I hate Facebook games. Hate. them. Too the point I feel like butchering a hog over someone’s keyboard as they get a Crop Whisperer ribbon on Farmville. Those feelings may change…. I doubt it, but this… is cool.

Last week 3DVia made the announcement that the 3D Social gaming blitzkrieg that is Billions is now available to play on Facebook. Oh great. Another Facebook game right? Well, we covered the announcement last March. If you saw the images then, ya gotta admit, this would be a different game, nay, a different experience for web-based gaming.

The game is indeed interesting… and fun. Wonder what it’s like and why it could change gaming? What about 3D design and how we interact in a virtual environment? Take a look.

3DVia Billions

This is actually the first Facebook game I’ve installed. I feel dirty, but I had to try it out. The premise of Billions is that you compete against your Facebook friends for the high-score. You’re a character called a “Glow agent” completing puzzles by walking about and grabbing energy in a 3D environment. It’s a wonderfully smooth interface and easy to play, which makes it all the more addictive. Here are some screenshot, but if you want to experience it, you can do the unthinkable and install the Billions Facebook app here. (Click to Enlarge)

3DVia Studio… 3D platform, 3D Printing

What’s extra amazing is, the engine that Billions is built on is free to download and develop with. This engine is called 3DVia Studio and you can get it here. From the press release…

3DVIA Studio brings the power of an AAA engine to an easy-to-use framework. With rapid prototyping, development and publishing capabilities, as well as seamless integration with 3DVIA.com for hosting, distribution and access to a community of more than 190,000 users who can test and promote applications, 3DVIA Studio is a perfect tool for indie developers. In addition, user-generated applications created with 3DVIA software and hosted on 3DVIA.com can easily be published straight to Facebook Platform and played through a dedicated, sharable Facebook URL.

That’s a lot of PR wordiness, but the one part… “With rapid prototyping, development and publishing capabilities…”, that’s interesting. That spreads app development into more than just gaming. I’m convinced that the magic of this platform is happening through getting established in the gaming community. Once developers see what it can do, maybe even CAD developers, I bet we’ll see apps extended into areas that involve content and product creation. Of course, that means people have to be interested in doing that. 3D Printing from Facebook? I dunno, a lot is developing in this space though.

One last note. I play a lot of video games. I use to play more. I play games on iPhone and iPad. I DON’T play games on Facebook… until today. Not because I don’t like the Social aspects. Call of Duty is one of my all time favorite games. It’s because I don’t like knowing what everyone else is playing, and it’s annoying to have a timeline filled with requests and accomplishments. Instant delete. It’s even more annoying to see people playing those games when they could be starting a business. I imagine others feel the same.

That said, there’s obviously some validity to the social gaming concept. Personally I think we’ll see the console market overtaken by social gaming in the mobile realm, rather than solely through Facebook. Don’t think that Sony and Microsoft are setting idly by. The best hope I see for a game like Billions and a developer platform like 3DVia Studio is to get it to the other parts of the web, make it embeddable, make it mobile. Billions is practically begging to be used with the iPhone/iPad gyro tech.

If you’ve played this, I’d love to hear your thoughts, or if you haven’t, reasons for not installing yet another Facebook game.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.