Thursday, March 26, 2009

3D For the Interwebs ?

I have heard the promise since about 1990. At the 09 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco The Khronos Group announced their intent to develop a set of open APIs for development of 3D graphics for the internet. They said the action was in response to a request from Mozilla and that Google had expressed interest as well.
The Khronos Group lists about every computer/graphics/media/network type company in the world (except for Adobe & Microsoft, of course) as some kind of member of he organization. This includes that of the Safari browser developer, Apple.
Khronos has handled the development of SGI's OpenGL, created in 1992, since 2006. SGI, of course originally made the VRML viewer, Cosmo Player - got nowhere with it, handed it off to Computer Associates (for some reason) where it continued to go nowhere.
Probably the most successful attempt at web 3D is the perfectly awful Second Life. While there may be a practical application for 3D in your surfing experience, it won't be attractive with a slow delivery of lame graphics and overly complex controls. People like telephones & TVs. Computers and internet speeds have improved vastly since 1992 but the horsepower needed for lush graphics and complex worlds ain't really there. Add to that that most people just lazily use M$oft's Internet Explorer and M$oft will likely never adopt any kind of standard graphic format when they can make their own and use their monopoly status to flood the market with their product. Unlike any other browser in the world, M$oft has dragged it's heels in supporting PNG and, AFAIK, IE is the only browser in the world to have no support for SVG.
Good graphics are crucial to the success of web 3D and that means artists need good tools to create those graphics. Adobe pretty much has the market cornered on that and with their Flash products they really have no reason to support anything that comes out of Khronos. Even if they did, their track record with SVG and Atmosphere doesn't instill a lot of confidence.
Somehow, I think this will just wind up another pipe dream.

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