In 2002 Activeworlds did a major financial overhaul that, among other things, increased the price of fun by 350%. At the time, many of us were survivers of a recent recession and couldn’t justify the price increase without a similar increase in service. So we left. Like a gypsy caravan, we pulled up our roots and scoured the internet for opportunities. And many of us found one in Adobe’s Atmosphere.
Atmosphere was in beta, which meant free! It was the early days of free beta when testers understood things would change frequently and developers of beta respected testers for a lot longer during the process than they do now. We called our Adobe Developers zombies for their tireless work. Deadlines were always “in two weeks”, even if they took months. All in all, it was an easy, fun, meaningful, and sometimes profitable experience until the end, which was difficult.
Once the world was published, it was hooked into an Adobe chat server and you would then embed it right into a web page, which at the time was novel and exciting. All kinds of neat perks were added. You could share pictures, worlds, avatars and 3d objects, simply by clicking and dragging these things onto your friend avatars. It sounds like old hat to you now yes? But then it was new and many of them firsts.
Here, Whyst was reborn and expanded it’s world from italianate gardens, to fantasy hang-outs, and palatial interiors. Old friends were found, such as Lady Bunny and Lightfoot from Activeworlds. New friends, and co-enthusiasts for 3D were found .. Angela, George, Donza, MichaelH, Petra, Apkalus, Lace, Americo and many many others as well as Adobe staff Daniel Presedo and Michael Kaplan.
It was a nice run with exciting possibilities. I even made some money doing contract work for Adobe, creating content and historically based worlds. But in the end, we were quite suddenly informed by Adobe of Atmosphere’s demise. It was hard to take, reminiscent of an unexpected romantic break-up.
One of the greatest things about Atmosphere was it’s in-builder use of light. When you were finished making a world, you would render the lighting, which sometimes took hours … even overnight. But the final outcome that was achieved, gave the program it’s name. Our worlds definately had atmosphere.