Clouds from both sides now…

Okay, I was about to go to sleep, ’cause of I am really sleepy, but then I noticed something on Twitters, that led me to something on NWN. that reminded me of something else on NWN, that led me to try something, that… and now…

So anyway!

I have in the past expressed great skepticism about the usefulness in virtual worlds of server-side rendering (sometimes called “cloud rendering” or even just “cloud”, although the latter is poor word usage since there are so many other potentially cloud-related things) any time in the non-distant future.

I am still quite skeptical that it’s going to Change the World any time soon, but in fairness I have to report two Interesting Developments that might actually Prove Me Wrong.

(Gasp!)

First off, there is now what seems to be some non-faked demos of Blue Mars running via server-side rendering, between California and Hawai’i. If it’s actually usable, and it appears to be, that’s a really interesting technical datapoint! Apparently the general user population can’t actually use it yet, but it exists, and maybe someday soon random people will be able to.

And second off, there is now a beta-level in-browser server-rendered client for Second Life that random people can use, and that I’ve used, and that actually works! zomg, eh?

SL Beta In-Browser Viewer!

That’s me using it. It seems to work! A maybe one-minute automatic within-browser install, and then bang you’re in a subset of SL, on a “guest” account that’s apparently good for one hour. Or something. So in that picture I am not Dale Innis, I am 1234567 Guest or something. But I’m inworld!

Some notes:

You can choose one of a couple dozen pre-made AVs, both male and female (none of this lame “choose your gender once and for all” crap from other VWs, yay!).

I seem to have somehow ended up with a random mixture of two after playing with the buttons a bit. Mostly “City Female”, but with the long pink hair and a few other features of “Cosplay Female”. Nice. :)

It’s laggy. Not horribly laggy, but still laggy. Since it’s server-rendered, every keystroke has to go up to the server, get interpreted into AV motions or whatever, which then change the picture, which gets compressed and streamed back down to your eyes as through it were a movie. Which takes awhile, but it was definitely usable. (Zoom and pan and other camera movement was quite instantaneous; presumably that doesn’t have to go up to the server, or at least not much.)

The place where they start you out by default is some crowded and generally lame club. If that had been the first place I saw in SL, I probably wouldn’t have come back. Reminded me of my first experiences in vSide or IMVU. Why SL would want to start people out there, I dunno. Some theory about their Target Audience, I suppose.:P

But there are lots of other destinations, which aren’t nearly as lame. I was happy to see Inspire Space Park there. Next time I try this, when I am actually conscious, maybe I will go there. (In the picture, I am sitting in a placid spot in France 3D.)

It’s a subset of SL, function-wise. No inventory, no building, no map, didn’t see any general TP. You can walk, fly, chat, IM, and zoom and pan the camera, and change to a different premade AV; and as far as I can tell that’s it. Which makes SL seem alot like the comparatively uninteresting competitors that aren’t doing nearly as well as it is. But as long as people are eventually drawn deeper in…

Anyway, fascinatin’! I must sleep now and stop pretending that I am conscious enough to be posting to the innertubes. But I thought I should make y’all aware of these Inneresting Developments! I am still wondering about the Business Model (i.e. they are maybe neat demos, but is it sustainable for Blue Mars and LL to basically pay for function equivalent to a high-end graphics card for every user?), but that is after all not really my field. We will see!

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