Wanting to know what Blue Mars will have in store for people interested in music in the virtual world, Olaf Quintessa got in touch with Glenn Sanders, the community director of the company behind Blue Mars, to ask a few questions. For anyone not already familiar with Blue Mars, check out this recent blog post by Olaf Quintessa for an introduction.
As there’s no streaming music player built in to the Blue Mars client, I’m guessing that live music events will work by having Flash players embedded inworld instead (like Ustream). Is this how you envisage live music events working within Blue Mars?
First let me say that I'm extremely excited by the music in virtual worlds. I've attended live music events in other virtual worlds. So I know the power and enjoyment that comes with being with friends no matter where they live and experiencing an event together. Very powerful and fun! The cool thing about Blue Mars is that there can be 1000s of avatars in the audience. We have successfully tested 4,000 avatars in the same location. Concurrent avatars up to 10,000 or more is possible by creating multiple "layers" for the same location.
Yes, we are planning some music events in the Welcome Area in the near future to test the system for streaming and hosting numerous avatars at once. The event producer will place a Flash panel on stage, and point the URL to the live stream. Watch our twitter feed for announcements of music events: http://twitter.com/bluemarsonline
At the moment Blue Mars is in open beta and new features are being added incrementally at the same time as inworld content is being developed. How much longer do you expect the beta to run until you are ready to fully release Blue Mars?
If you're asking when we'll be done improving Blue Mars, I'd say never. We will continue to build new features and improve the ones we have as part of our ongoing development process. That said, there are quite a few new features on our road map for this year like voip, a new chat system, server side streaming, animation tools, web integration, etc.
Have there been any music events held in Blue Mars yet? Are there any upcoming events you could tell us about?
Not yet. As mentioned above, we're planning the first events in the Welcome Area. And a developer is building a music city right now. A well-known musician is planning a couple of free concerts. After the events are finalized we will announce the details.
What do you think the attraction of Blue Mars will be for people interested in music and socialising?
Having been in Second Life since 2005, I can say that for people who understand and like virtual life, Blue Mars will be a compelling and attractive experience for attending music concerts with friends, socializing during concerts and visiting together in-world.
Apart from Nebula West in Grid Rock City, are there any other music venues in Blue Mars under development?
Yes several developers are creating venues for music events in Blue Mars.
Are there any tools for developers to create their own avatar animations, such as dances?
Yes, Blue Mars can import animations saved in the BVH format. We see this as a very important part of Blue Mars. Developers can request an animation rig from community [at] bluemarsonline.com then use any tool they like, such as Maya, 3DS Max, Poser or other program that can output to the BVH format. A number of animators and animation studios are in the process of converting their animation libraries to work in Blue Mars. We are currently finishing the pipeline for importing and activating custom animations in-world. Developers can already test their animations using our Body Editor too. You can register to become a developer and download the tools for free at https://dev.bluemars.com/DeveloperRegistration/
Another thing that makes events interesting is what clothes/avatars people choose to wear - What sort of options and details will be available in Blue Mars for people to customize their look?
I'm a long-time resident of virtual worlds and practically everyone in Avatar Reality have been playing online video games for years. So we know the importance of customizing how our avatars look. I have had extensive discussions with our engineers to describe in detail the multitude of skins, hair/fur, clothes, shapes, and attachments that people will want. We are developing capacity for a wide variety of looks--cool stuff! As a matter of fact, we are building a showcase right now to show off developer content in the pipeline. Look for it on our website in the near future.
What are you listening to in the Avatar Reality offices today?
I listen to Pandora.com. My two main stations are hip-hop music (mostly female artists -- right now I'm listening to Katy Perry sing "I Kissed a Girl"), and classical music (mostly renaissance -- hey I'm a renaissance man! ;).
Is there anything about the emerging Blue Mars community that you are particularly excited about and would like to mention?
Yes, I'm extremely excited by the enthusiasm, energy and dedication of our community. Our members are positive about the future, about building a better world in Blue Mars. And they realize that we are in this together. Our company actively connects with our community and seeks out feedback and suggestions. By working with the community, we are building a platform and network of interconnected worlds that is of the community, for the community and by the community. We now have more than 500 volunteers who have offered their time to greet, answer questions and show new members around Blue Mars. And today, I hired a experienced community expert to work with me full time to organize, work with and reward volunteers, help build new content in Blue Mars and manage events and community activities.
We urge musicians and artists of all media to explore Blue Mars as a potential platform for the future, to bring their vision to life on the new Blue Planet. Many of our team members are musicians (guitars, drums, Japanese Taiko, keyboard, wind instruments, and more), and we all love music. So we say, bring on the tunes!
Official Blue Mars website - Download the viewer from here for free.
The trend towards browser-based virtual worlds takes a step forward with ResLive, a Unity-based world dedicated to live music which is being developed by the Sine Wave Company. ResLive (Resonance Live) opened its doors 6 months ago and is currently in beta phase, but already has a growing community of resident djs and music-lovers.
I first heard about ResLive when the RED crew announced they were playing online a couple of months ago. Always up for some techno and curious to check out something new, I hopped inworld to see what was going on. So far ResLive consists of ten lounges scattered across various regions, most of which are hosted by radio stations such as PBB, Proton Radio and Play.fm. The experience is similar to Second Life, with about the same level of avatar realism, although the lighting and shadows look more sophisticated. Animations and camera movements run smoothly with very little lag on my computer (a mid-range laptop running Vista, now in its 4th year), and the UI is easy to get your head around. At the moment avatar customisation is limited to a (fairly large) inventory of clothes, skins, and accessories, while there are about 20 dance animations to get your avatar moving.
Wondering how things were working out for the RED crew I had a word with Marley Cole: "We like the fact that Reslive is browser based. It's very easy to jump straight in - there's no software to download and you go straight to where the music is. We're generally getting a steady increase of listeners as the word spreads, and we have a number of guests lined up to play exclusive sets for us: Donnel Knox (Sonic Mind), Fanon Flowers (Sonic Mind - Live/Dj), N-Coder (Nigel Wilton), Roger 23, and Victor Martinez (Sect Records)"
Impressed by the ease of access and huge potential for a browser-based music world, Olaf Quintessa got in touch with Aubrey Fry, the Creative Director for ResLive, to find out more.
With a variety of social worlds already out there, what made you want to set up a world which was dedicated to music events?
The Sine Wave Company has been working in the virtual world sector since 2006 and many of our employees have been building these types of social spaces for years. We did our first virtual music event back in 2006 and until now have been limited by third party virtual worlds capabilities. We built ResLive to open up the possibilities a browser based virtual world platform holds. The amount we can do with it is endless.
When you were first designing ResLive and planning how it would work, what were the most important things you wanted to get right?
The frame rate and concurrency.
Will users be allowed to do any designing or building of their own in ResLive?
We will be opening up rooms for users to customise, but this is some way off. As the platform grows we will be adding all sorts of features like this, but we are more interested in building new regions at the moment.
How customisable will avatar clothes and animations be? Will users be able to shop for these things?
We are about to open a new section in the UI which has a store front and will have more assets released each month. A ResLive currency will be in place soon, name pending :-) And we will be working on a purse system, where you buy a bulk credit.
What events do you have in the pipeline? Any memorable events so far?
We are setting up projects with Oribital and Juno Reactor. So far John Dahlbacks events have been good and Joti Sidhu is always rocking our world. There is too much to mention!
Can you tell us a bit more about your plans to host mixed reality events which take place simultaneously in ResLive and in live music venues in real life as well.
We have some in the pipeline, unfortunately I am sworn to secrecy.
What are you planning to offer for premium members?
We will be releasing unique and limited content to these users, such as dances, clothing and tickets.
What do you think about the trend for making virtual worlds available on mobile devices like iPhones?
It can only be a good thing. We can publish ResLive on the iPhone and we will be making this available in the future.
Last question - What are you listening to at ResLive HQ at the moment?
I am listening to a lot of PBB radio, which is one of the internet radio stations we have in ResLive. PBB is owned by Laurent Garnier, the techno god/king - He plays the most amazing selection of different stuff on there, check it out!
ResLive website - Get inworld here
ResLive on Facebook