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Friday, August 12, 2011

Check out Blue Mars Lite – Now in Open Beta

We are happy to announce the launch of our open beta for Blue Mars Lite (download available here).

The most notable feature is 3D Chat, which provides a new way to meet and socialize with others. By integrating Google Street View, 3D Chat allows avatars to meet at real locations all over the world and experience them together. Upon launching Blue Mars Lite, users will have the option to explore a pre-set location, such as the Las Vegas Strip or NY’s MoMA. Or, users can create their own groups by pasting the location link from Google Maps Street View into Blue Mars Lite.

Although not currently available, users will soon be able to use a Blink (Blue Mars Link) to Tweet the location of their Waikiki Beach Party, Eiffel Tower Soiree, or any other event. Invitees would then click on the Blink and if they have Blue Mars Lite, they will be taken to the location after login. Otherwise, they will be prompted to download the client.

In addition to 3D Chat, Blue Mars Lite incorporates many of the great features already available in our mobile app:
  • Personalize your avatar by selecting clothes and other items or customizing its makeup
  • Shop thousands of clothes, accessories and other items
  • Vote on other avatars, or post messages in their profiles. Right-click on any avatar to open up their information window.
  • Use multiple search options to view or find avatars or items, including Top Rated and Best Selling
  • Visit your Account Settings page to update your profile or view your BLU balance
  • See who’s left you comments or viewed your avatar on your Information page

  • Blue Mars Lite is compatible with most PCs and Macs, and is a considerably smaller download than the full PC version. Also of note: Blue Mars Lite is fully integrated with the rest of Blue Mars, so you can access your existing friends lists and inventories from the other applications.

    Please share screenshots and your event details with us on our FB page.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Explore Middletown America in Blue Mars

    Industrial life in small towns in the USA was part of the landmark studies Middletown (1929) and Middletown in Transition (1937) by Robert S. and Helen Merrel Lynd. These in-depth accounts of life in Muncie, Indiana became classic sociological studies and established the community as a barometer of social trends in the United States. In the years since, scholars in a variety of fields have returned to Muncie to follow up on the Lynds' work, making this small city among the most studied communities in the nation. The center continues this tradition by sponsoring and promoting research on Muncie as Middletown, on small cities generally, and on themes and issues the Lynds explored.

    IDIA Virtual Middletown Project brings these studies to life in the virtual world of Blue Mars. This prototype recreates elements of industrial life from that period, specifically the Ball Glass Factory. The project incorporates various modes of learning and interaction - while maintaining the immersive experience. This simulation of industrial life, built as a prototype for a much larger project dealing will all aspects of the Lynd Study, has aimed to create a virtual living museum experience expanding the opportunities for both learning and interpretation. The approach to interactive design embeds learning and navigation experiences subtly into the project to maintain the sense of immersion. IDIA has prototyped several techniques to do this including:
    • interactive objects that allow for close up inspection;
    • objects that when clicked bring up web resources that show information;
    • plans or photographs used in the interpretation;
    • non-player character factory workers;
    • a live interactive avatar of Frank C. Ball who greets visitors and introduces them to the factory;
    • video and audio files of factory experts and archival films;
    • an in-world interactive Heads-Up-Display (HUD) that provides deeper investigation and navigation through the factory; and
    • a supporting webpage with complete documentation on all resources used in this interpretation

    Find out more at the IDIA Lab website and the video walkthrough.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Blue Mars Celebrates Obon Festival

    Blue Mars continues its Summer Concert series with an Obon Festival! This week's party is held on Friday night at the usual time of 4pm PDT, however, this time the event will be in Ynaga's city of Tao Hua Yuan! Having the event there will allow Ynaga to create some special decorations including the traditional yagura (drum tower).

    The Obon Festival is held in various times in the summer throughout the regions of Japan as well as in other countries with Japanese communities including Argentina, Brazil, China, Malaysia, the United States, and Canada. The festival is in honor of the contributions and sacrifices made by departed ancestors. The current focus of Obon is a return to hometowns, celebration of family, and honoring ancestors by taking care of their gravesites.

    Obon is a summer festival, so participants often wear light cotton yukatas and enjoy summertime treats such as watermelon. Traditional music is played from the yagura, and participants perform regional dances around the tower. The conclusion of the 3-day festival is floating lanterns on the rivers as a symbolic way of lighting the paths of the ancestors. There are also fireworks displays.

    In Blue Mars, we will celebrate with Japanese music selected and streamed to us by DJ Ilko. Ynaga and JamTuner are creating decorations and party favors including watermelon, lanterns, yukatas and the drum tower. Arzach has created three new colors of his kimono for ladies as well. All these will be available at the party on Friday. We will also offer BLU$ prizes for correct answers to Obon Trivia questions.

    The main part of the party will be held in Tao Hua Yuan, but we may travel to Edo for fireworks and to display our glowing lanterns. Please prepare for the festival by downloading both Tao Hua Yuan and Edo for ease of participation.

    We hope to see you Friday!