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[Ben]:ExitReality Discuss This [0 comments so far] View Comments
I heard about a new browser extension called ExitReality that lets you "view any website in 3d" as an avatar, and interact with other avatars. Being a Stephenson junkie and having loved his Metaverse concept, I thought I'd give it a try.

My initial impression is that it doesn't live up to the hype. Their plaza is visually very nice, but slow to load and once fully loaded can be slow to move through. Also, I clipped through some guard rails and fell 150 feet down a waterfall where I became stuck - I could walk around the rocks and water below the world, but I couldn't get back up. Seems that you can fool their collision engine in many cases by simply walking up to the object you want to clip through and turning. I think this is because as "you" turn your avatar actually rotates around a point in space a couple "feet" in front of you. Corners are also problematic for their collision detection algorithm. I did feel like Hiro Protagonist at times while breaking into areas I wasn't supposed to go. I just need a sword.

My website - as well as any website not specifically designed with their 3d tools - is nearly unusable. You see a drab, airplane-hanger sized room with a small scrolling feed of the front page. Images and links are thrown up somewhat sporadically in front of you as signposts (with long links spilling extra text out everywhere) and non-link content is totally inaccessible from within the world. When you click on links, they're opened as new windows in Internet Exploder - even if you're browsing within Firefox.

My big complaint, however, was that I was never able to interact with - or even so much as see - another user's avatar. Now, that doesn't really surprise me when you talk about my website, or even other large websites - it is a new application, after all. However, when even the plaza on their own website is a ghost town, there is a problem. I'm not sure how I would have interacted with someone if I were able to come across them, for that matter.

It is my opinion that for this to work they will need to simplify the interface and improve rendering of sites not specifically designed with a dedicated 3d interface. Rather than displaying only the links and images in a giant hanger, I think they should size the room you are in based on content. Once the room has been generated, content should be viewable on walls. Maybe links should be represented as doorways or drawers. In any case, if I can't read the content of a website without clicking on a link and have it opened in a traditional browser, I really don't need to go out of my way to use the clunky interface at all.

Display of and interaction with other users is the only other draw. Seeing as how I was unable to even get that to work, I continue to be unimpressed.

Update: More features in the IE version ... but I'm still not really impressed.
  2008-09-18
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