Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Commercial Virtual World Software: The Top 5

Back in December I looked at opensource/free or nearly free virtual world platforms and software. Since then I have been looking at commercial virtual world software to see what they offer, and how much they cost.

After much experimentation with demo versions I finally came up with my Top 5. I was hard pressed to pick a clear winner, as the feature sets varied somewhat, so I will just list the Top 5, in no particular order.

3DVIA Virtools 5

3DVIA Virtools 5  includes five key components: the Graphical User Interface to develop sophisticated applications by visually assembling objects and behaviors; the Behavior Engine to run interactive applications; the Render Engine to render graphics in real-time; the Virtools Scripting Language to create low-level specific functions without any C++ line; and the SDK to create custom behaviors.

The open-ended architecture of 3DVIA Virtools 5 supports a wide variety of 3D formats. 3D Content Capture plugins support most commonly used DCC software formats (3ds Max®, Maya®, XSI®, Lightwave®, Collada®) for importing/exporting 3D XML files, making real-time 3D technology easily available.

3DVIA Virtools 5 allows users to imagine, share and experience highly interactive 3D content. 3DVIA Virtools 5 Platform enables easy development of virtual experiences such as driving, shopping, product use, maintenance and marketing tests.

3DVIA Virtools 5 also extends the range of target environments for deploying 3D experiences: MicrosoftTM Windows® and AppleTM MacOS® computers, Wii and Xbox 360 game consoles, Intranets via Office and XE Players, Internet via the 3DVIA player, as well as immersive environments via the VR Library.

This broad scope highlights the diversity of potential deployment options and provides a large range of communities with a powerful solution to create andexperience life content.

Pricing is not generally published, and is only available on request, however I read in a forum that the cost was somewhere around $9000 plus over $3000 per year for subscription, but a free trial was available.

Download the 3DVIA Virtools 5 datasheet here.

Vizard Virtual Reality Toolkit is everything you need to build interactive 3D content. Designed for rapid prototyping, Vizard gets you creating fast and provides the resources to deploy even the most challenging applications. With Vizard, even someone with no programming experience can leap into the world of interactive 3D content.
Vizard is extremely feature-rich, a full detailed list of all of its features is here.

There are three editions of Vizard: the Vizard Lite Edition;  the Vizard Development Edition; and the Vizard Enterprise Edition, ranging in price from $49 for the Lite version, up to $9,200 for a single commercial license.

Download the interactive demo here (10MB).

DX Studio
DX Studio is a complete integrated development environment for creating interactive 3D graphics. The system comprises of both a real-time 3D engine and a suite of editing tools.
Using DX Studio you can build complete real-time interactive applications, simulations or games, for standalone use or for embedding in other Microsoft Office/Visual Studio applications.

DX Studio comes with a Freeware Version (installer is the same for all the different licenses), a Standard Version, and a Pro Version, and with non-commercial and commercial licenses. Prices range from $0 for the Freeware Version, up to $800+ for the Pro Version with a commercial license. Here are just some of the features.

Don't let the small logo fool you. This suite is BIG on features.
Visual3D is a complete simulation and game development platform that integrates all of the necessary tools and technologies needed to build 3D applications into a single software product.

Visual3D's All-in-One Game Development Toolset enables rapid development of 3D interactive simulations, virtual worlds, and next generation games using C#, .NET and XNA.

With a powerful development API and comprehensive set of visual design tools that automate core design tasks, teams can complete their applications rapidly and cost effectively. With this power in hand, a growing list of leading professional game and simulation developers are using Visual3D.NET to get their applications done.

Visual3D has a Free Trial, available from here,  while prices ranges from $175 per developer for the Indie Edition, to $495 per developer for the Pro Edition. Source code is also available, but are expensive.

More information on Visual3D's features are available here.

Real-time Scene Editing (Scene Design, Part 1) - Visual3D Game Engine from Visual3D Game Engine on Vimeo.

Last, but not least in my Top 5 comes Quest3D.

February 20 2008, Leiden, The Netherlands, version 4.0 of Quest3D® is now available from Quest3D resellers and the Quest3D website.

With the release of Quest3D 4.0, Act-3D™ B.V. lifts its flagship to an even higher quality level of real-time 3D application development. New functionality contains real-time support for COLLADA, Newton Game Dynamics, Advanced Weather Simulation, 3D GUI Support and a fully Object-Oriented development model.

Demo movie

The new release is a giant leap forward in real-time 3D software development. High-end 3D software projects, such as 3D architecture visualizations, product and design presentations games and training simulators benefit from the newly supported technologies in Quest3D.

There are three versions of Quest3D: the Creative Edition; the Power Edition; and the VR Edition. Pricing ranges from 1,249 to 9,999. 

Quest3D has a demo version, available from here.