Monday, October 11, 2004

What is Croquet?

Croquet ( is an environment for multi-user peer-to-peer collaboration and communication realized through compelling 3D visualization and simulations.

Here at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, we seek to develop an open architecture for delivering an advanced toolset for simulation and online community-based teaching and learning opportunities. We are collaborating with researchers at the University of Minnesota and many other educational and corporate institutions to design, produce, and disseminate an open source implementation of the Croquet infrastructure, a reference implementation of a highly modular client application, and standards-based API specifications to define cross-institutional sharing of user and object data and to support secure communication. This architecture is being developed to integrate with existing CMS technologies by offering a scalable, persistent, and extensible interface to network-delivered educational resources and tools for knowledge management and social presence. Through Croquet, educators and instructional designers will be able to use the client reference implementation’s authentication and interaction APIs to create feature-rich, client applications. Educational researchers will benefit from the assessment capabilities afforded by the Croquet architecture’s broad extensibility.

1 comment:

Julian Lombardi said...

Being as close as I am to this multifaceted and complex project, I often find it difficult to distill the project down to what many are fond of calling the "core value proposition". My 'elevator pitch' is usually stuck on another floor. Sometimes the best descriptions come from those who have a bit of distance from the project. I particularly like Jeff Ervin's description of Croquet that recently appeared on the Serious Games Listserver. My valued colleague Preston Austin is quick to point out that Jeff's description is practical and pragmatic, but with an eye towards Croquet's potential:

"Croquet is a 3D collaboration environment. It is intended to allow large numbers of remote users to interact in a 3D environment where each user can see the other users and the objects they are manipulating. Users can create there own 3D environment populated with objects of their choice and control access of others to the environment.

Is it an OS? Yes, but its significantly different from any OS you're familiar with. It currently runs on top of Windows, Mac, and Linux but is intended to eventually run on its own hardware as well. Is it a game engine? No, but being a 3D environment it has many of the elements of a game engine built in. Is it a platform for massive multiplayer online games? That would be one obvious use of the technology.

In my opinion the real significance of this project is that if it, or something like it, succeeds it will enable people from around the world to work together on projects and learn together in interactive environments. Just as the Internet makes open source project and outsourcing of digital tasks to foreign companies practical, I thin this technology will eventually allow many types of design research, training and learning to be done using global resources. Imagine the Internet as a network of inter-linked 3D environment containing interactive games, simulations, visualizations and al sorts of interacting objects encapsulating function, time and place.…I think Croquet has significant potential for the future and folks interested in serious games ought to know about it." -Jeff Ervin