Virtual World Platforms

Blue Mars Virtual World Gets Flashy

Blue Mars one-upped other virtual world platforms today with the introduction of embeddable Flash-based content in the environment. Similar to more corporate virtual environments such as Protosphere or Croquet which allow interactive, embedded content, Blue Mars now allows its worlds (and world creators) to include embedded Flash-based content. The announcement comes on the heels of an intriguing cross-world brand move: the opening of Caledon in Blue Mars, which brings a popular Second Life steampunk-themed community to the Blue Mars platform.

According to Kazuyuki (“Kaz”) Hashimoto, president of Avatar Reality, “The Blue Mars system for Flash is super easy to use. You can create a Flash panel in a few seconds. Just drop the Flash panel where you want it, paste the URL into the form, and hit the Enter key.”

The announcement is touted as a world’s first:

“Avatar Reality Inc., creators of the platform for virtual worlds, Blue Mars, announced the world’s first system for rendering fully interactive Adobe Flash 10™ content in a high-definition massively multiplayer 3D environment. Developers can now create immersive 3D worlds in which thousands of users can experience and interact with Flash™ content simultaneously in any given world.”

This opens up a wide and rich set of possibilities for activities in the virtual space, including both viewing of content in Flash format (youTube, Hulu, etc.) and INTERACTIVE content such as embedded Flash games.

Interactive Native Flash 10 in Blue Mars from Blue Mars on Vimeo.

While other virtual world platforms have similar embeddable functionality such as clickable Web pages or interactive Word documents, Flash is a rich media platform and its inclusion in Blue Mars sets a new bench mark.

In other news, the successful Second Life community of Caledon has opened an outpost on Blue Mars. This steampunk community represents a large continent in Second Life, and their opening of a world on Blue Mars is both interesting in that it is a huge vote of confidence in the platform by one of the larger operations in SL – but will also be a fascinating experiment in whether brands can exist and be managed in more places than one. If so, it may represent a significant new insight into how brands can create cross-platform experiences for consumers.

Blue Mars is a multi-world mutli-player platform where the environments are developed by approved content creators. Unlike Second Life or OpenSim, the content is downloaded ahead of users accessing the individual worlds. This allows far more users to share a space at the same time, but it does not allow ‘real-time’ building within the space, which is not necessarily a disadvantage for companies that want to create controlled experiences for users. What it misses in being a user-generated world it gains in the quality of the visual experience and the ability to host larger numbers of participants.

This week’s announcements, while not proving that Blue Mars will get traction in new account sign-ups, certainly set it on the right path as it heads into 2010.

(Jim Sink of Blue Mars was recently interviewed on Metanomics. Watch the full interview here. Or read an earlier review of Blue Mars).


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