Recently Google introduced a virtual world experience called Lively which aims to provide a similar experience to what SecondLife does. Like all good Web developer types we immediately downloaded the software to try out the new new thing and well a few hours later we report…it’s lame.
Ok lame isn’t really a very useful review so let’s get specific. First the launch of this property is very un-Google like. Apparently they have server or software problems as it takes what seems like an enternity to load anything. In many cases you may never actually log in properly instead you get to hang out in an empty virtual space with a message that just says “Joining Room” Apparently this is a “software problem” and after many re-installs we did verify that indeed you can get in. The message board traffic at Lively and elsewhere suggest that Google is busy ruining its brand with people all over the world who were very excited to try a Virtual World and had lots of problems–at least Google admits to this.
So once in you can find a SecondLife style system without as much obvious customization. Likely there is but it certainly isn’t immediately obvious. Sorry using canned furniture and avatars isn’t what most people think when they think customization. Because of this likely apparent limitation you see most folks running around with the same avatar which is kind of weird. Yet regardless of this issue, like SecondLife there is just the question of why? You look at the people in here and room after room they seem to pop-in say Hi and then pop-out.
Ok to be fair chatting does happening and there was sex chat going on but really this whole experience reminded us of software a decade old in 2D called The Palace.
Hopefully the virtual world creating part of Lively will get a whole lot better because right now it is just chat with pictures, and with the chat not so lively the pictures better be a whole lot cooler if they want to really want to build “cyberspace” Google style. For some reason I think WoW is more likely to evolve that way than Lively is – time will tell.