Saturday, October 27, 2007
The Importance of Being Obvious
When giving demos, I'm often struck by how important it is for a good many people to see a full implementation of a graphically-rich Croquet environment. Apparently, it takes a built-out virtual space for many of them begin appreciating the potential of the underlying system. That's a shame, since the Croquet technology is not really about the content that you put into it. With the limited resources at our disposal, we've been focused on functionality rather than the eye candy.
Still, graphical elements such as richly textured models and other content within virtual worlds are important because they are the first things that people see - and connect with. Some popular 3D worlds such as Second Life are perhaps not as much about the capabilities of their enabling technology as they are about enabling access to content and social presence.
Like it or not, it is for the most part that graphical eye candy and elements of content that frame people's perception of the underlying technology. I consider such elements of any richly-rendered 3D world scene in Croquet to be merely content within a system having deep capabilities. Yet, the models and textures set the tone for the experience of discovering what Croquet is all about since they have the potential to provoke a deep emotional connection between the user and the simulation. When you think about it, the very best of the 2D web browser applications available today are of no value unless they are used as viewers of web content. In fact, regardless of how wonderful their inner workings, the best and worst of them would be of equally minor value to users.
To date, many of the models and textures made available in the Croquet SDK were borrowed from the Alice project, other content was thrown into the distribution with little consideration of quality - after all, our efforts have been centered around improving the underlying technology and not the content. However, now that we are building the first open applications with Croquet, you will be seeing a lot more and different content as examples in the distribution. I believe that once users can access spaces that other users have built, then the quality of content accessible via Croquet worlds will increase greatly through the dynamics of social software systems.
I'm hoping that readers of this blog would be interested in helping with this by making textured 3D content available to the Croquet project. Please email me if you are able and willing to create quality content and scenes that we could include as part of the next release of the Croquet SDK and future applications. Your participation in this exciting project would be most welcome.