Digging in the virtual sands

It seems like just yesterday that the Eternal Egypt website debuted. In fact it has been over three years. Image content has steadily been added since launch, but the most popular experience on the site remains the Virtual Environments, 3D recreations of important places in Egyptian history. On the website these environments are panoramic slices of fully-modelled locales. In 2004 there was no good way to put a 3D world into a browser (still isn’t, come to that) so we rendered off static QTVR’s from dozens of vantage points. Compelling, but clearly a step down from the actual, navigable models.

Ah, but there’s more to that story. The Eternal Egypt Kiosk was developed as a freestanding unit that displays the full environments, arcade game-style. These kiosks have been donated to museums around the world and are quite a hit, especially as Egyptomania has resurged of late.

Here are some screenshots from the three environments: the Tomb of Tutankhamun, the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, and Luxor Temple.

With a joystick and a few buttons you move about the world learning as you go with the help of text and image overlays. It’s a lot like a MMORPG, without the MM or the G. And that’s the thing, the kiosk is great fun, but it is utterly devoid of others. Like you’re the last archaeologist living. Gee, if only someone were creating a truly collaborative cultural heritage MMO …