Thursday, February 2, 2012

AWBuilder Turns One Year Old

One year ago today, on Feburary 2, I set up a humble blog on Tumblr in the hopes of creating a new web resource for ActiveWorlds users.  I had envisioned a place to chronicle my projects, as well as a place for tutorials and for my comments on how AW was doing.  For many months, through high times and lows, I put time and effort into this place, and I think it paid off.  Here we are, a year later, and AWBuilder is host to over 100 posts -- tutorials, downloads, commentary, even the occasional shoutout to other people's projects.  I'm pretty happy with the blog, and from the analytics I see that the AW community is as well, as this page has maintained decent traffic even while I'm not making frequent updates.

AWBuilder had some really great momentum in Spring and even through Summer, but in Fall we hit a change of pace.  I began hinting at some projects I was working on outside of AW (/r/virtualreality) and my foray into other virtual world software.  On the forums and here on the blog I had become increasingly vocal with my displeasure of AW's direction, and for the past few months things have just seemed so... stale, moreso than ever.  Coupling this with the trouble on the forums and the "all is well" attitude that you'll see from AWI and die-hard fans, I found myself in an uncomfortable place.  My citizenship expired in January, and I've taken the opportunity to dive into the great ether that is the Internet to see what else is going on in the world of virtual worlds.

Looking back on my month away, I have to say... the outlook for virtual reality in the future is VERY EXCITING.  I mentioned /r/virtualreality... I try to post a news article there once a day to keep the conversation going, and I've found some incredible things.  Research on all areas of peripherals, from contact lenses that display HUDs to pop-up books.  Worlds designed as therapies for burn victims.  The creativity of research into virtual and augmented reality projects seems unlimited.

Back here in the present, outside of the protection of academia... the outlook for the present isn't so awesome.  In my conversations, I've found that many people consider Second Life to be "yesterday's virtual world."  We seem to be at an intermediary period, where the concept of a general virtual world is accepted and fairly well-known, but it isn't big.  It isn't "the 3D internet."  Not yet -- something is still missing.  With all of this research into hardware, I'm inclined to believe that the answer will be found in a world that takes advantage of immersive technology.

As an addendum to that last though... if Second Life is yesterday's virtual world, what does that make ActiveWorlds?  Some food for thought.


So what's next for AWBuilder?  I'm not sure, to be honest.  As a resource, it is completely functional just the way it is, and I expect that it could continue to be for many years, even if I never updated it again.  I expect that I will occasionally... I really have enjoyed working on this blog, and I'm very proud of the content here.  If ActiveWorlds can find a way out of the rut it is in right now, I may even return to regular posting.

Hey, a guy can dream, right?

Anyway, if you want to continue following my projects, I spend most of my time these days working on  I've been moderating this reddit since August, and it has grown into a nice discussion forum.  We're starting to get at least one post a day and I'm even starting to recognize regular commentors. :p  My goal for the reddit is to be a good measure of where VR is heading, and to be a good place to discuss virtual worlds old and new.  My friends from ActiveWorlds are more than welcome to join in. :)