What can I say about Blue Mars. I have been playing with it on and off for a while now and thought I would give a few impressions. It has amazing graphics, beautiful worlds, and great physics, everything you would expect from a really good game. There is a good reason for this. Blue Mars uses the CryENGINE. For those of you into gaming, that would be the game engine Crysis uses. It is very powerful, has great shading and light mapping, the features mentioned above and it also has dynamic shadowing. Almost everything you would expect out of a quality computer game.
There is a separate developer’s page and account for those who wish to get into creating things. You can download tools to get into object or even city building.
The client is free to use. It is just short of a 400 meg download so be
patient. You have to register for a user account, of course. You will be
presented with a welcome screen that contains a list of places to visit.
and cities have to be downloaded and some are quite large files. Once
downloaded you can then enter the city or place. Navigating is by left-mouse
clicking a point distant from you and your avatar will walk to it. If you click
far away the avatar runs. Looking around is accomplished by a right click and
dragging around. There are 4 stages of zoom in the tool bar at the bottom. I
would prefer a ‘mouse wheel’ zoom. And it is definitely easier than the little
arrow set in SL.
You can activate actions for your avatar by right clicking it and choosing from the action menu. You can customize the look of your avatar including ‘painting’ the face to create a beard or an effect of your choosing. There are also actions that let your avatar shake hands or hug another avatar. There are other tools in the browser to go home, see your friends list and other functions.
This brings me to a short rant. There are a lot of places where it is hard to impossible to find anyone in-world. In the places I used in the past (far past). There were lists of places and whether there were people there or not. With Blue Mars and a few others, unless you have people in your ‘friends’ or ‘buddy’ list, you cannot tell if there is anyone in-world unless you happen to pop in where others are. I find this to be counter intuitive to letting people get to know each other, and I don’t see the social networking end of it as a replacement. A few exceptions to these are Vivaty, which has a list of rooms and who, or at least how many people are in them and even has a icon in the task bar that alerts you when people are active. And Kaneva, which will launch the player via a button on your profile page. A lot better than loading up even a great looking place and seeing no one but yourself.<End Rant> :-)
The currency for Blue Mars is the BLU. It can be bought at their exchange rate (which I won’t go into here) and cities have to be purchased with it. Land can be purchased from small (Outpost) to Large (Metropolis) and from hundreds to thousands of dollars, plus a monthly hosting fee. (Not unlike SL)
Platform x86 PC or Mac
via Boot Camp Operating System
Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 (both 32bit and 64bit) CPU
2Ghz AMD or Intel Dual Core RAM Memory 2 GB on XP,
4GB on Vista Video Card Memory 512MB
and up Screen Resolution Display resolution of at
least 1280x768 is recommended Disk space
Approximately 4GB for the installer, temporary files, and the installed Blue
Here are some common video cards that are known to work with Blue Mars:
Geforce™ 8400m series
Geforce 9400m series
Geforce 200 and 200m series
Radeon™ 3000 series
Radeon 4000 series
Radeon 5800 series
Radeon HD 3000 and 4000 series
* If your video hardware is not listed, it may still work with Blue Mars. Integrated video hardware from Intel without dedicated video memory will probably not function.
**Note video card compatibility is based on using the most current video card drivers. Prior video card drivers or stock video card drivers have not been factored into testing. All video cards must have updated drivers for certain features to work.
So here's the 64 dollar question I see around other blogs. Is Blue Mars a Second Life killer? Will it replace it? Not anytime soon, in my opinion. Does it look better than Second life? Definitely. Remember though that Second Life has been around awhile now and has a loyal user base. When I see posts on blogs and forums by people who are looking to leave SL and find a new virtual place to call home, it is because they are unhappy or dis-satisfied with it for some reason or another. This does not speak to, however, the large amount of people that are perfectly happy with it. Also, I personally have not seen anything on the Avatar Reality/Blue Mars site that indicates that they want to be a Second Life killer. Basically, from what I have been able to understand, they are offering a platform and attracting companies to purchase their virtual real estate to do what they want with it. Maybe one of the entities that buys some cities will try to compete, maybe not. The main problem I see now is that the hardware available has to catch up with what Blue Mars is offering. Their requirements are not unique, by the way. Take a look at Entropia Universe and you will see what I mean. and they have been around for a few years now. And, finally, it is a BIG playground out there in the Meta-verse, so there should be plenty of room for all.
Check the requirements, download it and give it a try, you won't be disappointed.