Virtual World City moving to Unity 3D

Virtual World City

A location in Virtual World City.

The Virtual Worlds City grid is moving from OpenSim to Unity 3D.

Frank Corsi

Frank Corsi

“Since our clients only will shop and explore there is no need for all the build tools that the OpenSim-based viewers have,” said Frank Corsi, co-founder and CTO of parent company 3D Virtual Web, Inc.

I’ve compared Unity to OpenSim before, in 5 reasons to rush to Unity and 5 reasons not to rush to Unity, but here’s the basic summary:

  • Unity is a game development platform with a Web-based viewer plugin that has already been installed more than 400 million times. But it is not a virtual world.
  • It is primarily designed to be used by developers and professional designers to create browser-based games and simulations.
  • It is not a good fit when you want your end users to have unlimited opportunities for customization or content creation.

If Virtual Worlds City is a place for shopping and exploring, with all content created by professionals, then, in fact, Unity 3D is a far better fit than OpenSim.

It is much easier to use, runs on all browsers and on mobile devices, and looks pretty good. You can see some of the non-game Unity projects here.

Corsi did not say when the project will go live.

We have several cities built in Unity3D but nothing is ready for release to the public,” he said.

Virtual World City offers “cities” — currently, standard-sized OpenSim regions — for $95 a month plus a one-time setup fee of between $50,000 and $250,000 for exclusive rights to the virtual version of San Diego, say, or Las Vegas.

Still from a promotional video for Twinith. (Click on image for full video.)

Still from a promotional video for Twinith. (Click on image for full video.)

This is similar to how Exit Reality‘s  Twinity works. That platform — which launched in 2008 with much fan-fare, is all but completely deserted and its blog hasn’t been updated in a year.

I’m not saying that nobody will ever get this business model to work, just because Twinity couldn’t. But this kind of virtual real estate faces three hurdles.

First, customers have to be convinced that they want virtual property at all. Second, they have to be convinced that instead of creating their own virtual environment — whether a Unity 3D app or an OpenSim minigrid — they need to be part of an existing virtual world. Finally, they have to be convinced to choose this particular virtual world, as opposed to some much larger, better-known, and better populated one.

Bargain OpenSim hosting soon to come

But 3D Virtual Web isn’t abandoning OpenSim altogether.

“We also have an opensim based grid and land hosting service in development, and will have that project complete in a few weeks,” he said. “We will not entertain $3.00 open grid regions, but we will offer $7.95 monthly regions for the open OpenSim grids, such as OSGrid, Metropolis or any grid our customers would like to connect to. We do allow them to name the regions, locate them anywhere on the grid, we do have a backend system with backups and other functions.”

Corsi was referring to the recent $3 region offer from Zetamex, which I reviewed here.

The $3 regions from Zetamex support 15,000 prims, up to 20 simultaneous avatars, and have OAR region exports, but do not allow name changes, moving the regions to different coordinates, IAR inventory uploads or downloads, or OAR uploads.

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

7 Responses

  1. Good luck to Virtual Worlds Grid on switching to Unity 3D, it is a alright engine but i like to suggest to VWG and everyone else thinking of using the engine to maybe hold off until Unity 5 is released. It will have alot more features and fixes to offer developers including better render, better GUI system and a completely brand new networking system.
    I am holding off myself on starting development on a Vampire MMORPG until Unity 5 is out to see how that is and if they drop there monthly subscription to match there competitors like Cry Engine for $9.99 through steam (which i love the most), Unreal 4 for $12 and Esenthel for $12.
    Right now Unity is $75 a month and isn’t as feature rich as the Cry Engine but is more friendlier to those like me learning game development on their own and does support .blend meshes while all other engines support all other formats, Cry Engine requires a 3rd party converter to port meshes over from blender to the engine.

    Anyways good luck again to VWG on the switch 🙂 Hope to try out the world they create with Unity soon.

    • Frank Corsi says:

      Thanks, Virtual World City is working with the Unity 5 engine. We choose the one time $1,500 rate, which is much better overall than the monthly subscription. Also i like to point out that I am not the president of 3D Virtual Web, Inc. I am a co-founder and the current CTO.

  2. You wrote that Unity “is primarily designed to be used by developers and professional designers to create browser-based games and simulations” but that’s not quite right. Unity is used to develop games (and simulations) for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Unity Web Player, WebGL (coming soon in Unity Pro 5), and other platforms. (They used to have a publish-to-Flash option but it has been deprecated.) When Unity first came out, it could only publish to Mac. The official SDK for the Nintendo Wii U is… Unity. Many Unity developers don’t publish to any of the web options at all.