Webflock by the ESC

I was tempted to do lots of Flocking jokes in the title of this, but I will leave that as an excercise for the reader. I had a chat today with Giff and Swords from Electric Sheep Company anout their virtual world product/service that they have created called Webflock. There is a much richer description on this page.
Image from http://www.electricsheepcompany.com/
I think the natural thing with all the Googleness around with Lively is to make a comparison, but I think that is a rather misguided one as there really is not that much similarity once you drill down.
Webflock is Flash based, so yes runs in a browser. I agree this may be regarded as “not a plugin” as its so pervasive, though technically it is and still needs patching when adobe updates it, but it is a very standard plugin so thats a good thing. It uses papervision3d as part of the rendering engine. Its intended use is for branded experiences with a very low barrier to entry. In many ways this is the same challenge that we face in the CIO in IBM. There is a balance to be had between just letting people get in quickly, to experience something avatar based, with video and a small degree of interaction and a fully immersive, user generated content 3d world.
Being flash based Webflock is able to be driven from javascript in other pages, hence allowing for on glass integration with other web applications, rather than inserting the application in the environment. Though video is able to be played (and presumably any elements that flash wants to deal with too)
Its a very interesting model and direction to take. For those of use already immersed and bought in it may seem a step backwards, but I have certainly experienced the need for some of the steps to need to be slightly smaller for the vast majority of people, so this may just be the right way to go.
It can of course evolve, having a seperate backend system “Aspen” as the model and sometimes controller in this Model View Controller (MVC) application is an architecture that many of us techies are used to.
Some other interesting features we talked about was the emdebbing of game related content. Being able to initiate a quiz where you have to alk to the answer. This is very easy to do, may be slower than a quick click of a question but gets people considering the 2.5d space and moving around in it. The real interesting parts are when that is not simply a HUD for one person but a view shared by all. This is possible with the underlying model.
The system is designed as part of the more normal tool chain you might expect for web development. It is not currently aimed at excessive user customization, though no doubt that will creep in as its not long into grokking this that people want to do that as we have found inside IBM too.
So it does have the potential for a private view of the world, and a public shared view of the world.
Expect more in the next few months as some projects come on line. I look forward to seeing how these targetted customer spaces work and fill a gap to get even more people understanding the richness of human communication possible over the web. (its not all facebook you know)

4 thoughts on “Webflock by the ESC

  1. Cute graphics but no 3D as the website claims. Not seeing any demo all I see is a 2D world with 2.5D avatars in hope to get companies to pay a heavy development price (“just under $100,000”).

    Sounds like a lot of false claims to improve the ESC position in the increasingly competitive Flash market.

  2. Pingback: Kitten Lulu » Blog Archive » Highlights of the day: August 27th, 2008

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