Australia Council announces latest funding winners

The Australia Council have announced the winners of their MMUVE IT! project. The project had thirty thousand dollars up for grabs for a virtual world arts initiative.

The winners this time are visual artist Andrew Burrell from Sydney and artist and science researcher Trish Adams from Brisbane. The third real winner this time is startup virtual world platform VastPark, which will be the co-host of the final exhibition along with Second Life.

A previous Australia Council event in Second Life

The winning proposal involves “an inter-disciplinary artwork  exploring brainwave activity and body movement and its relationship to virtual environments in both Second Life, and the recently released Australian virtual platform, Vastparks* (sic) …. a human/computer interface system that explores the artistic possibilities of neuroscience studies. The system will allow viewers to interact with artificial life created in virtual worlds through sensor readings of bodily functions including physical gestures, breath, heartbeat or electrical brain and nervous system activity”.

Also involved will be Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, head of visual neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute of the University of Queensland (Trish Adams is currently an artist in residence there).

We’ll catch up with at least one of the team behind the project in coming weeks – after the artistic success of Babelswarm, it’ll be interesting to see a further evolution of Australian virtual world-based arts.

vBusiness Expo line-up announced

Virtual world business advisers Clever Zebra are continuing their relentless schedule of events and products with the announcement of the line-up for the July vBusiness Expo being held on the 30th July:

– Steve Prentice from Gartner will provide the opening keynote address: ‘Virtual Worlds in Business – Are we virtually there yet?’, “where he will summarize the state of the virtual world business in mid 2008, and explore the opportunities and pitfalls of virtual worlds in business.”

– Dr. Tony O’Driscoll from Duke University will provide the second keynote: ‘ “Webvolution” and the iWeb Singularity.’ – “Dr. O’Driscoll will focus on how 3D internet technologies are redefining how we live, work and play.”

Clever Zebra’s pitch to business for the day is:

Learn from the real experience of organizations using varied platforms with a wide variety of use cases. (These use cases will also help you justify virtual worlds budgets as well as help you better understand the value of virtual worlds). Our panel on “Virtual Worlds @ Work” led by SRIC-BI’s Eilif Trondsen Ph.D promises to be one of the high-value highlights of the day.
Learn about new platforms and technolgies about to affect the enterprise virtual worlds market during our “Clever Zebra Virtual Radar” panel led by me, Nick Wilson.

I’ll be speaking with VastPark CEO Bruce Joy and Sun Microsystems Wonderland’s Nicole Yankelovich among others and discussing the technologies likely to affect the enterprise market within the next 3 – 18mts

Finally, although details will come a little later, we are working together with our partners at Forterra Systems to provide a range of educational sessions that will run concurrently at varied times throughout the day. This means that you’ll be able to catch just the sessions that will help you the most.

The feedback I received from a couple of businesses that participated in the first vBusiness Expo was positive and it’s good to see Aussie startup VastPark getting a guernsey on this one.

Virtual worlds prominent in BRW’s Top 100 Australian Web 2.0 Applications

BRW have run a feature listing the ‘Top 100’ Australian Web 2.0 applications.

The list is a co-production with Ross Dawson’s Future Explanation Network and you can see the full list here.

The Australia-based virtual worlds that made the list were:

1. VastPark at number 22.

2. MojiKan at number 32.

3. My CyberTwin at number 65.

4. Mycosm at number 69.

That there are four projects in the list shows the strength of the Australian virtual worlds sphere. We’ve covered VastPark extensively and will be profiling the other list entrants in coming weeks. If you’ve used any of these products, what has your experience been?

VastPark tools go public

VastPark today announced the public release (albeit an alpha release) of a number of its tools. You can now download a browser to view creations dynamically, a Viewer for “viewing the virtual experience in a static and controlled environment”, an Asset Publisher to get everything online and VastServer for real-time, multi-user interaction.

The release is to get the tools into as many hands as possible prior to the second stress test being held on the 22nd April.

If you’re brave enough to use some alpha release tools, let us know what you think of VastPark so far. I can’t actually do it myself as there’s no Mac version as yet.

VastPark, Twofish Elements and TurboSquid

The announcements keep on coming out of Virtual Worlds 2008, with Australian-based VastPark using the fourm to announce some further developments.

The most interesting announcement to me is the license agreement with Twofish, Inc. They provide an economic platform for ‘online entertainment properties’ called Twofish Elements™ . It’s an ecomonic engine that claims to be “an exclusive technology that powers online economies by allowing partners to simply and dynamically control banking and inventory policies”. That’s obviously not a lot of detail but it certainly does add another string to VastPark’s bow, allowing end-users to create their own real cash or virtual currency economies. Settings such as pricing, scarcity and product information can all be tweaked by the user.

The second announcement involves the establishment of a relationship with 3D model provider, TurboSquid. VastPark users will be able to insert content directly from TurboSquid’s catalog of nearly 200 thousand 3D models, presumably for a price.

During our interview with VastPark CEO Bruce Joy last weekend, he alluded to some of these developments and like any such announcements, it’ll be fascinating to see them actually come to fruition. What looks particularly encouraging is how comprehesive the VastPark offering is looking. If the interface allows for realitively easy content creation, this is likely to me a successful business model.

Episode 2 of TMJ Podcast – VastPark special

We’ve got Episode 2 of our podcast live a week after Episode 1, mainly due to the opportunity to interview VastPark CEO Bruce Joy.


It’s an interview of more than 30 minutes but Bruce has some fascinating insights on VastPark’s development and the virtual world business in general. There’s also some brief news snippets and a preview of Episode 3.

For details on how to automatically receive these podcasts, check our podcast page.

VastServer announced

VastPark is continuing its steady journey to open beta, with the company claiming a successful stress test of its servers. Additionally, they’ve also announced VastServer: “Similar to a web server, VastServer serves up IMML, an XML based Virtual Web equivalent to HTML. It acts as the message rely between all the users on the site so they can interact with each other and see what others are doing online in real time.”

VastServer launch

It requires a Windows machine with .NET Framework 3.0 to run with no mention of future Mac or Linux compatibility. VastServer is being touted as non-demanding in terms of computer specs, allowing end users to create virtual worlds “much like Skype conversations”. The real test of those claims will coomence with VastPark’s April 10th open beta launch. The usability of the client application will give a taste of how VastServer may perform as well.

We have an interview pending with VastPark CEO, expect to see the results of that in the coming week or so.

VastPark close to open beta

VastPark has been developing under the radar the past few months but today announced an upcoming stress test of the VastPark servers and browser software. April is touted as when the open beta will be launched and for the first time there’s been confirmation of future support for the Mac platform.


The full announcement:

“VastPark is finally going multi-user!

Getting very close to Open Beta

We are calling on you, our closed beta community, to help us. Did you know we’re planning on releasing our whole platform as an open beta in April?

Before we can release a number of our tools, we need to run a stress test to put our server and browser software through its paces; this is where you come in.

Come online

We need as many of you as possible to join us for the test. At the test we’re going to make some really cool announcements about VastPark which we think you’re going to love.

How do you get involved?

You will need to download the alpha version of the VastPark Browser (available the day prior to the test), and then join us during the test time.

The test runs at 5.30-6.00pm PST, Wednesday 19th March.

Have a look at the chart below for your local time:

San Francisco Wed 19th March  5.00-5.30pm
Austin Wed 19th March 7.00-7.30pm
New York Wed 19th March 8.00-8.30pm
Cologne Thurs 20th March 1.00-1.30am
London Wed 19th March 12.00-12.30am
Mumbai Thurs 20th March 5.30-6.00am
Singapore Thurs 20th March 8.00-8.30am
Melbourne Thurs 20th March 11.00-11.30am

Please add the local time for the test in your diary and if you can join us for the test. We will send out a reminder newsletter the day before testing. For any questions or comments, please visit our website forums.

Thanks for being with us during this next big step!

We look forward to seeing you online.

The VastPark team

We’ll say it one more time to avoid confusion: The software for the test is not going to be available online until the day before the test. We will send out a newsletter before the test to help remind you of the event. Right now, all the software is Windows only but we’re working on bringing VastPark to the Mac. Yep, we heard you Mac lovers and we hope to make announcements about this in July!”

Metaplace is hotting up

Back in September 2007 we mentioned that Metaplace was a new kid on the virtual world block. That kid is growing up pretty quickly and in an interview this week, Metaplace founder (and virtual world guru) Raph Koster states that widespread access to Metaplace should be available by April. The likelihood is it’ll be free for users to build small virtual worlds, with costs kicking in as your world grows.

Metaplace is a service aimed at people designing their own worlds and potentially making money by charging others for the services they offer, with the ability to cash out virtual currency accumulated. The ‘create your own world’ approach reminded me of VastPark, and there are similarities. There’s a brief conversation on the two here.

I love the idea of being able to create my own world but the actual task seems daunting. The ease of use of the toolset will be crucial – it’s hard enough building basic structures in Second Life let alone trying to construct a whole world. On assumption we could all successfully build a world, what type would you build? I’d love to hear your suggestions / thoughts.

Thanks to Virtual Worlds News for the heads-up

VastPark creator – a glimpse

I haven’t heard a lot from the VastPark team recently but I did notice this video from them:

Pretty impressive stuff from a platform in beta. Have you applied for the closed beta? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences.

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