blaxxun's Instant Community
Real characters in a virtual world
by Stephen Jones (June 24, 2000)
blaxxun interactive, not content to be the granddaddy of 3D immersive communities on the Web, has released a complete, low-cost toolkit, called Instant Community, designed to make it easy to put a virtual world on every web site.
Why bother making your site avatar-friendly? blaxxun believes that immersing your site visitors in an interactive, social environment will benefit the bottom-line in two ways. First, their figures show that 3D environments are nearly three times as "sticky" as conventional sites, holding the visitor's interest for around 40 minutes per visit versus 15 minutes on a 2D site. Secondly, 3D billboards are attracting unheard of click-through rates of 5% or 10 times the draw of most banner ads.
Of course, inviting your visitor into your virtual parlor is a lot easier than actually building one. So, blaxxun set out to reduce the barrier to entry with its Instant Community (IC) toolkit, a sort of world-builder-in-a-box. IC includes a Place Builder tool that allows you to lay out the architecture, decor, and furniture of the place using lots of prebuilt parts or ones you design yourself.
Your site visitors can jump right in, since no browser plug-in is required to participate, A Java-capable browser is all they need to run the lightweight (55KB) Java applet. Usually, they sign-in, select an avatar (or 3D surrogate persona), and wade right into the experience you've crafted for them. Once they get into it, more demanding users can download 3D Contact, a peddle-to-the-metal viewer optimized for their 3D accelerated graphics card.
A fully-functional, 30-day trial version of Instant Community is available from blaxxun, allowing up to 3 simultaneous users. Of course, to build a public community, you'll pay more. But, starting at $7500 for 50 simultaneous visitors, Instant Community, can scale your site from five thousand registered users and up. You then can purchase more capacity as your community demands (and budget allows) more.
Besides the draw of the 3D environment itself, another appeal of such environments is the same as any community: to see and be seen. So, when your visitors move beyond just visiting, they'll want to customize their avatar using Avatar Studio (AS), a $20 tool that lets you define your 3D persona from the ground up. Using AS you can define everything from your body dimensions, skin color, hair type, and clothing to how you wave hello. Once you've perfected your look, your avatar can represent you in any blaxxun community.
- $7500 (free, 3-user evaluation)
- 50 simultaneous users
- 5,000 registered users
- Includes: Place Builder, Avatar Studio
- body style: measurements, hair, and skin
- wardrobe: underwear, clothing, shoes, hats, and glasses
- 10 built-in gestures (hello, shrug, etc)
© 2006 Stephen Jones All rights reserved.