to sell "branded" versions of props. Coke or Pepsi instead of just a can of soda. They could even implement something where if a person designs something that includes a brand, they could find it and
      • Real human conversation contains lots of emotional cues such as intonation, facial expression, and guestures. Text loses most of this, save for CAPS, obscenities and emoticons. The result is people will say things in text messages they'd NEVER say face to face (unless extremely chemically uninhibited). Avatars are a way to restore this, if done properly.
        • by bkr1_2k (237627) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:13PM (#24123383)

          Except people will still say things they wouldn't say in real life because getting your avatar slapped isn't the same thing as being slapped in real life.

          It's just not a good substitution. People like having flame wars and arguments on the internet. That's the only reason we haven't come up with something more "suitable" than emoticons to show nuances that are more complex than can easily be shown in text. People simply like having an excuse to argue and fight where it will have no bearing on their real lives. It's a form of entertainment for some, stress relief for others, and simple escapism for still more people.

      • Re:The Shark... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:12AM (#24118103)

        I see no reason why a "geek" should prefer a 3D interface. If anything, anyone but geeks would.

        The best thing about a (well made) 3D interface is that it's intuitive. Now, no real geek would really need that. If anyone, Joe Average needs it. Anyone here who really needs KDE? Or would you be doing just fine with CLI? See? You know the commands, the mnemoics, you could bring a NIC up with ifconfig, couldn't you? Joe Average can't. He needs the clickable interface.

        Hell, there's a good chance that it takes someone with knowledge longer to point and click rather than use the keyboard. There is a reason why pretty much every program has a way of accessing their command menues through ctrl- and alt- commands, and not only by point-and-click.

        So if anyone, it's non-geeks that will be the first to jump the fancy 3D interfaces when they become popular (and when someone figures out an input device that's affordable and useable).

    • Re:The Shark... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:55AM (#24116521)

      As far as I'm concerned they just did. When you install this, it installs a Windows *service* called Google Updater... set for automatic, running all the time, even when the "game" isn't running. I *DESPISE* that.

      This is #1 on my "hate" list for apps. Followed closely be "calling home without asking", "not asking what directory to install to", and "installing widgets in the system tray".

    • GogMMOG (Score:4, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:17AM (#24116961)
      If Google launches an MMO, I am *so* out of here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      People have such high standards for Google. Just calm down and be happy that Google is a place where smart people have the freedom to try creative things, and not everything has to be revolutionary.
    • Not really... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ebbomega (410207)

      Seems to me it's following their original corporate strategy: To make all things depicted in Snow Crash come to life.

      Well, they already made the CIC database (Google Search/Video/Books/etc.), Earth (they even took the name from it), now the Metaverse.

      Something tells me though that Google might be able to succeed in that realm where Second Life failed, just because they would seem more willing to integrate it with stuff like Android to get people to build their own apps for it.

  • Nuts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:44AM (#24115283) Homepage Journal

    Can people interact as themselves rather than cartoon characters? Are there that many people into dolls and make-believe or are there too many people who are too depressed just being themselves? Then they don't need avatars, they need help.

    • A little bit of it could be fun. I mean, it is kind-of like chatroom v. 2.0 or something along those lines. But when it gets to be where you spend more time living in an imaginary dreamworld, then it's time to seek help.
      • Re:Nuts (Score:5, Funny)

        by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:02AM (#24115571) Homepage

        "I mean, it is kind-of like chatroom v. 2.0 or something along those lines. But when it gets to be where you spend more time living in an imaginary dreamworld, then it's time to seek help."

        Yeah, I hear there's a chatroom just for that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sm62704 (957197)

        But when it gets to be where you spend more time living in an imaginary dreamworld, then it's time to seek help.

        After my marriage broke up I did seek help (adjustment disorder with depressed mood), for me and my then teenaged daughters who their mother had abandoned. I was on Paxil for a while. But going to bars and writing about it at K5 did me more good than the psychaitrist and the Paxil.

        If you see me writing fewer slashdot journals, you know my meatspace life is sucking a lot less.

    • Re:Nuts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MisterBlueSky (1213526) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:58AM (#24115499)

      Are there that many people into dolls and make-believe or are there too many people who are too depressed just being themselves?

      Yes, many people are into what you call "make-believe" and what other people call fantasy or fiction. It's inherent to human nature. Novels, movies, games and comics are all 'make-believe': creating a fantasy world. The next logical step is to make such a fantasy world shared between more people. This is what a 'game' like SL or Lively does.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)
        Yeah, whatever... Did you read this guy?

        Be who you want on the web pages you visit 7/08/2008 02:02:00 PM Posted by Niniane Wang, Engineering Manager

        Of course, you can chat with each other, and you can also interact through animated actions. In our user research, we've been amazed at how much more poignant it is to receive an animated hug than seeing the text "[[hug]]".

        I think the guys at Google need to stop eating at the office...
    • Re:Nuts (Score:5, Funny)

      by skoaldipper (752281) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .8rtslaoks.> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:07AM (#24115665)

      I think something is wrong with my lively account.

      The first time I logged in, some funny looking feller who looked like Colonel Sanders greeted me, "Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the google. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden to sedulously avoid it, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here."

      So, I punched him in the hoohaw with my Papa Smurf avatar and quickly logged off. Is thing still beta?

    • If we rephrase it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:08AM (#24115681) Homepage Journal
      we can easily say "apparently there are enough people who are sensitive enough to be able to empathize even through a virtual avatar in an online world".

      the way i see it, many of the people who label the online world as 'virtual' are rather emotionally challenged people. there is nothing 'virtual' in the online world. there is a person behind that avatar, just like you. s/he can make you laugh, make you angry, sad, engage in heated up philosophical conversation, or do stuff together. stuff done with other people in an online environment is no less valuable than stuff done in an offline environment. you can go get drunk in a local pub while talking or you can get drunk in front of the computer talking with same people the same stuff. there is no difference other than physical proximity.

      if you NEED physical proximity to be able to feel connected with people, then i'd say that thats a sign of 'emotionally challengedness' in the form of weak empathy capability.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)

        That's such a delusion. People you talk to online are not anything like what you think of them. You're not interacting with a person, you're interacting with your own imagination, seeded with a few select facts or fictions from someone else.

        If you really do feel connected to people you meet online, then you're actually not connected to anyone, and you're creating imaginary friends, like someone in a sensory deprivation chamber having lucid dreams.

        • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:17AM (#24116941) Homepage Journal

          That's such a delusion. People you talk to online are not anything like what you think of them. You're not interacting with a person, you're interacting with your own imagination, seeded with a few select facts or fictions from someone else.

          do you think the people you talk with in offline (real) life, are the way they are, the way they talk with you ? how many people you have met in your entire life, that were just as they seemed to be, after you got to know him ?

          in 'real' life you subject people to the test of time to know them better. only after some time, you can get to know someone. continuous exposure in a mutual environment eventually makes who they really are to come out.

          this rule doesnt change in the real world. if there is someone that believes someone whom s/he knows from online communities for just 1-2 months is the way s/he is, you can easily say that that person is naive.

          because same goes for online environments. its infallible. constant mutual online activity with a person eventually makes who they are to come out.

          If you really do feel connected to people you meet online, then you're actually not connected to anyone, and you're creating imaginary friends, like someone in a sensory deprivation chamber having lucid dreams.

          excuse me, but you already are in a deprivation chamber. everyone is. each conscious mind is a deprivation chamber, and the deprivation is only remedied by the extent of usage of sensory organs and interaction with the environment.

          by definition, you use the same organs while seeing a bloke and sending voice signals to him on a street corner, and while video chatting with someone on the internet. there is no difference in technical terms.

          each interaction produces impulses to your brain through your sensory organs, and invokes certain thoughts and emotions. and those thoughts and emotions are real. they do not differentiate between laughing to a joke told in a pub or a joke told online.

          again, time is the only defining factor for personality of any person. nothing else. a person you know from 'real' life is no different than any person you know from online, until they persist through the test of time. and time passes in equal pace both online and offline. sometimes even faster online, as there is more interaction in online world due to the ease of use.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by xappax (876447)
            Good point, people always try to misrepresent themselves. But in a real-life, face to face interaction, it's much more difficult. The rules of physical interactions make such deception more difficult, and make it more likely the person you're interacting with is actually somewhat the way they seem. So if you like to have "fantasy" interactions where you pretend you and the people you're around aren't who they actually are, then online interactions are ideal. But if you prefer authenticity, face-to-face
        • by Catiline (186878) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:44AM (#24118631) Homepage Journal

          You're not interacting with a person [online], you're interacting with your own imagination, seeded with a few select facts or fictions from someone else.

          In that case, since I am not in the habit of arguing with myself, I see no need to rebut the obvious fallacies of your argument — or perhaps you meant something else by "not interacting with a person, you're interacting with your own imagination"?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by merreborn (853723)

          That's such a delusion. People you talk to online are not anything like what you think of them. You're not interacting with a person, you're interacting with your own imagination, seeded with a few select facts or fictions from someone else.

          Apparently you, too, feel that there's some value in these interactions, or you wouldn't have bothered to post this reply.

          Honestly, I'm with you -- internet communications only show you a part of the people you communicate with, and it's good to be mindful of that. But

      • by Zardoz44 (687730) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:38AM (#24117413) Homepage
        If you really believe that, then maybe you're slightly autistic [wikipedia.org]. I think it was in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink where he talks about the inability of some autistic people to read any form of body language, whereas normal individuals process an amazing amount subconsciously. You either don't realize the amount of information you pick up talking to someone in person, or you don't pick it up at all. Communicating with just text is like visiting a bakery without sight or smell--you've lost the richness of the experience. Granted, virtual avatars only add another thin layer to the whole picture, but if you don't realize what you miss in face to face communication, then you would be the emotionally/mentally challenged one.
    • Re:Nuts (Score:4, Funny)

      by tgd (2822) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:26AM (#24116001)

      No, I'm really 6'4", ripped with an 18" cock and squirrel ears.

    • obXKCD (Score:4, Funny)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:27AM (#24116027) Homepage Journal

      Can people interact as themselves rather than cartoon characters? Are there that many people into dolls and make-believe or are there too many people who are too depressed just being themselves? Then they don't need avatars, they need help.

      And that XBox of yours isn't a real musical instrument, either. Stop having fun! [xkcd.com]

  • Nice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:46AM (#24115305)
    A competitor to second life, finally. Maybe this will expand awareness of SL and drive demand in virtual world development. I hope Google pushes this hard.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Turiko (1259966)
      SL will never be replaced, just like WOW is the best MMORPG and not changing. They're too big, too old, to developed to be exchanged with something new.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rho (6063)

      If you count all the people who logged in once and never again--and Linden Labs apparently does--Second Life has the population of a decent-sized country. I'd say it's got plenty of awareness.

      The main problem is that less than a few hundred thousand think it's worth their time to stay.

      • Re:Nice (Score:5, Interesting)

        by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:17AM (#24115835)
        I think that's mostly because there's nothing to do but gambling and sex - and they banned gambling. If more companies built stores in SL and sold real goods through it, if newspapers made virtual newsrooms where users could watch and read videos and articles, if other content owners made SL versions of their websites, there would be much much more to do. A chain reaction might start where a crowd attracts a crowd and so on. Maybe Lively will help drive that. I can hope, at least.
        • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:57AM (#24116553) Homepage

          If more companies built stores in SL and sold real goods through it,

          holy crap why? I can buy what I want from a good old 2D website faster than some half assed second life store that is impossible to navigate or get any real info about what I am buying.

          Last thing I want is to go to a "virtual" dell store and wander around, I want to find the server, click on the options and click on buy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by raddan (519638)
            The problem with dell.com is that the Lawnmower Man can't kill you while you shop.
        • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rsmith-mac (639075) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:58AM (#24116579)
          In all seriousness, why on Earth would I want to use the Second Life client to do what you recommend? We already have the World Wide Web and it works quite well for those things. "The same thing, but harder to use" isn't going to be much of a selling point.
      • by glueball (232492)

        The main problem is that less than a few hundred thousand think it's worth their time to stay.

        And even fewer yet who will pay money for something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angostura (703910)

      People keep saying this, but it nothing like Second Life, at least not yet. This is an avatar-based chat system. Yes, you can use Second Life for that purpose and many do. But the interesting parts of second life are the virtual economy, the ability to build and script complex objects, the ability to buy 'land'.

      It's rather like saying that an umbrella is the same as a jet-fighter because both can keep you dry when it rains. ..and if you don't like that metaphor - you're like a haddock in a hot air balloon

      • Re:Nice (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Wildclaw (15718) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:37AM (#24116195)

        the interesting parts of second life are the virtual economy, the ability to build and script complex objects, the ability to buy 'land'.

        The only interesting one of these is the scripting.

        The rest is just side effects of using centralized servers. I am not interested in any virtual 3d world that isn't decentralized, meaning that anyone can set up their own server with their own rules, with the ability to easily and seemlessly travel between servers. Something like a 3d version of the www.

        • by js_sebastian (946118) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:50AM (#24117695)

          I am not interested in any virtual 3d world that isn't decentralized, meaning that anyone can set up their own server with their own rules, with the ability to easily and seemlessly travel between servers. Something like a 3d version of the www.

          I second that 100%. A 3D-equivalent of the WWW would perhaps have many advantages (as usual, it is hard to imagine how we would really use it), but it needs to be as open as the WWW to be of any real use. So there needs to be an interoperable standard for avatars, and a standard protocol for your "browser" to interact with any 3d server. Why would I, as a company, invest in an online store inside second life, which is an environment over which I have 0 control, where some other company has the power to print money?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lordfly (590616)

          Look up OpenSim, a reverse-engineered version of the SL protocol. Runs a decentralized grid (well, allows for multiple, hetereogeneous server setups) and uses the SL client.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by merreborn (853723)

          Every time I see someone post this, it saddens me -- Communities.com (the folks that own the domain now are completely unrelated) aka Electric Communities built a secure, distributed virtual world (under the names ECHabitats/Microcosm), in the mid-to-late nineties. Most people didn't get it.

          It's obvious that, having seen Second Life, people are starting to understand -- "Hey, having things on centralized servers kind of sucks. I want to run my own 'sim', and be able to connect it to other peoples'"

          There a

    • Why? What are the benefits, if any at all?

  • Does it scale? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:46AM (#24115313) Homepage Journal
    The number one mistake of any new MMO service is the failure to be MMO. Does it scale? Will it work when even 1% of the US broadband users are trying it out? Will it work when every visitor has added a hundred ginormous phallic temples to every acre of land? Will it work when ten thousand of your closest "friends" attend your online bar-mitzvah?
  • I have never seen the use of this whole 3D-avatar-stuff. I can communicate just fine via phone, mail and chat. If I want more interaction, I rather pack my bags and visit my friends than "meeting" them in some virtual wonderland. But then again, maybe I'm old school.
    • Re:No use (Score:5, Funny)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:52AM (#24115379)
      I'll save you the trouble of asking and go ahead and get off your lawn.
    • Those darn kids with their high pants and their rap music... they don't appreciate anything!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nullav (1053766)

      I quite enjoy virtual worlds with a subject (MMORPGs, online shooters), if only for a while. However, things like Second Life are too open-ended for any real 'game' to take place. As for aiding in communication, virtual worlds don't even do that to any appreciable extent; it's all just text with a 3D avatar that doesn't do anything to convey tone any better than an emoticon would. About the only use of a 3D avatar is to show facial expressions, which no current MMO does.

      In short: :(

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:52AM (#24115377) Journal

    It even makes use of Facebook accounts [lively.com].

    And Vista/XP only, while still being browser based.

    Also, it's not really a Second Life competitor since you can't create stuff, part of what makes SL unique. It's more like just chat rooms.

  • by dk90406 (797452) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:54AM (#24115411)
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:55AM (#24115423)

    expect things to get better.

    Like running on multiple platforms? Having a userbase that isn't all newbs checking it out for a couple minutes? Having suggestions on what to _do_ with it that can benefit meatspace unlike other 3d worlds?

  • I like Second Life because users can create their own content.

    This looks like an online suburbia cartoon ... I mean even as a newb on SecondLife I looked way better than the avatars for this place.

  • Back to the future? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by duplicate-nickname (87112) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:59AM (#24115517) Homepage

    I distinctly remember applications like this back in the 1998/1999 timeframe where you could install a client-side app and interact through avatars with others visiting the same web site. It was only 2D and I don't think it was ever widely used. It was supposed to be an extension of the chat rooms that were so popular back then...

  • by hal9000(jr) (316943) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:00AM (#24115533)
    A bare island. [lively.com] Whoda thunk it?
  • Other than the fact that this is 3D, tons of companies tried almost the exact same thing in two dimensions back in the '90s when the whole "avatar" concept was still a major part of the mainstream media view of "the Web." (Right along with movies like "The Net" and "Hackers," when Internet things were hip to the newly computer literate).

    Of course, there is actually more to this story than that. Internet connections are more reliable, the "Web" is more usable, and the Internet has largely been demystified.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Orleron (835910)
      You forgot one major difference: Google is doing this.

      What does this have that SL or any other project from 1992 didn't? It has a company with billions in cash and an army of nerds with 10% of their free time to do whatever they want.

      Even as a side project, this probably has more resources than the company doing SL.

      • by spyrochaete (707033) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:36AM (#24116185) Homepage Journal

        It has a company with billions in cash and an army of nerds with 10% of their free time to do whatever they want.

        1, it's 80/20, as in 20% of their time is supposed to be used for free exploration.

        2, I've talked to some Googlers who say it's more like 100/20, as in you have a huge workload so if you want to stay after hours and do your 20% you can go right ahead, but only about 1% of engineers can be bothered to do so. Especially since Google owns your bright idea once you come up with it.

  • The irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raddan (519638) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:10AM (#24115689)
    is that, when I was a kid, this is exactly the kind of world I dreamt of building-- I'd say it was the #1 reason I sat in front of my computer as a kid, plowing through my ANSI C book and spending my paper route money on long distance bills so I could play on MUDs, instead of doing all of the other things that normal children did. Now that I've:
    1. had lots of contact with real humans, and found that to be very satisfying, and
    2. am actually capable of designing such an application,

    I don't give a shit anymore. I'm glad that somebody was interested enough to do this, and that other people find it interesting, but I will be staying away. My workplace, which fancies itself as hip and smart, will probably make this mandatory, like they have with Facebook, which will simply be another pointless drain on my otherwise interesting day. Bah humbug!

  • ELVES!!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by PontifexMaximus (181529) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:14AM (#24115771)

    I just took a look at the demo (And since I"m a Gentoo user, can't install the plugin) and why the hell does every female avatar in there look like a damn elf? I mean I don't know of any girl alive who has eyes like that. Do the guys at google masturbate to Bratz dolls or something? That's ridiculous.

  • by Mark Programmer (228585) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:06AM (#24118959) Homepage

    ... because right now they're terrible.

    I'm honestly surprised; Google's previous beta rollouts have, to my memory, been a lot more functional at first unveiling. This new system is seriously broken... I can't put more than one person in a room (no idea why, as others seem to have no trouble), it's slow, it's limited, and it has serious user interface design issues.

    Google will have to move fast if they want to compete in this space. There are, quite frankly, too many options for social interactive chat right now; the only thing Google has going for it in this market is name recognition.

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