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Web3D RoundUp: Looking Backwards and Forwards

Vol.34 No.2 May 2000
ACM SIGGRAPH


Active Worlds™



Mandee Tatum
Activeworlds.com, Inc.


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Figure 1: A futuristic virtual world where Internet users can customize their own highrise apartments.

Figure 2: Checkers is one of the interactive 3D games made possible by the Active Worlds SDK.

Active Worlds™ is a unique multi-user 3D virtual reality browser and chat software. The Active Worlds software platform is comprised of proprietary 3D server software, browser and content authoring tools. The Active Worlds server software can scale to provide upwards of 65,000 simultaneous users and unlimited virtual real estate. Active Worlds offers streaming 3D content and real-time authoring capabilities. Active Worlds natively supports .RWX, Caligari’s TrueSpace .COB and VRML 2.0 objects. Most other 3D formats are also easily converted into Active Worlds supported formats.

Active Worlds is a proprietary client with a traditional Windows GUI, which enables the end user to enter a 3D space and interact with a familiar interface. Active Worlds does not have the traditional control panel of many 3D browsers, thereby giving the user the natural sense of inhabiting their avatar body, and viewing the virtual world from the first person perspective. Movement in the 3D space can be done both with the mouse and the keyboard, and in both first and third person perspectives. (New users are also met by friendly volunteers upon arrival, eased into the virtual environment and schooled in how to use the software by experienced Active Worlds enthusiasts.) Active Worlds streams its objects off the web server where they are housed, and once downloaded the objects are stored in a cache system on the user’s hard drive for quick and easy access. All of the content in Active Worlds can be hyperlinked to the Internet including audio, video and image files. By simply clicking on an object, direct links to traditional 2D web pages can be viewed in an Active Worlds embedded Internet Explorer window, or in external Netscape web browser windows.

Activeworlds.com, Inc. operates several content-driven universes, including the Active Worlds Universe, which operates more than 1,000 virtual worlds; and the Active Worlds Educational Universe, which focuses on educational research and development in conjunction with over 100 international institutions. There are many other privately owned and operated Active Worlds universe systems operating on the Internet as well. With over 1,000,000 downloads of the Active Worlds browser, and over a million unique users in the main Active Worlds Universe, due in large part to its ease of use and versatility, Active Worlds appeals to a broad and diverse global audience.

Virtual worlds in the Active Worlds Universe include thematic content based upon films and television, like the Godzilla world developed in conjunction with Centropolis Studios for the official Godzilla website. In addition, users can purchase their own servers and develop virtual worlds based upon their own interests and imagination. Activeworlds.com, Inc. offers public building worlds where users can generate their own content for free, including AlphaWorld, and contains more than 50 million virtual objects that have been placed by our users. Activeworlds.com, Inc. also offers interactive games like Bingo, Checkers, Spades and Capture The Flag that exemplify the potential of the Active Worlds SDK.

While our technology’s enthusiasts and evangelists have presented Active Worlds in the past, this February’s Web3D RoundUP was Activeworlds.com, Inc.’s debut at the event - and we were thrilled to be a part of the Web3D RoundUP. The event offered us the opportunity to showcase our software in a setting that was both informal and high-spirited, and to get immediate feedback from our peers and 3D enthusiasts. Because the event’s format is quick paced, it forces the presenters to strip away all of the traditional marketing dogma associated with a product demonstration, and get down to the nuts and bolts of what the technology offers. It was a great opportunity to strut our stuff and to see what new and creative projects are in development throughout the field. It’s an event we certainly look forward to participating in again in the future.

More information about Active Worlds and the Active Worlds browser can be found on the website www.activeworlds.com.

Mandee Tatum
Activeworlds.com, Inc.
Tel: +1-978-499-0222



The copyright of articles and images printed remains with the author unless otherwise indicated.