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[For Project Sansar team] List of critical errors that killed a BlueMars virtual world


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May be this information will be somewhat useful for a Project Sansar team.

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If someone remembers back in 2009 there was a "Blue Mars" virtual world, that promised good graphics and physics (it was based on Cryengine-2). So, at autumn of 2009, I have signed NDA as a creator and started building my own virutal world. But six months later I have lost any hope because of some really obvious problems. Here they are (all IMHO of course):

1)Creating 3D levels must be as simple as possible (user friendly UI & all happens in-game); good examples are G-MOD or Lumion3D - via graphical catalogue you just drag&drop around level any 3D-meshes, lights, materials, sounds, particle effects and so on +  library of good presets for any type of level environment (desert/rocks/hills/etc).

What I got in BlueMars was around 9 versions of Sandbox2 editor (!!!) one for each task - building level/interior/cityblock/etc. They had same UI as original Crysis Sandbox-2 game editor - designed for offline work by team of dedicated professional game developers (each one for each task - material artist, particle artist, etc) or geeks (it was familiar for me because of some experience with Crysis modding but headache for most of the developers). As result 99% of potential creators were cut off because of too high bar & tons of english documentation (not everyone speaks english) & Blue Mars team spending a lot of time not on their job but on writing a documentation and helping creators on forums dig through complicated level building process.

 

2)There must be a marketplace for all types of assets (lib's of 3D-meshes, sounds, mateirals, particle effects and so on) integrated in engine (web-only version is not enough!) & for smooth start of new virtual world platform this marketplace must contain decent amount of common stuff.

In Blue Mars creators was able only to sell some bipedal avatars& clothes. All other content must be created from scratch by each developer individually - all models, textures, sounds, particles, scripts... That's simply killed most of the projects - 99% of people can't be creative more than month or two, decent result must be achieved in that time or they stop/leave. My motivation died after around 6 month, at that time there was left less than 10 active projects/teams.

 

3)Team behind the virtual world platform must be professional.

Yep, obvious, but two major mistakes described above were only possible because of non-professional dev team of Blue Mars. They bought Cryengine-2 licence instead of writing engine from scratch - that was realy good decision because that saves 4-5 years of developing, but after that BlueMars bosses hire team of "generic programmers/UI designers" and these people simply were not able to see huge errors in project's main concept + couldn't seriously change Cryengine2 (it was too complicated for them because it was written by CryTek professionals (best in realtime engines business, but there are some things in engine what must be re-written from scratch for virtual world needs)).

 

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Monty Linden wrote:

#1 and 2 are definitely points on the team's mind.  As for #3....  well...
I'm
okay but...

Well, if #1 & #2 is in a spotlight - guess that means #3 is also good. Sorry if I was too harsh judging fellow programmers from a BlueMars...

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Well, something else also can be helpful:
From user-side experience of a BlueMars (as simple visitor) there was really annoying (sooo painfully slow) "point&click" movement system (and no flying of course). WASD movement was added later but it was horrible/non-usable implementation. You can still experience that first hand (BM's servers still working for some reason).

From content-creator side I can suggest to have a look in a Unity 3D game engine editor for one detail - IMHO it has most user-friendly content import pipeline currently avaliable (meshes & textures). Fast and simple - just place a FBX or PSD file in project folder and they will be automatically processed and become usable mesh/texture asset in Unity editor (some settings for imported assets also availiable but this stuff not simple enough for wide audience; anyway, some observations can be useful).

 

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Oh, nearly forgot about this:

This is in-game rigging and animation system - so simple and friendly to use by anyone. It needs an mirroing to skeleton creation process + some friendly controls over weightpaint, but after that ... wish someday it will be avaliable in virtual worlds ). Hope there is no hidden catches (because for some reason this user animation tool was rejected from latest builds of this Overgrowth game).

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