LivePlace.com has posted a video displaying a very impressive render of a 3D virtual world called City Space. At this point very little is known about LivePlace, other than that the WHOIS lists the domain’s owner as Brad Greenspan, one of the co-founders of MySpace. Note: It appears that in the 20 minutes since I spoke to Greenspan about this post, someone took LivePlace down. The video embed below still works.
The other nugget of information found in the video is that the game is running on OTOY, the 3D engine that renders graphics in the cloud. The technology allows relatively weak computers (or even mobile phones) to display incredibly detailed graphics comparable to those seen in Hollywood movies.
The video shows a massive virtual city filled with towering skyscrapers, parks, user-customized apartments and houses, public meeting places, subways, and everything else you might expect in a metropolitan area, all beautifully rendered by the OTOY engine. The game also features impressive real time lighting, reflection, and weather effects that rival those seen in detailed 3D games (and even some movies).
At this point it appears that gameplay will be focused on human avatars, who can own their own living spaces and offices, buy and sell goods at a virtual mall, and interact with each other in public places.
While there are a number of online games that offer impressive graphics (though none of this caliber), the real potential behind LivePlace and the OTOY engine is the cloud-based rendering engine, which allows games on almost any computer to play without needing a powerful graphics card. OTOY has been developed to work in any browser without a plugin, which makes the barrier for entry into this virtual world much lower than Second Life. Of course, we have no idea when City Space will actually launch, so it’s far to early to hail it as the second coming of social online worlds.