I’ve been reading a lot about the Beyond Space and Time project, which is bringing Beijing’s famous Forbidden City to life. As an eightbar person I’ve been aware of the project for quite some time, but I have to admit that I’ve not really done too much digging into the underlying technology.
According to the reports, the project has been built using the Torque engine, with WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Message Broker on the backend, with dynamic provisioning of servers. This is awesome stuff. I frequently refer to Message Broker as “my pet product”, since it’s the product I’ve specialised in for the past 8 years of my professional life. I’m going to probe further into exactly how the middleware stack is being utilised.
As we’ve been evangelising virtual worlds within IBM (I’m not a full-time Metaverse Evangelist, but Ian and, in the past, Roo have frequently been kind enough to put me forward as a speaker on the topic when they’ve been unavailable), the question has arisen as to “why we’re even bothering with all this game stuff”. Well, as someone whose day job has been in enterprise middleware and transactional systems for the past several years, I’ve always seen some of the key connections here. The 3D Internet environment needs to be supported by a multitude of technologies, and enterprises with well-defined Service Oriented Architectures are well placed to have their systems connected to the next-generation environments. If they are going to be successful, Virtual Worlds need hardware to run on, they need some of the enterprise-quality levels of availability, security and service that we’ve become accustomed to in business, and they need to be able to connect up to existing systems. A product like WebSphere Message Broker is ideal for helping to enable this, as it essentially provides the ability to connect to any “legacy” backend and mediate requests on behalf of the avatar needing the data.
So, check out Beyond Space and Time, enjoy it, and you’ll probably forget all about the middleware that enables it to run – which is exactly how it should be. The whole project really does bear out some of the stuff that we’ve been discussing over on eightbar for the past couple of years, and I’m completely thrilled to see it launch.