Friday, December 19, 2008

Weblin clones SL Avatars to the web

Yesterday the German based webservice Weblin announced it has a new service, a 'Weblin Gate' which lets you take your Second Life avatar to the web. I've blogged Weblin last year september, when it was just launched, but haven't used it a lot since. However, that might change.

What Weblin basically does is let you create an avatar which can walk across the bottom of your webbrowser. When you're on a page with other weblin users you can see the other avatars on the webpage and interact with them. Weblin also has an option for its users to create custom avatars, but you have to be an expert in 3D graphics and animation if you want to have that avatar be able to move.

The service Weblin is offering now in Second Life is that they make a photograph of your avatar, then override your animations and 'film' your avatar making the typical Weblin moves so the service recreates your avatar outside Second Life. Dean Takahashi was among the first to blog the new service and he wrote:

What happens in virtual worlds, stays in virtual worlds. That’s the way it’s been when you create an avatar, or virtual character, in places such as Linden Labs’ Second Life.

But now Weblin, a Hamburg, Germany-based startup, has figured out a way for you to teleport your Second Life avatar to any web site. The Weblin Gate being released today lets Second Life Residents (or players) export exact replicas of their avatars and use them on any web site.

As far as writing goes, I like the first sentence of that blogpost, but regarding the facts, it would be too much credit to the folks at Weblin. We're not talking real teleportation here, or interoperability as the in-crowd calls it, it's more like scraping or cloning. As usual the ever present Virtual Worlds News nailed it down quite fast as well, writing:

This isn't true interoperability--the service takes a picture of the avatar in Second Life and maps it on to a Weblin avatar, and users don't carry their assets or identity with them--but it is an interesting form of portability and a step towards larger goals.

That would be correct, also the outlook on this remark. I didn't use Weblin much before, but now it's fun to stroll over the web with my Second Life avatar and meet other Second Life avatars out there on twitter for instance, or, As Grace puts it on her blog 'Gracified':

Early adopter Second Lifers have already adopted weblins as a means by which to chat and socialize outside of the virutal world of Second Life, whether it’s attending Malburns and Tara’s brilliant weekly show, or just catching up while the grid is down.

It works quite easily, though it got screwed with me yesterday, hence my rather late blogpost. Anyway, things start out in visiting the Weblin photobooth in Second Life, on the New Berlin sim.

Once inside you'll meet Paule, an automated avatar who'll give you instructions. You've got to pay at the cash register (1 L$, which will be refunded immediately, but necessary to get your ID) and you can get onto the photoshoot area. Make sure you've got your animations turned off. Last night when I visited the first time, the preview snapshot only showed Paule's bum and not an image of my avatar. Today, it worked out fine though.


As soon as you're up there, almost crucifixed, you'll get a link to a preview. When the preview looks about right, you'll call Paule to continue. The Weblin script overrides your avatar and starts filming the appropriate movements. When that process is finished, you'll get a link to your new avatar. Quite simple. Below a picture of my new weblin avatar walking across this blog.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meltingdots starts Weblin-based-services

Meltingdots, a Tokyo based company which specialize in virtual worlds, has supported many companies to get a Second Life presence (for example, Suruga Bank which we blogged June 2007 at MindBlizzard).

Recently they partnered with Weblin, one of the web based avatar chats, and started to offer several interesting services using Weblin. Recently they have live-streamed a video of a concert. Fans who couldn't attend the concert joined together at a website as Weblin avatars and enjoy chatting with other fans while viewing the streaming-video.

I asked Hiroshi Asaeda, CEO of Meltingdots, about Weblin and the future of Second Life.

Q:Now you're focusing in Weblin. What's the advantage of Weblin?

Easier to join, on a web browser. As we were working on Second Life, I noticed the most important part for SL wasn't 3D, but real time communication. SL still has a huge barrier to join, and I thought Weblin was one solution which could bring in more normal people (meaning computer users who are not geeks) to experience online communication. Using Weblin is just like using Skype, and is easy to download for these people. Also, Japan has a culture of not wanting to show their real identities, and prefers to use avatars. As long as people aren't desperate to use cool 3D designed offices, I thought it was good enough to communicate using a web browser.


How was the Weblin + live streaming?

The Weblin live streaming with Denpa worked out pretty well. Even though it was a daytime real club event, the people who lived away from Tokyo attended the virtual live.
Although we had some trouble in the live streaming itself, we thought there are huge opportunities to do events with Weblin.

What do you predict about Second Life or other virtual worlds in 2009?

Meltingdots still thinks Second Life to be one of the most innovative social services in the world. No one is coming even close to them, but I think they need a visionary so the users will keep believing them. What we first need to do before using Second Life is to have more people get used to using avatars as themselves. Weblin is a good way to start out, and when the users get bored with the flat interface of the 2D web, that's when the 3D virtual world business begins. We will continue SL until this day comes.


Disclosure:Meltingdots is the sponsor of Avatar Watch, which is my main blog.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

IMVU - I N V U

The people I hang out with are either dedicated gamers (people that play World of Warcraft, Warhamemr, Lord of the Rings Online or Rapelz), or metaverse enthusiasts that explore virtual worlds and do interesting blah blah on interoperability and portability. In neither community we take 3D chatrooms very seriously and why should we? Those are just chatrooms, not entire worlds. When we chat, we use twitter, msn or skype.

I guess that's not fair on the chatrooms. Let's be honest. What have we seen of corporate use in virtual worlds sofar? Most users to Second Life do little else than using it as a social hangout to chat or do other social stuff which could easily have been done just as good in a 3D chatroom.

We can laugh at most of these 3D chatrooms and wave them away as being niche things in the industry. This is true for a number of these environments, as some can barely reach 2.5D or have a sole focus on sex, like Rapture or Naughty America, but there's one that stands out among its peers: IMVU.

I Envy You

You just can't miss IMVU these days. Whereas the majority of 3D related ads was taken up by World of Warcraft about a year ago, lately the ad market for 3D products seems to be dominated by IMVU. In the picture below a screenshot from the IMVU website, and 5 different IMVU ads I encountered in the last 5 hours at technorati.

Aside from the addvertisements, I don't hear a lot about IMVU, but it's serious business out there. In the past year they've grown rapidly - without much fuzz overtaking even Second Life in users - growing to over 20 million registered users, with about 600K active users every month. So what is IMVU exactly and why is it so succesfull

IMVU is a graphical instant messaging client with over 20 million registered users, and over 600,000 active monthly users, as of June 6th, 2008. Currently, it is in public beta, and has been available since April 02, 2004. It is developed by IMVU, Inc., founded by Will Harvey, a video game developer and founder of There.

IMVU has world’s largest catalog of virtual goods with over 1.5 million items, produced by over 100,000 content creators. It has generated $1 million in revenue per month, 90% of which comes directly from consumers who buy IMVU credits and virtual goods.

The primary focus of IMVU is the ability to use personalized 3D avatars and environments that let the user interact with the person they are chatting with. The secondary focus of IMVU is allowing the members to develop content that can be purchased by other members for use in personalizing their avatars and environments. [Wikipedia]

In general the presscoverage for Virtual Worlds has been dominated by Second Life, both positive and negative. The people I've spoken to, working at other Virtual Worlds generally feel most impact of the negative publications about Second Life, and feel they have hurt the industry and hampered growth. Yet again, this does not seem to be true for IMVU. They've mainly steered away from the press and did their own things. IMVU started up in 2004 and it took them four years (!) to release their first press statement, or as IMVU's CEO Cary Rosenzweig said last June:

"Today we take a big step for IMVU as a company - we’re issuing our first-ever
press release.

We are starting public relations (“PR”) activities for the first time in order to tell the IMVU story to a larger audience. We want to reach out and attract even more people to IMVU so that you have more people to meet, more people to have fun with, more people to buy your items from the catalog, more people to become content creators themselves."

And this was only after they've hit the 20M user mark.

In November last year I made a short overview of chatroom. To see what elkse is out there, check out this blogpost.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Dutch Banker goes Supermodel

Dutch Triple A rated bank Rabobank has been fiddling around with gadgets, widgets and virtual worlds a lot in the past years. Their first metaversal experience came from Why Robbie Rocks and in april 2008 the bank hit the typical avatar-based 'girlworld' goSupermodel targeted at a 12 to 17 year old audience, loosely styled like Habbo Hotel.

goSupermodel has about 250.000 unique visitors a month, which log in about 200 times a month and spend 22 minutes each session. Rabobank has launched a chatbot, called Yvette. Through the chatbot Yvette you can ask questions about finance. This financial coach is also reachable through SMS, MSN, Hyves and Live-spaces.

Actual numbers from the first week of operation are promising:
  • 5.881 mails to Yvette
  • 25.901 chatsessions with the girls
  • 44.305 visits to the Rabobank office

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Virtual Chatrooms

Yesterday I've posted a first overview of the VW industry with several charts. Although I said it wasn't exact science, I received many comments trough twitter, IM and other media. Thanks for the feedback.


One of the first changes I've made is to add specific categories for 'adult worlds' (with the input I received about 4% of the market) and chats (19%) (no games included)



The chatrooms are both 2D and 3D worlds, many aiming at different agegroups.



  1. BlaBla

  2. CityPixel

  3. Cybertown

  4. Dubit

  5. Faketown

  6. IMVU

  7. Kids com

  8. Mokitown

  9. Moove

  10. TAATU

  11. Towerchat

  12. vSide

  13. WeeWorld

  14. Whyville

This list is up for discussion. I for one am not sure Whyville or vSide are really chatroom focussed. Here some screenshots:





















Additions are welcome!

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