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Featured Techie: Kaz Hashimoto, President of Avatar Reality


Kazuyuki "Kaz" Hashimoto has the most exciting job on the island: Overseeing the genesis of Blue Mars, a massively multiplayer virtual world (MMVW) set on a futuristic terraformed Mars. Blue Mars sports graphics that make Linden Lab's Second Life look like 1980's Ultima. Kaz has all the right tools to make Blue Mars a success. He moved to Hawaii in 1997 to establish Square's Honolulu CG production studio where he was responsible for development of the 3D production systems used in the famous Final Fantasy VII game and cinematic CG tour de force Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Kaz also served as Vice President of Technology, New Platforms, at Electronic Arts where he was in charge of development for the PlayStation 3. If you met him on the street you would never know. He is a humble, likable guy who isn't prone to advertise his achievements, but once you engage him in a discussion about the MMVW space his enthusiasm flows.

Kaz launched Avatar Reality in 2006 with the backing of former Featured Techie and serial entrepreneur Henk Rogers. The company was founded on the belief that rich immersive virtual worlds will be the next big wave in online social interaction. Kaz has assembled an impressive brain trust of industry leading game developers and 3D CG experts to help him realize his vision. His goal is to make a virtual world that is maximally "beautiful and enjoyable." Kaz is working with multiple partners to produce quality content for his new world including companies in the fashion, real estate, education and game spaces.

It is with great pleasure we announce Hawaii's 3D CG rock star, Kaz Hashimoto, as January's Featured Techie.

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Comment by Viil on February 24, 2009 at 5:08pm
must have been a spellbinding experience :)
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 24, 2009 at 3:44pm
Hi LanCE - My info is from our recent tour with Kaz, their CEO. As I understand it, a closed beta will be provided to developers shortly after GDC, and a public beta will follow in the second half of 2009. Note that I am not affiliated with Avatar and you should check with them for official dates. To be honest, I was so enthralled with the technology I didn't pay close attention to my friend Yoshikawa's questions about the dates.
Comment by LanCE on February 24, 2009 at 2:24pm
How come I read from another site that closed beta will be open in a month after GDC? Which is 03-26-09.
Where you getting your info from? I really want to join the CLOSED Beta for Blue Mars. Anyone have information please share. Thanks.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 24, 2009 at 8:28am
They will have a closed beta in a few months. They didn't provide a date for the public beta.

One thing I forgot to mention: The whole system is incredibly dynamic. You can script it with Lua and embed Flash applications. They've layered Flash rendering on top of the CryEngine. All their UIs are written in Flex. Kaz demoed a full blown 3D golf game within Blue Mars that was written in less than 600 lines of code.
Comment by Viil on February 22, 2009 at 12:08pm
Dan, did they mention when they plan to launch?
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 22, 2009 at 6:56am
I asked Kaz about this during the demo. He said it was not based on the book.
GB Hajim: Does anybody know if this is based on Kim Stanley Robinson's book Blue Mars?
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 20, 2009 at 7:10pm
We just got back from a demo of the latest iteration of Blue Mars. It was the most impressive demo I've ever seen. I had no idea any interactive system could render photo realistic avatars the way these guys do. Hair, skin, clothing - the works. The landscapes are equally impressive. They've actually taken real martian topographical information from NASA and terraformed it. You can see water cascading into real Martian canyons. Its mind boggling. They also have a business model that is far more evolved than Linden Labs. These guys are game changers.

Amusing side note: The demo world seems to be populated solely by incredibly sexy supermodels. They could cause the end of the human race if they release it as is. Men will waste away in front of their computers, unable to spare the energy to eat, drink or sleep.
Comment by GB Hajim on January 25, 2009 at 7:52pm
Does anybody know if this is based on Kim Stanley Robinson's book Blue Mars? (about the terraforming and colonization of Mars)
Comment by Viil on January 7, 2009 at 1:52pm
I'm looking forward to seeing the animations rendering!
Comment by Rocco Blais on January 6, 2009 at 2:45pm
WOW! Those screen shots are wicked awesome! Now I have a new desktop image to day dream at! Mahalo!

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