Adobe Atmosphere

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Adobe Atmosphere 1.0 packaging

Adobe Atmosphere (often abbreviated Atmo; formerly 3D Anarchy) is a 3D computer graphics creation product created by Attitude Software. In November 1999, Adobe Systems purchased the technology. Adobe released its last version of Atmosphere, version 1.0 build 216 in February 2004. Adobe discontinued the software in December 2004. The product spent the majority of its lifetime in the beta-testing stage.



Atmosphere distinguished itself from pre-existing technologies like VRML and ActiveWorlds in several ways. Unlike VRML, which displayed three-dimensional "models," Atmosphere focused on explorable "worlds," which were linked together by "portals," analogous to the World Wide Web's hyperlinks. These portals were represented as spinning squares of red, green, and blue that revolved around each other and floated above the ground.

Portals were an example of the Atmosphere team's desire to mirror the functionality of webpages. Although the world itself was described in the .aer (or .atmo) file, images and sounds were kept separately, usually in the GIF and WAV formats. Objects in worlds were scriptable using a modified version of JavaScript, allowing a more immersive environment. By version 1.0, Atmosphere also boasted support for Flash animations and WMP movies.

Unlike the more centralized structure of ActiveWorlds, in which environments are primarily built within AlphaWorld, Atmosphere worlds were spread throughout the Internet, usually hosted on the author's own website as .aer files. (The .aer format was later used solely for building, once the binary .atmo format was created.) As in ActiveWorlds, the user navigated an avatar, which was displayable in later builds. Despite the decentralized structure of Atmosphere, the Atmosphere community still preferred to gather in worlds created by Adobe and its partner DigitalSpace, such as Adobe's annually-revamped HomeWorld and DigitalSpace's Atmospherians Community.

Whereas in ActiveWorlds it is only possible to communicate with users within a 200-meter radius, Atmosphere users could chat with all the users in the world. This was more appropriate for Atmosphere, considering the smaller sizes of most worlds. Technically, users could chat with anyone in the same YACP channel, a reference to the IRC protocol (see below). The exception was when worlds would receive too many visitors, as was often the case at HomeWorld; worlds would "clone," creating duplicate channels for the same world, which would often cause confusion for users. Some world developers later scripted a way to limit communication to a certain range, for more realism.

A built-in Havok physics engine, detailed rendering, and dynamic lighting also contributed to the realism of Atmosphere worlds.


Adobe Atmosphere started as 3D Anarchy by Attitude Software. It originally relied on IRC for chat functionality.

Atmosphere came as two stand-alone applications: the Builder, which was used to build online "worlds," and the Player, which allowed users to explore these worlds. (In 3D Anarchy, these components were called Editor and Chat, respectively.) In addition to these applications, Adobe provided a browser plugin, to explore these worlds within a web browser, and a companion open-source chat server called Adobe Community Server, which ran on an IRC-like protocol known as Yet Another Chat Protocol (YACP). During beta-testing, all components of Atmosphere were available free of charge.

In August 2002, Adobe began to scrap the stand-alone Player, instead devoting more resources to develop the Atmosphere Plugin, which was at the time viewed as a buggy, less attractive alternative to the Player. For the most part, the Player ran only on Internet Explorer for Windows, despite frequent requests by community members to expand Atmosphere support to Mozilla-based browsers, and to Linux and Mac OS.

Adobe eventually decided to charge for the Builder, which was simply renamed Atmosphere, and continue to provide the Plugin and Server for free. As the beta-testing program ended, Adobe sent free copies of the Builder to registered beta-testers in late 2003 and early 2004. After a long period of relative silence from the developers, Adobe announced in December 2004 that it would not continue development of the software.

Adobe now provides 3D capabilities in its more popular Adobe Acrobat product; however, these features were developed by New Zealand-based Right Hemisphere, rather than the Atmosphere team. [1] (


Atmosphere had a loyal beta-testing community, whose members constructed many worlds and avatars, promoted the software by word of mouth, and conducted community events, such as world tours and building contests. The largest of these contests was Star Wars 3D, a large-scale effort to create a comprehensive set of worlds and avatars based on the Star Wars trilogy. The creations were unveiled on July 4, 2003, and festivities officially continued until July 6. Another large effort held was themed to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Community members also organized and attended events such as World Tours, which featured innovative worlds each week, and TechTalks, a monthly event intended for world and avatar developers.

To supplement the official Atmosphere product website and discussion forums, the community created a large number of resource websites, some of which are listed below.

External links


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