Friday, October 13, 2006

How To Beat YouTube

Here's a challenge: build a GUI for a sign event system (code list dispatcher in the scene and in each avatar) selectors that can route the code to any and all objects in the X3D scene.

The problem of X3D in the current technical offerings is the very large gap between authoring intelligent geometry and scripting scenes in it.

Character-building should be be simple variations on code lists of avatar-gestures that are reacted to differently given the avatar's interpreter (event behaviors).

The authoring system tool should enable a high-level character builder that sets emotional ranges coupled to ranges.

The avatar is not a passive reactor. All events/links aren't inbound; the avatar as an actor is seeking events and will navigate towards clusters containing the search terms in Topical Vector Space (the vectors among the terms in the XML metadata create clustered attractors). Where locations in geometric space contain these terms, the avatar navigates toward it or away from it.

The DeepGeeks will note that these are both Hamiltonian coordinate systems subject to the same transformations. In energy terms, the search term clusters act as attractors. Create a search set that returns the demographic desired and it pulls the search engine to the location. The world metadata (searc terms) is pulling the search engine, therefore, the avatar toward it. While this is trivial in terms of search engine ad placement support, it is non-trivial in creating a real=time situation comedy.

That is how you beat YouTube.

Darkstar Works With X3D

As it turns out, X3D can be applied with the DarkStar server kit. Aaron Bergstrom []answered on the X3D Public list:

Yes, X3D can be deployed through Darkstar.

Immediate Mode Interactive ( is developing an X3D-based game engine called Cosmic. I refer you to the Cosmic Blog page:

I demo'd IMI's Cosmic Birdie video game based on the Cosmic game engine at the X3D Tech Talk - Siggraph 2006. All the content in Cosmic Birdie was created using RawKee, the X3D exporter for Maya.

IMI demo'd Cosmic Birdie using the Darkstar server in the Sun booth this year's Game Developers Conference.

If you look through the Darkstar documentation you'll notice that Darkstar supports HTTP requests for communication, so theoretically, it's probably possible to use the XMLHttpRequest/Ajax3D techniques outlined by Tony Parisi ( to do multi-user environments with Flux and Darkstar.

Of course, licensing is another issue. And they last I heard from the IMI guys, Darkstar is still in the development phase, though supposedly, Sony has some sort of arrangement with Sun to deploy Darkstar as a game server for the PSP. I have no idea about the current status. You may want to check out the following URL:

The Cosmic Birdie demo is available through the darkstar website.


So free-to-develop server software and open source X3D clients using AJAX techniques can now be applied to serious games (think training and scenario generation). There is a nice startup opportunity here or several.

A key thing to remember as Eric Maranne pointed out on the X3D list: don't sell syntax and languages. Sell applications. But the development costs are shifting away from licensing costs to server hardware and personnel. Figure out how to live within your means there, and as the DealNews guys proved, you can start and sustain a company long enough to become profitable even in the face of bad times (which BTW, times are good right now).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Project Darkstar

Wow! THIS is pretty dammed cool. Sun is building a shareable server and tool system for games with five 9s reliability. That is awesome.

When I worked for public safety, we loathed to guarantee five nines for mission critical real time dispatch systems. Five nines is awesome for massive multiplayer games.

Two of the reallyDumbMistakes made while I was in that field are worth relating. The first was having two Development VPs in a row stating that real time 3D was of absolutely no interest to the company or to the public safety market. (Actually, the dumbest was a former company president making the absolute statement that XML was only Microsoft FUD and in no way would affect the public safety market, but I digress). The second reallyDumbMistake was a decision made with the formation of an Innovation Team charged with getting new ideas into Development. One of our senior staffers boasted proudly that when the first batch was submitted, they quickly eliminated any that mentioned games.

A few years later, a major and very significant RFP for public safety required the application of the XML 3D standard application language, X3D, in a game simulation environment for massive multiplayer training. Of course, the company had to license code from two developers in France just to get started because a "leader in spatial graphics technology for fusion of real time information" was caught flat footed.

Now Sun (Notice, Sun, not Microsoft that is twaddling along with the public safety industry) can provide THE key component for these serious 'games'.

And so it goes. It will be interesting to see if X3D clients can use the services of Project Darkstar. Given the open source Java implementations of X3D toolkits, I'd be surprised if the answer is no. If so, there is a very neat opportunity for some of the public safety vendors to get a fast leg up on their front running competitors.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lead By Example

Let's take this out of the comments.

General Powell gives a good speech. I watched a video of this speech when he gave it to my last employer's conference in Orlando. Just a few points in response:

  1. If the corporation is making the claim and receiving the credit for philanthropy, the donation needs to come off the bottom line: corporate profits. Since stockholders tend to object to that and rebel against executives who are generous in this regard, this doesn't happen often or in quantity.

  2. That leaves employee contributions. We are all familiar with the scene where the office geishas send out memos asking us to contribute to some charity in a city where our company wishes to do future business. We've all heard the speech from the guy representing the PAC of a favored local politician and seen that after the employees contribute, that guy gets a very big promotion. We are familiar with the math of large bonuses for executives based on performance numbers built on employee-contributed hours of unpaid overtime while these same executives tell us that the company can only afford a 2% raise for those who shouldered the burden of the miraculous turn around.

So it really comes down to picking someone's pocket in these corporate initiatives unless contributions are matched in kind by all and by percentage of income. Otherwise, the next time the call goes out for these contributions, tell them that you are happy to do your community work, but that you will donate where the branding of the effort does the most good: give at church. Advancing the career of your minister seldom increases his or her income, career potentials, or customer base. It just goes to where it will do the most good with the least claims.

And if your employers subtly or overtly insinuate that contributions and company-brandable effort are required for consideration of leadership potential, do as the subject of the cited article, General Powell, did when faced with such: seek other employment. That is the hallmark of leadership: lead by example.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's Good To Know. It Feels Like Me.

Being unemployed is scary. Being unable to find work would be a lot scarier. Scary can be good though. I'm out finding gigs to play. So far, so good. It seems my kind of act is back in vogue. There are all of these little coffee shops and new classy joints opening in town, and they are all looking for the soiled smoky voice sound that too many years of screaming over the top of electric guitars produces, except they want it over the top of an acoustic guitar so they can talk.

They're conversing. That's good. It's a sign of the times. I've seen this before. This was the mood when I was 18 and first playing in the bars. There was an unpopular war on then, trust in the government was low, and there was the sense that maybe people should stop watching the news and start talking to each other. Culture is marvelously adaptive. Businesses and art somehow blend into the need for a place to talk, furnish the sounds, the coffee, the magazines and the comfortable chairs. This possibly scares the lunatic right wing fringe. It should. It means common sense is overcoming fear, one coffee at a time.

Here is something personally neat for me. I'll quote it and those of you with some understanding of the Southern music scene can relate:

From: []
Sent: Monday, October 09, 2006 2:51 PM
Subject: Re: [BlueBirdCafe Calendar Request]

>>Do I need to audition again to be included in the rotation for Sunday Writer's Night?


Though it's been 10 years since you played on a Sunday Writers Night, you scored well enough not to have to audition again. Just call any Tuesday - Friday from 11 AM - 4 PM to rebook on a Sunday.

-Fran (Bluebird Cafe)

It's good to know. So, May 13, 7:30 CST, back to the Bluebird with three original songs and no chatter. It is the scariest gig in the world for reasons you'd have to be a solo songwriter/singer to understand. And one of the best.

Scary can be good. I may be unemployed, but I'm working, and yanno, it feels like me again and that feels good.

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