Shockwave 3D Beta
April 6, 2001 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Shockwave 3D Beta - Yet another re-entry into the world of Web 3D, this one long-heralded. It definitely looks a lot nicer than the last one we discussed here, but details on authoring are sketchy. Though it's pretty, it still doesn't really answer the question - is there a need/demand for Web3D?
posted by kokogiak (18 comments total)
After I downloaded and played with Adobe Atmosphere, the last one discussed here, I was really disappointed. It was worse than some of the clunky 3D world builders I evaluated for a former employer back in 1996. What were they thinking? Is anyone else interested in this stuff other than the few of us who have been involved in VRML/web3D/whatever over the years? Judging by the demos Shockwave is showing, this is much smoother/prettier than earlier efforts, but I still wonder if its user base will ever grow beyond a small niche.
posted by kokogiak at 2:57 PM on April 6, 2001

is there a need/demand for Web3D?

This question has been asked for the last 6 or 7 years, and it's answered by users and the marketplace every few months when something like this comes out.

The answer is almost completely no.

Someday, somehow, there might be a use for 3D on the web, but until there's a reason, people won't go for prettiness for the sake of prettiness.

Whatever happened to Microsoft's Chrome? Wasn't that their 3D web play from a couple years back?
posted by mathowie at 3:08 PM on April 6, 2001

This demo brought my Athlon 700 to its knees - the only time anything has really killed this system.

Impressive beta!

Is 3D necessary? No. I don't think that emulating reality is really what the web can/should be doing - I remember seeing all sorts of VRML demos that would emulate a real library, a shopping mall, etc. It just felt silly to me.
posted by hijinx at 3:12 PM on April 6, 2001

Oh dear God, don't even talk to me about Chrome.

That beast nearly ate me alive, when I was at MSNBC, there was a huge push from Intel and MSFT for us (me as developer) to create some form of 3D interface for They even came up with some demos and suggestions and left us a loaner 600 mHz machine (which wasn't publicly available at the time). I did some work, but eventually threw up my hands - the frame rate was 2-5 fps for even a small animation on the 600mHz machine. Chrome was: (early-stage-xml / parsed-by-browser / handed-to-os / passed-to-DirectX / passed-back-to-ActiveX-Control / rendered-on-top-of-browser). It died a deserved death and I have a nice collection of coasters at home now that look a lot like old CD-Roms that saw "CHROME BETA" all over them.
posted by kokogiak at 3:17 PM on April 6, 2001

BTW, the reason Intel was so excited to get this out, as you may have concluded, was to push existing machines to their limit, accelerating the perceived need for an upgraded PC. If Web 3D ever does take off, it's nothing but good news for chipmakers.
posted by kokogiak at 3:19 PM on April 6, 2001

This should be good news for AMD, since their CPUs consistently outpace Intel CPUs at equal (or even greater, in some cases) clockspeeds.
posted by waxpancake at 3:34 PM on April 6, 2001

Doesn't appear to work on my Mac with Netscape 4.7, keeps telling me I do not have the proper plugin even though I just installed it. Am I going to lose sleep? Nope.
posted by spunkster at 3:46 PM on April 6, 2001

There are quite a few things you can do with 3D, but most people approach it with high demands that result in poor framerates.

I've been doing Virtual Reality stuff for about 6 years now. I first used the now discontinued Superscape VRT. One of the things I've learned is how to get the most of out the least amount of polygons, textures, etc. I've moved on to VRML, Java3D, and X3D.

The basic problem is that most people can't think of reasons to use 3D when given the question. This is only fueled by 3D modeling programs and world builders that are hard to use. If you know how to use the tools, ideas will come.

A lot of the web3D companies are now geared toward commercial uses. It's typically single object oriented for product demos. All pretty useless to most casual users. I feel that if you make it easy for people to build interactive 3D worlds, people will find uses for the technology. Just as people found uses for HTML, etc.

My long term goal is to create an easy to use 3d modeling/world building program. It's something that has been swimming 'round my head for sometime. I'm in a position where it might happen. I'm just playing the old VC waiting game in a bad market. I am with a group that is highly talented and very much in favor of standards, etc. The old school geek idealism isn't dead yet. It's just waiting for the right time.
posted by john at 3:58 PM on April 6, 2001


I have a purple felt box with a pair of those ball chimes for exercising your fingers. The label on the top "Microsoft Chromeffects for Windows 98." One of the many cool free thingies from Siggraph.
posted by john at 4:01 PM on April 6, 2001

We need 3D for massively multiplayer gaming worlds. Also a small group of people need it for data visualization. Some designers would like to have it because 3D can look neat.

Is that enough people to justify shockwave making a 3D client? Sure. Will it change the web as a whole? Doubtful. But I'm sure enough people will do some interesting toys and games with this plugin to justify its existence. Macromedia is spinning this more towards the gaming space and less of the crack addled "Walk through a 3D mall and examine the products" nonsense.

Games are fun.
posted by captaincursor at 4:50 PM on April 6, 2001

I for one can't wait until I have to maneuver my clunky avatar down a long corridor littered with web-savvy corpses just to post my smart-ass comments here. You're all so dead.
posted by frenetic at 5:22 PM on April 6, 2001

It's pretty simple, isn't it?

What is Flash used for? Okay, now 3D it.

I know I'm excited.
posted by whatnotever at 5:25 PM on April 6, 2001

Go install the plugin and look at some of those horrible demos. That excitement will fade really quickly. The only one that was the least bit attractive, Lode Runner doesn't have ANY interactivity...

Most of the '3D' that's being done in these demos looks doable in Flash.
posted by Neb at 6:12 PM on April 6, 2001

3D worlds can't survive on top of the thick massess of code known as web browsers. Doing 3D on a virtual machine on top of a virtual machine on top of another and another is not going to be usable, no matter how tight your 3D algorithms are. This product is what's known as "hype".

And, I'm sure we're all just waiting restlessly to be able to do a 3D tour of our own house, like they always say we'll be doing. Aren't there any other selling points for this kind of technology?

Finally, Shockwave is stupid. There, I said it.
posted by Succa at 6:31 PM on April 6, 2001

captaincursor: "We need 3D for massively multiplayer gaming worlds. Also a small group of people need it for data
visualization. Some designers would like to have it
because 3D can look neat. "


Games are fun.

I agree 100% with this, but don't we already see this happening, in dedicated clients for things like EverCrack? I'm not smart enough about gaming, but it seems to me for massively multiplayer gaming, it's so immersive, why do I want a web browser getting in the way of my immersion?

For the more trivial online games, flash, shockwave, and even (ugh!) java seem to work fine for multiplayer games. The killer in online games to me is the gameplay, not the 3D. One need only look at something like Slingo to see that ugly, unsexy games which are multiplayer can work merely because they have some mysterious "fun" in them, and 3D really doesn's add much to the equation.

I done rambling incoherently.
posted by artlung at 11:39 PM on April 6, 2001

And for Succa:
TV sucks. PowerPuff Girls rocks.

It's not the tech, it's the implementation.
posted by artlung at 11:42 PM on April 6, 2001

Too many people are thinking in terms of the web and 3d. You've got to step outside that model. Sure, these things are using the web, but only as a stepping stone.

Look at Everquest, as mentioned before. It's a 3d community disguised as a game. The players spend hundreds of hours socializing and questing for things that will make their avatar look unique.

Will 3d socializing be big? Yes, it already is. Will it be via the web? No, but it will be via the net. In the interim, the web makes a good vehicle for moving the masses toward it.
posted by gdavis at 11:39 AM on April 7, 2001

It worked fine on my Athlon 1GHz system.. Now if someone ports quake to it, it would be interesting to see it in action.. (I bet it would bring my system to a screaming halt!)
posted by ellis at 2:54 AM on April 9, 2001

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