I’ve been playing around with a beta account on Metaplace — a new 3D virtual world, something like Second Life.
If you’re looking for a place to start, Metaplace is by far simpler. No download required — it works in a regular browser.
It’s in beta, so it’s not fully stable yet. For example, when I use it, it crashes every time I right-click on anything. I’ve been trying to break myself of the habit, but it’s slow going.
Fortunately, the starting point is filled with helpful company employees.
The building and dressing tools are minimal but super easy to use, and remarkably flexible. In particular, I liked the fact that you can access Google’s almost-infinite library of three-dimensional objects to use in furnishing your house or land.
Oh, and I liked the free land.
(Here I am, waving hello from the front steps of my Metaplace virtual house.)
But at the end of the day, this seems more like a place for kids than a place to do business — unless your business is to sell things to kids.
However, there are a few things that can be learned from Metaplace, and which could usefully be incorporated into a future 3d browser.
- It runs in your existing Internet browser, in Firefox or Explorer. No additional downloads are required. This is very useful for getting people into a quick meeting.
- Your avatar starts out looking reasonably presentable. Too cutesy for my taste, but not a pale gray mannequin.
- The controls are intuitive to use.
I’ve heard that Vollee is coming out with a Second Life browser for the iPhone. Certainly, a browser for Firefox can’t be much more difficult!