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July 9, 2008

Lively (Google's 3D Chat Rooms)

Google's Niniane Wang, who previously worked on rendering clouds, rain and snow for Microsoft Flight Simulator, realized that text comments are pretty boring. "A while ago, I looked around the social web and wished that it could be less static. Sure, you can leave a comment on a blog or write a text blurb on your social networking profile. But what if you want to express yourself in a more fun way, with 3D graphics and real-time avatar interactions?" explains Niniane.

That's how Lively started and we first heard about it last year, when it was tested by some students from ASU. At that time I associated the project with Google Earth, but there's no connection with this application for now.

Lively's goal is to help people "express [themselves] with and without words, and to do this in the places [they] already visit on the web." You can create rooms, decorate them, choose avatars and interact with other people from the room using words or actions. Each room has a permalink and can be embedded in a web page.

To use Lively, you need to download a client that only works in Windows XP/Vista and has plug-ins for Firefox and IE, log in to a Google account and get a Lively ID (Google recommends to choose something different from your Google username). Then you can choose a name and an avatar that can be customized later.

Lively's client also includes support for Google Desktop gadgets and developers can create their own objects with custom interactions.

Many people compared Lively with Second Life and IMVU. "In 2005, [Google] made a secret bid to buy IMVU. The company turned Google down. The search giant did manage to hire one of IMVU's five founders, Mel Guymon," writes Venture Beat. Mel Guymon, who is now Google's Head of 3D Operations, says that "Google making a play validates the space like no one else. We're basically saying this is a real space and everyone is doing this. (...) The implementation of it takes the best of the space, rich avatars and a large catalog of virtual goods, which by the way is free, and have it be a part of your existing social network, which is the big wave right now. That's really the silver bullet."

Lively has the potential to attract some of the people that use social networks and want a fun way to express themselves, but having to download a client that uses a lot of resources, slows down your computer and crashes often is a big downside.

Google's Lively social 3D world is 20 percent done
Google Lively FAQ


  1. This is going nowhere... It's crap to make/buy new application and not intergrate them with other services. You could combine it with google talk for example or the obvious sketchup and Google earth

  2. It is "Joining room" eternally. I never see anything beyond this point.

  3. I STILL haven't seen that sidebar in any room.

    I think my install is screwed up somehow.

    What's worse is the fact they support Internet Explorer 6, yet they DON'T support Firefox1.5
    Isn't that a bit backwards?
    I say this because i refuse to update to the newer ones because they, quite simply in one word, suck.
    Mozilla really need to get their act together and stop adding pointless junk into the browsers.
    Firefox used to be about the plugins, now i don't even need to use a bunch because they are making them standard features.
    I almost feel insulted that they added a spell-checker into FF2.0.
    Come on Google, for crying out loud, it isn't THAT hard to hook a program to a browser.

  4. Wow. Some people just don't like change. I'm using FF3 and love it. You can always disable the addons or uninstall them. Although I absolutely LOATHE Microsoft and their P.O.S. Internet Explorer I'll continue to support FF (no matter what version). FF gives you more control over your addons. And about the spellchecker...I've seen far too many people leaving comments online that cannot spell worth a damn. Granted though, your spelling is nicely handled... Could it be possible that FF2 helped in that department? LOL! Just kidding with ya!

  5. Sorry Hunnter, I'll throw in an even more obscure combination.

    When's Opera/Linux support coming?

  6. What a piece of crap. The user experience dates back to the early 90's, and it's far from user friendly. The sooner this P.O.S. dies, the better off we will all be.

  7. I think it's excellant, the future of Instant Messaging!

  8. I don't see how this could replace Instant Messaging, but what who knows?

  9. It can't replace instant messaging cause it just isn't "instant". Having to wait 2 min before some crappy flash type software loads and then having to wait for the scene to render.

    Thats just too much !!

    I rather just quickly pop into IRC and send the person a message or hell even use GTalk/Orkut.

    If I want some kind of fancy 3d environment. I'll go play CS or some other game with friends. I don't need some clunky embedded object screwing up my browsing experience !!

  10. Installed this last week ... what boring rubbish. I'm actually surprised Google puts their name on this, because this product really is not up to their usual high standards.

  11. i don't think that it's a new generation of instant messaging nor a replacement to it.

    it's indeed a new idea which i believe that it'll find its fans.

  12. I wouldn't see this as a new idea. There have been 3D chats, avatars and virtual rooms before. With a computer I still use email as my main way of messaging people. 3D worlds are coming to Xbox 360 and PS3 also, so I probably stick with them, but I might visit Lively sometimes just because I use Google products daily and happen to have Lively installed for curiosity reasons.

  13. I don't understand

  14. i just want to find a room

  15. well you will al be glad to hear that the site is closing at the end of december

  16. i think this is an idea that will work however there are many sites out there using this sort of program

  17. check

  18. i,m gettin probs wiv the mangle squasher on the drop ferda,cant seem to log onwiv conopulte ,any takers

  19. ok where is it???