Another dispatch from the virtual world: the ongoing contest to create a three-dimensional social network has a new player: Just Leap In, a new multi-user virtual environment (MUVE). I can never resist a new virtual environment, so I installed the beta a couple of days ago and have been looking around ever since. So far, Just Leap In does have a few things to recommend it:

  • Like its late predecessor Google Lively, it is browser based. No huge software download required–just a small plugin.
  • Unlike Lively, users can link rooms together to create larger worlds
  • Just Leap In also has the best social networking possibilities of any MUVE so far. It is very simple to upload music, pictures, and video right into your virtual space, much like you would on Facebook. Took me weeks to figure out how to do this on Second Life.
  • You can also drag and drop a number of pre-fabbed objects (furniture, accessories, and even bot-like characters) right into your space. No more running around with a box attached to your head (Second Life again).
  • It’s free and ad-free

And a few shortcomings . . .

  • For now, users can’t customize their avatars, create new objects, or do any programming. That makes the number of things you can actually do in-world fairly limited.
  • Even with a fast connection, my in-world time was laggy. Slow downloads to start off, too.
  • The controls seem a little strange: can’t figure out how to get my first-person perspective back once I abandon it

Finally, one last great thing about it–you can embed your virtual space right into your site. Come check out big empty warehouse.