Building virtual worlds is expensive, but an online space to collaborate could make the process both cheaper and easier. That’s the goal of the Virtual World Framework, an open-source, Web-based architecture that will be used for training, information sharing and developing virtual worlds. The beta version of VWF was announced at the GameTech 2012 Users’ Conference in March.
Although Lockheed Martin built the kernel for the framework, it is encouraging all developers to contribute components — whether that is content such as 3-D models or larger components such as physics within a virtual world.
“We’re trying to harness the networking effects of the Internet and embracing, as David Weinberger called it, the small pieces loosely joined,” said Richard Boyd, chief architect of Virtual World Labs at Lockheed Martin.
“The idea is that it will be a completely Web-accessible and Web- distributable platform,” Boyd said. “There’s already a wide and growing number of pieces of the puzzle being developed.”
Although it will be possible to share 2-D content through the system, one can also envision 3-D worlds with avatars where people can interact.
For example, Boyd imagined shipping equipment to the other side of the world. Rather than soldiers needing to come back for training or reading through a static manual, their avatars could meet in the virtual world and walk through how to safely set up the equipment. After the instructor avatar demonstrated the proper way, the student avatar could perform it virtually and do the task in the real world.