Web3D RoundUp: Looking Backwards and Forwards

Vol.34 No.2 May 2000

Mystery House

Georg Mnich
Lunatic Interactive

Explore the fancy rooms in Lunatic’s Mystery House.

The task of the Mystery House project was to provide a game-like environment to navigate T-Online’s Fun&Action portal site. It was also our aim to demonstrate the competitiveness of Web3D technologies in comparison to other technologies such as Shockwave.

We decided to use blaxxun’s Contact VRML viewer because of its high-quality rendering capabilities and nice API programming extensions. The client’s configuration is checked for the viewer, and download instructions are given if necessary.

To avoid the well-known problems with free navigation for 3D-naive (and even 3D-experienced) users, we implemented our own navigation paradigm. The users get “teleported” to hot-spots in the 3D scene as they click on them. However they don’t simply “float” to their destination; instead they have the simulated experience of walking to them. Using a synchronized walking sound reinforces the experience. Moreover, by disabling free navigation it is not only possible to get complete control over the user’s position and orientation but also to dynamically change the field of view during animation. This makes camera effects like zooming in and out possible.

To compensate for the reduced degree of freedom in movement, we increased the degree of look-around freedom. Besides the usual turn to the left and to the right, it is also possible to look up and down, simply by moving the mouse to the appropriate direction in the 3D window. It turned out that being able to look up and down not only increases the 3D experience, but also simplifies orientation in complex environments.

The setting of the 3D scene is atmospheric and feature-rich. A warm yet mysterious theme-based mood was intended, in contrast to the well-known techy or indifferent settings that some Web3D scenes show. The unusual format of the 3D window on the one hand helps to emphasize the “special” setting, and on the other hand simply reduces the window’s size thereby increasing the 3D performance.

The wait-during-download problem was attacked by reducing file sizes as much as possible (less than 850KB altogether) and by implementing an incremental download algorithm. An estimation on the network bandwidth is done based upon the download duration of a first asset group. Dependent on this estimation, successive downloads are triggered at certain spots during scene navigation.

The website navigation functionality is provided through clickable objects placed throughout the scene. To be able to keep the links of the 3D scene in synch with the website, a simple web-based editor has been implemented. It enables the web master to associate textural, pictorial and URL information with certain objects in the 3D scene.

The work be accessed on-line at

Georg Mnich
Lunatic Interactive

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