Lively By Google – The New Lag Monster

I’ve been having a look at Lively – Google’s new 3D world – over the last couple of days. And the preliminary results are in. If you thought Second Life was a lag monster then you ain’t seen nothing yet.

My computer is fairly basic spec – it was decent when I bought it, but that was a few years ago, and it’s lagging behind the cutting edge now by quite a long way. And Lively hurts my poor little machine in ways that SL has never done.

The only time I was able to get into Lively and move around and explore was when I went onto an island that was completely deserted except for a few objects. Add more than one or two avatars into the mix and the whole thing slows down hugely – to the extent that yesterday evening, I logged into what turned out to be a busy room (the Linden Room if you must know), where there were maybe a dozen avatars and I had time to go into the kitchen and make myself a plate of spaghetti, returned to the computer some 15+ minutes later with my dinner, and the room still hadn’t finished loading (and I’m not exaggerating about the spaghetti).

Three out of 5 times that I’ve tried Lively, it’s ended up crashing my computer so hard that the only recourse was to pull the mains plug to get it back. It uses a huge chunk of pagefile memory, even when there’s nothing happening on screen – seems to gobble it up much faster than SL does – and there’s freezes that last for minutes on end, even when all I was trying to do was adjust the sound volume.

All of which of course is a bit of a disaster for something that purports to be a chat room (albeit a rather fancy one). if you can’t chat without freezing for minutes then it’s not really worth the bother.

Of course, it’s early days yet for it, and maybe these things will get put right – I suspect that the developers are working on superfast cutting edge computers and forgetting that the rest of us don’t necessarily have these things. Which is okay if you’re building a thing for geeks only, but if you want the rest of the world to use it, you’d better do something about it.

There’s a limited amount of stuff you can do on it. You can chat of course, and you can make your own room (actually pick from a series of room templates – the desert island seeming to be the most popular, just like SL) and you can fill it with pre created objects – chairs, flowers, posters and so forth – all fairly bland and unoriginal stuff. You can choose your avatar, again from a set of templates, and do a limited amount of customization on it.

So at the moment it’s not a rival to Second Life (the creative potential just isn’t there), it’s closer to the IMVU chat rooms than anything else – the avatars have a very similar feel to IMVU’s.

But it’s the future of the thing that might be interesting. If Lively ever manages to link up to all the other Google services is when it might start to become interesting. If Google Sketchup gets integrated into it, you’ll be able to build your own environments. And if Google Earth or Google maps (and maybe Google Sky) get integrated you could have your chatroom on the top of Mount Everest, or outside the Taj Mahal, or even (God forbid) in your own backyard outside your real life house.

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~ by slconceptual on July 10, 2008.

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