Okay, SketchUp Is Free

No surprise. I predicted as much to some people I know and posted a more conservative comment on at least one website (Link). Why bother blogging about this now? Because I just surfed over to Technorati and noticed that SketchUp is suddenly on everyone’s search map. Some are even now beginning to realize what Google is doing. Took them long enough.

Is Google planning on using Google Earth as a kind of 3D Adsense? Of course it is. That’s what Google does.

Has Google been laying the groundwork to get content into Google Earth that ties into advertising? Why yes, they certainly have (reLink).

Is Google going to link their virtual Earth with the real world and deliver localized advertising using a mesh network? Count on it. And as I posted over on Blogspotting (Link) a short time back, that network will look similar to those inside Second Life. Real or virtual, 3D coordinates are the same.

Do I think they’re chasing a Metaverse the way I suspect Microsoft has been chasing for many years (see earlier list of developments – reLink)? Ever since Google Earth was announced I’ve thought that they’re doing something similar; more real (obviously).

Is SketchUp the best tool? I’m not sure. It might become the best tool with Google’s backing, but up til now SketchUp has been a fringe player in the CG architecture market which is dominated by AutoCAD.

Earlier today, Ilya Vedrashko (the guy behind the excellent MIT Advertising Lab and Brands in Games blogs) dropped me an email to tell me of this development. Here was my reply:

Very familiar with it. It showed up on my radar back around the time Delgine 3D popped up iirc. Both are relatively simple tools – although Delgine appears to be morphing into a 3D modeler.

Something of additional interest is that originally SketchUp, Delgine, and Radiant fell into the same class of modellers: simple architectural models. They would get mentioned when indy game devs talked about level-editing. Delgine is improving, SketchUp has Google support now (and will doubtlessly improve), but Radiant (along with the bsp compiler) might offer the best option of all: it can export out to .ase which could be converted to most any polymesh. Plus it can be used with lots of game engines.

Watch it. It might start to get the same level of support in the game dev community as Blender has in the 3D modeling community. Now if Radiant and Blender were to start sharing code/ideas, that would be a real cross-over app.

Of course, if Google were to open source SketchUp…

We’ll see what happens. As far as I know, you still can’t skin anything in GE and there’s currently no word on networking code being added so that avatars could meet inside GE the way they do in Second Life or There or any MMORPG. That’s actually the next big announcement I’m waiting on.