Saturday, 9 January 2010

Twinity Revisited

Twinity is a 3D online virtual world created by Metaversum GmbH of Berlin, Germany, and offers accurate virtual versions of real-world cities. It only runs natively on the Windows platform.

Twinity first opened its doors to public beta in September 2008, and I joined up for a looksee in November 2008. I must admit, I did not like it very much, and it used chat bubbles, which I hate (yes, I know Blue Mars uses chat bubbles, but there is a good chance they will give us the ability to switch that off). It uses the Global as the in-world currency, which you can use to buy new furniture and clothing.

So, what has changed in the 14 months since I last visited?

First Impressions
The first thing I was surprised to find was that Twinity is still in Beta.The next thing I noticed is that the number of cities has increased from 1 to 3. In December 2008 there was only Virtual Berlin, but now Virtual London, and Virtual Singapore have been added.There also appears to be lots of other locations added by tenants of Twinity.

A mini-map has now been added that uses Google maps, and shows the location of other avatars, places of interest and stores. Any of these can be deselected to clear up the map. It has a distinct GPS look to this map, as you see your avatar icon moving along the roads on the map as you explore the city.

Also new is a System button that brings up various preferences:

  • The General tab allows you to select whether your name or other avatars' names are displayed or not.
  • The Display tab allows you to select the resolution, windowed mode, anti-aliasing, texture quality (auto, high, medium or low), reflection mode (off, water only, mirror only, or all), mirror depth, and level of detail.
  • The Sound tab is where you can set the sound master volume, enable your microphone for voice chat, set the voice and mike volume, and select your sound input and output devices.
  • The Controls tab allows you to select Basic (normal keyboard characters are used for chatting in the chat window, and arrow keys are used for movement), or Action Games (you must press before chatting using the keyboard, else WASD are used for movement).
  • The Record tab permits you to set the Screenshot folder, set the Screenshot hotkey, and a hotkey for hiding the GUI.
The lower toolbar has some nice features:

The first icon brings up the mini-map, next is the places browser, then the Messaging window. The Community icon is next, allowing you to see what events are on, join groups, and search for other residents, complete with their profile (from here you can also send them a Private Message, a Friendship Request, or teleport to them). The Instant Messaging and the Change Avatar (body and clothes) icons then follow. The final two icons bring up the Library (Inventory) and Animations browser.

You can use either the arrow keys or the WASD keys depending on which mode you select. You can walk faster by holding down the Shift key. The movement is smooth, however, when watching other avatars walking by they often suddenly rise into the air by a metre or so (not jumping), or walk into the floor, for no apparent reason. Many of the avatars around me appeared to be in running mode, but not actually moving. The mouse thumbwheel allowed me to zoom in and out with my camera, while holding down the right mouse button and dragging the mouse allowed me to pan and tilt my camera.

Twinity has many of the core features you could wish for in a Virtual World. However, there are no in-world building tools, but you can upload images and 3D objects (using the Collada format), at 1 Global per object. The avatars still look awful. You can buy or rent property in Twinity from the main website,

It will be interesting to see what the final feature set will include when Twinity eventually comes out of beta.