I recently had a chance to try out the beta for a new virtual world called Twinity. Like Second Life, Twinity aims to be a virtual world where you can wander around, meet and talk with people, shop, and augment your avatar and your living space, if you have one. This is a beta, and so there are some issues, but I think it’s a pretty cool approach.
Here’s what I liked about it:
- They are planning to reproduce huge swaths of London, Berlin, and Singapore, thereby proving alternative “real life” locations for you to visit and spend time in. I believe that the building is only done by the Twinity core team.
- They have a number of ways of customizing your avatar, but the coolest in my opinion is what they call “PhotoFit.” The idea is that you upload a photo of a real person, e.g., yourself, and by moving around a few points that give the geometry of the face, your avatar will then look like that. My first attempt was with my own photo and I thought the result wasn’t bad. My later attempts with photos of Matt Bomer (from White Collar) and George Clooney looked more generic. In any case, you can further tune the look. They use the FaceGen technology from Singular Inversions for PhotoFit.
- I was wandering around a shop (I bought some cool red Converse sneakers) and discovered that they’ve implemented mirrors. That is, you can have a surface that reflects your image back at you. Evidently it is possible to do this in Second Life, but I don’t think it is widely used.
On the negative side, but with the caveat again that this is a beta:
- Every time you change location, it can take up to several minutes to pull down the objects that populate it. I understand that the world is dynamic but I really hope that the final version does better caching for objects that haven’t changed since the last visit. I can tell some caching is going on, but performance needs to be improved.
- A few more initial choices of avatar clothing and hair would be good.
- Like many virtual worlds, the basic walking movement is too slow. While you can run, the basic walking speed should be increased 50%.
- They have an interesting way of getting around in buildings. Essentially, as you approach the front door there is a green object that when clicked will give you all the visitable locations in the building. You can then click and jump to them, with the download delays noted above. I think they should have a better concept of doors that open and close, especially for moving into and out of locations on the ground level. That is, if I’m on street level I want to be able to open a door and walk out, I don’t want to do a little teleport. I might be missing something here, I admit.
- Twinity is only available for Windows.
Twinity uses the BigWorld virtual world and MMO technology.