Designing Virtual Worlds
Depending on the intended use, when designing virtual worlds there are different levels of choices that need to be made. Are you doing it strictly for entertainment for yourself and your friends? Are you designing it so your company can hold virtual businesses meetings with staff and clients around the world, without having to pay for airfare and hotels for everyone? Or are you designing a virtual world to teach a class in nursing or car repair?
Who will be using your virtual world?
These are all viable reasons for building a virtual environment online
but each of the users and participants will have vastly different expectations and needs. While all of the users will appreciate an interface that’s easy to use, the people expecting entertainment might enjoy music, colors and movement in the environment that could be distracting for business or educational purposes. (You and your friends might love virtual dancing to a loud rock and roll band with a flashing multi-colored light show, but the business folks and students won’t be able to concentrate!). And on the other hand, presentation tools like virtual whiteboards and slide shows that work well for company meetings or delivering lectures might be totally boring for recreational use.
How often will they be using it?
Another thing to consider is whether you are creating a virtual world for a one-time event, such as an online party, a virtual trade show that your company only hosts once per decade, or a guest lecture by an award winning educator in your field. When designing for one time events, it can be helpful to make a list of features that could be used again for different purposes. Some expenses, like custom designed accessories, artwork or promotional materials may not be recyclable. But costs for the virtual venue itself can probably be recaptured. For example, the landscaping and building that you put up on a parcel of land will be used over and over again, every time someone accesses the virtual world.
Where will your virtual world be located?
The platform you choose will affect the cost of building and maintaining your virtual world, so it’s a good idea to compare a few different possibilities while you’re still in the design phase. For recreational use, consider how much you and your friends are willing to spend on a regular basis in order to play online. For business and educational use, your budgets will determine which possibilities you can consider. If you are working with a generous budget, you can plan on designing virtual worlds on
Second Life (SL).
But if you need to watch your spending, check out
It offers many of the same features as SL, but at a fraction of the cost.
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