Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
IBM The Internet Entertainment Games

IBM, Linden Labs Call For Portable Avatars 93

Posted by kdawson
from the door-from-sl-to-google-earth dept.
destinyland writes "IBM just announced a push for universal avatars with Second Life's creator Linden Labs. Then they joined Google, Cisco, Intel, Sony, Microsoft, and Motorola for the first planning session on how to make it happen. There's already speculation that Google is working on a 3-D social networking environment incorporating Google Earth and Google Maps." Virtual Worlds News has up a copy of the joint press release.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IBM, Linden Labs Call For Portable Avatars

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Another next-gen Web 3.14159etc bit of market driven consumer comfort teat dehumanization flavor of the month I can conveniently not give a shit about. YEEEAH!
  • by parcel (145162) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:00PM (#20941137)
    TFA doesn't say much, but it seems like this would end up a lot like Miis... where whatever style they chose for the avatars would only work in certain scenarios. I suppose they could make a more generalized system which would then be translated to whatever format "fits", but it seems like it would end up too generalized to really be useful.
    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      Yeah, and meanwhile everyone else is assuming that your SL avatar will be able to skip merrily into WoW, which just isn't going to happen. It simply isn't in the best interests of anyone but Linden Labs and IBM to force this sort of interoperability.

      I could see SOE do something like that for the games in their Station Pass stable, but you're still looking at either a standardized rendering engine, or some method of transporting geometry and texture data back and forth between virtual worlds.

      • by MaxShaw (1151993)
        COLLADA [wikipedia.org] and DDS is enough for most asset exchanges. It's the fitting that's the problem.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by KDR_11k (778916)
        Transporting graphical data isn't the issue, making the avatar come out in a way that fits the new world is (e.g. can't take your phaser rifle into Everquest and with those shoes you aren't getting in, either. Never mind we have a strict "no Klingons" policy!). You could just duplicate the data between all engines with minor adjustments but realistically you don't want people who don't fit the environment. Of course Second Life can appreciate that, they have no coherent style anyway but nothing would ruin t
  • Great. (Score:5, Funny)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:01PM (#20941157)
    At least we'll have open and standardized furry suits and dildo hats, now. Thanks.
    • Re:Great. (Score:4, Funny)

      by The Angry Mick (632931) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:39PM (#20941693) Homepage

      I suspect that some company mandated "appearance rules" or regions will eventually have to apply.

      I can't imagine that an anatomically "enhanced", gimp mask wearing, bondage squirrel is going to be too popular after crossing into the inevitable Disney world. If only everyone looked the same . . . like say, with blond hair and blue eyes . . .

      • by sgartner (1108101)

        Forget corporate requirements, I could see Germany or China weighing in with rules like:

        • You must reflect your real sex
        • You must reflect your real race
        • You must reflect your actual age
        • You must define one avatar for adults to see and another for children to see
        Plus, who wants to be known as Joe the wizard dwarf everywhere they go?
        • by mikael (484)
          Not forgotting:

          You must present your ID card whenever requested or forever be banished to the field with the tractor and the television set.
        • You must define one avatar for adults to see and another for children to see

          This is the bit that I think would be pretty cool to see . . .

        • What makes you think Germany would do that? Germany has rather harsh laws to protect personal privacy. Forcing people to reveal stuff about themselves to the world doesn't really fit into that.
          • by sgartner (1108101)

            What makes you think Germany would do that? Germany has rather harsh laws to protect personal privacy. Forcing people to reveal stuff about themselves to the world doesn't really fit into that.

            The reason I included Germany in my comment is that they seem to be amazingly paranoid and they have shown a willingness to enact laws trying to censor information; all under the guise of "protecting" their adult and youth population. Specifically they seem to have a broad definition of what is "harmful" so I could easily see them legislating that lying about your age, sex, and/or race, or having a "risqué" avatar, as being "unsafe".

            However, my point wasn't to attempt smear a specific country, but

  • Just what we need (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:01PM (#20941165)
    More ways to trace you online, from the guys that brought online stalking to the mainstream.

    Different identification at different sites cuts down on spamming, trolling, phishing, everything bad out there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ILuvRamen (1026668)
      you got that right. You know how many ppl would be dumb enough to put their real, actual location that they live at in on google maps and earth. Then when they piss somebody with no life and anger management problems off, they can print off directions to their house.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lord Ender (156273)

        you got that right. You know how many ppl would be dumb enough to put their real, actual location that they live at
        What you are describing is called a "phone book."
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573)
      More ways to trace you online, from the guys that brought online stalking to the mainstream.

      Well, Social Networking and Web 2.0 is a huge recruiting tool for every marketer and especially post-secondary institutions. CRM solutions and colleges themselves are scrambling on how to embrace this technology and make a buck off of it. Unfortunately, these services don't have any real unique identifier (OpenID?) that people can track the success of their campaigns to market from the inside out.

      If they are really
    • You Don't Have To (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Nothing says that you have to use the same avatar across networks and applications. The only difference will be that, for those who are proud of their avatar or don't want to rebuild their network of friends, things will be easier.
  • IBM just announced a push for universal avatars

    I call dibs on Lexa Doig!
  • While IBM, the Second Life Guys, Sun, and who knows all else want portable avatars, I from my company, Mightyware (annual sales: $78), thinks that Avatars should be proprietary and incompatible.

    "Universal avatars mean an LCD approach to avatars, or a hideously complicated API, and to what end?" says, Stork. "Why not allow all developers, in the name of freedom, to make up their own kinds of Avatars...these things represent your -life-, and so, while an LCD approach might be ok for things like Java, they certainly should not apply to a digital representation of your own psyche."

    Let's all agree that the privacy invading portable avatar nonsense is just that, and get back to the business of writing our own propreitary avatars...

    • by DdJ (10790)
      Maybe you're joking, but there's actually a point you're making that could at least be easily mistaken for a reasonable one.

      The "right" solution is to make the standard layered. Define a mandatory core, optional extensions which can be implemented in a common manner, a system for proposing additional optional extensions, and a system for utilizing proprietary extensions.

      Then you can wander from metaverse to metaverse, and your basic core will remain intact, but the level of fidelity and the types of things
      • by tjstork (137384)
        Maybe you're joking, but there's actually a point you're making that could at least be easily mistaken for a reasonable one.

        Well, I was joking, but, I think the whole layered standard thing only makes life better for some big corporation that would wind up writing a layered standard thing for Avatars, thus, making it impossible for small players to make avatars or have games that are actually different.

        The other thing too, is, what's a sword in one world might not be applicable in another. In some worlds,
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So if I understand correctly, they want the cartoon avatar that accompanies my email to be used as my U.S. passport photo?
    • So if I understand correctly, they want the cartoon avatar that accompanies my email to be used as my U.S. passport photo?

      At least it'll look more life-like than an actual passport photo. Is there some course that public servants take on how to make photographs turn out bad every time?
  • by ZipprHead (106133) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:03PM (#20941195) Homepage
    Yeah, there are going to be 1000 comments about why not just step outside? But I think it could be a great resource if I could step out my virtual front door and

    Look to my left and see my neighbors blog and the books he's published
    Look further down to see another slashdot reader living a few doors down
    Look to my right and see the restaurant hours and menu posted

    Look down the street a block or two and see what movies are playing

    and of course... add a pink flag to any and all women living in the area that are my age, and have their social networking profiles set to single.

    one persons utopia is another's dystopia of course but I like the concept.
    • Look further down to see another slashdot reader living a few doors down

      Oh oh!

      (starts looking through past posts to see if I ever got into a lame war with user ZipprHead)

    • Arson (Score:3, Funny)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      Look further down to see another slashdot reader living a few doors down
      That's sure to make the flamewars more memorable ;-)
    • by Malizar (553281)
      Yep, look at your neighbor's blog and find out he is a transvestite into spanking straight guys. Read the blog of the kid down the street and find out he hates you, yep, lots of things you want to know about your neighbors...

      Yeah, there are going to be 1000 comments about why not just step outside? But I think it could be a great resource if I could step out my virtual front door and Look to my left and see my neighbors blog and the books he's published Look further down to see another slashdot reader living a few doors down Look to my right and see the restaurant hours and menu posted Look down the street a block or two and see what movies are playing and of course... add a pink flag to any and all women living in the area that are my age, and have their social networking profiles set to single. one persons utopia is another's dystopia of course but I like the concept.

      • >Yep, look at your neighbor's blog and find out he is a transvestite into spanking straight guys. Read the blog of the kid down the street and find out he hates you, yep, lots of things you want to know about your neighbors...

        How else would I know to introduce that snotty kid to my neighbor?
  • by kevmatic (1133523) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:04PM (#20941217)
    It would be a neat idea to "walk though a portal" in one MMO game and walk out another, but that obviously would require you to install both games, anyway.

    And having the same appearance in all games? Would anyone even WANT that? Where's the variety? I'm guessing that your avatar is transmitted by metadata (your eyes are GREEN and x big) ala Spore, but all you're saving then is the creation of the character, and it could end up wrong without hand-adjusting it. I don't think that you could carry things like clothing and armor over, so you'd just end up with different avatar with the same face.

    And you couldn't carry over in-game data (like what level you are in an RPG) unless everyone used the same basic battle engine.

    Might have a bit of use in different "Second lives," but you're gonna end up linking economies such that you end up with essentially one giant world economy with exchange rates. I guess that's the idea.

    I dunno, I think its going to either make all the games seem the same, or end up carrying over very little.

    • Might have a bit of use in different "Second lives," but you're gonna end up linking economies such that you end up with essentially one giant world economy with exchange rates. I guess that's the idea. I dunno, I think its going to either make all the games seem the same, or end up carrying over very little.

      *probably bad analogy warning* imagine if travel worked like MMORPGs now. you'd need a whole new set overything you have, from the cash you make, your job, your house, your clothes, car etc. all di

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kevmatic (1133523)
        You're equating Real Life and Virtual Life too tightly, and are throwing the technical aspects out the window, so yeah, bad analogy.

        Let me ask you this: Are you going to download gigabytes and/or buy a game just to visit it for a few hours? No, you're gonna buy it to put time into it. And if its just like the game you already bought besides basic appearances, you're just gonna keep playing the first. Traveling and looking at stuff gets a tiresome a lot faster on a monitor than real life.

        Its not just currenc
    • by g-san (93038)
      That would be the purpose of the portal. The "translations" would not be perfect. But that would be how you could tell where someone was "from" online. That would also be when your exchange rate happened for your little economic problem.
  • ...by permitting user-chosen surnames. I assume the portable aviatar will not be required to use one of the Linden Family surnames as all SL users must. This has always been the goofiest aspect of SL.
  • ...but good luck in getting a Gravatar to actually load...
    • by ukpyr (53793)
      Actually it's not called gravatar. All they do is let you pick a picture, associate it with an email and use that on supported tools that reference their API to retrieve the avatar. Which is neat on it's own. If you use gravatar in your app you don't have to write any avatar code and the user doesn't have to set up the same avatar over and over.

      TFA is talking about virtual world avatars. Presumably abstracting their apppearce to a lingua franca. Much like HTML tags. 'B' implies "bold" but not what "bold" l
  • I was just thinking, what if one could combine Google Earth, Sketchup, and Photosynth? Maybe throw in Wikipedia for good measure. Imagine how cool it would be if you could zoom to Chicago and see a scale model of the Empire State Building, with all the texturing done by a combination of photos. Something like this I think would be amazing, and would be one of the sweetest way to check out buildings and monuments that are far away and expensive to travel to.
    • could zoom to Chicago and see a scale model of the Empire State Building


      Someone failed a class or two. The Empire State building is in New York. :)
    • Yup... (Score:5, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:52PM (#20941845) Homepage

      Computers allow humans to make mistakes at the fastest speeds known, with the possible exception of tequila and handguns

      zoom to Chicago and see a scale model of the Empire State Building,

      Being unnecessarily pedantic I'm sure, but last time I checked, the Empire State Building was in New York City. Now, I haven't been east of Colorado in a couple of decades, but I think I would have heard about the move....

      • by AVryhof (142320)
        The actual building might not be in Chicago (It isn't)... but there's nothing to say there isn't a scale model of it there...

        If there are scale models of ships and cars and other popular buildings, why not the Empire State Building... hell.... I bet there's a scale model of the WTC somewhere too... (the old one, and the one they want to rebuild)
  • by kbonin (58917) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:22PM (#20941467) Homepage

    For clients as graphically primitive as SecondLife, this is a relatively straightforward task of publishing a simple texture & mesh specification. But if you want to push things to support more complex graphics and more efficient avatar and object systems, you quickly step deep into implementation specific issues that generally kill efficiency across implementations.

    I worked in games tools and engines for almost 20 years, with years of art path work and a focus on avatars and interoperability, and frankly the more efficient you design your system, the harder it is to describe it in simplistic generic terms. Add vested interests and committees, and you are likely to get a repeat of VRML - one company railroads the process to accept their spec, which hobbles progress forever.

    Shameless plug: I've also been working for over a decade on massively multiplayer vr & games over p2p, something that will come online this year as proprietary, but move to open source once our small group leverages our first mover advantages. Our website doesn't show it yet, but the underlying tech is at least a generation past anything on the market to date - imagine a superset of Sims2 avatars and active objects with coding interfaces in Python and C++, in-engine collaborative editing of the world, open art import paths, integrated CreativeCommons rights, content rating, audio chat, all built on military grade crypto w/ Byzantine robustness. And we're always looking for more help, need more veteran programmers and human animators. http://www.vscape.com/ [vscape.com]

    • by Aladrin (926209)
      I've been 'trying to get into game programming' for a while now, and I see a lot of talk about 'why doesn't someone create a standard library for objects' and such.

      It usually comes down to 2 simple things:

      1) Technology changes a -lot- year to year, and more complex items can be created.

      2) Different people want the objects to do different things.

      The 2 interact to quite an extent as well. Say someone creates a stove. Person A only cares that it looks like a stove, but B wants to have the oven door open re
      • by kbonin (58917)
        We have a few test apps we're assembling in VScape - a first person shooter, a vehicle combat game, a Sims2 clone, and a kids game that could be considered a cross between Animal Crossing and some of the Harvest Moon games.

        First person is simple with good architecture and low latency, frankly its the easiest game to build (and we have team members that have worked on several such AAA titles), although FPS is difficult to differentiate from the myriads of entries in that space. Physics is a religious issue
        • by Aladrin (926209)
          Sounds like your a project to watch, then. I wish I had more time to mess with stuff like this. -sigh-
    • well well. Beta invites avail, send me one!
  • Why not implement them in Java and call them "javatars"?

  • by Jartan (219704) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:23PM (#20941479)
    SL's whole business model relies on an artificial land scarcity system to basically heavily overcharge for independent server hosting costs. I'll be surprised if they truly open the system up to another system that lacks artificial land scarcity.
    • DEC systematically avoided extending their systems into the personal computer world, and overcharged when they did, so that despite the fact that virtually all the personal computer platforms in use today have descended from DEC systems[1] or were developed on DEC hardware[2], DEC was swallowed up whole by a personal computer company and virtually lost as the corpse of Compaq was digested by HP.

      Linden Labs has to either adapt to an open virtual world environment someone else comes up with, or drive the deve
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I take it you haven't seen their new propsed architecture grid which allows people and other companies to have their own simulators? Whether they open themselves up or not, doesn't matter, someone will, and they *do* appear to be moving in that direction. http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Proposed_Architecture [secondlife.com]
  • I've always thought it would be cool to cross information available online with information in the real world. The major problem is the interface obviously. I would love to be able to walk down an actual street and see an icon floating above someone's head letting me know they have a blog. As I walk by them i could download their blog and read it. Or maybe browse their myspace/facebook/whatever. The bandwidth is almost there via various cell networks, wifi or what have you the only problem is actually seein
  • Will our Avatars be able to change genders on the fly? I mean, in my social group I would be myself, but on WoW where I play hot elf..er...manly ogre...
  • Not MMORPG (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bellum Aeternus (891584) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:29PM (#20941547)
    IBM has been investing a VR business trainer with the concept it'll be something like Star Trek's holodeck (except seen through a PC screen). Since they've been focusing on representing the real world, I doubt they've even considered porting your World of WarCraft character into their world. More than likely, they're looking for a standard to reduce their cost of R&D and to help spread the concept.
    • Better question: can you have different avatars in the game world, one for you and one for people looking at you? In a MMORPG, it sure feels like lying or something to pick an avatar of a different sex, but I really don't want to stare at my hot-pants sporting avatar's ugly man-ass for the first 15 levels before I can finally upgrade to regular pants. or the remaining 45 levels where "pants" is really just fancy-colored tights.

      I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if the default camera position didn't make said
  • by ivormi (1106139)

    It hits the other virtual worlds -- World of Warcraft? Quake? Maybe it'll even stomp through Google Earth.

    Is it just me that feels like this would generally be a bad idea visually? Ignoring the technological problems of trying to scale a universal 3d figure and textures to suit a particular rendering engine, it just seems like a bad choice artistically. The cute and cartoony Miis would be a poor fit in Second Life, and the 'realistic' figures in Second Life or the Sims would look pretty silly next to the thick macho characters in Gears of War.

    A large part of 3-D worlds is the consistency of the artistic p

    • by argent (18001)
      The cute and cartoony Miis would be a poor fit in Second Life,

      Have you visited Raglan Shire recently?
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:37PM (#20941649) Journal
    So we can identify each avatar individually to a specific user?

    So we can engage in Avatar Capital Punishment?

    It used to be fun until people took it seriously. Now it's just another buzz in the Drug Store of Culture.

    RS

  • Vernor Vinge may be one of the best near-future fiction writers around atm. When you read the book, it's hard not to see at least some of the details starting to form already.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)
      But why does this all remind me of Snow Crash [wikipedia.org]? Or even William Gibson's [wikipedia.org] writings? It seems all to real....
    • True Names (Score:3, Interesting)

      by argent (18001)
      The first story that had a real "virtual world" feel - Vinge's True Names - has proven awfully visionary too. Including the newbies with the giant badly-rendered motorcycles. :)

  • Meta-Avatar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Floritard (1058660) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @01:06PM (#20942079)
    I think a better system would be to develop some sort of Avatar language. Some common protocol for describing physical features. Reminds me of some online app I found somewhere that could pull a Mii character's appearance from a Wiimote and convert it into a string of characters for online editting and sharing. With such a format you could plug in your appearance meta-data and have a game create your face in its own style. And really it should be limited to facial features. The face is the most identifiable part of a character, and a player's body depends too much on the game's mechanics and art style. There is no guarantee that the player will even be humanoid in a particular game. Same goes for character apparel. There is usually a very narrow range of playable body types in any given gameplay model, unless we're just talking about MMORPGs and social sims where game physics usually play a very weak part.

    That's probably the sort of games they're talking about anyway, and in that case it's not terribly interesting anyway. I'm in the minority of people who don't much care for those games, I'm more about action/adventure. I think it would be cool to be able to craft my face (parametrically) in some high-end photorealistic sport-sim, then flip over to a game like Puzzle Fighter and see how my mug translates in the big-head, big-eyes anime world. You could even stack on game specific optimizations, making your universal avatar signature more of a base-template. Something to get you going. I kind of wish Nintendo's Miis were a little more complex and more along these lines actually, though there's nothing really from stopping some innovative game company from doing just what I have described here in their game. "So you have blue eyes and a brown mop-top? Well here's how you look in our world."
  • Other than the fact that IBM is now down on this action, is this any different from the last time [slashdot.org] that they announced this?

    Same company. Same thing. Three weeks later.
  • Perhaps someone ought to tell these people that Gravatar [gravatar.com] has already done this.
  • In the book http://www.amazon.com/Halting-State-Charles-Stross/dp/0441014984/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/103-5637353-9593416?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192128514&sr=1-2 [amazon.com] Halted State by Charles Stross, a key plot centered around avatars from one game being able to move to another. While there are too many obstacles today to really make this feasible or desirable, In the not too distant future, I believe our kids will look back and wonder what took so long.
  • Google is working on a 3-D social networking environment incorporating Google Earth and Google Maps

    wow, this will be just like ... going outside and ... meeting real people....

  • am sick and fucking tired about hearing ANYTHING involving Linden or Second Life.

    That POS 'game' needs to die, and it's quite obvious the only reason it gets as much press as it does is -- oh em gee! -- a number of journalists like it, and it's far enough away from a hack 'n slash that they can get away with writing about it as some sort of LAWLSOME NEXTGEN WEB2.0 FUTURISTIC SPIFFINESS when it's really just a steaming pile of crap.
  • Portable Avatars really? Isn't there more useful/interesting problems to solve? Like.. I don't know, getting the idea behind OpenID working first before worrying about "avatars"?
  • Except it will become obsolete in few years
    as software and hardware improve.
    Older avatars would look primitive today.
    Think of 8-bit sprites.
  • I'm thinking that everyone is taking the avatar concept too literally... it's more like being able to translate your identity from one world to the next rather than bring in your visual representation wholesale.

    Seems like you could bring over things like screen-name, currency, social network, contact info and more meta-attributes while taking on whatever physical attributes are typical in a world.... yes physical appearance is for some people a big part of their 'identity' but in a virtual community where s
    • by Dagda (100056)
      Exactly, that is the way I was reading it also. I'd love to be able to travel from World of Warcraft to Entropia Universe to Second Life to whatever and keep my avatar name, profile, and some other misc info I've added to all my accounts. It'd be pretty neat if I could also walk into some kind of teleporter or portal to transfer from one to the other and that would cause the software necessary to enter that world to fire up and shutdown the other worlds software or leave it open I guess.

      Something like Secon
  • This all seems great 'in theory' as in "look -- shiny new avatar! over There! instant portability!"

    But the reality seems more like "all your logins are belong to us".

    No one here has raised the government angle, but once you get all the logins coordinated to a central system, then it starts getting easy to lock people out of the internet.

    For example, right now "sex offenders" (everything from child rapists to people caught pissing outdoors) have to register themselves everywhere, and trial balloons are being
  • Apart from the fact I think the whole idea is stupid (how does it make sense for my City of Heroes avatar appear in World of Warcraft?), the real issue is "hand off" between virtual worlds. i.e. if I walk from one metaverse to another, the receiving metaverse needs to have some trust system in place that accepts my login based on trusting the sending metaverse - even though the receiving metaverse has never seen me before.

    If I am already a user on the second metaverse, there isn't a problem since my avatar

* * * * * THIS TERMINAL IS IN USE * * * * *

Working...