Thursday, August 11, 2011

Interactive 3D Content Creation for eLearning

It seems like a lifetime ago that I created the my first interactive 3D training simulation. It was such an amazing training solution combining software interactions with physical processes into one learning experience. I know I wasn't the only one doing it, but in 1995 there just wasn't anyone that could do it cost effectively. I posted about it in 2006.
After a few wonderful conversations with eLearning colleagues recently, I started thinking about the solution again. I mostly wanted to find out what happened to Superscape, Inc. But I also wanted to find out if there was newer, better, cheaper, software that could do the job.
I remember how cool it was to learn and use Superscape. It had everything you needed to create a fully interactive 3D environment for only $5,000. That was pretty darn cheap in the mid '90s considering other options required multiple software and hardware solutions for any results. Superscape simply required a PC, and that was it. I loved it. But apparently it didn't get enough love and the company mothballed the software and tried moving toward interactive mobile content. Apparently today, they are "The Leader in 3D Social Mobile Gaming".

I posted a quick shout out on my social networks to see if anyone was still using or testing Second Life and ...<cue crickets>...nothing. I still think the major hurdle is in the navigation, but why hasn't that been fixed yet? Its pretty obvious that's the just about the only hang up people have with the tool. I mean, as an entrepreneur, wouldn't your FIRST priority be to eliminate the roadblocks that keep consumers from using/buying your product? I just don't get it.

I heard rumors back when people were paying attention, that they were going to release an enterprise version, but that seems to have fizzled out. I know SecondLife still exists, and I think they are actually even doing well. Alas, the shiny object syndrome has faded. But check out Second LIfe Education again and maybe you will be re-inspired.


In my search for answers I ran across an interesting solution from EON Reality. And as it just so happens they just released version 4.0 of EON Creator. I can't find anyone in my network that has used it, but it looks interesting. I'm scared to ask how much a developer license costs. EON Creator is also Windows only, so that takes me out of the "check it out" mode right there. It does however, LOOK promising. If you have any feedback please let me know what you think of it. If its any good, I think the eLearning community should know about it.

Open Source Options

People keep asking me about Alice and others. Well, is part of Carnegie Mellon University. And the last time they posted any updates on their blog was in 2010. So, that should tell you something. This tool is currently, mostly, being used as a tool to teach programming skills to students. Any real commercial use of the tool is a long way from being a reality.

I keep hoping Google will do something interactive with SketchUp but so far I've only seen it being used to create models to overlay Google maps. It has so many more interactive possibilities. Maybe Google could just create a "world editor" where the objects created in SketchUp could be imported and coded with interactivity. That shouldn't be too hard for the mighty engineers of Google...right?

Okay, now would be a good time for you to send me your hate mail explaining the virtues of all the other tools I've missed. Please keep in mind that this post is just my rambling thoughts that I wanted to capture before I lost them. I'd actually be very happy to hear about all the apps that are not foremost in my mind and not popping up in my Google search results.


Ken Hubbell said...

Brent, as one of the developers of NxView Studio and the software rendering engine of Shockwave 3D (the Director version) over a decade ago, I feel for you. We were creating simulators and training applications over a decade ago using the foremost multi-platform authoring tool there was: Macromedia Director. Only since the advent of Unity 3D (championed by Tom Higgins, formed evangelist for Director) has there been a comparable product. My copy of Director can still do many things even the high end tools cannot. But, that was then, and this is now, and we were way, way ahead of our time! Thanks for the memories.

Steve Naive said...

Not tried it myself but ProtoSphere sounds like it might worth a trial:

Website design london said...

3d is important part of development without 3d we can't to think about development. So I like your post very much..

Unknown said...

You should definetely take a look at Unity, -
download full version for free! (A commercial version is also availabl). Produce content to Win, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android and more!

bschlenker said...

Hi Ken! Happy to bring back the good ol' days for ya. I LOVED Director. It truly was the best multimedia platform around. Looks like I'll need to check out Unity3D.

Hi Ole, Thanks for the tip as well. I'm hoping the development can be done on a Mac or I'm out of luck.

Unknown said...

Of course it can be done on a Mac - actually I think most Unity3D devs uses Mac ;-D

Ron Edwards said...

Hi Brent!
Check out NGRAIN producer - widely used for 3D equipment training. Their Producer tool easily creates 3D animations from industry standard models which can be embedded in documents, websites, elearning, performance support etc.
There is a 30 day trial available.