Yesterday Google launched a new social networking tool (like we need another one). It’s called Lively and although it is a social networking tool it’s got a new twist to it that makes it interesting. See the promotional video below. Then read my review

At first glance the website Lively.com is not appealing, it’s got a mediocre layout and if it wasn’t for the logo at the top left you wouldn’t even know it was owned and operated by Google. The page is bland with no much color or style. Nothing explains what Lively is; only a download link at the top seems important.

Once you download the app the adventure beings. You sign in using your faithful Google account and then you are given a chance to select your avatar. This is perhaps the first disappointing aspect of Lively. There are only 10 styles of avatar to choose from and 3 of them are animals; you get a small selection of clothing and apparel to the “dress” your avatar with but not nearly enough for the thousands of users that will be using this application in the near future. If they don’t provide more options for avatars soon, it will be hard to distinguish different users. After a few seconds of searching and sorting I finished Jose.Gomez.
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After you have created your avatar you can venture into the many pre-created rooms or create your own. For the purpose of this review I decided to join a pre-existing room (I am still trying to do just that). All joking aside, the servers seems to be bogged down to the max, there are almost no rooms with enough space for you to join and if you create your own room then nobody comes. Finally after much poking around I was able to join a room with 2 or 3 people in it. It took me about 20 minutes to master how to interact with this application. It has a horrible interface and no keyboard support. You must move by dragging your avatar around and by combining the horrible neck breaking camera angle functionality common in most games these days. However no w a s d or arrow keys do anything for you. It is 100% centered on the mouse; this for me is a horrible defect that must be solved immediately. There are many people out there including me that would much rather work with the keyboard


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There is nothing particularly interesting to do in these rooms, you can chat  with other avatars (Yeah REAL Ground Breaking Stuff) and you can perform certain actions like, hug, kiss, kick, punch etc. There were a few things I was impressed by.

  1. In the TV sets inside the rooms you can stream videos from youtube
  2. In the Picture Frames inside the rooms you can place your own pictures
  3. Lively will automatically recognize many of the common Internet lingo and will do an action based on it. For example LoL will make the avatar Laugh and slap his/her knees.

Besides the above mentioned “perks” Lively is nothing but a time waster. It’s a bad copy of second life or any of the other “social networking tools” in 3D. It needs to be developed much more in order for it to become a hit. Although being a product from Google I do not doubt that sometime soon they will do something awesome like integrate it with Google earth and then you can live in your own house in Google earth and stuff like that. For now it is just another application bugging down the Internet.

On a side note I was VERY disappointed when I found several Sex oriented rooms. Google has always been very good at protecting their users in youtube, picasa, and any other service they provide. This time they let the ball drop.

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51 Comments on Google Lively Review

  1. Sam Cook says:

    So in essence it was a beta?……

    surprising that.

  2. Jose C Gomez says:

    Yeah but all of Google products are betas!

  3. Micah Peterson says:

    Kudos on having the guts to be down on the sex rooms. That was the first thing I thought too. Definitely below Google’s standards for other apps. The comments here are disturbing, kids don’t need to see that kind of crap and as a happily married man, I certainly don’t either. Thanks for the review. Micah

  4. Lyle says:

    Thanks for the notice about the rooms with sexual content. Don’t let any of the abrasive comments above discourage you. If any other popular site would have said the same thing it would have gone unnoticed, but since you are openly Christian, you are flagged.

  5. bob says:

    time to waste more time!

  6. John Storey says:

    Actually he is on target with the sex. Many people unthinkingly respond with “Sex? horror!” type comments, but as far as I see this is not an age-verified environment, and parents are all over the spectrum of what age and what way to let their children be exposed to sex. You may be old enough to be an adult about sex. The avatar next to you may be an 8 year old.

    In such a situation the best and accepted solution is to try not to have sex there at all. Immature participants, thinking only of themselves and not the children of others, will do all they can to bring sex in, but Google should not provide any encouragement.

  7. insignis says:

    Corrections:

    IT’S called Lively
    the page is BLAND
    all JOKING aside

    Otherwise an alright review. Don’t let it bother you that commenters are upset with you for having your own opinions. They’re just jealous that you got linked on Slashdot and they never have.

  8. Frances says:

    You had more patience then I did, but I wasn’t writing a review. I think I stopped after 30 minutes of setting up my avatar (oh, look, anime babes) and a sparsely decorated room.

    I also noticed the sex rooms – how could I not, when they were listed first while looking at the list of rooms? (I just checked, first one is Sex-related, and there are at least 2 more on the first page alone.)

    I find it amusing that the Star Wars (I hate ewoks) and World of Warcraft theme rooms had more traffic than the sex ones, but perhaps that’s because there are more sex rooms to choose from?

    Hopefully, if they’re going to continue allowing the sex-themed rooms, they’ll set up something to put them behind an 18+ screen/login process.

  9. Greg says:

    Just for grins, I just tried it. WOW – it is the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever seen. I’ve got a 3.2 GHz machine with 2 Gigs of RAM. It was c r a w l i n g! It took forever just to configure my avatar. Movement was incredibly limiting and awkward (as you mentioned).

    Whoever at Google green-lighted this one needs to go work on Microsoft Bob 2!

    Oh, and BTW – in spite of what the kidz are sayin’ – I agree with you. Google should at least cordon off the adult/sexually explicit rooms. If people want it, they can go find it. Otherwise, what little value this thing could have will be overpowered with the same crap the rest of the Internet has.

  10. Juan says:

    Ha. Clearly the sex addicts are offended that you dont like their ways. Somehow wanking off to anime is ok to them.

    It is dissapointing that it is flooded with sex. It does not belong. If you want it, build a system dedicated to it but keep it out of lively and second life.

    Think of the irony of hammering this guy for being offended by it. But you cry ’cause your offended that he is offended. Get over it you cartoon channel wanking perverts.

  11. CookiesNeedLove says:

    Hey commentors did you read any of the article? Your focusing on a one sentance side thought at the end! The whole point (that I got at least) was this is nothing too fantastic and super crowded.

    Obviously you tards dont have kids cause porn and sex on this obviously kid centered thing isnt right. He’s just disapointed with google, as am I. But its expected I guess, it is the internetz afterall.

  12. I must say its just the first version and before you know it like Google earth they will revamp it and it will beat second life. They will learn from all these reviews and they have the money to pay for servers and for talents around the world. give them time and you will be shocked

  13. CentralWiGuy says:

    Did anyone read the subtitle on the blog header?

    “Technology meets Theology — The Random thoughts of a Christian IT Professional.”

    Since he announces he’s christian I’d have to say he’s entitled to be down on the porn.

  14. Hugo Ferreira says:

    Since you’re going to moderate this one also, stick with this thought: your god definitely want to just to pass the messages *you* seem appropriate. That will, without a doubt, be an *objective* thing to do. Nothing else would be *fair*.

  15. Jake says:

    Hahaha, you do both your people and your religion justice.

  16. Jose C Gomez says:

    I only get rid of the ones that are completely offensive if you don’t like the review just say it. But the sex thing is stupid.

  17. A.Perry says:

    Yea, I downloaded it last night and noticed all the same at this article mentioned. I never got around to check out the tv’s streaming youtube because Lively kept bogging down my Firefox browser to the point of insane frustration. I don’t know if any of you ever tried the second-life application called “There” from There.com. They had things laid out in a much more entertaining fashion. They need to have options for activities than sitting around talking and watching streaming youtube. Have some way you can lock into a game, ride a hoverboard or something around, etc. Also, they need the option of creating, altering, buying and selling possessions like clothes, hats, etc. That would give the user the capability to be more “unique” in a world where countless numbers of people will be. The POV’s…well, they sucked. You couldn’t walk away from a text bubble to check out the clothes you just acquired!

    I’d rant more, but I have work to do….

  18. Jürgen Flüss says:

    I would recommend….you to stick with Christian contend and stay away from the internet. Thank you very much

  19. R.J. says:

    christians aren’t the only ones who prefer not to see sex on the internet.

  20. Anony says:

    Although I agree with most of the comments you made… you CAN use the keyboard….

    ^ goes back
    V goes forward
    goes left

    BTW, you did not mention how long it takes to even start using it or the fact that you have to download an application… Terrible app

  21. anarkavre says:

    If you didn’t notice the logo at the top of the Lively website says BETA. As a programmer myself, I find it disrespectful and immature to just troll the developers. Give them a break and test the software and let them know what you think should be added, fixed, etc. If you don’t like the porn rooms, then don’t go into them. Simple as that. And if you have kids, then be a parent and monitor their Internet use. I’m sure Google is going to take advice and have a feature to block explicit rooms. It’s just plain common sense.

  22. Steve says:

    Are there any Star Wars-themed sex rooms where everyone can dress up as an ewok and talk to one another?

    If not, that’s lame.

  23. jamalystic says:

    I can hear some googlemaniacs already saying this will be the killer of SecondLife! Please give me a break!!! It was also said of Knol that it will be wikipedia killer, where is knol today. Probably no one remembers it anymore. And here are Four Reasons Why You Should shun Google Lively( http://www.internetevolution.c.....src=flftwo)

  24. rowanrook says:

    I’m not particularly religious, but I too found the abundance of sex themes problematic. Such areas should be validated to make sure kids don’t get in. It’s a legal concern regardless of your moral opinons.

  25. GNG says:

    I see you’ve deleted all the negative comments 🙂

    Objective.

  26. Bill Smith says:

    A few things…

    * People that are riding Jose because of his beliefs need to get a life. He’s Christian, and that’s fine. If someone doesn’t like it, the Internet is big enough that anyone that disagrees with the theology can go somewhere else. Nobody’s FORCING anyone to come to this site…

    * I tried playing with Lively, and I got completely flummoxed after about 30 minutes, most of which time I spent trying to set up my avatar. Movement wasn’t exactly intuitive, and I was really surprised that this, a Google app, was as sluggish as it was.

    * I’m really tired of companies releasing ALPHA QUALITY software under the “it’s Beta” guise, just so the general populace will get suckered into playing “Joe Tester” for them. It’s ALPHA, guys. It’s a neat idea, but there are too many issues to resolve before it should be promoted to Beta.

    * I get a kick out of how people are comparing almost any “3D” realm to Second Life(tm). Lively is closer to SL than, say, IMVU, but even then Lively has a LONG way to go before it gets even close to SL.

  27. Jose C Gomez says:

    Not all the negative comments are deleted just the ones that get offensive or the ones against Christianity. I am not going to have that stuff in my site. If you don’t like my beliefs that’s fine don’t insult it or me. I didn’t instul you in the article.

  28. Jose C Gomez says:

    Thank you Bill. I wish people would just stick to the facts about Lively and not complain about my beliefs or my way of life.

  29. bynop says:

    It’s more like a stress test to me. Alpha is generally unstable and barely usable. Beta is a program that is usable but with obvious bugs.

    As far as the sex thing goes, how will you stop explicit content from reaching kids without placing a google moderator in each and every room. It’s almost impossible. An explicit tag would work wonders though to provide at least some protection.

  30. […] Christian IT Professional’s Thoughts on Lively ”a bad copy of Second Life” […]

    http://www.virtualwhite.com/

  31. mattlemme says:

    The next step… the Matrix

  32. Futurist says:

    Lively is not a “social networking tool”. It’s a 3D chat room, that could be used on social networking sites, as well as community-centric sites etc. It could be called a virtual world, albeit a lightweight and disjointed one.

    Some people here are surprised that a 3D product runs slowly on their new PC? Welcome to the world of 3D folks and go buy a proper 3D card. That said, I think 3D and a general “tool for the people” don’t mix (as evidenced by some of these posts). Not enough PCs being sold with decent 3D cards yet.

    I agree about them moderating the sex rooms, especially on their own site. As an embeddable technology though, I can see some 18+ sites wanting to use it.

    Overall Lively is very ho-hum IMHO. Trouble is, with Google behind it, they will likely eclipse much better offerings out there due to their marketing muscle and brand charisma. Sad.

  33. Henry says:

    More than a bad Second Life clone, this sounds like a bad rip-off of IMVU. All the way down to the characters responding to internet-lingo like LOL. But, IMVU hides the adult content better and has more a much richer enviroment with deeper immersion.

    Fortunately Google didn’t brand this very hard so it won’t be attributed to them when it doesn’t take off.

    — Henry

  34. Bob Everybody says:

    Enjoy the slashdot-effect Jose.

    Fear breeding christians have no place on the internet.

  35. […] (2008-Jul-08.) [Official Google Blog] [2] Google’s second life (2008-Jul-09.) [The Age] [3] Google Lively Review (2008-Jul-10) [josecgomez.com] Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Google Maps […]

  36. Rastus Oxide says:

    Hey, that’s ME in the screen shots. 😀
    This review is very fair and I agree with most points. I have never played SL or There, this is my first of this genre, and i am enjoying it alot!

    If you want to visit my rooms just search for Rastus.

    xx

  37. Mark says:

    “but since you are openly Christian, you are flagged.”

    Shouldn’t that be “flogged”?

  38. Planar says:

    There is a spelling mistake in the review. Instead of “blend”, correct spelling is “tasteful”…

  39. Franco says:

    I am not sure what is expected, to me lively deliver what I expected, I do not see it flaunted as some “second life” alternative, I see it for what it is, a IRC / Chatroom with more interaction. And for that I think it is very innovative.

  40. Zan says:

    I set up a room in Lively and it was extremely frustrating. Took hours and hours and bogged down 2 computers so badly they had to be restarted. As the original post says, the choices are very limited for avatars – though that wasn’t my main interest. The options for setting up the room were also quite limited. There is a small selection of basic furniture: chairs, tables, desks, rugs. Pluses: I liked th oriental rug and the plants and lighting.
    Minuses: No regular tables, just a lot of bland coffee tables (but no coffee or cups). No bookshelves (I’m trying to build a library). No books, for that matter.
    The Jumbotron tv that lets you play a youtube video is cool, for sure. But here’s the problem – it starts when you enter the room, and just loops and loops the video, no way to stop it. So my plan for several tv’s showing different videos won’t work.
    Worst problems:
    wayyy tooo slow.
    hard to move around
    difficult to rearrange the room
    no way to delete furniture and too easy to accidentally add it
    no explanations and not at all intuitive

    As the first post said, very very disappointing – especially for a Google product. What is up with that?

    I would add that I too feel they should wall off the porn. Especially since there is plenty of furniture and other decorative items meant for schoolrooms and children’s rooms. There seems to be some idea of creating areas for students and teachers to interact.

  41. Kurt says:

    A mouse centric interface was the first irritating thing I noticed. I’m not saying the idea is bad, but the implementation is. DOFUS, for the most part, is mouse centric, but also provides keyboard shortcuts for many tasks.

    Maybe this should be an alpha version? I see the potential, but it does not feel like beta quality.

  42. JB says:

    Actually, Google content filters CAN be turned off. Not everything sexually explicit is porn which is why this is a good feature to have.

    The decision to filter explicit material isn’t neccessarilly a value judgement on it anyways and google has no age verification to turn off its filters. It is a pragmatic decision which engances the results of most searches in most circumstances.

    I think Google lifely needs the same approach so that explicit content is quietly filtered by default unless a user that knows what they are getting into disables it.

  43. […] Google Lively Review – Google’s answer to ‘Second Life’ has launched  […]

  44. […] it’s Windows only. (Mac and Linux clients are on their way.) Jose Gormez has an interesting review (via Slashdot). In it he notes that porn has already made it was into Lively. The fact that Lively […]

  45. […] notes Lively may be more of a social networking 3D space as opposed to a 3D world. But then as Jose C. Gomez states in his review for now Lively may be just another application bugging down the Internet […]

  46. rayq says:

    I tried it and i think its a little bit too much of a cartoon for me. Ticket4one has a similar thing but atlaest i can see real people from the
    3D Virtual Chat Rooms

  47. […] até acha a idéia interessante, mas hoje é uma ferramenta de chat para jovens entediados. E no blog do josé gomez (é um qualquer da internet, ninguém muito importante) dá pra ver o por que ninguém gostou. Ele […]

  48. Shannon says:

    Lively is such a rip-off of IMVU.