Apr 11, 2009

NAI: Not Another Interface

Something which has been on our minds as of late is what seems to be a never ending barrage of cookie cutter interface designs online. It doesn't matter if the website is about science fiction or flash tutorials, they all have the basic layout of navigation bar and layout resembling a newspaper page.

I've personally seen some really interesting interface designs for websites, but they seem to lack intuitiveness or go deeper into the paradigm. To this end, we've redesigned the Andromeda3D website as a work in progress as we check out some interesting ideas that we've been looking over.

If you haven't noticed, we started with the idea of the Cooliris wall as a gallery, and then tried out the Zoomable user interface as a secondary. Unfortunately, the zoomable user interface did not carry over the original tags we had for the cooliris gallery and had to be scrapped.

This in turn was brought to our already knowing attention by a number of persons posting anonymously in our shoutbox and a couple of emails. To put things straight, we never said those technologies were ours and in point of fact, each image from that Flickr gallery is properly tagged with copyright descriptions and links. The zoomable user interface we were trying out did not carry the information over like the cooliris gallery did, and we were looking into alternatives at the time in order to rectify this.

We would like to take a moment to courteously thank the anonymous people who posted in our shoutbox accusing us of things which were both untrue and easily rectified through a simple email or actually following the Flickr links on the items to see they are properly tagged.

Anonymous people, pat yourselves on the back. You deserve it. As a result of your efforts, we've launched a redesign which was nowhere near complete, has not been tested, and omits any and all information about this project sans a small blurb on the main page.

The Andromeda3D project is a private project to discuss the merits of different technologies avaliable today, and also define which advances should be brought together under a single system for the benefit of the Metaverse as a whole. Much of our discussions revolve around the latest cutting edge advancements and how (if possible) to incorporate it in a real time fashion to benefit the overall virtual environment.

Obviously there is no single technology which will do this, and there are a plethora of computer graphics advances in the industry to benefit from. In this light, you now understand what the flickr gallery is about and what we are discussing. It is all fine and good to talk about the advances in computer graphics and new technologies, but a lot of what we are seeing in the industry is a half hearted collaborative toward a unified and better system.

To this end, the discussions vary in our beta team from reviewing such astounding advances in grass and tree lighting (Kevin Boulanger) to Ambient Occlusion in real time (pioneered by Crytek).
We also are looking over such middleware as Allegorithmic Substance Air which enables real time streaming of procedural texture data in miniscule amounts of filesize. Also in discussion is the Silverlining procedural volumetric clouds and atmosphere middleware to enable highly realistic and detailed clouds.

No single entity is going to be responsible for a next generation Metaverse system, and it is going to require a solid review of everything there is in recent advancements. As a result, what started as an effort to bring our reviews and conversations to the public has ended with simply putting them back behind closed doors until we are ready to share our findings again.

One of the things which was taking us so long with redesigning the site was merely the point of topic for this blog entry. We actually have about 5 or 6 different design layouts on the table, but have yet to test them thoroughly. We like the idea of a zoomable user interface, but are not totally satisfied by the interaction metaphor. We've dabbled with making a full 3D environment as the website, but again aren't completely happy with that either.

What you see today is the temporary layout we have chosen until such time that we have decided on our actual full layout. In the meantime, all review and discussions concerning the latest technologies in computer graphics and our feelings on them will reside behind closed doors for our beta team only.

If you wish to add your input to our discussions, you will from this point forward have to sign up for the forums section to participate. We look forward to your continued misinformed blathering in an environment where you no longer are shielded by the safety of a hit and run atmosphere.

- The Management


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