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Blue Mars is a 3D massively multiplayer virtual world platform currently in open beta. It falls in the general category of social virtual worlds allowing user-created content.
Blue Mars was inspired by a vision of the future when the power to terraform whole worlds is within our grasp. The name Blue Mars represents possibility and hope. A teaser trailer video was created by 3rd-party developer Virtual Space Entertainment (VSE) as a showcase for their planned Blue Mars development.
Platform and Technology Edit
The platform being developed by Hawaii-based Avatar Reality allows 3rd parties to create virtual worlds, MMOG games, simulations, shops, businesses, entertainment venues, clothing, custom avatars, furniture, virtual homes, and other items. It consists of four main parts: the client software, the Sandbox Editor SDK suite, the website, and the host servers.
The client software is a free download, and includes the "Welcome Area", face editing area, default avatars, clothing and animations. Additional cities to visit are optional downloads via a "Places Browser". New cities and updates to existing ones are offered as downloads when they become available.
The editor suite is a free download after upgrading to a developer account. It currently consists of seven editors with specialized purposes (Block, Body, City, Cloth, Furniture, Item, and Shop) and a developer version of the client software for testing.
Both the client software and Editor suite utilize the CryEngine 2 rendering engine originally developed by Crytek. The video game Crysis also runs on CryEngine 2. The graphics engine is being modified by Avatar Reality, and features not part of a combat game but needed for a virtual world are being added. Content can be created on many 3rd party 3D and graphics programs so long as they can output a COLLADA interchange file format 3D model or TIFF image format. They are then converted to CryEngine native .cgf and .dds formats via the provided development tools.
The website provides account registration, access to player inventory and friends lists, and member and developer forums.
The host servers deliver city data files, individual item and avatar files, and player interaction and updates when logged in. In the future they may also provide rendering for users without adequate graphics cards 
Development History Edit
June 2009 - Avatar Reality started closed beta testing
September 2, 2009 - Reached "open beta" status, with version 0.5822.
December 17, 2009 - version 0.6589 of the beta software was released. This version added a "places browser", which allows selective downloading of city data, and Flash functionality within the player client. At the same time the website was revamped, new cities opened, and pricing was announced for city hosting.
February 18, 2010 - version 0.7470 was released. This version added a "Body Editor" to create custom Avatars.
April 5, 2010 - version 0.8237 was released. This version added custom hair creation, and improved chat features in the client software. The "world" at this point consists of 15 visitable cities with a small number of activities and working shops.
The development roadmap plans release of more features incrementally through 2010 on roughly a monthly basis.
User Statistics Edit
As of early April 2010, there are approximately 3000 registered users on their beta forums, and approximately 200 developers who are creating cities, games 3D environments, and individual items for Blue Mars. Most of these developers are individuals, small groups or indie game developers. Developer registration is free  as is the developer kit, although some external 3D graphics software may require purchase.
- The website of Blue Mars gaming platform
- The website of the developer Avatar Reality
- Chapter & Metaverse: Interview with Jim Sink, 14 Apr 2009
- Chapter & Metaverse: Further info from Jim Sink, 28 Apr 2009
- Chapter & Metaverse: Blue Mars Public Beta, Interview with Jim Sink, 21 Aug 2009
- Life In Blue Mars: Beach City Review
- Life In Blue Mars: Venezia Review
- Blue-News: Venezia Review
- Massively.com Interview with Avatar Reality CEO Jim Sink
- Blue Mars Pricing AnnouncedTemplate:3D virtual worldsja:Blue Mars