Jackson Fish Market
Posted on February 20, 2008 by hillel on Design, Video Games

Blue Mars

I’m not a huge Second Life fan or detractor. Mostly I’m annoyed that what seems like such a cool opportunity is marred by a horrible user experience and downright ugly graphics. Maybe Blue Mars (based on the Kim Stanley Robinson novel I’m guessing) is the answer.

Blue Mars golf

Gorgeous, but with steep hardware requirements to accompany it. Some people balk at that, but I think pushing the envelope is a good thing if you have the value proposition that will push people to upgrade their hardware. If everyone was always targeting the lowest common denominator then the platform would never progress.

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    February 20, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I’ll definitely give this a spin. I am so with you wrt Second Life being a great idea marred by an extremely low-fidelity user experience. It’s not just the poly count, it’s the lack of responsiveness and painfully slow update times (yay, Java!). The Crysis engine blows everything else away for lush, scenic outdoor landscapes. The hardware requirements aren’t as steep as the article makes them out to be… if they were, Far Cry wouldn’t have been such a big seller.

    That said, I’ve always found the user content community to be one of the most interesting aspects of SL. Kind of like the killer app for all those TurboSquid buskers (modulo the quality constraints).

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    Trevor F. Smith

    February 20, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    It depends on whether your definition of progress includes a community which includes those who don’t or can’t buy high end video hardware.

    To be fair, the Blue Mars folks claim that they’re targeting a few years from now for launch, but if there’s one thing that World of Warcraft, the Wii, and Second Life have proven, it’s that the really interesting parts of online spaces has little to do with polygon count.

    But I might be biased, as I work on a web based virtual space platform which emphasizes accessibility over eye candy.

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    February 20, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I think the main thing that SL has proven is that everyone loves the _idea_ of there being some kind of VR/GUI cyberland where we can all hang out dressed in our favorite avatars. And the mainstream media is generally tickled pink to report on the arrival of the fantastic future… today! So to some extent, SL has a meme footprint that far outstrips its actual impact.

    Good gameplay should generally trump graphic finesse, but there is a minimum bar that’s always being nudged up as the bleeding edge advances. WoW wouldn’t be the hit it is if all the graphics were done like Wizardry on the Apple IIe. ;-)

    Just to clarify, tho, SL’s fidelity issues aren’t all about poly count or texture depth. There’s a huge problem with the responsiveness of the environment in general (at least it’s perceived as a problem for folks used to playing MMORPG’s like WoW).

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