You can create a virtual world with free 3-D modeling programs, and explore them with free VRML browser plug-ins.
A large part of building a 3-D world is creating, in a 3-D modeling program, the objects you believe are essential to that world. These may include terrain, sun, houses, and other things you depend on in the real world. Once you build this world, free VRML (virtual reality modeling language) browser plug-ins let you explore it. Making a virtual world provides an immersive experience to engage visitors to your Web pages. For example, an astronomy education site could send visitors on a virtual tour of the solar system, rather than showing them static, flat images of the planets.
1. Open a 3-D modeling program, then click its “Create” menu. (If you don’t see this menu, search your program’s documentation for “Object creation” to determine its name for the “Create” menu heading).
2. Click the “Plane” item, then click and drag in the drawing windows to produce the plane. Ensure the plane covers most of the drawing window, to ensure a realistic-looking size of the landscape.
3. Click the “Width Segments” parameter in the plane’s parameter pane (at screen right or bottom), then type “50.” Do the same of the “Height segments” parameter. These actions create 2,500 vertices (50 times 50) for the plane, which provides the mesh needed to form authentic hills and valleys.
4. Click the “Soft selection” (AKA proportional editing) button on the toolbar, which allows you to automatically shape surrounding vertices when moving one particular vertex.
5. Click the main toolbar’s “Move” tool, then click one of the vertices in the plane. Drag up on the upward-pointing arrow icon for the vertex to create a hill. The soft selection feature will make the “ground” surrounding the vertex you selected rise along with the vertex.
6. Create a valley by repeating the previous step, but drag down on the upward pointing arrow to push the land below its default level. Create several more hills and valleys for the landscape.
7. Create a valley by repeating the previous step, but drag down on the upward pointing arrow to push the land below its default level.
8. Download, from 3-D model repositories such as Blender models or Turbosquid, architectural (e.g. house), human and any other models you’d like to add atop your terrain.
9. Click, in your modeling program, the “Import” item under the “File” menu. Navigate to one of the objects you downloaded to import it to the scene file containing your landscape.
10. Click the “Move” tool, then drag on any of the tool’s arrows to position the object anywhere on your landscape.
11. Repeat steps 8 through 10 for each model you downloaded.
12. Install a VRML plug-in for your browser, from a site such as Cortona, Corona or Octaga.
13. Click the “Export” item under your modeling program’s “File” menu, then select the “VRML 97” item to save the scene file as a VRML file for your browser to load.
14. Open Notepad and paste into it the following HTML document, which will contain a link to the VRML file you just saved.
Click here to enter your virtual world.
15. Type over the text “TYPE_VRML_FILENAME_HERE.WRL” with the name of the file you saved in step 13.
16. Save the Notepad file as “myVirtualWorld.html,” then double-click (in Windows Explorer) the file. In your browser, click the page’s link to instruct your browser to load the virtual world.
17.Click the VRML plug-in controls to walk through, rotate around, and zoom into and out of your virtual world.