Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Blue Mars Shows New Life: Rome's Ancient Pantheon Opens With Amazing Realism Courtesy of IDIA Lab

The IDIA lab virtualization of Rome's Pantheon 

Blue Mars, a virtual world that, except for some updates and a few new destinations, has been frozen in time for the past three years.  An announcement in January 2011 said that development of the pc-based virtual world would be on hold -- but development of mobile applications would continue. Another announcement later in 2011 said that IDIA Lab, which is a part of Indiana's Ball State University, would would receive the rights to develop new applications for Blue Mars for some of their cutting edge applications of virtual reality. We are now seeing one of the first projects come to fruition -- and it is an amazing achievement.

My avatar  interacts with Roman Citizen bots 
IDIA Lab has opened two attractions in Blue Mars in addition to their older exhibits -- Rome's Pantheon (which still stands) and Stonehenge. I visited the Pantheon earlier this week and it is amazing. The realism of the design (Blue Mars has always been more advanced that Second Life in this regard) is simply stunning. In addition, there are "bots" (I am not sure what else to call them) that are dressed as Roman citizens from 2000 years ago who you can see moving and hear speaking what I am going to guess is murmured Latin. Although they do not actually speak to you, the move around you and are aware of your presence. It is unnerving. I felt like a ghost; the bots were somewhat aware of my presence but did not notice me. You need to visit to experience the realism of the effect (instructions are located below in this post).

Blue Mars allows you to change the light perspective of a scene -- this is the Winter Solstice
I highly recommend that you take the time to visit Blue Mars if you are interested in ancient Rome, or want to see what an alterative graphics-based virtual world might look like.  However, do not expect to see many other people during your visit.


To find out more about Blue Mars:

To find out more about Ball State University and the IDIA Lab:

To find out more about the Pantheon project:

To find out more about the Pantheon, which still stands in Rome:

The three dimensionality of the architecture is very realistic

To visit the Virtual Pantheon:

First step, create an account
(note:  I found Blue Mars is relatively easy to master and navigate).

Secondly, download client (note: Windows only)

Lastly, visit the Virtual Pantheon:

Eddi stands in front of a Roman statue

Information on the Pantheon Project is Available Through the Help Menu 

The Interior of the Pantheon is Highly Detailed

Here I am in Close Up Perspective

Eddi Interacts With Some Gossipping Roman Bots

Here are two machinima on the project that you will find interesting

The first is from resident Mexi Lane (Marina Bellini).  It is short and gives you a quick introduction to the sophistication of the build.

The second, longer machinima is from IDIA Lab and explains the project in detail:

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