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Atmosphere

 
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AWM Mars
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:18 am    Post subject: Atmosphere Reply with quote

I wanted to follow this thread on, from another topic, rather than hijack it.

trucker2000 wrote:
Harper, never give up on a good dream. (just ask AMW what it was like when atmosphere got shelved. shudder.)

2004, Adobe Atmosphere was hitting the shops after many years of lag, bugs, downtime, beta testing, changes, .................discovery, wonderment and something akin to a drug users focus.... a lot of talented and skilled people from around the globe had come together to be in one place, day after day... overcoming language barriers. Swapping techniques, scripts, meshes and friendships.

HomeWorld, the first place you logged into. It was only empty if you happened to have logged into another new instance (instancing is another story), otherwise it was full of around 10-15 people you call friend. Many wanting to show/give you links to their new worlds, or drop you avatars.
Some very talented people had recreated popular themes from the ilks of Lord of the Rings trilogy, some their farms complete with animals. Diners, cities, underwater worlds, space stations, underground railways, to name but a very few. Listen to music from a fully functional jukebox, or watch a movie.

For most of us in Europe, this was achieved over dial-up connections and on systems that would not even run the opening screen of most Virtual Environments today. Yet what is strange, Atmosphere offers even today, most of what these more modern worlds offer. In many cases like security, it offers greater facilities. In respect to bandwidth and network strategies, it is still way ahead of the current offerings, yet doesn't lack on the eye candy.

Functionality was given with java-scripting. This could link directly to the web-page scripting to extend functions to other programmes. The method of applying scripts, is procedural, even giving someone like me, the ability to create functioning components within the environment, by simply dragging visible links between scripts and object (even grouped).

Physics offered all the current functionality, like hinge, pivot, ball, motor, spring, mass, friction etc etc.

Light-mapping was handled within the scene manager, along with dynamic shadowing which could be controlled by scripting functions.

You could work in both Model Space and World Space, inside the same Scene Manager.

Worlds could be linked using portals that the user would simply walk into. You could preload a world, so the portal linking was almost transparent, giving the developer the ability to create vast environments, that appear endless.

Sounds, either ambient and or directional/local.

THEN in 2004, for no apparent reason.... Adobe announced it was dropping Atmosphere for good. It remained supported for a few weeks, then stopped.

For those of us that had been in the beta test programme since the beginning, we were given Full versions of the Builder, Player and Server programmes (no source code, except the server Sad ). Atmosphere was withdrawn from the shops.

HomeWorld stopped functioning, after the collaboration server was switched off. Several people tried creating their own HomeWorld, to give users somewhere to go. It could not have been cheap to keep a server running 24/7 just for users to be able to link their worlds to, and keep a established community with somewhere to 'live'.

A lot of 'Atmospherians' found other platforms, that were either emerging or being supported. The choices back then were small and severely limited, to what the Atmospherians had been used to. The community lives on... so does the passion. Very Happy

A couple of groups have formed over the years, one strong one run by Donza, is perhaps the most active. There is a planned meet in a selection of hosted Atmosphere worlds, for Halloween. Atmospherians can submit their favourite themed world, and supply themed avatars as well is required. Each submission will be voted on, the winner receiving a years free hosting Smile .

The only trouble I'm having is, getting my submissions that were created in DeleD exported into a format that works with Atmosphere. The 'conversion' programme requires OBJ format, that is then converted into MTX/MTJ format files, that can be read by Atmospheres Builder. I have done it with some simple files, and that maybe the only way I can get them converted, by breaking up my meshes into simple blocks.

It doesn't like polygons with more than quads. It seems to have a polygon, vertice and or edge limitation, but its not documented. Some models work, but similar ones don't. It's a fair bit of work, for a platform that is no longer supported and or mainstream. The Browser plug-in is a bit hit and miss, and Viewpoint no longer support it.

I contacted one of Adobe's Directors regarding Atmosphere. He was passionate about Atmosphere, but had to admit that it will never see the light of day ever again, as Adobe has a policy of promoting anything Virtual/3D to both Flash and Director. As it turns out, Atmosphere paved the way for both those programmes, and the decision to drop Atmosphere was probably aligned to the purchasing of Macromedias Flash. I have asked if Atmosphere was ever going to be released as open-source, the answer was no, never, as it is not Adobes policy to do so.

What Trucker is talking about, is the stunned awe that we as users, supporters and beta testers, suffered, when Atmosphere was taken offline and buried. Adobe gave no reason beyond 'The world is not ready for Atmosphere at this time'. It went beyond simply a builder programme, it was a whole community, the birth in many ways of Virtual Social Networking, an indicator of the power of the platforms. It was so strange, being so far ahead of any potential opposition, and a cornered market, Adobe should simply drop it. Only months before, the humble beginnings of one of the worlds most popular social networks, Second Life, sprang to life.

In 7 years, Second Life has turned over in excess of half a billion dollars. Forecasts indicate that Virtual Reality will have a turnover of excess of 7.5 billion dollars a year, in the next 2-3 years. This is the one industry that has shown significant growth in this recession, throughout the world.

You could still use Atmosphere today, as there exists many fully licensed versions out there, and it would hold its own in many ways, to more 'modern' offerings, even bettering them in many ways. The things stopping this is...
1) Viewpoint do not support the browser plugin for graphics rendering anymore, nor will they release the code into Open-Source. In fact, neither Viewpoint or their parent company, answer emails, return phone calls or respond to letters.
2) Atmosphere will never become Open-Source, nor will it ever be supported by it's owners.

It may live on for a few more years, until both Browsers and OS's develop beyond Atmosphere.
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trucker2000
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donza is still out and about? Wow. Haven't seen or heard from her in years.

To add to how adobe dropped atmosphere, we actually found out by accident. One day, all the developers were on the forum, answering questions, giving advice, etc... (kinda like Jeroen and PJ) and the next, silence. Someone on the beta forum found a little page hidden deep inside adobe's website that stated it was shelved.
I used to have a copy of the collaberation server (both linux and windows versions) and had even thought about setting it up, but never did as my host at the time wouldn't turn it on. Now, well....several computers later, I don't have the code anymore.

The biggest point I was making tho, was just becouse the program/engine you are using get's discontinued, doesn't mean you have to give up. I've tested several since then. Some I laughed at, others I oggled.
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AWM Mars
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This will warm your cockles http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=168390586181

I'm trying to get a couple of my models converted into MTX/MTJ formats, so I can import them into Builder. There is no debug in Viewpoints scene builder, so when I load my OBJ model, it just crashes. Confused
This is so I can participate in the Halloween event.. but the deadline lurks closer and closer... any ideas?

I agree with your point about not dropping something that is no longer supported.... but, how much time will you invest in something likely to fall off the technical advances cliff, before you have to abandon it?

When trying to run a business, its a major struggle to swap platforms in realtime. We were using Atmosphere until 18 months ago, when Viewpoint stopped responding on their forums. Atmosphere itself is good for several more years, but OS/Browser support for the rendering plug-in from Viewpoint stalled when Vista came out, despite over coming that fiasco, its borked again with Win7. There still is no Linux or Mac solutions.

We/I have a copy of the server, it's not 'original' as it's been played around with a bit. We did get it up and running, after opening a few ports etc. Our tech guru, wrote a Sip/Xmpp compliant collaboration server from scratch, so we used that for both Atmosphere and now the Ogre based platform. It has all the API's for the up and coming MPEG formats etc, so it will serve us for some years.
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trucker2000
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've applied to the group, but I doubt Donza would know me as facebook uses my real name and I used RayR on the atmo forum. We shall see.

As for open sourcing, adobe can't. Well, not in it's present state anyway. They would have to rip out all the viewpoint and havoc code first, and they aren't going to spend the money to do that. As for the pluggin, it's nothing more than the viewpoint viewer. ( a renderer)

I enquired as to how much adobe wanted for atmo last year (or the year before...getting old i guess) and they want the same price they wanted just after shelving the program. I explained what it would take to make it viable for future use, but that didn't phase them. I don't think I could come up with a million donors, so the purchase is out the door. If I had the money, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

I have no clue about converting your objects. I used to use irfanview to export to obj then import into viewpoint. You may try that. Personally, I never liked the mtx/z formats.
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AWM Mars
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm.. I've used Irfanview for some years, I don't see its ability to import/export any 3D formats:
http://www.irfanview.com/main_formats.htm
Did you get the name right?
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got the name right. It's odd that the list doesn't show "wavefront obj" on it as it was the only program I used. I do know milkshape exports to wavefront which is what viewpoint uses. I'm currently trying to figure out how to get my old beta builds into the new builder. (the release builder)
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AWM Mars
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm that is strange, I went ahead and downloaded/installed irfanview, but couldn't load any of my 3D formats. It doesn't list any 3D formats to my knowledge, in either open or save. According to the blurb, it loads all common graphics, sound and video formats.

I have a proliferation of programmes that export to the wavefront version of the obj format, but seems each of them do things differently. Some programmes will load an OBJ model and change the handing of the model, others alter the U mapping only, some won't show semi-transparencies or handle alpha blending, some just crash and give up.

I have yet to find a solid solution to gaining a work-flow to get OBJ, 3DS, Collada and or X formats. The only plug-in that seems to work in most programmes that support it, are the Ogre .mesh .material .skeleton formats. That maybe because Ogre provide the plug-ins themselves.

I was looking forward to putting a couple of my scenes into Atmosphere, so I could include them in the up and coming Halloween event. The only model I've managed to port over, is the Sphinx, but hardly Halloween subject matter lol.
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AWM Mars
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Somehow, I managed to get a Sphinx model I've been working on, into Veiwpoint Scene Builder, as a OBJ file. I could see the model clearly, rotate, scale etc. I saved it as a MTX file, and even used the Publish function to create the MTX/MTS files into another folder.
I imported both Viewpoint model versions into Builder. One appeared for a secound, than disappeared even though I could see/select it in the Scene List. The other, I could see the anchor, move and scale it, even convert to a surface, but it would not show up in any viewport as anything other than a viewpoint anchor point, player view, or, when published.
I give up... never had these problems previously. Maybe I should drop the OBJ and try and find a free ASE file exporter.
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AWM Mars
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, update, I did manage to get models converted and into Atmos Builder.
The Sphinx model I broke into 3 seperate meshes (one per texture used), that cured why VP wasn't playing ball. It didn't like meshes with more than one texture (thanks Jodec, I saw the issue in one of his tutorials, whereby his workflow was to texture the mesh with a single texture, then change it in Builder).
That worked for the complicated mesh of the Sphinx head and body, and again for the tablet mesh, however the simple mesh, the floor and steps, just would not export from VP into Builder, no matter what I did with it. Compared to the Sphinx mesh (60k polygons), the floor and steps are less than 100 polygons.
Sphinx was made from a Grid, the Tablet from a Cube and the floor/steps from a Plane.

The Sphinx did also allow the lightmapping to remain, neither the Tablet or the Floor/steps did. The texture on the Sphinx looked very plastic and would not allow dynamic shadows to fall upon it, the Tablet did allow dynamic shadowing and even lightmapping, lol, the floor/steps I could select, scale, move etc, but just not see.

I could load the 3 textures used, apply the right ones to the Tablet, even use the floor/step texture on a terrain (the one I created in Tutorials) I imported, but the Sphinx would not take any texture I dropped on it.

Now, as I have a life, I've stopped work on this for now. Shocked
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