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Thursday, April 15, 2010

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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