Virtual world software startup Vivaty, one of a handful of companies following the path Linden Lab's "Second Life" has blazed since 2003, has opened up its platform to allow third-party programmers to come in and create avatars and three-dimensional worlds.
Through a program called Vivaty Create, developers can leverage the company's software to create their own "scenes."
Developers will use the three-dimensional creation tool Vivaty Studio, which will let developers write 3-D designs for the Vivaty platform.
Vivaty Studio can be also used to import COLLADA content that is exported from professional tools such as 3ds Max or Maya from Autodesk.
Vivaty Create is part of a major movement to break the silos and walled gardens inherent in so many social networks on the Web. Facebook started this movement in May 2007 by opening its platform. MySpace, Friendster and others followed suit in an effort to open the Web.
This trend has bled over into the virtual reality software arena with Vivaty. Indeed, the company earlier in 2008 rolled out Scenes, a browser-based widget users can download to construct their own 3-D virtual environments on their Facebook profile pages and invite friends to participate.
Create is Vivaty's next step in 3-D virtual world generation, allowing anyone from a hobbyist to a professional to design and submit new content for Vivaty. Vivaty will choose 24 winners, with No. 1 getting $1,000 in cash toward a trip to meet the Vivaty team in San Francisco.
Early participants will also have the opportunity to join as members of the Vivaty Create Council, where they can voice their ideas and help shape the program. Vivaty co-founder and Chief Platform Officer Tony Parisi wrote on the Vivaty blog:
"We are eager to engage a wide range of developers. Anyone exporting to COLLADA or authoring in our own tool, Vivaty Studio (formerly Flux Studio), can now take a hand to making content for Vivaty. The Vivaty Create program is in its formative stages, and we still have a lot to figure out, but I am excited nonetheless to start working with talented creators to see what can be done with our platform."
Parisi added that Vivaty has received input about Create from content creators such as Cassiopeian, Bryan Ogden ("well known for his work in Second Life") and Living Artz.
Mark Hull, vice president of products at Vivaty, said the company is specifically looking for whimsy, variety, eclectic themes and a new take on 3-D on the Web. But be careful what you wish for; Facebook opened with few application guidelines and thousands of annoying, spammy apps proliferated.
Vivaty is going for a more lightweight feel than "Second Life," which sports a 100MB download package that chokes some users' desktop computers. The company believes it can be the 3-D virtual world generator of choice for Facebook programmers. Good apps written in Vivaty Create could proliferate on Facebook.
Vivaty is clearly not gunning for the enterprise user. Yet. IBM swears virtual worlds are slowly being woven into its Lotus Connections platform, but I believe enterprises are still a long way from using these with the frequency of, say, a wiki or a blog.
It is likely that 3-D reality applications and widgets will be woven directly into the Web collaboration platforms that we all use in the next five years or so. Vivaty could be one of the early innovators to capitalize on this movement.