Monday, 14 July 2008

Wonderland spillage

Some initial ideas about Wonderland after spending half an hour messing about with Open Habitat's MPK20-based test area:

It ain't Second Life. This is both bad and good.

The shared applications are great. Walk up to a whiteboard and shift-click on it and you can just draw straight onto it. No external applications needed like in SL.

The avatars just look disturbing, and editing them is clunky and pretty pointless really. What would be better would be to allow users to upload a mugshot of themselves and apply it to a box.

The bots are even more disturbing. They create a sense of confusion (your not sure if they have real people connected to them at the other end or not). Hearing a voice coming from them makes you want to find out how to walk away faster (Press shift to double walk speed).

The performance is terrible, until you adjust the clipping settings to something sensible.

As MPK20 is geared up for 'you being you', using your own voice and using 2D applications in a 3D world, the first person (mouselook) camera view makes more sense. Being able to see your avatar forces you to see them as an external character, and you can't help going down the road of wanting to dress them and love them etc. Second Life is a million times better for this role play, and it's looking like it will take a long time before wonderland's avatar rendering will catch up with SL's sophistication. I'd quite confidently say that it never will, so why not ditch the 3D avatar side of things now? A good photo of someone's face when you're on the phone to them helps. Seeing a creepy generic doll does not.

The range of possibilities for what you can do using Wonderland/MPK20 are far more limited than SL, for sure, but the few things that you can do - if tweaked and focussed - will have much wider appeal for business and education. This is something that I could imagine would benefit a large number of my Graphics students. Second Life is one type of media out of many. Wonderland could be a tool that could help students whatever type of media they work with.

I'm imagining something quite abstract. Minimise the lag inducing things. Trim the clipping right down. Fill the place with loads of browsers and whiteboards and make it into an ideas studio. Write some specifically adapted web based application, and link to Graham's e-portfolio tool. e-Studio?

With the services of a decent Java developer, we could make something really good out of Wonderland.

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