Linden Lab, the creators of the popular virtual world Second Life, has announced the acquisition of technology from Windward Mark Interactive, a graphics technology firm founded in 2003 by five Harvard University students looking for “a better way to create real-time worlds.”
Windward Mark's five founders have now joined Linden Lab, and will be based out of the company's new office in Boston. On top of this, Linden Lab also adds that it is continuing its expansion efforts for the new studio, and is currently seeking other developers to add to its presence in Boston.
As part of the acquisition, Linden Lab adds that it will acquire the developer's atmospheric rendering technology WindLight, and Nimble, a realistic 3D cloud simulator, as well as associated intellectual property and interests. The company further notes that once the acquisition is complete, it plans to make available Windward Mark’s graphics technology through open source channels, and integrate it into the Second Life Viewer software, bringing added visual fidelity to the popular MMO.
Windward Mark’s WindLight technology uses patent-pending algorithms that imitate the ways in which light is affected by real-world atmospheric factors like dust and moisture, enabling the nuances of sunlight, clouds, water and weather to be accurately simulated in real-time. Windward Mark Interactive’s other real-time visualization product, Nimble, uses advanced physics models to realistically simulate clouds.
Interestingly, the official statement issued by Linden lab announcing the acquisition notes that Alliance, an online game developed by Windward Mark Interactive, will not be included in the acquisition. Instead, the game will continue to be developed “as a separate entity.”
“This is a great example of the benefits of an open-source model,” said Cory Ondrejka, CTO of Linden Lab. “Our core development team is tightly focused on improving the Second Life experience in terms of stability and scalability, but open sourcing has enabled external developers to integrate additional enhancements that are also hugely valuable; WindLight is one of these. We’re excited to bring this technology to Second Life and pleased to have such a talented team of developers join Linden Lab.”