Sunday, 21 June 2009

Creation Tools: Second Life v. Blue Mars

Blue Mars currently has no inworld creation tools, but uses the Sandbox approach to content creation. This has been taken as a disincentive to some SL residents, while ignoring the fact that most content creation for SL is not done inworld either.

SL provides no in-world creation tools for sounds, animations, textures, etc., all of which have to be created out of world (and they charge for uploading those assets), and SL provides no out-of-world tools for the creation of these essential elements of content either. In fact, all they provide is the creation of prims and basic vegetation, and an editor for writing scripts (but which has no syntax checking, or diagnostics built in).

Blue Mars, by comparison, has a Sandbox (which will be provided free to all residents), that leaves SL way behind in terms of content creation. Here is a side-by-side comparison:

Inworld creation tools:
Prim creation
Basic tree and grass creation
Basic scripting editor
Terrain modify tools

Out of world tools:

Blue Mars
Inworld creation tools:

Out of world (Sandbox) tools:
Animation Editor
Artificial Intelligence Debugger
Asset Editor
Character Editor
Dialog Editor
Equipment Pack Editor (for games)
Facial Expression Editor
Flow Graph Editor (a visual scripting editor)
Material (texture) Editor
Mission Scripts (for games)
Music Tools
Physics Editor
Script Compiler
Smart Objects Editor
Sound Generator and Editor (lots included)
Terrain Creation Editor
Terrain Lighting Editor
Terrain Modify Tools
Terrain Texture Editor (down to pixel level)
Time of Day Editor
Vegetation Generator and Editor (huge variety to choose from)
Vehicle Editor
Volex Tools (caves and tunnels within the terrain)
Weather Editor (sun, clouds, fog, rain, snow, hail, sleet, thunderstorms, tornadoes, earthquakes)

The Blue Mars Sandbox Editor comes complete with sample cities (and you can create your own too), so you can see exactly what your creations will look like, and how they will behave, before uploading them into BM.

Another big plus for out of world creation is security. The big crash this weekend (20/21 June) of SL saw many people lose irrevocably content they had been working on for hours, and the loss of objects that had been paid for. See this thread. This cannot happen with the BM Sandbox approach, as content is created and stored on your own PC, before it is uploaded. You always have the original as backup.

Many SL content creators are already using Opensim as a Sandbox, as they prefer peace and quiet when creating. The only people who may not like the BM approach are those who prefer an audience when creating in SL, but my guess is that those creators are very few in number, and anyway, the BM tools make it a no brainer for serious content creators anyway.