Wednesday 5 September 2012

3Di Launch Cloud Based Unity for Web Pages

3Di, the Tokyo based company that has been developing solutions to place virtual world's spaces on web pages has launched a paid cloud service that promises to make it easy even for none-programmers to set it up for commercial or private use.

Presently, anyone can get an html code snippet and paste it to a web page that gives immediate access to 3Di's own world known as Teddy town but now customers can download the 3Di web kit (30 day trial valid until September 30th 2012) and make ready their own 3D rooms for the web. Charges announced in the last few days are a personal use version at 1year advance payment of 9,800 yen (about 817 yen/month) and a professional commercial version at 3 months advance payment of 29,800 yen (approximately 9,934 yen/month).

See an example of the working application on the Resources link of this blog.

Click here

Previously the company had worked on version that used Opensim for back end but the results proved unsatisfactory and they switched to using Unity 3D. Unlike Opensim or Second Life the Unity server doesn't offer in-world tools for creating content and requires templates and avatar files developed in 3D modeling software that supports export of FBX or COLLADA files. Unity is a Mesh based world but 3Di has gone to great pains to make it as easy as possible to use. None the less, while they handle the server end in cloud technology there is still a steep learning curve to develop the Mesh models so customizing one's own world is not as easy as getting the world online.

However, according to 3Di they will be providing some basic templates and avatars to get a world up and running quickly. The api kit is aimed at content creators and has been developed as an extension module on top of the multi-platform 3D game development environment Unity. It supports smartphone platforms such as Android and iPhone. The development kit focuses on ease of use through simple drag-and-drop of sample scripts. With some programming experience you can do much more.

For some time now virtual world's owners have expressed a desire to have a browser based window into their world to make it easy for casual visitors to look round without commitment or a heavy download. Having a 1st Look option is thought might encourage people from the web to eventually download a viewer in order to do more. Ideally thought, the Opensim owners wanted a portal to an Opensim world directly and a solution for that was developed some years ago by In Duality which still requires a download and launches a viewer in a web page. This solution was placed in the open source community after In Duality failed to find a market for it at the time but it is not considered ideal anyway even though it dose still enable in-world building tools. However, the In Duality version has now been re-developed by SpotON3D who have taken a patent on their code so no one can use it without a licence from them.

Another company, Tipodean, worked on a browser based Unity solution to view Opensim in a web page some time ago but gave up on it after running into problems similar to the problems 3Di had. Tipodean offers a service now to do conversions of Opensim regions. They can create templates for Unity if you can't do it yourself. A lot still has to be done to get your own unique world up and running using Unity but 3Di have at least taken some of the work out of it with the web Kit.

Another web portal that requires no plugin, Cloud Party is the latest solution that is gaining considerable interest from Second Life residents. The  application is also browser based and uses webGL which presently only works in Chrome and Firefox.  However the Cloud Party developers are updating and launching new features very quickly with an eye on capturing as much of the browser based and smart phone market as they can before more solutions become available. They have now launched their own market place and they have token coinage.