adobe has a new product
March 26, 2001 12:38 PM   Subscribe

adobe has a new product it looks like they're trying to do a 3d environment cause you have to download a browser, too. (or a browser extension). anyway, it's a free beta download.
posted by bliss322 (10 comments total)
It's like 1997 all over again. Siiigh. ;-)

Any MFites download the thing? I'm on a mac, so I can't play....
posted by fraying at 2:25 PM on March 26, 2001

I downloaded the viewer and poked around some of their samples. I think it looks kinda fun. The graphics are kinda clunky, like pre-Myst, but it's impressive otherwise. I may download the builder software and have a look just for the fun of it.
posted by dnash at 2:29 PM on March 26, 2001

I can't tell what the output format is. Anyone know? Is it whatever they're calling MetaStream these days?
posted by rodii at 3:57 PM on March 26, 2001

Didn't VRML die a natural death already? Or WRML? Or whatever. Shame on you, Adobe. What's next, going to bundle a VR headset with it?
posted by robbie01 at 4:25 PM on March 26, 2001

Well, VRML died, but that didn't stop everybody from stomping on its still-warm corpse and declaring that they knew why it died. Various iterations of "plugins won't work" (disproved largely by Flash), or "navigating it is too hard" (depends on the client, 3D navigation can be easy or hard), or my favorite: "the files were too big" - which is only true if you had an author who didn't know how to optimize the files.

The most rational explanation I could figure (from years of going through this) was that A) plugins suck Plus B) VRML Clients were very slow to render (slow machines, interpreted text file format, bloated poorly created worlds, etc.) Plus C) Lack of any real compelling need/desire for Web3D.

The need/desire for Web3D isn't seem any larger now than it was 3 years ago, when VRML literally kicked the bucket, and just because some of the issues have been addressed (faster rendering, smaller proprietary file sizes), doesn't mean anything's going to take off any time soon. I downloaded it, the plugin is a Pig of a file, some 15 megs or so. The worlds were speedy, but nothing revolutionary (or interesting), then it crashed my Browser (it's a Beta).

I'm on a mailing list about 3D interactive storytelling, and the traffic is low. Just once, it would be great to have an experience as immersive as Quake or Half-Life that did not involve shooting or casting spells or shopping - just immersion as escapism - a world as lovely or scary as you want, without any particular point or objective.
posted by kokogiak at 4:44 PM on March 26, 2001

It think Metacreations was playing with something like this before they became Viewpoint. They wanted to have streaming 3d graphics on the web, and called it MetaStream.
posted by Cavatica at 5:08 PM on March 26, 2001

Aha - this may be part of that effort Cavatica - since I had to agree to a EULA from ViewPoint as part of the install for this plugin.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several concurrent efforts to revive Web3D, all with their own niche and solutions: Pulse (plugin, tied to 3DSMax) , Shout3d (Java Applet, proprietary), MetaCreations/Viewpoint, and old Cult3D. None seems to be enjoying major success, but they make fun little toys come to life, you know.
posted by kokogiak at 5:41 PM on March 26, 2001

I think this would be cool for product tours. I help with the techie end of web stuff for a company that builds boats, and has been dying to find a way to give tours in something better than QTVR.

I wonder if it will take dimensions/exports of some sort from AutoCAD?
posted by SpecialK at 6:43 PM on March 26, 2001

In 1996 I worked for a company that manufactured a fast 3D engine that used VRML as the file format. We figured that nobody would download a 3D world to look at a crummy model that rendered at 5 frames per second, when they could play Quake at 30+ fps and get much of the same functionality. So we had an engine that was optimized for speed and had some really clever code for lighting and so on.

The problems we found were that VRML had some nodes that really only made sense if you had an SGI box on hand and lacked some functionality to have decent optimizations like lighting maps and BSP trees, which can take a significant amount to time to compute, but are static for static geometry. On top of that, static models are no fun without decent interaction, and while VRML provides a number of built-in mechanisms to build limited interactivity, to do anything interesting requires some level of scripting. Unfortunately the scripting APIs weren't well thought out and were painful to implement and painful to use. Plus, the models are pretty much geometry, and while you can animate them, there was no mechanism to define physical qualities (impenetrability, gravity, coefficient of friction), vehicle/avatar characteristics, and multiple person interaction--at least not without a lot of scripting, but did I mention how bad the scripting was for doing something like this?

I'll probably look at this tomorrow, but if it's just eye candy, which it appears to be, it's not very compelling.
posted by plinth at 6:46 PM on March 26, 2001

Here's some more competition...
posted by toddshot at 9:40 PM on March 26, 2001

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