oct 10 2008

Interview of Peter

Published by Mixed at 8:31 under X-ROBOTICA / X-3DME

- How and when did you discover VRML?

2003 I was trying to create the interactive 3d-model of a modern wine-press (wine-presses are my real business).I bought a pretty expensive book about “creating a game with C# and DirectX 7″, I did not understand a word so I bought a book called “C# for dummies”, and a few days later I lost my enthusiasm for C# and searched “Google” with the keywords “realtime 3d”. My search threw out some results related with VRML and at first glance, VRML was offering all I was searching for : realtime 3d, animations, scripting, interaction with web-pages etc. …

I joined a Spanish Yahoo group devoted to VRML, founded and moderated by Jordi Cardona, where I found all support and expertise I needed for carrying out my project. However, the “virtual wine-press” was never finished, but I had learned quite a bit of VRML, javascript and HTML and was addicted to it.

- How did you decide to make this 3d chat with X?

Late 2005, searching for Christmas gifts, I found in a bookstore a good PHP book, and decided to give PHP a try. I had read and seen some amazing examples on how good PHP and VRML do work together, like for example Raging Storm’s VRML message board.

After trying out and almost understanding all those “Hello World!” examples, I tried to figure out how to use all those chunks of code in a practical way, and decided to do a 3d-chat.

Early 2006, the blaxxun demo server went down for a few weeks and I thought that it would be a good moment for showing off what I had done, so I posted about it on Alain’s forum and got some people into the chat. Some people were really enthusiastic about it, and so was X (Colin). I had a chat-server and Colin had the content as well as a good argument/story for some sort of community, so we decided to join our efforts.

- What technology are you using for making X-3DME?

The client consists of DHTML (HTML, Javascript, CSS) and VRML. A third party VRML viewer is embedded as an activeX object, accessible via its javascript EAI.

The server uses PHP and MySQL.

At first, the server-client communication was done by refreshing a hidden frame with javascript function calls. More recently, we began migrating the system to xmlhttprequest(), and now we are experimenting on a slow-load version, where the server response happens as event-driven.

- X-3DME is a new 3d community ? like cybertown or Lively ? What is it exactly?

X-3DME is just a server-client environment, developed for VRML-based 3d-chat. X-Robotica is its native front-end, in the form of a thematic 3d-chat … well … let’s say community, based on Colin’s excellent worlds and avatars.

Anyways, we are not trying to emulate any existing community … we are still trying to figure out what a 3d-chat plattform could be good for, and we guess that it can be used for more than just a 3d-chat or for mirroring the errors of real life society. We are aiming far beyond Cybertown and SecondLife, but we take it easy, we do it for fun.

- What is the best point of X-3DME?

X-3DME can be served by every virtual host that allows PHP scripting. There are a growing number of PHP enabled homepage services out there, and this will soon become a standard worldwide, so almost everyone running a homepage will be able to run an X-3DME server from there.

There could be an unlimited number of X-3DME servers all over the web, running independently but linked together to a mega-community.

- X-3DME is specific to the worlds of X, do you want to make a community more general?

No, X-3DME is not specific to Colin’s worlds. Not even X-Robotica is exclusively showing his worlds, since we allow to open third-party worlds using a simple query-string or the “Extended Explorations” form.

- It is open to every artist who would like to upload his or her worlds on X-3DME?

Everyone is invited to open his own worlds in X-Robotica, specially worlds related with the main theme of X-Robotica : SciFi. robots, etc. …

It is important to point out, that the worlds are not uploaded to our host. They stay at their original location, so the author keeps control over them.

We also are parsing and displaying the contents of the worldInfo node at startup, allowing html tags like anchors and images, so the author can put a link to his homepage or a logo, for example.

- What will be the most important improvement in the future for X-3DME?

The most important improvement is probably not yet in our minds, but we are working on some classic features like shared objects and building and we have some ideas we have not yet started to work on, like a brand new avatar concept, etc. …

In a few weeks, let’s say before new year’s eve, we will be releasing the public version of the X-3DME server, which might be a real milestone for us.

- Do you still work on it?

Sure. This is just the beginning. There is a lot of work to be done.

- How do you see the future of VRML?

There should be plenty of future in VRML. Even if it is being called a dead language, there is so much content out there, and there is so much good content still being created, that it’s impossible to predict an early ending of VRML.

- When will we see a new world of you???

There is a VRML file I have been working on for three years now, the conveyor.wrl, which is the invisible core of the X-3DME client. And, I’ve got Seamless3d and Blender ready on my computer, but i am waiting for some calm days and inspiration.

- Few words for ending?

I hope that you all enjoy trying out X-Robotica and thanks to the MixEd team for spreading the word.

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