Patrick Zha from China, is the founder of . He is an experienced entrepreneur with MBA degree from Macquarie University (Australia).
The heat is on. There are a lot of interesting virtual world systems on beta/alpha that slated for release next year. Among the anticipating system will be metaplace, Novoking. Indeed, 2008 look like a auspicious year for many exciting products.
This morning I receive a notification that Novoking virtual system is now ready for beta testing. So I register myself a new account and download the hefty 334mb download which is fast using Singapore StarHub cable at speed of 300kb/s, which takes under 20mins at around 3am (yes, in the morning!). This balloon to around 580mb after installation.
Like SecondLife, Novoking run as a desktop client program. There is noticable initiation delay of 4min (My system is a core2 duo) at welcome screen and one need to click a extra step to enter into the environment, which still require even more time to come out the virtual world environment. As usual, the user setup screen ask for particular like username, password, selection of avatar, clothing etc to enter, after which the system will automatically use them for default login next time (Unlike Second Life, which keep asking you for username, password before startup). However, it seem fast on subsequent run of Novoking program. I presume some form of cache is performed.
Everything appear in chinese, and the help file is non-existent. The graphics is nothing short of amazement with beautifully rendered scene comparable to Second Life.. A mermising music (Sound like New Age music) is played on the background. However, the key arrangement seem non-intuitive. Instead of using arrow keys for avatar navigation, key like W,A,D etc is used instead. The mouse is used more intuitively to control zooming and perspective.
The screen cannot be maximized (it seem to fix at 1024×768), neither can it be resized by the mouse. The only time the user can change the resolution is during the welcome screen. Like most graphic intensive system, the resource requirement is staggering. The CPU consumption consistently hover around 40 -50% and after five mins of wandering around the beautiful scene, the memory consumption rose to 400mb. This really hungry for coreDuo cpu and at least 1GB of ram with high-end graphics card for a decent performance. Running my notebook, with Core2Duo 1.66Ghz with 2Gb ram and Geforce Go 7300 graphics chipset, I did not see any graphics lagging or performance slowdown.
Novoking has the usual standard features as well as some unique one, although features count, it nowhere comparable to SecondLife. Novoking seem focus on ease of use and its reduced features does reduce the steep learning curve normally associated with virtual world system. Novoking contains the essential functions like Messaging, avatar customization, Map screen, emotion and action selection. One of its interesting features include 40+ dancing movement which the avatar can perform. However, it doesn’t seem to support any scripting capability.
Unlike Second Life, there is no menu dropdown exposing myriad of features. Rather everything is accessible from the buttons as show in the screen capture. That to say, its features are very straight-forward and nowhere as comprehensive and complex as its counterpart.
I yet to fully explore the environment of Novoking, and some functions still seem inaccessbile. If so far what I have see is any indication, Novoking seems promising.
Unfortunately, the whole virtual world seem like a ghost town with nobody around. It will be good if Novoking can create a hotspot where most people can gather upon startup, so as to feel welcome.
Overall, for a beta product, Novoking seem stable though I did manage to crash it if I position the application off the screen, and only a restart of Windows Vista will allow you to launch Novoking again.
Novoking is a much simpler virtual world compare to Second Life, and is able to run in Windows Vista unlike HipiHi, another competitor from China. The words are in chinese and the screen and features are kept simplified and uncluttered. For those people who are baffled by Second Life’s complexity, Novoking is worth a look and indeed Novoking’s unique selling point lies in its simplicity.
Novoking is definitely no Second Life in terms of features and popularity, but for those who desire for a Chinese alternative virtual world, Novoking won’t disappoint.
Novoking is just one of the exciting virtual world system from China. Nonetheless, it signifies that China is ready to take on its western counterpart in term of innovation and market.
Review: Novoking (Beta)