October 4, 2022

ForgottenWare: Sony’s Community Place Browser

What we going to talk about is Community Place Browser. I found it on my Sony Vaio computer when playing around. It’s a VRML 3D-World Browser, its kind of like a Web browser but for virtual worlds, it even has back and forth buttons like one. It even has chat functionally with avatars. Unfortunately Sony shutdown the service in 2003 But I was still able to lunch and explore the contains still installed on the hard drive.

What is Community Place Browser?

It’s a place where people can meet up and talk and build in a new world. It was more like a web browser with chat functionally.

The Rooms

When you first launch Community Place Browser, you be in a Entry Room with a menu section of places you can go to. many of them are examples of whats possible in the browser.

First option is a UFO, which is just a UFO that fly’s down, then goes back up. The TV Option is a room that is a sky box with a floating TV. You can interact with the TV and change the channels. The Box with a archway is the Circus Park world, A virtual Circus where there a Ferris wheel in the center. Ill talk about about it later as it’s one of the most interesting rooms/world in this program.

The clock is a 3D Clock floating in a sky box not much to say about this one. The Center one that’s a Newton’s cradle, it goes to a web link that’s been long dead. The one thats looks like a world and a paper air plane is called origami. Its a room with a white square when click on will start to make a paper air plane with each click. And the last one that’s a car, is called ‘drive a car’ here you be on a track for a car when you click on the car your viewport(camera) will start to follow the car track path. i wouldn’t really say its “driving a car” but more like “taking a ride in a car”.

Circus Park

It start at the entry way right before the archway looking towards a Ferris wheel. though the fun is a bit cut off when an issue with the sound was not playing back right, if you listen you hear what sound like static. This sound is actually post the sound of a crowd of people. Not 100% sure why its doing that, but my best guess is its because I updated the sound drives and its causing some kind of compatibly issue.

In the Center of the park you hear a circus theme music playing in the background. The Ferris wheel is rideable, by clicking on the guy near the entry for it. many other things react when you click on them, such as a bear on a bicycle will move around or a seal playing with a ball. Interesting theres a day and night cycle system in this room.

The area has tent’s which some of them have web links. I tried many of theses links but a lot of them are dead. there’s also a bunch of signs, some even hidden. There are a few secrets too, there are buttons throughout the park. I even found one that triggers a event that happens in the center of the park with line of the the charterers following each other in a circle.

After Community Place Browser

While the official might be gone, there seems to be a community what still supporting and developing new content. A redit called Sapari Community Place. Also It seem like Sony wanted to keep the idea of a virtual world alive as they would later develop something similar to Community place Browser Called PlayStation Home which would open in 2008 about 5 years after.

Others Like It

With all the talk about the new Metaverse talk going on, there seems to be excitement. For me its nothing new or exciting. I Even experience a type of Metaverse mid 90’s called Active Worlds. I exploring worlds created by people and even building my own home in a community center with my own land to build on. When I was a kid I thought it was the coolest ever. Amazingly its still around!

Final thoughts

Its a shame that its been for gotten, I can only wonder if they continue to support it and update till now what it would be. if you got the time, check out the Sapari Community Place Reddit, also here’s a link a fan page with lots of resources. It strange how Theses old VRML programs got lost to time.

colby

Computer guru with years working with technology. I find it fun to tinker with computer new and old, and make them do my work for me.

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