There is a new kid in the town of the virtual environments: Cloud Party. I visited the place regularly since Wagner James Au posted about it a few weeks ago on New World Notes. He explains:
Cloud Party is a new 3D virtual world on Facebook now in open Beta that’s described as “a world built by people like you”. It just apparently went online, so I’ve only explored a few minutes, but as you can see above, it’s got the look and feel of Second Life circa 2003. That’s no surprise, because Second Life co-founder Cory Ondrejka (who’s now with Facebook), and Cryptic Studio’s ex-CTO Bruce Rogers, who founded a startup called Walletin with Cory before also joining Facebook with Ondrejka, are investors and advisors to Cloud Party.
There’s a wiki with tutorials for residents and builders. People are building pretty awesome stuff:
I enter the new environment on a daily basis as it fascinates me. I can do this in our newsroom, the firewall does not prevent me from entering Cloud Party, it is effortless as it’s just using an url. There seem to be always some people at the Beginner Zone, where avid builders experiment continuously. It’s exciting to watch, as it looks like the beginning of a kind of new Second Life. I visited the forums, one of them is called “What lessons from other virtual worlds do you want Cloud Party Inc. to know about?”
I did have some lessons in mind, but I refrained from posting them there as they are not really very constructive. However, I did react on a post by Wagner James Au on the New World Notes, about SL artists like Aristide Depres creating interactive experiences in Cloud Party. This was my reaction:
It’s fascinating and yes, the fact that it could eventually interest some Facebook-users is great, as is the fact that no downloads are needed.
However, I guess I’m still a bit traumatized by the Blue Mars experience, the Lively-failure and the Metaplace shut-down.
As it happens, many of the users of Blue Mars and Metaplace were already part of the unfortunately smallish group of people who are interested in open-ended, user-generated virtual environments.
Often they belonged to the even smaller group of ‘builders’ in those environments.
However, at the end someone asks tough questions about ROI and things like that, and projects which only gain traction among some hundreds of participants are not very likely to be interesting business-wise.
So, visiting Cloud Party and counting there about twenty to thirty people, I have my doubts, even though the project is still very young. Of course, I do hope I’m wrong and that the project will succeed.
So my first reaction was rather hesitant, but I’ve to confess I’m going more often to Cloud Party these days than to other virtual worlds such as Second Life. I had some interesting in-world discussions (which continued via Facebook), helping me to reflect about my stance regarding virtual worlds.
I’m still fascinated by this stuff, but no longer convinced it’s the cutting edge of the web or the internet, and not convinced at all it’ll gain much traction – which explains why my blogging about virtual worlds has slowed down considerably.
What really interests me is how virtual stuff can find its way to the physical world (via 3D printing or augmented reality-style mobile apps for instance). These days it’s all about local, mobile and social. While these open-ended environments are very social (but not necessarily involving the people you do know already in the physical world), as yet they are neither local nor mobile.
There is somehow a link between Cloud Party and the physical world because participants are linked through Facebook and their ‘real identities’, but what lacks is a reason for non-building and non-scripting people (let’s say the overwhelming majority of mankind and the people on Facebook) to give it a try. I guess that the people launching these worlds are software wizards, and they tend to sympathize with other coding and building enthusiasts, which is all right of course – as long as they don’t forget most people don’t consider building or coding as party-time. I remember statistics about Second Life, showing that a majority of residents are socializers rather than builders, and Cloud Party urgently needs something to attract those socializers – by organizing events maybe (no, I did not mean a workshop about Blender, Maya or 3Ds Max), or by promoting some simple but cleverly designed game. Maybe, at the very least, they should introduce some more gamification elements to incite people to learn how to build and script.
Like you I have spent a lot of time reviewing virtual worlds and they all come with various levels of friction that slow down adoption. A downloadable client, firewall rules, complex interface, sign up etc. These have all been illiminated in cloud party so anyone who is a member of face book (or even annon) can just click on a link and jump in world.
The ability to co-create in world with an object model that can operate similar to prims or as complex as mesh with rudimentary physics and scripting capabilities make this a great contender for the next big world. I am sure all the wonderful object properties, market places etc will evolve quickly as they start to gain traction.
The business model “buy an island” is taken directly from SL but hopefully they scale a little better and operate in a errr cloud and not 4 islands to a server with thousands of islands sitting idle while the 20 islands with people are overloaded.
I have high hopes for cloud party and if they a smart and we can imbed our island in any website and login with any common ID (Facebook twitter etc) and start to work on tablets (Kind of works on a hacked ipad already) then this could be a great start for the 3D internet.
I’m in – See you cloud party.
thank you for your reaction, I appreciate your enthusiasm 🙂
Thank you for posting this. It will be most interesting and instructive to see whether Cloud Party will attract enough content in very short time to make avatar-based interaction in the 3D environment (text-based, at this point …) more attractive for end users than Google+ Hangouts and Facebook chats on one hand, and meeting and exploring in Second Life, OpenSim etc. on the other. Comparing it to SL, Blue Mars and Metaplace, I am very impressed to see what Cloud Party â€“ in its early beta â€“ is already making possible with WebGL; this is the way to go. Its access to Facebook’s functionality and communities might trigger a mass market; at the very least, it will accelerate world wide innovation in the field of digital 3D.
Indeed it is all in Beta! And you see the content growing and indeed searching for socialization..animation is created and music on object for the time being.
I adore Cloudparty as it is accesible for the big masses and as you saw..it is not what goes inside stays inside as SL but you can connect easier with the world outside.
Cloudparty has my focus and planning a complete interactive focus for MetaMeets around it and hopefully we can give you your answer concerning 3d printing. Just layed foundation with a huge 3d printing company…
but true it is not the same as SL and others and the question is do we want that? I prefer more to be easier in acces and let people explore what 3d platforms are about to continue to the next …just as Kitely ..but will be staying for a while in this portal 😉