Wednesday, July 16, 2008
It's been a while since I last blogged about Twinity; time for an update!
Let's start with the good news. Metaversum is putting a lot of effort in digitally recreating parts of Berlin, especially the Hackescher markt district. But that's not all: Metaversum announced plans to add other metropolises as well . From the start it has been Metaversums' intention to create a mix of the real and virtual world (hence for instance the realistic daylight cycle in Twinity); bringing these cities online really adds to that vision. I have never been in the real Berlin, but I already know my way around the Neue Schönhauser strasse and the Hackerscher Markt; I easily recognized the streets on Google Maps as well. It would be interesting to check out Berlin in Twinity, and then see the same area in Google Streetview; would you still recognize it? As Berlin is not yet added to Google Streetview, we can't tell - yet!
Plus, one of the complaints I had during the early beta is really being solved this way: more and more outdoor areas have appeared in Twinity. Not only that, they have been given a more prominent place too! You are no longer confined to a list of available rooms, much as Google Lively is today. Glad to see that improve.
User created content
Another aspect which deserves attention, is that more enduser created content is appearing in Twinity. Blogger Tinsel Silvera for instance has a room at the Bitropolis area where he exhibits art like items he created. To be honest, I haven't paid much attention myself, I'm not much of a content creator. But for a real virtual world to be viable, the ability to create content and to subsequently sell it is, in my opinion, an important one. It is one of the things that sets a real virtual world apart from a 3D chatbox.
So what's not to like? Well, there are a few things that might need improvement before Twinity is ready for mainstream usage. I still have issues with stability and resource usage, for instance. Memory usage can run in to the hundreds of MB's of RAM - over 450 yesterday. After doing an ALT-TAB to switch to another app (say to Gimp to save a screenshot) it isn't always possible to return to Twinity; you sometimes need to stop the process and restart. Generally speaking, the application sometimes just feels clunky.. But, it's still beta, that obviously accounts for something. Nevertheless, I'd really like to see some improvements here. I will download a new fresh copy of the software, perhaps that helps.
Finally, performance remains an issue of concern. The overall world operates at satisfying speeds without much lag, but startup, search and teleporting to certain places take a long time. I understand that loading the virtual city of Berlin takes time, but a lot of users won't tolerate a delay of five to ten minutes to access a certain place. Perhaps it's a good idea to ship some of that content with the download package? Or provide it as a separate download? Eve Online does something like that too, both with regular and premium content, perhaps Twinity should too.
Oh and another feature of Eve Online which I really like: once you press the print screen button, a screenshot is automatically saved to a default directory - in high quality .bmp if desired. Very handy! I'd like that in Twinity too!