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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blue Mars in the Cloud

--Jim Sink, CEO
--(Originally Posted) April 13, 2010

When we started building Blue Mars, we wanted to create the ultimate platform for developing and experiencing immersive 3D content online. Unlike the console or handheld markets where developers know exactly what hardware resources are available, we had to balance capability with compatibility when deciding what features to build into Blue Mars. Rather than compromising the potential of the platform so that it would run on thin clients and legacy hardware as a client side application, we set minimum requirements for Blue Mars that would allow developers to push the boundaries of what possible in a virtual world for many years to come. This has been a particularly fortuitous decision as the hardware requirements holding back mass market adoption of high definition 3D experiences online are being blown away.

Through the pioneering work of companies like AMD and OTOY and their remarkable AMD Fusion Cloud Server, users will be able to explore incredible high definition Blue Mars 3D content in a browser with no application download on virtually any broadband capable device from handhelds to Macs to legacy hardware. By taking hardware requirements and application downloads out of the equation so anyone can jump into the virtual world as fast as streaming a video online, grabbing a mobile app, or loading a flash game, having an architecture that provides advanced high definition rendering capabilities, support for huge numbers of simultaneous users in a single location, and secure environments for the display and monetization of interactive 3D content is absolutely crucial. The differences between immersive 3D experiences that require advanced hardware and those designed to accommodate legacy systems are all the more obvious when everyone can participate regardless of the machine they’re using.

For more information on how server side streaming will change how advanced 3D applications like Blue Mars are delivered online, check out this article about running Crysis (which features the same graphics engine as Blue Mars) on the iPhone. Since September 2009 when the article was written, the OTOY technology has progressed in leaps and bounds with Supermicro and AMD announcing the production servers slated for Q2 delivery. When seeing something like Blue Mars run on an iPhone, reactions range from shock to disbelief. At first glance, it looks like magic. How could something look so good on a device so small? We look forward to sharing the magic of Blue Mars with an even wider community later this year.


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Blue Mars: The Next Stage

--Jim Sink, CEO
--(Originally Posted) Mar. 23, 2010

For the past three years, we’ve been laying the foundation for Blue Mars so developers can create extraordinary 3D experiences and share them in their own personalized virtual world that is scalable and secure. Considering the incredible content under development and already available on Blue Mars, it’s been time well spent. Now that the Blue Mars development tools are out in the wild and being used by thousands of creators from around the world, we are growing as a company to support this new wave in virtual world development and to meet the challenge of creating the very best experience for our users and developers.

With that goal in mind, I’m thrilled to announce that Trent Ward, former Creative Director at Ubisoft and Electronic Arts, has joined Avatar Reality as our new Vice President of Design. Trent has a track record of creating fantastic games and designs and is leading our efforts to make the developer and user experience more intuitive, effective, and fun. “This is really the culmination of a dream for me,” Trent said when I spoke to him last week. “Blue Mars is finally making it possible for anyone to bring their own 3D worlds to life and share them with others. The tools are in place to allow anyone to create full games, meeting places or expansions of Internet experiences that reward users, encourage community and really push the visual and audio experience. I find it amazing and exciting to be able to enable artists and designers to spend their time working on how to build killer-apps and imaginative content rather than fighting battles with technology or looking for a publisher!”

Trent will help ensure that core features in Blue Mars like communication, navigation, interactive events, and discovery meet the needs of the community and provide new frontiers for innovation and creation. His work along with our talented development team will help us more rapidly respond to requests from the community and continue to make Blue Mars even better for users and developers. Along with our ongoing efforts to improve our existing service and software, we are building new promotion, distribution, and reporting tools to help our customers succeed, along with developing new and simpler methods for creating content in Blue Mars and sharing it with on the web. To fuel these essential development efforts, we’ve secured an additional $4.2 million dollars in investment. This funding represents a huge vote of confidence from our investors and will help ensure that Avatar Reality succeeds in our mission to create the ultimate platform for immersive 3D content.

As Avatar Reality grows along with the Blue Mars community, let me thank the tireless efforts of the team as well as the incredibly generous and productive feedback that we continue to receive from the Blue Mars user and developer community. We are always looking for ways to make Blue Mars better for you and your feedback is absolutely vital to our development. It’s been a privilege to work alongside such an incredible group of talented teammates and help build a platform that serves such an inspiring collection of artists, designers, programmers, and people from around the world creating the new frontier in virtual worlds.


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Blue Mars - New Features on the Horizon

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted) Feb. 08, 2010

Many of our community members have requested new features and improvements to Blue Mars.  We listen closely to your concrete suggestions.  Then we incorporate as many of your ideas as possible and feasible in our roadmap strategy. In addition to suggestions from the community, we are planning a multitude of other enhancements to Blue Mars. Here's a sneak preview of a few of the items we are planning:

UI Improvements:

  • Expanded Preferences for chat,
  • Enhanced camera movement and controls
  • Improved avatar movement
  • Avatar name will be displayed above the avatar head.
  • Right-click shows Avatar Name and UserID.
  • Move the camera control icon out to the menu tray


  • Clickable hyperlinks in the Chat box
  • Select and copiable text in the Chat box
  • IM - instant messaging

Avatar Customization:

  • New, improved avatar meshes
  • Avatar Masks (new face shape and face skin for your avatar)
  • Avatar Physiques (new body and face shape and skin for your avatar)
  • Cloth editor: edit and upload Hair as an item for sale.
  • Avatar tongue model/setup
  • Mask and Physique editor
  • Avatar attachments and animation rigs
  • Animation workflow documentation
  • More sliders for the Face Customization UI

Development Tools:

  • Avatar Editor:
    • Import custom avatar shapes and skins
    • Test the imported mesh with standard animations and clothing
    • Create displacement morphs (compared to the original mesh shape)
    • Create normals for your custom mesh
    • Export your mesh and skin as an item for upload and for sale.
  • Allow JPG to be used for a texture to create items (the editors automatically convert it for you)

Places Browser, Downloads:

  • Crash management for the Places Browser
  • Download Manager for the Places Browser
  • Download Manager with background download, notification, and City version checker
  • Improved download and streaming of some items.

Developer MyPage:

  • Expanded Real Estate Page
  • Expanded dev MyPage with:
    • Billing history
    • Remember login email
    • Commands to manage tenants
  • Expanded Real Estate page:
    • Check files
  • Improved dev SDK installer with AR and NEWCO becoming optional installs
  • Upload Block, shop, and items for sale.

Expanded User Mypage

  • user MyPage with:
    • BLU balance display
    • Enhanced Friends List
    • Messaging

Content, Residences:

  • New City updates with a shops where you can purchase items.
  • Residences, and residence management

Share your thoughts and suggestions on the Blue Mars - New Features on the Horizon topic on the Blue Mars Forum.

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Blue Mars - Changing the Virtual Landscape

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted) Jan. 25, 2010

Vast Land Size
Blue Mars is changing the way the world thinks about virtual real estate.  Some legacy platforms have huge bandwidth requirements, which affects pricing, land size and content.  With our scalable platform, you can make your land as large as you like.

Set your creativity free!
What would you build if you owned a vast virtual estate?  Imagine a lush tropical paradise, or a huge floating city.  An archipelago, a giant sports center, a Chinese temple, a domed metropolis beneath the sea, or a castle from ancient Japan.  How about a futuristic space station in orbit, or a colony of asteroids?

256 square kilometers...seriously?!
Okay, there are practical and technical limits for the city size. The maximum size is 256 square kilometers (16 km x 16 km). (Yes that is kilometers with a K, not meters.) But you get the idea. No longer are you limited by size or arbitrary limits on the number of items on your land.

Pricing that is Out of This World
At USD$30, our pricing packages for leasing a City will put virtual land ownership within the reach of virtually everyone.  Why on Earth... Er, rather why on Mars are we doing this?  The vitality of any world arises from the content, environments and activities that people can experience, as well as the human interactions in that world.

So what are you waiting for?!?  Check out the pricing packages right away, and find one that is perfect for you. Then get started building your own City, and bring your vision of to life!

Share your vision on the Blue Mars - Changing the Virtual Landscape topic on the Blue Mars Forum.

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The Biggest Blue Mars Release Yet!

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted) Dec. 17, 2009 -- Updated Dec. 18.

Flash in Blue Mars

Today we are announcing a breakthrough in virtual worlds – the world’s first system for rendering fully interactive Adobe Flash 10™ content in a high definition massively multiplayer 3D environment. Developers can now create immersive 3D worlds in which thousands of users can experience and interact with Flash™ content simultaneously in any given world. Full press release here. Technical details are on the AR Tools page of the wiki.

Blue Mars Client

Talk about new features and content! First the content. There are two new Cities, and an update to GridRock City. Below are some screenshots to give you a preview of these new spaces.
  • Caledonia has expanded to from Second Life into Blue Mars, bringing gracious living and their 19th-century style to the new world, with some adventurous developers and Caledonians.

  • Pavonis comes to Blue Mars, a lush tropical island archipelago where you can create and share your dreams. Created by Desmond Shang and his talented Caledonian creators.

  • GridRock City has been updated with new buildings and a new look. Check it out!

New features in the Blue Mars client:

  • The new client software is smaller! About 500MB now.
  • New Places Browser that lists cities already on your local computer, as well as cities that are available on the server.
  • Clicking on a city in the Places Browser will download it to your computer in the background.
  • Caledonia and in2Orbit have twitter widgets. Check them out!
  • Improved Communication Panel.
  • Purchased items go into inventory.
  • Clicking on a location no longer makes a sound.
  • A new Bowling minigame is accessible from Beach City.

User MyPage

Announcing the new member MyPage! This is an early version, but it has several useful features.

Edit your Avatar name: Yes, it’s true! You can now finally edit your avatar name. I know a number of “anonymous” or “nil” avatars out there who will be delighted to at last have a fitting moniker.

User Admin: You can edit your email address, password too.

Create your online profile: On the “Top” page you can edit your profile description. In an upcoming version of MyPage you’ll be able to upload an avatar image too.

Inventory list: Get a full list of all the items you have bought. This will be more useful once we finish the ecommerce system and item uploads for developers. Coming soon!

Friends list: Get a full list of all your friends here. In the future, we plan to enable IM messaging from here.

Buy BLU: It’s not working quite yet. Just a few more system components to finish first. But once the system is finished, you’ll be able to buy Blue Mars BLU currency from your MyPage.

Dev Tools

What’s new for Blue Mars developers in this release? More tools and functionality for developers.

Blue Mars City Editor
Big news! The Blue Mars City Editor is now available to everyone though the Dev MyPage!
With the City Editor, City developers can load block layer files and export PAK files. They can upload a CTY pak file to Avatar Reality through FTP.

Blue Mars Block Editor City devs can use the City Editor to define a block. Block devs can use Flowgraph, and can use AR/Common/ARInteriorTester to test interiors.

Blue Mars Shop Editor Shop Owners can create custom a Shop interior and set Shelves for leased Shop through the Dev MyPage.

Blue Mars Furniture Editor Developers can create furniture items and upload them for QA approval through MyPage, in the same way as in Item and Cloth Editors. The QA process tests for technical errors, and does not evaluate content.

Real Estate Page

Developers can use our new Real Estate page to buy a Block with BLU.

Developer MyPage

The updated developer MyPage adds several components to the Blue Mars development platform.

City devs can:

  • upload a City PAK
  • set a price for a Block
  • upload a Block PAK for Block Developers
Block Devs can upload Block Pak to City Developer.

Item Developers can upload Item and set price.

All developers can buy BLU currency.

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Fan Sites and Fan Blogs about Blue Mars

 --Glenn Sanders, Community Director
 --(Originally Posted): Feb. 04, 2010

The Blue Mars network of interconnected virtual worlds is filled with content, environments and games that are created by and for the global community.  So it's no surprise that members of the Blue Mars family are creating fansites and blogs about Blue Mars. Here are the ones we know about. We encourage you to visit them and help spread the word by blogging, tweeting and posting about these awesome sites.

Fan Sites and Blogs

  :: Updated: Feb. 10, 2010 ::
3deality Sailor's Point (future City!)
AlphaKlata’s blog     New!
Amun Ra’s blog     New!
Blue Mars on
Blue News
Caledonia in Blue Mars (City!)
DanielRavennest’s blog
DanielRavennest’s BM
info center in Second Life
David Cheney postcards
Dudestarship’s blog
Dudestarship’s blog2
GridRock City (City!)
Koinup Blue Mars group
Lizzie Lexington
Martian Mouthpiece
Mako Magellan's fan site     New!
Metavercity fan site
Rock’s blog
Rock's fan site
Rock’s FAQ
SL forum about Blue Mars
Shiny Iceberg (Czech)
Tertius Prime (future City!)
Virtual Advisor (electronic music in Blue Mars!)>
VSE (New Venice City!)
Wild West Games (future City!)
Youniverse 1.2
Zetsumei's blog

Flickr Groups

Official Blue Mars group

Flickr Fan Groups

Videos and Machinima

Danienravennest Videos     New!

Post additional links and discuss this on the Fan Sites and Blogs topic of the Blue Mars Forum.

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T-shirts and Free Apartments for Blue Mars Volunteers

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted)Nov. 20, 2009

The Oct 21 poll results showed Martian Mentor as the most popular name for volunteers, closely followed by Blue Mentor; with Mars Mentor coming up last. Now Tiffany is finishing up the Martian Mentor designs for our special volunteer T-shirts. So look for them in an upcoming Blue Mars release!

We will be handing out the first T-shirts to the volunteers we see in world each week. The free Beach City apartments for volunteers have been tested and are almost ready to go too.

So, although we've been somewhat quiet recently, it's because we've been preparing rewards and a Training Guide for volunteers. Stay tuned, Martians. Lots more to come!

Let us know what you think on the Blue Mars Forum.

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POLL: Names for Blue Mars Volunteers?

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted) Oct. 21, 2009

Update: Nov. 20 -- The poll results showed Martian Mentor as the most popular name, closely followed by Blue Mentor, with Mars Mentor coming up last. So Tiffany is finishing up the Martian Mentor designs for our special volunteer T-shirts right now. Look for them in an upcoming Blue Mars release!

We will be handing out the first T-shirts to the volunteers we see in world each week. The free Beach City apartments for volunteers are almost ready to go too. So, although we've somewhat quiet recently, it's just because we have been preparing rewards and a Training Guide for volunteers. Stay tuned. Lots more to come!

Update: Nov. 4 -- We've made a new poll with the top 3 most popular names for volunteers. Which is your favorite?

Oct 21 -- As we gear up for the Blue Mars volunteer program, we're designing a special T-shirt for our beloved volunteers.

This naturally leads to the design for the shirt. What name should we use for the volunteers?

Tiffany and I brainstormed a number of names like: Dr. Blue Mars, Dr. Blue, Dr. Mars, Doc Mars, Blue Mars Mentor, Blue Mars Geek, Blue Geeks, Blue Geek Squad, Blue Guide, Blue Mars Guide, Blue Pro, Mars Pro, Mars Pros, Martian Pro, Blue Mars Coach, Coach Blue, Coach Mars...

But we need your input so we don't end up choosing a really silly name that no one likes.

So, take a second to click the survey and let us know your fav name.

By the way, over 200 members have written us to volunteer their time and expertise, helping to welcome new members, show them around and answer questions. Fantastic! Thanks to all of you.

We're in the process of setting up some free apartments in Beach City for the volunteers. The most active mentors will get first dibbs...

To become an esteemed volunteer, visit our volunteers page!

Let us know what you think on the Blue Mars Forum.

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Content on a platform technology

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted)Oct. 20, 2009

Amateurs... Hmm....

This blog is in response to this post on the member forum.

A couple of points that may help clarify things. But first read my post about Blue Mars being a platform.

Avatar Reality doesn't prohbit content based on some arbitrary quality bar. The community can decide for itself what it likes and what it doesn't.

Our goal is thousands of developers happily creating an amazing array of content, and being successful in whatever way they measure success. And millions of members enjoying that content, and sharing it with their friends in Blue Mars.

Right now, hundreds of independent Blue Mars developers are creating cities, blocks, shops, residences, museums, vehicles, animations, skins, hair, clothing, games, schools, gardens, clubs, concert centers, movie theatres, and more.

Any platform that lets people explore their own creativity and experiment with new ideas is bound to have a wide variety in both quality and style of the creations coming from our 3rd-party developers. Nowadays, the members of the online community decide what they like. And individually, each person chooses to visit and support the content that matches their style and tastes.

So, yes, there may be some content that doesn't turn you on. Well, try another destination. If you don't see one you like, then make one yourself.

That's the great thing about our platform. You can DIY. Lets see you do better. I dare yah. ;)

The bottom line is that Blue Mars is a network of virtual worlds created by 3rd-party developers. They use the Blue Mars platform and tools to bring their visions to life. These visions will be as varied as the talented and imaginative people who create them. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Let us know what you think on the Blue Mars Forum.

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Blue Mars new features for Sept. 2

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted)Sept. 1, 2009

New Blue Mars Feature #1:  Chat History
Scrolling chat history. Helps you keep track of the conversation and avatar names! The chat history window shows the avatar name and what they typed.

By the way, I suggested the limit be 1000 messages. So that's what it's set to right now. If you think it should be longer, post about it on our forum.

I'll be posting more features and screenshots here, after i tweet about them.

So be sure to follow and get all the news before it goes live here on the blog!

    image of scrolling Chat history
New Blue Mars Feature #2:  Menu Tray
Our designer created a Menu tray with animated icons. This provides an intuitive way to find what you need. And you can move the Camera icon anywhere you like.

The Camera icon lets you select from 4 cam zoom settings: 3rd person, half body view, head and shouders, and 1st person.

What features do you want to see? Post about it in our forum.

  image of Menu tray
image of Menu tray
New Blue Mars Feature #3:  Log out button
We added Logout button to the bottom right corner of the screen. Use this to log out correctly. Then the server will know you're gone. This would let you log right back in if you need.
  image of Log out button
New Blue Mars Feature #4:  Friends Request
Right-click an avatar and choose Friend Request from the menu. This sends an invitation to the avatar. If they click Accept, they are added to your friends list.

Can you guess what feature is next?
  image of friends request dialog box
New Blue Mars Feature #5:  Friends List
When you click the Friends icon in the Menu Tray, the program will display your friends list at the bottom of your screen. Click the Friends icon again, to turn off the friends list.

This list shows your friends names and their online status.A green dot means Online. A gray dot means they are offline. This is an interim design that will change in the next version.
  image of friends list button
New Blue Mars Feature #6:  Home Button
There is a new Home button in the top left of the screen. Click this to return to the staging area. From there you can click one of the 5 signs to visit another destination.
  image of Home button
New Blue Mars Feature #7:  New Bikini for Fem Avatars
Female avatars will thrilled when you open your clothing inventory and find a new string bikini. I can see your avatar smiling already.

Now you have a new bikini that you can wear at the beach, or lounging in the sun as your avatar gets a nice tan!

What kind of clothes would you like to see in Blue Mars?
Post your thoughts on our forum. There are many clothing creators who would love to hear what you like.

Become a Blue Mars developer!
If you create clothing, we invite you to register to become a Blue Mars developer at It is fast, free and easy.
  image of bikini button

New Blue Mars Feature #8:  Sample Apartment
After you arrive in Beach City, go across the street into the hotel.

Inside the hotel, on your right you will see a door that is highlighted when you put your mouse over it.

Click the door to enter the apartment.

There is a tutorial video on the wall to the left of the bookshelves. The video shows how to move things around. Right-click an object to move or delete it.

In the final version, your deleted items will appear in your inventory.

You can do anything you want in there, because it is a sample apartment, so everything resets after you leave.

Click the large door to return to the hotel.

  image of bikini button
Let us know what you think on the Blue Mars Forum.

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Are you a Blue Mars martian?

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted) Aug. 25, 2009

Update 2009-09-01:
Thanks for your input to our poll! The poll is closed, but the results are shown below. We will take your suggestions to heart (including "Other") and brainstorm about the best word to use.

Okay, the first poll was a good start with 97 votes, including numerous suggestions for "Other".. I created a new poll with the most popular choices from the first one, plus some of the "Other" suggestions. Yes, you CAN vote again, so let us know which name you like!

Do you think of yourself as a "colonist" of Blue Mars. Or do you prefer the word "martian"... Oh, what about the word "mariner"...?

From this shortlist of names in the poll, how do you want to refer to Blue Mars members?

You can choose more than one. But please limit your votes to 2 or 3 choices.

Note: If you click "Other" please type in a suggestion in the gray box. And please, don't try to spoof the results by entering your word multiple times. I can see it in the results report. :P

Update (2009-08-26): "Other" names suggested so far include: Spacer, Beamer, Blues, Marsian, Bavatar

Let us know what you think on the Blue Mars Forum.

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Are you a Blue Mars colonist?

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted) Aug. 24, 2009

The first poll is closed. See the blog above for the new poll based on the results of the first one.

Do you consider yourself to be a "colonist" of Blue Mars. Or do you prefer the word "denizen"... Hmm, what about the word "native"...?

Here we are, making choices that will impact every Blue Mars visitor forevermore. What should we call our members?

We need a term that would work for everyone, from RPGers to scientists to fashionistas to artists to educators. We would love to hear your idea. So vote now and help us to make this historic decision!

Thanks for voting in the first poll! Here are the results:             These are the "Other" names that were suggested:
Other 35             Mariner
Colonist 18 BMP (Blue Mars Person)
Resident 14 Customer
Martian 14 BluMer / BluMers
Settler 4 enlightened
Native 3 living-blues
Dweller 3 Citizen
Denizen 2 blook (blue bloke)
Player 2 Patrician
Mariner     2 Blue Martians
Total 97

Let us know what you think on the Blue Mars Forum.

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Virtual Interview by Joe Netizen

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted) Aug. 7, 2009

Lets clear up some confusion surrounding Blue Mars.  Imagine if you will that I'm being inverviewed by Joe Netizen.  Joe has read a many comments about Blue Mars, and he wonders what's really going on.  So he asks some fairly pointed questions, to which I respond with great equinamity and perspicacity...

Joe:  I heard that Blue Mars is only for Windows. Do you guys hate Mac users?

Glenn:  Blue Mars is built on the CryEngine2 from Crytek. Currently, the CryEngine is only available for use on Windows computers. Lots of our Avatar Reality developers use Macs at work and at home. We love 'em! (Macs, as well as Mac users)

Joe:  Come on, really? Or maybe it's like one guy said, you're secretly connected with Microsoft?... Right?

Lol, that's a good one Joe! But seriously, before we started developing Blue Mars, we looked at many game engines. The CryEngine was the clear choice when we looked at all of the factors we wanted in a graphics engine. These include visual beauty, ability to smoothly render thousands of objects and textures in a scene, scalability, infrastructure costs, maintenance, and viability as a platform for our users to create cities, content, games, and to incorporate multimedia and Web content in-world.

I hate to dash your hopes for a nice, juicy conspiracy, but there were no sinister considerations, or connections with other companies. Just common sense in choosing the best software to match our needs.

Joe:  How does Blue Mars work, anyway? What kind of developers are there? How would I create and add content?

Glenn:  There are three basic types of developers for Blue Mars. "City Developers" can create and terraform a region in Blue Mars. They can either build all the content for their region and set up their own open spaces, blocks, and shops, or they can rent space out to "Block Developers."

Block devs can build on the section of land that they lease from the City dev. These Block devs can then create shops, residences, or other types of open spaces or other types of buildings.

"Content Developers" can create all sorts of objects. Then they can rent shop space and sell their content. They can also provide services in-world or online.

Joe:  Ok, another thing I heard is that there will be little content in Blue Mars because only certain developers will be able to create things. In some other virtual worlds, anyone can create things. That adds to the variety and makes things interesting. Won't the variety of things in Blue Mars be very limited?

Glenn:  Content Developers can create pretty much anything they can imagine, including 3D objects, clothing, vehicles, animations, 2D and 3D Flash objects and applications, full-featured video games, Web applications and streaming content of all types. And the cool thing is that anyone can create content for Blue Mars.

Joe:  Yah, yah. But won't all of the cities look alike with little variety among them? Don't you guys exert some sort of heavy-handed "corporate" control over all the cities and content that is uploaded to Blue Mars?

Glenn:  Blue Mars is a platform technology that enables developers to create to their hearts content. Our Beach City is just an example level that gives developers an idea how to create and script many types of content. The design and content of each city is up to the City, Block and Content developers. If the cities being developed right now are any indication, you can expect a wide variety among the regions.

For example the cities being developed right now represent a wide range of concepts and designs including:

  • Futuristic space cities with sparkling chrome
  • Virtual Venice with flowing fountains
  • Cities based on various historical eras and countries

Players will be able to explore, live, and work in a beautiful, compelling and immersive world full of variety.

Joe:  Hmm... I hear that people need a really expensive computer and software to create things for Blue Mars. Is that true?

Glenn:  If you were buying a pc today to run Blue Mars, you could put together a fantastic machine for under $600. Most $100 graphics cards on the market today like the ATI 4770 run Blue Mars very well. The performance of the Blue Mars client will scale based on the hardware you have but you shouldn’t expect miracles from hardware that wasn’t build for 3D.

Regarding expensive software, all our tools are free and work well in concert with other free digital content creation tools like Blender and SketchUp.

Joe:  Sure, you rich guys can afford new computers. But what about Joe the Plumber (my cousin) who has a cheap old computer? Is there anything he can do to rev up his machine to run Blue Mars?

Glenn:  There are a couple of things your cousin can do. If he has a free slot for a video card, he can buy a recent video card from Nvidia or ATI. He can also add more memory (RAM) to his system. Before he spends the money to do this, he should understand that it won't guarantee that he can run Blue Mars. We will publish more specific minimum system specifications in the near future. A good rule of thumb is that you’ll need a dual core cpu and a video card that supports DirectX9 with dedicated video memory for the best Blue Mars experience.

Joe:  Ok, ok. But what about the rumor that only rich, professional developers can create content for Blue Mars? Is it a closed system?

Glenn:  Ah, that's an easy one. Pretty much any 3D or animation tool can be used to create content for Blue Mars. For example, developers can use the free SketchUp from Google or the free program called Blender. Of course developers can use 3DS Max or Maya to create content for Blue Mars.

The great thing is that developers can use professional tools to create their own mesh, textures, animations, etc. And then import them into Blue Mars. This gives them complete control over the process and the look of their finished product. It also allows them to give full expression to their creativity instead of spending most of their time trying to figure out how to create quality content with a less than optimal system.

Joe:  But someone said that only rich ppl can afford to have space in Blue Mars and upload content. What do you say to that?

Glenn:  We don't set prices for block or shop space. That pricing will be set by the City Developer. However, we expect the shop rental cost to be about the same as the monthly cost of a typical MMO membership.

Let us know what you think on the
Blue Mars Forum.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Blue Mars Vision

--Glenn Sanders, Community Director
--(Originally Posted) Aug. 6, 2009

Welcome the first Blue Mars Blog!  We'll post blogs whenever the inspiration hits us.  Watch for vlogs about Blue Mars and our team, information about special events, updates, and more.  So stay tuned.  We're just getting started.

The Net is abuzz with the possibilities offered by Blue Mars.  But to be honest, we've been so focused on developing the technology, we neglected the blogosphere.  But no more!  I jumped at the opportunity to join Avatar Reality and reach out to the community, the world, and the solar system (...well, at least Mars).

I moved 3000 miles to Hawaii to work at Avatar Reality for several reasons.  First and foremost is the Avatar Reality team.  I did some consulting here before i joined full time, and got to know most of the team.  They made me feel right at home, and at the same time impressed me with their skill, intelligence and dedication to bringing Blue Mars to life. 

Then there is the technology.  I sometimes play the Crysis video game with my sons, so I was already familiar with the CryEngine from Crytek, and am in love with the platform. Having been a Second Life member off and on since 2005, I am intimately familiar with the wonders as well as the pitfalls of virtual worlds.  In my opinion, the CryEngine is by far the best platform for creating a virtual world, and including Flash, web content, and full-featured multiplayer games in-world.

Finally, I embrace the vision for Blue Mars that began with our founders Henk Rogers and Kazuyuki "Kaz" Hashimoto.  They want to create a next-generation virtual world platform dedicated to bringing people together on a massive global scale.  Henk challenges us to create the platform that the developers and members would build if they could design it themselves.  That's a vision I can support. Now Jim Sink, our new CEO is helping to bring that vision to life.

Let us know what you think on the Blue Mars Forum.

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