Anybody who's played Epic MegaGames Unreal Tournament will recognise it as one of the best the software industry has been produced. Tie the stunning visuals in with a fairly simple plot line - blast your enemies or die - and it was easy to see why gamers liked it.
The worlds created in the game itself are still stunning, even though the last version of Unreal Tournament saw the light of day in 2004, and gamers are champing at the bit waiting for the next version of Unreal to hit the shops.
The recent news that Nortel has announced a deal to license Epic's Unreal computer engine to emblazon its online virtual e-commerce world - called web.alive - raises some interesting possibilities.
It was last August that the Canadian network kit vendor announced it would be developing web.alive, also known ironically as 'Project Chainsaw', to move e-commerce portals on from the current dowdy ones scattered throughout the Internet, to something with a bit more life in them. As well as aiming at the e-commerce website market, Nortel is also touting the virtual world as a virtual web-based meeting place, although it's a bit ironic that Nortel filed for bankrupcy protection in the US earlier today, after announcing its first customer for its web 2.0 technology a week earlier.
Licensing the Unreal graphics engine adds the visuals to its DiamondWare acquisition, announced when web.alive was born. DiamondWare was acquired to give the site high-definition, proximity-based 3D positional voice technology. The first customer announced for the technology is Lenovo and users can take a peek at its site here.
One of the problems with creating an HD virtual world e.commerce portal with Unreal-type visualisation is that a dedicated client is needed for the real-time rendering required, and that is what happens. You're prompted to download and install what Nortel call a 'thin client', which can then process the scenery and actions when you're in 'Project Chainsaw'. The installed client is 86MB in size - would you called that 'thin'?
I did install the client and have a quick shufty, and the Lenovo's e-Lounge site does look neat, with great sound - albeit it was slightly deserted.
I suppose users familiar with Unreal Tournament, might have expected customers to be wandering around dressed to kill - sorry. Was I expecting any security guards present to be tooled up ready for action? That would have been true to the Unreal engine the site is based on, as would a failed attempt to buy Lenovo laptops with your credit card!
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