Unifier Web-based 3D platform goes live on Friday

Second Places announces the name of their long anticipated virtual world platform — Unifier. A new web based platform presents opportunities to developers, a more immersive experience to users and a simple easy to manage interface for those who wish to control their own virtual world.

Unifier takes virtual world to the web

There are currently six private worlds nearing completion, but on Friday the 15th of July the public can enter the first public world at unifier.secondplaces.net. These beta pioneers will have access to over 10 different locations all built using 3ds Studio Max, running on the Unity engine, as well as seeing new locations being added as they become available.

Unifier 3D environment. (Image courtesy Second Places.)

Each location is comprehensive and very quick to download; Unifier has built in code allowing you even quicker to access the second time. Users will have the choice of six avatars to start with.

Mark Duffy

Users can communicate using location based voice, or have private voice chats with their friends or even in groups. The text chat is multi-lingual including Semitic languages such as Arabic, Tigrinya and Hebrew.

“The ability to communicate in Arabic was the main driving force for Second Places, 206 million speakers were excluded from most virtual worlds on the market,” said Mark Duffy, managing director of Second Places. “We set our target to develop a web based platform and one of the core requirements was that all the people of this world would be included in text communication.”

For developers

“Using technologies such as Unity, SmartFox, inhouse knowledge of Virtual Worlds and Web software and combining them all together enabled us to allow even those who are not modellers or web gurus’ simple and easy to use management tools, straightforward integration to a multiple user world and effortless customisations,” he added. “Unifier even integrates in to your own web site and can even use your own user management database.”

Beta participation

To immerse yourself in the Unifier public beta test go to the web site and register through Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo so you don’t even have to remember a new password. Places may be limited. Members of the press or virtual world bloggers can apply for registration before the 15th of July by emailing [email protected].

Beta pioneers will have the ability to walk around an Arabic town, an Aberdeen street, wonder around a massive tropical island (built by Unity) or just hang out in the Unifier conference center with their friends.

Feature list and future roadmap to launch

Feature list available here. Follow Unifier developments and the build up to public beta launch at twitter.com/SP_Unifier. View tutorial and demonstration videos here.

Pricing for Developers will be released soon.

About Second Places

Second Places was founded in May 2009, with an aim to develop virtual worlds as the new Web 3D.

Based in Alderley Edge near Manchester, Second Places employs an incredible team of developers, modellers and web experts to create revolutionary new packages, platforms and locations. Clients have included BP, Domino’s Pizza, EMAP, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic plus many more.

Press Release

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  • very cool but there is no 3D Studio Max anymore (it's been renamed, same diff though)

    this is very intriguing and i will follow it, neat departure from anything else

  • it reminds me a lot of Jibe and the other Web-based 3D platforms — VenueGen, Web.alive, Assemblive, and 3Dxplorer.

    Jibe in particular is also based on Unity. I'm hoping to talk to the owners some more to find out exactly where the differences are.

    This is becoming a very crowded field.

    The good part is — these platforms are super user-friendly — Web-based. Some — like Virtway — even accessible on mobile devices. Great for marketing projects, Web-based meetings, that kind of thing.

    But they are harder to create — you need to be able to create mesh-based environments, and there is less ready-made content. You can get the meshes, but you still have to import them and get them to fit inside your environment. And the platforms themselves are proprietary, you can't move a build or avatar from one vendor to another.

    It really depends on what your use case is, whether the vendor lock-in is a price you're willing to pay.

    Plus there's the price. All these platforms start at around $50 per month (plus or minus a few bucks) and are based on number of concurrent users, and can get costly for large corporate or school deployments.

  • Hi, I'm Mark from Second Places, more than happy to answer your questions.

    I wouldn't disagree that Unifier is similar to Jibe, however it is difficult to be very different when you are talking using Unity and a web page. Once in you many differences, but we've leave user to have a look and see.

    As for the others you mention, although great products the major difference between Jibe and us and these others is the ability to change these environments. (based on VenueGen and Assemblive). We have clients that want the ability to hold meetings, seminars, trade shows but they want them to be like the real world locations.

    Which brings us on how to build. Yes it uses mesh, which I agree (as I was a SL builder for 6 years) is a change however we actually changed our minds on this (we started down the build in world route) when one of our clients showed us a 3rd year class (I believe that's year 10 in the rest of the world) having a class on 3d Studio Max. And there are tools out there such as turbosquid, Modelbuilder that sell lots of models for free.

    As for mobile, we have a different plug in for that, working with the University of St. Andrews we are developing a way to have your Unifier world on your phone, and show you the virtual world from the location and direction you are facing in the real world, so you tell unifier that this location starts at GPS co-ordinates X|Y|Z and when you get there in the real world you can see the virtual one on your phone, so as you walk around your avatar walks around the virtual world, you hold up your phone and you see what it sees. This is still maybe a year away, but will work with your locations build for Unifier as the virtual side is easy, the phone side.. no so! hehehehe

    As for cost, its difficult to get even web hosting for $50 a month, and I think that's where most of our cost comes from (excluding development costs of course). And if you compare that to something like Second Life where our past clients were paying $200 for an island with 50 maximum concurrent users they find the ability to have 100 for the same price even better. Also we want YOU to create venuegen, etc we give you the tools, you have fun building it.

    If anyone has any other questions or fancies getting in pre beta public on Friday drop me a mail, I've always lurked Hypergrid Business, have spoke to Maria many times, hence she was first to get this. But we are in Beta, we have a lot of "possering up" as us Scots say, but the more feedback we get from users and future developers the better we can make Unifier.

    Mark

  • good luck Mark =)

  • Adam

    @Mark: Very interesting 🙂

    But MUCH too expensive! According to your website, you're charging $747/month (minimum 12 month contract) for 125 users:
    http://www.secondplaces.net/opencms/opencms/virtu

    This compares to $175/month (+$475 setup) for 100 users with ReactionGrid's Jibe:
    http://reactiongrid.myshopify.com/products/jibewo

    If Unifier's pricing were competitive, maybe I'd be interested.

    What's your above reference to 100 users for $200 or even better? Can you elaborate?

  • Mark

    @Adam, I picked the wrong time for a Holiday. Well holiday was booked before Unifier was started so I blame the wife.

    The prices are right, however what your not seeing are the things added on to that price. When we move to Launch we hope to have a better "purchasing" system. So you can pick and choose what you want.

    For example that price is based at clients who will be using it as their main collaberation space so there is massive ammount of disk space added to that price (100Gb). Where you could choose a similar package to the first commercial (as you may not be wanting all your Videos hosted) but with 125 users.

    We've been blown away with the inital reaction, over 100 registered users and for a beta launch. We've had major pick up from developers as well, who have their own clients now looking at unifier, so we've been a bit rushed. And me going on holiday was just BAD /o

    But I promise the prices are much more customize able that what you are seeing at present. And we'll get it online ASAP.

    Will update when we have better structured price system so you can pick and choose what you want.

    Mark

  • Adam

    @Mark: Thanks 🙂

    Look forward to the additional pricing info.

    And good luck with the launch!