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Need Advice on Graphics Solution

I know this is done all the time, I just don't know enough about the technology to move forward here.

I would like to provide a web service that has these capabilties.  
1. Via a web page a user can launch a 3D world.
2. User can fly through world and move objects around.  (Kind of like playing quake).
3. User can load and watch some canned scenarios in the world.
4. Objects in the world can
    a.  Trigger back end processing / data retrieval.  example:  In my 3D world, I pick up a saw and I have an option to get its user manual.
    b.  Show status.  I can, from the back end modify appearances of objects.

Advice on where to begin?


3 Solutions
An example would be www.runescape.com .. people walk around and interact with other people as well as objects. It employs the use of Java (www.java.sun.com) to allow interaction. However programming in Java will take a few months to learn, and it would be advisable to hire someone to do it for you.

To be able to have this on a web server,, where backend communications can occur, you need to have your own webspace. I use www.dreamhost.com 
With Java you can modify the objects within your code, or by having your Java program read values from a text file that you edit easily.

Just to let you know what you are asking for is a big task and will take months to develop. Would advise taking classes in programming (not necessarily in Java but any other language that might be mentioned later) if you intend to do this on your own.

tmonteitAuthor Commented:
That's awesome!!!  About the only programming language I know is Java.  

Can It handle some pre-programmed fly throughs?

Also,  I admit I probably can't handle this entirely on my own.   Where can I find some low cost Ad-hoc developers to help on a small project such as this?   (Probably out of scope for this forum, apologies up front).
Where can I find some low cost Ad-hoc developers to help on a small project such as this?

Usually the best place to find developers on an Ad-hoc basis is either through Forums like this or through universities. You might be able to convince some university students to assist as part of a project.

Java is probably your best option from a programmig language perspective.
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im not sure about ad-hoc developers for free, but yeah if you're still at university you could undertake something like this as a major programming project.

otherwise these websites would be a good place to start to hire a programmer to help you out. Just make sure you have everything planned first and mostly finalized to the minute detail, so the programmer knows what to do and can do it in a quick time:
> Can It handle some pre-programmed fly throughs?
Yes it can.. google around and you will find some guides

Of interest is the Java3D API you will most likely use for your 3D worlds:
Jose ParrotGraphics ExpertCommented:

Programming such web service is a huge effort. A long walk of $everal month$.
Worse, it seems to be something like to reinvent the wheel.

Probably the practical solution is to adopt a commercial tool for building the 3D worlds you want. A CAD system that permits you to build the objects by modeling it in 3D. A tool for move, zoom, spin, explode such objects and walk in a scene with a lot of them, choose one, click on it and open its user guide.

If the description above is what you want, take a look at commercial animation products, like TrueSpace (http://www.caligari.com). With a product like that, you can create 3D objects (or, better, import or buy ready objects (http://www.turbosquid.com). You can change textures, colors, formats as well. It produce QuickTime or AVI clips too. By constructing pre-animated clips, you can provide an interactive world for your users. It is very similar to game programming.

So, the suggestion isn't just on programming. There are valuable plugins to explode an object in parts, for instance. If you want to go deeply on it, Caligari provides an API, but this is for highly skilled 3D programmers. More expensive tools, like 3dmax, Maya, Cinema4D are great softwares, but I think TrueSpace is good enough.

Hope it helps...

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